Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo

My poor blog! How I have neglected you! Here I am again, with good intentions to keep you updated on a semi-regular basis....

Hullo readers! (Assuming I have any readers left on the face of the earth.) Do you believe me when I say I have good intentions? Of course you do. You simply shouldn't believe that I will fulfill those good intentions, that's all...

Anywho. I wrote this book review a while ago (awhile? a while?) and thought I might as well post it before another day of procrastinating-blog-stuff went by. ;)

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It wasn't a very smart idea to open the book, I knew. My list of books-halfway-read-and-waiting-to-be-finished was way too long already, and the last thing I wanted was to add to it. But I picked it up anyway.

A few hours later, when I put the book down for the last time that read, I had finished a miraculous journey of my own. For books are always miraculous, aren't they? Whether good or bad, they take us to places and introduce us to people - and china rabbits - we would never lay eyes on otherwise. This particular journey took me everywhere from the bottom of the sea to a toyshop.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. On to the book review!


What was it about?

It was about a china rabbit - I think to call him a "toy rabbit" would offend him - named Edward Tulane. At the beginning of the story, he's very proud of his own finery and loveliness (his ears and tail are made of real rabbit fur) and is quite spoiled by his mistress, the little girl Abilene (he has a magnificent wardrobe of clothes). But there's no love in his little rabbit heart, any more than there is hardship in his little rabbit life. All that begins to change when he falls overboard off the Queen Mary.

It really reminded me of The Velveteen Rabbit. It also was a bit like Black Beauty in the way the main character is an animal (well, a toy animal) who changes hands many times throughout the book. So, The Velveteen Rabbit meets Black Beauty? Rather interesting.

What were the characters like?

Edward's character development was good. He's such an egotistical snob at first, but by the end - oh, Edward. By the end my heart was aching for him. Actually it was aching for him the whole way through, because how can you be such a lucky rabbit with such a wonderful life and not even love Abilene back?

The sweet characters were darling. I loved them all. Abilene, and Bull, and Sarah Ruth, and Bryce, and - oh, they were just so lovable. And they were so well developed! Looking back, I realize all of them had their own voices that reflected their personalities and their pasts, and - well, they were just really endearing.

There were a few characters I had mixed feelings about. Such as Abilene's grandmother, whose name escapes me at the moment. Something that started with a P. Pellegrina, perhaps. (And why did Abilene call her grandmother by her first name? Was that weird? Or is that something French people do? They were French, right?)

And then there were a few characters I hated. Characters whom I loathed to the very marrow of my bones. And I'm not so sure it was in a good way, either. I mean, every now and then there was a character who was just mean, with no apparent reason to be mean, and his (or her) cruelty was just so blatant and nasty and unnecessary that I wanted to punch them in the nose.

(Hopefully this isn't something I have to confess in the Confessional. "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned - I harbored feelings of hatred towards the toyshop owner in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.") 

Was there anything not-so-great about it?

Kate DiCamillo seems to have a very profound sense that the world is bleeding - that everyone has a hidden sorrow, that everyone is hurting deeply. This is predominantly a good thing, I think - more on it in a minute - but it can also lend a feeling of darkness to her works which I'm not so sure I like. The book began happily, sunnily, carelessly - but as it went on it got darker, and darker, and darker, and darker. With every new person Edward met, he discovered new sorrows, new tragedies. By the time he left the possession of Sarah Ruth, it had gotten downright...horrible. My heart felt as though it was being crushed under a burdensome weight. It's not exactly a flaw in the book - it's a testament to the beauty of the writing, I think, that I could get so emotionally into it in a few hours - but it was just so heavy I don't know if I would feel good giving it to a child. I mean, it touched on some pretty hefty topics, like drinking.

And did I mention the sheer, downright, unreasonable cruelty of some of the villainous characters? Ugh! They were so twisted. My knuckles are itching just thinking about that toyshop owner.

Also, it was implied that Abilene's grandmother was similar to a witch in ways. But Abilene's grandmother was a force for good in the story, and witches are evil, so.... That mixture of good and evil sorta made me squirm a wee little bit.

What was lovely and beautiful in it?

Very, very much of it was lovely and beautiful. Kate DiCamillo's style - oh! Her prose! It is so lovely and beautiful methinks I shall die. Seriously, I want to be able to write the way she does. Her writing voice is simple, and whimsical, and conversational, and - just sweet.


And despite the heaviness of it, I really do like the theme of sorrow. It's an interesting thing to think about, and I've often thought of it myself - how everyone has some deep pain in his life, some old scar or still-bleeding wound, whether or not it's apparent. I just might steal that theme for my Ellen story.

Darkness gave way to light in this story - the light of love. And I really, really liked the way that love was portrayed, not as something merely pleasant and cheerful, but as something that takes effort, something that hurts.


So! There are my thoughts on The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. :) Have you read this? If so, did you enjoy it? Do you like stories about toys and sorrow and miraculous journeys? :)




3 comments:

  1. Wow, that sounds DEEP! I don't know if I personally would enjoy it--but I'm really happy to know it's such a beautiful story, if you know what I mean :-)

    And I know Edward might not like being called "cute," but I have to say it, because he IS cute. (Soary, Edward.)

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    1. Haha! I think when characters don't like to be called cute it makes them cuter still. Like Reepicheep in The Chronicles of Narnia. :)

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    2. I agree! Reepicheep is adorable :)

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