Supplementary: “A cartload of apes and ivory” – Rebecca West on ‘The Golden Bowl’

‘The Golden Bowl’ certainly divides opinion. Reading some online reviews I came across a wonderful demolition of the novel by the awesome Rebecca West. I make no apologies for quoting at length from her analysis – West never pulls her punches and has a magnificent turn of phrase. She opens by calling the novel “anContinue reading “Supplementary: “A cartload of apes and ivory” – Rebecca West on ‘The Golden Bowl’”

Book review: Unreadable novels, with specific reference to ‘The Golden Bowl’ by Henry James, 1904

What makes a novel unreadable? We all have our own breaking points – I may have just have found mine. This post explores the features of ‘The Golden Bowl’ that are making it, for me, almost unreadable. Sentence structure “He found it convenient, oddly, even for his relation with himself—though not unmindful that there mightContinue reading “Book review: Unreadable novels, with specific reference to ‘The Golden Bowl’ by Henry James, 1904”

Book review: 1919, by John Dos Passos, 1932

‘1919’ is the second book in Dos Passos’s ‘USA’ trilogy. Which immediately begs the question, why read only the middle book in a trilogy? You wouldn’t read only ‘The Two Towers’, would you? I think there are several reasons why I am going to resist the temptation to read the rest of ‘USA’. Firstly, ‘1919’Continue reading “Book review: 1919, by John Dos Passos, 1932”

Book review: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne, 1759-1767

If you type ‘Tristram Shandy’ into the search field on WordPress’s “Reader” pages, you will be presented with a large number of results. Look more closely, and it turns out that for every review of Sterne’s ridiculous, extravagant, often nonsensical novel, there is another post lamenting its unreadability. I sympathise. ‘Tristram Shandy’ was published overContinue reading “Book review: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne, 1759-1767”

Book review: Glory by Vladimir Nabokov, 1932

This semi-autobiographical early novel was written in the early 1930’s, but only translated into English in 1971, when Nabokov’s reputation as an author was secure. It did little to enhance it. ‘Glory’ follows the childhood and early life of Nabokov’s romantic protagonist, Martin Edelweiss, who escapes from the bloodshed of revolutionary Russia.to Switzerland and thenceContinue reading “Book review: Glory by Vladimir Nabokov, 1932”

Book review: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, 1930

William Faulkner’s ‘As I Lay Dying’ tells the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her last journey to her hometown, Jefferson, Mississippi. The novel opens with the dying Addie watching her son Cash construct her coffin. The ominous sounds of his carpentry echo around the house, forming an aural backdrop to the family’sContinue reading “Book review: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, 1930”

Comment: The Dangers of Background Reading

When I am preparing a review post for this blog I will often do some background reading on the novel in question. This can include: reviews on Goodreads, Amazon (got to love the one star reviews!) and of course other blogs the introduction to the text, and often the blurb as well the novel andContinue reading “Comment: The Dangers of Background Reading”

Supplementary: I want it now! ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911 – some further thoughts

I have been taken to task, with some justification, for describing Mary Lennox the ten year old heroine of ‘The Secret Garden’ as “unlikeable”. Let’s look at the evidence. In the novel’s haunting opening chapter, “There’s no one left”, indeed in the novel’s opening line, this is how the author describes her: “When Mary LennoxContinue reading “Supplementary: I want it now! ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911 – some further thoughts”

Book review: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911

  Francis Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’ is predominantly a children’s novel, but like all good children’s literature its appeal spreads far beyond this audience. I increasingly found myself admiring the author’s craftsmanship, even if I was able to resist some of the more sentimental aspects of the novel. Set in a soon to disappearContinue reading “Book review: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911”