Wednesday 30 April 2014

My favourite books 2013

The other day I noticed that I still haven't posted my list of favourite books from last year.

Well, here it is. I hope some of you will find something nice in that list, as well.

My Favourite Books:
Allende, Isabel "Maya's Notebook" (E: El Cuaderno de Maya) - 2011
Bernières, Louis de "Birds without Wings" - 2004
Dostoevsky, Fyodor "Crime and Punishment" (RUS: Преступление и наказание) - 1866
Ghosh, Amitav "River of Smoke" (Ibis Trilogy #2) - 2011
- "Sea of Poppies" (Ibis Trilogy #1) - 2008
Hanff, Helene "84 Charing Cross Road" - 1970
Hislop, Victoria "The Return" - 2008
- "The Thread" - 2011
Mann, Thomas "The Magic Mountain" (GE: Der Zauberberg) - 1924
Palacio, R.J. "Wonder" - 2012
Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Time" (E: El mapa del tiempo) - 2008
Pamuk, Orhan "The Museum of Innocence" (TR: Masumiyet Müzesi) - 2008
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "Marina" (E: Marina) - 1999
- "The Prisoner of Heaven" (E: El Prisionero del Cielo) - 2011
Rutherfurd, Edward "Paris" - 2013

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books if you like British Classic Adaptations

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

April 29: Top Ten Books if you like British Classic Adaptations
Top Ten Books If You Like X tv show/movie/comic etc. (basically any sort of other entertainment)

All my friends know that my favourite books are classics and that I also love to watch the adaptations the British have made of my favourite ones. Here are a few of the books that have been made into great mini series. I love to watch them again and again as much as I love to read the books again and again.

Austen, Jane "Emma" - 1816
Austen, Jane "Mansfield Park" - 1814
Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice" - 1813
Austen, Jane "Sense & Sensibility" - 1811
Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre" - 1847
Collins, Wilkie "The Moonstone" - 1868
Collins, Wilkie "The Woman in White" - 1859
Eliot, George "Daniel Deronda" - 1876
Eliot, George "Middlemarch" - 1871-72
Trollope, Anthony "Barchester Chronicles" - 1855-67

Monday 28 April 2014

Calvino, Italo "Why Read the Classics?"

Calvino, Italo "Why Read the Classics?" (Italian: Perché leggere i classici?) 1991

The author's "If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller" (Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore) from 1979 was one of the most weirdest books I have ever read but I truly enjoyed it.

Lately, I have come across many quotes about reading by Italo Calvino, many of them were mentioned to be from this book. So, I just had to read it.

I have read a few of the books he mentioned and I must say, those were the parts of the book I enjoyed most. With some of the others, I had no idea what he was talking about. I still liked reading it because he has a wonderful way of writing (and the translator did a good job, too).

If you enjoy reading classic literature, this is a great way of getting a list of worthwhile books to read and maybe getting a glimpse of what it might be.

He has a wonderful way of starting his book with an introductory essay "Why Read the Classics?" Many of the titles of the different chapters are great quotes about reading.

"1.    The classics are the books of which we usually hear people say, "I am rereading . . . " and never "I am reading . . . "

2.    We use the words "classics" for books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them

3.    The classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory, camouflaging themselves as the collective or individual unconscious.

4.    Every rereading of a classic is as much a voyage of discovery as the first reading.

5.    Every reading of a classic is in fact a rereading.

6.    A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.

7.    The classics are the books that come down to us bearing the traces of readings previous to ours, and bringing in their wake the traces they themselves have left on the culture or cultures they have passed through (or, more simply, on language and customs).

8.    A classic does not necessarily teach us anything we did not know before. In a classic we sometimes discover something we have always known (or thought we knew), but without knowing that this author said it first, or at least is associated with it in a special way. And this, too, is a surprise that gives much pleasure, such as we always gain from the discovery of an origin, a relationship, an affinity.

9.    The classics are books which, upon reading, we find even fresher, more unexpected, and more marvellous than we had thought from hearing about them.

10.    We use the word "classic" of a book that takes the form of an equivalent to the universe, on a level with the ancient talismans. With this definition we are approaching the idea of the "total book," as Mallarmé conceived of it.

11.    Your classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you to define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him.

12.    A classic is a book that comes before other classics; but anyone who has read the others first, and then reads this one, instantly recognizes its place in the family tree.

13.    A classic is something that tends to relegate the concerns of the moment to the status of background noise, but at the same time this background noise is something we cannot do without.

14.    A classic is something that persists as a background noise even when the most incompatible momentary concerns are in control of the situation.

Italo Calvino, "Why Read the Classics" (excerpt)

I especially liked the quote at the end of this essay "Why Read the Classics?":
"And if anyone objects that they are not worth all that effort, I will cite Cioran (not a classic, at least not yet, but a contemporary thinker who is only now being translated into Italian): 'While the hemlock was being prepared, Socrates was learning a melody on the flute. "What good will that be to you?", he was asked. "At least I will earn this melody before I die."

So, the book encouraged me to read even more classics than I have done before and also to put more of Italo Calvino's works on my wish list.

Often, when I don't speak the original language, I read the translation into German, not necessarily because it is my mother tongue but mainly because there are so many more books translated into German than into English that I have the feeling those translations are better. Anyway, this one I read in English because most of the books he describes are written in English, too.

This is a list of the books  the author talks about at length, he mentions a lot more:
Ariosto, Ludovico "Orlando Furioso
Balzac, Honoré de "Ferragus"
Borges, Jorge Luis "The Library of Babel"
Conrad, Joseph "Lord Jim"
Bergerac, Cyrano de "The Other World, or the States and Empires of the Moon"
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe"
Dickens, Charles "Our Mutual Friend"
Diderot, Denis "Jacques, the Fatalist and his Master"
Flaubert, Gustave "Three Tales"
Gadda, Carlo Emilio "Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana" (That Awful Mess on Via Merulana)
Galilei, Galileo "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World systems"
Cardano, Geralomo "De Consolatione"
Hemingway, Ernest "The Old Man and the Sea
- "A Farewell to Arms"
Homer "The Odyssey"
James, Henry "Daisy Miller"
Martorell, Joanot "Tiranto lo Blanc"
Montale, Eugenio "Forse un mattino andando" (Perhaps one Morning Walking in an Air of Glass"
Nezami, Ganjavi "The Seven Princesses"
Ortes, Giammaria "A Calculation of the Pleasures and Pains of Human Life"
Ovid "Metamorphoses"
Pasternak, Boris "Doctor Zhivago"
Pavese, Cesare "The Moon and the Bonfires"
Plini the Elder "Natural History"
Pongye, Francis "The Voice of Things"
Queneau, Raymond "Cent mille milliards de poèmes" (One Hundred Million Million Poems)
Stendhal Marie-Henri Beyle) "The Charterhouse of Parma"
- "The Red and the Black"
Stevenson, Robert Louis "The Pavilion on the Links"
Tolstoy, Leo "Two Hussars"
- "War and Peace"
Twain, Mark "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg"
Voltaire "Candide, ou l'Optimisme" (Candide, or Optimism)
Xenophon "Anabasis"

From the back cover:

"From the internationally-acclaimed author of some of this century's most breathtakingly original novels comes this posthumous collection of thirty-six literary essays that will make any fortunate reader view the old classics in a dazzling new light.

Learn why Lara, not Zhivago, is the center of Pasternak's masterpiece, Dr. Zhivago, and why Cyrano de Bergerac is the forerunner of modern-day science-fiction writers. Learn how many odysseys The Odyssey contains, and why Hemingway's Nick Adams stories are a pinnacle of twentieth-century literature. From Ovid to Pavese, Xenophon to Dickens, Galileo to Gadda, Calvino covers the classics he has loved most with essays that are fresh, accessible, and wise. Why Read the Classics? firmly establishes Calvino among the rare likes of Nabokov, Borges, and Lawrence - writers whose criticism is as vibrant and unique as their groundbreaking fiction."

Friday 25 April 2014

Book Quotes of the Week

"The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself." Walter Benjamin

"There is this unwritten contract between author and reader and I think not ending your book kind of violates that contract.” John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

"I have a shelf of comfort books, which I read when the world closes in on me or something untoward happens." Anne McCaffrey

"The whole world opened to me when I learned to read." Mary McLeod Bethune

"TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book." N.N.

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Scott, Mary "A Change from Mutton"

Scott, Mary "A Change from Mutton" - 1964 

I'm still rereading Mary Scott's stories about Susan and Larry, the farmer wives from New Zealand. This is book number four from the series of eight.

In this story, Susan welcomes an older daughter or a younger sister, her niece is coming to stay with them and brings a lot of turmoil to the back blocks. Also, a supermarket opens and the friends are worried that the little shop around the corner will suffer. But it wouldn't be a Mary Scott story if everything wouldn't find a happy ending in the end.

As all her stories, this one is also both funny as well as nice. A read to make you feel good.

This is the fourth book in the series. And this is the list of all of them:
"Breakfast at Six" - 1953
"Dinner Doesn’t Matter" - 1957
"Tea and Biscuits" - 1961
"A Change from Mutton" - 1964
"Turkey at Twelve" - 1968
"Shepherd’s Pie" - 1972
"Strangers for Tea" - 1975
"Board, but no Breakfast" - 1978

Unfortunately, they are out of print and only available second hand. I have heard in the meantime, that you can buy some of them as ebooks, i.a. "A Change from Mutton"

From the back cover: 
"A new supermarket opens up in opposition to Miss Adam's general store where the farmers' wives have always shopped. Susan and Larry, and their husbands, Paul & Sam, know and love Miss Adams but still they cannot help by be tempted by the supermarket's array of frozen beef and sausages on busy days, and by its sponge cakes on days when 'Ladies a Plate' is the accepted social form. But do they give in to this temptation ......"

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Characters Who I Admire

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

April 22: Top Ten Characters Who I admireTop Ten Characters Who X (you fill in the blank -- examples: piss me off, are the popular kids, are bookish, would be my bff, that stole my heart, etc. etc.)

Jo March from the "Little Women" Series by Louisa May Alcott

Anne Elliot from "Persuasion" by Jane Austen

Jacob Heym from "Jacob the Liar" (GE: Jakob der Lügner) by Jurek Becker

Hannah Broman from "Hanna's Daughters" (S: Anna, Hanna og Johanna) by Marianne Fredriksson

Orleanna Price from "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver

Atticus Finch from "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

The whole group of "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Shirin Gol from "Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep" (GE: Nach Afghanistan kommt Gott nur noch zum Weinen) by Siba Shakib

Tom Joad from "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck

All the girls from "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

Zosia Król from "The Children's War" and "A Change of Regime" by J.N. Stroyar

There are so many more I could have mentioned but I had to stop somewhere ....

Monday 21 April 2014

Pamuk, Orhan "Snow"

Pamuk, Orhan "Snow" (Turkish: Kar) - 2002

Ka is a Turkish poet who lives in Germany but visits a town in Turkey called Kars. While he is there, they have a heavy snowfall and nobody can leave or enter the town. The Turkish name for snow is "kar". What a coincidence!

Anyway, while he staying in Kars, a revolution is taking place in the little city. We can follow the way of this from the early beginnings, we can see every little piece of what those who want to overthrow the government want, what they are prepared to do, and what the government tries to do to repulse them. Because this takes place in a small town, it is easy to see the whole picture.

I know the author is not much liked in certain circles in his country and this is the book where I understand it best. Nobody likes criticism, especially if you know you're wrong. I admire him even more after this book which is certainly not his easiest one.

Orhan Pamuk manages to point out the differences between East and West, to draw a clear images of the political problems Turkey is facing and still writing a beautiful story in the midst of it all. I think I mentioned before that I love this author. Even if I wasn't interested in what is going on in Turkey at all, I still would like to read his books, he has a great writing style. And he manages to create a new world in every one of his books.

From the back cover:

"Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between secular doubt and Islamic fanaticism–these are the elements that Orhan Pamuk anneals in this masterful, disquieting novel. An exiled poet named Ka returns to Turkey and travels to the forlorn city of Kars. His ostensible purpose is to report on a wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head-scarves. But Ka is also drawn by his memories of the radiant Ipek, now recently divorced. Amid blanketing snowfall and universal suspicion, Ka finds himself pursued by figures ranging from Ipek’s ex-husband to a charismatic terrorist. A lost gift returns with ecstatic suddenness. A theatrical evening climaxes in a massacre. And finding god may be the prelude to losing everything else. Touching, slyly comic, and humming with cerebral suspense, Snow is of immense relevance to our present moment."

Orhan Pamuk "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006.

Orhan Pamuk received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 2005.

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

Friday 18 April 2014

Book Quotes of the Week

"My cousin Helen, who is in her 90s now, was in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She and a bunch of the girls in the ghetto had to do sewing each day. And if you were found with a book, it was an automatic death penalty. She had gotten hold of a copy of 'Gone With the Wind', and she would take three or four hours out of her sleeping time each night to read. And then, during the hour or so when they were sewing the next day, she would tell them all the story. These girls were risking certain death for a story. And when she told me that story herself, it actually made what I do feel more important. Because giving people stories is not a luxury. It’s actually one of the things that you live and die for." Neil Gaiman

"Every reader finds himself. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself." Marcel Proust

"The book you don't read, won't help." Jim Rohn

"There are worse things than a prison of words." Carlos Ruiz Zafón

"If you haven’t stayed up until the early hours of the morning reading with your eyes itching and burning with tiredness and your vision blurred as you fight to stay awake to finish the book, you haven’t lived at all." Sinnerlikedamon

"Someone asked me, if I were stranded on a desert island what book would I bring ... 'How to Build a Boat'." Steven Wright

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Seth, Vikram "Two Lives"

Seth, Vikram "Two Lives" - 2005

I had already read two novels by Vikram Seth before, "A Suitable Boy" and "An Equal Music", both of which are completely different but really good.

In this work, the author describes not just the life of his great-uncle and his Jewish wife, he describes his own life, he describes the life and death of ordinary people during the holocaust as well as the terrible fate of the Jews. But he also describes life in India pre- and post independence. Quite an undertaking.

Vikram Seth makes it extremely easy to follow the paths of Shanti and Henny, their families and friends through a whole century and several continents. He doesn't leave out any detail, relying on personal experience as well as interviews and old letters.

We get to know the three characters, yes we have to include the author, too, pretty well. Vikram Seth leaves no stone unturned, doesn't leave out a single character or incident that might seem too trivial at the moment but is important later on. We get a good insight into life before and during World War II both in Germany and in England, about the war itself and about the concentration camps. Also, and I found that even more interesting as we don't often get to read about it, life after the war in both England and Germany.

What can I say, a fantastic book. If the author ever writes another biography, I should gladly read it. Actually, I am going to put all his books on my wishlist.

From the back cover: "Two Lives is the story of a century and of a love affair across a racial divide. It tells of the extraordinary lives of Vikram Seth's great-uncle Shanti, brought up in India and sent to Berlin in the 1930s to study, and of his great-aunt Henny, whose German-Jewish family took Shanti in as a lodger. What follows is an astonishing tapestry of India, the Third Reich and the Second World War, Auschwitz and the Holocaust, Israel and Palestine, Post-war Germany and modern Britian."

A quote from the book which the author found at the Holocaust Memorial Arch in the Memorial garden in Hendon Park, London:
"Lezikaron. The meaning refers tot he importance of looking forward as well as remembering the past."

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Bookish Things

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

April 15: Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own
(new bookshelves, bookends, cool bookmark, a bookish shirt, etc.).

I already own a few bookish things. I have a couple of mugs that refer to my love of books and quite a few bookmarks that are too precious to use.

However, there are always things one can dream of. So, I have tried to come up with some really nice things I dream of, even though I know that some of them will never come true.

1.    My own library (preferably like in Beauty & the Beast)
2.    A lovely reading rocking chair
3.    A British phone booth to store my books
4.    A dress that I could wear to the Jane Austen Festival
5.    Cushions with book covers
6.    Book shaped plates
7.    Bookish jewelry
8.    One of those book seats that offer space to store your books
9.    I already have a few but little statues of reading angels
10.    A doll house library

Monday 14 April 2014

Nabokov, Vladimir "Lolita"

Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков] "Lolita" - 1955 

And as you know, I love classics. So I embarked on "Lolita". But - I  didn't enjoy it at all. He reminded me of Kerouac and Salinger rather than Tolstoy and Dostoevsky which I probably expected. After all, he is Russian. But he says so himself at the end of his book, he is attempting to sound more American. I think if he thinks Kerouac and Salinger are the greatest American writers, he achieved that. Unfortunately, I know a lot more better American writers than those two.

Nabokov obviously likes to play with words and I appreciate that, I love that, too. But that still doesn't make a good story. Why this book has become such a classic is beyond me. I couldn't even follow the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, I didn't "get" his obsessiveness of young girls. I don't think I say too much about the book when I divulge that it is the story of a paedophile. But it's not. It's also neither about the girl nor the guy. I have no idea what it's supposed to be about. As I said, I love classics but I have no idea why this is regarded as one.

One last quote he mentioned: "There are at least three themes with are utterly taboo as far as most American publishers are concerned [the first one being books like Lolita, with erotic scenes]. The two others are: a Negro-White marriage which is a complete and glorious sccess resulting in lots of children and grandchildren; and the total ateist who lives a happy and useful life, and dies in his sleep at the age of 106." I think here I can agree with the author.

And I do like another quote by him that I found somewhere else:
 "A major writer combines these three - storyteller, teacher, enchanter - but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer."

From the back cover:

"Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, fastidious college professor. He also likes little girls. And none more so than Lolita, whom he'll do anything to possess. Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? ...Or is he all of these?"

Friday 11 April 2014

Book Quotes of the Week

"That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that." John Green

"There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning." Jiddu Krishnamurti

"All writers, I think, are to one extent or another, damaged people. Writing is our way of repairing ourselves." J. Anthony Lukas

"An hour spent reading is one stolen from paradise." Thomas Wharton

"A child who reads will be an adult who thinks." N.N.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Busch, Wilhelm "Max and Moritz"

Busch, Wilhelm "Max and Moritz" (German: Max und Moritz) - 1865

"Ah, how oft we read or hear of
Boys we almost stand in fear of!
For example, take these stories
of two youths, named Max and Moritz,
Who, instead of early turning
Their young minds to useful learning,
Often leered with horrid features
At their lessons and their teachers."

This is the English translation of the first lines of this story that was and is so well known to German children. I found an online version in English here at Children's Books Online.

The stories are probably considered too harsh today to be read to children but I think only people who wouldn't read fairy tales to children, either, would think that. Children love fairy tales and this is almost like a fairy tale, however, without magic and without a happy ending.

Still, if you like to get to know some classical children's books, "Max and Moritz" definitely belong to them. They are very mischievous, anything young boys would like to do they do. But in the end they get punished hardly. So, maybe parents thought that might be a lesson for children that they don't do anything bad. I doubt that has ever stopped on but I loved the stories of Max and Moritz as a child and still appreciate the rhymes the melody of which has been well transposed into English.

From the back cover:

"A new translation by Andy Gaus of these classic popular satirical Wilhelm Busch cartoons, with original illustrations, in black and white, throughout. This volume includes Max & Moritz a Bad-Boy Story in Seven Tricks; Ice Peter, A Funny Picture Story; Diogenes and the Bad Boys of Corinth; four poems from Critique of the Heart; and a biographical note on Wilhelm Busch."

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

April 8: Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read 
(maybe the MC was really different, maybe it was the way it was written, a very unique spin on a genre or topic, etc.)

Aitmatov, Chinghiz "Jamila" (Jamilia) - 1958
Calvino, Italo "If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller" (Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore) - 1979
Glover, Douglas "Elle" - 2003
Hamill, Pete "Snow in August" - 1998
Kertész, Imre "Fateless" or "Fatelessness" (Sorstalanság) - 1975
Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Time" (El mapa del tiempo) - 2008
Rhue, Morton "The Wave" - 1981
Shakib, Siba "Samira and Samir" (Samira und Samir) - 2004
Smiley, Jane "The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton" - 1998
Waltari, Mika "The Egyptian" (Sinuhe Egyptiläinen) - 1945

Monday 7 April 2014

Austen, Jane "Mansfield Park"

Austen, Jane "Mansfield Park" - 1814
The Motherhood and Jane Austen Book Club

My intention to reread all of Jane Austen's books this year was supported when I came across this blog and joined the challenge to read and discuss Jane Austen's novels with a view of the mothers in the stories.

The first one was one "Pride & Prejudice", this is followed by "Mansfield Park", both novels I have already reviewed earlier.

If you have not read this novel, I refer you to that more general review because this one will contain spoilers.

We have different kind of mothers in this novel, real mothers and women who take the place of mothers. I want to talk a little about every one of them.

Mothers: Lady Bertram, Mrs. Price, Mrs. Rushworth
Non-Mothers interfering: Mrs. Norris
Mothers not mentioned: Mrs. Crawford
Other women acting as mothers: Mrs. Grant

Lady Bertram
Lady Bertram is not of this world. If she hadn't married Sir Thomas and had had to share the lot of either one of her sisters, I doubt she would have been around. She is a lovely person who means well but don't expect her do lift a finger for anything.

Maybe Lady Bertram was sick, maybe she was just lazy, I don't think we will ever find out. To her kids, she is a good mother, well, at least her kids see it like that as she lets them do whatever they like. That this is not always the best solution we see in Henrietta.

Mrs. Price
Apparently, Mrs. Price and Lady Bertram are similar. This is almost hard to imagine since they lead such a different life, one married to a drunk with an innumerable number of children (nine at least: Fanny, William, John, Richard, Susan, Sam, Betsey, Tom, Charles), the other one married to a wealthy landowner with a title who doesn't have to do a thing. But, maybe if either one had been thrown into the other's life ... well, I don't know, I still think Lady Bertram might not have managed Mrs. Price's life. Many women didn't, died in childbirth or of "consumption". Not Mrs. Price. She is of sterner stuff.

Mrs. Rushworth
Mrs. Rushworth is one of those mothers who indulge their children, today one would say "spoil". Still, she does not deserve getting a daughter-in-law who only marries her son for his money and then betrays him. However, she gets her revenge as she doesn't help in hiding the fact and can therefore ruin Maria. And I can't really blame her for that.

Mrs. Norris
In my eyes, Mrs. Norris, the third Ward sister (the other two being Lady Bertram and Mrs. Price) is the most negative person in the whole novel. The way she belittles Fanny all the time for living in the Bertram family where she does the same thing. She also married a poor man like her sister, Mrs. Price, but she managed to get her husband to be employed by Sir Bertram and take over a lot of the tasks of Lady Bertram. If the latter had been a little more forwarding, Mrs. Norris would have never been able to take so much advantage of her. But this way, this is exactly what she does.

She surely is a very disagreeable person who isn't really liked by anybody because she always busies herself with other people's affairs. I am glad I never met her.

Mrs. Crawford
Then there is Mrs. Crawford. She died quite a while before we meet the characters of this story but she has an influence on it nevertheless. She is the mother of Mary and Henry Crawford. How big her influence was is difficult to say, we don't know whether she had another choice as guardian for her children than Admiral Crawford who has not done a good job in raising them.

And then, there is yet another lady, though, who is not a mother and who still needs mentioning because she does look after her siblings.

Mrs. Grant
Mrs. Grant is the elder sister of Mary and Henry Crawford. She seems to have had more influence on Mary than on Henry who was more liked by Admiral Grant. Still, both siblings don't have the right view for the world they live in and because they do have money, they get away with things mere mortals would not. But we cannot really blame Mrs. Grant, it must be hard having to help raise your younger siblings when one is still trying to find one's place in this world.

"Mansfield Park" is not my favourite Jane Austen novel (that would be "Persuasion") but I do like every single one of them. The author has such a great way of describing her world and it makes it easy for us to find our way in the beginning of the 19th century.

From the back cover: "At the age of ten, shy, vulnerable Fanny Price leaves behind her impoverished family in Portsmouth to go and live with her rich relatives at Mansfield Park.
Growing up with her cousins Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia, she is aware that she is different from them and that her place in society cannot be taken for granted, although she is not treated unkindly. A dashing couple from London, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry, enter this stable, rural world. They succeed in dazzling everyone at Mansfield Park, except for Fanny, who sees through their shallow veneer. Throughout the dramatic events that follow it is she who is able to bring back some stability to the ruptured lives of those around her.
One of the great novels of the nineteenth century, Mansfield Park echoes Jane Austen's fears and awareness of the dawn of a modern age, which was to bring about a complete break from the old country traditions and way of life.

Other Jane Austen novels I have read with regard to Motherhood:
"Emma" - 1816
"Mansfield Park" - 1814
"Northanger Abbey" - 1818
"Persuasion" - 1817
"Pride & Prejudice" - 1813
"Sense & Sensibility" - 1811

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2022.

Friday 4 April 2014

Book Quotes of the Week

"Most people can start a short story or a novel. If you're a writer, you can finish them. Finish enough of them, and you may be good enough to be publishable." Neil Gaiman

"Writing is something you do alone. It's a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don't want to make eye contact while doing it." John Green

"A major writer combines these three - storyteller, teacher, enchanter - but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer." Vladimir Nabokov

"Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it’s an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day." Carlos Ruiz Zafón

"We settle to read any work of fiction with the same anticipation that primitive folk felt as they gathered closer to the fire and the storyteller began the tale." N.N.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Never Lend Books

"Never lend books, for no one ever returns them, the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me." Anatole France.

I have no idea what kind of friends Monsieur France had but I don't agree with that. At all.

Alright, you have to look a little after them. I write it down when I lend a book to someone, who when what. That's all you need. Then a little reminder if it hasn't been returned after a while. Most people don't even forget they have your book, they just forget to take ti with them the next time they see you.

I have only once lost a book. The colleague I had lent it to point blank refused to admit I had ever given it to her. Needless to say, that was the last time she saw one of my books.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

NDiaye, Marie "Rosie Carpe"

NDiaye, Marie "Rosie Carpe" (French: Rosie Carpe) - 2001

I like reading a French book from time to time in order to use and improve my French. Unfortunately, I rarely enjoy them because they are always so weird. Not any different with this one.

The story starts easy enough but then there are so many sub stories thrown in without any rhyme or reason. The story is very sad but it gets really weird towards the end. And it's just not the disturbing story that annoyed me, there wasn't a single loveable or even likeable character in the whole novel. No, not really my cup of tea.

From the back cover:

"When pregnant Rosie Carpe, her fatherless five-year-old son in tow, arrives in Guadeloupe looking for her elusive brother, Lazare, the world already seems a plenty confusing place. Could the man who comes to meet her, an elegant black man calling himself Lagrand, actually be her disheveled white brother? Are her parents, who abandoned her in Paris, rediscovering themselves in an outrageous second youth of outlandish affairs, or have they simply lost their minds? And does Rosie have a hope of slipping the sticky grasp of her former employer and seducer, who moonlights as a video pornographer? If it seems unlikely that the feckless Lazare, missing for five years as he followed his own twisted path, might help, or that carnivalesque Guadeloupe, where murder and mayhem are the natural outcomes of “business ventures,” might be the place for Rosie to find peace, then Marie NDiaye may have a few surprises in store for her reader. Amid the blurring boundaries and shifting values, the indistinct realities and confusing certainties of Rosie Carpe, a love story unfolds, and all that is ambiguous and tenuous – in short, all of Rosie’s world – is underpinned with a measure of tenderness."

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten "Gateway" Books

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

April 1: Top Ten "Gateway" Books/Authors In My Reading Journey (so your list could be a mix of a books that got you into reading, an author that got you into reading a genre you never thought you'd read, a book that brought you BACK into read)

South American Literature:
Allende, Isabel "The House of the Spirits" (La Casa de los Espíritus)
Bill Bryson's Travel Books:
Bryson, Bill "Notes from a Small Island"
Nobel Prize Authors:
Buck, Pearl S. "Peony"
Reading English Novels
Ingalls Wilder, Laura "Little House Books"
Turkish Literature:

Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Benim Adim Kirmizi) 
Mystical Literature:
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Shadow of the Wind" (La Sombra del Viento)
Alternate history:
Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War" and "A Change of Regime"
Classic English Literature:
Trollope, Anthony "Barchester Chronicles
Books about the Holocaust:
Zweig, Stefanie "Nowhere in Africa" and "Somewhere in Germany"  

They are all great books, each and every one of them.