Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Honourable Schoolboy

The Honourable Schoolboy (Smiley Versus Karla, #2)The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked that le Carre writes an introduction to these editions of the Karla trilogy, because it helps me forgive the some of the distractions and ramblings in what is the most exciting but also weakest of the three. First of all, le Carre explains that he went on location to gather sights, sounds and experiences for this book, which explains the vividness and a lot of the action. It also explains why there are scenes in the book that, while interesting, don't move the plot forward. It's like he wanted to include an experience he had but didn't know where to put it.
Also, in the forward of Smiley's People, le Carre writes that he had anticipated doing a whole series of Smiley novels, which explains why neither Smiley nor Karla appear very prominently in this book. That being said, this was a great thrill ride with lots of mysterious persons, great loves, bombs, murders, thugs, and horse racing. Of the three, it is the most cinematic, yet it is the only one that didn't get made into a dramatization (yet).

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A George Smiley NovelTinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A George Smiley Novel by John le Carré
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. I liked the cadance of the words le Carre uses, I liked the pondorous deliberateness with which the riddle unravels, I liked the humanity of the characters which blinded them to the answers when it was staring right at them. The villian Karla became that much more unlikeable as he twists the knife that he stuck in. I liked the secret language of the spies, (apparently this book introduces the word "mole" as a traitor into the vernacular)even though I sometimes didn't quite understand what was going on. In fact, I think it is a compliment to le Carre that I liked this book even though at the end, I was like, I think this is what happened.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

A Moveable Feast

A Moveable FeastA Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When we booked our trip to Europe, I started reading books that were known to capture the essence of places we were visiting. This book is touted as Hemingway's lovesong to Paris. I have to say it didn't really take me there (nor was I reminded of it while I was in Paris). But I did love the vivid snippets from his life. It made me want to get to know more about Hemingway, and the artists and authors he associated with there. Watching Midnight in Paris before reading this helped me visualize the characters more. It is interesting how time and life plays with memory and it would be interesting to see if he felt so romantic about his first wife if he had written this in the present tense, rather than at the end of his life in Idaho. He also described his writing process, which was very interesting.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A timeless story about the dual natures of man, about how hard it can be to deny ourselves pleasure, even when we are sure it will ruin us. Dr. Jekyll seems to have found the perfect way to enjoy his debauchery without the problem of recognition, blame, or even guilt. Yet in the end, the consequences catch up to him, and the desperation of not being able to control himself or his fate becomes a horror story.
It is a succinct, well-told story, much shorter than I thought. I bought the Barnes and Nobles classic and they had quite an elaborate critical study at the beginning (which I would save and read after the story, since it gives everything away)and several more stories by Stevenson which I enjoyed just as much. I found it interesting that he wrote so much about people pretending to be someone they're not. Sometimes it leads to ruin, or near-ruin, and other times, they use their double personalities to bring justice and order.

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The Great Divorce

The Great DivorceThe Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This allegory about what hevean might be like was thought-provoking. I especially like the thought that it is us and our own refusal to give up our sins that keeps us from the love of God--that God would love for us all to be with him, but we are unwilling to give up grudges, vanities, or habits to be with him. I also liked the idea that as we give up those things, things that we thought made us who we are, we actually become bigger and more substantial. But I actually felt a little hopeless at the end of it...if those people can't make it in to hevean for such small transgressions, it feels hopeless for me. Thank goodness it's not C.S. Lewis making the final judgement! The foreward by Lewis was actually my favorite part of the book--I underlined most of it.

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The Hiding Place

The Hiding PlaceThe Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I did not want to read this book. An inspirational book about a concentration camp? And quite frankly the cover does nothing for the book. But it didn't take long before I was fully vested into the life of Corrie Ten Boom, her sister, and her father. I realize memory can gloss over the details, but I found their lives of charity and love for God and others incredibly inspiring. The miracles that occured because of their faith and devotion were amazing. I would recommend this book to everyone. It will change the way you look at your life.

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