Waterstones Synopsis:

“Wuthering Heights” is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

This is not the first time I have read this book, but I must admit it was the first time I enjoyed it. The first time I read the book was for my English Literature course and I really did not like it, but this time I read it for enjoyment and it made all the difference. This time was different also because I listened to it, which I found helped me get into the story.

Wuthering Heights is a great classic. A tale of love, jealously and revenge set in the Yorkshire Moors. Catherine and Heathcliff are in love, but Heathcliff leaves thinking Cathy does not love him. When he comes back he is angry and out for revenge. The story follows their families, they way they clash and how they each manipulate one another.

Oddly, even though I enjoyed this book, I didn’t really like any of the characters. I found them all quite similar: selfish, grumpy and manipulative. Everyone was out for themselves, even Nelly the narrator. However, I think this added to the enjoyment of the book, because I was forming opinions about them instead of being indifferent to them all.

I liked how Emily Bronte wrote. The book was descriptive and it is a great story.

4/5

Audiobook: http://librivox.org/wuthering-heights-by-emily-bronte-2/

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Waterstones Synopsis:

Mary Lennox was horrid, selfish and spoilt, and was sent to stay with her uncle in Yorkshire. She hated it. But when she finds the entrance to a secret garden a change overcomes her. With a local boy and her cousin the three children work magic in themselves and those around them.

I absolutely loved this book. Mary starts this book as a spoilt little girl who didn’t know joy nor love. Coming to England and discovering nature does her the world of good – and it changes the lives of others too.

This is a beautiful book. The descriptions are breath-taking and the story line is lovely. The book is rich with characters and flowers. I did like Mary. I felt sorry for her as she wasn’t loved by her parents, and when everyone in her household died she was left alone for days before she was found. It was no surprise she was horrid. I loved watching her discover the wonders of the outside world – enjoying fresh air and flowers, and how to be happy. It was a lovely journey and I really enjoyed experiencing it.

The descriptions are gorgeous. The secret garden is wonderful and I would love to have sat there alongside her and the boys watching the garden grow and flourish. Hodgson Burnett wrote a beautiful book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The only downside for me was that I struggled to read the Yorkshire dialect. However, that does not spoil the book much, although it did slow down the reading for me a bit.

Overall this is a must-read book, even if it is a children’s book.

4.5/5

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Waterstones Synopsis:

From the famous episodes of the whitewashed fence and the ordeal in the cave to the trial of Injun Joe, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is redolent of life in the Mississippi River towns in which Twain spent his own youth. A sombre undercurrent flows through the high humour and unabashed nostalgia of the novel, however, for beneath the innocence of childhood lie the inequities of adult reality – base emotions and superstitions, murder and revenge, starvation and slavery.

This is my first Mark Twain novel, which I read because it is on The List of Banned Books. I am really pleased I picked this book to read – it was full of life, adventure and mischief. Tom Sawyer is a boy out there looking for fun. He runs off to play pirates for a few days and conning other boys into doing jobs his Aunt has assigned him. Twain was a wonderful writer and took me into this world of boy’s play and games.

This book is not just about games Tom plays however. On his adventures he discovers a crime with Huckleberry Finn. This twist and the suspense surrounding the event added depth and flavour to his novel. I liked how it played out, the way it fitted into adventures that make this book special.

I enjoyed reading all the characters, and I loved Tom and his cheekiness. He made for an exciting read, and it was fascinating following his activities. I loved his Aunt and the way she wanted the best for him. And I liked Huck Finn too. He was fun but poor – a risk to be with but great fun.

This novel is full of life. It has mystery and adventure. It is fun to read and I felt like I was there and just wanted to know what was going to happen. There was a range of characters and some great mischief occurring. I will definitely be reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn very soon.

4.5/5

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Waterstones Synopsis:

When her family becomes impoverished after a disastrous financial speculation, Agnes Grey determines to find work as a governess in order to contribute to their meagre income and assert her independence. But Agnes’ enthusiasm is swiftly extinguished as she struggles first with the unmanageable Bloomfield children and then with the painful disdain of the haughty Murray family; the only kindness she receives comes from Mr Weston, the sober young curate. Drawing on her own experience, Anne Bronte’s first novel offers a compelling personal perspective on the desperate position of unmarried, educated women for whom becoming a governess was the only respectable career open in Victorian society.

This is the first Anne Bronte novel I have read, and the first completed in my Bronte Sister’s Challenge. I was unsure as to how this would read, seen as Anne’s sister’s seem to be more successful than her. However, I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and interesting. From the start I was gripped and enjoyed being taken to Victorian society. To be honest, the ending didn’t surprise me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think I would regard this as female fiction as well as a classic.

This book provoked mixed emotions in me. There were times when I really felt for Agnes and her situation, and times when I found her acting superior to her charges, and her self-righteousness annoyed me. However, being the daughter of a clergyman this is probably not a surprise; and some of the children were horrid – although reading about their mischief did make me chuckle. I did like Agnes’ mother and sister though – such a lovely family unit and I found myself looking forward to her visits home.

I found this an enjoyable book that was easy to get into, and easy to remain involved with. It didn’t take me long to get through it and I am glad I started my challenge with this book. I’m looking forward to reading more by Anne Bronte

4/5

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Amazon Description:

October 1800: a foreigner, accompanied by his wife and their young daughter, stands before the Tuileries, waiting for an audience with Napoleon – the only man who can understand his wretched plight and the Vendetta that has driven him here. When Ginevra Piombo falls in love, fifteen years later, with a young Corsican officer hiding from the authorities in the aftermath of Waterloo, she does not realise that this one moment from her past will force her to make the greatest decision of her life: a choice between two loves, a choice of life or death.
I read this book a few weeks ago and to be honest, this is what has stayed with me: it is a love story, where a girl meets a soldier who is hiding while she is learning art, they fall in love, it is discovered their two families are enemies, they marry anyway and she is disowned. This is an old fashioned love story essentially.
Now don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed reading this. It was not very long and interesting. I wanted to know what decision the girl would make – would she honour her father or follow her heart? I wanted to know if her father’s love for her was greater than his hatred. I was happy reading this, I did enjoy it. As I reflect on the book I find myself remembering the art room and how the light shined into it and where the soldier was hidden. There are some elements that have stuck with me.
One comment I would make is this: the title is Vendetta, which suggests that the book will primarily be about the dispute two families had with each other. I found that this was only mentioned a couple of times and the focus of the book was in fact the love story, not the hatred.
Overall, this is not a bad classic. I think essentially it is a love story, but there is fire and revenge and hatred in the book too. If you like Classics and quick-reads, this one is for you.
3/5
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Synopsis from Amazon:

The Moonstone, a priceless Indian diamond which had been brought to England as spoils of war, is given to Rachel Verrinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night, the stone is stolen. Suspicion then falls on a hunchbacked housemaid, on Rachel’s cousin Franklin Blake, on a troupe of mysterious Indian jugglers, and on Rachel herself. The phlegmatic Sergeant Cuff is called in, and with the help of Betteredge, the Robinson Crusoe-reading loquacious steward, the mystery of the missing stone is ingeniously solved.

This was a very good crime novel. The Moonstone is an expensive diamond that is left to Rachel Verrinder. After receiving it she puts it into a cabinet in her bedroom. During the night the Moonstone is stolen. Everyone is suspected. The story is narrated by different people who all give accounts of events that unfolded since the robbery. Suspects frequently change and there are some very clever detective tricks used to solve the crime.

I enjoyed this book but I did think it was a bit long at times. I found it interesting how Collins viewed women – as lesser than men and how he uses religion – as a lifestyle that dominates some and irritates others. I really enjoyed the narrators changing – I found it influenced who I thought did it, and as it turns out, I was wrong. I found this style of writing threw me off the scent.

I was not particularly fond of any of the characters. All of them had flaws which I found a little annoying, such as Betteredge and his obsession with Robinson Crusoe. However I still enjoyed this book because I was eager to find out who did it, and how they pulled it off. This book had me gripped.

I thought this was a great crime novel. I think it is just as sophisticated as modern crime novels, even though the police did not have modern technologies to help them. There was still the element of who-done-it and there was all the aspects of a crime book, with death, mystery and suspicion.

This is well worth reading.

8/10

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Synopsis by Amazon:

Everyone has a dark side. Dr Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug. A chemical that can turn him into something else. Suddenly, he can unleash his deepest cruelties in the guise of the sinister Hyde. Transforming himself at will, he roams the streets of fog-bound London as his monstrous alter-ego. It seems he is master of his fate. It seems he is in complete control. But soon he will discover that his double life comes at a hideous price …

Dr. Jekyll is a scientist with a dark secret – he has created a drug which transforms him into his sinister dark side. At first this is OK, but then Hyde, his alter-ego starts making trouble and goes as far as committing murder. Jekyll’s friends start to get suspicious when Mr. Hyde is seen coming and going from Jekyll’s home – and then the hideous secret is out….

I really enjoyed this book. It explores human nature and good and evil – and ultimately the choices we make. The book was exciting and gripping. It is original and well written – clearly a classic.

Stevenson’s characters were great! I liked the fact Mr. Hyde was written in such a way that I really didn’t like him – it is nice to come across a book that sparks emotion and feelings, and this book did that.

I didn’t find this book scary, just a great read.

9/10

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Synopsis from Amazon:

When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year 802,701 AD, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realises that this beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture – now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity – the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist’s time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels, if he is ever to return to his own era.

In Victorian London, a man known only as The Time Traveller has beaten the odds and made a time machine. He transports himself to the year 802,701 to find out what the world will be like in the future. He discovers two races, the fearful Eloi and the scary Morlocks. It seems the latter, who hide in the darkness of the underground tunnels have taken his time machine. The Time Traveller has to go on quite an adventure to relocate his ticket home.

This was a quick book, and fairly enjoyable, however, Wells makes quite a dire prediction of the future. He writes that humans will split into two races: one will be childish and the other evil. I did not relate to the characters well, yet I wanted to know what happened. Some people have referred to this book as a social commentary but for me it was an adventure book. The Time Traveller had dark roads to travel and all sorts of beings to fight if he wished to get to his era.

I think it is clear why it is a classic. It has elements of excitment and it Wells has thought outside the box to write this book. Although not the best classic around I think this is a book worth reading.

7/10

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Synopsis:

The Catcher in Rye is the ultimate novel for disaffected youth, but it’s relevant to all ages. The story is told by Holden Caulfield, a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Throughout, Holden dissects the ‘phony’ aspects of society, and the ‘phonies’ themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection. Lazy in style, full of slang and swear words, it’s a novel whose interest and appeal comes from its observations rather than its plot intrigues (in conventional terms, there is hardly any plot at all). Salinger’s style creates an effect of conversation, it is as though Holden is speaking to you personally, as though you too have seen through the pretences of the American Dream and are growing up unable to see the point of living in, or contributing to, the society around you. Written with the clarity of a boy leaving childhood, it deals with society, love, loss, and expectations without ever falling into the clutch of a cliche.

What an interesting book. Very engaging but short – only 200 pages. The book is narrated by Holden Caulfield, who has just been kicked out of school – the fourth one in a row. He talks about experiences he has at school, with the people he shared the dormitory with; his experience in New York, including trying to get served in bars, going to the theatre and getting in cabs; his experience with his family, especially his wise younger sister Phoebe; and his discovery of sex and homosexuality. The book is ambigous in places, adding depth to the story.

Holden is an interesting character. He unpicks life, he is so negative. Everything is “phoney” or wants to make him “puke”. This is an interesting look at the American Dream – he seems to believe it doesn’t exist, that it is a simple idea that makes people act in a false manner.

My favourite character was Phoebe, the sister. She was important to Holden – spoken about regularly as he missed her. When he speaks to her she seems very wise and caring, as well likable and lovely.

I enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, with many issues to think over. Although Holden does not like anything, he still makes an interesting read. This book is well worth reading.

8/10

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Synopsis:

Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne’s concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale stands as a classic study of a seld divided; trapped by the rules of society, he suppresses his passion and disavows his lover, Hester, and their daughter, Pearl. As Nina Baym writes in her Introduction, The Scarlet Letter was not written as realistic, historical fiction, but as a romance; a creation of the imagination that discloses the truth of the human heart.

Well, if truth be told, this book did not hold my attention. I felt it dragged on and I found myself not concentrating throughout the book.

The story follows Hester, who commits adultery and therefore has to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ pinned to her outfit. This makes her a social outcast. The product of the affair was Pearl, who made the story for me. She brought a smile to my face with her little mischievous ways. The rest of the characters I was a bit indifferent too – except Roger, Hester’s husband, who creeped me out. There was something about him I just didn’t like. I did feel a bit sorry for Arthur, as he seemed to spend the rest of his life paying for his affair, but then actions reap consequences.

I thought it was interesting how they humilitated Hester, with the letter, but how she took it and understood her crime. She seems humble enough to continue wearing it. I was bemused that Pearl only accepts her mother when she is wearing the letter – her crime has become her identity – even to her own child. I liked how it linked back to England and had a dash of history lashed through the book. I was surprised by how much religion was in the book, virtually every chapter mentioned God or the Bible. I guess, however that this was a book set in Puritan times so maybe that should have been expected, and in the eyes of the Church and centuries gone by, adultery is a big sin.

Overall, I was not keen on the book. My interest was not held, however it wasn’t so bad I didn’t finish it. There were elements that made me keep reading, such as Pearl’s character, but they were few and far between.

5/10

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