Summary: Dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight-for Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three women become best friends when they are young and struggling in New York City and then climb to the top of the entertainment industry-only to find that there is no place left to go but down-into the Valley of the Dolls.
My Thoughts: Y’all. THIS. BOOK. I can’t get over it. It was completely and utterly addicting. As a musical theatre actress, I can’t get enough of Old Hollywood and this book was everything I wanted. I loved this view into the entertainment industry of the 1940’s-1960’s, and what I loved most was that it didn’t shy away from the darker side of the industry. This book caused a huge stir when it was published in 1966, and I can see why. It was still pretty explicit today, so I can’t imagine the scandal it would have caused upon its release. The thing that I found so revolutionary about it, was the way it explored the female psyche and sexuality. Looking back on it from today’s perspective, it really highlights the misogyny and what women were brainwashed to accept as reality, especially in terms of relationships. This gave us a very interesting perspective into the three distinct and vibrant main characters, who all handle these situations very differently. I loved all of three of them for so many reasons. Their journeys were thorough and developed, and I understood each of them completely. The plot was as addicting as the pills the girls consumed, and I could not put the book down. This has easily become one of my favorite reads of all time, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Goodreads Summary: Charming, willful Emma Woodehouse amuses herself by planning other people’s lives. When her interfering backfires, she learns a bitter lesson: well-intentioned busybodies are as resented as those motivated by ill will, and everyone should learn to respect the individuality of others.
My Thoughts: I have a new favorite classic. I fell in love with Emma. It is for sure my favorite Austen to date, and I had no idea that I would love it as much as I did. I have always been curious about this book because I love the movie Clueless so much, and the movie is based on the book. I was not disappointed. The plot was fun and engaging, the characters were all colorful, dimensional and different, and it had the perfect amount of shade that I live for from Jane Austen. Emma Woodhouse quickly worked her way into my heart and became one of my favorite heroines of all time. She is so stubborn, self-confident, pushy and meddling and I just loved her. Her relationships with everyone were so well developed and it was fun to see how they played out. There was a twist with every event that kept me on my toes and waiting to see how Emma would react. I was a reluctant Austen fan, but I think I am finally getting used to her style and I get the hype. I can’t wait to read the rest of her works because I am 100% a fan now. I almost want to go back and re-read Pride and Prejudice and give it another shot. Until now, my favorite classic, by far, has been Jane Eyre. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I think Emma has surpassed Jane Eyre in my heart.
Goodreads Summary: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…
My Thoughts: Wow. Just Wow. I knew I would probably like this book with all the hype about the Hulu series, but it really blew me away. It was different than I expected too. I thought it would be a lot gorier. While the whole concept is dark, the way Offred speaks with her matter of fact tone, and the way she relays the information in small, unorganized rambles, kept it feeling lighter but seemingly more sinister. I absolutely loved the structure of the plot and timeline. The small bits of information we got about the past, randomly interspersed with the current events, kept me turning the page. I just had to know how the world got to be like it was. I really appreciated the mundaneness of the story, as opposed to the epic fight we see in most dystopian novels. It really made it feel real, and somehow more interesting. I totally felt for Offred and the Handmaids, and while The Wives were so unlikable, as a woman, I felt for them too. The whole society and way of life of The Republic of Gilead is disgusting, and yet makes for a very compelling story. Reading about the situations these people were put in often made me sick to my stomach with my jaw on the floor. It was appalling, and yet I could not stop reading. I loved Moira and how her spirit helped Offred stay sane in her situation. I was surprised that I actually liked the Commander. I thought his behavior was a great juxtaposition to the villainy of men in Gilead, and made the reveal of who he most likely was and what he accomplished in his office, even more shocking. The ending killed me. I couldn’t believe that Atwood would leave us hanging like that, but it worked so well, and made me think back on everything I just read in a completely different light. This book is absolutely brilliant, and I think it is a must read for everyone.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Goodreads Summary: ‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
My Thoughts: I read Pride and Prejudice a few years ago, and I wasn’t the biggest fan. Everyone loves Austen, so I have been wanting to give her another shot for a while now, and I am actually glad that I did. I liked Sense and Sensibility a lot more than I expected to. I was fully engaged in the plot, which surprised me. Part of the reason I didn’t love Pride and Prejudice was because not enough happened. They kept dancing around everything, and I needed more action. This one had a bunch of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and I thought that the speed in which the events happened was well paced. It still dealt with the manners and social graces of the time, but there was more to it. There was also a ton of shade and passive aggressive drama that made me inwardly squeal. I loved the characters too, especially Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. I found my self getting frustrated with both of them for opposite reasons, which I enjoyed and kept me reading and wanting more for them. I loved watching both of them deal with all of these ridiculous people, but my favorite was the battle between Lucy and Elinor for Edward’s heart. It did take me a while to get used to Austen’s language, but once I got accustomed to it, it was easier to comprehend. I did have to focus more than normal, so reading it backstage with a big load of distractions wasn’t easy, and it took longer to finish than it normally would. That said, I really enjoyed it and now I can say that I get it, and I am an Austen fan. I am excited to read more of her work.