Fly me to the UK for a literary adventure I’ve always dreamt of

Quoting famous speech from Martin Luther King Jr, ‘I Have a Dream’, well, I have a dream, too, which is to launch what I call as a literary adventure to say hello, take inspiration for writing then say thank you for these literary genius whose works not only entertain my soul but their imaginations and voices have helped me finding my own place in this hectic cum wonderful modern life.
Thomas Hardy
I have been longing for paying a visit to the places that play significant roles in the works of Thomas Hardy, one of my most-beloved authors. If you have bumped to this messy blog then you realize how much I admire his works as his name becomes the most-tagged word in this place, hehe..
If you ask me why do I love Hardy so much, one of my answers is because he knows how to appreciate nature then put them into beautiful words. Reading his novels soothe my heart because his words are indeed pieces of arts, beautifully-crafted.
I would really love to go to the house he was born in a house in Stinsford, a village and civil parish in southwest Dorset, one mile east of Dorchester. Stinsford is the original ‘Mellstock’ in his ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘Jude the Obscure’. I haven’t read ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ but I have enjoyed ‘Jude’.
The first site I wish I can visit is Hardy’s cottage as you can see from the below picture. This is where the poet was born in 1840 then writing ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ in 1872 and ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ in 1874. I can fancy how peaceful it was when he was working by looking at the cottage and its surroundings. No wonder he was able to produce very fascinating words as its neighborhood was providing him a lot of inspirations to write. Hardy was staying in the cottage until he was 34 years old.


He once moved to London but never felt at home in the big city. As such, he built a house namely Max Gate, which is just a few miles from the cottage where he was living before. He and his first and second wife inhabited the house, which I think is quite large and exquisite, from 1885 until his death in 1928. This is the house where he was creating his best fictions; ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, ‘Jude the Obscure’ and ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ as well as most of his poems. While general fans mostly applaud ‘Tess’, ‘Far’ or ‘Jude’, my most favorite fiction is yes, ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’. I really really admire the book. Anyway, this is Max Gate.


George Eliot
Mary Anne Evans or mostly popular as George Eliot (12 November 1819 to 22 December 1880) is my second most-adored Victorian novelist. Until now, I don’t know how Eliot produces such an extensive, rich in terms of issues, imaginations and characterizations as in Middlemarch. By the way, my personal favorite is ‘The Mill on the Floss’ as it becomes my first ‘real’ experience reading her works. I read ‘Silas Marner’ back when I was a university student but I don’t consider it as a ‘concrete’ experience because the book that I was savoring was its simplified version. I don’t want to read the unabridged version of ‘Silas Marner’ though because the story is really sad.
So this is Arbury Hall estate. In its South Farm, the very smart baby girl namely Mary Anne Evans was born in 12 November 1819. The estate was belonging to the Newdigate family where which her father was working as a land manager there.


In early 1820, the author family moved to Griff House where Mary Anne was living for 20 years. After that, she was travelling and moving to some places. Here is the Griff House:

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Elizabeth Gaskell
For any Victorian enthusiasts, you should try Gaskell’s books, which move very soft and smooth. ‘Mary Barton’ is my favorite book from her. No wonder she is able to produce elegantly-made words. Gaskell is described as a lady-like person, tidy, well-mannered one. Oh, I can totally associate with her writings, in terms of word choice and placement, characters (esp in ‘Wives and Daughters’) and issue selections. If I have a chance, it will be delightful to stop by in this house, where the author and her family were living for some years. Let me put the address here: 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester. Oh I love the building. What a lovely sight!images (3).jpeg

The Bronte sisters
Of course, the Bronte Parsonage Museum must be in the list! This is the house where the Bronte family was staying which is in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Looking at the building, I think the family is quite wealthy. My favorite Bronte is Anne because her traits much like mine, hehe. Who is your beloved Bronte, my friend?

Charles Dickens
So far, I have read ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’. I honestly say I’m not really into his works which is a matter of writing style reason. But if I were in UK, this Charles Dickens museum as you can see below is a temptation I can’t resist, hehe.. The address is on 48 Doughty street, Holborn, London. It became the home for the author from 25 March 1837 until December 1839. Though it was relatively short, the house saw him producing best fictions, ‘The Pickwick Paper’ in 1836, ‘Oliver Twist’ in 1838, ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ between 1838 and 1839 and Barnaby Rudge in 1840 and 1841. How prolific Dickens was!

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Jane Austen
And here is the queen of all romantic women out there, I included, is the one and only Jane Austen. The picture shows Jane Austen house museum in the village of Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire. She and her family were occupying the house for the last eight years of her life. It is assumed she was revising the drafts of ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ here. Austen also wrote ‘Mansfield Park’, ‘Emma’ (I love Emma!) and ‘Persuasion’ here.
Wilkie Collins
And the last author who recently spurs my adrenaline is Wilkie Collins. He is chubby anyway by looking at his picture. Collins and his wife, Caroline Graves, were occupying Harley Street 12, Marylebone, in the central of London, from 1860 to 1864. I’m not really sure whether he owned the entire building or just rented some rooms of it. Collins is said to have written most parts of one of his best mysterious novels, ‘The Woman in White’, here. I currently look for reading the title after I am so immersed with ‘The Moonstone’. images (5)
So, those are a number of sites that completely attract my desires to go there. I think my bucket-list is already full even before I have enough money to make it, hehe.. Well, never mind. Hopefully the bucket will be filled. Till then, let’s dream again!
Thank you very much for Wikipedia, Wikimedia and for providing all the lovely shots.


‘The Moonstone’ Madness: Homecoming as way to solve problems

I love the ways the story begins and ends in the same place. The Moonstone is firstly seen in a shrine surrounded by Hindoos and as the novel ends, it comes back to where it belongs.
Interestingly, Mr. Franklin Blake returns to his aunt’s residence to investigate on the missing gem on his own given his intention to clear up all the mess between him and Rachel Verrinder. To the Yorkshire the indebted man goes back, almost one year after the incident occurs. One year being in the East doesn’t help him taking the mystery out of his head.
With the help of Ezra Jennings, he is able to restore his good name, especially in front of Rachel. He is capable of explaining what exactly happens after Rachel’s birthday dinner. I’m sorry to put a lot of spoilers here for writing this part is inevitable. It is true that Mr. Franklin Blake is the one who steals the diamond with the knowing of Rachel.

That explains her attitude to the man whom she really loves is 180 degrees in contrary to what she used to do to him.
But Mr. Franklin Blake does that unconsciously. He falls under the influence of laudanum, a mixture of opium and alcohol, put by Mr. Candy, a doctor who is upset with Mr. Franklin Blake’s harsh words toward his profession as a doctor. So the mess starts from Mr. Franklin Blake’s jokes to Mr. Candy that later turns to his laudanum consumption. Since he is overwhelmed with the Moonstone, Mr. Franklin Blake goes to the Rachel’s room then takes it in order to put it in a safe place.
Readers will find this out as the novel progresses toward its finale. One by one all riddles are put to the surface but first of all readers must dwell so long upon clues, opinions, ideas that come up throughout the book. Thanks to Wilkie Collins’ sophisticated writing technique, the story moves fast that barely leaves readers get bored.
In an attempt to reveal all riddles, such as the smear of the nightgown hidden by Rosanna Spearman, Mr. Franklin Blake has to come back to where the late hides the box carrying the gown. Also, Mr. Franklin Blake has to meet Rachel and Sergeant Cuff to gather their statements. Plus, the gentleman has to invite Mr. Candy who falls so ill because of the fever and fatigue he suffers after the birthday event.
It is quite surprising that Ezra Jennings, much like Rosanna Spearman, emerges when the book starts getting complicated. The figure that I think will play a minor role turns out to the savior for Mr. Franklin Blake and Rachel. This is because Ezra Jennings initiates to put laudanum into the body of Mr. Franklin Blake, orders things as the way they were one year ago, invites Mr. Bruff as a witness then starts the experiment.
From his crazy idea it turns out that Mr. Franklin Blake does what he exactly does when the gemstone goes missing. While the characters are busy solving the riddles, the Moonstone for about one year is on the bank in London under the hands of Mr. Septimus Luker. During that time three Hindoos hunt it down. They are finally able to get it back then they give it to the caretaker of the gemstone in the shrine of a sacred city called Kattiawar in India.
I am myself so drown with the idea of starting things from the very beginning to solve problems in Mr. Franklin Blake’s life and the people concerning the Moonstone. Taking this story into my personal opinions, the idea of tracing things from the very roots are very challenging yet so worthy of trying to do in one’s life. Doing this requires bravery as Mr. Franklin Blake does. Sometimes, doing this will be fruitful or will not be.
While getting back to where the problems come may face us with painful memories, failures and nostalgia, our hearts are purified along the processes. All scars, heartbreaks will somehow be cleaned up while we battle to find solutions or answers. Much like walking on two sides of completely different views; one is full of tears or mess, the other one starts providing us with crystal clear outcomes. This is one of the wars one so worthy of trying.
And Mr. Franklin Blake succeeds in doing that. Not only the mess concerning the Moonstone is over, he and Rachel eventually gets married. I love Collins’ idea of bringing things back to start something new and fresh, as what happens to Mr. Franklin Blake. We can associate his experiences with our lives in whatever problems or trauma we encounter.


The Moonstone Madness: Collins’ sophisticated way of storytelling

Something new happens as I turn every leaf of The Moonstone. For 430 pages+ my mind has to be in a full concentration reading the book because the mystery surrounding the missing jewel presents me with new twists, evidences, opinions and ideas from characters in the book I mustn’t miss unless I don’t savor the core joy of the masterpiece.
I find it so fascinating that the book runs fast given how it presents readers with riddles, surprises, theories and assumptions along the way concerning who takes the jewel and where the hell it is. Wilkie Collins is indeed a rare Victorian novelist who does what he accomplishes in The Moonstone.
Though the story is all about the missing diamond, you mustn’t guess the plot is simple. In fact, it tells readers more complicated ideas representing Collins’ perspectives. What I once think as mere personal obsession concerning the diamond and history cum superstitions about the precious gem is a first layer on the surface. Because beneath it there lay problems about family conflicts, debts, inheritance issues, stories on estranged people, love and money, reputation, health, drugs and personal disguises. So many themes, right?
And Collins wraps them all so smoothly in the book so you can understand how the book runs so quick to speak them all to readers. I will divide my reviews and opinions and things that bother my mind after reading in several posts. The book is very interesting to be talked about and this is my first post that makes me wonder on how Collins weaves his story.
First and foremost, this is my first experience reading a book from several points of view. I think the story will be from Gabriel Betteredge only as the first person who knows from the start of the pricey gem from Colonel John Herncastle until it eventually be found.

The truth is, Gabriel voices about one third of the overall tale. He tells the readers the past story of the Moonstone until it arrives at the hand of Mr. Franklin Blake, how it goes missing on the night after the 18th birthday of Miss Rachel Verrinder then some attempts to find it by the brilliant Sergeant Cuff.
Just when I think I believe it is Rachel Verrinder is the one who steals it as believed by the Sergeant, the novel completely shatters my opinion. At that time, the novel is only 100 pages long so that means so many things left mysterious as it goes on. This what makes this book starts ‘deceiving’ my mind and triggers my curiosity even more.
As the book enters the one third part, there comes narrative from Miss Clark, one of the relatives of Miss Rachel. Again, Collins deceives me. What I once think Miss Clark as someone so modest, honest and highly spiritual but as her narration moves forward I find myself so irritated by her personality. I will later discuss about her in another post.
Then, another narration comes from Mr. Franklin Blake itself which really shocks me as the reader of the book as much as it rattles the gentleman’s logic. His narrative becomes the most important one throughout the tale as many proofs are eventually revealed to make things even stranger than they already are.
The following of the story are contributed by Ezra Jennings, the assistant of Mr. Candy, a doctor living nearby the residence of the Verrinder family. It is from the assistant that the riddles are slowly answered. From then, one big question on who takes the diamond is discovered. But there remains another big one, who the hell is it now?
To answer this, the narration comes back to Mr. Franklin Blake. Not only the readers will find the whereabouts of the Moonstone but also they will be shocked finding who the real antagonist in the story is.
As all are settled, the narration returns to Gabriel Betteredge who bids farewell to all who enjoy the story. The last part of the book is told by Mr. Murthwaite in a letter to Mr. Bruff, the Verrinder’s family lawyer, as what finally happens with the most-wanted jewel in the masterpiece.
So you can feel how complicated Collins’ way of telling by looking at a number of different people who narrate the story. Different story tellers mean readers are invited to look into their minds and feelings, which, of course, are various. This makes me really admire Collins’ writing technique. It isn’t easy to write from so many angles. His chosen method makes the story even more difficult to lose track of amid reading it.




‘Sense and Sensibility’, my second escapade with Jane Austen

sense and sensibility

For how many times I can’t remember I made a vow to myself which I knew I was going to break it. Before the payday came this Tuesday, I promised to myself I wouldn’t buy a book because I have planned saving a sum of money for other things. Only a few days I kept this promise as yesterday I went to the Kinokuniya bookstore after my job was done. I couldn’t help fighting against the temptation of not reading a novel. So even if my money is so tight I kept going there. Even when I have known I can’t expect the bookstore offers more classic titles I went home bringing Jane Austen’s evergreen romance story, ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Although I once watched its movie version I kept purchasing it because I have known written version will always be much more joyful for a reader like me.

The best realistic thing about Victorian books is that they are sold in various editions that match with my pocket. I bought the book edition at just around US$7 (see picture), which is still very affordable for me. I can still enjoy a very lovely story under cheap price. I actually wanted to buy ‘The Vegetarian’ but the price is too high for me at the moment. So never mind with ‘Sense and Sensibility’, though.

I watched ‘Sense and Sensibility’ years ago. All I remember is Kate Winslet still looks so young at the movie.  I don’t even know the name of the actress who plays the oldest one as the central protagonist of the book. I was considering my experiences of having watched the movie version before I bought the canon. As the amazing experience of reading ‘Jane Eyre’ after watching its movie version proves my capability of enjoying the novel, I grabbed ‘Sense and Sensibility’ then headed home.

Unlike ‘Emma’, which was opened with rather cheerful tone, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, so its first pages suggest, invite me to probably read it in a serious mode. So far, I am at its first 13 pages so I can’t say many things yet other than the novel is quite solemn. Since I am accustomed of reading books by Thomas Hardy which are way stressful than Austen’s I bet ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is not that much depressing. At least let’s hope this classic isn’t as distressing as ‘Jane Eyre’.

 Thank you for providing the picture.

For this particular reason Anne Bronte is my most favorite Bronte writer

anne bronte

Hail to the Bronte sisters who have left enduring legacy in English Literature. I wish they write more books so that I can go inside their unbelievable minds. Though I know I can never reach their super high imagination level put into magical words at least I can enjoy more of their works. They die relatively at young age because of sickness.

So far, I read four books; ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, ‘Wuthering Heights’ and the last one is ‘Jane Eyre’. I know some titles remain unread, particularly by Charlotte Bronte but I believe reading them is sufficient for me to draw a conclusion that Anne Bronte is my most favorite one.

I agree to most literary fans who say ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ stand higher than ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. I sum this up because of what I feel after I read each of them. I go crazy when I read ‘Wuthering Heights’. I am so moved when Jane Eyre becomes a beggar then so relieved when she eventually becomes Mrs. Rochester. I still remember I find it hard to put ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ down because the plot completely moves me. I get addicted to the book but if you ask for my opinion the novel remains below the other two titles in the paragraph. I think this is perhaps due to Anne’s writing technique which doesn’t dramatize Helen’s life as tragic as Jane Eyre or as horrific as ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Anne Bronte is my personal favorite because I find pieces of my personality in her two stories. The reason is so private. As much as I adore Jane’s trait that is so rebellious and as much as I am blown away with the wildness of the love between Cathy and Heathcliff, Anne’s characters are engraved in my heart. The simplicity, patience and strong-willingness of Helen Lawrence Huntingdon and Agnes Grey are what make them ordinarily outstanding.

You may call them boring because they don’t pose one or two particular traits that make them distinctive. Jane Eyre is very notable for her obstinacy and independence while Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon are both hardworking women but not that very stubborn. Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon are so-so if compared to Jane Eyre or Cathy. But beneath their average qualities lie endurance and strength. In my own words, they are very humane. Not just I but I think a lot of women or people out there will easily relate their characteristics with theirs.

‘Agnes Grey’ is the second novel that bedazzles me after ‘Wives and Daughters’ because of their ordinary protagonists who experience simple lives. Like Molly Gibson in ‘Wives and Daughters’, ‘Agnes Grey’ follows the life of Agnes Grey, all the choices that she makes and how they contribute to the final trait of the female leading figure by the end of the novel.

Agnes Grey wants sufficiency for her and her family needs. The problems she face during the life in the book seems ordinary; the difficulty in finding jobs, the negativity she has to receive as a governess. She sometimes hates her job because she has to deal with naughty children and some even put her position as a maid. But a job is a job. She has to complete her tasks for the sake of making ends meet. Her simple thought in job is also applicable in the romance side. She doesn’t pursue her crush but chooses to be patient and wait. Until when the universe goes in favor of her feeling, he comes and proposes her. There lies indescribable power beyond Agnes Grey’s simplicity.

Helen Huntingdon lives a more complicated life compared to Agnes Grey thereby she is a lot of tougher than Agnes Grey. Not only she has to deal with her alcoholic husband, Helen must go against public norms; fleeing from her husband while they are still married. Unlike Jane Eyre who is completely obstinate, Helen’s firmness is understandable, that she escapes from her husband to save their only son. Helen does this by force. Jane, on the other hand, could have stayed in Thornfield Hall while teaching Adele, for instance. Jane still has other choices that Helen doesn’t. Similar to Agnes Grey, what Helen wants is her son security and good moral sample that he will never get that from his own father.

I can’t imagine what strength Helen poses when she has to take care of her ill husband. She completes the duty of a devoted wife (I know the term ‘devoted’ here stirs debate at that time) by returning back home. As much as she hates him, she performs the responsibility until he dies. This part is so mixed. I feel that in this part, Anne Bronte softly brings up two opposite climaxes at the same time: the downfall of masculinity as portrayed by Arthur Huntingdon and the victory of feminism by Helen Huntingdon. Again, Anne Bronte describes this part in slow, soft ways that makes it very powerful.

Agnes Grey and Helen Huntingdon.. For some they may be boring, plain and not spontaneous. But you and I can’t bet they are beautiful souls because they stick at what they believe to do. They are stubborn because of strong reasons. Though patience and hardworking, they live the lives they dream to have no matter how many bumpy roads they have to undergo. They are awesome fictional characters and for myself they describe my personality.

Thank you for providing the picture.

After reading ‘Jane Eyre’: satisfied, contented, joyful

jane eyre

I know it’s a little bit too late to say I become one of the many million people out there who agree ‘Jane Eyre’ is named as one of the world’s best novels of all time. Reading it gives me various kind of feelings but to sum it all I feel so, so satisfied after closing the last page of it yesterday evening. This is actually the sort of feelings each time I finish reading books by Victorian authors. That’s why I still get stuck reading books by the writers.

First and foremost, the character of Jane Eyre is, I can call her, as the proper representation of a feminist. Though the novel is composed hundreds of years ago I can still find myself in awe with Jane. Rebellious, independent, stubborn, idealist and at the same time genuine and very kind person. I love her dearly, really. Because some part of her identity match with my own. Ah, I can even call her my favorite heroine by now.

I love the way Charlotte Bronte portrays her as not an attractive female leading figure, which is in par with her tomboyish trait. Charlotte Bronte doesn’t describe Edward Rochester as a handsome person but rather a well-built, strong and decisive man. So when both falls in love makes the story all makes sense. That’s not a fairy love story but rather realistic one. In fact, at the end of the tale, Edward is blind and has very few possessions left. On the contrary, Jane is a rich person who bequeaths the money left by her uncle.

How the two major characters swift positions in and after the turbulence of their romance makes the novel is again, logical. Following what happens in the life of Jane and Edward makes me thinking what makes the novel is something so whole. Anything can happen in our lives, anything. That what makes me admiring the book as it completely tells the lives of human beings, mirrors and says much of what life is in general.

The way Charlotte Bronte tells the readers, by the way, is smooth that I am so engaged with it. Oh her writing technique. Damn it! How can I write as beautiful as she can.

Charlotte Bronte successfully highlights the life of Jane in such comprehensive ways that by the end of the novel I am left satisfied. From an abandoned orphan, a lonely teenager, a hardworking, loving governess until she crumbles down then gets up being a wealthy woman. What is remarkable here is that no matter how well-to-do she is, how calamity robs Edward’s eyesight, her feeling and stance remains the same. That Jane Eyre is still Jane Eyre, the woman who holds her belief and sticks to what she feels. Because of what she experiences in her life, poverty and she turns into a beggar, Jane can appreciate whatever she has. She firmly holds her ideas and identity. No matter how St John frequently gives critics to her traits, Jane keeps to her words.

So many things I wish I can tell about the book but I know I can’t do all of that at the time being. I end up filling this post by saying thank you very much Charlotte Bronte for creating ‘Jane Eyre’ for this masterpiece makes me feeling so happy and enriched. Thank you once again.

The picture is taken from this.


Resuming reading ‘Jane Eyre’ after long holiday

During this year’s end of June and the start of July when the holy fasting Ramadan month and Eid al-Fitr long holiday were taking place, I didn’t read ‘Jane Eyre’. I did this on purpose as I hoped I would read more information about Islam, my religion. Not only was it part of the prayer but also because I thought taking a short break reading the novel would be a good idea.

After the hiatus, I continued reading the classic this morning. The thing is I want to restart this year with something simple, more focused and grounded. Personally, I feel refreshed and recharged not after new year’s celebration but after the fasting month. So in the past few years, I have had promised to myself to redevelop myself and love myself even more after fasting for the whole month, fighting against devilish desires.

This year I hope I can manage my time management for online activities then get back or precisely read more physical books. ‘Jane Eyre’ is the perfect start for this. So, this morning I spent the time on the public transportation reading the novel. What a joy to start the day!

At first, I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy reading it given the long time I had taken the break. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. It didn’t take a lot of pages to have taken my reading mood back on the right track. I didn’t find it difficult to put myself on the shoes of Jane Eyre. The reading process ran on smoothly that I felt like I fall in love with it for the second time… although this time around, I don’t think I respect Jane as much as I do when Charlotte Bronte brings her up as a wild, super honest girl who instantly captures my heart as a reader.

I am at the 300 pages something of the book (in the version that I read of course). The part that I am in is when Jane is preparing her wedding with Mr. Rochester. I admire the character of Jane Eyre, don’t get me wrong. For me, as a governess or in general, someone who has lower social status to her lover cum her master, Jane is a very confident person. She is someone who knows herself very well that she sticks to what she believes and she holds true although her opinions are opposite the master or the people in the house she teaches.

As their wedding day approaches, somehow I start getting fed up with the drama she could have actually avoided. Her stubbornness begins boiling my emotion up. She complains when she has to obey Mr. Rochester or buying new dress for the big day which is definitely different with the ones she always wear; simple and plain dresses.

Then when Mr. Rochester is insanely drawn to her, praising her through a romantic song, Jane seems disinterested. In short, she makes a fuss or a drama out of nothing. Pffh…

Thankfully, Charlotte accelerates the courting part then comes the one day before they take a vow as a husband and a wife. And I haven’t resumed reading it again, LOL.