I’m not one of those who is obsessed with any particular character of Jane Austen’s like the author. I love the broad strokes of her stories and the general caricatures and stereotypes she works in across all her work. So when the fan-fiction gets super specific, like this one, I’m never quite sure what will come out of it. Will I enjoy this authors take on the character? Will they stay true to not only Austen’s works but the generally accepted views of the character? Will it be enjoyable and readable?
I’m slowly making more progress on my ARC/Galleys. It’s been a while since I last read a collection of short stories, last summer I read a couple of collections, but they’re not something I seek out very often. So when the publisher reached out about this one I figured why not.*
I’ve enjoyed Sittenfeld’s writing, Prep, from way before I started this blog and more recently Eligible, her retelling of Pride and Prejudice as part of the now (seemingly?) defunct The Austen Project. The downside of this collection in particular, is because I enjoy Sittenfeld’s writing, I had already read at least three, if not five of the previously published short stories of the ten, but I’ll talk more about this later.
Only two ARC/Galleys left and I am all caught up! The same publicist who sent me Finally Out reached out about this book and the title had enough humor in it I figured it was worth a shot.* I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would!
What Alan Alda—I didn’t even recognize him from M*A*S*H (IMDb link), I just recognized his caricature—is doing is what the Plain English Campaign (website) has been trying to do since the late 70s, just through a different venue: improv. Both are trying to get things translated from the indecipherable jargon of science or government into easily relatable language. Alda, has basically made a side career out of this with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where the observations he made from his many years on Scientific American Frontiers are put into practice to teach scientists how to talk to non-scientists.
I came across this book when I started listening to the Better Off podcast (iTunes link) , which is sponsored by Betterment (more on that later – including a referral link ;-D). David Bach, the author, was the guest on the very first episode. I was intrigued enough by his interview that I wanted to read the book. It sounded a lot like what I discovered on my own, but I wanted to verify and see what other tips or tricks he offered. But before I talk about the book, first the back story:
After completing my 30×30 a few years ago and getting rid of my credit card debt, I’ve become much more interested in personal finance and making sure that I am planning for the future, whether it’s mine, that of any future children I have, or the fact that my mom, dad and step-mom (and at least one aunt) are all rapidly approaching retirement age.
As with The Warlock, I wish I had as much enthusiasm and glowing things to say about this book as I did the first time I read it. I picked up this copy way back in 2013 and it’s sat on my shelf since then. I’m glad I’ve re-read them so I can clear up the shelf space now. (I didn’t even technically read it this time as I checked out digital copies from the library to take to China to save space :-D)
It is still a great read and an amazing conclusion to the series, but it’s just not as full of impact or as powerful as I remember it being. This is because of the big reveals in The Warlock that I wrote about at the end and how that reveal is then discussed and explained (and even sort of thrown away) in this book. For me, it’s the reveal I talk about in the next paragraph that made the re-read so hard. It’s one of those things, similar to an unreliable narrator, that is just a major turn off for me when it comes to a book.
Now that we’re to the final two books in the series, I have something to refer back to. As I mentioned when I responded to The Alchemyst, I’ve previously responded to The Warlock and The Enchantress. The Warlock was Book 49! That’s almost 400 books ago in the life of this blog. WHOA.
All I have to say, upon re-reading my response, is wow what naivety! What youth! What excitement! I’m clearly a bit more jaded on this re-read and I did NOT re-read every book again before each book was released, but I do still agree with the fact that the books were a bit thin on subject matter even though they took place over only a matter of days. There’s things missing that I think would’ve been great to include and there are things included (multiple times in some cases) that I was not interested in.
Just a head’s up some of the things I talk about in this book may be from The Warlock, my quotes got merged and I’m still not sure what was in which book because I re-read them so fast.
One of the things you have to be careful of reading this series is that Scott doesn’t throw away names. Even the minor characters that he only mentions in passing are incredibly important and historical factual philosophers, warriors and politicians (or at least the immortals are). From ancient Chinese philosophers to British authors (I forgot to mention Shakespeare last post), Scott must’ve mined history for so many of the characters he uses/mentions.
In this book, Sophie and Josh’s life/world not only falls apart, but it is mercilessly ripped apart. Their eyes are opened to a number of things which begin the processes that end the series. These processes and the truths/lies they reveal are what had me hesitant about re-reading the series. They’re WONDERFUl the first time you read the series, but going back to the series it makes them a bit less so.