17

Reading One By One

For the first time in months I’m only reading one book.

And it’s heaven.

I’ve tried to be one of those people that can multi-task their reading. I see and hear about fellow book bloggers juggling two, three, four and five books at any given time and I envy that. I can’t do it. I’ve tried to do it before and found myself doing that for the past several months.

Reading two books at once was bad enough but then I added Persuasion to the mix and I thought I was going to lose my mind. I finally sat down and finished the last 150 pages of The Count of Monte Cristo and the day after that I sat down and finished Persuasion and then I only had one book left and it FELT SO GOOD.

I keep trying to be the kind of person that can read more than one book and keep the characters and narratives straight; the kind of reader that has no problem jumping from post-Revolutionary France to Regency England to modern day Switzerland and back again.

But I can’t do it. I’m not that kind of reader and I will contribute much more to my own happiness if I just accept that and stop trying.

I love that I can focus all my attention on one book now. I feel lighter and freer.

My TBR list stands and I will read them all, one at a time.

Advertisements
11

#PersuasionReadalong – Chapters 9-16

FotorCreated

Holly and Amanda from Gun in Act One decided to host a little Persuasion Readalong and asked me if I’d be into doing it with them and I was like “obviously” so here we are. If you missed the first post, go read it to catch up. We’ll wait.

Ok. Good?

If you haven’t ever read Persuasion, I feel like I should tell you that there will be lots of SPOILERS in this post. Yes, despite the fact that the book has been around for nearly 200 years, I’m warning about spoilers…

So after Captain Wentworth is back in the picture and so cold to Anne, things kind of find a new equilibrium. The Musgroves are really into Captain Wentworth, finding him everything that is gentlemanly and good (see also: rich) and soon he’s spending a lot of time at Uppercross. Henrietta and Louisa are fighting for Wentworth’s attention when their cousin, Charles Hayter, comes back on the scene and he’s all “um, what’s the deal with this Captain Wentworth fellow, Henrietta?” because she’s basically all but engaged to cousin Charles and he’s not so thrilled that she’s spending all this time with the Captain. Wentworth had no idea that there was another fellow on the scene and he just starts spending more time with Louisa instead (apparently sisters are completely interchangeable). This whole situation makes for some fantastic Austen-esque quotes on courtship like “Mr and Mrs Musgrove, either from seeing little or from an entire confidence in the discretion of both their daughters, and of all the young men who came near them, seemed to leave everything to take it’s chance.” They are totally fine to let it all work itself out – fairly laissez faire for parents of the time. Even better is Charles and Mary trying to work out how it’s going to shake out: “Charles gave it for Louisa, Mary for Henrietta, but quite agreeing that to have him [Wentworth] marry either would be extremely delightful.”

The fact that now everyone is all for Captain Wentworth left Holly feeling pretty outraged: How about Mary going on about how cousin Charles is a poor catch for her sister, in comparison to the esteemed Capt. Wentworth: “She has no right to throw herself away. I do not think that any young woman has a right to make a choice that may be disagreeable and inconvenient to the principal part of her family, and be giving bad connections to those who have not been used to them.” Well, that seems to have come full circle from seven (is it seven?) years ago?

It was eight, but the point stands.

So now that the whole Henrietta/Wentworth/Louisa thing seems to have been sorted, Captain Wentworth decides that it’s time for him to head to Lyme and visit with some old Navy friends. And all the young Musgroves are like “oooooh let’s all go, we’re dying to go to Lyme!” They all decide to head out which made Holly point out that this really marks it as a book of it’s time:  I feel like a modern author writing about this group of family/friends taking an overnight excursion would have included 100 details about the logistics of how to make that trip happen without cars or phones, but Jane was just all ‘this is how we roll’ and off they went. 

They go to Lyme and are having the best time ever, Captain Wentworth’s friends the Harvilles and poor Captain Benwick (poor because his fiancee died right before he was  about to get leave to go and marry her – she was related to the Harvilles and they have taken him in to nurse him through his broken heart) are the loveliest people ever. Captain Benwick has taken a shine to our heroine because she is a great listener, is smart, and the cold wind in Lyme has totally brought the bloom back to her cheeks so she’s looking pretty great. While Anne and Mary are out for an early morning walk, they meet a good looking guy in mourning and he looks Anne over and obviously likes what he sees. Later the group thinks that the gentleman may be the Elliot relation that is set to inherit Sir Walter’s title. But they can’t know for sure because his servants didn’t tell the hotel servants anything. It’s their last morning in Lyme but everyone wants to go back one more time to the hills overlooking the ocean and then they will head back. The group is kind of paired up and Captain Wentworth is walking with Louisa who has the Captain jump her down this particularly tricky, steep part of the walk. She does it once and loves it so she makes him do it again. He’s like no, that doesn’t seem like a good idea, let’s not but she makes him do it anyway and she falls and hits her head! “There was no blood, no visible bruise; but her eyes were closed, she breathed not, her face was like death.”

I think Amanda shares your surprise at the violence of this Jane Austen book: the action! The drama of the head injury! So different than escaping to Gretna Green. 

Knowing what we know about the group it should come as no surprise that no one is able to do anything right – Anne comes to the rescue with her pragmatism and her practicality and soon has things sorted. They bring Louisa back to the Harvilles who will not hear of anything but nursing Louisa themselves. Wentworth feels that someone should stay with her and since Henrietta can’t even be in the same room as her and Mary is an idiot, he thinks it should be Anne – “if Anne will stay, no one so proper,so capable as Anne”. WELL Mary hears about this and she loses it: “When the plan was made known to Mary, however, there was an end to all peace in it. She was so wretched and so vehement, complained so much of the injustice in being expected to go away, instead of Anne; – Anne who was nothing to Louisa while she was her sister and had the best right to stay in Henrietta’s stead!” And Mary, of course, gets her way.

Louisa ends up being fine, just needs to rest and eventually she returns home, still kind of weak but mostly OK. But that’s for the last section and post…(see also: foreshadowing!)

Can we just take a second to talk about the fact that when a crisis hits, Wentworth feels like the only person that can handle things, the only person that he trusts enough is Anne? I think things are thawing a bit.

And that marks the end of Anne’s stay with Mary. Lady Russell is thankfully returned home and Anne prepares to go to her. She stays a short amount of time before she heads to Bath, hated Bath. There she finds her father and sister completely unchanged (still jerks) and Mrs Clay worryingly closer to the family. She actually overhears Elizabeth tell Mrs Clay the morning of her arrival that there is no need for Mrs Clay to leave now that Anne has arrived because no one cares that Anne has arrived and things will basically be just as they were. For Amanda, trading Mary for Elizabeth bodes well: I’m looking forward to Elizabeth’s outright nastiness more than Mary’s whining.

Guess who else turns out to be in Bath? The Mr Elliot who is set to inherit the baronetcy. He was the man that they saw in Lyme and Mr Elliot soon marks Anne out as his favourite, sitting with her and sharing her opinions, especially as to the dangers of Mrs Clay.

And that’s kind of where we leave things. Amanda and Holly both agree that Persuasion is different in tone to JA’s other work – the excitement of the head injury for one but also Anne as a heroine compared to say Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse. She’s definitely more reserved than either of them but she’s also a good five to seven years older. She’s been disappointed once and has spent the intervening years at the mercy of family that are almost cruel. I definitely have the advantage of knowing what happens in the end so I was curious how Wentworth was stacking up as a romantic JA hero. Holly is a fan of Captain Benwick’s while Amanda isn’t sure about Wentworth. She doesn’t think that his having been disappointed eight years ago is a good enough excuse for his behaviour now.

We all agree that Mr Elliot is up to no good.

If you’re still reading this, well done! That was lengthy. Next week’s the last post – still time to join us. Persuasion isn’t long. Amanda is writing the final post and it will be posted on Gun in Act One!

10

#PersuasionReadalong – Let’s Do This

FotorCreated

Yeah I’m not sure how it got to be March so quickly either. BUT since it is, that means that it’s time to start reading Persuasion so that you can join Amanda and Holly from Gun In Act One and yours truly as we (re) discover the charms of Jane Austen’s criminally under-read book Persuasion!

This might sound like a lot of work, but it’s not. You can TOTALLY read this at the same time as all the other books on your TBR list that are demanding your attention. This can be your vacation read. We will be discussing the first 8 chapters next week, chapters 9-16 the week after that, and the final 8 chapters in the last week of March. In my Vintage Books version, that’s 82 pages this week.

You can do that.

Still not convinced? Then let us tell you a bit about why we want to read Persuasion.

Amanda
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that nearly everyone has read -by choice or by force– Pride & Prejudice.

I love Pride & Prejudice and have reread it often.  Usually when I love one book by an author I compulsively track down all others and devour them, yet for some reason I’ve held back with Austen.  I have read all kinds of Austen related books, yes even Pride & Prejudice and Zombies.  So with the 2015 TBR Challenge as my inspiration I added Persuasion as my next Austen to start.  I am really excited to see where Anne and Wentworth’s romance goes!

Holly
I would like to point out that I put Persuasion on my 2015 TBR Challenge list first, so therefore, Amanda’s inspiration came from me. I have only ever read Austen’s P&P. My sister counts it among her faves, and my husband loathes it. Thankfully, they get along quite well, Austen-aside.

Anyway, I got excited to read Persuasion after reading For Darkness Shows the Stars, a YA, post-apocalyptic novel by Diana Peterfreund that I thought was just lovely. Even though I wasn’t familiar with the story, I could definitely see the Austenian influence in the story of Elliot and Kai, and I was intrigued to read the original. In much the same way, I’ve been meaning to read Emma since 1995, thanks to Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd. Maybe that will be on next year’s list.

Eva

I’ve been addicted to Jane Austen for nearly two decades. I think for most Austen addicts, P&P is the gateway drug and I’m no exception there. It took me until I was in my 20s to finally read Persuasion. There is no way that I would have appreciated this late-blooming love story nearly as much when I was a teenager so I’m glad I waited. I’ve re-read at least one Austen book every year since forever and it’s Persuasion‘s turn. When Holly and Amanda both put it on their TBR Challenge lists they decided to host a readalong and asked me if I wanted to participate. Just as it is “always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage” so too is it unthinkable that I should refuse to participate in a Jane Austen reading challenge.

Convinced?

Let’s chat next week!

11

The #PersuasionReadalong – Come Join Us!

Every year I re-read at least one of Jane Austen’s books. I consider a reading year without Jane Austen to be a reading year wasted. I also love nothing more than to force other people to read Jane Austen for the first time.

I was planning on re-reading Persuasion next. And then Amanda and Holly from Gun In Act One both put Persuasion on their 2015 TBR Pile Challenge lists. So when they asked if I wanted to read it along with them I was like “when do we start?!”

FotorCreated

So here’s what we’re going to do! Together, the three of us are going to host a little casual readalong! No sign ups or posting required from you! We’re going to split the book into three sections and each of us will post about one section through the month of March and try and get some discussion going. So if you want to join us, go and start reading Persuasion soon! That’s all you have to do and then we can talk about!

It’s one of the most underrated books probably ever. And it’s so good! It’s funny! And clever! And so satisfying.

You should read it with us.

And if you chat about it on the twitter, use #Persuasionreadalong so we can all join in!

Simple right?

Persuasion – go read it. I bought a brand new fancy copy just for this!

2

Sunday, Reading Sunday

I haven’t been around here very much lately and now I’m just going to waltz in here with a new post like nothing’s happened. How about them apples?

One Sunday not too long ago, I had one of those magical days where I got up early (thanks to a 75lb German Shepherd jumping on the bed), ran a bunch of errands and got home with plenty of the day left to do nothing with.

It was a pretty typical windy, rainy, dark November day so there really was nothing to do about that except read (such a hardship).

It turned out to be an exceptionally productive day.

My read-a-thon began with the second half of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. This is one of Jane Austen’s books that I hadn’t read more than once (now only Mansfield Park fits that bill) but I recently watched The Jane Austen Book Club and they were all over Persuasion and second chances and I thought that I’d better give it another go too. A lot happens in Persuasion! Lost love, dead fiancees, a very serious head injury, and a little boy is almost paralyzed! Not your typical Austen. I mean, usually there is a serious illness of two but this one was almost gratuitous.

Persuasion is the tale of Anne Eliot, eight years after she is persuaded not to marry the love of her life. He comes back to town after years of making his fortune on the seas, only to appear to fall in love with a friend of hers. When her father sells their house and moves to Bath, Anne follows without any idea of its giving her any joy (because her father and sister are jerks). Well it does. A lifetime’s worth in fact. The first time I read Persuasion I was probably 15 or 16 and Anne seemed OLD. She’s 27. Honestly, the first time I felt like Anne was all but dead. Naturally this time around, Anne didn’t seem old at all. In fact she’s right about the perfect age (until I turn 28 in the Spring and then she will be really young).

When I finished Persuasion, I thought that I’d better get started on the book club selection since we were meeting on the following Friday. The selection was The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I didn’t think that I would enjoy this book (seems to be a theme this year). I don’t normally like books that are written in diary style (I hated Bridget Jones’ Diary for example [the book, the movie is one of my all-time favourites]). But I loved it. It’s not a long book – just over 200 pages. I read it in a couple of hours – I couldn’t stop. I was so attached to Charlie and needed to find out what happened to Sam and Patrick, even Mary Elizabeth. It’s one of those brilliant coming-of-age stories that’s just non-descript enough to resonate with everyone, no matter when they grew up. It is tragic and heart breaking and completely relevant, touching on bullying, teen pregnancy and mental illness.

Finally, I had time to jump into another P.G. Wodehouse adventure, Ring For Jeeves. Sadly no Bertie Wooster this time (you may remember that I declared him to be one of my new favourite characters) but Wodehouse made up for it by the introduction of the equally absurd William, 9th Early of Rowcester. Jeeves has been leant out while Bertie goes to some school where they teach the aristocracy how to take care of themselves (he gets kicked out for employing an old lady to darn his socks), and ends up at Rowcester Abbey. Here the 9th Earl finds himself completely impoverished and after getting engaged, decides he needs to make some money. Instead of getting a job, he impersonates a bookie and runs off with the winnings. Jeeves is a completely willing accomplice and they’d been getting away with it until one Captain Biggar reads the license plate of the getaway car and finds himself at Rowcester Abbey. There are all sorts of other insane connections and complications that make this another masterpiece of absurd hilarity but I don’t want to ruin all the fun for you. Suffice it to say I’m eagerly anticipating which Jeeves book I’m going to get my hands on next.

What did I tell you? Productive Sunday right?