Helen reviews Free Books

Archive for March 2011

Considered ‘an idiot’ due to his illness and his simple approach to life, Prince Lef Nicolaievitch Muishkin, becomes entwined with, and has a strong effect on, the lives of the many characters he comes in contact with.

We first meet the Prince as a young man, travelling back to Russia after many years of living in Switzerland where he was being treated for his epilepsy.

He has received a letter and, as he has no close living relative he intends to call on a distant relation before commencing his life back in St Petersburg.

From the very start he meets Parfen Rogojin who becomes both friend and nemesis.

As the story progresses he meets a variety of characters, including the beautiful Nastasia Philipovna, who will continue to play havoc with his life until the very end of the book.

Like many Russian novels, it is quite a long read with a great number of characters whose lives continue to intertwine. Murder, philosophy, religion and politics are all matters discussed and examined within the life of this novel.

While many commentators consider Muishkin to be ‘Christlike’, I tend to disagree.

I like that Muishkin has the ability for seeing people as they really are. This combined with always attempting to see the very best in them gave him a great simplicity.

But, I also found him a bit wishy washy and by the end of the novel I wanted him to just make up his mind about which woman he loved!

Prepare yourself for a long read of over 650 pages. (depending on the publisher and the translation)

If you struggle with Russian novels at the best of times, try a later translation of the work to make the job a bit easier.

I found the Project Gutenburg version very good, but it depends on your reading choice and the challenge you would like to give yourself.

The print version can also be purchased new or secondhand at Amazon.com and other booksellers.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.


The Island of Dr Moreau may be one of the lesser known books of HG Wells, but it is one of my favourite ones so far.

Like The Time Machine it is a story about a man who is transported to a foreign place being confronted with issues that did not exist in his late 19th Century life.

Edward Prendick, a man of science, is lost at sea and is picked up by Montgomery, a doctor who is returning to Dr Moreau’s island with their annual supplies.

After a series of events, Prendick, is forced to join Montgomery on the island.

Disturbed by the anguished cries of the puma in the next room, he decides takes a late afternoon stroll which turns into a terrifying night.

After recovering from the previous evening’s events, Prendick walks into the Moreau laboratory to find a ‘human like’ being strapped to a table. Believing that he may be part of the new experiment Prendick escapes from the compound and starts to discover the island and the Beast therein.

While you may delve into the variety of themes proposed in the novel such as men playing God and the dangers of scientific progress, it is also a pleasant enough read as pure science fiction and that’s how I read and enjoyed it.

This free book can be found in a variety of electronic and audible forms at Project Gutenburg.

The print version is about 82 pages and can be found at Amazon.com and other booksellers.


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  • Mary: I just finished "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and I have to say that in my 58 years of reading that it is by far the best book I've ever read. I can't believe
  • Alex Daw: Can't help myself and I know you have more than enough to read but you might be interested in this site too.... http://girlebooks.com/
  • Alex Daw: Luvski You have been reading so many interesting books. I quite missed this one. Wasn't this made into a movie with that dreadful man - here in Q