My favourite classic: Little Women

Hi all!

Today’s post is my response to the monthly meme of The Classics Club. They have been doing this meme thing on and off since they started their blog and they have just brought it back after a long hiatus. I joined The Classics Club earlier this year and I am glad to be taking part in these conversations about all things classic. So here we go!

This month’s question is: What is your favourite classic book? Why?

That’s a tough question; there are so many books out there. So many good books. So many good classic books. There quite a few I have read recently that I really liked and could easily become a favourite. Shakespeare’s King Lear, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre or George Orwell’s 1984 are the ones that come to my mind. Plus The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien. However, I’m going to stick to my childhood favourite and I’m going to tell you that my favourite classic is Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. This is a rather tricky thing to do considering that I haven’t read this book since I was 18 or so and I am now 33. So my memories of it might be anything but trustworthy, besides immature.

But I love Little Women. It is such a beautiful, heart-warming story. Little Women tells the story of the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, who live with their mother while waiting for their father to return from the Civil War that bled the US in the 1860s. Each sister has a very different personality and that’s part of the appeal of the book. Almost everyone can identify with any or some of the sisters. Furthermore, the book addresses some sensible topics that were almost revolutionary for its time, such as women’s emancipation or marriages made for love.

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It’s been a very long time since I read Little Women but I have watched some of its films adaptations as well, so I think I have a rather good recollection of the story. Some lines that have particularly stuck with me are Amy’s “we will all grow up and it’d be better if we knew what we’d want by then” and Beth’s “I have always remained behind you but now I am ahead of all of you and I’m not afraid”. Okay, I have just quoted these out of my mind and I don’t remember the exact words (plus I have translated them from Spanish) so it might be that the original words are nothing like this or that they are taken from the films and not from the books. But if you know the story you might guess what I mean.

Anyway, I listed Little Women as one of the fifty classics I want to read to The Classics Club so I will be rereading it soonish though I think I will wait until December, when Christmas time is near. I’m very looking forward to see what I’ll find in Little Women this time, many years later.

And what about you? What is your favourite classic and why?

 

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Five on Friday: what I’m reading now

Happy Friday! Especially happy for us as we’re enjoying a long weekend which started yesterday. So plenty of time for relaxing and reading, children permitting.

I just finished reading The Two Towers by J. R.R. Tolkien and I totally loved it! I don’t know about you but I usually find that I need some time off before starting another big book right after finishing one. It doesn’t mean that I’m not reading, quite on the contrary, it is usually the time when I pick up on the bits and pieces of books and magazines that I haven’t finished because I was too invested in whatever I was reading before and I didn’t want to stop or deviate from it.

Anyhow, these are the books that I’m reading on and off now. Quite an eclectic mix: a book on vikings and their raids, a collection of Celtic stories, a couple of children books, and a guide to Scotland because I’m always thinking about the next holiday. Or in this case, about the holiday after the next one.

One

Beyond the Northlands, by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough.

Two

Lonely Planet’s Scotland travel guide.

Three

Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and Wales.

Four

The Usborne Book of Illustrated tales of King Arthur.

Five

Linneas Jahrbuch.

Five on Friday: things I’m loving right now

It’s Friday and that means it is time for another five on Friday post. To be honest, though, I may not continue posting them regularly because I am rather busy this month and then we’re going to Spain for a couple of weeks in June (yay!) so I might reduce blogging to a minimum. Life is for living, right?

The weather changed drastically this week and we went from sunny hot days to rainy chilly ones. And as a result I ha a sore throat for most of the week and now it’s my daughter’s turn to be sickish. But we’ll get through it. And here are five things that definitely help.

One

Strawberries

I LOVE strawberries! They’re probably my favourite fruit and I’m always happy when they make their entrance in the produce aisle of the supermarket. In fact, I think the world would be a better place is there were strawberries all year round.

Two

Dining al fresco

We had a rather large balcony and every now and then, weather permitting, we take our dinner out and enjoy a meal outside. The children love it!

Three

Homemade flavoured water

If I had to choose a favourite drink it would be water (tea would be a close runner-up). I drink mostly water during the day and only seldom I drink fruit juice or milk and never sodas or carbonated drinks. Ever. Recently I have been mixing things up and adding a slice of lemon and some mint leaves to a jug of cold water and it tastes amazingly good. Plus it brings me nice memories of my favourite tea room in Dublin where water was served just like that in a vintage jug.

Four

Dresses and light clothes

After wearing a black coat over black trousers and cardi for most of the winter I am more than happy to add some colour and variety to my wardrobe. It really cheers me up and I feel lighter when I’m not coated in one or two kilos of winter gear. Okay, I may be exaggerating a little; it is not that cold anymore around here. But really, I feel much more cheerful since I can put on my ballet flats on and wear a dress.

Five

BBQ season

I’m not that much into BBQ or even into big chunks of meat these days BUT barbecue time means that my boyfriend will be doing most of the cooking while I only need to boil some potatoes, make a dressing and relax.  And that’s what most Saturdays is going on around here.

Are you a spring/summer person? Anything special you do at this time of the year?

Happy weekend!

Five on Friday: my favourite cookbooks

Happy Friday! I don’t know about you but one of the things I like about the weekends is that I have more time for baking or to try some new exciting recipes. However, we have started the BBQ season rather early this year and have already enjoyed a couple of weekends dining al fresco.

Anyhow, today I’m bringing you my favourite cookbooks, those whose pages I flick through time and again in search for something new to jazz up my dinners. This post was inspired by this series of posts at The Bookworm Chronicles. So if you’re ever in need of some inspiration to freshen up your table, you can take a look at her blog. Or simply dive into one of the cookbooks below.

One

Ministry of Food, by Jamie Oliver.

This is definitely my go-to cookbook. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have cooked almost one-third of its recipes.

People often tend to think that Jamie’s cooking style is complicated but I can tell you it is not. At least not when you’re letting his Ministry of Food cookbook guide you. It is so uncomplicated that it even gives you directions to do something as simple as frying or boiling an egg. And yet, simple as it is, most of its recipes are delicious. I swear by JO’s Meatloaf. Or Broccoli and Pesto Pasta, if you prefer some veggie option.

Two

One-Pound Meals, by Miguel Barclays.

Now, this new addition to my library has quickly become a close second favourite. I was suspicious at first because I bought it blindly at Amazon where it was heavily discounted. I was sceptical when I first glanced through it because most recipes seemed to have the same four or five ingredients over and over again. So how could there be so much variety when always using the same ingredients? But I gave it a chance, nonetheless, and let me tell you that I wasn’t disappointed at all. In a couple of months I have tried and repeated a handful of recipes and I loved them. Not only because they’re good but because they’re simple. The kind of food you can put on the table in less than half an hour. And that’s much appreciated when you have two hungry toddlers running around. One of my new favourites are Gnocchi with Mushrooms or its simple Caesar Salad.

Three

Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Now, this is the only cookbook in this list that I don’t own. But I borrowed it once from the library and loved it! IT has been on my wish list ever since. Unfortunately, I didn’t like its follow-up, More Plenty, that much because I found most recipes really complicated and using weird ingredients which are not so easy to find. I guess there’s a limit to simple fulfilling vegetarian meals. But really, Plenty was great and some of the tasty things I cooked from it were Aubergine Croquettes, Mushroom Lasagne or Aubergines with Buttermilk and Pomegranate.

Four

Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great, by Danielle Walker.

I am not that much into paleo diet but if I had to recommend one paleo cookbook it would be this one (or maybe the next one, I’m not 100% sure about that).

Against All Grain was the first spin-out of the blog of the same name and it topped the New York Times’s Bestsellers lists. What I like about it is that is has many mouthwatering recipes that can be cooked by us mere mortals using normal ingredients. Like its Curry Chicken Salad or Toddler Approved Curry. Paleo baking, on the other hand is just not for me, because it usually uses not so common ingredients and I simply don’t have the need to cut out grains out of my life (thank God for our good health). Nevertheless, I have given its Zucchini and Banana Breads a go and they were good.

Five

Eat, Drink Paleo Cookbook, by Irena Macri.

Another very dow-to-earth paleo cookbook. Much like with Against All Grains, what I like about this one is the simplicity of its recipes and the common ingredients it calls for. Furthermore, this one has really fresh recipes unlike what’s seen in most paleo blogs and sites out there. I think that the background of the blogger really shines through: Irena is Ukrainian but has long lived in Australia and is often wandering around Europe. And that unconventional mix really influences her cooking and sets her apart from most paleo cooks who simply try to reinvent American classics.

Some great recipes to try are her Cabbage Rainbow Salad, her Asparagus with Mushroom Dressing or her Chicken & Mushroom Stew.

I really hope you enjoy this post. And because this is a topic close to my heart (and tummy) I’d love to hear back from you. What are your favourite cookbooks? Any recommendation?

Thanks for your comments and happy Friday!

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre.

I love it.

I am sure that most of you, book lovers, are familiar with the story of Jane Eyre as this novel is quite a darling of English Literature and is often a school compulsory reading. It wasn’t the case for me. I have never watched any film adaptation and I began to read it not knowing much about the story except that Jane Eyre is an orphan girl who goes to a charity school and later becomes a governess and strange things begin to happen at her new home. That pretty much sums up what happens in Jane Eyre. Some people like to include the details of Jane’s love story when telling what Jane Eyre is about but I didn’t find it really relevant. In fact, I think that considering Jane Eyre a love story is as wrong as think Jane a plain girl – there’s so much more to both of them than what meets the eye.

“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!–I have as much soul as you,–and full as much heart!”

Ms Eyre is all about speaking: “Speak I must,” she says to herself on chapter five when confronting her cold aunt, Mrs Reed. So it is no wonder that Jane Eyre is so full of great quotes with so much talking going on. I think that this quote above is one of Jane’s best descriptions. She’s plain-looking and outspoken, unlike most literary heroines until her, but her heart is full, and so is her soul.

Jane was a very atypical character for her age. She is aware since a very young age that she owns nothing to no one and is determines to be true to herself no matter what. She cherish her independence and is proud of her education, her head is full of ideas and she’s not afraid of voicing them. All that would be fine for a 19th century novel character, were she not a woman. But she is a woman and it is probably because of that that she has become such a beloved literary heroine, one whose adventure has definitely stood the test of time.

Jane Eyre was a very atypical novel as well. Besides having such an outsider as main character, there are many other peculiarities about it. Jane Eyre is a mix of several literary genres: it is mostly considered a Bildungsroman but there’s also a bit of romance in it and echoes of mystery and Gothic novels. Also, some of the ideas it portrays are quite ahead of its time, like the feminism exhibited by Jane, who thought women equal to men in some aspects, or the apparent anti-religious ideas that pop up throughout the novel. Nevertheless, Jane Eyre became a classic in spite of its oddities. Or perhaps because of them. It was relevant back in the 19th century because it addressed some of the important questions of Victorian society and it is still relevant nowadays because it goes further than that. Jane Eyre is a novel about identity and human nature: Jane is only a girl trying to find her place in the world. She wants to be free and respected and longs to be loved for who she is.

“You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so.”

I totally loved Jane Eyre. I liked the story and I couldn’t put it down at times, especially during the middle section when Jane is living at Thornfield Hall and all these mysterious things happen. I couldn’t stop reading when the wedding was approaching and I thought Jane was mad when she chose to ru away at night. I also thought she was mad when she agreed to India with St John. But here’s the beauty about Jane Eyre: as much as I disagreed with her about her choices, I didn’t stop liking her because I understood why she had done so. Jane Eyre was also an unusual novel in the sense that the main character opened her mind and heart completely to the reader. And as much as Jane considers herself a hot-tempered person, she’s also rational. Her decisions are logical and always consistent with her own values. So I may or may not agree with her but I could never say she was wrong.

 

Jane Eyre was my third book for The Classics Club. I have gone through the reviews of Jane Eyre listed there and I realised that very often people either love it or loathe it. I’m glad to say I loved it. Now I’m very curious about other works by Charlotte and her sisters.

Have you read Jane Eyre? Did you like it? Any thoughts on it you’d care to share?

A book and a rose: celebrating World Book Day

Apparently today is World Book Day. I didn’t know but I just learnt it from this post at Book Tapestry – an insightful blog mostly about classics. What I knew was that 23rd April is the día del libro (book day) in Spain. I guess that the bit I didn’t know was that this celebration had become global.

I remember when I was at school and every year on 23rd April we would be taken to the school library where we could buy books at a discounted price (it was usually 10% discount, so nothing big but still better than nothing). In fact, I don’t really remember going to the school library for anything else, which is actually consistent with the fact that Spain is not much of a reading country. And that, in turn, makes it funny that such World Book Day has been observed for so long in Spain.

Besides the possibility of buying books with a discount at most book shops on this day (or week, as retailers try to make to most of this date to sell as many books as possible), there are usually readings and book fairs across the country around this time. And the people in Catalonia (a region in the northeast of Spain) have a rather cute tradition for this day: they present the person (or persons) they love with a book and a rose. How nice is that? While I never got any rose on this day – I didn’t live in Catalonia after all – I used to get some book from my aunties, which was nice enough.

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No roses but tulips around here.

And keeping up with nice bookish things, Amazon is giving away nine Kindle books from around the world for free. So, if you have a kindle (which I don’t) you may want to profit from this offer to expand your literary horizons. Just click here and see if you like them (again, I learnt about this great offer from Book Tapestry).

And that’s all for today! I am actually curious, did you know about this day? Do you celebrate Book day in your country?

Five on Friday: words to live by

Happy Friday to you all! I don’t know about you but we’re having an amazing weather here in Switzerland this week. The days are so sunny and warm that it feels more like summer than spring. And that means plenty of time outside, so I won’t linger around here too long.

I have taken up bullet journaling earlier this week and so far it’s been so much fun. I’ve been gathering quotes I have been collecting over the years, and which I have scattered over a handful of notebooks, to put them together in a collection with beautiful handwriting, cute doodles and all that jazz. Perhaps one day I’ll feel confident enough to do a five on Friday post with my favourite pages of my BuJo, who knows. But today I’m bringing you my most beloved quotes. And because these words are powerful enough, I don’t think I need to say no more in here, except that I would love to read about your favourite quotes and words in the comments. And again, happy Friday!

One

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Two

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Three

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Four

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Five

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