Thursday, 22 September 2011

Birdsong - Questions

Hello everyone,

Thought i'd send out the questions for next week just in case the email fails us again.

- Why does Isabelle leave Stephen? How does her departure affect his identity as a soldier, the way he approaches the war, and the manner in which he conducts himself during it?

- How would you describe the character of Jack Firebrace? How does it change during the course of the war? What "dies" in him when Horrocks hurls his cross away? What do his letters to Margaret reveal about his character, his values, his code of behavior?

- Elizabeth is spurred on in her research by a feeling of the "danger of losing touch with the past" [p. 240]. Does her ignorance of recent history surprise you, or do you find it characteristic of her generation? Do you find that you, and the people around you, are similarly detached from the past?

I hope everyone is enjoying this months book choice!

Questions from Random House.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Unfortunately, due to the size of this book, many people in the bookclub weren't able to finish , myself included. Many people found it very confusing with lots of people most of whom changed their names during the book. We thought it might be useful to have some kind of list of the characters involved and a description, plus maybe a timeline so readers don't get quite so lost. It also seemed to take a very long time to get anywhere with lots of very fomal language being used, which is suitable for the time period but not to our modern tastes. The parts of the novel which seemed more interesting were also the parts that seemed to go by very quickly, although this might be put down to the difference between time going fast when you're busy, and slowly when you're bored.

We weren't sure whether it was the fact that this book was translated that had many of us confused and bored. If we were reading it in the original French it may make more sense in terms of style. It may also be our lack of knowledge of French history that had us confused as well, not knowing what the characters were discussing in terms of wars etc. was a problem.

There was a great deal of allegory in this book, something we're possibly not used to reading in more current novels. Dantes seems to be the tool of an avenging God throughout much of the book. Up until the point where they had a duel, after which it seemed to change to each person becoming an individual rather than a collection of social mores.

We all agreed that the book was highly unbelievable throughout with many storylines tidying themselves up very neatly. This is odd as the book was actually based on a true story, we assumed that the author took a great deal of artistic licence with it.

Overall we gave this book 6 out of 10. There is the core of a very good story, it's just a shame that it takes such a long time to get anywhere.