Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Novel Glimpses (9)--Middlemarch, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Graceling

Novel Glimpses is my feature for mini-reviews...really just a fancy name for them! The only difference than with my traditional mini-reviews is that I will include my Goodreads rating, something I do not do with my regular reviews. Feel free to participate...just credit me and link back if you do. (want to read a book description?  Clicking the book covers will take you to the book's page on Amazon).

The first two books reviewed here were read for the Victorian Celebration hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey.  Sadly, I was only able to complete these two works during the two months, but Middlemarch is a monster so I don't feel a failure. =O)

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Middlemarch by George Eliot
My Goodreads rating:  4 stars
I really enjoyed this book.  I can tell that I will be ready to read more of Eliot's work in the future.  Although Middlemarch was written in the Victorian era, it was very easy to understand and, I think, easily related to our modern times.  It seems small town life hasn't much changed in 200 some years.  The gossip that seems to shape the very opinions of people toward others, whether founded or not, is very present then and now.  Eliot has created very human characters that the reader feels for.  Dr. Lydgate, with the pretty wife who loves to spend money and who he indulges to a fault, even to the detriment of their livelihood.  Dorothea, who only wants to do good works, making choices to suit that vein, at the cost of true happiness.  Fred, who loves Mary so much that he turns his life around so to win her hand.  These are the characters who Eliot leaves with a not so perfect happy ending, so to speak.  But the ending is telling of life.  Not everything is always wrapped up in pretty bows, but we can be content with what we have in life.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
My Goodreads rating:  4 stars
This is really a short story or novella, but it packs quite a punch.  It's obvious why there are so many retellings in film and other mediums.  It is the classic story of good vs. evil.  I think the question Stevenson is asking is, if given the chance to choose between our good or evil side, what would we do?  Would we choose evil with the uninhibited conscience, willing to commit evil acts without regret.  Or would we choose our good side; the side that makes us accountable for our actions and keeps us in check morally.  I think Stevenson answers this question well with his ending.  One of the most memorable books I've read is called Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin.  It's a retelling of this story from the point of view of one of Jekyll's housemaids.  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you do.  Reading it in combination with this classic would be interesting; kind of a side by side comparison.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
My Goodreads rating:  4 stars
This is such a wonderful book.  Though classified as young adult, it is a fantasy novel that really would appeal to any adult.  Reading it reminded me of other excellent fantasy works like Mary Stewart's Arthurian saga or Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles.  Cashore has built a world made up of kingdoms, much like other fantasy novels.  What makes her story unique are the characters and the "power" they possess.  Called "Gracelings", these individuals have specials powers (their "Grace") particular to themselves.  To go along with these powers, they also have eyes of different colors.  Katsa, the star of this novel, has an eye of green and an eye of blue, both vibrantly hued.  Katsa is indeed the stand out character as she goes from thinking herself a monster to finding the truth of her Grace.  The other characters are also well written.  It's easy to find yourself invested in them throughout the book.   Perhaps what struck me the most was how Cashore could introduce a character (King Leck), who doesn't even have much "page time" (like screen time in films) in the book, but brings across such pure evil, it makes the skin crawl.  If you haven't read this book, you really should.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Fire, which I'm told tells the story of Leck, a prequel of sorts.



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  1. Great reviews, Michelle.

  2. I have been meaning to get to "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" for years. It is sitting on my bookshelf calling to me. I really like to go back to original "archetype" of philosophies and plot in my choice of books. I guess this is the grand-daddy of the good/evil war within stories.

  3. I can leave comments now!!!!!! I'm so frickin excited!!!!!

    I really want to read the Jekyll/Hyde book. I'm thinking next year, towards fall, I'm going to have a classic horror marathon. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and Hyde. If I could find a really good werewolf book that is older I will throw that in too.

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