Lachrymose Heroes, British History, and Handlebar Mustaches: A Report on the Literature of September and October

Hola, my friends. School has rather got me under its thumb, but I am determined not to stay there. I’ve missed y’all’s posts and mean to get around to reading them as soon as possible. And meanwhile I have imbibed lots of books, because the less time I have, the more I read, apparently.

That’s all the intro I got.

To the books, then.


Giant

Edna Ferber

So, everyone in Texas is racist.

Also everyone in Texas is sexist.

Also everyone in Texas is just kind of mean.

At least that’s what I would think if all I knew about Texas came from this book. And if all I knew about punctuation rules came from this book, I’d think commas were completely optional and periods, while mostly advisable, not mandatory either.

And fine, I get it, I get it, it’s a style, we must express ourselves through art, we must be original, and if we are mid-twentieth-century American writers it goes against our creed to be original by way of writing an actually exciting book or one where most of the people are nice and it’s got, you know, a fairly happy vibe overall—so we must needs achieve originality by playing around with the rules of grammar. Fine. I get it. It wasn’t even that bad, I guess. It created that sort of breathless information-flooding-your-brain sensation that I assume Edna Ferber was going for. It was Mid-Twentieth-Century American Classic personified.

Oddly, I still kind of liked it. Uncle Bawley helped, with his cool mountain ranch and ruined hands that once wanted to play the piano and ridiculous allergies and terror of women. Leslie helped. Jordy helped. The utter lack of resolution to any of the threads didn’t help, but then Giant isn’t, I don’t think, supposed to be a real story so much as it is a painting, “Interwar Texas: A Study.” Dusty, vast, self-sufficient, tough and sunny and prejudiced, a very old place walking around uncomfortably in new boots. It certainly gave you a feeling, is what I’m saying.

And, while I’m not sure what the point of Jett Rink was, what a character. I loathe him and pity him and despise him and feel so sorry for him, all at the same time. For what reason, I really couldn’t tell you. But a character who evokes such a reaction is surely a success.

The Club of Queer Trades

G. K. Chesterton

This book somehow wasn’t even on my Chesterton radar. But Eden mentioned it, and lo and behold I went and read it, and LO AND BEHOLD I loved it.

The stories are all about people who have unusual methods of making their livings – like, really unusual. I can’t give examples, because that would give away the stories – the narrator and his friend Basil Grant (a once-highly-respected judge who went mad and retired from public life) are always running into mysteries that turn out to have something to do with this club and these trades. The very best one is the first, “Death to Major Brown,” but several of the others are almost as funny.

I shall leave you with this excellent quote:

“It is very difficult, of course, for any person, however strongly impressed with the necessity in these matters of full and exact exposition of the facts, to remember and repeat the actual details of a conversation, particularly a conversation which (though inspired with a most worthy and admirable zeal for good work) was one which did not greatly impress the hearer’s mind at the time, and was, in fact—er—mostly about socks.”

G. K. Chesterton, “The Club of Queer Trades”

Planet Narnia

Michael Ward

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Mlle. C.M. Tomato. She recommended this book, which I would never have read otherwise, and OH MY GOSH I’M SO GLAD I DID.

Yes, there were bits that annoyed me. There is bound to be in literary criticism; it’s why I never, even for a second, considered getting an English degree – I’d go mad long before I graduated. There is one bit that annoyed me so much I’m going to mention it: the author accuses Lewis of being disingenuous on the grounds that to one person he said he came up with Aslan after having dreams about lions but to another he made the totally different statement that he came up with Aslan after having nightmares about lions.

Come again?

Anyway. Michael Ward makes the argument that Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia with a secret, underlying, overarching meaning. Lewis was into both astronomy and the Ptolemaic medieval conception of the planets – a good deal of which made it into his Space Trilogy. But he did it (contends Ward) much better in Narnia. Each book is meant to encapsulate one of the planetary gods, and Aslan in each book is the direct representation of that god, while the villain or at least the conflict is often the negative side of that god. (Venus in The Magician’s Nephew, Mars in Prince Caspian, Sol in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, etc.) Lewis makes the planets, basically, into different facets of Christ.

(And this is why Narnia is flat, I think! I always thought it was so cool but random that Narnia was flat, but of course it was, if Mr. Ward’s theory is correct! Because Lewis built Narnia to be The World As Medievally Conceptualized!)

I was so skeptical when I started, but Ward goes through Lewis’s early-in-life study of and poems about each of the planets, how he portrayed them in the Space Trilogy, what each one was associated with, and how the Narnia books adhere to them and by the end it’s really rather convincing. And cool.

What convinced me more than anything, oddly, is how well it lines up with my own personal feelings about the gods: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, not my favorite of the books, are Jupiter and Mars, not at all my favorite of the gods. The Last Battle, the only Chronicle I actively dislike, is Saturn, the worst god. The Horse and His Boy, one of my very favorites, is Mercury, by far my favorite of the gods. Like…that’s weird, but it’s also cool.

Anyway, if you like Lewis, Narnia, the Space Trilogy, medieval theology, or whatever combination of the four, I highly, highly recommend.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

First of all, CAN WE TAKE A MOMENT TO GEEK OUT OVER THE FACT THAT THIS IS HUMANITY’S OLDEST SURVIVING WORK OF FICTION? IT’S OVER 4000 YEARS OLD OR SOMETHING. And it’s so simple and mythic and…weird. Half of it is weird in a good way, and half of it is weird in an I-definitely-read-the-child-friendly-version-of-this-before way.

The narrative is concerned with three main things: friendship, grief, and the search for immortality. Which are only my THREE FAVORITE THEMATIC ELEMENTS EVER. I think they must be very basic human preoccupations, because they really do show up in myth a lot.

Gilgamesh is a jerk who’s unhealthily attached to his friend and bawls a lot, but the story is really good, in my opinion. (Also Enkidu is precious.) (Also mankind’s oldest work of literature puts not romance but friendship front and center and can I just say, the ancients had their priorities straight.)

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

I appreciate this so much more than I ever did as a little kid. And I say that having adored Anne of Green Gables as a little kid.

The Explorations of Père Marquette

Jim Kjelgaard

The story of Father Marquette and Louis Joliet, the first Europeans to see or traverse the northern Mississippi River (the Spaniards had already found the southern part), written for children by my favorite author of dog books. I think he’s a little better at dog books, although this was interesting. Not enough for me. I‘ve always been deeply interested in frontier history, and lately that desire has been growing and growing, and this just whetted my appetite even more.

The Ransom of Red Chief

O. Henry

A short story in which two would-be kidnappers are terrorized by their victim. (Bill especially is terrorized. Poor Bill.)

It was hilarious. It reminded me of Mark Twain. It made my entire day. You should read it.

The Last Thing I Remember

Andrew Klavan

Terrorists, main character kid who knows karate, amnesia, strangely emotional writing style. It was fun, although I don’t plan to read the rest of the series.

Frederica

Georgette Heyer
There is a play called Xingu, based on a story by Edith Wharton, and it is exactly my sense of humor. I was lucky enough to be in a production of it in high school, and I played Osric Dane, the haughty, tight-lipped authoress whom some ladies in pursuit of Culture have invited to a meeting of their book club. You wouldn’t believe the time I had trying to keep a straight face – let alone a dour face – while everything went on around me. After some disastrous rehearsals, I was reduced to reading scenes of Frederica over and over at home, trying desperately not to smile at the Baluchistan hound scene or “The Animal, my lord, did not presume to bite Me,” or Charles Trevor’s heroic account of himself during The Elopement. And while I never actually succeeded at that, I did eventually manage to play an Osric Dane that did not snicker at inopportune moments.

I’ve read Frederica literally more times than I can count, and it never fails to make me laugh. I really love the Merrivilles (Frederica and Felix and Jessamy, at least) and their sibling closeness and their shenanigans (and their ridiculous names), and I love the hero’s redemption arc, because it feels kind of real. It’s not over the top – bored selfish rakish aristocrat to less bored, less selfish, taking-some-responsibility aristocrat. You want to loathe him at the beginning, but he’s so entertaining – and fortunately he stays entertaining. And the change comes about slowly, occasioned by seeing what it’s like when members of a family actually love each other and when people actually take responsibility for themselves and…basically by proving his cynical conclusions about the human race (including himself) wrong. I don’t know. I just like it.

The Abolition of Man

C. S. Lewis

Reread this not long after reading Chesterton’s Eugenics and Other Evils and was struck by some of the similarities. The twentieth century was a weird time, man.

Was also struck by the similarity between his critique of a certain shallow postmodern attitude and this excellent Blimey Cow video.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

Bette Bao Lord

Chinese girl emigrates to America with her parents, has troubles, makes friends, and discovers baseball. The Dodgers beat the Cardinals (and some other teams) and maybe Jackie Robinson can take them all the way to the World Series? This was such a sweet book, honestly.

The Hounds of God

Rafael Sabatini

So (and I blush to admit it), Don Pedro was my favorite character.

What, you ask, is wrong with this?

Well…Don Pedro kidnapped the heroine because he was in love with her and he was sure if he just kidnapped her and convinced her how much he loved her, she’d love him back.

Yes, buddy. That’s going to work well for you.

Sir Gervase, her hotheaded young suitor, chases after her to Spain. But ultimately, Sir Gervase doesn’t do very much, because Queen Elizabeth and King Phillip write some letters and Don Pedro’s uncle is worried and there is stuff with the Inquisition.

So it was kind of…boring. And I really just wanted more Don Pedro.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

The Four Loves

C. S. Lewis

The best audiobook for the drive to class, or at least the only one I’ve thus utilized twice. A book analyzing the four different types of loves doesn’t sound that applicable in a practical sense, but it is. Having a solid, articulated conception of what Agape looks like, what (on the other hand) soured-Storge-masquerading-as-Agape looks like, what the true benefits and pitfalls of Philia are, has actually…been a thing in my actual life. So that’s cool.

The Unseen Guest

Maryrose Wood

OKAY. I love these books (governess with mysteriously absent parents teaches children raised by wolves and adventures ensue), and I love the audiobook narrator. Her voices, seriously. Her howls. Her enunciation…it is on point. And the books are very fun, but an actual séance? In which actual dead people are actually contacted? Y’all. No.

To me, that’s like including – I don’t know, rape or something like that, in your children’s book. And then having the rapist be one of the good guys.

Y’ALL.

NO.

I know my comparison here isn’t very good (rape has a victim, occult practices sort of don’t), but they’re both wrong and they’re both wholly out of place in a children’s book.

And it doesn’t alleviate it that it’s all treated rather comically. Dead people are still actually contacted. Which I can’t view as anything but wrong wrong nope stop bad nope wrong. I’m not sure where precisely I consider the line to be between fictional fantastic elements that are fine and that are wrong nope stop, but I am sure this falls way, way on the wrong side of it.

So yes, I’m sad. I liked these books and wanted to know how they turned out but I just…can’t in good conscience read any more of them.

Crown Duel

Sherwood Smith

A country-cousin countess and her brother lead a rebellion against the corrupt king. There is lots of running away and kidnapping and last-minute escapes and the mysterious Marquis of Shevraeth.

It’s kind of fun, but also kind of not very good but also – totally worth it for the next book.

Court Duel

Sherwood Smith

The sequel to Crown Duel! Which I read the entirety of instead of doing homework! In which Meliara and her brother go to court and the mysterious Marquis of Shevraeth is mysterious and manners are an annoyance and letters are written to mysterious suitors and there are attempts to take the throne by multiple parties. And the magic of the world is almost entirely peripheral but the world-building kind of bleeds unobtrusively into all the corners and it all feels quite right to me and I have no idea why I enjoyed this so much but I did. It’s like how I imagine good 2000s YA fantasy.

Last Chance to See

Douglas Adams

Caution for a smidge of mature content, but OH I LOVED THIS SO. I’ve never been interested in Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and frankly I’m still not, but Douglas Adams’s writing style is funny, pointed, wry, and lucid, so I’m glad I got to experience it here.
This book is much more my style, anyway. Douglas Adams and a zoologist, Mark Carwardine, take a trip around the world for a possible “last chance to see” some endangered species and what’s being done to save them, and maybe raise awareness. Each species comes with its own uniquely flavored adventure, which is always hilarious and always amazing. Because creation is amazing. Like, makes me want to be a conservationist and do nothing but learn about it and preserve it, amazing.

I looked up some of the animals after I finished (book was written in the ’90’s), and the baiji, for one, is now most probably extinct. That is so sad to me, because with the state of the world and technology and the Yangtze River, it’s not like it was probably preventable, but…why? Why does advancing technology mean everything has to be destroyed and polluted? Why did that have to happen to those gorgeous little dolphins’ home?

Anyway it was a fabulous book and, while people can get over the top about preserving nature, I also kind of understand why.

The Shadow Riders

Louis L’Amour

I wish Mac’s handlebar mustache had been mentioned sooner. That threw off the whole picture of him I’d built up in my mind. So if you’re going to read this, I now kindly give you advance warning: Mac has a handlebar mustache.

Anyway, Mac and Dal are brothers who haven’t seen each other in however many years it’s been since they rode off from their Texas ranch to fight on opposite sides of the Civil War. Now the war’s over and they’re making their way home – only to find that their brother and Dal’s girlfriend have been kidnapped by a rogue group of Confederates who plan to sell them as slaves.

Which is quite suitably dramatic.

My favorite part about this is Martin Connery, the pirate rancher who sadly gets little page-time.

My other favorite part is Mac and Dal’s relationship. Dal is a nice, easygoing, normal guy. Mac is quieter and, basically, the mom friend. They had completely different opinions about the War Between the States, but now that it’s over they’re best buddies again, saving each other’s lives and joking around the campfire and referring to the past not even once. It’s so very brotherly.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Kate DiCamillo

In which a china rabbit is lost, meets many unique people in his travels, and learns the meaning of love.

I’m almost positive I read this a long time ago, but there are parts I don’t remember at all, so…who knows. Regardless, the prose is truly elegant and the story teeters, for me, on the brink between touching and sappy (which is an okay place to be), and I would not be averse to reading more Kate DiCamillo.

Also, Pellegrina is creepy.

Ride the River

Louis L’Amour

(My sister’s favorite character in this is Mordecai, because of course he is. Myself, I’m partial to Archie.) This is one of my very favorite L’Amours – Echo is a worthy heroine who never wastes a shot, will coolly shoot you if you ask for it but very much prefers not to ruin her dress doing it, and could survive in the mountains with one hand tied behind her back. Shep is a very jewel of a canine.

Horse Tradin’

Ben K. Green

Kind of the cowboy version of James Herriot, or the Texas version of Ralph Moody. And not as much horse trading is done, actually, as mule trading. And it’s great fun.

The Iliad

Homer

In which the ancient Greeks apparently considered soap operas about deities the highest form of literature.

Hector is as amazing as advertised. Achilles, however, is the Actual Worst and I can’t believe anyone thought it was a good idea to make him the protagonist. I went in prepared to be forgiving, but no, he just doesn’t have a single redemptive quality. He just…doesn’t.

Also, I’m sorry, fighting a whole war, to the point of destroying an entire civilization, over a single woman, even if she is your wife wrongfully taken from you and the most beautiful woman in the world, is so STUPID. My sympathies are 100% with the Trojans.

Above Suspicion

Helen MacInnes

One of the coolest things about Helen MacInnes’s early books is that they’re WWII spy books written while WWII was still going on. When she wrote this one and Assignment in Brittany, she had no certainty that Britain was going to win. My dad (to whom I read this) and I were discussing how interesting it was: you could tell it was written by someone who lived it, because of the nearness of the tragedy caused by Nazism, the horror un-tempered by hindsight, the tone of almost disbelief sometimes, the intensity of some of the characters’ language: Thornley when he talks about Maria, Frances’s thoughts, even van Cortlandt the ostensibly neutral American newspaperman. (I love van Cortlandt. He’s such a good person, under the sarcasm. And he’s so typically but convincingly American.)

The book takes place in the summer of 1939, so war is right on the horizon. (Though some, like van Cortlandt, don’t think it’ll come – Britain is just going to fold, like she did before.) Richard and Frances Myles, an English couple, are contacted by a spy friend of theirs. He desperately needs someone who’s above suspicion to try and contact an agent whose cover may or may not be blown. The Myleses always take a summer vacation in Europe (Richard’s a professor at Oxford), so why don’t they take this one in Germany?

The trip through a supposedly peaceful, flourishing Germany is disturbing to Frances, who observes what Nazism has done to the German people (without their realizing it in many cases), and to Richard, who observes that all their movements are watched. And then complications happen. And rescues take place. And my dad laughs at Richard for being so shaken about a dog, when Frances had it much worse. And it’s so good. I love this book.


So…talk to me, my bookworm comrades! Do your favorite Chronicles align with your favorite gods? What are your criteria for determining when fictional elements are occult vs. harmless fantasy? Do you have a defense of Achilles or of the Argives in general? Have you read any good books recently?

Author: sarahseele

A Christian, cat owner, college kid, and writer. Fond of stories. Fond of rain.

23 thoughts on “Lachrymose Heroes, British History, and Handlebar Mustaches: A Report on the Literature of September and October”

  1. Oh my goodness – this post is so FANTASTIC! Actually a list of books I’d actually would be interested in reading (and a few I’ve read!!).

    I have to run right now for the weekend. But I SHALL return to post a complete and well-deserved comment, Sarah! (And I swear I’m not ignoring your comments on my site, I’ve been swamped…. so I shall also do my best to respond properly and all that jazz when I return to comment on this post. 🙂

    ❤ Aww… so happy to hear you've read PLANT NARNIA per my recommend! It's amazing. I love your summary of it by the way! I was so overwhelmed after reading the first time I had no clue what to write for my review xD You have a gift with words, Mllm. *bows*

    ~Yours Truly
    Mllm. Tomato. (with a flourish, of course)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look forward VERY MUCH to your in-depth comment, but this one, on its own, caused me to grin a grin of surpassing magnitude. So. Thank you for that.
      (And don’t worry, I completely understand being swamped and not getting to comments. I’ll look forward to those replies too, whenever you’re able to get to them. 🙂 )

      Haha, thank you. I didn’t feel I did it justice at all (because yes, it was AMAZING! Can’t thank you enough for introducing me), but I’m glad it was adequate!
      Also, I get that way about books a LOT, oh man. “What do I SAY? It’s so…MUCH.” It’s a sad thing to accept that I’ll never really be able to do justice to things with my words…but anyway one can always do SOMETHING, which is better than nothing.

      *bows* X)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I confess I don’t know quite which MacInnes books you mean, but that scarcely matters because – eek! You bought her books! This makes me very nervous (I don’t want to have wasted your money), but also I so hope you’ll love them and I think you’ll at least enjoy them…so yes. This is happy news. May you have a winter of cozy espionage! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved reading this! Yes to the O. Henry story… the name of which I cannot recall… Also, I quite enjoyed the entire Incorrigibles series and for some reason that element didn’t bother me? I can totally see where you’re coming from (you’re kind of making me rethink my entire position, gasp) but to me it was just fiction, another fantastical element just like the magic in any other fantasy book… which makes me think, if you don’t mind sharing, what’re your thoughts on the magic in Harry Potter? Random, I know.

    Anyway, apologies for this rambly comment and thank you for your lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very interesting, and I see it. I’m not sure why I don’t feel the same about it, unless it’s maybe that dragons, elemental magic, etc, don’t exist in real life but people who practice witchcraft and necromancy DO? And therefore I think it’s wrong and dangerous to portray as harmless, even in stories? Idk.

      I haven’t read Harry Potter, so I couldn’t say! And I’ve heard such conflicting accounts of it I couldn’t even say what I suspect I’d think of it if I read it. Are you personally fine with it, or not?

      Thank you for your lovely comment! (Which didn’t strike me as rambly at all. Possibly in the same way that a grenade doesn’t strike an atomic bomb as explosive at all. Also I have no idea why your comments seem to inspire me with such weird metaphors.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, your metaphors are great! Yeah, I’m personally okay with Harry Potter, but I understand people who disagree. I’ve sort of given up on trying to change people’s minds… I just let people figure it out for themselves. Though I *do* recommend just reading the first book before making a decision.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Funny thing, the epic of Gilgamesh was just on my mind. It bothers me that I haven’t read it yet. I love old stories, why haven’t I read Gilgamesh? I did read a child’s version in a history book when I was younger, but that’s not quite the same.
    Although I love the style and quirkiness of the Incorrigible Children, the Occult aspect WAS disturbing. I ended up skipping over that section.

    Like

    1. The nice thing about it is that it’s quite short! Not hard to get through in an afternoon. (And totally worth it, to me at any rate.) Although I guess it might be hard to get ahold of. My library doesn’t have it, which is why I borrowed a friend’s copy.
      Yes, the charm and quirkiness (and the pillow-worthy wisdom of Agatha Swanburne) are delightful. 🙂 And I’m put out by how unnecessary the occult aspect was. Curses and werewolves are fine! Couldn’t we have just left out communion with the dead?

      Like

  4. What a fun post! Advance warning: this is going to be a long comment. 🙂

    My dad really enjoyed Planet Narnia, but I haven’t ever read it–I’ll have to look into it! I also could not possibly even consider an English degree; I would either go mad or alienate all the professors. I actually really love both The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, though I, like you, dislike Jupiter and Mars, so I don’t know that that lining-up works for me…but I think it’s cool that it does for you!

    HOW HAVE I NEVER READ THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH?! Cuz it sounds amazing. (And yes–the ancients had their priorities straight for sure. XD)

    The Ransom of Red Chief is fantastic. Completely fantastic.

    My mom and sister and I are listening to Frederica on audio right now! I am enjoying it SO much. So much. But it’s taking us forever to finish, because we are short on times-where-we-are-all-in-one-place, and it’s driving me crazy! We’ve only gotten up to the part where the hero comes to the Merrivilles’s little house-party. And yes, the hero is SO entertaining–and I can see that his arc will be fantastic.

    The Four Loves! One of my favorite Lewis books of ever! He has his head on straight, that’s for sure, and now is helping the rest of us. 🙂

    I never liked The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane when I was younger, because it was too sad for tiny me. I’ll have to try it again sometime, since I think I’d like it better now.

    “In which the ancient Greeks apparently considered soap operas about deities the highest form of literature.” <<<Yes. The Iliad is…not my favorite work of ancient literature I have read to date. I enjoyed parts of it…but for some reason when I read it I was rooting for the Greeks? And now I should probably go back and read it and root for the Trojans (even though I know they die) because the Greeks are kind of…not the best.

    Wow, I will have to look into Helen MacInnes! Because books about WWII written…during WWII…sound amazing! And I'm sure it's a very different perspective on the war. Even with how horrific we know it is, I think WWII gets idolized a bit in our modern world ('twas ever thus, though), and we need a contemporary perspective to really appreciate why we shouldn't want another war. But I didn't know that perspective existed, and now I need it!

    Thank you for putting up this post! I always love reading list dumps. 🙂

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    1. Fabulous, I adore long comments.

      “or alienate all the professors” – yep, probably both. We all have our strengths, and we all have our weaknesses. XD
      Oh well, I guess it was just a coincidence for me then. I wondered if it might be more. (I didn’t mean to give the impression I don’t love Lion Witch Wardrobe and Prince Caspian though, because I do. I just love several of the others more.)

      IT IS AMAZING, SAM! SHORT TOO! YOU SHOULD READ IT! 😄(Also it includes a Flood story. Those in ancient literature are always fascinating.)

      You will get no argument from me on that point.

      You are?! That’s awesome! Ahh I’m so happy you’re enjoying it! (And goodness yes, getting everyone in the same place at the same time. My sisters and I have only read half of one of the three-so-far installments of the Comic Space Opera Season 2 because that’s how rare it is for us to have a quiet moment when we’re all three together.) Ooh I like the bit at the house-party very much, it’s kind of a turning point. It makes me SO happy that you’re loving Frederica. It deserves so much love.

      Lewis has his head on straight, indeed. XD I think it’s one of my favorite Lewis books too, even though I expected not to even like it that much when I finally got around to reading it for the first time. (Because, you know, love is boring. And I’ve heard it all before. But I HADN’T heard it all before with Lewis.)

      Yes. There are really gorgeous parts of the Iliad and there are…why. Just why. Oh yes, you should read it again and root for the Trojans! Haha. I should probably read it again and try rooting for the Greeks, but I’m not sure I can make myself. (Root for the Greeks, not read it again.)

      It is rather sad for small munchkins. Even for me now, actually. But I still thought it was rather beautiful.

      Yes, it does get idolized (‘‘twas ever thus, indeed)! Or, sometimes, which bothers me just as much, treated as inevitable. History seems inevitable in hindsight, of course, but one of the biggest differences I saw was how almost…struggling to take it in the characters seemed to be. Europe and Britain were blindsided by the war (whether or not they should have been is quite beside the point). And things happened rather fast. And yes, there were warnings as far back as Chesterton about where things COULD go, but everybody hoped they wouldn’t. And then they did. And everybody was just…taken by surprise. That’s the biggest thing I get from contemporary accounts that I think moderns tend to forget.
      Anyway, apologies for that ramble, but I am so glad you’re interested in Helen MacInnes, and yes, I so recommend her! She’s fantastic.

      Well, thank you for enjoying it! It would be pointless otherwise. I love writing them, so that makes me happy to hear.

      Like

  5. Firstly, dude, how do you come up with such brilliant titles for these posts? A+++

    Secondly, I love reading these posts because there are so many books that I’ve never heard of and they just sound so good. Well, most of them. 😉

    I LOVE Anne of Green Gables. My favorite book of all time! <333

    Ah, The Ransom of Red Chief. O'Henry makes me either laugh or think deeply or both, which are the best things.

    I'm very confused about the whole planets/gods thing, but I'm very intrigued. Hm, I think I must go do research on it when I have the time.

    I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane in October, too! ❤ I loved it! *goes off and cries for awhile* You're right, Kate DiCamillo walks a very fine line between heart rending and sappy, but she pulls it off. I recommend absolutely all of her books that I've read (which is nearly all of them).

    I'm with Sam, how have I never ever heard of The Epic of Gilgamesh?? I want to read it now. A lot.

    Here's to good reading for the rest of the year! 🙂

    Like

    1. I grab some elements from the books and choose the most ridiculous-sounding combination of them. That’s really all there is to it. 😛

      Aw, I’m glad you enjoy them! And if they bring hidden gems to your notice, that’s even better. Indeed, they are good! (Most of them 😉 )

      I LOVE IT TOO. SO MUCH. 💕 💗 💗 And I love that it’s your favorite book of all time. I feel like it just DESERVES to be.

      Yes indeed. I want to read more O. Henry. The Gift of the Magi flabbergasted me as a little girl, and this one of course was hilarious perfection. He has a wide range of skills as an author. (Also, he does this in short stories. Which are…short. It’s impressive.)

      I feel like it sounds really…weird, when I try to explain it, haha. But it’s so interesting and I definitely think it rewards further research!

      She really does pull it off. It’s impressive. ❤️

      Ahh, it’s very good! (Although with some weird content, fair warning.) And short too, which is nice for the busy reader. 🙂

      Hear, hear! *raises glass*

      Like

  6. Don Pedro sounds like he could be one of my problematic faves. :/ I don’t know what’s wrong with my taste.

    Also, I HAVE seen some of that ‘make a rapist one of the good guys in a book meant for teens’ before. I hated it.
    I’m not too bothered by occult stuff anymore as long as its fictional, I guess? Sure, I wouldn’t go to a seance in real life, but if it’s fictional, it doesn’t bother me. That being said, I WILL say that all the seance scenes I’ve read in fiction have been cheesy and annoying, so I don’t really like the trope personally.

    My only defense of Achilles is that Patroclus likes him and Patroclus is legally incapable of being wrong so there must have been SOMETHING to that boy. But I do think he’s very whiny XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. We can have problematic taste together. 😂

      Well that’s horrifying. 🧐 I am confused how someone thought that was a good idea to write, and how some editor thought it was also a good idea to write. I mean, even if your book isn’t for kids, it’s generally inadvisable to make a rapist one of the good guys. (I’m trying to think if there are exceptions to that? I’m not sure.)
      That’s an interesting perspective! It makes sense, though. The line between fiction and real life. It exists. (Sometimes I forget this.)

      Okay, there is something to that defense. (Patroclus literally had the worst luck, and deserved it the least, my poor child.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, I’ve only read 4 of these (Ransom of Red Chief, the Iliad, Edward Tulane, and of course Anne) but lots of them are going on my list now. ….Thanks, Sarah. X)

    Particularly interesting sounds Planet Narnia!! It…makes sense. It actually makes a TON of sense. I…need to hear more.

    I know, Achilles is a brat. *sigh* (But Hector. Hector’s the best, isn’t he?) I can’t really DEFEND Achilles, but I do think he’s a pretty poignant illustration of how bitter a thing mortality is. Cuz he was so close to being a god–if Thetis hadn’t married Peleus (that is Achilles’ dad’s name, right?), her son would’ve been, not just a deity, but the deity capable of overthrowing Zeus. (I can totally see Achilles leading a rebellion against Zeus, can’t you?) I also find it kind of tender the way he cries for his mommy on the beach. This big tough warrior sitting on the sand waiting for Mom to come give him a hug and listen to his woes. Part of me is like, “Grow up, Achilles,” but another part sees it as…almost Marian. We poor mortals *need* our mommies sometimes.

    Your commentary on Don Pedro had me in stitches.

    Ooh ooh and Gilgamesh! We read a very abridged version of that in high school, heh. Isn’t Enkidu great? And such a fantastic name, man.

    AND THE CLUB OF QUEER TRADES. I OUGHT to have read that by now, seeing as how I had it out from my school library for, like, three months. …but never got around to actually starting it. WHAT KIND OF CHESTERTON FAN AM I *has an existential crisis*

    I love your book reviews so very much, Sarah dear.

    Like

    1. Hey, what are friends for? X)

      Planet Narnia was the most I’ve ever looked forward to class – because I got to listen to it on the drive there and back. And yes, my mind is boggled by how much sense it makes! I really do think you’d dig the book – I actually specifically thought of you once while I was listening, like, man, Megan would find this so interesting.

      (HECTORRRR *wails*)
      I remember your post about that! It was actually what made me decide to give Achilles a chance. I do like that angle, and I actually liked the part where he cries to Thetis (even though I also kinda…might’ve…made fun of him to my sisters for being a grown man who calls his mom just to whine to her about his favorite toy being taken away…), and I like Thetis and everything she does SO MUCH. What got me was how willing he was to let his countrymen die just because he was sulking, like to the point that when Odysseus offered him an olive branch PLUS BENEFITS he wouldn’t relent because he wanted to stick it to Agamemnon. (I get it, Agamemnon is terrible, but what about everybody else?!) And the way he acted about Patroclus was…so unhealthy and selfish. That’s not how anybody else acted about their fallen comrades??!? And the way he treated Hector. That was really why I always hated him as a kid, and I find I still do. So yes. Maybe, really, this all ties into your bitterness-of-mortality interpretation, right? The bitterness of mortality in a world where mortals have no hope, and how that bitterness messes you up. (I could SO see Achilles leading a rebellion against Zeus! Also, side note, how is it fair that nobody in Greek myth can escape their foretold fate – except Zeus, of course! Zeus gets a free pass on EVERYTHING! Why is this?)

      You have no idea how much I want to write a story now and just transplant Don Pedro into it. Don Pedro being dramatic when she finds him coming up from the shipwreck. Don Pedro being shrewd and calculating. Don Pedro being suave and polite to Sir Gervase who can’t stand him. Do Pedro sassing the Spanish Inquisition. MORE DON PEDRO.

      Indeed, Enkidu has a name to match his personality. Weird and lovable.

      😂 You’re no kind of a Chesterton fan. Your Chesterton Fan license is hereby revoked. (But if you go read Club of Queer Trades the Department might consider giving it back to you. X) )

      Thank you kindly, m’dear! I love your comments and your half-defenses of problematic Greek heroes!

      Like

  8. This was such a delight to read! I have officially added The Club of Queer Trades and Above Suspicion to my TBR because they sound hilarious and fantastic, respectively. Ooh, and Planet Narnia sounds fascinating. I agree wholeheartedly, The Horse and His Boy is my favorite, followed by The Silver Chair 100% because of Puddleglum (what planet was that one?)

    Like

    1. YES! They are hilarious and fantastic, respectively, and you will not regret it. At least hopefully not. No accounting for taste, and all that. 😛

      PUDDLEGLUM. Puddleglum is 100% why The Silver Chair is my favorite (with Horse and His Boy at a very close second) (you have good taste in Narnia chronicles by the way :P), although there is something about the atmosphere of the story too that…I don’t know if I /like/ it, but it certainly fascinates and enchants me. Which fits with the planet yet again, because that one is the moon! And I don’t know if I /like/ them, but undoubtedly I am drawn by those things associated with the moon: night, mystery, wanderlust, large mysterious weather events, the possibility of madness.

      Like

  9. The Chesterton quote?? I love it so much XD
    Ooh, the Sherwood Smith books look fun. Especially the fact that there are SIBLINGS. I’m always here for sibling books ❤
    YES YES READ MORE KATE DICAMILLO. I mean….if you want to. She is one of my absolute favorite authors and her writing is gorgeous and her characters are so lovable and there is so much hope and heartbreak and me crying. I reread all of her books a few months ago and….they're all so BEAUTIFUL. I love them all. Okay, I'm done gushing.
    Okay, I feel like I need to read some Helen MacInnes. WWII spy novels written during WWII?? This sounds incredible.
    My cousin recently read the Illiad, so I got to hear some of his ranting about it. Including how stupid he thought Achilles was XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same XD

      Those books needed more siblings, actually. Because yes, here for the sibling books. (Also Sherwood Smith is a fantastic author name, I’m jealous)

      I TOTALLY WANT TO. And I love your gushing! I literally adored Because of Winn Dixie when I was a tiny tot, so…yeah. I’ve meant to read more of her books for a long, long time. I think I will read the one about the bald squirrel next, maybe?

      You do!! Or at least…it is my mission to get everyone in the whole world to read Helen MacInnes so…yeah. You do.
      I mean. I like her books and they’re really cool both as stories and as historical curiosities. 10/10 recommend.

      Haha! Your cousin gets it. Also, would you like to audition for the post of sister? My sisters were not nearly so patient as you seem to have been with your cousin. But…don’t you guys like the daily reports on how much I hate Achilles and how dumb Agamemnon is and how all the Greeks are just giant babies with spears?? Don’t you????

      Liked by 1 person

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