I love P&P. And while it is wholly stereotypical of me as a Mormon woman to love Jane Austen, I am unabashed about it. (Sue me.)
This book was orig...moreI love P&P. And while it is wholly stereotypical of me as a Mormon woman to love Jane Austen, I am unabashed about it. (Sue me.)
This book was originally written between 1796-97 and titled First Impressions. It wasn't released until 1813 (only 4 years before Jane Austen's death) under the title Pride and Prejudice.
As you probably know, the story revolves around the (erroneous) first impressions that not only Darcy and Elizabeth make on one another, but also those of Wickham and Elizabeth. (As with many of Austen's novels, a love-interest of the heroine has something dastardly to hide.) (Misters Willoughby, Churchill and Wickham come to mind.)
Darcy believes that Wickham eloped with Lydia out of revenge for the broken engagement to Georgiana. I also believe the elopement with Lydia was purposely meant to hurt Elizabeth. Perhaps Wickham sensed the attraction between Elizabeth and Darcy and set out to make it impossible for Lizzy to marry anyone else by smearing the Bennet family name. (However, despite this, the shades of Pemberley do end up being "thus polluted".)
Pride offers up many social quandries. Should Charlotte have married Mr Collins? I think the character of Charlotte Lucas serves as an example of the choice to marry for "security" over love. Should scatter-brained Lydia have been made to marry the cunning Mr Wickham? The Lydia-Wickham marriage serves as an example of a couple who was forced to marry, not for money or even love, but to cover up an impropriety. The match Charlotte Lucas made with Mr Collins was rewarded with security, but not love. Lydia Bennet was rewarded with neither love nor security. The marriages of Jane and Elizabeth on the other hand, who both marry for love, are rewarded with both.
Not everyone marries in Pride. Caroline Bingley, Mary & Kitty Bennet, Miss de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy remained single. In Austen's world, generally a woman must have money, respect and beauty to marry "well". Considering the above-mentioned women, I believe only Georgiana would end up marrying well. (And possibly Kitty.)
This continues to be my favorite book because of the enduring themes and likability of the characters. (less)
**spoiler alert** This of course is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood and their search for love, stability and happiness. Elinor...more**spoiler alert** This of course is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood and their search for love, stability and happiness. Elinor and Marianne have a younger sister Margaret and live with their mother. Their father Henry has recently died but his house (Norland) and his money, by law, went to his son John Dashwood (who is his son from a previous marriage) and John's shrew, I mean wife, Fanny Ferrars Dashwood. Now Elinor, Marianne, Margaret and their mother must move into a smaller house (a cottage, in fact) and find their way in a new society of people, trying to stay afloat financially while searching for love.
I love finding the meaning and significance of a book's title. Sense in this case is logic. We can say that Elinor is the embodiment of it. Sensibility is emotion, which can only describe Marianne. (Nerd Fact: The original title for this novel was Elinor and Marianne.)
Elinor is reserved and represents the society's preferred method of non-disclosure; she is very aware of her actions and the consequences of them. Whereas Marianne wears her emotions on her sleeve. She represents the opposite end of the spectrum: imagination, romanticism and idealism. It is these things that allow her to be drawn in and devastated by Willoughby. The theme and idea of a secret; when to divulge and when to conceal them, is also very prevalent through out the story. Almost everyone in the novel has a secret. (That would be a fun list to make.)
I loved the 1995 Ang Lee movie (starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet) but it left out the crucial Willoughby Scene. (!!) In the book, Willoughby makes his way to the house because he has heard that Marianne is dying. He confesses everything to Elinor which allows us to feel sorry for him and on some level, forgive him.
Sense and sensibility also alludes to Austen's favorite theme: the choice to marry for money or to marry for love. Can you have both? How much does money matter? In all, Sense represents Elinor, logic, propriety, concealment, and marrying for money. Sensibility represents Marianne, romanticism, idealism, divulgence; marrying for love. This wonderful novel is about finding a balance between these two seemingly opposite things. (less)
**spoiler alert** Persuasion was the last complete novel that Jane Austen wrote before her death in 1817. She wrote most of it while sick and did not...more**spoiler alert** Persuasion was the last complete novel that Jane Austen wrote before her death in 1817. She wrote most of it while sick and did not get a chance to edit and polish the novel. That being said, I still think it is very good, and it departs from most of her other novels in several ways. This is the only novel where the hero is not gentry, but a self-made man. Anne is not "young" and is not a beauty, in fact her looks are described as being "wretchedly altered". (Ouch!)
Persuasion is of course the story of Anne Elliot, a woman whose lot in life seems to be a lonely spinster. At the age of 19 she was persuaded to refuse the marriage proposal of Frederick Wentworth because of his lack of money and social status. Wentworth joins the Royal Navy. Anne lives an isolated life with her haughty father and sister. (I love the character of Anne's father, Sir Walter. I think he makes a great Metrosexual.)
Now, 8 years later at the musty old age of 27, Anne is cast aside and labeled a spinster. (She is referred to as "only Anne".)
Wentworth returns from the West Indies, but now he is a captain, has earned his fortune and social status. He is still bitter about Anne's refusal and is, at first, attracted to 19 year old Louisa Musgrove's decisiveness; a quality he wished Anne had at 19. However when Louisa falls in Lyme, Wentworth sees Anne's quick response and realizes she is not the same timid Anne that refused him and his interest in her is renewed. I think we are all a fan of the letter Capt. Wentworth writes to Anne (in Chapter 23).
I love talking about the meaning of book titles and I'm glad this book was called Persuasion instead of The Elliots which was Jane Austen's other choice. There are many people in the novel who are being persuaded by one person or another. Anne, of course was persuaded 8 years earlier by Lady Russell not to marry Wentworth. Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove are each trying to persuade Capt. Wentworth to court them. Sir Walter was easily persuaded by his own delusions of grandeur (and his daughter Elizabeth) to live high on the hog, forcing the family to let out Kellynch Hall to the Crofts. Charles Musgrove had originally wished to marry Anne (who refused him because she still loved Wentworth) and for some unworldy reason, was persuaded to settle for Mary, Anne's sister. Mrs Clay is trying to persuade Sir Walter to marry her while William Elliot (a cousin) tries to persuade Anne to marry him. (Both Mrs Clay and William Elliot are making a grab for the Elliot title and fortune.)
Sophia Croft on the other hand, serves as an example to Anne, of someone who was not persuaded by anyone. Sophia married Admiral Croft for love, not for money and enjoys a very happy life.
I believe that Persuasion was the only novel that Jane Austen wrote about a woman who had "lost her bloom" and was able to have a "second spring". I personally think she wrote this novel for herself and for her sister Cassandra, who both never married. (It should also be noted that Cassandra was engaged to a man named Thomas Fowle but he died while on a Naval excursion to the West Indies. Compare that with the fact that Wentworth not only returns from the West Indies, he reclaims the -now spinster- woman he loved.)
Persuasion is one of my favorite Austen novels; I loved the 1995 Amanda Root version, but I also love the 2007 BBC adaptation of it! Has anyone else seen the newer one? I could go on and on about Persuasion but this post is long enough. Did anyone else read it? Do you think Capt. Bennick and Louisa are a good match? Is Wentworth your favorite Austen hero? What do you think of Lady Russell? I'm dying to know. :) (less)
**spoiler alert** I don't really remember how I stumbled upon this book, but I'm glad I read it. This is a biographical fiction novel about FDR, Elean...more**spoiler alert** I don't really remember how I stumbled upon this book, but I'm glad I read it. This is a biographical fiction novel about FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lucy Mercer Rutherford (Eleanor's personal social secretary and FDR's mistress).
It's written in the first person, from Lucy's (rose-colored) point of view. It takes place from 1914-1945, focusing mostly on the time period (1914-1918) when FDR met Lucy, which was before FDR was stricken with polio.
As a fan of similar period novels (The Age of Innocence, The Buccaneers, Ethan Frome, etc.) I was fascinated by this book; I could really feel that the author had a grasp of the Victorian Era. The characters exude the New England Victorian culture and Lucy mentions the strict social rules of the era. (For example, a patrician woman must never occupy a man's newly-vacated chair, for fear that his body heat may still be felt.) This book even weaves in some newly-discovered and very interesting information about FDR and another mistress, Missy LeHand.
I have read other biographies about former presidents so it was especially fun to read this "sort-of" biography in the form of a fictional novel. What was very interesting to me was how each chapter began with one or two actual quotes from people who knew FDR, Eleanor and Lucy. Often, they contradicted each other, which added a human element to the story.
FDR first met Lucy Mercer around 1914 when she was working in their home as Eleanor's social secretary. A not-so-secret romance blossomed. The affair was well-known to everyone in their social circle... everyone except shy, reserved, and repressed Eleanor. However, in the fall of 1918, Eleanor discovered love letters from Lucy to her husband in his suitcase. Historians and this author agree that "the Lucy Mercer affair" was the catalyst that defined the great leaders who FDR and Eleanor herself would one day become. At the time, Eleanor forbade FDR from seeing Lucy ever again. Lucy, however secretly came back into the President's life near the end of it (the Secret Service gave her a code name "Mrs. Paul Johnson"), and was with him on the very day he died in Warm Springs, Georgia. What was not known until very recently was exactly when she re-entered his life. They now believe that it was much sooner than earlier thought.
It was interesting to compare the choices made by the women who loved FDR. Lucy married Winthrop Rutherford (a man 29 years her senior), whereas Missy never married and devoted her life to FDR. Daisy Suckley likewise never married and shared a similar expectation (with Lucy and Missy) that she would someday "retire" with FDR once his 4th term in office was over. Eleanor chose to remain married to FDR, despite accounts that she "did not act like a wife." (In fact, she lived separately from him.) There are many more secrets and interesting personality quirks and flaws that I will leave for you to discover. It is a fascinating novel about fascinating people- I recommend it!(less)
This book is a fictional, coming-of-age tale that revolves around the real 1906 death of Grace Brown that took place in rural New York state. (See An...moreThis book is a fictional, coming-of-age tale that revolves around the real 1906 death of Grace Brown that took place in rural New York state. (See An American Tragedy and its 1951 film adaptation A Place in the Sun starring Elizabeth Taylor).
Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey and her family are left nearly destitute by her mother's death and her father's inability to care for the younger children and run the family farm by himself. Mattie is at a personal crossroads when, at a hotel where she works, a young woman named Grace Brown gives her a bundle of letters with instructions to burn them. Grace's body is soon dredged from the nearby lake.
This book is more about Mattie and how she finds her voice as a young woman at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century, rather than finding out who, or what, caused the death of Grace Brown. Mattie deals with racism, sexism, poverty and the choice between staying in her rural community and becoming a wife or going to college to study literature.
Mattie's friend Minnie (who is also in her teens) serves as the example of teen aged marriage and motherhood to Mattie. Her experiences with Minnie serve to lift the veil of romanticism that often covers marriage and motherhood, and shows Mattie the harsh reality of having to deal with them both, while still a teenager. (Mattie feels that her beloved books have betrayed her on this subject and calls the authors "liars".)
Mattie deals with many situations that today's teens will most likely not encounter; situations that would cause a 16 yr. old to mature significantly, however it is refreshing and realistic to read that Mattie still shows immaturity and inexperience in many ways.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly and I do recommend it. However, this book says it's for young adults, "8th grade and up", but I'm not so sure that I would recommend someone that young read it on their own. If someone that young did wish to read it, I would suggest that an adult read this book beforehand, and help to explain the motivations of the characters and the situations they find themselves in.(less)
Thank you again, to Marcia who sent me a signed copy of her book.
This is a story of Lauren, an LDS actress who wins an Oscar. She grows up in Salt Lak...moreThank you again, to Marcia who sent me a signed copy of her book.
This is a story of Lauren, an LDS actress who wins an Oscar. She grows up in Salt Lake, as a member of the church. Then, right out of high school, heads to Hollywood in search of fame.
The book begins at the point where Lauren has had several failed relationships and two children, but she is having great success as an actress. Lauren doesn't go to church anymore and she ends up re-evaluating her life. She sets goals as to what she would like it to become. Do you have to give up your values to become successful in Hollywood? Can a balance be reached? If you wanted to change, what would happen to your friends? Your career?
I enjoyed this perspective, and I couldn't help thinking about some of the real LDS actors and actresses and wondering how they balance fame and being LDS.(less)
What an awesome idea for a novel! This story intrigued me because it combined three of my favorite things: history, art and fiction.
The book revolves...moreWhat an awesome idea for a novel! This story intrigued me because it combined three of my favorite things: history, art and fiction.
The book revolves around Dutch artist, Jan Vermeer and the "story" behind the famous painting Girl with a Pearl Earring. It reveals how fictional maid, Griet becomes the model for the famous painting, nicknamed "The Mona Lisa of the North" or the "Dutch Mona Lisa".
I think this book is about perspective, as an artist would use it. It is used to compare and contrast things like class status and religion. It references perspective in both the narrow and broad sense. The book mentions Vermeer's perspective can be narrow, like the subjects of his paintings; which are mostly of people in Delft doing mundane things. (Vermeer himself is said to have never left his hometown of Delft.) However, Vermeer does show Griet how to "see" as an artist. She starts seeing colors in clouds--colors other than white. By working for the Vermeers, her perspective on her world changes. She understands him (like no one else does) in the context of his world and he is intrigued by her. Slowly and reluctantly, she transforms from maid to muse. The painting itself, just like its Italian counterpart, can have many different interpretations. Is the Girl's expression one of fear? Seduction? Innocence? It's all a matter of perspective.(less)