I'm going to have to take a break from color week today. The sun didn't come out at all yesterday, and it looks as if we'll have similar weather today. So, it's hard for me to get a decent shot of anything. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with something blue. But for now...um....I have some pretty strong negative opinions about this book....Boy did I ever hate this book.
Six people-five women, one man-meet to discuss Jane Austen's works. The book club spans the course of six months, with each month (or chapter) focusing primarily on one person. Only six months? Somehow it seemed much, much longer.
Before I go on, I feel I should make it clear that I've never really been able to get into any of Jane Austen's actual work. I've never finished any of her books and I've never seen any of the movies based on them. I know that makes me sound like an ignorant plebe, but really, it's just not my thing. In fact, I'm not a fan of nineteenth century literature in general. Again, maybe I'm a doofus, but I like what I like.
That being said, I get what the author of this book was trying to do. I understand that each of the six main characters were supposed to correlate with one of Austen's characters. The problem was that I just didn't care. I found all of these people, the women especially, to be incredibly boring and self possessed and the descriptions of their mostly petty problems to be quite tedious.
The one character I even remotely liked was Grigg, and I think the only reason I did like him, was because all the women in the group were initially so bitchy towards him. I pitied poor Grigg. Here he is, the new guy in town. He only knows one person, a lady significantly older than he. She invites him to her book club and he goes out on a limb and accepts even though he's never read any Jane Austen. Then once he gets there, they treat him badly, criticizing everything from his opinions to the specific copy of the book he has. What a bunch of bitchy cows!
In June, Grigg hosted the monthly meeting. The following are descriptions of the food that he prepared:
Grigg had laid out a green salad made with dried cranberries and candied walnuts. There were cheeses and pepper crackers. A lovely white wine from the Bonny Doon vineyard. It was a respectable spread although the cheese plate had a snow scene and was obviously meant to be used only at Christmas and probably for cookies. And the wineglasses didn't match.
He'd made a cheesecake. The crust was obviously store bought.
From what little I know about Jane Austen, this type of commentary was popular in her books. I find it nauseating and I think it makes the characters seem like a bunch of jerks. Plus, at times it just felt weird and forced for a modern day novel. For instance, this scene when the ladies meet Grigg's sister Cat:
Cat had an open, outdoorish face. She looked her age and then some. But the sun was full on her, which hardly one woman in a thousand could stand the test of. It was obviously a good blood line. Both brother and sister had good teeth, neat little ears, deep chests, long limbs.
Really? Neat little ears? Deep chests? What does that even mean and who thinks like that? These types of descriptions and observations just seemed so strange and out of place to me that they clouded my ability to even enjoy the narrative. No problem, since there pretty much wasn't one. When it's done well (like The Poisonwood Bible), I really love the idea of having a chapter devoted to each character. It can keep things interesting. In this instance it was just choppy and the various story lines never really went anywhere.
It took me way too long to get through this book. In fact, the last fifty pages alone took about three days. By the last ten pages, not only did I hate the book, but I was physically angry at it. It just seemed to go on and on and the thought of picking it up again made me clench my fists.
When this book first came out it was a huge hit, so I know some of you've probably read it. If so, did you like it? Is my hatred for it primarily based on the fact that I'm not an Austen fan? Please, be honest.