Classic Book Review: Olive

Olive by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Olive
by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

4.5 out of 5 stars
Olive is born with a deformity in her spine. Her parents are devastated to have a humpback child, but try to show Olive compassion. Her childhood is peaceful, but as Olive grows up she begins to realize that she will never be able to live like other people. She is unlikely to ever marry or have a family. Uneducated and without resources, Olive must lean on her faith to help her through the difficulties of her life. She finds solace in nature and art, and in supporting her friends and family with a patient and kind spirit.

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Classic Book Review: The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy

4 out of 5 stars

In a drunken rage, Henchard sells his wife and baby daughter to a sailor for five guineas. Once he is sober, Henchard bitterly repents of his deed and searches for his wife and child, but to no avail. Over the passing years, Henchard’s fortunes change and he becomes a successful businessman and mayor of the town of Casterbridge. He is well-respected and lives a peaceful life, until his wife returns with a teenage daughter, Elizabeth-Jane, and his old secrets begin to haunt him.

I love Hardy’s writing style! He really knows how to tell a dramatic story in a beautiful rural setting. There is something so vivid and immediate in his writing that draws you into the emotions of every scene.

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Classic Poetry Review: The Lady of the Lake

The Lady of the Lake
by Sir Walter Scott

5 out of 5 stars

As a result of a feud between her father and King James, Ellen Douglas must live a secluded life in hiding on a small island in a Scottish loch. There she meets the mysterious James Fitz-James, a knight who has lost his hunting party in the highlands. Ellen is distressed by the romantic intentions of two highland lords, Malcolm Graeme and Roderick Dhu. Her father, the Douglas, refuses to lead his clan into war with King James, but Roderick Dhu calls together an army for a bloody battle.

I loved this beautiful poetry! There is such a wonderful balance in the writing between flowery phrases and powerful emotions and good plain storytelling. All these things come together for a delightful reading experience.

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Book Review: Round the Fire Stories

Round the Fire Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

Round the Fire Stories
by Arthur Conan Doyle

4 out of 5 stars

These short stories all feature some horrific circumstance or frightening apparition. There are terrifying nightmares, murder, ghosts, seances, dangerous exotic animals, and stolen jewels. Each story gradually leads into more and more suspicious circumstances until the hero of the tale is finally confronted with the full effect of their horrific situation.

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Classic Book Review: The Portable Kipling

The Portable Kipling by Rudyard Kipling

The Portable Kipling
by Rudyard Kipling, Irving Howe (Editor)

3 out of 5 stars

I do love Rudyard Kipling’s writing, but I found this book difficult to get through. It took me a year to read little by little through all of the short stories and poems and essays, because I didn’t enjoy most of them.

Most of the time the setting of the stories were so entirely foreign to me that I had a hard time understanding what was going on. There are so many references to historical things and cultural ideas in India that are not explained. The author assumes that the reader already knows about these things, and so it is not clear to a modern reader what is happening. Unless you know the entire history of the British occupation of India and every battle and political upset from the 1800s, you will likely be lost.

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Book Reviews: The Famous Five #1-2

Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Five on a Treasure Island (Famous Five, #1)
by Enid Blyton, Eileen A. Soper (Illustrator)

3.5 stars
Three siblings go to visit their cousin and explore a small island just off the coast. One day a storm uncovers a wrecked ship that had been sunk generations ago. The storm throws the sunken ship up onto the rocks of the island. The children explore the wreck and discover a treasure map for gold ingots that are hidden in the ruins of the island.

It took me half the book to realize that the fifth person of the “Famous Five” is actually the dog. I kept waiting for another character to show up in the story, wondering where the mysterious fifth person was going to come in. Haha! I was a bit disappointed that it’s only the dog.

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Book Review: Aunt Jane’s Nieces in the Red Cross

Aunt Jane's Nieces in the Red Cross by Edith Van Dyne

Aunt Jane’s Nieces in the Red Cross (Aunt Jane’s Nieces, #10)
by Edith Van Dyne (Pseudonym), L. Frank Baum

3.5 stars
In this last book of the Aunt Jane’s Nieces series, the girls are upset by news of the Great War (WWI) in Europe. Although the United States is remaining neutral so far, the nieces and their Uncle John decide to join the Red Cross as nurses and ambulance drivers to help the wounded French and Belgian soldiers near Dunkirk. Their friend volunteers his yacht as a hospital ship, and Uncle John provides all the necessary supplies. They obtain their approval from the Red Cross, their nurses’ training, and their official credentials, but they still need a surgical doctor who will volunteer to join them. Uncle John hears of a medical man with a severely disfigured face who might be willing to help, but they will have to convince him that his features are not an obstacle.

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Classic Play Review: Lover’s Vows

Lover's Vows by Elizabeth Inchbald

Lover’s Vows
by Elizabeth Inchbald

3 out of 5 stars

This play follows the sad fortunes of Agatha, who is forced to beg on the street. Her son, Frederick, returns from the army, and she confesses to her son that he is illegitimate. He vows to find his true father, the Baron Wildenhaim. Agatha is taken ill, and some kindly cottagers welcome her into their home, while Frederick wanders the countryside begging. He meets some wealthy noblemen and begs money from them, not realizing that one of them is his own father, Baron Wildenhaim.
Meanwhile, Baron Wildenhaim’s daughter, Amelia, considers whether she will marry the wealthy Count or her lowly tutor.

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Classic Book Review: Lady Susan

Lady Susan by Jane Austen

Lady Susan
by Jane Austen

4 out of 5 stars

Lady Susan is charming and vivacious. Lady Susan lies to everyone. Lady Susan flirts with anything in pants! Lady Susan tries to persuade her daughter, Frederica, to marry. Frederica doesn’t like the gentlemen, so Lady Susan manipulates and schemes. Lady Susan is greedy and immoral, but… she is not boring.

The epistolary style is my favorite thing about this little book. It was so fun to see from all the different perspectives of the characters. They all have a strong opinion of Lady Susan, and they aren’t afraid to express it in their letters! Lady Susan’s letters to her friend, Alicia, are so full of malice and deceit. Ooh, it’s thrilling!

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Classic Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice with Related Readings by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice with Related Readings
by Jane Austen

5 out of 5 stars

Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters are eager to make the acquaintance of their new neighbors, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. They meet and dance together at various country balls and events. However, Elizabeth is frequently embarrassed by her mother’s vulgar manners and her little sisters flirtations with army officers. Elizabeth must navigate the social criticism of her sisters’ romances, while fending off a few proposals of her own.

I just love the witty dialogue between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. There is so much sparkling dialogue in the whole book, and it is a delight to read. The entire writing style is so polished and easy to read! The plot flows along so naturally and with so much energy that you barely notice all the little genius sub-plots that are happening.

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