Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

One of the most popular Gothic cathedrals in the world is the subject of a famous book entitled Notre-Dame de Paris, a book whose author is the French writer Victor Hugo. The book has as main characters Quasimodo, the bell ringer of Notre Dame, an ugly hunchback, also a legend of the cathedral, and Esmeralda, a gypsy dancer. The place of action of the novel is the city of Paris in its center being the cathedral.

Notre Dame de Paris Notre Dame de Paris picture

The action takes place in 1482, when a monk, Claude Frollo, falls for a dancer who performs in front of the cathedral, violating her vows. He tries to conquer her, but fails because Esmeralda is in love with Phoebus – who is engaged and has to choose between two women – and gives her to the police. Quasimodo saves her and houses her in the cathedral, but the gypsy is betrayed and hanged, not long after she has found her lost mother. After finding out what the archdeacon did, Quasimodo kills him, leaving him to fall from top of the cathedral.

Within 100 years, there have been several movies based on Hugo’s work, Notre-Dame de Paris. Also, the cathedral and Victor Hugo’s novel were the starting point for many plastic and musical creations that continue to delight viewers from worldwide.


One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

This is a book that describes all traits that can be seen in a generation. One hundred years of solitude or Cien años de soledad (in Spanish) by Gabriel García Márquez develops on two levels. First, the author frames the story of a family and the history of a city in which he is living for over a century. The main element of this story is the second level, that of meanings which projects the events in a story of re-edition the history of Colombia and also a parable of man, from the revelation to the apocalypse.

One hundred years of solitude One hundred years of solitude pictures

The novel abounds in characters, stories and events, is alert and lively. It is written with such skill that it be compared to a kaleidoscope; depending on the angle you look, you will always find something in its essence. Macondo is the name of the fictional city inspired by Aracataca – the hometown of the author, which arises when the Buendía family is set beside a river. The content of the book portrays the seven generations of the Buendía which develop as epic presence, the author combining also details about his own life and family. The theme of love, as seen in the novel, could be the only way to save humanity, if this wouldn’t defy the moral standards, by turning into ridicule.

One hundred years of solitude is a book that worth reading and if looked closely, it brings meanings to the simple things.


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

The protagonists of the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck are George and Lennie, two seasonal workers who go from one farm to another, earning their living from working the land. The incursions into the life story and the history of the two are rare and reserved, but we know that they are childhood friends and Lennie – named with an ironic touch, Small – despite his impressive physique and fantastic strength that he has in hands, is clearly disadvantaged intellectually, probably not exceeding the mental development of a child of 10 years old. The destiny of the two will change dramatically when they reach to a farm near the town of Soledad, at south-east of Salinas, California.

Of mice and men Of mice and men picture

The one that will trigger the chain of events that will irreversibly derail the course of life of those on the farm is Curley’s wife (the son of a farm owner where the two work as fruit pickers), a woman considered beautiful but frivolous and ostentatious. Speculating Lennie’s obvious instability and being hopelessly in love with her own image, she cannot help from flirting with the only man in the region who due to his structural naivety, will not know and will not be able to reject her advances. Of Mice and Men is not a long story and apparently is simple, but above all is shocking.


Ulysses by James Joyce

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

It took James Joyce seven years to write Ulysses, but its importance in the literary landscape cannot be measured. Published for the first time in 1922, Ulysses remains today one of the most revolutionary and influential literary works, an almost perfect example of the potential of the modernist novel.

Ulysses Ulysses picture

Leopold Bloom’s journey through Dublin of the last century is described through a series of allusions, metaphors, historical references and complex parodies and how Joyce used the language was never more beautiful or terrifying. As in the case of that Ulysses from the legend, the road becomes more important than the destination, and the novel becomes a celebration of existence and language.

Ulysses is indeed a difficult book, but with a special humor. Through his genius, Joyce presents the simplicity and absurdity of life, the most trivial events, but which define us all. Joyce transforms Dublin in Ithaca, in an omphalos where all elements come together, from politics and history to the literature history, mythology and theology. Because in the differences between us, in our inner and outer journeys, we all want to find the same thing: ourselves.


Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

The only novel by Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights was not successful in its time of publication. However, the merit of writing a novel of exception, it is now recognized to the author.

Wuthering Heights Wuthering Heights picture

Set in Britain in the late eighteenth century, Wuthering Heights strikes first by combining the Gothic, which fascinates and also terrifies, with the two love stories that are the subject of this novel. The development of the action is supported by the two fictive places, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. The author highlights the destructive force of love, generated by the conflict between the two main characters Catherine and Heathcliff, who although share a strong love, end up destroying each other. The links that are created between members of the two families – Earnshaw, who live at Wuthering Heights and Linton, who live in Thrushcross Grange, make the action seem complicated.

Wuthering Heights is an interesting book, if not for the love stories and the thoroughly of its creation, at least for the complexity of the characters that reveal traits easily identifiable in people of the XXI century.


Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

Published for the first time in 1936, Gone With the Wind is the only novel by Margaret Mitchell. The story takes place in Georgia and Atlanta during the American Civil War and follows the live of young Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of an Irish immigrant, plantation owner. Although in love with Ashley Wilkes, Scarlett married two men, but with none of love: first with Charles, who dies in war and the second time with Frank, her sister’s boyfriend, whom she marries to save the Tara plantation.

Gone with the wind Gone with the wind picture

In all this time she thought of Ashley Wilkes, who was married with Melanie Hamilton. Even if she is married, Scarlett spends time with Rhett Butler, a scandalous adventurer yet elegant. After her second husband dies, Scarlett marries Rhett, who is aware of her passion for Ashley, but he hopes that someday she will love him. Finally, Scarlett realizes that she truly loves Rhett, but even after the couple has gone through many trials together, Rhett no longer loves her.

The book includes a vivid description of the decay of Atlanta in 1864 and the devastation the war has left behind. The novel Gone With the Wind is based on considerable historical research. According to her biography, Margaret Mitchell was ten years old when she learned that the South lost the war. The comprehensive story about the war helped the book win the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. If you have not read the book, do it because it will hold your interest until the end.


Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

Thomas Hardy is one of those few perfect storytellers who manage to give life to characters and invented events. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy is one of those novels that come to life in front of your eyes as you read, you feel carried in a time and among people as real as you. Thus, the novel opens with a description of the farmer Gabriel Oak, who is presented as a man just like everyone else, leaving only to glimpse some features that could make him be a little more special than them. After this brief introduction, you remain with the impression that you will read a book about his life, but continuing, you ask yourself whether you were wrong, because in the foreground is brought Bathsheba Everdene.

Far from the Madding  Crowd Far from the Madding Crowd picture

Without being the most representative specimen of the female gender, Bathsheba Everdene still has several typical female features on which the whole novel is built. As in all his novels, Hardy builds the story on the idea of ​​an implacable destiny that cannot be influenced either by the actions of those who perform it or by the creator of the story. Reading the book’s first lines is like you upset a glass of water, liquid that once spread flows where it wants and depending on the surface on which was spilled. Far from the Madding Crowd is not a romantic novel, but one about characters and destiny.


Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

For those who still have not read Crime and Punishment by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky I will give you some reasons to get your hands on the book. The first reason is that it is impossible not to be captured by the reading of the book: Dostoyevsky has no empty spaces in the novel’s architecture; there aren’t pages of ‘filling’. Even more fascinating than the episodes themselves are sometimes the intermezzo’s with which the author combines. From this point of view, Dostoyevsky is inimitable: has a technique of dosing the mystery, of investment of the detail with premonitory energy, of drawing in a sketch of a character in his absence to create a fulminate entry on stage.

Crime and punishment Crime and punishment picture

There is also, his ability to contract and expand time and space depending on the intensity and immensity of the scenes. And the fact that he puts you in position to think and feel simultaneously (a rarity among novels) and hundreds of other reasons. Beyond these technical details, ‘Why did Raskolnikov killed?’ is the most natural and most important question that the reader of the novel asks.

There is in Crime and Punishment a progressive increase of the quality of the confession. Rodion Romanovici Raskolnikov speaks badly and teased in most of the novel, but what is amazing is that at the end of the last part and continuing with the epilogue he gains increasingly more power and sincerity in his word.


Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

Launched in 1954, the Lord of the Flies is the first novel by William Golding, and it includes most of the topics of the author’s future works: the tendency of analyzing the individual psychology in parallel with the collective one, the temptation of using violence, isolation and loneliness because of which children are suffering, deep remorse, the gradual collapse of order in relation to forgetting. While the community on the island loses its sense of civilization, Ralph’s memory becomes increasingly blurred, as if all those on the island lose their humanity.

Lord of the flies Lord of the flies picture

Lord of the Flies can be clearly seen as a moralistic work, on the relationship between good and evil. The island where the children are living can symbolize a Garden of Eden, where they have all the existing premises for a harmonious existence. The accidental burning of the forest symbolizes the desire of affirmation of the power of human community (in front of the deity or to natural forces). The nature of evil on the island takes various forms, initially being the evil represented by the unknown, then by the beast in the jungle, and then, the evil to catch a concrete form, represented by the wild boar’s head, the ‘lord of the flies’, the image of the devil on the island. The novel is essentially a sad allegory on the human tendency to return violently to instincts, when man is faced with certain conditions: isolation, lack of spatial or temporal reference.


Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Written by Gracie Cooper. Posted in Books

The book introduces a narrative that seduces and also sensitizes the reader about the idea of ​​love unbounded by the barriers of time, narrative that can be seen also as a simplistic vision of love, by the reader who is distracted and enters in the trap of the charming style of the artist named Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Love in the time of cholera Love in the time of cholera picture

Love in the Time of Cholera known also under its original title El amor en los tiempos del cólera, manages to link two contrasting elements found in literature: sacredness of the feeling of love and its implementation in the real world. The story starts from the idea of rejection of love and making it impossible by the loved one, while he, Florentino Ariza, promises to repeat one day the eternal covenant of loyalty and boundless love to her, Fermina Daza.

As the title suggests, love is seen here, as in many other works by Marquez, as a spiritual and physical illness, and the spirit’s suffering for love is necessary for ennoblement of the soul. Love in the Time of Cholera is like the thread of life, and that makes it a brilliant novel.