Masterpiece
*****
Excellent
**** 1/2
Very good
****
Good
**** 1/2
Just okay
***
Not for me
**
Definitely not for me
*

Year of Wonders

yearofwonders.JPGThis was Geraldine Brooks’ first novel. She is the also the author of the Pulitzer winner March, a fictional account of Mr. March from Little Women. I read March earlier this year, and while I believe Brooks to be a good writer, I had some issues with her portrayal of the Marches in her book. I feel much the same in this book. It has very good writing, but once again, I have issues. This time it is in matters of faith and religion.

Year of Wonders is the story of a village that is ravaged by The Plague in 1666. Anna is a widow who is a servant for the rector in her village. She becomes very close to Mr. Mompellion and his wife, Elinor. When The Plague hits and they quarantine the village, the three of them are the mainstays who help and comfort the sick and dying. It is a terrible year, and Brooks’ descriptions of The Plague were painful to read. At the close of the year, some are strengthened by their trials and others are utterly devastated by them. What makes this book so special is that it is based on a true story of the village of Eyam, Derbyshire. They voluntarily quarantined their village when the disease hit, and it would become known as The Plague Village. They are remembered as having attempted to stop the spread of disease by this action.

It’s too difficult to go into my issues with the book on matters of faith without divulging too much of the storyline, so I won’t do so. I am still glad I read the novel as it is a fascinating period in history, and it is all the more interesting for having been based on Eyam. I plan on reading her novel People of the Book when it comes out next month.

2001, 304 pp.
Rating: 4

Mrs. Dalloway/The Hours

mrsdalloway.JPGhours.jpg

Why not do a ‘twin’ review since I read them relatively close together? I had seen both of these movies before I read the books, and I recently re-watched The Hours because it was available for online viewing through Netflix. I’d like to watch Mrs. Dalloway again as well. The movie of the The Hours follows the book very closely-there are a few minor changes. Nicole Kidman does an outstanding job in this film. I was most interested in the Virginia Woolf storyline, so I was happy she was so well portrayed. It’s funny that Meryl Streep ended up playing Clarissa when she (Meryl Streep) is actually talked about in The Hours (the book). I don’t remember the movie Mrs. Dalloway much at all, hence the reason I wish to re-view it.

Well, on to the books. The Hours won the Pulitzer in 1999. It’s a cleverly told story that intersects the 3 women’s lives very well. However, it does change the story of Mrs. Dalloway into homos*xual relationships. It was interesting to see the twist in the storyline, particularly if you know the real one, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Doesn’t Clarissa (in The Hours) know that her life is too coincidental with the characters’ names from Mrs. Dalloway?” To me, it would have been a better story if Cunningham had left out all the references to the actual book itself. The reader knows that’s what it’s about, so why keep referring to it? It makes The Hours too unbelievable. It’s an interesting book, and I’m glad I read it, but I can’t help having mixed feelings about it.

Mrs. Dalloway. I must be too dense in the literary sense, because I just don’t get this book at all. I had to stop reading it every half hour because it was just too much otherwise. I felt a similar way this year when I read Inheritance of Loss. I just don’t enjoy a book when I have to read it that way. I don’t get into planning parties or the minute details of such. In fact, I avoid that like the plague. I’m not into social scenes, either. In this book, everyone loves Clarissa, but isn’t she the most shallow character in it? I don’t get it. I would like to re-read it again in a few years to see if I feel any differently. At least I feel more enlightened that I have finally read Woolf. I’d actually like to read more about her than by her.

For The Hours:
1998, 226 pp.
Rating: 3.5
Pulitzer, 1999

For Mrs. Dalloway:
1925, 194 pp.
Rating: 3