Posts Tagged ‘Jules Verne’

I finally managed to finish two in a week again – although the first of these has been hanging around for a while so it’s not quite the success it sounds!

Book 29 – Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne.

This book was a difficult one to enjoy, and it was a slow starter.  40% in I was still waiting to get into the proper adventure – whose house you stay in for a night and what the food tastes like is not much of an adventure.

When we do get started we move quickly through, with many of the terrors over and done with in the course of a few pages, and resolved very easily.  They ran out of water – and soon found a stream running alongside the lava tunnels.  One person got separated, and they found him through the magical power of sound-conducting stone.  When crossing the underground sea, the storm they experience brings them exactly to where they need to be.  If all else fails cause a volcanic eruption you can ride to safety…

I found it hard to suspend my disbelief reading this story (the negative side of learning about geology and geography, I guess) and what could have been exciting and amazing was simply unbelievable.  If I’d liked the characters I might have been more invested but the three men who undertake the journey are not interesting or complex enough for me.

Jules Verne was one of the first writers I read as part of the challenge, and I enjoyed his writing before so to have found this much more difficult to enjoy, and the characters much less personable was a bit of a shame.

Book 30 – The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bedier.  I remember writing a short assignment on comparative mythology and part of this story brought that to mind – if you know about Theseus on his return from killing the Minotaur, you’d spot it!

This book was a welcome change of pace; it was in effect an updated version of a medieval romance, and has a lot in common with the Arthurian stories – Arthur is even mentioned in this one.  Even the more violent events that take place are steps along the way in the romance of the two named characters.

After various events, Tristan wins the hand of Iseult for his uncle, King Mark.  On their way to Cornwall from Ireland there is a terrible mistake made and they are given a potion that makes them love each other with their whole souls (the potion was meant for Iseult and Mark).  From this point onwards we see the impact of that love – deceitful but pure, disloyal but faithful, the two are torn between each other and the lives they have to live.

This love is a tragedy because of all the pain and damage it causes – you cannot help but feel for them, for their feelings are outside their control and they are ultimately destroyed by it.  However, the love makes them deceitful to the people who they should most care for, and their twisting of facts to cover up this deceit means they have no moral high ground.

As someone who enjoys reading stories of this nature, and from this oeuvre, I am really pleased I’ve read this version – I’ve watched the film (and couldn’t help picturing Rufus Sewell as King Mark as I read!) but the story in the book is much more satisfying. I would definitely recommend this story for anyone interested in the myths and legends that grew up in the medieval period.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!




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One of my Christmas presents was an e-reader, and although I love a physical book in my hands, I’ve downloaded some free classics to see how I get on – as they are out of copyright and in the public domain, I’m not depriving a writer of their income which is important to me.

I’m finding the e-reader good for this because honestly, I’d never have bought them all on the off-chance I liked them.  Now I can try them and if I enjoy them and want to re-read them in the future I can buy a hard copy. Maybe this will convert me to the e-cause!

Some of the books I’ve downloaded are from the 100 best novels series, and it got me thinking – what it I challenged myself to read more this year?  An actual challenge, with a specific number of books to read and review?  I debated the number and thought about all the things I have going on throughout the year, and decided I’d aim for a book a week.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll read a book from Monday-Sunday but that I’ll read 52 this year.

That’s 52 books for me to digest and rate, 52 books to stir my inspiration.  I’ll choose from books suggested by friends and family, those on the 100 books list, and reading group books.

If you have any suggestions please post them in the comments!

My year is starting a little late so I’ve been playing catch-up for a few days, but I have managed to read three this week (I read pretty quickly!).

Each book I finish I’ll tell you about in a Thursday post, with a few of my thoughts.  So here’s the first three:

Book 1 – Agnes Grey, by Anne Brontë. This was easy to read, and straightforward.  The tension revolves around powerlessness and position, with the unworldly, pure and good Agnes juxtaposed with higher society characters who are dissolute, cruel and selfish. There is a heavily Christian element throughout the narrative, which I imagine is due to Brontë‘s own life experience.  I think this is a book of its time and should be read as such.

Book 2 – Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne.  Much more fun than I was expecting, this was a bit overlong in some sections but the pace was generally good.  The world looked very different when it was written so comments probably passed me by, and it’s not exactly politically correct, but there are also some enlightened aspects which I didn’t expect.  Phileas Fogg brings life to the supporting cast as he is so closed-off.  The frequent foolishness and thoughtlessness of Passepartout seemed oddly out of kilter with his heroism and bravery, and one of the plot points makes no sense at all to me, but overall it was a good read.

Book 3 – Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw.  This is a play, so normal novel conventions don’t apply!  It is the basis of My Fair Lady, of course, but I didn’t think too much about the film as I read.  The play itself is actually quite short, with the opening information and the conclusion of the story separate from the performance.  It speeds through six months: a wager is made and then we see just a snippet of progress before the final outcome is laid bare.  The importance of knowing yourself and your own worth is the focus of the play – that’s what I took from it anyway!

So there you have it – a new challenge for 2014.  If you want to join in, let me know what you’re reading in the comments…

Happy writing – and reading!



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