Showing posts with label Bibliotherapy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bibliotherapy. Show all posts

Monday, January 30, 2023

Bibliotherapy - Persuasion by Jane Austin, Love or money?

What happens when we dismiss love for ulterior motives? Persuasion by Jane Austin describes the situation through the perspective of Anne Elliot,, a middle child of an aristocratic family in England in the early 1800s. Some consider it Austin's greatest novel.

Anne is dissuaded from accepting Frederick Wentworth’s proposal of marriage because he has no social status and no money. Anne’s family and friends are very class conscious in a time when a woman’s place in the world depended more on her husband’s status and wealth than on her own.

Vanity trumps love and the novel is about the suffering that results..

The story is one that occurs in a historical context that society has evolved through and yet the back story about the importance of love in our life satisfaction and fulfillment is enduring.

Given the customs and norms of the times the story is interesting and believable. The characters are well developed and gain our sympathy and empathy. The moral of the story is not to let ulterior motives squash love. The question of love or money is as alive today as it was back in the 1800s.

Articles about bibliotherapy appear on Markham's Behavioral Health most Mondays and accessed by clicking on the tag "bibliotherapy" at the bottom of the post.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Bibliotherapy - Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Plainsong is a story of multiple abandonments and multiple helpers. Victoria, a 17 year old pregnant high school student is abandoned by her boyfriend and her mother and goes to her Home Economics teacher, Maggie Jones, who winds up arranging for her to live with two taciturn senior bachelor farmers, Harold and Raymond McPherson. Meanwhile a colleague of Maggie’s, Tom Guthrie and his two sons, Ike and Bobby, are abandoned by his wife. Tom is friends with the McPhersons and with Maggie. The two boys often visit the McPherson farm with their father. The boys also are befriended by an elderly woman, Mrs. Stearns, to whom they deliver the newspaper, and Mrs. Stearns teach the boys how to bake cookies.

While this story is rife with heartache and rejection, it also is fueled by kindness and support from unexpected places. It reminds me of Mr. Rogers' story about his mother telling him, “Freddie, when you’re in trouble look for the helpers.”

The helpers are available in life and even though the story is full of heartache and pain, it also is optimistic and positive about the goodness of people even in the face of abandonment by others.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf is one of my favorite novels and I recommend it often. It was made into a Hallmark movie in 2004 which is good, but not as good as the novel.

Articles about bibliotherapy appear on Markham's Behavioral Health most Mondays.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Bibliotherapy - Skylight by Jose Saramago

 Skylight by Jose Saramago

Ordinary people with ordinary lives each with its own drama.

From Amazon web site : Lisbon, late-1940s. The inhabitants of an old apartment block are struggling to make ends meet. There’s the elderly shoemaker and his wife who take in a solitary young lodger; the woman who sells herself for money and jewelry; the cultivated family come down in the world; and the beautiful typist whose boss can’t keep his eyes off her.

Poisonous relationships, happy marriages, jealousy, gossip and love – Skylight brings together the joys and grief of ordinary people. One of his earliest novels, it provides an entry into Saramago’s universe but was lost for decades and published, as per his wishes, after his death.

Skylight is reportedly one of Saramago’s first novels which he wrote in his 30s and was never published until after his death. It is about the tenants of an apartment building in Lisbon, Portugal, in the late 1940s. Each of the families is quite different although they live together and their lives are interconnected. 

Along with the gossip and intrigue are philosophical reflections on the meaning of life manifested in their behavior and in their conversations. A student of human behavior and emotional life will find the characters and their daily struggles familiar, understandable, and perhaps imitable or not.

Some of the characters are happy, some confused, some perturbed. 

Skylight is a good book for a discussion group. It would be interesting to see what characters people identify with and why. Skylight also describes many interactions and interpersonal dynamics that are ripe for description and understanding. How might situations have been handled differently to bring about better results?

Skylight is recommended to people interested in human nature and what makes people tick. The characters are ordinary people living ordinary lives but each filled with drama of their own making. The degree of self awareness is variable among the characters with Sylvestre, the cobbler, seeming to be the most mature of them all.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - Review

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a dystopian novel about a future country in which religious, puritanical depots have taken over the government. Human reproduction is intensely regulated by setting up a system in which  procreating surrogates called “handmaids” are taken into the households of government officials called “commanders”. These commanders have wives who oversee the insemination of the maternal surrogates by their husbands in a highly controlled depersonalized manner. These handmaids are under almost constant surveillance to assure their obedience and compliance with the expectations and requirements of the commanders and their wives.

The premise for this narrative is highly contrived and unrealistic. The characters are stilted, robotic, and predictable. The tone of the narrative is paranoid, secretive and dark. This is not an enjoyable book to read because it is often tedious, unnecessarily detailed, and very slow in plot development with redundant scenes laboriously described.

There is little to learn from reading this story other than the preposterous possible consequences of puritanical sexual repression especially with its damaging consequences for females. Another interesting dynamic is how females participate in the domination and repression of their own sex. It is interesting how men in power use females to implement their own male domination in a patriarchal society to maintain their own male power and dominance.

The depiction of females in this story is not positive except for two female characters who rebel both of whom wind up being further repressed and subjugated. In the end, it is a male who saves the handmaid who is the narrator of the story.

What this story teaches about feminism is not positive but depicts a scenario of extreme female subjugation. What this story teaches about females is that they can be easily taken over and controlled by men who manipulate them for their own power aggrandizement.

In our post Dobbs era where women's bodies have been subject to legal regulation and reproductive decisions have been criminalized, the Narrative of The Handmaid's tale in slowly being implemented in the United States.