The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

the-great-gatsby

As a non-native, this book had always been like an insurmountable mountain to me – a masterpiece decked with beautiful yet somewhat elusive words.

The very first chapter was the most difficult; like a tough nut to crack, the smooth flow of words felt really elusive and abstract, it took me some time to get the hang of his writing style and decipher what the author tried to say.

That said, I must admit that I literally fell in love with the writing. It’s stunningly beautiful and mellifluous, I even thought it was like impressionist’s paintings at times where the story was told not explicitly by solid outlines but by numerous numbers of brushwork. The story was woven and contoured so subtly yet it’s got quite a strong ‘draw’ that captivates the reader. I can’t really put my finger on exactly what it is, but I was enthralled by his outstandingly beautiful writing.

His writing is also very descriptive. The description of almost-out-of-order-parties was just amazing; I could easily visualize how flamboyant and bustling they must have been.

Story-wise, I had neither read this book nor watched the movie so I dove right into this book without knowing anything. As I previously mentioned, the toughest was the very introduction in Chapter 1, but once I powered through it, I was captivated by this enchanting yet poignant story.

Honestly, I didn’t anticipate this turn of events; I sometimes felt it was kind of hazy and ambiguous in a good way, but as I came to understand Gatsby’s personality and his anguish as well as the flame for Daisy that he keeps burning in his mind, I found myself completely reeled in the story and wanting his love for Daisy to come to fruition.

I was really surprised to find how strongly invested I actually was in Gatsby’s character; I wasn’t expecting to be emotionally attached to any of the characters because none of the characters felt realistic nor grounded. They all seemed frivolous and were living in the moment not caring much about where they were heading nor the consequences of their actions.
With the sad outcome that Gatsby faced, I, for the first time, felt the pang of sympathy toward him and I also felt sorry for Nick. The ensuing funeral scenes and the aftermath tugged at my heartstrings.

How close Gatsby had become to Nick.
What big of an influence Gatsby had had on Nick. 

The last several chapters are just stunning. It’s so atmospheric, poignant yet beautiful like quiet, undulating waves on the surface of water.

I wouldn’t boast that I got to grasp the gist of the story.

Not quite, I’m afraid.

Nevertheless, this story left me enthralled and mesmerized, and I pledge to come back to this book at some point in my life. This is a masterpiece.

And I really adore this book.

Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia Publication Order #2)

prince-caspian

I adore this book as much as ‘The Lion,’ probably even more – this grand story evoked a lot of emotions inside me and I just couldn’t process my feelings when I closed the book. The ending wrecked me in a good way; I just couldn’t think of anything else.

This is the second time I’ve picked up this book; the last time when I picked up this one, I gave up on continuing to read for some reason; probably from the lack of my vocabulary at the time.

After about 3 years, I now got to finish this book and – oh, my, I’m so glad that I read it!
Like I said, this book moved me much more than the last one (Lion) did.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish – it is just impeccable! The plot is well-crafted and I personally think the writing and descriptions are much more engaging than ‘The Lion.’
I must say I felt the story in the last one (The Lion) went in a flurry, but with this one, ‘Prince Caspian,’ the plot has a lot more depth to it and the dialogues are quite engaging and amazing. It touches on some political stuff – ugly conspiracies involving the throne and the war to take back the kingdom – I think that’s what makes this story more entertaining and just riveting.

All the characters are so likable and relatable; I particularly liked Reepicheep! Despite being a mouse, he is noble and is truly a knight. His remarks are pregnant with meaning which came as quite a surprise to me.

Just like the last time, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I got to understand the messages and teachings this book carries, but I enjoyed this book immensely for its great story-development. It’s action packed (particularly the combat part with Miraz) ,exciting, and I particularly liked the remark that Peter makes when he starts to doubt if he can pull off defeating the despicable Miraz – it is just poignant!

I was a bit thrown off when I realized how many alterations had been made when it was made into a movie. In addition to Prince Caspian being much older than the book, a love story between Susan and Caspian??  I would have liked the movie to be a faithful reflection of the book. Most of the great dialogues had been cut, many unnecessary scenes had been added,  I must say that I was a bit sorry about that.

I was so sad to know that Peter and Susan wouldn’t be able to come back to the world of Narnia any more because I love them both! They found a place which has a special place in their hearts but the fate has taken it away from them – how sad it is!
When they all come back to the real world from Narnia in the end, the poignant feel washed over me- I almost cried. (seriously)

That said, like I said, I enjoyed this amazing journey from start to finish. I can’t wait to pick up the next book and see what happens next! I’m loving the series so far!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia (Publication Order) #1)

lion

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I really, really adore this book.

I re-read this book for the first time in about 3 years.
I was a bit worried if all my senses and emotions had gone numb after a major book hangover stemming from reading NOS4A2. Although I picked up a different book prior to this one but the book didn’t speak to my heart as much and I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me.

It was when I decided to pick up this book; I remember enjoying it so much the last time and I figured I would be in trouble if I didn’t.

You can’t imagine how glad and relieved I was to say this out loud – I enjoyed this book immensely!

First thing first – the plot; I adore the story line! How fantastic and exciting it is to step into a completely different world and eventually ascend to the throne!  I think this is everybody’s dream come true and I love it!

Being such a short book which has got only 206 pages or so, the story goes pretty fast.
I still can’t believe so many events take place in such a short book.
The writing comes across rather simple (it is also natural considering it’s for children) and some scenes feel overly simplified and concise compared to the movie adaptation, but the power that his writing has held me in thrall throughout the book. I couldn’t put it down.

The dialogues are so vibrant and sound quite natural. In particular, whatever that comes out of Aslan’s mouth does speak to me; his remarks are literally words of wisdom and they naturally come into me.

The Pevensie siblings are all so adorable, but I found a bit difficult to see why Edmund is being so spiteful in the early part of the book. I wish there were some more explanations or descriptions of a rift or two particularly between Peter and Edmund as there was in the movie.

Putting all the metaphors and messages of Christianity this book carries aside (for me not being a Christian), I believe this book does impart some messages that each and every one of us should bear in mind; put others before you, there may be some people who need as much help as you or your loved one needs.
And the messages are conveyed in a masterful, beautiful writing. Just amazing.

This story has got somewhat a warm vibe and hope keeps running through the entire book.
It is a bit sad and poignant when the Pevensie siblings come back to the real life through the magical wardrobe, but I love the Professor’s very last remark before the story ends.

Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it.

Keep your eyes open.

Ahhh, another word of wisdom… I love the Professor!!

This is a perfect example that showcases a great book doesn’t need to be way too long.
Short and sweet yet full of wisdom. I now desperately want to get the box set so that I can always go back to the Narnia world!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudiceTitle: Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Edition: Dover Thrift Editions

Length: 262 pages

 

I honestly don’t know what to make of this book; not in a negative light but in a positive light.
When I closed the book, I was still drifting in the world of the 19th century and it took me a while to be back in the 21st century.

I must admit that I didn’t get to comprehend every sentence that’s in the book, there are some parts that I couldn’t wrap my head around however hard I tried, yet it was such a delightful read and I just adore this book.

I have watched the film adaptation prior to reading this and the film is one of my favorites. That said, having read this book, I can say that you must read the book to fully enjoy the film because the book gives you a lot of in-depth descriptions and explanations for things that happen in the film and more than anything, much detailed descriptions of Elizabeth’s vacillation and torment upon Mr. Darcy’s confession.

Although the film does contain the scene where Elizabeth receives the letter from Mr. Darcy explaining what happened between him and Mr. Wickham which makes Elizabeth realize she has been all wrong on disliking Mr. Darcy, but it is a bit hard to detect Elizabeth’s change of heart where her disliking toward Mr. Darcy changing into affection and gratitude by merely watching the film. (As everything goes at a fast pace.)

In addition to that, I personally think the dialogues are what makes this book outstanding and a delightful read. They all reflect the characters’ personality really well and make each character really relatable and endearing.

Not to mention the plot is just adorable and heart-tickling. I personally think it’s rather deplorable that such modesty and courtesy have long been lost in the modern society.
Some may think it’s long-winded and unnecessarily circumspect, but I do think it adds to the thrill and suspense of how things turn out between them.

Well, that’s all I can say now about this book for the lack of better words, pardon me 😦

I will definitely re-read this book so that I get to better understand the story next time.
I’m even thinking of reading the other two books, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Persuasion’ in the coming months!

 

正直言いますと、なんと感想を表現していいのか分かりません:悪い意味ではなく、いい意味で、です。
読み終えて本を閉じたとき、まだ19世紀の世界に漂っていて、現代21世紀の世界に戻るのにしばらくかかりました。

全ての文章を理解できたとは言いません。何回読んでも意味が取れないところもありました。でもとっても素晴らしい本で、お気に入りになりました。

こちらの映画版は本を読む前に見ていて、お気に入りの一つです。
とは言いながら、本を読み終えた今言えることは、「映画を十分に楽しむには本を読まないと」ということです。なぜなら、小説は映画の中で起こることについてのもっと詳細な説明とか、何よりもMr. Darcyの告白を受けた後のElizabethの心の動きが良く描かれているからです。

映画にもElizabethがMr. Darcyから手紙を受け取るシーンはあります。Mr. Wickhamとの出来事を説明した大事な手紙で、Mr. Darcyを嫌っていた自分がいかに間違っていたかをElizabethは理解させられるわけですが。でも映画だとこの辺の心の動きが表情からはつかみにくい。Mr. Darcyへの嫌悪感が感謝と愛情に変わる心の動きが。

それに加えて、「会話」がこの本を際立たせる魅力の一つだと思います。発言のひとつひとつがキャラクターの性格をよく反映していて、キャラクターに対して共感できるというか。

ストーリーがとにかく可愛くてキュンキュンしちゃうのは言うまでもありません。個人的にはこの時代の慎ましさとか礼儀を重んじるところとかが現在では失われてしまったのが惜しいなぁと思ったりw
中には「まどろっこしい」とか思われる方もいらっしゃるかもしれませんが、でも私はそれが逆にドキドキ感を高めていると思います。「え、このあとどうなるの?」みたいな。

今のところこれくらいです、私が言えるのは。(英語でねw 語彙も表現も少ないので_| ̄|○)

この本は是非とももう一度読むつもりです。次はもっと理解できるように!
更にはJane Austen のほかの2冊 ‘Sense and Sensibility’ と ‘Persuasion’も近々読んでやろうと思っておりますw

で。

ここまでは上記英文の日本語バージョンなのですが。

ここからは日本語のみだからこそ書ける正直な感想をば。どっちかというと英語そのものに傾いた感想ですが。

まずはこの本を読み終えるのに1週間近くかかりました。それも、土日をほぼ読書に費やして、です。
1日に平均30ページいければいいほうで、時には4ページ読むのに30分くらい費やすこともありました。

その原因は言うまでもなく、現代小説とは明らかに違う「文体」です。文法についてはそこまで違っていたとも思いません。が、文体が明らかに違う。
現代小説ではそこまで複雑な文構成はありません。せいぜいthat とか関係代名詞が出てきて複文構成になって。。。くらいだと思うのですが、Jane Austen の文章にはえらい複雑な文章が沢山出てきます。
例えば、関係代名詞が3つくらい続いて一人の人物の描写が続くとかw
下記はJaneが Mr. Bingleyと共に家を訪れたMr. Darcyに対する驚きと彼に対する気持ちを表した文なのですが、

To Jane, he could only a man whose proposals she had refused, and whose merit she had undervalued; but to her own more extensive information, he was the person to whom the whole family were indebted for the benefits, and whom she regarded herself with an interest, if not quite so tender, at least as reasonable and just as what Jane felt for Bingley.

とくにif not ~からの下りは2回くらい読まないと意味が取れませんでしたw 実は。何回か読んで「あ、そういうことね」みたいなw だから時間がかかったんですけどね。
あとは「この’she’って誰のこと指してるの?」というのも多々ありました。一文が非常に長いこともあるので。

英語学習者泣かせのパターンだと、
He who, she had been persuaded, would avoid her as his greatest enemy, seemed, on this accidental meeting, most eager to preserve the acquaintance,

上記2文はそれでも簡単な方だと思いますがw (メモってなかったのでどこを難しいと感じたのかよく覚えていないw)
いずれにしても、こういうカンマで区切って付加情報を入れて(それも一つではないw)、カンマ閉じて元の文章に戻る(繋がる)というパターンがよく出てきます。なのでしっかり読まないと流れを見失ってしまって、「あれ?これどういう文章だったんだっけ?」ということでもう一度戻らないといけない、という部分が頻出するんです(´Д`;)

なので、原文のJane Austenについては上級者でないとおすすめできません。
・・・って自分のことを上級者だと自負しているわけでは全くないのですが、ある程度語彙と英文に慣れていないと読めない代物だと思ってます。少なくとも初心者さんには絶対おすすめできませんw 私が最初にこちらに手を出して完敗しましたから。撃沈_| ̄|○

でも、どうにかこうにか読み終えられて達成感は半端ないです。
ほんとうはもう一度読み直したいところですが、今月のTBRを片付けなければならないので、それはまた近い将来、ということにしておきます^^

長々としたポストになりましたが、読んでくださってありがとうございました 😀

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

the-halloween-treeHappy Halloween!

I’ve now come to wonder if it’s appropriate to use this common phrase having finished this book.

As I previously mentioned, I managed to finish reading it last Saturday, thanks to my mom going out for a walk for an hour or so.

My gosh, this book amazed me in all respects; the writing is just grand and beautiful, it sounds like a poem and oh, THE BARGAIN the boys make with Mr. Moundshroud to save Pipkin!! It ripped my heart; it was incredibly profound (for children’s book) and pregnant with meaning. Literally mind-blowing. I momentarily lost for words and couldn’t say anything but ‘Oh, my gosh, Oh, my gosh!!

Spoiler Alert: The following paragraphs contain some spoilers. Those who haven’t read this book before, I strongly suggest you read this part AFTER you’ve read the book. For those who have already known how it goes, drag your mouse down to ‘End Spoilers.’

The bargain they make with Mr. Moundshroud to save good-old Pipkin trapped in the world of Death and Darkness is to give up one year out of their lives.

One year doesn’t seem like much with the boys being so young and sprightly, but as Mr. Moundshroud says it carries a significant meaning when their days are numbered. I think they will come to wish to live as long as possible, every single day counts in such situations, but once they make the pledge, Mr. Moundshroud will come to them and take away one year of their lives.

So he asks the boys – Can you make this commitment? Are you willing to sacrifice your precious one year of your life to save Pipkin?? Consider and deliberate this; think about a time when your life is coming to a close.

I literally sucked my breath, thinking, “What a huge decision for the boys to make!” One year out of their lives. What will the boys be thinking of having their one-year taken out of their lives when they want to live longer?

I just couldn’t put it down – completely got wrapped up in reading and was desperate to see how the story ends.

–End Spoilers —————————-

I would not say that I get to comprehend all the-origin-of-Halloween part, but in spite of that, I am glad that I picked up this book for this year’s Halloween.

Having read this book, I now feel sorry for all the craziness and racket that we’ve seen here in Japan (especially in Shibuya, Tokyo): dressed up in crazy costumes and traipse down the streets not knowing what Halloween really is, or what meanings Halloween carries to the dead.

Halloween is a celebration for the dead and personally, I don’t think it should be taken lightly; it shouldn’t be reduced down to a mere festival propagated by some guys who just want to jump on the bandwagon.

A great book does possess a power to change our perspective.
Mine has definitely changed upside down having read this book and I think it’s a wonderful thing.

Now, what do you think?
As I said, I’m glad that I picked up this book in time for Halloween and I am seriously thinking of getting a hardback because I want to read it again and again and again when Halloween rolls around!

 

Happy Halloween!

ってね、この本を読み終えた今となってはこんなこと言ってもいいもんかどうなのか考えてしまいます。

以前にも書いたとおり、何とか先週土曜日に読み終えることができました!母親が1時間かそこら散歩に出てくれたのでw

なんてことでしょう。この本にはいろんな意味で驚かされました。文章はとにかく格調高く綺麗だったし、まるで詩のようで。それに、それにですよ!少年たちが闇と死の世界に囚われたPipkinを救うためにMoundshroud氏と交わす取引が!!! もうほんとに心が張り裂けるようでした。子供向けにしてはえらい深い意味を持っているし、含蓄があるなあと。とにかく、ぶったまげました。一時言葉を失い、「まじ?まじで?!」としか言葉が出てきませんでした。

※ネタバレ注意!: 以下の段落にはネタバレが含まれています。まだこの本を読んでいない方は「読んでから」ここを読むのを強くおすすめします。読んでいて流れをご存知の方は「ネタバレ終了」部分までマウスをドラッグしてください。

少年たちがMoundshroud氏と交わす取引は「自らの命1年分をPipkinを救うために差し出す」というものでした。

1年ってね、子供で元気いっぱいの彼らには大したものではないかもしれません。でもMoundshroud氏が言うように、寿命が短くなってきた時には1年というのはとても大きな重要性を帯びてきます。少しでも長く生きたいと、1日1日が重要になってくるので。

なのでMoundshroud氏は少年たちに問いかけますー 君たちは確約できるか? Pipkinを救うために貴重な1年を犠牲にする覚悟があるか? 良く考えなさい: 命の灯火が小さくなった時のことを。

本当に息を呑んでしまいましたね。「少年たちにとっては何と大きな決断か!」と。自分たちの寿命から1年。「もっと長生きしたい」と思うようになったときに奪われてしまう1年を、彼らはどう感じるのか?

読むのをやめられませんでした。完全に熱中し、どのように物語が結末を迎えるのかを確かめずにはいられませんでした。

ネタばれ終了——

ハロウィンの起源の説明部分については全部理解できたとは言いません。それを差し引いても、この本をハロウィンに合わせて読めて良かったと思ってます。

この本を読んで、ここ日本(東京渋谷)で目の当たりにするばか騒ぎにはちょっと遺憾の念を覚えます。

ハロウィンとはなんなのか、ハロウィンが死者にとってどんな意味を持つのかを全然理解しないでただ仮装して通りを練り歩く。

ハロウィンは死者を祀る祝いの儀式。個人的には軽んじるものではないと思っています。
ただ流行りに乗りたい人達によって単なるお祭りに成り下がってはならない、と。

本当にいい本は私たちの視点、ものの見方すら変える力を持っています。
この本を読んで私の視点は確実に、180度変わったし、それは素晴らしいことだと思います。

さて、皆さんはどうお考えになりますか?

さっきも書いたとおり、今年のハロウィンに間に合うように読めて良かったと思ってますし、真剣にハードカバーを手に入れようかと考えています。だって、ハロウィンが近づく頃になんどもなんども何度も、読みたいので!