Frightful’s Mountain (My Side of the Mountain #3) ★✬☆☆☆

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Title: Frightful’s Mountain
Series: My Side of the Mountain #3
Author: Jean George
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 146
Words: 55.5K



Synopsis:

From Bookrags.com

In “Frightful’s Mountain”, Frightful, the female peregrine falcon formerly a pet of Sam Gribley, attempts to reintegrate into the wild, while maintaining her ties with Sam and Bitter Mountain. The novel begins where “On the Far Side of the Mountain” ends: Sam, knowing that it is illegal for him to keep a pet peregrine falcon, and wanting Frightful to have a good and full life in the wild, refuses to call Frightful to him when he sees her flying around in the sky. Frightful then befriends and becomes the mate of Chup, a male peregrine falcon, and becomes the adoptive mother to Chup’s motherless children, Drum, Lady, and Duchess. It is a crash course for Frightful, who must not only learn to eat new kinds of food –primarily ducks and other birds, whereas she had been trained to hunt small game by Sam –but to care for wild baby falcons.

As November comes on, and all the falcons and other birds migrate south, Frightful stays on, determined to find her old mountain, and her old home. She is electrocuted on a utility pole, nearly killed, by nursed back to health by falconers Jon and Susan Wood, and is released in the spring. Frightful seeks out Bitter Mountain, and finds Sam, where she spends some time with him and hunts. She then decides to nest on the bridge in the town of Delhi. She attracts a mate named 426, a bird tagged and tracked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and she lays three eggs. Yet, as this happens, a construction crew moves onto the bridge to begin work. Sam sneaks up to the bridge every day, and spends hours keeping Frightful calm, so she can incubate her eggs. Leon Longbridge, the local conservation officer, and a group of school kids, including Molly and Jose, try to get the construction to cease until Frightful’s babies hatch, but the crew cannot stop work without orders from the state government. The construction crewmembers feel bad they cannot stop work, but they have no choice in the matter. Attempts to move Frightful and her eggs fail, so when it comes time to paint the bridge, the crews decide they will paint the section of the bridge with Frightful on it, last. Finally, Frightful’s babies hatch.

One morning, two agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show up to remove two of the baby falcons. In reality, they are Bate and Skri, two poachers arrested in “On the Far Side of the Mountain”, and back in the business of illegal selling of falcons. Sam helps track them down, and the police arrest Bate and Skri as they hide out in the old summer lodge of nature writer John Burroughs. From there, Frightful’s two babies will be raised and hacked into the wild. Meanwhile, Frightful raises her daughter, Oski, on her own on Bitter Mountain with Sam. Ultimately, they all fly south for the winter. When Frightful returns, she visits Sam as usual, but decides to nest in town, rather than on Bitter Mountain. Oski, however, decides that Sam’s mountain is a perfect place to nest.

My Thoughts:

Ok, here we go. There was a forward. I skipped it until I’d finished the book and then I went back and read it. It was written by Bob Kennedy Jr. While I can’t say anything about JFK, I can say that I’ve seen nothing good from his living relatives throughout the decades so a Kennedy’s name in the forward was not a good thing or an added draw. Especially when he goes off about how George inspired him to become a lawyer. Great, just what our country needs, more lawyers. Thanks a lot Jean George.

Secondly, and more to the point, this wasn’t much of a novel, middle grade or otherwise. It was much more of a National Geographic eco-documentary about birds. Sure, Sam is mentioned and some stupid kids and even dumber adults act emotionally and irrationally in response to “evil” electric companies and state governments but that’s not enough to make a real story out of.

Thirdly, but in conjunction with the above, this was written 40 years later and shows that George was more concerned with her message than actually telling a story. It was a big disappointment to see how George treated her human characters and how she leveraged the popularity of her first book to sell this one.

Overall, the first book should have been left alone as a standalone. It was excellent and fun and told a wonderful story. Each successive book has gone down hill and I suspect the two books after this one to be even worse. I certainly won’t be finding out.

Someone asked me why I was reading these books when I reviewed the second book and it basically comes down to trying to read some middle grade so I don’t take everything so seriously. To replace this series I’ll be adding most of Roald Dahl’s children’s books to the rotation. At least that I know will be light and funny.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

On the Far Side of the Mountain (My Side of the Mountain #2) ★★★☆☆

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Title: On the Far Side of the Mountain
Series: My Side of the Mountain #2
Author: Jean George
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 107
Words: 38.5K



Synopsis:

Sam Gribley continues to live on his mountain. His family moved back to civilization when Sam’s dad realized that farming the mountain was simply untenable. However, his younger sister Alice decides to stay and make her own way.

A conservation officer confiscates Sam’s bird Frightful, as she is on the endangered species list. At the same time Alice takes off to find her own place and takes a pig with her. Sam shadows her to make sure she is ok. Sam legs it all over New York and finds out his bird was taken by poachers to be sold to a Saudi Arabian sheik. Alice rescues Frightful, the law arrests the bad guys and Sam lets Frightful go into the wild.

My Thoughts:

This was not nearly as engaging as the first book. Part of that was that Sam was in a funk about Frightful being confiscated and instead of asking any adult about the laws or getting help, just decides everything on his own. And while he’s in that funk he reads old journal entries which chronicle all the improvements he and Alice have made on the mountain. It felt very, ummm, like George was trying to recapture some of the feeling of the first book and failing.

I did enjoy the journey of Sam and his friend as they tracked Alice down. It was a new aspect of the story and felt fresh.

While My Side of the Mountain felt like it could be read by almost any age, this book definitely felt middle grade. This was a decent sequel that I’d recommend to kids but not to anyone else. There is a third book that I’m going to dive into but my expectations are going to be very low going in.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces ★★★✬☆

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Title: Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 128
Words: 35K



Synopsis:

A collection of short stories consisting of:

MINISTERING ANGELS

SCREWTAPE PROPOSES A TOAST

THE SHODDY LANDS

THE MAN BORN BLIND

My Thoughts:

Man, Lewis could write some really WEIRD stuff. As peculiar as it may sound, a demon proposing a toast and going off about the general blandness of evil in the world was the most normal of these stories. The Man Born Blind almost reminded me of a Roald Dahl story with it’s twisted ending.

I am glad I read these and I think the points Lewis was trying to get across WERE conveyed but man, I just didn’t expect that level of weirdness from him.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

My Side of the Mountain (My Side of the Mountain #1) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: My Side of the Mountain
Series: My Side of the Mountain #1
Author: Jean George
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 114
Words: 40K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Sam Gribley is a 12-year-old boy who intensely dislikes living in his parents’ cramped New York City apartment with his eight brothers and sisters. He decides to run away to his great-grandfather’s abandoned farm in the Catskill Mountains to live in the wilderness. The novel begins in the middle of Sam’s story, with Sam huddled in his treehouse home in the forest during a severe blizzard. Frightful, Sam’s pet peregrine falcon, and The Baron, a weasel, share the home with him. In a flashback, Sam reminisces about how he came to be there.

Sam heard about his grandfather’s abandoned farm near Delhi, New York, learned wilderness survival skills by reading a book at the New York City Public Library, and how Sam’s father permitted him to go to Delhi so long as Sam let people in the town know that he is staying at the farm. Unable at first to locate the farm, Sam tries to survive on his own but finds his skills are not up to the task. He meets Bill, a man living in a cabin in the woods, who teaches him how to make a fire. Sam goes into town and is told where his grandfather’s land is. Sam finds the farm but discovers the farmhouse is no longer standing.

Sam forages for edible plants and traps animals for food. He uses fire to make the interior of the hollow tree bigger. Seeing a peregrine falcon hunting for prey, Sam decides he wants a falcon as a hunting bird. Sam goes to town and reads up on falconry at the local public library. He steals a chick from a falcon’s nest and names the bird Frightful. Later, Sam hides in the woods for two days after a forest ranger, spotting the smoke from Sam’s cooking fire, came to investigate.

In the fall, Sam makes a box trap to catch animals to eat, and catches a weasel. Sam calls the weasel The Baron for the regal way the animal moves about. When a poacher illegally kills a deer, Sam steals the carcass, smokes the meat, and tans the hides. Frightful proves very good at hunting. Sam prepares for winter by hunting, preserving wild grains and tubers, smoking fish and meat, and preparing storage spaces in hollowed-out trunks of trees. Finding another poached deer, Sam makes himself deerskin clothing to replace his worn-out clothes. Sam notices a raccoon digging for mussels in the creek and learns how to hunt for shellfish.

One day, Sam returns home and finds a man there. Believing the man is a criminal, he nicknames him “Bando” (a shortened version of “bandit”). The man is actually a professor of English literature and is lost. Bando spends 10 days with Sam building a raft, fishing, teaching him how to make jam, and showing him how to make a whistle out of a willow branch. Sam agrees to come to town at Christmas to visit Bando.

Sam makes a clay fireplace to keep his home warm. Sam steals two more dead deer from local hunters to make more clothes, begins rapidly storing as many fruits and nuts as he can, and builds his fireplace. Sam almost dies after he insulates his home too well, trapping carbon dioxide inside. Sick with carbon dioxide poisoning, Sam barely gets out alive. Sam returns to town just before Christmas. He meets Tom Sidler, a teenager who ridicules his appearance. Sam spends the night with Bando, who shows him the many newspaper articles about the “wild boy” living in the forest. Sam returns home and is surprised on Christmas Day by the arrival of his father. They are overjoyed to see one another again. Sam learns how animals behave in winter, even during blizzards. He overcomes a vitamin deficiency by eating the right foods.

In the spring, Matt Spell, a local teenager who wants to be a reporter, arrives at Sam’s treehouse home. Sam doesn’t want to be interviewed, but offers Matt a deal: Matt can come live with him for a week if Matt will not reveal his location. Matt agrees. A few weeks later, Bando visits Sam and they build a guest house. Matt spends a week with Sam, and at the end tells Sam he broke his promise. A short time later, Tom Sidler visits the farm and Sam realizes he is desperate for human companionship.

When Bando returns to check on Sam, Sam says he intends to return to New York City to visit his family. In June, Sam is surprised to find his family at the farm. His father announces that the family is moving to the farm. Sam is happy at first, then also upset because it means the end of his self-sufficiency. As the novel ends, Sam concludes that life is about balancing his desire to live off the land with his desire to be with the people he loves.

My Thoughts:

I read this back in elementary school in the 80’s and probably again in highschool in the 90’s. The basic story has always stuck with me because it typifies what every American “should” be able to do, ie, become self-sufficient.

With this being a middle grade level of story, there is a lot the reader has to let slide. Sam’s enthusiasm for the food he eats and his praise of how good and tasty it is was one of the biggest. Acorn flower is not good. Now if Sam had grown up with this diet, I could see his enthusiasm, but he comes from New York City in the 70’s with the melange of food available to an urbanite. I’m sorry, but acorn flower and frog legs don’t compare to pizza.

It’s little things like that that the adult me noticed. This is a hyper-idealized tween survival book and coming of age story. Kids need stories like this and what’s more, they need to swallow them wholesale. If they can’t dream like this, they’re growing to grow up in a very small world indeed.

When I read this way back when I had no idea that George had gone on to write 2 more books in the series. I’ll be reading them now though to see what else she has to say.

I’m including an alternate cover because the one I’m using is just way to glamorous. Handscraped deerskins and rabbit pelts will not produce such nice looking clothing. Plus, the character on the cover looks like he’s 16 or older, not 12. The alternate cover really conveys the “essence” of the book much more honestly.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eaters of the Dead ★★✬☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Eaters of the Dead
Series: ———-
Author: Michael Crichton
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 167
Words: 54K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The novel is set in the 10th century. The Caliph of Baghdad, Al-Muqtadir, sends his ambassador, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, on a mission to assist the king of the Volga Bulgars. Ahmad ibn Fadlan never arrives, as he is conscripted by a group of Vikings to take part in a hero’s quest to the north; he is taken along as the thirteenth member of their group to comply with a soothsayer’s requirement for success. In the north, the group battles with the ‘mist-monsters’, or ‘wendol’, a tribe of vicious savages (suggested by the narrator to have been possibly relict Neanderthals) who go to battle wearing bear skins.

Eaters of the Dead is narrated as a scientific commentary on an old manuscript. The narrator describes the story as a composite of extant commentaries and translations of the original story teller’s manuscript. The narration makes several references to a possible change or mistranslation of the original story by later copiers. The story is told by several different voices: the editor/narrator, the translators of the script, and the original author, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who also relates stories told by others. A sense of authenticity is supported by occasional explanatory footnotes with references to a mixture of factual and fictitious sources.

My Thoughts:

Earlier this year Dave reviewed this book and it caught my interest. I’d watched, and enjoyed the movie that was produced based on this book: The 13th Warrior. I’d seen this book on my libraries shelf ever since I was a tween but the title really turned me off. In all honesty, it still does. Without Dave’s review I never would have mustered up enough interest to dive into this.

Sadly, the book isn’t nearly as interesting as the movie and is filled with pointless and fake footnotes. This purports to be a historical document and as such is one of those “Historical Fiction” books where the author makes up wholesale yards of crap to further his story but will insert real historical bits and bobs as well. This has all the historicity of Shakespeare’s Henry V.

I was bored for most of this. It wasn’t exciting, fast paced or very interesting. While not nearly so boring as the Andromeda Strain (I read that back in 2001 but have not yet gotten the review into it’s own post) there were several times that I looked down at the percentage bar on my kindle to see how much I had left. That really isn’t a good sign.

On the bright side, I will end up watching the 13th Warrior sometime this year because of this and can expound on how the movie is a much better product than the book. Thinking about it, that seems to be the case for MANY of Crichton’s books. Feth, even Congo was a better movie than the book!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Grumpy Monkey ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Grumpy Monkey
Author: Suzanne & Max Lang
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children
Pages: 32
Words: 0.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it—how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They encourage him not to hunch, to smile, and to do things that make THEM happy. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy? In the end Jim admits he’s grumpy and chooses to ride it out, as he’ll be happy tomorrow.

My Thoughts:

This was a cute little childrens book about a chimpanzee who was grumpy. Definitely for the pre-readers who like to look at the pictures or those who are just learning to read. I won’t comment on how the content is supposed to teach children, as we don’t have any and I’m not sure that I’d use this to teach anyone anything anyway. (Notice the anyanyany? I feel rather clever).

Mrs B bought me this for my birthday the other month as I have a collection of Grumpy Cat books and this fit in perfectly with that theme. She also got me a stuff monkey. He’s no Mr Zip, but he’ll do as a cousin who I wouldn’t mind handing off to a niece or something so she could slobber all over it and make baby noises and chew on it without me worrying about her destroying a priceless, prized family heirloom. (well, that IS how Mr Zip thinks of himself. Jimbo on the other hand realizes he’s destined for slobber and chewings and has resigned himself to such a fate. Look at those eyes, you can see the stoic resignation even in the picture!)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Till We Have Faces ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Till We Have Faces
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 309
Words: 84K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The story tells the ancient Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, from the perspective of Orual, Psyche’s older sister.

It begins as the complaint of Orual as an old woman, who is bitter at the injustice of the gods. She has always been ugly, but after her mother dies and her father the King of Glome remarries, she gains a beautiful half-sister Istra, whom she loves as her own daughter, and who is known throughout the novel by the Greek version of her name, Psyche. Psyche is so beautiful that the people of Glome begin to offer sacrifices to her as to a goddess. The Priest of the goddess Ungit, a powerful figure in the kingdom, then informs the king that various plagues befalling the kingdom are a result of Ungit’s jealousy, so Psyche is sent as a human sacrifice to the unseen “God of the Mountain” at the command of Ungit, the mountain-god’s mother. Orual plans to rescue Psyche but falls ill and is unable to prevent anything.

When she is well again, Orual arranges to go to where Psyche was stranded on the mountain, either to rescue her or to bury what remains of her. She is stunned to find Psyche is alive, free from the shackles in which she had been bound, and furthermore says she does not need to be rescued in any way. Rather, Psyche relates that she lives in a beautiful castle that Orual cannot see, as the God of the Mountain has made her a bride rather than a victim. At one point in the narrative, Orual believes she has a brief vision of this castle, but then it vanishes like a mist. Hearing that Psyche has been commanded by her new god-husband not to look on his face (all their meetings are in the nighttime), Orual is immediately suspicious. She argues that the god must be a monster, or that Psyche has actually started to hallucinate after her abandonment and near-death on the mountain, that there is no such castle at all, and that her husband is actually an outlaw who was hiding on the mountain and takes advantage of her delusions in order to have his way with her. Orual says that because either possibility is one that she cannot abide by, she must disabuse her sister of this illusion.

She returns a second time, bringing Psyche a lamp for her to use while her “husband” sleeps, and when Psyche insists that she will not betray her husband by disobeying his command, Orual threatens both Psyche and herself, stabbing herself in the arm to show she is capable of following through on her threat. Ultimately, reluctantly, Psyche agrees because of the coercion and her love for her sister.

When Psyche disobeys her husband, she is immediately banished from her beautiful castle and forced to wander as an exile. The God of the Mountain appears to Orual, stating that Psyche must now endure hardship at the hand of a force he himself could not fight (likely his mother the goddess Ungit), and that “You too shall be Psyche,” which Orual attempts to interpret for the rest of her life, usually taking it to mean that as Psyche suffers, she must suffer also. She decries the injustice of the gods, saying that if they had shown her a picture of Psyche’s happiness that was easier to believe, she would not have ruined it. From this day forward she vows that she will keep her face veiled at all times.

Eventually, Orual becomes a Queen, and a warrior, diplomat, architect, reformer, politician, legislator, and judge, though all the while remaining alone. She drives herself, through work, to forget her grief and the love she has lost. Psyche is gone, her other family she never cared for, and her beloved tutor, “the Fox,” has died. Her main love interest throughout the novel, Bardia the captain of the royal guard, is married and forever faithful to his wife until his death. To her, the gods remain, as ever, silent, unseen, and merciless.

While Bardia is on his deathbed, Orual decides she can no longer stand the sight of her own kingdom and decides to leave it for the first time to visit neighboring kingdoms. While resting on her journey, she leaves her group at their camp and follows sounds from within a wood, which turn out to be coming from a temple to the goddess Istra (Psyche). There Orual hears a version of Psyche’s myth, which shows her as deliberately ruining her sister’s life out of envy. In response, she writes out her own story, as set forth in the book, to set the record straight. Her hope is that it will be brought to Greece, where she has heard that men are willing to question even the gods.

Part Two

Orual begins the second part of the book stating that her previous accusation that the gods are unjust is wrong. She does not have time to rewrite the whole book because she is very old and of ill health and will likely die before it can be redone, so instead she is adding on to the end.

She relates that since finishing part one of the book, she has experienced a number of dreams and visions, which at first she doubts the truth of except that they also start happening during daytime when she is fully awake. She sees herself being required to perform a number of impossible tasks, like sorting a giant mound of different seeds into separate piles, with no allowance for error, or collecting the golden wool from a flock of murderous rams, or fetching a bowl of water from a spring on a mountain which cannot be climbed and furthermore is covered with poisonous beasts. It is in the midst of this last vision that she is led to a huge chamber in the land of the dead and given the opportunity to read out her complaint in the gods’ hearing. She discovers, however, that instead of reading the book she has written, she reads off a paper that appears in her hand and contains her true feelings, which are indeed less noble than Part One of the book would suggest. Still, rather than being jealous of Psyche, as the story she heard in the temple suggested, she reveals that she was jealous of the gods because they were allowed to enjoy Psyche’s love while she herself was not.

The gods make no reply, but Orual is content, as she sees that the gods’ “answer” was really to make her understand the truth of her own feelings. Then she is led by the ghost of the Fox into a sunlit arena in which she learns the story of what Psyche has been up to: she has herself been assigned the impossible tasks from Orual’s dreams, but was able to complete them with supernatural help. Orual then leaves the arena to enter another verdant field with a clear pool of water and a brilliant sky. There she meets Psyche, who has just returned from her last errand: retrieving a box of beauty from the underworld, which she then gives to Orual, though Orual is hardly conscious of this because at that moment she begins to sense that something else is happening. The God of the Mountain is coming to be with Psyche and judge Orual, but the only thing he says is “You also are Psyche” before the vision ends. The reader is led to understand that this phrase has actually been one of mercy the entire time.

Orual, awoken from the vision, dies shortly thereafter but has just enough time to record her visions and to write that she no longer hates the gods but sees that their very presence is the answer she always needed.

My Thoughts:

When I read this for the first time 20 years ago I have to admit, I didn’t understand what Lewis was driving at or even trying to accomplish beyond retelling one of his favorite myths. And that is another reason Why I Re-Read Books. Therefore I stand before you today to announce that I completely understand this book now and every detailed nuance is as a flashing neon sign to my vast and experienced intellect.

Hahahahahahahaahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

Oh man, yeah, right. * wipes tears of laughter away *

While I enjoyed this and thought Lewis did a masterful job of writing, I don’t understand what he was trying to get across any better than I did all those years ago.

Let me be clear though. That is completely on me. I have about one teaspoon’s worth of artistry in my 165lb frame (which is about a fingernail clipping’s worth) and I have used it up choosing black suspenders and a black bow tie to wear to church. When an author chooses to do something literary, it either passes right over my head (like this) or it comes across as pretentious and I rip the guy a new one. I need the obvious, the hammer over the head, the straight up statement. Allegory is not my thing and I feel like I’m color blind.

I still did enjoy this but I don’t think I’ll ever re-read it again. I will stick to Lewis’ other works where he simply spells out what he’s trying to say.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Great Divorce ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Great Divorce
Series: ———-
Author: C.S. Lewis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Allegory
Pages: 113
Words: 30K



Synopsis:

The narrator gets on a bus with a large group of people, many of whom end up never even making it onto the bus. The bus flies to another country which seems to be some sort of hinterlands of Heaven. The narrator overhears many conversations between the occupants of the bus and people come from the main land of Heaven to help them. Most of what he overhears are reasons why the bus occupants don’t want to really go to heaven and why it just makes more sense for them to get back on the bus and go back to the grey town, even though rumors of a final night time fast approaching keep cropping up.

The narrator awakes as C.S. Lewis and he makes it clear no one should use this story as a guide to the afterlife.

My Thoughts:

This is technically a re-read, as I read this in Bibleschool in the late 90’s. While I wasn’t writing reviews or even keeping track of what books I read back then (that didn’t start until April of 2000), this book stuck in my head, mainly because of the disagreement I had with Lewis about the subject matter. That was important because it was the first time I really had a disagreement with Lewis, before this I’d pretty much vacuumed up everything he said. So I knew going into this re-read that I was still going to have that disagreement. While that was the case, I was also able to better appreciate the many other points he made during this short little novel, hence the 4 stars.

So the disagreement mainly centers around 2 things. First, the immortality of the soul and soul sleep. While this wasn’t an issue back in the 90’s, my views have changed over the years and I’ve come into the 7th Day Adventist viewpoint, so that’s something Lewis (and Protestantism in general) and I disagree on. I don’t believe in the immortality of the soul and I believe that when you die you sleep, in some form or other, until the Final Judgement. Lewis believes differently, hence the very idea of the book. Secondly, Lewis seems to be proposing some sort of pseudo-purgatory with the Grey Town and the ability of the occupants of the bus to leave it and go to Heaven. He does directly address this issue and claims that isn’t what he’s doing, but it is really hard to accept any other interpretation. While God is outside of Time, humanity ONLY has its lifetime to make a choice of whether to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and go to heaven or to reject Jesus Christ and go to hell.

To put it plainly, once you die, that is it. You have run out of time to make a choice. While it sounds nice to talk about God being outside of time, blah, blah, blah, the Bible seems pretty clear on the issue of having to make your choice of whether to follow God or not in this life and having that choice in this life alone. Obviously, there are other interpretations and I’m not worried that someone who is a committed Christian is going to suddenly go off the rails and think they can somehow get right with God after they die. What I worry about with the purgatory style doctrine is that puts off the necessity of making a decision NOW. If they’re wrong, then it is too late and they’re going to hell. I’m playing super fast and loose here, but I don’t think this is the place to have a Scripture session about why I think so and backing everything up with specific chapter and verse from the Bible. That type of talk is for someone who is already interested in the issue and has questions, not for a bleeding book review, hahahahaa.

With those issues out of the way, which while I talked about them a bit, were much smaller in my mind this time around, I was really able to focus on the rest of the book. Lewis does a fantastic job of showing a wide variety of reasons why people CHOOSE to not go to Heaven. He makes a real push to show that people are not kept out of Heaven who are clamoring to get it, but that people voluntarily choose not to go in because of Reason A, B or C. God and sin cannot co-exist and hence Heaven must be a place where there is no sin. If people won’t give up their sin, they have in fact chosen their sin over heaven. While that sounds simplistic, it is that easy to spell out.

I didn’t take notes on the various conversations recorded, so I’m not going to go through and talk about each one, but Lewis does an admirable job of showing in layman’s terms, why people hold on to certain things even to their own detriment. He is also able to show the underlying narrative and self-deceptions that people twist themselves into to justify their rejection of God, Jesus and the inability of sin and God co-existing. It wasn’t new or “eye opening”, but it was a timely reminder to me.

I think I will end this by saying that God is Good, God is Great and in the end, every knee will bow to His Sovereignty and acknowledge His Very Rightness. That is really awkwardly phrased but it seems to properly convey the end of the matter.

★★★★☆

Master Humphrey’s Clock

Master Humphrey’s Clock
Charles Dickens
Classic
3 Stars
144 Pages

an old man and 3 others sit around and palaver. Basically this was a serialization between novels. It was not a story in and of itself. Not very interesting. The only thing going for it was the inclusion of Pickwick and the Weller’s.

The House on Parchment Street

The House on Parchment Street
Patricia McKillip
YA fiction
3 stars
190 pages

a young girl moves to England for a month to visit relatives. During that time, she and her cousin Bruce uncover and solve a 300 yearold mystery of a young girl’s ghost. This novel, like the one above, was very much about self-discovery and finding out about other people. Enjoyable simply because they are completely different from her fantasy writings.