Tag Archives: Ernest Hemingway

More off-topic book reviews: The Handmaid’s Tale and F. Scott Fitzgerald

Yeah, I’m a little behind…The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was published in February 1986! I had downloaded this book to my iPad over a year ago because I so desperately wanted to understand what all the hubbub was about (several women were dressed as handmaid’s at the Women’s March in Washington when I attended in 2020) and I wanted to watch the series on TV (but I’m a stickler about reading the book first). And it’s not like I don’t have many other books to read as you may have noticed by my last post…and the pile of unread books has only gotten higher with more books arriving tomorrow. Phew!

So, back to the review. Everyone who’s read this blog knows I don’t care for eBooks. I like the actually paper pages in my hands and the ability to use anything I want as a bookmark, so that may have contributed to this unread book being on my iPad for over a year. But the itch to watch the tv series arose again, so I tried for a third time to read it. This time it stuck and once I got a few pages in, this book was simply amazing! I was 21 years old when it was released and am truly surprised at how I had never heard of it until the last 5 years. I couldn’t put it down…and kudos to Ms. Atwood for the unique way she ended it. But as it turns out, Atwood has been hounded over the decades about what happened to her main character, Offred, and the Republic of Gilead, where women are very much controlled and used as baby factories. And I too was left wanting after tearing through this 300+ page book in 2 days. So, what did I do? I logged into my local library’s website and download book 2 in the series – The Testaments. This 381 page book was published in September 2019 and was Atwood’s way of answering all the questions she had been asked over the decades about what became of the characters and their republic. Not quite as enthralling as Handmaid’s Tale, and the writing is lacking the certain umph, but that could be attributed to the fact that this book is in three separate voices belonging to other characters from the first book as they tell their own tales of living in Gilead. Still…zipped through it in 2 days!

I rate The Handmaid’s Tale 4 out of 4 Beetles!

I rate The Testaments 3 out of 4 Beetles!

I have no idea when I got in the habit of trying to read more than one book at a time, but I’ve been skimming through F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters for months now. I decided I needed to clear some books off my end table so I set out to finish this off this week. My interest in this book was aroused while I was reading the series The Letters of Ernest Hemingway which currently stands at 4 volumes in length with more books to come. It’s disappointing that Fitzgerald’s letters fit into one 500 page book. Still, it was great to get into his mind beyond the stories he’s written and see the workings of a trouble man who fought for the people he loved, could never seem to get out of debt and died a tragic death at the age of 42. Like Hemingway, it brings the author into a whole new light away from the rumors of drinking and carousing that we’ve all heard and were taught in high school. I just wish this book had been more complete. I may have to find a biography or two on Scott and Zelda to help me fill in some blanks left by this book. And for that reason…

I rate this book – 3 out of 4 Beetles!

**You may be happy to hear that I, personally, will be returning to reading Beatles related books, but in the meantime, expect another Guest review of a new Beatles book sometime this week.

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Pandemic Perusal: Books I’ve been reading…

Letters of Ernest HemingwayIt’s been a while since I wrote a review for this site. It’s not that I haven’t been reading! How can anyone not be doing more reading with a pandemic right outside our doors? It’s just that I haven’t been reading books about the Beatles. So, until I feel inspired to pick up a book about our boys from Liverpool, here’s what’s come and gone on my end table over the past 5 months.

It was exactly 5 months ago today that I posted about the link between Ernest Hemingway and John Lennon, along with a review of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 4. Well, since then, I have gone back and read Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway. I believe Amazon calculates it at a total of 1800+ pages, but that’s deceiving because of the indexes in the books. Still, these books have been a great way to pass the time while trying to stay home. Ernest’s parents were avid savers all of the letters they received from their oldest son from when he was a very young boy…when he could barely spell. And one of the funny things is, that he mentions often in his letters to friends, family and colleagues (well into his adulthood) that he is still a lousy speller, as is his good friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom he exchanges letters with often. I’ve become so enamored with reading Ernest’s letters to Fitzgerald, that I just recently bought a used copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters so I can read both sides of their story. And, not only have these books given me an interest in Hemingway’s life, I also ordered a copy of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway so that I can be more familiar with the stories that he’s writing throughout these first 4 volumes of letters (which only takes the reader up to Hemingway being just 32 years old and him having just published A Farewell To Arms (required reading when I was in high school)). Eventually, I’ll pick up a copy of Volume 5 to read while the world awaits volumes 6, 7, 8, etc. No telling how many will be published since each book is only covering 2-3 years (in 500+ pages each), but I am truly looking forward to reading them all. Not just for the letters to Fitzgerald, but the letters to other famous writers and letters to family about his daily life.

Last week on January 27th, it was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s 265th birthday. I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite classical composer (that honor would probably go to Franz Liszt), but I’ve had a strange fascination with him ever since the movie Amadeus came out in 1984. But anyone that has seen the movie has to be left wondering, “Was this musical genius really that erratic?”. And because I won’t be happy until I find out the true story, I just picked up a copy of Mozart: The Reign of Love…an 800+ page biography.

I’m really looking forward to reading all three of the above books, but not quite sure when (or in what order), I’ll get to them. I refuse to allow myself the privilege of buying volume 5 of the Hemingway letters until I finish what’s piled on my end table.

There was one other book that I read in January. I had bought a copy of the novel – A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness back when it was first published in 2011, but it has sat, unread by me, on my bookshelf every since. Needless to say, my boredom from sitting around during this pandemic, combined with the cold weather outside, finally inspired me to read it. I hate to say it, but it probably would have been best if I just left it on my shelf to look good! I found it rather disappointing. Not only because the author covers the span of just 2 months in the lives of a witch and a vampire, but for some reason, I was not aware that the book was part of a trilogy and that I would have to read two more volumes to find out what happens. Hmmm…she covered 2 months in 500+ pages in the first book…do I really want to read another 500 pages to find out what happens in the next 2 weeks of these fictional characters? The answer is NO! I know some people find fiction and fantasy books an escape from the strife of real life, but I’m not one of them. You can figure out from all my talk early in this post, that I’m a fan of non-fiction and biographies. I need to come away from a book feeling like I’ve learned something. I’m not going to rate this book because of my own bias and knowing that some people really love these types of seires. I believe I told one friend that this book seems like an adult version of Twilight meets Harry Potter. But what would I know…I’ve never read either of those either!

 

 

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