"Seldom, very seldom does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken". Jane Austen, Emma
"Who's your Jane Austen?" Quiz// Jane Austen in Love - (her own letters)
Diane Rehm Radio Interview with Karen Fowler// Pedln's Parallel Notes
Jane Austen's Bath - Photos// Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, Sacramento
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Jane, were you anywhere near those giant grapefruit-sized hailstones that landed in eastern Iowa?
I have not read much Austen and don't remember anything. But my book has been shipped -- just hope it gets here before I leave home for two weeks. Picked up Emma at the used book store, with an introduction by Margaret Drabble.
My copy of "J A Book Club" arrived yesterday, but I haven't started it yet, as I'm still into about three others, including Emma. The yummy looking cover already has me wondering (I'm currently reading "5 qtrs. of an orange", which is a lot about food) about its significance. The painting is called "Bounty."
It's certainly timely. We're now getting lots of specials on California berries, and soon it will be strawberry picking time in SE Missouri.
Jane Austen Book Club just made the hardcover best seller list - No. 15. It will be interesting to see how it does.
Good luck with the move. I hope it goes smoothly and leaves you lots of time for computers.
"In 1800 she took a break and went to visit an in-law. She returned home to learn that her home was moving to Bath. Though naturally a bit disconcerted, Jane soon adjusted to the idea of moving, especially since it was probably meant to improve her parents' health. Also around this time, Jane paid her first visit to the Bigg-Wither family and met the reasonably young, moderately wealthy Harris Bigg-Wither. About a year later, when Jane visited the family again in early December 1802, Harris proposed to Jane and she accepted. But before you start scratching your head and trying to figure out why she isn't known to posterity as Jane Bigg-Wither, know that Jane changed her mind the very next morning." Jane "Persuasion" Austen
"there was simply no money for such a match. In the case of another relative, Grand-Uncle Langlois had given clear demonstration that he would not tolerate a match of this nature; Tom would be cut off from fortune and connections."
I'm away from home and will be for another 10 or 12 days, which also means pretty much away from computer access. This morning I spent a few hours at Charlottesville's Historic Downtown Mall, and managed to pick up three more Austen novels at the secondhand bookstores here.
And, JoanK, you mentioned Joan Aiken and Jane awhile back. Today I found a fictionalized biog. of Jane Austen that she has written. It cost $1, so I feel I really lucked into something. Can't wait to get started on it, and also on Mansfield Park.
"You don't have to be a student of Jane Austen to enjoy it (the book), either. At the end are plot synopses of all six Austen novels for the benefit of the forgetful, the uninitiated or the nostalgic." (emphasis mine)
Sue and Traude -- I really cheated yesterday while running around my daughter's town. I went to her library and copied all the Austen's from Masterplots. Haven't read them yet, but they have a bit more than the synopses in the JABC. However, as I told my daughter, "Not enough for a book report, dear."
Pat H -- I'm sure we're all grateful for the film reviews. I hope I can find the DVDs when I finally get home. I brought my Netflix Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow) with me and watched it on the laptop the other day. Enjoyed it, but Mr. Knightley and Mrs Weston seemed younger than what i expectied.
I'm checking my email and this just came from a friend who got a Jane Austen message from me yesterday. Has anyone read the book she mentions?
"Glad you like Jane Austen. Have you read "What Jane Austen Ate and What Charles Dickens Knew"? I liked it very much."
This discussion "Officially" opens tomorrow, and if I'm not mistaken, Joan P has some most interesting thoughts and thought-provokers to get us buzzing and gossiping (dare we?) around our circle.
"Seldom, very seldom does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken."This is going to be such fun - even if you chuse to "disguise" yourself - a little! Welcome, each and every one!
Do you agree with the assessment of the author as a "heartless little critic"?
We might want to look at this again, when we have all read more of her. But let me take a stab at it..
I want to look at each word.
“Little”: I do not know if Jane was a small woman, but that is not what is meant here.”Little” refers , I think, to her importance as a writer, based on the speaker’s assessment of the importance of the setting and issues of which she writes. It says that this women’s world is not important.
When I first read Jane as a young woman, she gave me claustrophobia, because I felt her world was so limited, and I was afraid of being caught in that world. Now I am older, I see it differently. It is Jane’s genius that she can take that “little” world and see it as encompassing great issues: character, how one leads one’s life, love, how one is limited by material circumstances, and can or cannot overcome those etc. There is nothing little about this.
This is longer than I meant. Back in a bit with more.
Clearly Jane is a critic. But is she a heartless critic? The biography I am reading (“The Life of Jane Austen” by John Halperin) implies that she is, although not in those words. He cites a lot of evidence to back it up, mostly from her letters (which are even more sharp-tongued than her books). But this is not the feeling I get when I read her books. And I don’t think Jane could have inspired the affection that she has in many of her readers if she were heartless.
She is someone who sees people clearly, with all there warts and pimples. This is one of the things we enjoy about her, and why we recognize so many of her characters.
Further, she is clearly a reserved woman: one who does not talk easily about strong emotions. For example, in her books, when she gets to the final scene where the hero and heroine finally declare there love, she always reports it briefly, and mostly in the third person. In her letters, when she sends condolences, they are brief, and not gushy. But that does not mean that she doesn’t feel. In the piece Joan posted about one of her letters, it was clear that you could not tell how deeply she had been affected by the aborted romance from the ironic way she talked about it..
I have known many people who had a deep reserve about there innermost feelings, and not found them heartless. It is, perhaps, more common in men than women, and less common still in a novelist. But as a reader, I feel she genuinely cares about some, though not all, of her characters.
Her letters make it clear that there were a not of people whom she didn’t like, and she could be very dismissive and cruel-tongued toward them. This is not a trait I admire in her, but I can understand it without calling her heartless. Remember how limited her world was. If the people she met were boring, stupid, and limited, then her world was too, and she had a right to resent it. We have so much, and so many people, ideas, knowledge etc. available to us, if we meet someone like that, we can shrug and move on. She didn’t have that option, and I’m sure resented it. Further, her biographer may be right in seeing a strain of depression below her humor. We saw that in Mark Twain: maybe it is true of all humorists.
Good Morning and Welcome everyone. I've been so looking forward to this discussion and in the waiting process have been learning much about Jane. That wasn't difficult because I knew nothing before and have never read anything by her. And now to learn that she is ranked right up there with Shakespeare in the hierarchy of British writers.
JoanK, your comments about "heartless little critic" in post 62 are right on target -- the heartless not meaning mean, but telling things as saw them. Perceptive, she was. Now please help out one who is totally left-brained and can't stand the dotted line left unfilled. Who is the author of that phrase? I know I've seen it before, but have been googling till blue and can't find it.
As for the above quote about complete truth -- I agree. First of all, I think she is referring to human interactions, to intimacies and relationships. Looking at ourselves, I how many of us tell all to everyone. A part to this one, another part to that one, and some things never get revealed.
I was typing my post in notepad after reading JoanK's post 62. Before I copied it to post, I refreshed the discussion page, but your post did not appear. Why would that be. What can I do in the future to make sure that all current posts are showing?
I did have an unplanned distraction, a sort of "happening": I've taken on a student, an eager one, the friend of a friend.
She is a flight attendant on international routes and wants to learn Italian because she flies regularly to Milan. It's been ages since I tutored. I am tailor-making a program just for her. The first lesson was super. As I've said, she is eager; what more fertile ground could there be for a tutor?
Will think of the questions on our book and be back with reactions/impressions.
That being the case, it would seem appropriate for Fowler to employ the same technique in The Jane Austen Book Club.
Horselover, that's an interesting point about Emma's father thinking everyone thinks as he does. Yes, we're probably all guilty to a certain degree, unless we remind ourselves otherwise.
criticcynic"You took such care yesterday to examine each part of this phrase and I have to admit I had read and typed it incorrectly. Pedln had asked the source for the quote and when I went to "The Response" in the appendix I discovered my error - on page 268 -"1917 - Frederic Harrison, letter to Thomas HardyThe whole quote puts JA's writing in the context of the time in which she wrote - which would be an interesting topic for discussion, wouldn't it?
"[Austen was] a rather heartless little cynic..penning satires about her neighbors whilst the Dynasts were tearing the world to pieces and consigning millions to their graves...Not a breath from the whirlwind around her ever touched her Chippendale chiffonier or escritoire>"
I noted your explanation of the word, "little" - (I've been noticing that when JA writes of the characters admired by the heroine (herself?), the character is usually tall - in Emma, this character is Jane Fairfax, described as "...elegant, remarkably elegant. Her height was pretty, just such as everybody would think tall, and nobody could think very tall." Is there usually a character the heroine admires who has qualities Jane feels lacking in herself?
You made another comment on the meaning of the term "little" - that the letter writer, Frederic Harrison seems to be saying that "this woman's world is not important." Reading the phrase in context, Harrison does seem to be saying just that, doesn't he? Pedln noted that JA's powers of perception made her a natural "critic" ...I guess the question du jour is - do her abilities of perception also lead her to "cynicism"? First of all, do you agree - is Jane Austen a cynic - "a heartless little cynic"? Again, my apology for the typo. Will fix it right now and then get back to the fascinating business of the identity of the narrator.
When we say "multi-person" narrator, do we mean that we can count them? That there definitely are more than one? So this would be different from an all-knowing narrator, correct?
I have read books before that started with a definite first-person narrator, and then switched mid-stream to an all-knowing one. That really bothered me. I felt it was a copout and the author was sluffing off.
Pat, nice sum up of Emma. As one who is in the middle of reading her first Austens, I appreciate it.
Sue, thanks for the intro to the Lankvik book. It goes on my list. I do hope that interspersed with all the posts about Emma and the Club, we'll be garnering other tidbits about book clubs in general.
Carolyn, that's interesting about the reading habits of men in New Zealand. Aren't you glad your son enjoys reading so much. Two years ago I went to the National Book Festival in DC and I'd say that there were lots of men there, especially when major writers were speaking. Also, on C-Span (do you get that in NZ?) the weekend book events usually show a mix of both men and women. However, looking at the make up of those who post regularly in books on Seniornet, women outnumber men.
Sue - Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons sounds like such fun - love the title! Another book club book - with chapters named after the MONTH. Great coincidence. They meet for thirty years!
Joan K - your own book club (made up of four women and one man) has chosen KJF's book for July! Isn't that a coincidence! Did you have anything to do with the selection by any chance? Hmmm?
Will you tell about the man in your club who was much like the one described in Fowler's book...was he like the one who dominated the discussions, the one everyone was hestitant to interupt... or was he more like Grigg? Did you notice Grigg raise his hand for permission to speak today? You've gotta love him!
Do we think you're "nuts"? No - hahaha, well, maybe a little. I think that those of us who read Austen so many years ago don't fully understand the Janiac fascination (fixation) - but now, having reached maturity (?) and taking another look at her novels, there is so much more to them than the stories of romance enjoyed as a teenager.
You "Janiacs" or "Janites" are not few in number. I began reading the Carol Shields biography last night - and see that she presented a paper for the Jane Austen Association of North America in 1996. So, I googled it and found that the meeting will be held the weekend of Oct. 7-9 in LA. It is quite a big deal. This year's focus will be on Persuasion...you might like to visit the site -
Example, the first time I read Chapter 1, about Jocelyn and Emma, I thought it a little weird that Jocelyn served oatmeal. Now I think it was pretty clever on her part -- just like Mr. WoodHouse wanted everyone to have a bowl of gruel with him before he went to bed. (My opinion of oatmeal is that I had to eat it until I was 12, then after that, my mother had to pay me a nickel for every bowl.)
Interesting comments here about Mr. Woodhouse -- ahead of his time and sympathetic to the plights of women (probably not likely), self-centered, lazy (he liked his creature comforts, for sure.), first class WIMP (perhaps a lovable old curmudgeonly fuss budget). I think his age had made him quite incapable of much, and he looked for anything to help pass his time. He loved to talk with Miss Bates!!
"This time round, they didn't seem so comic,From "the Response" - Fowlers book - p. 275
Mama is foolish, dim or dead. Papa's
a sort of genial, pampered lunatic.
No one thinks of anything but class.""
Horselover, I'm not so sure we are all that homogenous here at SN Books. Same general age group, within a few decades, but with many different orientations -- political, medical, marital, financial, etc. What we do have in common, as do most members of book clubs, is that we like to read and we like to discuss what we read.
I'm loving the parallels between Emma and chapter one that you all are seeing -- such as JoanK's Tony in the car scene to Emma and Mr. Elton in the coach. Do we need to start a list (brief descriptions) of these?
Welcome Karen Fowler -- we are so fortunate to have you with us. May we ask you questions? I won't send a deluge now, but will mention that the issue of "narrator" is interesting. Who? Why?
I likely Mr. Knightly. He seems a take charge kind of guy who's not afraid to say what needs to be said. He also seems to be kind by paying visits to those who aren't sought out -- like MIss Bates and Mr. Woodhouse. And I loved it when he oh so graciously put down Mrs. Elton when seh tried to take over his party preparations. Isn't she one we like to dislike.
I'll be back on the road Monday, and spending time with the gandkids before then, so will say goodbye for a few days. Hopefully my Netflix DVD of Sense and Sensibility will be waiting for me when I get home.
"...white, white skin, with a mouth that almost disappeared when she smiled, like a Cheshire cat, only opposite."Does this white white skin still disturb Allegra, I wonder, or has she outgrown her aversion to whiteness? Such a hypersensitive little girl - would she now be physically cutting herself? I've heard about, well, no, I've read about young people who "cut" themselves - just short of suicide, but stop just in time. Is this what that allusion to cutting is about? Is it an attention-getting act?
Probably one of the most down-to-earth, unassuming, accessible authors you will ever get to meet. Maryal noted that authors are real people. This is one real nice person! Fun and funny too!
JoanP -- thanks for putting up those pictures. Terrific. It sounds like all you lucky ducks who went had a wonderful time. I was so envious. If I'd stayed a few extra days I could have been with you, instead of cleaning out the refrigerator just so I could fill it up again. Karen, are you going to be in Seattle the first two weeks of July, or in St. Louis any time during the rest of the summer?
I'm catching up with all your posts about Allegra (and the Austen mothers) and what fascinating ones they are. As I know so little about Austen and her writings I must depend on what you all say.
Re your comments about the "silly" women who are married to intelligent men in the Austen novels -- they remind me of a comment by Fanny Holmes, the wife of Supreme Court Justice O.W. Holmes during the Theodore Roosevelt administration. When asked her opinion of the people she had met she replied, "Washington is full of many famous men and the women they married when they were young."
As for Sylvia's mothering of Allegra, thinking her the perfect child, not knowing what she was doing or feeling. I'm thinking we shouldn't be so hard on her for not knowing. Are mothers supposed to know everything? Some of the discussions at my son's DC home these past few weeks focused on teen age drinking and drug abuse, a concern of his and his wife, now that their eldest is ready for high school. My DIL asked if Cliff drank in high school and my answer was not that I knew of. Ho ho, said his sister, also visiting, he did. Later my son said to me, "Didn't you know I drank in high school? I thought mothers were supposed to know those things." Ouch. Like Sylvia, I thought I had a straight arrow. Still do.
Pat H and Carolyn,I found your comments about marriage and picking mates most interesting. The standard teasing statement when I was growing up was, "It's just as easy to marry a rich man as a poor one." But I'm reminded about the mother of a childhood friend. She married well, into a well-to-do family, but after WWII her husband became an alcoholic, and Miss Mary had to sell household products door to door. You never heard her complain, but she was emphatic when she said, "My girls are not going to be like me.They will be trained to support themselves." I guess the timeline from Austen to now would be:
1) Marry well,
2)Marry well, but have something to fall back on just in case,
3)How can you support yourself with that kind of major?
Now much about Allegra here, more later.
"Allegra's Austen wrote about the impact of financial need on the intimate lives of women. She would have shelved Austen in the horror section." (prologue, p. 4)
Following "The Response" on p. 284 are some questions for discussion -- asked by each member of the club. Allegra asks how a woman who supports herself making jewelry can afford health insurance. And then she asks if we think there will ever be universal coverage in this country.
Why would Allegra shelve Austen in the horror section? Is she unnerved by all this talk about making a good marriage? She probably doesn't think she will make any kind of a marriage, period. Though Maryal says she may or may not be a lesbian. But there can always be committment, regardless. Is she afraid she's going to end up a poor woman in need, one who can't make it on her own, or with anyone else. Will she end up coming home to live with her mother? Many of you, as well as Jocelyn have questioned who is consoling who? Has Allegra come home to help Sylvia coope with Daniel's absence, or is it Sylvia who's helping Allegra with her problems?
Horselover compares Allegra's sharing her secrets with Corinne to the sharing of confidences in Austen's works, and some of you have wondered why she told these secrets to Corinne. But why wouldn't she confide in one she loved and trusted.
This point is a long time coming. Allegra is capable, she's caring, she wants to make those she loves happy -- the home made presents, the good grades, the secrets. But can she make herself happy? Does she even like herself -- the cutting, to relieve the pain.
"For me? More for me" she says on Christmas morning -- as in "Oh boy, all this for good old me"
Or is it -- as in "I can't believe I'm worth all this. You're really giving it to ME?"
And that brings up another question as we get into the third month of discussions at the Jane Austen Book Club. Do you see any themes coming forth? Is there any one thing (besides Jane Austen, of course) that we can say this book is about?
JoanP has an early morning appt., but she will be along shortly with her keen insights and comments.
I wonder if Prudie's mother first used fantasy to take away her daughter's disappointment over not having a party. Poor woman. A single mom who must leave her child at day care while she works, one who lives from paycheck to paycheck and has a very young child who can't understand why she has no dad and why mom can't be with her all day.
We had thunderstorms most of yesterday, with more predicted for today, so my online time has been rather sketchy. Worst part -- getting down on knees to plug and unplug.
Sue -- Thanks for the tip about Bridget Jones. I did catch a bit in the middle, but had just finished watching Sense and Sensibility and needed a rest from Hugh. Poor guy -- when I see him it's never as Edward or Daniel or whoever he's playing, but always as Hugh Grant. Maybe he needs to play someone unloveable for a change.
Am expecting Netflix "Persuasion" this week. Their "Pride & P" doesn't have captions or subtitles, so will have to forgo that one.
JoanK -- it's interesting you see Dean as Edmund. Since I've only read the summaries, I don't know Edmund that well, but I see Dean as an Austen character who would be out with his guns and hounds, definitely a sportsman, but also a take charge type of guy. Would the clergy do that?
Sue -- guess I should have kept the TV on.
Why is Prudie's husband too good to be true. After bringing herself up, I'd say he's just what she needs. Can't knock a man's man who'll go to a chick lit (just kidding) flick.
"...the first time he laid eyes on her, he thought she was pretty...In fact, Prudie wasn't pretty, She just pretended to be."ps Thanks for your comments and descriptions of Bath, Carolyn, Sue and Joan K - I found some great photos...will put them up tomorrow since much, at least half of Northanger Abbey doesn't take place at the abbey, but rather in Bath.
I've got some slides of Bath somewhere, from 1989. Hope I have better luck finding them than I'm having with the stack of passwords hidden before this last trip.
Now back to Prudie and a hunt for "42."
Fanny goes home after having been away since she was 10 years old. Wasn't this a painful homecoming? She regards Mansfield Park as "home" - is downright homesick. Her own mother is tired and preoccupied and the two have absolutely no mother/daughter feelings for one another. An obvious parallel with Prudie's lack of feeling for her mother. She'd wished her dead so many times as a child. Her wishes never came true. She never died. She can't be dying now.A few more thoughts and questions on Prudie before we turn our attention to Grigg's story. Goodness, the month of May went by quickly, didn't it?
It is poverty that has destroyed family bonds- is that what Jane Austen is saying here? While home, Fanny tried to calm the chaos and manages to establish a relationship with her sister Susan - takes her to Mansfield Park and a better life. At one point, she gave Susan a silver knife to compensate for the one a younger sister confiscated. Can you find the parallel in Prudie's story? I think I found it, but not sure of the meaning. Will Prudie be compensated
As for Prudie's feelings on adultery -- how DO the French feel?
Regarding the silver knife that Fanny gives her younger sister -- a parallel might be that the airlines takes away Prudie's Swiss Army knife (I know they're going to get mine one of these days too. DIL carries a self-addressed stamped envelope in her travel bag, and after her weekend trip to Boston her sewing scissors arrived in the mail.) What's Prudie going to get back?
In her dream,(which she has before she learns about her mother) is Prudie associating Jane with her mother? Jane promises her she'll cook something good, but even as she says it, Prudie knows she'll forget. Her mother has been moved to an island with lots of ocean around it -- if she's that far away she can't come for the visit she mentioned in her email.
There's something nagging me about the mirrors and the pictures in that dream, but I can't find them now.
So Dad was going to teach Grigg the facts of life by showing him "adult" pictures. I loved it that Grigg was fascinated with the technology instead. This is a kid who knows what he likes.
I can't say too much about Northhanger Abbey and Catherine, but from reading the summary, I do see a parallel between Catherine's poking into the different rooms and Grigg doing the same thing at the house in Bel Air.
I don't see Grigg as a "girly" boy and I don't think he's gay, not that it matters one way or other. He's a product of his environment - a little timid perhaps, because he's got all these sisters looking out for him. He takes after them like Catherine takes after her brothers. No doubt he tries to be like them.(I love my picture of mylittle grandson standing next to his big sister -- both in their "tutus.") Will need to think more about "coming-of-age." It seems too easy to say it happened in Bel Air.
Sue -- glad you got your copy of the JA Book Club. With your Jane Austen background I've no doubt you will enjoy it.
Joan -- thanks for the BAHth link. The pictures bring back memories, and no, I haven't found mine yet. Hope you get there someday.
Beau Nash's Bath - click link for articleSo that explains what brings the rich to Bath...the gambling AND the mineral baths. They DID go into the water! Now the next question, what did they wear?
"His visit to Bath, where the popularity of the spa waters was increasing, proved to be the perfect match with Nash’s lifestyle. Bathers were found soaking in the mineral waters from early morning, and would generally finish about 9am, leaving the idle rich with the remainder of the day to relax, walk in the parks or visit taverns and coffee houses. This gave Nash the perfect opportunity to promote his love of gambling to Bath society."
"The Master of Ceremonies would arrange “society’s social life” - balls, dances and social gatherings and ensure their smooth running."
In "The Left Hand of Darkness" she [Ursula Le Guin] examines gender roles through the reactions of an ambassador to the people on a planet where there is only one sex (people randomly switch back and forth, so you are dealing with someone of unknown sex). She also analyzes the nature of trust and honor in an extremely paranoid society, and paints an unforgettable picture of a desperate trek across a bitter winter environment."Well, what do you think, Janeites? Would you be interested in following this discussion with a foray into some science fiction - just for fun? Even if you have never had the inclination? Which one? Pat's favorite, with description in post above is "Lathe of Heaven" - I've always been interested in dreams...
I think sometimes the author can make a strong point with an unreal scenario -- such as Bradbury's case against censorship in Fahrenheit, and the issue of freedom of choice vs. a perfect society in Lois Lowry's wonderful children/YA novel The Giver.
As for Jocelyn and the books Grigg gives her. She might read them. Why did she run after him?
Deems, I've watched the first two Harry Potters with my grandkids, thought the first one quite scary for kids. Watching PotterII during this last visit the 10-year-old would pause frequently to explain parts of the book that the movie left out. Her brother told me that at one point she had it all memorized.
The review of No. 3 that I read was not flattering. And word does get around. The 12-year-old complained that a friend had told him No. 3 HAD NO QUIDDITCH! -- or whatever you call that game.
"Your favorite Jane Austen is National Velvet? Yes Prudie was being mean, but Bernadette was happy to see her change from looking like a shattered Picasso woman to looking so dangerous that Picasso would be excusing himself. Wonderful lines.
Couldn't you just feel Prudie's glass come down on the table when Bellington said, "I don't read much women's stuff. I like a good plot."
Right. Sic 'em, Bernadette! Tell him about all your husbands.
Did I miss something or put too much into the scene at Bel Air? I thought Grigg's father had drowned in the pool, and the sister's "He's not ready to come home yet" was her way of protecting Grigg until they got him home.
JoanP, interesting -- you are putting the onus on Daniel and what he has not gotten out of his system. I was thinking it was Jocelyn, and wondering if she were still carrying some kind of torch. -- Your first impression of really good people is that they are uninteresting? Ouch. That seems a little harsh -- maybe we'd all be better off if we figured everyone had a tale to tell and it's up to us to find it.
As for first impressions in P and P, I don't know. But in the book club I think Prudie is finding that first impressions are not always the correct ones. First with Bernadette,-- she'd done a lot of living and married Ben Weintraub to boot, and Mo Bennington -- odious at first, then kind.
Which brings up my question of the day. I've been bugged over the weekend with a stiff neck and shoulder and spent this perfectly glorious afternoon sitting in front of the TV watching the final round of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. And thinking, what a nice guy that Phil Mikleson is, no pouts, no frowns, always a smile, and the crowd loves him. He's just Mr. Nice. Does Austen have a Mr. Nice? Someone that everyone likes not because he's rich or because he's good-looking or because he's so smart and full of knowledge, but just because he's so darn nice?
Carolyn, I think I understand what you say. I wouldn't gravitate towards the extroverts either, tho sometimes it seems easier to let them take over our social duties and do all the conversing.
Deems, weird about the crows coincidence. I never knew about the collective term. Did you know there is a film by the same title, tho with very different subject matter than your book?
Karen, your library event sounds fantastic. Sorry they cancelled the dancing. I've been out of the dancing circle for so long I wondered if people even did it anymore. But a quick check on google shows that ballroom dancing must be booming, especially on college campuses with both students and community members alike. Hope it is soon reinstated in Sacramento. Like Joan, I'd like to hear more about the library event. What a fantastic fundraiser.
Joan, I just took that test and it said I most resembled Grigg, and could be a model for Mr. Bennett. He wasn't such a bad guy, was he? As least better than Isabella, right? About Bernadette and Prudie and their first impressions. Bernadette first thought Prudie a very frightened young woman. But for me, the real irony is in Prudie's impression of Bernadette as an uninteresting dull old woman and then Bernadette thinking that since Prudie and Dean were so young she'd have to carry all the conversation. Funny. But then, this is one of the most fun chapters.
Edit >Karen, not ignoring you - I see we were posting at the same time. Need to go get some dinner on the table and will be back. Can't thank you enough for your posts. We are so fortunate!Joan K - our crow population was diminished last year too - can't say that I missed the cawcawing...ours were big - like chickens. On trash day, they'd be out there tearing holes in the garbage bags foraging. Now that I think about it, I remember saying that I never liked crows, but their absence was disturbing, considering the cause.
~ Henry Tilney - I give him the benefit of the doubt too, Pat...although first impression was not favorable. Apparently Catherine did not find him offensive...Cats
~ Bingley - a handsome, affable fellow yes, but so malleable - how easily he was persuaded to give up his Jane because of her sister and Darcey's low opinion of her family! Such "persuasion" is a theme repeated in other Austen novels...
~ Jane Bennett interests me. What does Jane Austen think of her? An idealist who cannot see reality? Is JA admiring her or smiling at her naiveté? I think of her as a Jane Fairfax - possessing qualities Jane Austen admires in others, but is lacking in herself...
~ Mr. Darcey - Do you see Grigg in the role of Mr. Darcey in the car scene with Jocelyn? Is he purposely being disagreeable, thoughtless or is this just Joceln's impression of him? He certainly is behaving more independently, less anxious to please than he had seemed at the start. Who is the real Grigg?
~ Mrs. Bennett - Hermione Gingold as Mrs. Bennett? Where can I get my hands on that 1959 musical??? Bernadette's mother, I guess most of your stereotypical stage mothers fit Mrs. Bennett's description - to a point. Jane Austen's character had so very little affection for Lizzy. I'm sure Jane is creating a comic character, but she repeats this caricature of unloving parent in other stories often enough to make me wonder if it is satire, but with some real issues, personal issues underneath.
Oh my goodness, Karen, you gave Grigg more than one cat - he is surrounded with cats! One of those protective sisters is named Cat! To me, cats symbolize independence - these sisters are used to interfering and controlling Grigg. Is he ignoring them, ignoring the opinion of others, marching to his own...cat? I can see where Grigg would prefer cats.Omens -
Jane Austen ought to have appreciated the independent nature of the cat, wouldn't you think? But nary a cat works its way into her novels, so it's fairly safe to assume she was a dog person...
White cats - did you notice that Bernadette took her vows at her first marriage in an angry snit because she didn't hear the end of her beautician's white cat story? After the marriage it turns out her husband is a very angry, spiteful man! Was the white cat ominous after all?
Birds - Karen, you love crows? Now I have to rethink my bird theory. Whenever I see birds in your story I associated them with death. Am remembering the picnic where Jocelyn criticizes her mother's fried chicken pieces as "dead birds"...will be on the lookout for more in the final chapters.~ I love the library too. I buy books I want to keep. I bought Karen's book after reading Michael Dirda's review and then the first page or two...
White cats - Bernadette's beautician's story was interrupted, but wasn't she on the verge of describing a white cats as ominous as black?
White is seen as an undesirable color, beginning with Allegra's aversion to white as a child. Is white even a color? White faces always a bad image - fright, illness. White seems to beg for more life, for a real color. Something vital is missing without color. White lipstick would be garish without a little pink. White Rain shampoo is cheap, seems to be lacking some ingredients. Do you feel this way about white? Do you select white paint for the walls in your house?
JoanP -- Don't know about Grigg as Darcy in the car scene. My first reaction when they were walking(?) to the banquet and Jocelyn asked him what he thought about Sylvia -- he was Mr Knightly. He told Jocelyn in so many words to mind her own business.
Pat H -- how astute about the crows. I have to go bqck and take another look at that.
Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibility contemplating how empty her house will be when Elinor and Marianne leave her home..."how forlorn we shall be when I come back! Lord! we shall sit and gape at one another as dull as two cats."
Cats are dull? How about plain white cats?
How about this site - Cats as Pets"By the 17th century the cat had begun to regain its former place as a companion to people and a controller of rodents. Cardinal Richelieu, in France, was noted for his love of cats. Many writers, particularly in France and England, began to keep cats as pets and to write of their good qualities. It became fashionable to own and breed cats, especially the long-haired varieties. By the late 1800s cat shows were being held in England and the United States and cat fanciers' organizations were established."I still think that Jane just wasn't a cat lover...others kept them as pets in her time, other writers wrote of them BUT not Jane. But our own Jane, I do think of English pets as dogs, French pets as cats...and poodles.
Aside from that, seeing Austin characters, the marriage of Mattie and Lloyd remined me much of the surprise attachment of Louisa Musgrove and Captain Benwick. And that bit in the commune -- poking a little fun at organized religion? Did Austen ever do that?
Do you see a bond forming between Prudie and Bernadette, or is that too much to expect.
That Anne is the only one in her family with values and integrity is probably due to her relationship with her mother in her early years and to her friendship with Lady Russell. Elizabeth seems to be too much under her father's influence, and Mary was no doubt too young to receive any benefit of her mother's training.
I have a problem seeing Sylvia as Anne, except that both fathers had financial problems. To me Anne is more like Elinor (Marianne's sister in Sense & S?), the one that everyone called upon, confided in.
Why is Sylvia like Anne? Because both fathers had financial problems? Because their families were concerned about place and status? Because they both lost their loves and then got them back again -- they never lost hope that their loves would return? Of course, Sylvia doesn't believe in happy endings -- but then, her teachers were grandma's soap operas, and they never have happy endings.
Something I thought interesting -- Sylvia thought the camp counselors were scheming and thought they wanted her out of the way. Yet it was Jocelyn, at the same camp, who thought they'd come back and find everyone packed up and gone.
I'm not quite sure I know what an "affectless" person is. Unemotional? Unfeeling? There's certainly a difference between those two. We seem to have determined that Sylvia is not "affectless, but Daniel's mother might be -- because she didn't get all hot and bothered because Allegra is gay? The poor woman probably turned to stone when her son died. So, aloof and unreachable? Or maybe Pat H has it right when she speaks of the women in Austen's era who are in "helpless suspense of waiting for others to act in everything that is most important in your life." You can't affect yourself.
Enough on semantics. Now -- questions that wake you in the night -- Why did Grigg want to have lunch with Sylvia?
Kjay -- glad to hear about the UK deal, and I'll bet the folks over there are happy too. They've got a treat in store.
And Jocelyn DID read the books Grigg gave her. So is this chapter the turning point, as JoanP thinks. We're all getting over the first impressions. Bernadette's not an old frump, Grigg is a pretty nice guy, it wouldn't hurt us all to try something new and read a little science fiction, and Daniel is returning home -- with permission.
"Sylvia had thought Daniel's mother a peculiarly affectless woman, polite, but distant... Sylvia was somewhat affectless herself, but in the general noise of her own family, no one, including Sylvia had noticed this yet."The night of Allegra's accident when both parents spent the night in Allegra's hospital room, Sylvia said the words aloud into the darkness, "Daniel, I'm happy" - He may have heard her,maybe he was asleep. But I saw these pronounced words as Sylvia's realization that she was not always expressive of her feelings...this time she was making sure she did. This reminded me of Anne's daring to step forward and let Captain Wentworth know that she would defy convention - for him. This took "bravery" as Joan K describes it.
When entering the dating game, and when she married, a woman had to play by the rules of society in order to succeed - (success=marriage). She sacrificed her freedom, her freedom to speak her mind, Carolyn. But what of the woman who was not interested in the game enough to compromise her freedoms? Was she compelled to follow the same rules? It appears there was only one time that JA thought she could have it all. Tom LeFroye was her soulmate. They could talk about everything. She could discuss any topic with him. (This sounds so much like the young Anne Elliot and her Captain. Jane was certain that Tom felt the same way and that a proposal was coming shortly. When he left and then married a woman of higher rank, Jane was devastated and it seems she never got into the game again.What do you think? The protocol seems to be learned from mothers, but in Jane's novels, the mothers are weak, ineffectual or in many cases, absent. Jane's mother appears to have been a strong woman, but overwhelmed by her large family and other obligations in the parsonage to have had a hand in the girls' formation. Jane's heroines are "successful", in spite of their lack of guidance from their mothers.
Her novels dwell on the constraints society puts on young women - BUT Jane makes a point to see that her heroines are all happily married. To successfully achieve this state, they must all keep their emotions buttoned up and follow all the protocol throughout the rest of their lives....
Am going crazy trying to get packed, etc. The St. Louis motel where I usually stay before flying out told me they had moved into a new building next door and no longer had long-term onsite parking. (why did they think I stayed there?) What they didn't tell me was that another chain had taken over their old site. It took me a bit of searching before I found that. And why don't the travel search sites give phone numbers for motels? Grrrr.
Pat, hope you had a great time at the Cape.
I don't think Anne married beneath her, but as one critic has noted, in marrying Wentworth she now has the uncertainty that life as the wife of a naval officer will bring. Of course, if her life is much like that of Mrs. Croft she will be happy.
Kjay, so glad you are with us. Can we pick your brain this last week of our discussion?
And just to tie up a few ends, did we ever truly venture forth on the "gift book" question? What can you ask the recipient of your gift? I got in trouble once for asking "how did you like it," so will never do that again. But what about "Did you have a chance to read it yet?" or "What did you think about such and such a title, blah blah, blah?" What do you all think? And what do you do when someone gives or insists on lending you a book you have no intention of reading?
"Anne, satisfied at a very early period of Lady Russell's meaning to love Captain Wentworth as she ought, had no other alloy to the happiness of her prospects than what arose from the consciousness of having no relations to bestow on him which a man of sense could value. There she felt her own inferiority very keenly. The disproportion in their fortune was nothing; it did not give her a moment's regret; but to have no family to receive and estimate him properly, nothing of respectability, of harmony, of good will to offer in return for all the worth and all the prompt welcome which met her in his brothers and sisters, was a source of as lively pain as her mind could well be sensible of under circumstances of otherwise strong felicity. She had but two friends in the world to add to his list, Lady Russell and Mrs. Smith"Last pm I finished Carol Shields biography of JA - (thanks for recommending it,Carolyn) - I'd like to share with you some of the things she had wrote on Jane and the writing of Persuasion
~ JA wrote Persuasion when she was 40 years old - possibly at a time her health was beginning to fail.Carol Shields adds that in Anne's character, Jane Austen "combined her own sense of loss and loneliness, her regrets, her willingness to lead a disappointed life." I can see where Anne was hitting too much of an autobiographical note and although she gave her character a second chance at happiness, can understand why she put the work aside and started something new. I feel so much of Jane, and FOR Jane in Anne - maybe that's why I love her the most.
~ She gave Anne a second chance to revise her past, realizing that she herself would never have the same.
~ There was something about the character of Anne Elliot that bothered her - an unfixable problem. (Shield's mentioned Anne's picture of perfection, patient fortitude and cool clarity of mind)
~ Though she revised the ending, she did not do her usual heavy editing...filling in the secondary characters, etc. (Maybe this is why her father and sisters seem sketches and don't live and breathe.)
I did look briefly at the page and it looks well done and interesting.
Persuasion required further work, which Jane Austen surely knew. But she was unwillingo or unable to commit herself to it any longer. Something at its center worried her: the character of Anne Elliot. This unfixable problem made her reluctant to apply her usual fine finishing strokes and to fill out the protraits of other lesser characters. Anne Elliot is "almost too good for me," she wrote to her niece Fanny. "Pictures of perfection"exasperated her, she claimed and Anne with her patient fortitude and cool clarity of mind presents such an image.
It is possible that Jaen Austen's health had already begun to fail at the time of writing Persuasion. Just as she was finding her greatest strength as a writer, she may have experienced intimations of an early death. the darkness of Persuasion, its vivid sensuality, its use of accident and near misses, relates perhaps to the kind of fatalism that stared down at her, suggesting that she might be desperately rewriting the trajectory of her own life and giving it the gift of a happy ending....But Anne Elliot, more than any of these heroines, [Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price] combines Austen's sense of loss and loneliness, her regrets, her intelligence, and in the end, her willingness to lead a disappointed life.
Jane, sometimes I think we've come from the same egg because there have been many times I just want to echo what you have said, and this is certainly true in response to Joan's question about Jane Austen's (there were times I wasn't sure we were talking about "our Jane" or "Jane Austen) books and Karen's book. I enjoyed Karen's book for itself and liked the discussion about the characters. Those who had read Austen probably had an additional dimension. I definitely feel I learned more about Austen through this discussion, and I'm glad to know about her place in literature. At times I really got confused with not only the Austen characters, but also trying to relate them to Austen's life as well. That's pretty heady stuff for the uninitiated.
Last night the 7-year-old asked if I'd read a chapter book with him, so we picked one with 13 hapters (one for each night) and I was immediately reminded of Sylvia -- Lemony Snickert's The Bad Beginning reads "This book has a bad ending, a bad beginning and there aren't very many happy things in the middle." Karen, your chacaters came to life for me and I'm sure they'll continue to pop up every now and then, being compared to other readings.
Karen asks when we read the ending. Must confess, I'm a great peeker, especially if I'm reading in the middle of the night when sleep eludes me. I need to know what happens if I'm ever going to get to sleep. It doesn't ruin the story and I may read the ending several times before finishing the book.
As for others pressing unwanted books, one response is"after the first of the year when I'm caught up," and hope they forget or sometimes I just take it, keep it a while, and return without comment. Or, let someone else return it for me.
JoanP, you asked Grigg's question about Austen's books being considered romance novels. What's the difference between love stories and romance novels? Sometimes I think romance novels get a bad rap among contemporary readers -- considered mere "bodice rippers" -- whereas love stories carry a more acceptable designation. I would call Austen's work love stories.
Question 1-"Do any of the matches in the JABC create disquiet." Yes, (combining with Qestion 2), Allegra and Corinne -- not just because of Corinne's betrayal of trust, but also the secrets on the part of Corinne. There's a lot of work to be done if this relationship is to last. I don't know if Allegra is ready for it. While I say this, I think of my youngest child who is also in a same-sex relationship. I like her partner, I've met her family, they've bought a home together, and they are very happy. It's early days yet, and I hope that there is committment and that no one gets hurt.
Am I reading that question right -- When is a white cat just a white (quite) cat? -- not every sign or symbol is an ominous one. Sometimes it just is.
My daughter doesn't work on Fridays, so don't know if I'll be back tomorrow -- we'll be outing. So, many thanks to all the participants, to JoanP who brought this discussion to fruition and made it work, and to Karen for writing the book to begin with and then giving us so much of her valuable time and insight.
1. Jane Austen's books were intitialy published without the author's mane and tagged, "An Interesting Book," which alerted the reader that romance was involved. If Austen were publishing today, would she be considered a romance writer?Pedln askes the difference between romance novels and love stories. I think of romance novels as formulaic and the characters, other than physical appearance, not carefully drawn - "punishing kisses" and always predictable endings. That's just me, don't mean to offend those who find more to them. I think Grigg might view them this way and probably avoids them too. I don't know tht he sees Jane Austen's as strictly "love stories" - though there is love to be found in them it is true. But there is so much more. Romance or "love story" suggests that this is the extent of the tale, don't you think? What do you think?
Bernadette - marrying Senor and moving to Costa Rico. Surprising yes, but given her track record, she loves being married, she tends to repetition she's right in character, I thought. Sue finds this marriage her "shining moment" - I agree. How else could Karen have left her - but happily married?
Prudie - is married and continues to be Prudie...
Sylvia and Daniel - back together. I sure wish some of my friends could see the light, forgive and forget the mid-life bleeps on the marriage screen and get back together. This didn't seem forced to me, but natural and right. It just doesn't happen as often as it should.
Jocelyn and Grigg - are still "dating" - and seem to really be getting to know and accept one another at an easy pace.
Allegra, ah yes, Allegra, Pedln, I agree with you on this one. She and Corinne together again? I guess we saw that coming, the drunken, sobbing phone calls begging for forgiveness. Allegra who always commiserates with the weeper. But of all the characters, Allegra seems most like Jane Austen - to me. She WANTS a partner, she WANTS a happy ending...but has never recovered from the loss of her first love. She also has trust issues with Corinne. I think she went back with her simply because Corinne was miserable. Didn't we read weeks ago that Allegra had tired of her - even before she submitted her secrets to the publisher? The only attraction had been that Corinne was such an effortless liar. No, Allegra will want better than this.
Wasn't it Allegra who cried about white being so "plain" - and the fact that there was so much of it. So much of life is plain, everyday whiteness, isn't it? Allegra won't settle for plain. Corinne is plain. This match won't take, but Karen tried.
ps. hahaha, Pedln, I suppose the white cat question might just as well be asked - when is a black cat in your path just a black cat in your path?
Would Prudie have wept? I don't think so. Happy to meet another Prudie, Pat. Have you given it any more thought. Once it was revealed that I was a Prudie, I thought about it, and could see it. Though, like you, Prudie is hard to know. She certainly is quietly critical of just about everyone, isn't she? I don't like to think I'm that much of a Prudie! I can see Jane Austen in Prudie though.
IT seems so many of our crowd are identified Jocelyns! Mary Page, you too? I thought we'd see more Sylvia's for some reason. (And yes, one Narrator - Jane, if the glove fits...hahaha)
Maryal, would you hand a book back if someone gave it to you as a gift? A birthday present - all wrapped up with a bow? I can't see you doing that. But what do you do? Say thank you, accept it - but then what if the giftgiver asks you later if you liked it?Whiteness
Jane, that question did push your button! I'm wondering how the book made it on to your sideboard in the first place. You know, the more I think about it, this really a question of manners. Karen mentioned putting the situation before Ms. Manners and I didn't think about it much. But after reading your post - I think that perhaps the big gaff is to ask a person how they liked a book you have given. It's one thing to be generous and pass on a book, but quite another to put someone on the spot. I don't know I'd even scan it before returning it, Jane. I think I'd return it (or ask Pedln to return it) and say you just couldn't get into it - maybe someone else will.
I know what you mean about too much froufrou, Jane - I'm wondering if the walls in your house are painted white though...Allegra was offended at too much white.I have never been in a discussion where there were so many suggestions for good readking. Will have to add Patrick O'Brian to the list now. Then there's Karen's Sister Noon, Sarah Canary, Ursula Le Guin's new book on my dining room sideboard...there's a nice long summer ahead, and Jane Austen is behind me. Ooh, ooh, no, there's The Watsons and Sanditon - where do I find these?
I didn't notice that much said about white in Jane Austen - except Henry Tilney's sister's preference for white dresses - (do you wear much white, Jane? Solid colors?) But noticed many references in Kjay's book. Something Karen said yesterday - let me find the quote... "I hope to get started on a new book. That blank page is a sort of white I do not like." I can certainly understand a writer's problem with a plain white sheet of paper staring back at her. Would love to know more about Karen's new book...or might that jinx the project?
Thank you all so much for making this such an adventure and an enriching experience!
"The Left Hand of Darkness" - Le Guin
"The Lathe of Heaven" - Le Guin
"The Sparrow" Mary Doria Russell
"What Jane Austen Ate and What Charles Dickens Knew"
"To the Edge of Insanity" by Sharon Deichert"
"Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons"
Biography of Jane Austen - by the man Joan K will not identify because he says JA was "mean" - was she?
A zillion kudos to you for the first and a pox on their pipes to all those mean-spirited drivers who wouldn't let you in their lane. It's really maddening to try to do the right thing and then to get in trouble when you can't. I'm so glad you're going to take some time off and get away for a while. You've earned it.
Carolyn, I can't imagine a house without books, even a beautiful one. But your own abode with comfortable chairs and books spread around sounds like a happy haven.
Have a terrific holiday, everyone.