Tag Archives: kate reading

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.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella: A cute book, but I had a bit of a problem swallowing the premise: a woman on a turbulent plane ride, fearing death, blabs all her secrets to the man next to her. (The man turns out to be the founder of the company where she works, and remembers everything she said.) What kind of nitwit responds to stress by telling a stranger how she finds g-strings uncomfortable? If you can get beyond that, it’s a pretty fun little book. I liked that I didn’t know where it was going, that I didn’t see the Big Drama coming a mile away. I mean, it wasn’t exactly a twist ending or a big mystery or anything, but it was amusing enough to keep me entertained the whole way through. I just wish I’d had a little more sympathy with the main character. I just don’t see the point of lying about your interests in order to impress somebody. If they don’t like you for who you are, what are the odds of having a good relationship with them?

I listened to this on audio, read by the appropriately-named Kate Reading. I’d listen to her read The Host just before this, and hadn’t been very impressed with her, but I think it was the fault of the source material. She was fantastic this time around, deftly switching between characters and accents: American, British, and even a spot-on New Zealander. Very impressive.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host by Stephenie Meyer (unabridged audiobook read by Kate Reading): A couple friends told me this was actually a pretty decent science fiction story, so as an unwilling Twilight fan, I decided to try it out. The Souls are a parasitic alien race that took over the population of Earth years before. This story is told from the perspective of Wanderer, a Soul occupying the body of one of the last members of the human resistance, Melanie. Though souls usually take over their hosts completely, Melanie is still very much aware and even speaks to Wanderer in her mind. I’d heard that since this book was written for adults (as opposed to young adults, like Twilight), that the writing would be higher quality. It isn’t. I could have done without such repetitious uses of “sob,” “chagrin,” and “in a low voice” in particular. I swear someone cries in every single chapter, and for the amount of plot this book could have easily been half as long. The love triangle between humans, human hosts, and Souls, is unbelievable and the oft-repeated ethical questions are not very well resolved. I also noticed a strange parallel with Twilight: again we have a teenage girl who wants to sleep with an older man, but the man rebuffs her because she is too young (and possibly because they’re not married, though it’s not said outright). Another teenage girl learns from this and claims to be a year older than she is to avoid this very obstacle. I guess we women are nothing but shameless harlots who need our menfolk to keep us on the righteous path.

Okay, okay, I guess I should say something nice about this book, since I did actually listen to all twenty (20!) discs of it. The descriptions of Wanderer’s past hosts were somewhat original. I was reasonably curious to see how Wanderer’s moral dilemmas at being a parasite would be addressed. But all in all, though the characters range from preteen to thousands of years old, everybody talks and thinks like teenagers. Which is appropriate in a series like Twilight, where most of the characters are teenagers, but adults aren’t generally this emo. If you finished the Twilight series and simply cannot get enough of Meyer’s awkward prose, then this could work as a stopgap measure. However, if you’re looking for a decent science fiction novel, skip this one. It’s not worth your time.

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