Posted in Classic

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

I am sure that this book sounds very familiar as there was a movie made recently in which Reese Witherspoon played the part of Rebecca Sharp. I did enjoy the movie, especially the belly dancing scene however I did not like the way they changed the characters from the book.

Vanity Fair is a social satire on England during the Napoleonic wars. Becky Sharp is a scheming clever girl who is the daughter of a French chorus girl and an English drawing master. Her aim and desire through out the story is to never be poor. And will use any means necessary to get what she wants. Her foil, Amelia Sedley, is a sweet submissive girl who plays by society’s rules.

The girls meet at a boarding school. Amelia is a proper student while Becky is a charity pupil. When Amelia leaves, Becky accompanies her home for a visit before taking up a post as a governess at a country estate. Amelia has one love to whom she is completely true- George Osborne. Becky on the other hand sets her cap at any man that can provide amply for her. First is Jos Sedley. However that does not end to her satisfaction and she must go to the Crawley estate and earn her keep.

There through scheming she ends up as a companion to Ms. Crawley and ends up with Sir Pitt Crawley’s younger son, Rawdon who is to inherit Ms. Crawley’s wealth. Both are summarily cut off from the family. Becky’s scheming begins in earnest.

Meanwhile, Amelia who had everything to look forward to in life experiences a dreadful fall in fortune. Her father loses his investments in the Napoleonic upheaval and becomes bankrupt. Amelia suffers through the indignity of having all her possessions sold and must live in rented rooms with her parents. She also is in danger of losing George Osborne who was engaged to her merely for the connection. George Osborne does indeed marry Amelia in order to spare himself a marriage to one Rhoda Swartz a mulatto heiress from the West Indies. He is promptly disinherited.

Then War comes. Both couples end up at the same battle camp. The contrast between the women could not be greater. Becky charms all the men she meets in order to get ahead while Amelia remains quiet and retiring. George ends up being killed in battle and Amelia returns to her parents with her child. Her family grows poorer with the passage of time. As a result she is forced, to allow her father in law to raise her son. In the end Mr. Osborne does provide for his daughter in law, Amelia. She ends up marrying Dobbin who was her most faithful lover and lives happily ever after as most virtuous women do in books.

Becky and Rawdon, and their son return to England after the war and perfect that life of living on a good name with no money. As they grew further in debt, Becky found a new patron- the Marquis of Steyne. Her relationship with the Marquis progressed to the point that Rawdon demanded satisfaction of him. In order to smooth things over, Rawdon was given a governor’s post at Coventry Island. Becky ends up back with Jos Sedley who worships her. She convinces him to take out a large insurance in which she benefits. All it can never be proved, it is suspected that she poisons him to death. In addition to the insurance, Becky’s son did provide a money for her when he came into his inheritance though he would not have anything to do with her. She spent the rest of her days devoting herself to works of piety. This was very enjoyable book though a trifle long.

Posted in Thriller

House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker

This is the first book I have ever read by Ted Dekker. From what I have read he specializes in psychological thrillers. This was a supernatural psychological thriller. As a collaboration this was well done. Both men’s style of writing blended very well. I definitely hope that they get together again. Incidentally, this book is being made into a movie.

Husband and wife, Jack and Stephanie are on their way to a marriage counseling session. A few years back, their only child Melissa died in a horrible accident that Jack feels was Stephanie’s fault. Stephanie does not want to take responsibility for her part in the accident. As a result of the grief and blame, their marriage has deteriorated.
On their way, they are pulled over by a Police Officer Lawson who sends them on a short cut through the woods to their destination. The next part of the story is extraordinarily predication. Someone strategically places tacks on the road that puncture their tires and leaves them stranding next to an old house that purports to be a hotel.
Once they enter the hotel they meet another couple Leslie and Randy, plus the inbred inhabitants of the house Pete, Betty, and Stewart. As the evening becomes progressively more disturbing, the rules of the game are given.

1. God came to my house and I killed him.
2. I will kill anyone who comes to my house as I killed God.
3. Give one dead body, and I might let rule two slide.
Game over at dawn.

As it turns out the bad guys are Pete, Betty, Stewart, and their demonic master Barsidious White. The four are chase through the house and eventually corralled into the Basement. All four characters are forced to battle their demons. The question is whether they will turn to the Power higher than themselves for salvation or will they rely on their own strength to their destruction.

The book is a perfect illustration of how lost we are in sin without God. The House lives in all. There is a Barsidious White in each of us that seeks to devour us and send us to hell. However, God gives all a means of salvation who call on Him. Those who accept this salvation gain victory over the House.

Who lives? Who dies? Well, you’ll have to read the House. I couldn’t put this one down.

Posted in Thriller

Monster by Frank Peretti

Frank Peretti is one of my favorite Christian authors. He is most known for writing This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. This modern work is a departure from his early tales that involved heavy angelic and demonic warfare. This book is a science fiction thriller.

It starts off with a husband and wife, Reed and Beck, going off on a wilderness survival trip. Reed is a camping enthusiast and a local deputy. Beck is a writer who allows her speech impediment inhibit her life. After they failed to meet their guide Randy at the rendezvous point, Reed decides that he and Beck will spend the night in the woods and wait for the rest of the camping party Cap and Sing who are to arrive the next morning. That night, they are set upon by something in the woods. That Something carries Beck off into the woods.

Thus starts the mystery and race against the cloc. As it turns out Reed and Beck are not the only people who have been attacked by the Something. That Something has attacked and even killed other people. Local rumor has it that the something is in fact a Sasquatch or “Big Foot.”

While Reed is frantically trying to find his wife, Beck comes to terms with how much she has allowed her speech impediment to handicap her and stifle her ability to take care of herself. Meanwhile Cap and Sing set out to find out what is in the woods.

What is in the woods is a science experiment gone bad- very bad. The local university science professor decided to prove evolution true by splicing human DNA on to primate DNA. After creating a “creature” the professor when on to make other modifications in order to force the adaptation that hallmarks evolution. In some of the experiments, the “creatures” produce are more intelligent primates. In the other experiments, a monster is created which escapes into the woods.

In the end Beck is rescued and comes back a changed woman. Not only has she survived on her own in the wilds, God gives her victory over her speech impediment. Overall it was a good read.

Posted in Fantasy

The Children of Hurin

This is the recently released posthumous work by J.R.R. Tolkien who also wrote Lord of the Rings. The Children of Hurin is an elaboration of one of the stories told in the Simarillion about Huron Thalion.

For background purposes I will cover a small portion of the Simarillion. In Middle Earth there were two races- the Elves and men. Elves woke first in Middle Earth. Men woke later. There were three tribes of men: the Haleth, Beor, and Marach. Hurin who was of the house of Marach. Hurin was captured by Morgoth in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears or Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Morgoth placed a curse on Hurin and all his house for refusing to reveal the location of Gondolin. He was taken to a high mountain and given the ability to see all that befell his children- Turin and Neinor.

Hurin was married to Morwen of the House of Beor. They had three chilren: Turin, Lalaith, who died at three, and Neinor, a daughter born after Hurin was captured. This story focuses primarily on Turin, who is the anti-hero.

An anti-hero is a character who will perform acts daring “heroic” acts by using underhanded means rather than the heroic ideals of courage and integrity.

After Hurin’s capture, Morwen decided to sent Turin to Doriath to be protected by the Elven King Thingol and his Queen Melian. Thingol adopted Turin as his foster son and raised him to be a fine Elfen warrior under the tutelage of Beleg. Despite all Thingol and Melian did for Turin, he was always restless to go back to his home in Dor-lómin and free his people from the Easterlings. Turin grew to become a proud,auster man. He left Doriath under a cloud as he was responsible for the death of Saeros, one of Thingol’s counsellors. After fleeing Doriath, he travelled the wild and became part of a band of thieves. After Turin’s innocence in the death of Saeros was shown, Beleg was given permission by Thingol to find Turin and give him the heirloom of his house- namely the Dragon Helm.

After receiving the Dragon Helm, Turin became the scourge of Orc and for a while the land was free of evil. However the “curse” took hold and Turin was betrayed by one of his followers. His band of men save Beleg were killed and Turin was captured and tortured by the Orcs. He was eventually rescued by Beleg, but Turin being in somewhat of a stupor killed Beleg mistaking him for an Orc.

Turin fled to Nargothrond where he became known as the Black Sword. There a female elf named Finduilas fell in love with him; but he did not return her love as she was promised to another, Gwindor. Once again however, Turin’s arrogance got the better of him. He convinced the leader of Nargothrond to abandon the secrecy of the town and construct a bridge before the gates. Despite receiving a warning from Ulmo telling the Nargothrondians to destroy the bridge, Turin left it standing. Morgoth sent the dragon Glaurung to destroy Nargothrond. The evil forces were able to enter the gates by way of the bridge Turin foolishly left standing. As a result Nargothrond was destroyed. As he lay dying Gwindor told Turing that he must rescue Finduilas lest his “Doom” fall upon him. As a result Turin rushed outside the gates to fight the Dragon and rescue Finduilas, but ended up under Glaurung’s spell. The dragon deceived Turin into believeing that his mother and sister (Morwen and Neinor) were in danger in Dor-Lomin when they were in fact safe in Doriath.

As a result, Turin forsook Finduilas and rushed back to Dor-lomin. He found his home destroyed and his mother and sister gone. In anger he killed the Easterling who ruled Dor-Lomin. As a result he doomed his Aunt Aerin, who was the Easterling’s wife, to death. As he left the town, his Aerin killed herself by buring down her house while she remained in it. Turin tried to track down Finduilas only to find out that she had been killed already. He collapsed on her grave and was taken to Brethil.

Mean while news of Nargothrond’s destruction reached Morwen and Neinor in Doriath. Morwen rashly decided to try to find her son, and Neinor followed. Thingol sent a company of Elves to protect them. However the company was sent upon by Glaurung the dragon. Morwen fled never to be found again by the company. Neinor ended up meeting the dragon. Glaurung ended up putting her under a spell by which she forgot who she was. When the Elves found her, they tried to lead back to Doriath but they were set upon by Orcs and Neinor fled into the forest.

Turin changed his name to Turambar and gave up wielding the sword. Eventually Turin found Neinor on Finduilas’ grave. Since she did not know her name Turin called her Niniel. They fell in love and ended up marrying. Shortly after Niniel conceived a child. Glaurung attacked Brethil, forcing Turin to pick up his sword. Turin managed to deal the dragon a death blow but was greviously injured in the process and lost consciouness. Niniel being impatient for news of Turin followed him and found him lying next to the dragon. As she called Turin’s name, the dragon in his last breath removed the enchantment, and Niniel remembered that not only was she Neinor, she married her brother and was carrying his child. In desparation she throw herself over a cliff into the river. Turin regained consciouness later on and discovering what happened to Niniel/Neinor threw himself on his sword and was buried.

At the end of the story, Morgoth let Hurin go. He ended up at Turin’s burial site and there met Morwen who was believed lost. Husband and wife embraced and Morwen died soon after.

I liked the book over all. I found it a much better, easier read than the Simarillion because the pace was slower. The plot was fleshed out more. It’s definitely in the Shakespearean tragedy mode because everyone dies at the end. Tolkien was kind enough to put a family tree in the appendix so that one can understand the relationship between the characters of the First Age and the characters of the Third Age namely Lord of the Rings. This is a book for those who love epics.

Posted in Essays

It’s all about Mrs. Bennet

In honor of Mother’s day, a character analysis on a literary mom is appropriate. My mom’s favorite literary mother is Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. She laughs hysterically at Mrs. Bennet’s antics every time she watches the movies.

So Mrs. Bennet. What do we know about her? Well her maiden name was Gardener. Her father was an attorney in the town of Merryton. She has a sister named Mrs. Phillips and a brother named Mr. Gardener. Mrs. Bennet’s background is indicative of her behavior throughout the book. As the daughter of a tradesman essentially, she is not part of the gentry. As such she has not had a “Lady’s” education. As a result her behavior in the book is vulgar. She talks too much, especially of the advantageous marriage that seems likely to happen between Jane and Bingley. From all sounds of it, she was probably much like her daughter Lydia when she married except she had no scandel attached to her marriage. Her husband was originally attracted to her by her good humour. Of course after their marriage, he learned there was little intelligence behind the good humor and grew apathetic to her. To amuse himself, he made many jokes at her expense. So through the book we she her as the comic relief.

Mrs. Bennet has one goal in life- to see some of her daughters well married. Mr. Bennet’s land is entailed to a distant relative. As a result, Mrs. Bennet and the girls will be turned out on their father’s death. She will do anything to see that happen. Even going so far as to put Jane at risk of becoming seriously ill in order to manufacture a reason for her to spend a week at Mr. Bingley’s residence. Unfortunately Mrs. Bennet’s behavior nearly dooms Jane and Bingley’s relationship. Her behavior certainly does a discredit to her daughter Lydia who was raised to value fun and amusement above all other things. Despite the scandel surrounding Lydia’s marriage, Mrs. Bennet’s character remains as she was at the beginning of the book- comic relief.

Well here’s to all the Mom’s who are conscientous parents and have raised Lizzies and Janes rather than Lydias.


Posted in Classic

The History of England

Welcome to my first ever blog! First things first, I should explaing the title. A Bluestocking is an 1800 term for a women with strong intellectual or literary interest. The name is taken from the Blue Stocking Society, which was a literary circle during this period of time. The “Partial, Prejudiced, and Ignorant” part is my homage to Jane Austen who is my all time favorite author. As a 15 year old girl Austen wrote a short book called, “The History of England by a partial, prejudiced and ignorant historian.” So this is the first book I will review. I know, I know, you were thinking it was going to be Harry Potter. Don’t worry we’ll get to that soon enough.

Austen takes her history from the Shakespeare histories. As a result, she has unrealistic views on the characters of the monarchs that shaped English history. The point of this work was to cannonize Mary, Queen of Scots and villianize Queen Elizabeth I. In the end she admits she failed. It’s short, sweet, and entertaining. Most importantly they sell it at Barnes & Nobles.