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

Classic Book Review: Moorland Cottage

The Moorland Cottage by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Moorland Cottage
by Elizabeth Gaskell

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Maggie endures with patience the selfishness of her mother and brother, and finds friendship with the invalid wife of their rich neighbor, Mr. Buxton. The two families’ destinies become dangerously linked when Maggie’s brother goes astray, and Mr. Buxton demands a high price for saving him.

I loved Maggie’s strong character! She has a quiet and meek personality, but wonderfully fierce in her defense of the truth. I really loved her character development as she strives to make good decisions for her family.
Maggie’s mother is weak and foolish, and spoils the son, Edward, with too much attention. I was so annoyed with the stupid mother for not seeing how she ruined her child by encouraging his selfish behavior. I really hated Edward, Maggie’s brother. He is so rude to his sister, always expecting her to do everything for him and get him out of trouble.
It’s excellent writing that made me so annoyed with the bad characters, and so in love with the good characters! Continue reading

Classic Review: The Way of the Scarlet Pimpernel

The Way of the Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
The Way of the Scarlet Pimpernel 
by Emmuska Orczy

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Josette is trapped in Paris during the French Revolution, when her employer tries to blackmail prominent men in the government and is murdered. Desperate to protect his widow and child, Josette seeks for help from the Scarlet Pimpernel. Josette and her boyfriend Maurice fall into the clutches of the merciless Chauvelin, and only the clever Scarlet Pimpernel can save them from the guillotine.

Josette is a wonderful main character, full of compassion and faith. She is not clever or wise, but her good heart and her unwavering loyalty pull her through the story. I loved the scenes where she takes action for herself, never flinching in the face of danger.

The plot is fantastic, of course, with many twists and turns. I loved how all the complexities of each situation finally run together to a swift and glorious end. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: Jane Austen

Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin
Jane Austen: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


This biography of Jane Austen does a very thorough job of seizing on every letter, every mention, every tiny detail that can be gleaned about the famous author; unfortunately, that isn’t much. Jane’s sister, Cassandra, destroyed many of her letters after Jane’s death. Jane’s brothers and nephews and nieces didn’t preserve her letters as faithfully as they should have. The result is that there are few original writings left from one of the best-loved authors of all time, and little is known of her day to day life.

However, the author does a wonderful job of piecing together letters from cousins, diary entries of nieces and neighbors, along with the few portraits and tin-type photographs of her family and friends.
Continue reading