Book Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

(Five Stars)

“There certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them.”

Austen at her best. Gone is the self-assured heroine of earlier novels who sweeps all before her; enter the humble waif who must learn the ways of the world and society on the fly. Fanny’s internal dialogue sets Mansfield Park apart from Austen’s earlier works. It’s still Austen, but it grips the soul of the reader.

“Her consciousness of misery was therefore increased by the idea of its being a wicked thing for her not to be happy. Fanny’s relief, and her consciousness of it, were quite equal to her cousins’; but a more tender nature suggested that her feelings were ungrateful, and she really grieved because she could not grieve. Her cousins, on seeing her red eyes, set her down as a hypocrite.”

The reader gains a more mature critique on the corner of society which Continue reading

Book Review: The Devil’s Novice by Ellis Peters (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Devil’s Novice (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #8) by Ellis Peters

(Four Stars)

“Suspicion drapes itself round him like cobwebs on the autumn bush.”

Another excellent excursion into medieval England. Ellis’ world building is worthy the best of fantasy—simultaneously delivering verisimilitude and a sense of other.

“Cadfael … had considerable sympathy with the ardent young, who overdo everything, and take wing at a line of verse of a snatch of music.”

This chronicle explores the matter of love. Not just romantic, but familial and patriotic. What might a man or woman do for someone (or some cause) they truly love. Die for it? Kill for it? Take the blame for another?

“I never knew a postulant to pursue his novitiate with so much passion, and so little joy.”

Moderns, of course, cannot imagine a young person willing exiting Continue reading

Happy 50th Anniversary

2019 50 anni sm Fifty years ago today–May 30, 1969–Treva L. Parsons and I exchanged wedding vows at Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield, Kansas.

Since then we have raised two sons and lived in seven states and four foreign countries, plus my overseas service during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars.

Tomorrow, family and friends will gather at the Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen, Virginia to celebrate with us.

Thank you, Lord.

Convincing Ourselves the Real is the Ideal

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ISTOCK image in WSJ

Hopeful science thought for the New Year (from Dr. Helen Fisher on edge.org via the WSJ):

“Natural selection [favors] those who responded negatively to the one malevolent intruder, rather than positively to myriad friendly guests.”

But, “happily-in-love long-term partners [overlook] the negative to focus on the positive aspects of their marital relationships—… ‘positive illusions.’ … We humans are able to convince ourselves that the real is the ideal.”

“The neural roots of tolerance, mercy and pardon may live deep in the human psyche.”

Happy New Year, especially you who survived and thrived in long-term, loving relationships.

Book Review: The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #2) by Liu Cixin

Four Stars

“It’s part of the plan.”

I struggled through the first hundred pages, thinking it’d be a shame to give up when I liked The Three-Body Problem so well. Slow pace and lots of references to the first book. Yes, I’ve read it, but I’ve slept since then. No clue who many of the players were or why I should care.

“It’s a wonder to be alive. If you don’t understand that, how can you search for anything deeper.”

Finally came into focus midway through. The pace accelerated and Liu swept me away again. Until the last hundred pages, I was still going to give it four stars, but the denouncement was great, if a lot more obvious to us than to the protagonist.

“I can’t see humanity. I can only see individuals.”

Speaking of obvious, once again Liu telegraphs his punches. It’s almost no spoiler to tell you what happens halfway through, but I’m not. Read it for yourself. Once again he explains the involved physics in excruciating detail. Lots of “as you know, Bob” data dumps.

“Thought control is everywhere in modern society.”

Love the references of psychohistory from Asimov’s Continue reading