Thursday, September 16, 2010

You don't have to read The Talbot Odyssey, just everything else by Nelson DeMille

now finished: The Talbot Odyssey by Nelson DeMille
now reading: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

So, I love me some Nelson DeMille, seriously, still do - but The Talbot Odyssey was just OK. I mean, it wouldn't be worth refusing if you were on a flight to Europe with no book or anything like that, but I must say it didn't measure up to the quality of the rest of his books, in my ever-so-humble appraisal. Where was the snark? Where were the sly digs at bureaucrats and other self-important people? Few and far between, that's where.

The good folks who rated The Talbot Odyssey on Goodreads seem to agree with me -- many of the reviews say, basically, "This was my least favorite Nelson DeMille" "Not as fun and breathtaking as the rest of his books" etc.

It's not just that the plot about 1984 Soviets destroying the U.S. with electromagnetic energy while they hole up in their basement on Long Island doesn't take my breath away - but I really missed the vast amounts of vintage Nelson DeMille sarcasm we know and love. If you want a great Russian/Soviet/spy/Cold War book of his, hie thee to The Charm School instead.

I, personally, am going to continue through his oeuvre, glad to have got the least great one out of the way.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

(re?)Claiming Anne Bronte!

now finished: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Anne Bronte is completely and totally underrated.

This was my first time reading one of her novels, and now I want to rush out and read her other one, Agnes Grey. I think The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the most prescient, insightful thing I have read in quite some time. Anne Bronte had so much understanding of - well, the human condition, for lack of a better phrase. Alcoholism, destructive behavior, a feminist take on marriage/property rights ... wow! This young woman knew what was up.

The tragedy of the Bronte sisters, of course, is that they died so young. The TB got that family and robbed us of what may have been prolific lengthy lifetimes. Seeing what Anne did before age thirty with Wildfell Hall makes me sad to think we lost all that potential.

I am totally on this Bronte kick of late - having just reread Wuthering Heights and realized it is WASTED on 19-year-olds, and now having discovered this gem, I am also going to be re-reading Jane Eyre in a couple months for one of my book groups. I highly recommend a thirtysomething re-reading of these books. There is so much going on underneath the surface that is downright subversive, with regard to religion, chauvinism, repression of women, and the like.

I am in awe of these women and what they created. I want more.