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Weekly Reads: Week 10

Hello friends! Thank you for visiting Vivacious Reads, and I hope you’ll visit again soon!

Each week I’ll be sharing short reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

There’s nothing better than a classic novel in the springtime. Last week I caved to my impulses and finished two I’ve been meaning to read for a while. But I might have gone too far this time, considering both picks are packed with marital intrigues.

This week, I’ll be working on The Passage by Justin Cronin. I’ve heard a lot of hype about it, but had no idea it was so LONG. Luckily, Easter is coming up and I have an extra week with my library copy because of the holiday!

What have you been reading lately?

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The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans is beautifully and simply written. No fancy words, just ordinary everyday characters thrown into a desperate situation. Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabel keep a lighthouse on a small island off the coast of Australia. Isolated and devastated after a series of miscarriages, Isabel persuades Tom to keep the mysterious babe that has washed ashore. But their secret cannot be kept forever, as their new-found happiness has caused great loss for another.

As a reader, I was easily overcome with emotion as the novel flashes back to the heart-wrenching aftermath of Isabel’s final miscarriage, just as she falls in love with the new child. I felt for Isabel, and for Tom who, against his better judgement, put their life in jeopardy by falling prey to her persuasions. It was truly a novel I never wanted to end, but all stories come to an end and a final decision must be made.

Rating: 5 stars

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Laurence

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a surprisingly explicit story of sexual revolution. A young wife, Lady Chatterley, desperately awaits her husband’s return from the war, only to find that he has become paralyzed from the waist down. As her resentment over his inability to have children grows, her family and friends repeatedly try to persuade her to have an affair (it just wouldn’t be right to leave the girl a virgin the rest of her life!). Lady Chatterley, however, cannot be less interested in the handsome young lords thrown at her, and sets her sights on the gamekeeper. Scandal ensues.

Throughout my reading, I was constantly reminded of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, but in this version, the characters are English and conclude their story in less than 400 pages. I listened to the audio version at work, and, while I really enjoyed the novel, I would not recommend making the same mistake. The Lady’s lover is quite explicit, as shown by his little lesson in the erotic vernacular. Better read in the comfort of your own home!

Rating: 3 Stars

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The Dinner by Herman Koch

Right away, the reader is thrown into the fire as the narrator, Paul, and his wife are getting ready for a dinner out with his elder brother and his wife. They plan to discuss a crime their sons have committed, a truly disgusting crime against humanity that neither boy shows any remorse for. Drama hits maximum level as the couples cannot agree on the best course of action. Blood is shed, the guilty go free…

To be blunt, I hated each and every character in this novel. Paul is suggested to have a social disorder, presumably Asperger’s, but is fully aware of people’s emotions and how his actions will affect them (which is always negative). His wife isn’t any better; she relishes in all his dirty secrets, while she, herself, is a sociopath. Ultimately they prove that family is most important and redeem themselves by pushing the limits when it comes to saving their son.

I’ve never felt more uncomfortable reading a work of fiction. I was truly disgusted by the characters’ lack of remorse or personal responsibility for their actions, but in the end, they were characters I loved to hate.

Rating: 3 Stars

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening is centralized around Edna Pontellier, a Victorian housewife trapped in an oppressive marriage who seeks to find happiness in the arms of her lovers. Her character is easily unlikable as she is blatantly ignorant of the affect her absence has on her children, and goes great lengths of time without a passing thought concerning them. That, however, is not the focus of the novel.

Kate Chopin was not a feminist, and The Awakening is not about a woman finding freedom outside her marriage. The novel is distinctly written to show the importance of the individual and one’s journey to self-discovery, whether male or female. The final scene may be interpreted any number of ways, but I believe Edna was swept away with her new found independence, only to be abruptly overpowered by the sea that carried her (i.e. the society that would never accept her).

Rating: 4 Stars

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