Thursday, April 29, 2010

This guy can't stop doing dumb things.

I just finished All About H. Hatterrby G.V. Desani. This was not among my favorite books. I'm certainly missing something culturally here because I just couldn't figure out why on earth this guy wound up in these predicaments. It was as if he had no judgment. His friend would suggest some nonsense scheme and then all of a sudden Hatterr was laying on the ground at a circus sideshow having a lion eat meat off his chest. (I'm not exaggerating that one at all.)

So I'm not sure if I just didn't get it, or if I missed enough cultural references that would put this in context, or what. I'm just glad it's over.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The end of the Crusade.

I got an iPad yesterday. Whenever we acquire a new gadget, Mike and I usually have some kind of discussion about what technology is going to be available when our baby is older and how much she will laugh at us for being so excited about an iPad. ("You were this excited about atouch screen? Hahahahaha!")

Just like my child will probably laugh at the concept of an iPad someday, there are parts of The Albigenses that don't resonate well with a 2010 audience. The first half or so of the fourth volume is a very detailed battle scene. There is quite a bit of untranslated Latin and French throughout the book. And the mere fact that it's four volumes means that it's a big commitment for a reader.

Which is too bad, because this is a really great story. The characters are interesting, reading about their adventures was really cool, and I managed to learn something about a Crusade I had no idea existed. There are really unexpected plot twists and I liked the medieval setting. I'd love to somehow see this book updated for a modern audience but I don't think that is usually done. And as Mike pointed out, literature professors would probably be horrified at the suggestion.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Crusading.

I just finished volume 3 of The Albigenses by Charles Robert Maturin. There is so much going on in these books. This one centered mainly on the female heretic Genevieve. I felt like I got to know her character a lot better. On the other hand, the knight Paladour and the beautiful Lady Isabelle were kind of minimized in this volume. We got to see more of what they were up to through other people's eyes and how they were reacting to them rather than a direct narration. It was different than in the first two volumes.

One thing that was kind of weird is that a new character came in about 2/3 of the way through this book - Queen Ingelberg. It was like all of a sudden the author needed someone for Genevieve to deal with and poof! Here's a queen.

I can't figure out what happened with Paladour and Isabelle and the mystery witch woman. I wonder if I missed it, or if all will be explained in volume 4.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The long Crusade featuring: perfect women!

I am now halfway done with The Albigenses by Charles Robert Maturin. I’ve finished reading volume 2. It is interesting how different volume 2 is from volume 1. There is so much more action! I feel like the plot developed so much more in volume 2, where volume 1 was maybe more about character development. SO much went on in this book.

It’s interesting that both main women characters are portrayed as being pretty much perfect. They are both beautiful, wise, smart, stand up for what they believe in, and have several handsome admirers. The Lady Isabelle even fixes a steely gaze on some bad guys, which intimidates them enough to refrain from doing bad things to her and her attendants! Not a very realistic portrayal. I wonder if they will remain perfect throughout the series or if the next two volumes will humanize them somewhat.

I’m still enjoying this quite a bit, although it isn’t one of the ones I am going around recommending to everyone like The Age of Innocence and Alias Grace. It is pretty long and involved.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?

I had never read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll before. This type of book – fantasy books in general, actually – is really not my favorite. I often feel like these kinds of books are super hard to follow and so implausible. I have a hard time figuring out the story when you never know if the next thing that happens is that the protagonist is going to grow 10 feet tall.

I am glad I read this one though. I was so impressed by the author’s imagination! I don’t know how all that crazy stuff came out of one person’s head. Maybe I will get to like them more if I think about it that way.

My favorite was the Lobster Quadrille song. I thought that was so cute. I also thought the ending was really sweet – how he wrapped it up with Alice’s sister thinking about her. It made me think of my little daughter and what her imagination is going to be like someday. So I didn’t mind this one as much as I thought I would!

Next up: Back to The Albigenses. Volumes 2 through 4 arrived! Now I just have to remember what was going on at the end of volume 1!