Here we go, another set of mini-reviews that couldn’t possibly fit in review posts of their own xD Once again this batch of mini-reviews features mainly classics (especially from the Little Black Classics series–after oggling over them for a good chunk of the year, I finally got my hands on some of them! 🙂 ). Included in this batch of reviews are:
So without further ado…
How We Weep and Laught at the Same Thing
By: Michel de Montaigne
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy
‘No one characteristic clasps us purely and universally in its embrace.’
A selection of charming essays from a master of the genre exploring the contradictions inherent to human thought, words and actions.
I first encountered Michel de Montaigne in my first year of undergrad. We had to read a selection of essays for World Literature class and absolutely fell in love with his stuff; he wrote about things that I often thought about, and I could totally emphasise where he was coming from with certain topics. I wish I had picked up his complete works when I was in undergrad instead of the required selected text, but whatever, every now and then I’d pick up a slim volume from Penguin Classics featuring a few of his essays. This is one of them, in which he contemplates on the nature of human thought, how we define ourselves, life, death, etc. I don’t know what else I could really say about it except that it’s worth checking out; a lot of his observations are still applicable today and to the human condition.
So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂
For this month’s So You Want to Read… I decided to go with Elizabeth Gaskell (author tag). Not entirely sure why but it seemed fitting to place this list for the month of November; there’s something about some of her books that seem perfect in the autumn season 🙂 Anyway, I first picked up Elizabeth Gaskell’s books around…2007/2008 after someone recommended the ever-wonderful 2004 television adaptation of North and South; if you haven’t seen it, this is an absolute must. It was also the first time I encountered the wonderful actor Richard Armitage grace my screen 😛 —
*ahem* Anyway, I read the book and absolutely fell in love with it. I picked up a number of her books since, though sadly I don’t have reviews for some of them. Nonetheless, here we are, here’s my recommendations of which of her books to check out if you’re interested in reading her books 🙂
- North and South (review) — An absolute given 😛 It’s kind of like Pride and Prejudice (review) except it’s set in northern England and really there’s a whole lot more to the novel than the growing relationship between Margaret Hale and Mr. Thornton. This book immediately solidified my love for Ms. Gaskell’s writing, the way she’s able to interweave social commentary to a very engaging and interesting story populated with well-rounded characters. It’s a gem of a read, definitely and highly recommended!
- Wives and Daughters — Elizabeth Gaskell did not finish this novel due to her death, but the book more or less hints to how the story was going to end (she also told a friend, I believe…and then of course there’s the BBC adaptation starring Justine Waddall and Keeley Hawes; definitely worth checking out, by the way, it’s an excellent series!). Molly and Roger’s budding romance is far more quieter, and punctured with obstacles from Molly’s stepsister Cynthia to family drama on Roger’s side, but it’s quite an interesting read in character and social dynamics and interactions.
- Cranford — BBC also made two delightful series based on the stories set in the sleepy town of Cranford. It’s a far different read than the first two but just as enjoyable as the town is populated mostly by elderly women facing the modernisations that England was embarking in at the time. There’s of course the social element ever present in these stories, but it’s nonetheless a fun read and quite different (I think) from many of her other works.
- Ruth (review) — I read this book more recently and omg, the feels. Definitely on the bleaker side of life with everything that Ruth has to deal with and suffer, but it’s an eye-opening read on both a major social stigma at the time as well as the different reactions and perspectives on the subject. But don’t despair too much on the bleakness, there are moments of hope, not to mention it’s just such a read–I personally couldn’t put it down, I was wholly engrossed in Ruth’s journey.
I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s books for the first time! What’s your favourite Elizabeth Gaskell novel? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to check out?
By: Elizabeth Gaskell
Format/Source: Won a copy via Twitter giveaway contest held by Penguin Paperbacks
Ruth Hilton is an orphaned young seamstress who catches the eye of a gentleman, Henry Bellingham, who is captivated by her simplicity and beauty. When she loses her job and home, he offers her comfort and shelter, only to cruelly desert her soon after. Nearly dead with grief and shame, Ruth is offered the chance of a new life among people who give her love and respect, even though they are at first unaware of her secret – an illegitimate child. When Henry enters her life again, however, Ruth must make the impossible choice between social acceptance and personal pride.
In writing Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell daringly confronted prevailing views about sin and illegitimacy with her compassionate and honest portrait of a ‘fallen woman’.
Elizabeth Gaskell has been one of my all-time favourite authors, ever since I read her novel North & South (review) a few years ago. Since then I read a number of other works, including Wives & Daughters and Cranford, but I’m still getting around to the rest of her bibliography. Ruth was one of those titles I still had yet to read, but was bumped up the to-read list thanks to Penguin Paperbacks and the Twitter giveaway contest they held earlier this year 🙂
North and South
By: Elizabeth Gaskell
From her home ground, her father’s comfortably middle-class living in Hampshire and her aunt’s establishment in Harley Street, Margaret is exiled to the ugly northern industrial town of Milton. Surprisingly, her social consciousness awakens. It is intensified by a relationship with the local mill-owner, Thornton, that combines passionate attraction with fierce opposition.
I first read this book back in 2008 after watching the lovely and awesome BBC adaptation starring Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage (if you haven’t seen this yet, I suggest you do. Like, now, LOL) and absolutely loved it. It was a while since I’ve read it so I decided last week to re-read the novel again as part of my goals this summer to re-read a number of books on my shelves. Anyways, since I didn’t write a review the first time around, here it is =) Spoilers ahead!