Wednesday, June 28, 2017

100 Best Novels Roundup, Vol. 4

As I near the end of the 100 Best Novels challenge, I've been condensing my reviews into these roundups. Here are mini reviews of the novels I've read recently:
A Bend in the River

Title: A Bend in the River
Author: V. S. Naipaul
Publication Date: 1979
Pages: 326
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 5/14/17

What I Thought: This is one of the novels from the list that I just feel ambivalent about after finishing it. I liked the beginning. I liked the stories about the small village in which protagonist Salim lived. I liked hearing about the villagers and the way of life in the antiquated world they inhabited. However, as the town grows and original characters fade out and make way for different people in Salim's life, I struggled to stay engaged. It became about political intrigue and illicit affairs rather than family connections and village life. I wasn't as interested in that. Or, at least, I did not expect it and had become attached to the first part of the novel. 

I did definitely enjoy reading a more diverse selection from the list. Naipaul brings a very different perspective of the world to his writing and his characters reflect that. It's a nice change. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Doubtful

The Ginger Man
Title: The Ginger Man 
Author: J. P. Donleavy
Publication Date: 1955
Pages: 352
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 5/19/17

What I Thought: Another book about a lecherous, careless European man. I'm getting tired of these. This one was better than some of the others, at least in writing style. It wasn't as graphic and I did like Donleavy's tone. However, the women are still treated horribly. The protagonist is still a character who I despise. Were the 50s just all about writing as morally debased characters as you could and trying to convince your audience to excuse their sins out of compassion for their psychological struggles? I'm not buying it. I get how books like The Ginger Man and others I have read for this challenge must have been so powerful and validating for men of that era. However, I'm not a man of that era and I don't think being one excuses bad behavior, even in a fictional character.

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Doubtful

Finnegans Wake
Title: Finnegans Wake
Author: James Joyce
Publication Date: 1939
Pages: 628
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 5/26/17

What I Thought: Y'all...I'll be real. I read this whole book and I still couldn't tell you what it is about. Sometimes I'm vague on details of the plot or get characters mixed up. This is a whole other level. I honestly could not even tell you the basics of this story. If I've learned anything from this challenge, it's that Joyce is simply not for me. I'm not anywhere close to bright enough to decipher his prose. 

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Nope

Wide Sargasso Sea
Title: Wide Sargasso Sea
Author: Jean Rhys
Publication Date: 1966
Pages: 171
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 6/1/17

What I Thought: It feels so nice to be able to end this post on a positive note. I really enjoyed this book. I should say from the start that I have always loved Jane Eyre and this novel is set as a prequel to the classic Bronte novel. Rhys offers us the story of Mr. Rochester's first wife, the mad woman in the attic with whom Jane finds herself in conflict. Here, though, that woman is Antoinette, a girl who knows little of the Carribean world around her and even less beyond those shores. I very much enjoyed Rhys's writing style and I thought the book was lovely and heartbreaking. I definitely will read this one again at some point, perhaps in conjunction with another reading of Jane Eyre, something I'm due for again.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Definitely

No comments:

Post a Comment