Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

This was my third encounter of Jules Verne. My favorite remains 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, followed by Around the World in Eighty Days. I felt that Journey to the Center of the Earth is too short; it ended too abruptly. There should have been more room for Verne to expand the story; at least to dig deeper the emotional side of the characters. The story is told from Axel's point of view. He is the...

An Officer and A Spy by Robert Harris

I have been interested in the Dreyfus Affair ever since I read Zola's J'Accuse! about two years ago. Then lately Michael Rosen's The Disappearance of Émile Zola let my interest sparked again. Yet, these two books only cover the affair from Zola's point of view; or rather, Zola's fight and struggle during Dreyfus Affair; they do not touch its core. It is in this field has Robert Harris done a terrific...

The Disappearance of Émile Zola by Michael Rosen

Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish army officer who was falsely accused of treason (passing secrets to Germany). Perhaps it was the fact that he was a Jewish, that blew out the case into anti-semitic issue, which then torn France into two bitter sides.At that time, Zola has established himself as a successful writer, having just finished his ambitious literary project: the Rougon-Macquart series. He could...

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brönte

It's official now—Anne is by far the best Brönte! I have read Wuthering Heights (hated it), and Jane Eyre (quite liked it but not impressed), but with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I was hooked right from the beginning. Anne used letters and diary as her medium, which enabled her to show the characters' emotion more freely and naturally than if it's in flat narration. The new tenant of Wildfell Hall...

The Sin of Abbé Mouret by Émile Zola

Serge Mouret is the son of Marthe Mouret (nee Rougon) and François Mouret, son of Ursule Mouret (née Macquart); meaning he has both Rougon and Macquart bloods running in his vein. Serge has two siblings: Octave (who is most Rougon than the others—appeared in The Ladies Paradise and The Conquest of Plassans); and Désirée, a retarded girl, of whom Serge took under his care.Like all the tribe members,...

Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon

I am never a movie person. But among the short list of movies I have ever watched (most of them are book-turns-to-movies or movies starred by Matt Damon--yes I'm his fan!), there are even shorter list of movies which I often rewatch. One of them are Anna and the King, starring Jodi Foster and Chow Yun-Fat. I loved its cultural background of 19th century Siam. I also loved the silent and respectable...

A Love Story by Émile Zola

Une Page d'Amour is the eight novel in Rougon-Macquart series, if you follow Zola's recommended order of reading. Helen Constantine titled this new translation published by Oxford World's Classics with A Love Story, instead of 'an episode of love'—the closest translation to Zola's original title—because she found that this book is not only about love affairs, but also represents Zola's love for...

Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy

After the real tough War and Peace years ago, I have sought opportunity to read (and love) more of Leo Tolstoy’s. However, I ended despising Resurrection, Tolstoy final work.The protagonist is a nobleman, Prince Nekhlyudov. He has wronged a peasant girl, Maslova (Katushya), and got her pregnant. Ten years later Nekhlyudov is selected to be a juror in a murder case. To his surprise, the accused is...

The Phantom of the Opera: Second Reading

Some books must surely be read more than once to get into all the layers it contains! On my first reading of Phantom about seven years ago, I was fascinated more by its gothic theme than by the grotesqueness of its back story. Only now on this second reading did I fully grasp the scary reality underneath the fantastic story; even more because it’s so relevant with the world we live now.I don’t...

March by Geraldine Brooks

While Little Women has become so many people's favorites, I have failed to recognize its high value when I read it few years ago. It was difficult for me to relate with the story, that it just flowed to the end without deeper influence. It felt like an old blanket; comfortable, but nothing else.Only after I read March, did I realize the reason. March was inspired by Little Women; telling the historical...
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