Classic Book Review: Barnaby Rudge

Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
Barnaby Rudge 
by Charles Dickens

2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

This the story of a half-wit, Barnaby, and how he was tricked into joining the Gordon Riots in London. Barnaby’s poor mother has a terrible secret and a dark past that haunts her. Other characters include gruff Mr. Willet, the village innkeeper, and his son, Joe, who is in love with the locksmith’s daughter, Dolly. At the same time, delicate Miss Haredale is involved in a forbidden courtship with the son of her uncle’s sworn enemy, and the star-crossed lovers ask Barnaby to pass messages and notes for them. The disgruntled apprentice, Simon Tappertit, and the unsavory stableboy, Hugh, are instrumental in inciting the London riots, along with a hangman named Dennis who conceals his true profession from his companions in the riots.

I hated this story so much. I could barely force myself to read to the end. Usually I LOVE Dickens, but this book has so many problems.

First of all, the riots themselves were first boring, then awful and disturbing. I got so bored with all the plotting and secrets from various bad guys throughout the first half of the book, and then I was disgusted with all the atrocities committed by the rioters in the second half. Ugh. Not enjoyable to read.
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Book Review: Aunt Jane’s Nieces in Society

Aunt Jane's Nieces in Society by Edith Van Dyne
Aunt Jane’s Nieces in Society (Aunt Jane’s Nieces, #5) 
by Edith Van Dyne

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Beth, Louise, and Patsy are three cousins, who gain entry into fashionable society through their wealthy Uncle John’s influence. They discover that being part of the rich elite in New York City is not all parties, receptions, and dances. When Louise becomes involved with a questionable gentleman, the girls will need all of Uncle John’s help to save Louise from the despicable machinations of a desperate rogue.

I love this 5th book in the Aunt Jane’s Nieces series! The plot has lots of intrigue and action, and of course, the sweet nieces are adorable. I enjoy the simple writing style, and the wholesome storylines.
I found all the characters to be interesting and complex, especially the cold and mysterious socialite, Diana, who pretends to befriend our new young debutantes.

Book Review: Our Mutual Friend

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Our Mutual Friend 
by Charles DickensMarcus Stone (Illustrator)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Old Harmon is dead, and his will stipulates that if his son, John, wants to inherit his vast fortune, then John must marry Bella Wilfer, a beautiful girl from a poor family. John travels back to England, and dons a disguise so that he can observe Bella before making up his mind. But when a body is found floating in the river, everyone assumes that it is John Harmon, and John takes on a new identity and a new occupation.
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Book Review: Lorna Doone

Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore
Lorna Doone 
by R.D. Blackmore

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Young John Ridd is called home from school when his father is murdered by notorious highwaymen, the Doones. Although others cry out for revenge, young John focuses on working his mother’s farm, and growing up tall and strong, without bitterness in his heart.

While he is fishing one day, he comes across the lovely Lorna Doone, the innocent granddaughter of the leader of the Doone clan. The two children become secret friends, and as they grow up, their love blossoms. Lorna is promised in marriage to her violent cousin, Carver Doone, but John vows to rescue her from the clutches of the Doone family.  Continue reading

Book Review: Strawberry Girl

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
Strawberry Girl 
by Lois Lenski

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

I liked this book about a family who moves to a new farm in Florida, during the pioneer days, determined to make the farm a success with a beautiful orchard and strawberry grove.
Birdie is excited to become a Strawberry Girl, but is worried that the disgruntled neighbors will make trouble for her family. When the neighbor’s pigs and cows trample over the new strawberry plants, Birdie’s father is outraged and vows to fence in his property to keep them out. This begins a feud between the two farmers, but the farmer’s children are eager to make friends. Only Birdie and her forgiving mother can make peace between the warring neighbors, and make both farms a success! Continue reading

Book Review: Candide

Candide by Voltaire
Candide 
by VoltaireJohn Everett Butt (Translator and Introduction)

2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Candide and his friends are thrown into horrible situations, tortured, robbed, conscripted into armies, sold as slaves, shipwrecked, beaten, thrown into prison, etc… for the entire book, all the while discussing the philosophy of optimism, the idea that all is well and good in the world, despite the evidence to the contrary.

The writing is extremely concise and lacking in any detail, so that all the characters are one-dimensional, and the plot is very sparse. Everything moves quickly from one plot point to the next, so that within a few sentences the entire situation has changed. Not much is explained either, leaving a lot of plot holes and gaps in the story.  Continue reading

Book Review: The Children of the New Forest

The Children Of The New Forest by Frederick Marryat
The Children Of The New Forest (Puffin Classics) 
by Frederick Marryat

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

During the English Civil War, the four Beverley children are orphaned when their wealthy father is killed fighting for the restoration of King Charles. Their grand home is burnt down and they are supposed dead, so they find shelter with a kindly old forester. They each learn to hunt, harvest, and care for their little cottage, living in seclusion deep in the forest. But the oldest boy, Edward, is restless and he dreams of going to war as his father did.  Continue reading