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Nov. 7, 2013
This novel takes a single thread - the relationship between creator and creation - and ties it into a ghastly, believable knot. <br/><br/>While I longed for some deeper characterisation, perhaps a scene or two of relief from the relentless unhappiness of Frankenstein's tale - these changes would have detracted from the crisp, believable tone and relentless pace. <br/><br/>Frankenstein is not a doctor - merely a young man driven by ambition and, later, love for his family. His monster is one of the most ambivalent beings I have encountered in fiction. It was impossible to know whether to pity or revile him. Their fates entwined in the arctic sea, I felt relief for the end of their miseries, rather than sorrow at their passing.<br/><br/>This novel is remarkable for its chilling plausibility, and for the mood of hopeless melancholy it captures. The real monster, perhaps, is the depression that haunted its author, Mary Shelley, and which pervades every page of this classic.
Nov. 7, 2013
Anna Karenina
I was surprised, and delighted, by how much I loved this novel. I'm not sure what I was expecting (more bitter tragedy, perhaps?), but I found myself engrossed in this fascinating, warmly lit, and intricately woven tale of stately life in 18th century Russia. <br/><br/>The characters were drawn with such care and detail, their lives felt entirely real to me, and I experienced their lives and loves almost as if they were my own. Realistic, too, were the struggles they faced - and the grand and mundane questions that occupied them. <br/><br/>This is a novel that foreshadows so much of what was to come in Russia - and in the world - in the 20th century. War, revolution, struggles between the classes, the mechanisation of agriculture, faith and what it means to be good - all these ideas and are explored with a sort of timeless honesty. The conversations between Levin and Oblonsky could be transposed to a modern dinner party and would still seem fresh.
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