from Erica Baum’s “Dog Ear”
(via printed-ink)Source: jacket2.org
Jane Austen will always remind me of my high school AP English class. Not only did we read Pride and Prejudice along with every other high school in the US, we read Mansfield Park as summer reading. My love for Austen began then, and I promised myself I’d read all of her novels in my lifetime. Eventually I got around to Sense and Sensibility, which is easily my favorite. A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a pretty copy of Emma at Piccolo’s Books, and decided to start number four!
Emma seemed extremely familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. A couple chapters in my friend saw me reading, and spilled, “that’s the book Clueless is based on!” Bingo. My favorite movie as a pre-teen reflected in early 19th century lit. LOL. I must admit that this kept me reading. The first 100 pages I found rather dull, but now that I could visualize the characters as a young Paul Rudd and a bleach blonde Alicia Silverstone, the novel brought a little smile to my face. “AS IF!”
As the charm of the Clueless ties faded, I found myself a bit perplexed. I wanted to love Emma, because I love Austen. But… hmm… I thought it was a bit silly. Well, silly for Austen, not silly for nowadays.
1. Emma - One of the things I enjoy most about Austen’s novels is her ability to write strong, intelligent, logical main characters. Austen’s leading ladies may have a moment of poor judgement, or misjudge someone’s character (ahem… Darcy), but overall they are level-headed and good. Emma does not fit this bill. She may have a sweet nature about her, but she is judgmental and meddles in other’s lives. Sure, she learns her lesson in the end, but she annoyed me the entire book!
2. Predictable? - Maybe I’m just seeing patterns as this is my fourth Austen, but I found this plot much more predictable than the others. Especially everything revolving around Mr. Elton and Mr. Knightley… so obvious!
3. Too much down time - I greatly enjoy how carefully and subtly Austen’s plots develop and reveal themselves. The gradual nature of her novels makes them more realistic, and also makes the climax much more heartfelt and grand. This said, I think Emma had too much down time. I wanted more, and never got it.
Now that I got this out of my system, who am I to critique Austen? Even though I didn’t particularly like Emma, it’s leaps and bounds better than a lot of what you’ll read. I mean, come on! It’s a classic.
RATING: 3.5 stars.
NEXT UP: I needed a major change of pace, so I picked The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. It’s been on my To Read list for way too long. BUT I realized it’s the second book in the series..?? Do I need to read Angels and Demons first?
I just read that Thomas Jefferson invented a book stand that allowed him to read 5 books at one time! Now if only he had invented some contraption that allowed you to read in bed without holding the book and also flipped the pages!
My good friend Emily is an avid reader, primarily of classics. She recently told me that she created a list of Shakespeare plays she was going to read this year, one per month. I couldn’t help but join her! As an aspiring actress (in addition to reading blogger) I don’t read enough plays, and thought this would be a good way to get familiar with some Shakespeare I haven’t read. It will also help me find new monologues. I love monologues!
Here’s the list! I’ve bolded the ones I’ve already read, put asterisks by the ones I’ve performed in, and ~ signs by the ones I’ve seen on stage or on film!
Shakespeare for a Year:
January - Macbeth
February - Romeo and Juliet * ~
March – Richard III ~
April – Twelfth Night
May – The Tempest
June – Much Ado About Nothing *
July – Julius Caesar
August – Midsummer Night’s Dream ~
September – Henry V
October – Antony and Cleopatra
November – Othello ~
December – Hamlet ~
I’m excited to start! Who’s joining me?
The Pilot’s Wife does NOT save the drama for its mama, lemme tell ya! DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. Drama out the yin yang. Filled to the brim. Imagine that really juicy cat fight that happened your junior year of high school… got it? Now multiple that by 12,000. SO MUCH DRAMA. However, this is one of those rare books that not only gets you with the plot points, but is also well written. Go figure. Think if Gossip Girls had been written by J.K. Rowling. Dynamite. Also… LOL.
The Pilot’s Wife follows a wife’s journey after she learns that her husband, a pilot, has died in a plane crash. (It screams Oprah’s Book Club, because it is). Oh, but just you wait. It doesn’t stop there. This isn’t merely a fictionalized portrayal of the grief process, it’s juicy. Each page is filled with twists and turns, romance, betrayal, and anything and everything else emotionally exhausting. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll stop now.
Why I Liked It:
1) Well Paced Suspense - Anita Shreve knows a thing or two about gripping a reader. Just when everything seems to be winding down… BAM! She hits you with another OMG. It’s like this the ENTIRE book. That’s a feat.
2) Realistic Emotions - The main character, Kathryn, experiences every emotion on the gamut. I liked that Shreve was able to capture these emotions through Kathryn’s reactions to events, descriptions of situations, and interactions with her family, rather than naming each shift. She describes and weaves through each feeling without concretely defining them, while still triggering empathy from readers.
I Didn’t Buy…
Some of the OMG moments. While some of the crazy twists are incredibly and devastatingly believable, I found that others were a stretch. Again, no spoilers here, but one of the last shockers revealed is sort of over the top. I thought she could have found a more plausible and relevant reason for the plane crash happening.
RATING: 3.5 stars. When I finished reading this book a few weeks ago I would have given it 4. Looking back, however, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a favorite. It’s well-crafted and entertaining in a heart-wrenching way, but not for everyone.
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