Jane Austen Book Club, The ~ Karen Joy Fowler ~ 6/04 ~ Book Club Online ~
May 7, 2004 - 06:48 am

"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

Karen Joy Fowler has written a delicious contemporary comedy of manners about a group of six Californians, five women and one man who gather for six months to discuss the six published novels of Jane Austen. Though the story centers on the relationships among the members of the club, there are underlying parallels between their lives and Jane Austen's characters' old-fashioned notions that virtue and love will triumph over every adversity.

Fowler's novel has been described by the Publisher as - "the novel Jane Austen might well have written had she lived in twenty-first century California. Brilliant social comedy"
You are all very welcome to pull up a chair - Janeite or no.

Links: Karen Joy Fowler Autobiography // Jane Austen - Biographical notes
"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

Joan P ~ Discussion Leaders ~ Pedln

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Readers' Guide for The Jane Austen Book Club

Joan Pearson
May 7, 2004 - 03:26 pm
My copy of Karen Fowler's book arrived last week. After reading the Prologue and the first Chapter, I had to really fight with myself from gulping it all down at once. I put the book down and heard myself say aloud to the empty room - "This is SO good!" I'm not one to talk to myself, but this book drew such a response.

You'll love the members of the book club - five women and one young man (the others don't know why Jocelyn invited him yet). Jocelyn is the take-charge type, the one who started the book club...oh dear, I'm giving away the story and we haven't even filled our own club's chairs!

I will say this much though - each of the six chapters touch on one of Jane Austen's novels. Though each novel is summarized in the back of the book for easy reference, I am already well into Emma, which is delightful. I'd never read it before - or seen the movie. Would you like to read one or more of JA's six published works along with the book? I think this would make the novel even more interesting and exciting than it already is...

Let us know if you will be able to join us; we hope to fill six chairs, but can always add more as the need arises! This is going to be so much fun - you won't want to miss it!

May 8, 2004 - 06:20 am
This book sounds like a wonderful fun read, and I'm hoping my copy will arrive soon. I can't say I'm a Janite because I don't know much about her and really haven't read much of her, but I love books about books and books about readers, and The Jane Austen Book Club fits that to a "T."

Please come join us as we join the "all-Jane-Austen-all-the-time book club." We can add more chairs, enlarge our circle, and guarantee a good time to be had by all.

May 8, 2004 - 09:51 am
I've requested the book at the Library and hope I can join you come June 1.


May 8, 2004 - 05:40 pm
I have not read her book or stories but would like to. I will join you for this.

Traude S
May 8, 2004 - 06:17 pm
JOAN, though I cannot consider myself a true "Janeite", I'd like to participate in the discussion of this book, especially since Patricia T. O'Conner, author of WOE IS I (which I champion every chance I get), assured readers of her review in the NYT that "You don't have to be a student of Jane Austen to enjoy it [the book], either."

The question will be which Jane Austen book to read in tandem since, I understand, the members of the book club in the title seem to have diverse favorites. EMMA may indeed be a good choice.

May 9, 2004 - 01:00 am
Not sure if its available here, but will check and let you know. I love all the Austen, but Emma best I think.


May 9, 2004 - 01:35 pm
Anneo, I do hope you can get the book. We'd love to have you join us. And Jane and Bluebird and Traude, it's great that you want to come. We'll be looking forward to an interesting and fun discussion.

Jane, were you anywhere near those giant grapefruit-sized hailstones that landed in eastern Iowa?

Joan Pearson
May 9, 2004 - 01:47 pm
The book is so NEW that you may have trouble finding it at your local libraries. We've got a large library here in Arlington - the book is on order since April 20. Not sure how long it takes to get from order form to the shelf. If you get on the list now at your local library, you might be lucky.

I broke down and bought it, and must say that it is a keeper. Barnes&Noble's price is decent...discounted 30%...THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB

I'll tell you what - if you can't get this book, Jane Austen's books are certainly available - and you will find so much to talk about and relate to in this discussion, even if you ONLY read Jane Austen and not Karen Fowler. (Does that sound like heresy?) The first part of the book centers on the book club's discussion of Emma - (I'm reading it and loving it.) The following month, the club will take up - Sense and Sensibility - I intend to get into that next week.

What I'm saying is this - we'd hate to lose a single one of you because you cannot procure the book. If you read any of Jane Austen's novels along with us, you'll have a satisfying experience here with us in June. That's guaranteed.

May 9, 2004 - 02:57 pm
Pedln: Hail in Linn County Iowa...is next county south from me - so about 20-25 miles. We had a bad hail storm several years ago; not nice, but new roofs everywhere in town...and lots of cars with "dings" in them! LOL.

I hope my Library will get book before June 1. I've put in a request and they're very good about getting requested material, so we'll see.


May 9, 2004 - 04:17 pm
This is the first I've heard of this book, but I have read "Emma," "Sense and Sensibility," and "Mansfield Park." This sounds like a fun discussion, but I don't know if I can get the book. I've always thought it was a real tragedy that such a talented writer as Jane Austin died so young.

May 9, 2004 - 10:40 pm
Oh, no!! there's so much going on in June, i swore I wouldn't join another book club. But I can't resist this one. I've read all Jane's novels, most of them two or three times. As well as a number of books based on them: the Stephanie Barron detective series where Jane Austin is the detective, and of course "Bridget Jones Diary" based on "Pride and Prejudice". I think "Pride and Prejudice" is my favorite of Jane's books. The movie (with Colin Firth, who played the same part in the "Bridget Jones" movie) is great, if some of you can rent it.

My daughter was just given the "Jane Austin Book Club" for a Mothers day present. I'll see if I can rope her in too. She's more of a Jane fanatic than I am.

Joan Pearson
May 10, 2004 - 06:52 am
This gets better every day! From having a "Jane" in our midst - to having several honest-to-goodness "Janeites" - oh yes, Joan, bring your daughter! So good to see the chairs filling up so soon - time to drag out some more, Pedln!

Here's a trivia question some of you may be able to answer - does Jane Austen include a "Jane" in each of her books? If so, is the "Jane" always an admirable sort? If not the name, "Jane", is the heroine resolute in her intention never to marry? I'm intrigued with Jane Fairfax in Emma these days...

May 10, 2004 - 03:36 pm
I don't remember Janes, but I'm bad at remembering names.

There is definitely a theme of reluctance to marry a particular person (as opposed to marraige in general) and then changing her mind that runs through many of the books. Not only Emma, but in Prsuasion, Sense and sensability, and Pride and Prejudice the plot hinges on it. I never thougfht of it that way: it's not a big stretch to assume this reflects Jane's life.

May 10, 2004 - 07:08 pm
I ordered the book from a used bookseller, because they said "ships immediately, and after I did it they said may not ship till June 17th. Good grief!!

kiwi lady
May 11, 2004 - 06:32 pm
Count me in. I can't really afford the book but I just love Jane Austen and will break the bank to buy it! I heard this morning that when a poll was held of readers in the UK recently. JR Tolkeins Lord of the Rings was no 1 and Pride and Prejudice was second. I have just finished reading 'Jane Austen' by the Carol Shields. A fascinating study of Jane Austen the woman and author. If you have not read this I suggest you do.


May 11, 2004 - 08:32 pm
Carolyn, consider yourself counted. I'm so glad you'll be joining us and it's great that you've just finished reading ABOUT Jane Austen too. We'll be looking forward to your comments.

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.

May 12, 2004 - 01:57 am
My daughter reminded me of another Jane in Jane Austin's books. The sister of the heroine of Pride and Prejudice is named Jane. A completely different character from Jane Fairfax: sweet, shy, and not at all reluctant to marry.

If you like Jane Fairfax, there is a novel out: named Jane Fairfax, which retells Emma from Jane Fairfax's point of view. Rather interesting. I believe the author is Joan Aiken.

kiwi lady
May 12, 2004 - 02:02 am
My book is on the way it will be over $50 landed -exchange rate and postage. Its no cheaper in the bookstores here as freight and the exchange rate still apply. Its convenient for me to shop via the net too. I should get the book within 3 weeks so I may be a couple of days late to begin the discussion. I just got Northanger Abbey out on audio cassette. I have not read that for a long while.


Joan Pearson
May 12, 2004 - 01:17 pm
Just finished Emma, Joan - Jane Fairfax is a Jane not reluctant to marry either! The Joan Aiken book sounds so interesting - so does the Carole Shields! So many books, so little time. I think I'm going to try to get through the six Austen books in the coming weeks first. Although, I'm feeling the need for some Jane Austen biography right about now. If any of you comes across some interesting, comprehensive web sites with biographical information, I'd be interested in looking at it.

Still contemplating your book order, Joan...June 17! Hmmm...can you read some Austen in the meantime? And Carolyn - $50! Whew! Is that in American dollars? What's the exchange rate? You are indeed a JANEITE!

TRIVIA _ Carolyn, I've never read Northanger Abbey...look forward to that. I think we're going to have to get up a list soon about which titles each of you has read. I'd been thinking about the names of these English Estates...Mr. Knightley in Emma has inherited Donwell Abbey - and then there's Northanger Abbey - were these places really abbeys at one time ...or is this just a fancy name given to the estates when they were built?

Pedln - a Drabble introduction to Emma! I'd love to hear some of it - mine is by Lionel Trilling...actually my husband's college copy...yellow around the edges. His Sense and Sensibility (another college paperback) fell apart in my hands - will have to go for a new one or a Library copy...

kiwi lady
May 12, 2004 - 01:37 pm
Most of the houses which were named after Abbeys had at least Abbey ruins on their estates. Some houses had been Abbeys.

Jane Austen never married. She had one offer of marriage and turned it down. Its suggested she may have regretted it in later life. She was the daughter of a clergyman as so many English women writers were and was encouraged by her parents to write even though she received only a cursory formal education such as girls got in those days the money available for education being used for the males of the family. I would say her father may have been instrumental in giving her an informal education at home as he was a loving and indulgent father. Jane began writing at a very young age but it was years before her first novel was published. Even though her first novel had been bought six years before it was published. She had to buy the book back for the advance of 10 pounds the advance the publishers had originally given her and publish it herself which was a great gamble.

Her gamble paid off and the novel became an instant success. In fact it was not long before the novel had a second printing. I strongly recommend Carol Shields book as a good way to get to know Jane Austen. Jane Austen was small in stature and well covered. She and her sister Cassandra were the maiden Aunts and in such a position were dependant on her brother Edward although before he realised they had become very poor on her fathers death ( he did not live in the area) they went through some very hard times. He eventually got them a cottage near her married sister and the family lived there happily. Jane finding the cottage a perfect writers haven. It was situated in a quiet village of no more than 60 houses and surrounded by the beautiful English countryside. Jane and Cassandra spent much time running back and forward to their married siblings houses helping when there was illness or a new baby. As maiden Aunts this was expected of them. Cassandra was the elder sister and Jane set much store on her opinions which were not always in Janes best interest. However the two sisters loved each other and were very close. They did have one major falling out and their brother noticing this arranged to have Cassandra sent to help out in one of the other families for a few months to let the situation cool off. The main characters of some of Janes Novels were based on family friends and even herself. She was a great observer of people and incorporated their personalities if not their actual situations into the way she developed the characters in her books.


May 13, 2004 - 01:52 pm
I would like very much to join in the discussion of The Jane Austen Club. I have just finished reading all 357 posts that were made after reading The Sisters--the Mitford Family. I found that book facinating and Traude told me about the discussion you had last year about that book. First I have to find this book and then I look forward to sharing it with all of you.

May 13, 2004 - 03:21 pm
Teapot, Welcome. So glad you can join us, book in hand or not. I think this is going to be a very different kind of discussion, as much about Jane Austen and her books as about the book club in the title. However you look at it, it translates into a lot of fun.

Joan Pearson
May 13, 2004 - 05:57 pm
Oh yes, teapot, do grab a chair! You are very Welcome here - as Pedln puts it, this is going to be a whole lot of fun as we examine the many facets of Jane Austen, as oberved by the book club - Karen Fowler's AND our own...

Carolyn, thank you so much for the information on Jane - we've started a page just for her background and will include it in the heading. We can add to this page as more information is gathered. Thank you, thank you! Jane Austen - Biographical information
I was interested to see how close Jane Austen was with her father - having just read Emma. Here's a trivia question - from the information Carolyn supplied - does this statement mean what it appears to mean?

"Jane Austen was small in stature and well covered."

May 13, 2004 - 06:03 pm
"Jane Austen never married. She had one offer of marriage and turned it down. Its suggested she may have regretted it in later life"

My understanding is that at first she accepted, and the next day changed her mind and turned it down. Can anyone confirm?

May 14, 2004 - 07:02 am
Glad to see the biographical page.
"well covered"? Surely not the same as "well-endowed."

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.

May 14, 2004 - 12:54 pm
I just realized that Karen Fowler who wrote our book also wrote another book that I read and enjoyed: "Sarah Canary", an odd book that goes all over the place, but intrigueing and memorable. Makes me even more eager for this one.

May 15, 2004 - 05:45 am
Browsing in the NYTimes this morning.

Jane Austen Book Club just made the hardcover best seller list - No. 15. It will be interesting to see how it does.

Joan Pearson
May 15, 2004 - 09:41 am
Geee, every time I come in here I find myself putting more titles on my "to read" list. Karen Fowler has been singled out for "Sister Noon", which is on my list, and now JoanK comes in with another - "Sarah Canary" which she has enjoyed. Add the Fowler Books to all of Jane Austen and the Aiken and Shields biographies and I'm beginning to think my list is too ambitious? Have just started "Sense and Sensibility"...have any of you read this one? Or see the movie? I'm not sure how I feel about Jane Austen movies - so much of the experience is her prose - it must get lost in translation to film, don't you think?

Well, aren't we current! Pedln, not that I dídn't believe you but I had to check out the NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERs list for myself - Karen Fowler's "Jane Austen Book Club" is indeed NUMBER 15 on the hardcover list! The book has just been published, and I'm surprised that it has "arrived" so soon. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's a fascinating book, wonderfully written, but I just didn't realize that the title would generate such widespread interest. Thanks for this information, Pedln - will noise that around the halls!

Anyone on the Jane Austen trivia question Joan K put forth? We're looking for some information at Jane Austin's on-again, off-again engagement, her one and only known proposal...

May 18, 2004 - 08:47 am
I don't know if I would call myself a "Janeite", but I am a fan. I'm going to the library tonight for my book club and will ask them to get me a copy of The Jane Austen Book Club.

I've read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Northanger Abbey, some more than a couple of times. I will try to get a copy of Emma, too, this evening for a reread.

I may not be able to post much during the discussion as I have just bought a new home and will be having work done there and moving in sometime in June. At least I hope! Sue

May 18, 2004 - 10:01 am
Sue, Welcome. You surely do sound like a Janite. I hope you will be able to join us, help us refresh our memories on some of the works.

Good luck with the move. I hope it goes smoothly and leaves you lots of time for computers.

kiwi lady
May 18, 2004 - 06:57 pm
I can't remember about the on off engagement but I do know the reason she turned down the offer was because she did not love the fellow who had made the offer. She wanted to marry for love like the characters in her books. Maybe she just had unrealistic expectations.

I have read Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey this past week to refresh my memory. I hope to read Pride and Prejudice again next week.

My book was shipped last week hoping it gets to NZ by air before June 1. Cross your fingers everyone.


Joan Pearson
May 19, 2004 - 05:13 pm
Sue! I'm so happy that Pedln found you a chair - and I agree with her - you are as much a "Janeite" as any of the assembled.Welcome!

Carolyn, I just finished reading Sense and Sensibility this week too. Tomorrow will begin Mansfield Park. (Nobody named "Jane" in Sense and Sensibility - but our Jane seems to speak on every page.)
Fingers crossed that your book will arrive soon. In the meantime, why not read Emma? This is the first one the "book club" will take up on June 1. (Actually it's March in the book.)
You're right - Jane's in love with love and marriage, but Harris Bigg-Wither was not the one for her. I'm wondering why she even accepted the day before...
"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

Ths source says that Harris Bigg-Wither was "young" - Jane was 25. Perhaps this had something to do with it. I guess the logical question - was our Jane EVER in love? She writes so extensively of relationships, I'd be surprised if there wasn't a personal story motivating her themes...

May 19, 2004 - 07:11 pm
What a nice short biography. The footnotes are a hoot, don't miss them. I especially like it when she says she'll shoot anyone who says anything bad about Jane. I don't know why Jane inspires that kind of loyalty, but she does.

I was thinking: of course her heroines are going to live happily ever after in a mist of love, but her portrayals of other peoples marraiges are razor-sharp realistic. I keep thinking "I know a couple just like that". I wonder if Jane (like 99% of us) had that dichotomy in her mind -- other peoples marraiges are ___ but of course mine will be ..... (well 95% of us).

kiwi lady
May 19, 2004 - 09:17 pm
Hey! My book was shipped from B&N on 13 May and you will never believe this but this morning it was in my box and its only 20 May here! I sent B&N a thank you mail as I was worried I would not get it until the beginning of June. I often send them mails - makes me feel like the lady in 84 Charing Cross Rd! I always like to thank any Company I buy from if I get good service. They also get grumpy mails if my books take too long like over the 21 day guaranteed delivery time by air to NZ.


May 19, 2004 - 11:54 pm
CAROLYN: Great! Must be in the air. My book came today, too. Now my only problem is waiting till the first. I did peek at the prologue, and I like the book already.

May 23, 2004 - 08:25 am
Good grief, Carolyn. 21 days -- that's one mighty long flight!

May 23, 2004 - 09:28 am
Sigh. I knew I couldn't wait. I've finished the book. One comment, If you plan to read Emma, do so before you read the book, as it assumes you know all of the plot twists.

At the end, the author quotes many reviews of Austen's book, including Mark Twain. It seems Twain HATED Austen's books!! That's interesting to me, since I love both Twain and Austen. Since some of us were in the Twain discussion a few months ago, it might be amusing to make some comparisons.

kiwi lady
May 23, 2004 - 08:33 pm
Pedln it generally takes about 12 days but if I buy second hand and the seller is way down South it may take four weeks! I buy new and second hand from B&N because they are a SN sponsor.


Joan Pearson
May 24, 2004 - 04:04 pm
So happy to hear your books are all arriving in time. This is going to be such fun! It can't be anything but!

Pedln and I met up for lunch in DC and talked about a range of subjects - Jane Austen's characters, the members of the Central Valley/River City Book Club, the "characters" who make up SeniorNet's Book discussions...just JOKING hahaha! But we did have a delightful afternoon.

After lunch we mosied over to Olsson's Book Store to check out the supply of Jane Austen Book Club - and horselover, we found that since the book is now a bestseller, there was a special display - and a 20% discount! The manager told us how happy he was that finally an author who is "really good is raking in the bucks for a change" - (Could he have been referring to Dan Brown?) Fowler's other books are also selling well now too - all available in paperback.

Joan P (left) and Pedln (right) at Olsson's Book Store

May 25, 2004 - 08:16 pm
I just bought this book and would love to join in the discussion here. What is the protocol? Do I need to sign up or just come back here and post? Thanks for any information.

Joan Pearson
May 26, 2004 - 01:03 am
CatBells, delighted to find you in our midst this morning! Yes, that's it, you are signed in just by posting. Welcome! Pull up a chair! We will begin with the Prologue and the first chapter on June 1. In the meantime, a number of us have been reading/rereading Emma - have you ever read it?

I've just come across the following link to the letters of Jane Austen, which may answer the question, "was Jane Austen ever in love?"

Jane Austen's letters re Tom LeFroy

A sad love story that would resurface in her works - (Tom as Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice) -
"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."

May 26, 2004 - 01:40 pm
Thanks, Joan, for posting the link to the Eleventh letter. The commentary was enlightening and I marvel at the actual letter. I've not had the pleasure of reading the others.

My library does not have a copy of The Jane Austen Book Club. The librarian had me fill out a request for purchase. She didn't know when or if it would be filled. I also looked for Emma so that I could reread it, but alas, no copy of that either, although they have an Audio Book of the same, so I may go back and get that. However, I am a much better reader than listener.

Despite not having a book by June 1, I will continue trying to get one and will be here reading the posts when the discussion starts. Sue

May 28, 2004 - 03:07 pm
Catbells, Welcome. I'm so glad you're going to be joining us. This discussion can go in so many directions. It's going to be fun to see how the "JA Book Club" and Jane and her life and her novels all come together.

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.

Traude S
May 28, 2004 - 05:10 pm

Sine the local trusted library was non-committal about purchasing the book, I went ahead and ordered it. Finished last night.

To tell the truth, I lack a deeper understanding of Jane Austen's novels, being instead - like one of the protagonists in the Book Group - on more familiar ground with the Bronté sisters. But I look forward to this new learning experience. And I find myself comforted by what Patricia T. O'Conner (author of WOE IS I) said in her review in the NYT,

"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)

Onward !

Pat H
May 28, 2004 - 05:27 pm
This looks too good to miss. May I pull up a chair? My sister, Joan K, told me about your discussion, and since I like Karen Joy Fowler and am a real Jane Austen fan, I can’t resist. I have read all of Jane Austen’s books at least once, although some of them not recently. I got the book from Olsson’s, and am now busily rereading "Emma" to keep from reading too much of Fowler. I’m ready to go on the first.

Some of you mentioned movies of Austen’s books. Of the ones I have seen, I think the 2 standouts are the "Pride and Prejudice" made for television a few years ago with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and the 10 year old "Persuasion" with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. "Pride and Prejudice" is good because, with 6 hours or so, they don’t have to cut the plot down to a fragment. And they had the sense to keep the dialogs from the book almost intact. The acting is so good that speeches from the book with wording so stuffy that you couldn’t believe anyone could actually talk like that come across convincingly. Almost all the characters are superbly cast.

"Persuasion" is well cut to simplify the story and keep under 2 hours, but they did a very good job of presenting a book that is mostly people’s thoughts and emotions. If you haven’t read the book I suspect their explanation of the past history between Anne Eliot and Captain Wentworth, which is the basis of the plot, would be unintelligible. The casting is very good, although they don’t allow Amanda Root to be elegant, as Anne is.

Joan Pearson
May 28, 2004 - 05:50 pm
Pat H. - oh yes, please do pull up a chair - right next to your sister if you prefer - and get along well enough! hahaha...Thank you for your views on some of the JA movies. The other night I was at a party and a learned gentleman (who studied at Oxford) brought up some "Merchant Ivory" movie productions too - have you ever heard of them?Welcome!

Traudee, I hope you take advantage of this Jane Austen month and get into Jane Austen - as well as Karen Fowler. I know you've read KJF's book - amd am hoping the discussion will lead to an appreciation of JA too! We'll make every effort to tie the JA works to the plot of Fowler's book, and the other way around too. We're open to suggestions once we've gotten underway too.

SCF - I hope you can get your hands on at least ONE Jane Austen work. I can't get over your library not containing a single copy!

Pedln, I am just as excited as I was weeks ago when we decided to try this one, aren't you? Joan Aiken's book sounds tempting - the list is becoming unmanageably look...

May 28, 2004 - 07:24 pm
Joan, my library does have a few of the others, just not Emma which I wanted to read first as that is the one to be discussed first at the J.A. Book Club. I asked one of the librarians about that today. She said lots of the classics are out of print in Hard Bindings and they don't buy paperback replacements with funding being what it is. As the older copies wear out, they are removed from the shelves.

I haven't found the second hand stores here in my new home town, but will try to find them next week. Sue

May 29, 2004 - 07:02 am
YRAH!! It's great to have Pat sitting next to me!! We promise we won't pass notes and giggle -- too much. LOL

May 29, 2004 - 02:57 pm
Pat H -- it's great that you're here, and JoanK -- thanks for bringing her. Do I dare ask who is the Big Sister and who is the Little One?

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.

May 29, 2004 - 10:31 pm
PEDLIN: yes, I agree. It seems to me that many of the actors in the film Emma are miscast. It's not as good as the two Pat mentioned.

Pat: did Merchant Ivory do the Persuasion film?

May 30, 2004 - 05:33 am
Pat H: I love these two movies! My daughter and I watched "Pride and Prejudice" so many times that one of the tapes broke! Luckily, my son bought us a new copy on DVD!

Have you seen (or read) Bridget Jones? I laughed hysterically when I saw Colin Firth playing the role of Mark Darcy. In fact, I had to drag my daughter to see the movie after I realized it was based on P&P. Later I read Edge of Insanity, which is based on Persuasion. This time I laughed so hard, that I woke up my daughter!

I first introduced her to Jane Austin through the movie Emma. At the time, Clueless was one of her favorite movies. So, when I took her to Emma, she was delighted at how the two were similar. Emma has remained her favorite book by Jane Austin. In fact, just last night she used a gift certificate she received as a graduation present to purchase a hardback copy of the book. (She is trying to collect all of the Jane Austin books in hardback.)

I am excited to begin our discussions here. I first heard about "The Jane Austin Book Club" on NPR. I couldn't wait to get it. I was reading two other books at the time, but I bought it and began reading immediately. Once I found this group, I put the book aside until June 1!

May 30, 2004 - 08:30 pm
CatBells, how fascinating. I'm not up on my Austen, and had no idea that those movies were based on her books. Hope I have a chance to see and compare all some day.

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."

Pat H
May 30, 2004 - 10:07 pm
Pedlin: Joan is the big sister by an hour and 45 minutes, as you can tell by her greater air of wisdom and authority.

CatBells: Yes, I have read the Bridget Jones books and seen the movie, as has Joan (she noticed the Austen basis before I did), and found them very amusing. I particularly liked a couple of incidents in the second book which are unnecessary for the plot, but mimic incidents in "Persuasion"—a kind of in joke—look what I’m doing.

May 31, 2004 - 12:30 pm
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Hello everyone! It's a long time since I last read the novels. I like P & P best because its humor is more obviously satirical than that in Emma. If I remember correctly, Emma's plot hinges on some unkind words she said about Miss Bates and her mother. The witticisms and 'hahas" generated by the Woodhouse family's ridiculous antics and Austen's spoof of Lydia's 'elopement' with a cad are great fun to experience!

May 31, 2004 - 01:54 pm
Pamelam, Welcome. Pull up a chair, there's plenty of room. We're glad to have you join us and are looking forward to hearing more of your "Janeisms."

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.

May 31, 2004 - 04:03 pm
Pedln: Yes, I have read "What Jane Austen Ate..." I can't say I was satisfied with the book. It was not really about Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, but about the time in which they lived. I have, however enjoyed the Jane Austen mystery series by Stephanie Barron. These are written in first person with Jane Austen relating adventures involving her solving some sort of crime. I am amazed at how accurately Stephanie Barron captures Jane Austen's voice in her writing.

May 31, 2004 - 04:50 pm
Finally got a copy of the book at Borders. There was no big display despite its appearance on the NY TIMES BESTSELLER LIST. In fact, this was the only copy they had. But one copy is all I need, and I am hurrying to catch up with the rest of you.

It has been said that Jane Austin is to literature what Bach is to music, producing a feeling of peace and tranquillity, and the notion that the world is an ordered place after all. Actually, I do tend to return to Jane Austin whenever events in my own life approach a state of chaos. I'm looking forward to this discussion.

Traude S
May 31, 2004 - 06:32 pm
What a wonderful, inviting header with the half circle of chairs, waiting for us! I am savoring this already.

June 1, 2004 - 03:30 am
CATBELLS: The Brdget Jones books are even funnier than the movie, believe it or not. The movie of the second book, based on "Persuasion", is supposed to be coming out soon.

I'm not familiar with "Edge of Insanity", so I googled it and found "To the Edge of Insanity" by Sharon Deichert. Is that the book you read?

I'm reading a Biography of Jane which I won't cite, since I don't like it (he doesn't LIKE Jane, and keeps saying how mean she was). But he claims that each of her heroines was Jane, representing a different part of her personality. What do those of you who have read the books think?

Joan Pearson
June 1, 2004 - 04:15 am
Good morning! I think we've added enough chairs for everyone, haven't we? A big Welcome - to our newest member of the club, Pamelam!

Opening day is always such an exciting one, isn't it? I find myself bursting to get out everything I've been thinking since picking up the book! (but won't do that, don't worry!)

Joan K - such an interesting question! Can Jane Austen be found in each of her heroines of the canon of six? Since we are going to be reading about them all, one at a time, shall we save that question for the end - for dessert - and look for Jane in each novel, as the California Valley/River City Book Club takes it up?

There's a discussion schedule in the heading above - this week the CV/RC Book Club will consider Emma. Before WE get into Chapter I, let's take a day or two to examine the Prologue - AND since a number of you have also read Emma, will you share some of YOUR thoughts on the novel BEFORE we begin Chapter ONE - "March"?

I'm interested to hear what you think of Jane Austen's words from Emma, with which Karen Fowler decided to open her novel...
"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!

June 1, 2004 - 05:55 am
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.

June 1, 2004 - 06:32 am
 “Heartless critic”:

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.

June 1, 2004 - 08:37 am
Good Morning, Everyone.

Yes, I do think Jane Austen was exactly on target with the quote given above. I think that we all sometimes put things in a way that reflects best on us individually. In other cases, we think we're being very forthright and telling the situation as it is, but it's really only as we perceive/understand it. It's possible, I think, that we've chosen not to see something or have colored it differently than it actually is. It's my view that whenever there's a "discussion/difference of opinion/disagreement between two parties there are really three points to consider..each of the participants..and the one that's what neither of the other two see/acknowledge.

This will be a great discussion, I'm sure.

I'll be in as I can; we're continuing to dodge thunderstorms here in the midwest that makes being online very hazardous to a computer's health.


June 1, 2004 - 08:51 am
"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."

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.

June 1, 2004 - 08:59 am
Jane, your technical help, if you please.

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?

June 1, 2004 - 11:10 am
Pedln: I have the same problem with refresh...it often doesn't show new posts that have occurred. The best way to make sure is to note physically on a pad by your computer where you leave off...as in post #66 as last viewed, and then make sure you're taken back to post #66 when you come back. That will vary, of course, if someone deletes a post in the meantime, but you should catch any new posts. It's tedious, but I don't know any other way. I, too, have missed posts in other discussions that I should not have missed. Just software/computer glitches, I guess.


kiwi lady
June 1, 2004 - 11:20 am
I see a bit of Jane in all the main characters in her books. It was made very clear to me after reading the very good biography done by Carole Shields. I think Carole Shields really understood Jane as a writer and a woman. The book was very extensively researched.

Pat H
June 1, 2004 - 11:24 am
It might be useful to know the context of the quote:

Don’t read this if you are still reading Emma and don’t want to know plot twists.

The quote appears toward the end of the book, in the scene in which Knightly proposes to Emma.

Emma’s attempts to make a match for the lowly born Harriet have led to the unwanted effect of making Harriet think herself in love with Mr. Knightley, and that her love is returned. This opens Emma’s eyes to the fact that she herself loves Knightley and may have lost her chance. The man everyone supposed Emma to love, Frank Churchill, has announced his engagement to another. Knightley finds Emma in the garden, and their conversation is a series of misunderstandings—he thinking Emma is despondent over Churchill and trying to console her, she thinking he is going to tell her of his love for Harriet and trying to avoid hearing it. Eventually they sort things out and he proposes. Emma accepts, vowing to herself to protect Harriet’s feelings by concealing them.

It is at this point that the quote appears. It continues: "…but where, as in this case, though the conduct is mistaken the feelings are not, it may not be very material." Austen is certainly referring specifically to Emma’s concealment, also to their misunderstandings as they fence with each other, in addition to commenting on human relations in general.

June 1, 2004 - 04:00 pm
People: don't miss Joan's presentation of the story and pictures from the dedication of the WWII memorial.

Joan Pearson "---Last Escape: The Untold Story of Allied Prisoners of War in Europe, 1944-45 ~ John Nichol & Tony Rennell~ Book Club Online" 5/31/04 5:45am

Traude S
June 1, 2004 - 04:10 pm
My apologies for joining late.

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.

June 1, 2004 - 04:40 pm
I think that quote is very apt. Even historians who strive to do excellent research can never uncover the complete truth about their chosen subject. And all human interaction is subjective; each of us is the main character in the story of our own life, and we see the world from this viewpoint. In "Emma," her father is described as being incapable of believing that anyone can feel differently about things from himself. To some small degree, isn't this true of us all?

It's confusing who the narrator is. The narrator refers to her or himself as a member of the club -- "the six of us" -- but then proceeds to refer to each member in the third person.

This club is somewhat different from those I have been part of; it is less homogeneous in its makeup. There is a wider age range. I suppose this will help create more conflict in the story as it unfolds. Jocelyn and Sylvia are close in age, but have a long history of conflict. Bernadette is a wonderful character; I wish I could be more like her and quit worrying about my appearance. Allegra and Prudie represent youth. And Grigg is still a mystery--the male viewpoint, but not very masculine. Middle-aged, unmarried, long eyelashes, and afraid of the fog.

It's interesting that breeding or matchmaking among dogs is described as simpler than matchmaking among humans. "You just picked the sire and dam who seemed most likely to advance the breed through their progeny." Of course, from an evolutionary standpoint, humans are supposed to be doing this as well, but so many more attributes must be taken into account.

June 1, 2004 - 05:47 pm
The prologue question no. 4 asks about the narrator. Not sure we can tell from the prologue itself. But, being a neophyte Janite, I've been trying to do a bit of reading about her and was surprised to read in 19th Century Literary Criticism that Jane Austen "invented the detached, all-knowing narrator whose intelligent perspective provides the story's moral underpinnings."

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.

June 2, 2004 - 02:41 am
This multi-person narrator is an interesting technique: I've never seen it before. It seems to work well in this context, enabling her to have an additional (and very Jane-like) viewpoint of each person seen fron the others'point of view.

Having a narrator that is all the participants fits with the idea of her Biographer I mentioned earlier of that all of the heroines of Austin's books were Jane, just different aspects of her personality. Interestingly, the biographer excepts Catherine of "Northinger Abbey" from this statement, just as Fowler excludes Grigg, the man, from her being part of her joint narrator.

Joan Pearson
June 2, 2004 - 03:46 am
Good morning, Joan - you are just the person I was hoping to see - I need to apologize for a typo...

"heartless little critic cynic"
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 Hardy
"[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>"
The 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?

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.

June 2, 2004 - 04:14 am
JOAN: serves me right for being too lazy to go back and look for the quote myself. Non-the-less, I think my comment was aimed more at the word "heartless" than the word "critic", so I think it stands.

So I claim she is not little, and not heartless. It remains to see if she is a cynic. My first reaction is yes, but I need to find my dictionary and look up the definition. Back later.

Joan Pearson
June 2, 2004 - 04:30 am
Good idea, Joan - a definition of "cynic" should help - thanks!...

I read with interest yesterday's comments on the quote from Emma - Pedln - that there are very few people to whom we reveal all of our parts - and Jane that we all sometimes reveal that which reflects best on ourselves...even when we think we are being forthright. Sometimes we make a conscious choice to "disguise" and other times we are unaware of what we are doing. So do you think that Karen Fowler in selecting this quote from Emma to begin the book is alerting us to the fact that some of the members of the CV/RC book club - will be consciously putting themselves in the best light, while others will think they are being forthright, but really do not understand themselves? Hmm, will any be there to intentionally deceive?

Horselover, do you think of our SN Book Club as "homogeneous in its makeup"? Have you noticed we have no males attracted to this discussion? Why do you think that is? I wonder if men are buying Fowler's book? You are confused about the narrator - so was I... until Pedln posted yesterday - that Jane Austen "invented the detached, all-knowing narrator whose intelligent perspective provides the story's moral underpinnings." It stands to reason that KJFowler would adopt the same role of "mulitple narrator" for her Jane Austen Book Club, doesn't it? I'm still puzzled about the narrator of the different chapters of the CV/RC book club though. Will the narrator be a different club member each Month? Or will the narrator NOT be of the Club at all, but rather a third (a seventh?) party - the author perhaps?

Joan K - the "biographer" exludes Northanger Abbey's Catherine as representing a facet of JA's personality - as Fowler excludes GRIGG THE MAN from being one of the joint narrators. Interesting isn't it that Grigg draws Northanger Abbey to lead in June. (Do you find yourself wondering if there was a reason for choosing the months for the discussions - why Emma was chosen for March, etc? This seems to be important enough to KJF to have designated each Month as a chapter title...)

Joan Pearson
June 2, 2004 - 04:59 am
Let's be sure to look at Emma today and tomorrow we will be somewhat ready to discuss Chapter I of Fowler's book? If you haven't read Emma recently, there's a brief summary in KJF's book on p. 252

Carolyn - my son gave me Shield's book for my birthday - haven't read it yet...shall we assume that Jane Austen reveals a side of herself in each of her books - and consider what side she is revealing in Emma?

Yesterday, Pat H. put the quote on complete truth in human disclosure in context for us - the scene in which Mr. Knightley proposes to Emma and Emma realizes how she has misunderstood and has been misunderstood...in her attempted matchmaking.

Horselover brings up Emma's father - "described as being incapable of believing that anyone can feel differently about things from himself. To some small degree, isn't this true of us all?" Hmmm...incapable is a pretty strong word...here. What is your response to people like this? Can you be friends with a person who expects complete agreement on every topic? How do you carry on a conversation? Is Emma such a person?

Traude S
June 2, 2004 - 06:25 am
JoanK - The technique of a multi-person narrator was used quite effectively by Anne Tyler in her latest book The Amateur Marriage , which we discussed here in March.

It is an interesting technical device which provides the reader with intimate, comprehensive background information into a group and/or events that only a consummate insider, a member of that group, would know about -- and doing so, remarkably, NOT in the first person AND without identifying said narrator.

June 2, 2004 - 09:01 am
I've missed the part about ...just as Fowler excludes Grigg, the man, from her being part of her joint narrator and who was/wasn't included in the "joint narrator." Can somebody direct me to this?

I don't find that I can carry on a conversation with a person who's point of view/opinion/idea is the only one to be considered. I guess it's necessary to defer to them if they're people to whom I'm attached or very elderly as Mr. W. Sometimes it might be necessary to work "around" him as Emma does when needed.


Pat H
June 2, 2004 - 10:22 am
I particularly like the description of a dog show; it's a microscopic summary of a Jane Austin plot. (With aspects left out, of course.)

June 2, 2004 - 12:01 pm
Jane, I'm glad you asked about Grigg not being included as a narrator. I was wondering about that also. I seem to recall reading that, but now am not so sure.

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.

Joan Pearson
June 2, 2004 - 03:30 pm
Poor Grigg - we must give the guy a chance! So far, everyone is mystified at his being included in the book club...except the narrator is quite certain he wouldn't have been invited had he been married. The narrator suspects that Jocelyn has got him pegged for someone. Oh - and we also know that Bernadette thinks the club should be ALL women - men pontificate and talk more than their share...she adds that men prefer solitary reading and don't DO book clubs. Hmmm, is that the reason we don't have been here in this discussion? Let's keep an eye on Grigg as we get into KJF's book...

Jane, how do you suppose Emma tolerates her father's pronouncements? I read Emma recently and remember being frustrated when looking for the reason he was so negative towards marriage. It wasn't just because he was against Emma marrying - he was truly saddened by anyone getting married. Do we know WHY he felt this way? Dies Emma just humor him and tolerate his views or does she hold his beliefs regarding marriage?

Pat - can you tie Jocelyn's ridgeback breeding into Emma's matchmaking?

Traudee - we'll have to look closely at the narrators in each chapter. After reading what has been said here, I think I'm prepared to see a different member of the club narrating each chapter - may be wrong. It may turn out that there are 7 people in the room...

Pat H
June 2, 2004 - 04:37 pm
1.Austen herself described Emma as a heroine "…nobody will much like but myself." She means Emma to be sympathetic, though. You feel her emotions and want her to be happy.

Emma has always irritated me because her major fault is one I particularly dislike: interfering in other people’s lives without considering that you don’t really know what is best for them. And she is too lazy to make the most of her abilities and then is jealous of Jane Fairfax, who does. But I can’t dislike her. She is so good-hearted to her father, who would be extremely trying to live with. She has real administrative ability—it was a demanding job to run a big household like that, and she did it from an early age. The affection shown by her friends and relatives shows she was appealing and lovable. (Personal disclaimer: I too am too lazy to make the most of whatever abilities I have.)

3.For Emma, as for Austen, you married after managing to fall in love with someone of a suitable social class, with a sufficient income to live comfortably, good manners, and reasonable looks and intelligence. You married well if some of these (especially income and class) were better than you might have expected. It’s a good trick if you can manage it. The attitude seems less cold-hearted when you remember the options open to women at the time. Allegra isn’t totally wrong to call the novels horror stories. And that remark is an example of one of the reasons I like Fowler so much.

4. The moment of truth for Emma occurs when Harriet reveals a love for Knightly and a feeling that the love is returned. Emma is horrified to realize she has destroyed any chance of marrying Knightly herself, and that she really wants to do so. This shock opens her eyes to how mistaken she has been in understanding the motives of those around her, and how much harm her meddling has done.

But 2 smaller steps lead up to this. When Knightly reproves her for the harm she has done in persuading Harriet to refuse Robert Martin, she is uncomfortable for a day. When Mr. Elton proposes to her instead of Harriet, she vows to stop matchmaking. Although she doesn’t do so, her efforts are much less vigorous.

6. I hesitate to draw any conclusions from a book’s cover because I know that authors don’t always get a say in the cover and are sometimes dismayed by what the publisher chooses.

Now back to Fowler.

Joan Grimes
June 2, 2004 - 05:14 pm
Just to let you know that I am here lurking. I have read this book.( Well really Theron and I listened to this book on cd on the way home from Virginia.) I have also read all of Jane Austin's book except Northanger Abbey. However my reading of Autin's books was so long ago that I do not remember details. I would like to read them again but there are just too many other books that I need to read.

Don't expect me to say anything much here. I never do say much. I just read and listen to what others have to say.

Joan Grimes

June 2, 2004 - 05:22 pm
I think there's a great deal of her father in "DearEmma"....she's as bad as he is many times. At least old Mr. W seemed kindly; Emma, to me, often seemed simply extremely spoiled and arrogant.

I've suspected that maybe Mr. W opposed marriage...of those who've always made him the center of their world because he knew if the women married, they wouldn't be around to cater to his every whim. "Poor Isabella" left him and "poor Miss Taylor" left him and if Emma married...then she, too, might leave dear old Dad. I don't have a clue if he opposed it for the "lesser" people around him, but I doubt he ever thought of them or their lives.

Like Pat, I find Emma very irritating for much of the book.


June 2, 2004 - 05:29 pm
I don't want to get the group off track, but I'm reading Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik, and think some of it may be relevant to this discussion. This is a book about a book club formed by young mothers who are neighbors in 1968 and continues through 1998. Each chapter after the introduction/prologue lists the month and year, the hostess, the book and the reason chosen. While the hostess is the narrator for most of "her" chapter, the main ideas throughout the chapter are about her. The hostess (later called host due to the resident feminist) always choses the book to be discussed. During the mid-70s the brother of one of the AHEB members comes to the book club and relates a terrible experience from Viet Nam, but otherwise men are not permitted unless they are infants. As the children get older, they are sent to the basement with a baby sitter during the meetings if husbands are not available to sit with them. I like the women in this book group, warts and all. So far they not discussed any Jane Austen, but do choose books I've read, some classics, some just popular for the times. Some of the points made about the books are pithy, but all remarks about the books lead to discussion or at least thought about the women's lives. Sue

kiwi lady
June 2, 2004 - 07:50 pm
I think Mr Woodhouse may have lost his wife in childbirth or as a result of a bad birthing experience. He says that he did not know why Mrs Weston had to get married. (Emmas governess) He mentions giving up her life for a wailing infant. I think he was a bit ahead of his time in thinking women had a raw deal in marriage. After all Emma had a great deal of freedom for a woman of her time.


kiwi lady
June 2, 2004 - 07:54 pm
Not many men join book clubs. In NZ women are the largest group of readers and if there is a book festival the halls are filled with women for the readings. There are few men in the audience. My son is one of the few male bookies I know. To think I had trouble getting him to read as a little boy but once he started I could not stop him. He read the Narnia chronicles at a very early age and The Lord of the Rings series also at a very early age. He reads a lot on the boat when they are away. It is the only time he gets without interruption from business.


Pat H
June 2, 2004 - 09:24 pm
Joan Pearson—You are right—the description of mating ridgebacks is exactly what Emma is trying to do, only with more complicated criteria, but with an equal disregard for the fine points. It’s pretty funny.

Incidentally, although I am not much of a dog person and am stupid about breeds, I have known some Rhodesian ridgebacks, and they are very appealing. Although they have been bred to hunt lions and look it, they are friendly, and gentle with children.

Joan Grimes—I am a natural lurker too; I’m only so active this time because the subject is so close to me.

Jane—You are right about Mr. Woodhouse’s reasons for opposing marriages, but he is also so timid that he opposes even the smallest change until he gets used to it. You wonder how anyone like that ever managed to marry, raise a family, and manage his estate. But I guess he was more capable when he had to be. I think he is very well drawn.

June 3, 2004 - 05:06 am
I was the one that said that Grigg is excluded from the narration as Catherine is excluded from the statement that Jane's heroines are facits of Jane. In the last I was citing The Life of Jane Austen” by John Halperin.

By coincidence, my face-to-face book club has six members: five women and one man. He did do all the things that Bernadette mentioned (that was a hilarious scene) but I think we've "trained" him. He's better, but still... VBG. The club chose Fowler for July, and he said he would send his girl friend instead of him, as he really didn't want to read the book.

I'm interested in the first impressions of those of you who are reading Jane for the first time. Do you understand us "Janiacs", or do you think we're nuts?

June 3, 2004 - 07:35 am
I finished AHEB last night and they do add a male member to the club in the 90s.

Carolyn, all 3 of my sons are bookies, too, although the oldest who is now a professor of environmental science has to read so much technical stuff that he has little time to pursue leisure reading. Sue

June 3, 2004 - 07:43 am
Carolyn, you had an interesting point that Mr. W. may have been ahead of his time with sympathy for a woman's "plight" in marriage. I'm not sure I agree. I think he just didn't want to be bothered with dealing with women's problems.

Pat H., I think Mr. W. had a great deal of help in his life and was probably not capable of very much. I'm sure his marriage was arranged by his parents, his wife and then the governess were in charge of family matters until Emma took over, he had servants, probably an estate manager to take care of his business affairs. I'm afraid he was just a self centered lazy man who didn't want the females who kept him happy to leave his situation.

In other words, Mr. Woodhouse was a Caspar Milquetoast first class Wimp! Sue

June 3, 2004 - 07:52 am
Good Morning all, and welcome Joan Grimes! So glad you are here as a lurker, poster, or however you want to be.

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.

Joan Pearson
June 3, 2004 - 07:57 am
Good morning! Add my Welcome to Joan G. Pull your chair over here, we three Joans will stick together. You never read Northanger Abbey? I never HEARD of it until now - but in the past three weeks have read Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice - tonight will begin Persuasion - and finally hope to get to Northanger Abbey.

The trouble with reading them all back to back like this - the heroines begin to morph into one another. Maybe they are blending into Jane Austen's personality? There are always happy endings, but the path to the wedding cake is always filled with unexpected turns - never boring. The journey is the adventure - the writing!

Many coincidences to note this morning -
  • 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 -
    Jane Austen Society of North America

  • Back in a few with more questions...and defense of my Emma...look forward to all of your comments as we officially open the first discussion of the Californina Valley/River City Book Club - on Jocelyn's porch.

    June 3, 2004 - 08:10 am
    JoanK -- you asked what those of us reading Austen for the first time think of the Janiacs (Janites?). I don't think you're nuts, and I'm actually a bit envious that you made the acquaintance of "Jane" so much earlier. For one thing, I think the more you know about her novels, the more you will see in this book under discussion.

    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!!

    June 3, 2004 - 08:28 am
    Mr. Wodehouse: interesting that some of the comments I've read seem to like Jane's unsympathetic characters the most. She certainly had a sharp eye for the foibles of men and women. I feel if I haven't met Mr. Wodehouse yet, I will tomorrow. While Mr. Knightly (who Jane describes as one of her favorite heros) is, I feel, much less well drawn.

    kiwi lady
    June 3, 2004 - 11:35 am
    I think Jane Austen was a great student of human behaviour. My daughter and I have this trait too! Jane sees people warts and all and looks behind the facade that we humans often present. With me what you see is what you get. I don't pretend to be anyone else. Janes character studies are what keeps me hooked. When I read a book my appreciation of the plot is secondary to my appreciation of the way the author has drawn the characters in the book. I will get so engrossed in the characters I will often not take in the surroundings that the author has given the "scene". I could watch a movie set in one room if the dialogue and the characters were superb. I think my obsession with character complexity is why I love Jane Austens books so much.


    Joan Pearson
    June 3, 2004 - 01:43 pm
    Carolyn, Joan, I agree that Jane Austen has a sharp eye for the human foibles - but am getting the feeling that she includes herself, her own warts in her criticism....and it is this inclusion that saves her from being a "heartless little critic" - or "a heartless little cynic". Pat tells us that the author describes Emma as a character that most people won't like. Maybe because she's describing herself, Pat? You and Jane both find Emma irritating and arrogant. Is that how Jane Austen sees herself? She paints a different picture when describing Jane Fairfax. From the moment JF steps on stage, she is is described as elegant diffident...in control of herself. Emma can only be described as jealous of Jane Fairfax. They are the same age - but Emma avoids her - prefers the company of the young Harriet to Jane. I'm not sure about why she is attached to Harriet - except for the fact that she wants to help her, see her married - see her married well. Maybe she wants to help Harriet because she cannot help herself? Because Harriet has no family, no mother to assure her happiness?

    Those of you who see Emma as arrogant - do you see her as selfish? I see a pretty young lady who has grown up listening to her father referring to her as the "wailing infant" who cost her mother's life. (thanks, Carolyn) She grows up feeling she owes him - resolves never to marry, to care for him the rest of her life. (Jane Austen cared for her mother in the same way.) Marriage is something Emma sees for other people...for Harriet. I'm not sure it is arrogance that makes her want to see Harriet married well. Emma doesn't understand love...she has never experienced love. I see Emma as a very busy little body - but not one motivated out of self-interest in any way.

    Have you noticed that many (all?) of Jane Austen's heroines are either motherless, absent or had very weak ineffectual mothering in their formative years? Does anyone know anything about Jane Austen's own childhood?

    I think we can easily include Jocelyn's mothering and childhood upbringing in this vein, don't you?

    kiwi lady
    June 3, 2004 - 03:06 pm
    Sorry can't remember about her mother from Caroles book. Jane does seem mention encouragement from her parents in her early writing when she was a child but I seem to recall she mainly mentions her father. Maybe her mother was sickly. There seems to be a general opinon according to Carole Shields that Jane died of breast cancer. Did not Carole Shields die of the same cancer. Maybe this is something in which Carole identified with Jane. She does treat Jane sympathetically. I know that Carole Shields was a real Austen fan. I think she too appreciated the complexity of characters in the novels. Carole Shields also drew her characters very well. She is a great loss herself particularly her gift for portraying women that we can all identify with so well.

    I think the book club members in the main ( except for one) have painful memories which relate to marriage. I think in the beginning they are soured toward the institute of marriage and intimate relationships in general.

    The other members attitude towards Grigg in the beginning is one of sceptism as to his motives for joining a Jane Austen book club. I think they feel he would not appreciate Jane Austen as a writer and that as a man he would not GET Jane Austens characterizations. I think he surprises them all. He does have enthusiasm and is a real trier.


    Pat H
    June 3, 2004 - 04:44 pm
    Rereading chapter one after having just read Emma, I am struck by the closeness of Jocelyn’s romantic life to Emma’s. She was sheltered as a child. The events of the summer in which she unknowingly leads on Mike and Steven to be in love with her parallel Emma’s unconsciously encouraging Mr. Elton. The high school dating in which Jocelyn starts out with Daniel and then switches to Tony, leaving Daniel for Sylvia with no regrets, parallel Emma’s flirtation with Frank Churchill and ready acceptance of the fact that he really belongs to Jane Fairfax. Maybe she dislikes Mr. Knightley because either she sees him in her future or doesn’t want to see him in her future.

    She also resembles Emma in her continued efforts at matchmaking.

    In a way I feel sorry for people reading all of Austen’s works for the first time for this discussion. It must be like eating a whole box of chocolates at once—it’s wonderful, but all of a sudden it’s over and you feel a little sick and you wish you had prolonged your pleasure. Fortunately, Austen repays rereading.

    More later.

    June 3, 2004 - 05:40 pm
    On Her Gravestone:

    In memory of
    youngest daughter of the late
    formerly Rector of Steventon in this County.
    She departed this Life on the 18th July 1817,
    aged 41, after a long illness supported with
    the patience and the hopes of a Christian.

    The benevolence of her heart,
    the sweetness of her temper, and
    the extraordinary endowments of her mind
    obtained the regard of all who knew her, and
    the warmest love of her intimate connections.

    Their grief is in proportion to their affection
    they know their loss to be irreparable,
    but in the deepest affliction they are consoled
    by a firm though humble hope that her charity,
    devotion, faith and purity have rendered
    her soul acceptable in the sight of her

    June 3, 2004 - 06:08 pm
    Joan, You asked if I think our SN Book Club is homogeneous. Yes, pretty much. We are all in the same general age group and tend to have similar problems and concerns.

    Kiwi Lady, It is true that not many men join book clubs. However, my daughter and son-in-law belong to a church book club that reads only non-fiction. I think this is what attracts the male members. Men do not read a great deal of fiction, and do not tend to discuss any fiction they do read. ______________________________________________________________________

    Until Emma realizes she is in love with Mr. Knightley, she expects to be an "old maid" and is not troubled by this thought. Harriet, on the other hand, is horrified by the thought. This underscores the social distinction between them. Harriet is poor and must marry in order to maintain a position on the fringes of this social class. Emma, on the contrary, says "Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid! -- the proper sport of boys and girls -- but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else. [...]"

    Emma expects to continue taking care of her dependent father, and even after she decides to marry Mr. Knightley, she persuades him to come and live in her father's house so his life will not be disturbed.

    I agree with some of you who found Emma somewhat irritating. You would think that someone with her intelligence might have more insight into what was really going on. Instead she keeps misunderstanding people's motives and aspirations, and then whines about the mistakes she has made. Fortunately, she lives in a fictional world where these mistakes are all made right in the end.

    June 3, 2004 - 06:53 pm
    I missed in Emma the part where Mr. Woodhouse refers to Emma as the "wailing infant" who cost her mother's life. I don’t recall any information about her growing up years or life at Hartfield with Isabelle, etc. Hmmm..I wonder how I missed that…did I have an abridged copy of Emma or ???

    I thought Emma preferred Harriet to Jane Fairfax because (1) Emma was envious of Jane and (2) Jane didn't fawn over Emma as Harriet and almost everyone else does. Jane is more distant…less likely to share every thought and Emma wants to be the "mentor"…not likely with Jane Fairfax, I thought.

    Pat...enjoyed your post on the comparisons of Jocelyn to Emma.


    June 4, 2004 - 05:33 am
    I am intrgued by this passage in Fowler: Grigg says in Emma" ther's a sense of menace. ---There's a sense of threat hovering on the edges. Casting its shadow""

    Prudie answers "But Austen's whole pointis that none of these things are real. There is no real threat".

    "I'm afraid you missed the whole point" said Allegra.

    It's clear that Jocelyn is being compared to Emma here. But her experiences with men give a definite sense of menace: the scene at the swimming pool, the scene in the car with Tony (clearly drawn from the scene with Emma and Mr. Elton in the coach) have a definite sense of menace, and presumably cast a shadow (when she asks "Why can't I fall in love?").

    What is Fowler saying here? Does Emma show a sense of menace? What is the point that Grigg (and I) missed? What do you think?

    June 4, 2004 - 05:44 am
    Mothers in Austen: the biography I cited before talks about this a lot. He points out there are no examples of strong mothers in Jane's fiction, only foolish weak ones. And there are also many examples of intelligent men married to foolish women.Jane's mother became a hypochondriac as she ages, and there are a number of sarcastic remarks about this in Jane's letters. It seems that Jane was close to her father and her relationship with her mother was troubled. In the Stephanie Barron detective series, mother was portrayed as similar to the mother in Pride and Predjudice.

    But the biographer says that the mother was actually well educated and well read. the intellectual level of the family life was very high. It may be that part of this is the natural inpatience of a grown woman forced to live under her mother. My daughter and I are very close, but if she had to live in my house, under my direction -- well, let's hope it never happens. I couldn'thave lived with my mother as an adult.

    Joan Pearson
    June 4, 2004 - 06:45 am
    1989-Katha Pollitt, from her poem - "Rereading Jane Austen's Novels"

    "This time round, they didn't seem so comic,
    Mama is foolish, dim or dead. Papa's
    a sort of genial, pampered lunatic.
    No one thinks of anything but class.""
    From "the Response" - Fowlers book - p. 275

    Interesting to me, the concept of "comedy. In what sense is the term "comedy" used in describing Jane Austen's novels?

    JoanK, no, Jane's mama wasn't foolish, dim or dead, was she? Carolyn, your mention of Carol Shields' biography yesterday rang a bell, reminded me of something I read of her childhood. Shields describes Mrs. Austen as a "preoccupied woman" - Jane was the youngest of 8 children, so that's no surprise. Immediately after weaning, she was "fostered out" into the care of a local family - "an alien household" - until she reached the "age of reason" - which Shields says made a "profound emotional impact on the child." - Shields describes this as the first of many separations from the family in her early years. By the age of 11, Jane Austen's "formal education" was over.

    Pat, you're right - this isn't the best way to absorb Jane Austen's novels. I promise to go back and reread each (well most of them) carefully after our month together is finished. I am reading so much, so fast, that I can't take notes - must rely on memory - and that's dangerous! Jane, that's an idea - an "abridged" Emma! Like Carolyn I remember Mr. Woodhouse referring to the "wailing infant"- but thumbed through my copy of Emma (unabridged) in vain last night to find the exact context. While doing this, I see a very loving relationship between Emma and her father. I see Mr. Woodhouse given to bouts of "depression" - this was Austen's word - Emma voiced a resolve never to marry and her father is comforted by her promise. But Mrs. Woodhouse did NOT die in childbirth I noted. Emma has a dim recollection of her mother's embraces...

    Has Jocelyn resolved never to marry - is she single by choice? How to describe her relationship with her parents as she was growing up - BEFORE the divorce? I'm wondering how she became a "control freak" as a result of her upbringing. She seems to have had little regard for her mother after the divorce, doesn't she? (I felt sorry for her mother.)

    June 4, 2004 - 07:02 am
    Jocelyn's upbringing seemed so strange to me...reminded me, honestly, of "Phoebe" ....the character in Friends tv show who once remarked her mother never allowed her to see anything unhappy. [She didn't know, in the episode I recall, how "Old Yeller" actually ended...her mother had turned it off and given her a happy ending. ] I'm sure Jocelyn's parents meant well, but to never let her see "reality" -- hmm...maybe this is like Emma who is also shielded from everything that is less than ideal in "reality."

    It must have made the encounters with reality difficult to understand and deal with. Most of our children, I suspect, will face the harsh experiences reality brings, but I'm not sure Emma ever did. I suspect at that time and place and circumstance, she will be forever "protected" from any unpleasantness. Jocelyn and the other members of the book club appear to live in more of the real world and face the same problems, threats, unpleasant experiences we all face at some point.


    June 4, 2004 - 07:06 am
    I was alerted to your discussion by a message to by website. I'm so pleased by your attention and always, always ready to talk about Austen. I'm traveling so my email access is spotty, but will check in whenever I can. In the meantime, in a sort of general comment to some of the comments above, in my later readings, Austen seems to me to be much more about the family relationships -- sisters, parents, etc -- and less about the romances. I felt sorry for Jocelyn's mother, too! Of course, Jocelyn's rudeness to her in the park is supposed to echo Emma's rudeness to poor Miss Bates at the Box Hill picnic. It is my great pleasure and honor to "meet" you all. Karen Joy Fowler (Karen)

    Joan Pearson
    June 4, 2004 - 07:14 am
    horselover - we ARE somewhat homogeneous here, aren't we? The main difference is that we were not hand-selected as the CV/RC Book Club members were. We have no "control freak" at the helm. Did you get the feeling that Jocelyn decided to open this book club for the sole purpose of discussing Jane Austen and marriage - and that when the six months are up, they probably will not be choosing another selection?

    Another significant difference - we don't have a Grigg in our midst. It's interesting the way the elders of the club are somewhat protective and encouraging as far as he is concerned, where Allegra and Prudie seem determined to put him down. His point about the implicit threats in Emma are immediately dismissed by both of these young ladies - he missed the point - there was NO real "menace" - Joan, did you see any real dangers in Emma? Did you see danger resulting from Emma's meddling with people's lives? Did you feel that young Jocelyn was in a precarious situation because of lack of information and faulty grasp of reality?

    June 4, 2004 - 07:26 am
    WELCOME KAREN!!! If we say something really stupid about your books, please let us know. It must be disconcerting for an author to see how people read her books.

    I always feel a sense of the outside world as menacing in Austen. Not psychologically, but physically menacing. Her women venture forth, get into some sort of trouble, and have to be rescued by a man. Pat points out there is a lot of rescuing in Emma. (Note: the men don't rescue the women in Fowler. Good!) Pat thinks this is merely a plot device on Austen's part, but I see it as a natural result of the way women were raised and treated. They were supposed to stay at home, and let the men protect them: not read the newspapers (I note that Austen did: from her letters, she was extremely aware of the temultuous happenings in England at the time, but you wouldn't know it from her books.

    Joan Pearson
    June 4, 2004 - 07:30 am
    Oh my goodness - we were posting at the same time! Welcome, KJ Fowler! This is exciting! What is interesting to me is that you concluded AFTER you wrote your book that the emphasis in Emma is much more on family relationships than on romance - and yet your book shows the same emphasis - on family.

    So happy to hear you refer to the Box Hill picnic...and the picnic with Jocelyn's mother in the park - strawberries the feature of both picnics. You DID purposely select the luscious photo for the cover!

    We are so happy to have you with us. Pull up a chair in our circle, whenever you can make it. Our door is open 24 hours a day!

    June 4, 2004 - 08:41 am
    Pat H., perceptive point you made between Jocelyn and the summer boys and with Emma encouraging Mr. Elton.

    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?

    June 4, 2004 - 04:20 pm
    Hi Joan P, Pedln and all others. I was at Border's tonight and The Jane Austen Book Club is 30% off due to being on the bestseller list, so I swooped up a copy and will now have to catch up to you all.

    I read the Prologue and part of March in the bookstore, so it won't take me too long.

    I'm not a great Austen fan, but I want to give her her due now that I am-- maybe-- old enough to savor her books. I'm one of those readers who found Pride and Prejudice (had to read this one for some class) somewhat lacking in oxygen. As a complete Tomboy, I wasn't much interested in the romance angle (but that's all I read for, of course). Now that I am no longer thus inhibited and can put up with being in drawing rooms and carriages a bit better, I'm going to try again.

    I've got Emma around here somewhere and will attempt a speed read.

    Today I got some very good news: I won't be teaching in summer school after all! Yay! Time to rest and relax and read Jane.


    Joan Pearson
    June 5, 2004 - 05:10 am
    A big Welcome to you, Deems! Had reconciled to the fact that you would be off to summer school. Am wondering how you wangled your way out of that one - knowing how you had been looking forward to a summer break! I really think you are old enough now to be allowed back into the drawing room. You'll notice a lot more than the dashing Frank Churchills this go-around. Again, Welcome!

    Pedln, what a good idea! Let's do that, let's get up a list of the parallels between Emma and Chapter I. And maybe another list of questions for Karen.

    Joan Pearson
    June 5, 2004 - 05:25 am
    When Jocelyn asks this question, she is wearing Emma's shoes, isn't she? She is so like Emma! I'm wondering if Jocelyn has ever been able to warm up to any man - Her relationships with boys always ending in distressing and surprising situations which she seemed so unprepared to handle. Like Phoebe and "Old Yeller", she had never seen the unhappy endings. She must have been totally unprepared for her parents divorce, Jane - since they kept their disagreements from her - a "happy family" until the ending is announced.

    She never saw it coming when boys were attracted to her. JoanK says she "unknowingly" made Mike and Steven fall in love with her - she really thought she had solved the situation by inviting both boys - now they could all three go to the dance! Then there was the incident with Bryan. She had had a child-like romantic crush on him from afar, but when he came on to her, she was stunned into submission - totally unprepared for the "menacing" act of aggression. By the time she started dating, Daniel seems more suited to her temperment - at least more so than threatening, menacing Toby) Her solution to having to keep his aggressive acts secret from Sylvia - is simply to switch boyfriends with her. Do you see parallels with the piano Frank Churchill secretly sent to Jane Fairfax and the puppy Toby sent to Joceln? Did you notice Daniel's reaction to the puppy?

    Jane, I think in many ways Jocelyn has more control over the threats and unpleasant experiences we of the modern world face...but women in Emma's time had fewer options to "save themselves" - less control over their own destinies. Jane Austen's heroines seem to make out fine, but many of those secondary characters end up in what must be miserably situations for the rest of their lives. I agree with Grigg - the world is a threatening place for Jane Austen's females - and even if "nothing happened" to them, as Allegra and Prudie are quick to point out, I think Grigg is seeing the overall precarious situation of women in Emma's world.

    So. Mr. Knightley. Why can't Jocelyn consider Mr. Knightley in a romantic sense? Can you blame Emma for not warming up to him before she realizes others might be interested in him? I'm wondering why Emma didn't match him up with Miss Taylor rather than with Mr. Weston. Those two have some interesting exchanges regarding Emma. Does Miss Taylor/Mrs. Weston perceive that Mr. Knightley is in love with Emma? We do need to talk about Mr. Knightley!

    June 5, 2004 - 06:15 am
    The narrator in my book is supposed to be the book club itself. if you imagine the club as a seventh characters, telling the collective story and knowing everything any one of the characters know, that's the way I imagined the narrative voice. Emma is one of my favorite Austen novels, but other people often make criticisms about it for which I have no answer. It does seem to be the story of the humbling of a pretty girl and Austen is pretty hard on Emma. But I also feel that she loves Emma, so I don't mind it as much as I might in another writer's hands. In Knightley's case there is something about the way Austen has made him always right and Emma always wrong, that makes me sympathize with Emma and ever so slightly resent Knightley. I think in general I prefer characters who try hard to do the right thing even when they fail, to those who seem to effortlessly always do the right thing. And Knightley often feels more like a father to Emma, which, of course, her own father does not. (Mr. Woodhouse is a character I thoroughly enjoy, but didn't manage to work into my own book.) Smart postings! I'm enjoying reading what you all have to say.

    June 5, 2004 - 06:44 am
    I had wondered for a minute if the dog Sahara was Mr. Woodhouse, always looking to see what's coming, and no one gets to Jocelyn without going through her. Guess not.

    Interesting that Jane said her favorite hero's were Mr. Knightly and the one from Mansfield Park --- these are the two that readers find irritatingly priggish and more like fathers than romantic figures. I wonder if Jane's model was her father?

    kiwi lady
    June 5, 2004 - 11:46 am
    I like Mr Knightly because he had the courage to tell Emma a few home truths. Goodness knows she needed it! Sometimes whether it hurts us personally or not by the reception our home truths get it is necessary for us to tell home truths to someone we love. For instance we may need to tell a loved one they are an alcoholic whether they accept it or not. We may have to tell a loved one they need help for a mental illness. Goodness knows it would be a lot easier for us if we just went along with our loved one and said nothing.

    The book club is a bit like Mr Knightly if you take the idea that the book club is the narrator. The narrator tells the truth about the characters in Karens book.

    Jocelyn is the matchmaker in the book club. She wants to make up to Sylvia for the loss of Daniel so she finds Grigg. Perhaps even though she did get married she was never IN love. She had no idea of the complexities of human emotion attached to love between man and woman. She was more at home in the dog world where everything was black and white. Is this why the mating of the dogs was brought into the story.

    It is nice to have Karen popping in to the discussion. Thank you! I would never be able to get to a book signing living down here in Middle Earth! This is the next best thing.

    I really love Jane Austen. The women writers of her century have something special. Because of their narrow world they draw the characters in their books so well. They are studies of human behaviour of the time. I find them fascinating. Maybe my English heritage and the fact we were a British Dominion for so long colours my taste in literature but I do have a great love for English Literature.


    June 5, 2004 - 12:36 pm
    Karen--Thank you for popping in and adding your insights. I was going to suggest that the book club itself was the "we" of the novel, and now you write that you meant that to be the case. I feel happy knowing that. You have a great screen name, by the way.

    As for Mr. Knightley and his lack of passion, I agree with Allegra. He strikes me as the kindly and solicitous older brother/uncle type. I know he will end up with Emma because I've read the novel before, but at this rereading I am only up to page 100 of Emma so I'll comment only on his behavior thus far.

    I think it's clear that he is interested in Emma but also clear that he wants her to grow up some more. He is perhaps a little too invested in being right about their mutual efforts to "matchmake," but he is also right, I think, in the case of Harriet and the farmer fellow. Still, he doesn't have to rub it in.

    Joan--It's complicated, but it looks like the course won't make, AND we have a new officer available to teach it if it does. Yay! Now all I'm doing at work this summer is a week in July when I will be helping to administer and grade the placement exam we give to all plebes. A much better deal than every day in the classroom and on the Beltway! Free as a bird, that's me.

    I really am enjoying the details in The Jane Austen Book Club. There are characters who have shown me myself at an earlier age, especially Jocelyn at this point. She felt that she still wanted Bryan's good approval even while he was taking her down a peg by fingering her. We women of a certain age were taught to please, weren't we? I also identify with young Jocelyn's discovery of her power over men, even when she doesn't quite realize what is going on.

    And, of course, I love the dog details. Little Pride, the puppy, called Pridey (another Austen reference here, implying an early attachment to JA on Jocelyn's part?) is perfectly described. As a dog person who has more than once lost her heart to a dog, Pridey is spot on.


    June 5, 2004 - 12:54 pm
    I found one of the descriptions of Pridey that I just love:

    "Pridey was so happy he blurred at the edges" (30)

    June 5, 2004 - 01:22 pm
    I think I missed the humor. For example, when Isabella, Emma's sister, comes home with husband, Mr. John Knightley, and five children for Christmas, Isabella and her father, Mr. Woodhouse, amuse themselves by setting up their doctors, Perry and Wingfield, against each other.

    Both Mr. Woodhouse and Isabella are hypocondriacs, or, to sound more like Austen, "very nervous" people who are constantly seeking medical advice for their various problems. The disagreement between father and daughter occurs over whether or not the seacoast is a healthy place to take children, and it goes on and on with Emma breaking it up several times by changing the subject and finally ending when Mr. Knightley draws his brother into conversation about changes he is planning on the family estate.

    It really is quite funny.

    June 5, 2004 - 02:00 pm
    Deems, glad you can be with us this month instead of having to battle the Beltway (does one ever get used to it?)

    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.

    June 5, 2004 - 02:13 pm
    Have a good trip, Pedln, and no, the Beltway is not something one gets used to.

    My daughter has just signed up with Netflix, just ordered three movies, and they came today. I think she ordered them on Thursday. They're in Gaithersburg, so the mail time shouldn't be long.


    June 5, 2004 - 05:51 pm
    WELCOME KAREN! What a treat!

    Joan K, You are correct; there are many examples in Jane Austin of intelligent men married to foolish women. I think the men in Jane Austin's world get the women they deserve. They have created these useless, undereducated, silly women; then they marry them and are saddled with them for life. For example, Mr. Bennet in "Pride and Pejudice" is a man of obvious intelligence with a great sense of humor and dry wit. How did he come to marry such a silly, narrow-minded woman who does not even understand most of his humor? He probably had little else to choose from in the world created by his peers.

    Someone asked if we see any real dangers in Emma? "Did you see danger resulting from Emma's meddling with people's lives?" In real life, there certainly would be danger resulting from such meddling--missed opportunities that can never be recaptured, people forced onto paths from which there is no return. But in Jane Austin's world, these "mistakes" that Emma makes are all untangled and repaired in the end. There are no permanent consequences to these mistakes. This is one of the features which classifies her works as comedies.

    Women of Emma's class are in a precarious situation in Austin's world. They generally have no independent means of support and they cannot enter the working world. But even in the present day, post feminist revolution world, women are still in a more precarious situation than men. They are the only ones who can become pregnant and must deal with the consequences of this condition. Even if married and working, statistics show that women continue to do the major percentage of house work and child care. Women continue to make less money than men because they are the ones who usually take a hiatus in their careers when a child is born, or to take care of an elderly parent. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    Women are still trained from childhood to want to please men. They wear uncomfortable clothes (high heels and strapless dresses)like Jocelyn wore to the dance, and act passive in the face of male aggression. When Jocelyn tells the story of Bryan's sexual attack, she "noticed most...how unresisting she'd been...She should have done something. Why hadn't she put up a fight? The whole time Bryan was fingering her, she was still hoping to win his good opinion!"

    Joan Pearson
    June 6, 2004 - 04:56 am
    Good morning!

    Karen, so happy to find you here reading our posts answering our qustions, including your own Austen observations too. May we ask when your interest in Jane Austen began? Are you a long-time Janeite? How does the world of Jane Austen fit with your interest in Science Fiction?

    We had concluded that the narrator was not one single member of the club and quit trying to identify the ONE - had arrived at "multiple narrators" - but okay, now we know that the narrator is a conglomerate of the other members "knowing everything any one of the characters know" - does this exclude Grigg?

    Horselover - another difference between our SN Book Club and the CV/RC book club...they all knew one another - in some cases they were related (except for the handsome stranger in their midst) - just as JA wrote of her tight little country society, Karen presents this loosely related group.

    "Emma...the story of the humbling of a pretty girl" - There are strong parallels in this first chapter between Emma and Jocelyn. Are we to see Jocelyn humbled - or has that already happened to her in her own pretty girlhood? I get the feeling that Jocelyn is to be further humbled as a result of her "interference". Does Jocelyn feel that she "matched" Sylvia and Daniel in the first place - so now she must "fix" her mistake? If she started up the book club to find a match for Sylvia - why did she choose Emma to open? Why did she choose Jane Austen?

    Carolyn...notes that these "mistakes" that Emma makes are all untangled and repaired in the end. There are no permanent consequences to these mistakes" - [Emma matched Miss Taylor with Mr. Weston, didn't she? Did she really I'm wondering - or is she giving herself more credit than is her due. It's this success that spurs her on to more matchmaking with others. She thinks she has a special knack for this sort of thing.]

    "Is this why the mating of the dogs was brought into the story? She wants to make up to Sylvia for the loss of Daniel so she finds Grigg for her. Perhaps even though she did get married she was never IN love. She had no idea of the complexities of human emotion attached to love between man and woman. She was more at home in the dog world where everything was black and white."

    Deems, knew you'd pick up on Pridey...I think it's significant that Pridey was a "mutt" - that although Jocelyn loved the little dog she really thought Toby was an idiot...jerk...what did she call him? The dog was an inappropriate gift as it forced Jocelyn to keep a secret from her family, from Daniel- like Frank Churchill's gift of a piano to Jane Fairfax. Secret gifts seem to be a way of controlling the female in Jane Austen's world...which means they are always inappropriate - and the integrity and motives of the donor become suspect - in my mind. (There are no secrets involved in breeding dogs - papers prove where they came from!)

    Will be back - need coffee and some time to absorb your comments on Mr. Knightley...

    Joan Pearson
    June 6, 2004 - 05:36 am
    "Austen is pretty hard on Emma. But I also feel that she loves Emma In Knightley's case there is something about the way Austen has made him always right and Emma always wrong, that makes me sympathize with Emma and ever so slightly resent Knightley And Knightley often feels more like a father to Emma." [Karen}

    I went back and checked Knightley's age...38. I don't remember - had he ever married or been romantically involved? He spends a lot of time with the Woodhouse family. Knew Miss TAylor well. Miss Taylor was supposed to be Emma's guide/nanny/tutor - but from the time Isabella leaves, their relationship seems to have changed. They become near-equals and Emma is given much freedom. Is this when Mr. Knightley steps into the role of the scold? He disagrees with Miss Taylor/Mrs. Weston on Emma's unchecked antics. Major is his disapproval of Emma's relationship with Harriet. It's hard to put him into the role of a romantic suitor while he is forced into this role isn't it?

    I liked him more as the book progressed too, Carolyn - you "like Mr Knightly because he had the courage to tell Emma a few home truths The book club is a bit like Mr Knightly if you take the idea that the book club is the narrator. The narrator tells the truth about the characters in Karen's book." That's an interesting observation!

    You can see why Jane Emma doesn't think of him - romantically, can't you? I thought when he proposed to Jane Emma ...blurted out his own true feelings for her - before he realized that she wasn't ever in love with Frank Churchill, he showed us - and Jane that he was a "romantic" at heart. Jane Emma must have noticed this too!

    June 6, 2004 - 06:13 am
    JOAN: interesting how you started to call Emma "Jane" at the end of your post. I, too, think of a strong link between Emma and Jane Austen.

    June 6, 2004 - 06:26 am
    DEEMS: I'm debating whether to join Netflicks, now I finally got a DVD player. I'm in Gaithersburg too, so even with my bad mail service, I should get movies pretty quickly.

    My niece belongs and always keeps three movies on hand: a serious one, a light one, and segments of shows (like "Upstairs, Downstairs") for nights they want to watch something, but not for two hours. Seems to work well.

    June 6, 2004 - 10:29 am
    OK, I'm a little further along in Emma and I see two distinct parallels to the first chapter in The Jane Austen Book Club.

    The session at Jocelyn's house ends with her serving her guests bowls of gruel. In Emma the two hypchondriacs, Mr. Woodhouse and his daughter, Isabella, consume and highly praise basins of gruel (obviously for its contribution to health).

    And more importantly, When Emma is trapped alone in the same carriage with the loathsome Mr. Elton (not sure why I used the adjective--I just don't like him), he declares his love for Emma, much to her astonishment and disdain.

    The updating of this scene in our novel is the one where Jocelyn is picked up by Tony (who is Sylvia's boyfriend) and they are waylaid by bad weather so that he pulls over. The car windows steam up and he writes again and again "I love you" on the window next to him and the windshield. Jocelyn/Emma is taken by surprise. This is her best friend's boyfriend.

    It all turns out OK though even though Emma/Jocelyn can't tell anyone what has happened because it turns out that her boyfriend, Daniel, declares that he is really interested in Sylvia. The two simply switch boyfriends, and Jocelyn is "saved."

    A paragraph from the scene with Jocelyn and Tony in his car:

    "Jocelyn was squeezed into the door on her side, holding on with both hands. Once again she was barely dressed--short, short tennis skirt, sleeveless shirt cut away from the shoulders. Why, in these situations, was she always so disadvantageously clothed? Tony began to sing. 'In the chilly frozen minutes oven certain tea, I long to be. . .' He was completely unhinged, so nervous he couldn't even carry a tune. The speed of the car, the crash of the thunder--nothing frightened Jocelyn as much as his singing" (24)

    "so disadvantageously clothed" is pure Austen.

    I didn't notice that Tony has the lyrics wrong until I typed them out. "oven certain tea"= "of uncertainty." Heh.


    Joan Pearson
    June 6, 2004 - 05:33 pm
    Joan K...I admit I'm having a devil of a time with the names Jane, Emma and Jocelyn - they seem to blend into one another!

    Deems, happy to see you are finding more parallels - Pedln is on the road this week, but working on getting up a page of them - you are making her job easier.

    "oven certain tea"= "of uncertainty." - That went right over my head - that IS funny, Karen!

    I really can't stand Tony. The way he tied the unsigned note on the little dog's neck - "I belong to Jocelyn." - whether she wants him (Toby) or not...he belongs to her. She belongs to him. No choice. Daniel believes the person who left it has to be her mother - "who else would presume?" No wonder she behaved so badly towards her mother at the picnic. Guilt. She's got a secret from her mother, from her friends - and all the while Toby is acting "bright and shiny" - à la Frank Campbell and that piano.

    Joan Pearson
    June 7, 2004 - 03:31 am
    Good morning!
    March slipped by awfully fast, didn't it? We'll need to move inside from Jocelyn's porch today to gather 'round the fire at Sylvia's - it's cold out here for April in CA! Do you know if it snows in the California Valley/River City area this time of year?

    Allegra is staying with Sylvia to keep her company, to console her. So we'll meet at Sylvia's while Allegra leads the April discussion of Sense and Sensibility. I'm not sure Allegra selected this novel because she sees parallels to her own life - (which is in upheaval), or because someone suggested she take this one. Do you feel she is as familiar with Jane Austen as some of the others? Whatever the reason, there are some very strong connections between the heroines in both stories...

    Have you ever read Sense and Sensibility - or seen it on film? There's a movie with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant that I'd love to see. If you have read it and can add more to the summary in the back of Karen's novel, will you help us flesh it out so we don't miss the connections between the plot and themes in Jane Austen's novel and Chapter II?

    Pat H
    June 7, 2004 - 10:56 am
    Karen—How nice of you to talk with us. I like it that you wait to comment on things until we have thought about them a while. I was a little startled at some of the Emma parallels I missed, even though I saw quite a number.

    Joan P—I don’t think there is any mention of any previous marriage or attachment of Knightley’s. Somewhere he says he has loved Emma since she was 13 (I couldn’t find this again when I looked for it) but Austen also says that the suspicion that Emma and Frank Churchill were becoming attached opened his eyes to his own feelings. I re-read the proposal scene; Knightley doesn’t make his offer until after he learns that Emma never loved Churchill.

    Pat H
    June 7, 2004 - 03:57 pm
    Well, I’ve read the next chapter in Fowler, am 2/3 through rereading "Sense and Sensibility", and have just received the movie from Netflix (I saw it when it came out). I have a lot of detailed comments and not much time at the moment, but I’ll make my biggest points. Sylvia is obviously Elinor, Allegra is Marianne, and Corinne is Willoughby. This means we have used up 2 of the 6 members on one book, and will come up short unless we bring in someone else.

    Also, we have now brought 3 people up to the point where their characters were about 3/4 of the way through their books. Surely during the course of the book they will finish off their plots. It’s going to be a pretty good trick to do it without being too rushed, but Fowler is good enough to do it. People who have read ahead: no fair commenting from a position of superior knowledge.

    I would like to point out my incredible self-restraint in not reading ahead. Ordinarily I would read a book I like this much non-stop.

    June 7, 2004 - 04:55 pm
    Let me be first to commend you on your self-restraint. I'm having the same problem. My solution has been, today, to turn to Sense and Sensibility which I have not read. At least I think this is the first time.

    I looked up "sensibility" in the Oxford Eng. Dictionary. It has lots of meanings, but one especially (and this one has a quote from Austen as contextual quote) hits the mark:

    Sensibility, n.--Quickness and acuteness of apprehension or feeling; the quality of being easily affected by emotional influences; sensitiveness.

    The definition fits Marianne, Elinor's younger sister, to a T.


    June 7, 2004 - 05:12 pm
    "Did you know the original title was Elinor and Marianne? Does this suggest that there are two heroines in this novel?" I think there are two heroines in this novel, as well as in several of the others (Elizabeth and Jane). This is so that they can be compared and contrasted with each other, and so they can discuss the events as they unfold. In 'Sense and Sensibility,' Marianne refuses to conform to the required decorum of social intercourse (as does Elizabeth Bennet), while Elinor (and Jane) fit their feelings and behavior into the accepted forms. It is this hiding of feelings that frequently leads to the initial misunderstandings which generate the plots of these novels.

    "By the end of the story does Jane Austen appear to have softened along with her heroines in understanding the position of men and the marriages they must make?" I think Austin, along with her ironic portrayals, betrays a great deal of sympathy for both the men and women caught up in the social strictures of her time and class. The men as well as the women are often forced by the circumstances of birth and death to marry for money. What turns these novels from tragedies to romances is that her heroines ultimately manage to combine love and money.

    "Do older women ever fall in love in Jane Austen's novels? What is her attitude towards older women? (How old is old?)" NO! Older women DO NOT fall in love in Austin's novels. Older women are generally portrayed as silly busybodies or malevolent busybodies who interfere in the lives of the young women. The best of the older women are aunts who try to patiently steer the girls in the direction of a happy marriage.

    Sylvia, while not as silly as the Austin mothers, seems to know her daughter as little as they do. Sylvia is cautious; Allegra is reckless. Sylvia "tried to raise sensible, cautious children. During the high school years, when Allegra knew that Sylvia had been congratulating herself on her daughter's good appetite, good grades, sweet friends, sober habits, Allegra had been cutting herself."

    Allegra telling her secrets to someone who is really untrustworthy and plans to use them for her own advantage is also a reflection of similar sharing of confidences in Austin's novels.

    Does anyone think that Grigg will turn out to be gay? He's the only guy here, but seems sort of feminine in the way he's portrayed.

    Joan Pearson
    June 7, 2004 - 05:47 pm
    horselover, you DO see two heroines in Sense and Sensibility - "so they can be compared and contrasted to one another." The two were the two girls, Elinor and Marianne. We know that because of the original title. Maryal's Oxford dictionary of "sensibility" fits Marianne to a T. That leaves Elinor to represent "sense". As in the other Austen novels, the topic is love and marriage. One sister represents the emotional romantic love. I relate to this type - I think she would "fall in love at first sight." The other is cautious when it comes to men, keeps her head, uses "sense".

    As you get further into Sense and Sensibility, both of these sisters undergo a change, Marianne realizes that she has been too thoughtless and selfish, Elinor too restrained in expressing her own feelings and concerns. Won't say more because some are still reading the novel.

    Karen's story - Pat, you see Sylvia in the sensible role, Allegra in the passionate, sensibility role. Yes, I can see that. BUT I also see this as Allegra's story - her love story...and so am looking for another sense/sensibility duo here...

    ps. I commend your restraint from moving ahead in the book too, Pat. (I'm in the same boat with you!) The only way we can appreciate the parallels between Jane Austen's novels is to take them one chapter/novel at a time. We're picking up the pace this week. On Thursday we will finish Chapter III and Friday, move on to Prudie's story and Mansfield Park.

    horselover, more on some of the other points you bring up tomorrow. Thanks!

    Joan Pearson
    June 8, 2004 - 08:00 am
    I've got two questions on Allegra and Chapter II - before I forget. Horselove reminded me of the first - in the quote about Sylvia thinking she had raised a "sensible" daughter, congratulated herself for this, but all the while "Allegra had been "cutting" herself. How did you understand this?

    The other thing I find myself continuing to return to is the list of things that you won't find in Jane Austen novels - this is on the first page of the chapter. Most of the list I can understand - but CATS ????- Why do we find dogs but not cats in Jane Austen's novels? Is there something independent or secretive about a cat that Jane Austen eschews? Is there a simple explanation that escapes me? How did you understand that? I just can't let it go.

    kiwi lady
    June 8, 2004 - 10:54 am
    The cat thing! I think Jane must have been a dog fancier. Many people who love dogs don't like cats. Cats were not important to her so she does not place any cats in her stories.


    Joan Pearson
    June 8, 2004 - 01:23 pm
    Carolyn, did you notice the comment that followed that list of things not found in Jane Austen - "But let's not focus on the negative." hahaha - is Karen a catlover then? But so far I'm not seeing cats in her book either...oh, wait, there is the description of Prudie in the Prologue -
    "...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?

    Prudie points out in Chapter two (p.47) that Sense and Sensibility is about young beautiful daughters. Do you remember it was Prudie too who said she was glad Allegra was invited to join the club because it was always good to know what lesbians were thinking about love and marriage.

    Do you think this points to the love story of the two young ladies in Allegra's story - Allegra and Corinne? Do you see any parallels between these two and the girls in Sense and Sensibility?

    kiwi lady
    June 8, 2004 - 02:20 pm
    Self mutilation is a complicated issue but it stems from self loathing. Perhaps Allegra's issues with her sexuality as a teen and also the peer pressure to be a regular girl may have had something to do with that. Many kids who mutilate themselves go on to attempt suicide. It truly is a cry for help.


    Joan Pearson
    June 8, 2004 - 04:43 pm
    Well, we'd better keep an eye on the girl now - she's in a vulnerable state, having lost both Corinne and Daddy. I'm having a difficult time understanding the chemistry between Allegra and Corinne. It seems that the only time Allegra felt anything for Corinne was when she lied to her mother about her accident. She was such a cool liar. And so caring. Allegra thought she was someone she could rely on - I suppose though, that the deception would have crushed anyone - but this was a double-hitter.

    Not only did Corinne steal the stories she had "bribed" out of Allegra, but they were not even good enough to be published!

    Carolyn, can you see anything of Allegra's cry for help in the four secrets she confided in Corinne - that she had never told anyone about?

    June 8, 2004 - 05:11 pm
    I've got some catching up to do, but I do know what cutting is, unfortunately. Something like 90% of the people who cut themselves are women, mostly young ones. They use razor blades mostly and keep the cuts where clothes will cover them. Cutting becomes an obsession if not an addiction and tends to be very difficult to stop. It's called "SI" in the therapy world, standing for Self-Injury.

    Apparently SI often has something to do with a response to abuse in childhood, sexual, physical, emotional. There's no agreement on how it operates, but people who cut generally say that cutting, which hurts the outside of the body, helps to release the inner pain they are feeling.

    Joan, it's definitely not close to suicide.

    People who abuse drugs may also indulge in cutting. They often end up in treatment programs of one kind or another.


    June 8, 2004 - 06:12 pm
    First, I want to apologize for absent-mindedly spelling Austen's name two different ways yesterday, despite having three of her books in front of me. I don't know what possessed me. Maybe I was abducted by aliens and transported to Austin, Texas which is near where many UFO sightings have taken place.

    As for "cutting," the explanation offered by Deems is the one I have heard most often--that cutting, which hurts the outside of the body, helps to release their inner pain. Autobiographies written by mental patients who engaged in this practice confirm this.

    It is not true that there are no cats in "The Jane Austen Book Club." Grigg has a "large black cat" named Max (short for Maximum Cat). Maybe this is another instance of Fowler giving Grigg a somewhat feminine characteristic, since cats are thought of as female pets, although Max is a male. It is true, however, that I don't recall any cats in Austen's novels.

    Betrayal of trust is a dominant theme in Austen's novels, and also in this chapter describing the relationship of Allegra and Corinne. Corinne takes Allegra's secrets and confidences, writes them up as her own, and tries to publish them even though she does not succeed.

    There is a lot of truth in the quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson which ends the chapter, but although I can see this, I still love these novels. I think Austen is one of those writers who "see the world in a grain of sand." Her narrow little world comprises all we need to know about human nature.

    Joan Pearson
    June 9, 2004 - 05:22 am
    Maryal, thanks for clearing up the "cutting" reference to cutting. It seems that Allegra was able to relieve her pain by the cutting - in secret. Not an attention-getter, as Sylvia had no idea of her pain. She thought she was raising happy, "sensible" children. (sense - sensible and pride are words I'm finding most frequently used in Jane Austen's novels.)

    Allegra has been suffering throughout her childhood, even in her happy home with both parents present. Are we given clues as to why she is so unhappy?

    Marianne's suffering was much more graphically described...she mourns the loss of her Willoughby to the point of death. It is left to Elinor to nurse her, to commiserate with her, even though Elinor's own heart is breaking when she learns her own love is engaged to someone else.

    Is there "whiteness in Sense & Sensibilitÿ that I missed. Grigg makes ONE comment about "white snow" (p.46) - during the discussion. I don't remember snow in the novel. Did I miss it? He suggests (to the disapproval of the others) The Elinor Show - which draws attention to Elinor as the central character of the book. Elinor does seem to me to be the "Jane Austen" role - doesn't it? She is the one with the sense, in control of emotion, recommending restraint and decorum. She is the caregiver, as is Sylvia. Allegra comes to stay with Sylvia to help her through her loss, but it is Sylvia who winds up consoling her daughter...

    Joan Pearson
    June 9, 2004 - 05:40 am
    ps. Horselover, thanks for drawing our attention to the Emerson's comment at the end of Chapter II - (I just noticed the mention of "suicide" there.) We've already noted that Mark Twain had little use for Austen's novels -

    There's something else of interest at the end of this chapter - The rejection letters Jane Austen received for the first draft of Prinde and Prejudice, First Impressions. I still think that Allegra was as upset at the fact that her "dreams" were rejected as she at Corinne's betrayal...was she really in love with Corinne?

    June 9, 2004 - 07:17 am
    Joan--I have more questions than answers when it comes to the chapter centering on Allegra. Her childhood experiences don't quite add up for me.

    She does seem to be an exceptionally sensitive person, one who has never told her innermost secrets to anyone. She is cruel to the ants she observes (if one can be cruel to ants). Many clues as to who she might be are offered; I'm hoping that we will find out more later because all her dots are not connected yet.

    The one part that rang true to me concerns Allegra's reaction when she discovers that Corinne has betrayed her, not in the conventional sense of taking another lover, but by stealing her secrets and using them as the material of what she presents as "fiction."

    I wonder if there isn't something complicated going on here, an observation on the part of the author that all writers absorb and observe and that various characteristics and specifics of the lives of others may appear in their fiction.

    Perhaps Jane Austen was also in this position--she observed--she had an acute ability to criticize that which she saw as pretentious in the samll society around her (this Jane is apparent in her letters). She was quick to pounce on that which she saw as "phony," to use a Holden Caulfield word. Austen used mannerisms of the people she knew although most likely so skillfully altered and combined with the mannerisms of others that no one in her circle was likely to recognize herself/himself.

    In the case of Allegra and Corinne, the betrayal is worse since Allegra immediately recognizes her former secrets in Corinne's writing. Corinne is apparently not much of a writer since she keeps both Billy's name and his ball. She has not the art of making the necessary changes to protect the real life people.

    I'm just playing around with the ideas in this chapter which I find quite disturbing. I have no idea who Allegra is at this point. She seems confused about her sexuality. Maybe she is a lesbian, maybe not.


    Traude S
    June 9, 2004 - 08:05 am
    JOAN, I continue to follow the posts with great interest - but from a distance, simply because my knowledge of Jane Austen is very limited compared to yours and that of the participants, which I find admirable.

    And who would not recognize KJF's ingeniousness in linking the characters in her present-day All-Jane Austen-all-the-time Book Club with the characters in Austen's six novels, and in tracing parallels between them.

    Even though lacking in Austen background I found a great deal to enjoy in the contemporary characters and their lives, their reactions and interactions, their approach to reading. I've come to care for them - independently of their connection with their own personal Jane Austen. I hope that doesn't make me a heretic.

    I finished the book before the discussion began but I would never "spill the beans".

    June 9, 2004 - 08:14 am
    For those in the DC area, or those who can stream: the Diane Ream show (WAMU 88.5 fm) is having a show on Fowler as I write this.(11:14 am EST). If someone could tape it, it would be great!!

    Joan Pearson
    June 9, 2004 - 09:54 am
    Rats! Missed the show, Joan! Was out in the yard - moving mulch! You simply must share a few tidbits you heard this morning, or I will go into a major sulk - and never move mulch again!

    By the way, a small group of us plan to catch up with Karen this evening when she reads from her book at Chapters Literary Bookstore. - if you have anything you would like us to ask, post here? She knows we are coming - and wants you all to know she will be back here with us when she gets through this part of her tour. So you will have more opportunities to get questions asked in the future too.

    Traudee, there you are! Please don't let Jane Austen get in the way of your commenting on Karen's book? You have probably noticed the summaries of JA's novels in the back of the book - that's all you really need. Please, look over Chapter II and tell us what you enjoyed about it first time around? Do you know people like Allegra? Do you enjoy such company? There is usually never a dull moment with thrill seekers. Do you suspect that they are making up for something lacking in their lives?

    Maryal points us to those four secrets (not the fifth - I thought that was very, very funny) - secrets which reveal some childhood experiences Allegra must not be too proud of, but which have stayed with her. Do they "add up" for you? Maryal says not.

    Why did she tell her "secrets" to Corinne? Is she just tired of keeping all these secrets?

    June 9, 2004 - 11:01 am
    Hello, all. I'm back in my hotel room in DC, but with much running around to do. so I haven't been able to catch up to the discussion, just to look at the last few posts. Please -- if I neglect a question you wanted answered, do ask it again. I don't mean to be evasive, just on overload right now. My sense of Allegra (who is partly, but only partly based on Marianne) is that she is a sensation addict. Ordinary life is too pale for her, so she cuts herself and has affairs with the wrong people, because she needs to be feeling something all the time. More on her after I've had time to read the posts. In the meanwhile, I am looking forward to meeting those of you I'll meet tonight. And, my daughter's boyfriend is a Kiwi, so I even think I'll be getting there pretty soon. Within the next year or so. I've been once before to the north island and can't wait to go back. More soon -- Karen

    Joan Pearson
    June 9, 2004 - 01:15 pm
    Carolyn, did you hear that? You might have your own author tea to tell us about. Karen, you might be interested to know that Carolyn (Kiwi Lady) splurged $50 to get your book shipped to her in time for this discussion!

    Thank you for filling us in on Allegra - "she needs to be feeling something all the time" - to me it sounds as if she was not getting something she needs from her mother - like many an Austen heroine, mothers fall short. If Allegra is the Sensibility - then who is the Sense, the Elinor? I've been thinking about this since yesterday and want to run it by you. I can always count on you all to set me straight when my takes over.

    Allegra THOUGHT that the person who would understand as her mother never did was Corinne. Corinne gentled her, mothered her when she was hurt. She even lied for her, which Sylvia never would have done. Allegra perhaps thought she could get the closeness and understanding - and attention she had always craved from her mother by baring her soul. She told Corinne things about herself that she wasn't proud of - things she had never been able to admit to her mother, who had an altogether different picture of who she was in her head. Of course she was wrong. Corinne turned out not to be the understanding, caring Elinor. Maybe Sylvia will come through for her as we get deeper into the story. Or maybe we will understand why she distanced herself from Allegra. Right now, Sylvia is playing the lead in the Elinor Show as she comforts Allegra for the loss of her father - while Sylvia is the one who is in need of comfort and undertanding after having lost Daniel. To a younger woman. How Jane Austen.

    So, it is my belief that there is no Jane Austen/Elinor character on the stage yet. I read somewhere that JA was of the same mind as Elinor and her sensible, reasoned approach to love and was surprisesd that Marianne got so much attention and understanding at publication.

    Karen - we are looking forward to this evening. I'm going in early to view the funeral cortege at 6 pm and then will be heading to Chapters. Save a chair?

    June 9, 2004 - 01:43 pm
    You give a great interview, Kjay. I listen to that show a lot, and yours was one of the most interesting, informative and fun.

    Those who missed Kjay's interview on WAMU this morning can listen at this web site. Scroll down to Wednesday, 11am. You will need Realplayer. Even my molassas-slow browser had no trouble with the streaming. I recommend it.


    kiwi lady
    June 9, 2004 - 01:52 pm
    Goodness me! A kiwi connection to the author of this book and someone who knows the term for a NZer is a kiwi and the fruits official name is Kiwifruit. Karen I may get my book signed yet! What a thought! Karen I live in Waitakere City in the greater Auckland area. Still I am only 13mins in off peak traffic from the Central Business District in Auckland City. Does your daughters boyfriend come from Auckland?

    Allegra seems to be thought of by some of you as being a bit of a drama queen however I think that she has a very soft nature. She is with her Mum which is a sacrifice for an adult child first of all. She is very caring about her Mum and she is to me a very precious vessel. My baby daughter Vanessa moved home to be with me for 9mths after my husband died. It was a way to help me into that transition period which comes after "We" becomes an "I". In fact I see some of Allegra in my baby daughter who has always been inclined to give too much of herself to undeserving men. Thank goodness my daughter has now found someone who treats her like the very special human being she is. I guess maybe that is why I like Allegra so much.


    June 9, 2004 - 01:59 pm
    Kjay, you said one thing that particularly interested me. In talking about the fact that many science fiction readers were also Janiacs, you quoted a friend as saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that both were similiar reading experiences: one is put into the middle of a strange society and has to figure out the cues, how it works etc.

    Talking to PatH I said that Jane's world never seemed like a strange society to me. She pointed out that it was because, growing up in the 50s, in a middle class wasp household, the way we were raised in many ways was similar to the way Jane's heroines were. The same set of morals, the same feeling thay our purpose in life was to get married. While manners were less elaborate, they were seen as equally important. Even the class consciousness, while not openly acknowledged, was there.

    Could it be that there is a generational difference in the way Austen is seen? I don't know how old your friend that made the comment was, but I can believe the next generation would find Jane's world much stranger. If so, it doesn't seem to have dimmed her popularity.

    kiwi lady
    June 9, 2004 - 02:27 pm
    My two daughters both enjoy Jane Austen although they are definately todays women. Interestingly enough we have a parallel in todays society where research shows that women who have good careers and good salaries have a greater chance of marrying well than do women who are on the low income scale with unskilled jobs. Also men who are unskilled and in the low income bracket are finding it hard to find women who are willing to marry them. There was a segment on one of our current affairs programs which brought out this point. The survey was in Australasia. I should not think the statistics would be any different in other developed countries.

    Carolyn Auckland NZ

    June 9, 2004 - 05:01 pm
    Austen herself lived a quiet life and, like Jocelyn, did not marry. She seldom left home at all, except on short visits. I guess this proves that you don't need to travel a great deal to learn about human nature and the basic truths of life and death. Like Emily Dickinson, Austen was able to get to the heart of human experience by observing the small world around her.

    I was interested to see, when I was at the library looking for the novels, that there was an unfinished novel she was working on at the time of her death. This novel, "Sanditon," was completed by an anonymous author and eventually published. I have not read it. Have any of you read it? It does not seem to have been read by the "Jane Austen Book Club."

    Although courtship and marriage are Austen's main themes, the generation gap between parents and children is a theme which runs through all the novels. In "...Book Club," both Daniel and Sylvia fail to really understand their daughter. Is it possible to ever completely close this gap? Even fathers and sons do not understand one another as Sir Bertram laments in "Mansfield Park." In this novel, the dark issue of slavery drives a wedge between father and son, as well as the failure to accept the father's choice of a marriage partner. But more about this when we get to the next chapter.

    Joan Pearson
    June 10, 2004 - 07:20 am
    Good morning!
    Am eager to get to your posts on Allegra this morning, but first would like to thank the very busy author for spending her precious time with us last evening. Karen, we know you must have been exhausted after a long day "on the circuit." Thank you!

    Joan K, thank you so much for putting up the interview from the Diane Roeme show - that makes up for missing the live program. (I'll put the link in the heading - though not sure for how long it will remain active - we'll keep an eye on it.)

    The streets of Washington were jammed with the people who had come to town for the Reagan procession on Constitution Ave. a few blocks from Chapters Book Store.

    Although some of us had never met in person, it was delightful step into the quiet (and cool!) atmosphere of Chapters to meet Pat H. and of course, Karen, for the first time. It always amazes how you recognize people you've never laid eyes on after the internet experience!

    I had a terrible realization on the train home last pm - Karen's opening words, reading from the book, responses to the audience questions - were all so engaging, I neglected to pull out my notebook and scribble my usual pages of notes. Not that they weren't noteworthy! I told myself that Pat H and Maryal and I can pool our memory banks today - AND then remembered too, that Karen is still right here with us - and just might find the time to answer some of the same questions - if our collective memory fails. Following are some photos from Chapters and our tea party at Teaism following the book signing. Come in and feel as if you are right there with us!

    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!

    Maryal (Deems) and Karen weren't talking about cats.

    Karen signs copy of book for JoanK, Pat H didn't forget her twin.

    JoanP showing Karen exactly where to put her signature - those six little chairs.

    After the booksigning evert, we made our way to Teaism for our little tea party - where the conversation ranged from Karen's book to the affairs of the world beyond Jane Austen's neighborhood. At the end it was hard to leave, but it was closing time.
    Tea party

    Our newest Bookie!

    What a good sport! Pulled on her tee right over her clothes for this picture! We love you, Karen!

    Joan Pearson
    June 10, 2004 - 07:49 am
    The reading Karen selected for Chapters last pm was hilarious - it was the business between Prudie and her mother in Chapter III in which Prudie learns to suspend reality in favor of imagination - she learns this from her mother! You really get to know - and even like Prudie when you understand where she's come from, I think.

    That seems to be the way with the first two "heroines", doesn't it? I mean, you understand how Jocelyn becomes so controlling, and with Allegra, you seem to be softening. Let's leave Prudie aside until tomorrow when we look at her story and Mansfield Park. Horselover points out that even fathers and sons don't understand one another in that one - we seem to be looking at a real generational gap in Jane Austen's families, don't we?

    Let's spend today with a focus on Allegra? Tomorrow is Prudie's turn.

    Carolyn - you are saying you see more to Allegra than a drama queen? Unlike Jane Austen's girls - Marianne and Elinor - she does seem to have feelings for Sylvia. But aren't there intimations that she's really back in the house to be consoled by her mother? There's a real difference from Jane Austen's mother/daughter relationships, I think. I have no memory of any Jane Austin heroine receiving real consolation from her mother, do you? Am I forgetting anyone? Do you feel any differently towards Allegra after reading of her experience with Corinne or her childhood secrets?

    ps. an afterthought - Jane Austen's Marianne undergoes quite a change at the end when she realizes how selfish she has been in her misery over the loss of Willoughby. She had such a change of heart, she turns to a totally different type of man for a husband, the decidedly unthrilling Colonel Brandon. I'm not sure how I felt about that and her future prospects for happiness.

    June 10, 2004 - 07:59 am
    Morning, all

    What a wonderful evening it was, but I will have to return later to add my description. The dentist awaits.

    From the sublime to the icky.


    Pat H
    June 10, 2004 - 12:02 pm
    A further comment on our upbringing: our mother had some other attitudes left over from Austen’s time. You should only marry for love, but you should manage to fall in love with someone with a suitable income. There are correct attitudes and ways to feel about things, so of course that is the way you feel. I don’t share these, but I understand people who do. I have also jettisoned the formal manners, but at least I know how not to be rude.

    kiwi lady
    June 10, 2004 - 01:44 pm
    Pat H - My sisters have all encouraged their children to find a partner that has a good career as well as being a good person. You don't survive on unskilled work these days and when there are money troubles often love flies out the window. Marriage guidance counsellors say financial problems are the biggie along with infidelity in a troubled relationship.


    Pat H
    June 10, 2004 - 02:15 pm
    Carolyn, that is true, and, in fact, I did marry a man capable of earning a good income. But the principle in Austen's time seems to me to have a different feel to it.

    June 10, 2004 - 02:32 pm
    It was Sooooo much fun. I'm sorry we couldn't all be at CHAPTERS bookstore last night to hear Karen read and then go have tea with her afterward.

    She read (to a good sized audience for a midweek reading), as Joan has already posted, from the third section, the one on Prudie. She reads well (not all authors do and quite a few poets don't which I've always thought odd) and the audience responded in the appropriate places with laughter.

    Joan, Pat H (Joan K's sister), my daughter Susan and I filled nearly a whole row, the second to be precise.

    After the reading, Karen answered many questions. People asked her about her agent and her editor, about her plans for her next novel, about whether she bred dogs (she doesn't, but she loves them--note photo on the bookjacket with one of hers).

    After the evening's official events were over, we went for tea and sat around a table. We talked about books, movies, the war in Iraq, more books, Jane Austen. After we'd been chatting for a while, Karen's escort arrived and took a seat at the table.

    That meant that we five women were joined by one man and thus magically became the Jane Austen Book Club. It was really quite a laugh. The young male escort had a good sense of humor and responded with a laugh when I told him that I didn't know about his joining since men always go on and on and grab center stage. He turned out to be an interesting person. And he contributed and didn't go on and on.

    It was extremely kind of Karen to spend so much time with us. I have several friends (published) who have done readings and I know how tiring they can be for the writer.

    Thank you, Karen. It was a genuine pleasure to spend time with you.

    Good to meet you, Pat H, and next time we are going to pick you up as well, Joan K. I have a nice size trunk that can accommodate a walker or a chair.


    June 10, 2004 - 02:56 pm
    Good afternoon, all.

    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.

    June 10, 2004 - 03:56 pm
    I can't believe the coincidences around here -- another book club with 5 women and one man, and the likewise demographics at the gettogether with Karen Fowler. Maryal, I hope no one picked on that guy.

    "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?"

    Pat H
    June 10, 2004 - 03:57 pm
    I was particularly impressed with how welcome Karen made us feel. It was like a bunch of good friends gathering around to talk about the things they cared about most. That must be hard to do when you are on your 10th or 20th city and "this is Wednesday, so it must be D.C.

    June 10, 2004 - 05:31 pm
    Joan, You asked if anyone remembers any Jane Austen heroine receiving real consolation from her mother. Well, in "Pride and Prejudice," Mrs. Bennet does try to console Lydia when she returns home married to the odious Mr. Wickham. Of course, we never find out what would have happened if Mr. Darcy had not intervened and arranged for the marriage to take place. )

    At the other extreme is the mother of Fanny Price in "Mansfield Park" who actually gives away her daughter without even telling her the truth. Fanny thinks her new situation is temporary until she is told it may be "forever." The mother in this case is poverty-stricken and exhausted and probably has no other choice. Much later, when Fanny refuses a wealthy suitor, her mother reminds her that she married for love.

    Prudie's mother had a strange way of dealing with poverty. She didn't send Prudie away. Instead, she tried to change her daughter's sense of reality without Prudie leaving home. This strategy of inserting false memories into Prudie's brain was very successful until Prudie became old enough to fight back using the very same technique. But ultimately, Prudie is devastated by her mother's death.

    Sylvia does sincerely want Allegra to be happy; she just does not know how to achieve this end.

    I love the scene in the movie where Jocelyn and Prudie first met. How many of us have sat there quietly, like Prudie, out of a misplaced sense of courtesy to people who are totally discourteous? And how many of us have wished for someone like Jocelyn to tell such people to "Go gossip in the lobby?"

    Is it true. as Prudie says, that the person you were in high school lives inside you for life no matter how much you may change afterward? How much possibility is there for basic change in character throughout our lives? Prudie makes a note that, in "Mansfield Park," character is set early. Fanny refuses Henry Crawford because she senses that, despite his efforts to win her affections, his character will not really change. Sometimes I wonder if subconsciously I am still trying to achieve some of the dreams I had in high school.

    Pat H
    June 10, 2004 - 06:02 pm
    I haven't gotten far into this chapter yet, but I particularly like the lines "Rajah was not eating at all. 'like he thinks he's hers,' the woman said, 'just because I let her ride him from time to time.' Prudie was pretty sure this was about the horse." These wonderful throwaway lines are all through Fowler's books.

    June 10, 2004 - 06:30 pm
    Pat, Isn't sexual innuendo wonderful in a time when everything is usually so explicit!

    Pat H
    June 10, 2004 - 06:51 pm
    Yes! You can actually say more with less.

    kiwi lady
    June 10, 2004 - 08:39 pm
    I think Allegra and Sylvia have a pretty ordinary mother/daughter relationship. I see a lot of myself in Sylvia and a lot of my youngest daughter in Allegra. My daughter is adopted and was fostered til age 7 she had a lot of self image problems when she came to us and really it took many years to undo the damage. I guess there are complications and baggage in most adult relationships. I think these two women love each other and to me as the reader thats enough. They are very believable characters.


    Pat H
    June 10, 2004 - 08:44 pm
    Carolyn, that is a very tough row to hoe. I admire you for making it work.

    kiwi lady
    June 10, 2004 - 11:19 pm
    Pat I am the lucky one! She is a great daughter, hard worker and is an accountant at Price Waterhouse Cooper. She spoils me and I am very fortunate to have her. She is the favorite Aunt of all the grands.


    June 11, 2004 - 06:43 am
    HORSELOVER: I'm glad you pointed out that Prudie's mother's fantasies were in part a way of dealing with poverty. Prudie herself does not seem at all aware of this. I note that Emerson, quoted in the last chapter called Austen immoral for being so concerned with having enough money to marry. This to a woman who, we are told, had a suitor sent away because she didn't have enough money. I'll bet Emerson was never poor.

    It is interesting how Austen balances on the tightrope of it being immoral to care about money and money being all important in determining your life. As Pat said, our mother did somewhat the same thing. She was the oldest of ten children: her father died when the youngest was a baby, and the family lived in what must have been the equivilant for the times of "genteel poverty". I have some (slight) reason to think that my grandmother may have done some of the same altering of reality as Prudie's mother, at least, not actually making things up, but seeing the "genteel" and not the "poverty". Could Austen's writing be something of the same thing? As far as I can remember, Elinor is the only heroine who marries a poor man, everyone else moves from "genteel poverty" (or just poverty-poverty in Fanny's case) to comfort. And Elinor's poverty may have been needed to emphasize the switch from sense to sensability.

    June 11, 2004 - 06:56 am
    Note on Allegra: she says "I like a progression ---Repitition is tedious -- because there's no direction to it. I especially like a progression that turns things completely over. Takes you pole to pole".

    Of course this is a comment on "Sense and Sensibility" where sensible Elinor marries for love and romantic Marianne marries to be comfortable. Is it also a hint about this book? (Karen, don't answer!). She says it to Bernadette who repeats herself endlessly. Will Allegra turn from pole to pole, and Bernadette repeat? Or will Allegra repeat, and bernadette go from pole to pole? Let's keep an eye on it.

    June 11, 2004 - 07:36 am
    JoanK -- I'm glad to see your suppositions about what's to come. Will the characters change, or will they keep their same habits and likes and dislikes -- Bernadette repeating herself, etc.

    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.

    June 11, 2004 - 07:38 am
    I haven't had much free time to post in the last few days: today I seem to need to catch up, so please excuse me.

    I see we really didn't answer many of the questions about Allegra, so I took a whack at some of them.

    1. Clearly, Allegra is Marianne, and Sylvia is Elinor. Corinne is Willoughby and Daniel is Edward: he leaves the marriage but not her in the same way that Edward cannot marry Elinor, but remains in her life. Sylvia’s response is the same outward calm, and excusing him with presumably some inward emotion buried. There is the same distance in her. I think Austen's biographers are still trying to decide how much this distance in her was a cover for deeper emotions.

    2. Disclosing one’s sexual orientation. I have known a number of gay people who do that: on first meeting a new person, will let it be known, by a reference to the significant other or by exaggerating stereo typically “gay behavior”. I always assumed it was because gays still meet with so much hostility, they would rather deal with the issue up front than become friendly with someone, and then face hostility later.

    3. Has been answered.

    4.I have no idea what the whiteness is about, but it interests me. Karen, I'd like your help here.

    5. Clearly, Corinne is being compared to Wlloughby here. Note there is also a suggestion that Corinne was unfaithful to Allegra with her writing group friend. Common themes: Allegra starts out to be kind, but winds up being cruel; she tries to win someone’s good opinion, and winds up making them despise her; I like the fact that she decides to make everything she sees brilliant. This shows why you really have to like Allegra, even when you get impatient with her.

    8. Older women: I feel a little protective about Bernadette, since she is the closest to me in age. While all of the women are critical of each other, Jocelyn, Sylvia, and Allegra all have someone in the group who really cares about them. Bernadette and Prudie don’t. I think this affects how the reader feels about them.

    I can’t remember older women falling in love in Austen. It’s true, older women don’t fall in love in literature, or if they do, they are seen as ridiculous. My observations at the local senior center shows that this is far from the case in real life. There’s a lot going on there LOL.

    June 11, 2004 - 08:11 am
    JoanK and Horselover, re your comments about mothers (Prudie's) and grandmothers (Joan's & Pat's)using fantasies or altering reality to deal with poverty. That seems to be one way for parents to protect children from worries and stress -- like the mother in "Mama's Bank Account. her children never worried about having enough money for their needs because they could always go to the bank. Joan, your grandmother sounds like one smart upbeat lady.

    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.

    Joan Pearson
    June 11, 2004 - 09:55 am
    Pedln, so happy to have you back home, safe and sound! You've been missed. You were missed the other evening. The irony! You had to leave three days before the happening - after having been in the area for the past three weeks! No one has been more enthusiastic about Karen's book from the beginning!

    Pat put it so well - Karen made us feel like "a bunch of old friends gathering to talk about the things we cared about most." I'm feeling that way about our time spent together here in this discussion. We seem to be talking not so much about the romance in Jane Austen's novels, but about that which we care about most - family, friendship...

    Pedln, I'm going to yield to you all for insights into the sometimes mysterious mother/daughter relationships, having grown without a mother, or even a stand-in on the one hand, and then nary a bundle of pink among the four blue blankets God blessed me with. Sons are easier, well, let's say, less complicated I sincerely believe. Everything is out there to see, to be dealt with. (except for the emerging stories, the things I am just now learning, as you are Pedln!)

    The oldest of five motherless younger siblings, I did grow up with the understanding that I was going to have to acquire some sort of skill with which to support myself. Jane Austen's heroines couldn't do much to support themselves - EXCEPT to be very economical in managing what they did have. Joan K, I think that many of our parents were of the depression era and had to do as yours did - as most women did in Austen's time - manage what they had with great economy, often with smoke and mirrors.

    I'm wondering what advice Sylvia communicated on love, on selecting a mate? Was she silent when she realized her daughter's sexual orientation? Is advice on selection a female mate beyond Sylvia? I get the feeling that there wasn't much guidance in that department - but Allegra was learning something about committment, affection and fidelity from observing her parents. Do you suspect that there is something missing in Sylvia and Daniel's marriage? Allegra is understandably having a difficult time accepting her new stepmother (has he married the lady who is young enough to be Allegra's sister? Is that a typo, Karen? I concluded that the line was not intended to say that Daniel was marrying a girl young enough to be his own sister...) Yes, he was abandonning her mother, but in choosing a young woman to love, isn't he also replacing Allegra in his affections? I can understand her great grief - as if it is greater than Sylvia's.

    Joan K - I think that is such a good point! Allegra likes progression. Does Jane Austen? Do we see growth and change in Jane Austen's characters? Has Marianne really changed? How did you feel about her decision to forget Willoughby and marry the Colonel? Can she forget him? Really? Can she be happy with the Colonel. Is Jane Austen confident that she will?

    Will Allegra ever learn to accept and love herself for the person she is - or will she change?

    Pedln asks if we are seeing themes developing in Austen's works, in Karen's book? Let's hold the thought until we have spent some time with Prudie and Fanny Price. The Prudie/Mama relationship and the Fanny/Mama relationship have much in common, I think in the way each mother handles poverty. It's interesting to me that Karen deals with this subject with such a light touch. Does Prudie remember her childhood years with the any sense of humor or amusement at her mother's ingenuity and resourcefulness?

    June 11, 2004 - 03:00 pm
    What do you think of Prudie's nd her mother's evaluation of Dean? Prudie had thought Dean would be romantic, but her mother saw him as "a young man with his feet on the ground." Prudie wonders "What was wrong with a solid sort of guy? Did you want a marriage full of surprises, or did you want a guy you could depend on? Someone who, when you looked at him, you knew what he'd be like in fifty years?" Isn't this the problem with many of the relationships in the Austen novels? Marianne has to adjust her expectations from the seemingly dashing and romantic John Willoughby who cannot be counted on, to the steady and reliable, but dull, Colonel Brandon. Elizabeth Bennet is also at first attracted to the unreliable and unfaithful Wickham, but finally comes to see Darcy as the man who can be counted on to be steadfast and dependable.

    Joan, You said, " I'll bet Emerson was never poor." You are probably correct, although he wasn't extremely wealthy either. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Most of his ancestors were clergymen as was his father. He was educated in Boston and Harvard, like his father. In 1825 he began to study at the Harvard Divinity School and the next year he was licensed to preach. In 1829 Emerson married Ellen Louisa Tucker, who died in 1831 from consumption. Emerson became sole pastor at the Second Unitarian Church of Boston in 1830. Three years later he had a crisis of faith, and his controversial views caused his resignation. In 1835 Emerson married Lydia Jackson and settled with her at the east end of the village of Concord, where he then spent the rest of his life.

    Prudie says that many of Austen's books "were filled with clergymen's livings--promised, offered, desired--but these posed more financial concerns than spiritual ones." It seems that in Austen's time, the clergy were part of a a kind of upper middle class who could mix with the wealthy but were somewhat beneath them on the social scale.

    June 11, 2004 - 03:40 pm
    HORSELOVER: the clergy were part of the "gentry", which someone has defined as the poor upper class. In a society where the money and property went to the oldest son, the other children, unlessthey married money, had relatively little, but still were considered part of the class of their birth. If men, they participated in one of the few professions that was considered suitable for the upper class; the clergy, the law, the army or navy. They maintained a style that showed they were upper class, even though poor (Austen is devastating about those who fail to do so). For example, Agatha Christie, whose books are full of such characters, shows them as always buying the most well cut clothes and best furniture, and using them till they are practically in shreds, as opposed to the poor who buy cheap clothes and furniture, and, of course, only associating with the upper class and other gentry.

    English literature is full of gentry, including many of Austen's characters. It was her "social class".

    kiwi lady
    June 11, 2004 - 09:25 pm
    The clergy were often second sons. The local Landowner more or less ran the village and often had charge of the living associated with the village Church. They often gave the living to their second sons. The wealth of the local landowner would decide whether the living was a good one or a poor one. The clergy were part of the gentry.

    There was a definite hierachy in each village. There was the aristocracy and their estate. There were the gentlemen farmers (Thats the stock I come from) then there were the tenant farmers who leased land off the Lord of the Manor and the estate workers who lived in tied cottages. The clergy were very much on call to the Lord of the Manor and dared not disagree with them.


    Joan Pearson
    June 12, 2004 - 08:21 am
    Good morning! It's stopped raining long enough to get some gardening done. Hope it's a fine day where you are.

    Would you believe Pedln took the time to comb through all the posts on Emma and Sense and Sensibility for parallels we noted in the discussion found in Jane Austen and The Jane Austen Book Club - Such a good job that we ask you to continue to be on the alert for more in Mansfield Park - we'll keep this running list linked to the heading for quick reference. Thanks Pedln! Take a look -

    Pedln's Parallel Notes

    Joan Pearson
    June 12, 2004 - 08:24 am
    I read and noted - somewhere - oh please don't ask me where because I failed to note the source - that Mansfield Park's Fanny Price was Jane Austen's favorite heroine - because of her "central, stable presence" in the midst of chaos. She's worth our attention then - I wonder if that's how Jane viewed herself - "a central, stable presence"? (In another corner of my mind, I'm wondering how such a character relates to Prudie's story...)

    What got me about this novel is the fact that it deals with such serious and often heart-wrenching topics - and yet it is comical at thse same time. Much like Prudie's childhood memories and their poverty, come to think of it.

    Interesting comments on the social order and the place of the clergy in Jane Austen's world. If money is a consideration - and it IS if you are not the first born son, you don't have much choice if you want to retain any social status once you leave home. Edmund has chosen to "take orders" - is attending Oxford, and is soon to be ordained. He is pursuing one of the three acceptable paths you've mentioned here. So far, so good. Everyone is happy with his choice...especailly his little cousin, Fanny Price.

    He falls in love with Mary Crawford, and she falls for him - even if he is not a rich man. She is pretty and smart, her family is somewhat wealthy and well-connected. Dad is an Admiral? If only interested in wealth and position, she could have married UP,couldn't she? But She loves him enough to marry him...ONLY if he selects another path - law, she suggests. She doesn't want to be a country parson's wife. Does Edmund love Mary Crawford enough to choose another path that will make her happy? What's the problem? Why does he resist her nearly irrestible charm?

    Horselover notes that Jane Austen was "devastating" towards second sons who didn't aspire to the upper class - even if just the "poor upper class". But that's what Edmund is doing, isn't it? Is he her target?

    I'm a little confused, maybe I am reading too much into the story, but somehow I get the feeling that Jane Austen is writing this piece of satire as criticism of the motivation - the lack of spiritual motivation for pursuing the ministry. If I'm reading it right, then Edmund has his reasons, noble reasons, for wanting to continue on his track despite the pressure he feels coming from his heart's desire. What do you think? Is Jane Austen critical of the clergy in this novel?

    June 12, 2004 - 04:29 pm
    Bridget Jones' Diary will be shown again this evening on TBS (TurnerBroadcastingSystem, I think it is) at 7:00 CDT, probably at 8:00 EDT just in case you've missed seeing it. I'm going to rewatch it and see if I can "get" the similarities to P & P. Sue

    Joan Pearson
    June 13, 2004 - 04:23 am
    Thanks, Sue! I tried to get in several times last evening, but either SN was down, or there was a problem with my server. So I missed "Bridget" again. We're getting nearer to P & P - Did you catch it?

    I'm still trying to find parallels between Prudie and the heroine of Mansfield Park. Did she marry a solid Edmund in marrying Dean? I'm not sure. Is Dean faithful to Prudie? He seems to spend a lot of time away from home. Prudie still seems to have a tenuous grasp on reality, her imagination is so much more interesting than her life, it is hard to tell how she feels about her marriage. Does she seem happy to you?

    I reread Chapter III in Karen's book - with delight! It is so funny - only Prudie doesn't notice. I came across a line that explains, to me, why she, Prudie, is drawn to this novel.
    >"Prudie liked the beginning of Mansfield Park most especially."
    The beginning explains how Fanny Price comes to leave her large, impoverished family to live with her Aunt Norris, a parson's wife, but ends up living with her third aun't, the wife a a wealthy nobleman instead. Fanny's exhausted mother gave her away, one less mouth to feed, and Fanny became little more than a servant to her aunts and cousins, with no more prospects than if she had stayed in the bosom of her family.
    "No matter what Prudie did, she [her mother] showed no inclination to give Prudie away."
    Fanny was a sickly and uneducated ten year old when she came to Mansfield Park. No one took notice of her - except her older cousin, Edmund. Through long conversations with Edmund her high moral principles are formed. Her love for him is realized when he shows romantic interest in Mary Crawford. When that affair doesn't work out, Edmund turns to Fanny.

    Who was Prudie's mentor as she grew? Do you see anyone in her life who guided her to adulthood? Do you understand Prudie now? Does Prudie understand Prudie? Do you think she married an Edmund? Are we seeing what Fanny and Edmund's married life was like in Prudie and Dean's marriage? I haven't yet figured out what's going on with Prudie over in the high school - hoping you can provide some insights.

    Have a super Sunday everyone!

    ps Pedln - for your "Parallel list" - did you notice that Mrs. Price was always tired, In her case, managing her family of ten on very little, she would understandably be exhausted. Prudie's mother sleeps through weekends - is tired all the time. What is it that Prudie suspects is going on at work that she feels she must spy on her?

    Another parallel - I noticed that Fanny suffers from frequent headaches. So does our Prudie. I can see so many parallels between Fanny and Prudie, but not sure I see Jane Austen in Fanny. A repressed, unrealized Jane Austen, perhaps?

    June 13, 2004 - 06:59 am
    Prudie is interesting. She has so much insight into her students and so little insight into herself. When she says "I'm very ---, everybody says so, you know she doesn't have a clue.

    It's clear that Dean is Edmund (I'm glad he doesn't appear: it's really hard to like Edmund) and the student she's attracted to is Henry Crawford, canoodling with another student and flirting with Prudie. There's more in the play, I think, but I haven't got it yet.

    Karen said in her radio interview that she had found that she had not particularly liked "Mansfield Park", but had found that the thoughtful Austen fans chose it as their favorite novel, and felt she hadto work on that. What do the rest of you feel?

    June 13, 2004 - 09:31 am
    Many thanks to all of you, Pat, Joan, Kiwi, Horselover, for your contributions about the social makeup during Austen's lifetime. I'm really enjoying your comments about the clergy, second sons, and village hierarchies. It's fascinating. What do you know about Bath -- in my sketchy readings it seems than many of Austen's characters go there and spend much of their time promenading. I've been there, briefly, eons ago, but don't understand its prominence in Austen's time.

    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?

    June 13, 2004 - 10:05 am
    Karen also mentioned at the reading that Mansfield Park was her least favorite of the novels but that others who liked it very much had gotten her to thinking about looking at it again. Perhaps it's one of those novels that rewards endless rereadings?

    I've never read it, so I'll pay special attention to what the rest of you have to say.

    Prudie's chapter on Mansfield Park never really happens; that is the book club doesn't meet because of the emergency with her mother. However, there is a good deal about Prudie's reaction to the novel because of the quotes from the novel and those notes she takes to get ready for the book group.

    Dean seemed a little too good to be true to me as well, Joan. In fact I wondered for a while there whether or not he was real or just Prudie's imaginary husband, the one she told everyone about but that no one ever saw. Of course, he does come in to tell her of her mother's accident and to assure her that he will follow as soon as he can, but he seems so vaporous.

    The high school is well done I think. A high school near me did "Brigadoon" a couple of years ago--odd play for high school students but not an infrequent choice I think. Also the pherenomes that are circling around and causing some sexual fantasizing on the part of Prudie indicate to me that although she is married to the "perfect" man, her sex life leaves something to be desired. At twenty-eight she is moving into those years that have been called woman's sexual peak--and I wonder.


    June 13, 2004 - 10:54 am
    Hello again! I'm home (but only for the day, tomorrow I drive to Los Angeles for the week)and I missed the whole discussion on Chapter Two. It was such a pleasure to meet with some of you in DC. I was so immediately comfortable with you all; it truly did feel as if we were old friends. I wished we could have a monthly tea party together. But online is also pretty good. I'll try to catch up on at least some of the discussion. In bits and pieces: Carolyn, my daughter's boyfriend lives about half an hour from Rotarua (and I'm probably horribly misspelling that. With the sulphur springs.) She's been to visit and brought some amazing pictures of the area. Unbelievably beautiful. Hugh (my husband) and I hope to get there sometime next year. I expect we'd fly in and out of Auckland, wouldn't we?

    Sylvia and Allegra are indeed supposed to be Elinor and Marianne. (But just because I think so, doesn't mean I'm right! Feel free to argue.) Allegra is closer to her dad than her mom, just because Sylvia is a circumspect, restrained sort of person and Daniel is warmer. But Allegra is angry at her dad just now and is trying in her way to support her mom. Her way does turn out to involve a lot of Sylvia supporting her. The whiteness is another metaphor for Allegra's need to always have a lot of color, stimulation, drama, powerful feeling in her life. Sylvia likes things quiet, but Allegra does not.

    The club doesn't read Sanditon, but I have. In fact, the epilogue is based (very, very, very slightly) on it and there is also a tiny section of email exchanges inspired by Lady Susan. They come later. I wrote an essay on my attractions to Austen, which was published in The Believer in March. Two things I tried to talk about were the sense of Austen's world being strange, and something you'd read like a science fiction novel, but also about the opposite -- her world being familiar and comfortable in some middle-class way for me. For me, both things go on at once. I grew up reading Seventeen magazine and some of the dating guidelines came right out of Austen -- don't chase boys; it's up to them to come to you. The importance of attracting men, and how sometimes it was necessary to suppress parts of your personality to do so. The importance of reputation and the dangers of a bad, fast reputation. So all these aspects of Austen were utterly familiar to me.

    Do you think girls no longer get those messages? When my own children were in high school there was still a clear double standard -- fast girls were considered slutty, but fast boys admired. I wonder if that will ever change?

    June 13, 2004 - 11:41 am
    Seventeen pushes "The importance of attracting men, and how sometimes it was necessary to suppress parts of your personality to do so"

    Irrelevant story: when I was in labor with my first child, the labor dragged on and on. I had forgotten to take anything to read with me, and asked a nurse if she had anything I could read between contractions. She came back with a copy of Seventeen with a big headline on the cover "12 ways to attract a man". I gave it right back, saying "I think it's a little late for that". I've never seen Seventeen since w/o chuckling. Do they still have those articles?

    June 13, 2004 - 11:47 am
    Last thought on Brandon: someone said that Brandon needs Marianne. It seems to me that Marianne also needs Brandon (Karen: don't tell your daughter/Allegra I said so). Just as she needs Elinor before her marraige to calm her down and take care of her , so I see Brandon filling that role.

    I'm not sure why people in the group don't like Brandon. He doesn't say much; you don't get much of a sense of him. But I like Ausen's heros better when they keep there mouths shut and don't preach, like Edmund and Knightly do. LOL.

    June 13, 2004 - 12:51 pm
    Joan K.--An interesting remark you just made.

    You like Austen's men better when they keep their mouths shut and don't preach.

    Jane's father was a clergyman and she must have heard many sermons in her lifetime since in those days the minister's whole family was supposed to be present in church unless they were sick or dead. Perhaps all that sermon-making that doesn't appear as sermons in her novels appears in the long sermonlike passages that some of her male characters deliver. I was about ready to smack Mr. Knightley when he was "educating" Emma.

    Welcome back, Karen. Remember that it is important to get a little rest now and again. It sounds like you are right out straight with the book tour. L.A. all next week? At least that's in California!


    June 13, 2004 - 02:39 pm
    JoanK -- I'll bet you gave that nurse her laugh for the night. Seventeen must be doing something right. It's been around for 60 years.

    kiwi lady
    June 13, 2004 - 03:32 pm
    Bath was a town which had mineral baths. I think the mineral water was discovered by the Romans. Bath became a place for the gentry "to take the waters" and also to see and be seen. So much of that society relied on this parading and preening as an amusement and a sort of a competition as to who was the most fashionable amongst society. (Not too different to todays celebrities and their parading and preening -only our "gentry" are rock stars, film stars (or just plain filthy rich playgirls and playboys)Having a holiday in Bath was a diversion from the boredom suffered by the rich who lived on unearned income and had little to fill their days other than social events. They went to Bath at a certain time of the year, much as they would spend summer in the Country and winter up in London.


    June 13, 2004 - 08:39 pm
    Do you know about Georgette Heyer and her many novels? A good many of her heroines are poor relations who must attend an elderly relative when she "takes the waters" in Bath. Heyer wrote these novels to portray the Regency period. She's very wordy, I've counted words in some of her sentences--over 200 words in one that I recall. Her heroines are fairly independent for their times and although they are often confined to the housekeeping duties of females in Austen's works, they certainly aren't weak misses who kowtow to men.

    Pedln, Hugh Grant was definitely unlovable in BJD. Downright sleazy, in fact. Colin Firth fit the role of the pompous Mr. Darcy in P & P, Bridget's mother was flighty as was Elizabeth Bennet's mother, the father reminded me of Mr. Bennet, but Bridget, while attracted to the wrong man, as Elizabeth was, was a sympathetic character with her wise cracking attitude. Her vulnerability was reminiscent of Elizabeth's also. Sue

    Joan Wall
    June 13, 2004 - 08:54 pm
    I just stumbled on this tonight and would love to join. I am an avid Janeite. I got Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was eleven and have read it thirty or forty times. I then got all six novels in one volume when I was twenty and have re-read them many times. I will go out tomorrow and get Karen Joy Fowler's book. It sounds wonderful. I read the message about Georgette Heyer and read most of her books many years ago because of the surface similarity to Austen. They were fun light reading but not the same quality. Has anyone seen the videos of the Austen books? I have some of the older versions.

    June 13, 2004 - 09:25 pm
    WELCOME JOAN WALL!!! The more Joans the better.VBG. And the more Janites, the bretter. Pull up a chair.

    kiwi lady
    June 13, 2004 - 10:01 pm
    Mrs Bennet really irritated me as a character. I guess its a tribute to Jane Austen that she drew the character so well. I love my mother dearly but I am afraid she too, was and is a Mrs Bennet. I can understand how an Elizabeth might feel. LOL


    June 14, 2004 - 05:32 am
    Welcome Joan Wall! You've come to the right place and there is a chair ready and waiting for you. Karen Fowler's book is a delight and offers much to talk about -- by itself and with its parallels to Austen's works.

    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.

    June 14, 2004 - 06:50 am
    BATH. When other people go to England, they go to Stratford to see where Shakespeare lived. When my daughter went to England, she went to Bath to see where Jane Austen lived. She told me this about it: it is the site where the Romans built baths to take advantage of the mineral springs there, which were supposed to be healthy. You can still visit the baths, though not bathe in them.

    The social center in Jane's time was the Pump Room where people gathered to "take the waters". It is still in use today. There is a fountain there which dispenses water from the mineral springs, and people drink it, believing in its health effects. Jody drank a glass and said it tasted truly AWFUL. I guess they felt anything that tastes that bad must be good for you.LOL. I don't remember Jane mentioning anyone actually drinking the stuff: society gathered there every day to see and be seen.

    All of the buildings in Bath (except the cathedral) are built of a local stone that has an unusual color: kind of yellowy tan. There are no modern buildings, only these, Georgian in style, so Bath has a unique ambiance.

    Hope this is interesting.

    June 14, 2004 - 07:29 am
    Although I've not come to like Mansfield Park best (my favorites remain Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma) I do think it's the most interesting of her books. It's certainly the most controversial. Virginia Woolf says it's her best book; Kingsley Amis says it's immoral and Austen, through her apparent approval of its judgmental, intolerant hero and heroine, is immoral during it, too. My friend (and critic) Ray Davis points out on his website that it's a book in which two of the few people who value Fanny are the villains. Being valued is a rare occurrance in her life, still she is not moved by this. I've slowly come to like her better. It's Edmund I don't like now. But we're coming up on Northanger Abbey soon and that's got one of my favorite Austen heroes in it.

    June 14, 2004 - 08:32 am
    Welcome, Joan Wall!

    It's comforting for me to see all these Joans gathering. When I was in school, there were lots of Joans and Jeans. I had several good Joan and Jean (or Jeanne) friends in elementary school.

    Perhaps Joan and Jean will come back around soon. I still have not had any Joans in class, and I've had a lot of classes over the years.

    However, last semester I had all sorts of what I think of as regular or old-fashioned names like Margaret, Victoria, Emma, Matthew, Christopher, Frank.

    It's good to see the old standards reappearing. I am tired of Brandy and Tricia and Stacy and Mindy.

    Completely off-topic, but seeing our newest Joan's name set me off.

    I have Northanger Abbey which I've never read. Must get to it in order to be ready for tomorrow.

    Good to see you again, Karen. Don't forget that today is your day of rest at home.


    Joan Pearson
    June 14, 2004 - 10:00 am
    Oh, what a pleasant surprise! I'd like to add my welcome - pull up your chair over here in our "Joan" corner. May we call you Joan W, so as not to confuse you with Joan G., Joan K., Joan P? We will be considering your favorite, Pride & Prejudice on Saturday, so you got here just in time for that and for everyone to get to know you better. Welcome! Welcome, Joan Wall! We are happy you found us and know you will be as happy with Karen's book...and the fact that she is taking part in our discussion here.

    I've got to take a minute or to say something that's been on my mind as we look for parallels between Jane Austen's works and Karen's novels. I worry that we are so concentrating on the parallels that we are overlooking the fact that Karen has written a compelling novel that would stand on its own if we knew nothing more of Jane Austen than what is presented in her book.

    I'm certain that we all have privately appreciated her writing, her creativity, her unique style. Karen's ability to convey and distill mood, character, action, thought into few words is a great talent. In many ways, her prose reminds me of poetry. Can you imagine an editor's job editing a poem? It must be as tough a job editing Karen's work. What a nightmare of an assignment. You've got to do some editing, but what? Everything is so tight, controlled...so right. Who would presume to improve upon it? (Admittedly, I never saw the unedited version hahaha.) Jane Austen's wry, dry wit is there, but the economy of language is clearly Karen Fowler's. I love what some of you are referring to as the droll "throw-away" lines. Will you underline them and point them out here as you note them? They "work" in the framework of the story...I'm thinking that "throw-away" might not be an accurate term for them.

    Joan W., again, welcome to our circle - we already know you love Jane Austen - can't wait to hear your reaction to Karen's book!

    Malryn (Mal)
    June 14, 2004 - 10:17 am
    Have you all seen the article about the Jane Austen Book Club in the NY Times today?

    NY Times article

    June 14, 2004 - 10:25 am
    Thank you, Mal. I enjoyed reading the article. Karen must have gone to New York from her reading here in DC. She's back in California now where I hope she will get a little time to herself.


    Joan Pearson
    June 14, 2004 - 10:51 am
    So many posts since yesterday morning - and such good ones too! As we have one more day to spend on Mansfield Park - which Virginia Woolf considers Jane Austen's best (thanks for that tidbit, Karen) and Prudie's response to the novel, let's make it the day count and look closely at what Jane Austen is saying about Fanny Price, what Karen is saying about Prudie...

    Karen tells us that Kingley Amis considered the novel immoral. Why? "Because Jane Austen approved of the judgemental, intolerant hero." What do you think? Did Jane also approve of Fanny's choice of Edmund for a husband? What kind of a marriage can there be if the husband is "judgemental?" Pedln asks an interesting question - how does Dean parallel Edmund? Is Dean judgemental in his treatment of Prudie? Poor Prudie doesn't want to see her comotose mother - because she'll have to miss her book club meeting. Prudie is not given the choice...she has to leave right away. She would have preferred to hold the long- anticipated meeting and then go off to visit her mother the following day. But Dean buys the tickets and she has no choice. Of course he's right - there's no one on earth who would question his judgement. Would you? Did you agree with Dean? I'll bet you think she's lucky to have him make all her decisions, because he's always right, right?

    A little aside here regarding Mansfield Park - another example of an anticipated event that never came off - the production of the play, Lovers' Vows - Maria Bertram's buffoon suitor gets a small part in the play - is so intent on doing a good job, he writes down all his lines - all 42 of them so he won't forget. Do you remember reading the number "42" in Prudie's story? Pedln, this needs to go on your parallel list, I suspect.

    But what does Jane Austen think of her heroine, Fanny Price? Does she approve of Fanny's choice of Edmund for a husband? Maryal, do you consider it admirable for a woman to marry a principled man...without any real physical attraction? Is that what Marriane did in marrying Colonel Brandon? Was this the thing to do in Jane Austen's world? Would Jane have done the same?

    Joan K - loved your comment about your preference for the strong, silent type? How many of JA's heroine's choices fit the bill? Does Edmund? He takes his sermons very seriously, but perhaps Fanny is not on the receiving end - because he already knows how and what she thinks.

    I'll bet Seventeen Magazine hasn't changed over the years - I'll bet it still offers advice on how to do hair, make-up, dress to attract a man. But what happens when she catches him? Karen had a great "throw-away" line in describing Prudie's appearance...let me go find it...
    "...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.

    Karen, I really see the heroine plunked down in an alien world in Northanger Abbey - when the unprepared Catherine is plunked into the Bath society scene!

    I don't remember if Bath figured in Mansfield Park - did it? It sounds like a place Cinderella's two sisters would have gone, leaving Cinderella at home to work...

    Thanks for bringing in the NY Times article, Malryn.

    June 14, 2004 - 11:44 am
    Here's a Janeite, too, and think we own all of the videos and DVDs available: one Northanger Abbey, one Persuasion, two Mansfield Parks, two Sense & Sensibilitys, three Pride & Prejudices and three Emmas. Have adored her for 63 years, since age 12. Most of my family are Janeites, on the distaff side, at least. Have one male cousin who loves her. Ordered The Jane Austen Book Club prepublication from Barnes & Noble, but am so many books behind, it still waits in the living room to at least have its pages opened and scanned. Cannot join your discussion, but am lurking. Was in Bath in 1971, and the water looked dreadful, smelled awful, and tasted ghastly. The town is exactly as all the books portray it, and we loved it. Have some of the books that are supposed to carry the stories on. Just skimmed them, though, so cannot give them a report. Jane Fairfax looks pretty good. Actually, prefer the versions in my own head. Emma is the person would most like to be, because love her circumstances. Fanny is the person I most am as far as circumstances are concerned, but own more of Elizabeth's personality. And, while Emma is my favorite book, because of the above, found Mansfield Park the most interesting and most realistic. Finally, had a cousin who lived in Manhattan, and we used to make it a quest (she is deceased now, hence the used to) to hit every tea shop on the island. We enjoyed a lot of them, but the one Karen Fowler was just in was one we missed. Bummer!

    kiwi lady
    June 14, 2004 - 11:49 am
    Edmund and Fanny Price. People marry for love ( or is it lust)and then when lifes difficulties arise the relationship falls to bits. A marriage which also also based on a deep friendship is more likely to survive so I see the union of Fanny Price and Edmund as a very satisfactory partnership. Edmund has cared for Fanny since she first arrived as a lonely and frightened 8yr old. I don't have the same view of Edmund as some of the other posters in this discussion.


    June 14, 2004 - 01:05 pm
    MaryPage, how great to see you here in Books again! Do get comfy in a chair and stay. Lurk if you wish, but we'd love to hear from you too.

    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."

    June 14, 2004 - 04:06 pm
    I'm having a hard time keeping up with all of your wonderful posts. But the discussion here is really helping me to get more from "The Jane Austin Book Club."

    My daughter has a subscription to Seventeen, so I though I'd take a look to see what the articles were. On the cover: 536 Cute Summer Looks; Funny Dating Secrets; Get Your Best Butt; how to throw a great party! I do know that the internet and instant messaging has changed the girl/boy interaction somewhat. My daughter commented today that most boys don't make the first contact via IM. She is fairly "old fashioned," but will call her friends-who-are-boys if she has something to say to them. Not much different than her friends-who-are-girls!

    I have seen the video of Mansfield Park several times. (Again one of DD's favorites.) When I realized that the video was so different from the book, I dug right in and started reading. Won't get finished before the discussion moves on, but I had to see for myself.

    Personally, I have never minded the Fanny-Edmond combination. One discussion question struck me - is this a Cinderella story. In as far as the treatment by the relatives, I'd say yes. However, Fanny doesn't end up with the "Prince." Edmund is moral and stable, but not glamorous. But Fanny has spent most of her life being whatever her aunts and cousins required of her. I don't think she has the personality to be the lady of the manor (or the princess). So I think Edmund is a good match for her.

    Pat H
    June 15, 2004 - 08:32 am
    As Prudie is boarding the plane to visit her mother, she drops the stack of cards she has anxiously been preparing for the book club. She recounts them to make sure she hasn’t lost any—all 42. That’s a pretty funny parallel to Rushworth anxiously rehearsing his 42 lines, and I would never have caught it by myself.

    I am much struck by Prudie’s unwillingness to believe her mother is actually in a coma. Of course it is common to meet bad news with some denial, but not to that extent. She thinks her whole relationship with her mother is nothing but make-believe.

    Austen has Mary Crawford tell the one dirty joke I can remember in the whole series. In chapter 6, at a dinner party, she speaks of "admirals..of Rears and Vices..Now do not be suspecting me of a pun, I entreat". This is a reference to the homosexuality rampant in the British Navy of the time, and is a pretty raunchy remark for a woman. Surely she must be a villianess. It also shows her careless upbringing.

    Joan Pearson
    June 15, 2004 - 09:54 am
    Catbells, if we view Fanny's story as a rather droll Cinderella story, would the prince have been Henry Crawford? Because of her principles, Fanny never really considers his proposal. It is only when she's accused by her uncle of being ungrateful that she gives him a thought. OR has Edmund been her PRINCE all along? I think I like that version best too, Carolyn. Fanny just needed to wait for him to slip the glass slipper on her foot. I'm glad it happened. The "evil" stepsister proved she her unworthiness...did Edmund overhear her raunchy pun, Pat? The shoe just does NOT fit!

    Pat - I think the fact that Prudie dropped and then counted the 42 index cards is more than coincidence, don't you? It's been said that you can reread Jane Austen any number of times and come up with something new each time. I'm thinking the same holds true with Karen Fowler's book. Here's another parallel, a detail - see if you can find it in Prudie's story?
    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.

    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
    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?

    Prudie says in the end she dislikes Edmund so much more than she dislikes his scandalous, selfish, love-struck sister, Maria. If you remember, the married Maria ran off with Fanny's suitor, Henry Crawford in an adulturous relationship. Prudie dislikes Edmund more that she dislikes Maria! Is she telling us something about what she feels about Dean - and adultery?

    Have you figured out yet what it is that attracts Prudie to all things French? She mentions the story of the Little Prince several times...was she captivated with this story when a child perhaps? - The little prince finds himself on a strange planet inhabited only by one conceited man. This story has to be here for a reason, don't you think?

    Mary Page, you will love Karen's book. It is most rewarding, I believe, to read it along with the Jane Austen novels. I'm thinking of rereading them all, along with The Jane Austen Book Club when this discussion comes to a close - Karen's book is that good but you can't catch all the nuances in one reading.

    kiwi lady
    June 15, 2004 - 12:06 pm
    Fanny's mother is the spouse of an alcoholic. Even though Fanny's father is supposedly a naval chaplain he is on the bottle. I suppose he spends quite a lot of their meagre stipend on booze. Fanny's mother came from a genteel family and married with many misgivings from her parents. I think Fannys mother is too worried about surviving from one day to the next to worry about Fanny who she is probably satisfied has a decent life with her Aunt and Uncle. Fanny has great pity for her mother and her sisters especially her sister Susan.

    Prudie was told so many untruths by her mother she does not know whether to believe anything she is told concerning her mother. I can understand her attitude.


    June 15, 2004 - 01:53 pm
    JoanP, do you think Prudie's dislike of Edmund so much has something to do with her relationship with Dean, or is it with her mother? Her mother never gave her a brother, never gave her anyone who would know her and love her and see her shortcomings. As for Edmund, he was willing to lose his sister, rather than to see those shortcomings and forgive her. I wonder if that's not what Prudie holds against him.

    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.

    June 15, 2004 - 02:50 pm
    I finally bought my copy of The Jane Austen Book Club this morning at Books-A-Million while shopping for a birthday present for a friend's little daughter. I've read the first chapter, the synopses and the comments at the end of the book.

    I'll be catching up to Chapter 3 ASAP. Meanwhile on page 23, Jocelyn is thinking about her experience on the tennis team. I found this to be significant and very Jane-like: "No one in the school cared about girls' sports, though. More people came to see the boys' team play, when they weren't nearly so good, and no one, even among the girls, thought this wasn't the way it should be". Is Karen reminding us that Jane makes this point over and over in her novels? No one seems to think that girls/women should be admired as boys/men are to be admired, even though inferior. What do you think? Sue

    June 15, 2004 - 02:53 pm
    Starring Keira Knightley (isn't she that marvelous actress who played the British girl in Bend It Like Beckhem?) and Jena Malone (who is very much ours). My first thought was "they are too young!" Then I realized they are not at all. Jena is 19 now, and a very great actress. I do not know whether this film is to be U.K. or a U.S. production. The snippet I saw about it did not say.

    Joan Pearson
    June 15, 2004 - 05:25 pm
    Pedln, I too am stuggling with Prudie's mirror/portrait dream. I suspect that it may be connected to Mansfield Park in some way, but have given up thumbing through those pages.

    Let's see. This is a dream. It's Prudie's subconscious. Mirrors - Prudie realizes she is a mirror image of her mother? Only Jane Austen is in the dream too - her guide. Sometimes Jane morphs into Jocelyn. Does Prudie subconsciously wish she had a mother like Jocelyn? One who understood her? They seem to connect in their mutual love and admiration for Jane. Are Jane and Jocelyn Prudie's pretend family? She sees her own image in some of the portraits on the wall. Family protraits? Are the portraits her ancestors? Are the portraits the numerous scenarios Prudie has imagined as her make-believe family?

    Jane points to a door saying, "we've made improvements on your mother." What could improve Prudie's mother? A beach, a boat, an island, an ocean. Is Prudie's mother finally gone, just as she has always wished...a peaceful, painless death?

    Pedln, I am just letting go and making this all up. I think it's time to call for Karen, don't you? Karen, help us! (Do you think she will, or is it an author secret- à la Dan Brown?)

    Sue, you have just provided the perfect segueway into Northanger Abbey...the heroine, Catherine Morland grows up a tomboy, playing with her three older brothers...boys' games. Just like Jane Austen did. This was not considered lady-like in Jane's time - not socially acceptable. We're told Catherine is undisciplined, uneducated...and totally unconcerned with her appearance. I think this pretty much describes Jane Austen's childhood experience.

    Somehow, Catherine Morland shows up during the social season in Bath ...and manages to turn heads. Our job is to figure out how she is able to handle herself in such unfamiliar territory.

    More on Bath in a minute. Pedln, did you ever find your photos?

    Keep reading, Sue - but take your time and savor the writing! So happy you have your book - you are going to love it!

    ps. Mary P - we'll turn to P& P on Saturday. You will be ready for that one!

    Joan Pearson
    June 15, 2004 - 06:10 pm
    Last time in London, while sitting on some steps waiting on quite a queue for the Ladies, I struck up a conversation with a Brit who asked me where we had visited in the UK. She told me to be sure to go to BAHth - that is was one place that looks as it did in the past, the bombing had missed it. She was quite positive I'd love it. Husband already had his itinerary set and was not about to change it - Next time we will go to BAHth.

    There's a plate of the street where Catherine stayed with the Allens when in Bath in my copy of Northanger Abbey - I scanned the picture of Pulteney-Street and Laura Place for you...it's crooked, it's not you.

    > Here's a website of the Jane Austen Center in Bath with some more photos...just to get us in the mood for Northanger Abbey...and the Bath social scene.
    Bath photos
    Admittedly, the photos are not as good as the words in this case...the first-person descriptions from those who were fortunate enough to visit themselves...and remember it! hahaha, Pedln, find your photos!

    June 15, 2004 - 07:30 pm
    Some years ago on a trip to England, Bob and I went to Bath after visiting Stratford on Avon. I much preferred Bath--we went there because of reading the Austen novels and Georgette Heyer, too. The Crescent was exactly as I'd pictured it, the waters were truly disgusting and the underground baths were very interesting. The Romans were amazing engineers in that long ago time prior to our Jane. We ate Bath buns, walked around the city and toured the baths. My favorite, beside the pump room, was a museum of period clothing downstairs in one of the buildings. We didn't see the Jane Austen Center--is it fairly new?

    On that same trip we went down to a town in Devon to see the place Mary Ann, forgive me I forget her last name, but a clergy man's daughter who discovered wonderful fossils in the cliffs a bit later than Jane's time, but not by much. It is not a place Americans go, but lots of English, Irish, and French go there. We knew about it because I was teaching 6th grade language arts at the time and we had a story about this remarkable women. However, we could not visit the places she dug because the cliffs were crumbling and needed reinforcement, but the town was lovely. I also think this town was the place where The French Lieutenant's Woman walked along the Quay. But maybe not. My journal from the trip is packed away with my other treasures in my son's basement. Sue

    June 16, 2004 - 06:50 am
    SUE, I agree with everything you said, and add that the bridge was beautiful beyond imagination and there were any number of delicious second-hand bookshops. I bought and bought and bought some more, and those wonderful people mailed them all to me at very small expense. We ate in "The Hole In The Wall," something we were told we simply had to do in, as Joan points out, "Baaaath!"

    June 16, 2004 - 08:23 am
    Hello, MaryPage! Good to see you here again. I hope you'll continue to read with us because I always enjoy your comments. Have you read all the Austen books?

    I've only read P&P, Emma, and now, currently, Northanger Abbey. I'm halfway through Sense and Sensibility, but had to abandon it--Austen is the kind of writer one can stop and then come back to--because the discussion was moving on and I wanted to read ALL of Northanger Abbey because years ago I told a friend I would be sure to read it and promptly forgot. I'm more than halfway through and should be able to finish it today or tomorrow if the convalescent will behave herself.

    I'm really enjoying NA --we are still at Baath and there are wonderful descriptions of the Pump Room where the dances and general socializing were.

    Strange though it may seem, these scenes in the Pump Room where Catherine is waiting to be asked to dance reminded me of dances at the Grange Halls in Maine. It was such an uncomfortable thing to wait to be asked to dance especially when one didn't know many people and when most of one's friends were already dancing.

    Perhaps if I had worn my sprigged muslin, things would have gone better.


    June 16, 2004 - 08:34 am
    I'm falling behind in the discussion, because I'm madly rereading Northinger Abbey. I'd forgotten how funny it is. Does anyone know what sprigged muslin IS?

    I've looked everywhere online for the Jane Austen beach towel mentioned in the radio interview, and can't find it. Did find a tea towel with a picture of Mr. Knightley on it. Think I'll pass that one up.

    June 16, 2004 - 08:50 am
    About Grigg -- I like this guy and I think his sisters have taught him well -- he's survived his upbringing. Going around the world in jacks sounds like no mean feat. No need to make apologies for it. (Reminds me of the little neighbor kid who wanted a "best doll" for Christmas because the girls in the neighborhood wouldn't let him play with their best.)

    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.

    June 16, 2004 - 08:54 am
    Here's sprigged muslin on a doll http://hometown.aol.com/erdollcouture/sprig.html

    and here's an online definition: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sprigged

    Notice that the first illustration of the term in context is from Northanger Abbey.

    Joan K-- It IS funny, isn't it? I'm having the best time reading it. And isn't Isabella the best friend from hell? I knew not to trust her and tried to warn Catherine right from the beginning.

    But Catherine is so happy to be shown attention and to have a friend her own age in Bath.


    June 16, 2004 - 08:57 am
    Hi, pedln. I like Grigg too, a lot. I used to play jacks with my best friend Beth and going around the world was the last of the rounds, and difficult.

    But if any of the boys we played with had been seen playing jacks, he would have been mercilessly teased. We could play baseball and dodge ball with them, but there were games for girls that they wouldn't touch. Another was jump rope.

    June 16, 2004 - 09:07 am
    Great picture of sprigged and definition muslin. For those of us who are really not with it, here is the definition of "sprig" from Websters 1913 dictionary:

    Definition: [n] an ornament that resembles a spray of leaves or flowers [n] small branch or division of a branch; usually applied to branches of the current or preceding year

    I remember as a child being very proud of going around the world. But Deems is right: we were a neighborhood of girls, so the few boys had to play with us, but they never played jacks!! Afraid we would beat them?

    kiwi lady
    June 16, 2004 - 11:07 am
    Northanger Abbey was written partly in the style of the Gothic novels which were very popular at the time. (The big mystery that Catherine made out of nothing during her visit to the Abbey.) You note that Catherine was given a Gothic novel to read as part of the plot of this book. I think it was Janes way of poking fun at the young women who were besotted by these novels at the time Northanger Abbey was written. I have actually been trying to find one of these Gothic novels to read for fun through our library system but no success as yet locating any of them.

    Grigg - I liked Grigg too. His relationship with his sisters was lovely and I liked the way he was turned off by his fathers behaviour. Too many boys have been influenced all to the bad by fathers like Grigg had.


    Joan Pearson
    June 16, 2004 - 12:20 pm
    A question about those Roman baths of Bahth - for those of you fortunate to have been there - are there mineral springs rising into the baths?

    A few years ago we visited Colorado - arrived in the outskirts of Glenwood at the end of a long day of driving, checked into a motel recommended by AAA, had something to eat and finally drove into the town of Glenwood. Imagine our surprise (and dismay) when we came upon the majestive old Hotel Colorado - a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt, Al Capone etc. Why wasn't this hotel in our AAA guidebook, we still wonder? A *** hotel? The hotel guests were coming out from the hotel with towels under their arms...because right out front was the huge pool - looking similar to the Roman bath in Bath - warm mineral spring waters pulsating from the bottom. I wanted to drive out to the KMART near our motel and pick up a bathing suit and come back and try it, but it was late, he said and we had to get up early in the morning, he said. I still think about that missed opportunity - still mad at AAA.

    But here's my question for you - can one "take the waters" in Bath today? Did you? I can't quite imagine the Jane Austen's proper ladies stepping into bathing togs to take the waters. If they did, Jane doesn't mention it...

    I think if she had the chance, Catherine Morland would have jumped at the opportunity. I love the symmetry, the parallels between Catherine and Grigg in this chapter, don't you? She, the undisciplined tomboy, growing up with three older brothers as playmates, Grigg playing girly games with his three sisters...

    Roman Baths of Bath - why no swimmers?

    Will add the link to the Bath photos to the heading so you can find them easier...

    June 16, 2004 - 12:41 pm
    Carolyn--You can read Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho online, here


    There's another one, quite famous, that I'm in process of remembering the author of. Many other gothic novels were based on it, and I think it was the first.

    Joan--I thought people went to BATH for the health-giving properties of drinking the water (just a little at a time). I assume that there are mineral springs at Baath. I also assume that the large room where the dances were held was the source of drinking water from these springs, thus pump room. I'll have to look this up though. I am only speculating.

    June 16, 2004 - 12:45 pm
    I only remember the water as being perfectly still, as shown above. And I do not remember where the water came from. It is not nearly as pretty as the picture shows it; in fact, it is sort of puke colored and nasty looking. There are water fountains where you may take a drink of it. Not advisable. They tell you, on the tour, every bit of information and answer questions. I went in 1971, so my memory is only of the highlights. Oh, and I do not mean to infer the water is poisonous, as it only tastes that way.

    Joan Pearson
    June 16, 2004 - 12:48 pm
    Thanks, Mary Page. But there were Jane Austen characters who come to take the waters for arthritis and the like. Maybe there are other baths - or maybe the pumps down in the PUMP room...(why is it called the pump room if it doesn't pump water?) pumped mineral water into the Roman Bath? I don't think any one was drinking the water for arthritis...

    hahaha, Maryal, I'll bet the Grange Hall didn't look anything like the Pump Room in Bath where Catherine waited anxiously to be asked to dance.

    Pump Room, Bath

    The more we read, the more characters we find characters lost in unfamiliar worlds...as Karen has said, much like aliens coming off a space ship into a strange world. Do you remember reading how/when Grigg became interested in reading science fiction? Catherine Morland was totally unprepared for the social song and dance in Bath, but somehow she manages to keep her eyes and ears open, soaks in her surroundings, and manages to avoid too many faux pas. Note Carolyn, that it is Isabella Thorpe (hahaha, her "friend from hell" - Maryal, you always make us laugh) who puts the gothic novel into the naieve Catherine's hands - "filling her head with silly ideas." The girl is a blank slate, isn't she? - everyone wants to leave a mark!

    How many characters can you think of so far - who find themselves having to cope as Catherine did, with unfamiliar surroundings?

    ps Maryal, I suppose people could have sipped the water for arthritis...folks swallow pills today, don't they? Hmm, maybe I won't bother packing bathing suit for Bath.

    June 16, 2004 - 12:49 pm
    Yes, MARY, I have read all of the books. Some more than once, in order to refresh my memory. And have watched all of the films more than once each. As CAROLYN says, NORTHANGER ABBEY feels like a gothic novel and reeks of mystery. I always forget what in the world the mystery was, however, and Carolyn has sort of refreshed my memory as to that.

    June 16, 2004 - 01:02 pm
    MaryPage--I'm more than halfway through Northanger Abbey and haven't found the mystery yet, but I think it's in the second half.

    Joan--When you are waiting for someone to ask you to dance, the environment means NOTHING.

    The author I was trying to think of is Matthew Lewis who published the most outrageous of Gothic novels, The Monk in 1796. He was a teenager when he wrote it, and it is his only novel. It too is available online in PDF format.

    Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho was published in 1794. There were hundreds and hundreds of others, but these are two famous ones.

    June 16, 2004 - 01:05 pm
    I really like Mr. Tilney in Northanger Abbey. He is witty and intelligent and admits to reading novels. He has much experience teasing his younger sister and thus can set a playful mood with Catherine.

    I love Pride and Prejudice, but so far this is my favorite of the others. Not so well-written as Emma, I guess, but funny and ironic. And it does talk quite a bit about novels, what they are, what heroines are, what adventures are, and so forth.

    Pat H
    June 16, 2004 - 03:16 pm
    I was in Bath in the late 50s, and you could certainly drink the water then, but I didn't. It smelled very strongly of hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs), a harmless but disgusting component of some water. The room with the Roman Baths also smelled.

    In "Persuasion"' Mrs. Smith goes into the waters for her infirmities and Admiral Croft has to take the waters for his gout. I'd love to know what women wore to do this. When I was in college I knew a woman who had been taught to swim by her grandmother. She eventually found out that the funny extra kick you gave at the end of each stroke was to keep your bathing dress from getting tangled around your legs.

    "Northanger Abbey is funnier than I remembered.

    When Catherine is embarrassed to know so much less about drawing than the Tilneys, Austen says: "Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind, is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman, especially if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can".

    June 16, 2004 - 03:19 pm
    "Taking the waters" I think refers to drinking them: I'm not sure you could bathe in them in Austen's time, you can't now. As I said in my earlier post, there is a pump in the pump room that pumps the mineral spring water up so people can drink it. My daughter said she would send a picture, but she is very busy, I don't know if she will.

    Both Austen and Fowler convey the feeling of being in a place where you are not comfortable with people you are not comfortable with almost too well. I have been squirming with sympathetic unease all day. Poor Jane: Jocelyn got off the elevator and out of the bar pretty quickly, and Grigg got rescued from the party, but it took Jane a long time to get out of Bath. I think of her, doomed to a life with awful boring people like those in NA and could cry. Sometimes it's not good to be intelligent. No wonder Jane is sharp sometimes.

    The correspondances are shifting. The elevator scene is clearly the first evening at the ball where Catherine (Jocelyn) is rescued by Henry (Grigg). They have the same roles in the scene at the bar which mirrors the scene in NA where the suitor from hell (John) gets rid of the Tilneys, so Catherine can go with him. She runs after Henry, just as Jocelyn runs after Grigg.

    But of course later, Grigg is Catherine caught up in a new-age world (the modern equivelant of Udolpho).(In edit. Or so I assume. Who is Griggs father. Is he the General?

    The biographer I quoted earlier excepted NA from his statement that Jane's heroines were aspects of herself. Here, he felt that Henry was the Austen figure. Do you agree?

    Henry is certainly seeing Bath and young women through Jane's eyes. The last time I read NA, I liked Henry: this time I agree with Allegra that he's a bit insufferable. Being ironic to Catherine when she can't meet him on his terms seems in a way just as pompous as the pompous bores and silly twits he is satirizing. But I'll forgive him for Jane's sake.

    June 16, 2004 - 05:02 pm
    Here's irony for you. This afternoon the library called to tell me that they have received the new copy of The Jane Austen Book Club which I asked that they buy. I bought my own copy yesterday!

    I was happy to read the explanation of Grigg's name. Like many things I read, I substituted Gregg everytime I saw it in a post. One thing I don't like about many modern novels is the tendency to have character's names which are not pronounced as we would expect. The explanation foreshadows, I believe, the Father/son camping trip. It seems Grigg's father has a hidden agenda, brought out into the open by the hitchhikers. I loved the way the sisters rescued Grigg--also the way Grigg rescued Jocelyn in the bar. I don't believe Jocelyn will read the book Grigg has given her.

    In the chapter about Prudie, I was struck by the thought, "So Prudie was not pretty and she was not popular"(p.88). I wonder if Jane felt this way about herself. I know that I did when a teen. I was taller than most of my classmates, gangly, and worst of all SMART! This was the kiss of death for a teenaged girl in the 50s. Another quote from Fowler that I liked about Prudie: "She was not pretty, she just pretended to be". What a lack of self-confidence this young woman has.

    Prudie's description of meals with her mother make me think of women, living alone. "Scarcely a meal went by (a favorite dinner was bagels with butter, which left only a single knife to be washed afterward)"(p.96). Are there parallel meals in Mansfield Park? I was not surprised that Prudie was reluctant to visit her mother and that she actually felt her mother's illness to be fake, just as the little parties and other make believe incidents of her childhood. We know so little about Jane's mother, but it seems to me that she has a bit of contempt for mothers in her portrayal of them in her novels. Sue

    kiwi lady
    June 16, 2004 - 11:40 pm
    The smell in the baths is sulphur and its really good for the skin and very healing. If you want to smell sulphur you should come over here and go to Ngawha Springs. We used to go almost every weekend in the winter at night when we lived in KeriKeri in the Bay of Islands not too far from Ngawha. Thirty years ago the pools were a la naturale still with mud bottoms covered with boards. The mud is the same as they use for mudpacks in expensive health spas.

    kiwi lady
    June 16, 2004 - 11:43 pm
    I was lucky at school - the classes were streamed so all the bright kids were in together. No problem about being called a nerd. We all wanted to learn and had some great class discussions, debates etc. Nowdays its not politically correct to stream classes so many parents send their kids to private schools where being smart is not considered a disadvantage.

    June 17, 2004 - 04:14 am
    I have to throw in my 2 cents here, in your discussion of Beautiful Baaath hahaahah Baaath has changed a good bit in the years I've been going there, and tho I did not go out this year, last year Ella Gibbons of the Books and I went out and you certainly can't get near the water, in the Roman baths part, you don't drink it OR touch it, the signs are quite explicit.

    In the past you could touch it and you could, as some here have noted, taste it, but you can't, now, or they strongly prohibit it, even tho I saw people last year touching it (it's warm). That's why there are no bathers, they don't want you even putting your hand in it now.

    I am not sure those of you who visited in the past were able to see the truly incredible new exhibits of Roman hypocausts and excavations that are there now under the baths? They are extermely impressive, and every year they change and grow. They are cool and dramatically lighted, well labelled, and there's a fabulous audiotape tour: it's VERY enlightening. You can learn a LOT in Bath about the ancient Romans and their presence there.

    Baaaath is beautiful, my memory of the streets is millions of gorgeous hanging baskets of flowers, very similar to British Victoria, and Bath Abbey which faces the bath complex is quite striking with its singular sculptures of angels climbing up and down ladders on the front.

    Joan Pearson
    June 17, 2004 - 08:37 am
    Good morning!
    Thanks to ALL of you fortunate to have been to Bath, I have a better understanding of how these baths differ from those in Glenwood, CO - which I had in mind. I still want to go to Glenwood - still want to go to Bath too. To see the architecture, the Roman legacy, to walk the streets that Jane walked and described in her novels.

    I have to say I'm still puzzled about the reason Bath became THE place to summer back then. Health reasons seem to have been a motivation for some, but not for all those young people. Was it for beauty treatments as Carolyn suggests? If it wasn't to go into the water, why was summering at Bath so popular with the high society crowd? Was it simply because the wealthy gathered there to socialize and it was a great place to be seen? Am I missing something?

    Sue - Irony does seem to be the word of the day! You'll be happy you have your own copy though...it is like an Austen novel - you will find yourself rereading and finding new tidbits...and parallels each time. You are catching up fast now - reading about Prudie - and you've picked up on a parallel with Mansfield Park for Pedln's list that we missed - the sparse little meals Prudie's mother set out...the favorite meal with bagels and butter, only one knife to wash. (Prudie now is a gourmand - French cuisine) When Fanny Price makes the long trip home from Mansfield Park to her family's poor little house the only thing her mother has for her to eat is tea and toast - with butter. Later, when another guest comes in, a cup has to be washed for him, as there are so few in the pantry.

    Pat - yes! There are a number of great lines coming out of Catherine's mouth...I think it is in this pointed humor that I see Jane Austen in this character. I love the line you quoted on the disadvantage of a well-informed mind...how about when she says something like..."I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." Oh, maybe there is a lot more going on in this pretty little head than we give Catherine credit for!

    Joan Pearson
    June 17, 2004 - 08:43 am
    Joan K says it again (and better)... "Austen and Fowler convey the feeling of being in a place where you are not comfortable with people you are not comfortable with almost too well." Fanny is a stranger in her own home, as Prudie is a stranger in the real world. The world of imagination is far more comfortable and familiar than reality.

    And yes, I see Grigg uncomfortable in the "man's world" his father is attempts to introduce him to...I do think he came of age in the Bel Air mansion - at least he realized there was a differnt type of female than he was used to. His sisters rescuing him - wasn't that a sweet touch!

    Joan K - who is "Poor Jane" in your post? - There are so many Janes in these stories, I wasn't sure which one to pity in this example. I agree, Jocelyn is a stranger in the bar...rescued by Grigg - as Catherine was rescued from the social fiends of the Bath social circle. Do you really find him "insufferable"? I found he always said or did something to soften his sermonizing - at least Catherine always seemed to be okay with his attempts to undo the damage to her clear judgement being inflicted by Isabella and others. I think Catherine's major flaw is her gullibility - so quick, so impulsive to accept without question. Henry NEEDs to be aggressive to displace these ideas - as I see it. I think I saw him as Deems did - "witty and intelligent and admits to reading novels." It seems anyone who reads in is on Jane Austen's "in list", doesn't it?

    I'm going to agree with your biographer at last, Joan - Henry's views on the frivalous excess and attitudes are Jane's. Surely not Catherine's. I guess I see a young Jane in Catherine, fresh from a free and happy, undisciplined country life trying to move in social circles, doing and saying the right thing. But Catherine seems to be so much more naieve and accepting than Jane ever was, don't you think?

    I'm thinking about how you see Grigg, Joan..."as Catherine caught up in the modern equivalent of Udolpho." I mean to go back to find the line where Karen refers to Grigg as a "heroine" - she did, didn't she? Grigg/Henry Tilney as heroines - definitely a parallel! Pedln, are you getting all this down???hahaha

    Can we talk some more about Grigg's father...and the Colonel? I don't know about you, but both of them gave me the willies. Especially the interest the Colonel takes in Catherine. I don't think she imagined this - maybe she didn't even notice!

    June 17, 2004 - 10:56 am
    When I said "poor Jane" I was thinking of Austen. I know she didn't like Bath, and I see her descriptions of the horrible first ball and boring, horrible people as recounting her own experiences and feelings about Bath.

    I don't see the young Grigg as Henry in the party scene. I see him as Catherine, young and impressionable and scared. Karen has prepared us for Grigg as a heroine with repeated references to how feminine he is (those eyelashes! How heroine-like). I think she shifts the roles her characters play around. We have already seen Jocelyn as Emma and Catherine. There are more Austen characters than there are Fowler characters, so they are going to have to double.

    Good point about the General's inappropriate interest in Catherine, mirroring Grigg's father's inapropriate interest in the young women he picks up.

    June 17, 2004 - 01:03 pm
    Northanger Abbey is having fun with the Gothic novel. I’ve arrived, finally, at the part where Catherine is invited by the Tilneys to visit with them in their ancestral home, Northanger Abbey. There’s a wonderful description of Catherine’s anticipation and it is quite clear that she has taken in all those gothic novels she has been reading:

    “Her passion for ancient edifices was next in degree to her passion for Henry Tilney—and castles and abbies made usually the charm of those reveries which his image did not fill. To see and explore either the ramparts and keep of the one, or the cloisters of the other, had been for many weeks a darling wish, though to be more than the visitor of an hour, had seemed too nearly impossible for desire. And yet, this was to happen. With all the chances against her of house, hall, place, park, court, and cottage, Northanger turned up an abbey, and she was to be its inhabitant. Its long, damp passages, its narrow cells and ruined chapel, were to be within her daily reach, and she could not entirely subdue the hope of some traditional legends, some awful memorials of an injured and ill-fated nun” (Part 2, chap. 3).

    Most Gothic novels, if not all, have a young and naive heroine –think Catherine. They also have, in addition to a castle (or other large and spooky house) a man in whom the heroine shows interest. This man is somewhat dark and may be moody. He is both attractive and scary.

    If you want a good modern parallel, think of the teenage slasher movies like “Friday the Thirteenth” in all its permutations. When watching any of these movies, the viewer warns the group of three kids NOT to split up and explore in three different directions because we know the conventions of the movie. If they split up, they will be murdered one by one. Sometimes one of them escapes. But you can’t count on this.

    Anyway, the Gothic novel is important to Northanger Abbey.

    These are from Mal’s message in the discussion of Rebecca which is also a Gothic novel. I hope it’s OK to copy them here.

    1. Setting in a castle. The castle often contains secret passages, trap doors, secret rooms, dark or hidden staircases, and possibly ruined sections.

    2. An atmosphere of mystery and suspense. The work is pervaded by a threatening feeling, a fear enhanced by the unknown. Often the plot itself is built around a mystery.

    3. An ancient prophecy is connected with the castle or its inhabitants (either former or present).

    4. Omens, portents, visions. A character may have a disturbing dream vision, or some phenomenon may be seen as a portent of coming events.

    5. Supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events. Dramatic, amazing events occur.

    6. High, even overwrought emotion. The narration may be highly sentimental, and the characters are often overcome by anger, sorrow, surprise, and especially, terror.

    7. Woman in distress. A lonely, pensive, and oppressed heroine is often the central figure of the novel, so her sufferings are even more pronounced and the focus of attention.

    8. Woman threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male. One or more male characters has the power, as king, lord of the manor, father, or guardian, to demand that one or more of the female characters do something intolerable.

    9. The metonymy of gloom and horror. Metonymy is a subtype of metaphor, in which something (like rain) is used to stand for something else (like sorrow).

    I've read Grigg's section, and I agree with Joan K that he is the naieve one, the one most like Catherine. His father doesn't seem to have been much of a Dad. Didn't know what to do with a son. He doesn't even manage to take little Grigg camping, for heaven's sake.


    Pat H
    June 17, 2004 - 05:47 pm
    Rereading Fowler’s scene in the bar at the science fiction convention after I had read the corresponding scene in NA, I was amused at the exactness of the correspondence with the exchange in which John Thorpe is trying to get Catherine to go on an excursion instead of keeping her promise to walk with the Tilneys; Roberta and Tad Reinicker as Isabella and John Thorpe and Jocelyn as Catherine (another role switch).

    The remark that Grigg was born to be a heroine occurs after the description of his rescue from the horrible party in Bel Air, the end of the chapter except for the quote from "Udolpho".

    I had assumed the fashionableness of Bath was due to Beau Nash, a sort of Master of Ceremonies a little before Austen’s time. But something has to start popularity before it can snowball, and I don’t know what it was.

    Joan Pearson
    June 17, 2004 - 06:57 pm
    Thank you so much, Pat! Your mention of Beau Nash sent me to google and look -
    Beau Nash's Bath - click link for article
    "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."
    So 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?
    Don't you love these discussions?

    I can agree with you, Joan K - and Maryal - up to a point. May I have it both ways? Not have to pick just one? Grigg is a heroine, rescued by his sisters...back there in the Bel Air mansion as a young boy. I see him as the the naive Catherine of Northanger Abbey as you do. But at the same time, I see him the grown up Grigg as Henry Tilney, the saviour - who tutors Catherine, admonishes her, scolds her for reading the melodramatic novels of the day...that Gothic novel which Maryal talks about - Mrs. Radcliff's Mysteries of Udolfo, which he claims is filling her head with silly nonsense. I think now he is mouthing Jane Austen's thoughts on such novels.

    Grigg WAS the naive boy yes, but once in his own world of adulthood, he blooms with confidence. He no longer needs saving. He advises Jocelyn, gets her through that scene - puts strange books in her hand and tells her she'll enjoy them. Why didn't she give them back to him? Pat - the bar scene was funny, wasn't it? I loved it when Tad R. had previously ordered a second dirty martini for Jocelyn...just as John Thorpe had presumed Catherine would accept his invitations to ride. I loved it when Jocelyn not only left the drink on the table untouched, but paid for it herself!

    Yes, Joan K - you too felt that Colonel Tilney was watching Catherine with a bit too much interest. I thought it was just me. Too many Gothic novels lately...

    Pat H
    June 17, 2004 - 07:23 pm
    More than You Want to Know About the Science Fiction;

    Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the best current science fiction writers. She excels at one of the strengths of SF—changing the world around us and using the altered environment to make comments on the human condition. The 2 novels Grigg lends Jocelyn are perhaps her best.

    In "The Left Hand of Darkness" she 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.

    "The Lathe of Heaven", my favorite, tells of the struggles of a man who has discovered his dreams can alter reality to keep his psychiatrist from using this power to change the world, and in the process examines the nature of reality.

    My guess is that even if Jocelyn starts the novels, she won’t finish them. I gave "The Lathe of Heaven" to Joan K, and she couldn’t get into it, even though she can analyze things like "Ulysses" that make me run away in terror.

    "Stranger in a Strange Land" had a huge cult following. Grigg’s reaction is an understatement. It is silly, full of sex, and has a Messianic quality that I found totally ridiculous when I read it many years ago.

    Theodore Sturgeon, Arthur C. Clarke, Andre Norton, and Philip K. Dick are the classic writers of an earlier age. Clarke is best known for "2001", but has a huge output. He is still alive, scuba diving in Sri Lanka, in his 80s. The few books of Norton’s I have read are good coming of age stories. Philip K. Dick is good at the nature of memory, real and artificial, and parallel time tracks. The movies "Blade Runner", "Total Recall", and "Twelve Monkeys" were more or less based on his stories.

    I guess this answers the question can a Jane Austen fan like science fiction (or vice versa).

    I particularly like Fowler’s description of SF fans wearing cuffs as if they had been tagged by Fish and Wildlife and released.

    Joan Pearson
    June 18, 2004 - 08:45 am
    Hmmm, Pedln was wondering if Jane Austen is poking fun at Gothic novels in Northanger Abbey, is Karen Fowler poking fun at anything in this chapter? What do you think? (I hardly think she is taking jabs at Science Fiction, she writes it - even though the descriptions of many of the followers of the "cult" are certainly hilarious!) Who is catching it here, Grigg or Jocelyn? For some reason I think it's Jocelyn. Jocelyn who is usually the one who is confident and in control of every situation, suddenly out of her element...never having read, even sampled science fiction. Of course the group has the last laugh when they realize Grigg has never read Pride and Prejudice!

    Pat - thank you so much for catching us up on Grigg's reading list...I loved your descriptions of the two - especially "The Left Hand of Darkness." Read Pat's description again to see what an appropriate selection to include here in the chapter where we find Grigg's manhood in question -
    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...

    June 18, 2004 - 09:27 am
    Pat, thanks for your Science Fiction summaries. I say that I don't like science fiction, that I avoid it, that I don't like things that can't or won't really happen. But, there are some things I've read and enjoyed, especially some of Ray Bradbury's -- Fahrenheit 451, "All Summer in a Day," and "The Playground," the last two short stories involving children.

    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?

    June 18, 2004 - 11:23 am
    JOan--You can have Grigg any way you want to--heroine or rescuer or both. I'm sure Karen would be delighted that you do.

    When Grigg "takes care of" Jocelyn in the hotel, I see it as simply befriending her. She is alone, true, but there are other dog people around. She's a little bummed by all the Trekkies, but she certainly isn't afraid of them. Is she in need of rescue? She is very like Catherine when first at Bath, wishing that she knew someone and didn't feel so out of place. She feels old. I'd feel old at a Trekkie conference too!

    I like some science fiction although mostly like stories to be grounded in reality, like JoanK. I saw Harry Potter II, not the last one out but the middle one, the other night and kept thinking, this is really too stupid. I've read that the most recent one, now in theaters, is much better than one and two (different director). I did like Kill Bill; certainly aspects of the supernatural there and I plan to go see Kill Bill, 2.

    I've read a little Ursula LeGuin, Left Hand of Darkness long time ago and some short stories. She is good. Still not crazy about science fiction.

    Grigg's chapter has a lot of people in it who have hobbies or special interests, doesn't it? We have Grigg, the science fiction fan and Jocelyn the doggy person, and all those attendees at the Star Trek extravaganza, and we've got Grigg who has read many Gothic novels (here, Joan, he is like Mr. Tilney in Northanger Abbey) which the illustrious women of the Jane Austen Book Club have not.

    My especial hobby/obsession is fountain pens. In the course of talking with others about them, I have discovered many interesting other hobbies they have in the world of collecting.

    I like Grigg. I think he would be a good match for my daughter who would kill me for typing that. But she's too busy these days to care.



    June 18, 2004 - 06:53 pm
    MARYAL: maybe we can fix Grigg and your daughter up LOL

    My light reading is detective stories. While I love them, I don't think most of them have enough depth for the kind of analysis we do in these month-long book-readings (of course there are some exceptions). I suspect the same is true of science fiction. Karen, what do you think?

    June 18, 2004 - 07:11 pm
    . . . just in case someone doesn't, here are Jane Austen's works on-line, including her letters: http://www.underthesun.cc/Classics/Austen/index.html

    I read a Jane Austen biography of late, and apparently her sister censored some of Jane's commentary in the letters, and after a few examples I could see why. She had a VERY caustic sense of humor which might have hurt many feelings. I think that maybe her novels were written in the same sort of tone, making fun of the mores and pettiness of the society in which she lived.

    June 18, 2004 - 08:11 pm
    Hmm: I just reread Joan P's #249:

    Pat - thank you so much for catching us up on Grigg's reading list...I loved your descriptions of the two - especially "The Left Hand of Darkness." Read Pat's description again to see what an appropriate selection to include here in the chapter where we find Grigg's manhood in question -

    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

    Do you think Fowler is telling us that Grigg has characteristics of each sex? He is called a "girly boy" and he has become a sensitive adult who relates well to women, cooks well (although he used a store bought crust for his cheese cake), but I feel that he is also masculine. I think more males are Sci Fi fans than females, but I could be wrong. I agree with Maryal. He'd make some girl a nice husband. Sue

    June 18, 2004 - 08:17 pm
    Welcome Rose, and thanks for the interesting link. Pull up a chair and join us.

    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.

    June 18, 2004 - 09:16 pm
    It would be nice if we all would support Sylvia at the library event. Be sure to check out the slide show -- you can pick out your table there.


    Joan Pearson
    June 19, 2004 - 07:36 am
    Pedln asks a good question - why did Jocelyn go in search of Grigg? He must have made an impresssion on her. It certainly paralleled Catherine looking for Henry Tilney. Maryal, that's an idea. The Trekkies made Jocelyn feel old...but even though Grigg is younger, he makes her feel ...not so old. I think I see that as a rescue. I know I do.

    Sue, I do to agree with you - I think our first impressions of the young Grigg question his manhood...but that was only a first impression. I agree with you, he grew into his manlieness but retained some very special qualities he learned from growing up with three sisters... ahahaha, and Maryal, knowing Susan a bit, I think he possesses qualities to make her very happy. For one thing, he's a serious reader. He likes sci-fi, sure, but he's willing to explore other genres. Have you noticed that all Jane Austen's good guys are readers? You can spot them immediately!

    Before we segue (is that a word?) into Pride and Prejudice and Chapter V...I'd like to draw your attention to Sylvia's two comments in Chapter IV in response to the question - do you ever get over your first love (do you? did you?)...Sylvia answers quickly - "No" Did you find yourself wondering whether her first love was Daniel? Or? And then when the question disappearing came up - her response - "Daniel always wanted to disappear." How did you understand that? (No fair telling if you have finished the book) - But how did you understand that when you first read it?

    Joan Pearson
    June 19, 2004 - 07:39 am
    Mountain Rose, a big Welcome! And thank you for the link! You come to us just as we are turning to Pride and Prejudice with your link to Jane Austen's letters. It is from the letters that we learn much of the author's sharp observations - and also of the hurtful episode in which she loses her one and only love. She writes of this brief romance in her eleventh letter...Jane Austen's lost love. The character of Mr. Darcy is said to be that of her lost love. Much of her bitterness towards the mores of her society resulted from the fact that he married someone else - for money.

    Pedln, good heavens, thank you so much for the link to the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria at the Sacramento Library! Right out of a Jane Austen novel...a perfect place for a ball! - Can't you just see the rich men "thick on the floor as salt on a pretzel" - Karen Fowler is the queen of simile and metaphor, isn't she? Did you notice that Prudie has added a word to the Jane Austen quote? She sees these rich men looking for NEW wives...

    I really like the way Karen's chapter picks up on the idea that First Impressions are often faulty - right from the very start- just as in Pride and Prejudice. We're going to have a lot of fun with this one!

    June 19, 2004 - 08:40 am
    pedln--Thanks for the laugh and the ten year old's take on the new Harry Potter movie. Couldn't be any good if it didn't even have a game of Quiditch (I also don't know the spelling)! Now that's funny.

    Obviously the 10 year old and I are different viewers! I don't mind the Quiditch stuff at all, but I did get tired of the little redhaired boy, Harry's sidekick, and those constant facial expressions of fear and amazement and terror. I thought he was better in the first movie. Seems odd for a young actor to move backwards. I agree that HP 1 might be a little frightening for younger kids, but the audience I was in, young kids and all, ate it up. The second one I saw on DVD so can't comment on audience reaction.

    OK, several of you agree that we need to matchmake and set up Grigg with daughter Susan. The only problem I see is getting him out of the book and into "real" life. Any suggestions?

    Do you ever "get over" your first love?

    The question seems to assume that one has lost one's first love and not married him/her.

    And then we have to define "get over." Do we mean "forget"? Do we mean "recover from the loss of"?

    I had a first love that I lost. I certainly got over him and loved others. BUT I would love to know what he is doing today, where he is, if he's still alive. He was in the Air Force; I didn't know his family. The only common friends we had were the ones we made. I have no idea to track him.

    Charles Dickens met the early love of his life again when she was middle aged. The girl who had so enchanted him with her smile and laugh was now stout and silly. He could hardly wait to escape her presence.


    June 19, 2004 - 10:33 am
    No, I don't think so, because that first love was all your innocent dreams, the magic and wonder of it. In my case my first love turned out to be a closet homosexual who wanted to lead a charade life with a proper wife and family without letting me know what was involved. I never got over that because I trusted him completely, in a way I could never trust again. And I suppose even if one marries one's first love, when reality sets in, it just isn't the same sort of shining hope that it once was.

    One never gets over the loss of innocence, I think. One goes one, sure enough, and one grows older and wiser and different, but it's never again the same with all that clean and shining anticipation and hope. On the other hand, that's life; it's not static and there are all sorts of other compensations. One tucks away the memory of that first love and the feelings of it, as a precious jewel, and then gets on with the business of living, I think, and living without bitterness or resentment. It's just a never-to-be-repeated experience, like other never-to-be-repeated experiences.

    PS: I did try to get Karen's book at the library, but for some reason in our small county they didn't even have it in their computer system as of yet. I'm sure it will appear eventually.

    June 19, 2004 - 12:40 pm
    Joan, you asked how did we understand that? Actually, what Sylvia said was "He's always wishing he could disappear." -- present tense. Does this mean that she has not yet accepted that he is gone, that in spite of his new relationship, she thinks this is a temporary situation and that he's coming back to her? Or does this mean that she and Daniel have had problems all along and that his leaving didn't surprise her? I think it's the former.

    June 19, 2004 - 05:39 pm
    Jumping in on the "lightest, brightest." I loved the way Prudie and Bernadette teamed up to rake Mo Bellington over the coals.

    "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.

    June 19, 2004 - 05:58 pm
    Hey, all -- I'm back from Los Angeles and home at last. Don't leave again for two weeks and that's only a day here and there. Trying to catch up on the discussion and really enjoyed the pictures and discussions of Bath, since I've never been. I'm glad so many of you liked Grigg. I like him a ton. Northanger Abbey is one of those Austen novels that's growing on me as I get older. I think Tilney is a little insufferable and his love for Catherine feels a little random, but I also enjoy his dialogue. He's one of Austen's wittiest heroes. The plot is slight, but the villain is a father and not a young rake, which makes it different from Austen's usual. And I love all the talk about reading and books. I tried to read Udolpho as I was writing, but ended up skimming about a lot. Really appreciated the list of gothic fiction signifiers one of you posted. I wonder if the natural heir to the gothic pulp tradition is the mystery novel or the romance? About science fiction -- my two favorite Le Guin's are The Lathe of Heaven and The Lefthand of Darkness, probably my most favorite is the latter. I think there is a lot to discuss in a book club setting. And my own local book club recently did Mary Doria Russell's very popular novel The Sparrow. Also a really good discussion book.

    June 19, 2004 - 07:58 pm
    Welcome home from L.A. So good to hear that you survived.

    Would you say a little more of The Sparrow? I don't believe I've heard of it.

    Since Grigg is soon to be my daughter's fiance, could you please find a way to get him out of the novel and out on the street?

    Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.

    Sorry--just feeling silly tonight.

    I hope you get some time at home now. Is there another city coming up?


    kiwi lady
    June 19, 2004 - 11:16 pm
    Maryal - When I was a child the characters in the books I read became very real to me too! I think I had crushes on some of the boy characters! Very imaginative child that I was.

    June 20, 2004 - 07:08 am
    I so agree. Sometimes the characters in books and their lives (still) seem so much more alive than those in real life. It's really too bad we can't import and export, isn't it?


    June 20, 2004 - 10:29 am
    I'm actually home for a stretch here. Knee deep in three months of doghair, so, room by room, getting rid of that is my plan for the coming week.

    I remember reading that Dorothy Sayers fell so in love with her own Peter Wimsey that she never found a real-life man to compare. I don't know that that's true, just that I read it once. My friend Carol Emshwiller has said that she dealt with her grief at the loss of her husband, in part, by writing a western -- Ledoyt -- in which she made up a man she could love. Maryal -- I've heard from several men who believe they are total Griggs. Maybe I should start collecting names?

    I know we're supposed to have moved on to Pride and Prejudice, but I do want to say one last thing in defense of Grigg's father. I don't see him as a player or a slimeball. I don't think he meant to end up at a party in Bel Air and I think he loves his children. I see him as someone who felt increasingly trapped in a conventional 9 to 5 life and, in the early 70's, reading Heinlein, watching the counterculture, thought the world was going to change -- that different lives and different arrangements were now possible, only he was too old to take advantage of this. I think he had a breakdown at the party. And I don't entirely blame him. I have always thought the 40 hour working week was way too much to ask of people.

    kiwi lady
    June 20, 2004 - 02:44 pm
    Today the forty hour week is a rarity. My children all work many more hours a week either in their own businesses or in their professional careers. My daughter the accountant works about 60 hours a week. It is expected of them. My husband never worked a 40 hour week in his life. When the kids were small he worked 70 hours a week often just to make ends meet while I was at home with toddlers. To me Griggs father had no excuse and seemed to be to be the classic slime ball. That he involved his son in his weekend of revellry makes his behaviour even more unforgiveable.


    June 20, 2004 - 02:49 pm
    KJay--Lots of dog fur--I understand. But I'm still glad you're home for a bit. (Kemper came through her surgery well, by the way. It has been 8 days and she's her old JR Terrier self, except that she still has to have the staples out. So good to have her back).

    I guess I didn't have the negative take on Grigg's dad that others did because I remember the heady days of the 70s when those of us who were married with kids had a strong sense we were missing out on something. I thought he made a mistake, that he shouldn't have stayed at the party with his son in tow. I could also understand why he did. And the sisters came to Grigg's rescue so no real harm was done.

    Please collect all the just like Griggs that you can capture and FedEx them east to me. Thank you.


    Joan Pearson
    June 20, 2004 - 02:50 pm
    Isn't it interesting that we have switched focus from putting down mothers to defending fathers - today, on Father's Day! Father's Day here is now officially over - the gang has left to watch the Spain/Portugal soccer game and I now find some free time to come in and see what's been happening in here since yesterday.

    Karen, welcome home! The mindless task of combing out the dog hair must be a welcome change for you after all the talking/traveling... I'm thinking it must be a harder task to hype a book than to write it! So glad to have you home with us for a little while. I do remember Grigg's father weeping at the end of that scene. And can't you just imagine how humiliating it must have been for him to face his three daughters who came to rescue young Grigg.

    I find it interesting that those who found Henry Tilney ïnsufferable just love Grigg! I didn't notice Catherine Morland running the other way from his condescending ways. I think he was charming - and witty and he was a reader. Isn't that our clue that Jane Austen meant for him to be worthwhile, a good guy? I found his father, the Colonel an overwhelming, overbearing father...yes, even on Father's Day, he doesn't get any sympathy or understanding from me. Yes, he lost his wife and was left to raise the children... To me he was selfish in his grief over the loss of his wife. He doesn't consider what the loss means to the children. I got the feeling that he was looking at Catherine Morland with a little too much deference and personal interest. If he paid no attention to his children, why would he care so much about whomever Henry chose to marry. What do these fathers have in common then, Grigg's and Henry's? I thin they both lacked communication with their fathers, effective parenting, positive male models.

    Mountainrose, we're happy to have you with us, even if you haven't been able to get your hands on Karen's book yet. You need to show your librarian the best seller list where you are. I just checked the Washington Post list for the past week...it jumped from #8 to #6 since last Sunday. Last week it was #13 on the NY Times list - does anyone take the Times? I think the book is hot - so hot that the discounts are great all over. Isn't it funny the way that works? Mountainrose, I'd invest it the book - it's a keeper and one that can be reread - something new each go-round. In the meantime, please stay with us...we welcome your insights.

    Pedln, thank you for pointing out that Sylvia's comment that Daniel is always wishing he could disappear - present tense. What a strange thing for anyone to wish - a strange thing to say to his wife, isn't it? Don't you think he's going out of his way NOT to disappear? No wonder Sylvia can't find any closure.

    I think she's turning into Anne Elliot of Persuasion - have you been reading that one? Maryal, I was reading your comments on getting over the loss of first love - Anne hasn't forgotten NOR has she recovered from the loss of her first love - and moved on. We don't know yet whether Daniel was in fact Sylvia's first love - but isn't it interesting that she has chosen Persuasion as her favorite Austen? We're going to be getting into that on Wednesday - so we need to take the next few days to focus on Pride and Prejudice and Chapter V.

    Wasn't chapter five interesting? I had been expecting the book club meeting at Sylvia's - she had chosen P & P - but Chapter V takes place the week before Sylvia's meeting. We find ourselves in an Austen-like ballroom - with all our club members gathered - isn't this a P & P ball? Do you see Bernadette as Elizabeth Bennett in her own personal story?

    Back in five - someone is at the door...oh no, it's them! They can't be hungry again already!

    June 20, 2004 - 03:05 pm
    I felt as Carolyn did about Grigg's father and the Bel Air Mansion....pathetic and very inappropriate and all of that. I do like Grigg who seems to me to be the product of the upbringing/encouragement of three older sisters who've protected him in some ways, but taught him many things that enables him to see situations from a woman's point of view, without being totally unmasculine. I know a man who was raised by women, including three older sisters and he's like Grigg in many ways.

    On the Best Seller listed dated June 27, 2004 (don't have a clue how they can be a week ahead of the rest of us...but that's the New York Times ;0), this book is #7.


    Most of the people I know who "want to disappear" are people who can't/won't deal with the problems/situations they face. They prefer to "disappear" rather than dealing with the problem. Maybe Daniel has problems he can't/won't face at home?


    Joan Pearson
    June 20, 2004 - 03:18 pm
    Thanks Jane! #7! Top ten - New York Times! Karen, that's the big time!

    I can't wait to meet Daniel. He seems to have been spending an inordinate amount of time at Jocelyn's, hasn't he? Cleaning her bathroom for her when she had the flu? Come on! Jane, there does seem to be something he is not handling at home, now that you mention it. If it is Jocelyn he has not gotten out of his system since she swapped him for Tony when they were kids, how did he get mixed up with this young family law lawyer? We are still lacking some pieces of the puzzle, which do not seem to be found in Jane Austen...or are they?

    Mountainrose, you speak of first love, the loss of first love as a loss of innocence. Can it be that first love is quite often not based on reality but clouded by first impressions that agree with romantic hopes and dreams? First impressions are our own dang fault? I thought it was interesting that Jane Austen first named Pride and Prejudice - "First Impressions" - I don't know about you, but my first impressions are quite often faulty. Oh, I can spot integrity right off - and weasels too. But my first impression of really good people is that they are uninteresting. It takes more than one meeting for me appreciate them. Sadly that opportunity doesn't always present itself.

    Can we begin by looking at Elizabeth Bennett and her first impression of Fitzwilliam Darcy to understand how personal prejudices cloud judgment - or appreciation of others? How do you think folks see you on first meeting? I'm sorry, that's not a fair question, is it? Is it?

    June 20, 2004 - 06:19 pm
    Welcome home, Karen -- funny about Dorothy Sayers, and Jane, good to see you here again, and I agree with your assessment of people who want to disappear. Of course, haven't we all at some time wished we could sleep through a couple of days and let our problems resolve ourselves.

    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?

    Joan Pearson
    June 20, 2004 - 07:04 pm
    Pedln - yes it is harsh, and that probably wasn't the right word - "uninteresting"... I think I'm more attracted to the bright, the glittering, rather than to the more reserved who aren't comfortable letting you into their space on first meeting. I'm not defending myself...just saying that I tend to be attracted to the show-offs. This was Mr. Darcy's problem - he was reserved and uncomfortable in strange company. People thought that he was vain, haughty, proud. Elizabeth Bennett was one of these.

    kiwi lady
    June 20, 2004 - 07:38 pm
    If someone was meeting me for the first time they may think that I am standoffish. I tend to be quiet in a large group unless it is people I know very well. I tend to observe people and would definately not gravitate towards the extroverts in the party. I would rather make one good friend than a pile of acquaintances.I would also not gravitate towards someone who I felt was snobbish rather than reserved.


    June 20, 2004 - 07:50 pm
    Pedln, I thought when the sister said "He's not ready to come home yet", she had seen dear old Dad cavorting in the altogether with the young nymphettes in the pool. Remember that Grigg had ventured out to the pool to see a naked Hillary who laughed and teased him. "You want to look, you got to be looked at". Embarrassed, Grigg goes back inside and never goes out to the pool again, avoiding glances out there, too. Sue

    June 21, 2004 - 06:27 am
    Sue, I think this is what influenced my thinking about Grigg's father -- "We would have been sad for Grigg's father, but we would have liked the White Rain girls." (p152)

    June 21, 2004 - 08:37 am
    Moving on to Pride and Prejudice then. Or at least to first impressions. My first impressions of people are so often wrong I've learned not to put much stock in them. And now so often we meet people over email. Have you all noticed that in email people can sometimes present quite different personas? I met a woman online in a group discussion that went on for years. I found her pretty insufferable. When I finally met her person and got a fix on her tone of voice and the humility that came through body language and the like, I found her completely charming. She's become a good and trusted friend.

    The library event is a real one and I've attended it for the last two years. In the real event, authors move from table to table -- salad with one group, dessert with another, but that seemed too complicated for my chapter since Bernadette's story is also so complicated. It's the dressiest thing I do all year, so it seemed instantly like an Austen ball to me. (Though the dancing of the first year was cancelled for the second.) Very sad. I rarely go anywhere when I dance anymore.

    June 21, 2004 - 02:10 pm
    I meant that last line to read "I rarely go anywhere where I dance anymore." Probably you all knew that.

    June 21, 2004 - 04:45 pm
    I did guess that was what you meant, KJay. I'm just looking in while I wait until it's time to go to my swing dance class. I haven't danced with an adult since my late husband became ill in 2000. Both of us loved to dance and I miss it. However, I took 8 weeks of ballroom dancing and now 8 weeks of swing classes just so that I'd have someone to dance with (my teacher and sometimes his wife). I dance with my young grandchildren, but that's not really dancing.

    I loved Bernadette's stories and the way she was able to silence Mo Bellington. It was good for Prudie to recognize that Bernadette's stories are an important part of her personality. Sue

    Joan Pearson
    June 21, 2004 - 05:21 pm
    Pedln, I saw dad in the pool with the naked ladies, as Sue did. Figured if he had drowned someone would have put in a call and then they'd have to stick around until the medics arrived. Grigg knows Dad is in the pool - he knows the naked Hillary is in the pool. I came away with the impresssion that Grigg was more distressed at the fact that his dad was unhappy...he felt it was somehow his fault. Poor kid. They started off in the morning for the great campout - an opportunity for father/son bonding...and now his father is weeping and unhappy. Reminds me of the other time his dad was trying to make a man of him - showed him the girly magazine and the only thing that caught Grigg's attention was the octopus unhooking the girl's bra. Now that critter caught his attention!

    Carolyn, large groups are tough, especially if you don't know anyone at the ball. I agree, it's best to start up a conversation with one person in such a situation. Here's a question for you - what if you enter a room with a group of people you know - do you pretty much stick with your own friends as Prudie, Dean and Bernadette were doing - as Mr. Darcy was doing? He didn't dance because he didn't know any of the young ladies, not because he was haughty.

    Karen, will you explain that one more time...you rarely go out where there is an opportunity to dance anymore? You rarely dance because ...you decline invitations - as Prudie did when Dean asked her?

    I'm interested in the author dinners at the Sacramento Library - have you gone as the author? Have you ever met up with such hostile table mates? Where did you get Mo Bellington's character from? I think it would be better if the author moves around with each course. S/he is not stuck with such a tough crowd as Mo Bellington faced. Is he really "insufferable" or was that just a first impression?

    Back in a few minutes with more on Prudie. She fascinates me. Did you take the little quiz - Who's your Jane Austen? It's from Karen's web page...it's in our heading here too if you want to try it later. Only takes a minute or two. I turned out to be Prudie the first time I took it; Joclyn just now - first impressions... How did you do? Bernadette's first impression of Prudie - do you remember what it was?

    Joan Pearson
    June 21, 2004 - 06:41 pm
    Sue, good for you! Your post made me happy for you. Dancing plays an important part of this chapter - a metaphor for courtship and marriage - the man makes the choice, the woman has the right of refusal. (Who is . Kellom Tomlinson, who wrote the Dancing Master quotations in this chapter?)

    Dean asks Prudie to dance. She wants to - to get him away from Mo Bellington...but she just can't. She refuses him. It is surprising to me to find that Prudie is not only grieving her mother's death, she feels "untethered" - as if the rope that was tying her to earth had snapped." What is happening to her? She is in turmoil, Bernadette observed. Sue, Prudie and Bernadette do come away with altered impressions - and appreciation for one another, don't they?

    Most mothers do a poor job of mothering in Jane Austen's novels. None is sillier than Mrs. Bennett. Some are crueler, some are overwhelmed by poverty and family but Mrs. Bennett is really ditzy... (this is the P&P chapter, so that bit of mothering has my attention today) - is Prudie waking up to the realization that her own mother DID love her after all? (Karen, we had a few questions about Prudie's last visit with her mother, and her dream. The hall with the mirrors and family portraits?

    Why does she turn Dean down - and then accept Mo Bellington? She is able to tell him she's feeling untethered, his reply, "Let's soar" - she cries and he responds, "Dance instead." How did you understand this little drama? Do you wonder how Dean took this?

    Were her first impressions of Mo faulty?

    June 21, 2004 - 08:33 pm
    Karen has a new convert. I picked up Sister Noon tonight at Barnes & Noble. It's out in paperback and is the one that was a Pen-Faulkner finalist. Looking forward to it.

    And then there's the shock I had at the opthalmologist's office today. Reading the P&P chapter, I find a certain Mo Bellington whose novel is A Murder of Crows.

    And there's even the "promo material" for this book. I was astounded because a few years ago at Borders, I heard an author read from his latest book, A Murder of Crows. YIKES, I thought, here I am in the doctor's waiting room and I can't look up the book (my daughter bought it and read it) that I knew existed.

    So......Here I am home again, and there is a book with title "A Murder of Crows," but it is by Steve Shepard, who must be the man I heard read.

    Strange, really strange.

    By the way, back when people had all sorts of names for groups of animals, the official term for a whole group of crows was "a murder of crows."

    I really liked how the stories of her past that Bernadette embroidered on in order to thicken the plot for Mr. Bellington, were full of CROWS.


    June 22, 2004 - 05:39 am
    I never thought I would miss crows!! But in my area most of them were killed off by West Nile Virus, and I heard none for a year. I really missed them and are glad they are coming back.

    I'll have to look for that mystery. I haven't read Sister Noon yet, but I have read Sarah Canary and recommend it highly.

    June 22, 2004 - 09:18 am
    Well, glad to know Grigg's father is alive and well, if a little bit theworse for his wears.

    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.

    June 22, 2004 - 10:13 am
    Bunch of stuff. I love to dance. It just doesn't seem that dancing in on the menu in most places I go these days. I'm way too old to show up at clubs. My husband is a grudging dancer (though better at it than he admits.) The last time I danced my fill was my son's wedding. Great band. Lots of dancy motown. And bit of champagne never hurts.

    I did mean Grigg's dad to be naked, not dead. But you are not the only person to read the section that way; I've been asked about it a few times. Nor was it a girly magazine that Grigg's dad gave him. It was a science fiction pulp. They often had those very sexualized covers, but the stories inside were innocence itself, back in the day.

    Yikes! I didn't know (and didn't google) of a real book called A Murder of Crows, though it's a pretty obvious title for a mystery. I just made Mo up. I couldn't compete with the fabulous Reverend Collins, but I needed some sort of blowhard. As with most of my characters I softened toward him at the end. He was very kind to Prudie when she needed him to be. I think Dean was happy to see Prudie up and dancing again.

    The charming keynote speaker, the very successful mystery writer though, who appears briefly in the chapter is based on John Lescroat, a local writer here who did do the keynote my first year at the fundraiser. It's a lovely, very elegant event. The food is excellent and no, the people at the tables are warm and welcoming. I never faced the hostile group poor Mo faces. Of course, I never told people Austen couldn't plot! Who knows how they might have reacted.

    I love our crows. They watch from the trees when I walk my dog and express deep disappointment in and suspicion with us both.

    It's been my own experience that in some odd ways the death of a parent with whom you had a problematic relationship is harder on you than the death of a parent you adored. There's so much regret in the former, so many ways things could have gone better. I don't think Prudie ever felt her mother didn't love her. There were other things wrong with the relationship, but not that one. The dream sort of represents that to me -- the rooms of the house representing aspects of the relationship and other ways to have done things. It's a comforting dream in the end, a letting go dream. I read once that after a loss of this sort, you always have a dream in which you say good-bye. I had that dream with my father. I'm still waiting to have it with my mother, and she's been dead nine years now.

    Joan Pearson
    June 22, 2004 - 10:21 am
    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.

    Bernadette tells Mo to put crows in his stories - to find clues.He says he has magpies...that he uses them for theme - poor guy, he tries to tell how he does that and is immediately cut off. Is he as bad as I remember him...is he as insufferable as Prudie found him? Perhaps he was just trying to talk the literary talk as he was invited to do...and the Jane Austen Book Club members would not let him get a word into their conversation. Did you mind them rude?

    The title of his new book, Maryal, did you understand that he wrote the new book AFTER the fund-raiser? I did. When I saw it, I thought, well there, the book club members weren't listening to Mo, but he was listening to them..."putting in lots of crows" as Bernadette told him to do.

    Are there crows in Pride and Prejudice? I don't recall. Bernadette s story of visiting Mattie after she married Lloyd seems to parallel Lizzie Barrett's visit to Charlotte Lucas after she married Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins and Lloyd both "religious" and righteous. Bernadette remembers hearing the caw caw of the crows telling her to get out, go home. I can't remember that Lizzy saw or heard any crows in P & P. I do remember crows in Persuasion though. Scarecrows too.

    Pedln, Grigg is a good guy. New to Jane Austen, but interested. Sounds like you. I'd rather be Grigg than Prudie. She's in need of a lot of therapy!

    Bernadette's stories were just the right touch for the Pride and Prejudice chapter, I agree, Pedln. Her comments on marriage were hilarious. Do you see her as Elizabeth Bennett at all? It seems that girl would have a hard time fitting into the "little wife" role.

    June 22, 2004 - 11:51 am
    JoanP--You're right. The book that was on the table at the fundraiser was Last Harvest. Bellington's next book, the one that struck me because I knew the title, was A Murder of Crows.

    Speaking of Bellington, I think Karen describes herself accurately when she says she comes to have some respect even for her less than admirable characters:

    "The band was taking a break. Bernadette, Dean, and Prudie were joined at the table by a writer named Mo Bellington. Mr. Bellington had too much hair and not enough nect. Nice teeth, though" (179).

    It's that "nice teeth though" that loosens the nail a little. Heh.

    June 22, 2004 - 04:42 pm
    KAREN: some odds and ends of trivial questions:

    Jane Austen books have no cats. Grigg is (I think) the only book club member to have a cat. Was this to emphasize his outsider status?

    I love the picture of the dinner. I also love the picture of the Sacremento Library in the next chapter. My mother had been a reference librarian, and she described her job exactly as you did. I am glad to see reference librarians portrayed, as I think they are the salt of the earth.

    Is the Sacremento Library your home away from home? You certainly share my mother's (and my) affection for librarys.

    Torrence: you say Bernadette grew up there so not too far from Hollywood. My daughter lives there, and the lomg time resedents I have met are pretty standard middle-class -- not at all Hollywoody. Did you have a reason for picking Torrence, or just somewhere near LA?

    June 22, 2004 - 07:17 pm
    My mother grew up in Torrance so I just felt comfortable that I knew the area a little. Yes, it was not at all Hollywoody.

    I spent a lot of time in libraries when I was growing up. I was in summer reading programs and my family probably went as a family once a week. I do love them. Now I'm mostly in them when I'm doing research; I tend to buy the books I want to read. But librarians are still my heroes.

    I had forgotten all about Austen's no cat rule when I gave Grigg a cat. But if it seemed good to you, then yes! Of course that's what I meant!

    Pat H
    June 22, 2004 - 07:47 pm
    Does anyone remember the 1959 musical "First Impressions" with Hermione Gingold as Mrs. Bennet, Farley Granger as Darcy and Polly Bergen as Elizabeth? I didn’t see it, but have the record. The songs are clever. I particularly like Mrs. Bennet’s line "ten thousand pounds a year is making its way from London to here".

    First loves: This conversation made me realize that I think of my husband as my first love, when he was actually my second love. The first love kind of sank without a trace.

    Tilney: whether you think he is appealing or insufferable depends on whether he is sneering or feeling an affectionate indulgence towards Catherine and her novel reading. I give him the benefit of the doubt—he has read the novels, showing some interest, and seems sympathetic. Catherine shows some signs of being able to meet him on equal terms eventually.

    Dorothy L. Sayers: I have read the same comment about Sayers being too infatuated with Wimsey to settle for anything less. The feeling certainly comes across in her detective stories. She did marry, but as a matter of convenience. She was much too formidable for most people to risk getting involved with.

    Pedln—Mr. Nice Guy. That’s a remarkably interesting point. Bingley is agreeable, but he is also rich and good looking and not all that appreciative of other people’s problems. Colonel Brandon is perhaps the closest candidate. He is rich, but mostly we see him as being involved with other people’s problems in a sympathetic and positive way.

    KJay—totally meaningless coincidences department: my mother and Ed Emshwiller’s mother used to play bridge together. (But I didn't know him.)

    Pat H
    June 22, 2004 - 10:39 pm
    He didn't just put crows in the book, the whole plot, as described in the promotional material, is lifted from Bernadette's story.

    Joan Pearson
    June 23, 2004 - 05:36 am
    Characters - Jane's and Karen's -
    ~ 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...
    ~ 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.
    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?
    Omens -
    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.

    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?
    ~ 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...
    Will reserve my comment on Dorothy Sayres until we move into the Persuasion discussion.

    June 23, 2004 - 05:48 am
    I'm half out the door, but had to respond.

    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.

    June 23, 2004 - 06:30 am
    Right you are. Mo stole the plot. How like a writer! Heh. Thanks for pointing this out because I missed it.

    JoanP--Cats in Austen's country experience just didn't have much role as pets, I'm thinking. Cats were barn animals, kept there for keeping barn rodent free. But hardly domestic cats to warm one's lap.

    Are cats ever really domestic?

    June 23, 2004 - 07:39 am
    Deems...thanks for the info on the cats as housepets in Austen's time. I, too, was thinking that I always associate old English country places with dogs...lots of dogs...like Queen Elizabeth and her Corgis....dogs and horses...but not cats. Hmmm....

    Joan Pearson
    June 23, 2004 - 07:54 am
    Well, now you've got me hunting...and I was never a reference librarian! So far in the hunt, I have found some cats in Jane Austen...
    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.

    Joan Pearson
    June 23, 2004 - 09:19 am
    One more question before moving on...do you see this chapter of Bernadette's P&P stories as climactic, as the turning point in the novel - as Pedln did?

    June 23, 2004 - 10:08 am
    Hmmm. I don't know if it's exactly a climax or turning point, but we do see all of the club members being just a bit different. Grigg's asserting himself and Jocelyn's not running the world, Prudie's looking at the others,getting second impressions, feeling appreciative of Dean, Bernadettes dressed to the nines and is out of the box, you get the feeling that Sylvia will be talking with Dean, and Allegra, I don't know.

    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.

    June 23, 2004 - 10:49 am
    You're right, of course. Cats, everywhere!

    June 23, 2004 - 10:51 am
    Pedln: Hmmm.... is Prudie maybe looking for a mother figure, or do you see her looking for a friend who happens to be about 40 years older than she is?


    June 23, 2004 - 05:59 pm
    JoanP, I thought the car scene with Grigg and Jocelyn was a foreshadowing, perhaps, of Grigg's feelings about her. Many novels have a disagreement between the hero (or anti-hero) and the heroine. I liked the way Grigg was showing his annoyance with Jocelyn's habit of directing everyone's behavior the way she thinks it "should" be. I didn't get a read on Jocelyn's take. I think she felt bewildered with Grigg's behavior which had previously been mild and unassuming. Sue

    June 24, 2004 - 10:22 am
    Are we talking about Persuasion yet? I watched the Persuasion movie last night starring Amanda Root. I like this movie quite a lot. But seeing it again I was struck with it's unAustenish moments. Anne makes quite a spectacle of herself at the Bath concert. And there's an annoying exchange when Wentworth asks, on behalf of his in-laws, if she's marrying her cousin. She's been trying and trying to find a way to tell him she's not and then, given this unexpected opportunity, we're asked to believe she's too flustered to open her mouth. But there are lots of parts I love, too. I love the quick cuts when Anne has arrived at the Musgroves and everyone is confiding in her in turn.

    Joan Pearson
    June 24, 2004 - 04:46 pm
    Pedln, I think I'm seeing the Persuasion chapter as the climax, although I see what you mean about things coming together at the ball in the Pride and Prejudice

    ~ Prudie has definitely changed since her mother died - she says she feels "untethered" - as long as her mother lived, she had someone to play imaginary cames with - even if her mother didn't know about the games Prudie continued to play. I'm wondering if she'll be the same when she goes back to her teaching. Is she seeing reality now? Is she seeing Dean with different eyes? (Why couldn't she dance with him?) - I see her "frightened" now - as Bernadette saw her from the start. She doesn't seem to know who she really is. Thank you so much, Karen for describing her dream of the hall of mirrors and portraits the night her mother died. She needs to find out which portrait is hers.

    Jane, that's an interesting question, does Prudie see something of her mother in Bernadette? Maybe a second chance to listen to things her mother had said - and to accept the truth behind the stories? Bernadette admits that she was embellishing the stories for Mo all along. I guess that fact that she admitted to Prudie that her stories were not quite true meant something to Prudie. Her mother wouldn't ever have admitted the truth. I like to thing that Prudie has found someone she can trust to tell her the truth.

    It seems to me that all of the characters in Bernadette's Pride and Prejudice chapter were getting beyond first impressions...and in so many words, admitting they were wrong in their first judgments...

    Sue, I'm sorry, I didn't see any of Grigg's affection coming through in the car scene. He must have known by now that Jocelyn was a neat-freak. Did he know that they were using his car to get to the fundraiser? It's almost as if he trashed it on purpose...and his car was out of gas too. Was he trying to impress her? Or get her attention? I agree with you, Jocelyn was bewildered at his behaviour. And she had every right to be! Do you think that a guy growing up with three controlling sisters would drive a car full of debris? I don't. I think he is the kind of guy who makes his bed in the morning, puts the cap back on the toothpaste. His poorly kept car seems out of character for him. Interesting that he lets his sisters know he is sweet on someone in the book club... I think we all knew it was going to be Jocelyn, but don't think she knew at this point.

    Joan Pearson
    June 24, 2004 - 05:16 pm
    Karen, we seem to have trouble letting go of one chapter and moving on to the next. Maybe we should have spent a month with each Jane Austen novel and a month on the corresponding chapter in your book! Just when we get into a good discussion of one chapter, it's time to move on.

    Yes, yes, we do need to move into Persuasion now. Thank you for the nudge. I've been babysitting two grandchildren - today and tomorrow too - from 7 am - 7 pm and honestly am out on my feet. Brett is just a year old, his sister, Lindsay will be three in August. Needless to say, I am exhausted. One I can handle - with two nap schedules, I have no time for even the necessaries...

    OK, Persuasion. I just finished reading the novel, so many of the details and parallels are fresh in my mind. And there are so many that correspond with the characters in your book!

    I love Anne Elliot, although sometimes she seems too good to believe. Maybe that's why I like Emma, and Lizzie. They have faults, which they recognize. Anne doesn't have too many faults - does she recognize those she does have? I haven't seen the movie - maybe I would have enjoyed seeing Anne make a spectacle of herself. That might have made her more...human. I've always had a hard time with movies from the books I have loved. They never seem to get it right!

    I loved the story of Anne and Captain Wentworth - the satire, the twists and turn, the poignant romance - who continues to love when all hope is gone. I can see Jane Austen penning these words with tears streaming down her face. This has to be the most romantic of all the novels, do you agree?

    Karne's Sylvia is clearly Anne. Does Sylvia have faults? What do the rest of you think? Is she too good to be true? She's described as "affectless" - what does that mean to you? Would it be difficult to be married to one of the "affectless"?

    Pat H
    June 24, 2004 - 05:58 pm
    Not many posts today. I'vebeen traveling to Boston, so haven't even had a chance to post my comments on Pride and Prejudice. But I have read Persuasion, so will join in as I can. Karen, I agree with you about that scene in the movie. In the first place, Wentworth would never have talked like that, and Anne not only is too flustered to answer, but is visibly waiting for the interruption that will keep her from doing so. They also make Anne too dowdy--she is supposed to be elegant. But a lot of it is done well. Wentworth looks right, Mary is a perfect portrayal, as is her father. Most of the characters are good jobs. The scene you mentioned at Uppercross is particularly good at condensing the point of many pages. It's a better job than you could hope for considering how inward the book is.

    June 24, 2004 - 07:40 pm
    I watched the film the other night also, and kept waiting to see Wentworth pull young Walter off Anne's back. Not to happen. I don't know enough to know what's "unAustenish," but thought the film kept to the book. Loved the characters of both the Crofts. Persuasion seemed to have more "real, likeable people" in it than some of Austen's other works.

    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.

    Traude S
    June 24, 2004 - 08:52 pm
    Unfortunately I've fallen way behind again, torn in many different directions. Many posts ago I wanted to add my say about "taking the waters" and the important role of the hot mineral springs in Switzerland, Italy, France and Germany, as well as in England, whose curative powers have been known since Romans times, and which have been enjoyed ever since by the well-heeled and the common man alike. But that was in anser to a quesion JOAN had asked.

    I feel grossly deficient for not having READ all of Austen's novels; is it possible that I am lacking in enthusiasm? The synopses are helpful but obviously do not and cannot convey the flavor of the writing. Therefore I am totally unable to point to similarities between Austen's characters and the book group members, though the novel hinges on that very concept.

    Will try and absorb each of the preceding 96 messages with great care tomorrow but would like to examine the group members for themselves and their intrinsic characteristics (which they deserve IMHO), not only as reflections of characters from another century. Please forgive me if this is a heretical thought.

    June 24, 2004 - 09:58 pm
    The quiz we took at the beginning said that I am most like Sylvia, so I will take her side LOL.

    PEDLIN: Sylvia is like Anne in that she is always putting other people's needs ahead of her own (I can't say that is like me) and tries never never to show her own feelings. Then the question arises is she affectless. No, it seems as if Sylvia doesn't believe that she is entitled to suffer or feel angry. It's not clear what in her background would have led to that: I would think the years of Soaps, where everyone emotes all the time about everything, would have had the opposite effect.

    She certainly can't believe in happy endings, since the soaps teach that catastrophe is always just about to happen (that is like me). I loved it when she wonders what if she has a happy ending and doesn't notice it. Perfect.

    I laughed til I cried over the "Ask Jane" 8-ball. When Sylvia cooks the answer at the end, it is the scene in Persuasion where Wentworth bases his answer on how she greets him. The worry that something will go wrong is well done in both, and, like Jocelyn, I was greatly relieved.

    Allegra here, of course, is reenacting the part of the silly woman in Persuasion, who does what she wants, gets hurt, and falls in love with the one who helps nurse her (Dr. Vos in this case). As in Persuasion, this incident opens Wentworth's eyes to his love for Anne, here it opens Daniel's eyes to his love for Sylvia.

    Since in an earlier chapter, Allegra was Marianne, Dr. Vos could also be seen as Col. Brandon.

    Joan Pearson
    June 25, 2004 - 04:20 am
    Good morning! Babies are on their way for the day, so this will be very brief, although your posts are begging for further comment! Hopefully I will have some energy left to come in after they are gone this evening!

    Karen, our discussion of your book is attracting more attention than we see here. You might be interested to hear of the British Artist who posted word of her book of artwork on the life of Jane Austen, notecards, etc - (you can view her web site HERE). Has there been interest in your book in the UK yet?

    Traude, Karen's story can stand alone in that it can be appreciated by those not intimate with Jane Austen's novels. Instead of playng catch-up right now, (skip the past 94 posts here!), I suggest you reread Chapter VI and jump right into the discussion of Sylvia's story - as we are rapidly nearing the end of our time together here.

    I think it's important to note that Sylvia doesn't see herself as "affectless" - but does see Daniel's mother that way. One of my favorite lines from Karen's book - I'll get it exactly right this evening - says something about people who have integrity hardly noticing they have it. Does that describe Sylvia? It certainly describes Anne Elliot...to me.

    Sylvia may have been attracted to the story because she saw herself in Anne - she was going to continue to love, even when there was no hope of regaining the regard, the love of her lost love.

    So many great lines in Persuasion...so many great lines in Sylvia's chapter too.

    Can't wait to get back in here tonight! You all have a really good Friday!

    Pat H
    June 25, 2004 - 06:51 am
    I'm off to Cape Cod, where I don't think I'll have internet access. Back on the 27th, full of ideas.

    The first time I read Persuasion, I was partiucularly struck by how well Austen conveys an aspect of women's lives that is no longer so true--the helpless suspense of waiting for others to act in everything that is most important in your life. You can't take any action for yourself--you must wait for a man to act--the suspense of entering a room, wondering if someone will be there--the careful weighing of another's words for clues. Anne's manners are too correct and refined to let her take even the few steps a woman could take then.

    June 25, 2004 - 08:05 am
    The problem, of course, in styling any of my characters after Austen characters is that in the next chapter we've moved on to another Austen book. So, yes, Sylvia starts out as Elinor and then in the Persuasion chapter she finds herself in a situation with some similarities to Anne's so she functions in the Anne role in that chapter, but she can't suddenly be a different person in every chapter. In the end, I hope she is simply herself.

    In general, in books, I don't warm to people who are too good. I like faults. I like characters who struggle to be good better than characters who are naturally good. Anne Elliot is the exception. I don't enjoy her as much as Emma or Lizzie, but I love her as much.

    June 25, 2004 - 08:09 am
    And, Joan, I do have a UK sale. (Yay!) The book will be out there in October.

    June 25, 2004 - 01:48 pm
    Traude, so glad you could come. Joan's advice to stick with chpt. VI is good -- there is a lot going on there with just the members of this modern club. This book stands by itself; the Janites are merely getting the whipped cream and extra calories.

    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.

    Traude S
    June 25, 2004 - 06:25 pm

    Regarding your questions: I know the answer (because I finished the book) but will keep MUM until things are revealed.

    June 25, 2004 - 06:29 pm
    Pedln--As I understand the term, "affect" refers to visible emotions, movements of the face and body that have emotional content, or even reactional content. A person who is without "affect" is one that shows nothing on their face or in their body. Of course that person may be feeling something very deeply, but those around cannot determine that.

    Joan Pearson
    June 26, 2004 - 05:46 am
    Oh, how I would welcome a Cape Cod getaway this weekend! It's been that kind of a week here! Enjoy, Pat! And Pedln - on the way to Seattle! Are you driving? This woman is an amazing road hound - or did you say your were flying this trip? Let's extend the discussion of Chapter VI (it's an important one)to Tuesday, the 29th - and then do the Epilogue? That means we'll wind up the discussion a few days into July - July 3? Karen, I'm really going to miss our conversations. I feel that we have become friends, and cannot think of a world without you in it! Maybe we'll have to extend this discussion indefinitely!

    Thank you so much for your comments on the way you stylized your characters. What a remarkable job! Yes, we all saw Emma in your Jocelyn...Emma remains a part of her character, even when I saw her playing the role of Lizzy to Grigg's Mr. Darcy in the Pride and Prejudice chapter.

    We all saw Elinor in Sylvia's character right off...but Elinor and Anne Elliot have so much in common, don't they? I remember how we talked in the beginning about how all the Austen heroines possessed some traits of the author. So it makes sense to me that your characters would possess multi-faceted traits as well. Do the characters of The Jane Austen Book Club express sides of their author's personality as well? (Personal question, not requiring an answer.)

    Will be back to address some of the interesting and important points brought up here yesterday. So much to talk about!

    Joan Pearson
    June 26, 2004 - 06:23 am
    Deems, thank you for the neat description of an "affectless" person - one who shows no emotion on his face or body language that expresses inner emotion. "Of course that person may be feeling something very deeply, but those around cannot determine that."

    So Pedln, does that answer the question about whether or not an affectless person is unfeeling? Our heroines, both Anne Elliot and Sylvia feel things, but you wouldn't guess it to look at them. With Anne, no one knows her inner turmoil. She can't speak to anyone, not even her mother surrogate, her mentor, Lady Russell. Anne had heeded her advice years before and turned down the Captain when he first proposed because he didn't suit the family. hmmm...Let's look at her counterpart - Sylvia. She continues in her Elinor mode, caring for the distraught Allegra, who has lost her father, even though her own heart is broken. Everyone around her knows that Daniel left her for the younger woman. The Book Club Members are all concerned about her. They imagine her pain, her humiliation. But do they know she longs for his return - that she would forgive anything as long as there was still love? I don't think so.

    But we don't know the Sylvia's story until this chapter. Do the book clubbers know about her "ancestral heritage?

    For those who read Persuasion, Sylvia's background is remarkably similar to Anne Elliot's. Her father must face his reduced fortune and make adjustments to the family life style. The change appears to make little difference to Anne or to Sylvia. They are "affectless." Another interesting similarity - Anne did not accept Captain Wentworth's proposal because she was advised not to. His background and social standing were not acceptible to the Elliot family. Anne waited for him to come back to her once he made it in the eyes of society. Sylvia's Daniel was not Catholic. This is an important obstacle to her family. To them, it meant he would divorce her if something better came along. But she did marry him. I think I see a mature Anne Elliot in the young Sylvia Sanchez. Does that make sense to you? Or is it that the young Anne Elliot would not have sent the Captain packing just because her family was against it. Is the message here that in another time, a later time, such objections would not have affected her actions?

    Pat - I've been thinking about what you said yesterday - a woman in Jane Austen's time had to wait for others to act - the man proposed, she waited - the only power a woman had was that of refusal. More often than not, there was such family pressure, that she often did not even have that. I liked when Anne Elliot stepped up to Captain Wentworth before the concert to speak. She was out of order, but it was an indication to the captain that she was not the "affectless" person she appeared to be.

    Do you think Jane Austen was an "affectless" person?

    Joan Pearson
    June 26, 2004 - 08:12 am
    pa. Have we all agreed with Sylvia that she is not an affectless person? Daniel keeps asking her if she is happy. Doesn't that sound as if he is having some trouble reading her emotions after all these years. I have trouble with that word, "happy"...what does it mean to you? Are you "happy"? Does your face show it? Can others tell whether you are happy or not? In Sylvia's case, I don't think she knows if she is happy or unhappy. She doesn't seem to give it much thought. Can that be? She doesn't seem to be holding in unexpressed emotion - how do you see her?

    June 26, 2004 - 10:46 am
    "Do you think Jane Austen was an "affectless" person? "

    The biography of Austen that I started (I didn't finish it) keeps asking that question. She does have passages in her letters that seem unfeeling -- (and in Persuasion where she makes a joke of the fact that the Musgroves son died). And when she discusses situations that must have been emotional for her, she passes over them lightly. I think she was like Anne: never wanting to show her feelings, perhaps afraid to feel too much.

    Joan Pearson
    June 26, 2004 - 10:55 am
    Her books may have been her emotional outlet - a way to express her inner feelings?

    June 26, 2004 - 10:56 am
    Sylvia makes it pretty obvious that she feels and feels deeply when she and Allegra are getting ready for the library fundraiser. She is on the verge of begging Allegra to go with her when Allegra announces that she is going after all.

    Sylvia dreaded going to the affair without her daughter when she knew that Daniel would be there and most likely with his new girlfriend, the family services lawyer. In a situation like that, Sylvia really needs support. And we know it.

    As for being asked if she is happy, I read that scene as Daniel having the beginning of his midlife crisis. When he asks Sylvia if she is happy, I think he is covertly thinking about his own happiness (that he isn't happy) and projecting the unhappiness onto her. If this sounds too psychological, I apologize. But why would anyone ask another person if he/she is happy unless there was a reason?

    June 26, 2004 - 11:01 am
    I think Austen clearly admired people who could keep their emotions in check. And yet, in Persuasion, one of Anne's objections to her cousin, Mr. Elliot, is that everything he says is so proper, she never hears any passion (meaning strong opinion, not romance) from him. (I hope I'm right in remembering that this is in the book as well as in the movie. I will go check later today when time permits.)

    June 26, 2004 - 11:12 am
    KJAY: you are right. He says all the right things, but without passion.

    Perhaps this is a difference in her role as a woman, who can only wait, and respond to Wentworth's passion, and a man, who is free to initiate. It this context, it was brave indeed for her to speak to him at the concert.

    Joan Pearson
    June 26, 2004 - 07:41 pm
    Pedln - on Grigg calling Sylvia for lunch - could he have called her to talk about his chances with Jocelyn? We know Jocelyn had hopes to set him up with Sylvia - Sylvia sensed that too, but when he actually made the call, neither of them were aware of the fact that he was sweet on Jocelyn. Sylvia doesn't even want the intimacy of lunch with Grigg, which is why she decided to invite him to the picnic. Brings to mind the triangle of misunderstanding in Persuasion - Captain W. was certain that Mr. Elliot was making inroads with Anne, she wasn't at all interested. Daniel is jealous of Grigg. Jocelyn is jealous of Grigg's interest in Sylvia. Does anyone know what Grigg was thinking when both Sylvia and Jocelyn ignored him?

    Karen, why do we love Anne, when she too good to be true? Is it because she doesn't know how good she is? Is it because she has so much going on inside, but manages to channel her emotions into the care of others? I know some people like this. (Very few)

    does take some steps on her own in defiance of convention. She dared to address Captain W. first in a crowded room. This was against the social code and she knew it. She decided to marry the Captain even though she would be marrying down out of her class. She didn't even consult with Lady Russell this time. She faced her father. She knew he would be unhappy with her. (What else was new?) She knew she was giving up her position in society. I think we love Anne because she is real - and spunky...and good too. What a gal. Sylvia married Daniel in spite of her family's opposition.

    "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.

    Karen - "I think Austen clearly admired people who could keep their emotions in check." Well, yes, Mr. Elliot never expressed his true feelings. Just said what people wanted to hear. And look at some of her female characters - she seems to have admired the reserve of Jane Fairfax in Emma and Jane Bennett in P & P - but they also seemed to annoy her a little too, didn't you think? She avoided Jane F. (jealousy perhaps) and she felt Jane B. did not face the reality of their world, seeing only the good in everyone.

    Joan, do you think she is unhappy with each of these "good" characters - because they are so reserved, but without passion? It is surely more difficult to control oneself, to keep one's emotions in check if there is not much going on inside in the first place. Do you think that she admires those who are passionate and yet manage to control their expression? Is that what Jane Austen was doing herself?

    Let's talk some more about what is known about Jane Austen...does she respect those women who are "brave" enough to express themselves, or does she andmire those who restrain and keep emotions in check?

    kiwi lady
    June 26, 2004 - 10:39 pm
    I think Jane Austen had strong male and female characters. I think she admired women and men who were honest and revealed their true feelings. She hated artifice and that is obvious in many of her books. My daughter said "Mum you are blunt but that is OK because I understand you and that you are never malicious" I personally see no good in artifice or being two faced. I say what I think to the persons face and not behind their backs. I also hate artifice. With me what you see is what you get.


    Joan Pearson
    June 27, 2004 - 05:35 am
    hahaha, Carolyn, I'm afraid you wouldn't have made it in Jane Austen's world where young ladies were expected to keep their thoughts to themselves.

    I remember reading of Jane's upbringing...she grew up in a parsonage, one of 8 children, 6 of which were brothers. She played the boys'games, enjoyed horseplay and experienced first-hand the way males resolved conflict and handled emotions. She also took part in family theatricals ...was used to expressing her own views, and being listened to when she spoke her mind.

    When she was seven she was sent to the first of several boarding schools. She hated the constraints put on her at these finishing schools, but by the time she was eleven she came home for good, her formal education complete. She grew up in the parsonage, which also served as a boarding school for boys. She attended their classes and learned what they were learning.

    I'm not sure why she demanded more restraint from her heroines than had been put on herself. What do you think of this idea?
    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.

    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....
    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.

    We've talked a lot about mothers - what of the fathers? Anne Elliot's father "had little affection" for this daughter. He is portrayed as very vain, and since Anne took after her departed mother - she was not of interest to him. What is known of JA's father and her relationship with her father? Let's look at Sylvia's parents and her upbringing? Her father in particular as this story so closely parallels Anne Elliot's.

    Have a Super Sunday, everyone!

    June 27, 2004 - 10:59 am
    There may be parallels between the two fathers, but Anne Elliot's is an obnoxious man and I don't feel that way about Sylvia's. He was proud of his heritage, but also had a touch of the romantic -- serenading his wife at 5;30 am every year on her birthday. Did he believe in causes -- is that why he kept putting money into the newspaper. I like Diego Sanchez, but not Walter Elliot.

    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.

    June 27, 2004 - 07:14 pm
    There is an interesting article in the most recent Persuasions (comes from JASNA) about Austen's men. According to the article in the years before 1800 (I'm not going to remember the exact dates) men dressed in colorful, ostentatious displays of wealth and were admired for equally generous displays of feeling, weeping, etc. Then fashions changed. Colors and fancy clothing were seen as feminine and so were displays of feelings. The admirable man became the Byronic model -- complex, dark, closed off. The template for today's romance novel was created, partly by Austen -- a taciturn, yet strong-feeling man falls in love. The climax of the story comes when the man confesses to the woman that he needs her in order to be emotionally complete or sound. The way Darcy tells Elizabeth that she properly humbled him. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. It seemed interesting and apropos to the discussion of the types of men and women Austen seems to admire.

    May also be why Tilney never seems to quite fit the mold of the other heroes. He was her first and maybe fell in the period when fashions were changing? Of course, Edmund seems quite able to express his emotions, too. But the article suggested that Austen seems suspicious of men who express themselves easily, like Wickham, and cousin Elliot, and Willoughby.

    Personally, I like a fast-talking man. But I wasn't silly enough to marry one.

    Pat H
    June 27, 2004 - 09:01 pm
    KJay--You are right about that quote being in the book. Almost at the end of chapter 18, Anne is musing that she doesn't really know Mr. Elliot's character.

    "Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished, but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurable. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend on the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped."

    Pedln--I'm wrong again; I predicted Jocelyn wouldn't finish Grigg's books.

    Is Sylvia happy?--she seems very uncertain as she decides Daniel can stay. I really like the line "What if you had a happy ending and didn't notice? Sylvia made a mental note. Don't miss the happy ending." It's actually good advice--I think some people don't notice they reallly have happy endings.

    I like the full circle remark when Prudie is suspicious of Daniel's ploy in bringing Persuasion "...but who would put Jane to an evil purpose?" The same remark is on page 1, suspicion against Jocelyn.

    Was Anne really marrying beneath her? Wentworth isn't titled, but he is a gentleman, and rich, his fortune made in an acceptable way, and a Captain. Surely that makes him acceptable?

    I did have a good time on Cape Cod. It was a sort of gathering of my son-in-law's family, most of whom I hadn't met. They were all very nice. One of them, a woman lawyer, saw what I was reading and immediately told me how much she liked "The J. A. Book Club". So I told her about the other books.

    June 28, 2004 - 07:25 am
    Pat, did you tell the JA Book Club reader about SeniorNet too? Even young folks want to get mom or dad involved in something.

    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?

    Pat H
    June 28, 2004 - 06:52 pm
    I have always felt that Anne's retraction of her acceptance of Wentworth's proposal was not made convincing. She was so very much in love with him, and her father didn't actually refuse permission. You have to assume that, at 19, she was too unsure of herself to stand up to Lady Russell's arguments. But why was Wentworth unable to counter-persuade her? Was he too offended to try?

    What would have happened if she had continued the engagement, or renewed it in the year eight? They would have gotten married soon. The Napoleonic Wars and later the War of 1812 were still going on. He would have been at sea most of the time, and she would probably not have gone to sea with him, as Mrs. Croft did. So she would have been lonely and worried, but would have had more years of being married to the man she loved. The book takes place during a brief peace, which was followed by Napoleon's escape from Elba, and further war of some months. After this there was a long period of peace, and since Wentworth had made his fortune, he could settle down to a placid life.

    Joan Pearson
    June 29, 2004 - 06:27 am
    Missed you all yesterday - spent a long day over at the Folger Library - home of PENN/Faulkner Literary Award. Those generous souls donated a ton of fiction to the prison library where Wally Lamb teaches writing. They think the world of you and your book, Karen. (they aren't the judging panel, but from the positive response, I'd be sure your publisher submits your book for consideration!) I need to play catch up for having missed out on yesterday in here.

    That's an important point - the times they were a'changing from the time Jane Austen began her novels when she was 18, 19 and 20 to the penning of Persuasion when she was 40! After 1800 the men became more the strong silent type...more guarded in expressing their inner feelings. So you like the "fast-talkers" - they are interesting, aren't they? Glib - titillating (that's not really the word I'm looking for - but something more than "interesting" - scintillating? So why didn't we marry on of them? Trust? Do men of few words inspire more trust? Isn't that amusing in a way. Shakespeare had a line in Henry V...I know it because I gave my husband a bookmark with the quote..."Men of few words are the best men."

    "The climax comes when the man confesses that he needs her in order to be emotionally complete or sound." So, when Captain Wentworth writes to Anne, "you pierce my soul" - would you say that is the climax? (Did you not get goosebumps right along with Anne when you read that?) Or would you say that the climax occurred earlier, when subtle expressions and body language made it clear to both that the old feelings were still there?

    Joan Pearson
    June 29, 2004 - 06:49 am
    I loved Persuasion because the characters (the main characters) were not stereotypes - were BOTH capable of deep emotion and change. And I like second chances. We all deserve second chances. The Captain was willing to admit he was wrong, that his pride kept him from trying once more, not his lack of feeling. Pat, you're right, it wouldn't have been a good time to be married. The loss of social status and family - especially Lady Russell would have been a lot for one so young and inexperienced to have faced.

    Pedln, I think that though the Captain returns "acceptable" - rich and a gentleman, he is still not of the Austens' social rank, such as it is. Anne's father and sister are lost to her - and though they didn't deserve it, this caused Anne some distress -
    "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.

    ~ 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.)

    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.


    June 29, 2004 - 07:39 am
    I watched the movie of Persuasion and, while I liked it, I didn't feel the actress who played Anne hit the mark. She captured the sadness and disappointment of Anne, but not the inner strength and dignity that I think we all feel in her.

    Perhaps that is Austen's problem: she is portraying someone who is held to be worthless by all around her and yrt is the rock: the foundation on which they all build and depend. I think Austen carries it off: maybe she didn't think so.

    Joan Pearson
    June 29, 2004 - 08:36 am
    JoanK, I didn't see the movie, but your comment about the actress lacking the portrayal of the strength and dignity that we see in JA's Anne - do you see her strength coming from resignation and determination to make the most of the future that she is destined to live? Do you see the same strength and dignity in Sylvia?

    Karen, can you tell us how closely (or loosely) the Book Club characters are intended to resemble the Austen heroines? Sometimes I wonder if we are examining them too closely far more than you intended. So often they are right on!

    Pat, IS Sylvia happy? Do you suppose she hesitates to answer this question because she hadn't ever given it much thought? How would Anne Elliot reply if that same question had been put to her about her own life? Do you see Anne as someone waiting for a happy ending, or one resigned to the life of a maiden aunt? I see the two characters as very much alike. They accept their lives and make the most of them. They don't stop to analyse, they don't appear to question happiness.

    Is Sylvia waiting for a second chance with Daniel? Or is she resigned to the fact that he doesn't love her, loves another?

    Oh Pat, what a keen observation...fully circle - who would put Jane Austen to an evil purpose? Prudie's character really interests me - what is she afraid of? Does she feel that Dean loves her more than she deserves?

    ps. Pedln - I don't give gift books to any one but grandchildren and sons - sometimes I give books to friends I'm quite sure they will like. Don't give books I like for others to try. By funny coincidence, yesterday I was given Ursula Le Guin's Changing Planes - (Yes, I will read it!) Does anyone know if Jane Austen's last works, The Watsons and/or Sanditon are available...anywhere?

    June 29, 2004 - 08:46 am
    Yes, The Watsons and Sanditon are available, as is "Lady Susan" her first effort. I have read them, but a long time ago. Karen said the epilogue was based a little bit on Sanditon. (It was unfinished, but someone finished it, using Jane's notes.

    do you see her strength coming from resignation and determination to make the most of the future that she is destined to live?

    Yes and no. Yes, but that makes it seem like a negative quality, whereas I don't feel that way. Much of Austen's strength and appeal, after all, comes from how much she made of the future she was destined to live. We all are destined to live a restricted future in some way or other, and those we admire are those who make something of it.

    Ann Alden
    June 29, 2004 - 12:44 pm
    Have you heard from this lady?? She left her link over in the Authors' Corner so I am bringing it to you all here.

    Austen Effusions

    I did look briefly at the page and it looks well done and interesting.

    Joan Pearson
    June 29, 2004 - 12:58 pm
    Yes, we did hear from her, Ann...in fact she posted here. Sent her a note and had a nice reply - from the UK. Karen's book will go on sale in Britain in October. I bet it will be a wild success in the land of Austen. Nice stuff, isn't it? I'd like the book for Christmas, will you note that somewhere and tell Santa for me?

    Ann Alden
    June 29, 2004 - 01:26 pm

    June 29, 2004 - 02:32 pm
    I looked at the Austen Effusion's page, too, and liked it a lot.

    Joan, most of my characters began with Austen's characters, but then went their own ways. I think that Sylvia has Anne's willingness to sacrifice her own interests to those of the family and her ability to endure in an unhappy situation.. But one of her primary characteristics, to me, is her expectation of imminent catastrophe -- she has trouble enjoying the good times, because she always expects them to end. I don't see that in Anne.

    I just got a lovely email from a friend who said his favorite part of my book was the email exchanges between Grigg's sisters. He said that they reminded him of ancient Greek plays, where the gods decide to come down from Olympus to fix things. I would never have thought of that myself, but I was pretty tickled by it.

    I'm interested in the suggestion that Austen was not entirely pleased with the character of Anne. If anyone knows more about that, I'd love to hear it.

    Joan Pearson
    June 29, 2004 - 08:30 pm
    "We all are destined to live a restricted future in some way or other, and those we admire are those who make something of it." Thanks, Joan K - that helps me understand Anne Elliot - Jane Austen - and yes, Sylvia too. Whether Daniel continued his affair with Pam, or someone else, I see Sylvia marked with the same determination to go on. She would have survived without Daniel.

    Karen, she's your baby, so you understand Sylvia best. "One of her primary characteristics, to me, is her expectation of imminent catastrophe." Funny you should say that - I'm that way too. I admire those who are ready for whatever comes. Those who say there are no problems, only challenges. Sylvia does differ from Anne and JA in this respect, doesn't she? Could be a habit she learned from watching all those soap operas. Funny how what you learn in childhood stays with you.

    It was Carol Shields who commented about Jane Austen and the way she felt about Anne. I'll go find it and quote it exactly as she wrote it - and see if she gave any attribution for the information...

    Joan Pearson
    June 30, 2004 - 03:49 am
    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.

    Joan Pearson
    June 30, 2004 - 04:28 am
    Well! The Epilogue contained a number of surprises! Joan K, thank you for the reminder that there is a connection between JA's unfinished Sanditon (sandy town?) and the Epilogue. I'm going to guess that Bernadette's new life on the Scarlet Macaw would be a fresh new direction for Jane Austen's imagination...

    Please feel free to comment on anyone or anything during these last few days. Pedln is en route to Seattle - and hopefully will be with us tomorrow - promised we wouldn't say our goodbyes and start the archiving process until she comes in...dressed in her best sprigged muslin, of course. This has been such fun.

    I have a particular question - regarding the "likeability" of Karen's book among those of you who came to it with very little Austen under your belts. Did you enjoy the story without the references to Austen works? Do you feel you learned more about JA just from reading Karen's book? Did the book whet your appetite for more Austen after this discussion? Will you be reading science fiction?

    Karen, Grigg's emails from his sisters were so charged with - am a little late for work already this morning - but the Greek chorus image is superb! Surely you MUST have felt that, even subconsciously? The very names of his sisters - Cassandra, Amelia, Bianca emit that aura...late, gotta run!

    Have a good day everyone - a nice one too!

    June 30, 2004 - 07:33 am
    I'm probably the only one who feels this way, but I like Ms Fowler's book for itself...not based on any comparisons with Jane Austen. I would gladly read more Fowler, before I'll venture into any more Austen. I found Emma, on the re-reading after many, many years, to be very tedious in parts ---so much so I thought I'd never get into it. I thought Fowler's moved along nicely, and I enjoyed thinking/learning about the various characters...and thinking of people they reminded me of--not those from the various Austen works.


    June 30, 2004 - 09:49 am
    Thank you so much, Jane. I certainly couldn't ask for anything more.

    kiwi lady
    June 30, 2004 - 12:52 pm
    The Jane Austen book club was the only book which had books within a book that I have really enjoyed. I liked the characterizations. They were very real and real characters ( as you may have gleaned by now from my participation in other discussions)add very much to my enjoyment of any piece of literature. I am going to read some more books by K Fowler.

    Sorry I have not been in here much but I have been having lots of problems with my arthritis and of course there is all that baking I have to do for my gluten free diet. Its all very time consuming. I even have to make my own cheeses as I have problems with cheese also. I am making yoghurt cheese.

    I still lurk here every day even though often I have not gathered my thoughts together enough to post.


    June 30, 2004 - 01:29 pm
    I really enjoyed Karen's book as well as having Karen here with us. I agree with your friend, Karen, about the email exchange. I saw it as Grig's self-appointed guardian angels planning to strike again to support him. I was reasonably sure that it was Jocelyn he was interested in though I don't know why. (Maybe because he's such an attractive guy and I'm more like Jocelyn than I am like the other characters? Heh.)

    I have already purchased Sister Noon and will begin it as soon as I finish The Dogs of Babel (nearly through).

    Sylvia made herself a note not to miss the happy ending. So I think this time she will pay attention, for her own sake.

    Thanks so much to all the participants. I have really enjoyed this discussion and I did manage to read ALL of Northanger Abbey which I had never read. Plus half of Emma until the pace was too fast (or maybe I agree with jane that sometimes Austen is "tedious" to me).


    June 30, 2004 - 01:30 pm
    Sorry--I just reread the heading and see that our discussion goes until the SECOND of July.

    I'll have some more comments on the end.

    Pat H
    June 30, 2004 - 02:52 pm
    Even if I had read no Jane Austen, I would have loved "The J. A. Book Club". It stands on its own, and is highly entertaining. But the Austen gives it an extra dimension, and it's great fun seeing all the clever resemblances. And comparing the characters to Austen's adds a layer of meaning--how they can handle some of the same problems in a world which gives women more options, yet in some ways their choices are the same.

    Pat H
    June 30, 2004 - 02:59 pm
    I read somewhere that always wearing white was meant as a comment on Eleanor Tilney's elegance and refinement. It was hard to keep white clean and good-looking in the dirty city. It's sort of like the dumb white gloves ladies were supposed to wear downtown when I was growing up.

    Joan Pearson
    June 30, 2004 - 04:31 pm
    Jane, thank you so much for admitting your difficulties with Jane Austen - bet you wouldn't have done it if you had been sitting in on the last meeting of the Jane Austen Book Club. Prudie would have been all over you!

    Back when Pedln and I were talking about DLing this discussion, we talked about how best to approach it. Some of you may remember that when we did Matthew Pearl's Dante Club, we also discussed Dante's Inferno - but in a separate discussion. In that way, those who were only interested in Matthew's mystery novel did not have to sit through our discussion of Dante. There were quite a number who strolled back and forth between the two discussions.

    It seemed to me at the time that Karen's characters were so intertwined with Jane's that I lobbied to keep discussion of the Fowler/Austen novels together. Also, I tend go overboard - started right then, weeks before the discussion began to read the six novels. With the details of the Austen canon fresh in my mind, I was finding so much in Karen's book, it became impossible for me to notice when her characters took on a life of their own - So. I'm delighted to hear that you were entertained by the book without having the same intimacy or enthusiasm for Jane Austen I had. The Publisher promises that you don't have to be an Austen fan to enjoy the book. It's good to hear from you that this is true.

    Pat, I have to agree with you, the Austen connection gave Karen's book that extra dimension. I think it was noticing those little details, similarities - like Rushworth's 42 notes for his lines for the play and Prudie's 42 index cards of notes for her Book Club meeting that had me on the prowl for more!

    Tell me, do you think it would have been better if we had held a separate discussion of Jane Austen's novels for those interested in them, and then kept this discussion strictly for the discussion of Karen's book? There were times I felt we weren't giving Karen's book the attention that Jane Austen was hogging. I wasn't sure though, because I lost my objectivity weeks ago when the Austen characters and Karen's all blended into one fantastic experience. I have to admit that two or three times I dreamed about them...

    Joan Pearson
    June 30, 2004 - 04:51 pm
    Carolyn, we were fortunate to have you with us from the start. Wasn't it you who recommended Carol Shields' biography? Am sorry that your ails and ills kept you from your usual enthusiastic participation. It was clear from the start that your interest was high.

    Yes, the characterizations were masterful, weren't they? - Nothing cardboard - never a weak imitation of Austen. I was so interested to hear from Karen that she started with Austen, but that the members of the club took on lives of their own. Karen, I'll bet you were surprised when Bernadette announced she was taking off for Costa Rica! I guess that means no Jane Austen Book Club Part II?

    Will you tell us something more about Prudie? We had to watch her very closely. Her new found friend, if that's what Bernadette was, is moving away - in the Epilogue she is barely polite towards Grigg - I guess this is progress for her. She's keeping her thoughts to herself, though she still thinks he just doesn't get it...What are your feelings towards this girl. I feel sorry for her. Is she living one of those Austen marriages, comfortable but not quite the fairy tale romance a young imaginative girl like Prudie dreams of?

    Joan Pearson
    June 30, 2004 - 05:14 pm
    Maryal, to me the biggest LESSON here is Sylvia's determination to NOTICE the happy ending this time. I think she got the second chance - which she deserved. Is love better the second time around, she asks? I would think so. You don't take so much for granted.

    Karen, will you tell us something about the appendices in the back of the book. The questions from the Book Club Members for example...do you see them as discussion starters they would have used for their monthly book club meetings? (I put several representative ones in the header.) I liked Grigg's question - would Austen's books be considered romance novels today. Do you think Grigg would have joined a club of ladies discussing romance novels?

    ps. What did the rest of you think of the frequent allusions to the color "white"?
    pps. When is a white cat just a quite cat?

    June 30, 2004 - 05:55 pm
    I was surprised when I took the "Who's Your Jane Austen" quiz to be a Prudie. I identified more closely with Sylvia--I tend to look for bad things to happen as Sylvia did, but also am not really conscious of a feeling of happiness. I'm content with my life, but just don't think much about whether I am happy or not. I think Sylvia may have been this way, too. I think Daniel's insecurity in mid-life made him wish for Sylvia's love to be known as "happiness". And Prudie is not one I can figure out. Maybe I should retake the quiz!

    I especially liked Grigg's relationship with his sisters. I have a much younger half-brother who my sisters and I met only 10 years ago. We didn't even know about him. But now we try to look out for him like Grigg's sisters did for him. Prior to knowing him, we two older sisters looked out for the youngest in the same way. However, I hasten to add we never beat anyone up.

    I really liked the way Karen found a way for Bernadette to shine in the epilogue. Most of the way through the book, the narrator(s) spent a lot of time disregarding Bernadette. They won't do that in the future. And I think the book club can go on with Daniel as a replacement. He could learn a lot from the members. Bernadette could e-mail her contributions to the discussions, perhaps.

    As a question for Karen, I am wondering how she came up with the kernel of the idea for the Jane Austen Book Club. It's a winner in my book. Sue

    June 30, 2004 - 05:58 pm
    Well, I took it again, and this time I identified with Jocelyn. My children and my sisters would probably agree as they have all accused me of being bossy and managing at one time or another. Sue

    June 30, 2004 - 10:21 pm
    KJAY: you have been writing now several different kinds of stories: science fiction, historical novels based on California history, and now a modern novel (although with its roots in Austen. Could you compare the types of writing: how different are they and what are their strengths and weaknesses for you as an author?

    July 1, 2004 - 10:11 am
    I gather that this is our last day together, although Joan assures me she will not simply pull the plug, but will let us finish talking. It has been my pleasure and my honor to eavesdrop on and participate in the conversation. Thank you all.

    Prudie is already well married, so she doesn't need a happy ending. What she needs is a happy beginning. When her mother dies, she loses the only person who could have told her what really happened to her as a child and what was only fiction. I think Dean is a good husband to her and I gauge her chances of happiness as about equal to anybody's. I guess, more than the others, she represents some writerly quandries to me. There is a confusion of fiction and reality in her past and a preference for fiction in her present. I, too, can (easily) imagine a better world than the one we've got. It's a source of sorrow, anger, and also inspiration to me. (My email server keeps quitting on me so I'm going to post this much before I lose it and then go on to other questions.

    March 17, 2004 - 08:30 am
    The appendixes were my editor's idea and a real treat to do. I'm still reading masses of Austen criticism when I should be moving on to my next book. I will have to tear myself away.

    A couple of the questions posed by my characters in the reader's guide are of real interest to me. One of them has also been posed here, but no one has answered -- what do you do when someone insists on pressing on you a book you have no intention of reading? We need Ms. Manners on this one.

    I'm also interested in hearing when people generally read the ending of the book. I usually read it at the end, but if the writer has succeeded in truly alarming me about what may happen to the characters, sometimes I peek.

    The last question posed above, about the different kinds of genres and stories is a long one. Let me think about it some today and try to answer this afternoon.

    July 1, 2004 - 01:01 pm
    Good Morning from Seattle. This has been a busy place while I've been travelling. Sorry to have missed so much, but I've enjoyed reading and thinking about all your posts of the past few days.

    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.

    July 1, 2004 - 03:52 pm
    The best thing about this discussion was getting to read the Jane Austen books again, and reading all your posts about them. The happy endings in Fowler's story somehow seemed more forced than Austen's, perhaps because in the more contemporary setting, they appeared less realistic. The whole project was time-consuming, but fun!

    Pat H
    July 1, 2004 - 08:45 pm
    Book giving and lending: I think it is NEVER safe to ask someone if they liked a book you gave them, or if they have read it. Any comment can produce a touchy reaction. If you lend someone a book, you can ask for it back, with no further comment. That's the easy part. But if someone lends YOU a book, you can't just not read it, you must either return it or keep it forever. At the moment, I have 2 unread books on my shelves, warts on my conscience, waiting for me to return them. If your friends read Miss Manners they will give you a graceful way out, but mostly they don't.

    I almost always read the ending of a book last. Even with "The J. A. Book Club", the only cheating I did was to read the Epilogue a few days early. But I have a friend who always reads the ending first to make sure the book is worth reading.

    I'm still in Boston, which is why my posts have been so scrappy, but I'll try to think of my most important thoughts for tomorrow's windup.

    Joan Pearson
    July 2, 2004 - 01:10 am
    Good morning!
    It seems that SeniorNet's been experiencing some technical instability - lost a looong post last evening and then couldn't get back in at all. Have learned a lesson - will post in short spurts this time...

    Pedln, we'll probably keep the light on through the weekend. I agree, there have been some super posts in here - and we don't want to risk missing out on any last minute observations...Love to picture you reading Lemony Snicker chapters with your little grandson. The line you quoted about the story's bad ending, bad beginning - does bring back Sylvia's comment on parenting, doesn't it?
    "All parents want an impossible life for their children -- happy beginning, happy middle, happy ending. No plot of any kind."
    It's true, though, isn't it? When you think of it, it is SO Austen too - Austen mothers want that happy ending so badly. But of course there is always going to be PLOT. That's where Jane Austen comes in - and Karen Fowler...and we parents.

    I've heard from several who have been waiting for the library copy - Ann Alden says she just gave up, the list is so long - and bought the book. I hope everyone knows that this discussion will be archived...and available to all - for eternity. There will also be a Readers'Guide from this discussion available - with a link to the entire archived discussion. Karen's comments are invaluable - I've been collecting them onto one page for quick reference and they will go into the Study Guide and Archived discussion as soon as the page is complete - and edited. So far - Karen's Comments on Jane Austen and Jane Austen Book Club
    Coffee break...

    Joan Pearson
    July 2, 2004 - 02:23 am
    Sue, keep taking that quiz often enough and you'll probably find that depending on the time of day, and your mood, you'll turn out to be the Austen you feel the most comfortable with! Are you happy with Jocelyn?

    I think I've known all along that I'm Prudie, but didn't exactly know why (besides the 42 index cards littering my desk...) - until I read your post yesterday, Karen - I share her confusion of fact and reality in the past and lean towards a more fictional reality now. It's not easy being Prudie!

    Would love our Jane to take the Who's Your Jane Austen Quiz - something tells me she'd be Grigg.(Although I don't see our Jane pressing books on anyone!) What say, Jane?

    I see several good suggestions here for handling the situation of the unsolicited bookgiver. I have a friend who gives me the best books that I have never heard of - and always enjoy them! Perhaps people do this to you more often, Karen, because you are an established writer and they think you spend much time reading - rather than writing? If you can't avoid accepting the book - if it's a gift, that's hard... admit from the start that you can't promise to read it in the near future. And then admit later if asked about it, that you just couldn't get to it, let alone get into it... Pedln, hahaha suggests you have someone else return it for you! Love that one, Pedln!

    Sue, that's something to think about - Daniel as a replacement for Grigg...what facet of Jane Austen's personality does Grigg represent? Wait a minute, what's happened to Grigg? He might come back, don't you think? Or do you think he really wants to move on to another author? (Who's Patick O'Brian?) Maybe Daniel will replace Allegra?

    But would Grigg want to discuss Romance novels? The question about Grigg and romance novels p.285, -
    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?

    Joan Pearson
    July 2, 2004 - 03:36 am
    Goodness! How can ANYONE read the ending first! hahaha, I can't imagine doing that! I must confess, even when leading a book discussion, I haven't read the ending in advance. What fun is that? (Which is why I get so cranky when someone reveals the ending when we aren't even midway through the discussion!) Oh dear, the epilogue too, Pat? (Well, you did say "a few days ago"...you waited until you had read Chapter VI, right?) Isn't this an interesting topic? We are each so different and isn't that wonderful? I'm still thinking of Pat's friend who reads the ending to see if she wants to read the beginning and the middle. I guess it's a lot like researching a vacation spot to see if you want to make the trip? I just thought of something. Sometimes if I have a lot invested in a character, and it looks as if the character is about to be taken away, I will turn to the end, not read it, but scan quickly to be sure the character's name is still there. I guess you'd call that "peeking."

    My husband and I attend a number of Shakespeare's plays a year, here and in London - always read/reread the play before we go...and he'll tell you, I NEVER can read Act V beforehand. Even though I know pretty much how it will turn out, I want to experience it as if seeing it for the first time.

    Oh, horselover, did you real all the novels too? Time-consuming, true, but wasn't it fun - even more so by reading Karen's modern version of the Austen themes right along with them? I see Karen playing Jane Austen at the end, pairing everyone off for a happy ending. Let's look at her "happy endings" to see what you felt was "forced" - I hope you will expand on that thought with us?
  • 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?
  • Deems
    July 2, 2004 - 10:06 am
    Pat H--I loved your description of those two unread books given to you by friends as “warts on my conscience.” Got to remember that one. I generally manage to escape those loaner books when I am teaching. I explain that I have so much reading to do that I just won’t have time---maybe someone else would like to read the book?

    JoanPearson--I finally took the Jane Austen test in the heading. I am soooo excited that I came out as Jocelyn!! Since she is the character I most identified with and since she and Grigg end up together, well you get the idea.

    I never read the end of a book last—never ever. Why would I be reading a book unless I enjoyed the unrolling of the plot? And if I knew the ending, what would I really care about the how we got there? It is really interesting to me to see that many folks do like to read the ending. I know that some authors deliberately don’t put the ending at the end or put on an ending that is misleading IF you are only reading the last few pages, so this most be a common practice.

    As for “romance novels,” Joan, I’ll agree with you. As the term is used now, it refers to those paperback “bodice rippers” and their offspring (the ones with more sex in them). They are extremely popular but really have no more to do with Jane Austen or any of the serious novelists who follow her than pudding has to do with ice cream. No offense to pudding, but it just doesn’t measure up to ice cream on a hot July day.

    Jane Austen’s novels are “novels of manners” and resemble contemporary novels of that type, the ones that take on groups of people and their interactions. Karen has written such a novel—in the comic mode.


    July 2, 2004 - 10:59 am
    DEEMS: I agree with you about romance novels, but not about pudding. I love pudding LOL.

    Although I don't like romance novels, they seem to need a defender, so I'll try. I do read detective stories and, while some of them are great literature, most of them frankly aren't. But they serve a purpose as a relaxation between more serious reading. I can't imagine a time when I'm not reading something, but need a change of pace. Perhaps many people use reading newspapers for this: I hate reading the newspaper and can't believe the time many of my friends spend on it. It chews over the same things over and over like chewing old chewing gum.

    Who is O'brian? I was waiting for Pat to answer, since she is the one who got me addicted and feeds my addiction by lending me the books (she is a great book-lender. We have an agreement, we give each other only books for our birthday, and don't ask -- she introduced me to Karen by giving me Sarah Canary)

    I'm wandering -- Patrick O'Brian wrote the "Master and Commander" series about sailing ships and the British navy in the early 1800s. Some of you might have seen the recent movie, which only slightly captures the flavor of the books. Compared to most such books, they do indeed have a faint flavor of Austen.

    KAREN: do you really feel you can go from O'Brian to Austen, but not vica versa? I'm just about to do that, ready to start the 16th in the series.

    July 2, 2004 - 11:31 am
    WhooooBoy, did you hit a nerve with this business of others giving you their books to read....

    I never give someone else a book to read. I find that like buying someone else art that you expect them to display. I have suggested titles, when asked, of "good books" I've read...but that's the extent.

    I have offered to loan things when people have pulled them off my bookshelves and asked about them...but to take a book and give it to someone to read...never! I also never would buy fiction for someone else as a gift, unless they specifically asked for a specific title or author.

    I have a book sitting on my dining room sideboard from a friend...she insisted I take it...and it's not anything I enjoy reading. It's a diary based on childhood observances from the infor at the front. I'll probably quickly skim it and return it in a week or so. Hmmm...maybe I can get Pedln to return it for me???? hahaha

    I came out Jocelyn, but I don't think that's accurate. Some of the questions did not have an answer I wanted, and I had to settle for a less than satisfactory choice. Hmmm..maybe I'm the Narrator. ha!

    It's interesting that Allegra sees white as plain...and I see it as comforting. I don't like chaos/jumble. I look at some of the decorating magazines...and they have stripes/prints/plaids all jumbled (to me) together in a room...things on every surface, stuff hanging from the ceilings...be they grape vines, drying herbs, baskets, etc...something everywhere...and I want to scream. I have a former colleague who had "stuff" on every counter surface, every corner of every room, every table, every cabinet had drawers intentionally pulled out so lace this and thats could be draped over them...doors open on cupboards to hold more quilts, etc. I found it mind numbing and felt like the walls were closing in on me. Allegra would have loved it, I suppose. Incredible.


    July 2, 2004 - 12:42 pm
    I am Jocelyn, too.

    July 2, 2004 - 05:24 pm
    I'm off for a fourth of July holiday weekend. Worry that you'll all be gone by the time I get back, without my saying good-bye. So this is me, saying good-bye.

    I, too, am spending some part of my summer reading O'Brian, so it's not true that I think you can't go from Austen to him. One of the things I'm liking about him is something my friend Sean calls his "Austen fan-boy riffs," little moments where he suddenly channels Austen.

    And then I hope, too, to get started on a new book. That blank page is a sort of white I do not like.

    What will you all be discussing next? I will try to drop back by and see for myself. In the meantime, thank you all. Have a happy fourth, a happy summer, and happy reading.

    July 2, 2004 - 05:25 pm
    ps -- we have nothing but black cats in our house. Two of them.

    July 2, 2004 - 05:29 pm
    KAREN: please don't go away. You're a Senior-netter now. No one checks your age at the door. We're reading Pompaii in July. In August The Ladies No. One Detective Agency (Pedlin) and The Wasteland by TS Eliot (Deems). I'm doing them both. Talk about a change of pace!!

    Pat H
    July 3, 2004 - 12:50 am
    It was great fun meeting you and getting your input in our discussions. Many thanks.

    The notion of an author's characters having a life of their own intrigues me. Does this happen to you? Not, of course, in the sense of their sneaking off on their own, but in the sense of you realizing that a character wouldn't act in the way you were going to make him/her do? What do you do? Let the character go on the new path, or backtrack and re-formulate?

    Pat H
    July 3, 2004 - 01:20 am
    JoanP---I did NOT read the epilogue out of order, merely finished the book ahead of schedule.

    I consistently come out as Prudie in the quiz, which is odd, since I feel she is the character I understand least.

    Near the beginning of the book Jocelyn realizes that she minds losing Daniel from her life. When Sylvia says Daniel can stay, Jocelyn looks relieved. Is this because she will have him back in her life, or because her plan to make Sylvia happy has succeeded, or because this frees up Grigg for her?

    The last 2 days have been tinged with Patrick O'Brian. Thursday I went through the USS Constitution (I'm still in Boston). She appears in book 6, fighting the British ship Java (a real battle) and in the movie as the interior of the Acheron (via computer simulation) and Acheron's impenetrable hull. Friday I went whale-watching with my daughter. We didn't see any, but since we share a taste for lurching around on an unstable deck getting cold, damp and windblown, we had a good time.

    One of Jane Austen's brothers served, at an earlier date than the book, in the Leopard, which Aubrey commands in books 5 & 6.

    Joan Pearson
    July 3, 2004 - 08:18 am
    Oh Karen, you had the last laugh! You kept the "cats" disclosure until the very end - black cats at that! We suspected a fondness for cats, but then you identified self as "dog person" - and we left it at that. "Seldom, very seldom does complete truth belong to any human disclosure" Don't you love it? Sometimes black cats that cross your path are just black cats crossing your path!

    Karen, we have so enjoyed our time together. You have entered into the discussion with as much enthusiasm - and almost as many questions about your work as the rest of us have had! It has been refreshing to meet the warm, candid person behind the author. We feel a special bond with you, as Joan K has expressed. Oh yes, please return for another discussion. We look forward to it!

    It is hard to know when to "pull the cork"! Shall we linger a little longer- at least until Pedln and other latecomers get here? Lord knows we have plenty left to talk about.

    Just so the end doesn't come before I've had this chance, I need to thank Karen for spending her generous time with us, Pedln for putting up with me and being so conscientious, and of course, all of you who have contributed so much to this discussion! If not complete disclosure, you have shared so much of yourself and your interests that I feel we have all come closer and benefited from the whole revealing experience - well, partially revealing. hahaha..."seldom, very seldom does complete..."

    Thank you Janeites -and/or - KJAY-ites ALL!

    Pat H
    July 3, 2004 - 08:41 am
    Although it looks like everyone is winding down, maybe you should leave the site open long enough for anyone away for the holiday weekend to say goodbye. I have certainly enjoyed this month.

    Joan Pearson
    July 3, 2004 - 09:10 am
    OK, Pat, will do. Desktop is littered with books and scribbled notes - it is now or never to share them with you. Meant to do this yesterday, but I got a traffic ticket on the way home from the store before posting...was so devastated I was good for nothing else the rest of the afternoon. Have you received a "moving violation" lately? I can't remember the last time I did. I pulled out of the mall parking lot - three lanes of traffic. Needed to get over into the two far lanes (I was in one that became a right-turn only lane very soon.) Rush hour traffic - NO ONE would let me in as I continued to move forward in the right turn lane. I then made a split-second decision NOT to turn right, but crossed straight with the traffic into a nice empty lane. WRONG! Nailed. And I have to admit - I cried. How childish! I was ticketed, I was in the wrong, but cried in front of a young officer who could have been my son! Jane Austen would have been ashamed of this public display of emotion!

    So. I have one last pile of notes before me that I meant to share yesterday. Rather than lose them because of one bad decision, I'll post them here - even if you have all gone out to celebrate the 4th!

    Prudies, Jocelyns, Sylvia, Narrator
    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)

    Gift Books
    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?

    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 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?
    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?
    Thank you all so much for making this such an adventure and an enriching experience!

    July 3, 2004 - 09:19 am
    Nope, no white walls in my very old house...but ivory woodwork and soft earth tones of wallpaper...light creamy yellows/shades of beige/ecru, etc. I very seldom wear white...except for white slacks in the summer with various colored tops---but no mixing of plaids/stripes/prints for me.

    The funny thing is that most of the pictures on our walls are rural winter scenes...lots of snow. We discovered that when we started seriously looking for an additional print for our wall....we're both drawn, always, to winter scenes. Goofy!!


    July 3, 2004 - 09:54 am
    So sorry for your traffic mishap and the moving violation and the young cop. O dear! I've been in your position--in that right turn only lane and needing to move left. So far, I've been lucky enough to have someone let me in. YIKES! Of course you cried. That's OK. I might have cried too (although a Jocelyn) from the shock of it.

    I was stopped on Rt. 50 going to work a couple of years ago. Exceeding the speed limit. It was not long after the speed limit for the Annapolis area was lowered to something like 60. I was going close to 70. The young state police cop gave me a warning. I was lucky.

    As for the book all wrapped up in paper--of course I would graciously accept it and then, later, if the giver asked me what I thought of it, I would use the same, "O, I haven't gotten to it yet--so much reading for class" excuse. THEN I'm not sure what I would do. Skim it? Read reviews? Maybe even read it.

    This has been such a fun month with KJAY joining us. Pat H. has been with us for the first time. I'm hoping that she is dying to read "The Waste Land" with me in August? Pat H?

    Joan K--I see that you are already onboard. Thanks.

    Anyone else who is available in August is most welcome to join us.

    Karen--It was such fun actually meeting you and having the time for some conversation. Thank you for being so gracious.


    Joan Pearson
    July 3, 2004 - 10:08 am
    Thanks for your understanding, Maryal. Somehow it helps to hear you might have cried too. At least the ticket is prepayable and I don't have to appear in court and feel like a real criminal law-breaker. I can pay the fine and feel back in the comfort of my very own home!

    Jane, snow scenes! That is really interesting to me - knowing how the snow is such a problem for you each winter! Allegra would have taken her blue and purple crayons to all that white stuff!

    I just found another list of titles from this discussion to consider for summer reading...and then there are all those films!
    "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?

    Joan Pearson
    July 3, 2004 - 10:19 am
    "Compare Sacramento Library Galleria with Pump Room in Bath"

    Karen's Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, Sacramento

    Jane's Pump Room, Bath

    July 3, 2004 - 10:28 am
    Joan--Thanks for those photos. Both rooms have high ceilings and are grand indeed. People in them would feel reduced to proper size.

    kiwi lady
    July 3, 2004 - 01:08 pm
    Hello everyone

    Just back from my sons house where there is not a book in sight! Its a beautiful house. Its perfect, uncluttered and tasteful but its missing books and personality. My son earns his living from designing ( including the full blueprints) beautiful homes and then actually building them with his own hands! He has a home office with his drawing boards etc and every mod con. When I stay there I have my own suite. However I am glad to get home to my clutter today!

    I am a dog lover so I am like Jocelyn in that area but I am like Sylvia in personality I think.

    Thanks to our discussion leader for her very good leadership and thank you to Karen for taking time to come in here. Of course I thank all the posters without you we would not have a discussion

    My grands do have books at my sons house but the oldest likes non fiction so I read non fiction bedtime stories to him! His books are big and fat and I read for about an hour and learn all sorts of interesting facts and then I am hoarse and grandson is sleepy. He is six years old. I don't think he will ever be reading Jane Austen. His father never read fiction until he was an adult and then it was Stephen King as his favorite author. Its wet and windy today here in Auckland so its a good day for reading LOL.


    July 4, 2004 - 11:02 am
    You think JOAN P has been great here, wait till you see what else she has been doing on The Prison Grant Initiatives site: getting over 200 books shipped to the Library at the York Connecticut Woman's Correctional Institute to help womem prisoners who want to try to do something constructive and change their lives. Come look at


    Thank you, Joan P.

    July 4, 2004 - 01:10 pm
    Joan P, it sounds like you have really been through the mill. First packing up all those books and lugging them to get mailed, and then to get a traffic ticket. Good Grief.

    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.

    Joan Grimes
    July 4, 2004 - 06:00 pm
    Just want to tell you all why I did not enter the discussion. I listened to this book on cd and although it was supposed to be unabridged I found that there was much that you talked about that I had missed or could it have been left out. I will buy this book and read it.

    I listened to it on cd because Theron and I like to listen to books when we travel. It is something that we can do together.

    I enjoyed reading this discussion very much.

    Oh yes, I took the Quiz twice and came out Prudie both times. I don't think that is right though.

    Joan Grimes

    Joan Pearson
    July 6, 2004 - 07:29 am
    hahaha, Joan G, join the Prudie club - albeit reluctantly! It isn't easy being Ms. Prudie!

    Pedln, I have to admit, I could have turned right in that right-turn-only lane -(and will in the future) - because the other drivers wouldn't let me into the traffic lane just doesn't cut it. Like Emma, I admit my judgement was not without fault.

    It is time for this good thing to come to an end. a great big THANK YOU to everyone - to all of our participants, to coDL, Pedln, to our gracious, generous, gifted Karen Fowler...and to Jane Austen who inspired us all, one way or another! I learned a lot - about a lot of things. I hope you did too!
    Today this discussion will become READ ONLY as the Archiving Process begins.

    Pat H
    July 6, 2004 - 04:37 pm
    If you are not yet read only, I would like to ask where the quote "The mere habit of learning to love is the thing." occurs. It is perfect as the finale of the book, and not a bad motto for life, but I can't place it. What a magnificent experience this month has been!