Friday, March 18, 2011

Rainbow Valley

I first must tell you that Anne of Green Gables is my dearest love. I think it might actually be my favorite book. Anne is my favorite book character ever. I want to be her best friend so bad. And I think we probably would be. BOSOM FRIENDS, hello! And kindred spirits. Both.

The point is, this book is I think #7 in the Anne series. She's all grown up and has 6 kids. And this book is mainly about them and some of their friends. Anne is present, of course, but she's just not as central to the book as she is in all the other ones. But somehow you still want to be her so badly. This book made me excited to have kids and be the best mom of all time, like Anne is. (Jeez, this is embarrassing. Good thing I feel comfortable with you peeps.)

Rainbow Valley is what her kids name the spot behind their house. Don't you love Rainbow Valley as a name? I guess when you grow up in a house called Ingleside and your mom is responsible for names like White Way of Delight, Lake of Shining Waters, and Dryad's Bubble, coming up with Rainbow Valley is no big deal.

The book is just about all their little adventures, and also their friends, the minister's kids. And typical of all the Anne books, by the end, you just love every single person in it. I think that's L.M. Montgomery's greatest strength, creating lovable characters.

Anyway, it's great. If you haven't read all the other Anne books you probably won't care about it quite as much, but it's just adorable.

Also, if you haven't read all the other Anne books, you must do so immediately.

Ok, that's a lie. You need to read Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island immediately. The others are less urgent. And actually, those are the only ones I read as a youngin, so that's probably why I like them best. I tried getting into Anne of Windy Poplars and Anne's House of Dreams when I was like 11, but I think I thought they were boring or something because she's all grown up, and the romantic tension with Gilbert was over. But as an adult, I love them, because they're about her as a wife and stuff.

So yeah. Rainbow Valley. Way cute.

Jane Eyre

I know some of you other peeps are reading this too, since it's our book club book, so feel free to add in your own thoughts. And if you're not done, I won't spoil it!

I was somewhat familiar with Jane Eyre already. I skimmed through it in high school, but basically remembered nothing except that a girl was a governess in a big house, and there was something mysterious. So yeah.

I also recently watched a movie version of it, about 5 months ago, with my mom and my grandma. And I actually kind of liked having recently seen the movie, because I had a framework for the story. Sometimes stories from this era of writing can get lost in descriptions and things, so it helps to already know the storyline.

The point is--Jane Eyre is about an oprhan girl who grows up with her aunt and cousins, who are awful. They do NOT treat her like part of the family. Then she goes away to school, which isn't much better, but at lest she finds people there who are kind to her.

Fast forward to when she's 18, and she takes a position as a governess for a little French girl in a big spooky manor house called Thornfield Hall. And THAT, my friends, is where things get interesting. (Well, it was interesting before that too, but you know.) Anyway, the master of the house, Mr. Rochester, is a fascinating fellow, and . . . . read it!

I LOVED this book. The details left out of the movie are shocking to me now that I've read the book. I hope the new movie coming out leaves more in than the version I saw. I love Jane, I love Mr. Rochester, I love the weirdness of the story, I love the twist at the end--no way you could ever see that coming. It's beautiful. And even though I said before that sometimes these novels get too caught up in descriptions and things, I actually don't think Jane Eyre is too much like that. It moves pretty well. There are of course lots of words I don't know, but in context I always still know what's going on. I really, really, enjoyed it. Probably more than any other "Classics" I've read.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fourteen Cows for America

Erin's post made me ponder my love of books about Africa. This is a book my school librarian handed me one day when I was boredly babysitting the kids in the library. It is a children's book, and I love it.

For anyone who was alive and aware for September 11, this book will probably make you cry a little, even if you're reading it in front of 30 teenagers. The story is about a poor Kenyan tribe giving a gift to the United States. The coolest part about it is that it's a true story, the thing that makes me sad is that not many people know about it. Read it! Read it!

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

My ward book club is doing this book, and I'm so glad they are! I just finished it this morning as I walked to work, and I really liked it a lot.

It's about a woman named Precious Ramotswe, who opens up a detective agency with the money she inherits from her father when he dies. It is set in Botswana. And it is really just a charming, adorable, fun book. It would be a perfect book to read while you're traveling, it goes quickly and easily, and pretty much every chapter is one of her capers, like Anne of Green Gables.

I read the Poisonwood Bible last year, and it made me want to read another book set in Africa, so this one was great. I know I'm being like a stupid American and that Africa is HUGE, and that Congo and Botswana are different countries. But I liked reading a book set in Africa that wasn't sad. This isn't. They talk about some social problems of their country, but they also talk a lot about loving Africa, and Mama Ramotswe actually says at one part  . . . actually, I'll just re-type it, because it was so good.

"Mma Ramotswe did not want Africa to change. She did not want her people to become like everybody else, soulless, selfish, forgetful of what it means to be an African, or, worse still, ashamed of Africa. She would not be anything but an African, never, even if somebody came up to her and said 'Here is a pill, the very latest thing. Take it and it will make you into an American.' She would say no. Never. No thank you."

It's filled with little nuggets like that, about the land and loving Africa, and I really loved that part of it.

Not to mention how much I love Mma Ramotswe. She's kind of feminist, and gets offended when people laugh at her for being a lady detective. And she's fat. They say all the time that she's a fat lady, and I love it. There are too many books where the main character is "awkward and stick straight," and they try to act like it's so dumb to be really skinny. So it was nice to read a book where people greet her by saying, "/hey! Fat lady!" She's just a really great character, and I really liked the book a lot.

I felt like I had heard of this book a lot, and in Googling it to find the picture above, I realized that's probably because there are 11 books in this series! I had no idea it even WAS a series! This is the first one. There was also an HBO show, but it only has 8 episodes. Which is too bad, I think I would have liked watching it. And they filmed in Botswana, which I thought was cool.

Anyway, it was a great book. I wouldn't say you must drop everything you're reading to get this, but I really enjoyed it and thought it was very charming.