Monday, April 16, 2007

The Lost Madonna, by Kelly Jones

I just finished reading The Lost Madonna, by Kelly Jones. I didn't blog about it earlier because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say about it. Getting started was really rough, because I didn't feel like I was being drawn in as much as I could have been. The beginning of the book contained a lot of flashbacks, but they were all narrated in a "tell" style, rather than a "show" style. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time getting into a book that explains instead of dropping you right into the scene.

However, the story in The Lost Madonna was intriguing that I kept reading, despite my doubts as to Jones's writing style. I am glad I did -- and this goes to show how first impressions of books are not always accurate. As the story went on, and the flashbacks were fewer, the story became even more intense. In the end, it was a pretty good book, and I am glad I read it.

The moral of the story: If you read Kelly Jones's The Lost Madonna, be sure to keep going even if you don't feel compelled to. In the end, it's worth it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte

Note: The image links to an inexpensive paperback copy of this book.  You can get a free ebook from

For another book review, I am reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë. This is the second time I have read the book; the first time was for a Women's Literature class my senior year of college.

Having just recently read Charlotte Brontë's Shirley, I am struck by the difference in their writing styles, even more so than I was in college. Charlotte Bronte has a writing style that is much more "preacherly" than her younger sister's; whereas Charlotte takes a long time to get to the point, and often slips into a lecture in her own voice before returning to her character's narrative, Anne is straightforward and honest. Rather than taking "time out" from the story to express her views, Anne instead weaves them into her character's conversations, crafting dialogue that makes her point for her. She also addresses many issues more directly than Charlotte does: For instance, her main character, Helen Graham (the narrator, Gilbert, is primarily a vessel through which Helen's story is told), takes a strong stance against alcohol, and vehemently argues her reasons for teaching her son to dislike it.

In general, I also find that Anne's writing is more easily readable than Charlotte's is. Perhaps because it moves more quickly, or perhaps because of a subtle difference in the language, I find The Tenant of Wildfell Hall much more readable than Shirley, perhaps even than Jane Eyre.

Due to the easier readability of her writing, and the respect I have for the way she uses her fiction to argue a political view, I have to say that I like Anne Brontë's work better than that of her better-known sister, Charlotte.

Monday, April 2, 2007

NNNNN, by Carl Reiner

I just finished reading one of the weirdest books I've read in a long time. I seriously think NNNNN, by Carl Reiner, evolved out of writer's block. It reads like something that a foundering writer would come up with out of desperation, but it's pretty funny, too.

NNNNN breaks all the rules: Ridiculous coincidences, melodramatic plot devices, silly names, and bad dialogue makes this book a hoot to read. I wish I had had writer's block at the time I read this, as I imagine it would be a fun book to read when I'm having a hard time writing.