Dracula by: Bram Stoker
Challenges: TBR 2008, Eponymous Challenge
Published: 1897 (Bantam Classic 1981)
# of pages: 413
Quote: ". . . you have given me hope - hope, not in what I am seeking of, but that there are good women still left to make life happy - good women , whose lives and whose truths may make good lesson for the children that are to be." -Van Helsing p. 198
Ladies and gentlemen!! Here it is, the long awaited Dracula post! It's been several weeks, but things have been crazy in my life so I just now finished the book. Stoker's novel can be summed up as: There's a reason it's a classic.
I was fascinated about how this was the first big vampire book. Stoker created something that everyone still knows today, over 100 years later. I was also impressed about how many of the traditional vampire myths are found in this book. I expected the book to be quite a bit different, but vampires are still unable to endure garlic, crucifixes, holy water, and the sound of prayers, just like they are in most other books and movies.
The thing that impressed me the most, however, was the fact that this book is not nearly as hokey as I expected from all of the movies and the modern image of Count Dracula. I expected the book to be fake or at least silly, but I found that it was much more believable than I every thought it would be and even scary in some parts. I actually had a nightmare one night that featured vampires! It wasn't too scary to read, but there were parts where I almost dreaded what would happen next.
One thing that confused me in the book - I was so surprised that the wolves and vampires are friends. I've always seen movies and books where vampires and werewolves are enemies and thought that has always been the way they were portrayed. But in Dracula the wolves work with and seem to be controlled by the vampires. If anyone knows more about this topic please let me know!
I loved the 2 women characters, Lucy and Mina. In some ways they were your typical damsel in distress, but Mina at least had a key part in the outcome of the book. Her male companions may very well have been unable to accomplish their goal without her. Van Helsing says she has a "man's brains" at one point. Of course this is ridiculous, she has a woman's brains, but it is most likely how the average man in the late 1800s would think of a woman like Mina. Lucy was passive, but she still endured bravely and I feared for her life at times and was pulling for her to make it through. The men are also interesting characters and although they step up and become tough men, there are many times that they almost seem silly and clueless. There's a good balance between the men's and women's roles in the book.
The forward in the Bantam Classic edition (don't read the forward before you read the novel, it's a spoiler!) discussed sexuality found throughout the novel. I can very much imagine writing a paper on this! The movie Dracula that stars Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves, definitely elaborates this. However, the book is very subtle on this topic, just as it is in most of the classics, and it can be argued how sexual Stoker intended some of the scenes to be.
I think this is a must read just because the character Dracula is so popular and misunderstood in today's world. It's also fascinating if you enjoy other vampire books which reference the many vampire myths and themes in this - the most ultimate vampire book of all time.
Dracula by: Bram Stoker
Near Little Italy in New York City on March 5, 2008. This was one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. I never found out what the building was, but we were near Little Italy and Chinatown.
The Winter Rose by: Jennifer Donnelly
# of pages: 707
Quote: "You do not choose love. Love chooses you." - Mrs. Moskowitz p. 250
I started reading this book 2 weeks ago and just now finished. It was a little too long for my taste, I feel like Donnelly should have made it into 2 separate books or left out some of the side stories (mainly the one about Seamie and Willa).
The Winter Rose is mainly a story about India Selwyn-Jones, who is one of the first female doctors in London in 1900. She forges ahead despite the odds against her, fighting criticism, ignorance, poverty, and her past. India is an excellent character, I just wish she had a different name. Her name doesn't match with the time the book is written or her social status (she's from an ancient and wealthy family). I know it's weird, but it really kept me from getting into the book. I felt like Donnelly just liked that name (it is a neat name for a modern time period) and so gave it to the main character instead of finding a name that matches the character. Plus there's the fact that it sounds very familiar to me..... Dr. Indiana Jones...Dr. India Jones.... hhmmm. All of the other characters have names that you would really find in England in the early 1900s, which makes India's name even more out of place.
Also, I didn't think it was necessary to completely recap Fiona's past story. I'm assuming The Tea Rose is mainly about her and Joe. Basically I know her complete story from The Winter Rose. I think it's ok to read some of her background, but not her entire story. Also, I have a feeling her next book will be The Mountain Rose and will concentrate on Willa and Seamie. There really wasn't a reason to go into Willa's story in this novel. I kept waiting for her to meet up with India and be the reason she goes back into medicine. Instead, Donnelly leaves the reader completely hanging on what happens to Willa and therefore makes Willa's story pointless in this book.
In spite of the misfits in the story, I still enjoyed India's adventures and reading about her medical career. I also liked the character Sid and his adventures in crime. There were several fairly graphic sex scenes and a lot of bad langauge (Sid is a crime lord, that's pretty accurate on how he and his cohorts would speak). It was good enough for me to read The Tea Rose someday and whatever other books Donnelly comes out with in the future because I do enjoy her writing style and thought this novel's storyline was original and full of surprises. Just when I thought I had something figured out, things would happen in a totally different way. That's exactly what I like in a book.
Back When We Were Grownups by: Anne Tyler
# of pages: 328
Quote: "Her dream was the kind that lingered, coloring the whole morning. Bits of it rose like dust from her pillows when she plumped them -- a sense of travel, a sense of longing." -Rebecca p. 30
Back When We Were Grownups follows Rebecca as she embarks on a mental journey to discover who she really is -- at 53 years of age. She has her ups and downs as she moves from daydreaming about what could have been to actively searching for her past. The reader shares her ups and downs. Sometimes it's funny how light-headed she becomes while she daydreams or kids around in order to spread cheer to her mixed up family. Other times it's depressing to read how she struggles to find her identity and how she feels lost in her own family.
The character of Rebecca reminds me of myself at times. She over-analyzes more than she should, she pushes herself too hard and always tries to make others comfortable even when she's not. I feel like saying, "Take a break! You don't have to try so hard." But then I understand how she feels and know that if she didn't try to put on a happy face she would feel guilty. I enjoyed the honesty of the novel. Rebecca is having a sort of mid-life crisis, something that happens to a lot of middle aged people. However, sometimes the honesty was a little scary. I hope I don't feel that way about my life when I am 53, but I know that I might and hopefully I can make it ok.
There were times, especially towards the end, that this book really made me feel depressed. I was reading it after a long and stressful day, so maybe that was why I felt like I was constantly holding back tears while I was reading. It kind of ruined the end of the book for me, but I'm not sure everyone would be affected the same way. It was an easy read, a book that I could put down and pick up often without losing track of the storyline. It wasn't overly exciting, but it has a lot of depth and was well-written. It would be good to read for a book club and discuss the many themes that can be found throughout the story.
New York City was amazing! That's all I can say to describe it. I'm back and surprised that I only finished one book while I was away. I read most of it on the subway when I would meet my husband for lunch every day. He was taking a class at the lowest tip of Manhattan and I would leave the hotel a few blocks south of Times Square to meet him for lunch and most days I met him after his class was over so we could fit in as much sight-seeing as possible while it was still light outside.
I'm leaving to go to NYC with Matt really early tomorrow morning. I'll be gone until Friday night which means I won't be blogging at all this week. But I will be reading a lot of books on the trip to write about on here and I will have lots of pictures for future Travelin' Thursdays. I hope everyone has a good week and I look forward to seeing what everyone else has posted when I return.
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