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Reviews by Jim Crainie

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Brontë

This is a classic Gothic and Victorian love novel . I have seen several film adaptations of Jayne Eyre but had never read the book. What struck me immediately about the novel is that it is written in the first-person. This enables Charlotte Bronte to enter the mind of Jayne, a governess in the employment of Edward Rochester. We see that Jayne is a reserved but passionate girl. Jayne, although plain-looking, is industrious, clever and honest. She is a true heroine who bravely faces adversity when it arises. The book does has moral and religious undertones but I did not find these intrusive. The prose is beautiful written especially the descriptions of Nature. Downsides? Adèle Varens, the little French girl who is the ward of Edward Rochester, can speak English but will insist in speaking French at every opportunity! I don't speak French. What Adèle was saying in French, therefore, was a complete mystery to me. Also the discussions between Jayne and some of the characters do go on a bit. Should you bother to read this book? Undoubtedly! I would go further and say this is a book everyone should read before they die!

Reviewed on 2007.08.01

The Grim Smile of the Five Towns

by Arnold Bennett

A wonderful collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors.
The stories involve the deeds and misdeeds of the inhabitants of five contiguous towns - Turnhill, Bursley, Hanbridge, Knype, and Longshaw, based on real villages in the Potteries, Staffordshire, England, around the turn of the twentieth century. The stories dwell on relatively minor events in the lives of the inhabitants but the author manages to maintain the momentum and interest in each story. The characters are all nice, warm, cuddly individuals, people that you would not mind spending an evening with. The author's gentle humour I find very amusing, particularly the exchange of dialogue between the characters. You will find yourself unconsciously smiling whilst reading the stories, and I don't think it will be a grim smile!

I love Arnold Bennett's prose style. Reading his books is like luxuriating in a nice hot bath - you feel warm, relaxed and good all over! I cannot recommend this author highly enough.

Reviewed on 2007.06.04

A Rogue's Life

by Wilkie Collins

A humorous book by Wilkie Collins? Surely not! The story was written in a very happy time in the author's life and in his own words was written in "a tone of almost boisterous gayety ..."

I was surprised at the wit and humor displayed by the author. I expected a "Tom Jones" rollicking romp of a story but this was not to be. The book progressed from an humorous story to a love story (the beautiful Alicia) to a mystery (what is Dr Dulcifer up to?) and finally to an adventure (the escape).

I enjoyed this book immensely. It is well-paced, has an unusual plot and a satisfying ending. What more can one ask for?

Reviewed on 2007.06.04

The Evil Guest

by J. Sheridan le Fanu

A murder who-done-it Gothic mystery where the author takes verbosity to a new
dimension. I continually found myself saying to the author "get on with it!" and
"get to the point!" Reading this book was like walking through treacle
.....SLOW! I plodded my way to the end, however, but it was not a rewarding

The plot I found highly improbable like some of the characters. The author kept
making assumptions that the reader had understood certain pertinent facts
regarding the plot, but these totally escaped me, mainly due, I guess, to the
author's verbiage. I recommend this book only to people who have difficulty
sleeping at night!

Reviewed on 2007.06.04

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Nicole Harkin
Nicole Harkin grew up in Montana and Georgia with parents who were steeped in the airline industry. To Harkin, family life was an interesting mix of secrets, drama and humor. She ended up writing a memoir which won an award and keeps readers at the edge of their seats. Illness, cancer, teen pregnancy: it’s all in there! As our Author of the Day, Harkin talks more about her childhood, her hobbies and what drove her to write this memoir.
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