Ahoy there, me hearties! If life is ever feeling a bit hum-drum, you can count on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island to carry you away to a land of adventure with treasure, pirates, and mutiny included. The story is about Jim Hawkins, whose mother’s boarding house connects him with a mysterious pirate. This encounter leads him across the sea to follow a treasure map and seek unbelievable riches.
Stevenson dishes up adventure and suspense galore with this swashbuckling tale. He had an uncanny ability to provide enough detail to make the story come alive without bogging the story down. This classic can be experienced on DVD, audiobook, graphic novel, or as a good old-fashioned book.
If you want a classic for your summer reading list, but aren’t in the mood for Grapes of Wrath, look no further than North and South by Victorian writer Elizabeth Gaskell. Gaskell explores the industrial revolution and how it affected individual lives. In North & South, Margaret Hale is forced by family circumstances to leave her idealic life in the country and move to the northern industrial town of Milton. Her sympathy for the town mill workers is challenged by her increasing insight into the sentiments of mill owner, John Thornton. Watching Margaret wake up to complexities of life while remaining a sympathetic and kind human being is challenging and delightful at the same time. We also have the BBC version of the film which lingered in my mind for days after.
There is a long-running debate about whether it’s better to read the book first or see the movie. My opinion on this matter of the utmost importance is, without any doubt, see the movie. The book is almost always better, so you see the movie first and think “Wow, that was great!” Then read the book, and discover it’s even better. If you go the other way around, there’s an inevitable sense of disappointment about what was changed or that the actor they chose didn’t match the picture in your head at all.
The movie/book combo is my favorite way to read the classics. I tried to read Middlemarch by George Eliot several years ago and just got confused. There are so many characters and I kept getting lost. I checked the Masterpiece Theater film out from the library and realized that it’s an amazing story with love, betrayal, and hope for a better world. I then read the book and it became one of my favorites.
Come to the Information Desk for a list of DVDs we have that are based on books. Feel free to let me know if I have the book/movie order all wrong!
> I’ve been reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have a difficult time recommending it, since it is among the least liked of Austen’s novels. I’m reading it for the 3rd or 4th time and really enjoying it. It is the story of Fanny Price, a poor niece growing up with a wealthy family. She is quiet, moral, and sensitive. Many people hate her.
At the same time, I’m watching the Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre, which I got for Christmas. I couldn’t help but compare Fanny and Jane, both in degraded positions in a wealthy household, both strong in their morals, and careful to make their way as best they can. But everyone loves Jane Eyre and belittles poor Fanny.
I am seeing with this reading that Fanny has a quiet strength that pulls her through all the difficulties of her life. She has a meekness that serves her well in everyday situations, but doesn’t succumb to the will of those who are stronger when she knows her position is correct. Besides, Aunt Norris is a deliciously horrid character, providing many laughs along the way.