Friday, 8 April 2011

American Literature

I must stop buying these fancypants editions of literary classics because they are twice the price of standard paperbacks. It's the bookish equivalent of Carrie in Sex and the City when she spots another pair of Jimmy Choos!

Ethan Frome is a relentlessly tragic novel and portrays a completely different view of New England to Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs. The tortured relationship between Ethan, his wife Zeena and the young Mattie Silver plays itself out to its shocking conclusion.

Talking of toxic marriages Shadow Tag is an unflinching portrayal of the relationship between Gil, an artist and his wife Irene who is also his muse. Both are flawed. He can't control his temper and she is a loving mother but a cold-hearted wife. Irene keeps a 'false' blue diary which she leaves around for her husband to read while her real thoughts are recorded in a secret red diary. Shadow Tag could not be considered a comfort read and this marriage turns uglier than most bad marriages with alcohol playing its inevitable part, but sometimes you need to read about real life, as it is, both good and bad and Louise Erdrich excels at writing real life.

After all that tragedy I need some Austen.

9 comments:

makedoandread said...

I get seduced by the gorgeous Penguin Classic Deluxe editions. Far prefer the fancypants extra copy to shoes I can't walk in. :)

Definitely time for some Austen!

Cath said...

I always think the hardback covers of the books you read are really beautiful and don't blame you for being seduced by them!

Karen K. said...

I Just love Ethan Frome. . . that book is so tragic, I guess I'm a little weird. Wharton just captures the tortured marriage so well. I've also read Summer which is supposed to be the "hot" version of Ethan Frome, but I didn't find the main character nearly as sympathetic.

And I also have multiple copies of my favorite books -- I think I now have FOUR copies of Pride and Prejudice. It's a little embarassing.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

I have been slowly buying a matched set of Austen in hardcover so you are not alone in being seduced. I remember hating Ethan From when we read it in high school; but that's when one is hopelessly romantic and the unhappy ending is too much like read life to work for a teenager!

Monica said...

I'm a sucker for great covers too, although I tame it to my very faves.

I fell for Wharton after Ethan Frome.
Shadow Tag sounds like something I'd enjoy... but a good dose of Emma seems best after those two ;)

Lilacs In May said...

I haven't read either of these titles, I have just fallen for the Penguin Threads because of their covers, but they don't sell them in the UK. I will add the Frome to my tbr list, I loved Age Of Innocence.

potterjotter said...

Now you're talking - you can't beat a bit of Edith! I have read a lot of hers, but not this one yet. Let us know how it goes.

Sunday Taylor said...

I really understand craving a little Jane Austen after reading a dark book. Recently I read "Room" by Emma Donaghue, which I enjoyed very much, but it was a difficult read at times. Its topic, abduction, is disturbing, but the book is very good. After that, I went straight into "Howards End" by E.M. Forster. Love that one so much, have read it many times.

Vintage Reading said...

makedoandread, I keep saying I'll reduce my book budget, but I've just gone an ordered the new annotated Pride and Prej in hardback!

Cath, trying to reduce my expenditure on hardbacks, but it's difficult!!

Karen K, I loved the writing, but oh the ending was a shock! I'm looking out for Summer, too. I seem to have three editions of Wuthering Heights!

Linda, looking forward to pics of your JA collection on your blog. I loved House of Mirth but I found Ethan Frome very tragic.

Monica, I re-read Emma over Christmas so I've settled for Northanger Abbey. Not my favourite Austen, but pretty good all the same. I thought Ethan From was brilliantly written but almost too sad to enjoy!

Lilacs in May, I'm due for a re-read of The Age of Innocence. I read it for book club a few years ago but it's not fresh in my mind - thanks for reminding me!

potterjotter, if you're going to read EF, keep a box of tissues handy!

Sunday, I've bought Howard's End based on your recommendation. I'm such a slow reader it may be a while before I get around to it though!