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Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


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Review of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving


Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com: The story is set in 1790 in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town (historical Tarrytown, New York), in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow.

The "Legend" relates the tale of Ichabod Crane, a lean, lanky and extremely superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut, who competes with Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer, Baltus Van Tassel. Crane, a Yankee and an outsider, sees marriage to Katrina as a means of procuring Van Tassel's extravagant wealth.


My Review:

 
In honor of the fact that many people here in the USA will soon celebrate Halloween, I have chosen a book, or rather a story, which reflects the Halloween mood. The Legend of Sleepy Hallow is of course a classic favorite. It has been so long since the last time that I read it that I wrongly assumed that it was a novel instead of a short story.


Still, I have always loved it. It is a great story which seemed unique to me from the first time I read it. The style of the writing is much more in the period of the time yet I have found it much easier to read than many of the works of Charles Dickens. 

One of the most obvious ways that it differs from modern stories is that three main characters emerge (or perhaps four if you include the headless horseman as a character as well). The first one is the one that I remember most—one Ichabod Crane. Mr. Crane is a local school teacher who is attempting to settle down in the area where he now lives when the story opens. In life he loves chiefly two things: food and girls. However he also hopes to improve his wealth with his latest pursuit of a local young Dutchwoman whose father owns a great deal of land.

The next main character is naturally the young lady herself. Her name is Katrina and she is described as attractive as well as plump. Boy how times have changed. She is also apparently quite a catch since many of the local bachelors have all tried, more or less unsuccessfully, to court her. She always keeps them guessing though.

Our final character is one Brom Bones who is also one of Katrina’s suitors. He is nearly the complete opposite of Crane. While Crane is the thin and scholarly type, Bones sounds more like what we would now call a jock. He is a big, burly sort of guy, or at least that’s how I had always pictured him.

In our story, Sleepy Hallow is haunted by one Headless Horseman. Brom Bones himself has boosted of nearly beating the horseman in a horse race. He claims that the same horseman disappeared as he passed a bridge otherwise he would have one. It is this claim that later leads to Crane’s own disappearance in connection with the same horseman.

Overall, this is still a great story. I enjoyed reading it. I think I could read it over and over again and not get bored. I try to imagine what really happened to Ichabod after I finished reading it. Last time I was trying to figure out who the horseman was. I still wonder about that but now I wonder more about Ichabod. What happened to him? Where is he now? Think about the next time you visit an isolated wooded area and keep a look out for the Headless Horseman.

Monday, October 12, 2015

High Plains Justice

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Review of High Plains Justice by Maryk Lewis

Overview from www.barnesandnoble.com:

Hot lead flew, and blood flowed freely in 1859. The Cheyenne were raiding. When outlaws gunned down two sleepy cowpokes, and rode off with a thousand Texas longhorns, their main problem was what to do with the slow-moving cattle. Johnnie Bell’s problem lay in getting them back. The army couldn’t help — they had the marauding Indians to deal with. Texas Rangers had no jurisdiction once the cattle were over the border, and other settlers had their own homes and herds to guard. Luckily for Johnnie, he had two Comanche friends with points to prove, and along the way he met up with a feisty widow woman, who had lost both husband and herd to the self-same rustlers.

My Review:

Sorry again for the long absence but thankfully the book I pulled out of my Nook this week, or rather last week, to read, was rather short. Otherwise I might have taken twice as long to post this review since it would have taken me twice as long to read. The good news is that this new class I am taking at the university is teaching me new things so you should probably expect some changes in the future. For example, this week I have changed the font. Not earth shattering, I know, but hey, it’s something.
Anyway, back to the review. Our story this week seemed at first to be your run of the mill Western which takes place in Texas. We have Johnnie Bell, our main character, out one day minding his own business herding cattle when he encounters a problem. Some men come from out of nowhere and steal their cattle. Like I said a run of the mill Western.
The fun comes when he and his coworkers decide to go after them. Law enforcement officials are busy, very busy with “trouble at the border.” Then they discover that there are others in the area that have also had cattle stolen. One of them lost his life and left behind a wife. Enter Mary-Lou. She has a reputation of someone who has lived a sheltered life on southern plantation with no head for herding cattle but she’s about to prove them all wrong.
With the army and other law enforcement busy with the border, the men and one woman must take it upon themselves to discover who took their cattle, track them down, and get their cattle back. And they all have a lot invested in the outcome of this sad business.
The story overall was a good one. There were some typos that I noticed but they didn’t detract from the story too much. Also interesting was the use of British spellings which tells me one of two things:
  • The writer is British or from a country that uses British spellings (that is not the USA)
  • The book was published in England or a country which uses British spellings.
Keeping those two possibilities in mind, it is interesting to think that this story might have been written by someone who is not American. That seems unusual to me so I found it interesting.
The story was interesting and not too drawn out. Overall, I found it to be interesting. It was a good, clean story even if it wasn’t great. Worth a read since it’s free.