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We are heading into the tail end of 2016, and into our last Cannonball Book Club read of the year. When I originally spoke to MsWas about setting up our book club for this year, she had but one request: that we include Classics. Perhaps you’ve heard before, but the original book club was hosted on Pajiba and led by Yossarian in the pre-Disqus days. They read Lolita, a classic that MsWas says she would never have picked up otherwise. In that spirit, and in homage to our start on Pajiba, we’ll be doing Classics with a Movie Adaptation for our December 1st discussion.
In order to set up some semblance of order, I have made some arbitrary rules. First, the book needed to be published for the first time by 1920. This immediately kicked Lolita, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Crucible as well as many others off the list. Second, because I couldn’t decide between them, there will be no Jane Austen. That one hurts. Third, I’m always trying to get us reading new things, so anything reviewed more than five times on the current website (CBR6-8) was out. I know it’s not a perfect system, since there are plenty of things I read before I started reviewing for Cannonball, but it was a place to start. Certainly these books haven’t been making their presence known lately.
What we have left is the list below, please give it some consideration, and VOTE. The window will be open for one week, starting October 10 and ending October 16, 2016. The winner will be announced on Monday October 17, and you will have just over six weeks to read, and we will chat starting on Thursday December 1st.
Your choices are:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that portrays a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
- Movie versions: Fassbender & Mia Wasikowska 2011, Ruth Wilson & Toby Stephens 2004 miniseries, Charlotte Gainsbourg & William Hurt 1996 TV movie, Orson Welles & Joan Fontaine 1943.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a hugely popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.
- Movie versions: Jim Caviezel & Guy Pearce 2002, Richard Chamberlan & Louis Jourdan 1975 television movie, Robert Donat & Louis Calhern 1934.
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
- Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. Hardy’s novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with honesty about sexual relationships.
- Movie versions: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Michael Sheen 2015. Do I really need to give another? Fine. Julie Christie & Peter Finch 1967.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein. An instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos
- Movie versions: Robert DeNiro, Helena Bonham Carter, and Kenneth Branagh 1994, Boris Karloff 1931, and lots of others along the way.
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
- The Way We Live Now is a satire of the literary world of London in the 1870s and an indictment of the new power of speculative finance in English life. The story concerns Augustus Melmotte, a French swindler and scoundrel, and his daughter, to whom Felix Carbury, adored son of the authoress Lady Carbury, is induced to propose marriage for the sake of securing a fortune. Trollope’s picture of late nineteenth century England is of a society on the verge of moral bankruptcy, where traditional virtues represented by Roger Carbury prove to be no match for the financial genius of Augustus Melmotte. Originally serialized, it is one of the last significant Victorian novels to have been published in monthly parts.
- Movie version: Matthew MacFayden, Cillian Murphy, and David Suchet 2001 (TV Miniseries, but look at that cast!)
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
- Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “dreaded scandal more than disease.” This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.
- Movie version: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder 1993
Give it a ponder and VOTE to let us know which book (and movie!) you’d like to take on in the coming weeks.
(as a reminder, only votes on the poll will count.)
P.S. the Amazon link above is for Lolita, in case you’re feeling adventurous!