An excellent look at some of Jane Austen's genius. There are points I very definitely agree on (Mr Woodhouse is insidious and dangerous (for Emma, atAn excellent look at some of Jane Austen's genius. There are points I very definitely agree on (Mr Woodhouse is insidious and dangerous (for Emma, at least), rather than harmless), but others that I'm less inclined to agree with his opinion of (I think Sense and Sensibility is supposed to show that everyone unites most characteristics to some degree and thinking of people in black and white, rather than nuanced grey, is the problem that needs to be overcome). I adored the ways in which he contrasted and compared Emma and Mansfield Park - more similar than different, and in my opinion her two best works. Of course, I find Emma too painful to read and love Mansfield. His description of Sense and Sensibility's second chapter as one of the finest passages in all literature ever, is undeniably correct. I found his analysis of Pride and Prejudice interesting, and it actually revived my opinion of the book (which, to be frank, is my second least favourite). I wish he'd taken the time to deal with Persuasion (I have some ideas about the 'large, fat sighings' myself that are not quite in line with his, but it's hard to tell because he didn't really talk about this one). I didn't miss the neglect of Northanger Abbey, because I like it least of all. All in all, an excellent book....more
The romance in this seriously resembles JD Robb's In Death series. But since I enjoy that, it's not a detraction for me. I enjoyed the mystery - it waThe romance in this seriously resembles JD Robb's In Death series. But since I enjoy that, it's not a detraction for me. I enjoyed the mystery - it was seriously convoluted, but they have to be to be interesting these days. I wasn't overly fond of any of the characters and disliked the vast majority of the supporting characters, but I really enjoyed it anyway....more
This is a rather odd book. It reminds me of Elizabeth Goudge and Rumer Godden because nothing really seems to happen but there's a story there that'sThis is a rather odd book. It reminds me of Elizabeth Goudge and Rumer Godden because nothing really seems to happen but there's a story there that's awfully compelling. This is a story about life falling apart and coming together. About life and death and living despite being dead and the slow decaying death that is a meaningless life of going through the motions.
There's a main character, a man I don't particularly like and who I thought very little of until I reached the almost-end of the book. There's Anouk, who haunts the book, peeking out of corners where you didn't expect her to be. There's Claire, the man's sister, who's hard to pin down, but could have an entire book written about her as well, there's that much hidden depth to the character. There's Alexis, who moves from one extreme to the other over the course of his life. There's Mathilde, the man's sort-of-daughter, who's here and there and rather like Little Women's Jo, with appendages in odd places and in that not-quite-fitting stage of adolescence. And then, there's Kate and the village of children.
I would love to have been one of Kate's children. I would have loved to have grown up there (though, really, would I? I don't know for sure...). And really, Kate forms the center of the novel, as she forms the center of the children's lives, all the while slipping out of the frame with Anouk in the distance behind her.
I don't quite know how to define this book because, like Anouk and Kate, it keeps slipping out of my grasp and going where I don't expect it to go....more
I want to be part of the Society. I feel like I know the characters. I want to see Kit glaring and lisping. I want Isola to practice her phrenology onI want to be part of the Society. I feel like I know the characters. I want to see Kit glaring and lisping. I want Isola to practice her phrenology on me. I'd dearly like to slap Adelaide Addison myself. I want to taste Amelia's roast pig. It's frightfully unfair when experiences happen only in books and not real life. Of course, the advantage of a book is (a) I don't actually have to go through WWII myself and (b) I can read it again and again and again and have the same joyous experience each time....more
I did not finish this. I was expecting it to be silly, but I didn't think it would be that hard to make a Choose Your Own Adventure out of Jane AustenI did not finish this. I was expecting it to be silly, but I didn't think it would be that hard to make a Choose Your Own Adventure out of Jane Austen. The constant asides about what you (as Elizabeth) are thinking or feeling are annoying - just present the events and let me react to them. And, really, while I'm glad that it doesn't just use Pride and Prejudice (which is my second least favourite Austen), having Lizzie act like Fanny Price? That's the point I closed the book....more
**spoiler alert** Mansfield Park is one of my favourite Austens. I've enjoyed this sequel both times I've read it, though there are a number of proble**spoiler alert** Mansfield Park is one of my favourite Austens. I've enjoyed this sequel both times I've read it, though there are a number of problems with it. I enjoy the characterisation and the style of writing. There are alterations to some characters I do not approve of.
While I can fully believe that Mary Crawford would want to spend her last few weeks of life at Mansfield, I do not believe that she would have married within four years. I do not approve of the way Henry Crawford was handled. I believe that he would convey his sister where she needed to be. I fully believe he would be bold enough to think enough time had passed for him to be accepted in the neighbourhood again given that Edmund and Fanny were away and Sir Thomas dead. I do not think there is any reason to alter his affair with Maria (though, admittedly, in a way that is believable for Maria's character), he is not some sort of tragic hero.
Julia turning into Mrs Norris is somewhat believable. The character based on Mrs Croft is somewhat less believable - was it too hard to create an original character? The book was too short to provide much insight to the other characters, principally Charlotte Yates and Louisa Harley. William's romance with Louisa was completely brushed over and unbelievable. The development of Tom and Susan's relationship should have been given more time as well.
It's an enjoyable read, but it's not as good as it could have been....more
**spoiler alert** I would have titled this Caroline, rather than Shirley, since the vast majority of the book seems to centre on Caroline and be told**spoiler alert** I would have titled this Caroline, rather than Shirley, since the vast majority of the book seems to centre on Caroline and be told from her point of view. I found the beginning rather slow - especially since I was expecting the story to be about Shirley, in the same way that Emma is about Emma. The characters drew me in, Caroline in particular. I have never been so invested in a Brontë character before. Even though I could tell that she was deceived about the relationship between Robert Moore and Shirley, though until it was revealed I was never completely certain about Robert's feelings for Caroline. The biography I read recently had informed me of the relationship between Caroline and Mrs Pryor, so I can't very well say it was obvious, though I think it would have been clear to most people that there was something going on there. The Shirley-Louis Moore relationship was also fairly obvious.
Of all the Charlotte Brontë books I've read (so far), this is the one that shows her brilliance best. The characters are mostly likable, they draw you in and make you care for them. While the plotting is somewhat standard, I can't help feeling that it's novels like this that created those standards. Also, despite having a pretty good idea of what is going on and how things will end up, the story is still compelling, which is clear evidence of brilliant writing in my opinion....more
As this book consists of The Professor, the fragment of Emma, and their poems, I'm going to review each of the three separately.
The Professor I reallyAs this book consists of The Professor, the fragment of Emma, and their poems, I'm going to review each of the three separately.
The Professor I really enjoyed this. Given that this was the first novel she tried to have published, and the fact that no-one was willing to publish it until after her death, I was expecting it to be rather heavy-handed. I thought it was a simple, sweet love story. I would have liked to see some of Frances's viewpoint, but I enjoyed having a love story told by a man for a change. I gather that Villette incorporates many of the same themes and is told from the female point of view, so perhaps when I read that I will have a clearer idea of what Frances was experiencing.
Emma This is even more of a fragment than Austen's Sanditon, amounting to only a couple of chapters. I would love to know exactly what Brontë's intentions were for the development. I may have to see if I can find a completion by someone else, as has been done for Sanditon and The Watsons
Poems The vast majority of these are long verses that I have no patience for. I much prefer prose to poetry. I will, however, go back and dwell on some of these for longer. Except for those of Patrick Brontë, which I did not like. The styles of the sisters are similar, yet quite different. I found something to enjoy in each of their poems and look forward to a longer acquaintance with them....more
**spoiler alert** Note: There are slight spoilers for Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey in here as well.
I really enjoyed this. Far more than**spoiler alert** Note: There are slight spoilers for Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey in here as well.
I really enjoyed this. Far more than I was expecting to after I read the introduction. I will admit that it was a little like reading a bizarre Austen fanfic, set in 19th century New York with Mr Bennet, his daughter, Anne Elliott, and her suitor, Mr Willoughby. That helped me to find it amusing. Mrs Penniman infuriated me and amused all at the same time (definitely played by Mrs Bennet!) and Mrs Almond's calm good sense was very soothing every time she appeared (why hello Elinor Dashwood). Townsend I struggled with - I didn't see what Catherine liked about him (aside from the fact that he liked her, which suggests parallels with Catherine and Henry (of Northanger Abbey)). I felt it needed something to make her love more reasonable. I saw no reason why she should fall so hard, so fast. An awful lot was said about how wonderful Townsend appeared, but I had trouble believing it because I didn't see any of it. It might also be the difficulty of knowing what he's actually about, but even knowing what Willoughby's about I can see why Marianne falls for him. Dr Sloper was perfectly right in calling himself an unpleasant man (I forget the exact phrase) and I had very little sympathy for his position and less for his behaviour, despite knowing that he was perfectly correct in his estimation of the matter....more