Tag Archive | Book Review

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

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.

Eight Cousins

Title: Eight Cousins
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Date Started: September 6, 2014

Other Works by Author:
Rose in Bloom
An Old Fashioned Girl
Little Women
Little Men
Jo’s Boys
The Mysterious Key and What it Opened

Genres: Fiction, History, Family

My Rating: 4

Summary: Fourteen year old Rose is newly orphaned and has moved in with her two great aunts that live on the ‘aunt hill’ to await the coming of her guardian Uncle Alec. Dubbed the ‘aunt hill’ because six aunt’s live there and there are only four uncle’s two of which is at sea.
Coming from a boarding school Rose is a little afraid of boys, follows the impractical fashion for her clothes, and doesn’t run around. She meets Phoebe, and orphan servant girl who is cheerful despite her circumstances and grows to love her as a friend and tries to help her.
She also is bombarded by her seven boy cousins who she soon learns are not that scary but are very nice and jolly playfellows.
When Uncle Alec arrives he soon gains her affections  and begins a course of wholesome food for her, practical clothing, and running and playing outside.
Unconsciously, Rose begins to influence her family and brings them all closer together.

My Thoughts: Eight Cousins is a sweet story and has always been on of by favorites by Alcott.
Rose is far from perfect but she has a sweet spirit and kindness towards (almost) everyone. And the other characters are jolly and sweet. A very enjoyable, fairly quick read.

My Favorite Quotes:
~“If you dear little girls would only learn what real beauty is, and not pinch and starve and bleach yourselves out so, you’d save an immense deal of time and money and pain. A happy soul in a healthy body makes the best sort of beauty for man or woman.”

~“[F]or in this queer world of ours, fatherly and motherly hearts often beat warm and wise in the breasts of bachelor uncles and maiden aunts; and it is my private opinion that these worthy creatures are a beautiful provision of nature for the cherishing of other people’s children. They certainly get great comfort out of it, and receive much innocent affection that otherwise would be lost.”

Where can you get this book: Amazon, Librivox

Cousin Phillis

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Title: Cousin Phillis
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Date Started: September 3, 2014

Other Works by Author:
Mary Barton
Wives and Daughters
Ruth
North and South
Sylvia’s Lovers
The Life of Charlotte Bronte
For a more complete list of her novella’s and other works see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gaskell#Novels

Genres: History, Romance, drama

My Rating: 2.5

Good for ages: 10+

Summary: Lodging with a minister on the outskirts of London, Paul Manning is initially dismayed to discover that the uncle he must visit in the country is also a churchman. Yet far from the oppressively religious household he envisages, Manning is delighted to meet his genial relations—not least, his cousin Phillis. But when Phyllis falls for the charms of his more sophisticated colleague, Manning’s family ties render him powerless to prevent the inevitable heartbreak that ensues.

My Thoughts: This book was very short, much shorter than I was anticipating and rather sad. The ending wasn’t as satisfactory as I like in books, that was definitely the main problem I had with it; though I read that more was planned just not written.

My Favorite Quotes: None for now. (I may get some up later if I have time to look at a hard copy of the book.

Where can you get this book: Amazon, Librivox