This month I have read Pride and Prejudice, Animal Farm, The Life of Pi, The Blind Assassin, The Graduate, and Great Expectations.
Animal Farm had many of the same themes as 1984. I saw the pigs turning into men from a mile away. I enjoyed how the pigs manipulated and changed the rules of the farm-yard as it best fit their needs, however the story seemed to follow precisely the path I thought it would. I don’t know if that makes me a good predictor or the story predictable.
The Blind Assassin took awhile for me to get into. I felt like the three storylines were not integrated until late in the book, which was, I am sure, Margaret Atwood’s intention. It was sad and lovely and heartbreaking, especially knowing how Iris ends up alone, giving her triumphs and trials all to Laura, even in death. It took me about 1/3 of the book to get into it, but once I was in the story was a lovely adventure.
Great Expectations is my second Dickens work, and the second that I have liked more than I anticipated. I fell in love with Pip and his little world in the first half of the book. I found the comeuppance of both Pip and Estella to be fairly perfect as they had to come to terms with their avarice and poor behavior.
The Life of Pi was an allegory for the stories that people tell through humans, animals, and even plants. The religious undertones that permeated his narration took a view of life that contrasted with the views of adults in his life and the conventions of society. While I understood the nature of the story’s big picture, I found the book itself grim. The animals devouring each other and taking advantage of their small space for predation was difficult to read for me.
Pride and Prejudice is a portrait of the Victorian world it was written in. Only after reading a bit of literary criticism was I able to discern some of the components of the book lost on my modern mind. Elizabeth’s ridiculous mother and thoughtless sister Lydia provide Elizabeth with people on whom she can utilize her razor-sharp wit along with her love struck sister, and the proud Mr. Darcy. I still didn’t love it, but it was worth the read.
The Graduate was a whim that I started late in the month. It is a coming of age story for a man who has just finished college and is looking for his path in life. This book takes place in the 60s and perhaps I am jaded as someone who came of age during a recession, but he is just whiny. He gets these great opportunities for funded graduate school and throws them away in favor of beer, a pool, and an affair. He eventually finds true love with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine and scales mountains to get to her. I found the writing a bit perfunctory, but that was probably a stylistic choice more than anything else.
Dracula – Bram Stoker, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck