Thursday, 30 June 2011

Jane Austen Book Club Weeks One and Two: Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park

It's holiday time, and if you're a book nerd like me, that means it's time to lay around endlessly, reading books.

But what's even better than just that is the opportunity to talk about those books later with friends you love over tea and tasty treats. Thus, the Jane Austen Book Club was born. Or rather, the idea of the Jane Austen Book Club was appropriated by myself and the friend my father calls The Loud Girl from the movie based on the book of the same name by Karen Joy Fowler. (Big deep breath. Golly. That was a long sentence.)

Book club has been going for two weeks and already I feel the need to declare it a rip roaring success. :)


Here is a picture of the aforementioned tasty treats. I made the Florentines with the help of the lovely History Boyfriend.

In Week One, we tackled Northanger Abbey.



We talked until our voices gave out. This book is very clearly a first novel, it is all about sounding out the process of writing a good novel. Austen spends a lot of time defending the novel form, and writing about what makes a good protagonist.

What we didn't like was the fact that Henry Tilney proposes to Catherine because he knows she likes him and he can't think of any reason why not. Heroes should have passionate feelings for the heroine.

A lot more was said, but give me a break, it was a week ago. Here are some more photos instead.


mmmmmm.....


This is my attempt at doing something I saw on the Alien Onion blog, and failing. That's my gal pal C.H. behind the book.



Week Two, i.e. last night, we talked about Mansfield Park, which I have *ahem* yet to finish. Although... to be fair, I did read it in year ten. I don't remember much about it though, only that Billie Piper was in the movie version and that I didn't like her in it. But don't even get me started on Fanny Price. Dear god, what a terrible excuse for a heroine. She's a sickly, pathetic little thing, isn't she!?

I also decided that Filch's cat in Harry Potter is named after the Aunt in this book. Nosy, not very nice... they share many traits. Mrs. Norris (of the Mansfield Park variety) is a very well developed villain. I love the way that Jane Austen is able to make you hate Mrs. Norris and Mary Crawford even while they are saying nice things and being perfectly rational. My favourite bit thus far has been when Maria Bertram accuses her Aunt Norris of spunging because she's managed to con the housekeeper at Sotherton into giving her a whole lot of free stuff. I also like it when she takes the curtains from the cancelled play. No wonder she insisted on their being green, she wanted them after! What a cow.

Anyways, here I would like to invite you all to participate in the JABC with me through this blog. In the comments section, talk about any of the books covered thus far! :) And next week we tackle Sense and Sensibility.

Happy reading!

Em

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Trove Launch (Volume 2, Issue 1)

On this grey, rainy day in Perth, I am pleased to announce that I have been published in Trove!

Trove is an initiative out of UWA which publishes creative arts projects on a twice yearly basis. It started in 2010.

The process from submission to launch has been an extrememly rewarding one and I hope that you enjoy my story, which you can find here. (And remember, I always love to hear feedback, even if it's constructive criticism!) Please also check out the other fantastic work which has been put up on this site, and consider entering yourself for Issue 3. Entries close October 28.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Is it just me... (with spoilers!)

Or is the ending to Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate incredibly strange?

She's going along, writing this book with characters who eventually grow on me as a reader, and I'm listening to the narrator (Fanny) and growing very attached to her, and hating Lady Montdore as well I should, and wishing I had a pair of goggles like Cedric's and then suddenly, WHAM. Two of the male characters run off to be a happy little couple together in France, along with the heroine's mother, and the heroine hooks up with a Duke character who has conveniently appeared in the last two or three chapters. And it all happens in about a sentence.

Me: Wait, what? *Reads the paragraph again* Yep. That just happened.

I'm going to put my reaction down to a few points. Number one, according to reference site of all reference sites, Wikipedia, Boy Dougdale is sexually ambiguous.

Sexually ambiguous??? The man has slept with everyone. He's slept with his wife's sister in law. He's slept with and married his niece. He hits on underage girls. The only thing that I can think of that might make him sexually ambiguous is the fact that he sews. Excuse me for living in 2011, but I think it is neither relevant to a person's sexuality, nor deplorable for a man to sew. In fact, I think it's pretty neat. But I guess in 1949, it could be called queer.

Number two: I've realised that perhaps Love in a Cold Climate is one of those rare elusive classics that has managed to make it into popular accord without necessarily having a plot. If there is a plot, it is certainly not conventional. What drives the book is its superb supporting characters. The book should be all about Lady Montdore, not her boring, surly daughter.

If anyone else has read it, I'd love to know if you agree with me.

Does it seem like Nancy Mitford suddenly got bored of her book and just tried to end it?

Perhaps it IS just me. Perhaps I can't appreciate the finer delicacies of the English wit.