For 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!
I 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.
What a journey! I don’t know what I was thinking waiting this long to read this novel. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for almost 10 months and has been out for over a decade! In the last few months I finally heard enough about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to pick it up and read the tome that it is. (AKA the boyfriend wants to watch the new TV adaptation and I said I couldn’t until I read the book.)
I am most definitely beating myself up for not reading it sooner. Sure I was a bit scared of the length, hello doorstop clocking in at 846 pages, but I was even more concerned with the comparisons to Dickens! How wrong I was; how wrong I was. For some reason I let this one comparison (I still think Dickens needed an editor) blind me from the wondrousness that was this book.
As 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).
Book three of the Jane Fairfax trilogy just didn’t live up to Jane Bites Back or Jane Goes Batty. That being said, there were some great moments, but overall it just wasn’t as light or as fun. As an end to the trilogy, it did a decent job wrapping everything up as it should and leaving enough room to keep going if Ford ever decides he wants to write more, but I doubt I’ll read more.
Rather than keeping the story in Upstate New York, Ford takes the traveling circus that is Jane Austen’s new life on the road. From Jane’s best friend, Lucy, to the future mother in law Miriam, everyone who is important either goes along or is named dropped at some point. Ford again introduces a cast of quirky minor characters, but this time they felt lightweight and fluffy. There wasn’t a lot of substance to many of them and I was left wanting.
And done. I’m not sure why so many people had such negative responses to the books. I thought this was an interesting follow-up, almost 15 years later, to Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Edge of Reason. The characters are 15-ish years older and so is everything else: technology, their worries and their troubles. I wasn’t sure how the frazzled frankness of the first two would translate into a different world completely, but I thought it worked.
Unfortunately, I did find out ahead of time what happened in the novel before I read it so it wasn’t as much of a draw dropping moment as it could have been. In all honesty though, it wasn’t that much of a plot twist when you think of everything that could happen in the span of 15 years! All of this being said, there will be spoilers after the cut so don’t read past the break if you don’t want to know what happens!
If possible this one was even funnier than the last, or at least the ending was. There were parts in both books where I could not stop laughing, but this one ended with such a hilarious situation that I could easily find myself in involving wine and Christmas cards. I didn’t read this one quite as fast as the first, but I still read it in only a few sittings.
What I enjoyed most about this novel was the unapologetic sexuality and brashness of Bridget. This was evident in the first novel, but in this novel she takes it to a different level, primarily manifesting through keeping track of the seconds, yes SECONDS, since she last had sex. (It’s up in the tens of millions.) Now this might sound strange, but Fielding writes about issues that affect large sweeps of the population through this quirky character.