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Martin Chuzzlewit

1990

Title: Martin Chuzzlewit
Author: Charles Dickens

Other works by author: The Pickwick Papers
The Adventures of Oliver Twist
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
Old Curiosity Shop
Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty’
The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
Dombey and Son
David Copperfield
Bleak House
Hard Times: For These Times
Little Dorrit
A Tale of Two Cities
Great Expectations
Our Mutual Friend
Several Christmas Novellas (including A Christmas Carol)
Several Short Stories
The Mystery of Edwin Drood – unfinished

For a complete list with the shorter stories see Charles Dickens Wikipedia biography here.

My Rating: 5 of 5

Summary: The greed of his family has led wealthy old Martin Chuzzlewit to become suspicious and misanthropic, leaving his grandson and namesake to make his own way in the world. And so young Martin sets out from the Wiltshire home of his supposed champion, the scheming architect Pecksniff, to seek his fortune in America.

My thoughts: This is one of Dickens lesser known works and it is one of my favorites. The story deals mostly with selfishness and greed and how it can effect those around you. It leads to bad things such as estrangement, murder, and suicide. It also shows how certain circumstances and people can teach and grow you.

As with most of Dickens works he does use some gritty issues from the time to convey his story but nothing terrible.

It was written not long after his first visit to America which was not long before the Civil War so he does have some… interesting perceptions of Americans that come out in a portion of the book. In the postscript, however, he tells that he visited America again under much more favorable circumstances and no longer felt the way he did when writing the book.

Where can you get this book: Amazon, Gutenberg, and there is also a free audio book at Librivox

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Cranford

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Title: Cranford
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell

My Rating: 4 of 5

Good for ages: 10+

Summary: A collection of vignettes that tell of Miss Mattie and Miss Deborah in their little town of Cranford. Told in the first person by Mary, a friend of Miss Mattie through both personal encounters and letters.

My Thoughts: I had watched the BBC production before I ever read the book. The movie combines the various vignettes into one continuous story so it was a little difficult to get into the stories at first.

The characters are lovable and the stories sweet.

My Favorite Quotes:

“Out of the way! We are in the throes of an exceptional emergency! This is no occassion for sport- there is lace at stake!”

“But I was right. I think that must be an hereditary quality, for my father says he is scarcely ever wrong.”

“A man,” as one of them observed to me once, “is so in the way in the house!”

Where can you get this book: Amazon, Librivox

Sherlock Holmes

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Series: Sherlock Holmes
Author: Sir Author Conan Doyle

Works in this Series:
A Study in Scarlet
The Sign of the Four
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Valley of Fear
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
His Last Bow
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Genres: Adventure, Mystery

My Rating: 4 of 5

Good for ages: 12+

Summary: The series – the four novels and the five books of short stories – follows the cases of the consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. The majority of the stories are related through the writings of Holmes best friend and faithful historian Dr. John Watson though there are a few written in Holmes’ perspective.

There are a variety of cases that Holmes always solves them with his great powers of deduction. The cases vary, from a man living a double life and faking his own death in one of those lives to a rare jewel getting lost and eventually found in the stomach of a turkey.

My Thoughts: While I do not always enjoy each individual short story, I love the series as a whole. Holmes deductive abilities boarder on fantastical but watching him solve each of the cases is fascinating anyway.

My personal favorites are: The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel), The Valley of Fear (novel),  and The Adventure of the Dying Detective (short story).

My Favorite Quotes:

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.” ~ The Valley of Fear

“Should I ever marry, Watson, I should hope to inspire my wife with some feeling which would prevent her from being walked off by a housekeeper when my corpse was lying within a few yards of her.” ~ The Valley of Fear

“The best way of successfully acting a part is to be it.” ~ The Dying Detective

“Evil indeed is the man who has not one woman to mourn him.” ~ The Hound of the Baskervilles

“Really, Watson, you excel yourself,” said Holmes, pushing back his chair and lighting a cigarette. “I am bound to say that in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my own small achievements you have habitually underrated your own abilities. It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt.” ~ The Hound of the Baskervilles

Where can you get this book: Most of these books are available for free on Amazon, they may even be on Gutenberg as they are in the public domain. There are also several recordings of the novels and short stories on Librivox.

My Man Jeeves

Author: P. G. Wodehouse

Other works by the Author:
The Inimitable Jeeves
Carry on, Jeeves
Very Good, Jeeves
Thank You, Jeeves
Right Ho, Jeeves

Series: Jeeves #1

My Rating: 3

Genres: Comedy

Summary: A collection of short stories narrated by Bertie Wooster about how Jeeves has brilliant ideas. This book has eight stories. Four of which follow Wooster and Jeeves and the other four follow Reggie Pepper – who is considered to be an early prototype of Wooster.

My Thoughts: They were enjoyable stories, and I will probably read more from the Jeeves series, but I would not classify it as stunning literature. The Goodreads summary describes it so: My Man Jeeves is sure to please anyone with a taste for pithy buffoonery, moronic misunderstandings, gaffes, and aristocratic slapstick.

Favorite Quotes:
~ “What I mean is, if you’re absolutely off your rocker, but don’t find it convenient to be scooped into the luny-bin, you simply explain that, when you said you were a teapot, it was just your Artistic Temperament, and they apologize and go away. So I stood by to hear just how the A.T. had affected Clarence, the Cat’s Friend, ready for anything.”

~“I’m not absolutely certain of my facts, but I rather fancy it’s Shakespeare–or, if not, it’s some equally brainy lad–who says that it’s always just when a chappie is feeling particularly top-hole, and more than usually braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with a bit of lead piping.”

Where you can get this book: Amazon, Librivox

Mansfield Park

 

Author: Jane Austen

Other Works by Author:
Emma
Northanger Abbey
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Persuasion

Genres: Romance, Family

My Rating: 4.5

Good for ages: 12 +

Summary: Fanny Price comes from a poor family with many siblings. Her rich relatives – Lord and Lady Bertram – decide to help the family out by taking Fanny in. She is raised alongside their two daughters, Maria and Julia – and two older sons – and given an education. Edmund, the younger of the two sons has always been very kind to Fanny, the two becoming great friends. While not treated poorly, she is not treated well because of her station in life compared with theirs.
When Dr. Grant and his wife move into the living on Mansfield estate, Mrs. Grant’s brother and sister come to visit, spending a lot of time with the Bertram’s. Edmund soon falls in love with the beautiful Mary Crawford. Henry Crawford first trifles with the affections of Maria and Julia then truly begins to fall in love with Fanny who is repulsed by him.
Tragedy strikes and not everyone is who they appeared to be.

My Thoughts: This is probably my third favorite Austen. Edmund Bertram is my second favorite Austen hero.
I like reading about quiet characters that still have a lot of faults (my tendency when writing is to lean to quiet, perfect characters) and Austen makes everyday life in that era very interesting.

My Favorite Quotes:
~ “Every moment has its pleasures and its hope.”

~ “A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself.”

~ “There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.”

Where can you get this book: Amazon, Librivox Dramatic, Librivox Solo