• Reading

    A Miniature Review of The Ordinary Princess

    I’m posting this review as part of Cordy’s Lovely Blog Party.

    The Ordinary Princess is a sweet little story that is part a blend of fairy-tales and part a fairytale in its own right. I don’t want to have too many spoilers, so I will keep it short, sweet, and general. The basic plot is this: Princess Amethyst receives an odd gift at her christening and goes on an adventure under an assumed name and meets a young man. Of course the story has tons of delightful details, but like I said, I don’t want to spoil things in my synopsis (although there are spoilers at the end of the post relating to my comparison of this book with Cinderella (2015) which you can avoid).

    This princess story has some similarities with a few fairytale re-tellings including the basic Sleeping Beauty story and the 2015 live action Cinderella. It has of course, the proper fairytale elements which includes everything from obscure kingdoms to woodland wanderings to animal friends. This fairytale elements are sometimes exaggerated for comedic effect. This story also has an intentional overlay of the modern and mundane that, when juxtaposed with the exaggerated fairytale extravagances, makes for a quirky, humorous, tone. For example, an absurd amount of bureaucracy is involved in inviting fairies to a christening . . . who would have thought of the words “fairy” and “committee” in conjunction?!

    ***********SPOILER WARNING***********

    Because of a few noticeable similarities I have The Ordinary Princess and Cinderella (2015) together in my mind. Both stories include:

    ~The leitmotif of the folk song Lavender’s Blue

    ~The couple meeting under assumed names and positions

    ~Said positions are the same or similar: Cinderella and Amy are servants, and Kit and Peregrine are an apprentice and man-of-all-work, respectively

    ~The genuine sweetness and candidness of the members of the couple

    ~Quaint, tiny, happy kingdoms

    ~An overall magical loveliness, brightness, and joy

    And I just know that Phantasmagoria is as beautiful and charming and quaint as Kit and Cinderella’s kingdom in the movie

  • Reading

    Ten Lesser Known/Lesser Loved Couples from Books

    I’m joining in with Cordy’s Lovely Blog Party here. I love this, its basically a couples freebie for all of February, so low pressure. I’m going to include my Top Ten Tuesday post, write another one of these for movies, and do the tag Cordy made. And anything else that I feel like doing (I might do a small post on The Ordinary Princess and how it reminds me of the live-action Cinderella). I love learning about new stories, so if you have any unknown/under-appreciated couples to add, let me know in the comments.

    1. Martin and Ivy from Swift and Nomad. I loved Martin when he appeared in the first trilogy (Faerie Rebels), and Ivy is the perfect girl for him. I love their relationship and its complexity and progression. Martin doesn’t woo her (he isn’t like that and they have far more serious issues to think about), but he waits until she “gets” it. Rob and Linden from Rebel (the second Faerie Rebels book) are in second.
    2. Azalea and Lord Bradford from Entwined (I also love her next two sisters and their suitors; I’m trying to spoil too much here). Simple sweetness.
    3. Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really care for sappy romances in which one or both characters are soppy, weak, and gushy. No thanks, that isn’t real romance. I need humor. And this is hilarious.
    4. The ordinary princess and her apprentice from An Ordinary Princess. I LOVED that connection to Cinderella although it is probably accidental. Friendship first, the romance, and then the revelations (actually this reminds me a LOT of the live-action Cinderella).
    5. Nell and Aquila from Lantern Bearers. My sister said they did not love each other. I’m sorry but yes, yes they did. I just love understated and intense. Their story is small in the huge picture of Aquila’s tortured life, but it is important. Another of my favorite elements to romance is intense and understated, and Rosemary Sutcliff does this well.
    6. Perry and Ilse from the Emily of New Moon trilogy (I cannot be happy about Teddy and Emily because I want to strangle them, mostly Teddy for his unmanly cowardice and weakness; that last book HURTS unbearably, I had to put it down for my last reread). I just love a child-hood based romance and besides these two are HILARIOUS individually and together.
    7. Marcus and Cottia from the Eagle of the Ninth. In the beginning Marcus is grown-up (although barely) and Cottia just a girl, so he takes a friendly interest at first, and I love that their friendship is the foundation for their romance. When he gets back, they are both thinking, “yes.” And that’s that.
    8. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane from the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Oh, my stars how I love them. His persistent wooing, her persistent resistance makes for a multitude of hilarious, and later, romantic scenes. Their romance combines intensity with laughter.
    9. Peter and Donna from A Tangled Web. From their absurd love at first site, to their awesome breakup to Donna’s illness and Peter’s absurd reaction, I love these two together. I also, in a quieter way like the quieter romance between Roger and Gay and their sweet little love scene after her realization.
    10. Judy Abbot and Jervis Pendleton from Daddy Long-Legs. The build-up. The unreasoning and hilarious jealously exhibited (unbeknownst to Judy) by Daddy Long-Legs. The reveal.
  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Significant Moments of Romantic Tension or Realization

    Happy Valentine’s Day, The Top Ten Tuesday topic for today is a romance freebie, so I went with some interesting moments.

    1. John Brooke’s proposal to Meg in Little Women. This is so classically funny.

    2. Polly and Tommy’s love scene at the very end of An Old-Fashioned Girl. It is so absurd and so completely them. And “stopping for refreshments,” ha!

    3. In Nomad, when Ivy finally “gets” it after Martin’s patience waiting (he didn’t woo or press her, just waited).

    4. Marcus sweet, simple, proposal to Cottia. They know, they knew when he came back and saw her (Eagle of the Ninth).

    5. Philippa Gorden’s letter to Anne regarding Jonas with the telling postscript (Anne of the Island). Peoples, that is the right way to do triangles. If the girl (or guy if it is guy, two girls which is unusual in my reading experience, I cannot think of one off the top of my head), cannot choose between two guys, she doesn’t care enough for either, duh. An entrance of a true love demonstrates that.

    6. The throbbing-ly intense romantic scene at the end of North and South. Read between the lines for those not so subtle hints people. This is WAAAAY more romantic than the movie which is short, rushed, unromantic, and has Henry Lennox’s jealous snake face smashed right in the middle.

    7. Whenever Mac catches Rose unawares with his absurd and persistent wooing, and she cannot remain dignified (Rose in Bloom).

    8. Captain Wentworth’s letter in Persuasion. Oh, my what intensity and passion without any gushing or grossnesss. He is mainly and to the point as always, and WOW.

    9. When Gay realizes she loves Roger and when he sees it (A Tangled Web).

    10. The burglar in the library hullabaloo that gets Jim and Nora together thanks to Anne’s meddling in Anne of Windy Poplars.

  • Reading

    A Review of Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways to America

    I had this book recommended to me twice and was pleasantly surprised to realize that this is a serious, well-researched scholarly monograph. The subject is how certain immigration patterns in the early part of United States history shaped our developing nation. The author is very detailed and traces patterns from old to new world in four different areas: Puritan Massachusetts, the Chesapeake, Quaker Delaware Valley, and the American Back-country via a multitude of cultural patterns. He describes the differences and then demonstrates how these cultures and their clashes shaped U.S. history.

    I consider this an absolute must for anyone slightly interested in U.S. history. I am learning more and more that we have to understand the cultural background (and this includes the worldview that shapes the culture) in order to understand the people and events that spring from culture. In college I noticed that in both history and literature classes some people cannot or will not understand that people thought in completely different ways in different times (and this is true for different places; we are seeing this in Europe’s issues with migrant assimilation . . . and criticism of U.S. gun laws). People automatically assume that anything religious or spiritual is subservient to science and reasoning, and they don’t or won’t understand the difference in value systems or the difference between blind trust in scientists and fallacious reasoning. We must understand limitations of science and reason within the academic scope of the scientific method, critical thinking, and logic; blind trust in the vague category of “science” is as stupid as supernatural superstition.

    This book explains the worldviews in as unbiased a manner as I have ever come across. He does not pass judgment with adjectives overly often even though many activities and attitudes are condemned now; he explains how these people arrived at their ideas and how these ideas shaped their culture.

    I would advise you to read it thus: the preface and introduction first, then the conclusion up to page 808 and take a look at the charts on pages 813-815, and then go and start with part 1 and read through to end.

    Although the book is scholarly, I found the writing style to be quite readable. And even if you aren’t planning any particular historical use when reading this book, the book has fascinating stand alone information. I found the speech ways section particularly interesting, especially as I feel that my speech ways have been influenced by multiple areas.

  • Reading

    2016 Anne of Green Gables Challenge: Rilla of Ingleside

    Here is the last post for the Anne of Green Gables reading challenge: Rilla of Ingleside. The questions are here.

    What do you think of Rilla? Is she like her parents? How is she different?
    Rilla is much more selfish and shallow than both of her parents. She does grow considerably though I still don’t find her super-likable although I can probably relate more to her.

    After returning to Ingleside, Jem tells Rilla that Walter wasn’t scared at the front. Even though Walter was sickened by the thought of war, Jem said that he turned out to be a courageous hero. Why do you think that was? Anticipating a situation and actually being in the moment can be totally different experiences and sometimes bring out surprising reactions. Can you remember a time when this has happened to you? 
    I frequently dread things, and sometimes that dread is justifiable, sometimes proper planning does away with it, sometimes it makes the situation worse, and sometimes it turns out to be a waste of energy. Walter, like his father said, had an active imagination. He knew far more of what is would really be like than Jem and Jerry (although that would not have stopped them). But he possessed moral courage in the actual face of wrong-doing and duty.

    There wasn’t much to Rilla’s relationship with Kenneth Ford in terms of time spent together. How do we know that their relationship is going to last?
    Well, Rilla has been in love with Ken since she was little, and she waited for him. Ken is quite honorable, he wasn’t just playing at being in love with a much younger girl.

  • Reading

    2016 Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge: Rainbow Valley

    I am behind on these. Here is the link to the questions.

    This book was totally centered around the Blythe small fry and their friends. Reading about their adventures in Rainbow Valley made me think of Anne’s days with the the Echo Lodge crew in Anne of Avonlea. It also made me think of Camp Laurence from Little Women, as well as sweet Betsy-Tacy moments. The innocence of childhood play is so lovely to read. Do you have any favorite Rainbow Valley moments? Did they remind you of other childhood moments from any other books?
    I loved when the boys all stood up for the girls. I love the comradeship between the two families, and the clannishness (like between characters in books like The Penderwicks; their “clan” of friends, family, and neighbors). Una is my least favorite Meredith, but I love when she set things right between her father and Rosemary (I like Mr. Meredith and his dreamy ways; I think other people should’ve been more forthright about his abstraction and not leave it to the vulgar, horrible people).

    Montgomery likes writing about romance lost (Captain Jim and Lost Margaret) or almost lost forever (Mr. Irving and Miss Lavender). What would you have done in Rosemary’s place? Would you have kept your promise to your sister and refused John Meredith despite loving him?
    I would not have made such a promise, not because I am so wise, but because I would not have wanted to keep it, and I think the swearing part might’ve brought be to my senses if I had gotten that far; that was so incredibly controlling. I also don’t think promise keeping should be like oath-swearing (which is what Ellen made Rosemary do). This was such an ethical dilemma, but I think that Rosemary should have told him why she refused him, I think she owed him that much, that much of the oath should’ve been broken because she was hurting someone else badly. Ellen is so manipulative, selfish, and evil.

    We’ve said goodbye to Anne’s childhood long ago. This book is a farewell to the sweet childhood of the Blythe clan. This always makes me sad. While being an adult is a wonderful thing in so many ways, childhood always calls to us in one way or another. What do you miss about childhood? 
    The relative simplicity, the clean slate, the fresh world.

  • Reading

    Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge: Anne of Ingleside

    I finished Anne of Ingleside long ago, and it is possibly my least favorite of the series, certainly it is the least memorable. I had to refresh my memory a bit.

    Montgomery has some precious episodes in this book about the Blythe children. Do you have a favorite of the Ingleside munchkins? What was your favorite story?

    Walter and Jem are my favorites. There are too many little tragedies for this book to be super enjoyable. Most of the children’s stories involve real terror, anxiety, or stress. The cake story could be considered a favorite merely because it cannot be assigned to the aforementioned category of tragedy, and I have no sympathy for Rilla’s ridiculous vanity. Nothing in that story is deep.

    In this book we really get a taste of Anne and Gilbert’s parenting styles. What do you think of Doctor and Mrs. Blythe as parents? Do you have any thoughts about the way their household is run?

    I GREATLY dislike the picking favorites between the twins; as in, I think that is absolutely despicable and doesn’t at all match with my conception of the honor and love the old Anne and Gilbert would give. I also dislike that Susan has such a say in things, particularly with Shirley. I am not sure the author meant to do this, but we hear more about Susan than Anne as Anne seems rather passively in the background, and this doesn’t fit with Anne’s personality at all in the earlier books; she was quite involved and hard-working (I think the author had trouble keeping a balance with characterization, e.g. Shirley is barely a personality at all). Also, that Mary Maria Blythe is an evil witch, and Gilbert should have made her leave, and Anne should have said something. No manner of loneliness or neglect or wrong justifies anyone in making everyone else miserable. What a busybody. She spoiled much of the book, I think.

    Anne fears that Gilbert no longer loves her because he doesn’t seem to be as attentive. Do you think that Gil should have been more cognizant of his behavior or should Anne have voiced her concerns? Was she just being a worry-wort and over-dramatizing things or did she have a legit reason to be concerned/jealous? 

    I don’t think she had a legitimate reason to doubt Gilbert, but mentioning her worries might have saved her some anxiety. I do think that Christine was trying to deliberately draw Gilbert’s attention to herself and make Anne feel bad so that she, Christine, could feel better.

  • Reading

    Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge 2016: Anne’s House of Dreams Answers

    Anne’s House of Dreams is one of my least favorite Anne books. It contains considerably too much Leslie. As much as I enjoy L.M. Montgomery books, she has a rather glaring failing: she simply doesn’t know how to fully develop most of her heroes. Gilbert is still in the background. Also, this book is more confined in outlook. Although some of the few characters are rather interesting, there are still few characters. And the book’s preoccupation with Leslie’s story is boring and annoying. The story should be more about Anne (Anne features less and less in the novels; I enjoy the ones about her children, but Susan and other personalities shine far more than Anne). I do not need melodrama; I enjoy “quiet” stories with either a sweet tone or with underlying intensity, but I just found this novel lacking.

    I am joining up here for the 2016 Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge.

    How is Anne’s friendship with Leslie different from her friendship with Diana? What are your thoughts about friendships and different seasons in life?
    Diana and Anne were childhood friends and grew up together and shared many similar experiences. I think the book (in the guise of Miss Cornelia) points out that although Anne had a hard childhood, Leslie’s entire life was tragic, and Anne had never (until the death of her baby) experienced anything near so bitter as what Leslie constantly endure from age 12 and on.
    I find it irritating and insincere when people can only relate to people in their specific season of life. Particularly when newly married people and new parents drop their single friends and seemingly instantaneously gain a (miraculous) superior (read: condescending) knowledge of everything the single friend has not experienced. Also, if you lose friends then you probably were not actually or should not have been friends with those people in the first place.

    Leslie’s life is a tragic one. Once you learn her story, you understand why she was so bitter the night Anne and Gil come riding blissfully into Four Winds. How would you have felt if you were developing a friendship with Leslie?
    I can see her bitterness, but I cannot sympathize. Anne is one of the most sensitive and tactful characters ever, so Leslie’s attitude is awful. (Also, I feel that her later misery is her partially her own fault; I don’t really feel as the book intends us to feel that she was morally compelled to marry Dick). Anne really is amazingly patient and kind for bitter people are hardly attractive; friendship with them is probably easier to maintain than obtain, but Anne reached out and endured. However, her reaction to Gilbert’s proposal of the medical procedure is morally abhorrent, and I felt, did not fit with Anne’s character well at all as she usually takes the moral high ground.

    This is the book where Anne’s whole life changes. She’s a married woman now with a different lifestyle, different dreams, and different goals. But she’s still the same lovable Anne she’s always been. What are 3 things you think should never change when you get married?
    Love for one’s spouse and one’s family. Basic personality. We should never change or attempt to change our fundamental personality as that would be insincere, but we should change anything sinful in our personality (i.e. certain personalities lean toward certain sins; e.g. choleric personalities have anger issues). Everything else depends on the person individually. I think that we should neither keep character traits because everyone needs to change for the better nor all goals and dreams because that is unfeasible and unreasonably confining (goals and dreams are not as a concept, moral, so there is nothing inherently right or wrong in having new goals and dreams).

  • Reading

    Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge April Answers for Anne of Windy Poplars

    I and my sisters have been on an L.M. Montgomery reading spree these last few months. I have only maybe one novel and several collections of short stories that I have not read. I have also recently reread the Anne books and am preparing to reread the Emily ones.

    I am participating (at my own pace since I have finished the novels) in this challenge. Here are my answers to April’s questions for Anne of Windy Poplars.

    What do you think of Anne’s letters to Gil? Do you have any favorite lines? Are you or have you ever been a letter writer? Do you require a certain kind of writing instrument to write certain things?
    I am not a fan of completely epistolary novels, I liked the blend of narrative styles in this novel. I am not a letter writer. I prefer the looks of pens, particularly those with easily flowing ink. I do use pencils (more practical), but for important things, pens or I feel dissatisfied. I cannot think of favorite lines (I need to get back into the habit of filling up a quote journal!).

    Who is your favorite character in this book? Any kindred spirits who stole your affection?
    This novel is made up of vignettes of Anne’s three years of teaching, so most characters did not stay long. My favorite small characters are Lewis (of the Little Fellow story) and Nora and Jem. I did not overly love some of Anne’s kindred spirits, Little Elizabeth is sickly sweet; Katherine, unrelatable and unconvincingly kindred; and Jen, irritating and less developed as a character (not in a poorly written way, though). Rebecca Dew is hilarious though not a great favorite with me.


    This is the last book before the start of Anne’s married life. What have been your favorite moments in her childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood? What has she learned? How has she changed? How has she remained the same?
    I love her rivalry with Gil and then her “friendzoning” relationship with him later. Her raising of and relationship with Davy is hilarious and enjoyable. Her scrapes and drama are funny. I like that she kept her imagination, her ideals, her character, but she realized her mistakes about certain dreams (her absurd hero, her melodramatic stories).

  • Reading

    Favorite Authors Revisited: L. M. Montgomery

    Starting with Blue Castle last year and continuing with Jane of Lantern Hill, A Tangled Web, and Magic for Marigold this year, I have been reading several of Montgomery’s usually later (compared to most of the Anne books), stand alone novels. My sisters have read or are reading them too, and we are enjoying them mightily. I feel like these are better written.

    I am also re-reading the Anne novels which I love but I can definitely see an improvement in her writing. I need to read The Blythes Are Quoted (apparently the full version of another book The Road to Yesterday), The Golden Road and the rest of her short story collections.

    The first Anne books were written with a year between, then there was a gap of 6 years after which four books were published every two years, then finally two more 15 and 18 years later. Most of her other novels were published between Rilla of Ingleside and Anne of Ingleside. This is the order of publications with the chronological order numbered.

    1. Anne of Green Gables 
    2. Anne of Avonlea
    3. Anne of the Island
    5. Anne’s House of Dreams
    7. Rainbow Valley
    8. Rilla of Ingleside
    4. Anne of Windy Poplars
    6. Anne of Ingleside

    Hopefully, today I am leaving on a cross-country road trip, so I should have plenty of posts from that.

  • Reading

    2016 Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge

    I am participating at my own speed in this challenge. I started my re-read in March and will be on book five by the time this posts. 

    January
    Anne of Green Gables
    This first installment of Anne Shirley’s story is about her finding a home after years of displacement. While we often consider ‘home’ to be synonymous with ‘house’, it’s also a state of being. What does home mean for you and what makes it special?
    A sanctuary, a haven, a safe place. A place in which my family lives. Where there are limits to outside contact in order to have rest and respite. Where there is little to fear.
    Friendship is such a huge theme in this book. There are many elements that make up a great bosom friendship like Anne and Diana’s but if you had to pick three of those elements, what would they be?
    Trust, and by that I mean not merely that the friends do not break confidences, but that the friends does not misinterpret or abuse words. Longevity. Diana and Anne stay friends even though for a time their circumstance were totally different; if a friendship cannot last, people should not have been friends in the first place. Integrity. Diana and Anne do not destroy or attempt to destroy each other’s relationships whether familial, friendly, or romantic. Indeed, Diana did try to persuade Anne to mend her relationship with Gilbert, and I do not think Diana encouraged Anne in her unforgiving attitude.
    Of course, we love Gilbert Blythe but the real sweetheart in the first book is Matthew Cuthbert. What makes Matthew such a great father figure in Anne’s life? And (if you’ve read the books before) what effect do you think his love and influence has in the rest of Anne’s life?
    Matthew, as Anne later says, is the first person in Anne’s memory to love her. He listens and does not mock, criticize, or reprove her often wild, imaginative speech. He is her source of encouragement and support in both trouble and triumph. He is the real example to her ideals of the treatment and raising of children.
    February
    Anne of Avonlea
    Anne of Avonlea introduces a cast of new characters including Mr. Harrison, Miss Lavender, Davy & Dora, Paul Irving, and Charlotta the Fourth. Which new character(s) was the most endearing to you? What do you like about them?
    I like Mr. Harrison and Davy because they are hilarious each in their own way. And they both force Anne to look at things via different perspectives from her own.
    Anne has such high hopes and ideals when she sets out to teach Avonlea School. However, she’s in for a few surprises. What do you think about expectations and ideals when approaching a new situation? What do you think Anne discovered in this season as a school teacher?
    I think that Anne already had a knack with children. I feel that she learned more from Davy and Dora than from this particular teaching experience.  .  . except in the case of Anthony Pye. However, I do understand why she was so upset when she explained that she punished him in anger.
    What do you think of Miss Lavender’s romance? Do you agree with Gilbert’s comment on what could have been?
    I agree with Gilbert . . . and his double meaning/warning. But still, I do NOT agree with Marilla’s rendering of it in prose; I do not think either Mr. Irving or Miss Lavender were that pragmatic.
    March
    Anne of the Island
    There are some great conversations between Anne and Gil in this book. As much as I love the TV series, some of the real essence of their friendship is lost in the film adaptation. They were such buddies! Is there a scene in the book that you wish hadn’t been left out of the film adaptation? 
    Well, all of them. The first proposal to begin the list. The first proposal in the movies border lined on if not actually committed plagiarism Laurie’s proposal from Little Women (the novel). That film had other distinct plagiarisms from the novels, one also with a Gilbert/Laurie parallel (two leading men who are not remotely alike). Anne and Gilbert did not bicker like Jo and Laurie; that sort of behavior was not like them at all. The movies increasingly infuriate me as they progress.
    The proposal. Ah! The proposal! Tell me, which do you like better? The film version or the book version? Mind you, I see Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie when I read the books so I’m not talking about the acting but rather the scenes for their own sake.
    See above. I want to research that subject better. Anne and Gilbert in the movies are little like the book characters.
    Let’s talk about Roy Gardener, the man straight out of Anne’s dreams. Give three reasons why he’s so not the guy for her. And if you’d like, talk a bit about having a ‘dream man’ and whether or not we should hold out for them or eventually let them go.
    He wasn’t the guy for her because half of what she thought for and all of what she felt for him was imagined. Because he could not be the understanding companion that Gilbert was.  Because in reality Roy had little in common with her. And as to having a “dream man,” well that depends on whether we have high expectations (which is good, as long as we have them for our own behavior/character/appearance) and unrealistic expectations (i.e. expecting perfection or expecting low of ourselves and high of our men).
    BONUS QUESTION!
    Christine Stewart. I get that TV has to be written so that the plot moves along smoothly and all, and I can respect that, but really? What do you think about what Sullivan did in the movie as opposed to how Montgomery wrote Gil’s relationship with her?

    Again, this goes back to the filmmakers’ misunderstanding/misrepresentation of Anne. Anne really loved Gilbert, and that colored everything she understood about him and about Roy (she thought she loved Roy; she was not settling), but she also undervalued him. She did not understand that he loved her so deeply that he had not gotten over her or attempted to compromise. That is why she thought the untrue of him, that he quickly lost his feelings for her and became engaged to Christine. Sullivan merely chose to go the conventional route involving compromising on both sides.
  • Reading

    Blue Castle Mini-Review

    I had seen this book appear on a couple blogs, but our library did not have it at the time and bought it on my recommendation but forgot to put in on my request list, so I only recently discovered that the library had it. Definitely worth the wait. Read for the first time in total ignorance (I only new a very little and what I did not was distorted/far less important than I thought so did not really mess up my reading experience). Realistic dismal and dreary sections. Mercifully short miserable sections. Wonderful humorous sections. Beautiful nature and introverted-homey sections. Romance. Perfect, one-of-a-kind hero. The end.