Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Gone: A Photographic Plea for Preservation by Shelby Foote & Nell Dickerson

I received this e-book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.  I'm kind of embarrassed to say that that was about two or three years ago.  Um, I'm a little behind on my reviewing responsibilities.  But I'm working to get caught up.

This book was an e-book, but in print form, I would imagine it would be truly beautiful.  Nell Dickerson is a photographer, who has a strong interest in preserving the past...not just the past of the Old South, the focus of this book, but an interest in EVERYONE preserving their past.  She does this through photographing old Southern homes, architecture and design from the Civil War era.  In this book, she juxtaposes her photographs of these old homes with a story by her cousin, Shelby Foote, a famous Civil War historian and novelist, "Pillar of Fire."  The story is about the burning of an old plantation home in Mississippi by Union troops, at the tail end of the Civil War.

So what did I think of the book?  I very much enjoyed the short story.  But, honestly, I didn't pay much attention to the photos, as I was too wrapped up in the narrative to look closely at them.  They are beautiful photos, but my interest was more in Foote's words.  When I did stop to look at the photos, they didn't really seem to coincide with the story, and thus seemed a little pointless to me.  I would much rather the photos have their own book, where the story wouldn't detract from their importance.

Overall, three out of five Whatevers.  Recommended for Civil War buffs, photography nuts, and those with an interest in preserving our national heritage.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I first read this classic in high school, but I remembered almost nothing about it when I started this re-read. The copy I read was acquired through BookMooch. It took me quite a while to read it...I kept reading magazines instead of the book, so I didn't really start it until June or July, despite having finished my last book during the Read-a-Thon in April. I finally finished it on Tuesday night.

So what did I think of this book? I actually really liked it. I am a huge fan of Gothic novels, and this is the quintessential Gothic romance. Catherine Earnshaw and the man known only as Heathcliff were meant for each other, but when Heathcliff leaves the family home (he was adopted by Catherine's father as a small boy), Catherine marries another. Because of this, Heathcliff spends the rest of his life making everyone around him, especially anyone who had any connection to Catherine, miserable.

I never realized when I first read the book, back in high school, just how abusive Heathcliff is. There is honestly no other word for it. He is mentally, physically, and emotionally abusive to anyone within his charge. Despite Heathcliff's evil nature, however, or maybe because of it - a major theme in the book is the contrast between life at Wuthering Heights - the wild, depressing, GOTHIC home of Mr. Heathcliff - and Thrushcross Grange - the civilized domicile of the Earnshaw family - I still very much enjoyed the book. It was dark and foreboding. You always felt that something terrible was about to happen, and you were kept on the edge of your seat waiting for it to occur.

Recommended for those who enjoy classics or Gothic novels. Four out of five Whatevers.