Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (Revisited Challenge)


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Title and Author(s):  Ayn Rand and Christopher Hurt’s The Fountainhead 
Release Date:
ISBN: 9781455100019
Hours: 32 hours, 4 minutes
Source: Harris County Public Library eBranch

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Reasons for Reading: My first attempt at reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead happened in my teens. However, I hit the wall and threw in the towel. Nine years later, I picked up an unabridged audio version and listened to the entire thing. As one of the winners in the Revisited Challenge, I selected the audio version route yet again.

Summary: Expelled from his architectural school in 1922 for refusing to follow traditions, genius Howard Roark travels to New York and works for disgraced architect Henry Cameron. Roark’s former classmate and antithesis, Peter Keating also moves to New York. However, Keating’s sycophantic ways land him a position with the prestigious architectural firm of Francon & Heyer. Keating succeeds and makes partner after causing Heyer’s fatal stroke. Meanwhile, Cameron retires and Roark opens his own office. When he refuses to give in to the will of others, Roark receives little business. Roark closes up shop and takes up work in Francon’s granite quarry in Connecticut – leading him to his first encounter with Francon’s exquisite but most contrary daughter, Dominique.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Ayn Rand didn’t have much sympathy for people. I’d say she’s a rather black & white sort of person.

What I Liked: I liked that Roark was true to himself. I felt I could see these characters and understand what Rand attempted to express. 

What I Disliked: I couldn’t quite handle Roark’s relationship with Dominique. While the author may have seen it as appropriate, I thought it was violent. Also, I thought this book would’ve been easier to take in serial form.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

Song: Frank Sinatra – My Way (1969)

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Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things Series


The Bright Young Things Saga by Anna Godbersen | Harris County Public Library Online Catalog

The Bright Young Things Saga by Anna Godbersen | Harris County Public Library Online Catalog

Title and Author(s): Bright Young Things; Beautiful Days; and The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen
Release Date: October 12, 2010; September 20, 2011; November 27, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 006196266X; 0061962686; 0061962708
Pages: 400; 368; 384
Source: Library

Reasons for Reading:  When I finished The Luxe Series, I wanted to read more Anna Godbersen. Upon hearing of a new saga set in the 1920s, I quickly requested the first book – Bright Young Things from the library.

Summary: Beginning with a prologue voiced in the first person, this narrator recalls the last summer of the Roaring Twenties. The narrator mentions three young ladies – one who became famous, one who got married, and one who died. Then, the saga leads the reader to two best friends. Orphaned Cordelia Grey leaves a boy at the alter with her best friend, Letty Larkspur (Letitia Haubstadt), and escaped their boring life in small town Ohio for the glitter of New York in the summer of 1929. Cordelia wants to reunite with her bootlegger father, Darius Grey, while Letty wants to see her name in lights. When they arrive in New York, Cordelia serendipitously meets her father, her brother – Charlie Grey, and Charlie’s sweetheart – Astrid Donal.  These three teen beauties strive to make their marks in New York is one dazzling summer.

One Thing I Learned from reading Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things Series

What I Liked : I like the styles from the 1920s – the fashion, the architecture, the art, the music, etc. Also, unlike the main characters of Godbersen’s The Luxe series, these girls appeared kind and caring – no frenemy in the bunch. Lastly, these girls definitely possessed the maturity of teenagers.

What I Disliked: While Godbersen started telling an interesting story, I found myself bored and tempted to scan pages early on in my reading of the third book, The Lucky Ones. Astrid, in particular, didn’t appeal to me. I found her absolutely insipid and I nearly skipped the Astrid-centric chapters. On the other hand, her stepsister Billie didn’t have enough scenes in the saga.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: “Yes, Sir! That’s My Baby!” (Lee Morse, 1925)

Setting: Ohio, New York City, Long Island New York

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Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key


Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay | LibraryThing

Rosnay, T. . (2010). Sarah’s key. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. 9781250004345

Reasons for Reading : I recalled my mom reading this book a few years before the movie hit American theaters. Also, working on my library’s contribution to the Holocaust Museum Houston’s Butterfly Project led me to Sarah’s Key. I checked out the book from HCPL.

Summary: Beginning in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942, the French police arrest a ten year-old girl and her family in the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. The girl manages to lock her younger brother in a secret cupboard in the family’s apartment. She promises to return in a few hours.

The girl’s story alternates with that Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in 2002 Paris with her French husband and daughter. Her editor asks her to write an article commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup. As Julia investigates, she stumbles upon a fateful connection to Sarah, that little girl who stowed her brother in the secret cupboard. This link may lead to better living for Julia or the undoing of her marriage.

What I Liked : Author de Rosnay created rich characters in Sarah and Julia. The latter narrated her of the novel and de Rosnay conveyed the thoughts of an American outcast quite authentically. Sarah’s point of view was related in third person.

I adored Jules and Genevieve. These people offer hope for humanity. They’re the sort that deserve Nobel Peace Prizes.

Also, I found it sobering to learn the French police’s involvement in the Holocaust. It just shows how far brainwashing can go.

What I Disliked : This story made me very sad. Obviously, the key issues weren’t the happiest. I promise that I went into reading this book with my eyes open.

The first part of the book alternated between Sarah’s 1942 and Julia’s 2002. Then, the second part of the book didn’t. Without revealing the end, I wasn’t too keen on losing one of those points of view.

Before I forget, Julia’s husband was horrendous!

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Linkin Park – In The End – YouTube

Setting : Paris, France, Germany, Poland, New York City, Boston, Italy

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Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises


Audiobook read by William Hurt

*1001 Books Book

Hemingway, E., & William, H. (1926). Ernest Hemingway’s The sun also rises. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.  9780743564410

I attempted reading this particular Hemingway novel several years ago but wasn’t in the mood. So, I added this to my “To Be Read/TBR” list and read other books. In my perpetual quest for shorter audiobooks, I stumbled upon The Sun Also Rises in the HCPL catalog. When I noticed that the narrator was William Hurt, I decided to give The Sun Also Rises another try.

Narrator Jake Barnes  is an American journalist expatriate in Paris as well as a World War I veteran.  Injuries from WWI have rendered Jake impotent. He drinks a lot and is a bullfighting aficionado.

Jake begins the novel by describing his “friend” Robert Cohn. Cohn is a rich Jewish American expatriate who, like Jake, is a writer. Cohn didn’t fight in The Great War. Facing much anti-Semitism at Princeton, Cohn has grown a chip on his shoulder; he fits right in with his contemporaries of Rive Gauche and the Lost Generation. Cohn lives with his social-climbing girlfriend Frances Clyne.

Listlessly, Cohn seeks escape and stops by Jake’s office to get him to go to South America with him. Jake turns him down and avoids Cohn as much as possible. That evening, Jake drifts through bars and clubs and eventually runs into the love of his life. The beautiful, magnetic Lady Brett Ashley is a twice-divorced Englishwoman whom Jake met during the War. Brett loves Jake but will not commit to Jake due to his impotence. Brett does not commit to any man.  Cohn sees Brett, falls for her, and an affair ensues.

All of this proves calamitous when Jake treks to Pamplona to see the bullfights. Jake’s an aficionado whereas his friends want to party. He’s joined by fellow expatriate and war veteran Bill Gorton, Brett, Cohn, and Mike Campbell, Brett’s fiancé. When the handsome bullfighter Romero enters the scene, Brett wants him. At this point, Brett has three men competing for her attention.

The writing and tragedy are exquisite. Jake’s star-crossed love is poignant; the disconnect of this group is stiffling. Jake finds himself in a bind – should he extend Brett in the form of Romero or should he remain true to the code of Spaniard bullfighting aficionados?

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: France, Spain, The United States, The United Kingdom, Italy

Literary Ties: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, Ecclesiastes 1:5,

For more on Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, check out the following:

Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie


This was one of my Summer Reading Program books in 2009! Please note the Starry Night mousepad.

* 1001 Books Book

Spark, M. (1999). The prime of Miss Jean Brodie. New York: Perennial Classics.

When reading another book recently, I saw a reference to Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. My interest piqued, I looked up some information on it and found that this read was less than 200 pages. That and the teacher narrative caught my attention.

Miss Jean Brodie teaches at a girls’ private school, Marcia Blaine,  in 1930s Edinburgh, Scotland. She works at the Junior School where she handpicks six girls to be what will become known as “The Brodie Set” or “The Brodie Girls.” They are Monica, Rose, Eunice, Sandy, Jenny, and Mary. With these girls in particular, Miss Brodie discusses her travels and politics as well as her amorous relationships with Mr. Lloyd, the school’s Art Master, and Mr. Lowther, the Singing Master of Marcia Blaine. She fawns over Il Duce and constantly reminds her students that she is in “her prime” and they shall benefit.  Most of her coworkers and the headmistress, Miss Mackay, detest her.  Using the prolepsis (flashfoward) technique, Spark definitely shows the reader that Miss Brodie leaves her mark on her students. Yet has she scarred them for life?

After finishing the book, I watched the movie with Dame Maggie Smith. While I found the performances amazing, I felt the film didn’t pack the wallup which I found in the book. The prolepsis was not in the film (this was pre-Lost days) and this left me disappointed. The flash forwards offered much into the psyche of Miss Brodie and her students. Seeing how these six girls landed as women was huge in the book.

In addition, the book was scarier. Themes from The Wave must have come from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  Much of the Brodie technique falls under mind control and manipulation. The dangers of letting others do all of the thinking are huge here.

I also think Spark borrowed a little from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. For fear of spoiling the story, even one chock full of flash forwards, I will leave that for readers to decide.

All in all, on level of prolepsis and precautionary tale, I give this 3 out of 5 pearls.

See also:

Original Time review

Arukiyomi | The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark