Book Reviews by Chuckie 2: Women Writers Edition

Chuck has been keeping busy lately, and by that I mean he has been reading a ton of books!

In his last book review, Chuck reviewed some fun books such as Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. For this book review, he decided to highlight some of the amazing women writers that he has had the pleasure of reading. And as you’ll see by his reviews, he’s very passionate about these ones.

Beware of spoilers

A Judgment in Stone by Ruth Rendell ★★★★★

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Chuck is pretty neutral about mysteries – he can take them or leave them. However, he thoroughly enjoyed this mystery story (if you can even call it that, considering it is a whydunit and not exactly a whodunit – but that’s discourse for another time). There were many things that Chuckie appreciated about this novel: the humor, which was conveyed through Rendell’s blunt, honest language and the way she painted her characters to be both completely realistic and absolutely absurd (looking particularly at every action by the devoutly religious ex-prostitute, Joan Smith); the way that Rendell conveys the mind of an illiterate, lower class, completely emotionally unintelligent character such as Eunice Parchman to the point that all of her thought processes and motivations make sense; and the small clever twists and turns throughout the plot. He enjoyed that this was an amazing psychological thriller, and would recommend it to anybody who loves examining the human psyche. He gives this novel five stars.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ★★★✬✩

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Going back in time a few centuries, Chuck delved into the classic that is Jane Eyre. He didn’t necessarily love the novel, but he did quite enjoy it. He found it to be fascinating to get a glimpse into a woman’s life in the past before women had autonomy and equal rights. He also hated every single male character in the novel, even (and especially) the glorified love interest, the tortured soul, Mr. Rochester. He’s a sucker for love stories so yeah okay he did want Rochester and Jane to be together in the end, but deep down inside he was seething at how bad of a person Rochester was. Chuck enjoyed this book, giving it three and a half stars, and ultimately left with a stronger belief in the feminist movement and a deeper hatred for the patriarchy.

The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield ★★★✩✩

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As the three star rating shows, Chuck was…not exactly enamored. In fact, this is his least favorite book in this review! He understands that Mansfield is supposed to be a literary genius. And he could definitely appreciate the beautiful writing and some very special lines throughout this short story collection, as well as some truly vivid scenes and emotions. However, Chuck mostly felt…bored. He did not find this classic author to be particularly engaging. There were some stories that stood out to him as being more interesting than the others, such as “At the Bay” and “The Daughters of the Late Colonel.” He did sometimes find himself wondering at the actions of the characters, such as the two lovers in “The Singing Lesson” (why did he do what he did? Why did he come back?) as well as “The Lady’s Maid” (how could she give up love and marriage to be a servant?). But once he put this book down to take a break, he had no desire to pick it back up, and has no intention of buying any Mansfield in the future. And that’s why it only gets three stars.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison ★★★★✩

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You might have read in Chuck’s previous book review post that he’s a huge fan of Toni Morrison, even going so far as to give Sula a five star ranking. Since then he has read Beloved (which he loves), and recently just finished up The Bluest Eye.

Chuckie admits that The Bluest Eye might have been the most compelling novel that he has read in awhile. He thinks that Morrison is a gorgeous writer – her language is amazing, and he wants to immerse himself in the worlds that she builds and know the stories of all of the characters she writes.

And that’s exactly what made The Bluest Eye so amazing – and also lead to its detriment. While reading this book, Chuck got to know several characters intimately – Claudia, Frieda, Pauline. He got to read a whole lot of backstory on Cholly Breedlove, Pecola’s father. However, the most compelling story in the whole book, according to Chuck, was Pecola’s. Pecola and her apparent ugliness is supposed to be the main focus of the story, but Chuck felt like her story got lost amongst the stories of all of those around her (maybe, though, that’s the point, that Pecola’s story is so entrenched in those stories, that the reader has to know every intimate detail of her father’s past to understand Pecola’s troubled present). Chuck is happy that Pecola’s story got a conclusion, but he wishes that there had been more of her in the novel, which is why he only gives this book four stars.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston ★★★★★

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“Ugh,” Chuckie thinks whenever he thinks of Zora Neale Hurston’s masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God – but he’s making that noise because he doesn’t know how else to express his utter admiration for the novel. Chuck just cannot wrap his head around how amazing of a book it is. While reading this novel, Chuck realized that he had never felt so much emotions at one time in his entire life.

Chuck is a sucker for a love story. And for some transparency here, Chuck read this book years ago, but he still associates the term “OTP” with Tea Cake and Janie. He admits that their relationship had quite a bit of faults, but it was a roller-coaster he wants to ride forever and ever. Even besides the love story, Chuck thinks that Janie is the coolest woman ever – she’s headstrong, resourceful, passionate. He fell in love with the characters, the world. There are so many beautiful things to love about this novel – the characters, the scenery, the story, Hurston’s sublime writing – and all of it earns it five stars.

Got any suggestions for what Chuck should read and review next? Comment your favorite book (or at least the most compelling one you’ve read recently)!

P.S. Chuckie says Happy Pride Month, everybody! 

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