I know when I requested a copy from the publisher I wasn’t expecting this to be the next National Book Award winner.* I expected a somewhat light fluffy read with a bit of drama and hoped that it would pull at my heartstrings just enough to make me get that giddy feeling of a new-found/re-discovered romance and that’s exactly what I got.
I didn’t realize that Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart was part of a trilogy, but you know as soon as I found out I bought this, the first novel, and I bought The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, book three. They’re not really a trilogy, but loosely connected in theme and subject matter.
I do wish I would’ve read this one first, because I feel like Pattillo did a better job of explaining The Formidibles in this book than she did in the second, but obviously there’s a reason for that. [It’s the second book, DUH! – I’m still grumpy about reading them out of order.]
I first heard of this book through a friend, who also happens to be friends with the author. After reading the blurb I reached out to the publisher for a copy and here I am.* It of course didn’t hurt that the book was set here in Boston at an unnamed University and I’ve started to see it everywhere around the city either!
Chemistry is the tale of an unnamed narrator and her exit from the academic world that has ruled her life and her various reactions to things going on in her world. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s what I boiled it down to. I’m still mulling over many parts of the book, particularly the “conclusion,” but in general I found this to be a wonderfully engaging read.
What can I say about this?* It was a great refresher and a fun way to dip my toes into the Brontë’s work again without having to commit to a longer read of the entire novel. I talked about the pros of illustrated classics when I read the Marvel Illustrated Jane Austen works (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Northanger Abbey) and again when I read is when I read the Manga Classics Emma, so there’s not much point in rehashing those.
Overall, the adapters and artist did a great job on the adaptation. There were a couple of things that I was like uh that definitely wasn’t in the book, i.e. positioning of characters and character interactions. I guess it just has to do with making the stories more accessible to wider audiences.
Recommendation: I still prefer the Marvel Illustrated style, but since they didn’t deign the Brontë’s important enough to adapt before they shuttered, this is a pretty good option. They’re a quick refresher on the classics and if they do the job right, which so far both the Manga Classics and the Marvel Illustrated have) they’ll make you want to (re)read the originals!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for my honest opinion, no additional goods or money were exchanged.
But then again, on days like yesterday, I realize that stocking them up isn’t necessarily a bad thing because they are WONDERFUL beach reads. Hopefully, this means I’ll be going to the beach more this summer (it’s like maybe a 10 minute walk) and reading quite a few more of these 😀
Seriously, though, this one has been sitting on my shelf since 2013 when Alie sent it to me, which is just a shame because I blazed through it in less than 12 hours. I started it on the beach yesterday, see very end of the post, and finished it on my way to work this morning.
Perhaps I’m too smart for my own good, but overall this book was a bit disappointing. With a title like Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, you’d expect there to be revelations of sorts and yet there weren’t. I mean that’s why I requested a copy from the publisher.* I was hoping as the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death rapidly approaches there’d be something completely new and innovative to talk about, but there wasn’t.
Sure Kelly highlighted a few things that I missed when reading Austen, but really she just expounded upon the things that those of us who don’t read Austen ONLY as a romance novelist, but as a social commentator hopefully picked up on. She provided more detail of course, especially when it came to names and places, but overall there just weren’t a lot of revelations.
I’m not sure why I picked this up back in January 2014, but I did. It was either the sadness in the title or the open envelopes on the front. I had no recollection of it being short stories as I rarely read them. And yet even when I went to read this, because I wanted a quick read before vacation, I was surprised they were short stories and it says STORIES on the front!
Honestly, this book disappointed me. There were two beautiful quotes, but overall I found the stories to be lacking and somewhat stunted. Many of the stories loosely tied together and I felt it distracted from what could’ve been a wonderful collection of (somewhat depressing) coming of age stories.
“Homesick is how Karen feels, though she doesn’t miss home, more like an earlier version of herself, a person who, in her memory is hardworking, starightforward, pure.” (Common Rooms, 12)
“Lewis and I decided this last night and it was a relief. Not everything has to do with me. Even the things that have something to do with me, like this contract, don’t have much to do with me.” (Sam, 87)
I would rather have not wondered if everyone was connected (and I could be wrong).
All of this being said, I think what bothered me the most about the short stories was that really good short stories to me, leave you curious about everything before and after, but simultaneously leave you feeling fulfilled. These did not, partially because there were characters that were either the same character or one with the same name and it was like wait what, is this a continuation? And partially because they just didn’t feel complete with the exception of Common Rooms, it was by far the strongest and it was the lead of the book.
Recommendation: Pass unless you are really interested in college coming of age stories or really interested in short stories.