Jane Eyre


Rating: 5/5

This classic piece of literature has always been one of my favorites. I felt like I could relate to Jane by just a little. By no means was I as poor or religious as she was. I did, however, feel I was as plain and compassionate. During this re-read of the novel, I understood more emotions of what she was going through because like Jane, I have fallen in love.

Jane Eyre is about a young girl of eighteen who is hired at Thornfield Hall to be the governess of a young girl. When she finally meets the master of the house, Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester, she learns what the evil sting of jealousy feels like and the joy of young love can be like. Mr. Rochester is twice her age, however, and a stern man with lots of money. He entertains a group of guests over a fortnight, teasing a young lady, Blanche Ingram, with the idea of a marriage proposal. With his older age comes experience and wisdom, because Mr. Rochester knows this young woman would only marry him for his fortune. He uses Blanche as a test to see how Jane would react to his proposal.

Jane has no interest in riches or a life of leisure. From her education at Lowood, a boarding school for poor orphans, she has learned many skills like speaking French, painting, and discipline. She uses the latter in all aspects of her life. She holds back her feelings for Mr. Rochester because it would be inappropriate and because she couldn’t imagine him feeling the same way. She prefers a life of simplicity and this is shown throughout from her lack of possessions. She owns a few dresses (which are plain and inexpensive) and probably only keeps painting supplies as her form of entertainment. When Mr. Rochester proposes marriage to Jane instead of Blanche, he wants to spoil her in splendor. He tries to buy her laces and jewelry and fine things rich women would own but Jane protests.

A grave secret that Mr. Rochester has kept from Jane wrecks their engagement. He asks Jane to dismiss it and live with him sinfully but Jane is too good for that and she flees Thornfield Hall. Despite her running away, she and Mr. Rochester could never live peacefully apart. She mourns for her life in Thornfield and what could have been a happy life with Mr. Rochester.

So, like Jane, I have felt the spark of first love. Any thought of a future without him is painful to bear. There were so many moments while reading Jane Eyre that I was devastated by her thoughts and conversations with Mr. Rochester because it is something I experience too, or could imagine experiencing. For example, when Mr. Rochester reveals his feelings for Jane she can’t believe it at first. She didn’t think someone of his station could love someone underneath him. Also, she’s nervous about the wedding day. Until then she tries to act distant because she doesn’t want to be disappointed if things don’t work out. Here she is protecting her heart, even though she allows him to kiss her every now and then.

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.” –Mr. Rochester

Jane and Mr. Rochester were made for each other. He sees in Jane someone equal to his character. She can be sharp and doesn’t come from a background of pompous aristocrats like most people he associates with. Jane’s down-to-earth nature is innocent and refreshing to Mr. Rochester, who’s life has dealt an unfair hand. Jane remains resilient after the troubles she has gone through (living with a mean family, going to a strict boarding school, losing Mr. Rochester to moral issues) and never loses sight of her beliefs.

There’s a lot to be taken from Jane Eyre. She tries her best to be devout and non-materialistic. Jane is a good example of the kind of person we should all aim to be. I think this is a great book for people who like a good romance novel. Jane Eyre is a classic with good writing (and so many good quotes!) and an intriguing plot with the mysterious secret Mr. Rochester keeps locked up in his home.

Picture credit: http://goodtoread.org/initial/j/jane-eyre/

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Saving Max


Rating: 0/10

I don’t remember why I bought this book in the first place, or how long it had been sitting on my bookshelf. I finally came around to reading Saving Max and I couldn’t have been more disappointed.

The plot is promising when a teenaged boy (Max) is charged with murder in a psychiatric facility. His mom is a lawyer and tries her best to save him from being committed to a lifetime of jail when she knows he couldn’t of done it. I mean, it’s her boy. Her sweet, loving boy, who is also autistic. He couldn’t have done it, right?

I’m stubborn when it comes to reading. I will keep reading to the end, even though I could have stopped by page 30-40. The writing was bad, I hated the main character, and it got worse as I read on. There’s nothing more to the story other than the fact that Danielle Parkman really loves her son.

The author, Antoinette van Heugten, does a lot of telling readers information instead of showing us. To make time pass by quicker we’re reading, “this and this happened” instead of a description. The story quickly jumps from Max being committed to Maitland asylum in Plano, Iowa, to his crime. There’s not enough story built up to believe that Max could be psychotic. His mother is told by nurses and his psychiatrist that he has nightly episodes and has been previously violent with the patient he supposedly killed. She doesn’t believe them, and rightly so, because as the reader too much time has been skipped. First Max is committed and then days go by where Max isn’t physically present in the scene.

The beginning of the story sets the anticipation that all the men are the bad guys in the story, while the females are goddesses for getting by with their burdens. Danielle Parkman works for a law firm where only men have made partnership. She’s trying to make partner while her son is committed and faces a tough crowd of men to explain why she’s the best candidate. Yet until her son is charged with murder, we don’t see Danielle do any work. A quick sentence is dashed with something like:

“After Georgia left, Danielle worked like a madwoman, making client calls; following up on court and deposition dates; catching up on her billing records (pg 62).”

I doubt Danielle made much progress in a day. While we may visualize her pacing her hotel room, papers everywhere, phone calls being made, in the end her new friend- a mother of a patient at Maitland- comes over and takes her to a beauty shop. I haven’t even touched on the fact that Georgia, Danielle’s best friend who also works at the same firm, has marital issues. Her husband is a doctor who has a drinking problem and is addicted to cocaine. They have a two-year-old and Georgia doesn’t want to leave him. She even goes back to him and tries to cover his problem up.

Halfway through the story, the men become the heroes while most of the women are turned into bad guys. The judge is a hard woman and Marianne is the culprit.

Another example of how bad this story is Danielle’s annoying personality. She says one thing and does another. She breaks her bond and purchases plane tickets as well as holes up in a hotel that is familiar with her from previous business. If she’s trying to avoid being noticed for bailing on her bond, she does a bad job. It’s not explained if she uses cash with all of her purchases, so I’m going to assume she used a credit card which is easily trackable.

So, how does someone get away with murder in an asylum? Apparently it’s easy. There were no nurses or staff around the only two patients left behind in their rooms as everyone else went to lunch. The security was pretty bad, and nurses leave the password to the computer on a sticky note under the desk. And this is supposed to be the best place for people with issues.  Not only is Danielle able to sneak in to see her son (when she has a restraining order against her) she can hand him his cell phone. Which he uses to call her and use GPS to find out she broke her bond and is in another state.

The only sex scene was cripplingly awful: “As Victorian women swooned, Danielle reels from the essence of this man (pg 50).” She finds out that this man she spent a night with is the same man who will represent her in court. He has a hard time trusting her because she lied to him when they met about who she was and never called him again. Shortly after discussing her case, he is back in love with her and is badly written.

Because there are more things wrong with this book than I can list I’ll finish on a last note that really bothered me. Danielle spends time snooping around Chicago and Phoenix looking for evidence that someone else did the murder other than her son. She takes personal objects from the person’s home without so much as a search warrant. So Danielle has broken bond and has breaking and entering against her. All this is dismissed in court and wasn’t actually proved that the evidence belonged to the suspect.

Overall, this was a disappointing read. The only good thing going for it is that it’s easy to read and so I was able to finish it in a few days. I would never recommend this read to anyone.

 

Photo credit: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1325947770

The Paris Wife

the-paris-wife-book-cover

Enter the world of Hemingway before he became a big name and one of the greatest writers of his generation.

In McLain’s novel, she gives readers the opportunity to see how Hemingway was influenced by his life in Europe. In Paris, he lived a poor life with his first wife, Hadley, who was eight years older than him. The two fell in love instantly and despite objections from friends, they married. In Paris, the Hemingways made friends with Gertrude Stein, Pound, the Fitzgeralds, and more. It was after hearing stories from Stein about the bullfighting in Spain that Hemingway began to vacation annually every summer.

While The Paris Wife is a historical fiction, McLain did plenty of research to make sure the events transpired in her novel were true. For those who have read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises it’s an interesting read to see how his first major book came about. As it turns out, the story was inspired by true events from Ernest’s trip to Pamplona with friends and his wife. Only when it came to writing the novel, his wife wasn’t fit for the story and was never included. Ernest writes himself as the impotent character Jake Barnes, the lead character and another of the men in the group in love with the female lead character, Lady Brett. While Hemingway is in no way impotent, it may symbolize how he felt for the woman Lady Brett was inspired from, and did not seek to take further action beyond flirting with her.

Through Hadley’s marriage with Ernest, we see the strength she has gained. Being with Ernest made her strong. As a child, she used to be curious and strong-willed. Then after falling out of a window as a child causing her to be bedridden for a while, her mother babied her and she became weak and repressed. We see the weak side of her when Ernest leaves her alone for a few weeks for a trip. She grows fatigued and whiny. With the news of an unexpected pregnancy, Hadley gains the courage and confidence she needs. It’s only a shame that she becomes weak again when Ernest starts an affair with what becomes wife #2.

In Paris, the Hemingways observe an unconventional lifestyle through their artistic friends. It’s common for men to have mistresses and for their wives to accept it. Hadley worries that being around these type of men will encourage Ernest to take a mistress and when that happens, Hadley lives with it for a time. The pain she goes through as she experiences a life with Ernest and another woman on the side is almost unbearable. Questions such as how can she let this continue? When will she draw the line? came through my mind and I wanted to smack Ernest for her quite a few times. However, the answer to those thoughts are simply that she loves him. It tears him apart too, to hurt her that way but he can’t help falling in love with the other woman. She wants to hold on to him for so long, but I don’t think she fought hard enough and early enough to keep him in place. By the end of Hemingway’s life in the ’60s, he still writes in his memoir that he loved Hadley and it probably continued to pain him that he hurt her in such a way.

The novel is all through the eyes of Hadley and this way we get to see Ernest intimately. It’s worth the read, and I couldn’t put the book down. The Paris Wife can make you feel happy but incredibly sad for how the Hemingways marriage turned out. At least Hadley still had her happy ending.

Rating: A

One Day

One-Day-David-Nicholls-July-15“A heart-aching journey” –Elle

Truer words have never been spoken. One Day is all about the friendship of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew through the years. They had one night together the day of graduation and their personalities could not be any more opposite. As a young twenty-something, Emma is still discovering the world. She is passionate about world issues while life is a big party for him. However, even after a drunken night the two become the best of friends.

Each chapter takes place in the next year. From their early twenties to late thirties, Emma and Dexter’s friendship goes up and down. The two are the best of friends, but meanwhile Emma is fighting her feelings for Dexter as he constantly has flings with various women. Despite his vices, Emma is the one constant in Dexter’s rollercoaster high-life. We get to see Emma and Dexter grow up, which makes the book feel so relatable.

The book starts off with the day after their college graduation. Neither of them know what to do with their lives, which is scary. Their progression into the real world (from Emma’s perspective): not using your degree for a few years, going back to school, and facing multiple rejections for her novel are all so real. As someone who is steadily approaching graduation herself, I felt like I could relate to Emma’s anxiety about life after school. Seeing how long it takes for her to finally succeed in life is nerve-wracking, but there is hope because it just takes time for her to find a proper balance. Then there’s Dexter who spends his twenties care-free and somewhat successful.

No matter where you are in life, you should be able to relate to this book. Whether you follow Emma’s and Dexter’s path or not, there is still something to relate to: the wedding invitations from friends, reunions, friends having babies. From the unstable twenties to still figuring out what your life means in your thirties.

What makes this book so heart-breaking, as the magazine Elle blurbed about, is the journey of Emma and Dexter’s friendship. There’s the platonic love they have for each other that grows into true love, to have had kept in touch for years and years. Not only that but to see their own journey in life. There’s Emma’s struggle to find success and Dexter’s rapid decline from fame. As anyone who has surpassed the years of Emma and Dexter’s life or are going through those decades now, One Day is a remarkable story with hope that even if you aren’t where you want to be at a certain point, there is still time for you to get there.

Image source: http://www.eatingbender.com/2012/07/22/book-movie-review-one-day-by-david-nicholls/