Monday, 31 March 2014

Persuasion by Jane Austen



Jane Austen's final novel, her most mature and wickedly satirical, is the story of Anne Elliott, a woman who gets a second chance at love. To achieve happiness she must learn to trust her own feelings and resist the social pressures of family and friends.

The story starts with the aftermath of Anne being persuaded by her family not to marry Captain Wentworth because he has nothing but his person to offer her, leaving this a rather dark story compared to the tone of Austen's previous novels. Even though the novel is rather short, it is not completely a light read; people face danger in "Persuasion", the fall ill, the fall in love and out again. Instead this dark telling is only lit by hope. Hope of falling in love and surviving it, hope of getting a second chance in life and to love and be loved in return.

"I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never."

Somehow the ending of the plot is easily guessed, yet the road to that result is rather bumpy and unpredictable. It is filled with great dangers and several twists that makes the reader question his certainty of the end of the novel. It is after all not a typical Austen novel. I highly recommend this book to anyone being interested in reading Austen and realistic fiction.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Study in Scarlet and the Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


"Doctor Watson, Mr Sherlock Holmes." - The most famous introduction in the history of crime fiction takes place in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, bringing together Sherlock Holmes, the master of science detection, and John H. Watson, the great detective's faithful chronicler. This novel not only establishes the magic of the Holmes myth but also provides the reader with a dramatic adventure yarn which ranges from the foggy, gas-lit streets of London to the burning plains of Utah.

The Sign of the Four, the second Holmes novel, presents the detective with one of his greatest challenges. The theft of the Agna treasure in India forms a catalyst for treachery, deceit and murder.
A Study in Scarlet

This is first story of ACD's Sherlock Holmes mystery where Holmes and Watson first time meet each other and throughout story we see their relationship growing. Also we meet few characters which are present in almost all Holmes cases because he's independent investigate and his work is in interaction with police, detective Lestrade and we witness his deductive reasoning, he is so proud of that part of his way of thinking that sometimes he's so preoccupied with his own greatness especially when he finds solution, clues, guilty parties almost from no clue what so ever but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle describes it so vividly that reader is left satisfied and convinced.

Study in Scarlet is split in two parts but second part where Watson describes the story in third person. The first part case is well written and presented with great Holmes deductive reasoning and interaction with his new co-lodger and associate Dr Watson, also great interaction with police. But it's a first ACD's story and any mistake he made he corrected it in stories that follows and he did it brilliantly, as we all know.
Holmes character is not perfect, far from it, but what he does with information and than transforms it into reasonable conclusion -it is like a work of art, art of deduction, as he call it. His cold, calculated analysis of clues puts us readers in position where we constantly wonder how we miss it and with this way of telling the stories we are never bored and we grow to love that man full of flaws but with brilliant mind.
Doyle descibes his great fictional character of all times so humanly despite his annoying habits and flows. No wonder that even today we enjoy watching and reading all kind of variations of modern Holmes and Watson with great joy.

The Sign of the Four

The second story starts with Sherlock's "questionable" habit of abuse of drugs, widely spread in that time in late 19 st. London with Chinese opium rooms and medicinal solutions of morphine and cocaine that Holmes was (ab)using but only because his mind was still and he must keep it alert when he has no case. With that intro we have insight into his psychology and with that flaws and bad habits we experience him as real person with all his complexity.
The Study in Scarlet is complex story with heavy past full of human greed and guilt, well described with minuscule details such as missing dad ( a childhood ago), strange secret pearls, invitations, oriental back many details and clues but eventually Holmes puts it all missing pieces together into one coherent story with conclusion however hard it
may be after so many years had passed.
The Sign of Four is so much darker, full of secrets and greed but also full of emotion with Watson's infatuation in a female client. Holmes is of course oblivious to romantic part of Watson's feelings. Doyle isn't a master of romance but it's a mystery and not a romance/detective novel.

These two stories are not Doyle's best short ones but eventually they become so much better. The short story/case studies introduces us with his great character and his profile of Holmes and Watson's personal history and their two different ways of life, living and working together.
I highly recommend these two great crime novels.