Review of Oliver Twist

I am happy to say that I finished Oliver Twist yesterday. I started reading it on the 13th of May. Of all the classics I have read into between semesters, this book has taken me the shortest amount of time to read. On this post, I will try to review this book even thought it is difficult to come up with many reasons why I loved the book.

Spoilers ahead:

In this book, Dickens does a good job in grabbing you in just about three pages. Once I only read like that many pages, I started to fall in love with the story and Oliver. The entire book I was very fond of Oliver. He was actually my favorite character in the entire book. In my opinion, it is important to love the protagonist in order to get the most out of any piece of literature. Oliver was born an orphan and raised in a workhouse, which has poor conditions.

I love the spirit and goodness and innocence that Oliver shows even when people mistreat him at times, he always stays a good person. Even when he is in the hands of Fagin and Sikes, he does not turn to their criminal ways because of the goodness he has. I do love some of the characters that treat Oliver fairly such as Mr. Brownlow and Rose Maylie.

When it comes to the book, I just didn’t like Fagin or Sikes. They are two of the villains in the piece. While I don’t like the two characters, they provide conflict to Oliver’s journey and that is important. Oliver encounters Fagin first and did not understand he was training kids to be pickpockets at first. He did not figure that out until he saw the Artful Dodger and Charley Bates steal a handkerchief from a gentleman, who turns out to be Mr. Brownlow. Oliver just wouldn’t let Fagin or Sikes corrupt him at all.

I find Sikes to even be more evil than Fagin is. True he is also a villain like Fagin, but he is quite abusive. He does work for Fagin and later hated the fact that he killed Nancy. He only did that because Nancy gave away Fagin and Sike’s latest scheme of trying to recapture Oliver for the second time. The first round, Oliver was staying with Mr. Brownlow. It was Fagin’s goal to recapture him the first time. But the second time was when Oliver was staying with Rose Maylie and her family. When Oliver was staying with both of him, he was recovering from sickness and just did not want to be sent back to both Fagin and Sikes. Later in the story, there is another villain involved, who is Monks, who did plan with both Fagin and Sikes to recapture Oliver the second time.

I actually enjoyed Nancy more than both Fagin and Sikes. I found it hard to like her at first. But when she gave away Monks, Fagin, and Sike’s schemes to recapture Oliver, I loved her at that moment even though she knows that if she gave them away, she could possibly be killed and that was an act of courage right there.

This has to be the easiest Dickens book I ever read. He always makes you want to know what it going to happen next. Whenever he was with Mr. Brownlow and Rose, I always hoped that he wouldn’t be sent back to misery. I am so glad at the end that both Sikes and Fagin did die. I also am glad that Oliver got adopted by Mr. Brownlow, so Oliver’s journey did lead him to salvation. Now I am wondering should I watch the musical adaption? I honestly watched the musical live in middle school, but I have no recollections of seeing it.

If you like Oliver Twist, why did you love it?

Survive

Favorite Books of Mine

As everyone knows by now that I love musicals. Musicals is a type of storytelling so I thought it would fun to write a list of some of my favorite books. I even love to read and here is my list of favorite books. I will put series together.

  1. Les Misérables- my favorite book, but wow what a brick
  2. Don Quixote- story of the tragicomic knight errant
  3. Tale of Two Cities
  4. Great Expectations
  5. Lord of the Rings Series
  6. The Hobbit
  7. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  8. Harry Potter Series
  9. Chronicles of Narnia Series
  10. Land of Stories Series
  11. Uprooted
  12. Hound of the Baskervilles
  13. The Last Unicorn
  14. Percy Jackson Series
  15. Wizard of OZ
  16. And Then There Was None
  17. Other Agatha Christie Mysteries
  18. Sister’s Grimm Series

My taste in book are classics, mythology, fantasy, magic, and adventure. What exactly makes a good book? A good book is always home to a incredible plot along with incredible characters as well. As for the classics, I love reading them due to the challenge that they bring and as for now, reading them in between semester and reading them in a limited amount of time gives me the motivation to actually finish them

Books to read in the future: thought it will be a nice addition to this post

  1. Oliver Twist
  2. Hunchback of Notre Dame
  3. Nicholas Nickelby

Review of “The Brick”

Why is Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables, known as “the brick”?

Just last summer, I decided to read the unabridged version of the “brick”. The reason why Victor Hugo’s book is called “the brick” is because of the length. The unabridged book is over one thousand pages and seems intimidating at first. The title also seems to lead people away from the book because it means “the miserable”, which indicates that the book is going to be a heartbreaking and tragic book.

But there is way more to the story then heartbreak and tragedy.  It takes a lot of work to see beyond that and once you realize what is at the core of the book, it makes the storyline so much better.

I decided to set a goal and told myself I will finish it by the end of the summer. I was inspired to read the unabridged book  because of the musical. I was interested in learning more about the book that Les Mis was based off of. Coincidentally, just like the musical, the book was also panned by critics. Victor Hugo once said “I don’t know if everyone will read this book, but it is meant for everyone”. Victor Hugo wrote a book that is about the survival of the human spirit. Les Misérables is one of the greatest stories ever told.

This is a  basic summary: a bit lengthy, possible minor spoilers

Its protagonist, Jean Valjean, is one of the most memorable and best characters in the world of literature. Jean Valjean had a terrible background by serving nineteen years in prison just for stealing a loaf of bread in order to provide for his sister and her children. This experience turned him from a good man to a man filled with anger and hatred. After being released, he had to be on parole forever. No one would give him a place to sleep or a place to eat just because he was an ex-convcit. That made him believe society will always hate him. But he was offered mercy, grace, compassion, and forgiveness by the humble bishop. The bishop gave him a meal and a place to sleep.

But Valjean was desperate and stole the bishop’s silver and was caught. But the bishop lied and said that the silver was a gift and gave him the silver candlesticks, which will serve as a reminder of the bishop’s kindness. The bishop was able to forgive him and taught Valjean the ways of the Lord. From that point on, Valjean decided to live by the example of the bishop. On top of that, there are is the love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine, the tragic tale of Fantine, and the uprising  that the students are planning.

This story is about Valjean’s journey from a harsh man filled with anger and hate to a man filled with compassion and goodness to saintlike. He dedicated his life to the Lord and made a promise to the prostitute, Fantine, that he would raise her daughter, Cosette, as his own. Cosette was the first person he ever loved. Cosette and Valjean were both broken and they helped heal each other.

Overall, this book gave me a better glimpse into the time period that these characters lived. Victor Hugo created a book that realistically described early 19th Century, France. He  actually created some of his characters based of experience. The love story between Marius and Cosette  was based off the love between his first lover and him. He saved a prostitute from being arrested after a customer harassed her, which made him wonder if she had a child and Fantine was created. Hugo actually witnessed the June Rebellion of 1832.

It is hard to give a basic summary of the book. That shows that the storyline line is extremely  complex, but very real. It may be heartbreaking, but the book gives you a wonderful glimpse of spirituality. It is ultimately a story of sacrifice, hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, and redemption. That is why Hugo’s story manages to uplift you and why it is so inspirational.

One of the most annoying and frustrating things about the book is that sometimes Victor Hugo interrupts the plot with boring history lessons. He would go into fifty or so pages about the battle of waterloo or twenty pages about the sewers of the Paris, etc. But I did not skip over them because my goal was to finish the entire book. But I understand why he wrote that way. You realize it helps you understand the storyline.

Victor Hugo is so clever with his book. He somehow was able to connect all these different characters though several coincidences. The characters all happened to be at the right place at the right time. For example, the Thenardiers and Marius ended up being neighbors at the same place Valjean and Cosette once lived. Cosette also seems to link the characters together. She is Fantine’s daughter, was adopted by Valjean,  part of a love triangle with Eponine and Marius. Because she was Valjean’s adopted daughter, she was always on the run to stay away from Javert and because Marius was a reluctant revolutionary, she connected to the students.

I was aware when I read the unabridged book that characterizations were going to be different, but that wasn’t going to stop me from loving the characters from the stage show. The Thenardier family was one of the most obvious difference in the book. Monsieur and Madame Thenardier were more wicked in the book and did not serve as comic relief.

You get a better glimpse into the poverty that the family faced. You become aware that Gavroche was indeed a Thenardier, which is not referenced in the musical. Eponine, one of my favorite characters in the musical, was slightly different as well. She was less loving in the book and she lives a more darker life in the book. She wasn’t that pretty in the book either. At times, she does become jealous between the love between Marius and Cosette, which makes her act in selfish and self-destructive  ways at times.

This book gets you a better glimpse into the bishop. The bishop plays a small, but crucial role in the story. Without him, you technically don’t really have a story. Without him, Valjean’s journey would not have been wonderful. The bishop helped Valjean raise above from where he came from.

Other characters include the obsessed Javert, the wicked and abusive Thenardiers’, the streetwise and tough Eponine, the self-sacrificing and tragic Fantine, the revolutionary and lover Marius, and the innocent and angelic Cosette and passionate and revolutionary Enjolras.

I may have read the unabridged book last summer, but had a lasting impact on the powerful, epic, and inspirational musical. This book helped make me appreciate the musical even more and it made the spirituality become more alive in the musical. The musical faithfully reflects the book despite all of the characterization differences, but those differences are for the show’s benefit. The book is so powerful and covered in several emotions. It spans over seventeen years.

You become more impressed at how the over one thousand page book was condensed into a three hour musical. I used my knowledge of the musical to understand the book. I was able to mark up major characters and write in song names. In a lot of ways, I find this story to be more inspirational then heartbreaking. These characters feel so real to you and you truly can care about every one of these characters even if you don’t like them.

Hint: if anyone wants to read the unabridged version of this book, make sure to have a dictionary at hand and mark up things that will help you understand the story. If you are a fan of the musical, I suggest you use your knowledge of the musical to read this book. I know it helped me.

 

Expert Quality of Les Mis

One of the things that comes to mind when I think of the word, expert, I think of Les Mis. As shown through this blog, you may have noticed that I talk about Les Mis a lot.

I say that because I am literally a walking talking Les Mis encyclopedia. I know a lot about that musical. What I know about the musical ranges from Victor Hugo, the Time Period, the “brick”, the movie and the musical. I still don’t why I am so obsessed with the musical, but I know why I love it so much. There is just something about Les Mis that truly moves you at the deepest part of your soul.

Victor Hugo wanted a story that would reflect 19th century France. He based his book off of things that he witnessed and incorporated himself into some of the characters. The love story of Cosette and Marius was based off of his relationship with his first love. He actually prevented a prostitute from being arrested after she was assaulted and that made him create Fantine. He actually witnessed the June Rebellion, which is the forgotten, but known uprising in the book. He wanted the book to represent the outcasts, the fugitives, and the underdogs. His book is covered with so many emotions, which perfectly is reflected in the musical.

I  think the emotional impact is what sets Les Mis apart from other musicals. It takes you on one of the most powerful, epic and inspirational emotional roller coasters. It takes its emotions very seriously and makes you feel so many. Yes, it is heartbreaking, but through experience, I really learned what is truly at the core of Les Mis. It is ultimately a story of love, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, hope, and redemption. That is why the show is so inspirational. The songs are so brilliant and truthfully and soulfully reflect the storyline and the characters. The songs are filled with so much heart and soul, which is why I am always moved by them.

I really love the characters in this show. They are so strong, complex, and vulnerable. They may live very difficult and tragic lives, but they manage to thrive. These characters teach you that you can become a better person and that you can rise above from where you come from. They teach that that if you are in the middle of a dark time in your life, that there still is hope and that you can get through it. Most of them may die, but they will always live in your heart and soul. You end up caring for every single one of them even the ones you don’t like. Having an emotional connection really matters in musicals and the emotions hit me like a wreaking ball, but I feel the emotions in a good way including the negative emotions. The emotional nature of Les Mis is so special and I cannot describe that experience at all.

It is such an epic story. I don’t know how to describe its epic quality. As far as I know, it takes place during a time span of seventeen years. When time passes, you are always introduced to a brand new character. The story is so complex and I always find myself discovering something new about either the characters or the emotions. It has the conflict between Valjean and Javert, the tragic tale of Fantine, the love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine, and the June Rebellion of 1832. One of the most clever things about the storyline is that it is full of coincidences, which is what connects the characters.

So, what your thoughts on Les Mis? Why do you think this tragic and inspirational musical  is so successful?

Expert

Uprooted Review

Today I recently finished the fantasy book, “Uprooted”.

The plot is as follows:

Agnieszka loves her valley home in a quiet village. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep the Wood’s dark forces at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his assistance: Every ten years one young woman must be handed over to serve him without question.

The new choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka knows-everyone one knows-that the dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

-Unknown

The plot is more complicated then that description. At first glance, it seems like the plot mainly has to do with the Dragon’s girl and her service to him. The Dragon decides to choose Agnieszka, which surprised everyone. But there is much more to the plot then that. It seems like the Dragon, whose name is Sarkan, is the antagonist based upon the plot description. But later on in the book, you will realize Sarkan is not the antagonist. At first, he is very harsh and angry towards Agnieskza because he is always yelling at her for being dirty or screwing up at something. How the Dragon initially treats Agnieskza starts giving the book the heartbreaking air.The Dragon teaches the girls he takes magic in order to become a witch. Sarkan does eventually soften up, but he still can be demanding.

The real antagonist of the book is the corrupted Wood. The Wood seems like it is alive and plants seeds everywhere. It has the ability to cover up villages and corrupt humans. It has the ability to kill as well. It sometimes leaves someone trapped inside a tree, which is one way it corrupts people. The Wood is the main reason why heartbreaking things keep on happening.

In fact, the main character, Agnieszka is braver then she thinks she is. She risks her life several times in order to protect the people and the valley that she loves even when she disobeys the Dragon’s orders. She is very loyal towards Kasia, who eventually joins the Dragon and Agnieszka on their journey. The plot focuses a lot of trying to destroy the corrupted wood, but it is harder then it appears. They have to escape several times the power of the Wood.

 

Obsessive Nature of Les Mis

This post is very special to me. As many may know, I am a huge musical fan. My journey with them has been incredible. I grew up with happy musicals where I learned about the emotions of excitement, love, joy, and sad. I fully believed that all musicals were going to be comic and happy, but I had no clue that one musical was going to change everything I already knew.

Well, in December of 2012, my parents took me to see the movie of Les Mis. I had no idea how much influence Les Mis would have on my knowledge of musicals. I didn’t know that I was about to fall in love with a tragedy. I went to the movie mainly for “I Dreamed a Dream” because I knew that song. After the first character died, I realized what that title meant and that the show was a tragedy. I was thinking “wait a minute, is this a tragedy”. I did not know how to handle that and due to it, I watched the rest of the movie in such shock. By the end, I only remembered three songs, which were “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Master of the House”, and “Do You Hear the People Sing”.  I was thinking “did I just enjoy a tragedy” and I was confused.

After that movie experience, I really went straight out and started researching the musical.  I decided to request the songs on Pandora and learn more about the book. I researched Victor Hugo and the time period along with the musical. I decided to watch the movie a second time to give it a second chance and this time, I got more out of it. I finally began to understand the musical and was able to feel the emotions better. I knew I had to eventually see the stage version. I did start to wonder “what makes this tragedy so uplifting”? That made me research the musical even more. I quickly realized that it is a story of sacrifice, humanity, hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, and redemption.

All of this research left me obsessed with the musical. Because I was so passionate about the musical, I read the book starting with the abridged eventually attempting the unabridged. Having the knowledge of the musical helped me understand and grasp the book better. I was able to mark major characters and write in songs. I have seen the stage show four times including once in London. By reading the book, it actually gave wonderful inspiration and strength to the musical.

I don’t know why I am obsessed, but I do know why I love it so much. There is something about the songs and material that grabs you in. Yes, the characters go through terrible things, but they do manage to thrive. The characters range from the compassionate and ex-convict Valjean, the obsessive Javert, the sacrificing and tragic Fantine, the revolutionary and lover Marius, the innocent Cosette, the loving and brave Eponine, the passionate Enjolras, and the funny and abusive Thenardiers’. They have to live through a very difficult time in France. There was a lot of poverty, injustice, suffering, and misery going on. The government was very weak, which led to the June Rebellion of 1832. It is a story of standing up for what you believe in, doing what is right, raising above from your background, and attempting to become a better person. Les Mis is truly one of the most powerful stories. It understands what it means to be human. The storyline line is very multi-layered and the score portrays that. It has multiple storylines. You have the conflict between Valjean and Javert, the love triangle between Cosette, Marius and Eponine, and the uprising led by Enjolras.

The strength of the score is so hard to describe. The score makes you truthfully feel all of the emotions. It gives you the thrill of being emotional and at the same time makes you feel moved and inspired. The songs have the ability to reduce you to tears. The score touches your soul so deeply and always keeps you connected to the characters and plot. I still cannot pick a favorite character or song. But my favorite solo is “On My Own” and my favorite death scene is “A Little Fall of Rain”.

It is still hard to believe that there are tragic musicals in existence. But they fit the world of musicals as Les Mis shows. I worked with it to understand why the musical fits the universe of musicals. By seeing Les Mis through its inspirational nature, I am better able to understand the heartbreaking nature. Through the finale, it says that “even the darkest night will stand and the sun will rise”. Through those lyrics, you can tell that Les Mis has a glimmer of hope in it. The finale also says “to love another person is to see the face of God”. Les Mis explores different kinds of love such as love for a country, love for a child, love for a parent,  and romantic love: both requited and unrequited.

As many can tell, I am so passionate about the musical and musicals in general. Being passionate about Les Mis is an advantage because the musical is such a passionate piece. If I wasn’t obsessed with Les Mis, I wouldn’t be as musical crazy as I am now. Les Mis is one of my #1 favorite musicals. So overall, I love it because it is one of the most powerful stories set to some of the most brilliant and empathetic music. It has fascinating characters and there is always something to relate and connect to. I don’t relate to any of the characters exactly, but I relate to the spirituality of the musical. I really thought I would hate a tragedy and felt like that genre did not belong in theatre especially in musicals. I am glad I learned the value of Les Mis and why it touches audiences the way it does.

Below are three blog posts about Les Mis. There are spoilers in them.

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/words-that-describe-les-mis/

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/even-the-darkest-night-and-end-and-the-sun-will-rise/

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/is-there-symbolism-in-the-les-mis-deaths/

Obsessed

Complicated

Time to Slow Down

Do you ever feel like you don’t have much time in the day to relax? Do you feel like a day is going by way too quickly?

In fact, finding time to slow down actually makes life seem a bit easier. They give you some kind of escapism. There are days you can just relax. It can be reading a book, coloring, listening to music, or being out in nature. When you find time to relax, the stress of life slowly goes away. It allow you to forget the troubles of the world. You end up living in a world if you find a way that can calm you down at times of intense stress.

All summer, I have been attempting to read Don Quixote. That book is quite a challenge. I even am trying to finish it. When I am reading that book, I feel like I am living in Don Quixote’s world. You feel like you are truly living the stories of the knight errant along with his squire. Don Quixote’s actions may seem foolish and crazy, but those are aspects of the characters that make him memorable. Sancho is such a loyal squire even though he does not understand his master’s madness and does not enjoy being a squire.

When I am listening to music, I am able to slow down. I don’t always listen to the same type of music. Sometimes I just need to listen to Christian music and feel connected to God. By listening to the Lord through music, He tells you that he will never give up on you. It slows you down because you forget about the brokenness of society. You end up living in the music due to how powerful it is.

In the world of musicals, you listen to the songs and you feel the character’s emotions. If the emotions you feel are the character’s, then what are your own? Your own joy, excitement, and love for the plot and characters get kind of added to the emotional nature of the different songs. That is why those three emotions are the strongest. If you think of the songs that way, then you can find pleasure feeling difficult emotions such as heartbreak.

All of the musical characters have varied lives, emotions, and fates. They have been either comic, dramatic, romantic, tragic, and tragicomic. They have been either simple or complex. The strong musicals are the ones that tend to have the most complex plot and usually are dealing with both positive and negative emotions. They are the ones where you continue to discover new things. The meaningful characters are the ones that continue to live in me. They live no matter what their fate is even if it happens to be death. When you live in the lives of the characters, it feels like an escape.

Slowly