rebecca

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books I Have Read During The Lifespan Of My Blog

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created & hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s top 10 is all about the books that I have loved ever since I’ve started the blog. For me that means books I’ve loved since March 2011. The list is by no means conclusive and the name & the order may change anytime. Click on the name of the books for my reviews.

1.   Detective Stories. Philip Pullman – 

Detective Stories is a 1998 collection of fifteen short stories and two brainteasers from the detective genre compiled by Philip Pullman.

The book tries to cover the entire detective genre right from Arthur Conan Doyle to Andrew Vachss. Pullman has tried to make a perfect combination of vintage and contemporary stories and he succeeds to a large degree. This collection is mainly aimed at younger readers but adults can equally enjoy it (as I did). Detective Stories is a true treat!

2.  Very Good, Jeeves. P.G. Wodehouse – 

Very Good, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse is a collection of eleven short stories. All of these stories feature Bertie Wooster and his trusted butler Jeeves.

As it is I am really fond of short stories and the Jeeves short stories are definitely right up my alley.

I really enjoyed reading Very Good, Jeeves. It’s a pity it was a library book and I had to return it. This is the kind of book that I’d like to re-read in the future.

3.   Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier –

For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.

4.  The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith – 

The Diary of a Nobody first appeared in Punch magazine from 1888 – 89. It was published in book form in 1892.

The writing is lucid. Many have called it dated. I didn’t find it so. This is a very easy to read book. I managed to finish it in just a day.

I know this is supposed to be a satire on the snobbery and the dullness of the middle class folks but I felt rather sorry for Mr. Pooter. Sure, he is boring and old-fashioned but he is a good, honourable man who is just trying to do the best he can. My sympathy certainly lies with him.

5.    The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen – 

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen was published in 2004. It was Jensen’s fifth novel.

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax is one strange story. What happens in the story is not wholly un-guessable but whatever it is, it is twisted. Overall, this is an enjoyable psychological thriller.

6.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Haruki Murakami – 

Sprawling, odd, complicated, scary, these are the words that come to my mind when I say the name, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I tried to keep an open mind and take it all in. But still at times I had to stop and think,

‘What on earth is this?’

7.  A Midsummer Night’s DreamWilliam Shakespeare – 

I love Shakespeare’s comedies. The witty dialogues, the general air of light heartedness and above all the wickedly funny plots suit my taste quite well. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is so far my favourite among these.

8.   The Railway ChildrenEdith Nesbit – 

Even though I might have enjoyed children’s classics such as The Railway Children more if I really were a child, I do still find joy in them. Other than a few parts (like the chapter The Pride of Perks) I have greatly enjoyed reading The Railway Children.

9.   The Old Man in the CornerBaroness Orczy – 

Today Baroness Orczy is mostly remembered as the creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel but she also wrote quite a few mysteries. The Old Man in the Corner (1909) is possibly the best known among her mysteries.

The end of the central narrative left me fairly shocked. I really didn’t see this coming.

Overall, I enjoyed The Old Man in the Corner. I would definitely want to read more of Baroness Orczy’s mysteries.

10.   The Fault in Our Stars John Green – 

I am not much into contemporary books. I am just not comfortable with modern fiction though I do try to read at least one or two each year. Also, this novel belongs to a genre that I am not much of a fan of, Young Adult or YA lit.

No, I didn’t need a boxful of tissues as many of my fellow readers said that I would. Books rarely make me cry (Goodbye, Mr. Chips being one of the very few exceptions). So, it’s not really the book’s fault. But yes I liked The Fault in Our Stars much better than I thought I would.

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Quote It Saturday

Quote It Saturday is hosted at Freda’s Voice.

Add as many quotes as you wish, from whom ever you wish. It can even be lyrics to a song.
Just tell us who it is. Anonymous welcome too.
Don’t forget to Link up at Freda’s site.

* If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.

* I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.

~ Daphne Du Maurier from Rebecca

Musing Mondays (Apr.9)

This week’s Musing Mondays from Should Be Reading asks…

“This week’s musing asks…

What do you think are the top 5 books every woman should read? “

Oh this is a tough one! Most of my life, save for my body which is more Seyfried than Knightley, I have felt quite ‘unwomanly’.  Especially when it comes to things like social behaviour, relation with the opposite sex and fashion; etc. When I read a book this attitude remains. So, picking books that every woman should read is a bit difficult for me. Anyway, I have tried and have come up with the following ones,

 Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – A lot of heartache could have been saved if Maxim and his new bride had been open and honest with each other. In a relationship, keeping everything bottled up and assuming the worst can only lead to trouble.

 Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie – In this play (*spoiler*), a woman incriminates herself to save her husband (*end spoiler*). No one should become so blinded by love that they forget what is right and what is wrong. In the end, needless to say, it turns out badly for all concerned.

 The Art of War by Sun Tzu – The most important lesson The Art of War gives is that it is important for everyone to be really conscious of their surroundings and of other people’s intentions. Having experienced first hand how traumatizing something like stalking can be, I am more than aware of the need to be alert all the time. Every woman should take this lesson to heart.

 Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – This is one of the most well known fictional love stories so picking this one for female readers was obvious.  Some say that the people in Wuthering Heights are unpleasant. Some are destructive, some are stubborn and some are weak. In my opinion the characters are close to our  real world, Emily Brontë just upped the melodrama a bit. None of us in the real world are perfect. Just like many of us, the characters of this book make bad choices and suffer the consequences.

 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – No, not for the romance, not even for Mr. Darcy (blasphemy, I know) but read it for Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth is one of the very few literary characters I aspire to be like, strong, assertive but also loving and tender.

My Top Ten Books 2011

I am normally very sure about what I like and what I don’t. So, doing top 10 best reads is usually a cinch for me. But last year was such a whirlwind! Also, my reading experiences were a bit of a mixed bag. There were a lot of books that I didn’t love but didn’t hate either. Thus, putting together a top 10 was more difficult than it usually is. Anyway here is my Top 10 Books for 2011 with excerpts from my reviews (Click on the titles for the full reviews),

1. 

Detective Stories. Philip Pullman.

The collection starts with The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle. The story was first published in the Strand Magazine in 1892. Panic grips a lonely woman when she starts to hear the same late night whistling noise that her twin sister spoke of in her dying moments…

2.

Very Good, Jeeves. P.G. Wodehouse.

Jeeves and the Song of Songs (1929) has Bertie right in the middle of Tuppy Glossop’s tangled love life as he is forced to sing at a concert for Beefy Bingham. Anyone who has seen the 1990 series Jeeves and Wooster will appreciate this story even more. I recently watched a re-run of the show (I am too young to remember its original run) and thought  Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were absolutely marvellous in it!

 3.

 
Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier.

For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.

4.

The Diary of a Nobody. George Grossmith.

I found several parts of the book quite funny. Like Lupin recklessly driving a pony-trap and causing general havoc in the streets while Mr. Pooter being seated at the back has to bear the wrath of  ‘a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart’. Or Mr. Cummings becoming ill and being angry at his friends for not reading about his illness in ‘The Bicycle News’. And Mr. Pooter getting annoyed after having to eat the same blanc-mange repeatedly.

5.

A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson.

I really liked how Bryson talks of the people behind the science. The lives of known and unknown people behind some of the greatest discoveries come alive through Bryson’s narrative.

6.
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. Liz Jensen.

Louis Drax is an accident prone boy. Ever since he was a baby he has been involved in more than his fair share of near fatal accidents. But so far they have all been just that, ‘nearly’ but not wholly ‘fatal’. On his ninth birthday, however, things may change for the worse. Louis may never come out alive from this ‘accident’.

7.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Haruki Murakami.

Sprawling, odd, complicated, scary, these are the words that come to my mind when I say the name, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I tried to keep an open mind and take it all in. But still at times I had to stop and think,

‘What on earth is this?’

8.

The Inimitable Jeeves. P. G. Wodehouse.

In Introducing Claude and Eustace and Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch, Bertie’s cousins, Claude and Eustace, come home with a top hat, several cats and a Salmon. Meanwhile, Sir Roderick Glossop, the noted nerve specialist, comes to lunch and questions Bertie’s sanity.

9.
Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings. Charles Dickens.

After Mrs. Lirriper’s drink loving husband perishes in an accident, Mrs. Lirriper starts to take in lodgers to make ends meet and also to pay off Mr. Lirriper’s debts. Mrs Lirriper’s Lodgings describes some of her experiences as a lodge keeper… I liked how Mrs. Lirriper keeps addressing the reader as ‘My Dear’, as though she knows us all and is having an ordinary conversation with us. It is sort of comforting somehow.

&

 
Mrs Lirriper’s Legacy. Charles Dickens.

Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy is a worthy conclusion to the story of Mrs. Lirriper.  The hopefulness of the first book comes to fruition in the second one.

10.

It’s Only a Movie: Alfred Hitchcock – A Personal Biography. Charlotte Chandler.

I like the cover of the book. It is striking. As I read this book en route to my workplace many people asked me what book I was reading and they seemed genuinely interested in it.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

This first line is enough to evoke a thousand different sensations among those who have read this immortal classic. With these words begins a journey few will forget.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was published in 1938. Its instant success is said to have surprised even its author.

An unnamed young woman comes to live with her new husband Maxim de Winter on his beautiful estate, Manderley. She is ill at ease from the very beginning as the shadow of her predecessor, Maxim’s first wife; Rebecca looms large at every corner. The beautiful and charismatic Rebecca, who drowned a little more than a year ago, still seems very much alive while the second Mrs. de Winter continues to struggle to establish her presence. Who was Rebecca? How did she die? The mists of suspicion and fear begin to grow thicker as the new bride tries to deal with things beyond her understanding.

The narrator of the book is the second wife of Maxim de Winter. She is a shadowy little figure; she is shy and ill at ease. At her new home, Manderley, she is tormented by the memories of her predecessor, Rebecca. Not sure whether her husband actually loves her and most of all scared that he and everyone else is comparing her to Rebecca, she even contemplates suicide at one point. Keeping her unnamed works really well as she plays the second fiddle to the vivacious Rebecca. Even though Rebecca is in fact dead and she alive, it feels totally the opposite. Rebecca is the living one and she the mere shadow.

Maxim de Winter is, forgive me for saying this, a little stuffy. He is brooding and silent, not prone to sharing his thoughts with anyone. And of course, this causes more than half of the pain the unnamed narrator, his second wife, goes through. He turns his back on everyone, sometimes literally like in the scene when Jack Favell confronts him while Frank and the narrator watch on.

Mrs. Danvers is a slave to the memories of her dead mistress. Her creepy devotion to Rebecca makes her mentally unstable. Why maxim fails to see this I don’t know.

The eponymous Rebecca is essentially the main character of the book. When the novel begins she has already been dead for over a year. But seen through the eyes of others she becomes disturbingly alive. As the book progresses her murky life and repulsive character comes to light. She, outwardly so perfect was, was rotten through and through. But whether she is dead or alive fighting her is impossible. As Maxim says, Rebecca always wins. She is like a force of nature, taking everything, giving nothing and destroying everything on her path.

One thing that has always rankled my mind, the ending. I hate the fact that she won. Of course, Maxim is not a perfect person and I guess he deserves some punishment for his deed but hasn’t he been punished enough? He has been afraid that everyone will find out about what he did, that his new bride doesn’t love him, that Rebecca will win once again. Why does Rebecca win in the end? Why do people like Mrs. Danvers and Jack Favell win?

Daphne du Maurier’s writing is easy to read. Her imagination and writing prowess makes the book what it is.

For me, Rebecca is about Rebecca. Long after the book ends her laughing, beautiful, cruel face stays vividly alive. She wins, as always, even in death.

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