I’ve wanted to read this since a book group I was in when I first moved to Boston read it. They read it before I joined and I thought it sounded interesting. So keeping with my theme of expanding my reading (and apparently reading a lot more nonfiction) I requested it from the local library.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed. This book felt more like a really well written undergraduate research paper than a book than a published book (and they were typos too). Part of this I believe comes from the structure and subtitle of the book and the other part I think comes from the super-focused subject matter. I discuss both below, but before I get to that I do want to say that it was an interesting read and I found many of the stories compelling and the appalling way in which Harvard dealt with these students should be a black mark on their history and reputation regardless of the time period. Not only did the Secret Court expel a number of individuals they were so adamant in their beliefs that they expunged the records of some of the individuals completely removing them from Harvard University records and if any of those expelled attempted to get into another school or a job using their Harvard connection/credentials, Harvard had a policy of exposing explicitly why they were expelled and this continued into at least the 1970s.
I’m not sure about the rest of you, but in High School, one of my AP literature courses required that we learn a portion of the prologue in Middle English. Now rather than delight you all with a ridiculous video of me reciting it (I can still do the first 10-15 lines or so from memory), you’ll just have to use your imagination.
I’m glad I revisited this as part of my Back to the Classics, Classics Club and Mount TBR challenges. The only part I actually recall reading in class was the prologue. I remember discussing a few of the tales, but we never actually had to read them which I think is strange. Before I start to sound too impressive I did read a translated version (with the Middle English on the facing page – see photo below) and this was not the complete collection. This version of the book only contained eight of the 24 completed tales in addition to the general prologue. Just from a brief glance here, they appear to be the longer/most completed of the Tales. If Chaucer completed the collection it would contain 120 tales two for each person, one to Canterbury and one on the return so I only really read a third of the completed tales and 20% of what would have been the complete collection. Click here to continue reading.
Yay for another book that counts for multiple challenges (Mount TBR, Back to the Classics and The Classics Club)! (It’s a doozy, sorry for the length!)
Ever since I read In Cold Blood and Other Voices, Other Rooms, I’ve wanted to read more Capote, but I haven’t. Throw in the fact that Breakfast at Tiffany’s has such an iconic place in popular culture, I had to read it at some point. Now I just need to see the film.
I didn’t realize this when I bought this copy, but it contained the novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and three short stories: House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory. So for my response I’ve just written a paragraph about each under a subtitle and you can see the opening/closing lines of each at the end of the post and my recommendation is for this collection as a whole.
One thing that will always impress me about Truman Capote is his openly writing about homosexuals in his works. Writing during the height of the lavender scare in DC he was not only an open homosexual, but he included them openly in his works, but more shockingly he didn’t denigrate them. He just included them as characters.
Now, having read two books by Michael Ondaatje, one thing is certain: his writing is incredibly smooth and beautiful, especially when it comes to the description of scenes and settings. The best comparison I can think of is a deep voice talking soothingly (like James Earl Jones or Donald Sutherland. And in all honesty, I’m pretty sure I read Ondaatje’s books with a Sutherland voice in my head. In the Skin of a Lion is my third Mount TBR book, but not an officially listed book, but one I expected to read.
As I read the story, I kept forgetting that the novel is told as a retelling of the story. It starts out with, this is when (and how) this story is told and I just forgot about it. And forgetting about this really affected my ability to enjoy the story. I kept thinking this is pretty disjointed and wondering who the narrator was talking to. Rereading the ‘forward’ helped put it back into perspective, but I should’ve paid more attention from the start.
I felt this was a brilliant follow-up to the Harry Potter series. Well done J.K. Rowling, well done. However, I will say that it wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t easy to get into, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it and it closed with a BANG!
I have to start with an admission that I have a heavily biased opinion about UK politics. While living in Leeds I was heavily involved in student politics and all of my friends and acquaintances were heavily involved in politics (local, national, activism). And while there, many people I knew stood for local elections, and since I left the UK more have stood and even more now hold office, so reading The Casual Vacancy was like a joyful return to Leeds and listening to the countless, often repetitive, debates about local/national politics.
I have to agree with the many other reviews I’ve read that J.K. Rowling’s strength is again revealed with her characterization of the youth in the novel. From serving as the catalysts for the action to providing more insight into Pagford than many of the adults, the teens of this novel made the most impact and brought many issues facing teens to the forefront of the story.