Category Archives: Fiction

Review: Daniel Deronda

This is my third reading of this amazing novel. I first read it several years ago, and wrote a review of it on a few book sites, years back. My review remains the same, after my third reading. The only exception would be the fact that I admire the strength, fortitude, and courage Daniel illuminated within the story line. His journey towards becoming an authentic human, a man of morals and religious devotion, is compelling on so many levels.

I finished my third reading two hours ago. Most of my day was spent in prayer, reading The Book of Lamentations, due to Tisha B’Av, meditating, having prayerful moments, and reading.

The societal dynamics, social disparities and comparisons, assimilation and acceptance, bonding within the Jewish community, and the separation of social communities due to religion, are relevant concepts and factors within the structure of English ‘standards’ of the time period. ‘The Jewish Factor’ of a Jew being considered equal to English elitism reigns supreme within the pages.

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Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot is a novel that takes place during the Victorian time period. 

The era is important due to the social mores and standards of the time period. I kept that in mind while reading the novel. The two main characters blend within their lifestyles, ever aware of their standings within the societal realm. Daniel Deronda, has been a ward, since early childhood, of the wealthy Sir Hugo Mallinger. Daniel, along with others in Mallinger’s social network, believes that he is Mallinger’s illegitimate son. Daniel is a sensitive man, and often ponders on his birth, and whether his true heritage lends him to actually being a true English gentleman. During his travels and his wanderings he finds himself in the company of Jews. Within his involvement with the Jewish community, he feels a strong bond, feels comfortable within their realm, and feels a sense of commonality. 

Gwendolen Harleth is the other main character, and she is a self-absorbed individual. She thrives on manipulating others to suit her gain. She is proud of being able to control men with her feminine charms. A blink of her eyes causes men to be enamored of her. This is how she has maintained her standing within her social life. All that comes to an end all too soon, for her, as she is faced with the fact that her family is going bankrupt. 

This causes her to take a stance in order to support herself and family. She eventually gives in and marries a man named Henleigh Grandcourt. She feels that she managed to control him to her beckoning, but little does she know that the reverse situation is, in actuality, the truth. He has manipulated her. She becomes aware of this, and in the end, finds herself feeling extreme guilt over circumstances surrounding her husband. She befriends Daniel, with full display of gaining his attention, in her manipulative manner. He thinks of her constantly, yet, his heart is with Mirah. He tries to ease out of contact with Gwendolen in a sensitive manner.

Daniel Deronda is a brilliant novel, and the characters are all depicted vividly, with all of their flaws and attributes. Even the more minor characters are not so minor, truth be told. For instance, Mirah Lapidoth, a young woman on the brink of suicide is saved by Daniel just as she is about to jump into the Thames River. From there begins a relationship based on mutual respect and admiration. Mirah is Jewish, and therein lies Daniel’s initiation and into the Jewish community, its strong traditions, and also its secular offshoots. 

Mirah has run away from her father, and has ended up in London searching for her long lost mother and brother. Daniel’s sympathies has him striving to help her find them, and help her begin a new life. Throughout all of this, he finds himself falling for her, romantically.

Daniel is consumed by Judaism and its ideals, and feels completely comfortable in Jewish surroundings. He can not stay away from the Jewish section, and has cemented himself within the Jewish Quarter with his contacts. His comfort level is fostered by a man named Mordechai, a man of great vision. He practices Kabbalah, and his dreams take him to places others have not traveled. He instills in Daniel the fact that Jews need to have their own homeland, their “Promised Land”. He tries to encourage Daniel to take over his (Mordechai’s) efforts once he has died. He is a sickly man, a man with little time left in life. Daniel is influenced by him.

I enjoyed watching Daniel’s journey and growth, spiritually and emotionally. What he desires most in the beginning of his journey (his proper gentlemanly status) is proven to be what matters less, as his journey takes on new dimensions. He comes into his own, and his identity is cemented with a strong foundation.

The Jewish factors are quite prevalent within the pages of Daniel’s story. His curiosity regarding Judaism is never lost on the reader, and is enhanced through Eliot’s masterful writing and rendering of Judaism. His (Daniel’s) ever need for knowledge regarding Jewish life and traditions is evident, and written with conciseness and accuracy. 

Eliot certainly did her research, and considering the fact that Daniel Deronda was published in 1876, her research entailed a lot of physical work in gaining access to documents and records from libraries to public records, to consultations and so much more. The internet was not even a gleam in the eye of the writer of that era. Considering those factors, Daniel Deronda is a masterful historical novel, a novel that speaks of Judaism in every sense of it, from religious affiliations, to life styles, to food and culture, and so much more. The biblical symbolism is apparent, in my opinion. For instance, I could see an analogy between Daniel and Moses, as far as familial bonds within a family that is not blood-related. 

The majority of the novel seems to be mainly about Gwendolen, and about the upper crust of England. The reader is privy to her mind. Some readers could be put off by the title, but that should not deter them from reading the book. Gwendolen’s arrogance and self-absorption sets the stage for a more serious tone to come. The Jewish society is a separate one, although a social setting of its own, within the scheme of the whole of society and location. It is a totally different concept than the upper class of England. The two social aspects reinforce to the reader the disparity and separation of life style, and the superficial versus the genuine is illuminated. That, to me, was the beauty of the novel.

Once Daniel’s character takes root, it is clear that the story line of Gwendolen, has been written to lead up to the main point of the novel, the Jewish question, the Jewish factor, and the concept of Zionism. Yes, that is correct, Zionism

Imagine, Eliot, a woman of her time period, considering the varied Jewish theories, including the concept of Zionism, and not only that, writing it into the novel, Daniel Deronda. Imagine her debating, through her writing the Jewish question of identity and citizenship. She was a woman whose ideas and theories were spoken of within the pages of Daniel Deronda with precision and accuracy. She was a woman whose standards and ideals regarding the Jewish community were ahead of her time, so to speak, and it reflects in her writing. 

I was extremely absorbed within the almost 800 pages of Daniel Deronda. The length of the book had nothing to do with my desire to continue to read it through to the end. I found it fascinating, enthralling and compelling on so many levels. Eliot’s brilliance and perseverance in penning a novel filled with history, social opposites, ideals and mores, and with a few characters that matter to the reader, is astounding. Her respect for Judaism and its ideals and traditions is made quite clear. Her passion for truth and understanding is evident within the pages, especially within the last third of the novel. 

I applaud George Eliot for her strength and ability to portray individuals, not only at their worst, but at their best, and portray them with religious sensitivity.  Daniel Deronda, is an extremely ambitious novel, a brave one considering the era it was written, filled with historical brilliance through excellent writing. It is a moral story, filled with symbolism. It was controversial during its time period, and has been since then. There are several coincidences, and for me they were relevant, but some might see it differently. If the reader considers the era in which the novel was written, they can better begin to understand the societal context in relation to the time period.

I highly recommend George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda

Copyright Lorri M. No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission. 


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Flowers and Books, Such Joy!

I took a four photos of two types of flowers, the hibiscus, and the sunflower.

The dark pink hibiscus, above, is from my neighbor’s garden. You can see the sprinkles of pollen on the petals.

I really liked the lacy look to this hibiscus. I love how delicate it looked, even though the flowers are very hardy. I also loved the various tones within the petals, ranging from almost white to stages of pink.

Look at this aging beauty! She is wrinkled, and her skin is coarser in spots. She has been a delight for the neighborhood bees and other insects. They have stripped her dry, so to speak.

These two captures are also from a neighbor’s garden, the lovely sunflower, who has been a feast for the bees. Her flavors have been enjoyed, as you can see.

Books recently read:

Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra. I give this book three stars out of five.

Day Hikes in Washington State, 90 Favorite Trails, Loops, and Summit Scrambles. I give this book five stars!

The Soul of a Woman. I give this book five stars.

Dubin’s Lives. I am in the process of reading this.

The Secret Book of Kings. I am currently reading this.

Thank you for visiting. Have a lovely day/evening. -Lorri

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Five Scenes

My daughter, son-in-law, and two grandies spoiled me for Mother’s Day.

They took me on a scenic drive to a farm, a lavender farm, and as you can see, the lavender was not in bloom.

Who needed the lavender, with such fields of serene beauty.

Before we got to the farm, we had lunch, and walked a bit through the town center that we were in.

Then, we drove to the farm.

If you know me, you realize I like to take captures that might perplex others. It is my way of being.

I see certain qualities in a vision in front of me, and just have to catch the moment.

There is a lot to be said for all of the lovely greenness that surrounded us. That, in itself,

was absolutely amazing, and worth the drive.

Of course, no day trip is complete without purchasing items. I bought English lavender plants, and also French lavender plants. My son-in-law snuck in a beautiful ock, with a lavender painting on it, into a bag of lavender tea cakes, and sachets, that I had purchased.

There were other gifts, that we exchanged at home. But, the greatest gift of all was to be with family members in an outdoor, stunning setting.

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I did finish reading The Hour of the Witch. It was quite the amazing novel. I would rate it four stars out of five stars. The historical information was excellent.

Last night I had dinner at my daughter’s house. We had tacos, for Taco Tuesday. They were delicious. My daughter made a scrumptious Lemon curd pie. Oh my goodness, I am drooling thinking about it.

I hope you are all well and safe. Have a nice rest of the week. Thank you for stopping by.

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Did I Say Books?!

I have neglected my blog the past several days. Between family events, and searching for, and buying a new mattress for my bed, I have been busy. I have also been quite busy reading, reading, and reading. I am reading a few books at once. I alternate between them, as the mood fits.

The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II, is the latest book I am about to set my eyes on, and will begin reading.

I finished reading The Girl Who Escaped From Auschwitz. I give it a four-star rating, with five-stars being the highest.

The Plum Trees by Victoria Shorr, is a book I am in the midst of reading.

Those Who Are Saved, by Alexis Landau, is another book I am currently reading.

The Light of the Midnight Stars, by Rena Rossner, is a book I have just started reading.

Lastly, but not least, I have pre-ordered the Kindle version of The Hour of the Witch, by Chris Bohjalian. I will physically go to the book store, tomorrow, when the book will be physically available to buy, and purchase it. I will read the Kindle version, and keep the hardcover copy for my personal library.

I often do that with books, read the Kindle version, and buy the hardcover to keep on my bookshelves.

Take a step into nature, if you are able to do so. You will not be disappointed.

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Books I am Reading, or About to Read

The screen shot, above, of books, shows what I am in the midst of reading, or about to read.

This weekend will be lovely, for many reasons, but especially the fact that my daughter and family are having their portrait professionally taken, and have included me in the family portrait. I am excited, to say the least.

Other than that, not much is new, here, and I won’t elaborate on anything in order to fill up space, or in order to write a post.

Shabbat Shalom to those who celebrate. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! -Lorri

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Reading, Reading, and Reading

I have read four books within the past several days. I normally read two or three books at one time, going back and forth between each book.

The Memory Monster, by Yishai Sarid, Yardenne Greenspan (Translator), is one that is quite intense, and, in my opinion, dark, melancholic, and an unusual introspection of the Holocaust, illuminated through the eyes of the narrator, a ‘tourist guide’, of Holocaust camps, woods, etc.

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The Yellow Bird Sings, by Jennifer Rosner, is a novel that is full of heartbreaking situations, love and war, loss and redemption, during the Holocaust.

It depicts the strong bond between mother and daughter, and how they manage to survive in a world of horror. Their determination to forge through the appalling situations, and their separation, is excellently woven within the tapestry of their experiences.

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Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered, by Ruth Kluger, is a compelling read that relates her experiences during the Holocaust.

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I am also reading, and will be rereading, The Book of Psalms, by King David

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Copyright Lorri M.

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