Archive | November, 2014

Book Club Reflection: Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

13 Nov

In a quick follow-up to my Tuesday review of Ross King’s Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, here’s our book club discussion! And yes, this does mean I’m behind on reviews again. Darn.

I walked into the meeting room and saw the woman across from me holding the movie I was picturing the entire book, The Agony and the Ecstasy starring Charlton Heston. I watched this at a church movie night when I was in high school and I remembered vividly seeing Heston painting while on his back, paint dripping on his face. Of course, that’s not the image King paints. Instead of a lone Heston lying supine, King gives us a Michelangelo with assistants galore who’s standing tall, leaning back.

I believe I was the only attendant who had read the book in its entirety. Many had skipped around and glossed over parts they didn’t care for, but I suffered my self-inflicted curse and finished the whole thing. (I hope this is setting the mood well.) So the basic question: Did you like the book. We tried to put a positive spin on everything. There was a lot of detail and it was well researched, there’s no denying that. King didn’t leave out a single name, even when one can argue he should have. He had a lot of terms used in painting and was able to detail the processes very well. We thought it was interesting that we knew so much about these people because of their letters. A lot of the quotes King used were from letters and there’s a fear that my generation won’t have that because of the digital age. Maybe we’ll be another dark ages.

We talked about who might enjoy this book more than us. Perhaps art history students or friends very interested in either Roman or Catholic history. I think if I were about to go to Rome, this would be more interesting. We saw on the cover that it’s a New York Times best seller. My quick research finds that it reached a high of 22 on the Hardcover Nonfiction list in March 2003. (In the same week, The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson was #3 if that puts it in perspective.) While this is impressive, I understand why I missed it.

One of our members pointed out a passage she found horrific. It comes from the beginning of chapter 19, page 188 in our copies:

The Roman carnival that took place in February of 1510 was even more jubilant and unruly than usual. All of the familiar entertainments were on show. Bulls were released into the streets and slain by men on horseback armed with lances. Convicted criminals were executed in the Piazza del Popolo by a hangman dressed as a harlequin. South of the piazza, races along Via de Corso included a competition between prostitutes. An even more popular attraction was the “racing of the Jews,” a contest in which Jews of all ages were forced to don bizarre costumes and then sprint down the street to insults from the crowd and sharp prods from the spears of the soldiers galloping behind. Cruelty and bad taste knew no bounds. There were even races between hunchbacks and cripples.

This is not exactly the typical church festival. We were shocked at a few of the things King describes as being associated with the church and the Pope. He had illegitimate children and the church went to war. This doesn’t exactly jive with my image of the current Pope, Francis. It’s no wonder that Martin Luther, after visiting Rome, found it unpleasant and was disgusted. In truth, I might be, too. Erasmus, upon returning to London after a Roman visit in 1509, wrote The Praise of Folly in which he mocked Rome under Julius II’s command. It seems very few were as impressed with Julius as he was with himself.

The relationship between Michelangelo and the Pope was really weird to us. The Pope would summon him, and then ignore him for months so that Michelangelo would leave and go back to his family, at which point the Pope would demand he come back. At one point, Michelangelo was throwing boards at the pope to get him out of the chapel. At some point, Michelangelo knew he wouldn’t be fired because he had to finish his work and knew the Pope wanted to see it finished. He took advantage of that relationship more than once.

A lot of emphasis was placed on Michelangelo’s use of the figure. He drew a lot of large and muscular nudes in each of his paintings, making them the central focus of his art more than other artists at the time. It’s interesting to us that he used only male models (and maybe some prostitutes) to do the models, even for women because of the ideas around sexuality at that time. We thought it was really cool that he would study cadavers to learn the structure of bone and muscle. It makes sense that he was very drawn to the figure because of this.

Many of us hadn’t realized that Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael, and Michelangelo were contemporaries let alone rivals. We thought it was interesting how King was able to draw so many distinctions between Rafael and Michelangelo. Michelangelo had a terrible self-image and didn’t bathe much while Rafael spent his time with the most beautiful courtesan in Rome It’s a good thing they only competed in fresco and not on a runway.

We continued to be unimpressed with Michelangelo’s family. His father stole money from him twice yet they continued to treat his disrespectfully because he was a craftsman. His brothers, who depended on him to start a business, thought less of him because his painting was considered manual labor. We felt bad for him in light of how his family treated him.

We argued if Michelangelo was more famous for the Sistine Chapel or the David. It’s really a toss-up between these and some of his other great accomplishments. Michelangelo was not confident when he started the ceiling because he didn’t consider himself a painter. He thought of himself more as a sculptor and he would probably consider the David his greatest accomplishment. As he continued to paint, however, he grew more confident. He used cartoons less and painted by freehand more and more. Something he started almost hesitantly is now arguably one of the greatest art works of all time. He didn’t seem to care much for the details at first and things were almost haphazard but as he went, he tied in his own little jokes and flourishes. The only way to learn is practice.

I’ll refer you to my book review for my real feelings on this book. A lot of my fellow readers felt the same way: Good book, not good for book clubs.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-November-2014

12 Nov

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! And while I’m moving forward, it’s not fast enough. Darn.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is still The Domesday Book by Connie Willis, and it’s still checked out to someone else and waiting on hold. I hope I don’t forget too much of it before I get it back! I’ve finished the next section of Read Along #2The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar and OMG I want to keep reading. I’m torturing myself to read this so slowly. I’m making steady progress Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio. I just renewed it for the third time yesterday so I hope to make some more progress in the next month so I don’t have to hold onto it through the holidays. The audiobook on my phone is California by Eden Lepucki but I have no progress to report. I haven’t had much time to listen to it by myself. I’ll use it as my next car audio selection but that requires finishing Pillars so it might be a while. I’m working through my next book club selection, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. So far it’s pretty great. The only struggle is keeping all the Indian names straight between this and Umrigar’s novel. I think I can handle it.

Recently finished: Nothing finished this week unfortunately. I’m not sure what I’ll finish next, to be honest. I’m right in the middle of most of these.

I did get around to writing a book review of Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King if you want to check that out. Warning: it’s not flattering.

Reading Next:  I’ll get a copy of The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver soon so I’m still planning to read that. I’ve been told the woman before me is ‘almost done’ so this will be next after Namesake.

I’m going to make an effort to listen to California this week. There’s got to be some time I’m free while cleaning, right?! How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King (1/5). A good book, but not for book clubs.

11 Nov

Books can be good for different things. A book can be entertaining, thought-provoking, informative, or inspiring, just to name a few. And certain books are good in certain settings; beech reads, book club books, how-to books, research books, children’s books. And not all books work in every category. What I’m trying to say is, this book was not right for the book club. It would have been great had I been writing a thesis or about to go explore Italy and was really interested in art history but it was not good for a group discussion. Not at all.

Book Cover image via Goodreads.com

Book Cover image via Goodreads.com

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel. With little experience as a painter (though famed for his sculpture David), Michelangelo was reluctant to begin the massive project.

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling recounts the four extraordinary years Michelangelo spent laboring over the vast ceiling while the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him. Battling against ill-health, financial difficulties, domestic problems, the pope’s impatience, and a bitter rivalry with the brilliant young painter Raphael, Michelangelo created scenes so beautiful that they are considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. A panorama of illustrious figures converged around the creation of this great work-from the great Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus to the young Martin Luther-and Ross King skillfully weaves them through his compelling historical narrative, offering uncommon insight into the intersection of art and history.

Sloooooooooooow. Details, facts, side stories, speculations and quotes. All of that together does not make for a very exciting read. Books usually take me about two weeks to get through when I have a paper copy. This one took me a full month. It wasn’t that long, I just stopped reading as much as I normally do. It’s obvious the author did his homework and this book is really complete with details, but it’s not what I wanted to discuss in a book club.

The characters were very much brought to life int he book. From reading the letters they’d written, King was able to give each a distinct personality. Michelangelo is self-defeating, Raphael is a smooth-talking lady-killer and the Pope is a glutton. Many historical figures seem so flat that it was great to see them brought to life through their own words.

The Pope was my favorite character. It was a ‘love to hate him’ kind of a relationship that I had with the Pope. He was so opposite from what I’ve always though a Pope should be like and how one should behave. I know that the restrictions on chastity and poverty were a little less strict at certain points in history than they are today, but it was interesting to get into his character as much as King was able to.

Ross King Image via the New York Times website

Ross King
Image via the New York Times website

I liked the descriptions of the techniques Michelangelo used to paint the ceiling. I’m glad that King was able to clear up the image of Michelangelo laying on his back to paint the ceiling. I never understood how that would work logistically. It was cool to find out how the paintings were broken down into a days work and to hear bout how big an area Michelangelo would pursue in a day. I thought this was the most interesting part and was a bit where I didn’t mind the crazy amount of detail.

I wasn’t interested in the parts that talked about Rafael. I was reading a book about Michelangelo and I didn’t like how much detail there was about the people Rafael was entertaining or sleeping with. I didn’t think it added to the story. It felt like an unrelated fact King ran into that he found interesting enough to include but I didn’t think it was necessary.

The biggest lesson I learned from Michelangelo was about dedication. Michelangelo was more or less tricked into painting the ceiling and it wasn’t what he felt strongest doing. He did it anyway and was dedicated to the act throughout. He was also the provider for his family and had to discipline himself a lot to continue to provide for them and help them become self-sufficient. Even when he finished the ceiling, he wanted to start right away on the tomb for the pope he had been so excited about. I wish better things had happened to Michelangelo because he seemed to suffer so much for his art.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m not sure I have any criticisms of this book from a writing perspective. It was well written and full of detail, which for a historical biography, is perfect. It’s just not  perfect for a book club selection. I’m not sure who in our group picked this one, but it’s not something I would recommend for other groups. If you’re looking to do some research or you’re going to Rome soon and want some background, this is a really great pick. But don’t pick it up expecting a fast read. It’s not good for that.

Overall, 1 out of 5 stars because it wasn’t what I wanted. At all.

This book fulfilled Italy for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling | anne frandi-coory
Vatican City goes Hollywood | PagesPages

Life of a NaNoWriMo Rebel: Week 1

10 Nov

Oh the hard life of a rebel. Instead of slaving over a word count each day, I’m working against the clock: average 30 minutes a day in front of my computer, working on editing. And in truth, it’s not going too badly. Here’s the update:

Day 1: Nothing

Day 2: 1 hour

Day 3: 30 minutes

Day 4: 1 hour

Day 5: Nothing

Day 6: Nothing

Day 7: Nothing

Day 8: 4 hours

Day 9: 1.5 hours

My friend Nicole and I headed to my parents cabin for the weekend (days 7-9). Arriving on Friday, we were too tired to write and saved all our energy for Saturday (8) and then headed home on Sunday (9). I’d been slacking earlier in the week because I had a grad school assignment due, but I was able to make it up (obviously because I’m so awesome).

So, as a rebel, how am I looking? I’ve been using the manuscript I wrote last November and trying to give it some more life. I don’t really like this story, to be honest, and it feels flat to me. I’m adding dept to the characters and putting in back story that I decided 40,000 words in needed to exist last time around. It’s time to fix my mistakes. The scene I alluded to and then forgot to write? Adding it! The character that appears out of no where 2/3 of the way in? Entering some foreshadowing! Hopefully I can find my passion for this book but so far, nothing. I promised myself I’d give it one more try before it goes in a drawer as a best effort and it’s looking like it might sit there. That is, until I’m crazy famous one day and they’ll publish anything that’s ever been saved on my computer. I’m still waiting for that day.

How’s your NaNo? Are you traditional or a rebel like me? I hope you’re enjoying the process as much as I am!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Friday 56, 7-Nov-2014

7 Nov

Welcome to another edition of The Friday 56 hosted by Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs. The community has been really great and I’m excited to jump in!

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

I just started a new title, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and I’m not even on page 56 yet. I really hope reading this page doesn’t give too much away! Here’s the quote I chose:

His parents have told him that at school, instead of being called Gogol, he will be called by a new name, a good name, which his parents have finally decided on, just in time for him to begin his formal education.

I don’t think this gives away too much because I think this will be a major sticking point in the novel. I’m only as far as Gogol’s birth but I figured that he would be the title character, the namesake. I’m curious what the reason for a name change is. This book has come highly recommended and I’m pumped to keep reading.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

 

Read Along With Me #2: The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar Chapters 14-16

6 Nov

Read Along 2

The fourth installment of my second Read Along With Me book club. The book this time is ‘The Space Between Us’ by Thrity Umrigar which is absolutely amazing so far. You can look at all of our posts on the hub page. And if you think you want to join up, send me an email! We’d love to have you. There are three of us currently; myself, Claudia, and Ashlee. Let’s jump right into the questions!

Question from AshleeSera’s parents have their suspicions, Freddy undoubtedly knows the truth, yet these older adults and parents say nothing about the violence Sera is going through. Do you find yourself resenting them a little bit? Or is it simply not their place to meddle in Sera and Feroz’s business?

I’m not sure I believe Sera’s parents or Freddy understand the extent of Feroz’s abuse. Sera is quick to explain her unhappiness on Banu, not on her new husband and with the rumors Sera’s parents heard and what Freddy knows of his wife, I think they see this as a very likely cause. As an extension, they might believe that Sera fights with her husband over issues dealing with her mother-in-law, but I don’t think anyone suspects the abuse Sera is facing at the hands of Feroz. I’d like to think that if they knew, they’d do more to help her, but maybe that’s wishful thinking.

 

Question from ClaudiaI know this is going to sound incredibly ludicrous in my part, but I am almost always finding that I sympathize for Feroz a lot! I know! It’s crazy! But hear me out, please? Look, I’m not justifying his actions by any means, but what if Feroz was also mentally abused by Banu? What if as a child, she instilled these false and absurd idealisms that shaped who he later grew up to be? What if, after facing the world on his own, he later came to realize that his framework of the world and society was faulty, and thus he lived with frustration, resentment, disgruntlement, failure, etc?

I think this is highly likely. I remember reading A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer a long time ago and he talked about the cycle of abuse. By this he meant that the child of an abusive parent is more likely to be an abuser himself. Pelzer fought against the inkling to raise a child the only way he knew how; through the abuse his mother inflicted on him. I think Banu was abusive toward her husband and son and, consequently, teaching Feroz only abusive ways to deal with those close to him. I don’t think he’s a strong enough man to break away from this cycle and doesn’t know a different way to act toward Sera.

Also, I think Banu taught him that things should be done a certain way and that her way is the proper way. When Sera breaks that way that Feroz has learned for so long is the only proper way to do things, he’s frustrated with her and angry; he wants her to do it right as well. In short, I think Banu is 100% at fault for Feroz’s behavior. I wish Freddy had stepped in earlier.

 

It’s my turn to choose the musing topic for this week and I’ve picked tradition. As an American, some of the traditions in this book seem very foreign to me. Believing that a certain person is dirty because of who their parents are living with your in laws. One of my best friends at work was born in India and came to the United States when she married her husband. It makes it a little easier for me to see these traditions in practice. I know my coworker likes her in-laws living with her some times and hates it other times. She recently broke a bone and her mother-in-law was able to help with cooking and cleaning while she was in the cast. Her father-in-law will peel pomegranates for her while she’s at work. But she has to cook for them and cook what they like and sometimes she gets more opinions than she wanted on how to discipline and raise her kids. So there’s the good and the bad. I see the reason for this tradition. It could seem rude to someone of Indian culture that my grandmother lives alone though we see it as giving her independence and the time alone she hasn’t had before.

In the case of the novel, I think it is doing more harm than good for Sera and Feroz’s relationship. Instead of helping around the house, Sera is pushed away. Instead of having support from her in-laws, she’s shunned. We can see in the example of Dinaz and Viraf how a mother-in-law can help around the house and be a positive influence on a marriage, but Sera doesn’t see that in Banu. There are good and bad sides to any tradition and in this book we see both which I think is very fair of the author.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along. Please drop me a line if you are interested in joining us; we have so much fun doing these!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-November-2014

5 Nov

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! And there is finally progress to report! Yay progress.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is still The Domesday Book by Connie Willis, but I don’t have it checked out now and it’s likely to be two weeks before I can get it back. Stay tuned. I’ve working on the next section of Read Along #2The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I want to keep plowing ahead with this one, it’s a struggle to stop each week. I’m making steady progress Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio. I’m about half way done now, which is crazy. This plot is so involved, I’m not sure how he’s going to wrap it up! The audiobook on my phone is California by Eden Lepucki. I’ve haven’t done as much with this one now that football season is over (yay) and my husband is around more. I hope to keep listening to it, though, it’s really enjoyable. I grabbed the next book club selection as well, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I recommended reading this one and a lot of people have said it’s a great read, so I’m really excited.

Recently finished: I flew through Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I wanted to read it so I can go see the movie and be able to compare the two. That’s my favorite part of movies lately.

Reading Next:  I’ll get a copy of The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver soon. I’m the last in the rotation for my work book club so I’ll be the only one holding up the discussion. We’ll see.

Not sure I’ll have anything finished by next week but that’s always the goal. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

4 Nov

I wish I’d gotten this post out before Halloween, but between moving and failing to unpack for a week, it fell through the cracks. I hope some of you late to your Spooky Reads challenges might consider this title or maybe tuck it away for next year. It was a solid book and after discussing it, I find it even creeper than I did before. You can read my review of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and read on for a great discussion on the book.

Shirley Jackson is a queen of horror writing. You’ve probably read her short story The Lottery and if you haven’t, you should go Google it now. There, now you know what kind of creepy, psychologically twisted writing I’m talking about. Excited? Good

This was Jackson’s last novel. We discussed how she suffered a period of mania toward the end of her life where she locked herself in a room and piled things against the door, refusing to come out. I think the comparison to Merricat and Constance toward the end is unmistakable. Jackson’s writing has a note of disturbing and psychologically insane which makes for a really creepy read.

Merricat was the creepiest of the creepy characters. She seemed younger than the eighteen she claimed to be; thirteen or fourteen at best. However, she’s highly self-sufficient; able to go to town , take care of herself for a day at a time, helping Constance instead of Constance always helping her. Most obviously, she was smart. She knew what poisons to use, she had obviously read enough to know the details of poison roots and plants that could be used to kill. Though the creepiest part about her to me was when Uncle Julian, in his poisoned illusion, told the reader that Merricat was dead. I thought we had a Sixth Sense situation on our hands and was almost disappointed to find out she was alive. Though if you asked her, she lived on the moon. “Why the moon?” we wondered. In truth, it’s as far away as she could get. And when it was first published in 1962, the moon was somewhere only a few, special people could even think of going. It would be seven years before men got there.

The title was a bit strange to us because we didn’t know why they would refer to their house as a castle. It was certainly big enough but doesn’t fit how we usually think of castles. A castle’s main attraction is that it’s reinforced and offers protection to those inside. Toward the end of the book, the house was more of a castle. However, we think that the girls themselves were more ‘castle-like’ and were able to draw up their own walls around themselves and serve as their own protection from the town. They’ve always had to live in their own castle.

When writing, every character has to play a role in the book. Having a character with no purpose or one who does not advance the plot is pointless. So what was the point of Julian? One of us saw him as the Greek chorus in the play. He could bring up topics that Merricat and Constance didn’t want to talk about. He also showed Merricat’s evil streak because we see in the book how she wants to kill him. Innocent, nice girls don’t normally want to kill their uncles. Someone wondered if he really did die of a heart attack, which was what we thought the doctor was implying. Maybe he had a soft spot for Constance and didn’t want her to be accused of murder again. Perhaps Julian died in the fire; a crush or burn instead of a heart attack. If that had been the case, there’s no doubt in my mind that Constance would have been accused of the crime, not letting Merricat take the fall.

Besides there not being any concrete evidence against her, perhaps the Blackwell family wealth got Constance off of the murder charge the first time. She seems like a scared and timid person, but especially around Merricat. She seems to be very afraid of her sister; always giving in when Merricat asks for something. Merricat’s spoiled nature was part of what upset Charles so much.

We wondered if Charles was their lost cousin or if he was a con man looking for a payoff. The girls mentioned a few times how much Charles looked like their father, which makes us think he was a genuine relative, but I’m still suspicious. He would have heard about the family’s tragedy in newspapers and thought to come looking for them We bet he didn’t expect to find Merricat’s emotional state to be as bad as it was. Constance was quick to cling to Charles, wanting something familiar in a world that had been turned upside down.

Charles took over as the traditional patriarch of the family very quickly. He asserted his dominance and changed routines and room arrangements, which drove Merricat crazy. She thrived on knowing how one day and the next would be the same and when Charles forced her away from that, she was angry. A theory of why Merricat did what she did is that she disliked men and wanted the patriarchs of the family gone. This explains why Julian, who’s not a threat to her free will, isn’t a threat to Merricat and why Charles was. Maybe the town only liked him because he’s a man. Merricat was right not to like him and the reader sees this at the end when he returns with the news writer, looking for the safe. Even if he is family, he’s not the relative you want to stay close with.

We talked about if Merricat meant to start the fire. We believe she wanted to start it and hurt Charles, but that she didn’t think through the consequences. The fire would destroy Charles’ room, yes, but it would spread and that’s not something Merricat was ready to think through. Her mind is under developed and part of that must be her ability to foresee consequences of her actions. She didn’t realize it would hurt her as well.

Alright, if you haven’t read the book, stop here. I’m surprised you made it this far, but stop. I’m warning you, this will ruin the end.

Should Jackson have told us that Merricat killed the family? Most of us thought she had before being told. It would have been creepier not to know. We got the impression Constance knew and maybe Julian had an inkling, but they didn’t talk about it. They wanted to protect Merricat, who they knew needed to be care for within the family. She must have had a hard time in the orphanage during Constance’s trial. Jackson did a great job of making Merricat seem relatively normal when she goes into town at the beginning, but it quickly deteriorates and we see her true nature and illness.

I mentioned that one theory as to why Merricat did it is because of her dislike for patriarchy. The town was accepting of Charles because they could understand the patriarchy. When they reverted to a matriarchy again at the end, we wondered if the town would poison them with the food. The other theory is that Constance and Merricat were incestuous and Merricat wanted to be alone with her lover. I can’t get on board with that one. We would like to propose another theory.

Julian mentions at one point that there was a disagreement between Merricat’s parents the morning of the accident (forgive me, I cannot find it in the text). We think they were arguing about sending Merricat away. Maybe both wanted and they couldn’t agree on where or one was against the idea. Either way, Merricat overheard this and it scared her so much to think she’d be away from Constance that she put arsenic in the sugar. Then, when she hears Charles talk about leaving with Constance and leaving her behind, she reacts in a similar way, fighting to be with her Constance. She’s afraid of being away from her and will kill to stay near her sister. She hoped Charles would die, but got her wish regardless.

What a great November read! I recommend it for any other book club hoping to do a themed book.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, October

3 Nov

Not much challenge progress this month, really. But you know what? I’m in the middle of a few books now that I’m excited about and I think that’s saying a lot, so no regrets. #YOLO (Do people still say that?)  You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in October:

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen (4/5)
Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King (1/5)

Yes, this is slightly pathetic. No, I don’t want to talk about it (meanie).

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and it’s pretty obvious I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary. However, there is only one time period left and I have a plan to fill it, which it seems I’ll get to around December. So I do plan to complete this one, than you all very much!

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

18/50 (+18)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m not focusing enough on American settings. My map shows some clusters, but I’m trying to spread it out.

Here’s some progress! I added one new state, Washington with The Compound and a foreign country (Italy with Michelangelo and please don’t make me retype this title).

Goodreads Challenge

51/35

DONE! I’m so awesome. Don’t mess with me.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!