What a journey! I don’t know what I was thinking waiting this long to read this novel. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for almost 10 months and has been out for over a decade! In the last few months I finally heard enough about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to pick it up and read the tome that it is. (AKA the boyfriend wants to watch the new TV adaptation and I said I couldn’t until I read the book.)
I am most definitely beating myself up for not reading it sooner. Sure I was a bit scared of the length, hello doorstop clocking in at 846 pages, but I was even more concerned with the comparisons to Dickens! How wrong I was; how wrong I was. For some reason I let this one comparison (I still think Dickens needed an editor) blind me from the wondrousness that was this book.
I understand how important this work is, you know, history and stuff (hello sarcasm), but there is no need for the introduction to be roughly half the length of the entire work! Seriously, by time I actually got to the work which I would say is about 60 pages long, I’d read 30 pages and knew almost the entire story! Whoever wrote the introduction quoted almost all of it.
Mostly this book brings back the time in my first year of undergrad where I thought I wanted to study Ancient-Medieval history and then I scrapped by with my worst grade ever in my Greek history class and spent the next three-and-a-half years trying to make up for it and improve my GPA. On the plus side, this book counts towards my Classics Club reading list and I’m slowly chipping away. Finishing this, I’ve now passed the 40 books mark (41/100) and I’m nearing the halfway point. I’m behind schedule, but I threw the schedule out the window ages ago.
Going into Ayn Rand’s Anthem I had very little “real” knowledge of her, her writing or her politics. Everything I know about her is word-of-mouth and I’m sure exaggeration. I have no plans to change that. If I write something incredibly wrong please someone point it out, I’m just writing about my response to this story as a piece of literary fiction. And that response is wow.
I’m not sure why Rand’s masterpieces Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead get all the credit when this is a big piece of work in such a tiny package. I mean Rand was writing about post-apocalyptic dystopias before it was cool. She was contemporaries with Huxley and their bleak views really must’ve inspired modern-day writers or maybe I’m just seeing connections where I want to see them. Either way, I would be shocked to find that the likes of Atwood, Collins and Orwell to name a few hadn’t read this work.
Ever since I read Seraphina back in 2012, I’ve been patiently waiting to the conclusion of her story! It was well worth the wait and I couldn’t be happier about this book. I received a copy from the publisher in return for my honest opinion, and honestly, it’s EXCELLENT!
I wasn’t sure how Hartman would go about improving on the story (Amazon link), but she definitely did. She made it more inclusive, more exciting and a lot more enthralling. I have no idea how she did this, apart from taking almost three years, but it was definitely worth the wait. I know I talked about her amazing story telling and character building in my response to Seraphina, but Hartman brought it to a new level in Shadow Scale. If anything, I wish the book were longer to flesh out more of the “grotesques” and what happens after the story ends.
And I’m done. Eight days after I started Twilight,and over 2,600 pages later I’ve completed the four novels and the novella. First gut response: it’s not as bad as I thought it would be and I actually enjoyed myself as I read it. There is a major caveat, but that’ll come later. I’m glad I read them and now know what everyone was in such a fuss about a few years ago. I still prefer Harry Potter, but this was a fun side road.
I mentioned my caveat above and that’s the first thing I want to talk about. Meyer is an excellent story-teller and she definitely found small details to expand into a grand story. That in mind, her writing in the first novels left much to be desired. I mentioned it in Twilight and I only bring it up here because I’m torn between whether it was the writing or Bella’s character that caused me to temper my enthusiasm for the books. I know for that first book it was definitely both, but in the last book it was most certainly neither. In the three years it took her to write and publish the four novels (and even the extra two years to the release of the novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner) Meyer’s writing and characterization improved 10 fold.
I know I say this regularly, but I can’t do justice to this book in my response. The more I think about it (I finished reading it last Wednesday), the more I realize I don’t know how to talk about it.
My local book group decided to do this book and movie, and it was an excellent choice even if I did miss the discussion! It was particularly relevant as Garimara died in April 2014 and is there a better way to honor a writer’s passing than reading their works?
I’m not sure, but if I had to guess I would say there are quite a few books out there about the Stolen Generations, but I’m not sure how many are first hand accounts. And that is where this story truly hits home. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence is as much Garimara’s story as it is her mother and aunt’s. And to find out at the end that her mother made the journey a second time with one of her children and the incredible journey in the book and movie becomes that much more powerful.
Honestly, I think even in high school I only partially read The Red Pony and The Pearl (or maybe I did actually read them, because they’re both novellas and pretty short), but the point is I finished a BIG one! In addition to it being a “full” Steinbeck novel, it counts toward both my Classic Club list (32/100) and as part of my 30 x 30 list!
I’ve always felt a little guilty at the lack of American authors on my read list and not having Steinbeck seems like a big omission. I’ve read many American authors, mostly before I started this blog, but Steinbeck is one of those which really is synonymous with America. He is America, a very specific swath and very specific time period of America, but he is America none-the-less.