Apparently this was the perfect time to read this novel. If I would’ve read it any sooner I probably would’ve been upset or bothered by it, but I wasn’t and it was quite enjoyable.
I would never have picked this book up on my own, but it is our February book for Books into Movies book group at the local library. I enjoyed the book more than the movie, shocker, but mostly because I didn’t see the need to move it from London to the US or the rather odd way they had the protagonist, Rob, interact with the camera/audience.
Primarily, this novel is about break-ups, but it’s also about reflecting on one’s life (and love life) in your mid-30s. Now I’m not quite there yet (two more years to rock out my 20s), but I can definitely sympathize with the Rob and questioning everything about every previous relationship and whether it all has to do with him. However, I REALLY hope I don’t go through this sort of soul-searching because I can only imagine how awkward it could be.
Although the year has changed, reading must continue For my first book of 2013 I used random.org to pull one from my shelves and it was definitely an experience.
As usual after I purchased the book I put it out of my mind and then when I go to read it I just start without reading anything about the book and thus begin without preconceived notions. This works for and against me all the time, for this book it definitely worked for me because if I had read a synopsis I probably would not have read the book at this time (see paragraph 5).
For a Man Booker Prize winning novel it was relatively easy to read. (It also won the Whitbread Award for First Novel.) I haven’t read any others from the year, but Atwood’s Oryx and Crake is of course on my list. Overall I think this book serves as a great conversation starter, but as I read it I had to wonder why it won the award. Compared to many of the other Booker winners it felt lacking. Take for example other winning or nominated coming of age stories, such as Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Room, Never Let Me Go, or any other book with a child narrator, and Vernon God Little just isn’t up to par. I will say however, it does warrant a comparison to A Confederacy of Dunces (on Wikipedia). I can see the similar humor and writing style, but this, perhaps because of the child narrator, is preferable.
This is why reading a sequel/spinoff isn’t necessarily the best idea. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the changes and plot twists were definitely worth the invested reading time and the ending was just as clichéd and wonderful as the first book, but I would’ve been just as good if I stopped after Austenland. And yet I’m already wondering if there is another book in the works for the ‘series.’
First, I want to start of with this. If anyone ever sets me up on a blind date there are two things you should know about who your setting me up with. If they can discuss both Jane Austen and Star Wars I will probably make a fool of myself. Somehow I feel as if the author knew this and I nearly died of embarrassment/enjoyment/excitement when I read the following:
“His slightest smile produced Death Star-size dimples in both cheeks, and his blue eyes sparkled in the candlelight.” (31)
I mean seriously? A Star Wars reference in a Jane Austen fan-fiction novel? OMG, YES!
What better way to close out the year than with some much-needed light frivolous reading? Add in that it’s Jane Austen related and I’m in :-D The last book of the year after this will be Hale’s Midnight in Austenland.
Every time I read one of these I get all giggly and giddy and then immediately think WTF is wrong with me; and really I just need to let go and enjoy the senselessness of it and enjoy them for what they are (which I clearly do – thus the giggly/giddiness).
I don’t want to discredit or over-credit this book. I thought the story was incredibly entertaining, and definitely humorous, but the writing felt somewhat juvenile. I’m still not 100% sure whether this novel is geared towards young adults or just the general public. I saw on Goodreads, and maybe Wikipedia too, that many people had labeled it Young Adult, but I’m still not sure. Writing says young adult, storyline says no.
I remember when the film version of Big Fish came out, I’d just started undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill and there was a bit of a to-do because Daniel Wallace lived in Chapel Hill at the time. He must’ve given a talk or something because I have a vague recollection of meeting him or hearing him speak. But the funny thing is, I never read the book or saw the story – I must’ve just been in the right place at the right time. This is the September selection for the Books into Movies book group at my local library. I enjoyed the book and we’ll see about the film.
Overall, the book was a fun read and you can take out of it any number of things, but if there is one thing that I took out of it, it’s that,
“You’re not necessarily supposed to believe it,” he says wearily. “You’re just supposed to believe in it. It’s like—a metaphor.” (112)