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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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

OTHER THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA POSTS:

November 9: A Novel by Colleen Hoover

November 9

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November 9 is the second book I’ve read from my Friends & Family Top Picks – Reading Challenge.  I had never heard of Colleen Hoover and had no idea what to expect of this novel.  I’m not usually a fan of popular fiction, but was willing to give it a try for the sake of a friend.  You should know that I will give away some of the plot in my review.

Fallon is the female lead in the story.  She suffered major burns in a house fire when she was sixteen and bears the scars over a good portion of the left side of her body.  Her acting career went down the tubes when her good looks became marred, and now she is just trying to figure out how to get on with her life and career.  Fallon believes that Broadway might be her ticket, so she decides to move to New York.  She meets her father at a restaurant to tell him about this new plan, but he isn’t impressed and ridicules her idea.  A stranger (Ben) from the next booth over comes to Fallon’s aid when he acts like her boyfriend and defends her dreams.  This results in a blow-up with dad and the fake couple spending the day together because they just click.

I’ll start off by saying that the premise of the book is interesting.  The main characters have a seemingly chance meeting on November 9, really hit it off, and agree to meet on November 9 for the next five years.  Interesting.  Ben is a writer and they agree that this arrangement will help provide material for his first book.  As the years go by, things become more complicated.  Ben and Fallon fall in love with each other, but feel like they need to stick to the original plan so that Ben’s book can come to fruition.  That’s the story in a nutshell, but there is a lot more to it.  I just don’t want to share all the details.

There is another line to the plot that I’m hesitant to share with you because it really brings all of the pieces together.  Suffice it to say that there is something from their past which closely links the two main characters and makes their love story seem like it was meant to be.  You’ll have to read it to find out what that “something” is.

I enjoyed the book and it kept me interested (for the most part).  I wasn’t crazy about the abundance of talk about Fallon’s body.  Yes, I get it that Ben was attracted to her, but how many times do I have to hear about her anatomy?  Some of it was also a bit crass.  I also felt there was too much swearing and that it didn’t materially add anything to the narrative.

If you’re looking for a love story with a twist and aren’t highly offended by sex or language, you might just enjoy this book.  I wouldn’t recommend it to young people because I’m a bit of a prude, but it seems like a story that is aimed at them.

Possible Objections:

  • Foul language — a fair bit of it
  • Sexually explicit descriptions and language

 Rating: 3 Stars

Until next time…

Lori