Classic Book Review: Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park
by Jane Austen

5 out of 5 stars

Fanny Price goes to live with her rich relatives, who make her feel inferior and criticize her. She befriends her cousin, Edmund, but is belittled by her cousins, Maria and Julia. When the Crawford siblings arrive as new neighbors, Maria and Julia compete for the attention of Mr. Henry Crawford, while Edmund gradually falls under the spell of the beautiful and wicked Miss Crawford. Only Fanny is undeceived by the Crawford’s pretty manners.

Marvelous story! Each time I reread it, I find something deeper in the story and the characters. But I always want to slap some sense into Edmund, until he realizes how delightful Fanny is.

Jane Austen’s writing never fails to amaze me. She has such a perceptive way of laying bare every thought and action of each character with exquisite insight into the little vexations and desires of human nature. Continue reading

Classics Review: The Odd Women

The Odd Women by George Gissing
The Odd Women
by George Gissing

4 out of 5 stars

The Madden sisters are growing older, poor and unmarried, and ignored by society. Their younger sister, Monica, is still young and pretty, and they hope that she will marry well. She meets a Mr. Widdowson and contemplates marriage with him as a way to escape the horrors of being a spinster like her sisters.
Rhoda Nunn is another single lady who finds herself in the middle of a flirtation with an intellectual man, all while passionately avowing the most extreme feminist ideals and criticizing the institution of marriage.

I loved so many things about this book! The writing is incredible, and really pulls you into the story. The plot kept me wondering, and every emotional scene was glorious. It’s all about deception, ambition, betrayal, addiction, love, manipulation, jealousy, and pride. It’s not a happy book, but a very interesting and engaging read. Continue reading

Classic Book Review: The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The Last of the Mohicans (The Leatherstocking Tales #2)
by James Fenimore Cooper

3 out of 5 stars


When the two Munro sisters, Cora and Alice, are captured by the evil Huron Magua, Natty Bumpo and his Mohican friends, Uncas and Chingachgook, must track them down and free them.

For the most part, I liked the writing style which reflects the time period very well. The writing has a very ornate style, and the dialogue is especially antiquated at times. I love the richness of the language, but wish it was a little more clear sometimes.

The characters are well-written, but I didn’t care about them very much. They are not very complex characters. There is so much time spent on the action of the plot, that we barely have any restful moments to really get to know our characters or develop any emotions for them. I would have liked to see more intimate details of their friendships and family relationships. There are a few very powerful scenes where we do get glimpses of their emotional ties, but it wasn’t enough to make me love the characters or be invested in their relationships.

The plot moves quickly with lots of details that add to the suspense of each moment. The plot does get repetitive though. They are captured, and then escape, and they get recaptured and are rescued, only to be recaptured again. Each time is different though, with a lot of different elements and terrain and secondary characters. There are some good plot points with deceptive disguises, and wood lore, and native legends. It kept my interest.

I knew there would be a lot of violence in this book, but wow. There was a lot of senseless and horrible violence in this book. And not just the menfolk fighting and scalping and shooting each other. The poor women and children that suffered and died too. Ugh. Really sad.

I found the intricacies of the political relationships of different native tribes to be very confusing, and not at all clearly explained. This is not helped by the fact that everyone and everything is called by at least two or three different names. Sometimes Magua’s tribe are called Hurons, sometimes Mingoes. Another tribe are called sometimes the Delawares and sometimes Lenape. Mohicans are also a part of the larger Delaware tribe, so it’s hard to know which Delaware character is being referred to when. It wasn’t until the end of the book that I finally understood that “Yengeese” means English. Ugh. If this was just clearly explained, maybe it would make more sense.

Every character has several different nicknames, proper names, names in French, Native American nicknames, and on and on. Nathaniel Bumpo is mostly referred to simply as “the scout”, but he is also called “La Longue Carabine” and Hawk-Eye. Every character is so hard to keep track of, because you have to memorize their three different names.

Overall, it was an entertaining read, but I didn’t love it. It was fine.

Classic Review: A Woman of No Importance

A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
A Woman of No Importance
by Oscar Wilde

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Gerald is a young man who secures an appointment as secretary to the rich and flirtatious ambassador, Lord Illingworth. His mother objects to the moral character of his new employer, but can give no concrete reason without revealing her dark past. Gerald is determined to accept the post, because he is in love with a young American lady and needs the money to get married. Throughout the play, various rich and titled characters gossip about London high society, and flirt with each other, and say a lot of shameless nonsense.

One of the main reasons why I love Oscar Wilde’s hilarious plays is the silly dialogue. The characters say such idiotic things, and it always makes me laugh. Almost the entire first act is fluff and character introductions, but it is such entertaining fluff that I didn’t mind. Of course, the social commentary is an undercurrent that lies under every scene, exposing the rich elite as vapid, immoral, and selfish. Continue reading

Classic Book Review: Agnes Grey

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
Agnes Grey
by Anne Brontë

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Agnes goes to work as a governess for a rich family, and finds her young students difficult to manage. They throw tantrums, fight amongst themselves, torture their pets, and lie to their parents. Agnes is miserable and lonely, but strives to do her duty and influence her students to study and behave themselves. She meets a serious young preacher who inspires her and the two strike up a friendship. They help the poor and visit the sick, finding solace in doing good deeds for their neighbors.

I loved this book! The writing is elegant and delightful. The characters are vivid and lively. The plot is subtle and delicate, using small conversations and little coincidences to paint a larger picture. Every bit of dialogue holds waves of emotion and meaning that gently push the story forward. The writing is absolutely brilliant! Continue reading