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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

A Little Princess by Frances Hogsden Burnett

Here’s to 2017, or The Year I Am Going to Ireland.  I really thought I had already blogged about at least two of these books, but perhaps the post didn’t make it into my blog.  I did have a busy holiday season and went on a cruise with my husband for New Year’s (easy to do since we sail right out of New Orleans and just get a ride across town from a friend).  During this cruise I nearly lived off of a cocktail called Forty is the New Twenty — go figure.  I took a break from The List during the cruise but didn’t actually end up reading anything else — I’m working on a complicated knitting project and got caught up in that.  In the meantime, the crew working on our house has made great progress and I am finally seeing the new bathroom coming together with actual wall and floor tiles but running into odd little problems to fit things.

Anyway I’ll briefly blog about these books now to get caught back up.

As much as Their Eyes Were Watching God is often assigned reading, I managed to escape it and never read it as I can recall.  I found it difficult to read because of the dialect used by the characters.  I wouldn’t have minded less of it, but almost the whole book was written in dialect.  It focuses on the main character, a woman who goes through a string of bad men after fleeting an engagement arranged by her grandmother who raised her.  I think the novel would have been more engaging without all the dialect.

Lives of Girls and Women was a change of pace, being set in small-town Canada in the midcentury.  It follows the main character’s coming-of-age in this setting and ultimately the choices she makes as she enters adulthood.

The House of the Spirits follows three generations of a family in Latin America including their involvement in politics and a political revolution.  I believe I read this before in high school and enjoyed it more at that time, perhaps when I wasn’t under a time crunch trying to read 50 pages daily.  This time I was better able to observe the position of women.  While men hold positions of power and objectify women (including using them for sex and impregnating them), women hold power of their own as the main character Clara and some of the other female characters have mystical powers to contact ghosts and see into the future, and Clara’s husband is physically and emotionally obsessed with her.

Then came another re-read, A Little Princess, which somehow seemed appropriate at Christmas.  I remembered enjoying this riches-to-rags-to-riches story when I was a young girl, and enjoyed it again on this re-reading.  For the main character, Sara, being a princess is more about acting nobly than about being rich and privileged (although she is rich and privileged), and she continues to act nobly even during the period when she lives in poverty, which even infuriates those who scapegoat her and expect her to act less than nobly.

I plan to pick up the next book on The List but I don’t even know what it is at this point.  I wasn’t having much luck finding the next few either on my e-reader or at the library, at least without waiting for them.



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