This is one of the new Little Black Classics that Penguin have released after the success of their first 80. The second batch are a little bit longer, which makes me incredibly happy as they published this little gem. It came on to my radar a couple of years ago after seeing a couple of booktubers /bloggers recommend it and I’m so glad I finally got around to it.
Daphnis and Chloe follows Daphnis (a goatherd) and Chloe (a shepherdess), who fall in love without actually understanding what these feelings they have for each other are. They learn about what they’re feeling through a frankly baffling series of events, some of which involve nymphs and pirates! Both were found abandoned as infants by their respective families, and along the way they both come to learn of their origins. It is really, really quite a sweet tale and it just warmed my heart a little bit!
One thing I wasn’t expecting is that it is actually quite a hilarious book. I found myself openly laughing at certain parts of their absolute confusion, at some of the situations they somehow got themselves in to. It was actually quite refreshing to be able to get in to a classic book without any effort. I’d seriously recommend this to anyone who wants to just try something new, this series of books is so good for that! So, this book I’ll happily give 4* to, it wasn’t quite perfect but I loved it nonetheless.
Quite shamefully, I’d never read this book until this year. I’d read the first chapter numerous times but had just never been in the mood to dedicate time to it. However, I swore this Christmas I would find time and upon seeing a readalong for it, I did find time. Simply, I’m so glad I did.
The plot is quite menial really; following 4 sisters who were each wonderful in a unique way. From what other people had said, I was expecting to love Jo. Truthfully, I found her quite annoying in spite of the fact she is a lot more ‘modern’. She did grow on me, quite substantially, but I found her quite frustrating at times. On the other hand, I loved Beth which really surprised me; I can’t say I’m usually a fan of the meek and mild, gentle female. I usually find female characters like that really irritating, but truthfully I found her very endearing. But Jo did grow on me, it would have been pretty bleak if she hadn’t and I can tell how much of herself that Alcott put in to Jo and by the end of the book, I’m glad it was happy for her. Marmee annoyed the heck out of me though. I can understand how in reading this book young, the quotes, morals and lessons she has for every occasion would be charming. Now if I had a mother like her I’d have moved out quite a while ago! She would drive me to insanity.
On a different note, I loved the simplicity of it. Often there are little quirks and underlying titbits that can be overlooked in fiction aimed at girls on the brink of teenager-dom. Not here. This book is so sickeningly sweet and straight forward it was a pleasure to read (once I got in to the ‘language’ which is often a hard thing with a classic). I also listened to some of it on audiobook (on youtube) which I think really helped me get in to the characters; and maybe altered the opinion I would have had on them had I have read it all myself because there was one particular narrator (as it was free it was read by varying people) who really got the personalities of the girls right down, and I think she’s the reason I really liked Beth! She just read all 4 of them so flawlessly it was much easier to give them voices when I then went on to read ‘properly’.
I’m glad I read this, it’s not my favourite children’s classic. I prefer The Secret Garden or Ballet Shoes if I were to pick two books that are comparable to this. But it is a beautiful book, and one I would very happily recommend.
When looking for this book, I settled on the Penguin Clothbound edition as I had some Amazon credit and naturally when I signed up for the classical readalong, I had to have a pretty edition to read. I didn’t bother to look at the better translations, I just went for the book that would look prettiest on my shelf. I don’t care.
So, as I bought and read this for the classical readalong, I was naturally going to compare it to The Odyssey as I read it. Firstly, unlike The Odyssey this is a verse translation – though it was more free verse and, as someone who doesn’t find poetry the easiest thing to read, it seemed like some deconstructed sentences to me. I did however find myself easily falling in to the pattern of the writing and I became very easily lost in it for much longer than I thought I had been. I found the style of this much more like a short story collection, or maybe a poetry collection.
Also, unlike The Odyssey, this book ‘had me at hello’ .
As anyone who follows this blog will know, I’m challenging myself this August with the Classical Read Along, hosted by the very lovely Jean over at BookishThoughts on youtube. So the first half of the month is focusing on Greek literature, in this case Homer’s The Odyssey.
The edition I’m reviewing is the Penguin Clothbound Classics edition, translated by E. V. Rieu (revised by D. C. Rieu). Which is, of course, beautiful to look at (always a pro)!
So, at present I’m still struggling along with Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (which, I have to add, is going on forever) but, thanks to a wonderful part of the internet known as Booktube, I’ve found a whole host of new bookishly-minded folk to increase my reading variety. This is what brings me to the main topic of discussion – Classical Literature. Now, I’ve always had a keen interest in ancient history. I’ve always loved reading about Greeks and Romans and, particularly, Egyptians but I’ve read a woefully small amount of literature from antiquity. Last summer I read Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths and you can find a full review over at goodreads but I have to say, I think maybe it wasn’t the best place to have started with classical literature. So, Jean over at bookishthoughts is running a read-along August – during the month the goal is to read The Odyssey by Homer and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Jean has also suggested reading Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy as the Cannongate modern retellings of the stories, which I am more than happy to do as I adore both of those books and I’d quite like to read the stories they’re both modern adaptations of.
I’m quite lucky in that I already have a beautiful Penguin clothbound edition of The Odyessey and I’m thinking I might invest in Ovid in the recently released clothbound also, just because they’re beautiful:
If anyone is interested in joining this Classical Literature readalong, there is a group on goodreads, anyone is welcome to join! I’m really, really excited about this – having been wanting to widen my reading a lot lately. So yes! This is what my reading future looks like and I like it, a lot!