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Mini-'views: Victorian, etc.

Jane Eyre
Emily Brontë

Rating: 5 / 5

Music choice: Vivaldi, Ottmar Liebert, Beethoven

To put it at its absolute simplest, I adored this book. I thought it was well-written and quite fascinating, even having read it after the painfully dull Jude notwithstanding. There were a few pacing oddities so that I never quite knew exactly how much time had passed until Jane stated that she did all of this in X number of years, or something along those lines. The more morbid part of me was intrigued by Jane's and Rochester's various hardships, while the sentimental part of me thoroughly enjoyed the Victorian romance, predictable as it might have been, simply because it was so utterly charming. The fantasy-loving part of me loved that there were supernatural things going on and "Whaaaaaaat?"-inducing turns in the plot.

I could absolutely understand why people wouldn't like this novel, though; it just happens to fit so well into my preferred veins of literature. It was great.

Wide Sargasso Sea
Jean Rhys

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Music choice: Cirque du Soleil, Dexter soundtrack

This was supposed to be the story of Jane Eyre told from the point of view of the crazy woman in the attic, Bertha Mason. It does the trick, I suppose, but this suffers from a far worse pacing problem—about 75% of the book is dedicated to Bertha's childhood, while the remainder is the only part that's actually devoted to the story of how Bertha interacts with Jane Eyre and the rest of the household once she's taken out of the Caribbean. It was remotely interesting to hear from her perspective and to sort of piece together exactly why she was mad, but it wasn't exactly the attention grabber that I thought it would (and thought it would have the potential to) be. Unfortunate, because while it was rather boring except for a few scenes, it was written quite well.

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
Mary Shelley

Rating: 2 / 5

Music choice: Belle & Sebastian, Lacuna Coil

Once again, the book didn't fit my preconceived notions at all. I suppose it would be a good thing, like I'm assuming that in the Romantic era this would have been an absolutely terrifying book, except this had Victor Frankenstein emo-ing all over the place and fainting and being chased by his monster while being generally sickly and sort of rebellious. This book was an account of how Frankenstein felt about his monster and how horrified he was by it rather than the making of the monster, which is what I thought it would be about. It's kind of unfortunate.

Some critics have speculated that this was written by her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, but I'm of the opinion that he would have made his men manly instead of apt to faint at sudden movements.

Ian McEwan

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Music choice: Benise, Bright Eyes

The movie was remarkably true to the book, though this is one of the rare times where I will declare that the movie was better than the book. The major problem I had with it was the writing style: In this sort of novel, I think the last thing you would want to do is to distance your readers from the characters, and McEwan does exactly that. The ending is extremely different from the movie, and I'm not entirely sure which I like better. The novel itself is written exquisitely, and brings to mind The English Patient in writing style. However, it was rather less warm-and-fuzzy-inducing for me because in spite of myself, I still get slightly growly if I start thinking in Briony-like directions.

Next up: Dragonworld by Byron Preiss, Michael Reeves, and Joseph Zucker