My lack of interest in classics has been getting to me lately. I really feel a need to listen to a audiobook. That need cannot get filled because I am battling against my wants.
- Diversity that is well written
- Women main characters who have personalities and are not lame
- Action, Adventure, or just the feeling that interesting things are happening
Underlining all of this I want
- Variety or to not pick up another classic with rich England people
I have gotten so sick of seeing England classic novels that it is not funny. It is starting to feel like #richpeopleproblems. A Portrait of a Lady and many other books have made me come to this point. I want variety so hard that it is hurting me to try to scroll my shelves for something and get the same old classics. I had to resign myself to going off my shelf for something different. I figured out that I could search my goodreads to read books to find books (goodreads is awesome). Here are some of my top choices.
First Chapter Impressions
I highlighted out the summaries so that if you wanted to read the summaries you could. The summaries give away the plot of the novels so if you don’t want to get spoiled don’t read them.
“First published in 1892, this stirring novel by the great writer and activist Frances Harper tells the story of the young daughter of a wealthy Mississippi planter who travels to the North to attend school, only to be sold into slavery in the South when it is discovered that she has Negro blood. After she is freed by the Union army, she works to reunify her family and embrace her heritage, committing herself to improving the conditions for blacks in America.”
Through her fascinating characters-including Iola’s brother, who fights at the front in a colored regiment-Harper weaves a vibrant and provocative chronicle of the Civil War and its consequences through African American eyes in this critical contribution to the nation’s literature.”
A story that is in first person and has slaves who are not romanticized, yes. A story that actually had me chuckle a bit while reading, yes.
Verdict: Yes.I just feel that this story engaged me.
““Our Nig” is the tale of a mixed-race girl, Frado, abandoned by her white mother after the death of the child’s black father. Frado becomes the servant of the Bellmonts, a lower-middle-class white family in the free North, while slavery is still legal in the South, and suffers numerous abuses in their household. Frado’s story is a tragic one; having left the Bellmonts, she eventually marries a black fugitive slave, who later abandons her.”
My main issue is with the point of view that this story is being told in which I think is third person. Third person loans itself to telling versus showing what is going on. I like to feel that an adventure is going on instead of feeling like it is a biography. The story jumps around without developing or leading to an action which is boring. It skips intricate parts that I believe would have been really exciting. I worry that this story will be like Clotel, just the author basically paraphrasing the entire story.
Verdict: Maybe. Probably no because if I have to think about it is not engaging me enough to care. So later when I am thinking of books to read I pick up something that has me and forget something that is a maybe.
“This comedy challenges the conventions of courtship, examines questions of female independence and exposes the limits of domesticity. The text used in this edition (from 1802) also confronts the difficult issues of racism and mixed marriage, which Edgeworth toned down in later editions. “
This story is so far in the one chapter I listened to is that I am sick of in classic books. England High society (yep) Main character girl who does not have a distinct personality (yep) no diverse characters so far (yep). I get the impression that the race issues and mixed marriage are going to get an tidbits off to the side addressing.
Verdict: No, I just will not wade through pages upon pages of the blah main character to get to interesting stuff. I am already about to go into a rant just by reading the first chapter, nope.
“Published in 1861, this was one of the first personal narratives by a slave and one of the few written by a woman. Jacobs (1813-97) was a slave in North Carolina and suffered terribly, along with her family, at the hands of a ruthless owner. She made several failed attempts to escape before successfully making her way North, though it took years of hiding and slow progress. Eventually, she was reunited with her children.”
I read a couple of chapters of this earlier in the year before these other books but I remember exactly what happened in the novel so far. I like that the story feels distinct. It does jump around a bit but I was not as bothered as I was with Our Nig or Clotel.
Verdicts: Yes. It has potential.
One of the things that you need to know about me is that I read stories by Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy so I am big on characterization and little adventures. I like seeing why characters are the way they are. That is something that I worry that going into more diverse classics novels (specifically slave narratives) these things will not be present. So far in a couple of these classics I have been reading this has been a problem. I am going to be honest and say that all classics about being about the characters as slaves bothers me too. It may sound irrational and unrealistic but I want Belle as a classic novel ( I recently saw a post on there being a classic novel just like Belle, it is called Ourika. I could not find a English version online so I will review it at a later time when I can get a copy). I really want to pick up a classic novel that has the characterization expansive characterization of someone like Charles Dickens with diverse characters that are not slaves. I may have to remind myself that slave narratives are autobiographies not fiction like Charles Dickens and most classic novels. Basically, there are many things in terms of these classics that I will probably have to accept. I just want ultimately to enjoy and not leave the novel feeling distanced from the story.
Leaving on a positive note I will say that with all my worries one of the things that I liked in these stories is the honesty. This is not Gone with the Wind or any other novel saying what authors think (or wanted to believe) that slaves felt. These are actual stories from the point of view people who are sharing their experiences and reactions.
[all descriptions and book covers are from goodreads]