Book 382: Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Austen, Jane - Sense and SensibilityFor our fifth installment of Jane Austen Book Club we read Sense and Sensibility (S&S). Not only is this book the penultimate book of this year’s book group, it is my last Austen re-read for the Classics Club! That makes it my 42 Classics Club book and I’m glad to still be slowly chipping away. Goodreads reminds me I’m 29 books behind schedule from my original Classics Club start date, but I abandoned the five-year plan ages ago. I figured I should enjoy the Classics when I want to enjoy them and not force myself to meet some arbitrary time limit.

Like all of Austen, I’m confused why I haven’t re-read this in so long. Obviously, there are so many other books to read, but it went by so fast and the story is just so great that I really should make an effort to re-read more than just Pride and Prejudice (P&P) every so often!

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Book 381: Northanger Abbey (Marvel Illustrated) – Nancy Butler & Janet Lee

Butler, Nancy, Jane Austen and Janet Lee - Northanger AbbeyI’m so glad I’m on Austen overload this year. I’m not really sure what I do on the years I don’t read this much Austen. Does that actually happen? I should start tracking my Austen reads in addition to everything else I track.

This is the second of the Marvel Illustrated Jane Austen series and I have to say I’m impressed so far. Butler knows how to reduce down the stories to their key elements without losing any of the wit and humor Austen infuses into her work. I preferred the illustration style of Hugo Petrus from Pride & Prejudice versus Janet Lee of Northanger Abbey. Which is interesting because I know it took me a while to adjust to that style, maybe when I read Emma, also illustrated by Lee, I won’t have as many issues. All of this being said, I really enjoyed this adaptation.

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Book 371: Pride & Prejudice (Marvel Illustrated) – Nancy Butler & Hugo Petrus

Butler, Nancy, Jane Austen and Hugo Petrus - Pride & PrejudiceI had a vague idea these adaptations existed, but I’d never encountered one in the wild until I read Jane Austen: Cover to Cover and went out of my way to visit a comic book store to look for one. I got lucky on my second try with Comicazi in Somerville, but they only had the one. (Hub Comics in Somerville was also great, but didn’t have any in stock.)

What truly strikes me, having finished this in one commute to and from work, is that doing a bit of research I’m not surprised I didn’t know these existed. Butler in the introduction talks about how these titles came about for Marvel Illustrated (full list of titles available under the imprint) and mentions that she said they needed to do some for young women and girls. When I did a bit of research I found that the imprint was only active from 2007-2011 and they didn’t finish Jane Austen’s novels :-( However, I did find out there’s another imprint, Classical Comments, has WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Let me repeat this one more time, there is a are multiple graphic novel versions of WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

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Book 365: The Brontë Project – Jennifer Vandever

Vandever, Jennifer - The Brontë ProjectI’m not sure what it is about Brontë fan-fiction, but they’re just not as whimsical as the Austen fan-fiction. Looking at the subject matters and general ambiance of the works and the author’s lives it is fairly obvious, but when you think about it the options for fan-fiction are limitless. I picked this book (Amazon link) up in late 2012 and have finally gotten around to reading it.

The only other Brontë fan-fiction I’ve read include Solsbury Hill and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë and they were both a bit ho-hum. I did enjoy the vilification of Charlotte in Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Fairfax trilogy (here, here and here), but that could be the problem. Emily and Anne died so early and Charlotte had so much time to cultivate/purge their images in society that it’s all about Charlotte and not the rest of the family. (“What’s more, she [Charlotte] has become adept at spinning her own legend and constructing her image before the public.” (59) – and I would even argue spinning Emily and Anne’s images, obviously). Even this novel, whose main character, Sara, is in love with Wuthering Heights ends up being predominantly about Charlotte.

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Book 362: Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

Mansfield Park - Jane AustenLucky for you I’ve re-read this for our Jane Austen Book Club, so you get to hear about it again, almost exactly three years after I last read it.

Following Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813) this was Austen’s third published novel in 1814 and it is a clear shift away from the whimsy and light previous novels. I talk about this in my last response, but I wonder if this has to do with feedback from the first two novels or if it’s her own personal experience and maturation as an adult. We already know that when Austen published Emma, her fourth work, in 1815 that she was comfortable with sassing her critics. She openly says at the start of Emma that she’s writing a character NO ONE can dislike, because so many people disliked Fanny, or Fanny’s decisions.

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Book 361: Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Shelley, Mary - FrankensteinAs with 99% of the Classics I’ve read, I’m wondering what took me so long to read this one! Not only is it under 200 pages, but it’s quick and fascinating read. Add in that Shelley was only 19 when she wrote it and I’m like WHOA. This is my second Classic’s Club book this month, so yay for finally making progress on that again.

As when I read Dracula, I was surprised at how much of Frankenstein’s story was different from what has become the common perception of Frankenstein and his monster in pop-culture.I am happy to report that my reading of this coincided really well with other books I’ve read that are fan-fiction pieces, like Meghan Shepherd’s A Cold Legacy, and tangentially related books about the authors and their connections like another piece of fan-fiction, like Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Fairfax Trilogy (Jane Bites Back in particular).

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Book 358: The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka

Kafka, Franz - The MetamorphosisThis isn’t the first Kafka I’ve read. I read Amerika way back in 2011 and my opinion is pretty much the same: the man is a bit weird but he writes well.

I can, with utter confidence, say I have no idea what in the hell I just read. I mean, I know exactly what the words said and can tell you the story pretty much verbatim, but as to the meaning behind it, I haven’t got a clue. (Don’t worry, I’m going to look it up in a minute and see if it in anyway makes sense to me.)

I honestly thought it was some sort about sickness and loss of health, but no one seems to agree on that. There was a lot of talk about dependence and the family needing to learn how to care for themselves and that his metamorphosis resulted in the family being more productive and less lazy. Honestly, I don’t really know.

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