Book Review: Emma Brown

Emma Brown by Clare Boylan

Emma Brown: A Novel from the Unfinished Manuscript by Charlotte Bronte
by Clare BoylanCharlotte Brontë
2 out of 5 stars

A child is mysteriously left at a girls boarding school. She has no memory of her past and is enrolled under a false name. Mr. Ellin takes it upon himself to find out about the girl’s history, hoping to restore her to her family.

Charlotte Bronte wrote the first twenty pages, and then tragically passed away before she could finish this intriguing story. And a modern author, Clare Boylan, has tried to finish the book in Charlotte Bronte’s style. I was not impressed.

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Classic Review: The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

The Island of Dr. Moreau
by H.G. WellsAlan Lightman (Goodreads Author) (Introduction)
3 out of 5 stars

Mr. Prendick is cast ashore on an island, where the evil scientist, Dr. Moreau, engages in animal vivisection and terrifying experiments. Gradually Mr. Prendick begins to realize that the other humans on the island are not all they seem to be. They have animal instincts and strange behavior, and Mr. Prendick has to fight for his life and find some way to escape this island of horrors.

The plot moves rather slowly, with more attention given to analyzing the morality and implications of Dr. Moreau’s work. A lot of time is spent scrutinizing different themes and ideas, like interesting explorations of what it really means to be human, but all the philosophizing does slow down the plot. However, when there IS any action, it is exciting and dramatic…. and violent. I did find the themes extremely interesting and well thought out.

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Classic Book Review: Dr. Wortle’s School

Dr. Wortle's School by Anthony Trollope

Dr. Wortle’s School
by Anthony Trollope
5 out of 5 stars

Dr. Wortle has hired Mr. Peacocke as a teacher in the boys prep school, but learns that Mr. Peacocke and his wife are hiding a terrible secret. The Peacocke’s are not to blame, but circumstances are against them. Dr. Wortle must decide whether to throw them out, or assist them in finding a solution to their difficulties. The ensuing scandal might be enough to close down the school unless Dr. Wortle can act quickly to silence the wild rumors.

I loved this book so much! What an exciting story! One of the characters travels to America and has some dangerous encounters there, while Dr. Wortle is at home having milder adventures of his own trying to keep vicious rumors out of the press. The plot is really interesting and full of surprises.

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Manga Review: Othello

Othello by Stacy King

Othello
by Stacy King (Goodreads Author) (Adaptor), Crystal S. Chan (Contributor), Julien Choy (Illustrator), William Shakespeare (Original Author)
5 out of 5 stars

General Othello is newly married to the beautiful Desdemona. Iago is jealous of Othello’s high position in the military, and pretends to be Othello’s friend, but swears to get his revenge by making Othello miserable any way he can. Iago spreads lies that Desdemona has been unfaithful to her new husband, and plants a seed of suspicion in Othello’s mind. Once Othello’s heart is poisoned by Iago’s lies, it means tragedy for everyone involved.

I am so impressed with this graphic novel! The artwork is beautiful and each panel shows a clear story. The classic story of Othello retains all its integrity, and the characters are powerfully depicted. This edition uses the original words of Shakespeare, and I enjoyed revisiting this beautiful play in a new format.

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Video Book Review: Wuthering Heights

Victoria’s Discord Discussion Thread: https://discord.gg/WqQzMskvta

Goodreads Group: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_folder/436791?group_id=1140842

Zoom discussion on October 30th at 3 PM EST/12 PM PST/ 8pm BST If you want to join in, please email Kate Howe to get the Zoom link at: kate.v.howe@gmail.com

Wuthering Heights: https://amzn.to/3BGueym

Wuthering Heights FREE ebook: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/768

1939 Wuthering Heights Film: https://amzn.to/3l21ycj

Book Review: Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë

Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together and learn to love each other, but Heathcliff is an orphan with no family name and no future. Catherine is the only daughter of a gentleman, and knows that she cannot marry so far below her station. The two are embroiled in a tempestuous romance that breaks more than one heart and spans over generations with far-reaching revenge and hatred.

Short Review– This isn’t a romance; it’s a revenge story. Everyone is miserable. I can recognize the genius of the writing, but the subject material is too violent and evil for me to enjoy reading it.

Extensive Review-
Plot:

I love this plot structure. It really keeps you guessing, and there is always something happening and some circumstance that is changing for the characters. The relationships between the characters drive the story, and every little detail in the dialogue points to some deep emotion under the surface.
There is also a lot of violence, some of which made me nauseated to read about. There is a lot of verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse. There is murder and revenge and illness and lies and betrayal and hatred and spite and conceit and every kind of evil! It’s exhausting.

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Book Review: Cousin Phillis and Other Stories

Cousin Phillis and Other Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cousin Phillis and Other Tales
by Elizabeth Gaskell
4 out of 5 stars
I have such mixed feelings about this book. It’s a collection of short stories, and every single one is depressing! These are the saddest, most awful stories I have ever read. The real problem is that the writing is so brilliant that it really makes you care about the characters! So when everything goes wrong, it is absolutely heartbreaking.
Also most of the stories finish with a lot of unresolved questions. They end abruptly with someone’s death, and we aren’t told if the surviving characters go on to get married or live happy lives or buy back the farm or anything. Loose ends dangling everywhere! Agh! Very frustrating.
I couldn’t finish reading them, because I was getting too depressed.

Update 2021: I finished reading the last two stories in this collection “Curious if True” and “Cousin Phillis”. These stories were a bit happier and more structured, and I enjoyed them!

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Book Review: The Making of a Marchioness

The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Making of a Marchioness
by Frances Hodgson BurnettC.D. Williams (Illustrator)
3 out of 5 stars

Emily is an assistant to the rich high-class ladies in London, making her living by planning parties, running errands, and doing little things that no one else wants to do. She lives in a small apartment where she is good friends with her landlady, Mrs. Cupp. Emily is hired to help entertain at a country manor and organize the yearly fête for the village children. She befriends one of the guests, Lady Agatha, and encourages her to attract the attention of the most eligible rich bachelor at the manor, Lord Walderhurst. But his lordship seems unimpressed with any of the single ladies present, until he reveals his true feelings to the one woman who has caught his fancy.

I do enjoy this author’s writing style and the charm of the setting, but I didn’t really like this plot. It was pretty obvious who Lord Walderhurst was going to end up with, and I didn’t like the way the romance unfolded.

I also didn’t really like the characters. They are all rather shallow and drab. Emily is so perfect and so self-sacrificing that it got on my nerves. I wanted to like her, but she is so completely angelic that she doesn’t seem like a real person.

Lord Walderhurst is practically a non-entity. He has almost no dialogue, no personality, no charisma. He is taciturn and aloof with everyone. He admits that he is a selfish person, and he is looking for a wife who is unselfish. He is supposed to be the hero of the story, but I just hated him.

The supporting characters are made of cardboard. They have no depth at all. They serve their purpose to set the stage for Emily’s story and then they fade quietly into the background with no more substance than a stage prop.

However, I still enjoyed this story because I do love the charming writing style. It kept my attention and I read it all in one sitting! I would probably reread this book someday, because it just sweeps you away into this beautiful Victorian setting of grace and glamour.