Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jane Austen's Guide to Dating

Jane Austen's Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson 

What a fun and delightful book this is.  First, I should mention that I already have my Jane Austen Hero, but picked this book up to see if I could learn a little more about the Regency dating scene.  What I got instead was a wonderful book that I want to put into the hands of any lady, young or old, who might be looking for her Mr. Darcy.  

Ms. Henderson moved to America to follow a boyfriend, and after a few years, she found herself back on the dating scene.  She had a coterie of American friends who all gave her tips on dating, and none of them seemed to work.  In fact, most of the advice seemed to have been opposite of what really would work.  The advice of some of her friends was not even followed by the givers.

Being frustrated with the dating scene and American advice, she turned to her old friend, Jane Austen.  Having already done a dissertation on courtship rituals in Jane Austen novels, she went through Jane’s novels again, and tried to find some truisms.  Ms. Henderson came up with ‘ten principles that Jane Austen lays out in her novels and given examples of how they work with her characters – what they get right, what they get wrong, and how, sometimes, they learn from their mistakes.’ (p 7)  Here is the list of the Ten Rules to Dating, as gleaned from Jane Austen and her novels.

1.  If you like someone, make it clear that you do.
2.  Don't put your feelings on public display, unless they're fully reciprocated.
3.  Don't play games on lead people on
4.  Have faith in you own instincts.
5.  Don't fall for superficial qualities.
6.  Look for someone who can bring out your best qualities
7.  Don't settle -  don't marry for money, convenience, or out of loneliness.
8.  Be witty if you can, but not cynical, indiscreet, or cruel.
9.  Be prepared to wait for the right person to come along.
10.  If your lover needs a reprimand, let him have it.

Each chapter discusses each rule in a delightful manner in which Ms. Henderson will take three instances of the rule from various novels of Jane Austen, and then also modern-day examples of Do’s and Don’ts.  Further icing on the cake, for those of you out there that are impatient, at the end of each chapter is a Summary with Do’s , Don’ts and Tips.   Then, at the end of the book, there are two quizzes: Which JA character are YOU and which is your love interest.  She then makes a Compatibility Chart to see if your character will match up with his, or points out what it will take to make it work.  

This lovely little gem is also a great way to do a little soul searching, as it were, to see what kind of person you are, and to help you NOT be a victim on the dating scene.  My husband was curious about this book, as I wanted to hand it off to our three teenage girls before they hit the dating scene, and had me read some of the rules and summaries to him.  He mentioned that he also thinks the advice in ‘Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating’ is ‘spot-on’ as well.

If you are finding it hard to search for your Capt Wentworth or Mr Tilney, grab this book and enjoy.  If you know anyone who might be starting their own search, or who is completely frustrated, this is the perfect companion.  If you might have a teenage daughter, and you want to spare her some heartache, give her this book as a ‘going off to college’ gift.  Or, if you are like me and already have your Mr. Darcy, or Edmund Bertram, but love anything Jane Austen, this is a great treat.  Ms. Henderson pulls our favourite characters out of the books of Jane Austen and analyzes their actions, in hopes of helping you to live happily ever after.  I am very glad I picked this one up, and will buy copies for anyone I know who is looking for help in the minefield that dating can be!

5 Stars!

Jane Eyre, The Graphic Novel

If you are looking for a quick way 'read' Jane Eyre, then this is the one for you.  It was quick and VERY easy (so easy, it had a glossary in the back for words like 'attic').  However, having read the original some time ago, and having seen screen adaptations of this work, there really wasn't anything missing, besides the in-depth descriptions by Charlotte Bronte.

The illustrations were very 'comic book' like and helped to add to the limited dialogue by 'painting' the picture of the various scenes.  It seemed to stay true to the book's storyline.  However, you only get a glimpse of many scenes, like the Lowood School, or how mean Jane's cousins were.

I don't think that I would recommend this book, but to a quite younger generation, who wants to know what Jane Eyre is all about.  It might give the reader a simple taste, who will hopefully want more and thus turn to the original work by Charlotte Bronte.

I don't know what it is about our society that we feel we have to 'mash up' our classics, or to put them in graphic novel format.  If it is the hope that it will get our younger generations to read more of the classics, I think this new craze is missing the point.  But it seems almost geared toward a society of reading less in order to read a greater quantity.  The main reason that I picked up this graphic novel was to see what all of the fuss was about.  Now, I can say that I saw, I read, and I am sending it back to the library quickly, without further recommendations.

3 Stars

The Heist Society

The Heist Society, by Ally Carter, was a cute YA book about thieves... much better than the alternative that has seemingly run amuck in our society...books on vampires.  Katarina Bishop, or Kat, to her friends, is the daughter of thieves, one who was dragged across Europe with her parents as they cased, then stole, from several museums or collections.  She, however, pulled off her own 'heist' by getting into an exclusive boarding school, in hopes of leaving her family's life behind her and trying to 'steal' a normal one for herself.

This, however, is quickly foiled, as her days Colgan Academy are over as she was expelled for a crime that she didn't commit.  Much like her father, whose life was on the line because a crime that he did not commit.  Which brings us to the main purpose of the story...clearing her dad's name.

Kat gathers a young crew together to un-do a crime by one who is never named, in order to protect her dad from the evil Arturo Taccone.  Mr. Taccone believes that Kat's father stole five priceless paintings from his private collection, and wants them back.  He told Kat that her father has two weeks to return the paintings, or her father's life is forfeit.  After confronting her father, Kat believes that he did not do the job, as his alibi is that he was busy in another city at the time of the crime.

As someone mentioned before me, it was like an 'Ocean's Eleven' for teenagers.  The story moved quickly and clever tricks were played, but it left me wanting.  It was an amusing book, but not one that I would hand off to my teenagers, telling them that this is something that they would enjoy... which they wouldn't.  It is written in a simple manner, though not many grammatical mistakes were present.  Ms. Carter ties up the loose ends, which is always nice, but the book itself was found wanting.  I stuck through the book to see how the heist would be pulled off, and how Kat would get rid of Mr. Taccone. 

For a Young Adult book, it seemed a little simple, whereas many YA books today are a little more involved.  From an adult's standpoint, it seemed very easy and not very thought-provoking.  The book was populated with seven quirky teenagers who all had their specialty.  If another book by this author came out, I don't think I would pick it up, even to see where Kat goes next.  I never got attached to the main character, which is not what you want to happen to your main want people to be involved in the character's life so they will come back for more.

As I mentioned, it was a quick, fun book; however, it left me wanting.  One thing that the author did try to do was to point out the fact that several priceless items were stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War.  In an afterward, the author also mentioned that there are still people who are trying to right these wrongs.  It was a nice attempt to try to educate our younger generation of this heinous act that was perpetrated on millions of people who had done nothing wrong.  Once again, I think that the message could have been a little stronger.

3 Stars

A Match for Mary Bennet

A Match for Mary Bennet by Eucharista Ward

I purchased this book a while ago, as it was a P&P sequel, and because I thought that Mary should have her story too.  Why didn’t Mr. Collins ask her instead of Elizabeth?  What will happen to her now?  Once I received the book from that special little brown box many of us love (, this book went to sit on my shelf for some time.  One reason was that there were so many other books, particularly ones that I have checked out from the library, and the other reason is that I missed “An Inspirational Pride and Prejudice Sequel” on the front cover when I ordered it.

I am not religious... will get that right out there.  And an ‘inspirational’ tale made me nervous.  I have tried to read ‘inspirational’ novels before, and couldn’t get through them, as I felt suffocated by the religiosity of those novels.  I know, I know... but it is not something I am comfortable with, being preached to while trying to enjoy a nice piece of fiction.  I did, however, pack this book to move across the ocean with me, thinking that I might just pick it up one day to ‘see’!

For the new year, I thought that I would participate in a couple of reading challenges, and decided to start with my TBR shelves before I purchased another book.  I grabbed A Match For Mary Bennet... kind of like a splinter... get it over quickly.  Well, it ended way too quickly, if you ask me.  I was VERY pleasantly surprised with this gem!

Ms. Ward did a fabulous job with Mary Bennet.  Her Mary Bennet was introduced to us in her story, much like the Mary Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, quoting from various religious texts, but never quite getting it in to the right context.  The book opens with Mary Bennet in her early 20’s and travelling between her home in Longbourn, to Pemberley and to ‘Otherfield,’ Jane and Bingley’s home in Nottingham, (The Bingleys moved to Nottingham in order to be closer to Elizabeth and Darcy).  The whole time, Mary is thankful that Elizabeth ‘sacrificed’ herself for her family and married that odious Mr. Darcy.  

While Mary is at home, Mrs. Bennet is constantly nattering on about Mary and how she needs to work on catching a she should smile more and make polite conversation.  At various balls, Mary starts to take notice of the people around her, and starts to talk with various gentlemen.  Often, she misunderstands what people are really saying and ‘reading’ their actions.  Throughout the book, Mary begins to really see what is going on around her, though, mostly at the urging of Mr. Steven Oliver, the new rector for Kympton, a living provided by Mr. Darcy.  

Mary sees that Elizabeth really is in love with Mr. Darcy.  She learns to see that Lydia is not all happiness at being the first married, and Mary tries to find her place in life.  Will she be the unmarried sister who moves from house to house, living with various sisters?  Will she find a place of her own, with her own living and settle to a solitary life?  Will she marry “ne’er-do-well with his horses and his foppishness and his daft family”? (Mary’s various refusals of this gentleman are hilarious!  But I won’t tell you if she will ultimately refuse him or accept him to help a family member)

It was wonderful book that I DEVOURED!  Ms. Ward did a very nice job of weaving her story, making Mary blossom, and putting Mary’s faith in the story.  Knowing that Mary is the more religious sister of the Bennet family, Ms. Ward kept true to her nature, but was not ‘pushy’ (for want of a better word).  The storyline kept flowing nicely and there were several subplots to keep it interesting and kept this reader guessing.  Luckily, it ended as I had hoped, as I really had no idea how it would end until the final chapters.  Plus, Ms. Ward took it a little further, to give us an idea of how the story would continue for her well-drawn characters.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Pride and Prejudice.  It was a very nice sequel that showed all of the original characters and introduced a few new faces.  I cannot wait to re-read it one day, after I reread P&P, as this is the best sequel that I have come across (and I have read quite a few!)!


Writing Jane Austen

Writing Jane Austen by Elizabeth Aston

Having loved almost all books written by Elizabeth Aston, I thought that this book would make a nice addition to my Austen bookshelf. However, I was left wanting with this book.
Georgina Jackson, a PhD in late 19th century history, has to be one of the dumbest PhD's in history! Not only had she not read Jane Austen, she was completely resistant to the fact for more than half of the book. There were many times that I wanted to smack her, tell her to grow up and act like a professional. 

Ms. Jackson was given a task of completing a manuscript that was believed to have been written by Jane herself. She was given a very short time line in which to finish, and just barely made it. Along the way, I was sure that the author meant for Georgina to come to some self-discovery, but that fell short as well.  The main character, Georgina, needed to be slapped and told to grow up. My favorite character in the book was Maud, and we didn't see enough of her, and I thought she was under-utilized as well.  Maud was very sophisticated for a 16 year old, and I was really hoping that she would have stepped in more to help with the book project.

It is my opinion that this book could have focused less on whining and more on character development. I finished the novel, in hopes of seeing how the final project turned out. There were a few points along the way that I would have liked to have read what Georgina had written, but with the little description of Georgina's book, I would not have purchased it even if it were published.

I do hope that Ms. Aston goes back to the style of books that she wrote previously. One thing that I have loved about this author is that she has taken the genre and each book seems to be slightly different than the others in the focus - meaning mystery, human interest, adventure (except for Mr. Darcy's Dream... too short and not enough substance. Could have been better IMHO).

I would not recommend this book, unless you don't mind whining and angst over Jane Austen.  I was hoping for more of what JA has given to the world of literature (which could have been better developed). The ending was rushed, but at least it wrapped up the book.

3 Stars

The Oracle Glass

The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley

What a pleasure it was to read a well-written book.  I looked forward to each evening, when I could steal a few minutes to read.  However, if you can, this book deserves more than a few minutes an evening.  You will instantly fall into the story and become captivated by Genevieve, a teenage girl who dressed as a 150 year-old widow.  How she came to be in that position, and how she saved the king are the makings of a great story.  
In the excesses of the Sun King’s court, she who was mistress to King Louis XIV reigned supreme.  Genevieve was the younger sister to beautiful Marie-Angelique, the angel in the window.  She was also the daughter of the Madame Pasquier, whose husband fell out of favour with the king’s exchequer, and onto reduced means.  Madame Pasquier’s main ambition was to have her eldest daughter married to someone with both money and rank, so that her stature would return.  Madame Pasquier was also interested in the money that she believed her husband had hidden outside of the country, and would do anything to get her hands on it.  Thus, Madame Pasquier turned to La Voisin for help with her future, and in keeping her beauty.
During the reign of the Sun King, fortune-telling was not a crime... in fact, it was good business.  There were webs of witches in Paris that catered to the wealthy and privileged.  One of the most powerful of the witches was La Voison, the Shadow Queen, who basically controlled a corporation of poisoners, abortionists, fortune-tellers, and other persons who lived in the shadow world.  La Voisin also offered franchises, as it were, into her shadow world.  With contracts and business-like acumen, she became very wealthy from the success of others.
Genevieve had two strikes against her in this world of beauty and perfection.  The first reason was that she was born with a malformed foot.  The second was that she was raised as a philosopher by her father.  Genevieve, being her father’s favourite, and was taught the Greeks and Romans, and how Reason rules the world.  However, she was a typical teenage girl, who like any teenage girl in any century, wanted to be loved by the beautiful poet who mooned over her sister.  Events changed Genevieve’s world and put her in the path of La Voisin, who saw the great income potential in the young girl and her ability to see futures in a bowl of still water.
Without giving away too much of the story, Genevieve became a strong person in her own right.  She was a fascination at the court of the Sun King, and desired by all to have their fortune told.  Genevieve was called upon to tell the future that was seen in her Oracle Glass.  She was paid handsomely for the images she saw and interpreted them as best she could.  Living as a 150 year-old widow, Genevieve earned her own living and learned much about the world.
Ms. Riley did a wonderful job of portraying this teenage girl, and how she grew up under disguise and in a time when women typically held no power.  There were only a few questions left after finishing the book, but these did not detract from the story.  Ms. Riley also switched from third person chapters, which told the overall story or focused on characters that were not Genevieve, or first person chapters (the majority of the novel) so that the reader got more depth of character with Genevieve’s thoughts and emotions.  This aspect of the novel was very well crafted and flowed very smoothly.  To be honest, I did not have any guess as to the outcome of the story until the last section of the book.  This also lent to my having thoroughly enjoy the book... not knowing what would happen at the beginning of the story made the reading and discovering the story more enjoyable.  
5 Stars 

Here I Am

Here we go!  Trying to read and write and make sense. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...