Cruel miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has never met a shilling he doesn't like...and hardly a man he does. And he hates Christmas most of all. When Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, he learns eternal lessons of charity, kindness, and goodwill. Experience a true Victorian Christmas!Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
I have a bad history with Charles Dickens. I was forced to read at least one of his books in school– Great Expectations— and it had left a great stain of anti-Dickens sentiment upon my soul. I hate Dickens! I hate his dour stories, his depressing characters, and the whole dank coating of gloom that hovers over his books. I don’t even watch the TV show versions, and I can only enjoy Oliver Twist if it’s in the musical format. So it was with some surprise that last month I found myself somewhat willing to give Dickens another shot. I didn’t want to start off ambitiously– I wasn’t about to read Nicholas Nickleby or, heaven forbid, A Tale of Two Cities, not when I still felt MOSTLY anti-Dickens– but I thought I might make it through a shorter Dickens work. And as it’s coming up on Christmas: I chose A Christmas Carol.
Well! I had a pleasant surprise. A Christmas Carol is funny, touching, and laced with enough sarcasm throughout that I think even people who hate Christmastime (or Dickens) would like it. It’s also really short, so Dickens doesn’t have a chance to do that infernal wordcount padding that all serialists seem to do, and it’s entertaining enough that the story really does just fly by. I had such a good time reading it that I feel slightly more up to reading a longer Dickens story now! Although it definitely will not be Great Expectations.
Read: December 2-3, 2010
First published in 1847, Agnes Grey was Anne Brontë’s first novel and thought to be her most autobiographical. It is the story a young woman who works as a governess to help support her family. Through the course of the novel she is employed in two different families, however her experiences of dealing with spoiled and ignorant children (and employers) is similar in both households.Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
I haven’t read any of the Bronte sisters’ books before this one, although I was naturally more familiar with Charlotte and Emily’s books than with Anne’s. I felt sort of bad for Anne, who always seems to get the short end of the literary stick, and so I decided to read one of her books first.
Unfortunately I don’t think this was the best one to start out with. The beginning was fine, and the middle was great (hints of romance and adventure!) but the ending turned preachy and boring and I felt really disappointed by the time I finished Agnes Grey. You can tell it’s autobiographical (Anne was a governess for a while) and that’s somewhat interesting, but by the time Agnes started into her romance it got really dull. Agnes started out as such a strong-willed character who wanted to go out and take care of herself but by the end she was so impotent and resigned to her fate (as a spinster?) that I was actually somewhat shocked. It was like because she was a governess once she couldn’t be anything else ever again, which of course is untrue. Just look at Anne herself!
Read: December 6-9, 2010
Mike, due to take over as cricket captain at Wrykyn, is withdrawn from the school by his father and sent to a lesser school, called Sedleigh. On arrival at Sedleigh, he meets the eccentric Rupert Psmith, another new arrival from the superior school of Eton. Becoming fast friends, the two eschew cricket and indulge in all manner of high-jinks and adventures.Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
First off: this book has entirely too much cricket in it. I know Mike is obsessed with it (and Psmith too, I suppose), but being a person who only knows about cricket from TV and The Lives of Christopher Chant I spent much of the time wondering what the hell was going on. However, despite not knowing the intricacies of the sport, I could get the general idea of what was going on with Wodehouse’s kind help (excellent descriptions of players’ movements), and that kept me from being utterly irritated.
Secondly: this is a really fun book. Excepting the cricket problem, it’s a really good pre-WWII school story, with school intrigue and that weird schoolboy friendship stuff that pops up, and it also takes place in a boarding school, so that’s nice. I quite liked Psmith, who’s eccentric and weirdly like Lord Peter minus the propensity for solving mysteries, and I’m definitely planning on reading the other Psmith books. Apparently there’s less cricket in them, so that’s good.
Read: December 9-10, 2010