Have you ever read a book that, at the time, you didn’t feel a strong connection towards, but as time goes by you find yourself thinking about it a lot?This one's both easy to answer and not, but two books really come to mind when I think about the question: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. I read each of them for classes, the first for a Feminist/Female literature course, the second for an a graduate level course called The Southern Novel. Each of them left a lasting impression on my brain, which I tried to reject at first and still, to this day, can't seem to do. They're just the kind of novels that make stick to you, deep down, and refuse to let go and I've always been glad I've gotten the opportunity to read them.
The first, Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth is the story of a woman, Lily Bart, that sees herself as an object. She's looking for a wealthy man to care for, she's been told by her now-dead mother that her only worth is in her looks, but ultimately she cannot seem to settle for an advantageous marriage. She ruins herself along the way, all the while outwardly looking for something she inwardly cannot accept. The book is tragic and beautiful, and haunting. For Wharton, it was an inside look at the society of which she was a part. It was risky for a woman during the early 1900s to write a novel condemning her own social class, but she did it fearlessly. Edith Wharton has always been, and will continue to be, one of my very favorite authors of all time. I highly, highly, recommend this book if you're looking for a really good book.
The second novel, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, is also the story of a woman. It's also tragic, but there's nothing really beautiful about it. Rather, it's gritty and uncomfortable, and there are moments I wish I never laid eyes on this book. Mostly, though, I'm thankful that I did because this book is another one that's taken hold and has absolutely refused to let me go. It's the kind of novel you never, ever forget once you've read it. It's about the events surrounding the death of a woman, Addie Bundren. It's told from several different view points, the most prominent of which is her son, Darl. Each chapter's title tells the reader who's speaking during the course of that chapter. This technique gives Faulkner the opportunity to explore, first hand, the different voices of the characters. Only one chapter is in Addie's voice, and it is absolutely heartbreaking. You learn, during the course of that chapter, how much this woman has suffered and how much she has hated her life. You really get the sense that she's glad it's over, but it's just not as simple as that. There are moments when Faulkner takes the metaphor of dragging the corpse of the old south around behind you to a literal level and it's disturbing, to say the very least. I recommend this one, too, but it's not for the faint of heart. If you've never read Faulkner, start with his short stories, "Barn Burning" and "A Rose for Emily" are amazing.
I hope you get the chance to check them out sometime, they're both amazing reads!
Have a lovely Monday, and if you're here for Musing Monday, please take a moment to say hello and leave me a link back so I can visit you, too!