February was again a slow reading month but I did manage to get three books completed. I really need to step up the pace as I am currently 2 books behind for my reading challenge.
Winter by Christopher Nicholson
As I mentioned last month, Winter is the paring for Tess of the U’Durbervilles for my Literary Pairings bookclub. Winter is about an 82 year old Thomas Hardy (author of Tess) who is in the winter of his life, his second wife Florence, and a young actress Gertude, who Hardy chooses to play Tess in a theater adaptation of his famous book. While a fictional tale the storyline closely adheres to biographical fact as all the characters featured in the book are actual historical figures.
This was an easy and enjoyable book to read. Nicholson has a masterful way of using imagery. I felt completely drawn into the scenes he painted with his words. While the story is told from all three of the main characters point of view, it is Florence who left a lasting impression on me. At times I wanted to shake her but at other times I wanted to give her a hug and a cup of tea and say “come, come dearie”. As one of the members of my bookclub put it, there was the temptation to judge her by modern day standards (hence the shaking).
If you are a Hardy fan I strongly encourage you to add Winter to your TBR list.
1984 by George Orwell
With the current climate here in the US and the world I decided, like so many others, to re-read 1984. I had read it many years ago as a child/teenager and while I remembered the basic premise of the book I realized that I had forgotten a lot of the details.
Set in a dystopian England, 1984 is both political commentary and tragic love story. It is about Winston and Julia who start a much forbidden love affair in an era of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation. They go into this knowing full well that it could only end in disaster when the party finds out.
As I read this book and then turned to the reality that is in the news everyday it is scary to me just how relevant this novel has become. With phrases like alternative facts, mass rounds of immigrants, and the disputing of legitimate news stories which are all so Orwellian.
I think as a child I did not understand all the political and historical references/significance but enjoyed the book for the love story of Winston and Julia, and remembered hoping that it would all work out for them in the end. Alas it was not to be. I completely dismissed the idea that this type of society could ever exist. Little did I know that one day I would be living in a somewhat Orwellian world myself.
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past” – 1984 by George Orwell.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Similar to 1984, this is my second time reading Animal Farm as I had read it as a teenager. Actually it was one of the books that I had to analyze to death in school in the Caribbean. Animal Farm is an allegorical and satirical novel of the soviet communist system during the time of Stalin. Orwell uses the animals to symbolize parts of society and the government during this time.
It was refreshing to read it again just for entertainment and not overthinking every detail. I had actually forgotten how short this book is – 122 pages cover to cover. However, don’t let the lack of pages fool you as Animal Farm is packed with information about the Russian Revolution. The working class, the aristocracy, and the Bolshevik are all represented in Animal Farm by animals and humans. The book to me is also about twisting the truth to achiever your own means and just how the ruling class can use propaganda to control the lower classes. It is also about human nature and how sometimes when you thing you have gotten rid of one evil another raises up to quickly take its place. “Four legs good, two legs better”
Animal Farm also hits close to home as it reminds me a lot of what happened with the revolution in Grenada (where I am originally from) and the eventual events that led up to the American invasion of the island.
Well worth the short time that it takes to read.
Check back in next month to see if my reading has picked up speed and what I picked from my TBR list. Now I wonder, what did Francine read in February.