Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Forsyte Saga (73rd Book)

It took me quite a few months to read The Forsyte Saga, but I really enjoyed it. The funniest thing is that I couldn't tell you why. I didn't find the novel terribly enlightening. I don't feel like a better person for having read it, the themes of property and beauty didn't catch me but the book is highly interesting. I think it is because the characters are so fascinating. The Forsyte Saga follows the Forsyte family from the great patriarchs to the younger generation. The younger generation is struggling as returns on investments get less and less. The debate throughout the novel is about the value of owning property houses, women and things like art. The younger generation begins to realize that not all your worth can come from the things that you own.

Here are few of the interesting characters:

June Forsyte- one of the young Forsyte's who is a gilted lover. Her lover is stolen by one of her cousin's wives and she remains a spinster who likes to take on "lame ducks" in the form of up and coming artists.

Soames Forsyte- married to Irene who doesn't love him and marries him out of need. She is eventually has an affair with June Forsyte's fiancé and leaves Soames. He is a cold, lost man who can't understand why he is not loved. He is interested in things of beauty and collects pictures, but is thoroughly immersed in the need to own property. He wants an heir more than anything else to make his life and money worth something.

Jolyon Forsyte- a man who has an affair and marries a maid who he loves. For some reason he is lovable even though he leaves his wife. He has children called Holly and Jolly and leads a content life even though he is excommunicated from the family. He is almost the anti man of property. He eventually takes Irene under his wings when Soames begins to haunt her and attempt to get her back. He is truly in love with her and they have a happy life after the death of his second wife

There are several more members of the family but those were the most interesting to me. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters and even went so far as to start watching the BBC miniseries on Netflix. It was an interesting  show, but life got to busy so I never finished it.

I would highly recommend this novel as one of the most fascinating novels about character. None of the characters are flat in this novel, and you really get to see what makes them tick.

The Big Sleep (72nd Book)

I started and stopped The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler twice before I was finally able to make it all the way through. I am not sure why I had such a hard time with it, but I certainly did. I read this book out of a vintage crime compilation. I am hoping to use the book for my wedding décor which is vintage book themed, and thought that I would like to be done both The Big Sleep and Rebecca in it before I used as table décor on the off chance one of my guests walks off with it. I was excited to realize that the book was a Philip Marlowe book. I spent the summer before I started dating my fiancé solo camping and listening to vintage crime radio plays on my ipod was one of the ways that I filled my time. Philip Marlowe plays were always some of my favourite.

I think part of the trouble with getting into this novel is that you are thrown into the middle of a job he is on and you have to piece together who he is and what is going on. Crime Noir novels are interesting because the private detectives are as much a part of the seedy underworld crime that they try to solve. Their methods are often dubious and they  themselves usually have a very obvious flaw that  makes them rough around the edges. Marlowe is still loveable despite the fact that he is rough around the edges.

This book is a great example of Crime Noir genre. It was hard to get into, but in the end enjoyable. If you haven't listened to a radio play before I highly recommend checking out one of the Philip Marlowe stories on itunes. I believe they are free to download.

Neuromancer (71st Book)

Despite being in the middle of planning a wedding, I have ticked a few books off of my list. It helps that I was trying to get rid of a few books that I knew I wouldn't want to keep once I read them. Neuromancer was one of these items. I picked the book up at our local used book store, complete with a resident cat. The book was three dollars. It was a very interesting read although I can't say that I loved it. The concept was interesting, and it represented cyber space very well. The book is full of slang and jargon for the world that William Gibson created. Despite most of the words not having any real meaning you are able to figure out what he is talking about most of the time. Words like "deck", "jack in", and "ice" are littered throughout the book. It is very much like the Matrix of the 80s. The characters occasionally struggle to separate the real world from the alternate one. The book follows Case, a computer cowboy who no longer has the ability to access cyberspace because of a job gone wrong. In a fit of depression, he is residing in the real world  underground doing drugs, and slumming around when a mysterious man, Armitage promises to fix his problem if he will successfully complete a job for him.

The novel has aspects of crime noir fiction in that it follows a flawed, but loveable character into the seedy underground where it is hard to tell who is on the good side and who is on the bad.  I feel like the target audience for this book is probably young adult males. Although the book was interesting for me I think that a lot of the charm and deep enjoyment of this novel belongs to men in particular and young adult males especially. It has a rougher feel to it, and also would have appeal for youth or young adults who are struggling to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their life.

I would recommend this read, even though it is not in danger of becoming my favourite book. I can tell that it is a one of a kind read, and that although it feels somewhat dated, it is also able to stand the test of time.