This week’s Quick Lit is going to be on the light side. Due to vacation (and reading slumps), I haven’t read as much this past month. Hopefully everyone else had a more successful month of reading!
My Cousin Rachel – Daphne Du Maurier
At a young age, Philip Ashley is orphaned and raised by his older cousin, Ambrose, a beloved English bachelor. Throughout the years, Ambrose and Philip’s father and son bond grows, as the elder spoils his future heir.
Due to his health, Ambrose has to live in Italy during the winter, and during that time finds a wife, Rachel. Before the happy couple can return to England, Ambrose deteriorates, and Philip receives a series of alarming letters from him indicating that Rachel might have something to do with his downturn.
Before Philip can reach Italy, Ambrose passes away. Now Philip is faced with figuring out the truth, but is his growing attachment to Rachel clouding his perception?
I really liked My Cousin Rachel, but I do think the novel went way too long. I like a slow burn, but dang. About halfway through I would have a hard time picking it back up again.
The character of Rachel was very compelling, and trying to pin down her motives was fun. Was she a villain? Personally I think she lies somewhere in the middle. On the other hand, Philip Ashley started to wear on my nerves, and no matter what Rachel did (or didn’t do), Philip proved to be callous brute. He might be the protagonist, but Philip is no hero.
Rebecca by the same author has been on my TBR list for quite some time, and this just makes me more excited to bump it closer to the top.
Sula – Toni Morrison
What can a friendship endure?
Sula Peace and Nel Wright are close as children, even staying friends through a couple of traumatic events. As adults, one becomes everything that society deems good and appropriate, while the other becomes a social pariah.
Their friendship could have withstood this difference in social standing, but not the deep betrayal one of the ladies commits against the other.
Sorry for the short summary, but the novel is on the short side so I didn’t want to go into spoiler territory. Beloved tends to be what Toni Morrison is known for, but I think Sula is a better book to introduce readers (especially high schoolers) to the Nobel Prize winning author’s work.
What I really liked about Sula is that the relationship between the two women is rich and complex. On the surface it looks cut and dry, with who’s a ‘good’ person and who’s ‘bad’ in the relationship, but binary ideas like that tend to hurt instead of help.
A theme of the story I found interesting was individual versus community, and how one can affect the other. Sula and Nel live in ‘The Bottom’, a small 1920’s black town in Ohio. Sula’s presence (and to some extent her mother and grandmother as well) in the town changes the way the townsfolk treat their significant others. Morrison also has an array of minor characters that dive deeper into this concept.
Overall, a strong story with a great cast of characters and setting. One that should honestly be taught in schools, as these are concepts and ideas that older students should dwell on.