Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef (to be published June 6, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcout) is a short biography of the authoress geared for young readers. It has a second dimension, though, and that is as a biography of the novels that Austen created.
As an adult, I must admit that I did not learn much from the biography. I listened to the audio of Jane Austen: A Life, a biography by Carol Shields, in November 2009 (thoughts here) before I’d read most of the novels (I think I’d only read Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey at that point). I decided to give this young adult biography a try given my new perspective on having read more of the novels. But I should not have expected to learn anything new about Jane Austen in about 150 pages.
Although Ms Reef’s biography didn’t give me personally much of a new perspective on Jane Austen, I did enjoy revisiting Jane Austen’s life and novels in this brief biography. For the proper audience, Ms Reef’s biography would be an appropriate introduction to the life and literature of a classic author. (more…)
From the moment he awakens in the morning, Raisin’s best friends are by his side.
They live in Busytown, which is sometimes directly above our house and other times underground, where it snows in April. Goldbug is his best friend (sometimes he is Raisin’s brother), with Huckle, Sally, and Hilda Hippo frequently joining the two of them for birthday parties, and games of “Go Fish.”
I remember loving Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go as a child, and Raisin takes after me. Ever since I got the book for him for his second birthday, Raisin’s enjoyed looking for little Goldbug on every page. The story is a long one, so we don’t always read every page. Because each page is independent of the page before it, it’s easy to skip pages without a discerning toddler or preschooler getting upset. We both love finding the silly things, like the pencil car and a ketchup truck . We tut-tut Dingo Dog’s crazy driving, and wonder will Officer Flossy will ever catch up to him?
In some respects, Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton is a “chic lit” novel as the pinkish cover suggests it is: you kind of know what will happen in the end.
However, it is so much deeper than a stereotypical romance novel. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on the cover alone. But there are so many other issues addressed in the midst of a gentle romance that it doesn’t feel unrealistic. You don’t know how the main characters will get to the happily ever after (and, in fact, the ending is not completely that either).
This modern-day romance is a delightful and realistic ride. Given that Mina and Peter live more than two hours away from each other, it seems highly unlikely from page one, where Mina answers her call center telephone to take Peter’s car accident report, that the two will get together. I love the satisfactory and yet open conclusion.
image via Wikipedia
Claude McKay was born in Jamaica 1889, and in 1912, after his first volume of Jamaican dialect poetry was published in Jamaica, he traveled to the USA, eventually settling in New York City and becoming a part of the Harlem Renaissance movement of artistic expression.
In Harlem Shadows (published 1922), McKay captures his shock and disappointment at the discrimination he found in the United States. Racial identity is a key theme throughout the volume, and I found these themes hidden in many poems. He also wrote poems that encouraged people to be themselves, and his personal voice gives these poems an urgency. He also poignantly captures his homesickness for his tropical home. And although he wrote Harlem Shadows almost a century ago, his search for identity and place in a busy foreign world is one that we can still relate to.
I am a white woman and a stay-at-home mom living close to where I was born, and yet McKay’s racial frustrations and calls for individuals to remain strong, as well as his longings for the familiar, resonate with me. McKay’s beautiful poetry is well worth reading and revisiting.
The second half of Don Quixote of La Mancha (written in 1615, a full decade after the first half) is much better than the first half (thoughts here). As the novel progresses, Cervantes’ writing improves, the plots improve, and the character’s personalities become far more distinct. I was drawn into the story in a way I was not drawn in on reading the first half.
In short, I loved the second half. It is still not my favorite book because it is not my favorite genre (I prefer more realistic Victorian-era fiction). But it is clear why Cervantes is considered a revolutionary writer and why this novel was a precursor to other novels. It is landmark for a reason. (more…)