Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Ladies' Paradise

The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola. 1883/2012. Oxford University Press. 438 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: Denise had come on foot from the Gare Saint-Lazare. She and her two brothers had arrived on a train from Cherbourg and had spent the night on the hard bench of a third-class carriage. She was holding Pepe by the hand, and Jean was walking behind her, all three exhausted from the journey, frightened, and lost in the midst of the vast city of Paris.

Premise/plot: Denise Baudu and her two brothers have come from the country to the big city believing that their uncle will make room in his heart and his home for them. That is not the case. But Denise is able to be hired on as a sales girl at the Ladies Paradise, a one-stop-shopping-palace that is bedazzling. At first she struggles enormously. The others hate her, tease her, torment her. Because of how her fellow sales girls treat her, she barely makes any commissions and doesn't receive a salary. She is working to support herself and her two brothers. And one of her brothers is selfish and greedy and a PEST. Denise's boss is Octave Mouret; he is the charismatic "genius" behind the Ladies' Paradise. His presence gets Denise a bit flustered--first from severe shyness and embarrassment, then from attraction. The attraction is mutual, though not from the start. Mouret is not used to being flustered himself. It doesn't take much chasing, much effort, on his part to get what he wants: until Denise.

My thoughts: I LOVED this one. I did. It is different from the recent BBC adaptation. It is set in Paris, not London, and the mentalities and moralities reflect that difference. That is not to say that The Ladies Paradise is a smutty, sensual read. It isn't. Anything that occurs of that nature happens off the page or behind the scenes.

Other than Denise and Mouret, there are very few characters in common. Mouret does have a wealthy love interest in the book. But she is a widow who has for years had various lovers come and go. Mouret is one of those lovers, but he's never seen as a suitor. And the idea of marriage hasn't occurred to either.

Another difference is Denise's uncle. In the adaptation, he is sweet, gentle, and stubborn bachelor. He's even given a love story of his own. In the book, he's married with a wife and daughter. He is even MORE stubborn than in the show. And he's selfish and thoughtless. He's so focused in on "saving" his business that he doesn't care about his family. His daughter has spent most of her life engaged to a storekeeper, an apprentice of her father, this of her father's doing. He keeps the two from wedding, and the guy falls madly, deeply, passionately in love with a hussy salesgirl from across the street. This does NOT end well.

Is it a romance? I would say yes. It is perhaps a slow-moving romance. But once the romance starts, it really gets started. If I'd read this as a young teen, I'm sure I would have read my copy until it was battered and falling apart.

Quotes:

Mouret describes himself:

'What! Do I enjoy myself! What's this nonsense you're saying? You're in a sorry state! Of course I enjoy myself, even when things go wrong, because then I'm furious at seeing them go wrong. I'm a passionate fellow; I don't take life calmly, and perhaps that's just why I'm interested in it.' (67)
Mouret's potential investor makes an observation about the Paradise:

'You sell cheaply in order to sell a lot and you sell a lot in order to sell cheaply....But you must sell, and I repeat my question: whom will you sell to? How do you hope to keep up such colossal sales? (74)
Mouret on selling:
"You can sell as much as you like when you know how to sell! There lies our success." (75) 
If he could have found a way of making the street run right through his shop, he would have done so. (236)
One of the customers:
You're right, there's no system in this shop. You lose your way, and do all sorts of silly things. (260)
Mouret on life and love:
'Of course, I've never lived so intensely...Ah! Don't laugh, old man, the moments when you seem to die of suffering are the briefest of all!' (322)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America

Alexander Hamilton:The Hero Who Helped Shape America. 2017. Harry Abrams. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  On a mild summer morning just after dawn, two men met on the dueling grounds in Weehawken, New Jersey.

Premise/plot: Teri Kanefield has written a biography of Alexander Hamilton for children. (I'd say the intended audience was the eight to twelve age group.) In a way, the book is both a biography of a man, Alexander Hamilton, and a nation, the newly formed United States of America. How did Alexander Hamilton help shape America? What legacy did he leave behind him? Are his ideas still impacting and influencing our nation and our politics today?

My thoughts: I love HAMILTON. I would recommend this one to any fan of the musical. It is well-written and researched, and the pacing is great. It's a quick read. Books like this one give nonfiction a good reputation. Where were books like this when I was a kid?!?!

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Currently Reading #8


Something Old
Mary Barton. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1848. 437 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Blue Fairy Book. Andrew Lang. 1887. 390 pages. [Source: Bought]

Orley Farm. Anthony Trollope. 1862. 825 pages. [Source: Bought]

Something New
How To Stop Time. Matt Haig. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Long Way Down. Jason Reynolds. 2017. [October 24] 320 pages. [Source: Library]
 Something Borrowed

The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola. 1883/2012. Oxford University Press. 438 pages. [Source: Library]
When Tides Turn. (Waves of Freedom #3) Sarah Sundin. 2017. Revell. 285 pages. [Source: Library]

Something True 

NASB Quick Study Bible. 2006. Thomas Nelson. 1920 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Soul's Conflict with Itself and Victory Over Itself By Faith. Richard Sibbes. 328 pages. [Source: Bought]

Biblical Theology: How the Church Faithfully Teaches the Gospel. Nick Roark and Robert Cline. 2018. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification. Thomas R. Schreiner. 2015. 284 pages. [Source: Bought]
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Week in Review: February 11-17

Favorite book of the week:

Book Reviews:
Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy. Laurel Snyder. Illustrated by Emily Hughes. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Buster and the Baby. Amy Hest. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. 2017. [October 24, 2017] Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Gorilla Did It. Barbara Shook Hazen. Illustrated by Ray Cruz. 1974. 32 pages. [Source: Childhood copy]
Shake the Tree. Chiara Vignocchi. Paolo Chiarinotti. Silvia Borando. 2018. Candlewick Press. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Make and Play Easter. Joey Chou. Nosy Crow. 2018. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Jane Austen at Home. Lucy Worsley. 2017. 387 pages. [Source: LIBRARY]So Big. Edna Ferber. 1924/2005. Kessinger Publishing. 376 pages. [Source: Library] 
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. Derrick Barnes. Illustrated by Gordon C. James. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Kings and Queens of Britain: A Victorian Mneumonic or Learning Verse. New lines by Frances Barnes-Murphy. Illustrated by Rowan Barnes-Murphy. 1996. 40 pages. [Source: Bought]
John Bunyan's A Pilgrim's Progress. Geraldine McCaughrean. Illustrated by Jason Cockcroft. 1999/2005. 112 pages. [Source: Library]
The Sea Before Us. (Sunrise at Normandy #1) Sarah Sundin. 2018. Revell. 375 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Moment of Truth. Steven J. Lawson. 2018. Reformation Trust. 238 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Features:
My Victorian Year #7 (Becky's Book Reviews)
Keep It Short #7
Me? Listen to Audio?! #6
Currently #7
My Victorian Year #7 (Operation Actually Read Bible)
True or False with Steven Lawson

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

My Victorian Year #7

I'm continuing to make some progress in each of my three Victorian novels.

The one I must finish first is The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola. I had not realized the due date for this inter-library loan was so soon! I have now read over half the book. Most of that being read in one day. Having something that good to read helped me get over my increasing frustration at the lack of figure skating coverage at the Olympics.

I have two quotes to share with you. In the first, Mouret describes himself:
'What! Do I enjoy myself! What's this nonsense you're saying? You're in a sorry state! Of course I enjoy myself, even when things go wrong, because then I'm furious at seeing them go wrong. I'm a passionate fellow; I don't take life calmly, and perhaps that's just why I'm interested in it.' (67)
In the second, Mouret's potential investor makes an observation about the Paradise:
'You sell cheaply in order to sell a lot and you sell a lot in order to sell cheaply....But you must sell, and I repeat my question: whom will you sell to? How do you hope to keep up such colossal sales? (74)
Mouret's answer, of course, is to sell to WOMEN. "You can sell as much as you like when you know how to sell! There lies our success." (75)

Mary Barton. I've read a few chapters this week. I would love to finish it this month as well.
It is the woes that cannot in any earthly way be escaped that admit least earthly comforting. Of all trite, worn-out, hollow mockeries of comfort that were ever uttered by people who will not take the trouble of sympathising with others, the one I dislike the most is the exhortation not to grieve over an event, "for it cannot be helped."
I mourn because what has occurred cannot be helped. The reason you give me for not grieving, is the very sole reason of my grief.
Oh! surest way of conversion to our faith, whatever it may be— regarding either small things, or great—when it is beheld as the actuating principle, from which we never swerve! When it is seen that, instead of overmuch profession, it is worked into the life, and moves every action!
Oh! how often I've been hurt, by being coldly told by persons not to trouble myself about their care, or sorrow, when I saw them in great grief, and wanted to be of comfort.
Our Lord Jesus was not above letting folk minister to Him, for He knew how happy it makes one to do aught for another. It's the happiest work on earth.
 Orley Farm. Oops! I didn't read a single chapter in that book this week. Oh well.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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