Category Archives: Romance

Crome Yellow – Aldous Huxley

Crome YellowTitle: Crome Yellow

Author: Aldous Huxley

Publication Date: 1921

Review Score: 6/10

Published in 1921, Crome Yellow was the debut novel by Aldous Huxley in which he satires the fads and fashions of the time. The story combines many of the themes of literature of this period, such as the grandiose house party, the history of a rich gentry household and the painful and the misplaced love of a young man doting on the fair lady.

In a way this is the traditional country house novel in which an array of interesting characters eat, drink, debate and sponge of the willing host. However, where this work differs from the norm is in Huxley’s subtle pokes at the ridiculousness of this way of life.

Although Huxley is obviously a great writer and Crome Yellow understandably is seen as a classic novel, I found it incredibly hard going and very unsatisfying. The story is basic and uneventful, the characters are rather bland on the whole and there is very little to hold the readers interest throughout.

A couple of interesting themes do poke their head out through the book, including a reference to ideas found in Huxley’s later and more successful work Brave New World, but they are soon swept under the rug and forgotten.

If like me you have read Brave New World and want to try some of Huxley’s other works I would recommend that you avoid Crome Yellow, as it will not live up to your expectations.

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The Quiet American – Graham Greene

Title: The Quiet American

Author: Graham Greene

Publication Date: 1955

Review Score: 7/10

Into the intrigue and violence of Indo-China arrives Pyle, a young idealistic American sent to promote democracy through a mysterious ‘Third Force’. As his naive optimism starts to cause bloodshed, his new friend Fowler, a cynical and ageing foreign correspondent, finds it hard to stand aside and watch. But even as he intervenes he wonders why: for the sake of politics, or for love?

Those of you who follow this blog will know that so far I have avoided both war and romance based novels, going more towards the adventure and sci-fi genres, and so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with The Quiet American.

At first I thought the story would be quite bland and predictable, especially considering the end of the story is revealed in the first chapter! But by switching from past to present throughout the novel and giving away just small nuggets of information 1 at a time, it is continuously intriguing from start to end.

What’s more, the story is shaped by the beautifully tragic surroundings Greene places the characters in and describes so well. The constant flipping from fine dining to horrific war perfectly parallels the feelings of love and hate Pyle and Fowler have for each other, feeling at times like brothers whilst both fighting for the affection of the same woman.

It is not the most original or exciting novel ever but it is a love story beautifully told and well worth a read!

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The Devil’s Pool – George Sand

Title: The Devil’s Pool

Author: George Sand

Publication Date: 1846

Review Score: 7/10

Published in 1846, The Devil’s Pool is set in rural France and tells the story of a peasant farmer named Germain, who has lost his wife and has been left with 3 small children who need a mother. Although Germain is still heartbroken from the loss of his wife, his farther in law convinces him of the need to find a new mother for his children.

Germain sets out to meet a woman in a neighbouring village who is also a widow and has no children of her own. The match would appear perfect but Germain soon realises that although he should want this woman his heart belongs to another.

The Devil’s Pool is a little known novel but is rather charming. Having been written over 150 years ago the style and pace is not what you would get from a more modern novel but the story of unrequited love transcends time and is as relevant today as it was when first written.

The characters are instantly likeable and the poetic way in which George Sand describes the scenes really makes them come to life. What’s more, the insights into the way of life in rural France during this time is highly interesting and almost act as a preservation of an age and traditions that were soon after forgotten.

It is not an exciting or exhilarating novel but it is very enjoyable, easy to read and deserving of its place in literary history.

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The Kreutzer Sonata – Leo Tolstoy

Title: The Kreutzer Sonata

Author: Leo Tolstoy

Publication Date: 1889

Review Score: 7/10

Although most notably known for the epic novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy also wrote a number of novellas and short stories, of which the Kreutzer Sonata is one of the most acclaimed.

We join the story on a train journey through the heart of Russia on which a woman is arguing for marriage by true love as opposed to arrangement. Overhearing this, a somewhat jaded, depressed man called Pozdnyshev asks “what is love?”.

The man continues to point out that love is fleeting, temporary and can soon turn to hatred. He then takes the reader through the tale of his marriage and how it began with passion and vigour, but soon turned sour when his wife began playing music with a young, handsome violin player.

What we are left with is a story of love, passion, jealousy and hatred, which although written over a 100 years ago is still very relevant today. As we are taken through this story through Pozdnyshev it is hard to know how much was there between his wife and the violin player and how much was his exaggerated fantasy.

I am not really one for love or even anti-love stories but I was slightly moved by The Kreutzer Sonata, as we are clearly in the presence of a man who is filled with unheeded jealous passion, but really is just scared of losing the one he loves.

I can’t fully imagine the scared feelings of panic one would actually have in this situation, but with Tolstoy’s beautifully descriptive writing and excellent character development, it is easy to relate and feel for Pozdnyshev.

If you have never read any of Tolstoy’s work and, like me, are too daunted by the thought of reading War and Peace then I definitely recommend that you start with The Kreutzer Sonata and any other of his short stories.

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Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Title: Wuthering Heights

Author: Emily Bronte

Publication Date: 1847

Review Score: 2/10

SPOILER ALERT: If you love this book you might not want to read this review!

Mr Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, is forced to take shelter one night at Wuthering heights, the home of his landlord. It is here, in this run down house, on the bleak Yorkshire Moors, that Lockwood learns the story of this bitter mans history and the tempestuous events that have taken place at Wuthering Heights.

On the journey through this book the reader learns of the passionate relationship between Healthcliff and Catherine, her apparent betrayal of him and the vengeance he then visits upon all he comes into contact with.

Ok that’s enough of that! You might as well ignore that synopsis as it may make the book sound interesting and good and I definitely don’t want to give off that impression! Of all the books I have read during my life I don’t think I have found one quite so terrible as Wuthering Heights!

I know a lot of you will think I’m mad and even people who haven’t read the book will probably think I’m wrong, given the fame of this novel and Emily Bronte, but trust me I have my reasons for making these claims.

Wuthering Heights is acclaimed as a work of brilliance as it is supposedly the ultimate tale of love and betrayal but it just isn’t! Women all over the world gush about Heathcliff but when it boils down to it he is just an evil, violent little man, who’s physical and mental abuse of women, children and even animals is god awful!

The back and forth between Heathcliff and Catherine is stale and boring, there isn’t a single likable character in the book and everything just feels stilted, cold and un-engaging.

Honestly I struggled to find a single enjoyable thing about this book! When you can’t sympathise with, or relate to, a single character it makes a book incredibly hard going and that is exactly how I found it, and I don’t understand why so many people can sympathise with these characters, they just don’t deserve it!

Anyway, I could continue but will stop there as I know that the majority of people reading this will disagree with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion so I will just if you love Wuthering Heights good for you but it just isn’t for me I’m afraid!

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