This is one of Thurber's most famous stories. In it the mild mannered Walter Mitty experiences five daydreams while on a regular shopping trip with hi...moreThis is one of Thurber's most famous stories. In it the mild mannered Walter Mitty experiences five daydreams while on a regular shopping trip with his overbearing wife. While she goes to the hair dresser, he runs some errands and has daydreams connected to something that happens on the way. In these daydreams he is always a confident hero who gets the task done bravely at great risk. In some of the story is heard a sound of "pocketa-pocketa-pocketa" as the daydream is in full swing and which signals a "Mitty moment" to any of the readers of Thurber's best story.(less)
I studied this in college and enjoyed it even though we had to read it in a week! I loved the characters and they have always seemed as if they really...moreI studied this in college and enjoyed it even though we had to read it in a week! I loved the characters and they have always seemed as if they really existed to me. Tom Jones is like one of Dickens' characters. He's a beloved rascal. I intend to read this one again after all these years and see how it looks to a far more adult mind.(less)
It has been a while since I read this and we were talking about books most re-read and this was mentioned. This has always been one of my favorite boo...moreIt has been a while since I read this and we were talking about books most re-read and this was mentioned. This has always been one of my favorite books and every time I read it again, I see something new.
The story is set in the 19th century and centers on an extremely proud and wealthy young man, Mr. Darcy and a strong minded, intelligent young woman, Elizabeth Bennett, who forms a strong prejudice against Darcy because of his pride and hurtful manner.
Elizabeth's family is a complete disaster. Her mother flutters over her five daughters and thinks only of getting them married off to wealthy men. She is unbelievable silly and most of the time offensive. She allows her silly and fickle younger daughters to flirt with any prospective young man and when that leads to absolute disaster, she still doesn't see what she has done. Elizabeth's father, while intelligent and kind is no match for his frivolous wife and younger daughters, and rarely interferes, no matter how distastefully they behave. He is only attached to Elizabeth and the kind and lovely oldest daughter, Jane.
Mr. Darcy's friend, Mr. Bingley, has fallen in love with the beautiful Jane, but his snobbish sisters, and Darcy himself are determined that there should be no match which would end in any relationship with the horrible Bennett family no matter how respectable Elizabeth and Jane are. The middle of the book is a saga of offenses, cross purposes, and star-crossed love.
As with all of Jane Austen's books, the plot is not the most important aspect. It is her ability to draw carefully constructed characters who grow and change throughout the book which makes her works classics. Along with the dynamic main characters, there are a number of unforgettable minor characters who are memorable and drawn to perfection. These include, the impossible Mrs. Bennett; the silly and flirtatious sisters, Kitty and Lydia; the supercilious, but somehow redeemable, clergyman, Mr. Collins; the scoundrel Mr. Wickham; and the kind, intelligent, but flawed and lazy Mr. Bennett. Sometimes I think it is the minor characters that draw you in and keep you reading while the more dynamic characters wrestle with their flaws and eventually emerge wiser and more mature; and, since this is Jane Austen, in love with each other. These minor characters are so real, you find yourself trying to figure out who they are reminding you of. Of course, they are an exaggeration, but only in that they are an amalgam of more real traits than are usually found in one person. All their actions ring true and if Mr. Collins would walk into the room, you would know him in an instant.
I know there are many who don't like Jane Austen because there is too much description, too many words and "flowery language," and main characters too concerned with money and getting married, but this is the world she was writing in. Her writing is like a hidden camera on the 19th century. Unfortunately, many people miss learning about this world and human nature because they don't want to do the work necessary to unlock what Jane Austen has to say.(less)
This is a re-read, probably for about the 5th time. It is always fresh no matter how many times I read it. There are so many things that I find that I...moreThis is a re-read, probably for about the 5th time. It is always fresh no matter how many times I read it. There are so many things that I find that I have missed.
The story is set in England in the 19th century. While the village is only 17 miles from London, it is deep in the country. Emma, the bright, clever, pretty and beloved daughter of one of the first families in the district, has been spoiled dreadfully in her upbringing. She has no social equals and after the loss of her governess and friend, she sets to work to manipulate the lives of others in the village by attempting to make matches between the people she knows. The only person who has ever not spoiled Emma is the local, most eligible, bachelor, George Knightly. While he cares deeply for Emma and her father, he has always tried to bring some semblance of discipline into Emma's life by speaking the truth plainly to her.
As with almost every book by Jane Austen, there are plots and subplots, innuendo, misinformation, and wrong assumptions. Even though the elements of her stories are similar, the characters stand out almost as real people. In fact, next to Dickens, I believe Jane Austen created the most memorable characters in English Literature. Sometimes I think I re-read this book just to encounter the deliciously obnoxious Mrs. Elton.
Emma is a dynamic character and I found myself very irritated with her for the first half or more of the book. She meddles in people's lives and thinks she knows what is best for them. She has a deep seated snobbishness but a kind heart and, where she has found favor, a lack of class consciousness. In other words, she is a complex character who is basically kind and loving, but the petting and spoiling of her early life has led her to believe that everything she believes is right. She cheerfully meddles in people's lives and then is chagrined when the desired outcome does not work the way she intended.
There are some rough places in the book, especially when listening to an audiobook. The silly, boring and incredibally talkative Mrs. Bates, can be easily be skimmed over in a book, but she is hard to skip in an audiobook. She goes on and on and I am sure Jane Austen meant for her readers to experience just how boring she could be. There is also a lot of description which may irritate some readers, but to me evokes a time when lives moved at a slower pace and the concerns of the people were more mundane and closer to home. The endless discussions of what people should eat, or the superiority of the local doctor by Emma's father were similar to conversations I listened to in the 60's on the isolated Eastern Shore of Virginia. Where there is very little that changes, conversations center on the tiny details of daily life and family and this is what Jane Austen shows us. As with all of Jane Austen's book, in the end the threads are gathered together, all ends well, and dear Emma has come out a wiser and happier young woman.(less)
I have to admit that this is my least favorite of Jane Austen's novels. Her character, Fanny Price, is just a little too humble and nice. I think ever...moreI have to admit that this is my least favorite of Jane Austen's novels. Her character, Fanny Price, is just a little too humble and nice. I think everyone would like her better if she just got angry with the way she was treated from time to time. She was a niece of her mother's sister who was taken in by the family when she was about 11. Her own mother did not marry well and the poverty of her home and the large number of siblings prompt her Aunt Norris to suggest to her sister that Fanny come to live at Mansfield Park. Fanny begins her life with the four Bertram cousins, and while she is educated, she lives a life of a half-servant, waiting on her Aunt Bertram.
As the novel progresses, we see the superficiality of her cousins and their parents as well as the interfering hypocrisy of her Aunt Norris. Sir Thomas has made his wealth by dealing in slavery, his wife is so indolent and self-absorbed that she neglects her children and does not seem at all interested in developing their character, which leads to disastrous consequences as the book progresses. As with most of Jane Austen's books, the main focus of the book is marrying someone wealthy.
Fanny somehow has managed to have a deep moral sense and spirit of humility and stands in contrast to her cousins. The only one whom she has a relationship is her cousin, Edmond, the youngest son. His desire is to take Holy Orders and, unlike most wealthy young men of his class, does it from a true desire to minister to the people he is called to serve.
Into this mix come a brother and sister who are visiting the local Vicar. While they are superficially charming, they are extremely shallow and amoral. Edmond falls in love with Mary and while she tells him that she will never be a clergyman's wife as there is no prestige or income, she flirts with him outrageously and tries to change his position. Her brother is very attached to the two older sisters, but eventually decides to flirt with Fanny to amuse himself and ends up falling in love with her.
My objections to the book are that it sags in the middle under the weight of too many examples of the superficial details of the main characters lives. Fanny is appalled at their behavior and that redeems her, not because she is a prig, but because she stands alone against overwhelming derision. Her own background in her parents home is chaotic at best and she could hardly have learned such virtues there or at Mansfield Park. I think it is this strength of character that keeps her from being a simple character in a morality play. While this is a harder book to read that any of Austen's other works, it is still filled with the kinds of things we expect from her works.(less)