Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park


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The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence

My “50” project is to read, starting with number 50 and working my way to number one, the top 50 of the top 100 titles on the Modern Library’s top 100 novels list. We’ve created a tag for Dave’s 50 After 50, and you are welcome to read along with me.

the rainbow penguin coverAs I have committed to reading the top 50 list in reverse order, I seem to be reading the prequel to Women in Love, my last Top 50 title (number 49). Number 48 is The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence, which introduces the Brangwen sisters, Ursula and Gudrun, near the end of the book.

The book is much different than Women in Love, spanning the Brangwen family for three generations: a period of roughly 65 years from the 1840s to 1905. I love these sort of stories, much like Ken Follet’s two series The Century Trilogy and the Pillars of the Earth/World Without End duology. Multi-generational tales like these guide the reader through the evolution of a family (in the case of The Rainbow) or a community (like Ken Follet above) and give a picture of the forces that shape and grow the family.

In the case of The Rainbow, it begins with the Brangwens as a yeoman class family. Tom knows little of the world outside his couple of small counties. He meets and falls in love with a Polish refugee and widow, Lydia. Her daughter from a previous marriage, Anna, and her husband, Will (the son of one of Tom’s brothers), take up the second part of the tale. They share a tumultuous relationship and it’s their daughter, Ursula (who we recognize from Women in Love), who has the last and longest part of the story. The evolution of the family is the framework that allows Ursula to seek her fulfillment.

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Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence

women in love coverMy “50” project is to read, starting with number 50 and working my way to number one, the top 50 of the top 100 titles on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels List. We’ve created a “Dave’s 50 After 50” tag, and you are welcome to read along with me.

H. Lawrence’s Women in Love is set in pre WWI Britain, and is a deep examination of British society, relations between men and women, and the interactions of propriety and desire. It continues the story of the Brangwen sisters, Ursula and Gudrun, who were first introduced in The Rainbow. Their courtship of two men in the village, Rupert Birkin, a teacher, and Gerard Crich, an industrialist, is the main story arc of the book.

The relationships are very different. Ursula and Birkin’s pairing revolves around his attachment to a former partner whose controlling ways still have him under her spell. Gudrun and Crich have a strong sexual attraction, but as time goes on, Crich is less able to connect emotionally. The denouement of both relationships and their eventual success or failure culminates in the Tyrolean Alps during a winter holiday.

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Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

tropic of cancer coverHaving recently turned 50, I’ve been looking for projects that are “50” related. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is to fill in my reading list with American and English novels I haven’t read. Enter the Modern Library’s top 100 novels  list.  When this list was published in 1998, it garnered a flurry of activity in the literary world, leading to counter lists, cries of “How could you exclude XXXXX, my favorite book?” and even a reader poll of best titles.  Despite the criticism, this is a great list filled with works that, as a French major in college, I never got assigned to read.

My “50” project is to read the top 50 of the top 100 titles on this list, starting with number 50 and working my way to number one. We’ve created a tag for “Dave’s 50 After 50”, and you are welcome to read along with me.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller is where my reading begins.  This book has a sordid history, having been excluded from publication in the United States for obscenity for twenty-seven years after its first publication in Europe in 1934. It was the 1961 Grove Press edition which led to obscenity trials and the eventual ruling by the Supreme Court in 1964 that it was not obscene. Continue reading