Sunday, April 26, 2009

Reading List: May-September

May: Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
June: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
July: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
August: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
September: Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband and a Bus with a Will of its Own by Doreen Orion

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Polls: June through September

Please vote for the books you'd like to read from June to September.

June 2009: Classic Literature

July 2009: Mystery/Crime

August 2009: Middle Grade Fiction

Setpember 2009: Travel Writing

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Young Adult Fiction Tiebreaker Poll

We have a four-way tie for our YA selection. Please vote for your top two. We'll discuss the 3rd Friday in May instead of the 2nd to give everyone time to find and read the winning book before we discuss.

Monday, April 13, 2009

May Young Adult Fiction Poll

Here are our choices for the May 2009 Young Adult fiction selection. Click on the link to read more about the books at Amazon, and come back and select your top two choices in the poll at the bottom of this post.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen - my take

I enjoyed this book immensely! While the stories of their quaint homes and cottages were very interesting, what truly got to me was the warmness of Jane's friends and family. I thought it very sweet when her brother, Henry, tried to get her published and how tight her friendship with the Bigg-Wither girls was. I found it heartening to read Jane's conversations with Cassandra as well. It was evident to me that the relationship that the two eldest sisters in Pride and Prejudice shared is inspired from Jane's and Cassandra's. 

While I enjoy happy endings too, I found comfort in Jane's sensible rejection of Ashford's advances. I cannot imagine a Jane Austen heroine throwing away sense and reason for romantic happiness and this is one of the reasons I enjoy Jane Austen so much. Her women are strong, smart, realistic and independent. She makes light of 'coquettes' (Isabella Churchill in this case) in almost every one of her books!

I found it really interesting that Jane Austen got so much support from her family regarding her novel writing, especially in a time when novels weren't considered fit for more than base entertainment. She published her books anonymously but I am sure that her family's encouragement was critical to her writing. 

My favorite part of the book was also the part that I found the hardest to read. I really wanted to get inside the book and shake Jane off and read Ashford's letters t her. Jane Austen had immense personal strength and pride to not be tempted to read his notes. I don't think that I'd have had the same amount of resolve. I was very impressed by her firmness. 

I had to remind myself that the book was fictitious from time. I thought that Syrie James was very clever to have written it in the first person. Her research, her interest in the subject and of course her imagination really threw me off. It made for a much more enjoyable read. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

Being a longtime fan of Jane Austen's work, I found The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen to be a pleasant and satisfying read. Because not a lot is really known about Jane Austen and because I love stories about lost treasures and documents, the premise of finding Austen's secret memoirs in a trunk immediately drew me in.

I loved how the author created the parallels between Sense and Sensibility and the events in Jane's own life, and the customs and limitations on women during that time infuriated me as I was reading. Jane, her sister, and her mother were left virtually penniless and homeless when Jane's father died, and they had to rely on the goodwill of her brothers.

And of course, the love story between Jane and Mr. Ashford was heartbreaking, which is my one quibble with the book. I like happy endings, and you knew from the very beginning that things were not going to work out. Every time Jane expressed happiness, you knew something was ultimately going to happen to keep them apart. Just when you thought they were finally going to be together forever, Jane sacrificed her own chance at happiness to give Mr. Ashford what she thought was the life he deserved.

Did anyone else feel this way about the doomed love story? How did you feel about women's rights or the lack thereof?