By: Elizabeth Kostova
The premise of this story follows a quest throughout Europe surrounding the legend of Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Three separate stories are interwoven throughout this novel, one set in the 1930s following a young Rossi, the second set in the 1950s following the graduate student Paul and the last story is grounded in “present time” (the 1970s). I don’t read a lot of vampire books, but Vlad the Impaler as a historical figure is one that I haven’t really read up a lot on so I thought the premise of the story was interesting, that and the fact that I don’t know much about Eastern European history.
I’ve been meaning to do this entry for a very long time now but I wanted everything out of the way in order to do it because I’ve had a lot of thought about it and there’s just so much to say about the book. I’ve just finished re-reading the book so a lot of what I have to say about this novel is also relatively fresh in my mind. I originally thought I could merge the book and movie reviews here but it appears that my book review/analysis/discussion is on the long side so it’ll be split. So, this should be fun, lol. Massive spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book!
By: Ian McEwan
What can be said about Atonement? Well, just a brief rundown on the premise: the book spans from three different time periods starting from 1935. On one hot summer day, the lives of three different individuals will drastically change thanks to (ultimately) the power of perspective and the action of one child. That last sentence sounds very vague, but the plot is a fairly complicated once you start getting your head wrapped around it but essentially the course of the book fundamentally follows the course of their lives as a result of one action, one lie, and the struggle to deal with the reprecussions of that event.
This is the first book I’ve ever read by Ian McEwan and I have to say, I was very impressed. What drew me in to the book right away was his prose; I know some people find his prose very boring, but I found it to be quite refreshing. The first time around, I was just drawn in by the way he described the events, the thoughts and actions of these characters, the words he used to describe these aspects of the story. The way he phrased things and the way his sentences were structured came to be as very different, as though it was written by someone in the early 20th century, maybe even earlier, like it was written in a way that you don’t see books written now. Reading it a second time around, I appreciated how he always seemed to find the right word to describe a particular event or a particular scene. It worked for the novel, and I think it really added to the story.
The Lord Memoirs of Jane Austen
By: Syrie James
Being a massive Jane Austen fan, I had to go and pick up this book (well, actually I was staring at this book for how many weeks before I picked it up). There’s always been speculation as to whether Jane Austen had a great love story in her life that inspired the greatest love stories in her novels; you can see it in the various biographies available at bookstores on her life, there was the movies Becoming Jane and Miss Austen Regrets. The premise of this novel fits in with the speculation; James writes from the point of view of Jane Austen herself, transcribing her relationship with a well-off gentleman by the name of Mr. Ashford. This relationship was set between her teenage years and the time that Sense and Sensibility came out. It’s a sweet novel, drawing in incidents that would’ve influenced certain scenes later in her six novels. It’s a great read, James captures the period that Jane lived in quite nicely, although she could have expanded the ending a bit longer, it seemed a bit abrupt (though, thinking upon it further, it made sense since it would’ve been a painful memory to Jane). I strangely found myself drawing parallels with the movie Becoming Jane, but that could just be a coincidence since I had also seen the movie shortly before reading the book. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy Jane Austen’s works.
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Love in the Time of Cholera
By: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I bought this book back in December but never got around to reading it until February. This is the first book I’ve ever read by him (though I did hear of his other book, One Hundred Years of Solitude) and with a movie made basedon the novel, I figured to check it out. It’s a wonderul book that starts off with the main characters in their twilight years before going back and retracing the beginning of their romance and the course of their lives before returning to the moment depicted at the beginning of the novel and then its aftermath. It must have been a daunting task to retrace a half-century of the lives of Florentino Ariza, Fermina Daza and Dr. Juvenal Urbino, a task that is truly impressing. The plot itself is very simple, the case of a love triangle and the question of security, the nature of true love and steadfastness. Social issues are also mentioned in this novel, set in South America over the course of the later half of the 19th century. Marquez’s prose is wonderful, you get a sense of the environment and the times that these characters lived in. At times I found myself relatively unsympathetic towards Florentino and Fermina and their actions and behaviour and surprisingly found myself sympathetic to Urbino at times. The ending of the novel was also a bit depressing to me, a commentary on the course of life and the nature of old age. But I believe the plot was good enough to keep you going, the scope is impeccable even if the characters can be startling at times.
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