Monday, October 6, 2008

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Title: Pride and Prejudice 
Author: Jane Austen
Country: UK
Year: 1813
Pages: 332 pgs.
Rating: 5 out of 5

First sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Amazingly, Pride and Prejudice is one of the remaining Austen novels I have not read (Northanger Abbey is the other one). Emma, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion...loved them all. So I figured it was about time I pick this one up off my shelf.

Boy, I was not disappointed! It almost felt like coming back to an old friend, even though I have never read P&P before. But I know the story very well, having fallen in love with the BBC series. And I loved it. I loved it so much that I don't know what to say. It is that good. And it is jumping right up to the top of my all-time favorite lists.

It's witty - I love the early banter between Mr Darcy and Elizabeth when Jane is recovering from an illness at Mr Bingley's home. It's funny - Mr Collins just cracks me up, and you just have to laugh at Mrs Bennett's scheming. Almost 200 years later, it is still a page turner. And as much as I love reading classics, I would not describe most of them as a page turner!

It is also a comfort book. I can't help but love almost all of the characters, despite their flaws. Immersing yourself in the novel is like having a cup of tea with an old friend. It's a joy to read, and I am positive that over the years I will be reading it again...and again...and again.

In a conversation with Lady Catherine:
"I am not in the habit of being disappointed!"
"That will make your ladyship's position more pitiable; but it will have no effect upon me." (p.303)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Salon - October 5

The Sunday
Later today we will be going apple picking with a group of our friends, one of my favorite autumn activities! However, reading is high on my mind today, since I decided to take the leap and tackle The Cairo Trilogy...all 3 books. They have been staring at me for two years, and I figure it is about time that I took the plunge. 

I'm hoping to do a little blog hopping during Maya's afternoon nap. And stay tuned for an onslaught of picture books reviews, I'm hoping to post my thoughts on many of the books we checked out from the library that have a fall theme. I'm still catching up on my own reviews, too...I hope to have my thoughts up soon on Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner, Remember Me and Shopahoilc and Baby by Sophie Kinsella, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Dappled Apples - Jan Carr

Title: Dappled Apples
Author: Jan Carr
Illustrator: Dorothy Donohue
Year: 2007
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Dappled Apples is a whimsical romp through an apple orchard and pumpkin patch. I checked this book out of the library before we went apple picking, and it fit that context beautifully. It has simple, rhyming text, and the illustrations are vibrant and really stand out.

I can't say it's one of my favorite picture books, but I will probably keep it on my list of books to get from the library each autumn.

House of Leaves - Mark Danielewski

Title: House of Leaves
Author: Mark Danielewski
Country: USA
Year: 2000
Pages: 709 pgs.
Rating: 4 out of 5

First sentence: This book is not for you.

I first saw this novel years ago, and it caught my interest, but I never got around to reading it. Finally, about two months ago, I saw it on my brother-in-law's bookshelf, and borrowed it. I was in for quite a ride.

There is both a lot going on in the plot, and a lot of very little. The main plot, if there is such a think, is the story of a photojournalist and his family who move into a house that turns out to be a wee bit bigger on the inside than the out
side. The analysis of The Navidson Record, a documentary made by the photojournalist as his family adjusted to their new home and discovered it wasn't quite normal, is written by an old guy named Zampano, who died in his apartment. His book was discovered by Johnny Truant, a self admitted liar and druggie whose life slowly begins to spin out of control in the footnotes of the book. Rounding out the narrators is "the editors" who occasionally throw in their own two cents. It's a dizzying, fascinating book. 

You can't review House of Leaves without mentioning it's unusual styling, a postmodern piece of art. Each narrator has their own font, which really helps the reader follow what's going on and from whose perspective. As the family - and outsiders who become involved in the exploration-delve into the mysteries of the house, they are begin to expose themselves to a dark exploration of their psyche and interpersonal relationships. The text mimics both the action, and the emotional state of mind each person is in. It turns, twists, reduces to only a few words per is a dizzying effect, but relatively easy to follow.

One of my favorite parts, which seems to get overlooked in reviews, is quite simple. Zampano is a blind man, and his book is reviewing a movie. What the?

Another highlight is the letters between Johnny and his mother while she was at the Whalestoe psychiatric institute. The letters are in the appendix, but they bring subtle clues to much of Johnny's narration.