realism

Review: Sister Carrie

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Sister CarrieBook Review
3 out of 5 stars to Sister Carrie, one of the greatest American novels of true realistic cum naturalistic tone, published in its final form in 1900 by Theodore Dreiser. Some of my favorite literature comes from this time period in American history. Writers took extreme liberties with creating the most realistic point of view and portrayal of characters who were living the American dream, or at least attempting to. All details were painfully described when it came to what was going on in their lives. It wasn’t about how you brush your teeth from left to right, but it certainly came close. Feelings were clear. Words were prolific. It was less about the plot and drama, the shock and the surprise, but more about how people felt and interpreted all the actions around them. People wanted to know what was going on all over the city, the country and the world. Authors delivered. In this book, Carrie and her family, loved ones and friends, face all the experiences thrown at you when you become an adult. How you make decision. How you spend your day. It shows thru comparison and contrast what happened versus what could have happened. While I normally love this approach, this one was a tad bit dry for me. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but it was just a good book. I didn’t feel connected to it as much as everyone else at the time. But if you want to know how things were during the 1870s – 1890s in American life, this book will show you.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Golden Bowl

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The Golden Bowl Book Review
It is difficult to give a low review to one of your favorite authors. And I’ve read this book twice. But it barely changed me upon a second read. Somewhere between a 2 and a 3 out of 5 stars, this book has many great moments; however, it’s also very disconnected, almost as those there are several stories consolidated in a single book with at unmatched effort made to weave them together properly. The language — great and consistent. The characters — strong and memorable. The plot — confused and confusing. The theme and lesson — uncertain where it is trying to go. If I separated the stories, they’d each get a 3+, but when I look at this as a whole, as characters in a charade, or people in love… it’s time period seems inaccurate. I am considering reading this a third time, as it’s been a good 15 years since the last read. And I do adore him as a write, but this one was a miss.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: Washington Square

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Washington Square Book Review
4 out of 5 stars for Washington Square, a classic novel written in 1880 by Henry James. Henry James is my favorite American realistic period or classic novelist, and Washington Square is an example of why. This man can take a small situation and write 300+ pages all about it. And this is one of his shorter books. In this classic, the tale of the average woman, who is set to inherit a large sum of money, meets dashing man… but of course, he’s only after her money. She’s considered plain-looking. He’s considered ruthless. They couldn’t possibly be in love. And as you follow the course of their “romance,” you see what couples and relationships go through during the courting period… at least as it was 150 years ago. James is not shy when it comes to providing detailed descriptions of feelings and actions. You read his words as though you are in your head, thinking about choices and decisions for hours, then acting on them. This is a very direct story… commentary on the normal every day live, the differences between classes, the way in which women must act to find a husband, the efforts men go to so they can be free, the attitudes of society towards older women or those who are not considered great beauties. When you step away from this book, hopefully not too frustrated at the story being so basic and calm, you realize it’s a reflection on reality… on what actually was happening at the time. Who would accept it today? Who would tolerate being treated in such a manner? And where do you go when you end up a bit hopeless? Stories like this aren’t common nowadays, at least in this form. But when you put yourself into the time period, this is a true treasure.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Portrait of a Lady

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The Portrait of a Lady Book Review
3+ out of 5 stars for The Portrait of a Lady, a classic story called the “Great American Novel,” written by Henry James in 1881. I adore Henry James and found great enjoyment in his literary works when I began reading him in my freshmen year at college. As an English major, I was exposed to many different authors, but I felt a strong connection with him and this literary period. American realistic works spoke to me above any of the other “classic” books I had been reading. As a result, I chose Henry James as the primary focus of an independent study course I’d taken in my senior year. I read 6 or 7 of his books during those 3 months and am going back now to provide quick reviews, as not everyone finds him as enjoyable as I do. I also don’t want to bore everyone with a lengthy review on how to interpret him or his books.

The Portrait of a Lady tells the story of a young woman who years to have her own life and make her own mark on the world. She doesn’t want to be contained by marriage or the structure in place at the time in the late 19th century. She has different characteristics coming from American, English and continental European female archetypes. She has strong moral and ethical values. She knows who she is, yet she does not know all. As she moves through life, she makes choices that are not easy for her to execute. What I loved about this work is its deep exploratory view points, beautiful language and unparalleled characters. Though I only give it a 3, when compared to some of this other works, I would recommend you read a few chapters or sections, just to see if it is something you could find yourself getting lost in.

The impact you feel upon reading this book is questioning what is the true view of a lady, how is she different from generation to generate, location to location and societal class to societal class. James knows women. He is very accurate on many levels… wrong on a few, too. But to put out his thoughts, in a huge tome, at a time when women were beginning to get more rights… and be able to cross genres and genders… is amazing. It’s less about what he says and more about how he says it. And that’s why I enjoy reading him… but even I admit, I can only take 1 book every few years! 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: Daisy Miller

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Daisy Miller Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Daisy Miller by Henry James, a story about a free and unattached American girl who is spending some time in Europe after being removed from American society for some time. She unwittingly defies the moral code of European society, never realizing it until the very end when she dies. All throughout the story, “Daisy does what she likes, responds to what she likes. To the world around her she is a young girl, an American girl, she represents a society and a sex. She is expected to be what she appears-whether that is an innocent girl or a fallen woman” (Allen 337). In America, Daisy was free to roam about, flirting occasionally with the men. Once she enters Rome though, her behavior with a “dubious native [is] in defiance of the system of curfews and chaperons which [the society] holds dear” (Dupee 298). James sets up the plot of the story by having Daisy run into a man who is also an American transplant. Frederick Winterbourne, a kind free-spirited and unemployed gigolo, has lived in Europe for quite a few years searching for an older, rich woman to marry. When he meets Daisy, he is immediately intrigued by the “pretty American flirt” (James 102). Once this connection is established, Daisy’s innocence becomes the focus of the text. In the very beginning, “when contrary to the code of Geneva, [Winterbourne] speaks to the unmarried Daisy, he wonders whether ‘he has gone too far.’ . . . When he attempts to classify her, she undermines all of his stuffy and inapplicable generalizations. He decides that [Daisy] may be ‘cold,’ ‘austere,’ and ‘prim’ only to find her spontaneous and as ‘decently limpid as the very cleanest water’” (Gargano 314). Daisy and Winterbourne have now established their relationship at this point; They are attracted to one another and would like to go and see the Chateau de Chillon. When Winterbourne asks her to go with him, Daisy says, with some placidity, “With me?”. Winterbourne responds by respectfully inviting her mother along also. However, after the flirtatious exchange between the two, “[Daisy] didn’t rise, blushing, as a young girl at Geneva would have done” (James 103). The process in which Daisy loses her innocence begins here.
However, James’s short story is told from the perspective of Winterbourne, which overshadows the true story of Daisy’s innocence. Readers see and understand Daisy’s actions through Winterbourne’s eyes and actions. After Winterbourne leaves town to care for his aunt, he and Edna find their way back to each other. However, Winterbourne is non-committal to Daisy because of her flirtatious behavior with him and other men. Nevertheless, Daisy is not alone when they meet up this time. She is dating an Italian man named Giovanelli, who is obviously only after her money. Daisy continues to see Giovanelli, but she also spends some time with Winterbourne. Society begins to see that she is involved with both of these two men, quite intimately apparently. Daisy’s mother thinks she is engaged to Giovanelli, but Daisy is also seen out with Winterbourne every once in a while. F. W. Dupee remarks that when society is “judging [Daisy’s] morals by her manners, they imagine the worst and they ostracize her. They are wrong” (Dupee 299). However, “all the chattering tongues of Rome do not bother Daisy. She knows that Winterbourne, the one person whose opinion she values, believes in her innocence and chastity” (Buitenhuis 310). Daisy later focuses her thoughts on Giovanelli, and ignores Winterbourne even though he has always believed in her innocence and cared for her.
After losing track of Daisy for quite some time, Winterbourne runs across her at the Colosseum in Rome. The Colosseum was known to be a place where young lovers would go to experience passion and love. Daisy and Giovanelli are standing in the arena when Winterbourne notices them. Winterbourne tries to leave without making his presence known, but Daisy sees him. He asks her if she is engaged to Giovanelli, and Daisy tells him that she is. Winterbourne, at this point, believes that Daisy is nothing but a flirt who toys with men’s emotions for her own self-interest. It was also very dangerous for one to go near the Colosseum at such late hours because it was common for people to catch Roman Fever, a form of malaria. When Winterbourne tells Daisy this, she seems to hardly care at all about getting sick, and her actions even lead the readers to believe that she is going there purposely. Daisy’s actions appear suicidal. Winterbourne is concerned and he “not only expresses his concern for her health so recklessly exposed, but [by doing so,] he also lets her see that he has lost faith in her purity” (Buitenhuis 310). Shortly after, Daisy takes ill and begins to die. On her death bed, she can only think of telling Winterbourne that she really is not engaged to Giovanelli, who skips out on her once she gets sick.
Daisy eventually dies from the Roman Fever. It seems as though “Daisy dies because she cannot be fitted into any European scheme of things” (Allen 337). At this point, “[Winterbourne] realizes too late that he could have loved Daisy, and that Daisy could have loved him” (Buitenhuis 310). It is sad that it has to come to this, but society binds women to the strict standards of what they can and cannot do. If Daisy was in America, she would have gotten away with her behavior, but she was in Europe. European culture expects women to conform to specific standards. Just as Daisy is expected to live by the customs of Europe, so is Edna Pontellier from Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Rise of Silas Lapham

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The Rise of Silas Lapham Book Review
3 of 5 stars to The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells. Most of the works of literature that made up the canon during the late nineteenth century were classified as realistic literature. These realistic works resembled life as realistically as possible, ranging from youthful adventures in the South, to small town gossip of a few central families and to morals vs. business in Bostonian society. In Howell’s novel The Rise of Silas Lapham, Silas and his family moved from their farm in Vermont to the city of Boston where Silas hoped to continue making it big in the paint business. Throughout the time that he was earning all of his money and trying to settle in the elitist class of Boston society, Silas continually lost his morals and ethics. While Silas’ loss of morals was parallel with his rise in wealth, his gain in morals was parallel with his loss of wealth. All of these aspects of American life at this time were “infused with a moral purpose which transformed society, sometimes for good, but also for evil.” The moral purpose/guide in Silas’ case was his wife, Persis Lapham, who constantly reminded her husband that his greed was overcoming him. Persis wisely said to Silas, “No; you had better face the truth, Silas. It was no chance at all. You crowded him out. A man that had saved you! No, you had got greedy, Silas. You had made your paint your god, and you couldn’t bear to let anybody else share in its blessings” (IV, 47). Silas’ moral decline and Persis’ recognition of this was evident amongst people of similar nature in society of the late nineteenth century. Society at this time was sometimes holistic, but it was also dirty. When society was preserved, the baser aspects of human life were overcome with reason.” Yet, it was not uncommon for morals to come and go during this time, better known as the Gilded Age. It may have seemed all golden and wonderful on the outside amongst the people (Silas’ wealth in The Rise of Silas Lapham), but on the inside (Silas’ wasn’t really accepted into Brahmin society) it was a cheap version of the truth; every aspect of human life was corrupted, and reason was lost without the establishment of an honest society. Silas’ greed is a representation of the life and times of the many [wo]men who lived in the realistic period. Everything was about keeping up appearances, but there was never anything to back up the facade that was put on. There was no straight black and white; shades of gray and murky ethics dominated during this period of realism known historically as The Gilded Age.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Turn of the Screw

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The Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perhaps America’s greatest writer from our Realistic period, James’s ghost story sets itself above all the rest — and he has a lot to choose from. Consider this story a nanny’s mind game – but who is in control?

I studied James in my college years, even dedicating an entire semester to several of his works as one of my independent studies in my English major. Something about the way James told stories spoke to me, and I felt a connection to him as a person and as a writer. Many of his works annoyed me (The Golden Bowl, ugh!) but I still appreciated them. With Turn of the Screw, it was a master class in so many ways.

The plot is still open to interpetation: who is telling the truth? who is alive? who is actually sane?

All the same, the story is quite simple but oh so complex. It’s a study of intense psychology where the reader has to determine who is playing this game and who is merely a pawn.

If you like a bit of paranormal, and you are comfortable with a variety of impulse interpretations, you can learn a lot about how to draw in an audience from this book and James himself.

It’s more of a long short story, or a short novella, probably readable in one sitting over a few hours. It’s a good escape from today’s literature with a balance between flowery writing and direct plot and character development.

Take a chance. You will definitely have strong opinions.

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