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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler
Ramona - Helen Hunt Jackson, Michael Dorris, Valerie Sherer Mathes As three stars indicates, I liked this book. Actually, I wish I could give it 3.5. I'm glad I read it, but I don't think I could do it again as it was so sad. I can't believe I'd never heard of it before, especially since I was a born and raised until I was 12 in San Diego. I guess in grade school, they don't begin yet to touch on the injustices done to the Native Americans and even to the Mexicans. We were still just learning what a mission was and some Spanish words. But I was in SD this spring and took time to go by myself to the San Diego History Museum in Balboa Park, and there, on a placard, I read a bit about the dreadful history of the Native Americans in Southern California along with mention of this "famous" book that fictionalized it. I didn't actually expect the Seattle library to have it, but they did. It's a very long book and I admit to skimming the last 100 pages or so because it was just so damned depressing and I could see what was coming. But the first 300 was a pleasure. Now I've read a number of reviews that call the book propaganda or boringly stilted and I take exception to the grumbling. Of *course* it's propaganda. Helen Hunt Jackson gave the best years of her life trying to convince the American gov't to ease up on the Indians (esp. with her book, A Century of Dishonor)and finally, in desperation, she wrote Ramona as a way to "move people's hearts." She had hoped that Romona would be the Uncle Tom's Cabin of California natives. Sadly, her wildly popular novel, although printed in 300 editions, adapted for 4 films, and turned into a play that has run every year in CA since 1923, was taken as more of a lady's romance than a political statement. Addressing the other common complaint, of *course* it's stilted. It was written in 1884! Did people honestly expect a breezy, modern style? Given the intent, the period, and the writer, I think the book is wonderful and I would give it more stars if it hadn't been so depressing for me personally. As an historical document, I think it's still important to read. It's out of copyright, so it's available for free online. I will say that Jackson's book helped change the way people viewed the Native Americans of S. CA and it created an emormous influx of tourist dollars into the area when the railroad finally went there. Everyone wanted to see where "Ramona" lived, married, & died. She was sort of the Harry Potter of the turn of the century. Now if only the letters between Jackson and her friend Emily Dickenson still survived, that would be real reading! They were born 2 months apart in Amherst, went to school togther, and wrote letters to one another all their lives.