Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm squeamish about violent books.

Thankfully, Marissa doesn’t mind if I discuss a little bit of the plot of Adam Bede in this entry. It would be really hard to write about this book and not reveal any of the plot. (The introduction and the back of the book kind of give it away, anyway.)

When I found out that this book involved a young woman killing her own child, I really was dreading reading it. Ever since I became a mama a little over a year ago, I’ve been SUPER sensitive about - and try to avoid - reading or seeing stuff that involves dead children. How could someone kill their own child. Too awful to contemplate.

So I approached this book with some dread. Thankfully, though, the author develops the plot really softly and subtly. Much of the stuff that goes on is not presented directly and you learn about them because other characters are talking about what happened. So it wasn’t as explicitly awful to read as I had feared. I’m sure this is what the 1850s readership wanted and it’s a really nice contrast from how this topic would probably be covered in a book today!

And the introduction discusses this quite a bit, but this book really IS a beautiful portrait of rural farm life in 1800. I felt like I was living there with the villagers watching Adam build stuff and Mrs. Poyser run her dairy. It’s weird, the contrast between the beautiful writing and the thoughtful portrait of the community and the violent crime that forms the basis of the plot.

I do have one question though. I can’t figure out what happens to Hetty at the very, very end of the book. (I think she’s referred to in the epilogue, pages 537 and 539 of the Penguin Classics edition). It’s just TOO subtle for me, I guess. I even looked it up on Wikipedia to no avail. (Hey Marissa, when you get to this point, help!!!)

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