This is a book you have to be prepared to read and committed to get through. But what a literary triumph! I've been curious about Uncle Tom's Cabin ever since high school when it was a selection in my American Literature class (I'm not sure they even have this topic anymore.) Boy am I glad I didn't pick it way back then as the story would have been totally lost on me as a teenager.
I decided to read the book once and for all as an adult after finishing another famous tome, Gone with the Wind, because I wanted a less romanticized account of slavery. In addition to presenting the gritty realities of slavery from numerous vantage points, one of the things I enjoyed about the book is how the author presented the moral conundrum that slavery presented for slave owners, regardless of how "humane" their treatment of their "property."
I enjoyed the narration but noticed other reviewers found it horrible. Being limited in my personal knowledge of regional and especially Southern accents I cannot comment on the accuracy of the dialects presented. All I know is that I felt the narrator brought the story and its characters to life, especially the tortured Cassie who I felt embodied the fearless and everlasting spirit of women everywhere.
Typically I stick to the classics, but I reluctantly committed to The Hunger Games Book One as so many people recommended it to me. "A great book," was the resounding sentiment regardless of age, class or gender. I knew the basic storyline going in, and was curious about how the author was going to be setting the stage for such a disturbing premise.This curiosity waned at about chapter 5 or 9 (can't really remember as I've already hit the "delete" button), but I plowed through the remaining chapters hope hope hoping for some redemptive quality in the form of heartfelt realizations about the basics of life and death and/or deep and believable soul-searching on the part of our heroine. Instead I came to the bitter conclusion that teenagers are really boring people when you get right down to it, regardless of circumstance. The writing was so slipshod and sloppy I got to the point where I was amused at the lack of variation on "he said/she said" in the dialogue. Honestly, there are about a thousand ways to attribute a quote! Back in the old days when people actually went to bookstores (including moi), there were separate sections for Fiction and Literature. While today's electronic delivery has blurred this distinction, in the future I am going to stay the Literature course and relegate this series to pop-flash - a pop culture phenom that will ultimately prove to be a flash in the pan.
I have recommended Born to Run to almost everyone I know who is interested in fitness. Not sure the lengthy dissertations on foot anatomy and the modern "science" of Nike running shoes would appeal to the everyday couch potato. But I'm an active person so I loved it, especially the characterizations of the important players in running and sports medicine. Part history lesson, part science experiment, part sermon, this book was captivating from beginning to end. I've even adopted a new habit that was introduced later in the book - the breakfast salad - that has proved to be nothing short of a nutritional breakthrough for me! It was especially poignant to have read the book with the recent death of Caballo Blanco, and narrator Fred Sanders' Spanish pronunciations added to my listening enjoyment.
GWTW exceeded my expectations, although part 5 of the audio book was somewhat dull in terms of story line. I enjoyed all the characterizations within in the book, although the shallowness of Rhett and Scarlett was extremely frustrating, which of course lends itself to creating drama and intrigue just like the modern soap opera. Nonetheless I found myself looking forward to the book's conclusion, which was a masterpiece in demonstrating all the nuances of human emotion and the pitfalls of unexpressed feelings.
Having seen the movie version as a kid, I had wanted to read the book for many years to understand and appreciate Mitchell's highly lauded craft. Initially, I started reading a hard copy of the book, and after a few chapters I realized I would never complete it as I am very busy. So I downloaded the audio book (one of my first) and decided to start over again from the beginning, even though I had just completed the first two chapters. Let me say I was absolutely astounded at the amount of detail that I simply didn't recall from the print version. Certainly spoken word is more powerful, but I discovered I had no recollection of about 50% of the content I'd just read! With that in mind, GWTW should only be enjoyed as an audiobook, and even for those who have read the print version, I would imagine the audiobook would be a rewarding experience. I enjoyed Stephen's version, although I had to chuckle at a few obvious mispronunciations (there is a point where she says "careering" although the intended word, based on the action, is obviously "careening.")
Having been born and raised in the Western US, I never understood the Southern perspective in the Civil War. GWTW gave me insight and has renewed a personal interest in the Civil War. Well, that, combined with the fact that I currently find myself residing in what was previously a Confederate state. While it seems Mitchell's characterizations of the Georgian state after the war and the Southern reaction to Reconstruction are apt, I do recognize that her portrayal of slave ownership is highly romanticized. With that in mind, my next audio book is going to be Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Spoiler alert!! I enjoyed the author's perspective and her courage for sharing her story, but overall I think she missed the point. I appreciated the time she spent establishing her background as there were a lot of correlations to my own upbringing with divorced parents, i.e. not knowing what constitutes a good marriage and not having any examples of a good relationship. As a mid-forties divorced adult, I've struggled to define these concepts and have yet to find true love. I mention love as I thought love would be at the center of this tale and was surprised at how infrequently love is mentioned, especially her definition of love within her marriage. Perhaps she didn't want to go that deep. I also didn't feel that she made any strong conclusions about her happy marriage. Honestly I think one of the key elements to her marriage is the simple fact that during the courtship stage she unknowingly did "the rules" on Carl. However, their 10-year courtship seemed like cruel and unusual punishment and I wonder why Ann didn't have a close girlfriend to tell her to let go and go for it. In my opinion she needed to be slapped at about the 4 year mark. No surprise that Carl had to develop a near-fatal heart condition to finally get her attention - her refusal to marry was literally breaking his heart! The title of the essay suggests that readers are going to get some insight into what makes a happy marriage and I feel that the author is still mystified on that subject even though the equation is right there in front of her face: start with a man that is so head over heels in love with you that he is willing to wait 10 years for you to say yes, add in the fact that he is smart, successful, good-looking and you enjoy spending time with him (the "makes you a better person" concept is a bunch of hooey) = a wonderful marriage that most women only dream of.
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