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The Scarlet Letter Review

The Scarlet Letter *Book 3/20 for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

*Book 2/7 for the Classics Reading Challenge

Title: The Scarlet Letter

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Brief Synopsis: Hester Prynne lives in the strictly Puritan village of Salem in the early 1600’s. As punishment for her sin of adultery, Hester must wear a scarlet letter “A” on her bosom for the rest of her days. As the years pass, we meet Chillingworth, Dimmesdale, Pearl, and other members of the community. As the reader, we observe the consequences of guilt, sin, deception, and forgiveness.

My Opinion: This was the second time that I have read the book for school, and I loved it even more the second time around. I was able to fully appreciate the beauty of all of the symbolism, and I understood the “impish” actions of little Pearl much better.

The complexity of the characters was intriguing. Without spoiling anything for those of you who have never read the novel, it amazes me the way that Hawthorne was able to develop the psychological aspects of each character. The reader is given insight into the “inner psyche” of Pearl, Hester, Chillingworth, and Dimmesdale, adding to the depth of the plot.

The plot kind of plodded along in sections of the book, but overall I enjoyed the slow build-up of suspense. I didn’t have any idea how the book would end the first time through, so this time it was nice to focus on the little details that I missed the first time through.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! I’m not sure that I want to read it again anytime soon, but it wasn’t as painful the second time through as I thought it would be. It definitely helps to use Sparknotes to understand the details and symbolism to the fullest extent.

~Carolinabookworm

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Frankenstein Review

*Book 1/7 for the Classics Reading Challenge!!

I’m going to be perfectly honest here-if I didn’t have to read Frankenstein for class, I never would have picked it up. Having said this, I did enjoy it…to a certain extent.

Title: Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley

Quick Synopsis: The  novel begins with four letters written by Robert Walton to his sister. He is on a ship in the Arctic when his boat picks up a man who is on the brink of death. This stranger happens to be Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who proceeds to tell his tragic story to his new friend, Mr. Walton. Without spoiling anything for you, he tells us about how his life has led him to create “the creature.” We then meet the monster, who tells his story to Dr. Frankenstein. After completing his story, he makes a very specific request of his creator, and we return to Frankenstein’s perspective as we learn the outcome of his tragedy.

Opinion: I felt like there were several slow sections in this book. However,  I like the build-up in tension as we “hear” the story along with Robert Walton. While not every single minute detail was absolutely necessary, it did help to set the tone of this gothic novel. I felt like I was living with the Frankenstein family as Victor grew up, or sitting beside “the creature” in his little hovel.

For some reason, I have been aggravated by several characters in the last couple of books that I have read. This time, my frustration was directed toward…drumroll please…Dr. Victor Frankenstein. I felt little to no sympathy for everything that occurred after he brought his creation to life. His utter disgust and subsequent shunning of his life-form was infuriating! I feel like if he had just shown even an ounce of love for “the creature,” things wouldn’t have gone down like they did. I understand that there wouldn’t have been a story if this had happened, but did Ms. Shelley really have to make the protagonist so naive???

Overall, this novel was just okay for me. I’m not a huge fan of gothic literature; I don’t like overly moody characters and dreary atmospheres. I plan on blogging about this book one more time after my class holds a seminar (next week?) because it will be interesting to hear my classmates’ opinions. Maybe I will hear something that will change my opinion, or somebody will bring up a point that I never considered on my own.

~Carolinabookworm

A Classics Reading Challenge!

I figure my semester in AP Literature will help me complete this challenge. In fact, I’m reading Frankenstein right now, so I’m already on my way to completing the first of seven classics! On the 4th of each month, the host will post a question on her blog that will fit with any classic. This is an interesting way to learn everyone’s opinions, and I’m looking forward to the diversity of the questions! Here’s my list of books that I plan on reading for this event:

1. Frankenstein

Like I said above, I am reading this for class. Besides that, who doesn’t love a horror novel every now and then?

2.  Hamlet

This will be another book that I read for class. However, Shakespeare is timeless, and it parallels Ophelia (which I am also reading right now!), so it should be a fun read.

3. Pride and Prejudice

I LOVE this time period!! I haven’t read anything by Austen yet, but I’ve seen the movie, and it was amazing! I can’t think of a better first book to read for Austen.

4. Heart of Darkness

Yet another book I will be reading for class. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I’ll let you know when I start it.

5. Vanity Fair

I picked this up at my local bookstore a few months ago. I’ll be honest-the cover pulled me in first. I’m a sucker for a fun cover. Hopefully the inside will be as fulfilling as the outside

6. This Side of Paradise

Ohhhh Fitzgerald, how you tugged at my heartstrings with The Great Gatsby! I enjoyed that novel (and sortakinda cried a few tears), so I’m hoping this one will be a winner.

7. The Woman in White

I had to scour other blogs to find my seventh book, but I think I’ve succeeded!! I’ve heard it’s an excellent read, but I have absolutely no idea what it is about. I’m feeling brave right now, so I’m going to go for it!

I’m joining this challenge a little late, but the host only requires that you respond to three of the twelve prompts on her blog. I like the fact that this is a very “go with the flow” type of challenge.

~Carolinabookworm