on 11 October 2012
Everyone has seen the film I suppose, all glorious colour and cinematic thrills, and to be honest a little bit off the plot, but it's a good start. Read the book and you get the real story of Holly, Leo and Ayesha, and believe me it is well worth it. Although written in un-PC times, and you may find some of this difficult to ignore, it is still gripping. No long desert treks and volcanos, but descriptive journeys that will make you shudder, and good old fashioned friendship and loyalty amongst the hardships. The writing style too is plain and straightforward, easy to read, and easy to enjoy. Go on, try this classic, you won't be disappointed.
on 25 November 2009
H.Rider Haggard's character "She" should be the ideal woman - the wisdom and experience of thousands of years in the body of a stunning beauty in the prime of life. But for Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey, the encounter with this all-powerful queen ends in horror and tragedy.
The story of "She" is one of the first in the "Lost World" genre, written back in the 1880s. Yet it is still readable and enjoyable today as it is a book that works on many levels. There is the adventure story - set at a time when much of the world was still unexplored and before aeroplanes made it possible to glimpse into the uncharted territory. There are the philosophical musings of Holly and She herself on life, death, love, civilisation and religion. There are the fantastic and macabre elements which make the book quite spine-chilling in places. And there is the glimpse into the late-Victorian way of thinking.
The book has some beautiful passages on top of the action - the description of the sunrise after the storm and the ruins of the city of Kor in the moonlight come to mind. And there is humour, too - albeit some of it unintentional (I am afraid I could not think of the Amahagger "hot-potting" without an image of Winnie-the-Pooh and the honey jar on his head coming to mind!). There have been some criticisms of the "misogynist" nature of the book, but I feel it is Holly who is the misogynist, not Rider Haggard. In fact, the following comment made me laugh rather than offending: "True, in uniting himself to this dread woman, he would place his life under the influence of a mysterious creature of evil tendencies, but then that would be likely enough to happen to him in an ordinary marriage."
I bought this book for my summer holiday, I had a detective book, some heavy stuff and wanted a classic, moreover, I always loved that great studio Hammer Films version of She with Peter Cushing, Ursula Andres & Co, and the good looking one (no-one can remember his name). I wasn't disappointed from the first page I was really gripped as this is simply a great story, it has mystery, adventure and a hidden city, it has glamour and sex appeal and history. I won't go into the story as if you haven't seen the film, watch it its a real laugh and a great way to spend a rainy sunday afternoon and if you haven't read the book read the other reviews which give an overview. To be honest the book is better than the movie as the characters are much more etched out in particular that of She, who we discover is a great intellectual (no doubt having watched all that history from afar) and is so stunningly beautiful that she wanders around covered with a sheet the whole time and the narrator we discover is a man of numerous and varied Freudian hang-ups about women. As a history graduate I also found the writing style most interesting, its very precise and more formal than books of today. The book and in particular the views of the narrator allow an insight into another time, when Britain ruled the world, when every square inch of the our world wasn't visible to the CIA via satellite, when there was the lure of adventure and discovery. On the other hand this was also a world when the British had a stiff upper lip, when foreign people were there to be dominated and conquered as savages, when women were not considered intellectually equal to men (hence She is somewhat out of the ordinary) and when an English gentleman did not have to earn his living so could gaunt off around the world. For example our narrator is seriously worried that She is so intelligent she could rule the world, and, imagine the horror of our English gentleman if the British empire risked being replaced on the world stage. So if you want to get into the mind set of Mr. Victorian empire man this is not a bad start and its a good read to boot.
So as I said this is a great adventure yarn, what with cannibals, hidden cities, darkest Africa and so on, but, can be read on other levels. I read it in 2 days on the beach and was gripped, then I gave it to my sister who also read from start to finish. So forget the classic literature title its just a good story. The only other comment I had is that this version which I purchased from Amazon has quite poor quality paper and very small print so that even if you have the slightest bad vision you will be staring very hard at the pages! so be warned.
This is a gripping read, quite a horrific and violent novel, much more so than the famous film starring Ursula Andress and Peter Cushing. While the overall plot and names of the characters are the same, there are many other differences, particularly in the character of the narrator Holly (the Peter Cushing character), who in the book is hairy and ugly (nicknamed "the Baboon" by Billali) and so strong that at one point he quite graphically crushes two people to death with his bare hands. There is also a lot of dialogue between Holly and She, discussing philosophy and history in a way that could probably not have been commercially realised on film. The book delivers quite a strong emotional impact and is well worth reading. (The only note of caution I would add is that, as a novel of its time, the characters hold assumptions about the racial superiority of the white man that we do not today, which results in some slightly jarring comments early on in the novel.)
on 17 December 2012
Characters and some of the language a bit dated (you would expect this) and definitely not pc, but that's why I really enjoyed this book. It does not pretend to be anything other than just a great adventure story that hooks you from the beginning then reels you in like an expert angler.
on 20 August 2013
Very much of it's time and very politically incorrect but it still has it's moments and of course the concept of the incredibly beautiful but incredibly old superwoman is still intriguing. The main problem is that the hero and her love interest is incredibly boring, just a great big handsome dumb bunny which definitely makes one wonder about her general intelligence and the conventions of the time don't allow descriptions of incredible sex to make her obsession with him credible.
Interesting more as a revelation of Victorian attitudes to, sex, race and wild animals (They shoot anything that moves!) than as a tragic romance, which is probably what Rider Haggard thought he has writing.
Victorian adventure novels often got bogged down in descriptive detail that made them serve a secondary purpose as travelogues. She fits into that model rather nicely with great amounts of detail about the imaginary African tribe of the Amahaggers. Pared down, the Amahaggers enhance the main story in this version.
The book opens as Horace Holly's dying friend begs Horace to take on the task of raising the friend's five-year-old son and preparing him for a challenge when he becomes twenty-five. Since Horace is an honest, hard-working sort and the position pays well, it is an easy decision. Horace and the boy, Leo, quickly become close, and Leo treats him like a favorite uncle.
On Leo's twenty-fifth birthday, they open a mysterious chest that Leo's father has left in Horace's care. Eventually, this reveals an ancient story from Leo's family written on a potshard. On the potshard, there seems to be information about the potential for discovering the secret of eternal life. This requires a trek to Africa. Along the way, Leo falls gravely ill but they are rescued by the Amahaggers who have ordered by She-who-is-to-be-obeyed not to hurt them.
The rest of the story unweaves the fantasy tale of how the 2,000 year old Ayesha, She-who-is-to-be-obeyed, became connected to Leo's family. Ayesha is a little out of date in her preferences, still being an Egyptian-style autocrat with a taste for the macabre. I wouldn't have gone out with her on a second date myself, no matter how beautiful she was. The Gloria Swanson role in Sunset Boulevard is evoked in She.
The story is an interesting one, because it builds around the potential of having a world in which women rule by right. That theme was most appropriate for Queen Victoria's time, and the novel considers the Amahaggers, She, and Queen Victoria as alternative models of female leadership. Because of our current enthusiasm for equal opportunity for the sexes, the book is more contemporary in its social commentary than you might think. I saw a parallel in She's overwhelming impact on men to the tragedies that often befall female movie stars who have similar appeals, such as Marilyn Monroe.
Clearly, the message that emerges is that a balance between women and men is better than either the male or the female dominated society. A good thing to think about after you listen to or read this book is what the benefits of balance are. They extend beyond sexual politics. In what other areas is balance better than dominance by a single perspective or influence?
on 3 September 2013
Another cracking tale from Mr Haggard, I have said 'long winded' as there are several ancient scrolls and tablets that are translated in the book and we are given the original hieroglyph text then a Greek or Arabic then finally an English version, all of this takes several pages. Also the pace of the book isn't as gripping as King Solomon's mines or Allan quartermain.
But it is an intriguing story with good character writing.
on 3 March 2015
I read the Ayesha collection several years ago, in the Spanish edition. Although I went through all the books, I must say that it was dragging. I blamed the translation, until I finally bought this ebook. The plot moves slowly, and the late 19th/early 20th century writing style is a bit too overwhelming.
Nevertheless, I am happy that I got the copy: what I wanted here was to locate an excerp that I used to love, the one when the characters are on their way through Kor and they find the beautiful statue of the goddess of the inhabitant of Kor, The Truth, waiting for her children to take away the veil that covers her features. It was for me one of the most powerful moments of my teenager reading years.
on 11 November 2013
I read "She" for the first time many years ago and was delighted with it. More than 50 years have elapsed since that time,so
(partly stimulated by nostalgia) I decided to give it another try. The edition you sent was neat,clear and convenient. I was NOT
disappointed. The product and your promptness in sending it to me were both excellent and much appreciated. Thank you very
much . . .