Suddenly Single

I love reading, but every once in a while I get sick of all the serious reading I do and want something that requires no mental effort whatsoever. I just want a book I can read and not really give my whole mind to. Suddenly Single was such a book and helped me ‘pass the time’ and was relatively easy to figure out. Reading a no-brainer, I relax and am rejuvenated for another bout of classics and difficult authors who are actually trying to put something in my brain!

As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the ‘light romance’ genre. These books always seem too unreal and end up happily for everyone. I like a happy ending as well as the next person, but make me believe it. I don’t want to know I’m fooling myself! That being said, there is something to be said for such novels. They are good to pass the time with and help you to just let go of the effort; because reading does require effort. You have to let yourself be drawn in, and use your brain to critically analyze the more difficult literature. Maybe I’m speaking as a literature student, but novels do require some insight. You have to make some connections. But with books like Suddenly Single it’s just fun.

All such books have the typical story. A successful and strong woman gets dumped or contracts some disease; in short – she is at a life altering position. The book then moves on to discuss how evidently, men find her attractive, sexy and just all round brilliant, yet she has just been dumped by a very attractive husband/boyfriend, who, God knows why left her. Obviously, there is a paradox involved which (most of the time) resolves itself by the said dumper wanting her back! I am thankful to say such was not the case in Suddenly Single. Our heroine here has her share of flaws and I was left wondering why her boyfriend hadn’t left her ages ago! But don’t worry, the story turns out as you hoped and knew it would. So read on and relax!

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Jan 2
 I thought I’d try something new and review a book while I’m only mid-way through it. Ok, so I read the criticism on it so I may have an idea of how things turn out, but the bulk of it I’m still uncertain about. This is my first venture into Joyce territory and I must say that I like his style. Stream of consciousness is as always confusing (though not nearly as confusing as Virginia Woolf) so it takes some getting used to, but I think I have a handle on it.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a mouthful, so I’m just going to call it Portrait. In Portrait we are shown the mind of young Stephen Dedalus. The novel beings from a very young age and jumps to his adolescence and his experiences at school. Stephen has always known he is different. He sees the world in his own peculiar way, and due to this, is somewhat of an introvert. He has brilliance and soon overcomes his shyness but the reader, to whom his inner mind is revealed, always sees his hesitance and timidity. The novel tackles some of the political and religious issues of the time. As the novel is semi-autobiographical, it is natural to compare it to Joyce’s actual life.

Feb 3
Joyce skillfully handles Stephen’s feelings and confusion over his guilt (about what, you’ll have to read and find out!). From chapter 3 onward we are made aware of Stephen’s sin. Stephen is, as already said, a representation of Joyce. The struggles he goes through show us the making of the man we know as Joyce. It is illuminating actually to see the development of an artistic child. As compared to Stephen Hero, the revised version of the novel Portrait deals with not just the education of a child, but his artistic development. He struggles with the concept of sin and this struggle makes him a man. I have read up to the possibility of Stephen entering the church. It is now that we will see how he deals with his ‘penance’ and feelings of guilt. Has he gotten over them and become a new man? Or will he follow something that he never truly believed in? See you guys when I’ve read more!

The Loving Spirit: Daphne du Maurier Challenge

Reading the first few pages of the The Loving Spirit, my initial reaction was that Janet, the protagonist, was a cross between a sweet L. M. Montgomery heroine, and a religious minded Jane Eyre. I was so wrong. The book has nothing in common with Jane Eyre’s piety or the sweet and content characters of L. M. Montgomery. Here we have a heroine, who is not openly ambitious, but has dreams widely different from her chosen sphere in life. She is not fiercely passionate, and yet, you get the feeling that she is living a suppressed life and the dam must blow.

But, when it does, it doesn’t appeal to me. Janet dreams to live the life of a man, and when her society doesn’t allow her this, she dutifully marries and bears her husband children. I would have liked it much more if she had broken free of restraints and found a way to satisfy her desires. Instead she tries to live vicariously through her son. This dream is doomed from the beginning and in every generation the vicious cycle repeats itself. The loving spirit is the unique connection between parent and child that is present in the Coombe family. Janet is where this spirit starts…….all the way down to Jennifer.

I have to say I didn’t really enjoy this book. And not because it continued through three generations. I just didn’t like the relationship between Janet and her son Joseph. It reminded me vaguely of The Thorn Birds and how Meggie hated her mother’s favoritism towards her brother Frank. Although the books are widely different, I disliked the similar preference and total exclusion of everyone else in her life. I actually sympathized, though did not condone Philip’s jealousy of his mother’s love for Joseph.

This was Daphne du Maurier’s first book and at times this is apparent: her writing lacks the polish of her later works and she is not able to carry the story so well through the generations as she does in her later work Hungry Hill. Cause and effect is not so clear because she didn’t take the time to acquaint us with the characters’ personalities. I didn’t develop any attachment to them and had to force my way through most of it. In between, I lost sight of certain characters it would have been pleasant to read more about. I wouldn’t recommend this to a Daphne du Maurier fan.