Monday, October 26, 2020

"Dracula" by Bram Stoker

An appropriate read for October, don't you think?

I first read Dracula in May of 2000 while on tour in Canada with my college's choir.  I was freshly in love with the TV show Angel and its titular vampire hero, and I decided I ought to read the greatest vampire novel of all time.

Maybe this is not a good book to read while riding on a bus for hour after hour.  Or while missing your first real boyfriend, whom you've been dating for like a month.  Or when you're twenty.  I don't know.  I just remember thinking this book was boring and being mad because my favorite character died.

Reading it again at age 40, after spending half my life intrigued by vampires, but also after having read a whole lot more Victorian fiction?  I reeeeeally dug it.  Boring?  Not at all!  I found it tense and fast-paced, with a excellent suspense that mounted page after page.

And this time, my favorite character didn't die.  Because this time, my favorite character was Abram Van Helsing.  (Sorry, Texan.)  My goodness, what a fount of courage, knowledge, and resourcefulness!  I've never been prouder to be half Dutch.

I really liked the epistolary format that Stoker uses, because it made this feel like everything was happening right now.  Very immediate, and great for building suspense toward the end as different characters told what they were doing, and you know what was happening to others, but they didn't.

(My photo from my Instagram account.)

Particularly Good Bits:

The real God taketh heed lest a sparrow fall; but the god created from human vanity sees no difference between an eagle and a sparrow (p. 142).

What a fine fellow is Quincey!  I believe in my heart of hearts that he suffered as much about Lucy's death as any of us; but he bore himself through it like a moral Viking (p. 238).

We are all drifting reefwards now, and faith is our only anchor (p. 424).

How can women help loving men when they are so earnest, and so true, and so brave! (p. 486)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for scary situations, suspense, and some icky stuff about eating bugs and spiders, plus quite a lot of blood.  It's not gory or graphic like a modern horror novel or thriller, but it's intense sometimes.

This was my seventh book read and reviewed for my third Classics Club list.

18 comments:

  1. I never found this novel boring, but I did want to spend more time with Dracula and less time with everyone else. ;)

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    1. Charity, lol! Considering he's the title character, he doesn't get much page time, huh?

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  2. I had a book with Dracula, Frankenstein, and Jekyll/Hyde in it back when I was a teenager. I read them all, but only loved Frankenstein, which I ended up reading over and over. I should revisit those at some point, cuz it is very true how age makes such a difference to some stories (for better or worse).

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    1. DKoren, nifty! I am not fond of Frankenstein, though maybe I need to revisit it as well! I find Jekyll/Hyde fascinating.

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  3. Dracula is a great novel. I reread it every October and it never disappoints. The epistolary format is really what gives it it's punch and suspense as you mention. It also adds a certain reality to it, which gives it a truly creepy feeling.

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    1. George, wow, every October! That's very cool. And yes, it's such a neat blend of realistic and fantastic.

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  4. I have to reread this one bc I could not get into it. It's not popular for nothing; therefore, I know it was my misunderstanding. Plus, I am beginning to see a pattern with me and Victorian novels.

    P.S. unrelated to Dracula....have you read These is My Words by Nancy Turner?

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    1. Ruth, I think I liked it better this time partly because I was expecting to be unenthused. Expectations are so powerful sometimes!

      Nope, haven't read Nancy Turner's book.

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    2. OK, I think you would really like it. This is my review -- no spoilers! I feel like this is something you would write.

      https://www.greatbookstudy.com/2020/08/these-is-my-words-by-nancy-e-turner.html

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    3. Ruth, thanks for the link! I have really been struggling to find a way to continue reading blogs now that my husband works from home 4 days a week and "hogs" our main computer. I know I've missed many reviews of books and movies by so many people, and I just... haven't found a new routine that lets me keep up on reading them like I used to. It's been really frustrating.

      Anyway, off to read your post!

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  5. Van Helsing's the man, isn't he?! Although I have a soft spot in my heart for the cowboy. :) Mina's amazing, too! I really need to re-read this...

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    1. Marian, oh, Van Helsing is absolutely the man. And yes, Quincey Morris is really the sweetest. Though, like so many Americans in Victorian novels written by the British, kind of a caricature, lol. Mina is wonderful, though!!!

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  6. I need to read this one, I've tried before but didn't finish.
    I remember loving the beginning though.

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    1. Skye, I think you have to be in just the right mood for it, and NOT expecting it to be super-thrilling/scary or fast-paced at all. It's more of a slow-burn psychological suspense story.

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  7. I was given this book last Christmas and had intended reading it this year. I don't know if that's going to happen. Great review & it does entice me to make a move to read it especially as I'm not 20 and have read heaps of Victorian lit.

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    1. Carol, there's always next year! I hope you like it when you do get to read it :-)

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  8. My mom liked this a lot better than Frankenstein (ah, yes, the classic "horror" books that are always compared) and has been trying to get me to read it. I haven't yet because vampires really creep me out. Ghost? Fine. Zombies? Fine. Vampires? Ack, no! I really liked Frankenstein, though, so much that I've read it twice (something that rarely happens for me) and really recommend the Dan Stevens audiobook.

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    1. MC, I like it better than Frankenstein too... or I did, when I read them both 20 years ago. I'm wondering if I should gave Frankenstein another whirl now too. Maybe next october.

      Vampires are the one thing that don't scare me in the horror genre. Ghosts are creepy, possessed or crazy people freak me out, and zombies are boring in an icky way. But vampires? Well, I love one vampire very, very dearly, and maybe that makes the rest of them less scary to me?

      I don't listen to audio books much. I've come to accept that I prefer visual to aural learning... but the right narrator can make an audio book work for me, so I will see if I can find the Dan Stevens version, cuz he does have a good voice.

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