Tag Archives: jane austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (unabridged audiobook read by Kate Reading, 12 hrs on 10 CDs): Yes, I am just now, at 34 years of age, reading Pride and Prejudice. No, I never had to read it for school. Yes, I’ve seen the mini-series and recent film. I know the story. I’d just never read the book, but it shows up on “OMG BEST BOOKS EVAR” lists again and again, so I figured I might as well. That, and my next book on hold at the library hadn’t come in yet.

But anyway. Since everyone and their kid brother knows the story (and if you don’t, you should), I won’t go into it here. I was most amused by Lydia’s obliviousness and Lady Catherine’s snobbery, though many of the characters had their moments. The romance between Elizabeth and Darcy was ultimately a lot more believable than I’d expected at the beginning.

Some of the naming conventions confused me. None of the men were ever called by their first names, not even by their wives. Married women lose their first names as well, to the point where Lydia refers to “my aunt Philips” at least once. People refer to their relatives as “my” even when speaking with a joint relative; this would be like me talking to my sister about “my parents,” as if they weren’t hers as well. “Miss Bennet” was thrown around seemingly at random; at one point Jane and Lizzie were referred to as “Miss Bennet and Elizabeth”. Very strange.

Where does all the money come from? I get that people inherit their wealth, but nobody works, so surely the money runs out after a finite number of generations. I also noticed that it could be kind of stressful as a woman, since no matter how wealthy your father is, you have to marry well or go join a convent. Charlotte’s open-eyed decision to marry for financial security instead of love was a little sad but totally understandable. Anyway, it was kind of fun to read about the petty little dramas of the idle rich, and it’s a good book to have read, if only to recognize the allusions that show up in so many other stories.

A note on the audio: Reading’s character voices were subtle but quite distinct. I hope she reads other classic novels.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Pet Peeves

Everyone has little things in books that bug them, ranging in reaction from minor irritation to a full-on “if this is there I will stop reading immediately.” Here are some of mine, in no particular order:

  • A man falling in love with a prostitute (a.k.a. the hooker with the heart of gold). It’s been done, people. Done to death.
  • Conflict/drama caused entirely by people not telling each other things. This drives me insane. Yes, I get that people have secrets, but too often characters hold back because (1) they have a martyrdom complex and don’t want to burden anyone with their problems, or (2) they think people just wouldn’t understand, and don’t even give them the chance to decide. It’s dumb, and it’s even worse when it’s the entire reason pretty much everything in the plot happens. If I can read a book and think “if they’d only told each other everything from the start, we could have avoided pretty much the entire story,” it really irritates me, and it’s a sign of weak writing.
  • Large amounts of foreign language. I was going to say it only bugs me when it’s not translated, but it also bothers me when people say things in a foreign language and it’s immediately translated into English. The occasional word is fine, but paragraphs or entire conversations get very tiresome. It’s a great word-padding trick for NaNoWriMo but I’d rather it were left out of published novels.
  • Conversations that are described instead of printed. Jane Austen was particularly bad about this, but she’s far from the only offender. The only exception to this is if the information would be a repeat of what the reader already knows.
  • Stories that don’t end. Now, I don’t need all the loose ends to be tied up, but I do need a story to have a satisfying (though not necessarily happy) ending. When it just stops and it’s left totally up to the reader to decide what happens (such as in The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber), I feel like I’ve completely wasted my time reading it. If I wanted to write my own ending, I would have written my own story. Finish what you start!
  • Authors that don’t do basic research. I’m not talking about little anachronisms in historical fiction; I mean truly basic information that anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the topic would know. James Patterson is a good example. He sets many of his novels in the DC metro area (which happens to be where I live) and then makes such glaring mistakes as inventing a mysterious city in Virginia called Church Falls and asserting that locals refer to the Smithsonian Institution as “The Smithy”. (We don’t. Seriously, nobody says that.) If you want to make up stuff, don’t set it in a real place. All you’re doing is irritating the natives.

I’m sure there are more I’m not thinking of. What are your pet peeves in books?

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler: A clever little book about – you guessed it – a book club which reads all six of Jane Austen’s novels. Ignore the back cover blurbs; you will enjoy this far more if you’re already an Austen fan. The original characters are cute, but by and large it’s written for Janeophiles.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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