This Week, I Read… (2017 #5)

13-the-shining

#13 – The Shining, by Stephen King

Having seen the Kubrick movie adaptation so many times, it was impossible for me to entirely divorce those images from my reading of the book, but for the most part, that didn’t end up mattering–where the movie follows the book, it follows it with incredible precision, and the scenes played out in my head perfectly.

Where the movie differs from the book, it does so wildly, and mostly to its detriment. The book ending is FAR superior. I do see why the topiary animals in the book became the hedge maze for the movie–early ’80s special effects weren’t necessarily up to the task–so that’s one change I can forgive. But the rest is all nonsense, and now that I’ve read the book, I see why I’ve been hearing for so long that as good as the movie is (and it is good) the book is still better.

 

15-the-snow-child

#14 – The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

It was so close to being a five-star book, but the ending didn’t sit quite right with me. Even given that this was a retelling of a Russian folk tale, knowing its ending, I almost believed The Snow Child itself would turn out differently. It’s not that it was a sad(ish) ending that I object to; it was that Faina was both frightened and hopeful about being a mother, and having her “die” (ie, return to the wilderness, leaving behind her newborn) lops off her character arc too early. In fact, she could almost be a prop at that point, satisfying Mabel’s need to be a mother by first acting as a daughter, then providing her with an actual baby to coo over. Not that it isn’t wonderful to see the family united in the end by the child, but why couldn’t Faina have stayed? Or a compromise worked out, like the way she was gone in the summers as a child?

Now that I’ve gone and spoiled that, I will say, it’s still worth reading. The prose is beautifully simple and direct, the setting gorgeously characterized, and the characters charming. Like I said, it was so close to earning those five stars.

14-jonathan-livingston-seagull

#15 – Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

This was weird, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I can’t say I’m opposed to a book aimed at children that focuses on the morals of hard work and self-improvement, but at the same time, the liberal use of the word “perfect” implies a kind of fanaticism about self-improvement that might set an unattainable goal. And honestly, I was getting tonal whiplash, reading the moralizing for a few paragraphs, then being bombarded with a section on flight speeds and dive heights and record-breaking number after number.

It was good in many ways, but it also felt disjointed. And the photos didn’t add anything for me, grainy and pedestrian as they were. I might have been mildly interested as a four-year-old, but as an adult they were boring.

16-seduce-me-at-sunrise

#16 – Seduce Me at Sunrise, by Lisa Kleypas

The second entry in the Hathaway series is enjoyable overall, but it suffered from some tropes I don’t personally care for. The “love” triangle is a rivalry so weak it’s barely worth being part of the novel–not only is it a foregone conclusion who Winnifred will end up with, the final twist of that subplot is poorly foreshadowed.

The “mysterious” tattoos on both the male lead from the first book and the lead in this one finally get explained, and that was pretty obvious too–they’re long-lost brothers. Okay, that’s fine, but hey, they’re also lost heirs to an Irish lordship! How convenient! How overdone!

That being said, I did still like this, on the strength of finely-drawn characters in a large family with interesting dynamics, and on the heart of the love story itself (ignoring the semi-pointless rival) being solid. I seem to enjoy Kleypas’ writing style and characterization more than her choice of plot elements–I’ll have to take a hard look at the third book in the series to see if I want to keep going.

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