A question to ponder. The better question is how does one live with joy and gratitude after being awakened to new emotions, feelings and passions after years of commitment, loyalty and love to another? An awakening at some time in life (if even for fleeting moments) is a likelihood. The questions of 'what-if..." and 'why now....' will probably follow. A person's reaction will define his/her character as will his/her course after a weakness is revealed.
Edna Pontellier was a selfish woman from her awakening forward. I detested her, thought she was a blubbering baby much of the time and I found it hard to feel sorry for her because of how immature she acted. Had she been more sympathetic I might have felt more pity for her situation of being stuck with a man she did not love.
Published 43 years after "Madame Bovary" (1856) "Awakening" (1899) is a lesser version but very similar. The Awakening is, of course, set in the US, specifically in south Louisiana. The French names are similar. The affairs are similar, but the later novel is not so much steamy and seems more aimed at the female's point of view in the late 1800s toward sexual repression in a place that was undoubtedly more chauvinistic and backwards than France in the mid-1800s.
I enjoyed the book for a view of life during that period and the raw emotions exposed to the salty air. I know this is frequently used (or always) in feminist studies in academia, so I've always wanted to read this, if for nothing else, to broaden my horizons.
Kim Basinger as narrator did an absolutely impeccable job with the tone, accent and acting the part of Edna Pontellier. I wish she'd do more narrating work on classic novels; she has such a melodic, soft Southern voice.
If you love reading or wish you'd taken that American Lit course in college or paid attention when you did, this is a great opportunity to explore and learn in over 43 hours of a conversational look by Ivy League (Brown) professor Arnold Weinstein at American literature going back to Ben Franklin's Autobiography and up to Toni Morrison's "Beloved." The course covers not only narratives (novels novellas and short stories), but also poetry by Whitman, Frost, Eliot and Dickinson (over 11 hours), plays by Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams (about 4 1/2 hours) and essays/memoirs by Emerson and Thoreau (about 4 1/2 hours). In the area of narratives, Professor Weinstein quite thoroughly examines in over 23 hours of courses, in addition to Ben Franklin and Morrison, the works of Washington Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Henry James, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Ellison and a few others.
If you haven't read a lot of these materials, don't be dissuaded from taking the plunge into this fabulous exploration of America through literature. I hadn't read many of the works, particularly the shorter ones, yet Professor Weinstein inspired me to read a lot of them. His teaching method doesn't require you to have read them to enjoy and learn from the course. Significantly too, the Professor doesn't stick solely to the works typically associated with a particular author. For example, he spent some time studying lesser known works by Melville ("Benito Cereno"), Hemingway ("Garden of Eden") and Twain ("Pudd'nhead Wilson"). And, perhaps the best thing about this audio course is that, if you aren't interested in an author/poet/playwright/essayist, you can skip that lecture *with impunity*.
I cannot recommend this course highly enough to anyone who loves lit, but never had a chance or took the time to study it. For me, this course was worth several credits and more.
A story of an adult daughter's (Laurel) struggle with the death of her father, after already having lost her husband and her mother. She recalls her mom and dad reading parts of books to each other:
“She was sent to sleep under a velvety cloak of words, richly patterned and stitched with gold, straight out of a fairy tale, while they went reading on into her dreams.”
It is a story of the people and things we recall upon the death of a parent, the loss of that part of your life, the rooms, the stories, and the attempt to hold onto what others see as the smaller things. It is also about contemplating the defects of the parents through others you see after the loss.
We have all known folks like the busy-body neighbors and friends here. Perhaps we have all known despicable human beings like the step-mother (a younger self-centered and completely negative nelly married late in life by Laurel's widowed father). She is a dismal, awful spirit that you cannot help but wonder what the father could have seen in her to marry. This part of the novel made my stomach churn and my hair stand on end.
A poetic, semi-autobiographical look at death and life, as peculiarly experienced in the South, sure to strike a chord with anyone who has lost a parent.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
What can I say? It is one of the best known plots of modern times. It is regarded as a modern American classic, alongside "Grapes of Wrath", Huck Finn's Adventures and Scout's wondering at her father's integrity. But for me, it has always been missing something. I know it's about soulless people for whom, what it looks like is more important than what it is. So of course it is missing something. That's the point! But still, there's something I can't put my finger on that separates this from the true "Greats".
I just read Melinda's review (which I always read with interest). She gets it, but I don't. For me Fitzgerald has so successfully dismissed these glitzy cut-out figures, that I have no empathy for any of them, not even Dan. That leaves me this: awed by the language, but not so hot about the story. And, isn't it all about the story? Anyway, who am I to criticise the book. It can't have been too bad because I listened to two versions of it over a day!
Overall, I think my prejudice is not a good guide. I love the language, but I could easily never read this again. I wouldn't say the same for Wrath, Mockingbird or Finn, and certainly I will read Of Mice and Men again, hopefully many times.
As mentioned, I listened to two versions of this tale. I started with this one, then saw the Jake Gyllenhaal one advertised. It wasn't that I wasn't enjoying William Hope's performance, because I listened to both from "cover to cover". However, I found it a bit over dramatic, although that sense of avarice has its place within this book. Also, I wanted to understand why this is an hour longer than the Gyllenhaal version. I never got to the bottom of that. I liked his (Hope's) characterisation (especially of Daisy and Gatsby) more than the other version, but I didn't like the "sing-song" aspect of some of the narrative. Still the performance was good and didn't detract from the book, and it's all about the book.