Classics Challenge: May Wrap Up

Classics

Yep, the May wrap up.  🙂 We’re a little behind, but working to get caught up!

Our May theme was: Read an American Classic.  We successfully read the books we planned to this month!

12296Cocktail Phoenix: Picking up this book, I knew it was going to be somewhat tougher to read as I have heard it mentioned by some people I know, and various friends’ essays I read over at the time.

I figured, it’s a classic and not all of them are easy reads. It is certainly true for this one. I have come to dislike block text and there was a lot of that going on in this book. Then there was the language, which was very convoluted at times, weaving around for ages before getting to the point. I have to admit that at times, I took an audiobook to help while I was reading along so I could stay on track. And I’m still not sure I actually got everything as my mind kept wandering off.

As far as the story is concerned, I would have liked to see more of the conflict leading up to the wearing of the scarlet letter however. The characters weren’t all that likeable but I get the impression that might be the result of the narration, as the story is in fact “narrated” rather than written for the reader to experience it all alongside the main characters. It felt more like reading a documentary than an actual story.

In the end, I’ll rate this 3 Charms. The book was alright but no more than that.

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17728Serenity: House of Mirth was a slow, but interesting read. In it we follow the story of Miss Lily Barth, who has been brought up to appreciate all the finest things of 1900s New York society life, even though she is an orphan and dependent upon the benevolence of those around her. Lily is required to make a “good match” to be able to set herself up and move away from the constant threat of poverty that overhangs her. The problem comes when she discovers her feelings for Lawrence Selden, and he in effect calls her to look beyond material things, without giving her a way of doing so.

Honestly, Lily drove me crazy throughout the book. She is obsessed with remaining in the upper echelons of society and lives only to have beautiful things around her. She would make a wrong move, only to realize it and try to recover, but it was always just a little too late to fix the situation. In fairness, the society at large and the people in general were no help as well. Women of this time period are truly left with very few options for remaining in “genteel” society, and I can understand Lily’s horror of being forced to work to support herself, as foreign as the concept is to us in modern times.

Outside of the characters, I think the message of this book applies to us today. How often have we heard stories of kids brought up to expect all things to be handed them on a silver platter, only to see them sink beneath the harsh realities of the “real world”? Kids who are brought up like Lily, with nothing to shoot for but more wealth and more things are lost when they end up on their own. Late in the novel, Lily contemplates the lack of grounding in her upbringing, the lack of family traditions and lack of care for the immaterial things. This lack has led her to who she is and it’s no wonder that she struggles as she does. In the same way, though our traditions and values may differ from Lily’s time, I think we can still learn the lesson that we must learn to look beyond the material things to truly be able to make it through all the ups and downs we encounter in a lifetime.

Overall, it’s a slow read (which is to be expected in a Classic), but a thought provoking one that I enjoyed. 4 Charms.

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What’s coming up in June?  Check back soon to find out!

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