Friday, July 29, 2011

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I came across this novel on the list for the Gothic Reading Challenge and have been itching to read it since. Here is a summary from Goodreads (I promise to get back to writing my own summaries soon. . .I feel like I am cheating y'all with these stolen summaries :) )

Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers. 

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman.*

There are so many elements in this novel that reminded me of Jane Eyre, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I have to say Mrs. Danvers is the most despicable woman I have ever encountered in my reading. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys reading gothic romance novels; I rate it a 4/5.

I am currently reading The Radley's by Matt Haig and look forward to providing y'all with more fulfilling posts in the near future!

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

Oh, friends, I am so thankful that I have finally gotten somewhat motivated to update on my recent readings. Between being extremely homesick and experiencing morning sickness, I have not gotten very much done these last few weeks. . .No, not even reading :(. I think all that is about to change though!

On July 10th I participated in a summer readathon and felt lucky to have finished one short book. I read The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier; she also wrote  Girl with the Pearl Earring. Here is a summary from Goodreads:

A tour de force of history and imagination, The Lady and the Unicorn is Tracy Chevalier’s answer to the mystery behind one of the art world’s great masterpieces—a set of bewitching medieval tapestries that hangs today in the Cluny Museum in Paris. They appear to portray the seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown—until now.

Paris, 1490. A shrewd French nobleman commissions six lavish tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. He hires the charismatic, arrogant, sublimely talented Nicolas des Innocents to design them. Nicolas creates havoc among the women in the house—mother and daughter, servant, and lady-in-waiting—before taking his designs north to the Brussels workshop where the tapestries are to be woven. There, master weaver Georges de la Chapelle risks everything he has to finish the tapestries—his finest, most intricate work—on time for his exacting French client. The results change all their lives—lives that have been captured in the tapestries, for those who know where to look.

In The Lady and the Unicorn, Tracy Chevalier weaves fact and fiction into a beautiful, timeless, and intriguing literary tapestry—an extraordinary story exquisitely told.*

I was attracted to this novel because I usually like to read fiction based on a mysterious piece of history, such as the tapestries in this novel. There was also plenty of scandal to keep me interested. 

I am currently trying to create a rating system for my blog. . .But for now, I would rate this novel a 3/5. I probably would not read it again although it held my interest during the readathon. 

Here is an image of one of the mentioned tapestries ( there are 7 in all): 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Mini-Readathon hosted by Sarah Says

1. Tell everyone three random things about yourself:
-I wish I was still teaching!
-I am pregnant and cannot think of a baby name!
-Today is my one year anniversary!

2. Is this your first readathon?
I attempted a readathon once before, but it was a fail! So, I am giving this 12 hour one a try!

3. Do you have any specific goals for today? (# of books or pages to read?)
I just hope to read at least one book. . .trying to not set myself up for failure again! ha

4. Do you have any specific snacks, drinks, or books planned?
crackers and gatorade 

5. What hours do you plan on reading during? (For example, I'm aiming for 10 AM to 10 PM Eastern time).
1:15 PM -1:15 AM

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

As you may have noticed, I have been in a bit of a reading-rut, but I have finally forced myself to wade through a novel and to get over it! Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale has been on my TBR list for a while. I am eager to get started with The Summer Mini-Readathon hosted by Sarah Says, so here are some of my thoughts on Atwood's novel.

Synopsis from the back of the book:
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now. . .


As I read this novel, I kept thinking: "Oh no, don't end like Orwell's 1984." And it did just that. . .well, sort of. Throughout the novel, it becomes increasingly apparent that the Commanders, the men, can get away with breaking the rules, but this is not so for the women - especially the Handmaids. After breaking many of Gilead's rules, the black van finally comes for Offred. It was no surprise that she would eventually get caught; in fact, it was what I was dreading the entire time I was reading the book.

I keep rereading the last chapter of this novel because I can't decide if this is a "happy" ending or a sad one. Was Offred killed, or was Offred rescued? I have hope that Offred was rescued because Nick tells her, "It's all right. It's Mayday. Go with them. . .Trust me" (293-94). However, I have also read other reviews that stated Offred was probably killed, since that was the only escape for women throughout the novel.

For those of you who have read this novel, what did you think of the ending? Do you have a different opinion on what could have happened to Offred?