Booking Through Thursday -Holidays

Booking Through Thursday

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple–What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

Oh good golly! I have been busy with the Jane-a-thon, and have finished Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park. I’m just about cross-eyed from Austen. I had forgotten how different the language is! Austen English and American modern English are at times so different it’s almost like a foreign language. I cannot tell you how many times a character has commented about another by saying, “You look fagged!” meaning “you look tired”, and Lady Bertram’s proclamation, “I am so very stupid!” wasn’t a self-deprecating comment (could that even be possible? She never wanted for self-esteem.), she was just commenting on feeling sleepy. Anyway, I think I’ll take in a few modern reads before returning to Austen-land (I’ve got that book on Mt. TBR, too.) and reading Emma.

I’ve already been cheating on Jane anyway. I’ve been reading Nam Le’s The Boat. I really love it. It’s compelling and sucks you in. Remember the Tom Riddle’s Diary in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? The boat pulls you into the lives and events in the pages like Riddle’s diary. The Boat is a book of vignette-like short stories about characters from different parts of the world. The first story has enough reality and truth that I wonder if it is a recounting of a real occurrence between Nam and his Ba (father in Vietnamese). I’m dying to throw Jane over so I can dedicate myself to Nam. Yes, he's that good!

I also picked up a book at Waldenbooks Tuesday called Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Boogers by Fancesca Gould. It’s GROSS. It’s TRIVIA. It’s GROSS TRIVIA! It’s chalk full of nasty facts like various uses for human flesh, ie book covers, furniture and suits (I ate his liver with some favre beans and a nice Chianti *slff-fff-fff-fff*) I’m going back tomorrow and get a second copy to giveaway with the review. It’s a really fun book to have and read to people Bwaa-haa-haa

Yesterday, like several other bloggers, I received an email saying my review for The White Mary by Kira Salak is wanted. So that ARC is top o’ the Mount. I read the introduction today and it sounds really intense. So I’ll be hopping to on that one.

Other books to be read very soon are: Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant and Khaled Housseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. I will also be reading Dick Gibson’s Rob Grant Trilogy, then offering the set as a giveaway.

Other things worth mentioning: I have added a couple pages and sidebar boxes. Be sure to check out the Giveaways and Contests page, there are a lot of free books to be had! I’ve also posted my inventory of Mt. TBR… feel free to suggest what I should read next. And check out the authors box on to the right. I haven’t got many yet, but check back from time to time as I add more.

Last but not least, don’t forget to enter to win a $20 Borders gift card in My First Ever Giveaway!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Mansfield Park

Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Borders Classics
ISBN: 9781587265402

Published in 1814, Mansfield Park was Austen’s third published novel. More serious and complicated than the previous two, Mansfieldis the story of a young woman, Fanny Price, who is brought from her povertous family of 7 siblings to live with and under the care of her very wealthy aunt and uncle, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. If young Fanny is the Mansfield heroine, then Mrs. Norris is certainly her arch nemesis, and it is this same “Mrs. Norris” that is Argus Filch’s cat’s namesake (from the Harry Potter series) .

The book begins with three grown sisters who take different paths in marriage: the eldest becomes Lady Bertram of Mansfield Park, the second marries Mr. Norris of Mansfield’s parsonage, and the third, Fanny’s mother, marries a man with little money and has 8 children in 10 years without the means to take care of them. Mrs. Norris decides that Sir Thomas, Lady Bertram and herself should take one of their youngest sister’s children off her hands, and Mrs. Norris decides it should be Mrs. Price’s eldest daughter. Of course Mrs. Norris has no intention on spending a penny on Fanny’s care, but she claims all the credit and pain for the kind rescue of her niece from skid row… and Mrs. Norris never misses an opportunity to remind Fanny where she came from and how she owes her life to the Bertrams and herself for putting forth the idea to bring her to Mansfield.

“There will be some difficulty in our way, Mrs. Norris,” observed Sir Thomas, “as to the distinction proper to be made between the girls as they grow up: how to preserve in the minds of my daughters the consciousness of what they are, without making them think too lowly of their cousin; and how, without depressing her spirits too far, to make her remember that she is not a Miss Bertram. I should wish to see them very good friends and would, on no account, authorise in my girls the smallest degree of arrogance towards their relation; but still they cannot be equals. Their rank, fortune, rights, and expectations will always be different…”

After her cousin Maria marries and takes her younger sister to Brighton, Fanny is the only girl left in the main at Mansfield. Having always been the shy, nervous wall-flower who never goes out, she suddenly finds herself the center of attention. She is romantically pursued by the disreputable flirt Henry Crawford. Edmund, the only person in Mansfield who has always treated with respect and love and with whom Fanny is secretly in love, is in love with Mary Crawford, Henry’s sister.
When Edmund leaves to make his living as a minister, Fanny finds herself in crisis as Henry Crawford proposes marriage. If she says yes, she betrays herself… but if she says no, she will be perceived as an ungrateful, wicked, proud and obstinate wretched girl with whom everyone will be disappointed. What can she do?

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Mansfield Park. This was my first experience with this story, having never read nor seen any movie of it. It was fantastic, and I felt the same joy and discovery I found when I first read Pride and Prejudice. I had forgotten how exquisitely Austen could put different story lines together into on main work.  I had forgotten how reading Austen is like taking a walk through an expertly landscaped garden, where new and wonderful things are revealed gradually and build upon the whole, not a fast and flat snapshot.  I had forgotten how reading Austen is like eating a fine meal of several courses until you nearly weep from appreciation of the culinary arts, not like a number 4 at the fast food joint.

Fanny Price is definitely not one of my favorite of Austen’s characters.  She’s too mousy, weak and put-upon.  I just wanted her to scream at them.  I wanted her to take the ice pick to Aunt Norris… but I guess that’d be a different genre.   She’s Austen’s answer to Cinderella, with a wicked aunt instead of a step-mother.  Lady Bertram is worthless as a wife, mother and person in general, doting completely on her pug.  As a mother Lady Bertram is wickedly bad; she is willing to sacrifice the happiness and future of her own children in deference to her own comfort.  It’s sickening to watch so many worthless people place themselves as superior to one of the only decent people at Mansfield.

Despite it all, horrible as it might be… I must admit that Mansfield holds one of my favorite Austen characters.  I cannot help but love Mrs. Norris as a character.  I have laughed so hard at her vexations and everytime she is foiled in her self-promoting schemes.  What’s more, Mrs. Norris is the literary twin of my grandmother, so I laugh even harder since I’ve met the woman.  Austen’s characters are my recycled relatives!

Jane-A-Thon In Progress!

Jane Austen

I have finally begun my Jane-a-thon, which I’ve been dying to do for some time now. I’m putting aside ARCs, books to review and overdue library books. But such is the sacrifices I make for my obsession!

Jane Austen (1775-1817) is one of the greatest authors of all times, and possible the greatest woman author as well. She cleared the way for many others, the Brontë sisters, Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolfe, and so many others. There were women writers before her, but there was something in the way that Austen wrote that proved a woman could write with a balance of logic and emotions, and that both sexes could enjoy her work. In Austen’s short life of 41 years she published a book every year or so after the 1811 publication of Sense and Sensibility.

When I was in my high school honors English reading club, I read Pride and Prejudice, and I read Sense and Sensibility after watching the Thompson-Grant movie. These two are the only Austen’s I’ve read before, never really taking notice of the others. However, a couple months ago, I thought it might be interesting to read all of them, straight through chronologically to see how Austen grew as a writer, and to get a fairer sense of the life and times of Georgian England.

The following are the Austens in chronological order:
Sense and Sensibility published in 1811
Pride and Prejudice published in 1813
Mansfield Park published in 1814
Emma published in 1816
published in 1818
Northanger Abbey published in 1818

And now… a Janing I must go!

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