After my amazing luck with John Boyne’s The Absolutist last year, I decided to always keep an eye on Other Press releases and I’m glad I did. I requested a copy of this book directly from the publisher and I quite enjoyed it. This is my honest response and I received nothing in return.
To start, I’d like to say that the only other review on Goodreads is worthless (to me, at least). Why bother reviewing a book if that’s all you’re going to say? The person has, in essence, re-written the synopsis of the novel (on the back cover), without any additional insight or synthesis and it came across as snide to me. If you didn’t want to read “frothy froth about rich French people and their angst,” then why’d you read it? It never pretended to be anything else and that’s why I appreciated this novel. It’s times like this when I wish I could give half stars on Goodreads because it’s not quite what I would consider 5 stars, but not quite as low as 4 stars. Now on to my response.
This novel is everything that it claims to be, an amusing inside look at the codes, manners, and morals of high society, and it’s nothing more.So if you don’t want to read a comedy of manners, then don’t. It’s sort of what I imagine Austen’s works were like when they were first published and reactions were similar to the Goodreads reviewer’s.
Since I decided to read so few challenge books this year, I’m able to pick up books on a whim and this is one of them! I encountered Faitheist through Heather’s great review at Between the Covers and knew I had to read it. So go read her succinct review first and then return to read my ramblings.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wanted to read Faitheist because the author is wicked cute, but the synopsis drew me in because I’m fascinated by how people negotiate identities especially when it comes to sexuality in relation to religion and geography.
So to start, I have never been very religious. I was both baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal church, but it was more a family history and social thing than anything else. I’ve never had bad encounters with religion, but I know it’s not for me mostly because of the inherent white heterosexist patriarchy built into most institutions of religion (both the people and the hierarchical structures). I’m still not 100% sure where I lie on the non-religious/agnostic/atheist scale, but regardless I think I can definitely agree with Humanism (which I clearly need to read more about, feel free to make suggested readings in the comments). Now with that bit of clarification out-of-the-way, on to my response.
Swoon. That’s my review, that’s it. I have nothing more to say. And that has nothing to do with Mr. Darcy, okay well maybe a little, but not as much as you’d think. And just to provide you with fair warning, this isn’t so much a review or response as it is a fan-boy “I love you Jane Austen” post. So read on if you like, you’ve been warned!
I’m not sure how many times I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, but I definitely feel like I should read it more often! I planned this re-read to coincide with the 200th Anniversary and I’m glad I did because it had been far too long! It also counted as one of my re-reads for The Classics Club. Hopefully the next time I re-read this novel I will be able to write about the characters or the story and have less fan-boy love, but I honestly doubt it, I mean look at all the crazy spinoffs I read even though they can never approach the original!
Honestly, I think it’s very difficult to talk about a book like this. I mean 200 years of intense debate and like/dislike pretty much covers everything you could possibly talk about. I mean you could check out this article (thank you Harvard Book Store) or you could even check out this blog post from Bitch Magazine‘s Adventures in Feministory series which includes the great observation,
“Austen may have a reputation in the popular imagination as the author of proto–chick-lit novels with sentimental love stories, but readers who pay close attention know that there’s quite a bit of realism–and feminism–in her fiction. Elizabeth has backbone. She knows what she’s worth, and she holds out for what Shakespeare would call a ‘marriage of true minds.’”
I’m so disappointed I didn’t discover this book in High School, but at the same time I really doubt I would’ve appreciated it as much as I do now. Although I was an incredibly straight-laced kid in High School and couldn’t relate to some parts of the novel as a high school student (sex, drugs, partying, Rocky Horror?!?), I could definitely relate to many other parts. I haven’t seen the film but will definitely see it soon. I’m still shaking my head wondering what took me so long to read this book!
The scene where Charlie gave out perfect Christmas presents to each of the people in his immediate circle of friends, just from having listened to them was great! I mean that is the same thing I do. I listen and suck in all the details about people and then awkwardly regurgitate facts to them later about what they’ve said at that party or at previous parties. It’s a great party trick, but at the same time it often makes me come across as anti-social or creepy (so I assume, no one has ever reinforced this thought).
What a wonderful novel AND a beautiful film! The day I bought this book my roommate asked if I wanted to go see the film and after a lot of internal dialogue made external I decided to see the film before reading the book and it was well worth it. The score of the film was one of the most beautiful I’ve heard in ages and it was also visually stunning.
I knew this would be a good novel because it was only short listed for the Man Booker Prize! It was nominated for and won a few other awards. I’m still convinced, in general, the runners-up on the shortlist are often better than the winners. I have read the winner that year, Alan Hollinghurt’s The Line of Beauty, and although I really enjoyed Hollinghurst’s novel it was a tome and I struggled, so this book was easier to read and I would say more enjoyable for it’s set up and it’s approachability.