The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

theconstantprincessThis is my first book from Philippa Gregory. I have been wanting to read her books as I’m very much interested with the life and history of the royals and this was really a good start.

The Constant Princess is the story of Catalina of Aragon, the Infanta of Spain, daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, raised to become the Princess of Wales and future Queen of England. She and Arthur, the Prince of Wales, married at a very young age but they truly loved each other. It was just very unfortunate that Arthur died just merely five months of marriage because of “sweating sickness.”

Catalina was then left with nothing and ignored by Arthur’s family but she stayed strong and tough and determined to take control of her life and soon married Arthur’s brother, Tudor King Henry VIII. Catalina prepared herself to become the queen of England all her life but found herself unprepared for the physical and emotional aspects her new life requires of her.

I personally found this book very interesting because I like and admire Katharine most among the wives/women of King Henry VIII. I admire how she was able to manipulate Henry in their early years of marriage as to how and what she thinks is best for England. All through her years of trials and hardships, it is indeed commendable how she remained constant with her desire to make England a better and stronger country and how constant she remained faithful to God.

This is a very good read where history comes alive.

Quotable Quotes:

“You have to have faith that you are doing God’s will. Sometimes you will not understand. Sometimes you will doubt. But if you are doing God’s will, you can’t be wrong, you can’t go wrong.”

“He may well speak French and Latin and half a dozen languages, but since he has nothing to say – what good are they?”

“Words have weight, something once said cannot be unsaid. Meaning is like a stone dropped into a pool; the ripples will spread and you cannot know what back they wash against.”

“God does not make the way smooth for those He loves. He sends hardships to try them. Those that God loves the best are those who suffer the worst.”

“Then life taught me a harder lesson, beloved: it is better to forgive an enemy than destroy him.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe

thewomaninthedunes

The Woman in the Dunes tells the tale about a young, amateur entomologist and teacher who took a trip to the seashores in the countryside in search of a kind of beetle he believed can be found in the sand dunes. He was unknowingly deceived by the villagers where he was lead down through a ladder to a house in very deep pits dug in the sand dunes. Soon enough, he found himself a prisoner in the house in the dunes of a young and lonely widow.

I actually thought this would be a quick read but how wrong was I? It turned out to be a very dense and also repetitive read for me. To be quite honest, it’s the kind that wears me down. Moreover, I am not very sure what to think of it. In theory, the plot was interesting, sure. But I felt like there were a lot of things going on that the author is trying to tell me but I couldn’t really quite get it? Also, it was difficult to like the characters. It was a tedious read. I felt like being trapped in the dunes like the man, I felt suffocated and thirsty. Perhaps that’s what the author exactly wants you to feel? I really don’t know.

The ending wasn’t quite satisfactory for me, too, but it left me question my place in the world and the impact I have to the people around me.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad read. This is my first Kobo Abe book so I probably just need to familiarize myself more of his works. I’ll find time to give this a second read and hopefully understand it better.

Quotable Quotes:

“One could not do without repetition in life, like the beating of the heart, but it was also true that the beating of the heart was not all there was to life.”

“Everyone has his own philosophy that doesn’t hold good for anybody else.”

“Only the happy ones return to contentment. Those who were sad return to despair.”

“I rather think the world is like sand. The fundamental nature of sand is very difficult to grasp when you think of it in its stationary state. Sand not only flows, but this very flow is the sand.”

“Loneliness was an unsatisfied thirst for illusion.”

Rating: 3/5 stars

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I have now read all three of Gillian Flynn’s books and sometimes I can’t help but wonder what happened to her while growing up? 🙂 She’s probably the master of dark mysteries.

So in Dark Places, when Libby Day was seven years old, her mother and two sisters were murdered and his brother, Ben Day, was blamed for killing them and so he was jailed and sentenced to life imprisonment. More than twenty years later, Libby will reconnect with the people involved that night the murders happened.

Gillian Flynn is definitely a very talented writer and she knows very well how to create tortured souls and crazy women. The opening sentence in the book hooked me right away:

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”

Then not far from it comes this:

“I was not a lovable child, and I’d grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.”

Ms. Flynn is one of my favorite authors/writers since I’ve read Gone Girl. All of her novels are great and quite dark in different ways but I really enjoy them and in Dark Places I liked how the uncertainty of it made the story and characters turned out so well.

So for people looking for dark themes — lies, secrets, devil worship, desperation — read this. And all of Gillian Flynn’s books. You will never be disappointed.

Favorite quotes:

“The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty – we all have it.”

“Worries find you easily enough without inviting them.”

“It’s a good enough life for me… can’t imagine wanting anything different.”

“I appreciate a straightforward apology the way a tone-deaf person enjoys a fine piece of music.”

“There were a lot of people who deserved a lesson, deserved to really understand, that nothing came easy, that most things were going to go sour.”

Rating : 5/5 stars