Top Ten Tuesday – Books that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

You can find more details about TTT here.
  1. Yvonne Battle-Felton, Remembered (I mentioned this book here)

2. Hallie Rubenhold, The Five

3. Emily St. John Mendel, Station Eleven

4. Fiona McFarlane, The Night Guest (I wrote about this book here)

5. Christelle Dabos, The Mirror Visitor (La Passe-Miroir)

6. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

7. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown

8. Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

9. Edward Carey, Iremonger (It would be so amazing as an animated show, in the style of The Triplets of Belleville!)

10. Anthony Trollope, He Knew He Was Right (I reviewed this book here)

2018

Well, it was about time I did my annual summary of my readings on here! 2018 was a pivotal year for me; I recovered from a very dark time and I started my Masters degree in England – which I still can’t quite get my head around.

I thought I would reflect on the books I have read this year with the great Goodreads tools ‘My Year in Books’ as I did last year. I wanted to read 35 books in 2018 and I have read… 60. I haven’t read much at all between March and August if I remember well, but I have been reading so many texts every week for uni that I ended up reading about 40 books in three months. I am very happy with how much I have read because it means I have discovered many new stories and authors, which is my main motivation. However next year, I won’t set a very high number in my reading challenge either because I don’t want to feel pressured.

malachi550Anyway, let’s begin with the books. The shortest one I have read this year was Malachi’s Cove by Anthony Trollope (1857), which is about 40 pages long. So it’s not really a book but a short story, but in any case, it was very good. It’s set in Cornwall and Malachi is a young woman who pulls out seaweeds out of the beach in order to sell them. She lives with her very old grandfather, and this is their only income and way to survive. She’s a rough girl, in her manners and appearance, but she is also very endearing. It was a very nice story, but what especially interested me was the characterisation of the landscape. Very different from the Yorkshire moors but it was not that far from reading Emily Brontë.

Vanity Fair by William Thackeray 001

The longest book was William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847), which was 912 pages. I have already written on this one earlier this year, but I will repeat myself and say that it is a very hilarious read and although it’s quite long, it’s really worth the commitment – and it felt way less long that Trollope’s He Knew He Was Right (1869), my god.

fruits basket

I have read a few mangas this year, as well. I love to borrow from my sister’s shelves when I’m back in France for the holidays, it’s such a nice way to unwind. The one with the highest ratings on Goodreads is Fruits Basket Perfect Edition vol.1, by Natsuki Takaya (2016) – it’s a collection of the first 3 or 4 volumes of the series. Fruits Basket is the first manga I have ever read when I was 13 and I absolutely loved it. It was very nice to rediscover this lovely story of humans who can transform into zodiac animals.

 

orange

As far as mangas are concerned, I read the six volumes of the Orange series, by Ichigo Takano (2012-2017), and this was one the best things I have read this year. A young high school student receives letters from her future self, giving her advice on how to prevent the death of one of her friends. It’s very moving but also very sweet, I just love everything about this series. And also, it’s not long at all so there’s no excuse not to read it.

 

Is it time for my favourite book of the year? I think it is. This will come as no surprise, I think. Obviously, Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853) is the one. I wrote about the power of this book on here, already, and that’s really the most important thing to remember about this book in my opinion. Lucy Snowe is poor, obscure, and plain (possibly more than Jane Eyre), but she has a will and an inner-power that I had never found in any character before.

Villette book cover

2018 was a good year, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2019 has in store for me. I know it will be a challenging one, but I have high hopes it’s going to be a good one too. I wish everyone the best for the year to come, no need for silly resolutions, just do you! x

He Knew He Was Right, Anthony Trollope (1869)

“A man who is a gentleman in his cups may be trusted to be a gentleman at all times.”

9780140433913

Louis Trevelyan is young and wealthy English man who meets Emily Rowley during a visit to the Mandarin Islands. Emily is the eldest daughter of the governor of the island and quickly the pair falls in love, and Louis proposes to Emily. Louis and Emily, and her sister Nora goes to live together in London. It is a very happy household, quickly joined by a baby boy.

However, quite rapidly, the marriage of Louis and Emily starts to wither when an old friend of Emily’s father visits her. This old friend is Colonel Osborne and he has the reputation to maintain quite close relationships with married women, let’s say. Louis does not like to have his wife’s name associated with such a man and orders Emily not to see him anymore. She feels hurt by his mistrust and decides to disobey him because she feels like she has nothing to feel guilty about. This lack of obedience drives Louis so angry that he decides to have a separation. Emily and her sister, and the boy, have to go from a relative to another to live as they can – their parents being too far away to be able to do anything at all to help them.

Louis gradually loses his mind for he keeps thinking about his wife’s attitude and whether or not she did have an affair with Osborne. He ends up in Italy and is but the shadow of his former self. Emily joins him there in the hope of winning him back and restore him to health, also because he has brought their child with him. Somehow, Emily manages to convince Louis to come back to England with her to start afresh.

That is the main story of this novel, but being an almost 900-pages book, there are many parallel stories like that of Nora’s suitors and Miss Stanbury’s inheritance, so it is very hard to sum up this great tome in just a small paragraph. There are so many interesting characters and turns in this story, it is so rich that I am not sure whether I am able to do it justice.

“Words spoken cannot be recalled, and many a man and many a woman who has spoken a word at once regretted, are far too proud to express that regret.”

I find very interesting to study relations between men and women during the Victorian era, and I have learnt so much with He Knew He Was Right. For instance, I know that it was not uncommon at the time to send a small photograph of you to the man you love. I thought that this practice really started much later in the century, and I found that very important to see how relationships could evolve. There is a fantastic set of characters of all ages and backgrounds, and so many details, that you get a good grasp of the period. And although, there’s some literary goodness to it of course, I found the style to be of very little importance when it comes to what was actually said.

Trollope was not really an advocate for the rights of women since he was quite Conservative, but with this novel, you could really doubt it. His strongest characters are women who manage to live their lives as they intend to. First, there is Miss Stanbury. She’s a rich old woman, and a spinster. She had a love story with a man in her youth but they never married – it seems to me evident thus, that this dear Jemima lived in sin for a while, which I find quite shocking for such a Conservative woman. She struggles to accept and understand progress, especially when it comes to young women’s dresses and hair – she just cannot stand chignons – and the author makes fun of that with, I think, a lot of tenderness. She is an old woman, and as many old women still today, they love to criticise the new ways in ridiculous terms. But although I laughed at her, I couldn’t help but to notice that she was a very strong woman who deserved respect. She has very strong values, sometimes maybe too strong when she disinherit her nephew who has become a writer for a radical penny newspaper, and she follows them without compromising her heart and feelings. She is well-aware of people wanting to take advantage of her for her money, but she never lets them play too long.

But she is nothing compared to Nora. Jemima Stanbury can afford to be stubborn in her ways, Nora Rowley just cannot. But still, when a rich aristocrat proposes to her, she refuses. She understands all the advantages that such a union would bring but her mouth says no. There was something in the proposal that did not feel quite right, and there was something missing from her as well. Her mind is set on Hugh Stanbury (Miss Stanbury’s nephew) and although, he cannot support her, she decides that she will marry him anyway. It is obviously as romantic as it sounds, but in a very realistic novel like this one, it is more a proof of Nora’s strength.

And then, there is Priscilla Stanbury, Hugh’s sister. She is not rich at all, she is quite plain and fully accepts the fact that she will never marry. And she even clearly states that she doesn’t like men this much. Of course, she’s thought of it because every girl is raised towards that goal and she knows the comfort it would bring her. But she is alright with being single and not knowing love – also because she is very pragmatic and clever, she knows love is not the foundation of most marriages around her. Somehow, she reminds me of Jane Eyre: Jane at first accepts the fact that she has to work for herself and will never be part of the ‘married world’. She is not too sad about it – she seems quite indifferent to it before she meets Rochester – but she still knows that this is not a satisfying life, either.

“If I had a husband I should want a good one, a man with a head on his shoulders, and a heart. Even if I were young and good-looking, I doubt whether I could please myself. As it is I am likely to be taken bodily to heaven, as to become any man’s wife.” 

It’s no secret that the Victorian society was absolutely patriarchal, but it is very interesting to read about what the impact was on ‘real’ people. I say people because men suffer from this attitude, too. In the novel, the victim is Louis Trevelyan. He slowly becomes mad because of all the pressure he puts on himself: a wife has to obey her husband. And his wife doesn’t, which makes him a bad husband. I do not think he actually cares that much about the details of Emily’s relation with Osborne, what is important to him is his wife’s obedience because that is the way a marriage is supposed to work. He believes what he has been told and thinks that a woman on her own is not much, she has to let her husband guide her towards morality and propriety. However, Emily is not so submissive and she has a rather strong personality and set of principles. She obviously is a victim of Louis’s patriarchal beliefs since she found herself with nowhere to live with her child. A woman had just no right at the time and without her father or husband, she was nothing. Helen Graham, in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, has a brother who helps her find shelter, but Emily only has an uncle who can’t really support her.

Nonetheless, I believe the first victim of this authoritative society is Louis. If he hadn’t has as much pressure to tell him how to behave as a husband, he would not have started this in the first place. But because society expected him to behave a certain way, he acted accordingly and dragged many other victims in his downfall.

He Knew He Was Right is an amazing novel that I can’t recommend enough. Because it is so long it obviously suffers from repetitions, which are sometimes very heavy and boring because you understood the first time you read it, a couple of chapters ago. And although, they had me sighing with exasperation quite a few times, it was nothing compared to the richness of what I was able learn.

The novel was adapted for TV by the BBC in 2004. I haven’t watched it but I read it was quite good and must be probably more digestible than this massive tome!