Ellen Erwin: The Audrey Hepburn Treasures

The Audrey Hepburn TreasuresThe Audrey Hepburn Treasures by Ellen Erwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this. It is a wonderful look into the life of not the icon, but I think, the woman. The idea of having those pouches (for lack of a better word), which hold prints of photographs, letters and so forth, makes the book personal. It is like a treasure and I have to say, I was teary eyed at the end.

So if you like Audrey Hepburn: buy it. 🙂

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Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The Hunchback of Notre-DameThe Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the bits between Quasimodo and Esmeralda, even though i think she is a little brat. There was no character, except Djali and Quasimodo that I liked. Which was probably the intention if the metacontent is that one should not judge a book by its cover and so forth. But if that is all the novel is about, I’ve read novels that got the point across in a more interesting way. I thought that long passages of the novel could have been edited out (really not that interested in the use of architecture or kings and so forth) and that there should have been more focus on Quasimodo. After all he is on the title.

But all in all it was a nice read but it took me really long.

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Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

Heart of DarknessHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Again I need something between one and two stars… because obviously the content and language made me hate it. Whereas read in a post-colonial view and considered as an insight into the white male Gaze, it is quite potent.

Narrator 2, Marlow, is deeply racist. I am not going into the meta-fictional aspect of his narrative because I find that rather unnecessary in this case.

So we have a racist narrator, a man of his century. We have Kurtz, who is a dictator to say the least. Everyone else embodies the white male gaze (I am thinking of the question of Alterity), which assures the White Man that his actions are justified and he is ultimately superior. Marlow’s description of Africa reeks of hate. I cannot keep wondering if the readers of the first publications found their deepest fears of the Other justified and whether the novel played a big part in influencing and convincing people that everything and everyone foreign was a threat to their civilization and identity. If that was the case, and I sort of can imagine it, I would no longer wonder how all the stereotypes came into being that in some aspects are still employed.

In reading this novel today, the reader relives the horrors of colonization. If Kurtz is the heart of darkness, it is not because he is the symbolic heart of the dark continent it is because his heart is dark and vicious. He is described as a noble man who fell in a way ill due to his experiences in Africa. I however think, that Africa as a place not governed by a law Kurtz would accept as concerning or applying to him, rendered him ultimately free and in his freedom, his morality was soon lost and his true character revealed. It thus makes sense that his most prominent feature is his voice. His body is failing, his voice is not. Deeds are horrible. But words used a certain way can overthrow and restructure a civilization. We have seen it all happen. It often starts with words.

There is also a bit of sexism in it because the only women are 2 of the three literary types of women of that age: the saint (in Kurtz’s intended) and the barbarous whore (in the native woman who is described by Marlow as exhibiting a “tragic and fierceful aspect of wild sorrow and of dumb pain”), yet she is fascinating. I assume she is the only African who can be “magnificent” because she only is a woman and since women came only by an inch before Foreigners of non-western societies in the great chain of being, she was no threat anyway to the male supremacy. Every other African is seen as a dog or worse.

To conclude, I think if you read it not as a story that is supposed to entertain you but use it as a means to get some insight into thought and understanding of colonization and the views exhibited at the time, then the novel is worth a read. It is disturbing yet intriguing, especially because the lack of the African voice is so prominent. I longed for it but the absence tells you more than had it been there. So all that remains in the end are the illusions and justifications of the conquering people, which the reader can see through and take for what they are: smoke, wrong, fleeting. But I would like to emphasize that reading the novel in a purely entertaining and unreflected can be disastrous because the language alone is racist and disrespectful.

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Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I managed to finish it. Took me one month (okay I also read Neil Gaiman short stories in between but still a long time). I think it took me so long because I know the series so well. But it is so much fun to read nonetheless. Mr.Darcy is just to die for (gotta love Colin Firth even more now) and I wish I could write like that. Jane Austen was just amazing.

Since I cannot say anything that has not been said before, I shall leave it with simply stating that I really really enjoyed reading the novel.

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Terry Pratchett: The Unadulterated cat

The Unadulterated CatThe Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

****************************************** look, more stars. As a cat owner I looove this book. Every word is true even though I am an owner of two un-Real cats because I own a Siamese and a Oriental Shorthair and those are Bred. *g* No, seriously, I think this is Pratchett at his best. I laughed so hard I cried. And read it in one go. Highly recommended, especially to cat owners.

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Neil Gaiman: M is for Magic

M Is for MagicM Is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I am not one for short stories. I could not completely dive into those of Poe or Wilde and I had troubles with his. Maybe that is also due to my current situation aka I am going through a rough patch in my life.

But the stories are nevertheless wonderful. I particularly liked Chivalry. But ‘The Price’ is my all time favorite. It made me cry and love my cats even more… (I have a black one as well).

I recommend it as a read and the stories don’t seem so scary as the one’s in “Smoke and Mirrors” which I am also reading at the moment.

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Haruki Murakami: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the WorldHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That was different.
I wonder how he comes up with a story like that. And most importantly, make it plausible and believable. Quite amazing actually! I enjoyed it after getting through the beginning which confused me so much but I don’t think it’ll be my favorite novel of his.
he also stayed true to his…motifs? Ears, cats are mentioned, food and the characters always go “Oh look something totally impossible is happening so why don’t I just accept it and get close to every human that crosses my path unless they want to harm me”…I always find that strange behaviour but I guess you’d go crazy if you didn’t just go with the flow in worlds like these. 🙂

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