Other Reads

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy
Sara Angelini
ISBN: 0615174388    
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Utterly delightful! Ms. Angelinitakes our beloved Pride and Prejudice characters and gives them a modern-day twist. Elizabeth Bennet is a impertinent young trial attorney and Fitzwilliam”Will” Darcy is a staid judge with slickly gelled hair who has temporarily relocated from England to San Francisco. You’ll get a kick out of the supporting cast as well, including Jane, Bingley, Georgiana, Caroline, cousin Fitzwilliam, Mrs. Reynolds, and the entire gang. The book can get a little randy when the sparks ignite, but the banter between Lizzy and Darcy made me laugh out loud. Take heart, modern girls, Mr. Darcy is still out there making hearts go aflutter.

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen
Syrie James
ISBN: 0061341428    
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It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but the rest of it was very engaging. I am not sure if I hear Jane Austen in the language, but the story line is well crafted and entertaining. There are “life experiences” that become inspiration for her various story lines, especially Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.

Like Austen’s stories, this one is centered on romantic love and marriages of convenience, obligations and financial necessity, duty and honor.

It was also amusing to read of the “people” and “instances” that inspired Jane’s most memorable characters, notably Mr. Collins, Mr. Willoughby and Edward Ferrars. A light-hearted but delightful read.

 

Austenland
Shannon Hale
ISBN: 0615174388    
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I’m not sure what to think on this book  — I’d give it 3.5 stars. The premise is that a single gal, Jane Hayes, leaves NYC and her graphic design job for a three-week English adventure in a “summer camp” for Austen fanatics. At this camp, everyone dresses and speaks in a Regency period manner.

It was creative, and it was fun to blend modern times with 1816. I liked Jane Hayes and could relate a bit to her character. But it was a bit far-fetched. Since all the other characters are play-acting in the PembrookPark dream scenario, you don’t feel much character development or depth. A fun chick-lit read, but not anything too deep or meaningful.

The Jane Austen Book Club
Karen Joy Fowler
ISBN: 0399151613    
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The book was a little disappointing to me, given all the hype.

It wasn’t bad, but I thought it would be better. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, and it took the first 50 pages to even get them all straight. They all seemed a little odd (perhaps that was intended) and maybe each a little stunted in some way.

I did like how each chapter focused on a particular Austen book, and the themes from the book that paralleled the modern lives of the book club members. One reviewer commented that she liked the movie better than the book, so perhaps that’s worth a try.

Me and Mr. Darcy
Alexandra Potter
ISBN: 034550254X    
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I looked at this book several times on the shelf before I finally bought it. It has a similar premise as Austenland, where a modern gal goes to England for an Austen experience and because she can’t find a guy who lives up to Mr. Darcy. Inherently this plot line is difficult, given the 200 year time span and the fact that Mr. Darcy isn’t a real person.

The story was knock-you-over-the-head predictable. She hates Spike Hargreaves upon first sight (duh), learns how he bullied someone unnecessarily (uh-huh), and proceeds to ignore and ridicule him (hmmm…familiar). Then he tells her he’s crazy about her (yep) and she tells him to go to H-E-double-hockey-sticks (shocker). She then feels remorse and — what a shock– she finds that she really likes him (by golly, what a surprise!).

Layered into that “love story” are several weird interludes with Mr. Darcy. It is never quite clear if Emily is hallucinating or if there was some odd convergence of time/space/mortality which allowed them to be in Bath together, but it felt very contrived. At first they have very little actual conversation, but somehow Darcy fell head-over-heels in love with her. Then they actually converse, and she finds him oppressive, self-centered, controlling and a bit OCD. To me, the author applied 19th century beliefs and norms to a 21st century woman. So he thought her spaghetti strap dress is immodest, and it was unacceptable that she works for a living.  Well, duh– of *course* a landed gentleman in the early 1800s would find those things unacceptable and a modern woman would bristle at his responses. That doesn’t make him oppressive and that doesn’t make her Gloria Steinem!

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Laurie Viera Rigler
ISBN: 052595040    
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This is an odd little book. It reminds me of the movie Kate & Leopold, with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman, with time-travel and the merging of 19th and 21st century norms.

So the main character, Courtney, somehow wakes up as a woman in 1813. She has all her 21st century memories, but also knows how to do 19th century things like dance, courtsey and embroider.

So our gal Courtney is a little confused. She is trying to piece together her 19th century life, while mending her heart after her 21st century break-up. She also uses 21st century concepts (feminism, free will, class systems, etc) and vocabulary (rage-aholic!?). The concept, while far-fetched, isn’t awful. But the final product is implausible, a bit convoluted, and very predictable.

Lost in Austen
Emma Campbell Webster
ISBN: 1594482586     «««««

Honestly, this is an odd little book. I loved the concept–it is like the make-your-own-adventure books from your youth. If you choose to dance withMr. Darcy, turn to page 87; If you choose to dance with Mr. Wickham, turn to page 92.

She was also very clever in incorporating story lines from other Austen stories to vary the choices and the characters. But the in most cases, you end up as a failure (alone, penniless, killed, or miserable) unless you make the traditional Pride and Prejudice choices. I would have like to see some happier alternative endings.

Finally, the illustrations were very odd, and almost slightly disturbing. All the charm and whimsy of Pride and Prejudice was lost in these Addams Family style sketches.

Flirting with Pride & Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece
Jennifer Crusie
ISBN: 1932100725    
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A compliation of modern musings on Pride and Prejudice, this book is amusing but a bit uneven.

A few of the essays were laugh-out-loud funny: 

  • The Cosmo-like quiz to determine which P&P gal you are
  • The P&P meets reality tv
  • The engagement scene complete with cell phones and text-messages.

Jane Austen for Dummies
Joan Klingel Ray

ISBN: 0470008296    ««««« 

A great primer to help you understand Ms. Austen’s writings more deeply. Written in the familiar, easy-to-read format of all Dummies books, you’ll gain a great overview of the life and times of Regency England. A perfect resource if, while reading anything Austen-esque, you ever asked yourself, “I wonder why….”

 

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One response to “Other Reads

  1. Ahahaha.
    I want to read some of these.
    And agree on Lost In austen. D:

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