Vanity Fair by William Thackeray – Readalong Wrap-Up!

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So Vanity Fair has come to an end. And getting to that end had some rather painfully boring bits – not going to lie. In fact, there were chapters that convinced me I would never finish the book, chapters that I literally have no recollection of what happened. But that’s okay because much of Thackeray’s story was superfluous fluff that got lost somewhere along the way for me. I definitely think my main issue was the audio. Not that this particular audio was bad, just that an 800+ page Victorian monstrosity should probably be read if I want to catch all the nuances and details. Lesson learned. Also, SPOILERS.

However, the last 200 pages or so were quite entertaining learning how everyone’s story concluded. I’m glad Amelia finally understood that her marvelous George was a devious rascal and that Dobbin truly loved her. I did get the feeling that by the time they married Dobbin’s feelings had rather cooled towards Amelia though. As for dear, darling Becky, we can only assume that she had some major role in Jos’s death as she continued on with her wily ways. The children, little Rawdon and Georgie, appear to have grown up well enough and hopefully their lives in the Vanity Fair will turn out more honest. But judging how ensconced society still is in the conceit of the Vanity Far some 150+ years later, I sort of doubt it.

In addition to finishing the novel, I also viewed the 2004 film starring Reese Witherspoon. I thought the movie was okay. The casting really intrigued me and turned out fairly perfect. I especially loved Jonathan Rhys Meyer as George Osborne. Perfection. Reese Witherspoon was a good choice for Becky, but Julian Fellows and his fellow script writers dropped the ball on her characterization. They did their best to make her a redeemable character – far less of the wicked little social climber that Thackeray created which bothered me. Do we not watch films with wicked women as lead characters or do we just demand that a wicked woman be getting ahead for reasons we can justify? Can’t she just want a title and money for a title and money’s sake?

I compared Becky Sharp to Moll Flanders throughout my entire time with her. I love Moll Flanders something fierce, even the movie adaptations. For this reason, I think my love for Becky Sharp could never surpass a trifle fondness. Without a doubt, a marvelous character and Vanity Fair’s best, but I didn’t embrace her quite as much as Moll.

Do I recommend this book to fellow readers? If you love Victorian literature and can deal with myriad side plots and large families with the same name – YES! Otherwise, good luck! I’m immensely glad I read Thackeray’s supposed masterpiece but have a feeling the details will fade over time. Now that you’ve read my ridiculous blunderings, head over to Melissa’s blog for the official wrap up post! And a huge thank you to Trish and Melissa for hosting!



Vanity Fair Readalong: Midway Check-In

Vanity Fair Button

At least it’s midway for some lovely folks! I, however, have fallen a bit behind, or rather I got a late start. I set aside the audio of IT in order to spend all my time listening to Vanity Fair in a desperate attempt to reach the finish line on time. Despite my slight failure at the midway point, I’m fairly positive I’ll finish up along with everyone else. For the sake of this update, I’m on chapter 29 when we should have read through chapter 34 – not too shabby! So what do I think so far?

There are far too many people named Crawley. And no one has a first name so they are impossible to follow. I feel like audio makes this even more difficult for some reason. Or maybe my mental capacities just fall short when I don’t have words to stare at.

Our two protagonists – Amelia and Becky – are interesting opposites who play well against each other. I don’t particularly like either of them, but look forward to seeing where their separate plots will take them. I’m also enjoying Amelia’s growing disdain for Becky and eagerly anticipate someone bitch slapping Becky soonish.

As for the men, I don’t even know what to think. Honestly, most of them bore me to tears and I’d marry not a single one of the bunch.

What keeps me going in Thackeray’s little story are the plot twists. While I haven’t encountered too many as of yet, the ones I have stumbled upon only promise more delicious delights in the near future. I can feel a trembling underfoot – something insanely wicked is sure to happen soon and I wouldn’t be opposed to this or that character biting the dust. With old Boney and the Battle of Waterloo quickly approaching our strapping young men, I predict bloodshed and weeping women soon enough. Is it wrong to look forward to this?

To be completely honest, Vanity Fair hasn’t lured me in like many other Victorian novels. I’m feeling rather lost in the minute details that don’t seem to matter much, the headache of remembering one Crawley from another, and this overwhelming feeling that none of it matters.  Hopefully, a turning point will come soon and I’ll race through the latter half of the novel.

If you want to join along in the discussion, it’s never too late! Just hop on over to Trish’s or Melissa’s blog and get chatty! They are our fine hosts for this readalong and pretty much group read experts at this point! Now I better get back to the Fair!!

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

10931946Horses! Again! Not a fan. I don’t know what a horse did to me in a previous life, but the only horsey thing I can think of that I’ve loved in the past 29 years is Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken – remember that movie? My aunt used to take us horseback riding when we were little and I was never impressed. Perhaps Mr. Ed had something to do with it – I hated that show.

Anyway, I had a copy of Black Beauty growing up (who didn’t?), but I never read the thing due to my horse aversion. I would hold it, smell it, and generally love it – but no reading about the horse inside was allowed. A strange child – absolutely. And to be honest, the only reason I bought the book as an adult is because it was part of the Penguin Threads editions. I feel like I should write Penguin a letter now and thank them profusely for providing the proper incentive to read a book about a horse.

Black Beauty tells the story of a horse living life in England during the Victorian era. I was surprised to learn that the narration is told by Black Beauty himself! Getting into a horse’s mind was quite fascinating and even I crumbled a bit under his trials and tribulations. Beauty goes through many owners – some wonderful, many wicked – and learns much about the ways of humans and horses alike. Seeing humanity through his eyes was somehow more powerful, more engaging, and extremely more damning than through ordinary human eyes. You’ll be hard-pressed not to shed a few tears at Beauty’s ending, even if you have been known to turn a cold shoulder to these beautiful, majestic creatures.

Sewell’s writing is nothing less than lyrical. Every so often, I did find myself slogging through some of the more obvious preachy moments about such things as bearing reigns and the like. Characters would have conversations entirely devoted to making a rather bland point about how to rightly treat a horse. I’d sooner have seen these ideas depicted through the novel’s actions rather than repeatedly summed up through dialogue. But I know Sewell’s intentions weren’t necessarily to write a masterpiece, but instead to bring light to a troubling problem.

I also found Sewell’s rainbow of human characters well done. Yes, many are morally upright and well behaved and others are downright cruel – fairly black and white. But she also populates her story with all the in-between which always makes for more convincing moral tales in my own opinion.

Don’t let the horse keep you away from this story! It was lovely and a great book to share with a child you know and love. So many important lessons, fun characters, and a swiftly plotted pace can only make this book the beloved classic known and beloved by so many over the past decades. Spending an afternoon with Black Beauty was time more than well spent!


cropped-classicsclub3I’m on a roll with my Classics Club reads this year! How about you?

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

8240080The Bronte sisters are some of my favorite writers EVER, but I had never read anything by Anne until this reading of Agnes Grey. It’s my first Classics Club read of 2013 and a superb way to begin my classics reading list for this year.

Agnes is a young women born into a family of good standing, but lack of money. Her mother was once a Lady, but married out of love instead of proper social climbing etiquette. When her family’s monetary situation begins to worsen and her father’s health to decline, Agnes goes in search of governess positions to save her family or at least make their lives a little easier. She’s met with spoiled children and a solitary life until she meets a clergyman she can’t stop thinking about!

Anne’s writing, at least in my opinion, is the perfect combination of both Emily and Charlotte. Her prose is perhaps more simplistic (like Emily’s) and straightforward, while her subject matter mirrors Charlotte’s a great deal. Once you’ve taken the supernatural, spooky undertones of Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre out of the equation, you’re left with a lovely story of a young woman’s coming-of-age, some social commentary, and the common marriage plot.

There’s nothing overly complex about Agnes Grey with the entire plot and characterizations being grounded in realism and concision, but Agnes was a joy to meet among the pages. Her descriptions of the wild heathen children she taught were bitterly humorous at times and the sense of her own loneliness was often heartbreaking. Many readers criticize Agnes’s ‘goody-goody perfection’ and believe that she lacks development. I tend not to agree – I love her struggling with her affections and attractions for the first time, her often unpleasant thoughts and emotions towards her pupils, and can see her underlying struggle to remain the upright and moral woman her parents have raised her to be.

If you’re new to Victoria literature, Anne Bronte would be a superb introduction to her more flowery sisters and other writers of the time. The story is short and sweet and offers a gentle first glimpse of mid-nineteenth century England. Anne is a protagonist that we’d all like to be friends with and who we root for against the nasty little sprites that only hope to see her fail!

I wish Anne had lived much longer (she died at 29) because as a writer she could only have grown more focused, mature, and amazing. She and her sisters are very deserving of your attention and I’m so very close to having read all their novels! Add them to your classics list if you haven’t already!


cropped-classicsclub3First Classics Club read of 2013! I’m off to a great start.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

11030772You guys, I loved this book as a little girl.  The Secret Garden was my Narnia.  That gate in the wall was my magical wardrobe.  Both the 1993 movie and the book were just like comfort blankets.  And re-reading 20 or so years later was an absolute treat – especially during this holiday season.  Cozy, warm, and filled with childhood nostalgia.

The plot is fairly simple.  A young, spoiled, and completely neglected child loses her parents to illness in India and moves back to Britain to live with her uncle.  As she’s adapting to life on the moor, she meets Dickon – an almost magical boy who communes with animals – and discovers an invalid cousin hidden away in a dusty old corridor bedroom.  The three children, plus one old gardener, spend the spring and summer coming back to life again in a garden that has been locked away for an entire decade.  LOVE IT.

Burnett writes beautifully and her imagery leaps from the pages.  I could feel the sunshine soaking into the grass, smell the newly sprung foliage and bountiful flowers, and hear the birds chirping as they built their nests.  In contrast, the dark, aging house was just as tangible.  I loved the the juxtaposition of the lively outdoors and stillness of the manor’s interiors.  Such a great setting and atmosphere.

The story, while rather basic, was still heartwarming and peaceful.  Yes, the ending is fairly saccharine, but charming none-the-less.  Children’s books need to end happily-ever-after and with the idea that anything can happen – that magic is all around – and that the natural world has great value and healing powers.  How many kids even know what a garden is any more?

The characters are lively and fun, frustrating and pitiable without being victims.  Mary Lennox is a little devil who becomes so much more; Dickon is fantastical and such a stereotype bending boy; Colin proves that children are impressionable and unbelievably determined at the same time.  Even all the adults are an absolute delight.

I highly recommend revisiting The Secret Garden if you’ve forgotten this long lost best friend.  And if you’ve never found your way to Burnett’s magical world, you’re in for a treat!  A great novel to read in winter and dream about the coming spring!  And everyone deserves the Penguin Threads edition because I suppose it is as gorgeous as the garden it harbors!


cropped-classicsclub3Another one bites the dust!!


October Meetup: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Litwits met Sunday at Katherine’s house and had a lovely time discussing Hurston’s classic novel.  We may have had too much fun and gotten a little wild with our post-book convo!  Always a pleasure to share laughter with these ladies and it’s what makes the group so fabulous.  Can”t wait to celebrate 2 years next month!

Anyway – the book.  TEWWG was not unanimously loved!  I was shocked because it’s one of my favorite books of all time, but some of our group were really able to critique it well.  For those who weren’t as enamored, they tended to see Janie as a very week protagonist – a woman who needed a man to help her make all her decisions and someone who didn’t have much of a backbone – someone who just kind of let stuff happen to her.  We had a great debate about whether Janie was actually a strong, independent woman or not – with much discussion about the time period, racial issues, feminism, and the ultimate war of free will v. nature.  We sounded quite brilliant, to be sure!  And the next time I read Janie’s story, I’ll be looking at her a bit closer!

Also debated was Janie’s relationship with each of her three husbands and what idea of happiness they represented.  She had stability, then prestige and money, and finally love and passion.  All three things are said to bring happiness and yet only her final marriage of love and passion with Teacake seemed to actually accomplish anything resembling that happiness.  And even then, most members weren’t thrilled with Janie and Teacake’s relationship at all.  He did, after all, hit her.

What we all agreed on was how beautiful Hurston’s prose reads.  She’s an amazing writer and was able to pack so much literary beauty into such a small novel.  For her turn of phrase alone, everyone seemed to believe the novel was worth reading.  Hurston’s own life was also discussed in great detail – she has a very interesting back history!

The rest of our evening was filled with wine, giggles, babies, and Vin Diesel.  We were loud, crude, and had the best time.  Our new members were lovely and we hope y’all come back!  We’ve also come to realize that certain topics constantly find their way into every meetup – Twilight, fanfiction, and – wait for it – horse porn!  Can’t wait ’til next month!


Another successful Classics Club book down!

North and South Read-A-Long: Week Four – The Grand Finale

Y’all, I’m sitting here trying to find something to say about the ending of the story and I got nothin’.

Pa Hale’s death was so sudden and random.  I kind of wanted him to get hit by a train or something at the end, ya know?

And then Mags goes back to London to have all of the BORING times.  Seriously, the worst part of the novel for me.  Nothing happens in the hustle and bustle of London.  She begins to miss Milton.

Edith was such a little twit – ‘Oh, you don’t love me as much as I love you, Mags!’ – as she proceeds to pout on the sofa for the remainder of the day.

Also, Mr. Bell felt like a creeper to me.  Like he wanted him some Mags in all the wrong kind of ways.  The mini-series amplifies this.  Their trip back to Helstone was uneventful.  Mags just sees how imperfect Helstone is and misses Milton again.  Absence = heart fonder and all that jazz.

Then poor Mr. Thornton loses the mill!  But wait!  His landlady is Mags thanks to Mr. Bell’s demise.  She’ll cut him a deal and let him stay on as master – of her and the mill, kinky!  The End.  The finale felt anti-climactic, no?

As for the mini-series, I’m fairly certain I just drooled over Richard Armitage while somewhere in my subconscious knowing that the BBC had done an amazing job.  Mr. Bates as Higgins!  Cinematography was also superb – especially the scenes in the mill with all the cotton fluff flying around – gorgeous and deadly.  The music was hypnotically beautiful as well…but maybe I’m confusing it with ol’ Richard.  I liked the girl who played Mags and I think I liked her character more in the mini-series.  And the train station scene at the end, YES. PLEASE.  So much better than the book’s ending, but that’s to be expected.

Overall, North and South was a very enjoyable reading experience.  I must admit, however, that Wives and Daughters is still my favorite Gaskell so far.  I’ve year to read Cranford or any of her other works.  Still, I’d recommend Mags’s story to anyone who enjoys Victorian literature or really wants a great depiction of how England was affected by the Industrial Revolution.  Gaskell has a real knack for dialogue and killing nearly all of her characters.  This book would have been a better zombie re-write than P&P.

Ok – I’m still half asleep and have rambled long enough.  None of the above thoughts really showcase any sort of intellectual reading of North and South.  It’s just too much of a Monday for all that!  Now for some lovely imagery:

Another Classics Club title finished! To see the first three posts on North and South, head to these links:

(Week One)(Week Two)(Week Three)

North and South Read-A-Long: Week Three

Week three has come to an end and we only have one more week ’til the grand finale!  Let’s begin by discussing Frederick, shall we?

The great and wondrous long, lost (criminal) brother has returned to England and his mother’s bedside.  If Frederick is found by the wrong peeps, straight to jail and certain death he goes.  In the meantime, his family reunion initially pissed me off.  Within mere moments of seeing Margaret after 8 years, he criticizes her for being clumsy.  She’s trying to bring him refreshments and the only thing he can do is make her feel even more awkward and silly?  I wanted to strangle him.  Then Ma Hale dies and it gets worse.  The whole house breaks down with Pa Hale and Frederick bawling non-stop and being no help whatsoever to Mags.  They all inform her that she is the strong one and must take care of everything – all the funeral arrangements because they can’t handle their sorrow.  I almost stopped reading.

Her family is nuts.

Anyway, eventually Frederick gets over himself and gives Mags a rest.  Thank God.  And I started to like him a bit better. Perhaps he was just boat-lagged or something?  Then he kills the man who knows his identity by accidentally/intentionally pushing him off the train depot’s ledge.  I liked him even more despite the fact that murder wasn’t his intention.  And Mags lies to the Police!  Go Mags!  But Mr. Thornton saves her from having to deal with the Police further – ah, love!   Oh, and Mags sends Frederick to see her jilted Mr. Lennox to see about solving his mutiny problems.  I should probably say something smart about Frederick’s mutiny mimicing the recent uprising and labor strike in Milton, but my head hurts.

And what about Mr. Thornton?  What’s he been up to?  Not much.  He attends Ma Hale’s funeral, but Mags doesn’t even know it!  It’s that perfect rom-com moment where they just miss each other – except that it’s at a funeral.  Thornton then spies her with her brother in the bushes?  Am I wrong about the bushes part because that was saucy?  He suspects she’s with a lover and gets all jealous.  Doesn’t he?  Sometimes I interpret the situation in my own way.

Boucher the douche is dead!  He’s committed suicide by drowning in a couple of inches of dirty water.  Lovely way to go, Boucher.  Mr. Higgins, who I’ve come to admire, has decided to help Boucher’s widow and children and take care of them in the wake of Boucher’s untimely demise.  Boucher couldn’t handle the pressure of being King Douche and trying to play both sides – support the Union, deny the Union.  Side note:  the description of his dead body was disturbing as was Mags putting her handkerchief over his bloated face.

What else, what else?  I enjoyed the discussion between the Hales and Mr. Higgins when he explains to them he wants to go South and find work.  The idea that the South could possibly have just as many hardships for non-Southerners as the North does for non-Northerners was insightful for Mags.  I believe this is a breakthrough in her prejudice.  I see her walls crumbling.  She also craved attention from Mr. Thornton and missed him just a smidge – all progress.

So, despite lots of things happening this section still felt peculiarly devoid of major progress.  I’m looking forward to the finale 30% of the novel and seeing where our characters end up.  I’m liking Mags a bit more now and hope everything comes together for her.  And for Mr. Higgins too!  He’s got a big discussion with Mr. Thornton coming up that will probably be a MAJOR deal for our plot progression.  Can’t wait!

Edit: I didn’t finish reading the section!  And I didn’t realize it until now!  I only read through Chapter 37, not 39.  Dammit.

North and South Read-A-Long: Week Two

I forced myself to slow down my reading this week and not finish chapter 27 on Wednesday, which I completely wanted to do!  This section just had so much more rising action and climactic events, no?  Also, the reading was bookended by two deaths – well, one was only foretold – Mrs. Hale and Bessy Wiggins.

So Margaret’s mom is going to die and she really doesn’t want anyone but Dixon to know.  But darling daughter won’t be put off and forces the good doctor to explain the truthfulness of her mother’s condition.  All agree not to tell Mr. Hale who eventually finds out anyway – I mean, she only has a few weeks to live.  Does Mrs. Hale truly believe her husband can’t handle the truth or is this some kind of payback for his keeping her in the dark about quitting the Church and moving to Milton?  Either way, Margaret’s always in the middle, playing liaison between her parents.  It’s almost as if she’s the parent and they the children.  I think this role creates a hardness in Margaret that otherwise might not exist and even gives birth or motivation to her lack of tact.  Her parents are so wishy-washy and always want to hide the truth or require Margaret to relate bad news that it’s no wonder she doesn’t have a tactful bone in her body.

The most physically climactic event was the strike and the altercation at the Thornton residence.  The factory workers have left Milton’s mills quiet desiring the wage they were paid two years past.  The factory owners are having hard times due to competition from America and have lowered wages.  When the workers go on strike, Mr. Thornton hires a group of Irish immigrants to replace those on strike.  Obviously, this doesn’t go well and the replaced Englishmen and women show up at his door a bit blood thirsty.  Both sides are villains and victims alike.  The labor dispute is no black and white matter.  Businesses can only exist by turning profits and workers can only survive by putting food on the table.  It’s almost as if there really is no solution to this problem.

And Margaret is once again caught in the middle.  She listens to the plight of dear, upstanding Bessy Higgins who is near death – her factory job literally having killed her due to terrible work conditions.  And yet, she brazenly stands between Mr. Thornton and the angry mob getting a rather nasty head wound to defend his rights as mill owner.  And I love that Margaret totally copped a feel, boldly throwing her arms around Mr. Thornton’s neck so publicly.  I was good and properly scandalized!  I also kind of chuckled at her head wound caused by the ‘pebble’.  Seriously?

Of course, the major result of the angry mob is that Mr. Thornton has now decided that he can no longer live without his precious Margaret who has never offered him a kind word.  But since she thrust her body up against his, it’s only proper that he propose marriage.  Mrs. Thornton’s heart is broken because she will no longer be her son’s number one beloved woman.  Entirely creepy.  Margaret refuses his proposal.  She’s offended by his proposal.  Someone explain this to me please?  What is wrong with this girl?  In a modern day novel, I’d swear she was a lesbian.  She wants Mr. Thornton to believe she would have acted the same way for any poor mongrel when faced with certain bodily harm by way of belligerent factory workers?  Snort.

And lastly, Bessy takes her last breath.  RIP Bessy Wiggins.  Your life was hard, but your faith persisted until the bitter end.  Your last dying wish was only to be buried in something of Margaret’s.  And that’s not disturbing at all.  Who else was offended that Dixon wanted to give the poor, dead girl something shabby?

A few minor observations:

Boucher – is this guy a douche or is it just me?

Frederick – what is so special about him?  Why do Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Thornton have such bias towards their sons?

I felt so much for Mr. Thornton when he takes that basket of fruit to Mrs. Hale.  Loved that he didn’t pay Margaret any attention.

Margaret still annoys me.

Excited to begin next week’s reading!  We’re halfway to the finish line and things are getting exciting.  Will Margaret ever learn how to say yes to a marriage proposal?  Will she find another female companion to call friend?  Does Mrs. Hale die before Frederick finds his way home?

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Y’all know I love Nathaniel Hawthorne.  He’s just so much fun with his creepy, over-the-top, supernatural symbolism.  And The Scarlet Letter is the perfect example of this.  I last joined Hester Prynne on her 7 years journey with the embroidered ‘A’ upon her breast my junior year of high school.  A lot has changed in my life since then – not so much for Hester.

The low-down?  We meet Hester as she’s released from jail and made to stand in all her shame upon the town scaffold as the curious townsfolk stare at her – for three hours.  She stands tall and proud, red ‘A’ blazing brightly in the sun, and her little babe held tightly in her arms.  You see, Hester has been naughty – she’s mothered a child (the elfish Pearl!) out of wedlock.  The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale begs her to name the man and co-conspirator in her wicked dance between the sheets.  Hester refuses and spends the next seven years bearing her ignominy boldly.  Meanwhile, her husband – the delightfully renamed Roger Chillingworth – has reappeared in time to become the deviously twisted, yet altogether neighborly physician to his newest pal, Rev. Dimmesdale.  All the while Pearl dances devilishly in the sunlight.

Hester’s a cool, hip-hip lady.  Too hip for Puritan New England.  I love her as a protagonist and a woman you can really put your faith into.  She doesn’t let the symbolic letter upon her chest keep her down.  She almost embraces her punishment – ornately embroidering the ‘A’ to stand in stark contrast to the bleakness of her clothing.  Before long, the ‘A’ sheds its obvious allusion to adultery and instead comes to symbolize the idea of ‘Able’.  She’s the sort of Scarlett O’Hara of her time.

In contrast, I never have much time for old Dimmesy.  He lets his shame and horror of fathering little Pearl cripple him.  He who wears his ‘A’ in secret lets the weight of all its meaning beat him down until he’s knocking on death’s door, literally.  The Reverend is a weak character and not very interesting.  Roger, as his counterpart, is far more intriguing in all his EVIL.

And then there’s little Pearl.  She functions mostly as a symbol of all the SEX.  She’s the personification of Hester and Arthur’s sin.  I prefer to see her as a symbol of freedom and advancement.  She’s also kind of crazy.

But the real question?  Should you read The Scarlet Letter?  Um..yeah.  Of course you should, silly!  Hawthorne’s tale is overwrought with literary devices – mostly symbolism.  Everything is a symbol.  The forest, the ‘A’, Pearl, the scaffold, the town…yada, yada, yada.  Can you see a drinking game forming here?  On top of all the metaphors, there’s an underlying current of magical realism that’s a crowd pleaser and who doesn’t love a good scandal?  If you find yourself pouring over the current tragic happenings between K.Stew and R.Patz, you’ll love this novel!  And yes, you might have to warm up a bit to Hawthorne’s richly layered prose and powerhouse vocab, but you’ll come out a winner who’s read the word ‘ignominy’ more times than anyone else you know!

Kidding aside, The Scarlet Letter is a classic for a reason.  After all these years, you can still find parallels to our societal norms and rules.  Just think of Hester’s time upon the scaffold the same way you think of K.Stew’s million pictures of shame in everyone tabloid right now.  We still grapple with the sourness of infidelity and how to go about punishing such a crime.  Or is it a crime?  Should K.Stew stand with her head held high or shudder in fear?  Do we hee and haw over adultery or still hold it as a serious crime?  Should there be legal ramifications?  What about the undertones of female sexual liberation?  After all, despite the fact that Hawthorne keeps the deets decidedly vague, we can put together that Hester married the artist formerly known as Mr. Prynne, not out of love, but out of a need to secure her ability to eat and have shelter over her head.  Why couldn’t she just wait and marry for love and have all the lovely sexy times she could stand?  And then you have to question, was R.Patz really just not that good in bed?

Go forth and judge for yourself!


My first Classics Club read is in the bag!  One down, 74 more to go!