Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

frankenstein What’s it about?

The Uncensored 1818 Edition FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS, a novel written by the English author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley about the young science student Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment.

 

 

 

My thoughts

Forget everything you think know about the story of Frankenstein and his monster because this is nothing like what you’ll expect it to be….it was nothing like I expected it to be.  I thought I’d be getting a horror movie in a book and what I actually got was something far more genteel.  In some ways I’m glad I didn’t get blood, guts and gore as I don’t like horror movies etc but I thought I might be a little scared or apprehensive but nope, nothing.

I found Victor to be a very highly strung character and somewhat annoying, which didn’t help me to feel sympathetic towards him in his tortured moments (mentally that is….remember no real blood and guts here).  I mean….he creates this ‘monster’, the act of which is skirted over (probably wise considering the era and the questions that in itself would raise) and then proceeds to let it loose and abandon it because it was horrifcally ugly and larger than a normal human….what the hell did he expect? What did he think he was doing and what the result was going to be from procurring body parts from a cemetery?  It was never going to Miss World! 😉

Don’t get me wrong, it does have that dark gothic Interview with a Vampire hiding in shadows feel to it and the language although very of its time is easier to follow than I anticpated but unfortunately it just doesn’t live up to the hype that the movie makers have made of it.  I do appreciate that this isn’t the fault of the book but nonetheless it disappointed me.

Overall my sympathies lay with the monster, this eloquently spoken horrific being who at the end of the day just wanted a friend, a mate of his own kind and isn’t that just what any of us wants!

What did you think of this book? Is there anyone else who hasn’t read it?

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Learn more about Mary Shelley here


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Book Review: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The MoonstoneWhat’s it about?

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion.

 

 

 

My thoughts

This was our book club read for July and oh my it took me 3 weeks to read, yes 3 WEEKS which is unprecedented.  It wasn’t even because the storyline was dull or boring, I actually found it quite interesting it’s just that to make a very small point in fact, it’s written in such a way that it takes a chapter to get there.  Longwinded is an understatement. I thought it was fairly modern in its language, there’s just so much of it…Miss Marple would probably have had it wrapped up in 200 pages less 😉

On the list as one of the top 100 novels of all time and billed as the first detective novel this is essentially a locked room mystery.  The investigation into the missing diamond is recalled by various narrators; some more enjoyable than others but one big plus is the narrative by the aged butler Betteredge which is class.  I loved the way he addressed the reader, his humour and the way he spins a yarn.  Very clever storytelling.

Ideally, this is a book you need to read when you have plenty of time so you can truly appreciate the story and fully absorb yourself in the language, the setting, the social history and decorum to fully grasp what the author is portraying.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1984What’s it about?

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

My thoughts

I picked this copy up quite recently from a charity shop as it was a book I’d never read although heard alot about. The first thing I noticed when I opened the book was the pages of solid black print and my heart sank. Before I’d even read a word I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy read.

For most of part one I didn’t quite get what was going on, it took me longer to read than usual and I found myself re-reading parts to fully understand. For example, I didn’t get what they meant by Newspeak and it wasn’t till it was compared to Oldspeak that the penny dropped!

I skipped over the majority of Part 2 and the ins and outs of the Brotherhood’s book; this was real heavy-going philosophical, sociological theories (I think) and was almost like reading a text book and I didn’t feel that it added much to the story.

I liked the parts where Winston and Julia were sneaking around and the element of danger and all that they were risking, and I also liked the majority of Part 3 and was desperately hoping for a different outcome for Winston. I’m still not entirely convinced I understand the end though.

I can appreciate how reading this book over sixty years ago when first published could have been completely terrifying. Almost as shocking as those who heard War of the Worlds on the radio and believed it to be true. Even reading thirty years ago + or maybe even twenty would still have have felt like a shocking and somewhat alarming read but given the world we live in now and how full of technology we are; it didn’t feel as frightening as I suspect it would have.

I know we’re supposed to love classics but unfortunately this book left me underwhelmed. It’s very intelligent and a clever idea for its time highlighted by the fact that key phrases have become incorporated into everyday life; Big Brother, Room 101 etc but parts left me cold.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Learn more about George Orwell here

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Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebeccaWhat’s it about?

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage.

Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

 

My thoughts

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

My initial thoughts are that I’ve totally missed something with this book! I’ve seen such high praise for this book historically and recently when I’ve updated my Goodreads feed to Twitter and people have commented that it’s their favourite book (you know who you are!). Guys, I’m really sorry but I didn’t get what all the fuss is about. It’s one of those where, for me, if this had been published now, would have been over-hyped.

One of the first things I noticed was that the second Mrs De Winter is never actually referred to by her christian name; not even by her employer or later her husband. I found this a little strange and found myself wondering at what point will we learn our narrator’s name?

From very early on there’s this obsession with Manderley; its lifestyle and what it can offer. But all it presents is an old house, with an aging staff and a haunting without a ghost.

Our narrator, the second Mrs De Winter is young, naive and doesn’t quite fit in at Manderley however I felt this was somewhat her own fault as she let Mrs Danvers walk all over her and almost allowed her to continue with the mind games. She also has an overactive imagination, always imagining the worst case scenarios and conversations.

The book has such a dark, brooding atmospheric cover that that is what I expected from the content, unfortunately, for me, I wasn’t feeling it. I found the first 300 pages incredibly slow and a bit dull. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. However, once Maxim had made his revelation the pace and the tension picked up a lot more and I then raced through the last 130 pages.

Cleo from Cleopatra Loves Books absolutely hit the nail on the head with her comment on my WWW post  “it doesn’t give the instant twists that more modern psychological novels tend to”. But overall, I’m glad I persevered and got through it.

If you want to give it a go, here are the links: Paperback | Kindle

Learn more about the life and books of Daphne du Maurier here

Book Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

breakfast_at_tiffanysWhat’s it about?

It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, for Holly Golightly: glittering socialite traveller, generally upwards, sometimes sideways and once in a while – down. Pursued by to Salvatore ‘Sally’ Tomato, the Mafia sugar-daddy doing life in Sing Sing and ‘Rusty’ Trawler, the blue-chinned, cuff-shooting millionaire man about women about town, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock deparment’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.

My thoughts

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of my all time favourite movies; full of glamour and quirkiness and so I’d put off reading the book for a long time. There’s always that sense of anticpation of disappointment and of how different it will be, which I guess can work both ways.

I hadn’t realised that it’s actually a short story at only 87 pages so  I actually read it in 2 sittings. The book is quite different to the movie; the essence of the book is there and the general plot is the same but is often planned out in different scenes.

Book Holly is certainly a darker character and not necessarily a nice one; she comes across as an IT girl and is definitely a goldigger making her living by visits to the powder room ahem!! and visiting a mobster in prison.

“Leave it to me: I’m always top banana in the shock department.”

However, movie Holly is somewhat flaky and likes to talk in riddles, which initially comes across as scatty nonsense although look deeper and there is some kind of sense there. Neither version of Holly seem to care about they treat other people, in essence using older unattractive men for money; the exception being Fred her brother, he’s the one person I think she really cares about.

“You’re wrong. She is a phony. But on the other hand you’re right. She isn’t a phony because she’s a real phony. She believes all this crap she believes. You can’t talk her out of it.”

The book ending is quite different to the movie and I actually preferred the romantic movie ending. This is supposed to be a love story but there isn’t much romantisicm at all.

Overall, I was a little disappointed by the book and enjoyed the cinematic experience of the story a lot more. For me , this is one instance where I prefer the movie to the book. However, if you’ve not read the book or seen the movie and it interests you, go straight to the movie. If I’d have read the book first I wouldn’t have got to the movie.

This version contains 3 other short stories: House of Flowers, A Diamond Guitar and A Christmas Memory – I didn’t read these this time but may come back to them at another time.

Get the book Paperback

Discover more about the author Truman Capote