September 28, 2012

The Classics Club: Meme #2

This month meme for The Classics Club is to pick a review by another member and write about why it made you excited to read that classic in particular.

To be honest, I love classics, but I am somewhat biased in favour of female writers. Why? Partly as a result of a "historical development"—that is to say, the library I inherited from my mother was built up of books by female authors—and partly because female authors tend to have a more romantic vision of life, which better matches my character and my expectations of a novel. To put it simply, I love to read about love stories with happy endings, because I don't have much of it in my real life...

For this reason, even though I have read Alexandre Dumas, Oscar Wilde, Thornton Wilder, Erich Kästner, and Mark Twain (because they are on the "safe" side), I am very cautious about choosing novels written by other men. E.M. Forster's Howards End is, however, one of those writers whom I "trust" on my reading list. And, having read Lindsey's review over at Sparks' Notes, I am actually growing rather impatient for eventually reading it. But, "it's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go...", because Howards End is number 38 (!) on my reading list. Sigh...

Lindsey's review captured my imagination and made me want to read Howards End because it convinced me that there has been at least one male writer—E.M. Forster—who was able to understand female soul and to develop a strong, independent female character. Independence doesn't mean financial independence but true freedom of mind and soul and independence from other people's opinion. Or, as Lindsey writes,

I adored Margaret. She's strong and bold, but in a quiet way. She's not flashy and reckless the way strong women are often portrayed. She stands up for her family members and stands by them even when they make mistakes, without judging them. [...] I love that she admits to not wanting kids—people judge me for that today, in 2012, 100 years after Forster wrote that! We still want to suck the color out of people who are different from us (I meant that metaphorically, but I suppose that also speaks to racists). We make fun of those who are different from us. We judge each other. EVERYONE does that. I'm trying to be more conscious of this, that God created many of our differences, and even the ones that He didn't, they still bring more color to life. 

I too wish there were more people, especially women, like Forster's Margaret in our world. But above all, I wish I could be one of those people. And, I truly hope that I will learn a great deal about how to be one by reading Howards End...

September 27, 2012

The Classics Club: Check-In #1

Autumn is definitely here. Leaves are becoming red, yellow, brown and falling to the ground, migratory birds are leaving, and the days are getting shorter. I am in a melancholy mood, which I try to cure by Vivaldi music and comfort foods, such as Lorraine's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Chilli and Ginger, Susan's Savory Sage Riblets with Roasted Fall Veggies, and Nigella's Chestnut Chocolate Pots. (Believe it or not, my doggy too loves squash soup!) But, before everybody's mouth starts watering, let us speak about classics, or rather about my "progress" since my membership in The Classics Club.

Autumn Windows by Timothy Easton
Past: I joined the Club at the beginning of September; hence, my main activity hitherto consisted mainly in establishing this blog, drawing up my reading list, and reading the books on my nightstand, in order to be able to devote myself to this challenge from October onwards. (Btw, I also tried to find a new job and therefore I have read lots of advertises of vacancies and written thousands job applications. My search has been unsuccessful so far...)

Present: Recently, news has come in that Jillian from A Room of One's Own, the founder of the Club, is going to stop blogging and will leave us. I'm very sorry to hear that. I don't know her well and maybe now I won't have the opportunity to get acquainted with her. Nevertheless, I have admired her for her commitment and for making a success of an idea.

As regards my current doings, I happily received my copy of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, which is the first on my reading list and will probably fill my October, as it is very long (about 850 pages). Now, I can't wait till Sunday when I'll eventually start reading! In the meantime, though, I am still reading John Mullan's What Matters in Austen?, because it was a birthday present, and Agatha Christie's Sleeping Murder, because I've taken up a personal challenge to read all Miss Marple books in the reading order suggested by the official Agatha Christie community website.

I have also created a new shelf in my goodreads account–I have named it "challenge 2". On this shelf I am putting classics that I'd like to read when my first challenge is over (after August 31, 2017) or that I will probably use as substitutes for books on my current list. I mean, there might be some books that I don't want to read after all. I'm particularly afraid of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy because Russian novels are as much heart-breaking as Hungarian. And, having read The Story Girl's review of A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens, I'm not sure about wanting to read that novel either.

Future: I'm hoping for a bright future. Autumn need not necessarily be the time of melancholy and departures. Who knows what autumn is holding for us? I might finish reading my first book for the challenge. I might even find a nice new job. Or, maybe I will have a nice surprise, as Anne had one beautiful autumn afternoon...

"I've come up to ask you to go for one of our old-time rambles through September woods and 'over hills where spices grow,' this afternoon," said Gilbert, coming suddenly around the porch corner. "Suppose we visit Hester Gray's garden." [...]

"Oh, I wish I could," she said slowly, "but I really can't, Gilbert. I'm going to Alice Penhallow's wedding this evening, you know. [...]

"Well, can you go tomorrow afternoon, then?" asked Gilbert, apparently not much disappointed.

"Yes, I think so."

When Gilbert came the next afternoon he found Anne waiting for him [...] She wore a green dress—not the one she had worn to the wedding, but an old one which Gilbert had told her at a Redmond reception he liked especially. It was just the shade of green that brought out the rich tints of her hair, and the starry gray of her eyes and the iris-like delicacy of her skin. Gilbert, glancing at her sideways as they walked along a shadowy woodpath, thought she had never looked so lovely. [...]

The day was beautiful and the way was beautiful. Anne was almost sorry when they reached Hester Gray's garden, and sat down on the old bench. But it was beautiful there, too—[...] golden rod had kindled its fairy torches in the corners and asters dotted it bluely. The call of the brook came up through the woods from the valley of birches with all its old allurement; the mellow air was full of the purr of the sea; beyond were fields rimmed by fences bleached silvery gray in the suns of many summers, and long hills scarfed with the shadows of autumnal clouds; with the blowing of the west wind old dreams returned.

"I think," said Anne softly, "that 'the land where dreams come true' is in the blue haze yonder, over that little valley."

"Have you any unfulfilled dreams, Anne?" asked Gilbert. [...]

"I have a dream," he said slowly. "I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends—and YOU!"

Anne wanted to speak but she could find no words. Happiness was breaking over her like a wave. It almost frightened her.

"I asked you a question over two years ago, Anne. If I ask it again today will you give me a different answer?"

Still Anne could not speak. But she lifted her eyes, shining with all the love-rapture of countless generations, and looked into his for a moment. He wanted no other answer.
(L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, Ch. 41)

Autumn Sunlight after Rain, Fontainebleau by Andrew McCallum

Note: The idea of posting our check-ins for The Classics Club on our blogs originates with Jackie from jackiemania. Of course, many club members have followed her since then; I am no exception either.

September 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Haven't Finished... But Want To

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a Top Ten list that they answer and invite every blogger to share their own answers. I like the idea, so I'll try to participate every week. But I'm not making any promises! :-D

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is about series we haven't finished yet... but want to finish. Of course, my most favourite series is The Anne of Green Gables Series, but as this list is about series I HAVEN'T finished, I cannot include it here. But I wanted to mention it anyway. :-D Also, I love series and I usually read all parts of them. Hence there are only three series on my list that I have started but haven't finished yet. The other seven series, I haven't even started, but plan to read soon... Is it cheating? Maybe it is, but that's my list...
  1. Little Women Series by Louisa May Alcott
  2. I am somehow not able to read the last two books in this series because I know that a very likeable character from the first book, a father of two and a husband to a lovely little woman is going to die. And I hate even the thought of that...

  3. Corduroy Mansions Series by Alexander McCall Smith
  4. I bought the first book in this series because of the dog on its cover. And I didn't regret. And it made me want to read the next instalments. And I have them on my shelf. But I haven't finished... Yet...

  5. Mary Poppins Series by P.L. Travers
  6. I love England. I love London. I love Mary Poppins. I love the Era. Why I haven't finished this? I really don't know. Maybe I have a deep-rooted fear of sequels not being as good as the first book in the series?

  7. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  8. I know, I know. Everybody has read this one and has seen the movies. But, as I told you in an earlier post, I am not a book fashionista and I hate being pushed by society... Nevertheless, I will definitely read it, one day...

  9. The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. This is a classic I am ashamed of not having read yet. But I will read it. Soon. Truly. I promise.

  11. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  12. This is another classic that I plan to read. But, as I have just finished Pullman's His Dark Materials, I am not yet in the mood of reading another fantasy novel. Maybe next year.

  13. The Hunger Game Series by Suzanne Collins 
  14. Do you know why I want to read this? No, not because of the movie. And I am NOT a sci-fi fan either. I want to read it because one my favourite nail polish bloggers, i.e. Michelle from All Lacquered Up, is an avid fan of it. And, I want to understand the meaning behind the colours of the China Glaze Capitol Colours.

  15. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  16. It has been more than 10 years since I first discovered this series in a book shop. And, I found the title very original. But back then, I just couldn't afford to buy the books. And then, I simply forgot about the series until recently...

  17. Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella 
  18. I like the movie and I like romances or chick lit. But I have soooo many books on my reading list. But, Kinsella, I am getting to you...

  19. Millenium Series by Stieg Larsson
  20. I am really afraid of this series. Because I don't like books about unhappy events or books that make me cry endlessly or depress me. And I'm afraid this series isn't very funny. Is my fear well-founded? Tell me please...

September 17, 2012

The Classics Club: Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself


We are introducing ourselves over at The Classics Club and Jackie from jackiemania had the superb idea to post her introduction at her blog as well. Then, Jillian from A Room of One's Own followed her example, and now, it's my turn. Here you are:

Your online name:
My online name is the same as my real name; that is, Eszter (though I also use the username anneishia). Eszter is the Hungarian spelling of Esther. So, obviously I’m from Hungary, but used to live in several European countries and who knows where I’m going next . . .

Your blog name: 
I blog at www.anneishimaginaryadventures.blogspot.com

How many books you hope to read for the club:
I hope to read 50 classics in 5 years. This may not seem an ambitious goal but I have to read a lot of other stuff–mainly non-fiction.

When you joined:
I just joined September 9, 2012 and will start reading September 30, 2012. Interestingly, I have started my blog just for being eligible to join this club.

Describe your literary background:
Even though I’ve always been a bookworm and bored my friends with my imaginary adventures, I never considered majoring in literature. I am not skilled in creative writing either. But, in the course of my life as PhD student, I read ca. 100 non-fictions and wrote a ca. 100’000 words long doctoral thesis about the political and literary ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft and Germaine de Stael.

Why you joined The Classics Club and/OR one interesting fact about you:
I joined The Classics Club because I wanted to share my experiences with kindred spirits and also because I thought it is time to actually read the 100 classics on my goodreads to-read shelf. One interesting fact about me is that I am not only a political scientist but also have an MSc in civil engineering.

The book you’re most intrigued to read:
I am very much looking forward to reading The Forsyte Saga because I cannot bear the thought that both my maternal grandmother and my mother had read it more than once and I still haven’t read this apparently wonderful piece of work.

Link ONE POST from your blog that you believe speaks to who you are: 
My blog is very new, so I don’t have reviews yet. But I think my post about the subtitle of my blog (Book Reviews From The Cherry Tree) lets you see who I am.

Answer the one question you wish everybody would answer who enters this thread:
Are you a book fashionista? That is to say, do you follow the trends when choosing your readings? I am certainly not. Sometimes I even avoid books that are trendy readings. Hence, I have not yet read the Harry Potter books. I am waiting till the hype surrounding it is over...

September 16, 2012

In My Mailbox: Tom Jones

In less than two weeks, I'll take up the Classics Club Challenge. However, until then I have two books on my nightstand that I'd like to finish: The Man With Two Left Feet by P.G. Wodehouse and What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan. I want to finish these books in order to be able to devote myself fully to the challenge and my perpetually growing list of classics to read.

The first book on my reading list for the challenge is The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. I have read this novel once (can't remember when) in Hungarian and I borrowed the book then from a library. To be honest, I only have a dim recollection of the plot, but what I can clearly remember is that I had enjoyed Fielding's wit and writing style and that there is a happy ending to Tom Jones's funny life story.

As I rather like fictions with happy ending and humour, this novel came right into my mind, when I was compiling my list for the challenge. I wanted to reread it and in English at that. I have first considered to read the e-book version. (You can download an e-book version of Tom Jones from Project Gutenberg for free.) Yet, I am slightly old-fashioned in my reading habits; I seem not to be able to enjoy reading on an e-reader. So, I thought I could print the e-book, but didn't like that idea either. Hence, I went shopping... :-) And, I was only glad to learn that one of my favourite publishers (Everyman's Library) has recently published the book in hardcover format and it is not out of print. Today the book arrived and I am happy to share a photo with you.


Now, there's nothing to stop me from being successful at my undertaking. No doubt about it—being the owner of such a beautiful book will keep me motivated. :-) Bye for now!

September 12, 2012

Book Reviews From The Cherry Tree

Last time I explained my reasons for choosing the title of my blog. To the “race who knows Joseph”, i.e. people who are intimately acquainted with Anne and know her ways perfectly well, it will be pretty obvious what the thing is with my subtitle: “book reviews from the cherry tree”. Nevertheless, let me explain it briefly, just in case there are some people among us who are not that familiar with Anne.

Regrettably, I’ve never been to the Prince Edward Island (it is at the top of my list of “places I must visit before I die”, though), hence I can only assume that the island must be full of cherry trees. This is the only possible explanation I can think of for the prominent place that cherry trees occupy in Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. It really must be the case since Montgomery’s heroine describes the island—upon arriving at Avonlea and on her way to Green Gables—as follows:
Oh, there are a lot more cherry-trees all in bloom! This Island is the bloomiest place. I just love it already, and I’m so glad I'm going to live here. I've always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world, and I used to imagine I was living here, but I never really expected I would. It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Ch. 2)

Yet, Anne and we already had our first encounter with a cherry tree before the above scene. When Matthew Cuthbert finally arrives at the train station, Anne, who has been dropped off much earlier, explains to him what she had planned to do, in case Matthew didn’t come as follows:

“I suppose you are Mr. Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables?” she said in a peculiarly clear, sweet voice. “I’m very glad to see you. I was beginning to be afraid you weren’t coming for me and I was imagining all the things that might have happened to prevent you. I had made up my mind that if you didn't come for me to-night I’d go down the track to that big wild cherry-tree at the bend, and climb up into it to stay all night. I wouldn’t be a bit afraid, and it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don’t you think? You could imagine you were dwelling in marble halls, couldn’t you?”
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Ch. 2)

Here, do you understand now? The crown of a cherry tree is just the perfect place for imaginary adventures. Therefore, Anne, who loves imaginary adventures, simply must have had her very own cherry tree. Which is why Montgomery “planted” a cherry tree directly at Anne's window, which fact Anne becomes aware of on her very first morning at Green Gables:
It was broad daylight when Anne awoke and sat up in bed, staring confusedly at the window through which a flood of cheery sunshine was pouring and outside of which something white and feathery waved across glimpses of blue sky. [. . .] it was a cherry-tree in full bloom outside of her window. With a bound she was out of bed and across the floor. She pushed up the sash [. . .] Anne dropped on her knees and gazed out into the June morning, her eyes glistening with delight. Oh, wasn’t it beautiful? Wasn’t it a lovely place? Suppose she wasn’t really going to stay here! She would imagine she was. There was scope for imagination here.
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Ch. 4)

This cherry tree, which “adorns herself as a bride for her husband”, is named Snow Queen by Anne and she stays with Anne for a long time. In Anne of Avonlea we also learn that “Anne liked to sleep with her window open and let the cherry fragrance blow over her face all night. She thought it very poetical” (L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, Ch. 24).

I think there is even a symbolic meaning behind the death of the Snow Queen. It happens in Anne of the Island and Anne learns of this sad event upon returning to Avonlea.

She came down from the porch gable on the evening of her return with a sorrowful face.
“What has happened to the old Snow Queen, Marilla?”
“Oh, I knew you’d feel bad over that,” said Marilla. “I felt bad myself. That tree was there ever since I was a young girl. It blew down in the big gale we had in March. It was rotten at the core.”
“I’ll miss it so,” grieved Anne. “The porch gable doesn’t seem the same room without it. I’ll never look from its window again without a sense of loss.”
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, Ch. 39)

But what is more important, the above conversation between Anne and Marilla is taking place shortly before Anne finds out about Gilbert’s being almost fatally ill and recognizes her love for him. As if the loss of the Snow Queen would have marked the beginning of a new era.

So, that’s the story of cherry trees in Montgomery’s series and the explanation for my choosing this “cherryish” design and blog title. Believe me, if I had a garden and a cherry tree in it, I would read my books in or under it. Regrettably, I’m not that lucky. Nevertheless, I can imagine having one and writing my reviews from it...

September 07, 2012

Anneish Imaginary Adventures

When I was looking for a good title for my blog, for a blog about books I have loved to read and books I haven't,  of course I have had to think about my favourite reads so far. One of my all time favourite books, or rather book series, is Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.

I was almost 16, when I first read the series, nevertheless I loved Anne and her adventures. In the 20 years since then, I have read the series countless times, and I am still loving it. I own the whole series in Hungarian and in English and the first book in the series I own in three different editions. So, I think it's fair to say that I'm an Anne addict.

If you've never read Anne's stories, you might wonder why. But, I'm afraid the magic of Montgomery and her heroine cannot be explained easily, and maybe some people will not be enchanted by it anyway. Margaret Atwood wrote an article in The Guardian and has tried to give an explanation, but I think, the best way to find out whether you, like million other, love Anne is to read the books.

Certainly, one of the reasons why I identify myself with Anne is that she shares in my love for reading. Anne loves to read because every new book is a new adventure: you can imagine being anything—from an indian to a queen—and what is more, you can forget about the lemons life gives you...
"I understand now why some men must go to sea," said Anne. "That desire which comes to us all at times—'to sail beyond the bourne of sunset'—must be very imperious when it is born in you. [...] I never see a ship sailing out of the channel, or a gull soaring over the sand-bar, without wishing I were on board the ship or had wings [...] like a gull, to sweep out into the very heart of a storm." 
"You'll stay right here with me, Anne-girl," said Gilbert lazily. "I won't have you flying away from me into the hearts of storms." [...] 
"Doctors who have to be up all night waiting on sick folk don't feel very adventurous, I suppose," Anne said indulgently. "If you had had a good sleep last night, Gilbert, you'd be as ready as I am for a flight of imagination."
(L. M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams, Ch. 8)

So, that's that. Anne and me, we both love imaginary adventures. Hence my blog's title. And what about you? Are you ready for flying with us?