Monday, August 30, 2010

The Last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I love love classic books.  One of my all-time favorite books is The Count of Monte Cristo.  I also really enjoy the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list.  To top it all off, one of my all-time favorite movies is The Last of the Mohicans.  So when I decided to read the book by James Fenimore Cooper it should come as no surprise.

I have a really cool free iPhone app I got earlier this year that gives me the full-text of quite a few classic novels.  I already read Wuthering Heights on it and decided to do this on as well.  I started reading this book late February and just finished it last night.  I know!  It's not even that long.  But I read a few pages here and there and honestly, for this type of book it really worked.  Let's say that I really enjoyed this book but probably wouldn't have if I had to toil through the whole book in just a few days or weeks.  I love the story but seriously Mr. Cooper...what's with the wording?  I know it was published in 1826 but really, I honestly just skipped paragraphs or sentences when it got too flowery.

Here's the story:

This book is the second in a five book series that follows Hawkeye a.k.a. Natty Bumpo during the French and Indian War in America.  Hawkeye is not a Native American but dresses, talks, and travels with them.  He is a British ally and is known to his French enemies as "La Longue Carabine" because of his prowess with his rifle.  I just imagine the movie:

I just have to point this out.  I can't really judge the book by itself because I've seen the movie too many times.  I'm biased, just letting you know.

So enters Alica and Cora.  Alice is a typical belle - beautiful, witty, a little silly.  Cora is darker (her mother was part African American), wiser, and able to take on the war tragedies better than Alice.  These two are on their way to see their father, Colonel Munro and are being escorted by Major Duncan Heyward who is in love with Alice.  (In the movie he loves Cora but...whatever.)

Here's Cora and Alice in the movie:
So anyway, their Indian guide Magua is deceptive and really an enemy and so of course, the girls and Duncan are in trouble and who comes to the rescue?  Hawkeye, his Deleware/Mohican brother Unca and Unca's father Chingachgook.  So the rest of the book finds the group getting in and out of trouble, multiple rescuings, and not as much of a love story as you might think from the movie.

I will say that I was happy that my favorite character in the movie - Uncas - was even cooler in the book than in the movie.  Hawkeye while still being a hero in the book, was a little more chatty and slightly annoying.  This book brings up a lot of interesting topics - race, the whole noble indian thing, as well as what the whole French and Indian War did to Native Americans. But I think the biggest issue with this book is Cooper's wording.  In high school I tried to read the first book in the series, The Deerslayer, and couldn't get past the first few pages of just description of the trees.  This book is almost as bad in the beginning as it tries to map out for the reader the area of the Lakes and Hudson River.  Goodness.  But if you stick it out, get passed his wording, you'll find a pretty cool action story that's worth discussing.

If you want to try reading it online for free, check out Online Literature.

***Has anyone else read or reviewed this?  What did you think?


  1. I must read this one!! And I downloaded the iPhone app called iBooks, and I have a few du Maurier ones on there, so I'm glad to hear that reading a classic on the iPhone wasn't horrible! Yay!

  2. I have this one waiting in the wings, but I might have to take your suggestion and read it a few pages at a time. Flowery passages and I don't exactly mix.

  3. I love classics but I don't read as many as I used to. I've never read this nor seen the movie unfortunately but it's one that's on my list.

  4. I'm a bit in shock since you once said you had such a hard time starting this one - yet you seem to have enjoyed it! I started it myself over a year ago and put it aside 1/2way through. I'm hoping to finish it at some point ...