Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

By Maasi Wajo

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Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Genre: Philosophical Fiction
Pages: 254
Rating: 4.5/5

Horror has never been a genre that has appealed to me much, perhaps with the exception of Dracula—That masterpiece. But The Picture of Dorian Gray has been one book that has stayed with me ever since I first got around to reading it.

This novel is loved by many for being one of the greatest studies in human shallowness, vanity, casual cruelty and hedonistic selfishness— though hated by perhaps as many for the very same characteristics. Wilde’s innumerable notorious remarks about women in it might also not sit well with the women of today. Case in point, “Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.” !!

This is undoubtedly a very difficult piece of work to write a review about. And I really do not know how to satisfactorily summarise the experience of reading this extraordinary piece of Literature. So many things happen to you as you proceed through the pages, so many thoughts emerge, die down and then re-emerge.

It is touted as Wilde’s greatest work (though he only ever wrote one novel), and I now understand why. He has indubitably poured a lot of himself in it while writing it. In one interview Wilde famously went as far as regarding this book as his comparison of himself to the three main characters. He said, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am, Lord Henry is what the world thinks me, Dorian is what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

The dialogue, or shall I say, the monologue of Lord Harry does appear exceedingly monotonous at times, and the ending of the book seems a little rushed as well… but all in all, the subject matter of this book, which seems to be ‘influence’ (among other things) has been remarkably dealt with, in all its entirety. There’s Lord Harry who does not have the guts to go ahead and live all his philosophies about life himself. And then there’s Dorian Gray who gets so influenced by Harry’s philosophies that he ends up selling his soul for the eternal acquisition of beauty and youth…. incidentally the only two things worth having, according to Harry.

This is arguably one of the most influential pieces of literature ever composed. Delightfully written, filled with some memorable characters and a story that WILL leave you thinking.

But it’s not for the faint hearted since this novel can and will shock you.

This 400 odd book review doesn’t really do justice to this beautiful piece of art but still read it if you can.
Highest possible recommendation!

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“Wuthering Heights” : The book or the movie?

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By Maasi Maryam

A story of love and revenge,of passion and some haunting characters, Wuthering Heights is as dark and sombre as where it takes place, the Thrushcross Grange. If you like the fairy tale happy endings, it’s certainly not for you, yet once you start turning the pages it won’t let you come out of its vicious circle unless you’ve read it all.

Heathcliff’s suffering at the Earnshaws makes him cruel and threatening to say the least, and to top it up, his over vaulting pride turns him into a misconceived romantic. In spite all of that, he still is able to retain sympathy for certain characters and why, we won’t say as it would be a spoiler for those who’d like to read the book.

However mommies, if you feel too lazy to get your hands on the book, try watching one of the decent versions like Johnny Depp has, yup we’re talking about the legendary hero of The Pirates of the Caribbean. Here’s his take on it …

“Am I a romantic? I’ve seen Wuthering Heights ten times. I’m a romantic”.

Though no movie can do justice I’m afraid, let’s just say it’s the second best choice.

Wuthering Heights is an aesthetic perfection of love and revenge where the characters’ affections transcend above the material standards of intimacy. This masterwork by Bronte does not depend on heroes or heroines to charm the reader. It is a gripping and addictive thriller ride with all the highs and lows felt by the characters. Wuthering Heights is tangled, raging and wild, a literary work ahead of its time. The novel breaks the conventional barriers of a Classic and still considered as one…. and that is exactly why it should be read , if you still haven’t.

Book Review: Nights of Rain and Stars

images-4By Maasi Saba

Book: Nights of Rain and Stars
Author: Maeve Binchy
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 400
Rating: 3.5/5

One of my favorite writers is the Irish author, Maeve Binchy. She writes beautiful, clean novels that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if my daughter picked up and started reading. Most of her novels take place in Ireland. One can picture the loches, greenery, mountains and the small towns with great detail.

This particular novel is set in a small, fictitious village of Aghia Anna in Greece. Nights of Rain and Stars is about one summer and four strangers, with nothing in common but a need to escape.  These strangers from Ireland, America, Germany and England, have each left their homes and their old lives; each with a life in turmoil, when a shocking tragedy throws them unexpectedly together. Fiona is a young nurse, trying to make her family understand her need to follow her own path, even if it involves Shane the drug dealer. Thomas, a professor, can handle his divorce, but not the thought of sharing his son with another man. He misses his young son and fears that his ex-wife will come between them. Elsa abruptly left her career as a television presenter in Germany, but someone from her past refuses to let her go. And shy, quiet David is determined to make a stand against his overbearing father.

With these four is Andreas, the tavern owner, where they all first meet. He badly misses the son who left home nine years ago and has never returned. There is also Vonnie, a middle-aged Irish woman who lives in the village and is now a near native. With Vonnie’s help, the tourists gradually begin to realize how they must solve their problems, even though they may resent her at times. Though Vonnie helps them all understand their problems, she makes a mess of her own life.

As light rain falls on this village, strangers come together to become the closest of friends. This novel is beautifully written, and takes you away to a wonderful place. After turning the last page, I felt as if a good friend had moved away. I wanted to continue reading about these life long friends. Try and get a copy of this novel, you will truly enjoy it as much as I did.