Reviews by Mary Catherine

The Garden of Allah

by Robert Hichens

The Garden of Allah is the story of Domini, a wealthy and unmarried woman from an unhappy family. She journeys to Algeria and meets Boris, a mysterious man with a dark secret. They fall in love, get married, but is the ending happy? You have to read it to find out.

Robert Smythe Hichens' greatest gift is the way he describes atmosphere. His writing almost puts the reader at the scene. However, I had difficulty with this book as I didn't really like or empathize with either Domini or Boris, and it was hard to care what happened to them. The Garden of Allah didn't have the suspense element that Bella Donna had, so it was not as absorbing a read.




Reviewed on 2009.04.05

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a thoroughly entertaining and charming story. I just read it for the first time (at age 50) and can't believe that I missed out for all these years.

The world of Tom, Huckleberry, Becky, Aunt Polly and all the folk of 19th century St. Petersburg, Missouri is a place you MUST visit at least once. Mark Twain perfectly captures the universal joy and pain of childhood in this remarkable book.

Reviewed on 2009.04.05

The Beautiful and the Damned

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The story of the ruination of Anthony and Gloria Patch, a privileged, attractive young couple who squander their money playing and partying while waiting for Anthony's wealthy grandfather to die and leave them his fortune.

There is little to like about Anthony or Gloria, but Fitzgerald's prose is so well-written and his pen brings the characters to life. Their downward spiral is compulsively readable and heartbreaking at the same time.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this book when he was only 26 years old; his shrewd insight into the world in which he lived is breathtaking.

Reviewed on 2009.03.29

Bella Donna

by Robert Smythe Hichens

What stands out about this book is the atmosphere -- Egypt in the late 19th to early 20th century is practically a character in itself. Ruby ("Bella Donna") is a scheming woman who wants to do away with her well-to-do, if rather fatuous husband to be with her Egyptian lover. The reader can practically feel the heat of the desert and the wind off the Nile while reading this book.

Robert Smythe Hichens was an immensely popular author of his time who is largely forgotten now. It's time for a Hichens revival! I am reading "The Garden of Allah" next.

Reviewed on 2009.03.29

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