Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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Title: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Premise:

As children, Heathcliff and Catherine are inexorably drawn together.  Despite their differing natures and weaknesses of character, one can scarcely exist without the other.  Catherine’s haughtiness drives Heathcliff away and stirs him to make his way in the world.  When Heathcliff returns, life at Wuthering Heights will never be the same.  Heathcliff can’t let go of the past and seeks revenge for every real and imagined slight he suffered there.  He and Catherine are like two stars destined to crash into one another and destroy everything near them.

My thoughts:

I first read Wuthering Heights in high school because it was required reading.  I don’t even remember what I thought of it back then, except that it was a bit spooky.  Reading it now, it’s not the spookiness that struck me so much as the examination of human nature.  Heathcliff is such a diabolical character and seems completely beyond redemption.  And yet, despite the fact that he was a dastardly villain, I couldn’t bring myself to truly dislike him.  There’s a part in all of us which feels satisfaction in seeing someone else get revenge on those who have done them wrong.  I’m not saying I condone it, but something in my psyche wants Heathcliff to avenge himself.  Perhaps that’s the lasting draw of this novel — its ability to make the reader examine good and evil in his fellow man, but also in himself.

When you think about when this book was written, it was a very daring tale for its time.  Especially when you consider that it came from a relatively inexperienced young lady.  It’s impressive that she was so adept at capturing human nature and what makes the human race feel hatred, love, and every shade of emotion in between.

This was such an engrossing read for me, that the last part of the book kept me up until the wee hours of the morning.  I simply couldn’t put it down and had to learn the fate of Heathcliff, as well as his young charges.  The ending is so fitting and perfect.  It was a completely satisfying read.  Highly recommended!

I recommend Wuthering Heights to fans of classic literature and anyone who enjoys a messed up love story.

Possible Objections:

  • A little bit of bad language
  • A derogatory term for a loose female is used a few times
  • Some violence

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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Title: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Premise:

Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old man who hates all things cheerful and unprofitable–including and especially Christmas!  Scrooge’s deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, sends three ghostly spirits to visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve.  Can they help him realize the error of his ways before it is too late and he suffers the same torturous fate as his partner?

My thoughts:

Initially I had thought I’d be able to read this book aloud with my 10-year-old son, but about halfway through the first chapter, I realized that his attention was waning.  The language was a bit complex for him and it just wasn’t holding his interest.  He doesn’t have much patience for stories which take a little while to get going.

I decided to read it by myself and it was a really nice story to complement all of the Christmas festivities going on around me.  The story didn’t propel itself forward for me, but it may have been partially due to the fact that I have a lot on my plate right now getting ready for Christmas, and my attention tends to wander to my to-do list.  My favorite aspect of the story is the way it makes you feel about Christmas–all the nostalgia and the appreciation for all of the wonderful things during this time of year.  Dickens’ story actually had an instrumental and lasting influence on our Western ideals about Christmas, the true meaning of the holiday and how we observe it today.

I recommend A Christmas Carol to kids in middle school and up, or to families to enjoy together during Christmas.  If you share it with younger kids, you’ll have to do some explaining about the more complex language.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol by Harper & Almara

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Title: A Christmas Carol: A Graphic Novel by Benjamin Harper & Dono Sanchez-Almara

Premise:

This is a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in the form of a graphic novel.  A miserly old man named Scrooge is visited by three Christmas Spirits who show him the error of his ways, and what awaits him in the afterlife unless he changes.  Scrooge vows to be a better man and spends the rest of his life being kind and giving to others.

My thoughts:

I really like being able to read a graphic novel version of this story with my kids.  It’s an awesome way to introduce them to the story!  I was a bit unrealistic about my childrens’ ability to understand the original story by Dickens.  I started reading it with my son and he was looking lost, so we opted to read the graphic novel instead.

You should know going into it, that this is a very simple telling of the story.  The language is quite basic and the retelling really just sticks to the main meat of the story.  I thought the illustrations were really nice!  Marley’s ghost and the third Spirit might be a little alarming to small children, but I don’t think they’re too bad.

I recommend A Christmas Carol to children and families to enjoy together during Christmas.  It’s short enough to read in one sitting.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Phantom of the Opera – Movie 2004

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Last night I watched my first film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera.  Let it be said though, that this film is based on the musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber, not the original book.  If you’re looking for a movie that closely mirrors the book, you’re going to be disappointed.  If you want to know more about what I thought of the book, check out my book review.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of musicals, I sat through this one without a problem.  It was so well done that I was willing to put up with a ton of singing just so I could see the story played out.  Gerard Butler was an amazing Phantom and I thought that Emmy Rossum made a very believable Christine.  Their singing was a joy to listen to.

The look of this movie was absolutely magical!  The costumes and sets were perfect and added a wonderful richness to the tapestry of the story.  I thought the Phantom was a little too handsome in his role (when compared to how the book described him), but I’m not going to complain too loudly.  Apparently he’s extremely talented with prosthetics and hairpieces in this version.

As far as differences between the movie and the book, I hesitate to get too critical.  I’ve never seen the musical before, so I can’t comment on how closely this version resembles the original.  It definitely strays from the novel, but that’s what I expected.  There are many changes which push the story even further into the realm of fantasy and theatricality.  Candelabras being held by moving arms originating from the walls?  Oh, yes.

My biggest criticism of the film is that there are a couple of scenes which were shot in such a way as to make you dizzy while watching them (a fight scene and the mirror room).  That is a no-no for me.  If I wanted to feel motion sickness, I’d go take a ride on a roller coaster.

I recommend The Phantom of the Opera to all the ladies out there who enjoy a love story combined with a musical.  If that isn’t you, this movie might be a little over the top for you.

Possible Objections:

  • Brief view of a man’s nude backside (blink, and you’ll miss it)
  • 1 instance of the d-word
  • Some mild sensuality
  • A hanging which is a bit graphic

Rated: PG-13

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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Title: The Phantom of the Operaby Gaston Leroux

Premise:

The Paris Opera House is haunted by a phantom who seems to hold sway over all that happens there.  Unfortunately, the Opera Ghost becomes enamored of a young lady named Christine, who falls under the spell of the phantom — her “Angel of Music.”  Will Raoul, her true love, be able to save her from the phantom’s spell before tragedy strikes?

My thoughts:

I was already familiar with this story from having seen the movie, so reading this book was not an entirely new revelation to me.  Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and worth my while.

The whole love triangle between Christine, Raoul and Erik is very intriguing.  These poor young lovers have to defend themselves against this seemingly omnipotent villain who will do anything to procure the lady he’s obsessed with.  I was struck with just how much genius Erik was blessed with.  Was there anything this man couldn’t do?  Any skills he didn’t have?  He seemed superhuman to me, and perhaps that was the author’s intention.

I’m going to be perfectly honest here and tell you that I wasn’t as impressed with Christine’s character as I thought I’d be.  She was a little too wishy-washy for my taste, never seeming to know what she wanted. While the author tried to explain her shifts in mood and intentions, it seemed like perhaps our heroine was a trifle simple-minded.  This was a girl who needed to get out of that darn Opera House, have a stroll around town, and start to think for herself.  A lesson to all the young ladies out there: Never let a man have control over your mind.  Ahem, back to the book.

The storytelling doesn’t flow quite as seamlessly as I expected, but that could be in part because of the translation from French.  Also, it seemed like there was a lot extraneous information contained in the book.  I think that I prefer the way that the movie took away some of those bits that didn’t seem to add anything to the narrative (to my mind).

I was really captivated with the description of the Paris Opera House, and after I finished the book I sought out a little more information about it.  Just let me say that it is a fascinating building and well worth studying.  The pictures alone will blow your mind!

I recommend The Phantom of the Opera to those who enjoy a good Gothic novel or to fans of classic literature.  I don’t think that it would greatly appeal to the average reader.

Possible Objections:

  • Some violence

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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