Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My thoughts on To Kill a Mockingbird

I'm running the risk of sounding like a broken record, but I don't know how else to phrase this: how on earth did I miss all of these wonderful books when I was in school? I was in honors classes in high school. I have to admit to not liking those classes because I never understood the focus on "symbolism" and "what the author REALLY means". But what books did we actually read anyway? And why didn't we read some of these classics? Oh well, since I home educate my children I will make certain that they are exposed to these wonderful books! :)

I thoroughly enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird. The beginning was slow for me as I struggled to figure out what on earth was going on and who was narrating. It was funny as the picture in my mind (that's how books work for me - it's like a movie running in my head) started out so fuzzy and then it started to clear up as I was getting a grip on who the book included! The funniest part was when it dawned on me that Scout was, in fact, a girl! ;)

The language was hard to read, the "n" word especially. It may have been a bit easier if I had been able to picture more clearly the time period. It wasn't until the end of the book where it's made clear that this was 1935, though looking back I saw references to the depression. While I was reading, I wasn't sure if this was the 50s and it was just a poor area in the rural southern part of Alabama. But that's what makes books interesting, I guess, when the reader isn't given all of the information! That's something I'd like to try to do as I begin working on my next novel for NaNoWriMo in November!

I knew I was going to love this book when I hit chapter 2 and Scout went to school and the teacher told her to tell her father to stop teaching her how to read. And Jem explained that it was in "the colleges" (the flashing words on cards at them). And then Atticus making the deal with Scout to continue on in school and he would continue on reading to them at night, as long as she promised not to tell anyone about it! :)

The story overall took a much different direction than I was expecting, which is always exciting. I was certain that Boo Radley was going to come out and hurt one of the kids. Then when the trial took over, I sort of forgot about Boo Radley and was worried about all of the angry people in the town. I was really afraid Jem was going to be killed, or maybe Dill, since I figured Scout was safe as narrator. When the kids were coming home that night and they heard the noise, I was absolutely terrified and full of dread. And then Boo Radley saved them! Kind of proves my belief that you never know what's going on in other people's homes... things may seem to look bad on the outside, but you just never know.

Of course, after having finished the book, it makes the beginning of the first chapter finally make some sense! And I actually did get a little of the "symbolism" if you will about the title "To Kill a Mockingbird" when Atticus tells Jem it's a sin to kill a mockingbird with his air gun. And then "they" end up killing Tom Robinson, who was gentle and unable to really defend himself. I was pretty proud of myself for getting that! :)

Well, it's time to get supper on the table so I can head out to the IRL version of Bella's Bookshelf so we can discuss this wonderful book! Would love to read your thoughts, too!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird: A Summary

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
published 1960

Scout and Jem Fitch live in Maycomb, Alabama in 1935. They are being raised by their father, Atticus, a lawyer, with the help of Calpurnia, an African-American lady. One summer, Atticus is assigned to defend Tom Robinson, an African-American man, against charges that he raped and beat Mayella Ewell, a young caucasian woman. The children find themselves dealing with the prejudiced attitudes of friends and family, but Atticus requires them to turn the other cheek. Despite the lack of anything but circumstantial evidence and the words of 3 caucasian witnesses, the jury finds Tom guilty and sentence him to death. That doesn't mean the end of the trouble for the Fitch family, as Mr. Ewell is determined to "get back" at Atticus. He nearly accomplishes his goal, but the children find assistance from a most unexpected source.

(OK, I've been working on this summary all morning and just cannot come close to expressing how wonderful this book is... I guess I'll have to save that for the "my thoughts" post.)

Please note: there is bad language and adult situations in this book. If you're younger than high school age, please check with your parents before reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I plan to have my daughter read it when she's studying the early 1900s time period in high school.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Twilight Saga and Jane Eyre

I added Jane Eyre to the list of Bella's Bookshelf when I read the following quote from Stephenie Meyer:

''I read it when I was nine,'' says Meyer, ''and I've reread it literally hundreds of times. I do think that there are elements of Edward in Edward Rochester and elements of Bella in Jane. Jane was someone I was close to as a child — we were good friends! I think in some ways she was more real to me than any other fictional heroine.'' (Entertainment Weekly)

I'm so glad I did. As to the elements of Edward and Jane in Edward and Bella, that was a little trickier for me, except for one glaring exception: neither of the individuals seems to see themselves in a true light. They all seem to be very self-deprecating.

One other thing that did strike me was the similarity, in my opinion, between a section of Jane Eyre and a section of New Moon. I have quoted both below:

'I can do what he wants me to do I am forced to see and acknowledge that,' I meditated - '... In leaving England, I should leave a loved but empty land - Mr. Rochester is not there; and if he were, what is, what can that ever be to me? My business is to live without him now: nothing so absurd, so weak as to drag on from day to day, as if I were waiting some impossible change in circumstances, which might reunite him to me. (Jane Eyre, Chapter 34)

I stared back at him. He was not my Jacob, but he could be. His face was familiar and beloved. In so many real ways, I did love him. He was my comfort, my safe harbor. Riht now, I could choose to have him belong to me. Alice was back for the moment, but that changed nothing. True love was forever lost. The prince was never coming back to kiss me awake from my enchaged sleep. I was not a princess, after all. So what was the fairy-tale protocol for other kisses? The mundane kind that didn't break spells? Maybe it would be easy - like holding his hand or having his arms around me. Maybe it would feel nice. Maybe it wouldn't feel like a betrayal. Besides who was I betraying anyway? Just myself. (New Moon, Chapter 18, p. 411)

The glaring difference is that I do not believe there was ANY feeling of love by Jane for St. John. Well, that's not exactly true, she did state she felt brotherly love for him, which is similar to how Bella felt about Jacob at the beginning. But in those passages, both of Jane and Bella were trying to decide if they should forget true love. Forget the hopes of true love. And just do something to move forward in life.

And both Jane and Bella were interrupted as they were making their decisions: Bella by the phone ringing, and Jane by hearing her name being called. That was so cool, it gave me goosebumps!

I'll have to ponder on the other similarities, and would be interesting in reading other people's ideas on that topic!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My thoughts on Jane Eyre

I thoroughly enjoyed this month's selection for Bella's Bookshelf! My enthusiasm waned while reading The Prince and the Pauper last month, and to be honest, I never even finished it. And while I loved Little Women the month before, that really touched my heart as a mother more than as a woman and a reader. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, as Little Women will always stick with me, but it was sometimes quite convicting to read the way Marmee handled herself with her daughters and in her situations compared to the way I handle those things.

Jane Eyre was a completely different experience! I had a hard time getting into the story at first. I see this to be a trend, and I'm not sure if that's a personality issue with me, or whether it's a reflection on the differences in the way books were written in years past compared to now. I think now, in general, a book has to grab the reader quickly to maintain his or her attention! There are so many things competing with books that are much faster-paced and that can be much more exciting. Or maybe it's a function of classical literature as a whole? I will have to pay attention during next month's selection, which was published in 1960 - relatively modern compared to our readings to this point!

I was afraid when I started reading Jane Eyre that we were in for another Oliver Twist: one bad thing happening after another. And I couldn't comprehend why the aunt and cousins were so mean to Jane. Once Jane left for school and made friends with Helen, I was quite intrigued. Once she decided to advertise for a governess position, accepted the one at Thornfield and moved there, and then met Adele, I was hooked!

I absolutely loved the way Charlotte Bronte wrote this novel, in the first person narrative but almost something more... it was as if Jane invited us into the room and while the action was going on, she would stop for a moment and do some additional explaining. Here is my favorite example:

"He spread the pictures before him, and again surveyed them alternately. While he is so occupied, I will tell you, reader, what they are: and first I must premise that they are nothing wonderful." (Chapter 13)

I thought this was great and served to draw me even deeper into the story! (I think I'm going to have to devote an entire post to my favorite quotations from this book! There are so many wonderful ones!!)

I was as confused as Jane, I believe, when Mr. Rochester told her that it was she who wanted to marry, and right away! And I was devastated along with her upon learning of the existence of Bertha Rochester. And then my heart completely broke when Jane left Thornfield. I truly cried and cried.

How I love a happy ending, though! And how I love a mysterious situation like the one where Jane hears Edward's voice calling to her, then we learn later that he had indeed called to her, and he heard her voice answering back! That was right up my alley!

I know there is more I want to discuss, but it's escaping me at the moment! I guess I'll come back to it when I remember!

In my next post, I will share the ways Jane Eyre reminded me of the Twilight series, specifically New Moon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jane Eyre - A Summary

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte
first published in 1847

Jane Eyre was rendered an orphan following the death of her parents. She was left in the care of her uncle and his family and, upon his death, was horribly mistreated by her aunt and cousins. At the age of 10, her aunt sent her to live at a charity boarding school for orphans. There the mistreatment took on a new style in the form of poor living conditions. However, Jane made friends and found a mentor. Soon word got out about the conditions at the school and improvements were made. Jane continued to live there and eventually taught at the school for a couple of years.

When her mentor left to get married, Jane decided to expand her horizons. Unknown to anyone else, she placed an advertisement desiring the position of governess. One reply came and Jane accepted the position. She traveled to Thornfield, where she is to teach Adele, the french-born charge of the master of the house, Mr. Rochester. According to the caretaker of the house, Mr. Rochester is infrequently home.

During a chance meeting, Jane meets and helps Mr. Rochester after he has fallen from his horse, though she does not learn it is him until she returns home. She is intrigued by him, and his personality. He frequently calls her down to talk with him, even including her when he is entertaining guests. Jane learns he is intending to marry one of the young ladies in the party. She will leave her position as governess before Mrs. Rochester moves into Thornfield. This is tragic for Jane, as she has fallen in love with her master!

Jane is called away because of the impending death of her aunt. She is told by the aunt that her mother's uncle had written searching for her, wanting to adopt her and leave his estate to Jane upon his death. The aunt wrote back to the uncle that Jane had died. Jane returns to Thornfield after her aunt's death, expecting not to stay long due to the impending wedding. However, in a strange twist of events, Jane learns that Mr. Rochester wishes to marry her, and not Miss Ingram.

Plans move forward for the wedding, but the happiness is interrupted during the ceremony. Jane learns that Mr. Rochester is already - and still - married! The crazy laughs Jane has heard, the attempt on the life of Mr. Rochester (and on Mr. Mason during his visit), and the strange "nightmare" Jane had before the wedding - they are all the result of Mr. Rochester's insane wife, who is kept hidden at Thornfield.

Upon learning this news, Jane flees Thornfield with no money and no way to take care of herself. She is desolate, starving, and on the verge of death when she is taken in by St. John Rivers, and his sisters Diana and Mary. They nurse her back to health and St. John, a pastor, gives her the job of instructor at a school for the area's poorest girls. Jane delights in her time with the Rivers sisters, and she even comes to enjoy teaching at the school.

In yet another twist, Jane discovers through St. John that they are indeed cousins. Her uncle, who had desired to adopt her and leave his estate to her has died, and did leave the estate to Jane alone. He gave a little to St. John, Diana, and Mary due to a dispute he had had with their father long ago. Jane is thrilled at the prospect of having a real family! She intends to divide the estate among the four of them. St. John, who has felt the call to missions work in India, asks Jane to go with him - as his wife. She agrees to go - as his sister - but he refuses. She struggles with this decision, and as she struggles, she hears a voice call her name - Edward's voice (Mr. Rochester).

Jane decides she must go to find out what happened to Mr. Rochester. Her letters have gone unanswered. She arrives at Thornfield to find it burned to the ground. She learns that Mr. Rochester's wife had set the place on fire, then committed suicide. Mr. Rochester, in an attempt to get everyone out of the house safely, including his wife, was seriously hurt - losing a hand, one eye, and the sight in his remaining eye. He is living at Ferndean.

Jane went to Mr. Rochester at Ferndean and at first he did not believe it was her. He told her he had called out for her, the very same night she heard his voice calling her name. Edward repented of his life's misdeeds, and he and Jane married quickly in a quiet ceremony. He regains the sight in his eye, and they have a son together, and are happy!

(OK, so that was sort of a long summary -and I'm not sure I got the details correct! LOL - but what can I say! I LOVED this book!! I'll post my thoughts in the coming days!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jane Eyre - coming soon!

I'm still here - or rather, I'm back!!!

Discussion for Jane Eyre will begin next Monday, September 14th!

Monday, June 15, 2009

My thoughts on Brave New World

I found Brave New World to be a very difficult book to read, not in terms of complexity of the vocabulary or sentence structure, but rather in the way it affected me. I was so disturbed in places that I had to put the book down and pick it up the next day.

It wasn't only the overt sexual behavior among children that was described in detail that bothered me, though that was certainly a major factor. It was also disturbing to read about a society that is based on consumption, pleasure, and entertainment and realize that our own society is headed in that direction already - and fast!

I kept having to stop and remember that this book was written in the 1930s! How on earth did Huxley think of these things? Like the babies in the jars... and the different castes were constructed by the addition or withholding of different substances at different phases of the development of the fetus. Was this information well-known back then? And the conditioning through subliminal messages in their sleep? Just creepy!!

If this book was to serve as a warning, we have not heeded it. Our society is based in consumption. Our leaders are taking more and more control over the private parts of our lives (and we are handing it over without a fight!). I could go on and on, but that might take this blog into the realm of politics!! LOL

I found this book on various reading lists for high school literature classes, some as young as 9th grade. I would not feel comfortable with a 14 year old reading this book. Perhaps a 17-18 year old senior, but certainly not much younger than that.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Brave New World - a summary

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
first published 1932

This story takes place more than 500 years after Henry Ford invented the Model T. People are not born, but rather are "decanted" into distinct groups: Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, and Epsilon. Each group has its own "place" within the order of the world, and are decanted and conditioned during childhood to fulfill that "place". Everyone is happy and carefree. Except Bernard Marx, and his friend Helmholtz Watson, who feel inexplicably discontent and frustrated with their lives. After a trip to a Reservation in North America, Bernard returns to London with a "savage", a man who was not raised in civilization. The three men eventually meet their different fates when they cannot submit their will to the good of the community.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kidnapped - A Summary

by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published in 1886

David Balfour, upon the death of his parents, travels to the estate of his uncle where he learns that he is actually the rightful heir to the estate as his father was the older son. His uncle arranges for him to be kidnapped, taken aboard a ship, and sold into slavery in the American colonies. On board the ship, David meets Alan Stewart, a Scot who is wanted by the law and offers to pay the Captain of the ship to take him to France. When David learns of the Captain's intent to kill Alan, he tells Alan and the two men defend themselves against the Captain and crew. The ship later sinks, and David is set to an adventure for his life to get back home to claim his birthright. With the help of Alan and other Highlanders along the way, David finally returns to his uncle and gets him to admit to the kidnapping in front of witnesses. David and Alan sadly part company at the end of the story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My thoughts on Sense & Sensibility

"My favorites were Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I'd read the first most recently, so I started into Sense and Sensibility, only to remember after I began chapter three than the hero of the story happened to be named Edward."
-Twilight, p. 148

Well, let me start off by saying I must disagree with Bella. I didn't find the hero of the story to be Edward at all! In my eyes, the hero of this story is Colonel Brandon! He not only took care of the daughter of the woman he loved at the expense of his reputation and marriage prospects, he immediately jumped into action when Marianne fell ill, despite the fact that he knew she did not hold any affection for him. He offered Edward a living when he found out that Edward had given up all claims to his family's money so that he could honor his promise to marry Lucy. He also took care of his "daughter" when Willoughby got her pregnant and left her. He was kind to Elinor and her family, and honorable to everyone he met, even those he knew were talking about him behind his back.

I had a hard time seeing Edward as a hero in the story, or even as a main character. He was in a chapter or two at the beginning, and all of a sudden, Elinor was in love with him. Then he was back towards the middle, but was revealed to be engaged to Lucy. Then he comes sweeping in at the end, and they get married. It was puzzling to say the least! :)

Willoughby gets my vote for the most exciting entrance as a character! I can see him carrying Marianne into her house, coat billowing behind him.... wow! Of course, he reveals himself to be a selfish scoundrel in the end, but his beginning was exciting! :)

I enjoyed the relationship between the sisters in this book as much as Pride and Prejudice, however, I think the characters of Marianne and Elinor were more true to life than Jane and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice (or perhaps I've just never had the pleasure of knowing anyone as good and kind as Jane!). Marianne and Elinor each had their faults, but they seemed to grow quite a bit by the end of the story, especially Marianne. Granted, Marianne was only 16 in this story, and 16 year olds can have a tendency to think they have all the answers (speaking of course from my own experience as a 16 year old! LOL). Only time and experience bring the maturity to change that!

In the end, I was very happy to know that Marianne and Colonel Brandon ended up together! He was my favorite character! I'm glad Elinor is happy with Edward, though I would have liked to see more interaction between them. I just didn't feel anything for their relationship.

And I was proud of myself because this book was much easier for me to read! I think it's a great example of how the more you read classic literature, the better you get at it! So even though it's hard at first, we all need to persevere! We can do it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back from Spring Break!

I'm back from taking my daughter to DisneyWorld for her 10th birthday! It was a wonderful week, and I'm having a hard time getting back into the groove of real life! Tonight is the meeting for my "physical" Bella's Bookshelf book club... hopefully tonight or tomorrow I'll get my thoughts posted online! :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sense and Sensibility - A Summary

Sense and Sensibility
by Jane Austen
first published in 1811

Sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are very close, but have decidedly different personalities. The two young women each find love and feel quite secure in their attachments. However, both women are proved wrong when the objects of their affections reveal engagements to other women. Marianne openly displays her despondence, while Elinor keeps her feelings to herself, not only because her temperament requires it, but also in an attempt to protect Marianne's feelings. Ultimately, Marianne comes to terms with the ending of her relationship with Willoughby, and realizes that his selfishness would have ruled their lives. Meanwhile, Elinor despairs to find her beloved Edward Ferrars has married the foolish Lucy, only to learn that it was a mistake and that Lucy was instead married to Edward's brother, Robert. Elinor and Edward are married quickly and find a happy living on the property of Colonel Brandon. Over the next 2 years, Marianne finds her heart and mind's affections changed towards Colonel Brandon, who has adored Marianne from the first moment he saw her. They are ultimately married, and everyone is happy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My thoughts on Animal Farm

Well, as you may have suspected by the lack of posting, Animal Farm was not on my list of intriguing, page-turning books! I had been eager to read the book, as it's found on literally EVERY list of "must-read" books that I find during my homeschool planning efforts for my children. I had never read it in school (the story of my life!), so I was very anxious to know what makes this book a classic!

The story was simple to read... I finished it in about 5 days, and that was including writing a narration of the chapters as I read it. Unlike the works of Austen or Bronte, the language and sentence structure were easy to comprehend. I could actually read this book with my children playing around me! :)

I understood the parallels between Animal Farm and the Socialist/Communist regimes during the time the book was written. Perhaps it was more powerful then when Communism was such a looming threat? I did notice how the animals gave up their rights and freedoms bit by bit, which seems familiar in our present time... but in an attempt to keep this blog a politics-free zone, I'll stop there! ;)

All in all, it was a pretty boring book and I don't know what makes it such a classic. I even bought the Cliffs' Notes to see if I was missing something! I wasn't!

Perhaps that's the reason Stephanie Meyer chose for this to be the book she mentioned in New Moon after Edward has left, as Bella is emerging from the fog of despair.

"I forced myself to keep at it until the parking lot was full, and I ended up rushing to English. We were working on Animal Farm, an easy subject matter. I didn't mind communism; it was a welcome change from the exhausting romances that made up most of the curriculum. " (p. 99)

I can totally see how this would be an easy book for Bella in her state of mind after Edward has gone. She wouldn't need to concentrate hard on the language, considering how much she loves classic literature. She wouldn't need to delve deep to get any hidden meanings. She could read it, understand it, discuss it, write about it, all the while on "auto-pilot"!

I am glad I read this book, because now I can say I have! LOL And when I read New Moon again, in preparation for the movie premiere in November, I'll probably be able to relate to Bella a little bit more because of it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Animal Farm - A Summary

Animal Farm
by George Orwell
published 1946

The animals at Manor Farm, after having not been fed by Farmer Jones for two days, rebel and expel him from the farm, which they rename Animal Farm. The pigs begin teaching the 7 Commandments of Animalism, which they learned from the old pig Major before his death. At first, all of the animals worked together, bringing in the harvest even better than had been done with the humans were in charge, and even defeating Jones and his men when they attempted to take back the farm. Then Napoleon, with his guard of dogs, took over control from Snowball, and decided to build a windmill to provide electricity to the farm to make life easier for all of the animals. As the animals worked harder and sacrificed more, small changes were made to the original commandments, but it was hard to prove as non of the other animals were literate. As time went on, the pigs became more and more like the humans had been, and nobody remembered the reason for the rebellion or how life had really been before.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Anne of Green Gables Flashbacks

"I saw myself in a long skirt and a high-necked lace blouse with my hair piled up on my head. I saw Edward looking dashing in a light suit with a bouquet of wildflowers in his hand, sitting beside me on a porch swing.

I shook my head and swallowed. I was just having Anne of Green Gables flashbacks." - Eclipse, p. 277

Therein lies the motivation for reading Anne of Green Gables! It was just a small segment, but in the context of the passage - Edward and Bella discussing why Bella was having such a hard time accepting Edward's requirement of marriage before he would change her to a vampire - it was vitally important to me to understand what she meant!

What prompted Bella's Green Gables Flashback was Edward explaining to her that he was "that boy". In the time he was living in before he was changed, he was considered a man. He told Bella that if he had found her then, he would have "gotten down on one knee and endeavored to secure your hand. I would have wanted you for eternity, even when the word didn't have quite the same connotations." (p. 277)

It still boggles my mind that she was so against the idea of marrying him. ::shaking head:: What is WRONG with her?? Even if I had been totally opposed to it before, after that little explanation, I'm quite certain I would have changed my mind! ;)

Later when Alice shows Bella the wedding dress she has had made for her, Bella thinks, "It was my Anne of Green Gables vision all over again." (Eclipse, p. 614). Of course, now that I've read Anne, I can't help but picture Bella's wedding dress as having "puffed sleeves"! LOL I'm sort of hoping that's not the case! ;)

So, is Edward Cullen really a Gilbert Blythe?? I have a hard time picturing Edward ever pulling a girl's hair and calling her names! But maybe he did when he was young and human!? I guess as I read more about Gilbert and get to know him better, I'll be able to compare them! LOL

Monday, January 12, 2009

My thoughts on Anne of Green Gables

Be forewarned, this post will contain an obscene number of exclamation points! See? There's one already. ;)

I absolutely adored this book! I wonder how this book managed to slip past me when I was a young girl? I read and re-read the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Why did I never find Anne Shirley? I certainly missed out on quite a bit!

From the very beginning descriptions of Anne's dramatic behavior and her tendency to slip into daydreams, I compared her to my older daughter, Riley who is almost 10 years old. As I was reading, I would smile and say, "Yep, I could see Riley doing that!" But over the course of the book, I began to see more of myself in Anne. I will have to ask my mother if I was dramatic as a child, because I don't remember being that dramatic. I do know that as an adult, I completely identify with a quote that Marilla said of Anne in Chapter 22, "...the pleasures and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity." When I'm happy and feeling positive, there's no stopping me. When I'm sad and deflated, it's as if nothing will ever be right in the world again. I'm working on moderating those reactions a bit, but it's pretty difficult!

Immediately I liked Matthew, because of the way he responded to Anne. But I was unsure of Marilla until Chapter 7. This is the chapter where Marilla tells Anne to say her prayers, but Anne tells her she's never said one. Marilla rightly acknowledges that Anne is , "... this freckled witch of a girl who knew and cared nothing about God's love, since she had never had it translated to her through the medium of human love." Instead of being hateful to Anne and disgusted at her lack of concern about praying and about God, she understood that it was only because of the neglect and maltreatment she had received in her upbringing to that point. Right then and there, I loved Marilla!

It seemed to me throughout the story, that Marilla and Anne were "kindred spirits" in a way. A number of times through the book, Marilla understands Anne's reactions because she herself had felt that way when she was a girl. Though their personalities were expressed very differently, I think they are similar people at the heart.

I was glad when Matthew bought Anne a dress with puffed sleeves, and then when Marilla began to take notice that Anne's clothes were very different from her friends. I know how it feels to have your clothes be "different" at a particular age in your life when it's especially hard to be "different". I'm glad that Matthew helped Marilla see what needed to be done. I think it helped Anne's confidence!

I sobbed long and hard when Matthew died, despite the fact that I saw it coming and was prepared for it ( had it confirmed by friends who either read the book or saw the movie). The sobbing also continued through Marilla finally telling Anne how much she loves her. She then goes on to tell Anne that she and Gilbert's father had been involved, but quarreled and Marilla never forgave him. (More of that kindred spirit thing!) I think that gave Anne the last bit of determination to make up with Gilbert and develop a friendship with him.

I'll close this post with my favorite quote from Anne of Green Gables, from Chapter 36, near the end of the book:

"For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety, and discouragement."

I picked up the sequel, Anne of Avonlea, yesterday and started reading it. Not for book club! But just because I want to know what Anne does next!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Anne of Green Gables - A Summary

Anne of Green Gables
written by L. M. Montgomery
first published in 1908

Siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert intend to adopt a boy to assist Matthew with the farm work at Green Gables, but a misunderstanding occurs and they are instead presented with a red-headed girl named Anne Shirley. Despite Anne’s temperamental personality and a propensity for getting into trouble with her over-active imagination, the Cuthberts quickly become attached to Anne and decide to keep her. Anne quickly becomes best friends with Diana Barry, and develops an animosity with Gilbert Blythe, whom she competes against in school. Anne grows up, matures, and becomes an excellent student. When she goes away to further her education, she gets accepted into University and is awarded a scholarship. She decides to forego University, however, when she realizes that she is needed on Green Gables. She comes home to Green Gables and agrees to teach at the Avonlea school.

That was by far my easiest summary! I wonder if it was a “third time’s the charm” or if it was because Anne is a simpler book and was much easier to read?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Wuthering Heights and Eclipse

This was my first experience in reading a book knowing that it was "based on" or "inspired by" another book (I'm am going to re-read Twilight later this year looking for Edward as Mr. Darcy). It was also the first time I'd read Eclipse since I'd read Wuthering Heights and was familiar with the storyline and quotes that Edward and Bella talk about.

And it was SO COOL! Ok, so that's not very mature and intelligent sounding, but there's no other way to put it. It's sort of like when people say something about Mr. Darcy, or Pemberley, and I know EXACTLY what they are talking about. It's like being let in on the joke that everyone gets but you.

I had already marked the quotes mentioned in Eclipse when I read through Wuthering Heights, so this time I got to do the reverse. I thought all along that my favorite part would be when Edward quotes WH and tells Bella, "I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!" But I was mistaken.

My absolute favorite part was when Bella wakes up to find Edward reading Wuthering Heights, and he tells her he sympathizes with Heathcliff. The next morning she finds the book opened to the quote where Heathcliff is telling Mrs. Dean that he would never hurt Edgar because of how Catherine feels about him. The quote goes on to say that if her regard for him ceased, he would drink his blood." Oh my goodness, I got chills up my spine when I read it this time! It's hard for me to picture Edward as Heathcliff (because of my specific feelings toward Jacob), but I felt like I got a peek into the side of his nature that Edward works so hard to keep hidden. Unlike Heathcliff, Edward is able to consider Bella's needs before his own, but it's interesting to imagine what might have happened had Bella changed her feelings about Jacob! Hee hee. Oops, sorry for you Team Jacob folks! :)

So, yes, it was totally worth struggling through Wuthering Heights... if nothing more than to finally understand what Bella and Edward are talking about. I do feel that Bella and Catherine are the most alike, in terms of the characters in the books. Neither one of them could choose just one man and live with that decision (despite Bella's assertion that she always stuck by her decisions). I felt like Edward and Jacob could each represent Heathcliff and Edgar at different points.

I will start posting about Anne of Green Gables on Monday (or possibly Sunday, depending on how much I accomplish this weekend). There are Anne references in Eclipse as well! :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2009!!!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year's Eve! I'm spending New Year's Day reading Eclipse, so tomorrow look for my thoughts on my first time reading through it since I've read Wuthering Heights! I'm very excited!

I'll start posts for Anne of Green Gables on Monday! I finished reading it last weekend, and enjoyed it thoroughly!