Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Word for Wednesday

"We often pity the poor, because they have no leisure to mourn their departed relatives, and necessity obliges them to labour through their severest afflictions; but is not active employment the best remedy for overwhelming sorrow...the surest antidote for despair? It may be a rough comforter: it may seem hard to be harassed with the cares of life when we have no relish for its enjoyments, to be goaded to labour when the heart is ready to break, and the vexed spirit implores for rest only to weep in silence; but is not labour better than the rest we covet? and are not those petty, tormenting cares less hurtful than a continual brooding over the great affliction that oppresses us?"

~from Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë~

Monday, September 25, 2017

Let's Bust a Recap : Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Well, this was my first experience with Thomas Hardy, and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it. This novel was chock-full of ups and downs starting in the very first chapter.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (who primarily regarded himself as a poet though he authored nearly 20 novels and numerous short stories) was first published serially in a censored version in 1891 and then in a more complete book form in 1892. It was pretty controversial at the time it was published (in fact, it was initially refused publication, hence, the censored version when it was serially published) because it challenged the social and sexual mores of late Victorian England. It's now considered Hardy's fictional masterpiece. I hope I didn't peak too soon with Hardy--I have 3 more novels of his on my shelf and at least 1 more besides the 4 I own on my Life List of Books to Read Before I Die. 

The book is made up of 59 chapters divided into 7 phases, and my particular copy was 465 pages, all of which I eagerly marathon-ed, though I did slow down a bit between phases 5 and 6 just to ramp it back up at the end of phase 6 and sprint through the finish. 

At the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to the impoverished but beautiful Tess Durbeyfield who is the oldest child of a whole posse of kids born to an alcoholic, good-for-nothing father and an irresponsible, devil-may-care mother. In chapter one, the Durbeyfields learn that they are descended from the wealthy, noble line of the d'Urbervilles which gives Pa Durbeyfield just one more excuse to laze around and not work--because he's too good for it. He and Ma send sweet Tess to a well-to-do family named d'Urberville a few towns over so she can claim kin and hopefully start milking the cash cow. But these d'Urbervilles are not actually related to them in any way, and the odious young Alec d'Urberville ends up raping Tess resulting in a scandalized Tess returning home to have Alec's baby and live in shame for the rest of her life. 

Will Tess ever be able to get past this horrible crime committed against her and find love? Would it even be right for her to presume to marry after her sordid past? And does Alec d'Urberville ever get what's coming to him? You'll find out if you read the novel. (Or if you come ask me, because boy, will I talk your ear off about it as my husband will attest.)

Taking the whole novel into account, I'd use the words "tragic" and "depressing" to describe Tess of the D'Urbervilles. However, I have to admit, I'm eager to read more of Hardy's work. I was outraged at Alec's appalling behavior toward Tess; I agonized with Tess over difficult decisions she was faced with throughout the book; I was alternately giddy, indignant, delighted, and shocked. Any author who can so involve my emotions with their writing wins my respect and my recommendation. I would definitely say that Tess of the D'Urbervilles is worth your time though it's not exactly light reading and I wouldn't recommend it if you're in need of a pick-me-up kinda read. It is perfect for October if you're wanting a more dark, gloomy read though so go grab a copy if you're looking for the perfect novel for the month of pumpkins and witches.  

Have you read Tess of the D'Urbervilles or anything else by Thomas Hardy? What do you think of his writing? The other 3 novels I have by Hardy are Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, and Jude the Obscure, and I'd like to add The Mayor of Casterbridge to my collection at some point. Which one should be on next year's book list? 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Word for Wednesday

"...our wishes are like tinder: the flint and steel of circumstances are continually striking out sparks, which vanish immediately, unless they chance to fall upon the tinder of our wishes; 
then, they instantly ignite, and the flame of hope is kindled in a moment."

~from Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë~

Friday, September 15, 2017

Casual Fridays

I can see clearly now the rain is gone. And let's just do a Currently I'm... post because it seems like a good idea.  

... Ezekiel. I'll be honest, Jeremiah and Ezekiel have not been easy books for me this time around. I don't know if it's just been the craziness of Hurricane Irma or the KJV or what, but I've had a tough time staying focused during these two particular books. 

... Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. If you've been keeping up, this is my 17th read of the year so far, and it's also the last book I have left from my original 2017 book list! (Except for Sunset Lullaby by RJG which doesn't even come out till November 10th and will only take me about a day to read if past performance is any indicator.) 

Addicted to...

... the snack that smiles back: Goldfish. A bowlful a day keeps the doctor away. Or something like that.

... IBC Black Cherry Cokes. And there's no caffeine in them so I don't even have to feel bad about drinking them, right?!

... Taco Bell chalupas, no sour cream. Because a cheap meal and no dinner clean-up is what being an American is all about.


... ALL THE THINGS that are not in my house. Cheese fries from Andy's, mall food court Chinese, apple cider, Publix pumpkin pie or chocolate cake with buttercream icing. None of it's here and I want all of it. I'm thinking these are sympathy cravings for my sister-in-law who's PREGNANT! in case you missed it last week. Caroline, I am here and willing to gain the baby weight with you, my friend. (Although I'm not sure Cody will be on board.)


... Gilmore Girls. There's just something about this time of year that makes me want to revisit Stars Hollow. 

... The Dick Van Dyke Show. Personally, I don't know of anyone who can touch Dick Van Dyke's physical comedy. I love that guy. 

... Julie's Greenroom. Julie Andrews is one classy lady, y'all. This show is adorable. Not like, sit-and-bingewatch-the-entire-season-in-one-day adorable, but adorable nonetheless. 


... to lots of Michael Bublé lately. He's my jam this time of year.

... to Kelly Clarkson. She was my yard clean-up music of choice this week. And her new song Love So Soft is dance-tastic. (Thanks for the tip, Reagan.)

... to Adventures in Odyssey. Perpetually. But particularly the "For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll" episode from album #29: Signed, Sealed & Committed. 

... very relieved that Hurricane Irma is over. 

... extremely grateful that we did not experience any significant damage from the storm and were without power for less than 24 hours. A massive thank you to everyone who is working around the clock to restore power to the state of Florida and helping with clean-up and restoration. #FloridaStrong

... sore from picking up our yard. I've used muscles this week I forgot I had. #ouch


... for those who got hit worse than we did. Naples and Jacksonville are underwater and something like 60% of the state is still without power. God is always good, and God is bigger than Irma.

... my family. Always and forever. But particularly having them in and out of my home all week taking hot showers, grilling up all the food before it goes bad and eating together, just hanging out in the AC--I love my tribe, y'all. 

What's currently going on with you?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Word for Wednesday

"I could only conclude that excessive vanity, like drunkenness, 
hardens the heart, enslaves the faculties, and perverts the feelings, 
and that dogs are not the only creatures which, when gorged to the throat, 
will yet gloat over what they cannot devour, 
and grudge the smallest morsel to a starving brother."

~from Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë~

Friday, September 8, 2017

Casual Fridays

It's been over a month since our last Casual Friday, and I thought I'd pop on today to spam you with photos of my adorable nieces.
You're welcome. 
Aren't they the cutest, sweetest, silliest girls you've ever seen in your life? I'm not attached to them at all

There's another one on the way!! Well, I suppose we could get a nephew this time. Only God knows. Either way, I'm massively excited. 

And here are the cutest, sweetest, silliest dogs on the planet, in case you wondered if they still take up residence with us:
They have such a hard life, y'all. 

Frankly, I'm having a hard time stringing intelligible sentences together because the only words in my brain lately are "Hurricane Irma". We've been battening down all our hatches and praying God turns her back out to sea where she can't do any more damage.
Can you even see Florida on that map? Yeah, me either. Personally, I'm missing the days when hurricanes meant going out to play soccer with my friends. Not discussing whether or not we should board up our windows with my husband. Hashtag adulting and homeownership and all that. God is bigger. 

Let's end on a happier note: 
I stole away to my favorite beach spot for a few hours on Labor Day. I'm tearing through Tess of the D'Urbervilles and definitely thinking another Hardy will make it on next year's book list. 

Stay dry out there and fill me in on what's been happening with you lately!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Word for Wednesday

"It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.

So said the teachers of our childhood; and so say we to the children of the present day. All very judicious and proper no doubt; but are such assertions supported by actual experience?"

~from Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë~

Monday, September 4, 2017

Let's Bust a Recap : Agnes Grey

Oh y'all. 

I. Loved. This. Book. 

Five stars and two gigantic thumbs up for Agnes Grey. 

Agnes Grey was first published at the end of 1847 and was the first of two novels written by the youngest of the Brontë sisters, Anne. The Brontë sisters originally published their work under the masculine pen names of Currer (for Charlotte), Ellis (for Emily), and Acton (for Anne) Bell. I've read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, but this was my first foray into Anne Brontë's work, and I was not at all disappointed. While Agnes Grey proved much simpler than the plots of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights and although Anne Brontë herself never received the same level of fame or recognition as her older sisters, her novel was in no way inferior to theirs, and, in fact, I definitely liked it better than Wuthering Heights and certainly read it faster than I've ever read Jane Eyre (though to be fair, Jane Eyre is nearly triple the length of Agnes Grey). 

Agnes Grey is the story of a poor clergyman's youngest daughter who decides to go to work as a governess to help relieve the financial strain her family is under. Because governesses in Victorian England were considered "beneath" their employers but "above" the household servants, Agnes Grey leads a very lonely, isolated life despite being from such a loving, close-knit family. 

Agnes Grey as a novel is, without a doubt, much more relatable and realistic than either Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, due in large measure to its autobiographical nature. Anne Brontë was herself a governess in Victorian England and much of the material found in Agnes Grey was taken from her own life experiences. 

That's about all I've got to say for this one. I don't want to give anything away for those of you who may want to read it for yourselves. You boys may not find this particularly entertaining, but ladies, go grab a copy and settle in for a lovely experience. 

Have you read any of the Brontës' work? Who is your favorite Brontë sister? I have The Professor and Villette both by Charlotte Brontë sitting on my shelf and now I absolutely want to acquire The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Which Brontë novel should go on next year's book list?