Posts Tagged ‘gothic’

16th October
2009
written by Steph
We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Ooooh... spooky!

After finishing Jane Eyre, I found my appetite whet for more gothic novels.  I’ve also been in the mood to read more female authors lately, as I realized that I have had a slight bias towards male authors this year.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I sometimes feel like female authors will write a gentler or more soothing novel, perhaps more emotional focusing on the inner life.  A broad brush for both sexes, I realize, but one of the reasons I picked up Jane Eyre is because I was feeling testosterone overload in my reading.  The issues in the books I was reading weren’t specifically male or anything like that, there was just something about the style and the slant that was mentally wearing me down.  I am probably not expressing this experience very eloquently or coherently, and I fully admit that I am perhaps more sensitive in my reading whims than others so I may be the only one who feels this way and picks up on the subtle nuances between male and female writers, but I guess all of this is to say that Dracula was out when it came to picking a spooky book!  But the immortal prince’s loss was Shirley Jackson’s gain, as this finally gave me the push I needed to pick up We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I realize this book has pretty much exploded around the book blogging stratosphere of late, especially with the R.I.P challenge in progress, so at this point I suspect there are few if any of you who are not at least aware of its existence.  I can’t say much about the plot of the book since this is one of those books where it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible, as Jackson slowly reveals information to you at just the right pace.  But the basic idea is that the Blackwood family has always been social outcasts amongst the small village in which they live, but this has only increased since the majority of them were mysteriously poisoned with arsenic one night, leaving behind young Mary Katherine (Merricat), her sister Constance (who was charged and acquitted for the murder of her family), and their ailing Uncle Julian.  Through Merricat’s eyes, we learn of how the two Blackwood sisters live an extremely isolated life, cut off from almost everyone except out of necessity.  Then one day, their cousin Charles shows up quite unexpectedly, and for one of the sisters, quite undesirably, and all of a sudden, the fraying threads that have been keeping their life in tact begin to break apart and everything begins to crumble… (more…)
15th October
2009
written by Steph
True Love Wills Out!

True Love Wills Out!

How’s that for turnaround time?  After taking about two weeks to read through the first two-thirds of the book, I positively raced through the last portion of this novel.  And what can I say: I LOVED it.  This may not have been the most important book I’ve read this year, nor perhaps even the most impressive, but it was fun to read from beginning to end and it ultimately captured my heart quite deftly.  I cannot say for certain that I did indeed read this book when I was younger, but I am definitely glad that I read it again now as in an odd way it reminded me of how I used to read when I was younger – purely for pleasure and purely to be swept away by a magnificent story.  I feel Jane Eyre definitely delivered on both those counts, as it was for me a whirlwind of emotion and a novel that really engrossed me.  The writing was lovely and evocative, the characters strong and luminescent, and as the temperature slowly begins to drop outside, I can hardly think of a better book to curl up with! (more…)
11th October
2009
written by Steph
The saga continues...

The saga continues...

This past week I’ve been slowly working my way through the second volume of Jane Eyre. Please don’t take my glacial progress as evidence that this second of three installments was difficult or the prototypical “middle child” of the book.  I’ve really been enjoying it A LOT, but there’s no denying I’ve been reading it slowly.  However, I can attribute this to two things: 1)   I was away at a conference for three days this week, which considerably cut into my reading time.  I got to read on planes, but other than that, I was inundated with science and group dinners the rest of the time, so Jane did languish a bit as a result 2)   This is simply a book that I’ve been having fun reading and just haven’t felt the need to rush through.  I’m enjoying the time I spend with the book, and as easy as it is to flip the pages, I feel I’m not doing so mindlessly but am instead really reveling in the time spent.  I feel like I am reading for the sake of reading, rather than for the sake of finishing the book.  Some people might not feel there is a distinction there, but for me there is!  And hey, we’re slowly embracing the “Slow Food” movement, so why not the “Slow Read” movement? (more…)
4th October
2009
written by Steph
As you can see, this wasn't actually called "Part the First", but it's more fun to call it that!

As you can see, this wasn't actually called "Part the First", but it's more fun to call it that!

Normally I don’t review or record my feelings about a book until I’ve done gone and finished the whole thing, although of course there are exceptions, such as with the 2666 read-along!  As Jane Eyre is likewise a rather epic novel, and also conveniently broken into parts (or volumes, as I believe they are actually called), I figured it might be nice to switch things up and post my interim reflections as I finish each part.  Also, this will mean you won’t have to wait three weeks (or however long it will take me to finish this sucker!) in radio silence.  Really, it’s win-win, I think!

So, Jane Eyre is a book that I was pretty sure I had read when I was maybe 11 or 12 in Grade 7 or 8.  It’s certainly one of those books about which I know the general plot, so it’s very hard for me to say whether in fact I have really read this book.  On the one hand, I kind of know what happens in it in terms of the big moments and the various twists, but on the other hand, as I embarked upon Part 1, nothing about it seemed very familiar at all!  I was surprised to find that the novel started with young Jane, as in my mind I thought the book only involved her trials and tribulations as a governess (when in fact it appears to be a fictional autobiography of sorts).  Moreover, I was even more startled to find that young Jane was so feisty and spirited!  For whatever reason, I had always thought Jane was puritanical and reserved, not the resilient young tornado who makes up the first half of this first volume.  I found myself actually quite enamored by the young Jane, and while I don’t always see that same fierce spark in the older Jane, I do think she is quite a wonderful leading lady.  I certainly am enjoying the feminist undertones that are emerging, though they do still feel quite nascent at this point in the novel. (more…)