I liked this book okay. I didn't love it. I didn't dislike it. While I was reading it, it kept my attention very nicely, and I finished it in just a few days. Basically, it's precisely what I'd consider a "beach book" -- something to read when you don't want to be distracted from real life too much.
The book club in the title is formed by five women and one man. Jocelyn breeds dogs, is a bit of a control freak, and starts the club with an ulterior motive: her best friend Sylvia's marriage is ending, and the other members suspect the club is supposed to distract Sylvia from her problems. Sylvia's daughter Allegra is also going through a difficult breakup -- her girlfriend is, among other things, a liar -- and has just moved back home to be with her mom now that her dad is gone. Prudie is a reasonably happily married woman who teaches high school French. Bernadette is the quirkiest of the bunch -- she loves to talk, has given up looking in the mirror, and is the surest of just who she really is. And Grigg is the lone male, a sort of lost puppy needing adoption.
The most interesting thing about this book, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's narrated by the group as a whole, which comments on each character in turn. I can't remember seeing that done before, and it was original and attention-getting. Each chapter focuses on a different character, tells part of their back story, tells part of what's going on currently in their lives, and then the group gathers to discuss a Jane Austen book.
There are some good insights into Austen's novels sprinkled throughout the book, and those might make this an easy way to get to know Austen's works if you've never read them and are trying to figure out which one you might like to start with.
See? Add a self-adhesive border and transform a generic, boring bathroom into shiny awesomeness.
I don't recommend hanging these things while small people are around, as you may be tempted to mutter unsavory expressions under your breath. But all in all, this turned out better than I'd expected, if not easier than I'd hoped. I had to dunk the rolls in water for 10 seconds, which was supposed to moisten all the glue on the back. Except it didn't, so I had to add more water to dry patches, which was awkward and messy. But hey, it turned out cool and I didn't destroy anything in the process :-)
This book is considerably different than I'd remembered. The basic plot was how I recalled, but I didn't remember anything about the middle section where Marianne got sick. I also thought this book moved a little too slowly when I read it back in high school -- and I was the sort of high school girl who read Austen of her own free will, not because it was required reading. Then, I got frustrated by Elinor and thought she should speak her mind more and not let others overbear her so much.
Imagine my surprise a few years later, when I took this quiz and came out Elinor Dashwood! I took it again just now and got the same result, so I guess it's not a fluke. And this time through, I understood Elinor much better. She's quiet and thinks things through, but she's not really all that reticent. She speaks her mind when she judges it is appropriate, and to the people she deems it correct to say such things too. I especially liked her sympathetic befriending of Colonel Brandon.
In case you're not up on your Austen, this is the one where sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood fall in love with Edward Ferrars and John Willoughby. Edward is described as everything correct and wonderful, but he and Elinor are both so proper that their regard for each other is barely evident. Marianne, on the other hand, indulges her every emotion and tells everyone exactly what she thinks, and she and Willoughby allow their affections to run away with them. Then Willoughby leaves, the next thing they know he's marrying another woman, and Marianne winds up in the depths of despair. Elinor's Edward also turns out to have been previously engaged to another in secret. And then there's Colonel Brandon, a retiring widower who falls in love with Marianne even though she thinks he's very boring.
You might say it's complicated :-) My only quibble with it this time is that I wish Edward Ferrars got to be fleshed out more, as he's absent for most of the book, and we have little time to see just why Elinor should love him despite having lots of reasons why she should give up her attachment. Oh well, not everyone can be Mr. Darcy!
Raymond Chandler is my favorite author, and yet it's been ten years since I read any of his works. Silly me!
I needed to take a book along on our vacation last month, but never got around to picking one until the morning we were going to leave. I was in the mood for something a bit spicier than Jane Austen, so grabbed the first Chandler book I couldn't remember the plot to. It was The Long Goodbye.
I lost count of how many times while reading this I exclaimed, "I love Raymond Chandler!" Oh, how I love his writing. But why? Because it's so unexpected, so full of unusual-yet-perfect descriptions. I blogged about his writing here many years ago, so I won't go into all that again.
In The Long Goodbye, gumshoe Phillip Marlowe befriends an alcoholic, down-and-out war hero named Terry Lennox. Terry winds up in big trouble -- his philandering wife is dead, and of course everyone would suspect him. Marlowe helps Terry across the border to Mexico. And then he spends the rest of the book trying to figure out who really did kill the wife, why the whole case has been hushed up, and just what being a true friend entails.
Chandler's singing, swinging prose goes down easier than a gimlet with lime juice in a Hollywood bar. I often have to stop reading to savor a line or phrase, lest they slide past me in my eagerness to find out what happens next. If you want to add a mystery to your summer reading list, do yourself a favor and make it one of his.
The first time I read Persuasion, I liked it better than the other three Austen books I'd read at that time. That was more than a decade ago, and this is the first time I've reread it. The question I now face is: why did I like it better than Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma? It could be because I first read Persuasion while I was on my big Horatio Hornblower kick, and this book is full of naval officers. It could be because this was the first Austen book I read after going to college, and I was just more ready for this level of writing. It could even be because it's considerably shorter than the other three I'd read.
I think, in the end, that the reason I liked it best is that I identify more with this book's heroine, Anne Elliot, more than any of the other's. I'm not as witty or bold as Elizabeth Bennett. I'm not as unfailingly honorable as Elinor Dashwood (though I do see a lot of myself in her as well). I'm not as inquisitive or self-fascinated (I hope) as Emma Woodhouse. Like Anne Elliot, in my opinion, I am quiet, reserved, and loyal. And that's probably why I still like this book a great deal, though now I think I like Pride and Prejudice equally as well.
In case you're not up on your Austen, this is the one where Anne Elliott meets up with the man she was once engaged to, Captain Frederick Wentworth. Eight years previous, she had been persuaded to break off their engagement, and had regretted that ever since. Neither of them had ever fallen in love again, and this book charts the rekindling of their romance as they slowly ascertain each others' feelings and whether things could ever again be as they once were.
I do wish that this book lasted a little longer, as the very end seems a bit rushed. The discussion between Capt. Wentworth and Anne is described, not written out as dialog, and I've always wondered if Jane Austen meant to flesh that part out more, but then was unable to. Persuasion was published posthumously, so you never know.