Book Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

What’s it about?

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship”

Meg is the eldest and on the brink of love. Then there’s tomboy Jo who longs to be a writer. Sweet-natured Beth always puts others first, and finally there’s Amy, the youngest and most precocious. Together they are the March sisters.

Even though money is short, times are tough and their father is away at war, their infectious sense of fun sweeps everyone up in their adventures – including Laurie, the boy next door. And through sisterly squabbles, their happy times and sad ones too, the sisters discover that growing up is sometimes very hard to do.


My thoughts

Well until I chose this recently for my book club choice, I’d not read Little Women.  I chose it based on the BBC TV adaptation that was on over Christmas, because I’d watched it, really enjoyed it and couldn’t believe that I’d never read it.

I know this is a very popular classic and very well thought of and overall I thought it was a sweet read, although somewhat twee!  For me, it’s very heavy character based and for those to work for you as a reader, you need to be heavily invested in those characters.  I loved Jo’s character, although I actually preferred the portrayal of her by Maya Thurman-Hawke in the BBC drama.  I didn’t really take to Amy or Meg at all and often thought Beth was there to make up the numbers.  Although I didn’t love the characters I did find their relationships quite endearing but I know, I’m being a bit harsh on one of the best loved books but it’s only one reader’s thoughts!

Most of the feelings I have for this story ended in frustration.  I’m not gonna worry about spoilers here because surely I am the last person ever, who’s interested, to read it, but why couldn’t Jo end up with Laurie.  If there were ever a pair of fictional characters that were more made for each other then these two, please do share 😉  I was frustrated when Jo forgave Amy about burning her book, I mean, she deserved way more than a few words for that – a proper spoilt brat she is!  And Marmie, what sort of a name is that – so sickly sweet.  One last thing I promise…at the end of most of the chapters I felt like I was preached to “and the moral of this chapter boys and girls is….”.  Maybe it’s best read as a child and not a forty something…. (shrugs shoulders)!

What I did like is how easy this book was to read, considering when it was written, it was pretty easy-going.  I also thought it a little odd, that the author interjects with her own feelings and thoughts, as a total third party to the story.  I had to go back and check what I’d read 🙂

So, yeah, I’m glad I’ve read it and can put a tick in that box but I didn’t think it was one of the best books I’ve read – I’ll be quiet now that I’ve probably stomped all over a lot of people’s favourite book.  You win some, you lose some 🙂

p.s if this is a book for you, the version I bought has some really nice extras at the back: author info, a who’s who, Little Women movies, discussion questions and a glossary (this is very handy!).

Our versions of Little Women


Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author link: Website

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Penguin Classics

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

frankenstein What’s it about?

The Uncensored 1818 Edition FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS, a novel written by the English author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley about the young science student Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment.




My thoughts

Forget everything you think know about the story of Frankenstein and his monster because this is nothing like what you’ll expect it to be….it was nothing like I expected it to be.  I thought I’d be getting a horror movie in a book and what I actually got was something far more genteel.  In some ways I’m glad I didn’t get blood, guts and gore as I don’t like horror movies etc but I thought I might be a little scared or apprehensive but nope, nothing.

I found Victor to be a very highly strung character and somewhat annoying, which didn’t help me to feel sympathetic towards him in his tortured moments (mentally that is….remember no real blood and guts here).  I mean….he creates this ‘monster’, the act of which is skirted over (probably wise considering the era and the questions that in itself would raise) and then proceeds to let it loose and abandon it because it was horrifcally ugly and larger than a normal human….what the hell did he expect? What did he think he was doing and what the result was going to be from procurring body parts from a cemetery?  It was never going to Miss World! 😉

Don’t get me wrong, it does have that dark gothic Interview with a Vampire hiding in shadows feel to it and the language although very of its time is easier to follow than I anticpated but unfortunately it just doesn’t live up to the hype that the movie makers have made of it.  I do appreciate that this isn’t the fault of the book but nonetheless it disappointed me.

Overall my sympathies lay with the monster, this eloquently spoken horrific being who at the end of the day just wanted a friend, a mate of his own kind and isn’t that just what any of us wants!

What did you think of this book? Is there anyone else who hasn’t read it?

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Learn more about Mary Shelley here

Talk of the Town


Book Review: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The MoonstoneWhat’s it about?

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion.




My thoughts

This was our book club read for July and oh my it took me 3 weeks to read, yes 3 WEEKS which is unprecedented.  It wasn’t even because the storyline was dull or boring, I actually found it quite interesting it’s just that to make a very small point in fact, it’s written in such a way that it takes a chapter to get there.  Longwinded is an understatement. I thought it was fairly modern in its language, there’s just so much of it…Miss Marple would probably have had it wrapped up in 200 pages less 😉

On the list as one of the top 100 novels of all time and billed as the first detective novel this is essentially a locked room mystery.  The investigation into the missing diamond is recalled by various narrators; some more enjoyable than others but one big plus is the narrative by the aged butler Betteredge which is class.  I loved the way he addressed the reader, his humour and the way he spins a yarn.  Very clever storytelling.

Ideally, this is a book you need to read when you have plenty of time so you can truly appreciate the story and fully absorb yourself in the language, the setting, the social history and decorum to fully grasp what the author is portraying.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1984What’s it about?

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.

My thoughts

I picked this copy up quite recently from a charity shop as it was a book I’d never read although heard alot about. The first thing I noticed when I opened the book was the pages of solid black print and my heart sank. Before I’d even read a word I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy read.

For most of part one I didn’t quite get what was going on, it took me longer to read than usual and I found myself re-reading parts to fully understand. For example, I didn’t get what they meant by Newspeak and it wasn’t till it was compared to Oldspeak that the penny dropped!

I skipped over the majority of Part 2 and the ins and outs of the Brotherhood’s book; this was real heavy-going philosophical, sociological theories (I think) and was almost like reading a text book and I didn’t feel that it added much to the story.

I liked the parts where Winston and Julia were sneaking around and the element of danger and all that they were risking, and I also liked the majority of Part 3 and was desperately hoping for a different outcome for Winston. I’m still not entirely convinced I understand the end though.

I can appreciate how reading this book over sixty years ago when first published could have been completely terrifying. Almost as shocking as those who heard War of the Worlds on the radio and believed it to be true. Even reading thirty years ago + or maybe even twenty would still have have felt like a shocking and somewhat alarming read but given the world we live in now and how full of technology we are; it didn’t feel as frightening as I suspect it would have.

I know we’re supposed to love classics but unfortunately this book left me underwhelmed. It’s very intelligent and a clever idea for its time highlighted by the fact that key phrases have become incorporated into everyday life; Big Brother, Room 101 etc but parts left me cold.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Learn more about George Orwell here

Jera's Jamboree/Talk of the Town

Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebeccaWhat’s it about?

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage.

Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.


My thoughts

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

My initial thoughts are that I’ve totally missed something with this book! I’ve seen such high praise for this book historically and recently when I’ve updated my Goodreads feed to Twitter and people have commented that it’s their favourite book (you know who you are!). Guys, I’m really sorry but I didn’t get what all the fuss is about. It’s one of those where, for me, if this had been published now, would have been over-hyped.

One of the first things I noticed was that the second Mrs De Winter is never actually referred to by her christian name; not even by her employer or later her husband. I found this a little strange and found myself wondering at what point will we learn our narrator’s name?

From very early on there’s this obsession with Manderley; its lifestyle and what it can offer. But all it presents is an old house, with an aging staff and a haunting without a ghost.

Our narrator, the second Mrs De Winter is young, naive and doesn’t quite fit in at Manderley however I felt this was somewhat her own fault as she let Mrs Danvers walk all over her and almost allowed her to continue with the mind games. She also has an overactive imagination, always imagining the worst case scenarios and conversations.

The book has such a dark, brooding atmospheric cover that that is what I expected from the content, unfortunately, for me, I wasn’t feeling it. I found the first 300 pages incredibly slow and a bit dull. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. However, once Maxim had made his revelation the pace and the tension picked up a lot more and I then raced through the last 130 pages.

Cleo from Cleopatra Loves Books absolutely hit the nail on the head with her comment on my WWW post  “it doesn’t give the instant twists that more modern psychological novels tend to”. But overall, I’m glad I persevered and got through it.

If you want to give it a go, here are the links: Paperback | Kindle

Learn more about the life and books of Daphne du Maurier here