The second novel of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, Balthazar delves into the semi-truths of the first novel Justine from another point of view.
Balthazar pulls apart some of the happenings our narrator put forth in his own book regarding the happenings of his own version of Alexandria. It’s a retelling, with new stories and untold details! This novel focuses on expanding upon the narrator’s stories and really evolves the narration to include things that the narrator was unaware of during his time in Alexandria.
Balthazar focuses on the selfishness of the first book and draws out why Justine, Nessim, and our narrator acted in the ways they did, which we find were outside the realm of control of our original narrator.
If possible, this novel made Justine [the first one] even better.
Justine is book one in the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell is a novel written in brief thoughts and moments of life in Alexandria, Egypt.
I am guilty of assuming that this novel was nothing more than mindless fodder… Back and forth regarding the ideals of love from an overly sarcastic point of view.
Once I really got into the novel I found myself listening so intently to the narrator’s version of events, that I would often read ten pages without a moment’s hesitation or notice. And I mean that solely in the positive, lovely way that a novel can take you entirely out of your own world & plop you into the character’s very own mind, let alone their world.
I find myself continuing to be enthralled with the writing techniques utilized by Lawrence Durrell in the first installment of The Alexandrian Quartet. I can’t wait to read on in the series. Balthazar, here I come!
To say that I disliked Finnegans Wake by James Joyce would be an understatement.
I know why it is labeled as a ‘classic’ and why it was so revolutionary: there is no plot. To write in stream of consciousness was new and daring for novels in that day & age.
However, the truth of the matter is that there is no way to fully follow this sing-songy death march of Joyce’s. There are no main characters and it comes off as if it is being spoken by men in a bar… there is no sort of sentence structure and nothing to hold together the novel.
I could not quote ONE thing from this novel. That’s how immemorable it was for me.
The story follows 6 children whose parents send them back to England because of a Hurricane that devastates their families homes in Jamaica. They think the children will be better cared for and safer in England. Oh how wrong they are…
On their journey, their ship gets beseiged by a band of pirates who take the children and their bounty and head off. Their parents are told that all the children were killed by the pirates. But they are far from death as their adventures with the pirate crew begin!
Not a fantasy driven novel [this is no Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie], A High Wind in Jamaica was still a delightful read. The plot was driven and kept me enthralled to the very end! The novel focuses on how children perceive the larger challenges and changes in their lives; how they continue to grow up regardless of the forces brought against them. Great read!
Scoop is an excellent novel by Evelyn Waugh [author of the more widely known Brideshead Revisited, which I also read for the Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of All Time list]
It follows the story of mistaken identity of one gentleman writer “Boot”. The editor of the paper means to enlist John Boot a writer whom the Prime Minister himself admires; his Foreign editor mistakes this writer “Boot” with the current nature writer William Boot and thus begins a whirlwind of adventure for William.
He is sent to Ishmaelia [a fictional African state] to be a war correspondent for The Daily Beast, a newspaper in London. Unaware of the politics behind war correspondence, William is quite a flop until he happens upon a quiet civil war in Ishmaelia whilst his fellow reporters are gallavanting across the country.
This novel mimics Waugh’s own experience as a war correspondent in Abyssinia in 1935. It’s incredible focus on details may be attributed to the real life parallels between the novel and Waugh’s own adventures in reporting.
A slow start, but once you get involved and on your way, the journey is riveting and funny in all the right places. Definitely one of the lighter novels in the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels of All Time list.
V.S. Naipaul is swiftly becoming a favorite author of mine. A Bend in the River was one of the earlier books on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels List and it really blew me away… A House for Mr. Biswas was no different.
At a staggering 590 pages, this novel was somewhat challenging. Not in subject matter, but in writing… there is so much in every wonderful sentence, you can’t chance it by skimming even a paragraph! Admittedly it took me a good bit to read the book, but it was well worth it…
It follows the homes of Mr. Biswas as he journies through life, from his parents home to his Uncle’s, to a shared living space with his mother, and the many houses he shares with his wife’s stressful family. It’s all about what owning a home really means to a person and how it is never quite as glorious as it seems.
This novel kept me intrigued… not an easy task! ;-] Worth a read!
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West is a novel about Hollywood and it’s corrupting touch on the lives of those in the far reaches of the film industry.
The novel focuses on Tod Hackett and his extreme lust for Faye Greener. He seems to hang on her every notion and constantly befriends her other suitors to gain further access to Faye. She declines his advances in the way a messy teenager would [which makes sense because she is one] and continues to use and abuse the suitors who are completely enamored with her.
With many twists and turns, this novel is almost a slap in the face to American culture at that time, especially Hollywood with it’s love of false glamour and it’s obsession with vanity.
Although the characters were, at times, completely unbearable to me, I still found the novel to be a quick read. It kept me interested through the end, which is a rare find.
What a novel!!!
This is one of the easier to read books on the Modern Library’s list, but don’t let that fool you, it is WELL worth a read. Based in WWI, this novel follows Frederic Henry, an American in the Italian Army. There are a lot of psuedo-gory moments during the war scenes in the novel, but the story mostly focuses on Henry’s romance with Catherine, a British nurse.
Without ruining any part of the novel, all I can say is that their relationship is an odd one and says a lot about the state of romance during WWI.
As with most of the recent reads, I would definitely suggest this to anyone looking for a quick read involving war, romance, and a little bit of the oddities that make up human nature. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Oh, Miss Jean Brodie…
She is a woman “in the prime of her life.” Or so she continually tells her class of young ladies at an Edinburgh school. Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher to remember with her inappropriate stories of her personal life and her inability to follow a real curriculum, but my oh my, what an intriguing character.
The novel is written through the eyes of her six favorite girls, known as The Brodie set. It follows them as they mature through their high school years and their relationships with Miss Brodie evolve.
In the hopes of not giving anything away, suffice it to say that The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a compelling novel by Muriel Spark! It’s a quick read at a short couple hundred pages, but well worth your while!
It’s empowering to read a novel from the ’60′s focusing on female sexuality and the growth that occurs during puberty. Definitely worth a read for all my lady readers out there!
Kim is a novel about a young beggar boy in Lahore [in what used to be India]. He meets a Lama who takes him on a spiritual journey to find Buddha’s river from the story of the arrow, in order to be wiped clear of his sins.
And that’s all I’m telling you about the plot. I don’t want to give anything away.
This novel really grabbed me right from the get-go. I can’t fully explain what was so endearing about Kim, or why I cared so much about his journey, thoughts, and experiences… all I can say is that I was completely enamored with Kipling’s writing style and his character development. It definitely caught me by surprise.
Kim also portrays the country of India [when it included Pakistan and Bangladesh] and it’s diverse cultural and religious entities during this time period. Kipling’s novel continues to be in the forefront of my mind; needless to say, I am completely smitten with this work and would definitely recommend it to any and all readers out there.
Honestly, I was a bit reserved at the beginning of this novel, unsure as to whether I would like it. Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles was a similar novel about a foreign countries culture and I simply did not enjoy Bowles’ work, thus my reserve with Kim. That reserve was completely unfounded and I can’t wait to finish the Modern Library’s top 100 novels list so that I can read more of Rudyard Kipling, including The Jungle Book!