And books! ... she would buy them all over and over again; she would buy up every copy, I believe, to prevent them falling into unworthy hands; and she would have every book that tells her how to admire an old twisted tree. {from Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, 1775-1817}

February 22, 2017

A year with our Jane: something (five things) new in Sense and Sensibility

I finished re-reading Sense and Sensibility last night, and so far, my hope that I'd find something new in each of the novels this year has gotten off to a wonderful start. :)

Here are five things that I didn't remember, or that surprised me ... possibly with some spoilers.

  1. As I noted before, Mrs.Jennings tells Elinor, early on in their acquaintance, and in Elinor's with him, that Colonel Brandon has a love child. It seemed a rather shocking thing for Mrs. J. to reveal (although it's in keeping with her good-natured gossipy personality). So, I was wondering ... then, later, Colonel Brandon tells Elinor that Eliza, the young girl that Willoughby seduced and abandoned, is his ward, the daughter of the woman he loved, and he mentions almost off-handedly that some people think he is her daughter, 
  2. In the same later conversation, Colonel Brandon tells Elinor that he has had an.'unvoidable' meeting with Willoughby {'We met by appointment, he to defend, I to punish his conduct. We returned inwounded...'} A duel!
  3. Some of the characters are much more interesting than I remembered.  Lucy Steele is so manipulative {though Elinor sees through her early on, and gives it right back to her}, and even Miss Grey, Willoughby's eventual wife, has her moment.
  4. When Marianne is desperately ill at Cleveland, and Willoughby comes to see Elinor there, there's a long scene where he explains and justifies his conduct toward Marianne and his marriage to Miss Grey. I had to read this chapter more than once because I couldn't  understand why what he says softens Elinor's feelings about him. She moves from anger to pity, seemingly because what he has done will never make him happy, and later, because she's able to reassure Marianne that Willoughby had remained constant.  Wouldn't have worked for me.:)
  5. Though he's clearly in love with Marianne, both Mrs. Jennings and John Dashwood decide that Colonel Brandon should marry Elinor, and plot in their own ineffectual ways to encourage tgis match. (I didn't remember this at all, and it was very funny. even if you knew how things were going to work out.)
Before I go on to Pride and Prejudice, do you have a favorite character, moment, or memory from this one?

February 17, 2017

A year with our Jane: modern enough

      Elinor's uneasiness was at least equal to her mother's. She thought of what had just passed with anxiety and distrust. Willoughby's behavior in taking leave of them, his embarrassment and affectation of cheerfulness ... a backwardness so unlike a lover, so unlike himself, greatly disturbed her. ...
      But whatever might be the particulars of their separation, her sister's affliction was indubitable; and she thought with all the tenderest compassion of that violent sorrow which Marianne was in all probability not merely giving away to as a relief, but feeding and encouraging as a duty.
from Sense and Sensibility

This is the scene when Mrs Dashwood, Elinor, and Margaret have come back from church, expecting that Willoughby has finally proposed {the one below comes when Edward leaves Barton Cottage without declaring himself}, and the idea of Marianne augmenting and fixing made me smile. But it also reminded me how perceptive Jane Austen was about people, even when she was seeing the humor in them. I was also thinking about the rhose recent and mostly disappointing retellings of her novels that came out in the last few years, and that we didn't really need to modernize her.  Though I'd hope to be more like Elinor, I definitely know people like Marianne! :)

      'I think,' replied Edward, 'that I may defy many months to produce any good to me.'
      This desponding turn of mind ... left an uncomfortable impression on Elinor's feelings especially, which required some trouble and time to subdue. But as it was her determination to subdue it, and to prevent herself from appearing to suffer more than what all her family suffered on his going away, she did not adopt the method so judiciously employed by Marianne ... to augment and fix her sorrow, by seeking silence, solitude, and idleness. Their means were as different as their objects, and equally suited to the advancement of each.

February 16, 2017

Anticipation: Old, old friends edition

{'By 8 p.m. today,' according to Amazon. I am SO excited.}

{Just out}



{one for now, the other in July}

If someone told me I had to choose between reading authors I already know and love, and discovering new ones, I know what I'd say. :)  

February 14, 2017

Kinds of kindness

Aunt Cara was not, I think, at all warm-hearted; but she was really kind and generous; and as she wished people to like her ... she managed to make up an excellent working substitute for warmth of feeling. Indeed, I have often wondered whether intelligent kindness, such as hers, is not of more value to the world at large, than warm-hearted blundering.
from Period Piece, by Gwen Raverat

Happy Valentine's Day ... I hope your day is filled with both kinds! :)

February 12, 2017

Books in Paris

      I always stop at La Librairie des Alpes to look at the dozens of items in the window. How does a bookstore devoted to books and ephemera on mountains manage to survive? The bearded bookseller in hat and scarf says hello. He's friendly; we talk. It's my first time in the shop. 'You don't have to be an alpinist to come into the store,' he says. I buy a book from the thirties of scenic Mont Blanc photos.
      The bouquinistes have opened their boxes. Some sell Eiffel Tower key rings and 'I Love Paris' magnets, but most maintain the traditional stock of second-hand books and botanical prints ad vintage postcards. By law each box is two metres long and painted the dark green of old train cars. They've been around in some form since the 17th century and are still in demand. It takes years for a box to become available. Today they seem more aimed at the tourist, but I would miss them if they were not there. I would like to have a bouquiniste's box for my favorite books.
      Of the thousands of bookstores in France, half it seems are in Paris. French celebrates writers as Germans celebrate composers as Americans celebrate celebrities. There are palatial museum bookcases full of richly illustrated books with titles like The Hat in Medieval Art. Shops with somber Gallimard books on politics and philosophy with clinical covers. Shops with little room to move, bit lots of charm and second hand Fitzgeralds and Mann in French or the odd Graham Greene in classic orange Penguin.
      There must be a dozen places devoted to English books, but there is also one for Polish books on the Boulevard Saint-Germain which has been around a century or more. There is, not surprisingly, Librairie Gourmande and La Musardine, an erotic bookstore. There is L'Hammartan, which has books on Africa, and La Librairie du Jardin, a narrow cave of a place just inside the Concorde gate of the Tuileries that has thousands of books on gardens.
from Paris in winter:  an illustrated memoir, by David Coggins

Books, art, food, walks, cafes, rented apartments where one {the Cogginses or moi} can pretend to be Parisian, and a happy number of familiar places ... a lovely book to curl up with on a cold and snowy weekend.

Paris in Winter:  an illustrated memoir, by David Coggins
powerHouse Books, 2015
Borrowed from the Boston Athenaeum

February 10, 2017

Plantagenet Palliser for President!

... He could afford to learn to be a statesman, and had the industry wanted for such training. ... He was not a brilliant man, and understood well that such was the case. He was now listened to in the House, as the phrase goes; but he was listened to as a laborious man, who was in earnest in what he did, who got up his facts with accuracy, and who, dull though he was, was worthy of confidence. And he was very dull. He rather prided himself on being dull, and on conquering in spite of his dullness. He never allowed himself a joke in his speeches, nor attempted even the smallest flourish of rhetoric. He was very careful in his language, labouring night and day to learn to express himself with accuracy, with no needless repetition of words... He had taught himself to believe that oratory, as oratory, was a sin against that honesty in politics by which he strove to guide himself. He desired to use words for the purpose of teaching things which he knew and which others did not know; and he desired also to be honoured for his knowledge. But he had no desire to be honoured for the language in which his knowledge was conveyed. ... It is the trust which such men inspire which makes them so serviceable.

from Can You Forgive Her?, by Anthony Trollope

Hmmm.  By Chapter 28, we're not so sure about him as a husband, but this made me smile.