Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is a book and a movie (Gene Wilder) that I have found memories of when I was a child.
Charlie is about a child who has nothing and wins everything. He first gets the coveted golden ticket. He gets a lifetime supply of chocolate and a tour of the magical chocolate factory, led by the wacky Willy Wonka. We know from the beginning that Charlie Bucket is our hero and that the other children have severe character faults that make them undeserving of the chocolate. We cheer the downfall of the naughty children, hoping Charlie will make it to the end. (*spoiler: he does!*)
“Spoilers” throughout the rest of this post. (more…)
In her personal journal to God, young Celie tries to make sense of the incestuous rape she’s experiencing from her Pa. A few pages later, she tries to make sense of the unhappy marriage she’s thrust in to. For Celie, life entails hard work, submission, violence, and daily rapes from her (nameless) husband.
Does that sound shocking enough? It is. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (published 1983) is exactly the kind of book I don’t read. Yet, I couldn’t put it down. Although the themes of the book are disturbing and violent, The Color Purple captures a woman’s discovery of hope, her discovery of her own sexuality, and her realization of herself as a woman. She realizes that she doesn’t have to submit, but rather, she can fight back. (more…)
Reading Round about a Pound a Week gave me a new perspective on the inequality that comes from poverty. As the title indicates, the book is a description of a 1909-1913 study of 42 families in the Lambeth neighborhood in England that live on about a £1 a week.
It is no easy task getting a budget to stretch, and Maude Pember Reeves’ account of the study is a fascinating education on the industry, thrift, and dedication that the impoverished lower class workers, and especially the home-bound housewives, possess. (more…)
This morning, I’m proud to announce the winners of my literary giveaway! Using Random.org, I put each person down for the giveaway of their choice — and for those who wanted either book, I put them both times I ran Random.org.
First, the winner of A Room with a View by E.M. Forester is…… Emily from Evening All Afternoon!
Second, the winner of My Antonia by Willa Cather is…….Allie from A Literary Odyssey!
Thanks for joining the giveaway, and once I get your addresses Emily and Allie, I’ll send those out to you.
Here are the favorite classics and authors you all submitted. I’m amazed both at how many I’ve already read and how many I’d never heard of! Thanks for the suggestions. Looking forward to reading yet more, of course. (Asterisk means I’ve read it before.)
- Bronte sisters
- Ernest Hemingway
- Jane Austen
- L.M. Montgomery
- Leo Tolstoy
- Thomas Hardy
- Virginia Woolf
- William Shakespeare
- A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert
- *Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
- *Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Anthony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
- Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
- Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
- *Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Elizabeth Barrett/Robert Browning correspondence
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Germinal by Emile Zola
- *Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- Howards End by E.M. Forester
- *Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
- *Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy
- McTeague by Frank Norris
- *Middlemarch by George Eliot
- Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
- *North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
- *Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- *Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford
- *Persuasion by Jane Austen
- *Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- *Rebecca by Daphne DuMAurier
- Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
- *The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- *The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
- *The Iliad by Homer
- *The Odyssey by Homer
- *The Pillow Book by Shei Shonagon
- The Small House At Allington by Anthony Trollope
- The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
- *To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- *Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Cranford (published 1851) is a quiet book, focusing on traditions in a changing pre-Victorian society in a small rural community. Given it’s slow pace, when I first read Cranford (thoughts here), I really struggled. I felt stifled by the overbearing traditions of the community of Cranford, and I wondered where the plot was. Yet, by the end, I liked it, and I have eagerly anticipated a reread.
This time, I loved it from the beginning. Gaskell’s satiric perspective on a Victorian society of gossipy women seemed particularly applicable to modern life (to some extent). I was intrigued by her plot devices, subtle though they were, and while I still had a few issues with the novel, the reread and our book club discussion was a success. (Only one of the eight people at book club found the book boring from start to finish).
From here, this post may contain spoilers of Cranford. (more…)