The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan by Agatha Christie

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Detective Hercule Poirot is with his friend Captain Arthur Hastings at the Grand Metropolitan Hotel when a wealthy matron’s pearls go missing in The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan by author Agatha Christie.

I’ve read very little of Christie’s work (so far, at least) and haven’t done so since my adolescence. But I was in the mood for a good old-fashioned mystery, and though I do read murder mysteries from time to time, I more often look for mysteries that aren’t about murder.

And since I didn’t have much time, it was the perfect occasion for an entertaining short story.

No, I’d not read anything about Poirot and Hastings before, but that didn’t make this any less enjoyable. The robbery case has just the number of twists to keep it interesting and all of the cleverness and the quirky-and-proper kind of humor I was hoping to find here.

I’m sure I’ll be reading more about Hercule Poirot, likely sooner than later.

 

The Fisherman’s Lady by George MacDonald

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Fisherman’s Lady by George MacDonald

“You mind your own business.”
“I’ll try, my lord; it’s the business of every man, where he can, to loosen the chains of injustice and let the oppressed go free.”

Time for some confessions.

Confession One: I started reading this Gothic, Christian classic, The Fisherman’s Lady by author George MacDonald, nearly two and a half years ago.

Yes, the beginning is quite chilling, with the discovery of a woman’s corpse in an old house, and the secrets lurking throughout the story turn out to have much to do with a young Scottish fisherman, Malcolm.

Confession Two: as a lover of classic literature, I  so wanted to love this novel. So much so that I held on for these past years, coming back to the book periodically, trying and retrying to get into it. It took this long for me to finally reconcile myself to the fact that this read just isn’t for me.

The only parts that really got me were certain declarations from almost-too-perfect-but-still-admirable Malcolm—such as his declaration about injustice and freeing the oppressed, which I’ve been dying to put in a book review since the moment I first read it. Years ago.

Confession Three: because I still want to read the sequel, I skimmed a substantial chunk of this novel to see how it would turn out. And how it turns out is rather…weird. Weird in a good way but mostly weird in a…weird way.

But I can handle that kind of weirdness now and then, especially in a book as old as this one. Gotta love classic lit. On to the sequel! (I’m pretty sure “on” won’t be two and a half years from now.)

__________

My copy of The Fisherman’s Lady is in a two-book volume titled Malcolm.

 

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (The First Third)

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

It was only six (yes, six) years ago when I started Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, this 1862 classic about Jean Valjean, the noble peasant and prisoner, and the Parisian underworld ripe for another level of French unrest. Add to that the prostitute who breaks your heart, Fantine, her little Cosette, the greedy and scheming Thénardier husband and wife duo, and the relentless detective Javert, who, quite frankly, needs to get a life.

Now, this is a progress report, not exactly a review. Sure, it’s taken me six years to get a third of the way through the novel, but it simply wouldn’t do for me to read an abridged edition. I personally don’t want someone else determining what segments of a classic I need to read, and what big chunks they can cut out on my behalf. I want to experience and come to conclusions over the whole reading for myself, thank you.

But, frankly, since I started book blogging on a schedule, and with my own books I have to write and publish and whatnot, taking time out to work through an entire epic nearly 1,500 (dense) pages long, all at once, would be quite the feat for someone who isn’t a speed reader, as much as she loves books.

And I do love this book so far, and have found something more to love about it every time I’ve picked it up, off and on, over the past few years. It’s the kind of read to get your intellect, reasoning, and convictions involved, as well as your emotions, and I can only imagine what sharp, thought-provoking, stirring nuggets I might have missed by reading a clipped-up version.

No offense meant to anyone who’s read an abridged Les Mis. The 2012 musical adaptation from Universal Pictures is one of my all-time favorite films and is, of course, an abridged version of the story. So, I get it. 🙂

Still, I didn’t want to go any longer without saying something about this extended reading adventure of mine. Perhaps, now that I’ve ventured to post about it on my blog, I’ll find a way to work in the rest of this remarkable novel before another six years go by.

Seriously, I don’t think it’ll take that long.

 

Paradise Regained by John Milton

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Paradise Regained by John Milton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thou Spirit who ledd’st this glorious Eremite
Into the Desert…
inspire,
As thou art wont, my prompted Song else mute…
to tell of deeds
Above Heroic, though in secret done…

The Tempter who once deceived humankind in the Garden of Eden is back, generations later, to tempt the Son of God in the wilderness in Paradise Regained by John Milton.

I read the preceding epic poem, Paradise Lost, some years ago and finally read its coda here for the first time. That is, I initially didn’t know it was more of a coda and was thus surprised to find it so much shorter than the first poem, which is, of course, the length of a novel.

I now have a better idea of why Paradise Lost so often stands alone. It involves more characters and does tell more of an epic story, sweeping between heaven and earth with terrestrial business and celestial war.

Still, the poetess in me was again absorbed in Milton’s way with verse.

“Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules
Passions, Desires, and Fears, is more a King;
Which every wise and virtuous man attains:
And who attains not, ill aspires to rule
Cities of men…
Subject himself to Anarchy within…”

Though I’ll admit I got more of a thrill watching the Son as the dominant warrior in the first poem, it was also great listening to him outwit his artful adversary here. Then, after his deeds Above Heroic done before none but an audience of praising angels, what else does the Son do but have a meal, leave the site of triumph, and privately head back to his mother’s house?

Hm. What else indeed.

“…and now thou hast aveng’d
Supplanted Adam, and by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regain’d lost Paradise…
on thy glorious work
Now enter, and begin to save mankind.”

____________

Here’s what I had to say about Paradise Lost.