Book Three: Little Women

little women

By Louisa May Alcott

Published 1862

 

 

 

 

 

Strangely and completely by accident, I’ve gone straight from a book written for boys; full of adventures, the outdoors and fun to one written for girls; full of manners, gloves and sewing.

I think Little Women can only be read bearing in mind the confines of its time.  Books for children were written with a strong didactic and moralistic tone and with a strict gender divide.  This story, written for girls, follows four sisters growing up in a conventional patriarchal society their destined roles to become young ladies and make good marriages.  But within these parameters this is a story of four individuals following their own paths and finding some independence albeit within the domestic sphere.    Continue reading “Book Three: Little Women”

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Book Two: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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by Mark Twain

Published 1884

 

 

 

This was so much more than I expected.  My idea of Huckleberry Finn was very much based on the 70’s T.V programme, which I loved.  Lots of running around barefoot, having adventures and refusing to be hemmed in by convention.  I didn’t realise that Earnest Hemingway had said that “all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn”; or that I would find a story about two, marginalised people on the run for their freedom. $300 dollar reward for Jim, $200 for Huck.

Continue reading “Book Two: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

Book One: Middlemarch

middlemarch

A Study of Provincial Life
By George Eliot

Published 1871

 

 

 

 

 

Oh my goodness, where to begin?  Middlemarch is a book that carries so much weight, with Virginia Woolf declaring it one of the few English novels written for grown up people, and everyone I know saying how much they love it and then it’s by George Eliot  who has written some of my favourite books of all .   And yet I found I was struggling; I didn’t really care about Dorothea Brooke and her grey dress, she seemed too good to be true and too earnest to ever be interesting.  But then I heard Mariella Frostrup on Open Book (BBC Radio 4) saying that she too couldn’t get past the first paragraph and the advice given to her was to just keep reading – so I did, and somehow around the time Will Ladislaw appeared I was hooked and over a couple of very hot weeks in July it became my constant companion, sitting on a bench in the garden, drink in one hand Middlemarch in the other.

Continue reading “Book One: Middlemarch”