Showing posts from October, 2014

'Daughter of Fortune' by Isabel Allende

When I first picked up Allende's book, I remarked on the nature of translated literature and how cultural differences can result in the same story being received very differently from one country to the next.  Having finished the novel, it seems hard to think that this story could be any richer and more vivid in its original form.

I've never fully embraced the historical fiction genre.  This might be because, when shelving in the library, it seems that half of the books have exactly the same cover: the well-endowed beauty in an expensive gown with the flowery font for the title and author name.  However, this was a beautifully-written love story, with a wide range of well-drawn characters and settings.  

The story of 'Daughter of Fortune' is hard to pin down as it ranges so widely, but it focuses mainly on the life and loves of Eliza, a young Chilean girl who was adopted by rich English migrants to the country.  Although she is brought up as part of their family, she nev…

My next read is...

...'Daughter of Fortune' by Isabel Allende.

Not an author I know anything about, although we do have a few of her titles floating around the library.  From the cover and the little bit of blurb, it seems to be part of the historical fiction genre, maybe even historical romance.  Seeing as I took a few days off arbitrary reading to enjoy one of Stephen King's Dark Tower novels, you may be able to see how this is (again!) outside of my comfort zone.  

Allende is a Latin-American author and I am reading the Margaret Sayers Peden translation of 'Daughter of Fortune', for those who like to be kept abreast of these things.  I've read the first few pages and the writing has a nicely lyrical quality, which I hope does justice to the original version.  Having read quite a lot of literature in translation, particularly from the Russian, I've got used to the idea that I'm reading a different book from the original, but I don't think that it always has to be fram…

'Behind a Mask' by Louisa May Alcott

I came to this book with a little apprehension due to the fact that I'm one of those rare people who really REALLY doesn't like 'Little Women'.

Thankfully, this is about as far from twee as you can get, to the extent that this book could be seen as a nineteenth-century 'Gone Girl'. There may be spoilers, but I'll try not to be too specific.

The basic premise of Alcott's short novel is that the governess Jean Muir is not the perfect feminine specimen that she seems.  In fact, she may not even be Jean Muir at all.  We quickly learn that, while a talented and intelligent woman, her motivations are purely material and she will do everything in her power to gain financial and social security through the perfect marriage.  Even her beauty turns out to be artificial, hinting at that Victorian obsession with the exterior matching one's inner character.  Considering Alcott was an American writer, 'Behind a Mask' could easily be an English production, a…

My next read is...

...'Behind A Mask' by Louisa May Alcott.

Nowhere near as well-known as the famed 'Little Women', this is another read I would have deliberately avoided.  I hate 'Little Women'.  I don't think I even finished it. I just remember getting increasingly irritated then putting it aside for something more to my liking.

However, I'm a classics girl and I'm an arbitrary reader.  And it's short.  So we'll see how this goes.

My first arbitrary read is finished!

After a really bad morning, with my head pounding from sheer frustration, it was absolutely necessary for me to sit down with a good book, a cup of tea, and a nice piece of cheesecake.  Sure enough, it's a little over an hour later and I feel a helluva lot better.

The challenge begins!