Wednesday, March 28, 2012

cold mountain by charles frazier

i've had this on my to-read list for quite some time. i have to say i'm sorry i saw the movie before i read the book, because i think i would have enjoyed the book more if i hadn't. 

cold mountain is the story of ada and inman. his journey back to her after going awol toward the end of the civil war, and her development into a self-reliant individual. 

the book was very good. very full, descriptive, full of life and breath. it was so vivid in it's portrayal of the various characters encountered by ada and inman. you really get a feel of the poverty and desperation experienced by those left behind while the men went off to fight; how devastating the war was to the people in the south. 

reading the novel is really like entering another world. it makes you ache for cold mountain just as inman does. i wish i had read it with a group, to get other perspectives on it, to see what themes they pulled from it. 

i do wish there had been more in the book about ada and ruby's friendship and how much ada grew as a result of that friendship. it was one of my favorite things about the movie.

i was also disappointed to find that my favorite line from the film isn't in the book. it's when ruby and ada are about to head up the mountain to find ruby's dad, and ruby says, "people say this war is a cloud over the land. but men made the weather and then they stand in it and say 'oh shit, it's raining'!" (or something to that effect). i think it's such a poignant part in the film and beautifully sums up one of the themes of the book. we cannot divorce ourselves from our actions nor can we divorce ourselves from our leaders actions. the civil war was devastating. devastating beyond comprehension. and it was of our own making. and it's hardly ever the people with the most power in controlling events who pay the price.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

a tale of two cities by charles dickens

my first proper charles dickens novel.

(i've read a christmas carol, it's more of a novella.)

i finally understand what everyone is going on about when they talk about his powers of description. holy cow. talk about a wordsmith! i was constantly rereading sentences and passages trying to figure out what he was saying. (and sometimes i never got it, i just moved on and tried to glean out the meaning in context.) it definitely stretched my skills as a reader, which i appreciate. 

this novel really brought home to me how violent and terrifying the french revolution was. i had no idea. here in america we talk about it with almost a sense of admiration and camaraderie, as it happened so close to our own. but i was horrified. 

i can honestly say i had no idea what was going to happen in this book. i've never read the plot, never seen a movie version. i was just along for the ride. and the end, well, it devastated me. there was crying. and not of the gentle, romantic variety.

well played, mr. dickens. well played.

these is my words by nancy turner

this book was recommended to me by several different people before we picked it for our book club read in february.

love. this definitely goes in the reread pile.

it tells of 20 years in the life of sarah agnes prine, beginning when she is a young woman and ending when she is in her 30's. it follows her life on a wagon train and living in the arizona territory. 

sarah is the woman you hope you will be in the face of adversity. brave, hardworking, enduring.

its a love story, an adventure story, a story of the american west. i was angry and happy and excited and heartbroken and shocked.

and there is this one little bit with a giant rattlesnake that still gives me anxiety when i think about it. 

sarah was a woman i could identify with, a woman i was inspired by, a woman i rooted for, a woman i would want as a friend and neighbor in any situation.