All told, September was a very good reading month! I began it with David Copperfield by Charles Dickens—followed by Child of the Kaites by Beth Wangler, and Agatha by E.B. Dawson—and ended it with Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island, all by L.M. Montgomery. Any time I find myself unable to fit all of the books I read onto the blog post header, I know I've done a lot of reading!
And so, I present to you these six reviews, in a post which will probably be the last of its kind for a while. Life has gotten much busier of late, and as much as I love writing book reviews, (and blogging in general), they're both one thing too many at the moment. I may continue to write the occasional short review on Goodreads, but for now, I'm going to take a break from all blogging. Thank you so much to everyone who has been on this journey with me!
My rating: ★★★★
David Copperfield reads like a fictional autobiography, and from the very beginning, the first-person narrative put me in mind of Great Expectations. I was invested in David from the moment he was born at twelve o’clock on a Friday night, and the suffering of his boyhood did nothing but strengthen it. He could have become hardened and closed himself off from the world, but he didn’t, and I found that to be a refreshing change.
As is usual with Dickens, the characters are vivid and varied, the settings are so life-like I could almost taste the salt air of the seaside, and all the subplots twist together to create a satisfying finale with no loose threads. By the end, the good-hearted but rather young David has matured enough to discipline his heart while still retaining everything that made him such a likeable character to begin with.
There were also a couple very unique things about this book that I would like to mention:
1.) Both a dwarf and an (autistic?) man were portrayed in a positive light.
2.) The girl the protagonist marries is not necessarily the right one.
Many books—old ones, especially—tend to look down on people just because they’re different, so the fact that these two characters even existed, was a pleasant surprise. I have to admit that I winced a little when Miss Mowcher first came on the scene, but she soon showed that bodily defects do not equal mental ones. And Mr. Dick, by contrast, proved that what some would call those same mental “defects,” were not defects at all, and actually enabled him to see the world in a way few others could.
As for the second point, I won’t say much for fear of spoilers, but so often, the first person the protagonist really falls for ends up being Mr. or Miss Right. The fact that this trope was not used was a refreshing twist.
Content comes in the form of childhood abuse, drinking, one passing reference to “lovemaking” in connection with a honeymoon, and a light smattering of language. There’s also a Lydia Bennett-esque elopement (minus the marriage), and the aftermath of such a disastrous decision, in which Lydia is repentant.
David Copperfield is not merely a pointless, wandering chronicle of David’s life—it’s a tale of hasty decisions, and living with them. It’s a journey from innocent child, to impulsive youth, and finally, to a matured man with an understanding of life, and of family. It’s a tale of growing up, and the mistakes we make as human beings. And I think that’s something we can all relate to.
Child of the Kaites
My rating: ★★★★
Child of the Kaites is a wonderful fantasy reimagining of the Exodus, complete with plagues, bird lions called axex, and a glowing sword. While reading it, I was in awe of how familiar it felt, while still managing to feel new at the same time. It follows the Bible’s history very well, but adds new twists of its own to make it unique.
I’m generally not a fan of first person, and definitely not first person present tense, (it just doesn’t work for me), but it turned out well for this story. Rai was a very palpable protagonist, and I loved watching Savi stay by her side through thick and thin. Then there's Forziel. I have a huge soft spot for comic relief characters that don’t come from an easy background. He and Yori were great sidekicks, and… Lev… was half mysterious warrior type, and half loveable grandfather who just doesn’t understand his grandkids.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the way Wangler chose to show the reality of the spiritual realm, and the warfare that constantly goes on around us. The aivankaites tried many times to stop Aia’s people from doing His will, but the kaites were always there to fight them off. [spoiler] One thing, however, happened during the climax that left me scratching my head. Someone surrendered himself to Aivanah, AKA Satan, on the condition that he would leave the Maraians alone. I understand why this would tempt Aivanah, since the person in question was immortal, but only God has the power to really stop Satan. Immortal or not, a human being would not have that power. So I’ll be interested to see how that plays out in book two. [spoiler finished]
The world-building also felt real. From the differing beliefs of the different people groups, to the chanavea necklace each Maraian wore, to the kaites and aivankaites, and architectural differences between Ira and Izyphorn, everything was thought out. The Maraians were also so very… Jewish. They passed down the histories (or at least Rai did), were enslaved to Izyphorn, and were divided into tribes. The chanaveas were another very Maraian thing, like the tassels on a Jewish person's clothing.
Child of the Kaites is also pretty clean. The only thing I can think of to comment on is the fact that there’s a scene where newlyweds are shown waking up in the village’s “marriage hut.” But since their lives are threatened almost immediately after, the scene moves on quickly.
Together, Rai and Savi form the Moses and Aaron duo we all know so well from the Old Testament. The Bible, however, rarely fills in what a person is feeling, and Moses must have sometimes been rife with doubt, even after the burning bush told him “Go.” Child of the Kaites underscores Rai’s humanity by showing her struggles. I think many of us have been called to do something, set out to do it, and then wondered, later on, whether we really were called to such a thing. Perhaps we misunderstood God. This is a character arc I don’t see often, and I appreciate it. I related to Rai in her struggles, and I’m looking forward to more from Wangler.
My rating: ★★★
Agatha tells the story of a woman who had everything she ever wanted, until she gave it up to marry the man she loved. Some might call that clichè, but it’s a plot device I enjoy, when it’s done well. Unfortunately, like with Rodge, I had a hard time connecting with Agatha. I think part of it was due to the fact that I couldn’t remember who she was from The Traveler (or is she yet to be introduced?), but I had no frame of reference for looking at her story.
Still, Agatha was very well written, with a clearly-defined plot. A good short story in all, but not my favorite of Dawson’s works.
Anne of Green Gables
My rating: ★★★★★
Anne of Green Gables is one of a very few books I have read three times. I first read it when I was a kid, but unlike Little Women—which left a heavy imprint of disgust on me at the time—I don’t remember really having an opinion of it at all. That’s probably why I picked it up again in my late teens, took another look at it, and have loved it ever since.
Anne Shirley, that starry-eyed Canadian orphan, taught me to value the little things in life. She taught me to use my imagination, and see the romance in everyday happenings. She also taught me that you don’t have to be rigidly practical to get through life. Granted, there is a balance, (after all, no one likes liniment-flavored cakes), but keeping a little of the wonder of childhood is a very rare and precious thing.
As for the other characters, I was surprised at how much I related to Matthew and Marilla this time around. I used to think Marilla was rather harsh, but now I see that she was only that way because she wanted so much to do right by Anne, and her love found no other outlet. Matthew, by comparison, had no problems showing his affection, even if it was only by listening to Anne’s chatter and not telling her that her tongue must be fastened on both ends. Mrs. Lynde was the picture of a town gossip, Diana a rather normal girl in comparison to Anne, and—as other reviewers have pointed out—all the characters seemed life-like enough to be your next-door neighbors. I was particularly struck at how real the schoolhouse dynamics were.
This book is equal parts charm, joy, and sadness. There were multiple times I laughed out loud, and even a few that I had tears in my eyes. Having read it twice before, I knew what was coming, but I was still swept away by the strength of Anne’s joy, and by contrast, her grief. This is a book that has stood the test of time, and will continue to do so, because we all need a reminder to value the little, beautiful, things in life—like summer dusk, sparkling brooks, and cherry trees laden with blossoms.
"Isn't it splendid there are so many things to like in this world?"
Anne of Avonlea
My rating: ★★★★
Anne of Avonlea continues in the tradition of everything that made Anne of Green Gables such a lovely, heartwarming book. Anne is no longer the well-meaning orphan rushing headlong into every fresh slip-up, but I found her young womanhood to be just as interesting, if not more. (Although she still made her fair share of mistakes!) There are many changes ahead on the horizon for Anne—including growing up—but instead of dulling her imagination, I believe experience has only made it truer, and more poetic than ever.
“After all, I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
Anne of the Island
My rating: ★★★★
Anne is just the sort of character you can come back to with a sigh and find the respite you need from busy, day-to-day life. I enjoyed watching Anne head out to Redmond, and keep house with her friends at Patty’s Place. Her relationship with Gilbert is the frustrating, when-will-they-wake-up kind, a la Pride and Prejudice, but was ultimately satisfying. Altogether, L.M. Montgomery does not disappoint!
“And she was richer in those dreams than realities; for things seen pass away, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people closer to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!