Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Books I Read - III

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Classic Aspirations
Classics are always such a pleasure to take up & read . There are times, however, when one wonders about the antecedents of certain characters, or more commonly, What happens to them after a few years. Here are some of my all-time favorites alongside their chronological "partners". 
(This is not a review, merely my thoughts/impressions) 

SET 1.

 Original : Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

Need I say more ?! Few would not have enjoyed it, and I am certainly not among them.
I have enjoyed not just the book, but also several movies & TV series based on this classic. Always a winner.

Pastiche : Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James (2011)

Then along came PD James’ “Death Come to Pemberley”, which traces events a few years after Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy get married, with crime & murder thrown in.
Can’t say I was too impressed with this book. It had some mystery & a whodunit curiosity, but the 2 protagonists were shown to be very weak, helpless individuals, who just seemed to wait for events to unfold without any control or idea of how to cope with problems. After P&P, it was a let-down to say the least – not in the writing style, but in the characterization. Maybe the fault lies in my own idealization of characters?!

Disclaimer : I don’t remember reading any of PD James’ earlier novels, hence my opinion is no reflection on her greatness & popularity. It is tremendously commendable that she penned a novel at that late age !

SET 2.

Original : Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
As a young girl, I quite romanticized this book & it’s characters & have enjoyed the movies & TV series based on this novel. Mr Rochester, however much he is criticized today by ‘feminists’, held a certain fascination for me. For some reason, the most poignant scene in one of the series (probably the 1973 BBC miniseries) was when the now-blind hero calls out in forlorn despair to Jane thrice. And a rags-to-riches ‘Cinderella’ story is always so inspiring, even if only fiction ;-)

Prequel : Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)
A beautiful journey into The Caribbean & thoroughly enjoyed reading about the native as well as Creole culture. I also love the fact that the author traces the life of the mystery woman, Bertha – a lesser, obscure character in the original, rather than the protagonists. Although, like ‘Rebecca’, she was always present in the background. Yes, the ‘original’ hero is painted as a dark man, but the Jean’s use of multiple voices to narrate the story brings to light each character’s emotions & rationale.

Inspired (?!) : The Evil Genius by Wilkie Collins (1885)

Shortly after reading Jane Eyre this time, I took up this book. 
Imagine my utter surprise when the first few pages read Exactly like Jane Eyre !!! The story starts off with almost the same setting, similar characters, similar events ! Fortunately, later events take a slightly different turn & there are discussions on marriage, divorce, domesticity… It was interesting to read the views of those times in relation to the present. The ‘heroine’ seems to be constantly at the wrong end of destiny, naïve, & indecisive. Definitely not one of his best books, but nevertheless, a quick read for a lazy afternoon.

Would love to hear your thoughts & perspective ....
Happy Reading :-) 


  1. I enjoyed reading your thoughts! I've always thought it a bit of a cheek to write a sequel or prequel to someone else's book, but that's just me. I read a sequel to Gone With the Wind once that was just terrible, the standard of writing was poor and the story ridiculous. I don't remember who it was by, not Margaret Mitchell that's all I know.

    1. I agree, Jane. Generally the other author just doesn’t get it right. On the other hand, it does bring a bit of perspective change – kind of like tweaking patterns, or changing colours in someone else’s tatting pattern ?
      I bought PD James’ sequel Only coz it was Her who was writing it & the reviews seemed good.

      Sometimes I think the new author is just being a bit Lazy in not creating Original characters & settings !

  2. You may also try one of my favorites which is Josephine B by Sandra Gulland she has made 2 more that follow and they are amazing to read! It is historical fiction.

    1. I just checked out the trilogy, Carollyn, and it does seem very promising. Great reviews, too ! Have added it to my to-buy/read list for next year.
      I’m sure these will be made into movies or tele-series (if not already). Love to watch historical fiction – the French, especially, make it so well.

  3. I Always wonder why, I feel so relaxed when reading classics, while I know so well whow difficult the conditions were under which these people lived.Thank you for the last 2 titles, I will read them!

    1. Classics have that timeless quality & they are relevant for generations – striking a connection, a cord that is basic to human nature & relationships, Chantal. And one can read them again & again!

      Wide Sargasso Sea is a very intense book, and the imagery Jean has drawn with her words/description transports you right to the middle of the lush, dense & vibrant foliage of those islands. Definitely worth a read, though very different style than Bronte's.