Tag: jane austen

We are so sorry, Jane.

We watched the last episode of Sanditon last night, Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen and I. We have a few issues. Spoilers follow. *** First of all*, what’s with all the period detail inaccuracies? To mention just a few: What’s with Charlotte wearing her hair down all time, instead of pinned up as befits…

Read more We are so sorry, Jane.

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Part dystopian future, part teenage love story, part philosophical debate on whether a man's reach should or should not exceed his grasp and what either might mean to the larger community of mankind (but don't let that scare you), told through a clever replotting of Jane Austen's Persuasion.

Well into a post-apocalyptic future Earth history, Luddite Elliot refuses to run away with Post Kai, choosing to sacrifice her own happiness to ensure the survival of the Reduced workers on her family estate. Four years later Kai returns triumphant, rich and successful beyond their wildest youthful dreams. Elliot still loves him, he appears to hate her, and his intelligent, able Post companions only emphasize the differences between his life and hers, spent everlastingly cleaning up after her spoiled sister, her cruel father and her wicked cousin.

Horror and Jane don't pass the smell test for me, but science fiction and Jane sure did. I especially enjoyed that Anne -- sorry, Elliot -- got to have a job and to do it well.

Note: My book club is going to be reading and discussing this book together with Austen's Persuasion later this year.

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Today, romance.
Specifically, Regency romances, that subgenre set in England between 1811 and 1820, when George III went mad and his son, the Prince Regent, later to become George IV, assumed the powers of the throne. These are the days of Napoleon, Wellington, and Waterloo, Beau Brummell, and dresses with waists so high women went in danger of their breasts falling out of their bodices.

jane-austen-picIt is also the time of (sound of trumpets here) Jane Austen, who wielded one of literature’s sharpest and wittiest pens. I heard someone say once that the saddest words in Pride and Prejudice are “the end.” What he said. The novel itself is always and ever your first stop, but Pride and Prejudice has also been made into film at least seven times. My favorite is the BBC series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, but my guilty pleasure is Bride and Prejudice, director Gurinder Chadha’s Bollywood musical based on the novel. It’s as funny and smart as the original novel, which is saying something, and I defy you not to get up and dance in your pyjamas to “No Life Without Wife."
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAxlIbUTlZo&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

brummelThat I lived when Georgette Heyer wrote is a gift for which I will be ever grateful. Start with The Unknown Ajax, with dueling valets Polyphant and Crimplesham and of course the incomparable Lady Aurelia, continue with Frederica and the only definition of romantic love that has ever made sense to me, and then for a change of pace read A Civil Contract, her most serious and I think her best novel. Sandringham, the British equivalent of West Point, used Heyer’s An Infamous Army to teach cadets about the battle of Waterloo, and I recommend reading the three books leading up to it, too: These Old Shades, The Devil’s Cub and Regency Buck. These are characters made of flesh and blood, this is dialogue sharp enough to cut yourself on, and these books are nothing less than a time machine that will transport you directly to Regency England. Accept no substitutes.

Well, okay, except for…

lady_caroline_lamb_by_eliza_h_trotterJude Morgan’s novel Indiscretion is simply delightful, a book even Georgette Heyer would love. The plot is tried and true; the destitute Miss Caroline Fortune (a self-fullfilling name if there ever was one) accepts a position as paid companion to holy domestic terror Mrs. Catling, but this plot is elevated by a prose so delightful as to transcend the genre. Let the book fall open to any page and you are sure to encounter a paragraph you positively must reread, all the better to keep laughing, as on p. 33, "The Colonel, on his deathbed, urged me to retire to Bath when he was gone. I informed him that as I was neither decayed spinster, ambitious tradesman or disreputable fortune-hunter, I could not fall in with his wishes. He was not in a condition to laugh, but I flatter myself there was amusement in his respiration." This, this is how the thing is done. A must read for any Heyer or Jane Austen fan.

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