Four Mini Reviews

So...I've been having a hard time motivating myself to write these reviews ever since I finished the books (and caught my breath), but it's been almost nine months since I finished three of them and about six months since I read the fourth, so I should probably go ahead and write SOMETHING before I completely forget everything.  And here's the kicker--I actually really liked three of these four.  I just read them right before there was the big major overhaul of everything and they got lost in the shuffle.  But I really want to get my desk cleared off, so I'm writing about them today.

I'm typing up my brief notes and thoughts about:

  • Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
  • The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
  • BUtterfield 8 by John O'Hara
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Title:  Auntie Mame
Author:  Patrick Dennis
Publication Information:  1955
How I Got This Book:  I bought this at a local bookstore

My Thoughts:  Obviously I loved this book.  The subtitle of it is An Irreverent Escapade.  Sound familiar?  :)

I'm not sure why, but this book took me a few attempts over a couple of years before I finally finished.  Once I finally settled down to reading it, I blazed through.  This book was a lot of fun.  It reminded me a lot of spending time with my friends' boys--two of whom are my godsons.  Life is so much more fun when you just totally let loose and act silly.  Doing so in front of kids is even ten times better because they are the best audience and totally soak up everything.  Seriously.

I love the Rosalind Russell version of the film.  I bought my mom the Lucille Ball version at some point, but we haven't watched it yet.

Mame is a free-spirited and free-thinking and well-meaning individual, but she keeps finding herself and Patrick in these bizarre situations.  But they have a wonderful "us versus them" bond.  I cannot wait to read the sequel (they travel the world), which is supposed to be even funnier!

Title:  The Painted Veil
Author:  W. Somerset Maugham
Publication Information:  1924
How I Got This Book:  Ordered it online.

My Thoughts:  When I read this one, I wrote that it was in the running for my favorite book of 2014.  I want to re-read it so that I can savor it and think about it because I didn't get to do that when I read it last summer.

There are several passages I marked because they were just beautiful.  The story is of a crumbling marriage in a foreign land.  This was published in 1924 and the theme of the unfaithful wife wasn't super prevalent back then.

I loved how accessible Maugham is!  At least here.  The only other Maugham I've read is The Razor's Edge and it was good and pretty accessible as well.  But this book had me wanting to read more.  He tells a good story that has the power to just bowl you over with these moments of utter brilliance.

There were a lot of gems in here for me--

  • Doing your duty is what you were put here to do.  It's not something overly magnificent.
  • Only when you cut through the bullshit can you really change.
  • There is beauty in simplicity.

Obviously, none of those are super ground-breaking, but that the story beautifully reinforced those notions.

Title:  BUtterfield 8
Author:  John O'Hara
Publication Information:  Published in 1934
How I Got This Book:  I either ordered it online or bought it in a bookstore.

My Thoughts:  This was the one I blazed through the fastest, which means it's the one I probably most need to re-read!

I loved the jumping storylines.  At first I wondered how they were all going to fit together and also whether they were even supposed to.  But everything does fit together as it all comes crashing down.

I also really enjoyed O'Hara's language.  He is sparse, in the vein of Hemingway.  He created a rough, raw, gritty depiction of this time and place and these people, which I loved.  He didn't overly glamorize the setting or the characters.  He gets you to understand them, but not necessarily sympathize.

This made me go out and buy O'Hara's collected New York Stories, which I haven't read yet, but really want to.  I'll probably pick it up during the hottest heat of the summer and turn on some jazz.

Title:  Rebecca
Author:  Daphne du Maurier
Publication Information:  Published in 1938
How I Got This Book:  I ordered it online.

My Thoughts:  To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of this one.  I don't have any notes over it, so I'm going from memory when I read this last fall.

I couldn't really understand why Maxim married the unnamed narrator.  He didn't seem overly fond of her.  And it was just weird.  Though I absolutely loved the French Mediterranean setting.  That was fabulous!

Mrs. Danvers was an excellent villain.  I really liked the intrigue throughout the main action of the novel and the way everything unfolds.  It was a great thriller/mystery.  But the ending is what really just pissed me off and let me down.  I think a lot more could have been done there with how things shook out.

So basically, it was the ending that ruined it for me.  I am glad that I read it.  There were a lot of good interesting bits, such as the narrator being nameless outside of her husband's last name and Mrs. Danvers's creepiness, and the notion of the ghosts we live with daily.  But that ending.  :(

I would, however, be willing to read something else by du Maurier in the future.


  1. I actually quite liked the end of Rebecca; liked it better the 2nd time I read it. I had no idea there was a sequel to Auntie Mame! Must find it. The Lucille Ball version is very good but Ball can't really hold a candle to Rusell.

    1. I felt like Rebecca just ended abruptly. There could have been more to it. Or even less. I just didn't agree with the stopping point. I am glad to hear the Russell version is better because I'm just not a huge Ball fan. :)


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