Book Review: Mistress Masham’s Repose

Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White

Mistress Masham’s Repose
by T.H. WhiteFritz Eichenberg (Illustrator)
4 out of 5 stars
Delightful book!!
Rereading it for the second or third time, I have enjoyed it just as much as the first time.
Orphaned Maria lives in a crumbling old palace that her ancestors built on an extensive estate full of gardens and obelisks and temples and monuments. But there is no money to repair the palace, and she lives in poverty with her governess and one old cook.

When Maria is exploring around an island in a small lake, she encounters the tiny Lilliputian people who Gulliver brought back to England after his travels. They are in danger of being discovered by Maria’s evil guardians, the vicar and governess, and Maria must use all her ingenuity to save them from being kidnapped and sold as slaves.

I love how imaginative this book is. My favorite parts are the scenes that describe how the Lilliputians make their living on the Mistress Masham’s Repose island. They fish, and hunt, and train mice as their horses. They have their little homes in the roofs and hollow pillars of the Repose cupola, and keep their tiny farm animals in stables built into the steps of the structure.

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Classic Review: Emma by Charlotte Bronte

Emma by Charlotte Brontë

Emma
by Charlotte BrontëAnother Lady
4 out of 5 stars

This book is a continuation of Charlotte Bronte’s last writing before she died. She only finished the first two chapters of this book, and it has been finished by “another lady”. I am usually skeptical about modern authors trying to finish work from a classic author, but this was well done.

The writing doesn’t exactly mimic Charlotte Bronte’s writing style, but it does a fair job. The themes and plot have many elements that I would expect to find in a Bronte story. There is a gothic moodiness, plot twists, wild scenery, and of course, complex and compelling characters.

Mrs. Chalfont is a lonely widow who adopts an abandoned child and tries to penetrate the mystery of the child’s true identity. With the help of Mr. Ellin, she embarks on a journey of discovery and intrigue to unravel the secrets the child is hiding. It is only when the ruthless Emma appears on the scene that the depths of crime and hatred become apparent, and only Mrs. Chalfont can save the innocent child she has come to love.

I loved the story so much! I was laughing and crying and clutching the book to my heart! The emotional power in the story is very reminiscent of Charlotte Bronte’s style.

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Classic Book Review: Shirley

Shirley by Charlotte Brontë

Shirley
by Charlotte BrontëLucasta Miller (Introduction), Jessica Cox (Editor)
5 out of 5 stars

Caroline and Shirley are dear friends, but their friendship is tested when they both appear to have fallen in love with the same man. They never speak of it, but they each suffer alone with their hearts in anguish until the truth can be known.
Robert Moore, a mill owner, is threatened by his ex-employees when he brings in new machinery to replace their jobs. A riot ensues and the mill is attacked. Robert must act swiftly and decidedly to save his business in the face of violence, but he leaves no room in his heart to show compassion to the poor. He struggles to find a balance between charity and justice.

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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.