Writing the Seasons with Books: Summer

I’m a true believer that books don’t have to be read at specific times of the year. As long as the story is immersive, it doesn’t matter if it’s hot outside and snowing in the book. So, instead of recommending books that are appropriate for each season, this year I’m writing the four seasons with books. For that purpose, I take a look at my shelves and select books with titles beginning with the letters of the name of the season that is just starting. After doing that for spring, the time has come to welcome summer!

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This novel focuses on five connected characters – an actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend and a young actress who is a member of the Travelling Symphony. The plot moves back and forth in time, before and after the spread of a deathly virus. Despite all the negative aspects that resulted from it, some cultural activities managed to subsist.

 

Uma Vida à Sua Frente (The Life Before Us) by Romain Gary

The only book that I’ve read by Romain Gary so far is narrated by Mohammed, a young boy who was being taken care of by Madame Rosa, a Jewish woman who was a former prostitute and Auschwitz survivor. It delves into their relationship and strong bond. Continue reading

Favourite Book Covers III

I’m a beautiful book covers lover. I admit to sometimes even buying a book just because the cover appealed to me, although that may turn out to be a terrible idea if the words inside don’t serve as instruments to achieve a compelling story featuring interesting characters. I particularly love paperback editions and books whose stunning covers are complemented by French flaps.

This is not the first time I reveal some of my favourite book covers. You can see the first two instalments here and here. I have now other five covers to add to the previous lists. Two of the following books I’ve already read and reviewed, the others I’ll probably only read next year.

 

The Good People by Hannah Kent

Cover design: Rachel Vale, Pan Macmillan Art Department

Publisher: Picador Continue reading

Jane Austen: A Love Story with The Novel of Manners

Jane Austen needs no introduction. Even if you have never read one of her books, you surely have heard her name mentioned a million times. I first became aware of her work when I watched the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and immediately decided to read the book. I know this is an unconventional opinion, but I really loved the film by Joe Wright, who is one of my favourite directors, and I still picture Mr Darcy as Matthew Macfadyen.

If someone had just randomly and briefly told me about the plot of any of Jane Austen’s novels, I would probably have thought that I wouldn’t enjoy them, since they would have seemed to be just about simple love stories with nothing exciting to offer. However, that would have been a wrong assessment, because, most of all, they are novels of manners which depict the middle-class life during the early 19th century. I love the wit of the writing style, the way in which the characters are portrayed with distinguishable personalities, and the irony used to subtly criticise some of their actions. They offer so much more than just stories about love and relationships at a time when marriage was seen as a means to achieve security in life.

After reading all of the six major novels by Jane Austen, who was born in 1775 and died in 1817, Pride and Prejudice remains my favourite. It tells the story of the Bennet family. Mrs Bennet is anxious to marry her five daughters. The second eldest, Elizabeth, is the heroine of the novel. She is intelligent, playful and witty, but assesses people after first impressions. Mr Darcy is one of the people she makes fast judgements about. But he is not innocent in the misunderstandings that arise between them. He struggles to overcome his pride and to give less importance to social status. I loved the development of their relationship and the well-conceived characters who enrich the satire present throughout the novel. Continue reading

‘Mansfield Park’ by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 stars

Mansfield Park feels different from the other Jane Austen novels that I’ve read. I believe that 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 books, 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 fate 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, which gave him the opportunity to be the clergyman at the 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