Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies – Review

I feel like one of the last people to read this book. It was all over the blogs over the summer. This book was the October pick for my book club.

I don’t think I have anything original to say about the book that others haven’t already said. I think it was incredibly clever the way Seth Grahame-Smith incorporated the zombies into the rest of the story, quite seamlessly. Although at the end of the day, the book is still just Pride and Prejudice, and there were many moments that felt slow, and I thought the ninja-parts were just over the top.

That being said…I’m going to pick out my favorite parts:

1. The storyline of Charlotte and Mr. Collins

It was a very fitting end to that love connection. What a perfect fate for Charlotte. (Obviously I am not on team-Collins, although he did make me giggle in the original and in this version with all his pompousness).

2. Darcy’s proposal scene with Elizabeth

In the original, every sentence Elizabeth said to Darcy packed a punch of emotion and truth. Seth Grahame-Smith just made those punches more literal, but still kept in step with the verbal pacing of the scalding rejection.

I don’t want to recap the plot of Pride and Prejudice,  because even with zombies, the plot is still exactly the same. My book club members agree that Elizabeth was well ahead of her time as a character, strong-willed and unconcerned about marriage and end-all to a happy life. Its no wonder so many women adore the story line, its full of twists and turns. I love that Jane Austen did not inflicted the boring love-at-first-sight theme on Elizabeth and Darcy, but rather gave them a large number of obstacles and challenges to overcome. I think that is a more realistic approach to how a relationship is formed between two people. Even though Jane and Mr. Bingley had their challenges, it was still a pretty predictable match.

All in all, this book was highly entertaining, but its not really in my top ten favorites of this year. The illustrations and reader’s guide questions at the end are hilarious. There were a few parts which felt really slow and I thought could use zombies to liven it up. Other parts (Elizabeth fighting Lady Catherine’s ninja’s) felt forced and out of place. I hope Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monster’s is just as entertaining though.

**

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Classics, 2009
ISBN 1594743344
319 pages

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Teaser Tuesday (9/15)

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
# Grab your current read.
# Let the book fall open to a random page.
# Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

# You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! # Please avoid spoilers!

My Two Teasers:

By this time, the report of the accident had spread among the workmen and boatmen about the Cobb, and many were collected near them, to be useful if wanted, at any rate, to enjoy the sight of a dead young lady, nay, two dead young ladies, for it proved twice as fine as the first report. To some of the best-looking of these good people Henrietta was consigned, for, though partially revived, she was quite helpless; in this manner , Ann walking by her side, and Charles attending to his wife, they set forward, treading back with feelings unutterable, the ground which so lately, so very lately, and so light of heart, they passed along.

Persuasion by Jane Austen p. 98

Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Its My Birthday, Book Giveaway contest being held all this month. The second winner will be selected tomorrow!

Jane Austen + The Undead = New Fad

Trend # 1 — Paranormal beings

Trend # 2 — Jane Austen

It seems that a recent batch of concoctions made up primarily of these two factors are infiltrating bookstores around the world. First, we were introduced to the various Pride and Prejudice spin-offs (Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, and also, Mr. Darcy’s Diary) to name a few. Add a few paranormal beings into the mix and you get Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which has revolutionized Jane Austen for the newest generation of teens and tweens. Not to be outdone, Amanda Grange (author of the Mr. Darcy spin-offs) has thrown her hat into the ring with Mr. Darcy Vampyre.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I am incredibly fascinated with the fascination of Jane Austen. If its not a spin-off or movie based on a book of her’s, then its another story or reverie of her life. With the way Twilight and P&P&Z dominated the best-seller charts for so long, I’m not surprised to P&P + Vampires novel. But Mr. Darcy as the vampire?? That seems pretty cool. Maybe its my old age of 25, but I’d choose Mr. Darcy over Edward Cullen any day.

The Guardian had an awesome article up about a month ago about the emergence and validity of all these newfound Jane Austen monster books.

These two are now at the tops of my TBR pile….

Mr. Darcy Vampyre by Amanda Grange: Book CoverSense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Northanger Abbey – Review

Northanger Abbey (Bantam Classic) You can tell that Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen’s earlier stories because it isn’t quite as long as the rest, and the main essence of the story isn’t in the love triangles and misunderstandings. In fact, this book is simply about loving books. Although Persuasion is the last of the Jane Austen books, and the only one I haven’t read, I feel safe to say that Northanger Abbey is by far my favorite novel. It is just as ripe with social commentary on the upper and middle class, the educated and non-educated, the pious and the selfish.

The story takes place mostly in Bath, England when a young Catherine Morland is sent to spend a few months with friends of the family, the Allens. On one her first days she encounters a very sociable young man named Henry Tilney. Catherine soon develops a strong crush on Tilney, but unfortunately, he is nowhere to be seen for the next few chapters. Enter Isabella Thorpe. She reminded me very much of Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park. Isabella also came with a brother, John Thorpe, who did nothing but torment Catherine with his obnoxious behavior. Through a series of missed chances, Catherine is finally able to keep her engagements with the Tilney siblings once they return to Bath. Striking up a pleasant friendship with Henry and Eleanor, Catherine is soon invited to spend a few months at Northanger Abbey with the Tilney family, and here the fun ensues. Her mind ripe with images of Ann Radcliffe’s Udolpho, Catherine lets her imagination get the better of at the abbey. Henry, even encourages Catherine’s fantasies by drafting an entire plot of her adventures exploring Northanger Abbey in a scene that could have been taken straight out of Udolpho. Henry’s imagination and sweetness in this scene made it one of my favorites in the whole book.

Catherine Morland is an extremely likable heroine. She is early on defined as “almost pretty” by her parents, but also very humble and simple. Isabella is a flirt more concerned with fashion than her friend’s well-being. John Thorpe and Henry Tilney are polar opposites of each other in virtually every way. Henry comes from a family with money, the Thorpes only pretend to have money. John abhors reading: “I never read novels; I have something else to do” (p32), whereas Henry tells Catherine “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”(p85). But at the heart of the story is just a love of a good story, which is why the romance of the Catherine and Henry, and that of Catherine’s brother James and Isabella is almost in the background to Catherine’s love of books and love for a good story.

This book is one best read late at night. I was up until 1am reading before I finally made myself go to bed. I kept falling into that trap of “one more chapter” but that’s not so easy when each chapter is only 2 or 3 pages long, and you are dying to know where Catherine and Henry will finally meet, or if the Thorpes will keep interrupting their plans.

FINAL GRADE: A+

Northanger Abbey
by Jane Austen
Bantam Books, 1818 (original publication date)
ISBN 0553211978
212 pages
*****

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Sense and Sensibility – Review

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Age: Adult

I think this is one of the shortest of Austen’s novels. I made the mistake of reading this book right after Emma. So many of Jane Austen’s novels involve love triangles, confusion and mixed messages that I felt as if I was rereading Emma for the first 30 chapters of the book. The storyline did finally go on its own path, and became more interesting as the characters became more unique.

This is one book where female superiority reigned. It reigned over men, and over situations. All the women were powerful and in control at all times. Austen likes her heroines to be strong and unique and clever, with the exception of Fanny Price. I have developed an appreciation for Fanny as I read more of Austen’s works. As shy and timid as she is, she is a breath of fresh air, a change of pace from the usual characteristics Austen bestows on the female gender.

The thing that got to me, was how timid and hollow the men were in this novel. Usually there are one or two strong male characters that you use as a standard to judge all other men by. Not in this novel. The men were weak, easily manipulated and indecisive. The women made all the decisions through every step of the novel.

The Dashwoods are an interesting blend. Fanny Dashwood, sister in law to the Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne, is selfish, spoiled and manipulative. Every time her husband tries to do something nice for his sisters, she manages to talk him out of it. This dynamic is apparent with all the relationships in the novel, as the women control all the decisions of the men through some kind of flowery verbiage.

Elinor Dashwood is the most sensible of all the characters, leaving her sister to be the most emotional extrovert of all the characters. Other than Fanny Dashwood, there was no single villian in the form of an elder, rich and much doted upon respected woman. There is Mrs. Ferrars, Edward’s and Fanny’s mother, but she only appears once, and is only lighted talked about elsewhere in the novel.

Throughout the entire novel, Elinor and Marianne’s mother is nowhere to be found, as the daughters have left to go visit family friends for the duration of the novel. Its a testament to the girl’s intellect and emotional strength to be able to go through so many emotional rollar-coasters with only themselves for support. The bond between sisters is extremely potent in this novel, as they are in all of Austen’s works. Sisterhood is the high revered form of relationship, then followed with the bonds of family and lastly by the bonds of marriage.

I feel like my common complaint with Austen’s novels is that they are always about 10 chapters longer than necessary. The first half of the book lacks in dialog and is filled with very lengthy paragraphs of description interspersed with shorter paragraphs of description. This one, being only 50 chapters, is a quick read, and if you can get past the first half with mild interest in the characters, then your patience will be well rewarded.

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Sense and Sensibility
By Jane Austen
270 pages
ISBN: 0679601953

Emma – Review

Emma by Jane Austen

Age: Adult

If the characters in Mansfield Park lacked any spirit, Jane Austen made up for it in Emma.

Although Elizabeth Bennett may be every woman’s favorite Jane Austen character, I took a liking to Emma Woodhouse. She’s funny, intelligent, has a big heart, but is also prone to make bad judgement calls like most human beings.

The quick summary is that Emma is a local match-maker. After helping merge one fantastic couple, Mr. Weston and Emma’s governness Miss Taylor, all her other schemes seems to flounder. Harriet Smith is a minor character although seems to fall in love with anyone that Emma points to. Mrs. Elton was one of my favorite characters only because of her insipid vanity and over indulgence in herself.

I’m not sure why, but Jane Austen seems to love solving all of the conflicts in her novels through a lengthy and well written letter. Darcy wrote a letter to Elizabeth explaining his point of view on their relationship, which became a turning point in that novel. There were a series of correspondences between Fanny and Edmund in regards to Mary Crawford which led to Edmund realizing he loved Fanny. In Emma, there is a well worded letter by Frank Churchill explaining all his secretive actions and his love for Jane Fairfax, which settled many thoughts and rumors of his leading Emma on and why the two acted to secretive.

I think Frank Churchill was my favorite character in the novel. He is full of surprises, has an open and friendly heart, and seems to always entertain, whether he intended to or not.

I had the movie Clueless running through my head while I read this book. I think Clueless is an excellent adaptation of Emma, carefully creating characters and plot that stay faithful to the novel. I could see many character correlations, but I’m still trying to figure out who Jane Fairfax would be in the movie.

Like most of Austen’s novels, there were quite a few chapters that I wish had been cut out altogether, since they didn’t help the plot progress and were just plain boring. But given the time frame of when the novel was written, it was probably more enjoyable to read about normal life occurances than it is now in our more impatient era.

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Daisy Miller

Daisy Miller by Henry James

Age: Adult

Henry James is an interesting author. He seems like he has fun with his stories. He’s an American author who has written 20 novels, 112 short stories and a few plays, I believe. I’ve only read The Turn of the Screw, and I’m currently reading Daisy Miller. The Turn of the Screw was semi Science-Fictionesque filled with ghost stories and creepy children in a giant mansion.

Daisy Miller is nothing like The Turn of the Screw. Its a more playful story. Mr. Winterbourne courting a young “common” lady named Daisy Miller in Geneva, Switzerland. Daisy with her timid and morally lax mother. Daisy with her hyperactive younger brother with an immense sweet tooth.

If one didn’t know Henry James was American before picking up this book, then they certainly would within the first few pages with the dialog consisting of “American boys are the best” “American candy is the best” etc.

Its funny that Daisy Miller was written about 50 some-odd year after Mansfield Park, by an American male, and still refers to the same standards of morality and social stigmas that plagued Mansfield Park.

I wonder what Jane Austen would think of Daisy Miller?

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Mansfield Park

I finished Mansfield Park today, and I really wish I could reclaim those hours of my life spent reading this book.

As Jane Austen’s third book, I had higher expectations for it. Written in 1814, I’m sure there are many aspects of English countryside lifestyles that I am unfamiliar with, and hence, couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Mary Crawford was the most colorful and delightful character in the book, but I don’t think Jane Austen meant for her to be the most approachable character.

Edmund is very uppity, and very oblivious to anything relating to emotions.
Fanny is so meek and timid, it drives a modern woman up the wall.

Henry Crawford is another manifestation of Mr. Wickham, although I did find Henry Crawford more charming than Mr. Wickham overall.

The book could have been more successful without the entire volume 2. So much of nothing happened, I was more shocked at the levels of boredom and tediousness of life back in the early 19th century then anything else. I can see why so many movie representations of the novel stray so far from the actual storyline. The entire slave-trade incident in Antigua that Sir Thomas Betram is involved in gets only slightly mentioned in one sentence in the book, when it was given a much higher significance in the movies. I really did hope that Henry Crawford and Fanny would marry. I liked the Crawfords, for all their faults and selfishness, at least their characters had some life to them.

This book was such a let down compared to the life, the wit and the amazing characters of Pride and Prejudice.

I do still want to read Northanger Abbey, but I have no desire to read Emma or Sense and Sensability.

I guess I can start the Friday Night Knitting Club this week.

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One love triangle to another

I watched the movie “The Jane Austen Book Club” a couple weeks ago, and as much as I enjoyed the movie, I think it would have liked it more if I had read more of Jane Austen’s works than just Pride and Prejudice.

So, having watched that movie and  in keeping with my new reading routine (1 book off my bookshelf, 1 book from somewhere else), I decided to give Mansfield Park a try. I am pleasantly surprised at how much I am enjoying this book.

So, in reading this book, I feel like I need to make some kind of chart to keep all the characters and their stories straight. The book certainly does not lack Jane’s wit, sarcasm and commentary of the social hierarchies on morality and social status, all told through amusingly intricate love stories.

As far as I can tell, in the first 150 pages, there are two love triangles, the unfair and overbearing aunt, the absentee father figures, and the reckless youth.

Fanny Price, the heroine, is kind of dull. Miss Crawford is more interesting but seems superficial, and the Miss Bertrams are just plain annoying. I enjoy all the sections with Edmund Bertram, and all the tension that surrounds him, Fanny and Miss Crawford.

I saw the movie Mansfield Park back in high school in 2000, I think, and so I have flashes of the movie running through my head as I’m reading the book, but the movie images and the book storyline are not in sync, so its really frustrating. I haven’t seen the movie in over 5 years, but I can’t get out of my mind as I read this book. Well, I’ll just keep reading and hopefully the book will erase my memories of the movie. =) One can only hope.

The next book on my list is The Friday Night Knitting Club. I’ve heard some good things about this book, so I hope it won’t let me down.

On a side note, I don’t read mystery novels all too frequently, but I did read some very fun Knitting Mysteries a couple years ago. Needled to Death and A Deadly Yarn Both books by Maggie Sefton. I would recommend those two to any knitter interested in a quick and fun read, plus there are a couple of free patterns at the end of each book!