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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This book gives short biographies of literature’s greatest authors and poets, including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Poe, the Brontes, the Brownings, Dickens, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Hardy, Doyle, D.H. Lawrence, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Frost.
These are actually classroom lectures that have been written out, and the writing style reflects that. It doesn’t feel like a normal biography or literary essay. The style is more conversational. I really hated that, because the author tries to be funny and clever and does not succeed. The dad jokes are numerous.
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!