Friday, February 11, 2011

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell & A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

At first glance, these books probably couldn't be any different. The thing is, I tried to read both of them and they both really didn't work for me. It's obviously me because I know so many people that love both books, but I just couldn't stick with them.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Completed: February 10, 2011
Reason for Reading: The Great Reading Swap; Buddy Read
When her father leaves the Church, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the North of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. In "North and South", Gaskell skillfully fused individual feeling with social concern and in Margaret Hale created one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.
This book perfectly exemplifies why I do not read very many classics. I found myself very uninterested in the characters, the writing, or the direction in which the book takes. I tried, though. I just found myself reading parts of it and rather zoning out. After a while there was a lot of skimming occurring as I tried to figure out what I was missing. I wanted to love it, because Ana wanted me to read it and she enjoyed it... I just didn't. For one thing, I really don't like the way she writes. It didn't draw me in at all. Then, Margaret rather annoyed me. I almost liked her in the very beginning because I had hope, but then the pages went on and she just wound up boring me. Then, there were things that happened that I thought were pointless and unncessary for the overall story. It just seemed that try as I might, this book didn't really work for me at all...

Anyway, I only posted this very brief post because it is a book for the Reading Swap and because Amanda also didn't like the book and is posting her thoughts on it today, too. She might be better at figuring out what to say than I am.

So, what did I miss? What is it that you love about North and South?

Moving on...

A Fine & Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
Completion Date: February 10, 2011
Reason for Reading: Fun..
Conversing in a mausoleum with the dead, an eccentric recluse is tugged back into the world by a pair of ghostly lovers bearing an extraordinary gift—the final chance for his own happiness. When challenged by a faithless wife and aided by a talking raven, the lives of the living and the dead may be renewed by courage and passion, but only if not belatedly. Told with an elegiac wisdom, this delightful tale of magic and otherworldly love is a timeless work of fantasy imbued with hope and wonder.
Once upon a time I was in a bookstore and I came across a book called The Last Unicorn. I HAD to have it. It sounded so good and I thought for sure I would love it. I didn't... Then, enter blogging and all sorts of people singing the praises of Beagle. These were people that I respected and generally shared interests with. So, I felt guilty and tried to read The Last Unicorn again. I thought maybe I was in a weird mood or maybe I missed something. It didn't work for me the second time either. Then, I started to see Beagle and his books mentioned even more and I decided that I was going to try another one of his books. Maybe that was the problem. It didn't work for me either...

There is just something about the authors writing that I cannot get into it. It doesn't pull me in at all and then I find myself bored with the story. I always want to love the story and always find myself thinking that if the story was written by someone else with a different style, I would love it. The ideas are always great. The book descriptions always sound amazing and the reviews I see always make me want to rush out and read him, but I think I am going to have to admit that Beagle is just not for me. I did give him two tries, though...

So, your turn, what makes you love Beagle so much?


  1. *cries* What a way to start my day :P

  2. I've tried reading Tamsin by Beagle and felt the exact same way. Just hasn't worked for me. I can't seem to hear his voice and then I just get bored. Sigh. My review of N&S will be up in half an hour or so.

  3. I read Tamsin last year and really enjoyed it. But I do know the feeling, when I came into the book blogging world, I heard about this author, that sounded absolutely perfect for me, but whilst I've found his books okay, I just can't love him the way others do and I'd like to.

    The author is Charles de Lint, and I've tried two books and a couple of short stories by him.

  4. I've never read this one but I tend to love classics...

  5. Beagle is very hit or miss for me; mostly miss--this one, for instance, I didn't like much.

    However, I love The Innkeeper's Song lots and lots, and if you want to give him one more try, this would be the book to read!

  6. I love books that use lines from poetry as titles. I've still never read this one by Beagle although it has long been on my list.

  7. I enjoy the classics myself, but I need to be in the mood for them. Sorry you didnt like North and South, I have it in my TBR.
    I havent read Beagle either.

  8. What I like about North and South: Richard Armitage and his sexy smoldering. :p

    Can I suggest Tamsin as a Peter Beagle read? I've never liked anything by Peter Beagle apart from Tamsin, but Tamsin I love.

  9. T_T I am crying over here, Kelly...crying! I'm kidding :p But I really am sorry that Beagle didn't work for you :(

  10. It would be a truly amazing author for everyone to fall for them. I really liked the last unicorn, but I LOVED a fine and private place. I guess I connected with the characters that Beagle had created and the little web that drew them all together. I'll be reading Tamsin later this year, so we'll see.. ;)

  11. Awwww ... so sorry you and Beagle didn't hit it off :-( I admit that I don't like The Last Unicorn at all either. It was the third book I read by him. There is just something about his writing that gets to me and the theme of death in his books that I love. after A Fine and Private Place, Tamsin is my second favourite which may be more to your liking since it is based on the ancient myth of The Wild Hunt. He also has a beautiful little novella (again the theme is death) called A Dance for Emelia or for something completely different there is The Folk of the Air which is urban fantasy written in the '80s before they invented the term "urban fantasy".

    But then again, maybe you and Peter are just not meant to be {sniff}

  12. Even though they are different I would recommend watching the mini series of North and South, and then reading the book. I found it helped me with a lot of the dialect and context.

    And yes, it helps that you get to drool all over Richard Armitage.

  13. Ana: I warned you... :p

    Amanda: Yeah, he doesn't work for me at all. I always wind up bored!

    Darren: See, I think it is sad you didn't like de Lint, but I didn't like him the first couple times I read him... I am glad I stuck to him, though. I have read several by him now and generally loved them. :)

    Tink: Hopefully you have a better experience than I do!

    Charlotte: I will let some time go by and then MAYBE I will try one more time...

    jenclair: I hope it works better for you...

    naida: I was sad I didn't like either book, but obviously lots of other people love both authors.

    Jenny: I do have to watch the mini-series...

    Chris: I know, I'm sorry. :(

    mariel: I am still sad when I expect to like an author and don't at all...

    Nicola: I probably will try again down the road. I will keep your suggestions in mind. :)

    Marg: I will watch the mini-series at some point for sure!

  14. I'm late to this post, but I just had to add: I love the mini series of North and South, so I've finally found a copy of the book to read. I'll let you know, I've heard various things about her writing, so you aren't the only one to not like the book much.

    As for A Fine and Private Place - I haven't read it. I know I read The Last Unicorn a zillion years ago and enjoyed it enough to carry it around with me, though now I can't remember why and have to reread it! I have A Fine and Private Place on my TBR shelf, along with The Innkeeper's Song, which I've tried once and couldn't get into. I read and reviewed Tamsin two years ago and loved it, so some day when you are ready to try him again, I'd go with this one. Cats and ghosts and faeries. :-)

  15. *Susan: I must watch the mini-series. I might try Beagle again, but not for a while. Something might connect for me.

  16. Glad I read your review. Picked up North and South a couple of years ago but strangely enough left it on the shelf! To be honest it no longer appeals to me for some reason and now I've read this review I think I'll pass on it!
    Lynn :D


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