The House of Spirits Read-Along: Week 4 Recap

House

Below is the chapter breakdown that will take us all the way to May 15th.  I’m doing a recap each week, and in the end I’ll do an overall review of the book.  If you’d like to join me, leave a comment!

This week’s recap is for Chapters 8 and 9.  If you’re a little behind, that’s ok!  I’ll clearly mark any spoilers.

This week’s chapters were boring and uneventful compared to last week’s chapters.  I hope the story picks back up soon.

*Spoilers*  Blanca gets along with her new husband until she finds out what is in his “laboratory”.  She flees back to her family’s home and barely makes it before giving birth to her daughter, who she names Alba.  Clara predicts that Alba will always be happy and healthy and have good luck.  Esteban continues to treat everyone in the family, except Alba, whom he adores, like garbage. The only other major event besides Alba’s birth is Clara’s death.  *End Spoilers*

What do you think of the story and the characters so far?  All comments about the book are welcome, but please mark any spoilers.

The House of Spirits Read-Along Week 3 Recap

House

Below is the chapter breakdown that will take us all the way to May 15th.  I’m doing a recap each week, and at the end I’ll do an overall review of the book.  If you’d like to join me, leave a comment!

This week’s recap is for Chapters 6 – 7.  If you’re a little behind, that’s ok!  I’ll clearly mark any spoilers.

SO.MUCH.DRAMA.  What is up with the men in this book?!

*Spoilers* We meet Jean de Satigny, who seems to be the type of guy who really doesn’t care what a woman thinks, and will seek shady ways of getting what he wants.  He reveals Blanca’s affair with Pedro Tercero to her father, but it eventually backfires on him when Blanca realizes she’s pregnant, and Esteban forces Jean to marry her, despite Jean no longer being interested.  The family is crazy, so I kind of don’t blame him, even if I do think he’s a weasel. I don’t foresee the marriage turning out well.  When Esteban is told about Blanca and Pedro, he chases off to find them.  He comes across Blanca and brutally whips her.  After Clara tries to criticize him, he hits her so hard that several of her teeth are knocked out.  Clara decides to never speak to him again and goes back to the city with Blanca.  Esteban goes on the hunt for Pedro Tercero and eventually finds him hiding out in a small shack. In trying to kill him, he only manages to cut off three of Pedro’s fingers.*End Spoilers*

What do you think of the story and the characters so far?  All comments about the book are welcome, but please mark any spoilers.

House of Spirits Read-Along: Week 2 Recap

House

Below is the chapter breakdown that will take us all the way to May 15th.  I’m doing a recap each week, and at the end I’ll do an overall review of the book.  Originally, I was going to be doing the recaps on Sundays, but I decided that we all might need Sunday to catch up, at least I do, so I’m doing them on Mondays now.  If you’d like to join me, leave a comment!

  • April 6th – 12th: Chapters 1 and 2
  • Apr. 13th – 19th: Chapters 3, 4, and 5
  • Apr. 20th – 26th: Chapters 6 and 7
  • Apr. 27th – May 3rd: Chapters 8 and 9
  • May 4th – 10th: Chapters 10, 11, and 12
  • May 11th – 15th: Chapter 13 to the end of the book

This week’s recap is for Chapters 3 – 5.  If you’re a little behind, that’s ok!  I’ll clearly mark any spoilers.

First off, I just have to scream NOOOOOO!  Why, Clara?!!!

*Spoilers* So Clara marries the rapist, Esteban, and of course, just when I’m starting to maybe like Férula, he goes and throws her out of the house because he’s jealous.  We also meet Blanca, Clara’s 1st child, and she falls in love with a peasant boy, Pedro.  Interspersed amongst these events are several deaths,a little bit of Socialism, a whole lot of earthquake, and a few other characters that seem to be minor ones.  I was about to be so happy when the house collapsed on top of Esteban, but the jerk just had to survive it, didn’t he?!*End Spoilers*

I can’t see this being a happy story for any of the characters, and I feel like this family is the Spanish equivalent of the Cleary’s in The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.

What do you think of the story and the characters so far?  I hope you stick with me in continuing to read, but all comments about the book are welcome.

The House of Spirits Read-Along: Week 1 Recap

House

My book for the Classics Club Spin #9 is The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende, and as with the last Spin, I’m doing a read-along.  You don’t have to be a member of the Classics Club, but if you are, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your list!  Below is the chapter breakdown that will take us all the way to May 15th.  Each week I’ll do a recap, in which I will clearly mark any spoilers, and at the end I’ll do an overall review of the book.  If you’d like to join me, please add yourself to the linky!

  • April 6th – 12th: Chapters 1 and 2
  • Apr. 13th – 19th: Chapters 3, 4, and 5
  • Apr. 20th – 26th: Chapters 6 and 7
  • Apr. 27th – May 3rd: Chapters 8 and 9
  • May 4th – 10th: Chapters 10, 11, and 12
  • May 11th – 15th: Chapter 13 to the end of the book

This week’s recap is for Chapters 1 and 2.  I’ve read other books by Isabel Allende, and since I enjoyed them, I added The House of Spirits to my Classics Club list.  As I started reading, I started to doubt whether or not that was such a great decision.  However, since I also made the decision to do this read-along, I feel I should stick with the book, no matter what.

The story was confusing at first.  I don’t know why, but I had the impression that Barrabás was a man, the narrator was a woman, and Nana was the grandmother.  I was completely wrong about all three, but it took several pages to find that out.  On top of that, there’s a bit of magical realism, which is a literary style I’ve never enjoyed.  I don’t remember any of Isabel Allende’s other books having magical realism in them, but it’s possible that it was so subtle, my pre-college brain missed it.  One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez is a completely different story, however, and that’s a book I willingly threw across the room with great force.  So, I groaned internally when I started seeing it in this book.  I like Clara and Barrabás, though.  I can’t stand Férula or Estaban, but I still want to find out what happens next.

What do you think of the story and the characters so far?  Do you enjoy or detest magical realism, and, if you can’t stand it, will that affect whether or not you continue reading?  I hope you stick with me in continuing to read, but all comments about the book are welcome.

Read-Along: The House of Spirits

House

My book for the Classics Club Spin #9 is The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende, and as with the last Spin, I’m doing a read-along.  You don’t have to be a member of the Classics Club, but if you are, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your list!  Below is the chapter breakdown that will take us all the way to May 15th.  Each week, I’ll do a recap, and at the end I’ll do an overall review of the book.  If you’d like to join me, please add yourself to the linky!

  • April 6th – 12th: Chapters 1 and 2
  • Apr. 13th – 19th: Chapters 3, 4, and 5
  • Apr. 20th – 26th: Chapters 6 and 7
  • Apr. 27th – May 3rd: Chapters 8 and 9
  • May 4th – 10th: Chapters 10, 11, and 12
  • May 11th – 15th: Chapter 13 to the end of the book

Classics Club: Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott was my book for the Classics Club Spin #8.  I chose to do a read-along, and all the recaps can be found below.  Though the read-along is over, feel free to bookmark the recaps and/or leave comments as you read the book.  Each recap contains some trivia and the spoilers are marked.

First of all, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this book about 95% of the time.  It’s full of action, adventure, romance, knights, King Richard and Prince John, and Robin Hood and his Merry Men.  It has a wide variety of characters including some I loved to hate and one or two that I was a little ashamed to love, and a couple that provided the comedy relief.  What’s not to love, especially if you’re a Fantasy genre addict like me?!

Then there’s that 5% that I didn’t enjoy so much.  There are parts that get ridiculously slow and the characters get long-winded.  Some of the conflicts get resolved a bit too easily, making the last few chapters a bit anti-climactic.  There’s also the racism that was prevalent during not only the times in which the story is placed but during the times in which the author wrote as well.  Now, I don’t believe in removing those uncomfortable parts from media in order to comply with a much more modern view of the world, but that doesn’t mean I like or agree with them.  I believe it’s important to keep the horrible stuff because 1) taking it out doesn’t mean it never existed, 2) we need to be able to know and understand our history, no matter how ugly, and 3) we need to be able to see how far we’ve come since those times.

While Ivanhoe didn’t make my Through the Magic Door list, because of that 5% I didn’t like, overall, it’s a great read.  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Romance era fiction, classic Fantasy, or classic literature in general.

Ivanhoe Read-Along: That’s a Wrap!

Ivanhoe

This is the final recap for the Ivanhoe read-along!  This week, we read chapters 39 – 44, but if you’re a little behind, that’s OK!  I’ll be posting the review tomorrow, and I’ll mark any spoilers.  The previous weeks’ recaps are below:

In 1825, a banking crisis in the UK caused the Ballantyne printing business to collapse.  Sir Walter Scott was the only partner with a financial interest and the company’s debts of £130,000 caused his very public ruin.  Rather than declare himself bankrupt or accept any kind of financial support (he even turned down help from the king), he placed his house and income in a trust belonging to his creditors, and was determined to write his way out of debt.  Scott was still in debt when he passed away, but his novels continued to sell, and the debts were paid off shortly after his death.

[SPOILERS]  Cedric organises Aethelstane’s funeral at Coningsburgh.  The Black Knight/King Richard arrives with Wamba, quickly followed by Ivanhoe.  King Richard reconciles Cedric with his son and gets him to agree to Ivanhoe and Rowena marrying. Suddenly, Aethelstane appears, not dead, but having been placed in his coffin alive and then held prisoner by some monks who were after the funeral money.  Aethelstane pledges his loyalty to King Richard, demands the death of the monks who held him, and urges Cedric to marry Rowena to Ivanhoe.  Soon after this, Ivanhoe receives word concerning Rebecca. He rushes to fight as her champion against Brian de Bois-Guilbert.  After Ivanhoe is knocked from his horse, the Templar also falls and dies “a victim to the violence of his own contending passions”.  The Grand Master declares this the judgement of God and proof of Rebecca’s innocence. King Richard, who had followed after Ivanhoe, arrives at the Templar Preceptory, banishes the Templars, and declares that the Malvoisins’ have committed treason and will be executed.  The book closes with Rebecca going to bid Rowena farewell since she and her father are leaving England. Ivanhoe and Rowena marry and live a long and happy life together, though the final paragraphs of the book state that Ivanhoe’s long service ended when King Richard died.  [SPOILERS]

Is it just me, or were these final chapters a bit anticlimactic?  I still really enjoyed this book, even the slow parts.  I probably won’t be adding it to my Through the Magic Door list after all, but it’s a book I’m never going to forget, and I’m happy I read it.  You never really know what you’re going to get with classic literature because people’s tastes during the times in which the books were written are often so very different from ours today, and it’s beyond difficult to write a truly timeless book.  On top of that, just because “everyone else” loves it doesn’t mean I will.  In fact, there are at least 3 books I can think of off the top of my head that I absolutely hated but are on all the “Top 100 Books Everyone Must Read” lists.

Did you enjoy the book?  What are your thoughts on the story, characters, setting, etc?  Please mark any spoilers.

Ivanhoe Read-Along: Week 5 Recap

Ivanhoe

We’re heading into the final week of the Ivanhoe read-along!  This week, we read chapters 32 – 38, but if you’re a little behind, that’s OK!  I’ll mark any spoilers so you can come back after you’re caught up, and the previous weeks’ recaps are below:

Historians claim there is no evidence to support Sir Walter Scott’s portrayal of the enmity between the Saxons and Normans during the time in which the story takes place.  However, some experts suggest that Scott intended to show the parallels between the Norman conquest of England and Scotland’s union with England in 1707.

[SPOILERS]  Prince John finds out from de Bracy that King Richard has returned and Torquilstone has fallen. Bois-Guilbert takes Rebecca to a Templar Preceptory, where the precept is his friend Albert de Malvoisin.  However, Lucas de Beaumanoir, the Grand-Master of the Templars is also there and has been working to reform the preceptory. He believes that Rebecca has bewitched Bois-Guilbert’s into violating his Templar vows, and decides to put Rebecca on trial for witchcraft. She is found guilty, but claims the right to trial by combat. Bois-Guilbert, who had hoped to fight as her champion, is ordered by the Grand-Master to fight against Rebecca’s champion. Rebecca writes to her father, Isaac, to find a champion for her.  [SPOILERS]

I was right about who the Black Knight is!  This week slowed down a bit, and I got just a little bit bored.  I really don’t see how the few things that happened took over 60 pages to unfold.  I’m also wondering even more why the book was named for a character that we haven’t seen throughout most of the book.

How are you enjoying the book so far?  What are your thoughts on the story, characters, setting, etc?  Please mark any spoilers.

Ivanhoe Read-Along: Week 4 Recap

Ivanhoe

Today ends week four of the Ivanhoe read-along.  We’ve read chapters 26 – 31, but if you’re a little behind, that’s OK!  I’ll mark any spoilers so you can come back after you’re caught up, and the previous weeks’ recaps are here and here and here.  Below is the chapter breakdown:

  • Mon. 24th Nov. – Sun. 30th Nov.: Chapters 1 – 7
  • Mon. 1st Dec. – Sun. 7th Dec.: Chapters 8 – 16
  • Mon. 8th Dec. – Sun. 14th Dec.: Chapters 17 – 25
  • Mon. 15th Dec. – Sun. 21st Dec.: Chapters 26 – 31
  • Mon. 22nd Dec. – Sun. 28th Dec.: Chapters 32 – 38
  • Mon. 29th Dec. – Sun. 4th Jan.: Chapters 39 – 44

An interesting little fact about Sir Walter Scott: He married Charlotte Genevieve Charpentier on Christmas Eve, 1797, after only 3 weeks of courtship.

[SPOILERS]  Not much happens in this week’s chapters, but at the same time, it feels like everything happens.  Locksley, his men, and the Black Knight storm the castle after Wamba switches places with Cedric.  Front-de-Boeuf is gravely injured by the Black Knight, and then dies in a fire that Ulrica, the daughter of Torquilstone, sets in a final act of revenge for her family being killed.  Ulrica dies as one of the castle turrets collapses, De Bracy surrenders and is taken prisoner, and the Templar runs off with Rebecca.  Athelstane attempts to save her, believing that she’s the lady Rowena, but he’s killed(?) by the Templar.  [SPOILERS]

Is it horrible that I like Ulrica?  I really like Ulrica.  I think I know who the Black Knight is, but I won’t say anything until I know for sure.  I’ve had my suspicions for quite a while now, so hopefully we’ll find out in the next few chapters.  I also think that, unless something goes ridiculously wrong with the story, I will be adding this book to my Through the Magic Door list.  With the exception of the Romantic era writing style, many of the story’s other elements remind me of The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  Action! Adventure! True Love!  Oh, and the following line that made me giggle:

“I am ready,” answered Athelstane, “to stand the worst of their malice, and shall walk to my death with as much composure as ever I did to my dinner.”

I just can’t read that line with a straight face, despite Athelstane saying it in all seriousness.

How are you enjoying the book so far?  What are your thoughts on the story, characters, setting, etc?  Please mark any spoilers.

Ivanhoe Read-Along: Week 3 Recap

Ivanhoe

Today ends week three of the Ivanhoe read-along, and we’re now at the halfway point.  We’ve read chapters 17 – 25, but if you’re a little behind, that’s OK!  I’ll mark any spoilers so you can come back after you’re caught up, and the previous weeks’ recaps are here and here.  Below is the chapter breakdown:

  • Mon. 24th Nov. – Sun. 30th Nov.: Chapters 1 – 7
  • Mon. 1st Dec. – Sun. 7th Dec.: Chapters 8 – 16
  • Mon. 8th Dec. – Sun. 14th Dec.: Chapters 17 – 25
  • Mon. 15th Dec. – Sun. 21st Dec.: Chapters 26 – 31
  • Mon. 22nd Dec. – Sun. 28th Dec.: Chapters 32 – 38
  • Mon. 29th Dec. – Sun. 4th Jan.: Chapters 39 – 44

It turns out that most of the popular conception of Robin Hood actually comes from Ivanhoe.  Sir Walter Scott supposedly took the name “Locksley” from an anonymous manuscript written in 1600 that used the name as an epithet for Robin Hood. The name has been used to refer to Robin Hood ever since.  Also, Robin’s familiar feat of splitting his competitor’s arrow in an archery contest comes directly from Ivanhoe.  However, Scott shunned the late 16th century depiction of Robin Hood as a dispossessed nobleman. This didn’t prevent Scott’s contribution to the legend though, since many of the films about Robin Hood, including the parody “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”, give him traits that come from Ivanhoe.

[SPOILERS]  This week’s chapters have us jumping around a bit from one place to another in order to keep up with all of the characters.  The story progression has slowed a little, but I think it will be picking back up again over the next week’s chapters.  Maurice de Bracy and his men take Cedric, Lady Rowena, Isaac of York and his daughter, along with several others, hostage.  They’re all locked up in various rooms of Front-de-Boeuf’s castle, but not before Wamba and Gurth escape and then run into Locksley, who gathers up his men, including the friar of Copmanhurst, to rescue the captives. The Black Knight joins Locksley and his men, and they all besiege the castle.  Scene by scene we find out what is happening with the captives: Lady Rowena refuses de Bracy’s marriage proposal and he threatens to kill Ivanhoe and Cedric, Rebecca threatens suicide rather than give herself to the Templar, and Isaac refuses to pay for his freedom when he finds out what the Templar plans to do to Rebecca.  Each interaction is interrupted by the sound of a horn.  We find out that it’s a messenger notifying Front-de-Boeuf, de Bracy and the Templar that Locksley and his men are there demanding the captives be let go.  They send the messenger back to tell Locksley and company to send a confessor for the captives who will be executed.[SPOILERS]

I now have two characters that I love to hate.  I already didn’t like de Bracy from last week’s chapters, but now I also despise the Templar.  The only thing I’m finding a bit confusing is that it seems the one character who’s name is the title of the book doesn’t seem to be a central character.  I’m curious to find out when he’s going to come back into the picture.  When I planned the chapter breakdown I had no idea that this week would end on a bit of a cliffhanger!  I really wanted to continue reading, even more so than the previous two weeks.

How are you enjoying the book so far?  What are your thoughts on the story, characters, setting, etc?  Please mark any spoilers.