classic

Book Review: Othello

Like The Great Gatsby, I am studying this for part of my A Level course and have this particular edition which includes notes and definitions. 

And like with my last review, this is only going to be short. (Mostly because I’m so tired of studying this book that I don’t want to spend extra time on it now.)

In classic Shakespearean style, there’s a hell of a lot of misunderstanding and, of course, death. There’s even a love-driven suicide at the end, which Shakespeare was rather fond of including it seems.

This play is renowned for addressing a number of topics such as race, class differences, love and jealousy. Mostly, it is about the latter.

It’s always hard to get into these plays, but other than that it’s pretty good. Iago is possibly one of Shakespeare’s best villains, has he is so cunning and clever with his acts. 3 stars.

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Book Review: The Great Gatsby

I’m studying this book as part of my A Level course, so I’ll avoid going into too much detail on here. The edition we were told to buy includes an introduction and notes on the book, including notes on certain names and terminology included. If you are studying this book at all, an edition like this is really useful.

The story is renowned for its representation of the ‘Jazz Age’ – the 1920s. Fitzgerald captures that time wonderfully, while showing the true colours of the “American Dream” (similar to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in that aspect).

Nick, the narrator, moves to Long Island. His cousin Daisy lives nearby, and he lives next to a mysterious man who has recently come into a lot of money. This man turns out to be Jay Gatsby – a regular party host and past lover of Nick’s cousin.

Daisy’s husband, Tom, is seeing another woman. Most people know about it – it’s pretty much an “open secret” by now. But her husband starts to catch on, just as a terrible accident pushes him right over the edge…

At first, this was pretty boring to read. Especially since I had no choice but to read it. But as I read on, it got more and more enjoyable. I began to appreciate the writing more, and actually got a little emotional with the final death. I can understand why this book has been so popular, such a symbolic piece of literature from the Jazz Age.

It’s not that old (compared to.other classic novels) so isn’t too hard to follow. The style is a bit old fashioned, obviously, but I personally still enjoyed it. 4.5 stars.

Manga/Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Emma

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

After reading a couple of the books in this Manga Classics collection, I decided to take a look at the other titles available on NetGalley. I’ve never read the original novel by Jane Austen, but I hadn’t read Great Expectations either before reading the manga adaptation.

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Manga Classics: Emma by Stacy King (originally by Jane Austen) – eBook, 377 pages – Published June 17th 2015 by UDON Entertainment

As usual with these adaptations, I’m not going to focus too much on the story as that was down to the original author, not the author of this particular adaptation. Here’s a quick synopsis though, in case you’re not familiar with the novel:

Emma Woodhouse is a single young lady living with her father. She prides herself for her ability to see into the hearts and minds of others, and her matchmaking capabilities. Her governess has just recently married a man Emma set her up with, after all. When she acquires the friendship of Harriet, she believes herself capable of matching her with a suitable gentleman. But it turns out to be a lot more difficult than she anticipated.

And her own mind – once set on remaining single and unmarried forever – is suddenly rather confused…

It is, clearly, a romance novel. But it’s not just a boy-meets-girl kinda thing. It’s a typical Austen novel, I think, with all the misguided affections and complicated love stories all tangled up.

This adaptation is wonderful; I’m a big fan of this collection. As I’ve said before, it helps you understand the story and characters a lot better, and is really useful for people who aren’t that fond of classic literature. The author manages to keep the original tone and language (mostly) intact, while still making it a lot easier to understand and relate to. The art is fantastic, too; it really expresses the different moods and scenes, and the feelings of each character.

I’d easily give this 4 stars out of 5. I really think this collection is worth looking at, whether you’re interested in classic novels or not.

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Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Great Expectations

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I discovered these Manga Classics via NetGalley, and am so glad I did! I’m definitely intent on reading a lot of the collection.

Manga Classics Great Expectations

Manga Classics: Great Expectations by Stacy King and Crystal S. Chan (Originally by Charles Dickens) – eBook (Review Copy), 312 pages – Published May 20th 2015 by UDON Entertainment

I’ve only seen the film of this story, and not even read the original novel. But I am planning to do so, and I really feel like this has given me a better understanding of the plot and the characters.

The story itself, written by Charles Dickens, is pretty good – not my favourite, but not bad. It tells the story of Pip, a little boy who wants nothing more than to be a gentleman. But his humble lifestyle is not particularly accommodating of that wish, until an anonymous benefactor sends him to London…

I think the characters and emotions are portrayed really well through the artwork in this, helping to understand the developments in the plot and relationships that are taking place. The language makes it easier to follow and understand, too, which a lot of people have problems with when reading older novels. For example with Miss Havisham, who’s emotions are somewhat exaggerated to show her grief and frustrations.

If you like classic novels but are maybe uncomfortable with the language or length, then I’d definitely recommend this line of graphic novels. Even as an accompaniment to the original books, just to give that extra insight and understanding.

Simply because this isn’t a favourite story, I’m going to give 4 stars. But the adaptation itself is fantastic.

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Book Review: Frankenstein

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Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – eBook, 126 pages – Published May 17th 2012 (first published March 11th 1818)

This book has been reviewed and studied so many times over the years, so I’ll keep this simple.

It is a classic novel, originally published back in 1818. This does mean that the language is harder to read and understand for some people, and the general culture and ideas are all rather different to what you may be used to. That’s always the biggest problem with reading and appreciating older novels – sometimes we just can’t enjoy the fantastic writing or the unique characters like people would’ve back when it was released.

We are first introduced to Robert Walton on an expedition to the North Pole, writing letters back home. The whole story is, in fact, him recounting what he is told by the man he picks up in his boat – Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s story is a familiar one; he created a monster, who subsequently felt lonely amongst this world of humans. This creature wanted a partner, a mate, but Frankenstein was unwilling to create yet another daemon of this kind. So he took revenge, slowly removing all of the Frankenstein’s loved ones until he no longer held the will to live himself.

It is actually a lot sadder than I ever knew. I didn’t know much, just the generic “Frankenstein’s monster” creation story. But this novel is full of heartache and loss, regret and terror. It’s about a scientist crossing the line of creation, only to suffer drastically for his ambitions.

Yet we are also given the “monster’s” account – his terrifying, lonely entry to the world, his plea for company, even his regret for the lives he took. I never really thought much about the creation himself, didn’t consider his side all that much. But this novel makes you think about him, and even causes you to sympathise with him.

I liked this book, but I feel like it’s one of those books you’re supposed to like. I’m not a huge fan of classic novels, but I can see past the difference in language and lifestyle. I just really appreciated the amount of emotion in this, and also it’s not-so-perfect ending. It isn’t a favourite, and it wasn’t a casual, easy read, but I will give it 3.5 stars.

Check out this edition here.

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Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Pride and Prejudice

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

 

We all know of the classic novel, but have you ever read Austen’s work in the form of a manga?

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Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Stacy King (originally by Jane Austen) – eBook, 377 pages – Published September 17th 2014 by UDON Entertainment

 

I won’t talk about the plot much – I’m sure you know enough about it already – but I will definitely mention the art and the portrayal of the different characters and their relationships with one another.

So, just in case you don’t know the story of Pride and Prejudice – my review of which is here – I will give you a quick summary. Originally published in 1813, the story features common themes from the era such as wealth, social standing, and marriage. A family with five daughters are desperate to get them married into wealth, into comfortable homes with handsome young men. But Elizabeth is not so keen on marrying just anyone, and her eldest sister soon finds herself falling for a particular young man.

The original novel is fantastic, but some people don’t particularly enjoy reading classics – which is understandable, as a lot of the language is rather hard for us to understand in the modern day and age. So this adaptation makes the story a whole lot more enjoyable and easy to follow, while still keeping the importance of the plot intact. Not to mention how well the characters are all portrayed – especially Mrs Bennet, the comedic mother in the book. The artwork emphasises how exaggerated she is, as well as showing her husband’s reaction to her.

At important times – such as weddings or the introduction of a certain character to another – the illustrations are particularly beautiful and romantic, with lots of floral designs. I thought the illustrations reflected the mood of the plot/characters really well. And the language is a lot easier to understand than Austen’s original writing, yet still somewhat classic and formal.

I really did enjoy this, and am definitely going to consider other books from the range. 5 stars for this wonderful retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

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Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Hardback, 284 pages – Published 2003 by Planet Three Publishing Network Ltd

I’ve wanted to read more classics for some time, and had a copy of this lying around. So when I was told it may come up on my exams, I thought it was a great opportunity to start reading it. But, as I’ll be writing about it in great detail sometime soon, I’m going to keep this review short and sweet.

This novel was first published in 1813, and is loosely based on Austen’s own home life. It helps if you know a little bit about the time period and the ways of the people back then; this is set in the 19th Century Regency Period, when women were greatly oppressed and often married for money or reputation rather than love and affection. This is shown with the marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins; Charlotte claims that she rarely sees her husband about the house, and that she finds the solitude quite comfortable.

Austen is challenging these facts though, with Jane and Elizabeth Bennet. They refuse to marry anyone who they do not greatly admire, and Elizabeth especially is a very headstrong character. You could say that this is an early feminist novel!

Another key theme throughout Pride and Prejudice is the judgement of character being incorrect from first impressions. For example, Elizabeth despises Mr Darcy at first. She hears only of his faults, and does not think to wonder about any context or motivation for his “negative” actions. Eventually, Darcy sets her straight and she finds herself feeling an emotion rather different to hate toward him.

Another of the young Bennets, Lydia, finds herself drawn to a man. Hers is the first relationship, and comes about in unfavourable circumstances. She is the youngest of the five sisters, and has always been a lively, flirtatious character.

Jane Bennet, the eldest and most admired of the girls, goes through a few emotions regarding the man she desires. Mr Bingley quickly steals her heart, but no proposal is made. Jane can only assume that he does not feel any admiration towards her. Little does she know, her sister’s admirer is responsible for keeping them apart.

I’m really not a romance girl, but I still appreciate this book. It can be hard to follow due to the language, but I personally enjoy this sort of thing. It has a nice, happy ending, and is not unreasonable or too far-fetched. It is a novel that requires a fair bit of your attention to really understand, but can really draw you in once you start. I think I’ll give it 4 stars.

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