Sunday, March 6, 2011
I read this alongside The Moonstone, switching back and forth. I usually do not read more than one book at a time but I needed to read something light and pleasant in between the harsh, cold reality of Auschwitz: A New History.
That being said, it was a fairly easy read. It was not dense or mind-numbing. The book's purpose was not to list fact after fact after fact. There were a lot of personalized anecdotes from victims, perpetrators, bystanders, etc., which really enhanced the author's presentation of Auschwitz's history and evolution.
I learned so many interesting things about Auschwitz that I had never known before. I even learned something about the Nazis' strategy and how a lot of what they did was not so much premeditated as it was situational/circumstantial. There was always an ideological foundation of hatred but they did not rush into a policy of systematic extermination until the problem of what to do with all of the deportees presented itself.
Another interesting but sad part of the book is that a lot of the perpetrators questioned felt no remorse whatsoever and stand by "the cause" that they fought for. It was fascinating to read their perspectives of the experience even if they were completely repugnant and irrational.
For a non-fiction book, it was a manageable 300 pages. I would definitely recommend it to history buffs or anyone interested in learning more about the Holocaust and labor/concentration/death camp system.
Posted by Denise at 9:51 PM
Saturday, March 5, 2011
The Moonstone might have a slight edge over The Woman in White in my estimation. I loved The Woman in White but I think I loved The Moonstone just a little bit more.
(Obviously, I am a huge fan of Wilkie Collins now so I will continue to read his books and naturally, make comparisons.)
The Moonstone was certainly lighter than The Woman in White. I could even see how someone might get bored with The Woman in White but maintain interest in The Moonstone. I would venture to say that The Moonstone is more palatable to the masses. It is a more traditional mystery story. There are still class clashes and romantic troubles but there is also a healthy dose of comedy.
There is Mrs. Clack who thinks herself a Christian martyr, constantly trying to "save" people by forcing literature on them even when they have made their disinterest clear. She refuses to take no for an answer and obnoxiously and covertly finagles her literature into people's homes.
Then there is Betterege, the loyal and superstitious servant who relies on Robinson Crusoe as a prophetic life guide. Whenever he is feeling troubled or seeking answers, he opens his book and lands on passages that seem to foretell the future.
Having read two books by Wilkie Collins I have noticed that he likes bold women protagonists. He balances them with silly or fragile women but the central female characters like Marian in The Woman in White and Rachel in The Moonstone are intelligent and strong-willed and in some ways, match or better their male counterparts. Maybe Wilkie Collins was ahead of his time...?
I even noticed that he seems to have a message about racial injustice in The Moonstone. There is a sad but important character in the story that is of mixed race and treated poorly by his peers. Mr. Franklin Blake, the male protagonist, however, treats him with equal respect and kindness. The gentleman, Ezra Jennings, plays a pivotal role in vindicating Mr. Franklin Blake. In a way, when Ezra Jennings' findings vindicate Mr. Franklin Blake, he vindicates himself and proves that he as worthy of respect and esteem as anyone else.
Needless to say, I would absolutely recommend The Moonstone!
Posted by Denise at 10:28 AM