Blast from the Past–Catharine and Other Writings by Jane Austen

208829Catharine and Other Writings by Jane Austen
6/1/2007-6/9/2007–229 pages–short stories/unpublished stories
Borrowed from WCDPL
★★★★★

Well, there’s not much to say because the last page, or so, has every story with it’s own rating (which averaged a 4.6, rounded up to 5) and my thoughts from each. Worked better that way than just grouping everything at the end.

Overall, I really found most of the stuff quite humorous. There were some possible leads to good stories, but I think JA really just stuck with the simple life she herself really knew. And I love those works, too 🙂 Only Mansfield Park left…

“If a book is well written, I always find it too short.”
~Catharine (p192)

  • Frederic & Elfrida ★★★★★ very humorous…Austen used some uncommon (for her) Germanic nam
  • Jack & Alice ★★★★ famiy of alcoholics (think she stayed away from this subject in all major works)…who was Jack?
  • Edgar & Emma ★★★★★ wish she’d expanded this one, could’ve been interesting
  • Henry & Eliza ★★★★★ 🙂 fun twists and turns…think she kept with mostly in landed gentry, esp. as lifestyle unlike Eliza
  • Adventures of Mr. Harley–too short for rating
  • Sir William Montague ★★★★★ 🙂 the guy loves every woman he meets…sort of like Casanova=ladies’ man
  • Memoirs of Mr. Clifford ★★★ very unfinished…not sure where it would’ve gone
  • The Beautiful Cassandra ★★★★ a bit scattered
  • Amelia Webster ★★★★★ very amusing…spur of the moment marriages
  • The Visit ★★★★★ 🙂 love the ending full of engagements
  • The Mystery– too unresolved for rating 😕
  • The Three Sisters ★★★★★ 🙂 very humorous…liked it the 1st time I read it
  • Detached Pieces ★★ unknown point of teaching
  • Ode to Pity ★ personally not a fan of poetry…not JA’s forte
  • Love and Friendship ★★★★★ funny twists and plots…most of her unadopted plots I notice have lots of twists in them
  • Lesley Castle ★★★★★ I like the irony present from letters from two pwople concerning one another to the same recipient I like the letter style…
  • History of England ★★★ much better than the first time I read it a year ago…on my count, not JA’s
  • Collection of Letters ★★★★★ all pretty amusing in their own way 🙂
  • The Female Philosopher ★★ didn’t really see the point
  • The First Act of a Comedy ★★★★★ that could’ve been something, what, with two girls destined for one man 🙂
  • Letter from a Young Lady ★★★★★ 🙂 hilarious ending: “I am now going to murder my sister.”
  • Tour Through Wales ★★★★ JA’s letters are always amusing
  • A Tale ★★★ very unfinished
  • Evelyn ★★★★ again, humorous because of the ridiculousness of the whole concept 🙂 Evelyn is like that city in Big Fish where everyone’s always happy
  • Catharine ★★★★ OK…flirty girl with egotistical boy

Blast from the Past–Bridget Jones’ Diary

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
4/19/2007-4/27/2007–271 pages–fiction (England, relationships, being single)
Bought April 7, 2007 from Half-Price Books
★★★★★

I have, today, accomplished a great feat. I bought this book just 20 days ago and have already finished. This would be a feat no matter what book it’d been to have bought the book and then actually read it within months of that day. So, having read this book within 20 days of purchase is a great feat. But, why did I like this book.

Obviously I like Jane Austen, and this is a witty modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. That is reason #1 why I like it. It is also very funny, hilarious, amusing, etc. (reason #2). It has a great movie adaptation to go along with it, even if it’s missing the Wickham/Julio fiasco there should be (#3) and in that movie is Colin Firth (#4). I did find it amusing how both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth were mentioned in the book and then were cast in the film 🙂 And I also found it interesting how Bridget discussed the, at that time, new BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries because she hinted at the similarities between Messrs Fitzwilliam and Mark Darcy (subtle, I think not). This book is amazing and is on my list of favourites 🙂

Blast from the Past: Flirting with Pride and Prejudice

Flirting with Pride and Prejudice–Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece by Jennifer Crusie (ed.)
4/4/2007-4/18/2007–230 pages–non-fiction (anthology, Pride and Prejudice)
Borrowed from WCDPL
★★★★

This was an interesting anthology to read. I stumbled upon it at the library when looking for books to help on my feminist Elizabeth Bennet English paper. Anyways…I really did get some new perspectives on the story and characters. Since every chapter was a different author, here are my favorite ones:
—Pride and Prejudice: The Reality Show by Joyce Millman (def. my favorite)
—My Firth Love by Lani Diane Rich
—Bride and Prejudice by Laura Resnick
—Elizabeth…on the Roof by Jennifer Coburn (solely for the end where she mentions Bingley being Motel singing Miracles of Miracles)

I did enjoy the book, but I don’t think I really learned anything. I didn’t already know, or think. Except for the part of Jane’s Untold Stories.

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Blast from the Past is a weekly post I write that focuses on a book I read long before I ever had a blog about books. While I didn’t “book blog” until a couple of years ago, I’ve kept a reading journal of sorts for about 6 years. Blast from the Past is essentially just my way of digitalizing my old book journals–and reminding me what I thought of books long since read. I think it will be a fun way to look at how my reading selections have changed and what I like most in the books I read.

Blast from the Past: My Dear Cassandra

My Dear Cassandra–The Illustrated Letters of Jane Austen
Selected and Introduced by Penelope Hughes-Hallett

March 23-April 4, 2007–155 pages–collection of letters
Borrowed from Kate Love Simpson Library
★★★★

These letters really show Jane Austen as a woman: aside from being an author she was a daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, and confidante. I really enjoyed how you could see happenings in real-life that affected the fictional characters. Jane was Emma, her niece Fanny Knight was Harriet, Jane was Lizzy Bennet, Fanny was Charlotte (these two comparisons of Jane, when looked at as characters in context, are two I really don’t like).

While I liked the letters, I would prefer to read ALL letters and not just a selection. It would also be great to see letters she received, as to get all the conversation, but both these wants would probably be very difficult to achieve.

“Nothing can be compared to the misery of being bound without love, bound to one, and preferring another.” ~Wednesday, November 30, 1814 to Fanny Knight

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Blast from the Past is a weekly post I write that focuses on a book I read long before I ever had a blog about books. While I didn’t “book blog” until a couple of years ago, I’ve kept a reading journal of sorts for about 6 years. Blast from the Past is essentially just my way of digitalizing my old book journals–and reminding me what I thought of books long since read. I think it will be a fun way to look at how my reading selections have changed and what I like most in the books I read.

Darcy and Elizabeth by Linda Berdoll

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Title: Darcy and Elizabeth
Author: Linda Berdoll
Length: 184 of 429 (unfinished)
ISBN: 9781402205637
Genre: fiction
Rating: 0/5
Reason for Reading: I read Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife years ago, as a sequel to P&P, and this is a further continuance of that book. Also, I have owned the book for nearly 6 years and hadn’t read it, so I thought to use it for my Personal Collection resolution.

Summary (from book back):

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy have an exceedingly passionate marriage in this continuing saga of one of the most exciting, intriguing couples in the Jane austen literature.
As the Darcys raise their babies, enjoy their conjugal felicity and manage the great estate of Pemberley, the beloved characters from Jane Austen’s original are joined by Linda Berdoll’s imaginative new creations for a compelling, sexy and epic story guaranteed to keep you turning the pages and gasping with delight.

My Thoughts: As evidenced by the fact that I didn’t finish reading this book, my thoughts of it were not high. I found it too jumbled. One chapter would be about the Darcys; the next about the history of a woman who, wronged by Wickham, became a great Parisian courtesan; and then about Lady Catherine taking Lady Anne to Bath to find a match. There was no rhyme or reason to how those little snippets were ordered in the book–nothing to relate one chapter to its predecessor. But it was also unlike a collection of short stories, in that there was just enough to keep them a story, however unordered it was related. It read like Berdoll was just trying to increase the length of the book, and in so doing wrote hardly anything about the Darcys and their “days and nights at Pemberley”. I could’ve cared less what Wickham was doing, faking a death in France to rid himself of wife and brood at home…unless it has something to do with an overall story that isn’t just wrapped up at the end, like I’m assuming this does.

I didn’t read half and it seems to me I shouldn’t waste my time on a book that doesn’t interest me in the slightest…and still has a long way to go before the threads start coming together.

the Annotated Sense and Sensibility

TitleThe Annotated sense and Sensibility
Authors: Jane Austen; David Shapard (Ed.)
Genre: fiction (classic, with annotations)
ISBN: 9780307390769
Length: 709 pages
Published: 1811 (2011 for this specific edition)
Source: personal collection
Rating: 5/5

Reason for Reading: Firstly, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the original publication of Sense and Sensibility, Austen’s first published work. Secondly, it just so happened that the annotated edition of this book was also released this year. Therefore, I had multiple reasons to read it!

Summary (from Goodreads):

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

My Thoughts: This is either my third or fourth reading of this book, but it was my first experience with the annotated edition. (I have read The Annotated P & P though.) Annotations aside, it never ceases to amaze me how much of my favorite books go forgotten by me between readings. I have this problem with Harry Potter, too. I know that the reason is because of the movies. Sense and Sensibility is a movie I watched many times before I read the book, but the rest of Austen’s books have movie versions I rarely watch, so the story stays truer in my mind.

As with The Annotated P & P, I really appreciated the notes. It cannot be easy deciding what deserves further explanation in some parts and what doesn’t. I think the biggest difference the notes made to me were in the area of Elinor and Lucy’s relationship. I had not really thought Lucy told Elinor of her engagement to Edward because she was marking her territory–it was a sort of, “Step off, bitch!” situation, according to Shapard. I, perhaps naively, simply thought that Lucy wanted to brag and boast, and picked Elinor to confide in because she was the more friendly sister of the two. I never contemplated why she chose that moment in time to tell of her secret. She easily could have been feeling him slipping away, not necessarily to anyone in particular, and therefore wanted to tell someone beside her sister so that she could further hold him to the engagement if he tried to squirm away.

Also, I was a little surprise as to how much time the ending took. Elinor and Edward get engaged with a couple chapters left, and then they’re married for almost a whole year before Marianne marries Colonel Brandon. I would not have realized that there was a whole year between those events if it hadn’t been for Shapard’s notes and timeline for the whole book.

I still have misgivings towards Willoughby. I feel much like Elinor in regards to him. I feel sorry for him, but he was quite in the wrong at the same time. The notations made me see a little clearer how much of his explanation to Elinor was to make himself look better than he was before revealing the whole story. So that makes me lean a little towards the “he’s just plain bad” side.

But I still love Mr. Palmer 🙂

“I did not know I contradicted anyone in calling your mother ill-bred.” (p310)

He’s very comical. (I love Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer in the 1995 movie.)

Pride and Prejudice by JA & Nancy Butler–graphic rendition

TitlePride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen (Nancy Butler, writer)
Illustrator: Hugo Petrus
Genre: graphic novel/fiction (classic)
ISBN: 9780785139157
Length: 120 pages
Published: 2009
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: I love Jane Austen’s books and am always interested in different ways to experience the stories 🙂

Summary (from Goodreads): 

Vanity, not love, has been my folly

When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

My Thoughts: Loved it! Really liked the illustrations, although I could tell that this was made to make the story seem a little edgier. And, something I didn’t include in my post about the graphic Sense and Sensibility–I thought the adaptation and shortening of this book was fairly decent. Obviously I think a lot of small details were left out, but those aren’t always necessary to the story. And I think a lot of the original dialogue made it into this graphic than in the S and S one.

Oh, and as for any major differences: It wasn’t made known to the reader what Darcy did in regards to Wickham until Darcy defended himself to Lizzie. And Lydia and Kitty aren’t portrayed as being very silly–although they’re hardly portrayed at all.

My Thoughts on the Illustrations: Really liked them. More realistic than Sonny Liew’s illustration of S and S. But very nice, just the same. More attention to detail was paid here.

PS- I LOVE how the cover looks like a magazine cover 🙂 So appropriate and interesting!!

Sense and Sensibility by JA–a graphic rendition

TitleSense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen (Nancy Butler, writer)
Illustrator: Sonny Liew
Genre: graphic novel/fiction (classic)
ISBN: 9780785148197
Length: 120 pages
Published: 2010
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: 2011 marks the bicentenary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility. So I’m trying to focus a bit of time on S&S. So far I’ve watched a new film, called From Prada to Nada (review here), which puts a Hispanic twist on the story. I’ve thought for a while that it’d be interesting to read a graphic novel version of Jane Austen’s works. So I looked into it and found that Marvel comics was publishing the books as a comic series, then publishing the whole book at the end 😀

Summary (from Goodreads):

‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

My Thoughts: I loved this story as a graphic novel! I think any Austenite out there should give this one a try. Especially if you think you’d like a nice break from the original S&S or any of its spoofs. There were a few major differences from the original story, such as Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor being presented as much more confrontational and confident (respectively). Oh, and also that romantic moment when Colonel Brandon rescues a certain person–not in this one 😦

I realized when I read this that I don’t necessarily think that Austen is someone everyone should read. I was thinking of the possibility that this was published to get younger readers more interested in some classics. But I actually prefer it as a way for Austen lovers to get another way of experiencing Austen, not as a way to attract more readers. I tried reading Austen when I was younger. But I wasn’t mature enough as a reader to appreciate her stories until I was 17.

Thoughts on the Artistic Style: This was definitely made to look like a cartoon. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I actually quite liked it. I especially loved that Fanny always looked as if she were sucking on a lemon 🙂

Below are a few pages as examples of the style (and also to display Mrs. Dashwood’s confrontational side and Elinor’s confident side, both of which I think were liberties taken on the story).
(I apologize for the crappy-ness of the scans my printer made!)

From Prada to Nada — a Hispanic Sense & Sensibility [movie review]

From Prada to Nada (2011) is a modern film, using Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (book, 1811) as it’s basis.

I say that it is a Hispanic S&S because in this version of the story, the characters are all Hispanic. (Please forgive me if I am using the wrong term. I don’t know which is currently correct, Hispanic or Latino.) Nora and Mary learn to embrace their Mexican-American heritage when their father dies and they leave Beverly Hills to go live with their aunt in East LA. There is some Spanish thrown into the story and even the celebration of a Mexican holiday.

In all respects, I quite enjoyed the movie. I think it was very well adapted for a modern audience. There is no equivalent to Mrs. Dashwood in the movie, but, honestly, she doesn’t have a very important role in the book either. And there are a few other minor changes in the timeline of events, which make the flow of the movie better. The only thing I didn’t quite like is the part when Marianne/Mary finds out about Willoughby/Rodrigo’s “badness”. I admit that, when I read the book, I feel a TINY bit sorry for Willoughby–he truly loves Marianne, but he made his bed, so he has to lie in it.  But there was not even the smallest of redeeming qualities about Rodrigo–he is just made out to be a complete jackass. Oh, and I feel that Edward and Nora’s relationship in the movie was a tad rushed. I mean, when you look at how little time they spent together and then the very end you may think, “Wait a minute. How do they even know anything about each other?” Austen at least addressed this when Edward and Elinor spent a lot of time together before the Dashwood women left Norland.

I think that if you like S&S (book or other film versions), you should give this one a try. It may not go very deep, but I don’t think it’s the shallowest of movies either. It deserves a fair chance.

PS- One last thing I didn’t like (and this has nothing to do with the quality of the film or actors or anything), was that Camilla Belle (Nora) was orange. I mean, I believe that both she and Alexa Vega (Mary) may have honest Hispanic blood in their families. But either Camilla on her own or Camilla directed by people in charge of the film clearly tanned (whether for the role or herself). It honestly bugged me that it was so blatant that she is not naturally that color. At times I also thought Alexa looked like she tanned a bit, too. But she must have a better salon she goes to! Just look at the evidence for yourself and tell me that Camilla isn’t orange/yellow!!