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Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Favorite Reads: The Mists of Avalon

I've been wanting to write about some of the books I read prior to blogging and now I have an excuse: At Home With Books's meme, My Favorite Reads. The idea behind this weekly event is to share with your readers some of the best books that you read BB (Before Blogging). I won't participate every week but I will chime in from time to time. I've made a list of some books I want to share with you and I'll tackle one whenever I get a chance.


This week I'm going to talk about a book that I LOVE with all my heart, THE MISTS OF AVALON. I've read this book at least twice, listened to the audio version once, and watched the TV miniseries based on it as well.

The book: The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley - published in 1982 - 912 pages

What it is about: The book is a retelling of the King Arthur story through the eyes of the women involved. Focus is on Morgaine, Gwenhwyfar, and other female characters. More time is spent on their lives and the mystical/druidical background of the story than on Arthur himself.

Why I love it: This book has it all - strong and powerful women, love, lust, betrayal, adventure, you name it. The story is full of details that immerse you in the lives of these people.

Other thoughts: This is one of those books where learning something about the author leads to a deeper understanding of the book. When my book club read this (at my prompting of course) we saw that the author's feminism and religious beliefs came through very clearly in her writing. That was something I didn't know before reading about the author.

Would I recommend it? Before blogging I'd have said yes unreservedly - this is a fantastic book in every way. However I've read on several blogs that people find this book challenging so now I'm a bit leery about recommending it. I guess I'd have to say that if you DO find it challenging, it is VERY worth the effort you put into it. For me, this is a "must read" for just about everyone.

Do I own it? Yes I do. This is one of the few books in my "permanent collection" as I call it. I don't know where I got it originally (likely from my dad), but I've had it since middle or high school. During my "romantic" phase in high school I pressed a rose between the pages ... and it is still there. I have no recollection of who gave me the rose but I've still got it all the same.

21 comments:

Brittany said...

This book is on my list and I'm really looking forward to reading it. I'm impressed you got your book club to read it - I don't think I'd be able to talk mine into tackling this one. But I'm definitely planning to read it soon!

Amanda said...

A friend once recommended that I read this a while ago. I really should pick it up. I love that you like sci-fi/fantasy stuff. And I love the pressed rose part...I used to press flowers too and would find random flowers in my books. Always a treat :)

Whitney said...

I've been meaning to read The Mists of Avalon, just never got around to it maybe I should give it a try. I'm also impressed that your book club read this, it's a hefty book to get through in a month.

Shona said...

I have seen this on the library book shelf. I might give it a try.

Heather J. said...

Brittany & Whitney - I was impressed with my book club too! At the time we had a rule that if it was your turn to pick the book, you could pick absolutely anything - so they didn't have much of a choice, although they did complain quite a bit. We ended up splitting it over 2 months/2 meetings and it worked out just fine.

Amanda - You and I usually agree on books so I'm sure you'd love this one too.

Shona - Thanks for stopping by and commenting! If you do read it at some point, please come and let me know what you think of it.

Alyce said...

I'm happy to see that you like this one so much because I bought it used (in almost new condition) for fifty cents last month. It's now sitting at the bottom of my pile of books (the stack that won't fit on my shelf because I've been buying too many books). It's so nice and big it makes a great foundation for the tower of books. :) I have no idea when I'm going to have time to read it, but I am looking forward to it.

Heather J. said...

Alyce - Yes, I'm sure it WOULD make a nice strong base for your tower. :) Maybe you should make it a summer read next summer - split it over a few months and read other books in between. It is DEFINITELY worth it!

Meghan said...

I have this one staring at me from my shelf! It's a favorite read of many of my friends, and I love Arthurian lit, but its size is intimidating right now.

Heather J. said...

Meghan - It IS big but I think you'd really enjoy it. Maybe split it up, reading a few hundred pages each month for a few months - that way you don't have to commit to finishing it right away, and you can take breaks to read other things in between. That's how I'm tackling Gone With The Wind right now (it is about the same length) and it is working really well for me.

Florinda said...

I've read this twice as well, and also watched the miniseries. I'm not sure I'd have time to take it on again now, but I still have my copy. I don't recall it being especially challenging, except for the length, but that's just me. For the most part, "me too" to everything you said about it :-)!

Heather J. said...

Florinda - I didn't think it was challenging either, but I've heard that it was from several different people, so I figured I'd better throw that warning in ...

longbrakeliving said...

This is one of my favs too! I haven't read it since high school, which is the last time I read "The Once and Future King" as well, so I need to re-read it. I love the different voices and perspectives in this novel and I also really enjoyed how it lined up mostly with "The Once and Future King" (the epitome of Authurian legand to me).

Tonya said...

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! This is one of my absolute favorite books ever! I can't believe I didn't think of it. Now I can't do it! LOL I'm glad someone did, it's a wonderful book.

Here's mine if you want to come visit:

http://storytimewithtonya.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-favorite-reads-someplace-to-be.html

Heather J. said...

longbrakeliving - Should I admit I've never read "The Once and Future King"? ...

Tonya - There's no reason you can't write about it too! I'd love to read why you love it so much. :)

Gwendolyn B. said...

Absolutely -- one of my all-time favorites, too! It may be thick, but you really don't want it to end! Great choice!

Heather J. said...

gwendolyn b. - so glad to know that so many people agree with me on this one!

Nymeth said...

I couldn't agree more. I love this book so much.

Mel said...

I completely agree with you. Mists of Avalon is one of my favorites. It may be difficult for some to get into and finish (the size is daunting), but it certainly is worth it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Mel
http://www.lostinliterature.com

Heather J. said...

Nymeth - Yea!

Mel - Thanks!

Darla D said...

I adored this book! I've read it several times but not lately - I must remedy that. MZB is one of my favorite authors.

Heather J. said...

Darla D - always happy to find another fan. ;)

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