Why Women Love Gilbert Blythe and Why Guys Should Pay Attention

Green Gables fans everywhere were shocked and saddened by the death of Jonathan Crombie, aka, Gilbert Blythe of Sullivan’s beloved TV series. In memory of the sweet, sweet guy who played literature’s favorite boy-next-door, I wrote a post about why we girls love Gil and why guys might want to pay attention.

Click on the picture below and check it out!  Hope you like it :)

Why Women Love Gilbert Blythe

Little Woman Review and Thoughts

A couple of years ago I hosted a Little Women Read-Along event here on the blog and…

*sigh*

I never really closed up the event.  It’s not really in the best interest of the blogger to begin a post in this negative fashion but I have to be honest.  However, this kind of neglect is going to work on my favor because I’m going to talk about a topic in the framework of my favorite piece of literature.  I’m going to spend the next several few lines talking about literature, translation and communication. Aaaaaaannd even though I have written about this book before, I’ve never properly reviewed it so I thought I’d knock out a few thoughts on the story as well and count this as my official review.  This will be quite different than my usual review format but stay tuned, it’ll be fun!

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Rating: 5.0 – 5.0

My Thoughts:

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is an American literary treasure that has been a favorite of mine for over a decade.  The story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March is centered around themes of family, coming of age, friendship, life pursuits, heartache, and cherishing those things that are most important to us.

The story begins with the four sisters coping with the challenges of life in Civil War America.  While they’re used to a comfortable life, they now face the struggles of scrimping and pinching to help their mother, affectionately called ‘Marmee’, maintain their household while their father serves as a chaplain in the war.

The experiences of these four sisters are not so unlike those girls face today.  Meg and Amy deal with desires to be popular, pretty and well-liked.  Beth learns to come out of her comfort zone and stay diligent.  Jo, the heroine of the book and my literary doppelgänger, struggles with patience, social awkwardness, and finding a place for herself in the world.

Throughout the mishaps, tears, and triumphs, Marmee keeps the girls grounded and focused on what’s important.  She challenges them to do their best in life and rise above their weaknesses and struggles.  She encourages them to embrace their womanhood but also push past society’s narrow and sometimes silly expectations.  She values simplicity, hard work, and truthfulness and wants her daughters to do the same.  The story’s heroine may be Jo and the title may be Little Women but the woman behind these girls is a mother whose heart and soul helps to shape them into beautiful people.

And it would do no good whatsoever to not mention Laurie, the lovable boy next door and Jo’s BFFL.  He’s got his own set of coming-of-age challenges that I totally appreciate and enjoy reading about.  If you’ve read the book, you understand the struggle when it comes to Jo and Laurie.  I don’t need to say more. It’s been over ten years and I still struggle sometimes even though I completely understand why.  If you haven’t read the book, well, I’m not going to spoil it for you :).

I love, love,  love this book and will never tire of the book or the movie adaptations (there are 4 that I know of).  It’s very sweet and charming.  It’ll make you laugh, cry and may make you a bit angry at times but hey, that’s what a good story does right?  If it’s not there yet, I urge you fellow classic literature lovers, add it to your list of books to read!

Okay, let’s switch gears in the discussion for a minute and talk a little history and language.

This is a very American story.  Four young women growing up in a turbulent society and while the book isn’t at all about the Civil War or its aftermath, it can’t be ignored that these girls are finding their wings in a time in history when America was redefining so much of its own identity.  A lot was going on in the second half of 19th century America, including the world of literature.  Alcott’s father was a transcendentalist.  This was an American philosophy explored by several authors of the day including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau.  Transcendentalists believe in the idea that people have knowledge about themselves and the world around them that transcends what we see, hear, taste, touch, and feel.  A transcendentalist believes that they can trust themselves alone to decide what is right and wrong.  This is not a philosophy I subscribe to but I recognize its place in American ideology, especially in this time period.

So what happens when a story so engrained in it’s culture is translated into another language and culture?  What must carry over into the new language in order for the story to retain its identity?  I don’t know anything about translating literary works but I do know this – there’s more to a story than just the words on a page.  If a translator can capture the life between the lines of a piece, then that is a job well done.  After all, we read literature not just to consume words strung together one after another, we read literature to capture a piece of another time or place than where we are.  Alcott’s Little Women evokes homey, cozy feelings in me as well as inspires a desire to pursue life to the fullest and do work that matters. That’s the beauty of a well-told story and each language, each culture does this in it’s own unique way.

The woman who read and loved Little Women when it first hit the bookstores is quite different from a woman like me who reads and loves it more than a century later.  But even though we have completely different lives, we both share an experience with the story.  The same should go for a translated work.  Little Women could be translated into any other language but the reader should still experience the warmth, the sense of home, and ‘Americaness’ that I imagine Alcott intended her readers to experience.

I think when groups and cultures share their stories, we not only become better intercultural communicators, but we also become more empathetic in our dealings with one another and better apt to treat each other with understanding and respect.  Translations of great works of literature, online content and conversations, and businesses can open people all over the world to wonderful experiences and add incredible depth to life.  After all, we were made to communicate with each other, right?   If the heart and soul that a writer or communicator puts into their work can be translated along with the words, translators and translation services like Smartling have extended the gift of that experience to those that the author could not originally reach.

And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing!

Happy reading y’all!

2015 TBR List

I’m almost done with one of the titles off of my TBR list and I just realized I never posted my list!

Here’s what I’m hoping to complete this year:

  1. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  3. Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris
  4. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  5. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  6. Happier at Home Gretchen Rubin
  7. Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory
  8. Shadow of the Almighty by Elizabeth Elliot
  9. What is He Thinking? by Rebecca St. James
  10. Defiant Daughters: Christian Women of Conscience by Marcy Heidish
  11. When Dreams Come True by Eric & Leslie Ludy
  12. Here I Stand by Roland H. Bainton

TBR 2015

Alternates:

  1. Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff
  2. Paper Towns by John Green

I’m suuuuuper excited!!

Happy reading y’all :)

spin number reveal

The eighth spin number has been chosen and it is

13!

That means I will have until January 5 to read George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. 

I’ve never read this book but I have seen My Fair Lady so I know, what I am assuming is, the general gist of the story.  I haven’t read a play in a veeerryyy long while so this will be interesting!  I’m looking forward to finally reading this one!

Hope y’all got satisfying spin books and enjoy reading!! :)

 

long time no spin!!

It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in a Classics Club event and I’ve missed all the fun! What’s more, I’ve missed the last 4 Classics Spins!  Jumping into #8 with my list of 20 titles.  No categories or bells and whistles, just a random pick from my master list :)

  1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings//Maya Angelou
  2. Fahrenheit 451//Ray Bradbury
  3. What Katy Did//Susan Coolidge
  4. An American Tragedy//Theodore Dreiser
  5. Invisible Man//Ralph Ellison
  6. Silas Marner//George Eliot
  7. Madame Bovary//Gustave Flaubert
  8. The Old Man and the Sea//Ernest Hemingway
  9. Portrait of a Lady//Henry James
  10. Heaven to Betsy//Maud Hart Lovelace
  11. The Death of a Salesman//Arthur Miller
  12. Anne of the Island//Lucy Maud Montgomery
  13. Pygmalion//George Bernard Shaw
  14. The Jungle//Upton Sinclair
  15. Of Mice and Men//John Steinbeck
  16. All-of-a-Kind Family//Sydney Taylor
  17. The Warden//Anthony Trollope
  18. The Age of Innocence//Edith Wharton
  19. Little House in the Big Woods//Laura Ingalls Wilder
  20. Mrs. Dalloway//Virginia Woolf

Next Monday the spin number will be revealed and I will post which of my twenty I’ll be reading this winter. The rules state I have until January 5 to complete whichever book is chosen.

Can’t wait to see what I get! :)

Happy spinning!

Little Women Final Post!

Hello Readers!

I hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas :).

Yesterday was the last day of our read-along!  I hope you all finished and enjoyed the book as much as I did!!  Like I mentioned before, reading it again as an adult, has been so great and the story touched my heart in ways it hadn’t in the past.

LittleWomen ButtonThe one thing I’m still not completely resigned about is the fact that Laurie and Jo don’t end up together :/.  I like Professor Bhaer, I do and I get the fact that Laurie and Jo were more like brother and sister but still… I don’t know, something inside me still wishes it should have worked out between them.  Maybe it’s because I identify with Jo’s character and would totally marry Laurie, I don’t know!  I could do a whole post on Laurie vs Fritz… Yeah, I’ll have to think about that cause I’ve never had peace about this.

I’m going to save my comments for my final review but I want to know what you thought. Did Little Women live up to your expectations?  Was it just as sweet as you remembered?

Thanks so much for joining me in closing out the year with my favorite novel!  Stay tuned for news about the giveaway for this even as well as the giveaway for those who participated in the The Count of Monte Cristo Read-Along (yes, I know I’m terribly behind! I’m sounding like a broken record :P Bear with me as I get my act together for the new year!).

Happy happy New Year!! Stay blessed and keep reading ;)

Elyssa

Little Women Check-In #1

Hello Readers!

LittleWomen ButtonTime to check in and see how you all have gotten along this week!  I can’t tell you how many sweet memories this book evokes for me!  I’ve so enjoyed revisiting this part of my younger years!

As I am so strapped for time, I decided to just forget my hard copy altogether and listen to the audiobook.  It’s not what I wanted to do, but it’s better than falling completely behind!  And just an FYI for any of you whose schedules may also make it difficult to find time to curl up with this book, you can get the audiobook from Audible.com.  There are several different versions to choose from but I bought the Recorded Books production read by Barbra Caruso for about $6.00 (which is really good for an audiobook!). Caruso is one of my absolute favorite narrators and she doesn’t disappoint in this performance!  I also couldn’t help purchasing the dramatized version that I must have borrowed from the library at least 20 times when I was a child!  It’s abridged but it’s a delightful dramatization and I loved it :).  Okay, enough of the commercial, let’s talk about the book!  I’m currently on Chapter 14, Secrets.

Just as it often happens when rereading a childhood favorite, there’s so much more to appreciate as an adult.  I remember experiencing this book for the first time and thinking that Jo and Laurie were 15 years old and so grown up!  Then all of a sudden I was 20 years old and they seemed like such children.  Oh how perspective changes with age!  There are several things that I now cherish in this book that I didn’t so much when I was a young teenager.

First, I love Marmee.  She’s so sweet and full of grace and wisdom and my single self can’t help taking notes for the future.  Yet while we have this beautiful picture of motherly love, we find that she also struggles with personal weaknesses just as her daughters do but has learned to grapple with them with patience one day at a time.  So far, I think my favorite Marmee moment is from Chapter 9, Meg Goes to Vanity Fair. I quoted these very words in my post for last year’s August Meme, but if you’ll allow me, they’re worth re-posting:

“I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good; to be admired, loved, and respected; to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. It is natural to think of it, Meg, right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it, so that when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties and worthy of the joy. My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world – marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing,–and, when well used, a noble thing,–but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.”

“Poor girls don’t stand any chance, Belle says, unless they put themselves forward,” sighed Meg.

“Then we’ll be old maids,” said Jo stoutly.

“Right, Jo. Better be happy old maids than unhappy wives, or unmaidenly girls, running about to find husbands,” said Mrs. March decidedly. “Don’t be troubled, Meg, poverty seldom daunts a sincere lover. Some of the best and most honored women I know were poor girls, but so love-worthy that they were not allowed to be old maids. Leave these things to time; make this home happy, so that you may be fit for homes of your own, if they are offered you, and contented here if they are not. One thing remember, my girls: Mother is always ready to be your confidante, Father to be your friend; and both of us trust and hope that our daughters, whether married or single, will be the pride and comfort of our lives.”

Second, I truly love Jo and Laurie’s relationship.  They’re so funny and quirky and comfortable together and they’re perfectly suited chums.  Jo with her boyish awkwardness as she tries to figure out how to be a lady without losing herself in the process and Laurie’s lonely restlessness as he comes to terms with duty and responsibility.  All the while they play and swap adventures and share a carefree adolescence.  I think that, while Jo is completely oblivious to any romance in her life, by Chapter 14, Laurie’s affection for his best friend is starting to change into something more than just camaraderie.  If he hasn’t loved her from the first, I think he’s beginning to.  I’ll leave it there for now ;).

I hope you don’t mind that my comments will always lean more towards Jo because I always identified with her!  I’d love to know which sister you most relate to!

So far, my favorite chapters are as they have always been –

The Laurence Boy
Jo Meets Apollyon
Meg Goes to Vanity Fair
Camp Laurence
Secrets

What about you?

What are your favorite parts so far?  Is this a reread for you or your first time? I look forward to reading your thoughts.

And as always, happy reading!

Elyssa :)

Little Women Read Along Begins!!

Happy December, Dear Readers!

It has arrived!! Time to break out those copies of LM Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women! (This post is kind of late in the day so perhaps you’ve already started!).

I did a post shortly after joining the Classics Club about Little Women being my favorite novel. It still is and I CAN’T WAIT to read it again!! It’s such a homey story, perfect for the Christmas season!

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There are 47 chapters in this book and we have 28 days to read so if you average 2 chapters a day, you’re good to go!

I will be doing a giveaway so be sure to stay tuned and participate in check-ins! This event will be much easier for me than The Count of Monte Cristo because it is a re-read. I will do my best to post every Sunday :).

Those of you who tweet can hashtag #lwreadalong and you be sure to add any links to your blog posts in the comments!

So excited you’ve decided to read Little Women this holiday season, I’m sure we’ll have a marvelous time!

Happy reading!

Elyssa :)

The Count of Monte Cristo Final Check-In!

Hello Readers!!

TCOMC RA ButtonI hope all of you stateside had a great Thanksgiving and made wonderful memories with the people you love!  I have had a blast the past couple of days :).

Can you believe November is over?  And that means  our read-along has come to an end!  I know a couple of you have finished; I’m not sure about the rest.  I apologize for being absent the past couple of weeks, I was due for a third check-in and never came through :P.  But how did you make out?  Was it as good as you expected?  Did it exceed your expectations?  I want to hear what you thought!

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish in time (wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!).  My schedule was completely unrelenting and I had to pick and choose what took priority.  I do have the audiobook version, so I’ll try and finish up over the next few weeks and get my review out!  However, I’m so glad I was able to facilitate this event and I hope you all enjoyed yourselves!  I can’t wait to read your reviews!!!  I will be checking out the comments for the giveaway, so stay tuned!

Stay blessed :)

Elyssa

The Count of Monte Cristo Check-In #2

Hello Readers!

How’s everyone doing so far?  I must confess I’m still dreadfully behind.  This past week began my first term of online classes at Thomas Edison State College and it has been quite a challenge to find extra time for anything else. But I’m trekking along and will make it through before the month is out –  I’m determined!  For now, I open this post for y’all to check-in, comment and share your thoughts!

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I’m was so very glad to see the positive comments from last check-in.  This is a really good book, yeah?  It doesn’t lose speed and you never know what’s coming up next!  As much as I will always love the movie, I can’t help wishing they had stuck more with the original story.  BBC needs to get on that…

I hate to run off, but I have 2 assignments to finish for school!

Wishing everyone a fabulous week!

Happy reading!