Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Books update- Lots of Jane Austen

Lately I've been reading both fiction and non-fiction. Jon, true to his word, took a spare moment to hunt down some hard to find Jane Austen books for me. I'm a huge Jane Austen fan and rather than just continue to read Pride and Prejudice over and over again, I thought I would check off one thing off my mental Bucket List (making a bucket list is on my bucket list :P ) and finish reading all of her works.

I finally finished Emma.
This was a little lackluster for me because I knew some of the plot, thanks to *spoiler alert!* being familiar with the movie Clueless and knowing it was based on this book. And it was a rather large book, so it took a little longer than expected. Overall though, I liked it. Jane Austen had been quoted as saying that the main character was one only she would like. It was definitely a strong contrast to her usual heroines, but of course she changed and softened Emma throughout the novel. I'm surprised Austen underestimated her abilities so much!

Then I read Jane Austen's biography. It was written by her nephew. Most of it was interesting and, I think, did her justice. I liked that he freely admitted information that was not proven fact or not his own. Sometimes it did get a little dry as it was sometimes information related to her rather than being directly about her. Sometimes I wonder how different her life would have been, and all of those she's touched, if she hadn't died so young, or if she had married. It seems that in the most social periods of her life, she wrote next to nothing. So I suppose, had she married, we probably never would have known her work. I feel kind of guilty being grateful for that, especially since she was believed to have been engaged for a very brief period (1 day actually, before calling it off) to a man. He left very soon afterwards (military if I remember correctly) and died shortly after. She probably suffered in varying degrees throughout the rest of her life. Luckily, her nephew, as well as her family, steadfastedly proclaimed that Austen was a devout Christian, so I look forward to knowing her in Heaven one day.

Anyway, after the biography, I did read the two manuscripts: Sanditon and The Watsons. Both seemed interesting, though the Watsons more so. I was thankful that because I read Austen's biography, I knew a few small details about how those stories were supposed to have finished. I never could have read them otherwise- I don't like to leave things permanently unfinished. Leaving something unfinished for weeks or months (or years in the case of my crocheting projects) I can deal with, but knowing it can never be completed? Nope, can't take it.

After the slow going non-fiction and fragments, I was really looking forward to reading a whole novel again, and I had one book left:

I was feeling sad that it was the last bit of unknown I had in my relationship with Austen, but I was eager to dive in. About 5 pages in, I realized that I had already read this one a couple of years ago. The irony is that, apart from Pride and Prejudice, it is my favorite story she's written. I have no idea how I forgot that I'd already read it, but there you have it. That was a huge letdown.

Now I am reluctantly finishing the last book I have in my Jane Austen bucket list. It is a collection of her written letters to family and friends. I expect this will be the least captivating of the lot, especially as a fair amount were published in the biography, and without background information, I'm not sure how much I will enjoy it.

After that, I'm out of book prospects. I could really use some suggestions for enthralling fiction!

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