Saturday, August 24, 2013

53. Little Women

My rating: 5 stars

“I've got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.”  ― Little Women

Little Women is the story of the March sisters as they grow up during postbellum Massachusetts.

Little Women, published in two parts in 1868 and 1869, is classified as a Bildungsroman, or coming of age novel. The first part of the novel follows Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy through a tumultuous year of growing up while their father is serving in the Union Army. The second part of the novel, originally entitled Good Wives, picks up three years later and continues the story as the sisters grow up and marry.

Louisa May Alcott never intended for the book to be perceived as autobiographical, but it truly is. She based the main characters on her family, although they are idealized versions.
This is one of my favorite novels. Every time I read it, I feel enriched. I love the sisterly bond and the fact that the girls choose their own destinies, rather than allowing others to do it for them.  

There are multiple film adaptations:

Little Women (1917) – starring Daisy Burrell. The first film version was a silent film. The film is lost.

Little Women (1933) – starring Katharine Hepburn and Joan Bennett. This film was directed by George Cukor. It was a huge success and is still considered a magnificent adaptation.

Little Women (1949) – starring June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O’Brien, Elizabeth Taylor and Mary Astor. This film was a star-studded movie and was a top grossing film. However, it had several changes from the novel, which detract from the story.

Little Women (1978) – starring Susan Dey, Meredith Baxter, and Greer Garson. This was a TV film. I’ve never seen it, but I can’t really imagine liking it- William Shatner played Professor Bhaer to Susan Dey’s Jo.

Little Women (1994) – starring Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, and Christian Bale.  This film varies from the novel, but not in a way that detracts from the story. This is my favorite version.

It has also been adapted for the stage.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

38. Emma

Emma (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)My Rating: 5 stars

Ranked as number 38 on the Greatest Books Ever Written List.

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” ― Emma

Emma tells the tale of Emma Woodhouse, a woman of means, who is an unrelenting matchmaker in early 19th century England. Emma, the sole caretaker of her father, spends her time trying to set people up, often with disastrous results.

Emma, published in 1815, is a Comedy of Errors novel. This type of novel satirizes a particular class of people. In the case of this novel, it is the gentry of 19th century rural England. Comedies of Errors tend to have stereotypical characters. Two that appear in Emma are the fop, someone who is overly concerned with his appearance, and the rake, someone who is a heartless womanizer. We see these two characters in Mr. Elton and Frank Churchill (though Frank may not be as heartless as he appears).

Jane Austen wrote Emma with the intention of creating a main character who no one would like. Emma at first appears to be frivolous and interfering. However, through the novel, we actually see Emma evolve into a much more mature character who recognizes her faults and shortcomings. The character of Emma was a departure for Austen, in the fact that Emma was not worried about income. Also, the character of Mr. Knightley is someone Emma has always known, as opposed to Austen’s other novels.

Emma has always been one of my favorite novels. It strikes me as being more similar to the modern world than Austen’s other novels. I have always loved Mr. Knightley’s character, almost more than Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice. It is a novel I read again and again, never tiring of the different adventures Emma finds herself in.

There are several film adaptations of this novel:

Emma (1972) – starring Doran Godwin, John Carson. This was a six-part BBC miniseries.

Clueless (1995) – starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Breckin Meyer. This was a modern adaptation of the novel, using Beverly Hills as the new location. The movie was a sleeper hit and spawned a two season TV series and a series of books.

Emma (1996) – starring Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton. This was a TV movie from the BBC. It was a departure in the sense that Mr. Knightley was portrayed as much fiercer than in the novel.

Emma (1996) – starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Alan Cumming, Toni Collette, Ewan McGregor, Jeremy Northam. This film followed the story closely, but heightened the attraction between Emma and Mr. Knightley.

Emma (2009) – starring Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller, Michael Gambon. This was a BBC miniseries. It follows the novel closely.

There have also been numerous sequels and stage adaptations.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Update/Don Quixote :-)

I've finished updating my reviews and added one more- To Kill a Mockingbird. I actually read it last year, but it is #15 on my list, so I wanted to add the review. Great book if you haven't read it!

I'd forgotten how much I love Gone With the Wind. If you've never read it, you really must.

I'm about to give up on Don Quixote- it is hard to read for me, probably because the character is obviously insane and no one does anything. If you've read it, let me know if I should keep going. I'm in Book Two- does it get any better????

15. To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdMy Rating: 4 stars

Ranked as number 15 on the Greatest Books Ever Written List.

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
― To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of racial injustice in the mid-20th century south. The narrative centers on Scout Finch’s family and her observations of the town around them.

To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, is classified as a Bildungsroman, or coming of age novel, and a Southern Gothic novel. Southern Gothic is a uniquely American literature, taking place completely in the Deep South. To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates this through the racism prevalent throughout the novel as well as the idiosyncratic characters, especially Boo Radley. The character of Atticus Finch is one of the greatest in literature. He is a normal man who steps up to do the right thing, no matter the cost.

Harper Lee based the book loosely on events in her own childhood, growing up in rural Alabama. She paints the characters with unique characteristics that make them seem like people you would know in real life, and creates a town that seems like a place you’ve visited before.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. As a Southerner myself, I could see people I knew in childhood throughout this novel. Although I grew up in a very different time period, it still rings true.

There is one film adaptation:

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – starring Gregory Peck, Mary Badham. Horton Foote adapted the story for film. It is considered one of the greatest American movies, with the character of Atticus Finch being named the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.

It has also been adapted for the stage.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cleaning things up and Updating

Now that I am back in full teacher mode, I'm going to be cleaning up my little blog, updating my reviews and adding reviews for books that I've already read. I'm still slogging through Don Quixote (I don't know if I'll ever get it finished at this rate!), as well as reading Gone With the Wind (love it) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (love it as well).

I finally decided on how I wanted to write my reviews, so I rewrote my review of Pride and Prejudice. I will be updating my other reviews over the next week or so and adding reviews of books I've already read in the last year or so that are on the list. I'll post an update here to let you when they are done.

If you've commented on any of my previous posts, I want to thank you. It's nice to know I'm not doing this alone. :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2012


So, time got away from me this summer. I had every intention of posting more often, but life got in the way. I'm still reading Don Quixote, but it's a slow book. I've found I can only read it in small spurts. Since Harry Potter is on my list, I decided to read the series again as a way of clearing my mind a little. I've also joined a Gone with the Wind readalong for September and October.

Hopefully, I'll get back on track soon and post more often!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Still reading...

I haven't posted in awhile, mainly due to my younger son breaking his right ankle at the growth plate. I've spent the last two months taking care of him and shuttling him to physical therapy. Now, he's doing much better and I'm diving back into my reading challenge (I have been reading- just not anything on my list). I just started reading Don Quixote, which I'm excited to read for the first time. I also joined a classics book challenge here. I thought it would be fun to see how others are reading classics like me. Now, I'm off to read a couple of chapters of Don Quixote.