Monday, July 17, 2006

Book Review Time

Thought I'd post about a few of the books I've read over the past two weeks.

A Pair of Blue Eyes. Thomas Hardy. Taking place in the last half of the 19th c. the book focuses on Elfrida, a young, naive, small-town daughter of a widower clergyman in Cornwall. It is the story of how Elfrida's impulsive actions haunt her relationships with the several men in her life, finally leading to a terrible misunderstanding. She is surrounded by characters who are innocent and honest, or sophisicated and introspective, or threatening and ill-willed, or well-meaning and a bit pushy. Wish they'd make a movie of this one, it'd be great.

The Hot Zone, Richard Preston. If I had ten lives to live, one of them would be as an epidemiologist. There's just nothing like an epidemiological puzzle. This is the true story of the filovirus Ebola Reston, which was barely contained in a specimen monkey facility in Reston VA. The reader is led carefully (if gruesomely; you were warned) through the jungles of Mt. Elgon in Kenya, where some of the most lethal viruses on the planet are found. If you like medical thrillers this is the best I've ever read. Richard Preston is a master storyteller. There is some language consistent with Army fatigues here.

Sarai, Marek Halter; Zipporah, Marek Halter. I had high hopes for these because my MIL has enjoyed Halter, but I was very disappointed. Even though it does not pretend to be anything but a fictional work, you kind of get the feeling that Halter has an agenda here, a rather PC one. He turns Zipporah into a black Cushite and makes everyone hate her because of her black skin. Then he has her bearing children out of wedlock with Moses because she is not going to marry him as long as he keeps refusing to go to Israel to rescue them from Pharaoh. "I won't marry you until the day you leave". Please! And Sarai becomes a pagan priestess in Ur, and is whisked away from Ur by Abram, who is one of the outcast Mar-tu tribe. The writing is not much above your basic romance level...give me Chaim Potok any day. Skip these. Skip Halter.

I need to decide whether I will read the Du Maurier I bought at the library book sale or get one out of the library and save the one I have for a trip. Maybe another Hardy? I rather liked the one I just read. Any suggestions? I like good English fiction that deals with the dilemmas people get themselves and others into. England must be full of very observant people. Hm.


Blogger The BadgerMum said...

Du Maurier? Do you mean Rebecca? I don't know whether she ever wrote anything else, but Rebecca was quite good.

Just two weeks ago I was given a book by Nicholas Sparks, acclaimed author, if you can go by the Amazon reviews (hah!). It was nothing but sentimental tripe, and not even well written. I need a new author. I've read and reread my favorites until I'm tired of them.

9:09 AM  
Blogger craigellachie said...

Yes, Daphne du Maurier of Rebecca fame. She has written alot of books and is actually responsible for the movie The Birds-- it was a short story from Tales of the Macabre. Have you read any of Anthony Trollope's stories? I especially loved his The Eustace Diamonds-- it's utterly hilarious.

12:32 PM  
Blogger The BadgerMum said...

I started Barchester Towers just before we moved last summer and had to give it back to the library before I was very far into it. I really enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, since I generally don't care for the Victorians. The Eustace Diamonds is a great suggestion - thanks!

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

E- Hardy gets very very depressed later in life, and it is reflected in his works. Give Jude the Obscure a miss - Hardy was very anti-marriage in that one. And Tess was frustratingly tragic - nothing went right for that poor girl. Very depressing. However, two of his earlier works were good - The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Far From the Madding Crowd. He's not my favorite author - I think he was obsessed with manipulating his readers by making them depressed and suicidal.

HOWEVER, I've never heard of Blue Eyes...I'll give it a try based on your recommendation.

by the way, have you read the Hornblower series by C.S. Forester?

11:57 PM  
Blogger craigellachie said...

You know, I was about to try Jude the Obscure, and am glad for that comment. Haven't read Far From The Madding Crowd, but have seen the movie, so I know what's about...same with M of C. He wrote a couple of others, but now I know to check the dates of his works. As for Hornblower, I have read a couple of his but haven't done so for years. Maybe I should go back to it.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

House on the Strand by DuMaurier was good, as I remember it. Intriguing plot. And Rebecca was very good as well.

I'm working through the Barchester Chronicles - there are six of them, of which Barchester Towers is the second. I'm on the third, Doctor Thorne, and it is very enjoyable. Someday I'll read Eustace Diamonds. I think it's part of a series, too.

12:15 AM  
Blogger The BadgerMum said...

BT is the second? What's the first? I hate starting a series in the wrong place.

But is it the second one written, or the second one in chronological order, because I believe in reading them in the order in which the author wrote them, unlike some disturbed people who think that The Magician's Nephew is the first in the Chronicles of Narnia.

12:28 AM  
Blogger craigellachie said...

The Eustace Diamonds is part of the series in which the Palliser family is central. Seems to me there are six or seven novelettes in that one but I can't remember the name of it.

8:33 AM  

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