Monday, June 16, 2008

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

by Gail Carson Levine

Another enjoyable fairy-tale adaptation from Levine, this time, Snow White with a twist. The twist is an interesting idea: Aza (the Snow White character) is not a beautiful girl, but a very ugly one by the standards of her people: her pale coloring and dark hair make her seem quite hideous. Yet she has a marvelous singing voice (which is prized by her people). Twist one.

Aza ends up in the king's castle by a string of lucky events, where she meets the woman engaged to the king—Ivi, a beautiful girl not much older than herself. Ivi takes a liking to her, and they become friends. (Twist two: Snow White is friends and a lady-in-waiting to the wicked stepmother.)

There is a prince, of course, and a magic mirror, and plenty of smallish men (though they are gnomes in this story and not dwarves), and even a poisoned apple, but the story is very unique in its ideas and adaptation.

I can't say that I liked it a great deal, though. It was a bit heavy-handed and moralistic to me (the point that beauty doesn't matter as much as we think, and that there is more than one way to be beautiful is hammered in again and again without much subtlety), and the ending a bit...well, disappointing. It's been awhile since I read it now, so I can't even remember it well enough to be able to describe what disappointed me without giving away the I'll just leave it at that, "disappointing."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

This is one of those books that, when I am between books and don't have any immediate plans to read anything else, I pick up with delight and read again. I have no idea how many times I've read it; I can't even recall the first time that I picked it up, but I love this book.

(And as a sidenote, my cover didn't look like this <—. I have a complete collection of Austen in one huge book, and the cover isn't especially exciting. I picked this cover because it didn't have Keira Knightley OR Colin Firth on it.) I love this book especially, I think, because I love Elizabeth and her "high spirits." She is a very likeable character. And I love this book because of Austen's wit. There are passages in here that no matter how many times I read them, I am still get a kick out of them. For example, this passage is from a expository scene that has Mr. Bennet teasing his wife and daughters:
"What say you, Mary? for you are a young lady of deep reflection I know, and read great books, and make extracts.''

Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how.

There are so many brilliantly witty things all throughout.

And, of course, there is the romance, the satisfaction of a very happy ending, the misfortunes of the foolish, emotion and changes of heart...what else can I say? I love this book.