Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 Books Waiting to be Read

Some of the books that I'm most looking forward to reading this year (these are in no particular order):
  • The Pale Assassin by Patricia Elliott (reading right now)
  • Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson (reading right now)
  • The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L'Engle by Madeleine L'Engle (have dipped into, and will dip into again soon)
  • Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
  • A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
  • The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  • The Navigator by Eoin McNamee
  • The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love by Kristin Kimball
  • I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (2011 Newbery winner)
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead (2010 Caldecott winner)
  • A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Some of these were Christmas gifts to me, a few I ordered with a Christmas Amazon gift card, and others are just ones I want to read.

I also hope to continue reading POC books. My next post will sum up my 2010 POC challenge and plans for the future in terms of the POC challenge and other "personal edification" reading projects.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Getting by and The Way We Live Now

So, it's been almost two months since I last posted. Going back to work has definitely been hectic, so a lot of days are still devoted to getting the bare necessities for keeping the household together done. Paired with Christmas (we mailed our last Christmas cards somewhere between the 7th and 10th of January!) and a cold going around, blogging has fallen by the wayside.

One excuse is that I've spent most of the last two months reading one book: The Way We Live Now, by Anthony Trollope. I got interested in reading something by Trollope after reading Stanley Hauerwas' memoir, Hannah's Child, where he mentions being a Trollope fan. Since in my experience, professional theologians who still regularly read fiction are rare, I thought I'd try Trollope out. I'm not sure I quite realized what I was getting into (he's a Victorian novelist--that means long novels!), but I really enjoyed the book and am posting my review at the end of this post.

I'm also about to update my blog list to include two blogs I've decided need to be there:
Please check them out!

Ok, here's the review now (which I forgot to include the first time around--hooray for post-posting editing options!):

The Way We Live Now (Modern Library Classics)The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Inspired to try out Anthony Trollope by Stanley Hauerwas (who describes himself as a big fan of Trollope in his memoir).

1/6/11 Have just gotten past the 400 page mark and am now sufficiently drawn into the story that I'm eager to read every new chapter, not just the ones that deal with my favorite characters.

1/18/11 Almost there....almost there...

1/23/11 Whew. The Way We Live Now definitely embodies the stereotype of the Victorian's LONG!! However, when I finished it's 824 pages, I felt like I had spent the time well and enjoyably.

As noted above, I had to get about half-way through before I could really enjoy the full story. I didn't know on starting, but was unsurprised to learn, that the book was published serially, so it makes sense that the story would follow a character for a few chapters, then skip to another character. Once half-way through, however, the different storylines started to weave together more and that made even those chapters that just followed Melmotte (the villain of the story) around interesting.

I liked that Trollope portrayed realistic characters who had plenty of faults--several of them more faults than virtues--but he still managed to make most of them sympathetic. Even Melmotte had some sympathetic moments, but I feel that he richly got what he deserved. I also feel that Trollope didn't cheat by letting characters have sudden changes of heart and character--he would describe their motivations and their feelings, and they stayed true to those.

Most of the characters got happy endings--even a few who didn't quite deserve them. Paul Montague and Hetta Carbury were the central romantic couple, John Crumb and Ruby Ruggles had a somewhat more exciting, yet less tortured happy ending, Roger Carbury did not get the ending he desired but rose to the occasion quite well--only Mrs. Hurtle's fate left me sad. I found the marriage of Georgiana Longstaffe to be too precipitous to be really interesting. Felix Carbury didn't quite get what he deserved (in my opinion, a swift kick in the pants), but was at least prevented from dishonoring any more young ladies or ruining his mother financially. Lady Carbury's happy ending was perhaps not deserved, but satisfying nonetheless. Since I'm a happy ending kind of girl, this is largely what made the novel enjoyable for me!

View all my reviews