Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson’s cherished, unforgettable adventure magically captures the thrill of a sea voyage and a treasure hunt through the eyes of its teenage protagonist, Jim Hawkins. Crossing the Atlantic in search of the buried cache, Jim and the ship’s crew must brave the elements and a mutinous charge led by the quintessentially ruthless pirate Long John Silver. Brilliantly conceived and splendidly executed, it is a novel that has seized the imagination of generations of adults and children alike

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published November 14, 1883 by Cassell and Company
Format: Hardcover; 240 pages
Classics / Adventure / Young Adult
Also By This Author: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

It probably takes a good blend of ignorance and luck to avoid finding out spoilers for a 134 year old book, but I made it 27 years without knowing anything about Treasure Island, except for the fact that it involved treasure, an island, and it featured pirates. I had never read this book or its synopsis before, nor had I seen any movie adaptations (no, not even the Muppets version). Of course, I had heard of Long John Silver, but I didn’t even know he was a prominent character in this book until he was introduced several chapters in.

Disclaimer: if you are a rarity like me who doesn’t know anything about Treasure Island and would like to keep it that way, you may want to skip down to the “Read this Book if” section, to continue avoiding spoilers :)

I liked not knowing anything about this novel beforehand because that really raised the suspense level for me. I never knew who to trust and I was constantly worried about characters dying. I applaud Robert Lewis Stevenson for romanticizing pirate stories, and I wonder if even he anticipated or expected the influence his novel would continue to have long after his death.

As intrigued as I was by this story for the first four parts, once they arrive on the island and conflicts begin escalating, I started detaching from the story. I think I was put off by Long John Silver’s character. From the very first encounter with him, I didn’t trust him, but there were several times when I wanted to. I remember gasping in shock when the mutiny is uncovered by our narrator halfway through the story, but I always expected Silver to be the villain in disguise. What really confused me was how he could kill several crew members and threaten the lives of the captain and the doctor and still get away scot-free at the end of the book, while the men he persuaded into mutiny were either killed or marooned on Treasure Island.

Maybe I wasn’t reading closely enough? Am I alone in feeling conflicted over the conclusion of Treasure Island? It ruined the ending for me quite a bit, which is why I only gave the book a 3-star rating.

Read This Book If…

…you wish you were a pirate! Or you at least enjoy pirate and/or adventure stories.
…you are fascinated by the way humans (and fictional characters) react when placed in stressful life-and-death situations, especially when profit is involved (if you like Lord of the Flies and similar novels, you will probably appreciate Treasure Island as well).
…you like reading pioneering novels that have birthed entirely new genres.
…you enjoy reading books with reliable narrators, even if the other characters are not as trustworthy.

Final Musings

Since I’ve never seen a single film adaptation of Treasure Island, I have no idea which one is the best. Any recommendations? If you’re reading this, you should know that I am not the biggest Muppets fan, but if that one is generally considered one of the best versions, I will consider watching it :)

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far From the Madding Crowd

Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy’s novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Published 1874 by Cornhill Magazine
Format: Paperback; 433 pages
Classics

Also By This Author: Tess of the D’UrbervillesJude the Obscure
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

It has taken me MONTHS to write this review of Thomas Hardy’s classic, Far From the Madding Crowd, probably because I have so many mixed feelings over it. It’s one of my best friend’s favorite books, so I really wanted to love it when I first started reading it last spring/summer. It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Gabriel’s loyal character, and I even admired Bathsheba from time to time. But I had a difficult time connecting with the storyline, which caused me to keep putting the book down and picking it back up weeks later.

The one thing that kept me in pursuit of finishing Far From the Madding Crowd was a very exciting project I had the opportunity to work on: a literary-inspired webseries adaptation!

If you’ve ever happened to explore the menu on the right side of my bog, you may have inferred that I am a fan of webseries, especially those of a literary persuasion. My absolute favorite webseries is Green Gables Fables, a modern adaptation of my favorite novel, Anne of Green Gables. I’ve always dreamed that it would be fun and challenging to work on a LIW, but never had the opportunity before an online friend, Hazel, started putting a team together to turn Far From the Madding Crowd into a modern webseries.

You can check out the currently running series, Away From it All, here. The AFiT universe is expansive and ranges across many media platforms such as Twitter, Youtube videos, Tumblr, and even text messages!

I wrote/co-wrote three episodes, two of which have already aired. Having never written anything that was “published,” I was really nervous about this project! But overall I had fun and I learned a great deal about screenwriting, fictional character development, and all that a webseries production entails (which is to say, A TON). I’m grateful for the opportunity to become more involved in this community of artistic classic-lit-lovers.

I wish I enjoyed Far From the Madding Crowd more, but I’m not too surprised considering that Bathsheba was an unlikable character in my opinion. I’ve read rumors that Hardy did not have a very positive outlook on women, so maybe that attributed to some of my impressions. Like I said, I admired her character in a lot of ways. I just don’t think she’d be someone I’d get along with in real life ;)

Read This Book If…

…you love reading classics, especially “chunky” ones.
…you like stories with love triangles (or you aren’t turned off by them, at least).
…you appreciate strong minded female characters who are also feminine and delicate, at times. 
…you enjoy novels that focus on genteel living in the 1800s.

Final Musings:

One of the other developers/writers/transmedia experts has started her own production of an adaptation of A Comedy of Errors, which she’s invited me to join, and I’m really looking forward to working on a modern Shakespeare adaptation! Check back later for more info on that project :)

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh

“Once upon a time, a very long time ago, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest…”The world of Pooh is a world of enchantment. It is a world forever fixed in the minds and hearts of countless children — a world where Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga and the others share unforgettable adventures with Christopher Robin.

Winnie-the-Pooh is filled with delight: Pooh goes hunting with Piglet, celebrates Eeyore’s birthday, and accompanies Christopher Robin and the others on an “Expotition” to the North Pole. Through it all, Pooh remains the whimsical philosopher and staunch friend, captivating children as he has for generations.

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Published October 1, 1926
Format: Hardcover library checkout; 145 pages
Classics/Children’s Lit
Also By This Author: The Red House MysteryThe Sunny SideTwo People
GoodreadsAmazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I am frantically trying to catch up with my Classic’s Club challenge! I don’t know if I’m going to finish reading and reviewing 50 classics by the end of next year (I’m currently at 28), but I know I’ve definitely read at least that many classics, even if they weren’t on my list.

So, in a desperate attempt to catch up on my TBR classics list, in January I read the short but beloved children’s classic, Winnie the Pooh. Of course I used to watch the movies and TV series when I was younger, but I had never read any of the books! This seems to be a recurring travesty for me, since I also never read The Secret Garden or Peter Pan until only a year or two ago. I’m also experiencing the Emily of New Moon series by L. M. Montgomery for the first time, as part of a read-along from February through April. I’m VERY HAPPY that I discovered Anne of Green Gables at such a young age, but why did no one tell me about her literary sister, Emily?
Anyway, Winnie the Pooh was lovely and magical, as expected. I adored the naive and child-like humor of Pooh and his forest friends, and I was in a constant state of cheerfulness as I read about their adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Winnie the Pooh 1

The only dark cloud appeared when I did some quick Google research on the author, A. A. Milne, and his son, who was the inspiration for Christopher Robin. I was sad to discover that the Winnie the Pooh series and subsequent franchise was detrimental to their relationship, and that even A. A. Milne’s wife harbored some resentment towards their son over the fallout. It’s unfortunate that a beautiful and heartwarming universe such as Winnie the Pooh could be the cause of family strife in the author’s life.

Winnie the Pooh will still be a comforting and enjoyable series to me, but I’ll always be reading it with a different lens from now on.

Read This Book If…

…you are still a child at heart.
…you’re looking for a book that will make you feel joy.
…you’re a fan of classics.

Final Musings

Winnie the Pooh 2

Have you ever had a changed opinion over a book you loved after learning more about the author’s background and history?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol.jpg

To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Published December 19, 1843 by Chapman & Hall
Format: Kindle e-book; 73 pages
Classics
Also By This Author: Great ExpectationsLittle DorritA Tale of Two Cities
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

This is me attempting to catch up on book reviews from last year…

Last month I finally, for the first time ever, read A Christmas Carol. I amazed even myself by waiting that long to read it. Of course I knew the story; I’ve seen enough movie versions and even that one Boy Meets World episode that re-imagines Mr. Feeny as the Ghost of Christmas Future. But I had never read it! I had it in my mind that I could only read A Christmas Carol when it was actually Christmastime, and each December I would be so overwhelmed with holiday preparations or finishing reading challenges that I’d keep putting the Charles Dickens story aside for another year.

Well, 2016 was finally that year and I’m not at all surprised to say that I truly enjoyed A Christmas Carol and I can see why it will forever be a holiday classic and one of Charles Dickens’s most beloved works.

As expected, the Ghost of Christmas Present creeped me out, the idea of Tiny Tim passing away made me cry, and the renewed and re-inspired Ebenezer Scrooge buying the prize turkey and sending it in a cab to Bob Crachit’s house, all the while chuckling and probably confounding the poor messenger boy, made me chuckle as well.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Read This Book If…

…you wish it were Christmas all year long.
…you enjoy shorter, novella-length books.
…you want to rediscover a classic.
…you’ve never read Dickens before and are looking to ease your way into his works.

Final Musings

I’ve heard that there are some wonderfully done audiobook versions of  A Christmas Carol, including one by Neil Gaiman. Maybe this December I’ll listen to one of those narrations while wrapping Christmas presents :)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. One day, with the help of two unexpected companions, she discovers a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published 1911 by Frederick A. Stokes
Format: audiobook; 331 pages
Classics/Young Adult
Also By This Author: A Little PrincessLittle Lord Fauntleroy
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

The Secret Garden is one of those novels I always assumed I had read when I was little, or I at least thought I had seen the movie. Having read the book now, however, I realize that I didn’t know the story at all!

Despite The Secret Garden being written for a younger audience, I still enjoyed it, especially the dreamy, poetic language Frances Hodgson Burnett uses. I found myself getting lost in The Secret Garden along with Mary Lennox and her friends. I connected with Mary and her friend Declan right away, but it took me a little while to start liking Colin (although I think that was purposeful).

The tone of mystery and suspense is so thick in this novel that I was constantly expecting something bad to happen. This is actually a pretty common reaction for me; while reading Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone, I thought Emily’s best friend Sloane had been kidnapped and/or murdered when really she had secretly moved.

“One of the strange things about living in the world is that now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever…”

Read This Book If…

…you’re a daydreamer/adventurer.
…you enjoy strong-minded, stubborn characters.
…you’re looking for a book that will help you temporarily escape from the real world.
…you want to rediscover a childhood classic.

“I’ve seen the spring now and I’m going to see the summer. I’m going to see everything grow here. I’m going to grow here myself.”

Final Musings:

I read this book because of it’s web series adaptation, The Misselthwaite Archives. I’m a part of an online LIW (literary-inspired web series) club. Last month we watched The Misselthwaite Archives and chatted about it and I also read the book. The web series is a lovely adaptation of The Secret Garden. Colin was changed to Callie, which worked better for the modern version, in my opinion. The cinematography is gorgeous and the theme music is appropriately captivating. The acting is also wonderful!

Villette by Charlotte Bronté

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Arguably Brontë’s most refined and deeply felt work, Villette draws on her profound loneliness following the deaths of her three siblings. Lucy Snowe, the narrator of Villette, flees from an unhappy past in England to begin a new life as a teacher at a French boarding school in the great cosmopolitan capital of Villette. Soon Lucy’s struggle for independence is overshadowed by both her friendship with a worldly English doctor and her feelings for an autocratic schoolmaster. Brontë’s strikingly modern heroine must decide if there is any man in her society with whom she can live and still be free.

Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Published 1853 (under Currer Bell) by Smith, Elder & Co.
Format: e-book; 432 pages
Classics/Romance/Gothic Fiction
Also By This Author: Jane EyreShirley
AmazonGoodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

Villette took me months to finish; 10 months to be exact. It may be surprising, therefore, that I would give this book a 4-star rating, but despite feeling like a sloth trying to force my way through the majority of this novel, the last 50-60 pages made the sluggish journey completely worth it.

Villette, much like its beloved sister-novel Jane Eyre, is a gothic Victorian love story involving a persevering, deep-feeling narrator and a misunderstood, secretly caring Byronic hero. Unlike Jane Eyre, Miss Lucy Snowe is an unreliable, often unlikable narrator. I actually had a hard time desiring good things for her until the final chapters. I won’t sugar coat it; being inside her mind was annoying at times. She was judgmental and behaved bitterly towards most of her companions. Charlotte Brontë purposefully gave her an icy surname.

Honestly, I was very disinterested in Villette until the climax of the story and from that point on I was hooked. The long-awaited sentimentality that Charlotte Brontë excelled at did not disappoint. On the contrary, it was so lovely I probably would have cried if I hadn’t been reading it at work (I happily sobbed through the ending of Jane Eyre from the privacy of my bedroom).

It also helps to know that Villette borrows from real events in the author’s life. It could even be called autobiographical in many ways. If you’ve already read Villette or you don’t mind major spoilers, here’s an excellent analysis of the novel and Charlotte’s connection to Lucy Snowe.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy classic gothic literature (think Jane EyreNorthanger Abbey, or even Edgar Allan Poe).
…you love unrequited love stories.
…you can enjoy a book even if the main character is unpleasant or hard to sympathize with.
…you love captivating conclusions (Villette will intrigue you and stay on your mind long after you finish it).

Final Musings

There was a 1970s miniseries of Villette, but alas! It has been lost. Unfortunately this is the case for numerous British miniseries from the 1970s and earlier. Frankly I think it’s horrible and I’m really upset because I would love to watch all of the literary-inspired shows!

There are also two different radio dramatizations of Villette that BBC Radio has produced, but I haven’t found a way to listen to them, yet :(

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

senseandsensibility

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Published 1811 by Thomas Egerton
Format: hardcover; 357 pages
Classics/Romance
Also By This Author: EmmaMansfield ParkNorthanger Abbey
GoodreadsAmazon

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

Sense and Sensibility is the first novel by Jane Austen that I ever read. I randomly started reading it one day in 10th grade when I had some down time in class, and ever since I’ve been a Janeite. Last summer I reread Sense and Sensibility for the second or third time for Austen in August, but I got so caught up in baby shower plans and arts and crafts that I didn’t get a chance to post my review. And then this week something made me think of Alan Rickman :( which made me think about how much I love Colonel Brandon and Rickman’s portrayal of him that I decided it was finally time to talk about the book on my blog.

Besides Colonel Brandon, my absolute favorite part of Sense and Sensibility is Elinor. I know she’s not as entertaining or interesting as Marianne, but like Anne Elliot and Jane Bennet, she has qualities of selflessness and kindness that I admire and strive to incorporate into my own character, especially when I’m around people who really try my patience!

“Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distresses, no less than in theirs.”

Another quality of Elinor’s that I admire, that Anne Elliot also possesses; is the ability to think frugally and responsibly. In my personal life, I have a 6 month old baby and my husband and I just bought a house, so we could use some frugal thinking right now!

I have a hard time really reviewing Sense and Sensibility because there are so many good characters, plot twists, and heartfelt conversations. I could write essays on this book, but I also don’t feel that I have anything new to say about it. Except that I love Colonel Brandon! Oh wait, that’s not new, is it?

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy dry, witty humor.
…you like reading coming of age stories involving heartache.
…you’re looking for a timeless, excellently written classic to enjoy this summer.
…you love seeing close-knit family relationships in fiction.

Final Musings

Here are several Sense and Sensibility adaptations I’ve watched (and in some cases watched and rewatched):

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

mv5bnzk1mju3mdqyml5bml5banbnxkftztcwnjc1otm2mq-_v1_sx640_sy720_Not only the best Sense and Sensibility adaptation in my opinion, but it’s also one of my all-time favorite films. The acting is what really makes this film so excellent. Everyone was perfectly casted and even the annoying characters (i.e. Lucy Steele) aren’t annoying enough to deter me from enjoying the movie over and over again (this is the exact problem I have with Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins in the Pride and Prejudice miniseries). The script also holds true to the novel and the soundtrack is lovely.

sense-and-sensibility-1995-sense-and-sensibility-2580847-300-425Sense and Sensibility (2008)

This is also a wonderful adaptation, although it can’t top the Emma Thompson film version. I loved Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars and David Morrissey plays Colonel Brandon well, too. I wish I could buy the score because the music is hauntingly beautiful, but last time I checked I couldn’t find anywhere to purchase it :(

jo36wpieprojectdashwood_1423093042_140Web Series

There are two web series adaptations, “Elinor and Marianne Take Barton” and “Project Dashwood”, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them. They both could have used better scripts and I wasn’t a fan of the acting in Project Dashwood. I would love to see a well-adapted web series of Sense and Sensibility one day. Maybe I should try to get a production together myself… (just kidding?)