My Books. My Life.

"Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." ~Voltaire~

Everything Austen #3: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and GIVEAWAY November 14, 2009

I finished Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (my third item for the Everything Austen challenge) this week.  Here is the blurb from the publisher:

After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up to find herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?

Not only is Courtney stuck inside another woman’s life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer. For her borrowed body knows how to speak without slaying the King’s English, dance without maiming her partner, and embroider as if possessed by actual domestic skill.

But not even Courtney’s level of Austen mania has prepared her for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of nineteenth-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperones, condom-less seducers, and marriages of convenience. Enter the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, a suitor who may turn out not to be a familiar species of philanderer after all.

Confessions was a nice, quick read.  I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it (I really wanted to love it since I planned on doing a giveaway, but it is what it is).  The first-person narrator took a long time to get used to (I don’t like being stuck in people’s heads), but the idea is interesting.  How many of us Austen fans have not dreamed of living in Regency England and attending balls, being courted by rich suitors, and traveling to Bath.  But in these fantasies, have any of us considered the harsg realities – how do you bathe? what happens when you get your period? how are you treated when you are sick?  These are the things Courtney experiences (along with the balls and the suitors and Bath).  It made me glad that I can sit in my 21st century apartment reading about Jane Austen’s era instead of actually experiencing it.

And now for the giveaway!

Since Everything Austen is all about the giveaways, I will be giving away my copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen addict to one lucky winner.  All you have to do is leave a comment below saying one thing you would do (or dread doing) if you woke up in Regency England.  For an extra entry, tweet about it or mention it in a blog post and let me know.  The contest will be open until the end of the month (Midnight EDT November 30) and is open to international readers.  I will announce the winner in my November Books post.  Good luck!

 

Everything Austen #2: Mansfield Park October 18, 2009

Back in July, I joined the Everything Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie’s Written Word.  You can read about my challenge list here.  So far I have not done a good job convincing myself that I will actually finish the challenge as originally planned (or at all).  It is the middle of October and I’ve only completed two items.  I’m having a hard time getting through Pride and Prejudice and don’t want to push it because I love the book too much.  There is no way I’m going to be able to read both the original and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by the end of the year.  But, I will keep doing what I can and maybe swap out a few books for movies in the end (I feel like a high school student).

I did watch Mansfield Park recently.  I really didn’t care for the book when I read it last year, so I wanted to give the story another chance to gain my good opinion.  I can say that I enjoyed the movie more than the book, but I’m still not in love with it and it is still by far my least favorite Austen novel.

In order to make the movie likeable at all, they had to make Fanny Price likeable.  She drove me crazy in the book and they changed her in the movie.  But by making her stronger, I think they failed to show how much she loved Edmund all her life.

Speaking of, the whole cousins-raised-as-siblings love story didn’t make me feel as uncomfortable as reading the book did.  I actually found myself cheering for them.  And the scene when they are driving back to Mansfield Park and they hold hands and Edmund falls asleep on her shoulder – it gave me butterflies.

A few of the things that I liked best about the book were changed.  Her relationship with her brother – that was changed to her sister.  Sir Thomas’ interest in her when he returns from Antigua was there but not really.  And some of the character quirks in Mrs. Norris’ awful ways and Mr. Rushworth’s self-love.  Also, I don’t remember the slave-trade playing a large role in the book but perhaps I overlooked it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I watched this movie over a period of three days and was getting ready for work or ironing throughout the whole thing, so I may not have gotten the full movie experience.  But I’m glad I saw it and got a chance to reevaluate Mansfield Park.  Perhaps I don’t dislike it quite as much as I used to.

 

The Jane Austen Book Club September 23, 2009

The Jane Austen Book Club: A Novel

(It’s halfway though the Everything Austen Challenge and I’ve just now finished my first book, but I’m not giving up yet…)

I began reading The Jane Austen Book Club because I was losing focus reading Pride and Prejudice.  I love Pride and Prejudice so I couldn’t figure it out.  This book made me remember that I love Jane Austen and now I’m excited to get back to P&P.

For the one person who hasn’t read it, the JABC is about 5 women (and 1 man) of varying ages and personalities.  They meet once a month for 6 months to discuss one novel.  During these discussions we learn more about one of the characters.   There was less Jane Austen in the book than I expected, but I liked what I found instead.  Life goes on for the JABC participants.  They fall in love, out of love, grieve for lost love ones, and continue finding out who exactly they are.  But they kept reading the books and meeting through it all.

I love the reverence that each of the characters (except maybe Grigg) has for Jane Austen. It’s amazing how much she can affect us 200 years later.  Aside from Shakespeare what other English author is so loved?

My favorite passages:

“Jocelyn turned out to like fiddling about with the original story no better than Prudie did.  The great thing about books was the solidity of the written word.  You might change and your reading might change as a result, but the book remained whatever it had always been.  A good book was surprising the first time through, less so the second.  The movies, as everyone knew, had no respect for this.” p. 82

“From the sound of it, no one who’d known Grigg since infancy could have doubted he was born to be a heroine.” p. 152

“There was something appealing in thinknig of a character with a secret life that her author knew nothing about.  Slipping off while the author’s back was turned, to find love in her own way.  Showing up just in time to deliver the next bit of dialogue with an innocent face.  If Sylvia were a character in a book, that’s the kind of character she’d want to be.” p. 171

Personal Thoughts

Everyone brings their own life experiences to their reading and a few things came to me while I was reading.

There was one section near the beginning when the book discusses how divorce affects adult children.  How they merely have their Christmases ruined.  My parents announced that they were getting a divorce last summer after 31 years of marriage.  And it’s a weird thing because I don’t live near either of them and I didn’t at the time they split up so part of me never really had to deal with it the way I would have had this happened 10 years ago.  It’s strange going home because they sold the house I grew up in and the family feels so small.  Sometimes I get homesick for something that doesn’t exist anymore, but usually I just go on with my life.  [However, I am spending Thanksgiving in Boston with Dad and Christmas in Michigan with Mom and Ben’s parents.]

Prudie discusses how her mother used to convinve her she’d done things that she hadn’t actually done.  She had trouble remembering which things she actually did and which were just stories.  My dad does the same thing to a lesser degree.  He tells me stories of all the places he took me when I was too small to remember but others tell me some of them didn’t actually happen.  In a  similar vein, we got our first video camera (a 20 pound contraption in the 1980s that only my dad could lift) when I was 6.  He made me and my brother reenact the first 6 and 4 years of our life to make up for it.

I guess this book made me think of my parents.

Final Thought: All Austen addicts should read this. Also, am I the only one that has a red cover for this book?

[Originally posted at michellen.vox.com.  For the original post and comments, click here.]

 

Everything Austen Challenge July 8, 2009

Everythingausten1

I’ve decided to do the Everything Austen challenge.  I’ve never done a book challenge before so I’m excited to give it a try.  I’ve been planning on reading a few Austen-related books so this shouldn’t be too hard.

My Plan:

1. Re-read Pride and Prejudice.  This time I’m going to read the annotated version.  It’s been about 6 years since I first read P&P – I can’t wait to see how much I enjoy it the second time.

2. Read/Watch The Jane Austen Book Club.  I was waiting until I had read all of her novels to read this one, and now that I’ve finished Northanger Abbey, it’s fair game.

3. Read The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility is (probably) my favorite of her novels, and this novel takes place while she is revising S&S.  I picked it up awhile ago and just haven’t gotten to it yet.

4. Read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Because how can you not want to read this.

5. Watch Mansfield Park.  I didn’t like the book very much, so I want to see if I can learn to like it through the movie.

6. Watch Bride and Prejudice.  I know the last two are easy – just movies – but I’ve wanted to watch this one for a long time and I don’t know if I can handle 6 books on top of all my normal reading.  🙂

Bride and Prejudice

So there you go.  I have to do all of these before December 31.  This might just be the motivation I need for the second half of the year as far as reading goes.

[Originally posted at michellen.vox.com.  For the original post and comments, click here.]