I read P&P last way back in college for my senior seminar and although it's hard to believe, I haven't reread it until last week. Ah, it is just aI read P&P last way back in college for my senior seminar and although it's hard to believe, I haven't reread it until last week. Ah, it is just as lovely, witty, and brilliant as I remembered! And also, the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth movie version is about 98% faithful. (I watched it just a couple of days after I finished reading the book, and I've watched it so many times in the last few years that I remembered it very well as I was reading.)
I reread my old edition from college which was a Norton Critical Edition and I think that was a mistake. The underlining wasn't too distracting (but it was some) but the comments were very distracting (luckily there weren't many of them.) Plus, why carry around a book that's essentially twice as long as you plan to read? It would have been more enjoyable to read a copy that only had the novel and didn't have my 20-year-old comments.
All that said, Pride and Prejudice totally holds up. It is wonderful. Elizabeth is just as sharp, Darcy just as frustrating, and Kitty and Lydia just as ridiculous as ever. A few things I picked up on this time around was that before I had thought that Mr. Bennet, while very frustrated by Mrs. Bennet, did find her amusing and did find her to have compensations for her silliness (and her nerves). However, in my reread, I noticed more that he told Elizabeth that he'd hate for her not to respect her spouse, as he personally knows how miserable that is. Also, I thought he was - aside from his tactless remarks to stop Mary from playing all night at the ball at Netherfield - sensible and smart, but on the second reading, I find more than he too was silly for having been blinded by Mrs. Bennet's beauty in the first place and also by allowing her poor parenting of Kitty and Lydia, and by general laziness and lackadasicalness that was hard to respect.
I did love the little bits at the very end that explained a bit of what happened after the weddings: that Georgiana was at first shocked by Elizabeth's teasing Darcy but came to understand that is normal, that Kitty did shape up when separated from Lydia, things like that. Once thing I love about some old-fashioned books is how they often have an epilogue that tells you what happened to the characters after the end of the book. I know that's incredibly declasse these days, but I do enjoy it.
So, loved it! Hope I get around to rereading another Austen in 2013 (or maybe I'll read Lady Susan and the juvenelia and finally be able to say that I have read ALL of Austen's works.) Rereading can be such a luxurious, comforting thing. I should do it more. If only it didn't cut into the number of books I've never read before!
The narrator did a good job of sounding like a young boy although he was not one. In fact, this is a book I suspect is better on audio than in print (The narrator did a good job of sounding like a young boy although he was not one. In fact, this is a book I suspect is better on audio than in print (with one exception), because through the audio I really felt like I was inside his mixed-up mind. I normally don't like fiction on audio but this one was terrific. The story of course is well known now, as a quirky and sweet story of a probably autistic boy dealing with the real world, and a minor mystery that draws him out. I did of course miss out on the illustrations (when will audio book publishers give audio book listeners ALL of the book they've purchased including any visual elements? On today's iPods with largish color screens, it would be easy to flip through a little booklet that ought to be included.) But overall, it was a funny and thoughtful and unusual story, well-told....more
I made an attempt to read this when I was 12 (actually it was foisted upon me). I failed. I did not get through the Lowood section. I was bored to teaI made an attempt to read this when I was 12 (actually it was foisted upon me). I failed. I did not get through the Lowood section. I was bored to tears. I then somehow managed to get through high school and college without ever having it assigned. So a few years after college, I thought it was sad as an English major that I had never read it. It was so beloved, millions of readers can’t all be wrong, especially over 150 years, so I read it. I loved it. It was captivating, romantic, and I was swept away. Fast forward to 2010. It is assigned in book club and even though I had read it before it was over 10 years ago so I reread.
This time, not love. I think that was due to a variety of factors: when I did not end up flying to California, instead of 2 5-hour flights in which to get immersed, instead I had a series of nights of an hour apiece. I also was paying attention to the words I didn’t know for my Wednesday Words meme, which took me out of the story and put me in my head. I am older, a little less romantic, a little more critical of literature.
The time I read it in my twenties was this edition (Signet Classic) with the foreword by Erica Jong. Thanks simply to the popularity of Jane Eyre, I did already know some of the crucial plot points. Unfortunately, Erica Jong gave the rest away. I really hate when publishers aren’t careful about that kind of thing (not to mention authors.) This isn’t an Afterword. It’s a Foreword. It shouldn’t be filled with spoilers. On my rereading this week, I read the Bantam Classic edition with Foreword by Joyce Carol Oates. I did not read the Foreword until I was more than 200 pages into the 400+ page edition, and I’d like to thank Ms. Oates for not giving away the story at all.
Jane Eyre is still a masterful work. Sweeping, but structured. Romantic but Jane is mostly practical. Mr. Rochester is inexplicably ugly but sexy. We love Jane. She has such a strong inner core, an innate sense of herself and an innate personal moral structure. She is a great character as she’s so easy to identify with and root for. But I think I’ve grown out of her. Alas, this is always what I worry about when rereading....more
Another one I would have given up on at p. 50 if it hadn’t been for book club. And boy, am I glad I didn’t! The beginning is draggy and weird, but ofAnother one I would have given up on at p. 50 if it hadn’t been for book club. And boy, am I glad I didn’t! The beginning is draggy and weird, but of course it all makes sense when suddenly we realize that set up isn’t how the whole book is written, and it has an excellent reason for being, and for being the awkward style that it is. It’s hard to review this book without giving away too many spoilers, but it was brilliant, exquisite, heart-breaking, and is a masterpiece....more
Rereading this book 15 years after my last read made me nervous. What if it didn't hold up? Yes, I know it won the Pulitzer (yes, it really did! Any oRereading this book 15 years after my last read made me nervous. What if it didn't hold up? Yes, I know it won the Pulitzer (yes, it really did! Any of you who'd been thinking it was just a romance novel should be rethinking and heading out to buy it.) That was reassuring but I was still worried. And I shouldn't have been. It was just as wonderful, if not better than I remembered. The one disappointment was that unlike back in high school and college the last 80 pages didn't make me cry. There are spoilers in this review, so if you haven't read the book before go read it right now, and come back to this review in about 20 hours. I'll wait.
I find it surprising that some people think Scarlett a huge bitch. She is in the very beginning, before the war, but after the war she does anything and everything she can - including murder and essentially prostitution - to save her land, and therefore her family and their livelihood. It isn't fun or easy for her - she has to swallow her morals, she thinks she's going to hell, she knows her mother would have lost all respect for her, but she does it anyway. I think if she absolutely had no other options, she would have knocked on Belle Watling's door and asked for a job. I love her resilience, her strength, her determination, and her fierce, abiding love for her family and her home. Sure, she doesn't like her sisters very much (would you? Especially Suellen?) but that doesn't mean she doesn't love them. I admire her, and I think in the same position I'd have done everything she does. A classic oldest child, she does what has to be done, with little to no recognition and a lot of consequences to live with.
K. and I were talking about some of the differences between the book and the movie. The movie was pretty darn close to the book, with both Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Haviliand carrying the book around and referring to it constantly while arguing with the director and producers. Naturally, a few things had to be cut for length. The most obvious being Scarlett's two older children. So we were discussing what purpose those children served in the book that was missing from the movie. I think the most important thing is that Wade Hampton made it obvious that Scarlett and Charles's marriage was consummated even though it was so short. Otherwise, she might have tried to have it annulled, or at least could have implied to prospective second husbands that she was in fact unsullied, regardless of the truth of that. K. thought that it also had an up side - it showed she was fertile, and in fact gave birth to sons which could be considered an advantage by prospective in-laws.
Another thing that was cut were two important male characters from the last third of the book - Will Benteen who took care of Tara and eventually married Suellen. And Archie, the former convict who drove Scarlett and the ladies of Atlanta around town on their errands. It's interesting that the one line from each man that just couldn't be cut were both given to Mammy. (Will to Scarlett about Ashley: "He's her husband, ain't he?" and Archie to the women at Melanie's: "Hush up, someone's coming.") In the movie, it was easy to gloss over the fact that there were just a couple of women and former slaves at Tara after Scarlett left, but you just couldn't in the book. Also in the movie it was easy enough to skip the part where at first she had a semi-respectable driver before she started driving herself to the mill alone. In the book, the scandalousness of the situation would have been just too much. Otherwise, it's amazing how accurate the movie was.
I was also surprised upon rereading to discover the first day - when she's flirting with the Tartleton twins, then talking to her father, takes 65 pages. By the end of the ball the following day, we're on p. 111. I know this is a long book (862 pages) but I was wondering how we were going to get through 12 years at that pace! It's interesting how Ms. Mitchell was able to speed up and slow down the pacing of the book, without making the action seem at all jumpy or disjointed. A lot of people also don't realize over what a long time the book takes place. We know Scarlett is 16 at the beginning and toward the end Rhett asks her how old she is, and she's 28.
I never understood her fascination with Ashley and will admit there were times I wanted to shake/slap her out of that. In fact, personally I don't understand how anyone but a quiet, contemplative, bookish woman like Melanie could ever like Ashley, but my mother always had a crush on him, so I guess he isn't just the wussy, effete crybaby I think of him as. (By the way, according to the book he has a large, distinguished, sweeping moustache which was the only description difference of anyone that I noticed from book to movie.)
Ms. Mitchell is a masterful writer. Her characters are true, three-dimensional, honest, and real. She's obviously done her research on the Civil War (although it was only 80 years gone when she wrote this - about the same distance as now and WWII - so it wouldn't have been as much research as we probably imagine as there would have been people still around who remembered that time.) And I found it interesting that she didn't actually feel the need to give us a lot of details about the war. Many writers would have (in fact, I think I learned more about the Civil War from reading the North and South trilogy by John Jakes than I ever did in school.) But Scarlett isn't interested, that doesn't change as the years go on, and Ms. Mitchell remains true to her point of view. She's great at building to an amazing climax that takes place over 200 pages - that's a shocking amount of space to maintain tension and anticipation over. And like a true soap opera, a massive amount of tragedy soaks the last of the book, to our exquisite torture.
Do I believe she'll get Rhett back? I do. I don't think someone who has loved her as long as he has (and mostly without being able to do anything about it) can stay away forever. He had tried to forget about her for years, and hadn't been able to do so. But, DO NOT read the horrible sequel Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. I read the first half twice but both times just had to throw the book across the room when Scarlett decided she didn't need to wear corsets anymore! Puh-Lease! Scarlett will be the most vain person until the day she dies, and throwing off her corset for comfort would likely kill her from the shock. I've heard Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig is much, much better but I just can't risk it after the horror that was Scarlett.
Gone With the Wind is, and will always be one of my very favorite books. It is the best distraction in the world. I was going through a bit of a rough patch when I picked it up, and I was having trouble sleeping because I couldn't turn off my brain when I went to bed. Well Scarlett took care of that! A dose of Miss O'Hara was all it took to completely distract me. I slept like a log after picking it up. I have foisted this book upon plenty of Yankees who ended up loving it, so don't use that as an excuse. And it's a perfect book to read right now. I wrote one of my English AP essays on this book, and how one reason it was so popular when it came out in the 1930s was because it so perfectly mirrored what was going on at the time - A lighthearted, easy era, then a war, and a depression. By reading Gone With the Wind, people during The Depression could see a light at the end of the tunnel. We Americans had been through bad times before - in fact bad times very, very similar to the current bad times - and gotten through it just fine. And gee, a lighthearted, easy era followed by war and an economic depression - does that sound familiar to anyone today? Hmmm.
Everyone should read this book. I think it's one of the essential American literary classics. It perfectly captures an era (or two, as it more subtly also captures the era in which is was written) in our history, it gives us an indelible heroine who epitomizes many truly American traits - stubbornness, covetousness, resilience - and shows the American spirit won't be knocked down. Scarlett's absolutely a symbol of America, and I don't doubt for a minute that she'll never admit defeat in her quest for life, love, and the pursuit of happiness until the day she dies. ...more
a soap-opera from a century ago. It's a fun, dramatic, romantic, plot-heavy book, and the author won the Pulitzer, so it's also very well-written. Reaa soap-opera from a century ago. It's a fun, dramatic, romantic, plot-heavy book, and the author won the Pulitzer, so it's also very well-written. Read it after watching the PBS series. A soap for the Jane Austen set. You'll start off hating Soames, but I dare you to not sympathize with him by the end. Why couldn't Irene love him? ...more