Persuasion, A Tearoom Chat Week 3

Anna and I are chatting about Persuasion by Jane Austen this month.  We hope that you’ll join us. 

Click the button below for our 3rd discussion post of Vol. 2, Ch. 1-6.

Persuasion, A Tearoom Chat Week 2

Anna and I are chatting about Persuasion by Jane Austen this month.  We hope that you’ll join us. 

Click the here for our first discussion post of Vol. 1, Ch. 1-6.

Please see below for part 2 of our discussion for Vol. 1, Ch. 7-12

Today, I’m sipping a Mint herbal tea blend tea, accompanied by 2 Samoa Girl Scout cookies.  Anna had some lemonade.

Serena: Anne assumes that Wentworth has been avoiding her as plans change between the Musgroves and him for where and when they meet.  Do you think that’s the guilt and shame she feels or do you suspect his avoiding her?

Anna: Maybe he was avoiding her, but I noticed more that she was avoiding him, being happy to take care of little Charles so his parents could go to dinner with Wentworth at the Great House. I did get a sense of her anxiety about their initial meeting, and at least when it happened, it was over fairly quickly for her.

Serena: I found it ironic that she thought that he was avoiding her, but in point of fact, it was really the other way around. She wanted to nurse Charles or feign a headache more than she wanted to meet with Wentworth among company. I wonder if she was afraid of her reaction or his?

Anna: I think Anne has a good grasp of holding in her feelings, having lived with Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Mary for so long and being neglected and isolated. I wonder after their initial meeting and learning that Wentworth barely recognized her, her having lost the “bloom” of youth and all, that it was his reaction she feared. It’s not long before she’s lamenting that they used to mean so much to one another, and now nothing.

Those passages really tugged at me. And throughout this section, as Anne meets Wentworth’s Navy friends, for instance, she’s struck by all that she’s lost. Do you remember anywhere else in Austen being so moved, or do you think this is a sign of Persuasion being a more mature novel, as it was written toward the end of her life?

Serena: I agree that Anne’s avoidance of Wentworth seems to be borne of the fear that he will react in a way that will unease her, and in fact, she does. And meeting those friends and seeing how in love the Crofts are, I think that too weighs heavily on her. As if she didn’t feel bad enough about her decision. I can’t recall anything so blatantly depressing as this in Austen’s other novels. Those still seemed to have a bit of the youthful play in them; this novel is not only more mature in feeling, but also in dramatization.

Anne is still in the background of most everything that happens plot-wise here, but she is in the middle of it just the same. She the observer, but she doesn’t merely observe because everything that happens affects her in some way, particularly when Wentworth enters the picture.

What did you think of her when she says that she could take no revenge because he was the same?

Anna: I think the Musgrove sisters are the youthfulness in this novel. A more elegant and better behaved Kitty and Lydia, even if they do get a little excitable over Captain Wentworth.

I agree that she is an observer and deeply affected as well. Of course, while we see all the emotions and sadness going through her mind, everyone else is oblivious to her pain. Austen does let readers into Wentworth’s head, if only a moment, early on when he’s first introduced, and then there are a few actions here and there that make you see his opinion of her is slowly changing. It’s obvious to us because we know their past, but it’s very subtle when you think that their companions have no clue.

I loved Anne for saying she could take no revenge because I know that I personally, even if just internally, would not have been that nice. That really emphasizes her strength of character and her kindness toward others. After Louisa’s accident, when they’re deciding which of the women will stay at the Harville’s, there’s a passage that indicates that she would care for Louisa for his sake. Imagine watching the only man you ever loved, whom you could have married, seemingly falling in love with another woman, and you would do that for him. Of course, she’s pretty much part of the Musgrove family, so that plays into it as well, but still.

These are things that make it obvious why Wentworth has never found another woman better than Anne. What do you think about him showing attention to both Henrietta and Louisa, without even really caring for either of them? Part of it must surely be his desire to make Anne jealous to an extent, but in that day and age, he was playing a dangerous game.

Serena: I’m not really sure that he was paying attention to them consciously. I think he was baffled by Anne’s presence there and really didn’t want to be rude to the Musgroves. But his attentions never seem overtly in favor of either girl, except when it comes to the incident at the Cobb. There is that one intimate conversation that Anne overhears between Louisa and Wentworth, but I think that was more Louisa’s machinations than his.

While maybe he enjoyed having the attention of two young women and his intentions may be to find a wife, I feel like he was still sorting through his feelings for Anne and not intentionally partial or even aware that he was demonstrating affinity for either of the Musgroves — in some ways, the perception that he is in favor of one or the other or even interested in either seems to be the ideas put forth by Mary, Charles and the Crofts without any real indication on his part.

Speaking of the Cobb, what do you think motivated Louisa to jump from such a height? Was she trying to prove something or was that merely youthful folly on her part?

Anna: Having been so long at sea, he may also just enjoy the sisters’ attention. But he does spend an awful lot of time at Uppercross, so it’s not wrong of those around him to wonder what he’s about, even if he’s not completely conscious of it. There are some things in that conversation he has with Louisa — and he doesn’t know that Anne’s listening — that if I were Louisa, I would’ve thought he liked me.

As for Louisa’s jump, there are several places in the narrative where it shows Louisa being more determined about doing things since that conversation with Wentworth, where he talks about strength of character and not being easily persuaded. So I think that played into it somewhat, but mostly, I think she was being flirty and playful and thought it would be fun. Even when I shake my head at Louisa’s folly, I actually do admire her high spirits.

Now I’ve been dying to know, my dear poetess, what do you think of Captain Benwick’s fondness for melancholy poetry? And what do you think about Anne telling him he should read more prose?

Serena: I knew you would ask me that question.

I think that Captain Benwick is wallowing in his melancholy and poetry — certain kinds of it — can help you do that. Perpetuate a state that you either find yourself in, helping you to see that its a universal feeling, but it also could be perpetuating a mood that he feels obligated to remain in given that he lives with the Harville family. He feels that his mourning should be palpable to them and that while he may be over his “fiance’s” death, he does not want to hurt the feelings of those he is staying with.

Anne’s remedy of prose could be her way of telling him that it has been long enough and that it is ok not to mourn anymore and to think about moving on with life. Whether prose would produce that effect, is another questions. I suppose if he were determined, he could find prose that would help him wallow too.

I find it interesting that Anne thinks about continuing her acquaintance with Benwick even as she’s still feeling saddened by Wentworth’s dismissive attitude toward her. What do you make of that? Is she becoming resigned? What does that say about her character?

Anna: I noticed that his grief seems overplayed, and he was excited to talk with Anne about something I’m sure no one else cares to talk about with him. He seems to want to get out and about more with people, which I thought was evident when the group leaves the Harvilles behind before taking one last walk on the Cobb, and Benwick goes with them.

I didn’t think Anne’s thoughts about Benwick meant she was resigning herself to anything. I thought maybe it was the first time in a long time that someone merely wanted to talk to her in a real discussion. Her sister and the Musgroves want her to just agree with them or to vent their frustrations about one another. She also understands Benwick in a way; they’ve both suffered a deep loss. One might argue that losing one’s fiance to death is more serious than a broken engagement, but he has the chance to find happiness again, and her prospects are dim on that front.

What were your feelings at the end of this section about how things had changed between Anne and Frederick? Do you think Anne has any reason to hope at this point?

Serena: I think that Austen wants us to think that all is lost for Anne, but I think there are enough glimmers — which Anne can see given how well she knows him — that she can still hope for some form of reconciliation. Perhaps a romantic reunification is a bit far-fetched given all that’s transpired with Louisa, up to this point, but I think she should have reason to hope that they could be friends again.

He clearly esteems her, and she clearly still admires him. While I think there are still obstacles to be overcome, many of these — like in most of Austen’s novels — of their own making. His abrupt departure of at the end of volume one seems to be very telling — like he’s now got a lot more to think about with regard to his future and about Anne. I think he’s seeing a more mature woman than he remembers.

What are your final thoughts about his exit? Seems a little like the end of an act in a play, doesn’t it?

Anna: Well, if Louisa’s carelessness was good for something, it was for Wentworth to see Anne take charge and show some of that strength of character he thought she didn’t have way back when. Austen also shows two extremes — Anne being persuaded to break their engagement and Louisa being determined to do something foolish and refusing to be persuaded otherwise.

Yes, it does seem sort of like the end of act. The characters showed some alterations, then of course they’re going to be separated for a time with everything still uncertain, and then the curtain closes.

I must say that I’m loving this book even more the second time around!

Serena: I cannot wait to see what happens in the next section, though I have seen the movies. There is a bit of a flare of the dramatic in this one, that I think was not as prevalent in her other novels. I do like that the characters are changing slowly, and that they have time to think about all that has come to pass.

We hope you’ll help us continue the discussion in the comments!

And please join us next Friday, March 21st, at Anna’s blog, Diary of an Eccentric, to discuss Volume II, Chapters 1-6! Grab a cup of tea!

Persuasion, A Tearoom Chat

Anna and I are chatting about Persuasion by Jane Austen this month.  We hope that you’ll join us.  Click the button below for our first discussion post of Vol. 1, Ch. 1-6.

Tea Room Chat: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Anna and I have decided to have a tea room chat of Jane Austen’s Persuasion this month.

It was Austen’s last completed novel, and I’ve been meaning to read it for at least the last three years.

The time has come for me to make it a priority, and Anna agreed to read it with me.  I hope you’ll join us.

We’ll hold discussions of the book on each Friday in March.

Check out the schedule below:

What books have you been meaning to read for a long time?

Mailbox Monday #212

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Unabridged Chick.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I purchased at a recent library sale:

1.  Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, hardcover for $1 as my copy mysteriously disappeared.

Marianne and Elinor Dashwood are sisters. Marianne always acts impulsively, while Elinor is painfully sensitive to social convention. When each falls in love, they come to realize that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find happiness. First published in 1811, Sense and Sensibility inaugurated the brilliant career of one of the world’s most beloved literary figures and ranks among her most popular novels.

2.  Lizzie’s War by Tim Farrington for 50 cents.

A family epic laced with authenticity, wit and unforgettable characters. Liz O’Reilly has a husband in Vietnam, 4 kids under the age of 12 (and one on the way), and a burgeoning crush on the family priest. An unconventional love story.

It’s Summer 1967 and Mike O’Reilly’s just shipped out to Vietnam. Liz O’Reilly is trying to keep it all together for their four kids – 6 year old Deb–Deb (who believes she is an otter), 8 year old Angus, Kathie, (who at age 9 helps to integrate the local Blue Bird troop with her best friend Temperance), and 11 year old Danny – the spitting image of Mike. While Mike is off fighting “his” war, Liz struggles with her own desires and yearnings – to pick up the theatre career she abandoned when Danny was born, to care for the four children she loves fiercely yet also occasionally resents, to leave the backdoor unlocked so she always has an escape route. While set during the conflict in Vietnam, Farrington’s novel captures the other side of any war – that of the war at home and the careening emotions of the spouses and families left behind.

3.  Martha Peake by Patrick McGrath for 50 cents.

When Ambrose Tree is summoned by his ancient uncle to the brooding mansion Drogo Hall, he suspects it’s to hear the old man’s dying words and then collect a sizable inheritance. He has no idea he is about to learn the bizarre story of Harry Peake, Cornish smuggler turned poet who became a monster capable of the most horrifying acts. Or that he’s about to become psychologically enmeshed in the riveting life of Harry’s daughter, Martha, who flees her father for colonial America where she becomes a heroic figure in the revolution against England. Or that he himself has a crucial role to play in this mesmerizing tale as it rushes headlong and hauntingly toward its powerful climax. Martha Peake is a spellbinding alloy of Gothic mystery and historical romance.

4.  Empress by Shan Sa for 50 cents.

In seventh-century China a young girl from the humble Wu clan entered the imperial gynaecium, housing ten thousand concubines. Inside the Forbidden City, she witnessed seductions, plots, murders, and brazen acts of treason – but shrewdly masterminded her way to the ultimate position of power. From there she instigated positive reforms in government and culture. And yet, from the moment of her death to the present day, her name has been sullied, her story distorted, and her memoirs obliterated by men taking vengeance on a women who dared become Emperor. This amazing historical novelization reveals a fascinating, complex figure who in many ways remains modern to this day.

5.  Cookie Countdown by Sarah Albee and Tom Leigh for 50 cents.

Cookie Monster couldn’t be happier! He’s got five yummy cookies to eat. But Cookie just can’t help but share his sweet treats with his friends. Just when it looks like there won’t be any left for Cookie, his friends deliver a delicious surprise. Young readers will not only enjoy counting with Cookie & learning about sharing, they’ll also have fun shaking Cookie Monster’s Googly Eyes.

6.  Curious George by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey for 25 cents.

In this, the original book about the curious monkey, George is taken from the jungle by the man in the yellow hat to live in a new home, but–oh, what happened! Though trying to be good, George is still very curious and takes a swim in the ocean, escapes from jail, and goes for a flying ride on a bunch of balloons. This treasured classic is where it all began for the curious, loveable monkey and is a must have for any children’s book collection.

7.  On Sesame Street by Renee Tawa for 50 cents, it folds out into a full street of characters and you can press Elmo’s nose and he will sing the theme song.

The Elmo Fold-Out Play-a-Sound Book folds out horizontally to reveal an Elmo and Sesame Street story on 10 sturdy cardboard pages. Designed for children ages 18 months and older, the interactive book features Elmo s face in 3D on the front cover. Kids press his nose to hear a lively excerpt from the Sesame Street Theme song.

Song lyrics are displayed on the fold-out pages, enabling kids to sing along. Illustrated snapshots and captions on each page feature Elmo, Zoe, Ernie, Bert, and other Sesame Street friends as they stroll down Sesame Street, with stops at the fire station, Big Bird s nest, and Hooper s Store. Several prompts ask kids questions about the things they see on the pages.

These are for review:

8.  Thinking of You by Jill Mansell for review in May from Sourcebooks.

When Ginny Holland’s daughter heads off to university, Ginny is left with a severe case of empty nest syndrome. To make matters worse, the first gorgeous man she’s laid eyes on in years has just accused her of shoplifting. So, in need of a bit of company, Ginny decides to advertise for a lodger, but what she gets is lovelorn Laurel. With Laurel comes her dangerously charming brother, Perry and the offer of a great new job, and things begin looking up…until Ginny realizes that her potential boss is all too familiar. Is it too late for Ginny to set things right after an anything but desirable first impression?

9.  All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones, unsolicited from Algonquin Books, which will be new in paperback in March.

Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced-labor camps. A mathematical genius, she learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and the present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant Il-sun, a friend she describes as “all woman and springtime.” But Il-sun’s pursuit of a better life imperils both girls when her suitor spirits them across the Demilitarized Zone and sells them as sex workers, first in South Korea and then in the United States.

10.  Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson from Shelf Awareness.

Locke Jenkins has some catching up to do. After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, he has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the shadowy resistance group known as the Network.

Locke must infiltrate the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, seventeen-year-old Raine, and he soon finds himself pulled deep into the world of the resistance—and into Raine’s life.

What did you receive?

New Year’s Winners

These commenters won Ruby Urlocker’s collection:

Beth Hoffman

Anna of Diary of an Eccentric

Rebecca of Lost in Books



The winner of Erica Bauermeister’s book:

Janel Gradowski





The winner of The Jane Austen Handbook:

Tina from Novel Meals




The winner of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies:


Giveaway: Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice Turns 200

Jane Austen is best know for her novels and her close-knit family, particularly her relationship with Cassandra, who painted a famous portrait of her sister and for burning a number of her sister’s letters following her death.  Following her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, Austen turned to her second novel, Pride & Prejudice, originally titled First Impressions.  Her second novel has been one of my favorites for many years, and I think I’ve read it at least five times or at least parts of it at any given moment.  Each time I read it, I learn or discover something new, and I think that is the mark of a successful author.

January 28, 2013 is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s most beloved novel, Pride & Prejudice.  Austen’s novel examines the differences between social classes, elements of marriage and morality, and comments on the societal expectations regarding the manners and education of women in different circles.  It is often considered a great love story even as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy spar with one another and must overcome great adversity and societal impediments to find their way back to one another. 

The novel and the author have become so popular in modern society that a number of spinoffs, continuations, and re-tellings have cropped up in recent years, and there are a number of blogs dedicated to her novels and those other novels and books.  Facebook even has a page dedicated to the 200th birthday of Pride & PrejudiceCheck it out.

As part of my Jane Austen celebration, check out the giveaway below.

Quirk Books is offering one copy of The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan to one winner in the United States, Canada, or United Kingdom.

I reviewed this in February of 2011, and said that it was “a great companion for the Jane Austen fanatic and fan because it offers guidance on how young men and women navigated a complex set of social rules and even broke them at times.  As each moment in life is addressed, Sullivan also offers moments in Austen’s work where traditions are bent.”

If you want to check out my interview with Sullivan, feel free.  She offers some great insights into her love of Austen and what books she recommends for fellow Austen lovers.

Quirk Books is offering one copy of Pride & Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith to one winner in the United States, Canada, or United Kingdom.

In my review from 2010, I called the novel “an exercise in revision and an examination of Austen’s characters in a new light.  Many readers will disagree with Grahame-Smith’s portrayal of Lizzy as a cutthroat assassin who is quickly turned by her own emotions or strict sense of duty and honor, particularly since she often talks of dispatching her peers for slighting her family, imagines beheading her own sister Lydia simply because she prattles on, and other unmentionable actions.”

To enter for one or both of these books, leave a comment about the first time you read Jane Austen and what you enjoyed about her work or the first time you read Pride & Prejudice and why you would reread it.  If you have never read Austen before, leave a comment about what book you’d be interested in reading and why.

Deadline to enter is Jan. 11, 2013, at 11:59 PM EST.

Guest Post: The 200th Anniversary of Sense & Sensibility

Depending on how much you love Jane Austen and her books, you may already know this, but Sense & Sensibility turns 200 on October 30 and was her first published novel.

According to GoodReads:

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

While not my favorite of Austen’s work, it’s an accomplishment to have a novel still be well-known and popular among readers almost 200 years after publication. I’m sure many authors would be pleased to have such an accomplishment.

Today, Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of Mr. Darcy’s Bite, will share her thoughts on the 200th anniversary.  Please welcome Mary:

Hi, Serena. Thank you for having me back at Savvy Verse & Wit. It’s always a pleasure.

You asked me to write about the significance of the 200th Anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and my reaction to it and Austen’s novel.

I recently took one of those online quizzes to see which Austen character I most resemble. As it turns out, I am Elinor Dashwood, the main protagonist in Sense and Sensibility. Even though I like Elinor, I have a lot of problems with this novel. I don’t think Edward Ferrars deserves Elinor, and I think Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon are poorly matched. I would like to strangle Lucy Steele and perform surgery on John Willoughby. Although Austen wraps up the story with a happily-ever-after ending for Marianne and Elinor, I don’t think that’s the way it would have played out in real life.

Having said all that, you can still appreciate Austen’s genius with her brilliant prose and delightful wit in this story of a family of four females trying to survive without a strong male presence in their lives. But it is mostly because of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s novel that it is now front and center (that and Emma Thompson’s 1995 brilliant film adaptation).

But in my opinion, Austen’s masterpiece is Pride and Prejudice. Like Edward Ferrars, Fitzwilliam Darcy is a flawed character, but because of his love for Elizabeth, Darcy evolves, recognizes his shortcomings, and becomes a man worthy of her love. It is because of these two strong characters that most of my stories are re-imaginings of Pride and Prejudice, including Mr. Darcy’s Bite. Although Darcy is a werewolf, it is primarily a love story. Obviously, there are difficulties when a loved one grows fur every four weeks, but our favorite couple is determined to climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every full moon until they find their dream.

I did write a short-story parody of Sense and Sensibility titled Elinor and Edward’s Plans for Lucy Steele in which Elinor doesn’t wait on Edward to make an offer of marriage. Instead, Elinor hops in the driver’s seat and drives the bus (or phaeton) herself. I wanted to shine some comedic light on a story that has a lot of darkness in it.

Every author hopes that with each succeeding work of fiction, they become a better writer. I certainly think that is true of Jane Austen. Although flawed, Sense and Sensibility is still a novel well worth reading. In fact, the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America is using this novel and Austen’s anniversary as the focus of their meeting in Fort Worth this month. It will be the main topic of conversation among hundreds of Jane Austen admirers now and for decades to come.

Thanks again, Serena, for having me.

Mary, it is always a pleasure to host you.

Lady Susan by Jane Austen

Lady Susan by Jane Austen is a short novel written in the form of letters until the conclusion where the author takes over.  Lady Susan is the widow of Mr. Vernon’s brother, and she has a daughter named, Frederica, whom Lady Susan believes needs more schooling and is better off in the care of others.  Lady Susan has a rather sultry reputation in society as a woman who flirts relentlessly and may even take it too far for polite society.

“She is really excessively pretty.  However you may choose to question the allurements of a lady no longer young, I must for my own part declare that I have seldom seen so lovely a woman as Lady Susan.”  (page 49)

What is truth and what is fiction about Lady Susan is tough to discern as each character’s opinion of her becomes more fluid, changing as new situations and information come to light.  She comes to live with her brother-in-law and his wife, Catherine, whom she tried to prevent from marrying her husband’s brother.  Once in Churchill, she meets Catherine’s brother Reginald, who already has a negative opinion of her, and she takes on the challenge of changing his mind, though to outsiders it looks as though she is flirting and making romantic inroads with him.  Enter Frederica, and her “lover” Sir James Martin.  The stage is set for great drama and entanglements.

“Her behavior to him, independent of her general character, has been so inexcusably artful and ungenerous since out marriage was first in agitation, that no one less amiable and mild than himself could have overlooked it at all; and though as his brother’s widow and in narrow circumstances it was proper to render her pecuniary assistance, I cannot help thinking his pressing invitation to her to visit us at Churchill perfectly unnecessary.”  (page 46)

Unlike Austen’s other novels and unfinished pieces, Lady Susan is not the typical heroine because she lives on the outskirts of society and enjoys herself in many ways.  She’s conniving in her machinations to find a match for her daughter, convince others of her propriety and social graces, and rightness of her decisions.  She is not a character that many readers will like or even come to like, but Austen seems to be using her negative personality traits to illustrate the machinations that are often done behind the scenes in Regency society as mothers seek husbands for their daughters and widows seeks to find another husband at an advanced age.

Overall, Lady Susan is an ambitious short novel that attempts to tackle society from a different angle.  Rather than place the young ladies eligible for husbands at the center of a (sort-of) conceit in which Lady Susan is the opposite of well-mannered society women and the men in her life are not in control of the situation nor their emotions.  Austen has tackled another difficult aspect of Regency society.

***I’ve wanted to read this novel since Anna embarked on her journey to read all of Austen’s works.***

This is my 2nd book for the 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge.

Interested in my other reviews of Austen’s unfinished novels, check out The Watsons and Sanditon.

Sanditon by Jane Austen

Sanditon, another unfinished novel and the last that she was working on before her death, by Jane Austen begins with the Parkers in search of a surgeon to bring back to the seaside town of Sanditon from Willingden to care for the sick tourists and travelers seeking the medicinal attributes of the small town.  Unfortunately, the Parkers’ carriage runs into rough roads in a different Wilingden without a physician and it overturns.  Mr. Parker ends up with a sprained ankle and the adventure begins.

Meeting these characters initially, readers will find Mrs. Parker of few words and Mr. Parker very vocal about his town and his life.  Parker in many ways is similar to Mr. Collins in how he pontificates about Mrs. Denham, the town’s patroness.  Despite an invitation to the Heywoods to spend time in Sanditon, the Parkers had to be content to take one of the daughters, Charlotte.  On the way home, Mr. Parker tells Charlotte about Mrs. Denham and the rest of Sanditon.

“‘There is at times’ said he — ‘a little self-importance — but it is not offensive; — and there are moments, there are points, when her love of money is carried greatly too far.  But she is a goodnatured woman, a very goodnatured woman, — a very obliging, friendly neighbour; a cheerful, independent, valuable character.  — and her faults may be entirely imputed to her want of education.”  (page 166)

Parker believes the sea waters will cure all ills and make sure everyone is healthy, even those who claim to be healthy already.  The introduction describes the outrageous nature of Austen’s hypochondriacs in this novel and attributes the characterizations to her need to lighten her burdens since she had been ailing for about a year before her death.  Whether true or just speculation is hard to say, but it is clear that Austen’s experiences in Bath and with the healing waters got her thinking about her own society and its dependence on these waters to cure their ills.

As the novel progresses, readers will find that Austen has ventured into territory that she is not as familiar with, in that Charlotte Heywood becomes a narrating commentator on this new society in Sanditon.  Readers will enjoy the fresh look at society and their tendency to become ill and recover miraculously when they are needed.  Austen clearly had begun branching out beyond simply highlighting the societal hypocrisy among courtship rituals to discuss other topics like charity to those less fortunate and generating a prosperous town without commercializing it too much.

Overall, Sanditon by Jane Austen may be unfinished, but well worth reading to see how Austen’s work had grown and was about to flourish further.  It is not quite clear who the hero of the novel would have been — although it could be speculated that Uncle Sydney Parker is the hero.  It is clearly not Sir Edward, and the heroine could be Charlotte, though readers’ connection to her because of her observer status and her plight is not all that strong and could signal that Austen had another heroine in mind.  Readers will have fun visiting this seaside resort and its quirky characters, as well as fun speculating where Austen was heading with this story.

The Watsons by Jane Austen

The Watsons by Jane Austen is an unfinished novel, but encompasses many elements from her finished novels, such as Emma and Sense & Sensibility.  Elizabeth and Emma Watson hail from a poorer family than the Osborne or the Edwards families.  Emma had been living with an aunt for many years, only to return home to a sickly father and a devoted sister, Elizabeth, who has not married despite her advanced age to care for their father.  The story begins with Elizabeth escorting herself to the Edwards’ home before the ball.

“‘I am sorry for her anxieties,’ said Emma, ‘ — but I do not like her plans or her opinions.  I shall be afraid of her.  — She must have too masculine and a bold temper.  — To be so bent on marriage — to pursue a man merely for the sake of situation — is a sort of thing that shocks me; I cannot understand it.  . . . ‘” (page 110)

Again we see Jane Austen’s insistence that marriage for wealth or improved situation are appalling, yet often done in society.  Emma is a bit more outspoken than Elizabeth Bennet, while Elizabeth has a sense of duty to the family, much like Elinore in Sense & Sensibility.  The sickly father is reminiscent of the father in Emma.  In may ways, The Watsons seems to be a starting point for many of Austen’s novels or at least an earlier work that inspired her to keep writing.

Although unfinished, readers can clearly see where the story would have gone eventually given the sickly nature of Emma and Elizabeth’s father.  One of the most interesting parts of the work are the relationship or lack there of that Emma has with her other brothers and sisters.  The love interests in the novel range from a self-indulgent, young man to an older Lord who knows his place in society and believes women should just fall for him instantly no matter how distant and self-indulgent he is.  Of course, there also is the quiet preacher who has caught the eye of a wealthy woman, but has a silent adoration for another.

The Watsons, like Austen’s other completed novels, has a depth that may be missed upon first reading, but her characters remain enduring and witty.  Gossip is prevalent in many of her novels, but the Watsons provides a great deal of snide remarks and backhanded comments.  Another enjoyable Austen read.

**Thanks to Anna for letting me borrow her copy so I could finish the Jane Austen Challenge.  I’ll probably be reading the other two novels in the new year.***

This is my 14th and final book for the Jane Austen Challenge 2010.  I’ve officially completed my 9th challenge.

This is my 10th book for the Everything Austen II Challenge.

Let’s Get the Streamers and Celebrate…

Good morning everyone.  I’ve got a couple of announcements today.

First, let’s wish Jane Austen a happy 235th birthday today.  She was born on Dec. 16, 1775, and though she died in 1817, we’re going to celebrate her birthday with free e-books from Sourcebooks.

  1. Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
  2. The Darcys & the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
  3. Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
  4. What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
  5. The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins
  6. The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
  7. Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
  8. Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan
  9. Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe
  10. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

In addition to these great spinoffs and continuations, special editions of Austen’s e-books Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park will be available for free where e-books are sold. These editions will include “legendary color illustrations of the Brock brothers, originally created to accompany the books in 1898.”

****From Sourcebooks***

We apologize and have been trying to fix the problem all morning. It takes a lot of cooperation from different parties to make the offer happen and it unfortunately it took some extra time to iron out the kinks.

Let me tell you know that iBooks and Google books currently has everything correct.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony are currently working to get their prices adjusted. They should be correct shortly.  Sourcebooks.com will also have our books and the illustrated versions available for free within the next hour!

Because of this confusion we want to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday an extra day! This offer will be good tomorrow (DEC. 17) as well.

You should also check out the blog tour in honor of Austen’s birthday.  Here’s the information.

Secondly, my husband and I have told all of our family and everyone on Facebook, and now I’m going to tell my readers.  We’re having a baby girl in March 2011.

Thanks to everyone who already has congratulated us.  We’re busy trying to find larger accommodations and get the necessities, not to mention all those doctor appointments and classes about giving birth and caring for babies.  We’ve got a list of names, but it looks like we’re leaning toward one in particular.

Since I have friends and family that read the blog, and they may want to get started early on baby shower shopping . . . I’m going to leave some links to our registries.

In case anyone is wondering, our theme for the baby’s room is Dr. Seuss since he was so inspirational to me, especially in terms of my passion for reading and poetry.