Tag: literature

Book Review: Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte).

Wuthering Heights

–  Emily Bronte

I picked up this novel thinking it was a love story; I was wrong.  This classic gothic novel tells the story of two passionate people Heathcliff and Catherine. The story spans for years, revolving around two families Earnshaws’ and Linton’s’. The plot is complicated especially to describe in brief so, I will try to cover the main points of the plot.

The narration of the story is difficult to explain. The main narrator is a servant who grew up in Wuthering Heights named Nelly, but the first-person narration is of Mr. Lockwood, who is in the house as a guest. There is a narration within a narration in the novel. Mr. Earnshaw, Catherine’s father finds a young orphan boy in Liverpool, Heathcliff. Mr. Earnshaw brings him home to Wuthering Heights where his adoptive father spoils him, and the rest of the family reluctantly accepts him. Heathcliff and Catherine grow up together. I don’t know how exactly to describe their relationship, but they are really close. After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Hindley is Catherine’s brother who tries to keep her away from Heathcliff after their father’s death.

Heathcliff starts getting jealous when Edgar Linton comes into Catherine’s life. Heathcliff overhears Catherine talking to Nelly about how she can never marry Heathcliff even if she loves him. Furious after hearing this Heathcliff, leaves Wuthering Heights and comes back three years later. In his absence, Catherine marries Edgar. Their relationship is tumultuous, and when Heathcliff returns, it gets worse. Heathcliff marries Edgar’s sister Isabella. Soon after his wedding, Catherine dies after giving birth to her, and Edgar’s daughter is also named Catherine. Heathcliff waits 17 years to get his revenge.

The book keeps you engaged from the start with its writing and the story. I don’t know what to think of the characters. I think none of the characters are likable and that seems on purpose. Heathcliff and Catherine are both so headstrong, stubborn, and hurt each other with their words and actions almost carelessly. It is easy to see how perfect they would be for each other if things didn’t work out the way they do in the story. It’s difficult to comprehend their actions and behavior to circumstances; it doesn’t make much sense. I kept on wondering why and how could someone be so cruel to others. Till it is between Catherine and Heathcliff it is still somewhat okay but then it spills over ruining the lives of two families.

Heathcliff is such a dark, obsessed and broody character; planning and plotting to get his revenge. The part where Catherine dies, and he goes to her grave, is surprisingly emotional. The way he behaves is not justified in any way, but there is a small smidgen of sympathy for him, and even Catherine because of that part of the story. Heathcliff’s doomed love for Catherine is his only redemption. The gothic setting of the moors fits perfectly with the tone of the story. The gloom and the darkness of the described landscape parallel the tragic story that takes place. The way the story is narrated maintains an air of mystery and doom throughout.

I am not sure what I expected when I started reading this novel, but it wasn’t this. There is a sense of tragedy right from the beginning. Catherine and Heathcliff’s love is doomed from the start. It is this love that drives the plot; the madness, need for revenge, this obsession, and tragedy all starts and ends with their love for each other. I liked the novel and the way the plot progresses. It is one of the best novels I have read. Everything has a purpose in this story, and it shows. It is a beautifully written story with a complicated plot and questionable characters. It is a must-read.

Book Review: A Pair of Silk Stockings (Short Story by Kate Chopin).

A Pair of Silk Stockings

– Kate Chopin.

I have never read anything written by Kate Chopin. I always wanted to read her works, so I thought reading this short story will be a good introduction. A Pair of Silk Stockings is the story about Mrs. Sommers, who finds herself with extra money and can’t decide whether to indulge herself or her family. The story begins with Mrs. Sommers finding fifteen dollars in her possession. She is overjoyed by the extra money and plans on how she will get a few things for her family that she was putting off due to budget constraints.

Mrs. Sommers makes a list mentally to go shopping the next day and buy new slightly fancy clothes for her kids. The next day when she is in the shop, she is unable to spend the money as she had previously planned. She finds a beautiful pair of silk stockings on discount, seeing that it is on a discount she buys that pair for herself. Buying this pair of stockings leads to an indulgent day for Mrs. Sommers. She is completely family-oriented. She thinks about her kids, and the household needs most of the time, being responsible for even the smallest thing they might need. In the beginning, when she gets the money, her first thoughts are about getting things for her kids and household.

 Once she buys that pair of stockings, she does something just for herself and likes how liberating that feels. This leads to a day of indulgent spending on herself though at the back of her mind she feels guilty about spending money just on herself. There are also underlying instances regarding bias based on social class. Mrs. Sommers feels a sense of belonging after her purchases and feels like a different person with the fancy things she bought. She feels confident about herself and notices the change in the way people perceive her when she has fancy things. Mrs. Sommers as a character also reinforces the kind of gender roles that were in place in those times. Her identity, behavior everything is in accordance with her family and not really her own. The way she behaves, and carries out her responsibilities, is all that is expected of her as a woman.

The main theme of the story I feel focused on consumerism as a means to escape. Mrs. Sommers lives a normal ordinary life that is focused on her as a mother and a wife. Buying those stockings, spending money on herself makes her feel special; it is an escape from her reality, but it is for a short time. Once she starts indulging, she buys a few other things, and then she has lunch at a fancy place; it gives her the illusion that life is different for a few moments. Towards the end, when it’s time for her to go back home, she feels like a dream ended. The escape through consumerism is limited to a few hours before she has to go to her real life.

The story is narrated and written very well. As a reader, you can relate to Mrs. Sommers as a character though I did some reading regarding the historical context of the story about the period it was written in that helped me better understand the story. I enjoyed reading this short story. It makes its point in a subtle and not so subtle way at times, but it stays engaging throughout.

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*Quote image taken from bing.com

Book Review: Little Women (Louisa May Alcott).

Little Women

– Louisa May Alcott

I saw the Little Women movie recently and I realized how many things from the book I have forgotten since I read it years ago. So, I decided that I will re-read Little Women. There were some aspects I remembered and some I didn’t but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless.  Little Women is a story of the March family focusing on the four daughters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. The story is set in Concord, Massachusetts in 19th century.

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The story is divided in two parts. Part one begins in the year 1860 when Mr. March volunteers for the Union army and leaves his family behind to join the civil war. This part of the story follows the lives of the March sisters during this year. Jo is assisting her aged aunt March. Meg and Jo go to a part at one of their rich neighbors where Jo meets Laurie and his grandfather along with his tutor John become a part of the March family. Beth contracts scarlet fever and Amy is sent to live with Aunt March as a precaution.

The part two is set three years later. Jo is earning money by getting her stories published in New York and working as a governess at a boarding house where she meets German professor Bhaer. Meg is married to John and they have twins. Amy is in Europe with Aunt March where she is learning art and meets Laurie there. Beth’s health starts declines and Jo comes back home to take care of her sister.

The majority of the story is told through the eyes of Jo. The character of Jo is so relatable. She is considered too bold and outspoken and tomboyish in those times but all that makes her more likable. The difference between the four sisters is clear from the beginning Meg is traditional, Jo is bold, Beth is shy and Amy is vain and can be self-centered. The themes of familial and romantic love run throughout the story and they are touching. Marmee (Mrs. March) is such an amaing role model for her daughters and all of them share a good bond with her; the can talk about everything and anything with her.

The favorite part of the story for me will always be the dynamic between Jo and Laurie. The first time I read it, I had cried and well some things don’t change. They seem so perfect together and I felt so bad for Laurie when Jo rejects him. Her concerns are completely valid but it is still heartbreaking and I never expected it happen. When Jo confesses to Marmee how she is not in love with Laurie in any romantic way, it’s a hard pill to swallow. The whole journey of each of the character is satisfying as you get to the end. The point in the story where Beth dies is so emotional and devastating to her family and the readers.

I was a little shocked by the pairing of Laurie and Amy but it in a way it makes sense. The story ends on a somewhat of a happy note. Beth’s death leaves a huge impact but rest of the family band together. Jo gets married to Professor Bhaer. Mr. March is finally home. Aunt March leaves Jo her mansion where she and Bhaer open a school. In the end, Marmee’s 60th birthday is celebrated with her husband, her three daughters, their husbands and her five grandchildren.

Little Women is one of my favorite books but strangely this is only the second time that I have read it. I love the flow of the writing and the story. All the characters add something to the story and are well rounded and relatable. Jo is my favorite. The story is happy and sad is equal measures I feel.

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Gaŕcia Marquez).

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Gaŕcia Marquez.

I have read Of Love and Other Demons and short stories written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez before I finally picked up this book. One Hundred Years of Solitude was on my to-be-read list for a long time but I was a little hesitant to actually start reading it. I read some 50 odd pages of the book last year and kept it aside and didn’t touch it again till last month. I had to skim through the previously read pages as a refresher and I am glad I did that otherwise I might have been utterly lost going ahead.

The story of One Hundred Years of Solitude spans for more than a century with seven generations of the Buendia family. It is tricky to explain all the characters in this books as they are many of them and they have same names; I don’t think its possible to explain the plot of the story in brief but I will try to give an overview. It begins when Jose Arcadio and his wife Ursula leave their hometowns to look for a new place to settle. They are the original settlers and founders of Maconda; Jose Arcadio dreams about this place and they build the town. Jose Arcadio is curious by nature and he is obsessed with scientific pursuits and immerses himself completely in his work. Jose Arcadio and Ursula are cousins and Ursula has been warned that incest will eventually lead to a baby being born with a pig’s tail.

The novel is wonderfully written. The magical realism of the writing and the story is what kept me intrigued as I read. The descriptions of the atmosphere and the landscape of Maconda paints a picture in your head as you are reading. You can imagine the town vividly which helped me stick to the story because I could see it play out properly in my head. The element of magical realism shines through the story and the way it progresses seems completely organic. The political and social upheaval in the story is mirrors the reality of our society. I have never read any books before which have the element of magical realism the way it is present in this novel.

The characters, the character traits and their names are repetitive in the story. At first, I had trouble keeping up with all the names and it didn’t exactly get easier as I progressed. Jose Arcadio, Amaranta, Aureliano specifically are names repeatedly used by new generations. It seemed confusing but then I realized that it is on purpose. The Buendia family is stuck in the same old circle of mistakes and decisions through generations. For example – the incestuous tendencies in the family are also present in generations and they end up in incest relationships no matter how hard they resist they can’t break the cycle. The personality traits are also similar in different generations like Aureliano’s are shy and self-reflective, they like being in their own company.

All the secrets that are kept by the family about parentage due to incestuous history end up being the reason that sixth generation Aureliano and his aunt Amaranta Ursula end up marrying when they are unaware of their familial ties and their son in born with a pig’s tail. Its very difficult to explain the themes and story of the book because it is vast and complicated. The family which keeps going in circles and interpretations of time and space in the story are some aspects are understood as I was reading. I might need more time to completely understand the story and all that it encompasses.

There were time where I really had trouble reading this book and I wondered if I should finish it or not. I am glad I stuck it out in those patches because in the end the story comes to full circle and it is intriguing. There are so many elements of the story that I feel went slightly over my head and I’ll have to read about it later. I enjoyed reading the book in parts as sometimes it was slow and I lost patience. I liked the book and the story and the writing but I don’t think it’s a book I’ll pick up again at least not anytime soon. Reading this book is a completely different experience but in a good way.

My Favorite Short-Stories

My Favorite Short-Stories


Its very difficult for me to finish full-length classic novels at a good place; then I turn to short-stories. I have read quite a few short-stories by now and I have loved almost all of them. As a literature student, we had short-stories as a part of our syllabus and that in a way started my fascination for short fiction. I have listed my absolute favorite short-stories from the ones I have read so far.


1) The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

This was the first story by Edgar Allen Poe that I read and ended up loving it. The narrator of the story who has actually murdered someone is trying to convey to the readers his sanity throughout the story. The murder of the old man by the narrator is planned and then executed by him and it is hinted that the narrator suffers from some form of mental illness. The story is simply amazing with its element of thriller, suspense mixed with the right amount of creepy.

2) Winter Dreams by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The story which depicts the dark side of the American dream is my favorite short story by Fitzgerald. In some ways, I did find some aspects of the story similar to The Great Gatsby but that might be because read these two stories back to back. It is slightly longer than I had first anticipated but the plot has a good pace overall and it is an enjoyable read for sure. I liked the fact that we get the see Dexter, the protagonist since the age of 14 and to see the character development was a bonus aspect for me.

3) The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway

The story of The Snows of Kilimanjaro is focused on the central character of Harry, a writer, who is in Africa for a safari with his wife but gets injured and is dying of gangrene. The story jumps from the present to the past a few times through its course as Harry thinks about his life. The stream of consciousness narration gives a deeper and complete understanding of Harry’s characters with his flaws and strengths. It is one my all-time favorite short stories.

4) The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

I read The Necklace twice, once in school and then once later. The first time honestly, I didn’t concentrate much, I read it because I had to. The second time I read it, I actually appreciated it. It is simple yet so meaningful. The theme of appearance versus the reality is pretty subtle throughout the plot but it’s a constant. The ending of the story is completely unexpected, I didn’t see it coming and it elevates the story. It is a must read.

5) The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde

A story of a lovestruck boy who must find a red rose for the girl he likes in order to win her heart. The start of the story is pretty simple but then the plot takes an unexpected turn; the nightingale decides to help the boy find a red rose for the girl after he hears the boy’s lamenting. This story shows the materialistic aspect of love. As a reader, one is left thinking if the nightingale’s sacrifice was worth it. It is one of my favorite short stories; sad yet realistic.

These five short stories are my favorites short-stories of the ones I have read as of now. I am sure there will be many additions to this list in the future and there are so many more short stories I haven’t even got around to reading yet.

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.