Tag Archives: lost

Book Review: BUtterfield 8 by John O’Hara

BUtterfield 8 by John O'Hara Title: BUtterfield 8
Author: John O’Hara
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780143124689
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I remember the first time I watched BUtterfield 8. I was dazzled by the plot and more so by Elizabeth Taylor. I grew up some. I grew up some more. At twenty-five I realized that it was adapted from a book by the same title, written by John O’Hara and I could not wait to get my hands on it and devour it. I searched everywhere – high and low, but could not find it anywhere. This was way before the online shopping mania struck us. Somehow, I managed to find three of his novels in one book – Appointment in Samarra, BUtterfield 8 and Hope of Heaven. I devoured BUtterfield 8 in one sitting and loved it.

It was Elizabeth Taylor who played Gloria Wandrous so well, that somehow she stayed in my mind. I lost my copy and then got a chance to reread it – a fantastic Penguin Drop Cap edition of the book and it just felt the same way, the first time I read it.

BUtterfield 8 is set in New York. It is New York in 1931 and it is glamorous and ruthless at the same time. It is a society yet to pick up its pieces from the Great Depression and yet it puts on a show and façade for all to see. One Sunday morning, Gloria wakes up in a stranger’s apartment, with a torn evening dress, stockings and a pair of panties. She has nothing to wear. She steals a mink coat from the wardrobe and starts a chain of events – all strangers interconnected by that one action of hers – which but obviously only ends in tragedy for her. This in short is the plot of the book.

O’Hara’s story is bold and candid and Gloria somehow becomes an icon. An icon that no one wants to aspire to be, however she does instil courage and determination in readers. O’Hara’s pen gives us lines full of wit, candour and irony. The only problem with BUtterfield 8 is that there are too many characters in it – that flash and go and then come back, leaving the reader confused at some point.

I guess the beauty of his novels lay in honesty. He told it like he saw it, without sugar-coating anything and in that, lays the genius of a writer. I knew that there could be no other end to the story and yet the writing somehow makes you hopeful to want more for Gloria, than just a doomed love-affair. I guess if that kind of powerful writing hits you, then all you need is hot chocolate and to switch off the cell-phone and devour this book in one straight sitting.

Here is the trailer of the movie starring Elizabeth Taylor:

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

We always have liked to believe that Alice’s Adevntures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a book for children and while it is, one cannot ignore the fact that is a book for adults as well. I have just finished reading it and to be very honest, when I first read it as a child, I found it very boring. I mean at that age I did not want to read of a seven-year old girl tumbling down a hole into nothingness, and here I was re-reading it almost after 18 years and loved it this time.

We all know what Alice in Wonderland (as most popularly known) is all about. Alice is bored on a hot afternoon and follows the elusive White Rabbit down a rabbit-hole without thinking of how she will get out. She needs adventure and sure does get it. She tumbles into Wonderland, where animals speak, a baby turns into a pig, The Queen of Hearts wants to chop everyone’s heads off, time stands still at a party, Alice grows and shrinks by the minute, and it is here that Alice is lost, or so it seems.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was inspired by Lewis Carroll (Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – I am so not surprised as to why he wrote under the pen name of Lewis Carroll) while he was making up a story for his young friend, Alice Lidell on a boat trip. It is from this girl he drew inspiration to write this gem of a book.

I loved some of the quotes of this book:

…and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

‘Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,’ thought Alice; ‘but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!’

‘Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
‘I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone: ‘so I ca’n’t take more.’
‘You mean you ca’n’t take less,’ said the Hatter: ‘it’s very easy to take more than nothing.’

Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. `Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?’ he asked.

`Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, `and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’

The version that I was reading contained pictures from the original edition which were drawn by John Tenniel and they are brilliant. Here is my favourite one of the Tea Party. My one and only problem with the book is that Alice does not seem happy, she is sulking most of the time and I wonder why. Is it because her innocence was lost a little too soon? Keeps me thinking.