Nathaniel Hawthorne / Secret Sharer / Hunted Down

The Secret Sharer
by Joseph Conrad
Overall rating:  5 out of 5 stars. 

What would you do if you found out your roommate is a wanted criminal?  This is the narrator's dilemma after he rescues a man, Leggatt, from the ocean and brings him aboard his ship.  The narrator finds that they share not only a similarity in rank, but a similarity in appearance; and this strange coincidence helps influence the narrator's tough decision.

I really enjoyed this short story--the writing style was amazing, as always, and the story itself was more figurative than literal.  Good read.


Hunted Down
by Charles Dickens
Overall rating:  4 out of 5 stars.  
...my first impression of those people, founded on face and manner alone, was invariably true.  My mistake was in suffering them to come nearer to me and explain themselves away.
So states Mr Sampson, 'Chief Manager of a Life Assurance Office', who believes in the truth of first impressions.  And one day, he has a particularly bad first-impression--that of Mr Julius Slinkton, a handsome, middle-aged gentleman with his hair "parted straight up the middle".  Even after they strike up an acquaintance, Mr Sampson has ominous premonitions about this man, and fears for the victims of a crime which has or will inevitably occur.

This was a very good mystery short story, written in a style similar to, but somewhat unlike, Dickens's novels.  The style is concise and fast-paced, and the atmosphere is wonderfully eerie.  I only wish that the plot had been a little less predictable and the story a bit longer, more detailed.

Recommended.


Personal Recollections of Nathaniel Hawthorne
by Horatio Bridge
Overall rating:  5 out of 5 stars.  

Just what the title says...a biographical book about Nathaniel Hawthorne, by his college friend, Horatio Bridge.  It focuses on Hawthorne's college years, careers, family life, and personality; and it's written in a respectful, accessible style.  I highly recommend it for anyone who'd like to learn more about him, especially if you're looking for an "eye-witness" type of biography.  It's also an encouraging read for young authors who struggle with self-doubt, like Hawthorne initially did.

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