Camille Pissarro, “Two Women Chatting by the Sea, St. Thomas,” 1856

When I first picked up Alice Hoffman’s The Marriage of Opposites, I assumed the title referred to the reluctant union of the primary protagonist, Rachel Pomié, to a man similar in age to her father. A bold young woman, educated and adventurous, Rachel dreams of rain and a life in Paris, a city far from the tiny Caribbean island of her birth.

“Heat was at the core of our lives, a shape-shifter that never was too far from the door. It made me want to step out of my clothes and dive into another life, one where there were linden…


HBO

As the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire series, penned by the prolific George R. R. Martin, comes to a close, Daenerys Targaryen is adrift in the Dothraki sea. She has returned to the land of Khal Drogo, her sun-and-stars, and is once again under the sky that watched her become a woman, khaleesi, and true-blooded Targaryen. Rather than riding on a silver horse, she arrives on a dragon’s back, fleeing Meereen and the uncertainty of her future. …


Black dress, white arms, dark hair, and delicate fingers… could be a portrait of Anna Karenina (artwork credit: http://maherartgallery.blogspot.com/2013/06/vladimir-pervuninsky.html)

Though the book is named for her, fifty pages pass before Anna Karenina makes her first appearance. Within those opening pages, we are introduced to Anna’s brother Oblonsky, whose extramarital affair has provoked his wife Dolly to tears and a request for divorce. We also encounter Levin, a friend of Oblonsky who is in love with Dolly’s sister, the beautiful and much-admired Kitty. While Oblonsky has dishonored his vows to Dolly and is struggling to keep her in the marriage, Levin dreams of an idyllic, even sacred relationship with Kitty, with whom he feels certain of achieving perfect marital bliss…


Bathsheba Everdene, Far from the Madding Crowd’s tragically beautiful heroine, is the figure around whom revolves the passions and intrigues of the novel. She is the magnet that attracts and binds all the characters, most notably the humble shepherd Gabriel, the gentleman farmer Boldwood, and the dashing soldier Troy. Yet Bathsheba’s beauty is as much her source of pride and power as it is her fatal vulnerability. She draws confidence from her graceful form, which elevates her above the common crowd of humanity; and yet it is this very superiority that captivates Boldwood and Troy, the men whose selfish desire…


“Liberty Leading the People” (photo credit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Liberty-Leading-the-People)

In the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities, the white-haired prisoner, Dr. Manette, is recalled to life and returns to a fulfilling earthly existence, having been dug out of the prison that was his grave. At the end of the story, it is Sydney Carton, the downtrodden lawyer, who finds his true life by giving up his earthly one. Though the character of their resurrection is unique to each — Dr. Manette in the physical world, Sydney Carton in the spiritual one — the cause of their salvation is the same: Lucie Manette. This golden woman is the one…


Heather on the moor (photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wendsphotography/14897372271)

In her essay on Wuthering Heights, Virginia Woolf writes, “There is love, but it is not the love of men and women.” Woolf makes this claim as part of her larger idea that Emily Brontë wrote due to a desire to unveil the inexplicable and sublime forces which govern the cosmos, as well as the complex nature of mankind. I would argue that Woolf’s statement about love in Wuthering Heights also points to a critical theme of the novel, namely the fluidity of gender and the transformative power of love. Through her characters Catherine and Heathcliff, Emily Brontë radically redefines…


It will come as no surprise that when I was preparing to study abroad in France, one of the things that I most looked forward to was the food. I dreamed constantly about the bakeries, anticipating the fresh crusty baguettes and the delicately layered desserts in pastel and fruity colors.

“Fait maison” = made in house

Peaks of the Smoky Mountains, the range parallel to the Blue Ridge (photo credit: http://www.fyiaonly.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Great-Smoky-Mountains.jpg)

Thirteen Moons begins with a reflection on the end — the end of a human life and the end of an era. The protagonist, Will Cooper, is an elderly man adrift in a modern world. “Resolutely antique,” as he calls himself, Will belongs to the bygone age of rugged frontiers and untamed country. His heart remains in that time, refusing to embrace the intrusive and overpoweringly noisy new era of thundering railroads, growling automobiles, and whining telephones. Lonely and nostalgic to the point of despondency, he withdraws to his front porch and keeps company with his memories, those “pitiful and…


The lake at sunset: a time for reflection

With summer heat and COVID-19 keeping me indoors, I have taken the opportunity to open the books on my shelves that I haven’t had a chance to read. Evidence of my tastes and growth over the years, my collection ranges from some of my first chapter books to classic works of literature. A few weeks ago, my eye caught on a book that falls somewhere in the middle: A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly’s award-winning novel for young adults.

Given that label, A Northern Light redeems a rather disappointing genre. I have found that many of the books classified as “young…


Place Royale du Peyrou, Montpellier

I have often heard the saying that “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” but I never believed in it. I guess it would be more accurate to say that I simply didn’t agree with it because I had never felt that way. For me, distance meant time, and time meant the healing of wounds and the loss of memories, both good and bad. Recently, however, I have begun to change my mind. It has now been almost two years since I studied abroad in Montpellier, France. As a French & Francophone Studies minor from William & Mary, I spent the…

Hana Liebman

William & Mary grad who loves to write about books, especially when accompanied by tea, cookies, and my mischievous gray tabby.

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