Tuesday, September 19, 2023

1000 Books Project - Update on The House of the Spirits read-along and plans for the Beloved read-along

Just wanted to post a quick update on The House of the Spirits. I had intended on posting the next discussion on September 16th. Clearly that didn't happen. I will post the final discussion, over the second half of the book on Sunday, October 1st. If you missed the discussion over the first half of the book, you can check that out here.

I've decided to move the Beloved (Toni Morrison) read-along to November. I have way too much reading on my plate in October (because...spooky season) so November will work better for me. Hope that's okay for everyone who is reading along. I'll post the reading schedule sometime in October.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

1000 Books Project - The House of the Spirits Discussion One

Yes, I realize I am totally off schedule with the first two reading sections. I apologize. I can't explain what happened in August. I'll just say it wasn't pretty. lol

This book is truly wonderful. It's loaded with magical realism which I love. But it also takes a good look at class differences in 20th century South America. The politics spoken about, and the mention of Socialism, made me think of current murmurings in American politics. Esteban Trueba is a right bastard. It has been a while since I've disliked a character this much. His treatment of the women in and around Tres Marias, and his clear disdain for all women..."I didn't dare leave my house, where there was clearly need for a man among so many hysterical women" is almost unbearable to read. The earthquake was terrible. His beating of Blanca was horrible. He certainly deserved for Clara to never speak to him/have anything to do with him from that point on. We shall see what transpires in the second half of the book. 

I remember the film The House of the Spirits and I was looking at the cast online. How very white-washed. Jeremy Irons as Esteban. Meryl Streep as Clara. Winona Ryder as Blanca. Glenn Close as Ferula. The only Hispanic actors were Antonio Banderas as Pedro Tercero, Sarita Choudhury as Pancha, and a few others in supporting, and other minor, roles. I did enjoy the film, and plan a rewatch after finishing the book, but I can only hope that if this film was made in the present day, it would feature a far more diverse cast. 

One of the reasons we are reading this book is in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month which runs from September 15 through October 15. And, of course, as a banned book...

Though the novel has never been officially banned, it has faced several challenges in schools since the time of its publication in 1982, often being characterized as “pornagraphic”, “immoral” and “defaming the Catholic faith”. The most recent, and perhaps most significant, challenge came about in 2013 when several parents at a North Carolina high school raised formal complaints to the school board regarding the book being a part of the English curriculum. The book was retained after three appeals and a defense letter from Isabel Allende herself. In the letter, the author writes:

“I find myself in the unusual and awkward position of having to “defend” my novel The House of the Spirits that risks being banned from a high school in Boone, North Carolina. Banning of books is a common practice in police states, like Cuba or North Korea, and by religious fundamentalist groups like the Taliban, but I did not expect it in our democracy…” 

What did you think of the first half of the book? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

I will make a concerted effort to post the next discussion on time, according to the reading schedule. Thank you for bearing with me.