Saturday, May 31, 2008

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin was and anti-slavery novel written before the Civil War. As the book opens, Kentucky farmer Arthur Shelby has been forced to sell two of his slaves because of debt.

The first, Uncle Tom, has a wife and children. He's sent to market down the Mississippi, but on the way he is befriended by a child named Eva St. Clare. After Tom saves her from drowning her father buys Tom. But circumstances eventually led Tom to be sold to Simon Legree. Simon Legree is one of the worst villains in literature. He beats his slaves, uses the women as sex slaves and fosters mistrust among the slaves. He's pure monster.

The second slave sold was a small boy named Harry. After his mother, Eliza, overhears the Shelbys discussing the sale she decides to run away with her son. She heads north to Canada in hopes of finding her husband. She finds them but by now they are being hunted by slave hunters. But the Underground Railroad is helping them along.

Uncle Tom's Cabin was a very influential book for a very short time.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is a young orphan being reluctantly raised by her aunt, Mrs. Reed. After fighting with her cousin John, Jane is sent to a charity school. But the headmaster is underfunding the school while providing a luxurious lifestyle for his own family. Cold housing and poor nutrition finally causes a typhus outbreak. Many of the students die and conditions at the school bring in new donors and overseers.

Many years later, Jane begins to teach at the school but the marriage of another teacher causes Jane to yearn for something else. So she advertises for, and receives, a position as governess. Her student is the ward of Mr. Rochester.

Jane and Rochester fall in love and plan to marry. But at the alter the wedding is stopped. Turns out Mr. Rochester already has a Mrs. Rochester. And she's locked up in the attic.

"Jane Eyre" is the story of a woman who keeps the faith. It's equal parts romance and suspense. It's a thoroughly delightful book.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Hawaii by James Michener

"Hawaii" is about Hawaii. From the volcanic birth through the mid 1950's. It's written in sections with each section covering a different period in history.

The first is the story of the Bora Borans and the forces that drove then to leave their homes and take off across the ocean not knowing where they were going. The next section covers the missionaries arrival. While some try to convert the primitive people, others decide to begin buisinesses. As time passess and success reigns, more workers are needed. So other sections tell of the arrival of the Chinese and the Japanese.

Hawaii is an ambitious book. It covers an entire history in just 900+ pages. But it's a fascination history. I have to admit the names got confusing after awhile. For generations the names of the original missionary famillies were wsed over and over. You've got Bromley Hale, Hoxworth Hale, Bromley Hoxworth, Whipple Hoxworth, Whipple Janders, Janders Hoxworth, etc. Thank goodness there's a geneology chart in the back of the book. It's invaluable in keeping all the characters straight over the generations.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Beloved by Toni Morrison
1988 Pulitzer Prize

Sethe is a former slave who escaped with her children to her mother-in-law's home in Ohio. Shortly after arriving, slave hunters track them down. Sethe performs a desperate act to protect her children from slavery.

Years later, Sethe's sons have run away, her mother-in-law has died and the town has ostracized Sethe and her remaining daughter Denver. And there's a ghost in the house. A former fellow slave shows up. Sethe hasn't seen Paul D. since she left the plantation but the two decide to try to build a life together. But coming home from a carnival one day, they find the mysterious Beloved sleeping in their yard. And Beloved slowly begins to control the household.

"Beloved" is a story about ghosts. Ghosts in the house, ghosts in the soul and ghosts of the past.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Booking Through Thursday-Mayday!

Booking Through Thursday

Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember….

Would it be cheating to get one out of my car? I've usually got a couple in the truck in case of emergency (no pun intended). If someone else took me to the airport, I'd either pick up a paperback in an airport shop or play Yahtzee on my phone. Unless Dean took me to the airport. He's always got books in his car so I'd take one of his.