A New Havisham; Havisham: A Novel Book Review

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Havisham: A Novel

Havisham: A Novel

By Ronald Frame

Expected Publication November 5th, 2013

Advanced galley from BEA

Genre: Historical Fiction

Three Stars

Catherine Havisham was born into privilege. Spry, imperious, she is the daughter of a wealthy brewer, and lives in luxury in Satis House. But she is never far from the smell of hops and the arresting letters on the brewhouse wall—havisham. A reminder of all she owes to the family name, and the family business.

Sent by her father to stay with the Chadwycks, Catherine discovers literature, music and masquerades—elegant pastimes to remove the taint of her family’s new money. But for all her growing sophistication Catherine is anything but worldly, and when a charismatic stranger pays her attention, everything—her heart, her future, the very Havisham name—is vulnerable.

-goodreads.com

In this retelling of Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens, Frame brings life into Catherine Havisham before the wedding dress; before her downfall.

I must admit, I have never finished Great Expectations, although I have certainly tried. Three times, to be exact. Maybe that is why I didn’t truly love this book. The concept was great, albeit a bit ambitious I felt with such a beloved and read novel by one of the most notable British writers. Luckily, Frame had a little help, or push in the right direction. Havisham was originally a retelling on BBC Radio. It isn’t exactly an easy transition, radio to a novel, I imagine. Some things can translate, but others cannot. Frame certainly did not fail in this endeavor, although I never listened to the podcast.

Frame’s writing was descriptive, but what he failed to do in my opinion was give life to each word. There were many times I felt bored. There was too much time spent on Catherine’s time spent with the Chadwycks to become a society woman. From there, Frame drowned me with too many quotes and passages from the Aeneid. He used Dido as Catherine’s doppelganger, or more her inspiration on becoming a woman. After disappointments, and joys, Catherine would recite words from Dido. She would argue about Dido. And so forth.  Even though I appreciate mythology, and Aeneid has been on my to-read shelf, there comes to a point where too much is too much. I understand Frame wanted to show Catherine was a knowledgeable woman, even for her class and riches. But, it took away from the story for me.

The story didn’t truly begin for me until the end of the middle. While I dragged my feet to read just fifty pages, once there was a hundred and fifty or so pages left, I became insatiable. I kept reading and reading. Why did it take Frame two hundred plus pages to get me interested? Maybe too much back story. Wait, isn’t the novel all back story, what it is supposed to be. Hence a retelling. OK, yes, sure. But the back story does not have to be heavy. There needs to be plot, right? Not my father spent this money on this and this. When the plot really became known, the novel evolved into something else, something better. I started to feel involved, more than a reader. To me, that is what a good book does. The reader doesn’t just want to listen, to read words that were spoken, the reader wants to be, and feels they are, a part of the action.  It’s a shame it took so long for me to want to take part. When I get invested, though, I get invested.

I decided to give this novel three stars, nothing more or less, because although the writing was good, it did feel heavy or burdened with literary references. The development of Catherine was slow. She often seemed silly, and frivolous focusing on masquerades and her acting and costumes. She had love, sure. A romanticized love. Yet, when a major event happens, that’s when I felt Catherine was as true and sincere as I always hoped she was. Maybe hardening her made her more likable.  It was her strength and trust in herself that made me respect her. I wanted to read the next page, wondering how much more I can be impressed with Catherine. She is not just the woman in the wedding dress, the feast untouched and preserved for ten plus years. Even with people calling her crazy at the end, it did not lessen, but strengthened my love for her.

Of course, the three star rating reflects on the lack of action. The writing style was good, but not great. Maybe if you are a so and so fan of Great Expectations you may want to read this when it comes out in November. It was really the middle that connects you to Dickens’ Catherine Havisham. Plus, the last one hundred pages has Pip Prippip pop in and out. Or, maybe it can be a good read with no knowledge of its predecessor Great Expectations.

“Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” –Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

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Another week down. Monday is now upon us. How quickly things go by these days, for me. As you know, I went on a mini vacation this week. I was so busy I barely had time to read. I did finish a book however, the fabulous Ruby Red by German author Kerstin Gier. You can see my review here. https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/ruby-shoes-and-ruby-red-ruby-red-ruby-red-trilogy-1-book-review/

Ruby Red

I highly recommend it. Sadly, like all books, this comes with a niche. May not be for everyone. But, for a girl who shies away from YA fantasies, and the growing YA paranormal romances, I am still going to read the second book in the trilogy. It was just such a fun read, even if the heroine seemed childish at times.  And now to Havisham.

Havisham: A Novel

I didn’t touch Havisham. This book is becoming a nightmare. I keep staring at it, but I barely pick it up. It is taking too long to read. it is barely a 400 page book. I have read books longer than that faster than I have with Havisham now. The writing is great, but uh the story. I love historical fiction, I really really do. Often times I am more drawn to those than more contemporary real-life books. But, as I had little affection towards Great Expectations, I am forcing myself to get it. To really understand a true classic.

I am also trying to listening to The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

While this audio book is better than The Wind and the Willows, I am not entirely devouring it like I did with The Secret garden. Yes, it is a fun read. I will admit to that, but I find myself drowning it out, accidentally of course. When I went to the pool, I listened to it and promptly fell asleep. Hopefully it gets better. I do find Robin Hood funny and very cunning. I am just so attached to the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights, that I can’t help but picture them all doing choreographed dances and songs.

As of a few hours ago, after I finished reading Ruby Red, I used my free credit on audible.com to get Sapphire Blue, the sequel to Ruby Blue.

Sapphire Blue (Book 2 Ruby Red Trilogy)

Like I have mentioned before, I have never been a fan of audio books. I barely have gotten used to reading my nook. Luckily, I can’t stop listening to it. I am about an hour and a half in, with six or seven so hours to go.

I am hoping to get my butt in gear and post some more reviews.

As always, happy Monday and good luck with your reading! I look forward to see what you are reading this week.

 

cute reading poster

It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

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Whew, another Monday down. This Monday marks a milestone for me, my first It’s Monday! What are you reading? post. It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme that showcases different blogs where you can find even more book reviews and recommendations sponsored by Shelia at bookjourney.wordpress.com.  

Whew, what a week. I have been kind of silent this past week on the blogsphere so I am going to do a couple things here.

My reading has been going a bit slow. I finally finished “The Wind in he Willows” after months of periodic listening to multiple narrators. It was an OK book, not a classic I would really recommend. Although it is geared towards children, and I can see them happy at learning about animals being people and all that jazz, a lot of it just dragged on with kind of annoying characters. If you read my review, you could see I absolutely disliked the Toad. Of course, there needed to be one entitled animal, right? Just picture him as Bernie Madoff, ripping people off, fooling them, and getting their way. That may be a tad harsh, but hey. It’s my blog. 🙂

I had a sleepover at my best friend’s apartment where we watched Warm Bodies. As I did not have time to write a review of it this week, I am going to now.

                                                   Warm Bodies (2013) Poster oh yes he is!

If you haven’t watched Warm Bodies, it is a hysterical take on zombies. Based on the book Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, the main “character” is R, a recovering zombie. Now, why is he in recovery, you may ask. Because he is getting warmer! Warmer! Like human. Oh my word! After a raid, R spots a girl that he decides to “rescue” in a nice zombie/human way. Slowly, his body and mind start getting attuned to each other.

R is played Nicholas Hoult. In case you don’t know who he is, you should check him out! He was the little boy in About a Boy with Hugh Grant. And, recently, broke up with Jennifer Lawrence and stars as Hank (the beast) in the X-men revamped movies. This role was perfect for him. He still looked kind of cute, struggling to walk and looking like half death. Because he is a zombie, a lot of his dialogue is spoken coming from his mind, not actual words out of his mouth. Because of that, Hoult’s narration was great. It was dry, with so much humor. 

As you guessed it, though, there is a girl who just makes him “warm”. Teresa Palmer played Julie, one of the few humans not infected and a recruit to kill the zombies. Although I never read the book, I thought she was great for the part. I may be biased, since I loved her in the movie I am Number 4. She plays Jane Doe (number 6). 

I expected cheesiness from this film. C’mon with a poster like this Warm Bodies (2013) Poster how can you really take it seriously? You can’t. But, you should. It was great fun. Just Hoult’s commentary alone is worth spending the hour and a half. I may not run to the bookstore to buy the book, but I recommend the movie if anything.

And, if you are in fact interested in the book, I just noticed on goodreads.com it’s part of a series. Yay for you series lovers. I can imagine it would go by quick. It just isn’t your typical zombie movie and that alone makes me happy. There are too many out there now, but go see Warm Bodies if that is your only one. It is not serious and life threatening like World War Z. It really plays (and reads I would imagine) as a great satire about the new zombie obsession our culture has developed.

Starting tomorrow, I will be going to LA and Disneyland, coming home bright early on Sunday. Hopefully, there will be some new reviews. A six hour flight? Six hours both ways? Yeah, lots of reading going on there. Currently, I am still reading Havisham, getting closer and more into the end. Still not going to be one of my favorites if the year, but I can see Great Expectation fans loving it. I am also listening to The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Sadly, Karen Savage is not the reader. Instead, I am back to listening to a recording of new people each chapter. The woman speaking in chapter three is terrible. She sounds like a big smoker.

Lastly, I am reading Ruby Red (The Ruby Red Triology #1) by Kerstin Gier  on my nook. I am excited about this one. The cover is so pretty. Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy, #1) 

Another plus, it is about time travel throughout all eras and secret societies. Two of my favorite things. I got the book for under $2.99 a couple of months ago. I am finally sitting down to reading it and I love it! Check it out if you enjoy YA, YA Fantasy, time travel, and secret societies. I will hopefully have a review of that book for sure.

I think I am set. Got all three types in action. Plus, a classic, a classic retelling, and YA Fantasy. Yeah, I’m set. And well-rounded to boot!

Happy (almost dinner time) Monday! And good luck with your reading this week. I am looking forward to my trip and sharing more reviews with you.

Also, on a non-literary note, if you want to see a good movie, see Sofia Coppola’s new Movie The Bling Ring with Emma Watson. It is great!

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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If you haven’t checked out book journey’s blog, you should. Every Monday, when you visit her blog, check out as many bloggers as you can. And comment!! You can win a little prize. You like prizes, right? I know I do. Please support us bloggers.

This week felt a little busy. I happily got reunited with audio books. The Secret Garden was fantastic. I enjoyed reading it as I was traveling into the city back and forth on Thursday. It was a nice distraction. I hate commuting. For a little bit of fun, it takes over an hour on a terrible and immensely cold bus. I don’t know if anyone is from the Metro area, but Port Authority is a nightmare. Karen Savage made it all better. Unfortunately I can’t avoid it. If only I knew how to transport myself in a little bubble or jet. It would be so much easier. But, alas, I can’t. I can’t even read on the bus with my motion sickness. So, audio books will definitely be put into use.

I have been trying to read Havisham by Ronald Frame. I guess me and Great Expectations are not meant to be. It is not the writing per se, but just maybe not my cup of tea. I just don’t connect. It is a tad boring, with not much going on. I will try, and maybe try again. With so many books to read, I am thinking if slightly moving on.  I have no idea what I want to read next. Do I go back to my Nook? Choose the many many books I got from BEA? So many choices.

I am doubting my ability to read books as I haven’t gotten to read more than one a week. I used to try to read two. It has just been taking too long. If only I knew.

This week, I am hoping to add a few new things to my blog. I have added a reading list, with direct links on goodreads if the title jumps at you. My weakness for choosing books is always the title first. Not necessarily the author.

Well, I wish you a happy week of reading. And, look out for more posts. 🙂

It’s Monday! What are you reading?: My first meme participation

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Whew, another Monday down. This Monday marks a milestone for me, my first It’s Monday! What are you reading? post. It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme that showcases different blogs where you can find even more book reviews and recommendations sponsored by Shelia at bookjourney.wordpress.com.  

In case you missed my entry into the world of blogging last week (almost to the day!) I will go on a quick time machine ride and take you back to my first week here.  

One of the highlights of my week was my newbie experience at the giant BEA convention I attended last Saturday as a power reader. It was a great experience, where I can’t wait to attend next year! I definitely will be more prepared. The app I downloaded turned out to be of little help with a confusing map; I missed like ten booths! At least I walked away with lots of books and just as awesome tote bags!! (sorry I have no pictures, bad indie, I know). As you can imagine, attending such an event leaves one with lots of reading to do. 

 

My first post, actually, was an early review of Sarah Dessen’s new YA novel The Moon and More  The Moon and Morereleased June 4th, by Viking Juvenile. This

was a great coming of age novel about eighteen year old  Emaline’s last summer before college, finding herself, her role in her community, family, and interpersonal relationships. If you like YA, are new to Sarah Dessen, or just want to read something lighter than more contemporary fiction novels are becoming, definitely give The Moon and More a shot. The title alone is catchy, the meaning heartwarming (I won’t tell you why!). I read the book in only a day and a half, but I have always been a fan. I have read every book she ever wrote. Superfan? Maybe.

Another novel I finished that week was The Gilly Salt Sisters by Tiffany Baker.

The Gilly Salt Sisters Unfortunately, this book took me longer to read. I rated it two stars, but it may have been two and a half. It wasn’t necessarily a quick chick lit book, nor a quick contemporary read. It was a different sort of novel. Unfortunately just fell too flat for me. I can be a picky reader sometimes. We like what we like, right?

This week, look out for a review of Ronald Frame’s Havisham: A Novel review, the first book of many I got at BEA. So far, I am enjoying this book, surprisingly so since I couldn’t get pass page 100 on Great Expectations, the inspiration for this prequel like book, focusing on the life of Catherine Havisham before she appears in the aforementioned previous novel. No wedding dress!

And the cover is so pretty! Havisham: A Novel I just love me some silhouettes. So much so, thanks to Litographs and BEA, I got this poster free… how pretty is that? Can’t wait till I get it soon! If only I have room on my walls.

I am hoping to add to my reading list this week, of course. I tend to stick to just one book at a time, so not ready for my next book decision. Such a huge one it is!

Happy Monday, and happy week! 

 

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