Tag: classics

Book Review: Down and Out in Paris and London (George Orwell).

Down and Out in Paris and London.

by George Orwell.

I have read literary critical essays written by George Orwell before but Down and Out in Paris and London is the first full-length work of the author I have read. His works reflect his ideologies. Down and Out in Paris and London is a first full-length novel written by George Orwell. This book is a memoir and it is divided into two parts on the theme of poverty in the two cities of Paris and London.

This novel is an interesting fictional account with touches autobiographical elements to the work. It narrates the story of a poor English writer and his adventures in Paris and London in a surprisingly humorous way. The book is divided into two parts – The first part talks about Parisian life and the second of life in London. At first, I thought that the division into two parts may be meant a time gap or something but it is actually a completely coherent story that happens to be divided into two parts.

In the Parisian part, the writer gives unique descriptions of working in fancy restaurants all over the city. Experience of working in posh kitchens as a dishwasher is described; in short life as a casual laborer in Paris. The first part ties into the second one as he leaves the job in Paris due to its long hours. As the narration begins in London, he expects to have a job waiting but doesn’t. He lives the life of a tramp in London. Staying in different hotels, hostels, and shelters; he lives in the world of tramps.

The stories of Paris and London though are two different parts of the book; the story is a continuation of each other so, it doesn’t feel discarded at any point. The book gives a glimpse into the life of these two major cities of Paris and London in the period of 1900 to 1930. Both of the stories hit home the ‘reality check’ aspect of poverty in society and its struggles. The events described in the book are terrible and depressing but it is written in such a humorous way, without an ounce of self-pity. The characters the narrator meets are colorful and quirky personalities. The main theme of Down and Out in Paris and London is heavy; the book is lighthearted enough to be read at a stretch.

The fact that Orwell experienced the situations taking place in the book at least to some extent makes it more realistic and gritty. A book which is insightful and witty, it is an interesting and different memoir.

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Book review: The Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Leroux).

The Phantom of the opera

by Gaston Leroux.


After years of this book just sitting on my bookshelf, I finally decided to read The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. This is a story of a man named Erik and his obsession with a young soprano Christine Daae. The story is a Gothic romance set in the 1880s in Paris and is said to loosely based on true events at the Opera House.

The story begins with strange happenings in the Opera house in Paris. The place is believed to be haunted and many performers and organizers have reported sightings of the ‘opera ghost’ over the years. The ghost is revealed to be an actual person who is deformed in appearance and is an engimatic figure in the beginning. Christine Daae is a talented and beautiful young performer at the opera house and has lived there since the death of her parents. Raoul is an old friend of Christine’s who wishes to marry her. Erik, the phantom is considered the angel of music by Christine but he becomes obsessed with her.


The narrator of the story focuses actions of the opera ghost and how these actions affect the other characters around him, especially Christine Daae and Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny. The opera ghost is a man named Erik; he is a horrific and ruthless man, who is capable of doing anything without any remorse if it means him getting his way. The start of the novel was a little slow-paced I thought but it picks up speed pretty quickly.

The characterization of Erik is done mostly through flashbacks which makes it somewhat easier to understand his behavior and where it stems from. Erik’s mother has never loved him because of his deformed appearance which prompted him to run away from home at a young age. It seems his obsession with Christine stems from being unloved by his mother. Later, we find out that Erik isn’t his real name at all. Christine’s closeness to Raoul makes Ereally jealous and he goes as far as kidnapping Christine and tries to blackmail her into loving him.

There is a lot of focus on the love story of Christine and Raoul which is well thought out. The mystery element of the novel never ceased to amuse me while I was reading the novel. The suspense and mystery is a major theme of the novel and it works very well. It is hard not to feel bad for Erik; he is sad and lonely and desperately and Christine to love him. At one point in the book, though Erik is being completely irrational, Christine can’t help but feel pity for him and I felt the same way. The end of the novel is bittersweet. Christine and Raoul elope together but you can’t help feeling a little bad for Erik’s death.

The novel starts off slow so it took me a while to finish reading the book. The novel wasn’t exactly what I had expected it to be like but it was good nonetheless. Once the novel picks up pace, it keeps you hooked. I liked how the author has incorporated the flashbacks which give Erik’s backstory. Overall, I enjoyed the novel and liked it very much except the slow pace in the beginning.

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Book review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain).

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

-Mark Twain.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It’s in Tom Sawyer that Huck first appears but this book definitely can be read as a standalone. I read this book as standalone since I am yet to read Tom Sawyer completely. A story about a boy from a Mississippi River Town recounts his adventures when he travels down the river with a runaway slave named Jim. The setting of the book is rustic and it takes place in the nineteenth century before the Civil War in America.

The novel is about friendship, identity, racism, freedom, and war. The gradual change in the character of Huck Finn is so interesting. This novel by Mark Twain is considered to be The Great American Novel. I had studied about Mark Twain in my American Literature class in college and I always wanted to read it because it’s one of a kind. It’s the first novel of American literature which is actually written in an American vernacular. The language of the descriptions and dialogues is the way Americans actually speak. Before this novel American writers imitated the European style of writing and language. It was a revolutionary novel of the time.

The novel sheds light on the topic of identity and race. The novel since its publication has been controversial. The novel though is anti-racism; it is believed by many to be racially insensitive and stereotyping towards the African American community. The use of the word ‘nigger’ is offending and vulgar and there are editions where that word has been replaced. While reading the book it does seem too much, a little crude maybe but you have to consider the time it was written in as well. It has a pretty good pace and managed to keep me intrigued by the unfolding of the story.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is such an important novel because of its content. The book has managed to be lighthearted and witty even while dealing with the heavy theme of racism. The characters are intriguing and the plot moves ahead at a good pace and it never gets dull. Honestly, it took some time for me to finish the novel even when I liked it like it is the case when I am reading any classic but it is definitely a good read.

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Book Review: The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton).

The Age of Innocence.

–    Edith Wharton.

I picked up this book with few expectations because honestly, I didn’t know much about the writer or the novel itself. Once I started reading it though, I was delightfully surprised. I had to read a little about the age and times in America when the novel is set to make it easier for myself to understand the story in context.

The book begins with the impending marriage of Newland Archer and May Welland, enters May’s cousin the Countess Ellen Olenska who returns to New York City after many years living abroad. Newland is fascinated with the independent and worldly Ellen whose personality is in a way opposite of May’s personality. A sort of love triangle is formed in the story as the plot progresses with Newland, May, and Ellen. Newland is torn by his conscience to keep his promise to May while a part of him longs for freedom he could have with Ellen; the inner conflict of his character is relatable and human. The Age of Innocence is a social commentary about the society in the 1870s and their concerns with at times trivial things but the hypocrisy that persisted makes you cringe.

The novel is set in 1870’s New York City in the “Gilded Age” which I had to read about a little beforehand; it focuses on upper-class characters living in New York City. The main focus is on an upper-class couple who are due to get married when the bride’s cousin who is plagued by scandals arrives and suddenly the couple’s future becomes uncertain. The novel effectively comments about the society at that time in New York City; about their moral misgivings, hypocrisies and cruelties in the period before World War I and during it as well. The society shown in the novel has no proper sense left of cultural sensibilities and it is in a way of losing its cultural identity.

A tale about love, passion, society, irony, acceptance, and struggle; this book captures perfectly what the society was like at the time where their morals and ethics were questionable and they had drifted away from culture. This classic is definitely among the best and shouldn’t be missed out on.

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My Favorite Book Quotes.

 

My Favourite Book Quotes.

 

There are lots of quotes from lots of books which I enjoyed reading. I can assure there will be many more lists here of my favorite quotes. This is the first of many. These quotes are the one that came to mind fairly easily so I decided to go with them.

 

1)    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

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There are many emotional extracts in the book but this quote I like the most. Catherine says this to Nelly when she thinks they are alone but Heathcliff hears her. This moment changes the course of the entire plot ahead. I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken for both of them. Catherine is right in her own way though I wish she would listen to her heart and Heathcliff is left heartbroken after hearing this.

 

2)   The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

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This made me cry like a baby. Though I knew from the beginning that this book won’t have a happy ending, I was shocked. Augustus and Hazel as characters were so endearing; it was easy to get attached to them. This extract is from the letter Augustus leaves for Hazel as a kind of a comfort after his death and it perfectly sums up his feelings for her and it is a perfect goodbye he wanted her to have. It has the same effect even after re-reads.

 

3)  The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

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It tells about the biggest sin in life according to Amir’s father and it is true. No one realizes the impact there small selfish deeds have on the people who care about them. I never realized it before I read this; that stealing is a violation to all the good things in life and it leaves scars which don’t heal easily.

 

4) Easy by Tammara Webber.

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It tells us so much about the attraction between two people in simple words. Everyone desires someone this way at least once in their life and it is scary but a powerful emotion. It is about the pure passion between two people and it is described honestly through Jacqueline’s character throughout the book. The descriptions of emotions centering around lust and love throughout the book are really to the point and simply put, they are relatable.

 

5) A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.

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I liked this quote the first time I read this book and I am not sure if I completely understood its depth. Now, after reading the book again, I understand the emotions so much better and this quote is one of most favorite ones. I can’t exactly explain its appeal to me but for some reason or the other, I find this quote extremely relatable. A Farewell to Arms is actually one of my all-time favorites books.

 

So, these are a few of my favorite quotes from books and there are many many more to go.