‘Mansfield Park’ by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 stars

Mansfield Park feels different to the other Jane Austen novels that I previously read, and I believe the main reason for that is it starting when the timid heroine, Fanny Price, is still quite young. Nevertheless, it shares various characteristics with her other works, including marriage being seen by many of the characters as a means to achieve economic security, in contrast with marrying for love.

In fact, marriage is a central theme throughout the novel. We are introduced to the parents of the young main characters with a comparison between the fortune of three sisters regarding marriage. Miss Maria married Sir Thomas Bertram and became a Lady at Mansfield Park. Miss Ward married the reverend Mr Norris, a friend of Sir Thomas who gave him the opportunity to be the clergyman at Mansfield’s parsonage. But Miss Frances, despite her sisters’ opposition, married a Lieutenant of Marines who had neither education nor fortune.

After much time without corresponding with her sisters, the now Mrs Price wrote them asking for advice about her children’s future and they re-established relations. At Mrs Norris suggestion, they decided that one of Mrs Price’s daughters should go live at Mansfield Park. However, they could never let her forget that she wasn’t an equal to her cousins. Continue reading

Forgotten Authors on My Shelves

A few years ago, whenever I discovered new authors that I enjoyed, I would read various books by them in a short period of time, instead of venturing into the unknown again. However, some of those authors I just then stopped reading books by for no particular reason and almost forgot about them. After a quick look at my shelves I discovered three authors in that situation.

 

Paul Auster

The first book I read by Paul Auster was The Book of Illusions. It tells the story of a man obsessed with the life of a silent film star. I don’t remember much about the book, besides quite enjoying it to the point of buying and reading Timbuktu soon after. The hero of that novel is Mr Bones, a dog that is the best friend of a homeless man from Brooklyn. We accompany their emotional journey to Baltimore in search for a new house for Mr. Bones.

I then read The Story of my Typewriter, which came as an offer when I bought Timbuktu. This is quite a short non-fiction book where Paul Auster tells the story of how he formed an attachment to his typewriter. It is accompanied by gorgeous and colourful paintings of the typewriter by Sam Messer. Continue reading

Favourite Dystopian Books

Lately the real world seems to be getting worryingly more similar to the ones portrayed by some dystopian novels, and my desire to read books from that genre is also increasing. By showing a regression of political, environmental, economic or social standards, they draw attention to real-world issues that should concern us all.

I haven’t read many dystopian novels, but I quite enjoyed the vast majority of them. There is something strangely appealing about reading a book which focus on a community being plagued by an undesirable and frightening state of affairs. Today I reveal my three favourite dystopian novels, all delving into different types of societies.

 

1984 by George Orwell      

1984 takes place during a time of perpetual war, government surveillance and public manipulation. Power is on the hands of a single party, which is personified by the Big Brother. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth as a rewriter of historical events. He has an affair with Julia, who shares his animosity towards the Party. Continue reading

My 5 Star TBR Predictions

I always expect to at least enjoy the books that I have on my to-be-read pile. But for some of the books which are awaiting to finally be read I have even higher expectations and assume that I will love them and, thus, award them a five-star rating. Inspired by Mercedes at Mercys Bookish Musings on YouTube, I decided to share the unread books I have on my shelves that I believe I will love.

I don’t rate many books with 5 stars, as I can’t fault them on anything in order to do so (you can read my post on why I rate books with 5 stars here). But when I do I rarely change my mind afterwards.

Whenever I’m debating whether to buy a certain book or not, a possible rating doesn’t usually spring to mind, that is something I only consider while or after reading it. So, I see this exercise as a new and exciting challenge. I’ve chosen four books among my unread ones that I plan to read before the end of the year. When I finally read all of them, I will write a wrap up post discussing my actual ratings. Continue reading

‘Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was’ by Sjón

My rating: 4 stars

Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by the Icelandic author Sjón is a short but powerful book. More than a tale about the young man Máni Steinn, it’s a beautifully written novella which combines fiction and reality, with one inspiring the other in more than one way.

Máni is a sixteen-year-old boy who lives in Reykjavik with his great-grandmother’s sister, since his mother died when he was really young. He is passionate about cinema, loves watching films and venerates Sóla, a girl whom he believes to be identical to an actress from a film he has seen. The book opens with Máni accompanied by one of his “gentlemen”. His encounters with them are mentioned throughout the book, and his sexual identity is not without implications.

The majority of the story takes place in 1918 and there are many mentions to historical events, such as the eruption of the Katla volcano (which is visually described through the use of colours), the referendum to independence, the First World War Armistice and the Spanish flu. Although they help the reader to place the story in a specific time, some of the references feel a bit disjointed from the rest of the plot. Continue reading

2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist: To Read or Not to Read

I usually don’t pay much attention to literary prizes and don’t read a book just because it was nominated or won an award. However, after the announcement of the 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist, I realised that I was already familiar with many of the titles. So, I thought it would be interesting to see which ones I plan to read, not just because they were nominated, but because I truly believe I may really like them.

I don’t mean to necessarily pick up the books I choose to read before the winner is announced or even this year. I will probably read them throughout the following years, without establishing a deadline.

 

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster

“On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives.” Continue reading

‘Diving Belles’ by Lucy Wood

My rating: 4 stars

The short stories included in the collection Diving Belles by Lucy Wood are characterised both by an interesting mix of reality with magical or mystical elements, and an insightful presence of time, achieved by a thoughtful distinction between past and present actions and feelings. The passing of time is particularly perceptible on the relationships between family members and loved ones.

The opening story, ‘Diving Belles’, is a fantastic and touching example of how the feelings of the past mingle with those of the present. Iris, the main character, goes under the sea in a diving belle to see her husband, who has been away for many years. Although at first I wasn’t really understanding what was happening, all becomes clear throughout the story. This is a really atmospheric tale, being quite easy to picture the scenes. Every word seems to have been carefully chosen.

Another of my favourite stories in this collection is ‘Of Monsters and Little People’. We are told the story of a woman who is visiting her mother. But as the narrator uses the pronoun ‘you’ throughout the story, it feels like the reader is the main character. The fact that the feelings conveyed are quite relatable also helps to attain that sensation. Despite the presence of magical elements, the story is strangely believable, which is also the case throughout the majority of this collection. Continue reading

Book Haul – July 2017

I had promised myself not to buy any more books until I found a place to properly store my unread ones (right now they are perilously piled up on top of each other and the risk of them falling down is too real to be overlooked). However, it was my birthday this month and I needed to give myself a present. I could have bought only one, but that wouldn’t be a proper gift. Five seemed like a good number!

 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

After loving Rebecca, I was eager to read all the books by Daphne du Maurier. To read one every year seemed like a good goal. But when I realised that an adaptation of My Cousin Rachel had just been released, I decided to buy the book and read it this year before seeing the film.

From the blurb, this seems like quite a mysterious story, which involves a widow and her dead husband’s cousin. Continue reading

Shortest Books I Have Read

Do I prefer reading long or short books? To be perfectly honest, neither! I tend to go for medium-length books. However, there are books of all sizes on my shelves. Since I already revealed the longest books I have ever read, I decided to introduce you to the shortest books I have read and that I still keep on my shelves. Some of these books I read when I was still a child, while others are far more recent reads.

 

Gooseberries by Anton Chekhov – 56 pages

Gooseberries is a Penguin Black Classics edition featuring three short stories by the Russian writer Anton Chekhov. They feature characters who reassess their lives after a transformative event occurs, and are at the same time thought-provoking and easy to read.

 

Vinte e Cinco a Sete Vozes by Alice Vieira – 70 pages

This book by the Portuguese author Alice Vieira gathers stories, told from different perspectives, about the Carnation Revolution, which took place in Portugal in 1974. It’s aimed at children and young teenagers.   Continue reading

‘A Túlipa Negra’ (‘The Black Tulip’) by Alexandre Dumas

My rating: 3 stars

A Túlipa Negra (The Black Tulip), written by Alexandre Dumas and translated to Portuguese by Mateus Valadier, is a nineteenth century historical romantic comedy featuring a man who has to pay attention to both a woman and a tulip, while his neighbour conspires against him in the background. I purchased this book a few years ago, when I was trying to read more French novels, and I must have paid no attention to the blurb, since this is not the type of story that would have caught my interest straightway.

The novel starts with the real historical conflict between the two brothers De Witt and the population of The Hague, in the Netherlands, in 1672. They were both accused of treason and ended up being lynched by the people while trying to escape to exile. I was really confused about this part of the story, because it feels like the narrator expects the reader to have previous knowledge about this event.

Before dying Corneille De Witt, sent a message to his godson, Cornelius Van Baerle, requesting him to destroy a package he had formerly left with him for safekeeping. At the time, he had asked him never to open it, since it contained dangerous information. This is when the fictional part of the novel starts to develop. Continue reading