Framley Parsonage

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Framley Parsonage
by Anthony Trollope
This is the book that started the whole readalong. After reading and loving Jo Walton’s “Tooth and Claw” I found out that it’s a retelling of Framley Parsonage using dragons. The entire Chronicles of Barsetshire readalong was started because I was curious how the original novel compared to the dragon-filled version and I’m OCD, so obviously I had to read the first three books in the series before getting to this one.
There are two main plots in the book; the first revolves around the young impetuous clergyman, Mark Robarts and a shady financial decision. He guarantees a bill for an untrustworthy man, which puts his own future in jeopardy. The second plot regards his sister Lucy and the wealthy Lord Lufton who falls for her. Lufton’s mother is opposed to the marriage and Lucy feels that to accept the Lord without his mother’s approval would be wrong.
The strength of the novel lies in its characters’ sincere struggles. We feel for Lucy as she wrestles with her feelings. Our hearts break for Mark Robarts even though we know he made a stupid mistake. Trollope has built a fascinating world within the Barsetshire society and now four books into the series we recognize characters and remember their stories from previous books.
**A few of my favorite SPOILERY scenes:
When Fanny Robarts finds out about her husband’s financial ruin she is beyond kind and patient. She makes it clear to him that no matter what happens, she is on his side. He already feels ashamed and sick for what he’s done and nothing she could have said would have made him regret his actions more. Choosing to show him love and forgiveness in that situation was such a demonstration of strength and compassion. 
I was absolutely giddy over Doctor Thorne’s sweet romance with Martha Dunstable. They were not young, but with the help of his niece they both realized how happy they would be together. His honest-to-a-fault love letter was too funny. It’s never too late to find love. 
BOTTOM LINE: I so enjoyed this one, but I will say I couldn’t help comparing it to “Tooth and Claw” throughout the book. Both are great, but adding dragons to the mix adds a special layer of fun. I love that this novel has more depth and a few additional side plots that the retelling skipped. Mark Robarts character was particularly good, since in “Tooth and Claw” he becomes a straightforward villain. After Doctor Thorne I think this is my favorite of the series so far.

Wordless Wednesday: Ollie Pup

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ollie pup and Junior 

More Wordless Wednesday here.
Photo by moi.

The Book of Ruth

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Book of Ruth
by Jane Hamilton
Ruth lives in a small town with her equally small-minded mother. Her brilliant brother gets out as soon as he graduates from high school, but Ruth seems content to settle into an unhappy oblivion of work at a dry cleaner. In theory Ruth is an interesting character because she is so ordinary. She’s not that smart or pretty or ambitious. She is an average person, one that you meet every day.
The problem in that in her ordinariness there doesn’t seem to be anything new to be said about her. She settles quickly for whatever life hands her, whether it’s a job where her mom works or the first man who expresses and interest in her. Instead of trying to get out from under the thumb of her overbearing mother, she continues to live with her even after she’s married.
I have an incredibly hard time relating to and respecting people like Ruth. She has an awful life, one that she continually complains about, but she does nothing to improve it. I just want to shake her and yell, “You can do better!” She marries Ruby, a man who is basically still a child. He’s lazy and spoiled. He forces himself upon her on their first date, but she decides that’s okay and agrees that taking care of him is her new second job.
The two most interesting characters in my opinion are Ruth’s brother and her aunt, both of whom always remain on the periphery. Both are villainized in some ways, particularly her brother, for working to improve their lives. By the end of the book I just wanted to be finished with all of the horrible characters I’d met.
BOTTOM LINE: I couldn’t stand it. I kept waiting for it to get better or for some lesson to be learned, but it never happened. I stuck with it because it was a book for my book club and I always read those all the way though so I can discuss them.