Book Snippets

I did not start on my Shakespeare reading this week. I was going to – I had borrowed The Taming of the Shrew from the library, and sat down at the computer to skim over the summary first (my preferred way of reading Shakespeare, since otherwise I lose much appreciation for the language in trying to decipher the plot and keep all the character straight).

And considering that in my reading of the summary I decided that Petruchio was an abusive jerk that Kate should have poisoned at their wedding feast, I figured I wasn’t exactly in the best mindset to read Shakespeare this week. Maybe I should start with Hamlet?

We have been plagued with mice all week long; Carl finally brought home new traps Saturday evening and we caught six – SIX – in a four-hour period. Have not seen any since, though I am planning on using a combination of peppermint oil and mothballs to keep them out until we’ve had a chance to talk to our landlords and find out if they want to bring in a professional to seal every crack and cranny.

So the mice might have soured my appreciation for the Bard. I certainly was not in any mood to read any Redwall books, either.

I did, however, read The Queen of Attolia, which prompted me to re-read my recently purchased copy of The Thief, because it had been a while since I read it and some of the details were a bit fuzzy. In case you are one of the few people on the planet who (like me) hasn’t read this fantastic series by Megan Whalen Turner, go to your library now and start borrowing them. They are incredibly good. So good that, even though I need to be packing today for going up to my parents’ for Thanksgiving, I’m still planning on making a library run to get the next two books in the series. I really, really wish I could read in the car without getting sick!

I also recently finished the Song of the Lioness quartet – I’ve been friends with Kel and Aly for a few years now, and recently with Beka Cooper, but I’d never been able to find all the Alanna books until we’d moved and gone to a new library. I was bitterly disappointed in the ending of the fourth book (villains NEED more motivation than just, hey, let’s destroy the world for kicks, even though it’s going to destroy me too), but at least it gave me enough background to read the Immortals series. Alanna will never replace Kel as my favorite Tamora Pierce heroine, though.

My writing goals are still out of reach. I have two – TWO – chapters left in my 1920s fantasy-adventure, and do you think I’ve been able to write them? No, because I’ve been scrubbing my floors and counters every other day to get rid of mouse droppings! By the time Carl’s home from work and the littles are in bed, I’ve been able to do little more than collapse in bed or on the couch and either read YA fantasy, or watch my newly-purchased first season of Star Trek: Voyager. (Chakotay is STILL my favorite character out of the entire Star Trek canon, although Worf is a close second. Picard is right on Worf’s heels as third. What can I say? I really, really like nobility, goodness, and conflict within oneself in my heroes.)

However, I am tentatively hopeful that maybe this evening, after my packing is finished, or perhaps while we’re at home, in between cooking and cleaning and practicing makeup techniques with my sister, I might be able to squeeze out those 5,000 words.

Because wow, November has flown by. Can you believe it’s almost December? I am starting a new tradition for our family this year – 25 days of Advent activities (or candy, on those days when my inspiration ran out) leading up to Christmas.

Christmas, my friends! It’s just a little over a month away!

Are you a fan of any or all the Star Trek shows? Do you have a favorite character? What good books have you been reading lately? Can anyone tell me if I missed something crucial at the end of Lioness Rampant explaining the villain’s actions and goals a little more clearly? Am I reading too much into The Taming of the Shrew? Do you have exciting plans for Thanksgiving?

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"She Was Only Anne"

I am not a book reviewer, and this blog is not a review blog. I adore book review blogs. I just don’t review very well. I have a hard time being objective, and looking at something as either well-done or poorly-done, instead of “I liked this” or “this irritated the heck out of me.”

However. I am re-reading Persuasion for, I don’t know, the seventh time? Tenth? I don’t keep track of how often I read books, honestly. I know I started reading Austen back in my college days, and have re-read her books many times since. Sense and Sensibility is my least favorite – I would venture so far as to say I rather dislike it, mostly because all the characters are in good need of a Gibbs-head-slap – and my favorite keeps changing throughout the years. Right now, and for a few years, it is Persuasion, followed closely by Emma.

I think Anne Elliot is the best of all Austen’s heroines. More depth to her character than Lizzy Bennet, more spirit than Fanny Price, more clarity of vision than Emma Woodhouse, more common sense than Cathy Morland, and more understanding and wisdom than the Dashwood sisters. I love, as I approach my thirtieth year, that she is an older heroine, and one who blossomed later in life instead of early. I love how she shows that gentleness does not equal weakness, just as Louisa Musgrove proves that spiritedness does not equal strength of character.

Captain Wentworth is, I think, a bit of a jerk. He’s held a grudge against Anne for years, is deliberately rude to her, and flirts with the Musgrove girls without a care for how he might be affecting them. Yet, he is no Darcy, because we get to see him improve slowly throughout the book – not just changing after he is confronted with his faults, because he wants to be worthy of his love (I really hate the message that sends – that if you love somebody enough, you can change their character flaws. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY OUTSIDE THE MOVIE AND BOOK WORLD). He sees his flaws for himself, recognizes where he has been unjust and acted wrongly, and then moves decisively to correct himself.

And I think that’s one reason why Anne and Captain Wentworth are such a good match – they loved each other as youth, were separated and grew up apart from each other, each developing into their own person, and then came back together as fully realized adults, each offering something special to the other, to help make the other complete.

Persuasion is great not just for the MCs, though. The supporting characters are all brilliantly drawn too – Mary Musgrove cracks me up with every re-reading; Admiral and Mrs Croft are delightful; Mr Elliot and Mrs Clay are just the right sort of villains – not too obvious.

Then there is the scenery, and the overall feel of the book. I almost always read Persuasion in the autumn or winter months. It is that sort of book; it feels wrong to read it when it is light and sunny out. With only a few words Austen gives us a clear picture of Kellynch, of Lyme (oh how I want to visit there someday!), and of Bath. Bath comes through even clearer in Persuasion, I think, than in Northanger Abbey.

It shows the mark of being written by an older, experienced author. The pace is calmer, the humor subtler, the tone quieter and deeper than the others. It is, I think, Jane Austen’s masterpiece, and I think it a true pity that it is so often overshadowed by the brighter but shallower Pride and Prejudice.

Next up on my fall/winter reading list: Shakespeare and Elizabeth Gaskell! What are you planning on reading this month?