The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe

“Sometimes I don’t understand how another can love her, is allowed to love her, since I love her so completely myself, so intensely, so fully, grasp nothing, know nothing, have nothing but her!”

 The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is an epistolary novel written by Johann Wolfang von Goethe, simply known as Goethe. It is Goethe’s first novel and it was published anonymously in 1774. The reader discovers the story through Werther’s letters to his friend Wilhem. It tells the story of Werther and more precisely his torments. He indeed fully loves a woman whose name is Charlotte but she is already engaged with another man named Albert. Consequently, Charlotte only sees Werther as a friend and it makes him suffer. Finally, Werther decides to commit suicide.

You have to know that this story is partly inspired by real facts. Goethe was (at one time of his life) in love with a woman named Charlotte but she was promised to another man, Kestner. Her mother was dead and that’s why she had to look after her twelve little brothers and sisters. This is also the case of Charlotte in the book. Moreover the suicide in the end of The Sorrows of Young Werther was inspired by the act of a friend of the author who killed himself because of an unhappy love affair.

In addition this novel caused many reactions. It has been judged immoral by the authorities because it was supposed to “promote” suicide so sales of this book were forbidden. But it has probably on the contrary push people to read it. It indeed has had a huge success. We called this “movement” of reactions the “Werther Fever”: some designers realised the clothes which were described in this novel; perfumes, crockery and varied objects were created because of it.  A lot of books inspired by The Sorrows of Young Werther were published: sequels, imitations or even parodies. But the most important to memorize is that it also provoked a “wave” of suicides. What is called the “Werther effect” in sociology is the fact that some people killed themselves afterward someone else did.

The Dunwich horror, H.P.Lovecraft

« It is always a relief to get clear of the place […]. Afterward one sometimes learn that one has been through Dunwich. Outsiders visit Dunwich as seldom as possible, and since a certain season of horror all the signboards pointing toward it have been taken down »

These few lines allow you to discover the atmosphere in the short story The Dunwich horror written by the famous american author Howard Phillips Lovecraft. The story unfolds in a fictive place -Dunwich- which is supposed to be located in Massachusetts (USA). The reader attends Wilbur Whateley’s birth and childhood. He lives in an isolated farm with his mother and his grandfather who both have a bad reputation: they are suspected of witchcraft. Wilbur grows up abnormally fast: with only 1 year, he can speak and with 4 years he seems to be 10. Other strange things happen concerning this family : the grandfather buy many cows and they die one after the other ; there is a terrible odor around the farm and at night we can hear some rumblings… as if the Whateleys breed a mysterious beast… Moreover Wilbur wants to borrow a  strange book: the Necronomicon. (nekros=death, corpse)

I liked this book -it would have been great to read during Halloween- but I have to advise you that it is quite uneasy for a novice to enter Lovecraft’s universe ! The writer invented a complet myth (whose name is Cthulhu Mythos) with its gods (which are in fact extraterrestrial entities), cults and its reference book: the Necronomicon. Lovecraft belonged to a philosophy/movement that he created: the cosmicism whose main theme is the insignificance of man. To show you an example ; Lovecraft said: « the human race will disapear. Other races will appear and disappear in turn ».

To summarize, the story is pleasant though a little bit weird and obviously horrific but when we want to know more about its author and his works, it’s quite complex (it’s a bit similar to a rich universe like the Lord of the Rings for instance).

Goodbye, Up There, Pierre Lemaitre

Today, I would like to speak about a novel written by a French author whose name is Pierre Lemaitre: Au revoir là-haut (Goodbye up there). This novel received in 2013 (the year of its publication) the well-known Goncourt Price. This book belongs to the picaresque genre. One of the features of this genre is that the protagonist is an unfortunate character and he generally lives outside the society. In Au revoir là-haut there are two leading characters named Albert Maillard and Edouart Péricourt. They were French soldiers during World War One (the first chapters unfold this period). As we all know, France « won » this conflict. But after, the country essentially concentrated on the dead – by spending a lot of money to honorably bury the victims and to build memorials- and not on the survivors. The reader follows these two former soldiers and is going to discover how they want to make money.

Before giving my opinion about the book I would like to precise that the title of this novel was inspired by the last words of Jean Blanchard, a soldier who was unfairly accused of desertion and shot. Indeed, he wrote to his wife: (approximately translated)  « I fix an appointement for you in heaven where I hope that God will reunite us. Goodbey up there, my dear wife ».

This book was very interesting to read. I didn’t imagine that some survivors of the War were so forgotten. There was not enough money to pay them and they lived in poverty. Moreover I also learned about the « coffins trafic ». Soldiers were buried everywhere because there were too many deads and it was forbidden to exhume the corpses but some families wanted to bury their relative in the cemetery of the town they lived in so they became law-breakers by exhuming the corpse at night and re-burying it elsewhere.

Au revoir là-haut was adapted into a comic that I’ve not read but I saw it and the drawings are really beautiful and I heard that it was very faithful to the book. A movie is also going to be released (I don’t precisely know the date) and I will surely watch it!

Did you know this book? Do you want to read it?

Emma, Jane Austen

The novel that I want to speak about is entitled Emma. It was written by the famous English author Jane Austen. You may know her thanks to her work named Pride and Prejudice. This may be the most well-known book of this writer but I personally do prefer Emma. What is this book about? The story unfolds principally in the village of Highbury but other fictional places like Hartfield or Randalls are mentioned. Emma, the lead character, lives with her father in Hartfield which is in fact their domain (we can see that they are rich). During her childhood, her governess –and friend- Miss Taylor took care of her. Later, Emma arranges Miss Taylor’s wedding (with Mr Weston). Then she meets Harriet, a pretty seventeen years old woman who has humble origins. Emma decides to guide her and to help her to find a husband. But there are some unexpected consequences …

“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like” This is what Jane Austen said about her character Emma. What is ironic about Emma is the fact that she doesn’t want to get married but she likes to meddle in relationships that are nothing to do with her. She is indiscreet, too much sure of herself, beautiful and rich. She doesn’t recognize when she was wrong and she takes the liberty of saying audacious comments for a woman at that time. She is also a faithful friend and an intelligent woman. I made this list of adjectives only to prove that Emma is a clever mix of faults and qualities. I appreciate this complexity.

Now I would like to talk about another character that I loved in this book: Mr Knightley. Who is he? Mr Knightley is a friend of Emma but also his brother-in-law. Indeed, Emma has a sister, Isabella, who married John Knightley, the little brother of Mr Knightley (George). The most important to retain about Mr Knightley is the fact that he is the only one who dares to contradict Emma. When she is wrong, he is the one who says “I disagree with you” and that’s why he is –for me- her most sincere friend.

Did you know this novel?  you have read another book of Jane Austen?

The New Magdalen, W.W.Collins

Today, I would like to talk about a novel written by William Wilkie Collins entitled The New Magdalen. First, I’m going to speak a little bit about the author and about the title of the novel. Then, I’m going to present the plot and give my opinion about this book.

W.W. Collins lived in the 19th century. He was a friend of Charles Dickens (they wrote some books together). Several of his books were criticized because of their “immorality”. Effectively, he talked about sensitive subjects (women in the society for instance) or made some criticisms about the society. But even if some of his novels were judged with disapproval, he became well-known. Indeed, he is considerate as one of the first English writer of detective/suspense novels. Now, I must tell you something about the title: when you read it, you probably asked yourself “if the main character is the new Magdalen, who is the original one?” Mary Magdalene (there are different spellings) is in fact a biblical character. I didn’t know a lot about her so I made some researches and, to recap, in popular tradition, she was considered as a repentant prostitute. And if you’ve read this book, you can understand the reference to Mary Magdalene (but I’m going to explain it soon).

Let’s talk about the story line. The story unfolds during the Franco-Prussian (also named Franco-German) War (1870-1871); in the middle of the Victorian era in Britain (1837-1901). The two leading characters are named Mercy and Grace. They are English and meet on the Franco-German front: Mercy is a military nurse who takes Grace in. Mercy has a degrading past: she is a reformed prostitute –reference to Mary Magdalen- and it is very difficult for her to find a job and have a decent situation. Concerning Grace, she has to go to England to become Lady Janet’s female companion (Lady Janet has never seen her). When a smell falls on Grace, Mercy decides to take Grace’s place, Grace’s identity, so she can go to England where nobody knows her. But a few times later, there is an unexpected event which is going to change Mercy’s life…

This a story about a fallen woman, about sexual discrimination and about a world ruled by social origins. This story is touching and makes us feel a lot of emotions. The reader takes pity on Mercy and thinks that it’s terrible that the social conventions are more important than love or friendship.

The Mystery of the Yellow Room, Gaston Leroux

Today, I would like to share with you a book that I’ve just finished. It’s a very famous French crime novel. It was published in 1907 and was adapted to the cinema many times. I obviously speak about the well-known Mystery of the yellow room written by Gaston Leroux. To sum up this story, I would only say that a very mysterious murder was committed. The aggressor managed to escape from a totally sealed room (door closed, windows too, no fireplace …). Two characters have to solve this case: a policeman named Larsan and a reporter named Rouletabille, there both are known to have already solved famous mysteries. The narrator is Saintclair, a lawyer and a closed-friend from Rouletabille. He accompanies and helps him. At the beginning, the story makes me remind of one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s short novel intituled The Adventure of the Speckled Band and of another short novel written by Edgar Allan Poe entitled The Murders in the Rue Morgue (in both stories characters were murdered in a closed room). Though, the author wants to stop us in our reasoning. Indeed, the narrator, Saintclair, pronounces these words (it’s an approximately translation that I made seeing as the author was French so the quotation was in French): “this mystery is the most surprising that I know, even in the imaginary domain. In The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Edgar Poe invented nothing similar. The crime place was close enough to not let the murderer flee but there was a window by which the killer could run away. But here, there is no opening.” and in a note from the author: “Conan Doyle talks about the same kind of mystery in the short novel intituled The Adventure of the Speckled Band. In a sealed room, a terrible murder is done. […] In the room, there was an adequate air intake to allow the assassin to get in and out the room.” In this way, we understand that G. Leroux was ‘in competition’ with these two writers. Like Conan Doyle and Poe, he uses the principle of a detective who came back in all of his novels (the detective in question is Rouletabille and he wrote more than ten sequels to the Mystery of the yellow room). Nevertheless, I’ve read the three stories (whose I talked) and they are all different. The Mystery of the yellow room is certainly the one that I prefer: I liked the writing of the author, characters that he created and, obviously, the resolution of the case. I would like to read the direct sequel intituled The Perfume of the woman in black.
Do you have already read this book? If not, would you like to read it?

The Frozen dead, Bernard Minier

This time, I have chosen to talks about a book written by a French author: Bernard Minier. This novel is entitled The Frozen Dead (the original title is Glacé but it was translated into English.) and it’s a crime novel. The scene is set on the Pyrenees (throughout the story there are precise descriptions because the author was born in Pyrenees). One day, workers found a headless horse on their workplace (a hydropower plant). Normally it doesn’t need a police investigation but this worse (and this plant) belonged to a very rich and famous person so the police supposed that it was to openly attack this person. Then there are two murders, all of these crimes are linked but how? The police commandant named Servaz has to solve this strange case …

The first thing which attracted me was the front cover. Indeed it perfectly represents the title, thanks to the snowflakes. Moreover the blurb was mysterious and attractive. Honestly, it was a pleasant novel and there was a lot of suspense but I personally found the murderer before the final revelation. However, throughout the story there are many false tracks so the reader has a lot of suspects and is not able to find the murderer before the middle of the book. All of the characters have hidden secrets and we found out these secrets little by little: it adds suspense and excitation.

you have already heard about this novel? Or read it?

Into that forest, Louis Nowra

Hello everyone! This time I would like to share with you a novel written by an Australian author whose name is Louis Nowra. This novel was published in 2012 and it is entitled « Into that forest ». The story is set in Australia -more precisely in Tasmania- and it talks about two young girls, Hannah & Becky. They were having a picnic near a river with Hannah’s parents when suddenly a tropical storm went off. They all fell in the river and a tiger saved Hannah and Becky’s lives but adults drowned. Consequently, the girls found themselves alone in the bush. They have to follow the tiger if they want to survive. And there, begins a moving story between the two humans and the tiger. Little by little, Becky and Hannah forget how to speak, how to walk with their two legs …. All those make them “humans”.
At the end of the story Hannah and Becky return to their home but they have been living like animals for a long time so they can’t go back easily to the civilisation. They don’t manage to speak once again, to learn how to write once again … and they don’t really want to.

I loved the storyline but not really the writing. Indeed the writing is very simple and child’s play but it is justified. At the beginning the narrator –Hannah- says that she find it difficult to speak or to write because she has lived apart from the society for many years. So that’s normal if she don’t really express herself very well. It’s a short novel; you can read it quickly so I advise you to read this book!(If you want to read this novel the french title is « Les enfants sauvages »).

Lord of the flies, William Golding

Hi everyone!

As you probably noticed (thanks to the title of the article), I’m going to speak about a classic book of English literature written by William Golding and entitled Lord of the flies. It was published in the 20th century (more precisely in 1954).

The story is set on an uninhabited island and the leading characters are all young boys. In fact they are schoolboys but they are far from the civilization because of a plane crash. The pilot is dead so they have to learn how to leave together without any adult, any help from the outside.

At the beginning, all of them have a normal reaction for children: they are happy to be alone without their parents. They enjoy having no rules. But very fast there are a lot of tensions between some of the boys. Moreover these teenagers begin to be afraid. They think there is a monster in the jungle. Little by little life on the island become very hard and there is a violent atmosphere. The survivors of the crash don’t realize that they become savages. And they will not stay all alive …

I cannot say that I loved this book because it’s not a book you are joyful to read … I liked the author’s writing and the intrigue. It is definitively a striking book and it shows dark parts of humans. Indeed the main characters are only children but their acts are not innocent. Some of them will die and that will not still be accidents …

I know there is also a movie adapted from the book but I haven’t watched it yet. I don’t know if the movie shows well the beginning of the tensions and the savagery of the children but I hope so. If you saw the movie you can tell me if you liked it!

See you!

Under the dome, Stephen King

For the third article, I decided to talk about a book (or rather two books because there is a sequel) written by a very well-know American author. Some of you have already written articles about his books. I obviously speak about Stephen King and I’m going to share with you one of my favourite book entitled Under the dome. You probably know this title because there is also a TV series, adapted from these books, whose name is the same as the books.

Now I have to sum up the story:
The scene is set in a little town whose name is Chester’s Mill. This town is located in the Maine in the USA. One day, the town is suddenly encircled by a giant dome that cut the communication with the exterior, the other side of the world. That’s the beginning of bad things because of the absolute power of Jim Rennie. Indeed Jim was the first deputy in Chester Mill (before the dome) and he takes advantage of the apparition of the dome to govern the town.

I really loved this book because there are a lot of characters which are all different. They are very good exploited thanks to many details. The main character is named Dale Barbara but his nickname is Barbie and that’s my favourite character because of his bravery. Indeed he dares to struggle against Jim Rennie.
I’ve also seen the first season of the series and even if it’s quite different it’s great!

See you soon!

On the street where you live, Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark is a famous author of suspense novels and it’s also my favorite author in this genre. Today, I would like to share with you one of her book wich is entitled On the street where you live. The story is set in New Jersey, more exactly in Spring Lake.

It talks about a woman who moved to Spring Lake to buy her ancestors’house. She digs a swimming pool and finds a skeleton with an older bone from another skeleton. Throughout the story, many recent corpses are found with older parts of other skeletons. That would mean that the killer acts for more than 200 years ! The leading character, Emily, wants to solve this case.

I loved this book ! That was the first book I have read from this writer. Thanks to it, I’ve read other books written by Mary Higgins Clark.
« On the street where you live » is an incredible mix of suspense, mystery and action. When you are reading this book, you look for the murderer and honestly I didn’t found him ! I was always wrong during my reading because there are many different tracks and you don’t know who is lying and who isn’t.

Do you have already read this book (or another book written by Mary.H.G) ? If you have read it, did you  find the murderer ? If you haven’t read this book would you read it ?

Close my eyes, Sophie McKenzie

Today, I’m going to talk about an almost unknown book, a novel written by Sophie McKenzie entitled Close my eyes. Sophie McKenzie wrote many books but only this book has been translated into french. I have read this book a long time ago but this book affected me that’s why I chose it.
Eight years ago, Geniver lost her baby at the birth and now her husband, Art, wants to have another baby. Gen doesn’t want to « replace » her first kid with a second. One day, a woman announces to Gen that her baby, Beth, is alive. Everything is going to change …
I loved this book because there is a lot of suspense and the end was very surprising ! The author knows how to create tension. The reader is eager to know what’s going to happen. There is also emotion : even if you aren’t a mother, you would be affected by this story.

have you read this book ? Would you like to read it ?