Eligible? Or Unworthy?


via npr.org

The buzz surrounding the recent release of Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield was deafening. After reading all about the internet’s anticipation, I caught on. Another modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice sounded all right. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was awesome. I was decidedly excited about this new adaptation.

As I read through the first four chapters my excitement faded. And the minute I read the words, “hate sex” as dialogue from Liz Bennet’s mouth, the hope I had dimmed to a mere flicker. I nursed that flicker though. Maybe it would get better. It didn’t.

The problem wasn’t the sex or unusual situations. The problem was that Ms. Sittenfield changed the characters so much that they barely resemble the original. Liz isn’t playful and witty. She’s sarcastic and defensive. She isn’t graceful in any way. She goes out of her way to antagonize Darcy whenever possible. And the worst part is that she’s introduced as being in an affair with a married man. Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet had strong morals and character. This version doesn’t hold up.

Darcy isn’t proud but sexy, serious and responsible, or dignified in any way.. He’s awkward and seems relatively okay with being used. When she suggests they have hate sex, he goes along (SO UN-DARCY). We’re all used to him bungling the whole affair between them with his first proposal, but here we see him doing so because he doesn’t communicate well and then decides it isn’t worth salvaging until he sees her again. Mr. Bennet seemingly hates all his daughters, including Liz. These are my favorite characters from the original and it was disappointing to see them so portrayed.

I will say, Mrs. Bennet, Jane, and (to a point) Lydia were pretty spot-on. And I actually enjoyed Mary’s little epilogue. But the good parts of the book were drowned out by the over-vulgarization of every point. It was like she wanted to make it as crass as possible to shock the reader. It worked. I was shocked.

It’s not all bad, but if you are looking for a modern retelling that captures the spirit and character of the original, look elsewhere. Ms. Sittenfield copied the basic plot and nothing more.



The Jane Austen Kappa Kappa Book Club: A Love Story

Over a year ago, a few friends and I decided to read Jane Austen together. I’m an Austen Addict and I shameless spread my love for her and judgement for those who hate her all around. So when Andie suggested it, I jumped onto the wagon and did a dance. The only problem was that I lived in Virginia at the time and everyone else who would be joining said book club lived elsewhere. Primarily Chicago. However, Meredith lived in the DR and Em was in Minnesota and Augusta was in…Iowa? Colorado? I don’t actually know… We decided to make it work anyway (shout out to Google Chat!).

We read (or skipped) all seven of Austen’s books and shared life every few months or so. Emily moved to China. Augusta sort of faded out. Meredith moved to New York. I moved to Ohio. And our core, Andie, Ashley, and Luci, stayed in Chicago. I laughed with them as Mer struggled to connect and tried to speak, despite microphone issues. I debated the virtues of Mrs. Bennet and Emma. I struggled through some of the monotonous moments in the books and grew frustrated with scheduling conflicts. Imagine scheduling book club meetings over three-four different time zones. It was hellish. It still is at times.

We finished our last book, Persuasion, just in time for the new year. 2015 held so many promises for all of us. I really wanted to reach into the realm of non-fiction because I don’t read much of it. I didn’t want the club to end either. Andie agreed and asked me if we could read non-fiction this year (I swear, it was like she read my mind). So we started putting together a book list. I announced to all via email that we would have a regular meeting time. Because it was only going to get more difficult to meet as time passed. And we decided to invite a few new members, because really, the more the merrier.

Last week, February 17, 2015, we were all together for the first time as a book club. And for the first time in two years. It was a beautiful thing. We are a sisterhood and I’m so wonderfully happy to be living life and reading books with these remarkable women. This book club/sorority (as we call ourselves the Jane Austen Kappa Kappa Book Club now) has been a labor of love for all of us. We struggle to read the book assigned and clear our schedules for one night a month. But we love each other, and it makes my heart warm whenever I think of them.

So here’s to one more year, JAKK Club! Because I can’t imagine my life without you…

I love them so much.

I love them so much.

Jane Austen ABC’s


I decided to just come up with these. I’m sure you’ve heard some of them (or all of them) before.

is for Austen. Duh.

is for Bertram. Edmund Bertram is the hero of Mansfield Park.

is for Collins. A more awkward man you’ll never meet.

is for Darcy. Swoon.

is for Emma. She’s a bit of a pill.

is for Frank Churchill. He’s a selfish douche.

is for George Wickham. CAD! SCALLYWAG!

is for Harriet. Naive, but sweet.

I is for Isabella Thorpe. A false friend and naughty child.

is for Jane Bennett. Sweet and lovely as always.

is for Knightley. Swoon again.

is for Lizzie. An idol to us all.

is for Marianne. Emotional and spontaneous.

is for Northanger Abbey. Creepy and full of ghosts. And vampires.

is for Osborne. As in the Osbornes of The Watsons. It’s a little known work of Austen’s.

is for Persuasion. My favorite Austen novel.

is for Quaint. Like The Bennett’s house or life in the country.

is for Robert. As in Mr. Robert Martin of Abbymill Farm.

is for Susan. Lady Susan is another unfinished Austen novel.

is for Tilney. Mr. Tilney is such a flirt.

is for Uncle. Sir Thomas Bertram is Fanny’s uncle in Mansfield Park and therefore important.

is for Viscountess. The Elliot’s are related to the Viscountess Darymple. It’s awkward.

is for Wentworth. Strong, silent, perfection.

is for FairfaX. As in Jane Fairfax. Because no names in Austen’s world start with X.

is for Young. The evil Mrs. Young helps Wickham in his lecherous activities.

is for EliZa. Because Z’s are also unpopular. Eliza Williams is Willoughby’s first victim.

Bout of Books 9.0

Yup. I’m doing it again. I am reading insane amounts of great literature in one week.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Books on my list to finish:

  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • The Bible (by this time I’ll have been reading through it for a week. I hope to be towards the end at this time…crazy, I know.)
  • Quiet by Susan Cain
  • The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Pixar Touch by David A Price
  • Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen Donaldson
  • One Day by David Nicholls

These are the books I’ll be chugging my way through. I want to read books that I haven’t read in a while and finish those that have been on my list forever. I also intend to write reviews. Here’s to a new Bout of Books! May the odds be ever in your favor.

“Had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner…”

I have, yet again, finished Pride and Prejudice. This is perhaps my eighth or ninth time reading this wonderful book and I can’t help but fall even more in love with it. It was my first classic love and as such has a special and wondrous place in my heart. And this year is its 200th anniversary…HUZZAH.

Yup…this is awesome.

I have a marvelous group of friends and together we contrived to begin a Jane Austen Book Club (JABC). In September we will be discussing P&P and Bout of Books was the perfect way to complete it. I read it in four days.

I have no wish to regale you with a summary, as most of you know it (and if you don’t, you likely have no wish to), however I do want to highlight some quotes and moments that I hadn’t noticed before and that I became particularly fond of or that brought new questions to mind.

“There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!”

“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy.

“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Every thing nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”

Here comes the burning question:

Did Darcy ever write Elizabeth poetry???

I mean AFTER they got engaged/married. Their love was undoubtedly fine, stout, and healthy. Did he ever compose a few lines for her? Did he ever pick up her teasing tone and write a poem spurred by the lovely irony of the situation? I want to know! I think he might have. I like to think that perhaps Elizabeth would have, even if he did not.

Elizabeth had been at Netherfield long enough. She attracted him more than he liked; and Miss Bingley was uncivil to her, and more teasing than usual to himself.

What were Darcy’s plans prior to Elizabeth?

This quote seems to imply that he didn’t like Caroline’s attentions and didn’t wish to excite her more than necessary. Indeed, I am almost certain that he had no designs in concern to Miss Bingley. So what was he planning on doing, if anything? Had he resigned himself to marriage to his cousin? I think perhaps as a last resort, that would have been tolerable to him. However, I strongly feel that Darcy was a romantic at heart and would not have married without love. In that he and Elizabeth were in perfect harmony.

However, I do wonder at his attachment to Miss Bingley. He had to have known that she wished to unite herself to him. He told her openly of his attraction to Miss Bennet.  He doesn’t seem to encourage her, but he doesn’t discourage her either. Was he flattered by her attention? Most certainly. Was entertaining thoughts of making her his wife? I think not. She’s too self-centered a person to attract him for long.

“But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself.”

The compliment to herself and her sister was not unfelt. It soothed, but it could not console her for the contempt which had been thus self-attracted by the rest of her family; and as she considered the Jane’s disappointment had, in fact, been the work of her nearest relations, and reflected how materially the credit of both must be hurt by such impropriety of conduct, she felt depressed beyond any thing she had ever known before.

Elizabeth’s reaction to Darcy’s letter always hits me hard. Would I react similarly to the realization that I was so entirely wrong? This letter is the beginning of change in her and in him and is smack dab in the middle of the book. It truly shows his pride. He is so sure that he was right in Jane’s preference. It also shows her prejudice. She had no knowledge of Wickham’s true character and realizes, slowly but surely, how superficial their acquaintance was. It it the climax of novel, in my opinion, and I love it a lot.

It is not, however, my favorite or the best part of the novel. Elizabeth’s trip to Pemberley is the best. Their reaction to each other is priceless and it is here that Lizzie comes to realize that her feelings have pretty much made a 180.

She certainly did not hate him. No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him that could be so called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings…But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of good-will which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude; –gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection.

She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare; and she only wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend upon herself…

I love how she explores her own feelings and how agitated she becomes by them! Every time they are together she has eyes only for him. I love it. It is the best. Their entire association at Pemberley from their awkward meeting until its rude interruption can only be described as charming, right down to his earnest wish that she become acquainted with his sister. And Lydia ruined it with her thoughtlessness. Ugh.

I LOVE this. I love how completely transparent he is.

Which brings me to another great thing about this part in the book. Almost immediately after their awkward encounter the Gardiners begin to get a little suspicious about Darcy’s feelings toward their dear niece. Those suspicions grow, until they are certain that he’s in love with her, though they aren’t as certain that she returns his regard.

Her uncle and aunt were all amazement; and the embarrassment of her manner as she spoke, joined to the circumstance itself, and many of the circumstances of the preceding day, opened them to a new idea on the business. Nothing had ever suggested it before, but they now felt that there was no other way of accounting for such attentions from such a quarter than by supposing a partiality for their niece.

The suspicion which had just arisen of Mr. Darcy and their niece, directed their observation towards each with an earnest, though guarded, enquiry; and they soon drew from those enquiries the full conviction that one of them at least knew what it was to love.

When Mrs. Gardiner found out that Lizzie was unaware of Darcy’s part in Lydia’s marriage she was shocked.

“I must confess myself surprised by your application; I did not expect it from you. Don’t think me angry, however, for I only mean to let you know, that I had not imagined such enquiries to be necessary on your side. If you do not choose to understand me, forgive my impertinence.”

“His behavior to us has, in every respect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire. His understanding and opinions all please me; he wants nothing but a little more liveliness, and that, if he marry prudently, his wife may teach him. I thought him very sly; he hardly ever mentioned your name.”

Their knowledge is obvious, and that they know more than both the hero and the heroine is obvious. It made me giggle.

My favorite part is the end, which I have related before. Elizabeth finally begins to tease him after their engagement and for her sake alone he deals with her unfortunate relations. I’m not going to quote any more of the book. You’ll have to go read it for yourself. It never fails to delight me.

Well, this post is a little longer than anticipated, but it just goes to show how much I adore this story. My two favorite movie adaptations are BBC’s 1995 version and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries by Hank Green and Bernie Su.

Basically the best show on the planet. I can’t wait to get it on DVD. Happiness. Warm and fuzzies.

BOB 8.0 Challenge

Retitle a book, huh? Well, I’m currently reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’m sure many of you know that it was initially called First Impressions. People have renamed this book multiple times, coming at it from different angles. I don’t think my retitling will be anything spectacularly new. I think I’d go for Strange Love. Lizzie and Darcy never expect to fall in love and it is wondrously strange that they do. So that’s what I’d call it.

Page Count: 371

A Pet Peeve of Mine

Edit: This is DEFINITELY a generalization about men. I’m sure there are some out there who are exceedingly fond of Ms. Austen and her novels. I just wanted to note that because, after much thought, this might be a harsh.

Okay, so it isn’t exactly a secret that I love Jane Austen. I love her stories and I’ve learned a lot from her books. One of my pet peeves in life is how most of the men I know react to Jane Austen. There are groans, moans, and complaining. And it always rubs me the wrong way. To men Austen is merely a romance writer. She offers nothing to them that they would want to consume. They are SO WRONG.

I’m currently reading A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz (who, you may have noticed is a MAN). He talks about how reading Emma changed his life. His insights were fascinating and I’m excited to move on to the next chapter. There are some things that he talks about that made me vexed at men I know who “tried” Austen but discarded her because it wasn’t to their taste.

Recent adaptions of Austen’s novels has portrayed them as romances, and it’s not completely false. Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey have romance, but they are more about families, about the transformation of the main character about the society in which Austen lived. She wrote and thought like an independent person, which women weren’t in her time. She wrote more like a man.

The women who wrote novels at the time wrote gothic, over-the-top novels about heroines who fainted at every turn. Austen and many of her contemporaries wrote about every day life. In Emma, she annoys you so much with the everyday, that you invariably hate Emma because she so selfish and horrid. Mr. Deresiewicz says that it wasn’t until he reached the Box Hill scene that he realized that Austen was showing how easy it is to be aggravated at someone and justify it. Emma, annoyed with Miss Bates, finally lashes out and realizes too late that she has hurt someone important to her. It is a scene that convicted me when I read it too. She uses the every day to make her point.

Boys may be easily bored by the everyday…heck I’M easily bored by it, but that doesn’t stop me from reading classics. Mr. Deresiewicz goes on to talk about when his class met to talk about the book, and he realized that women were much more versatile than men when it came to books.

Let’s take a moment to look at the history of literature, shall we? For hundreds of years men wrote books. Women did not, unless they were EXTRAORDINARY until around the 1800s when they had had enough and started getting published. So for hundreds of years readers only read men, including women. We read works by men all the time and, while it may seem that we have little trouble relating, we do (I should say, I do. Hemingway? REALLY?!) But we read classic upon classic written by men and yet, men can’t read a classic by a woman? By Jane Austen? We live in a man’s world. It’s a world that is becoming more equal, between women and men, but I would bet that most of my guy friends haven’t read many classics by women. But how many have read Hemingway? Dickens? Shakespeare? Those authors are just as difficult to read as Austen, but somehow they manage. Is it really a stretch to decide to read Austen or Charlotte Bronte (or Anne Bronte)? They are just as rich (if not MORE SO). Being educated is about being well-rounded. You should read more than books you understand easily; you should pick up books that stretch you. I’m coming to realize, more and more, that if I start a book and struggle to be interested, I should continue because I might learn something I never would have encountered while reading something I’m comfortable with.

I know that my little rant won’t make much difference. In fact, I suspect that people might become more annoyed at me. But I think that guys, specifically my friends, should know that it’s kind of ridiculous for them to refuse to read Jane Austen because she’s “girly”. That’s like me refusing to read Cormac McCarthy because he’s a guy, or Ray Bradbury because I couldn’t follow well. I respect all literature and try hard to read a wide variety. Granted, not everyone is as passionate as I am. However, I hope, that if you are a guy (or girl!) that refused to read 1800s “chick-lit”*, that you’ll reconsider, because it has so much more to offer you. You never know, it might change your life.

*I would like to note that I do not think that Austen, Bronte or any of their contemporaries are chick-lit. I’m implying that others may believe that…

Three Years. Oy vay.

Today, July 7, 2012, is my blog’s three year anniversary. Congratulations me! I’ve been doing this for three years. Crazy.

I don’t really have any deep insights or words of wisdom about blogging. I decided a little while ago to write well and write often. This is my outlet for all things, most especially books. I honestly don’t know what I would do without this blog.

If you hadn’t noticed yet, I changed my theme again. I like my old one, but I really wanted the scrolling picture thing to highlight some of my favorite posts. So I picked a theme that was made specifically for weddings. Go figure. I hope you like it and don’t hate me for switching it again. I know I’m typically fickle about these things.

This next year will, in all probability, be the scariest, hardest year of my life. So I hope that this blog will give me a ray of sunshine in my dreary world.

Here are pictures of things that make me happy. Enjoy.

This is a baby corgi. Corgis are my favorite dogs ever. 😀

Here are a bunch of Greek gods and goddesses. They’re pretty cool. Mythology makes me happy.

I explore my delight in the new movie coming out in December in a previous post, but The Hobbit gets me excited!

I love first editions. I also love Jane Austen. These are first editions of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, Austen’s last two books. First editions encourage me and leave me with the hope that I could have one too someday.

This is a journal made by Immortal Longings (there’s a shop on Etsy). She/he does these beautiful illustrations of Shakespeare plays and I love them. This is the one for The Tempest, which is my favorite. One day, I’m going to get this journal.

So that’s all I really have for you. I hope that your 4th of July was fantastic and that you continue reading this beautiful blog. Oh, and here’s my summer song. Cheers!

Challenges Galore for the New Year!

I’m excited, nay, THRILLED to be a part of reading challenges once more this year. At the end of 2010 I had pretty much given up on the Take the Journey reading challenge, as I had precious little time to read, but looking at my enormous list of books, I was so grateful I had taken part. So this year I am joining TWO promising challenges in the hopes that I will read at least eight more books than I would have without them.

The first challenge is the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011, hosted by Laurel Ann over at  Austenprose. I’m very excited about this one. When I was in high school one of my friends, Jill, read Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mystery series and told me how wonderful it was. At the time, I was much more of a snob than I am now, and turned up my nose at the idea of Jane solving mysteries. However, I am now thrilled to read these books for the very first time. Ms. Barron is an acclaimed author and her historical knowledge and consistency through the books is supposed to be very good.

There are 11 novels in her series, which are as follows:

I will be joining the challenge initially as a Neophyte (1-4 novels), because I have some very difficult classes this semester and I want to do well, but who knows how much I’ll get done. The good news is that I have all year to read them! I’m going to go in numerical order and just read books 1-4, if I can. If I have the opportunity to read more, I will, with much delight. So, my list, for now: Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, Jane and the Man of the Cloth, Jane and the Wandering Eye, and Jane and the Genius of the Place. I’m certain that this will be a lot of fun. 😀

The other challenge I’m participating in this year is the Historical Fiction Challenge 2011, hosted by Historical Tapestry. I will be reading somewhere between “Struggling with Addiction” (10 books) and “Undoubtedly Obsessed” (15 books). My Jane Austen Mystery books will count toward this challenge, that’s why I’m doing more. I really have no idea what else I will read for this challenge, but, in my opinion, you can never have too much historical fiction.

Well, I’m excited about the road ahead! It promises to be a good adventure and full of mystery and history. 😀

Jane Bites…And sucks too.

I recently had the…er…pleasure? to read Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford. I read the first chapter a while back when it was reviewed on Stephanie’s Written Word. I thought it sounded interesting. Jane Austen a vampire? Who quite possibly kills a woman in the first chapter? The idea that Jane might kill anyone intrigued me, so I got the book from the library and dived in. And was severely disappointed. The vampire craze that was started by Stephanie Meyers (CURSE YOU!) hit Austen and turned into a complete disaster. I will admit that some parts were highly amusing, but for the most part it was extremely cliche.

Plot: Jane (known in this century as Jane Fairfax. Subtle, Jane, subtle) has been trying to get a manuscript published for hundreds of years. She owns a book store and is seriously tired of watching all her other books fly from the shelves, whilst realizing that she can’t get published again. FINALLY she has the opportunity to do so, right around the time that the sexy Lord Byron (the guy who turned her into a vampire) shows back up in her life. At the same time she is being pursued by a rather average man, Walter, who she says is the sort of man she’d let any of her heroines fall for. Basically her dream guy. But she feels she can’t be with him because of her vampireness. Anyway, her book is savagely reviewed by a Miss Violet Gray, who hates it with such intensity it’s kind of weird. Later you find that Miss Gray is none other than Charlotte Bronte (WELL, duh! If Austen and Byron are vampires, why not Bronte? In fact all three really should have been vampires, but apparently Charlotte was the only one stupid enough to fall for the whole seduction vampire thing). She’s gone crazy with the “Austen is WAY better than Bronte thing.” (Which I totally deny. They’re not alike enough to compare. Jane is witty but Bronte has soul. I like them both). It ends rather dramatically, and the ending scene is the only thing I truly appreciated out of the book.

I liked Lucy, the quirky shop assistant. She is seduced by Byron as well, but NOT turned into a vampire (or killed). And she has a lot of spirit. However, I found Walter dull, boring, uninteresting, and incapable of any true conversation. He has his moments but he’s no where NEAR an Austen hero and how dare they compare him to one! I was surprised by how much I liked Byron’s character though. He was moody, depressed, sexy, pining and had many lovers. So true to form. He ended up being the hero, which bothered me a bit, but not much. The thing that really got me was that CHARLOTTE BRONTE was the bad guy! I mean really? Couldn’t you have picked someone who actually was a BAD writer? And she was turned into this crazy psycho who wanted revenge on Austen for being “better” or more “popular.” Which is perfectly ridiculous! The ending scene is hilarious though. The best part of the book. But it didn’t redeem it’s unnatural quality. I fear I will never again be able to pick up a vampire-Austen book…but that might not be a bad thing.

Everything Austen II

Ok, so I’m freakishly excited about this, because I had a BLAST last year. Weird to think that I’ve had this blog for a year…huh. ANYWAY…Stephanie, of Stephanie’s Written Word, is once again hosting an Everything Austen event and I was psyched to see it so that I could join! My list currently consists of:

  • The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James
  • Pride, Prejudice and Zombies (still haven’t read it) by Sean Grahame-Smith
  • Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters
  • The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
  • Sense and Sensibility (2008) AGAIN
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (AGAIN!)

So, yeah, that’s it. I’ll probably get a lot of this done this summer, so I’m sure there will be more to come. I’m excited! YAY!