Classics Challenge – January Review

Classics

The first month of the year is already over – crazy how quickly time flies, isn’t it? Serenity and Cocktail Phoenix have both managed to read their classics for the month and here is what they thought of the books they picked up.

As a little reminder, the category for January was: A classic you have always wanted to read.

Serenity: My first month of the Classics Challenge did not go at all the way I thought it would. First, I discovered that there is a wait list (A. Wait. List.) for Dune. Seriously. As in, I’m STILL only 3rd in line and I’ve been waiting a month for this book. What?! Anyway, that’s not going to work, so I move on Jane Eyre, a book I wanted to read for an online college book club I was trying out. I’ve read it before and I figure, no big deal to read it again. Should be fun, right? Nuh-uh. This book club was the real deal, with research and posting requirements and quizzes, the she-bang, and I just did not have the time to give to it this month. (I am, however, hoping to give it another go in March once my life craziness settles down!)

So that leads us to the middle of January and the deadline is coming! Last chance to get something in, so I grab Frankenstein. Gothic novels are not my go to for classics, but I will admit, this one was fascinating. I went in to it with a completely wrong idea of what it was all about. Most of what I know about Frankenstein comes from the pop culture/movie version you see. You know, all grunts and urghs from the monster with Dr. Frankenstein up in some laboratory using lightening to spark life in his creation. Not so in reality. In fact, the book glosses over much of the monster’s creation. More than that, the monster talks. Talks! In whole, complicated sentences!

An example:

“Believe me, Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserably alone?”
-Frankenstein’s Monster to his creator

Beyond the loquaciousness of the monster, the other thing that floored me was the “Alice down the rabbit hole” feeling this book created while I was reading it. It starts with a letter of one man to his sister. This man, Robert Walton, tells his sister in his letters of meeting a man (Dr. Frankenstein) and tells her the Doctor’s story. Within the relaying of the Doctor’s story, you then get the Monster’s story. Then we reverse the process to climb back out of all the changing narratives until we reach the end. If it sounds complicated, it’s because it is, but I very much enjoyed this winding down and then back up process. It was like falling into the story and then step by step pulling myself back into the real world out of the fantasy world Shelley has written.

Overall, I’m going with four charms for this Gothic classic.

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Cocktail Phoenix: I luckily didn’t have Serenity’s wait list problem as the book I chose, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I have this knack for buying classics whenever I come across them (usually second-hand) but it was more a question of finding the time to actually read it. All those challenges!

Going into the book, I didn’t know what to expect exactly. Bits and pieces I remember from having seen extracts of a movie and because the story is generally well-known. So, the story wasn’t a surprise as such. The writing however was. Considering this is not only a classic but also typical school lecture, I figured it might be rather swollen English with over-the-top characters. This is not so. The writing flows very well and is surprisingly ‘easy’, for lack of a better word. No pompous vocabulary, no overeager descriptions that go on for paragraphs on end. Just simply, details where needed and a

Jane is a refreshing main character and while she is a good girl who puts others’ needs before her own, she has a mind of her own and can be quite feisty if necessary. Mr Rochester struck me as conceited from time to time but gentle and caring at others. St. John started out being nice enough until he became utterly self-centered. Practically every other character encountered in the book were unique and distinct from all the others in one way or another.

The story itself, while not much of a surprise as mentioned, nevertheless kept me interested and I found myself reading this book in large chunks instead of a few pages now and again.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I am the only person to not have read this classic in school but I’m glad I finally got around to reading it and it’s a definite 4 charm read.

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And what is next on the menu for our challengers? February calls for a classic you have always dreaded reading.

Serenity: For me, that book is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Here’s hoping that another Gothic classic will treat me as well as Frankenstein! (And yes, in case you were wondering, I’ve already ordered my copy and it should get to me next week, lol!)

Cocktail Phoenix: February will be a difficult month for me haha. If I’m really going with the classic(s) I have always dreaded reading, then I will have to go with a Charles Dickens.. I’m still traumatised after having to read Hard Times for a course. It was definitely the wrong book to start me off on that author. So I’m quite simply going to take the liberty of debating this a while longer before picking up a book some time during the month. It might end up being A Christmas Carol.

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2 thoughts on “Classics Challenge – January Review

  1. Serenity, that type of book is called a frame story when it starts with one storyline that goes into another and then back out. The Prestige by Christopher Priest is another with that format. Rebecca is one of my favorites so I hope you enjoy it! Cocktail Phoenix, I’m also not a Dickens fan so I have no encouragement, sorry!

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    • Thanks! I really enjoyed that as it’s the first time I’ve read a book (to my knowledge) that did the frame story to that extent. I’ll have to look into The Prestige 🙂

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