Austen Marathon: Mansfield Park

Title: Mansfield Park

Author: Jane Austen

Genre: Fiction; Classic, Romance

First Published: 1814

Pages: 472

Rating: B+

Status: Reread

 

Mansfield Park is Jane Austen’s third novel. This novel follows the life of Fanny Price, a young girl rescued from poverty by her beautiful but indolent aunt, Lady Bertram, and her respectable but strict uncle, Sir Thomas. Her family sends her off to live with the Bertram family in their spacious estate in Mansfield Park. There, she meets her crafty and oftentimes cruel aunt, Mrs. Norris, and Sir Thomas’ children, Tom, Edmund, Maria, and Julia

Although the children are, by no means, intentionally cruel, constant assurance from Mrs. Norris of their lofty station compared to Fanny made them careless with her feelings. All of her cousins exhibited selfishness, save for the younger brother, Edmund. Edmund becomes Fanny’s closest friend and defender. She grows to love him, but is too afraid to show him how she feels. It all seems too late for Fanny when the Crawford siblings enter the scene.

The rakish and charming Henry Crawford becomes an instant hit with the Bertram sisters, while his own pretty sister, Mary, attracts the attentions of Edmund. Fanny could only watch their growing attractions with pain and dismay. When Maria, the older Bertram girl, marries the silly but incredibly wealthy, Mr. Rushworth, Henry turns his attention to Fanny. He seems to have fallen for our heroine completely. But a scandal awaits in the form of an elopement, an affair, and a terrible disgrace. The rest, is essentially, an incredibly tangled web, which is only set right in the final four pages of the novel.

 

The Results of the Reread.

There was a time when I said I would never reread Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. The first time I read the book, I found it dragging. It was a challenge to get through Fanny’s self-righteous soliloquies. I found Edmund stale and wooden—even more so than Edward Ferrars. The only relief was that there was life to be found in Mary Crawford. Although arguably despicable, I preferred her crassness, her thoughtless remarks over Fanny’s constant cringing and inability to express even a morsel of her sentiments without much prodding. Granted, one could take the novel’s setting into consideration, but the times have rarely stopped Austen from creating strong-willed and vocal characters.

Upon rereading Mansfield Park, I found myself enjoying the book a bit more. A careful reread allows one to appreciate the intricacies of Austen’s writings—the solid descriptions, the wit, the overall picture painstakingly painted pretty and polite. And dear Fanny, she was a quiet surprise. Although her hidden vexations, her trembling, and her general weak constitution made her less striking than the likes of Elizabeth Bennet, Marianne Dashwood, or Emma Woodhouse, she had her merits. She was loyal, intelligent, and virtuous. However, were those traits enough to save the book? Unfortunately, the answer is “No.”

Compared to Austen’s other novels, I find Mansfield Park to be the stalest, the most dated. Perhaps the disappointment I feel is directly tied to how I just reread this novel after reading Pride and Prejudice—which is an easy favorite for many Austen fans. Perhaps I simply don’t like Fanny, because kind as she is, she is a bit weepy and I find her character weak. Or perhaps, it’s simply because out of all of Austen’s works, this is the one that has the poorest character development. That, and I was secretly rooting for a Henry Crawford reform—I wanted Fanny’s love to save him. I also didn’t want Fanny to be Edmund’s second choice—although this point is arguable, as a considerable amount of time may have passed between Edmund’s heartbreak and his realization that he loved Fanny more than as a sister.

Austen Marathon: Pride and Prejudice

 

Title: Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Genre: Fiction; Classic, Romance

First Published: 1813

Pages: 480

Rating: A+

Status: Reread (for the 4th time!)

 

Pride and Prejudice is, arguably, Jane Austen’s most popular work—and rightfully so! There is much to love about this novel. At its worst, it’s one of the wittiest, sweetest, and most heartbreaking romantic novels out there. At its best, it’s a stunning critique on nineteenth century etiquette and vanity. There is a reason why Austen’s works endure—why they’re still well-read and well-loved til now. Despite containing a plethora of archaic customs, these works are timeless when it comes to their relatability.

To demonstrate Austen’s wit, Pride and Prejudice starts with one of the most unforgettable lines in Fiction—“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Let’s take a moment to appreciate the perfection of that line. It sets the tone for the entire novel. It lets the reader know what to expect from the book—a heavy dose of romance laced with just the right touch of comedy.

To sum up a good book in a few lines, Pride and Prejudice follows the unlikely romance between the story’s main character, Elizabeth Bennet, and the immensely wealthy and seemingly proud, Mr. Darcy. Throw in Elizabeth’s meddling and sometimes-scandalous family; a failed romance between Jane Bennet (Elizabeth’s sister) and Darcy’s best friend, Mr. Bingley; and the sly machinations of the charming, Mr. Wickham—and what you have is an engaging and heartwarming piece of Literature.

Obviously, to say that I enjoyed the novel would be an understatement. Pride and Prejudice is, actually, one of my go-to novels whenever I feel colossal disappointment over one thing or another. That’s why this novel gets an A+ for me.

 

PLOT

Pride and Prejudice begins when a charming and wealthy gentleman, called Mr. Bingley, moves into Netherfield Park in Hertfordshire, where Mr. and Mrs. Bennet live with their five daughters. The Bennet family isn’t rich, and their estate will be passed to their closest male relation upon Mr. Bennet’s death. To ensure that their children will be provided for, Mrs. Bennet has made it her duty to marry off each of her children to a wealthy young man. She rejoices when her eldest, Jane, catches Mr. Bingley’s eye. The two seem to form an attachment, but before much could be done (or celebrated), the pair is separated by Bingley’s best friend, the handsome and affluent Mr. Darcy, and his sisters.

The twist comes when Mr. Darcy falls for Jane’s younger sister, the fiercely independent and witty, Elizabeth Bennet. And while I would love to go on a blow-by-blow account of how the two eventually fall in love, that would ruin the book’s buildup for you. (See? I learned from my last post!) And I would love for anyone to read this literary masterpiece, so I’ll stop right here.

Plot-wise, the story is tight. Like its predecessor, Sense and Sensibility, this story contains a series of ‘surprise’ turns. But it deals with each turn well. Although circumstances do change the characters’ mindsets, these changes aren’t dubious or unexplained. These changes are the obvious reactions to specific situations. In short, you won’t find any OOC (out-of-character) moments here.

 

CHARACTERS

Once again, Austen aces character development (and relatability). Her characters are, by no means, two-dimensional. Their personalities are distinct, their actions apt according to their respective natures. Austen also demonstrates her wit through the likes of Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth.

Top 5 Characters from Pride and Prejudice

  1. Jane Bennet. I know that a lot of people identify with Elizabeth more, but to me, there’s much to love about Jane’s agreeable nature. Like Elinor in Sense and Sensibility, Jane epitomizes grace under pressure.
  2. Elizabeth Bennet. This list just isn’t complete without the novel’s lovable and opinionated heroine. Elizabeth, much like Marianne, is high-spirited, intelligent, and attractive. However, she also displays tremendous maturity, especially upon realizing her prejudices.
  3. Mr. Darcy. Alright, I’ll admit it. Mr. Darcy is, undoubtedly, one of the most swoon-worthy men in fiction. He’s quiet, reserved, handsome, intelligent, and incredibly wealthy. He’s the whole package. Why it took Elizabeth so long to come around, is beyond me. Okay, so maybe she was insulted at the ball, but how can one not love Mr. Darcy?
  4. Lydia Bennet. Lydia Bennet is the character you’d love to hate. She’s pigheaded and vapid, shameless and selfish. And yet, there’s something about her foolishness that’s perfectly attributable to her upbringing and age.
  5. Mr. Bennet. It’s easy to see which parent Elizabeth takes after. Mr. Bennet is witty and amusing. He’s also a bit cruel, sometimes—but he eventually gets his fill of humble pie (as does everyone else in the book).

 

OVERALL: Definitely worth a reread.

There’s a reason why Pride and Prejudice is considered the quintessential love story. It has all the elements of a great romcom with a dash of drama. I think that’s also the reason why there are countless literary adaptations to this piece. This is definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone who’s looking for a good romance novel—or for first-time Classic readers.

 

FAVORITE LINES

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” – Ms. Bingley, Chapter 11

““In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” – Mr. Darcy; Chapter 34

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” – Mary Bennet, Chapter 5

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” – Mr. Darcy, Chapter 60. After Elizabeth asked him when he fell in love with her.

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.” – Mr. Darcy, Chapter 58

Austen Marathon: Sense and Sensibility

 

 

Title: Sense and Sensibility

Author: Jane Austen

Genre: Fiction; Classic, Romance

First Published: 1811

Pages: 389

Rating: A+++++++

Status: Reread (for the 5th time!)

In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, we follow the life and loves of two of Austen’s most memorable heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Despite the close bond between the two sisters, it immediately becomes apparent how vastly different they are from one another. Elinor is sensible, too sensible for her own good. She is polite to a fault, and somewhat reserved. Marianne, on the other hand, takes after her mother, in the sense that she’s much too romantic, too emotional, and too expressive.

When the novel begins, the sisters live in Norland Park with their mother and younger sister, Margaret. Their father had passed on, and had left them with a small income—a pittance compared to what their half-brother (a product of a previous marriage for Mr. Dashwood), John, received. The entire Norland Park was handed to him. And although he had promised his father that he would take care of his sisters, his selfish wife, Fanny, convinces him that to offer to help his sisters move to a different home is help enough for them.

Meanwhile, we learn of a growing attachment between the ever-sensible Elinor, and Fanny’s brother, Edward Ferrars. Before any formal agreements can be made, however, Fanny learns of their growing closeness and insinuates herself into the thick of things by taking over Norland Park as its new mistress.

Miffed by the sudden intrusion of John’s domineering and snobbish wife, Mrs. Dashwood accepts the offer of lodging from a distant relation—a certain Sir John Middleton from Devonshire. She moves her entire family to Barton Cottage, where the group is warmly received by Sir John and his family. There, the Dashwoods meet the local society. Despite their initial determination to keep to themselves, the family grows close to the affable Sir John, his reserved and elegant wife, Lady Middleton; her gossipy, matchmaking mother, Mrs. Jenkins; and Sir John’s good friend, the honorable Colonel Christopher Brandon.

Colonel Brandon immediately falls for the beautiful and romantic, Marianne. But she remains uninterested and ignores the colonel in favor of the dashing and debonair, John Willoughby. By all appearances, the two appear in love and ready to wed. That is, until Willoughby abruptly leaves Barton Park for London. We later learn that Willoughby has traded Marianne in for a wealthier wife. Although he later attempts to justify his behavior, understanding the root of his greed only humanizes him—it does not redeem him.

As for Elinor, she’s met with an even worse fate. Although Edward does make a brief appearance in Barton Park, we learn that he is engaged to another—the uneducated and cunning cousin of Lady Middleton, Lucy Steele. Though Lucy appears saccharine sweet, she doesn’t fool Elinor (and the reader) for a minute. Lucy is a master of passive-aggressive retaliation. Upon hearing of Elinor’s attachment to Edward, she immediately makes Elinor familiar with her ‘secret’ engagement. Elinor is sworn to secrecy. So while Marianne openly weeps for a lost love, Elinor suffers in secret.

The good news is that both sisters do find their ‘happy ending’. Having proven his enduring love for her, Colonel Brandon eventually wins Marianne over. As for Elinor and Edward, their happy ending comes at a hefty price. Upon learning of Edward’s engagement to Lucy, his mother cuts him off financially. The wealth he stood to earn as the firstborn son was passed on to his vain and selfish brother, Robert—who incidentally, ends up under the claws of the ultra-clever, Lucy.

 

PLOT: Oh what a tangled web…

There’s a lot that goes on in Sense and Sensibility—but that’s the beauty of this novel. All these twists are integrated perfectly, seamlessly, so to speak. I didn’t feel like anything was ‘forced’ in the novel. When Willoughby and Marianne fell in love in the span of a week, it was relatable. Considering Marianne’s age, (not even 17 at the start of the novel!), it’s easy to see how her world could revolve around the handsome and rugged, Mr. Willoughby.

And though, these days, it may be difficult to find a woman possessing Elinor’s reserve, fortitude, and forbearance, considering the setting of this novel, her behavior makes perfect sense. The novel was set in the years between 1792 and 1797—a time when decorum took centerstage.

Now, I know that some people don’t like the ending—with many wishing Marianne ended up with Willoughby, but I think the ending was apt. The greatest of passions often burn quick and extinguish in the night. The great loves are those that endure, like a slow, steady flame. At least, that’s what I believe—that’s why this book makes sense to me.

 

CHARACTERS:

One of Austen’s greatest strengths as a writer is her ability to create a myriad of ‘real’ characters—and it really is a joy reading about their interactions. From the passive aggressive arguments between Elinor and Lucy to the impassioned speeches of Marianne and Willoughby, Austen creates a dynamic world filled with dynamic characters. Now, if I were to be nitpicky and pick out the least fleshed-out character, then I’d have to say, Margaret. She’s not poorly-written, not at all. She simply falls into the background and is forgotten for a long time. But all good stories have their wallflowers, so this is hardly a point against Austen or Sense and Sensibility. 

Top 5 Characters from Sense and Sensibility:

  1. Elinor Dashwood. Some would call Elinor reserved, or even cold. But to me, she’s a lovely example of inner poise and graciousness. The way she handled Lucy’s constant barbs had me cheering her on, and secretly wishing she’d b*tch-slap the two-faced B.
  2. Charlotte and Mr. Palmer. They just might be my favorite couple in the novel. Charlotte and her dear Mr. Palmer were an extremely clever addition to the group. They provided comedic relief when needed, and they also showcased Austen’s versatility as a writer.
  3. Lucy Steele. Oh dear. Lucy is the perfect villain in this piece. She’s extremely cunning and extremely fake—how could one not hate her (or love her)?
  4. Marianne Dashwood. Marianne may have acted like a brat 60 percent of the time, but she did learn her lesson, and at least, she was true to herself.
  5. John Willoughby. Everybody loves a bad boy—and I can definitely see Willoughby’s charm. He’s the epitome of a man’s man. The fact that he’s a bit of a libertine just adds to the whole appeal. And that’s why he beat out Edward in this list.

 

OVERALL: Definitely worth an annual reread!

Sense and Sensibility never fails to lift my spirits. I try to reread it at least once every few years. If/When I get married, I’d love to hand out this book to my female guests. Maybe fancy pens for male guests. Hmmm.

 

FAVORITE LINES:

Elinor:  I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of him–that I esteem him.

Marianne:  Esteem him!  Like him!  Cold-hearted Elinor!  Oh!  Worse than cold-hearted!  Ashamed of being otherwise.  Use those words again and I will leave the room this moment.

“Can he really love her? Can the soul really be satisfied with such polite affections?  To love is to burn, to be on fire, all full of passion…– Marianne

“Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.”Elinor (this line makes me cry—every.single.time.)

 “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” 

September: The Jane Austen Marathon

 

September is my Austen Month—and what better way to kick-start my Jane Austen Marathon than with her first published work (and a personal favorite), Sense and Sensibility? Yes, I do intend to get swept off my feet by the wicked and dashing Willoughby. I also fully intend on immersing myself completely in Marianne’s and Elinor’s affairs. Never mind that I’ve read this novel far too many times for my own good—five times, but who’s keeping count, right? I will reread each of Austen’s novels and review each work. If all goes well, I’ll also be making side-by-side comparisons when it comes to character development, technique, and the general plot.

That may seem like a tall order, but ever the Girl Scout, I have started reading Sense and Sensibility. I started a couple of days ago and things are just about to get juicy. Just anticipating what will happen next creates a strange feeling in my bosom. A feeling that can only be accurately described as nerdgasmic.

 Now, over the last few years, I’ve formed certain opinions about Austen’s works. Let’s see if this year’s marathon will change any of them:

Favorite Work: Sense and Sensibility

Favorite Character: Elinor Dashwood (S&S)

Favorite Villain/s: Lucy Steele (S&S), Mary Crawford (Mansfield Park)

Favorite Love Interest: Fitzwilliam Darcy (P&P)

Least Favorite Character: Fanny Price (Mansfield Park)

Least Favorite Work: Mansfield Park

I can see a few changes in that list happening. But I refuse to replace anything without having finished all six of Austen’s novels. Now, I plan on reading her works by order of publication—which means I’ll start off with Sense and Sensibility (1811), followed by Pride and Prejudice (1813), then Mansfield Park (1814), then Emma (1815), then Northanger Abbey (posthumous, 1818), and finally, end with Persuasion (posthumous, 1818). Should be a great month, I think. And, back to reading.

 

Image: Jane Austen as drawn by her sister, Cassandra Austen. (1810)

Book Review: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding

Author: Helen Fielding

Genre: Fiction, Chick-Lit

First Published: 1999

Status: Read

Pages: 338

Rating: B

Fact: Helen Fielding is a comic genius. Now, if only someone told her she didn’t have to try so hard in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Fielding succeeded in turning a beloved character into a laughable caricature.

Bridget Jones is back—and her life is crazier than ever! In Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, we find our hilarious British heroine ‘four weeks and five days in’ in what she describes as a ‘functional relationship with (an) adult male.’ Indeed, everything seems to be going well for our dear, Bridget. She’s happily back to smoking and drinking, she’s a legit TV journalist, she has the dashing Mark Darcy in bed with her—all appears peachy keen.

But not ONE chapter in and the drama starts. Having established the rapport between Bridget, Shazzer, and Jude in the last book, you’d expect a bit of envy from the singletons and miserably-attached. But when her friends accuse her of being a “Smug-Going-Out-with-Someone,” and attempt to convince her that Mark Darcy is cheating on her with his rich and skinny bitch colleague, Rebecca, the whole thing becomes a bit too much. And it only gets worse. Somewhere between Bridget Jones’s Diary and this book, Bridget has sadly become somewhat spineless.

Case in point, when she and Mark find a naked and insane Asian boy on Mark’s bed, she runs off instead of demanding an explanation right off the bat. She automatically assumes that Mark’s some sort of ‘gay bestial pervert.’ Then, when she pays a carpenter an exorbitant sum to install shelves she doesn’t want, and he refuses to work, it’s as if she can’t do anything about the situation. Finally, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime—an interview with Colin Firth—and she screws it up. She misses her plane, botches the interview (because she’s too obsessed with the image of Firth emerging from the lake, soaked and sexy as Mr. Darcy in P&P), and misses her deadline. Although she ends up writing a side-splitting piece, the interview turned out to be immensely cringe-worthy.

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Book #7: The Virgin Suicides

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES

Author: Jeffrey Eugenides

Genre: Fiction; Mystery/Drama

First Published: 1993

Status: Read

Pages: 243

Rating: A-

 

“Offering a stark and profound take on teenage suicide and how it affects an entire community, The Virgin Suicides is an extraordinary debut piece from an exceptional novelist.”

 

Set in Grosse Point, Michigan in the 1970s, The Virgin Suicides recounts the events leading to and following the suicides of the Lisbon sisters. In the book, Jeffrey Eugenides shows the viewpoint of a community trying to make sense of the girls’ deaths. The story is told in the first person plural perspective, where the narrator is a member of a group of boys who went to school with the sisters.

Like the rest of the community, the boys experience an intense fascination with the Lisbon sisters. Years after the girls’ deaths, the narrator is still remembering, recounting the events leading to the girls’ suicides. Interviews are conducted and recorded. Personal items are gathered as ‘evidence’. All possible information about the sisters are compiled and recorded in this book.

The book opens with the final suicide attempt from the last Lisbon daughter, Mary. Mary had overdosed on sleeping pills. Although the paramedics find her breathing, all efforts to save her are futile. Like the rest of her sisters, Mary was meant to die. Take it from the book’s title. This isn’t the case of a single suicide. All five of the Lisbon girls die—some in particularly gruesome ways.

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7 Books that Changed My Life

To quote James Bryce: “The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” To me, the following books are wellsprings of information. In them are endless lessons on writing, life, faith, love, and everything in between. I don’t think it’s possible to outgrow or get tired of any of these books.

So, without further ado (and in no particular order), the 7 books that changed my life: 

#1: Letters to A Young Poet by Rainier Maria Rilke

First Read: Freshman Year, College (2003)

Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror” might’ve gotten me started on poetry, but it was Rilke’s letters which brought out my passion in writing. This collection of letters from Rilke gives some of the most poignant and practical advice on becoming a writer. With every letter Rilke writes to the “young poet”, Franz Xaver Kappus, we’re also somewhat privy to the innermost musings of one of the most beloved literary figures of the 20th century.

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Book #5: Bridget Jones’s Diary

BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY

Author: Helen Fielding

Genre: Non-Fiction; Comedy/Chick-Lit

Rating: A+

First Published: 1996

Status: Read

Pages: 271

“Deliciously candid and absolutely hilarious, Bridget Jones’s Diary is the type of book one keeps on the bedside table for emergency laughs and instant pick-me-ups. V. v. good.”

Some books are meant to be read once, others are meant to be reread until the pages fall out. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding falls under the second category. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this book a literary masterpiece comparable to the works of Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, or the Brönte sisters, it really is quite a book. Its unflinching and comic portrayal of single women (singletons) and smug marrieds is absolutely spot-on.

True to its name, this book reads like an actual diary with daily entries where Bridget tracks everything from her weight to her calorie consumption, cigarette count to alcohol units. You’ll see her mood fluctuate along with her weight as she goes from one addiction to another—moving from cigarettes to lottery tickets and afternoon cocktails to smoothies.

With every confession Bridget makes, she also voices out the reader’s innermost fears, nagging insecurities, and irrational musings. Whether it’s a tendency to weigh oneself obsessively, count each calorie, chase after the “wrong” guy, smoke too many cigarettes, consume copious amounts of alcohol before 5 p.m., or rely too heavily on self-help books to solve romance and self-esteem issues—Bridget’s candid confessions will strike a chord somewhere. In my case, this book brought to light my unhealthy belief that my happiness is inversely related to my weight—that I would only truly be happy if I were a size 2 or less.

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Reading List: The Next 10 Books

In no particular order, except for the Jane Austen Marathon, my reading list for the next month or two.

Randy Pausch – The Last Lecture (2008)

Virginia Woolf – Three Guineas (1938) – reread

Jeffrey Eugenides – The Virgin Suicides (1993)

Helen Fielding – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (1999)

THE JANE AUSTEN MARATHON

Sense and Sensibility (1811) – reread

Pride and Prejudice (1813) – reread

Mansfield Park (1814) – reread

Emma (1815)

Northanger Abbey (1818, posthumous)

Persuasion (1818, posthumous) – reread

Wild Card/s:

Woody Allen – Without Feathers (1975) reread

Woody Allen – The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose (2007)

Book in Wish List: “I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie” – Miss Pamela Des Barres (love her!)

Next For Review: Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding (1996)

I promised myself I’d reread a book for every new book I buy, hence the number of items marked as rereads. Will now be scouring the net for other books to buy.

Book #3: The Secret Life of Laszlo, Count Dracula

THE SECRET LIFE OF LASZLO, COUNT DRACULA

Author: Roderick Anscombe
Genre: Fiction; Horror/Thriller
First Published: 1994
Status: Read
Pages: 409
Price: **thrifted** PHP 50.00/$1.17

At 409 pages long, Roderick Anscombe’s The Secret Life of Laszlo, Count Dracula manages to be superfluous and anemic at the same time.

Plot-wise, the book is actually pretty promising. Instead of giving us the traditional monster or the overused charming bloodsucker, Anscombe offers a bumbling and naïve character as his protagonist. The novel, which reads like the main character’s journal, lets the reader delve into the character’s innermost thoughts. We see our unlikely monster spiral into madness until he loses all humanity and becomes the bloodthirsty killer we all know and love.

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