Category Archives: Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels of All Time

Clea: A Review

cleaClea is the FINAL chapter in Lawrence Durrell‘s Alexandria Quartet [my reviews for Justine, Balthazar, and Mountolive have already been posted]. As previously stated, this quartet just gets better and more & more interconnected the further into the series you read! Clea was my ABSOLUTE favorite of the Alexandria Quartet novels!

In the ruse of returning Nessim’s illegitimate daughter to him, Darley finds himself running into his comrades in Alexandria, of whom he has been formulating a novel. Darley is welcomed with open arms and becomes enamored with his friend Clea almost instantly. They have an intensely co-dependent relationship, despite their appearances of receiving as much time along as necessary. Their summer affair comes to a tragic end with the loss of friends and the loss of innocence in Alexandria. The city becomes completely disenchanting for Darley and he finds himself growing away from his previous comforts.

A great conclusion to the quartet. Definitely not as romantic as Justine was, Clea is a much more realistic romance and novel with it’s many speculations on love and art. I can see why the series is one of the Modern Library’s Top 100 novels!

Mountolive: A Review

mountolive

Mountolive is book 3 in Lawrence Durrell‘s Alexandria Quartet and it took on quite a different perspective from Justine (my review here) and Balthazar (my review here). This novel is from the viewpoint of Mountolive, a young English politician sent to a post in Alexandria.

I found Mountolive’s story to be the most interesting and certainly the most political. It puts the true actions and happenings of the first two novels of the Alexandrian Quartet into sharp view. The reader finally begins to piece together everyone’s stories and what is happening among the people of Alexandria. Here we find that Nessim was not truly angry with Darley (the narrator in Justine), but trying to further his political place in society through exploiting Darley’s love for Justine (Nessim’s wife) in order to gain information through Darley’s other romantic ventures.

Everything seems to be pulling into place in this novel and I am thrilled to see what else is explained in further detail in Clea, the final novel in the Alexandrian Quartet.

Balthazar: A Review

balthazarThe 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: A Review

justine

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!

Finnegans Wake: A Review

finnegans wakeTo 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.

A High Wind in Jamaica: A Review

high windAn easier read on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels List, A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes should not be taken lightly.
 
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: A Review

scoop

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.

A House for Mr. Biswas: A Review

house

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: A Review

 

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.

A Farewell to Arms: A Review

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!