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Heidi of the Rockies

I need to quit promising reviews here and just start getting them done!

After a great weekend partying in Steamboat Springs (thanks to Ben & Kiki for a good time), I’m back at it!

I have just written a movie reviews of Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney and  Into the Wild, based on the book by the same name by Jon Kraukauer.   Both are in theaters now.   Read my reviews under the Movie Reviews Tab above.

Enjoy!

Busy Week

We have had a tremendously busy week and I haven’t gotten around to writing my reviews yet.   We did manage to squeeze in a movie this week (Into the Wild) which just happens to be a favorite book of mine.    Sean Penn directed the movie and I think he did a pretty good job at staying on target with the book (by Jon Kraukauer).  

We are off to Steamboat Springs for the weekend, but when I return I promise to  review A Thousand Splendid Suns and Into the Wild.

 Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!  

Book Review: The Age of Innocence & A Room with a View

Dust off those classics ~ they deserve another chance  

In this fast pace world of cell phone, Ipods and virus videos it is easy to forget about classics.   You know the classics; those books collecting dust on your bookshelf, behind the best-sellers you bought because Oprah liked it or because you liked the attractively decorated cover.  

I want to share two of my favorite books, they both happen to be classics.   These books and other so-called classics contain the writing that is used as the stick with which to measure great writing, and in this world increasingly full of one-liners and text messaging it is easy to forget what good writing looks like.  

Both books are packed with innuendoes, intrigue and sexual tension, and both authors have first-person experience with the attitudes and time periods of which they write.   There are other classics that some people would rate higher on a literary scale of greatness, but no one will argue there position among the great literary books of all-time.    

Book-Review-Age-of-InnocenceThe Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton  

This is my all-time favorite book.   The story incorporates social commentary with brilliantly written social and sexual tension.   It follows the life of a 19th Century New York gentleman, Newland Archer, and his intense feelings for Countess Olenska, who has fallen from societal graces by leaving her husband.   The story grips the reader and pulls her into the world of New York high society and the strict conventions that come with it.    

Wharton writes in great detail, never leaving a teacup unmentioned. This intense attention to scene setting draws an exceedingly accurate and vivid picture of the society’s obsession with opulence and the outward appearance of perfection. The following paragraph describes the Beaufort house:  

Then the house had been boldly planned with a ball-room, so that, instead of squeezing through a narrow passage to get to it (as at the Chiverses’) one marched solemnly down a vista of enfiladed drawing-rooms (the sea-green, the crimson and the bouton d’or), seeing from afar the many-candled lustres reflected in the polished parquetry, and beyond that the depths of a conservatory where camellias and tree-ferns arched their costly foliage over seats of black and gold bamboo. ~The Age of Innocence, Chapter III.    

Archer’s problem is not only is he  in love with a woman who has left her husband, but he is engaged to May Welland, a proper young woman who he admires, but is not in love with. In the following paragraph Archer contemplates a photograph of he fiancé:

As he dropped into his armchair near the fire his eyes rested on a large photograph of May Welland, which the young girl had given him in the first days of their romance, and which had now displaced all the other portraits on the table. With a new sense of awe he looked at the frank forehead, serious eyes and gay innocent mouth of the young creature whose soul’s custodian he was to be. That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger through May Welland’s familiar features; and once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but a voyage on uncharted seas. ~ The Age of Innocence, Chapter VI.

Countess Olenska is everything May is not; worldly, daring and seemingly indifferent.   But is she really so uncaring?   Is her air of confidence a ruse?   Archer aches to find the true Countess Olsenska, but how can he when he is soon to be wed to Miss May Wellen?  

The Age of Innocence explores the relationship between people and the societal constrains under which they must live. It is a character study, as well as a study of 19th Century society in upper class New York.  

Countess Olenska is character Wharton very well may have fashioned after herself. Edith Wharton was born in 1862 to a wealthy New York family (whose last name of Jones has been associated with the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”). She was a divorcé who spent much of her time abroad in France and was said to have had a three-year affair with journalist Morton Fullerton.   She was also very close with author Henry James.  

Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature (1921) for The Age of Innocence.  

A Room with a ViewA Room with a View, E. M. Forster  

A Room with a View is another story written by an author who enjoys writing fiction that comments on societal conventions, and the absurdity of many of these conventions. This book is the story of a young English woman named Lucy Honeychurch who takes a holiday in Florence, Italy.  The trip  changes her life.   The first part of the book is based in Italy, where the reader meets some odd and highly comical characters that reappear throughout the book.    

Based in the 19th Century, the book is full of societal mores of the day.   Including the necessity of a chaperone to accompanying a young woman traveling abroad; an unaccompanied young woman would be scandalous.   Miss Honeychurch’s chaperone is her spinster cousin, Miss Charlotte Bartlett.   The two cousins stay at a pension with many amusing guests, including a young man named George Emerson, who is traveling with his father.   George is not only from a different social class than Miss Honeychurch, but he is also a philosophical fellow who is profoundly affected by the world around him, in other words, despite his handsome face, he is quite odd.  

While loitering in a Florentine plaza, Miss Honeychurch witnesses a brutal murder and faints into George’s arms and thus begins the rocky relationship between the two.   However, back in England, Cecil Vyse, a rather dull, yet highly suitable young man with all the right bloodlines is waiting for Miss Honeychurch.    

The second half of the book is set in Surrey, England where Miss Honeychurch reintegrates herself into her proper upper class English family.   Just as things are getting back to normal, George and his father move into a house down the road and Miss Honeychurch is torn between society’s wishes for her to marry the rich, boring Cecil or her own wishes to marry the man she loves.  

The highlight of this book is the entertaining character development.   Forster has crafted a humorous story chockablock with colorful characters too rich to work and so very bored with their own pampered lives that they spend a great quantity of time meddling in other peoples.  

E.M. Forster knew first hand the cost of not conforming to social conventions. Born into a middle-class London family in 1870, he became good friends with controversial writers D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf.   He was also a homosexual.   He wrote one book with a homosexual theme (Maurice) which he circulated privately; it was only published after his death in 1970.    

This review originally appeared July 2007, at Anthology Book Company’s Blog, www.anthologybookco.blogspot.com.  

We're Back!

We had a great time in Houston.

Thank you  to Dean & Lindsay for their hospitality.     They were expert tour  guides of the city.   We visited museums, NASA and Galveston – managed to pack a lot into a quick trip.     I was impressed with Houston – several people had given me some negative views on the city (before I went), but overall I found it to be quite nice!   The museum district is beautiful with  giant oak trees towering over the streets.   The city is huge with an enormous freeway system; it would be very intimidating if I’d had to drive.   There are hundreds of restaurants and no lack of things to do.    I ate fish tacos, drank wine, ate  steak stuffed  poblano  peppers, drank more wine, had a  outrageously good  bbq salmon with dill sauce,  drank a little more wine, a  shrimp  po’or boy with wine; it went on like this  for several days!   A very memorable time was had by all!    

I’m going to have to walk quite a few miles to burn off these vacation calories!

I finished “A Thousand Splendid Suns”  and started “Three Cups of Tea” (by Greg Mortenson) while in Houston so I will have a new book review and  a new  movie review up very soon (hopefully, before Wednesday).

Keep checking in!

October 17, 2007

Fall in  ColoradoFall in Colorado

I took this photo yesterday on my daily walk.   I was going to use it as my new header photo, but can’t bring myself to get rid of the gorgeous mountain photo.  

I am going to be MIA for a few days.   We are headed to Houston to visit Ryan’s uncle and aunt.   It’s  suppose to be 90 in Houston tomorrow!   It should be a fun and interesting trip fun – I’ve never been to Texas (outside the airport, that is).   We are planning on visiting NASA, something Ryan has always wanted to do.   I’m looking forward to eating some great seafood.  

I will be finishing up “A Thousand Splendid  Suns,” by Khaled Hosseini in the next day or so.    I will try to have a review up by  early next week.   I’m about  three- quarters  through the book and so far I like it just as much as Hosseini’s first book, “Kite Runner.”    

As always, please feel free to leave me comments.   If any of you see “The Kingdom” – I’d love to hear your opinion.   Also, if any of you have read a great book lately, I am ALWAYS looking for a recommendation.  

~Heidi

Two New Reviews

GO ROCKIES!!      What a great day to be a Colorado Rockies fan!

I   have posted two new reviews under Restaurant Reviews  and Movie Reviews.

Please feel free to leave me comments!!

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