« Just take my heart » , Mary Higgins Clark

If you have read some of my previous articles . You probably already know that I really enjoy thrillers and that my favorite thriller writer is Mary Higgins Clark. So today, I’m sharing with you another book she wrote and that I’ve read which is (as you probably can guess from the title of the article) « Just take my heart ».
Honestly, I didn’t feel like reading it at first because I’m the kind of person who decides to pick a book from the shelf firstly by its title and this one sounded at first like a love story kind of book but since it’s Mary Higgins Clark I thought better and decided to give it a shot and I definitely don’t regret it.
As far as the story is concerned this what I can tell you. Emily Wallace, assistant prosecutor gets the biggest case she’s ever had to face. Natalie Raines a young Brodway star is found dead in her apartment, and immediatly her husband which she was divorcing is suspected. But as we all know there are more than meets the eye, moreover Emily starts to get strange feelings troughout the investigation. Could it be because of her recent heart transplant or a is it just a side effect due to exhaustion ? That only reading the book can give you the answer.
I think like I’m repeating myself if I say that I loved the story but  I still really advise you to try to read this book. Now do you feel like reading it ? Or would you suggest me reading any of her other books because recommendations are gladly taken.

« The Chimney Sweeper », William Blake

« The Chimney Sweeper » is the title of two poems by William Blake. « Songs of innocence » was published in 1789 and « Songs of Experience » in 1794.
Its theme is a period around the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century during which boys from 4 to 5 years old were sold to clean chimneys because of their small smize. These children were oppressed and had shortened existence but it used to be accepted troughout the society.
In his poems Blake denounces the horror of such working and living conditions which often lead to death.

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry  » ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! »
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved, so I said,
« Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair. »

And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

« Songs of innocence », 1789

In this first poem, especially in the three last stanzas the atmosphere is one surrounded by pleasant visions. (« green plain », « Shine in the Sun », « They rise upon clouds » … etc) despite the atual seriousness of the situation the kids found themselves into. Although it becomes understandable if you make the hypothesis that in this poem the narrator is a child whose naivety makes him believe there is hope. This guess seems even more obvious when you look carefully at the two first stanzas in which the way of expression is the one of a child.

A little black thing among the snow,
Crying « weep! ‘weep! » in notes of woe!
« Where are thy father and mother? say? »
« They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smil’d among the winter’s snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery. »

« Songs of experience », 1794

However in this second poem, the tone is very different. Now the narrator is an adult who has understood the hopelessness of the situation and thinks about his parents and their attitude towards the situation. According to him, they think they didn’t hurt him because he seems to be alright but for him what they did lead him to certain death (« They clothes me in the clothes of death ») which might be the only path to escape. (« God and his priest and king, Who make up a heaven of our misery »).

« How sleeps the beast », Don Tracy

Anyone who was in my class in 10th grade is probably going to be like « Again ? » but I have to admit we read pretty good books that year so after « The island of Dr. Moreau » here is an article on « How sleeps the beast » by Don Tracy which was released in 1938 ine the USA and 1951 in France.
I’m pretty sure this book could fit  the notion « The writer in his time ». It tells us the story of a young african-american whose name is Jim, one night drunk and lonely he gives into violence and end up murdering a white woman. A crime, yes but that’s not what the author denounces even though he never decreases the guilt and responsibilty of Jim in what happened. But for any crime in a democratic country a criminal has the right to have a trial before the sentence is pronounced.
Jim never got a trial. Why ? Because this period was filled with racism and people turned this event into a reason to let out their anger, to feed the beast and its thirst for blood. How ? By taking Jim out of prison and lead him to lynching.
You probably understood by now this book is nothing like a gentle novel, it’s tough, rough, brutal and it contains scenes of an incredible violence even if their sometimes unexplicit. But even considering this I loved this novel obviously not because of the story line which is quite disturbing but because of every societal problem the novel deals with. Racism, savagery with group violence, cowardice with our submission to the common behaviour to garantee our own safety. « The writer in his time » maybe but those problems have no time, and maybe if more people read novels such as this one they could understand that looking away is our biggest problem, because every time you do so you let it happen again.
On the whole, I fiercely recommand this book, because the beast is truly sleeping in each of us and it’s not alone our humanity is in there with it and maybe its time for it to come the surface and keep the beast in its cage before it’s too late.

H.G Wells, The island of Dr. Moreau

Anyone who was in my class in 10th grade (2nd) will recognise this book … I think. So I wanted to do an article on this book because I believe it could fit in the notion « Travelling, initiatory journey and exile » that we are currently studying .
This story is about Prendick ,only survivor of a wreck, saved by a man called Montgomery. His (Montgomery’s) boat is sailing to an island with animals on board. On the island Prendick will meet the Dr. Moreau and realize with horror which kind of experiment he leads. After he chooses to face the dangers (Sorry, it’s really woolly but I’m really bad at summaries I have a tendancy to say everything) he manages to escape on a raft and goes back to England but he is traumatized by what he witnessed.
This is one of the books I really enjoyed reading in 10th because it is an adventure and obviously a lot of things happend, there are a lot of twists and it’s mysterious. In other words it keeps you interested, you really want to know what is going to happend next and I’m not saying we should only read this kind of book. But if you want to let’s say read during a plane or train trip take this, not « Madame Bovary » otherwise you won’t read you’ll sleep because ,come on, it’s great, really, but who can read this in a row ?
I hope you’ll give it a shot and if you want there are also movie adaptations, but I have only seen the trailers and I don’t think it manages to reveal Wells talent and certainly not his writing. But here it is, so that you can make your own opinion.

Paulo coelho « Veronica decides to die »

Beyond what seems to be a very dramatic and disturbing title is hiding my favorite book. I can already hear you  » Wait! What ? Your favorite book ? It sounds pretty depressing. » But trust me there is  more than meets the eyes.

This novel tells us about a young Slovenian woman who attempt suicide and wake up in a psychiatric hospital. There, the doctors tell her even though she woke up she only haa a few days left (as her heart was damaged by her attempt) but has she really ? That is a question only reading the book will answer but I can tell you that at first disapointed as she made a choice she thought she wouldn’t have to face. But then she decides to use her time left to explore this unusual environmen,t where, as for the title there is more than meets the eyes.

If you add to a very thoughtful plot the undeniable writing skills of its worldwide famous author Paulo Coehlo you end up with a mindblowing book which let your mind full of questions (a bit like a philosophy class but in a sweeter way).

By the way if some f you want (as I do) to study psychology next year I strongly advise you to read this book. Obviously it’s not an essay and the methods used are far more than unorthodoxe but the main guideline is extremely perceptive.

I also own two other of his books (« The fith Montagne » and « The Alchemist ») that I honestly haven’t read yet but I can’t wait to. What about you ? Have you ever read one of his books?

 

« The Crucible », Arthur Miller

The crucible is a play written in 1953 by Arthur Miller. This play would perfectly fit in the notion « The writer in his time » that we are studying in literature because it was written during Mc carthysm . McCarthysm is a periode in the USA in the 1950s, also known as the Red Scare (it should ring a bell people we talked about in class with « The Great Gatsby »), characterised by a great fear of communists. During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans, including Arthur Miller himself were accused of being communists and became the subject of aggressive investigation. Suspected people were blacklisted and often arrested. A lot them lost their jobs and actually pretty much everything as their family or friends wouldn’t talk to them scared of being accused to.
The Crucible’s story sets in the 17th century Salem in a period of which hunts. The play used the Salem witch trials as a metaphor for McCarthysm. To understand that a little summary is I think needed. A few girls led by a reverend niece (Abigail) have been dancing in the Forest but when the reverend catches them a rumour of witchcraft spreads. To protect herself Abigail accuses Tituba to be a witch. For her trial another reverend this time a specialist of occult phenomena is sent. Terrified by the idea of being hanged Tituba turns to the same solution Abigail used, she accuses other women.
Although she contrary to Abigail doesn’t really come to the idea on her own. That’s at least the conclusion you come to with a little analysis of her trial. Indeed two main parts can be reveled. The first one could be Tituba’s questionning when the 2 reverends urge her to tell them who came to her with the devil which is already a sneaky way to ask her about the truth. This manipulation led by the reverends bring confusion’s to Tituba’s confession and this finally brings a general hysteria among the girls and the reverends. Manipulation and paranoia were as I recall also seen during McCartysm.
If the story line isn’t clear or if you’re just interested by seeing a movie adaption of this play here is a trailer of one which came out in 1996. (Yes, I know most of us weren’t even born yet but isn’t that what makes it interesting ?).

Reading in English

I just wanted to share a little personal experiment about reading in English. I mean, obviously we all aready have read a text in English but did any of you already read a whole book ? Yes, no, maybe (which would actually mean something like partly but I gave up)

Well, I don’t know for you but I did and if I can advise you something it would be to start with something easier than the classic literature we do in class because there are a few things we might not undertand such as vocabulary and that would lead to the the « maybe » I talked about earlier and we don’t want that to happen, do we ?

Starting from here readind a recent book wether it’s a novel or a short story it doesn’t really matter just whatever you usually like to read seems like a good idea because it would give you a idea on wether you like reading in English or not. And maybe with time you’ll enjoy it enough to start reading classics in English, who knows ?

Personaly, I only read two books in English The woods by Harlan Coben and No Place like home by Mary Higgins Clark, those books are both thrillers and really well written one if you want my opinion and I’m keen on these kind of books.To give you a short summary it’s about a man, Paul Copeland, who is dealing with a lot old supposely buried secrets, including twisted family secrets but also unresolved murder and diseapearing cases while the second one is about a woman, Celia Foster who comes back to unexpectidely comes back to her town, in a house where ten years ago a little girl was accused of her mother’s murder. I’m sorry it’s so short it’s not even a summary but I’d probably just give you the whole story line with the end if I try to tell you more. But I really advise to look for summarys and give it a try because it’s defintlely worth it.

Now, if you want to give your opinion about any books you think are worth reading or on the two books I just mentionedo r even on this very article then feel welcome to do so.

Tracy Chapman’s first album, 1988

Our first lesson in literature in English this year was about protests songs. And I almost immediately thought about Tracy Chapman’s first album which came out in 1988 because this album contains mostly protests songs except maybe for 3 or 4 singles on the album. Tracy Chapman is a black singer, musician AND song writer born in 1964 Cleveland (Ohio).
I believe she is mostly a folk singer althought she might have come to another genre by now but I’m not really sure because to be honest I only know her two first albums (which are amazing). It’s really different from what we usually hear (but not necessarily listen to) because her voice seems to take over the instruments and it can be disturbing at first if you’re not used to it but it really moves you once you let it surrounds you.
Back to our topic, which is as I recall her first album and its songs that can be qualified as protest songs. I believe her songs are the abstract kind of ones, as they touch multiple subjects like inequalities between rich and poor people in « Talkin’ bout A Revolution », or the discrimation of black people among the american society back then in « Across the line », or domestic abuse (with the case of battered women) in « Behind the Wall » or consumer society in « Mountains O’ Things » or even the place of women in the society in « She’s got her Ticket » and finally a mix of all those subjects in « Why ? ».
I know I only stated the subject of each songs but they are so complete and in the same time simple on their own that I truly can’t see how I could explain them without ruining a bit of the magic. The only thing I can advise you is to listen to this album because it’s definiely worth the shot.
I hesitated when I choose the song that I would share with you but to me the most moving one is « Behind the Wall » so here is a little preview of her talent.