March 31, 2011

Home to Woefield by Susan Juby: Review

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Dear Prudence, she has some pretty big ideas, especially when it comes environmentalism. Recycling? Done. Hydroponic grow box? Yep. Worm composting? You betcha. All in her small New York apartment. Her concern for the environment puts a strain on her relationship. When her boyfriend decides he's had enough and leaves, she feels it's time for big changes. As fate would have it, her Uncle Harold bequeaths her his farm in Canada: Woefield. What an opportunity to live the life she's dreamed of!

But whoa, Woefield has its share of woe. A field full of rocks, a half-sheared sheep and Earl, a disgruntled farmhand, is the tip of the iceberg. Prudence isn't discouraged. She imagines organic vegetables and free range chickens when she sees the run down farm. The chickens come, along with their owner neglected eleven year old Sara, and an alcoholic metal band blogger named Seth. Even though Prudence doesn't have two pennies to rub together and her workforce is less than stellar, she pushes on facing adversity and tackling the unexpected.

Home to Woefield by Susan Juby was a book I didn't want to end. When the story wrapped up, I wondered how was that first season, what happened to all of the characters, did the romance heat up? If Susan Juby wants to write a sequel, I will be reading it! I wasn't ready to leave these characters. The reason I loved the characters so much was because of how distinctive their voices were. Each character alternates telling the adventures of Woefield and each has their own take on the situation. I wouldn't have to look to see who was speaking, their personalities were part of the narrative.

The plot revolves around Prudence, the new owner of Woefield, a woman in her early twenties with big dreams and a bottomless bucket of optimism. Woefield has its own personality; it's as stubborn and unyielding as some of the other characters: Earl and Seth. Earl was happy with Harold's laissez faire attitude toward farming. With Prudence's arrival, there is change in the air. As soon as she steps out of the taxi, she wants to change things. Seth watches the farm from his mother's house next door. When she pushes him out on his own, Seth heads to Woefield and gets swooped up in Prudence's grand plans. The last person to arrive at the farm is a serious little girl with some fancy chickens and a terrible home life. Her chickens need a new home and the girl herself needs some peace. Woefield seems like an unlikely place to find it!

Sometimes Prudence's optimism was hard to take but reality is a great equalizer. When she starts lying, I knew things would get sticky. Maybe a bit too conveniently, most of the problems are solved by the end. But hey, this is a happy story. Suspend your disbelief a bit! It's a quick, fun read with great characters and dialogue.

Highly recommended.

Here's a weird annoyance: Home to Woefield is the American title but in Canada it's The Woefield Poultry Collective (not a fan of that title). I don't like when that is done. It always confuses me when I go looking for a book and I get excited thinking it must be a series. Then I find out it's not. Boo!

Susan Juby has a website and a blog. Check it out! Susan will also be on Blog Talk Radio's Book Club Girl April 4th.

This review is part of the TLC Blog Tour for Home to Woefield. Please see the site for other blogs on the tour.

March 30, 2011

Thoughts, Re-reading Jane Eyre: One Wedding and a Funeral

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Okay, let me warn you, Big Spoilers Ahead! Danger, Danger!

Back to Gateshead

"Love me, then, or hate me, as you will," I said at last, "you have my full and free forgiveness: ask now for God's, and be at peace."

Jane gets word that her nasty Aunt Reed wants to see her. She's had a stroke after the suicide of her son (equally nasty), John. Karma, Karma, Karma-Chameleon! I know that's rotten but whatever. Jane does her duty even though as Mr R points out they cast her off so why bother. Jane feels she should. Reluctantly he lets her leave.

Jane has changed so much even in a few months. She takes charge and ignores her two useless cousins. Eventually those two start depending on level headed Jane. Aunt Reed is still a dragon though and won't budge an inch. I remember reading her death when I was a teen and thinking she must have been 85 years old. I've done the math and she's more likely in her early 40s! That seems so young to end up like this but I guess the shock is what did her in. Before she buys the farm, she tells Jane that she has a rich uncle! Hurrah! But she told him Jane was dead. Boo!

All that business finished, Jane heads back to Thornfield.

Surprise! I Love You!

Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?

At first, she is unsure of how she'll feel when she sees Thornfield, "How people feel when they are returning home from an absence, long or short, I did not know..." But then she sees the house and Mr R even Mrs Fairfax and Adele and knows this is what home feels like.

Right off, Mr R starts talking about getting married and Jane feels her heart drop. He offers to send her Ireland which might as well be Mars as far as Jane is concerned. Poor Jane, she's made a nice life for herself there. In the end, it's all for nothing because it's all been one big trick. Mr R asks her to marry him and Jane's not very happy at first. Is he just screwing with her? Nope. He means it. Cue violins. Why all the trickery? Because he wanted to see if she loved him, truly. Hmmph. Of course, that wouldn't fly nowadays (I hope) but Jane seems forgiving enough. I was more forgiving of Mr R myself when a teen but now I think, "tsk, tsk."

However it happened, Mr R and Jane are well suited to one another. Just as they are about skip away to the house, a thunder bolt severs a tree in half. Dun-dun-DUN. Foreshadowing anyone?

Mr R and Jane go a-courting. Mrs Fairfax doesn't know what to make of it: you are so young, and so little acquainted with men, I wished to put you on your guard.  It is an old saying that 'all is not gold that glitters. First the tree, now this. Adele thinks adults are weird with all their talk about fairies and travelling to the moon. Mr R sings to Jane and calls her his "little elf". Stuff I thought was so romantic at 16. It is a little much but there's a underlying sexual tension as Jane tries to keep him at arm's length and he can't keep his hands off her. She teases him, testing her power over him. Hot stuff for 1847.

Here Comes the Brides?

The night before the wedding, Jane tells Mr R about her dream of the woman in her room and the ripped veil. He explains it all away. However, the day of the wedding, he's in an awful hurry. He practically drags her to the church. Maybe he's just anxious for the wedding night (eyebrow waggle).

Just as the vows are about to be said... "STOP!" yells a lawyer. "He's already married." There must be some mistake. But no, Mr R has a living wife. He was all set to commit bigamy and drag innocent Jane into it all. Really, what was he thinking? How long did he think he could keep it from her? Is he delusional? Mr R wants what he wants but Fate has stepped in. Mr Mason reveals he is the brother of Bertha Rochester. The poor, mad woman kept by Grace Poole in the attic, hidden from the community. Stunned Jane goes to her room but not before the lawyer tells her he was sent by her dying uncle to stop the wedding.

How Now, Brown Cow?

Jane is devastated. What will she do now? Stay and be Mr R's mistress. She could. She has no one to object. She's on her own but she just can't do it: I care for myself.  The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.  I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man.  I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now. If she gives in, she'd hate herself and she believes Mr R would come to hate her too.

Mr R is all "Baby, I can explain" and tells her about how he was tricked into marrying Bertha (yeah, we've all heard that one before). No really, everyone knew Bertha was mad but him and then he was stuck. What's a bro to do? He takes his wife to England and puts her in the attic. Okay, to be fair, it's not like the mental health system was all that good and he was legally responsible for her. He did the best he could under the circumstances. Then he begs for Jane to stay with him, but no she will not no matter how much he tempts her. He says he'll go back to his old bad ways. Jane realizes that he is not her responsibility and she must worry about herself. Tough times. Jane leaves Thornfield.

Things don't look so good right now but hold on. We're not at the end yet!

March 29, 2011

Scribbling Women by Marthe Jocelyn: Review

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"America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women..." -Nathaniel Hawthorne

Today I'm posting a review of Scribbling Women by Marthe Jocelyn for the blog tour hosted by Tundra Books. I had the chance to read her historical fiction Folly last year and enjoyed it. When I had the opportunity to be part of the tour for her latest book, I took it. Enjoy!

Marthe Jocelyn gives us a glimpse into the lives of eleven very different women with one common bond in Scribbling Women; they wrote. Not all wrote for the public, some never expected their words to be seen by anyone but themselves. They all were women living in interesting times and their stories provide us a look at what life was like then. Some were published authors but others were housewives, ladies, explorers, and criminals.

Of course, I personally found some lives more interesting than others. Is it really fair to compare their lives that way? Maybe not, but I had my favorites. One woman I like to think of as the Jane Austen of Ancient Japan. She might not make a great bff but the lady had a quick wit and a sharp tongue. She might not have been popular with other women in the Japanese court but her insights are fun to read a thousand years later.

Then there was Nellie Bly who fearlessly threw herself into investigative reporting. She entered an asylum as a mental patient to write an exposé on the horrors inflicted on the inmates. Later she sailed across the world to see if she could go around it in 80 days. Just like the book by Jules Verne! She even had the opportunity to meet Mr Verne during a stop in Paris.

It is difficult to sum up the life of a person in a few pages, as a result I felt there was much left unsaid about these women in the book but it's a start. Scribbling Women is a book written for younger readers (age 14 and up, according to the publisher) and is geared toward that crowd. It's an easy read. My tween self would have enjoyed Scribbling Women. I loved learning odd historical facts. I would imagine a young person with a love of history would enjoy it as well and hopefully have them eager to learn more. It made me wonder about my own scribbling as well, will someone in the future be interested in what I write today?

At the end of the book, Jocelyn asks the reader to make a list of things we'd be curious to learn more about. Her question made me think of a woman I heard of while I was visiting Niagara Falls, the first person to go over the Falls in a barrel and survive, 63 year old Anna Edson Taylor. She might not have scribbled about it but really what a story!

Please visit Tundra Books for more information or Book Depository to order.

As part of the Scribbling Women Tour, you have a chance to win a collection of Tundra Books. See the blog Talking with Tundra for details and the blog tour schedule.



March 28, 2011

Affinity Readalong: Part 1

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So, I'm all caught up on with the first part of Affinity for Andi's Readalong. Here's where we are.

Margaret Prior, an unmarried woman, tries to distract herself from her problems by becoming a Lady Visitor to Millbank Prison. Her purpose is to talk to the women imprisoned there. The hope is the women will learn from her behaviour and become better citizens when they get out. Margaret finds Selina Dawes, a spiritualist jailed for assault and fraud. Margaret can't imagine a ladylike creature like Selina harming anyone. As Margaret becomes more interested in Selina she digs into her past for answers.

So far, Affinity is dark and mysterious. Waters makes the reader feel like they are within the prison walls. What a horrible place to be! The narrative alternates between Margaret in the present and Selina in the year before she was jailed.

First Margaret, she's depressed. She might have had some kind of a break down. At first I thought it was because she was attached to her father and he died. But then I figured out that there was something going on between her and her new sister-in-law (yikes!) that went really badly. Her family seem concerned about her but not willing to talk about it. She appears to be emotionally fragile.

Selina is hard to figure out. Is she a real medium or a convincing con artist? Then there's Mrs Brink, who invited Selina to live with her as a live-in spiritualist. This woman seems a few bricks short of a load. What is with the baby talk? And her dead mom? And that creepy maid Ruth skulking around? That whole scene is messed up.

I can't wait to read on!

March 27, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: I Think You Have Me Confused With Someone Else

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Very lazy blogger here. Not even interested in doing more than reading. I won't say I woke up feeling like P. Diddy but the headache is a reminder that I'm not 20 anymore. Anyway....

Today I gave a listen to Nicole and Jen discussing fairy tales on What's Old is New. They have some interesting things to say and I think it's a topic that could be discussed for an eternity. It's a timely topic considering I just signed up for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. I added a few books to my TBR pile because of it.

Which brings me to my next topic... Over at The Story Siren, Kristi had a discussion with Author X which generated a number of comments. While it was an informative piece, there was something that started to bug me the more I read. There was a lot of focus on bloggers selling books. Hmm. Is that my job? Not that I'm aware. If I've convinced a few people to buy books because of something I posted then that's great! I'm happy for that author. However, that's not what I signed on for. I just want to talk about the books I read.

When I see people expecting bloggers to sell books, that bothers me. There's people who do that for a living and God love them for doing it. It can't be easy. They have to contact people like me to review their clients' books and I'm not always easy to please. They have to talk up those books in every venue whether or not they feel like it. They are the ones driving traffic to authors' websites and Amazon page. A 'free' book isn't enough to buy my love. I'm not a promotional site and an author will find s/he has to share the spotlight with a dead guy with a book in the public domain. That's just how I do it.

I'm a Reader first and always. I've had great relationships with authors. I love what they do even when I'm disappointed with their work. If this Author X has had bad experiences with bloggers than either s/he had the misfortune to attract the few bad apples or s/he is not looking at the blogger/author relationship in the right way. We're not billboards. We're Readers. Talk to us like you'd talk to any reader whether they have a blog or not.

I've bought plenty of books because of blogger recommendations. Just because I've received review copies doesn't mean I'm not still buying books.

Please read that post and the comments of other bloggers.

What else? Oh, I have a couple of book reviews coming up this week and my first Affinity Readalong post. And if you have an ipod touch or iphone here's a couple of time wasters I've been enjoying. Tiny Wings is just so cute even though I'm terrible at it. Angry Birds Rio is out now. Same Angry Birds different plot.

Happy Sunday!

March 26, 2011

Oatcakes from Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens

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This week I decided to bake oatcakes, that staple of touristy establishments around the island (and I suspect all over the maritimes). I've heard it called the Cape Breton oatcake, as well as the Scottish oatcake; considering that country's love of oats I can imagine the recipe came over on the boat or at least out of the mind of a lass of that heritage. Wherever they evolved from, they are perfect pioneer food. Not only are they made from the simple ingredients found in any kitchen, they are portable. They're basically oatmeal in a cookie shape. You can picture a lassie handing a bunch to her man as he heads out to the pasture for the day.

There are many variations, just about any locally made cookbook has a recipe submitted by a proud home baker. I used the recipe found in Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens with a slight modification.

Mix your dry ingredients together: 3 cups each of flour and oats (fine ones- I don't think mine were fine enough), 1 cup white sugar, 1/2 tsp salt. Then you cut in your fat- they suggested 2 cups margarine. I do not like margarine so I experimented a bit and ended up using 1 cup lard* and 1/2 butter (room temp). I used my hands to mix it all together. Finally you add in 1/2 cup of cold water and mix until combined. The result is a really stiff dough. Pat the mixture into a ball, then roll out on a floured surface. Cut out with a biscuit cutter (a juice glass in this case). Bake in a 350F oven until golden- about 18 mins. (I like my oatcake to have some colour, makes them more appetizing to look at!) 

Yum! Next time I'll roll it a bit thinner so they'll be crispier. They are a dry cookie so they make a perfect pairing with a cup of tea. I suppose you could put some jam on them, but I like them just the way they are.

*This was the first time in years I used lard.

March 24, 2011

Thoughts, Re-reading Jane Eyre: Party People

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Warning: Important plot points may be revealed in this post.

I cannot tell whether Miss Ingram was a genius, but she was self-conscious--remarkably self-conscious indeed.

Mr Rochester runs off after the fire to his friend's house. Mrs Fairfax comments that he could be gone awhile, "when these fine, fashionable people get together, they are so surrounded by elegance and gaiety, so well provided with all that can please and entertain, they are in no hurry to separate." Hmm, doesn't really seem like Mr R.

Anyway Jane and Grace Poole play a game of chicken to see who knows what about the fire incident. Jane walks away as bewildered as before. With Mr R gone Jane gets shack happy and frustrated with thoughts of "he loves me, he loves me not." Then the party comes to Thornfield.

Blanche Ingram, the supposed love interest of Mr R, arrives in her finery with her Wicked Witch of the West mother, Lady Ingram. What a pair of bitches. They alternate between complaining about governesses and children, especially Adele. Sweet little Adele. Blanche is perfect in every way except she has a heart two sizes too small and she's a gold digger. (Kanye West could be singing about her.) Needless to say, Jane is in the dumps, having to watch games of charades and duets, all that nonsense.

Then, just for fun, a gypsy woman shows up to read the fortunes of all the young ladies. There's something a little weird about her, oh yeah that's right, it's Mr R! Surprise! He must know Hannah Montana's wig maker. Jane figures it out at the end of the interrogation and manages not to pour her heart out to the 'fortune teller.' The thing is when Mr R is actually sincere, Jane reveals more about her feelings than when he was trying to trick it out of her. (Note to guys: Be real with your girl if you want her to share her true feelings. Don't dress up like an old lady.)

Mr R gets distracted when he hears a man named Mason showed up and goes off to investigate after making this comment: "If all these people came in a body and spat at me, what would you do, Jane?" Something is up. Later there is an altercation in the attic and Mason is hurt. Jane lends a helping hand. Once again Jane is the calm head Mr R needed.

The mystery is building but things don't look good for Jane in the romance department. Having read Jane Eyre before, I know what's going on. Mr R is trying to make Jane jealous to see if her feelings for him match his own. Earlier in the story he asks her if she's ever been jealous. Jane's 18 and living at a girls' school for most of her life, how much opportunity has she had for romance? Zero! So this is all new and painful for her. I understand his reservations but he's coming off as a jerk. Jane is his employee and a young one at that. Revealing her feelings to her boss could be disastrous. Jane is just being smart. She can tell he doesn't love Blanche; she knows him well enough to know that. However, she also knows there are cultural influences that would encourage him to marry her. Not many cases of country gentlemen marrying their governesses. Jane is showing more sense than Mr R.

Hopefully Jane will call him on it in the next reading.

March 22, 2011

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville (Audiobook): Review

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Half the reason I listened to Bartleby the Scrivener this weekend is that he keeps popping up in my life: Jess reviewed it, Rebecca mentioned it and then appeared in a NYT article. So yeah, I figured I needed to read about this guy. The other half? I was being lazy and needed a short audio book.

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville, starts out like an episode of The Office or a Monty Python skit, with a mediocre lawyer recalling his tangling with Bartley. The lawyer already has a couple of characters in his office, Turkey and Nippers, whose personalities change with the time of day. He's pretty laid back about it so when the stuff with Bartleby, his new employee, starts it's not so surprising he puts up with it... for awhile.

Bartleby's career as a scrivener begins well; he's hardworking, keeps to himself, all good things. Then the lawyer asks for Bartleby to perform a small task for him. He's completely stunned when Bartley's reply is, "I would prefer not to." This is an odd situation, an employee coming right out and saying he won't do his job. My reaction was, "Um, tell him to do it or fire him" but the guy is not a fan of confrontation so he lets it go. Later in the story it's gotten to the point that the lawyer is begging Bartleby to do his job and still he refuses.

While the story's beginning is rather funny, it quickly turns both frustrating and sad. The lawyer is a compassionate guy and can't bring himself to firing Bartleby. I was maddeningly frustrated by his lack of authority. But what would you do if faced with a Bartleby? It's like dealing with a stubborn toddler. You can't win.

So what is wrong with Bartleby? Is he depressed? Is he making a statement to the world by not participating? What is it? That's never really answered. Bartleby is an enigma and it's up to the reader to decide what he represents. I wondered if Bartleby told the lawyer what he was thinking if he'd end up like the people in the video Just by Radiohead. Would everyone just 'prefer not to'?

About the Audio: I downloaded this from an itunes podcast, Classics Narrated by Scott Gadwa. He is an excellent reader. Loved the accents.

March 21, 2011

Once Upon a Time... I Dove In

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While I've been a participant in Carl's (Stainless Steel Droppings) RIP Challenge in the last several autumns, I've never partaken in his Once Upon a Time Challenge... until now. Possibly it's because I'm not a big fantasy reader and as for fairy tales, well, you see Sleeping Beauty enough times and you'd swear off them too. But there is a change in the fairy tale genre. Instead of the Disneyfied versions of the last century, fairy tales are going back to their sex and violence roots. Authors are retelling those old stories in new ways as well. So now I'm curious to see what is new out there and what better chance to try than the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

Carl always injects so much fun into his challenges so even if I fail spectacularly I still win by being a part of it! Since this is my first time entering the Black Forest, I'm taking The Journey. I'm like the scared villager huddling in the house while the hero battles the dragon. This way I have lots of freedom to participate as much as I like. Maybe a novel, or nonfiction book, a couple of short stories or a re-viewing of Ella Enchanted. Whatevs.



Here is my potential list:

Sisters Red by Jackson Pierce
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me- Short Stories (I started reading this and it's kinda weird)
Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon
Discovering Cape Breton Folklore by Richard MacKinnon
Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Ash by Malinda Lo
Ella Enchanted (movie)
Seven Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

Anyway that's my list for now. It might change. We'll see.

March 20, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Slow Reading Week

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Aw, Sunday! Here I am in my favorite chair eating a bowl of oatmeal, having my coffee and reading Jane Eyre. That's luxury. It's a beautiful sunny but cold day, this last day of winter. I hope spring hurries up and gets here soon. At least all the snow is gone now.

March Break is over and the girl will be back in school tomorrow. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. This past week I spent a lot of time entertaining her. While many families head to Florida or Mexico for a week of R&R, we're not so fortunate. Instead, we must make due with any entertainments we can find locally. That's not to say we don't have many, we just have to look for them. And sometimes endure the chill of March breezes to do so. So we made our own fun going to movies, crafting and visiting the local parks. Not bad. I remind my daughter that I spent all my March Breaks sitting in my bedroom so she's pretty lucky.

That said, I did not get much reading done even though I had several books going at once. I'm continuing with Jane Eyre, The French Lieutenant's Woman and Affinity (for Andi's readalong) but have tossed a couple of others after a couple of pages. Luckily they were library books.

I also picked up a couple of crochet books from the library and started a project. That has my attention too. Sometimes I like doing something other than reading. I'll probably end up posting my thoughts on those books here though.

Remember I have a giveaway for India Black going on right now. Check it out!

Anyway what have you been up to?

March 17, 2011

Thoughts, Re-reading Jane Eyre: Moving to Thornfield

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Another weekend spent with Jane...

Thornfield



"I felt we were in a different region to Lowood, more populous, less picturesque; more stirring, less romantic."

Jane arrives at the estate at night. Notice how she always arrives at a new place in the dark. That's a little strange. Anyway... she meets nice Mrs Fairfax who she thinks owns Thornfield Manor. She learns of her mistake the next day. The master of the house is not at home. Who is this mystery man? I like how Charlotte reveals bits about Mr Rochester through the eyes of others. Adele loves him because he buys her presents (generous). Mrs Fairfax has a hero-worshipping complex around the man. He can do no wrong. Of course, he is both her boss and a relative so what else can she say about him.

Jane and the New Job

"that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach... Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do..."

Teaching Adele is fairly smooth sailing. Adele sounds like a little darling, actually. However, Jane gets bored quickly. It's not exactly intellectually challenging which is what Jane longs for. Thornfield is a house of women at moment: Mrs Fairfax, Adele and her nurse, Sophie, and the servants. Jane feels that they don't have much of any value to discuss. She spends a lot of time wondering about lost in her own thoughts.


Jane and Rochester Meet



When Jane does meet the master of the house, it's not your typical how-do-you-do. His dog scares her and she scares his horse causing him to fall. Jane shows her courage by trying to help this grumpy stranger. The funny thing is both Jane and Rochester think of supernatural creatures when they meet. Jane thinks he's riding a Gytrash and he thinks she's an elf or fairy.

Mr Rochester learns that Jane has a big juicy brain in that head. She can hold her own with him. Though I love Mr R, he's kind of a pill. I'm seeing some aspects of his personality that are annoying:
A) he really likes to hear himself talk.
B) he goes off on tangent that no one else gets. Jane will have none of it- "I have no wish to talk nonsense." You go giiiirrrrl!

Jane Has Angst Too

"I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer..."

When reading modern books with younger characters, the reader hears a lot of angst. Everybody's got a problem. Angst, angst, angst. Jane's got her own issues too. When Mr R runs off to frolic with Blanche Ingram, Jane is pretty tough on herself.
"You," I said, "a favourite with Mr. Rochester?  You gifted with the power of pleasing him?  You of importance to him in any way?  Go! your folly sickens me.  And you have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference--equivocal tokens shown by a gentleman of family and a man of the world to a dependent and a novice.  How dared you?  Poor stupid dupe!--Could not even self-interest make you wiser? You repeated to yourself this morning the brief scene of last night?--Cover your face and be ashamed!  He said something in praise of your eyes, did he?  Blind puppy!  Open their bleared lids and look on your own accursed senselessness!  It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her; and it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it..."
Ouch! Harsh. I wondered if Charlotte told herself these things when she had the hots for her professor. I want to tell Jane not to be so hard on herself. :(

This post is going on forever and I didn't even get into the weird noises or the fire. Next time...

March 16, 2011

Guest Post: Carol K Carr, Researching the 19th Century

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Yesterday I reviewed India Black, a book I highly recommend. Today I have a fascinating guest post by the author Carol K Carr. Please check it out!

Welcome Carol!


Thanks, Christina, for having me on your blog.


Over the years (well, decades really, though I hate to admit to that), I’ve read a lot of Victorian literature and history.   Consequently, I have a general knowledge of politics, public issues, and social conventions that I put to use in creating the background for India Black.  What I didn’t have was specific knowledge about Victorian brothels and prostitutes.  My image of prostitution in England during the 1870’s was limited to stereotypical views of destitute women who’d do anything for the price of gin.  That one-dimensional picture did not survive my research.


Prostitution could be found at every level of Victorian society, including among the aristocracy and royalty.  There were brothels catering to every form of sexual deviancy.  There were street walkers and escort services and kept women, some of whom managed to climb the greasy pole and actually marry the aristocratic objects of their affection (not without some damage to the husband’s social ambitions, of course).  Given the extensive variety of London whores, it wasn’t difficult to contrive a situation for India.  She’s a brothel owner on the rise, whose clients include the minor aristocracy, government officials and military officers.  Her brothel is not in the first rank of bordellos yet, but she has every expectation that it will be, when the fathers of her minor aristocrats die, and those chaps inherit their titles.


I also spent a lot of time researching minor issues, to ensure that the book was as historically accurate as I could make it.  Writing historical fiction of any sort is a minefield, because there is always someone out there who knows more than you do about a topic.  And you have to decide just how accurate you want to be.  As Bruce Alexander (the author of the Sir John Fielding mysteries) once said, “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”  I agree, but I lean toward packing the novels with as much authenticity as I can muster.  That means researching things I didn’t know I needed to, until I started writing about them.


One example is the type of weapons used in the book.  I knew India would carry a revolver for protection, and that French, the British agent, would also have a variety of weapons.  The reader may not know or care whether India’s British Bulldog and French’s Boxer were real revolvers of the period, or just something I’d made up, but I would know.  I wanted to be sure that the characters carried guns which would have been in use at the time.  Thank goodness for the internet!  It’s a wonderful tool, but you have to use it carefully, cross-checking sources and digging for information, rather than accepting the first data you find.  There’s a fair bit of information available about these guns, including reproductions of the manufacturers’ catalogues and auction house brochures where you can see multiple views of the revolvers.  I’ve actually been looking for an affordable British Bulldog, just so I can fire it at the range and feel what India felt, but alas, antique arms appear to be an expensive hobby I can’t justify, even in the name of historical accuracy.  


These kinds of specific issues arose frequently in writing the book.  I knew that Cossacks often acted as guards at Russian embassies at this time, but what did they wear?  What weapons would they carry?  What did the coastline around Calais look like?  What route would you take from London to Dover?  Off to the library (actually, off to the internet to order books through inter-library loan).   While this may sound tedious, research is actually the most enjoyable part of the writing experience for me.  I’m curious about lots of things, and writing a historical tale gives me a great excuse to delve into things that interest me, like fencing, Scottish ballads, and the floor plan of Balmoral (for the second India), and anarchists, assassinations, and labor unrest in Victorian England (for the third India).   I would guess it’s the same for anyone writing historical fiction:  if you aren’t a history buff with a curiosity about the past, you’ll probably write something else.

Thanks Carol. I really appreciate an author who takes the time researching the small things that add to the authenticity. It helps the reader stay in the moment.

Scroll down to the next post for a giveaway of India Black. Open to US and Canadian readers.


********************* 

India Black Giveaway

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Now for the giveaway.

As part of the blog tour, Carol will generously give away one copy of India Black to readers of Chrisbookarama. Just fill out the form below.

Contest runs from March 16- March 30, 2011. Winner will be chosen at random.

Contest Closed

March 15, 2011

India Black by Carol K Carr: Review

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One dead politician, one runaway prostitute, and a missing briefcase is a recipe for intrigue and espionage. India Black is the madam of Lotus House. While her unconventional business is successful, a high-ranking official dying on the premises could ruin her. And that's just what happens. Sir Archibald "Bowser" Latham goes toes-up in the arms of Arabella, one of India's new girls. With some quick thinking, India works to relieve herself of this pesky little problem. Unfortunately, a government agent, Mr French, catches her in the act of removing the body. He plans to look the other way if she brings him the case in Bowser's possession. A thorough search and all India finds is that the case, and the girl, are gone.

Now India's country needs her particular skills to retrieve the contents of the case. While she was reluctant in the beginning (threats were made), the thrill of chasing Russian spies all over England in the company of French has its charms.

India Black had me at the first sentence:
My name is India Black. I am a whore.

Well now, that's some way to start a book! It's blunt and to the point, much like India herself. India knows what she is and isn't ashamed of it. "It's a living" could be her catch phrase. She's sharp and witty and fearless. She knows being a madam is a tough business but it's her business and she isn't beholden to anyone. That is until the Prime Minister needs her. Of course, India isn't a woman to shy away from adventure and French is often impressed by her quick thinking and evasive actions.

Aw yes, French. International Man of Mystery. A man without a first name, at least not one he's revealing to India or anyone else. He keeps himself to himself, just like India. It would be easier to pry teeth out of these two than secrets. Very intriguing, no? The are quite a duo, like Emma Peel and John Steed of The Avengers.

I guess you can tell that I loved India Black. It's very well written. I loved the witticisms of India; I could fill this page with quotes that made me laugh out loud. I loved the dialogue between her and the others characters. Those characters range from the bottom of London society (Vincent, Rowena) to the office of the Prime Minister, all with their own quirks. I loved the action and the espionage: carriage chases and scaling buildings.

Even though India hangs up her spy hat at the end of the book, she does hint that she and French had many more adventures. I hope the series continues!

If you're in the mood for something fun, a little different, and don't mind rompish behaviour, you'll enjoy India Black.

Highly recommended

Note: The book is called A Madam of Espionage Mystery. I thought this was a bit misleading as there isn't much of a mystery. Maybe the other books in the series will be mysteries. I dunno.

For more information on Carol K Carr, please visit her website.

My thanks to Premier Virtual Author Tours for the opportunity to be part of the India Black tour. See their site for the full tour schedule.

****Please visit tomorrow for a guest post from the author and a giveaway****

March 14, 2011

Julia Child, A Life by Laura Shapiro (Audiobook): Review

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I never had any interest in Julia Child (the things she cooked didn't appeal to me) until the movie Julie & Julia. It left me wanting more Julia. That could be in part to Meryl Streep's performance; she was so good! Also, I had no idea that Julia Child lead such a fascinating life. I wanted more.

I came across Julia Child, A Life by Laura Shapiro in my library's audiobook catalogue and decided that though it might not be straight from Julia, it was a start. It began with Julia's very privileged life. Her parents had the money to send her to college when it was time. She was a mediocre student who loved to party. When her plans to marry and settle down never happened, Julia was nonplussed. Instead, she decided to travel and meet new people. She met her future husband Paul Child while working for the government in the intelligence sector. Though Paul was interested in a friendship with Julia, he didn't think she was relationship material. Paul wanted a worldly knowledgeable woman which Julia wasn't. Julia was fun and had great legs but nothing else to offer Paul or so he thought. The fact that they became such an inseparable couple is attributed to Julia. The force of her personality won him over.

Julia was a terrible cook but she loved to eat. When she and Paul moved to France, she enrolled in the Cordon Bleu School and went into the class with determination. Eventually she met the two women who would change her life: Simone "Simca" Beck and Louisette Bertholle. For years they worked on perfecting the work that would become Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The ladies wanted a comprehensive cookbook for American audiences. There were many ups and downs but in 1961 it was finally published.

While promoting the book, Julia did an omelette demonstration for a WGBH book review show. The audience was so impressed the station offered her her own cooking show. Julia became an 'overnight' sensation and the rest is history.

Throughout the book, Julia passion and positivity shines. I felt like a more optimistic person just listening. What impressed me most was how she was 36 when she started classes at Cordon Bleu which ended up being such a life altering experience. It's inspiring to this 37 year old. Julia had so many disappointments and obstacles thrown in front of her yet she persevered. I don't think she ever thought she could fail.

Julia was not perfect of course. She had contradicting parts to her personality: she hated feminism yet fought for the equality of female chefs, hated bigotry yet had a distaste for gay people. She had nothing good to say about people in organic farming and thought they were dangerous. Good food, she believed, was the product of the cook not the ingredients. Shapiro does a good job balancing all the aspects of her personality. Julia was, after all, a real person with real frailties and a product of her time.

I enjoyed Julia Child, A Life. What a great success story and a wonderful love story. And the great thing is, it's not fiction! It's also a quick read. I suspect there are more thorough biographies (and Julia's My Life in France) but this was a good start for me.

About the Audio: Julia Prud'homme is the great-niece of Julia and Paul. She has the ability to mimic Julia so well it's scary. I had to wonder as she was reading if she found it strange to be reciting some of the more intimate details of her relatives' lives. She did a good job. (She also had a small part in Julie & Julia.)

Recommended for those curious about Julia Child.

March 13, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Take Me Away

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Obviously if you're a human, you've seen all the awful things happening in the world, both man made and natural. And while it's good to be well informed, it can get to be too much for someone who has little power to do anything about it. It's those times I like to sink into a certain kind of book.*

I mentioned how I have over 100 unread books and don't want to read any of them. One of the reasons I'm not attracted to those books is that I got them at a totally different time, in a different mood. Serious books with no real answers to difficult questions. At that time, I thought I'd like to read about these peoples' difficulties and their struggles. Those types of books aren't so appealing to me right now.

A few weeks ago I was drawn to Jane Eyre once again, a book I've read many times, even though I knew I had piles of unread books. In part it was because the book is receiving attention but also because I know that things will work out for Jane. Yes, I know she's going to have some rough times but she's going to be okay. The ending of the book hasn't changed in 150+ years. It's like It's a Wonderful Life. Things look bad for George Bailey, so bad the audience can't see how he'll get out of it. Somehow, with the help of his loved ones, George gets his Super Happy Ending. It's Guar-AN-teed!

So I've been stocking my shelves with romances (happy endings ahoy!), funny stories, mysteries, and even a fairy tale or two. Even though fairy tales don't guarantee a happy ending, they tend to make me fall into a world I know isn't real and that unreality is freeing. My reviews in the coming weeks will reflect that reading mood. Stay tuned for a plethora of Happy Books.

Don't worry. I will return to my usual maudlin reading material (Edith Wharton I'm looking at you) sometime in the future. Hopefully, that will mean the world is a calmer place. We can all hope.

*When personal dramas happen, however, I can't concentrate on any book.

Canadians: here is where you can donate to the Red Cross, if you are so inclined.

In other news, I have a bunch of things lined up for next week, including a giveaway!

Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon came in the mail this week. That one is about fairies. My girl and I took a trip to the library. She picked out books to read on her own and I picked out a couple for us to read together: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Maryrose Wood and The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. It's difficult to get her to try new authors so by reading these together we might get her to branch out a bit. For myself, I picked up My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me , a collection of fairy tales.

Did you get anything new to read this week?

March 10, 2011

Let's Do Lunch(.com)

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 Recently I was approached by Lunch.com to help launch their community site and create a place for Chrisbookarama readers on their site.

What is Lunch?
Lunch is the place to share and discover relevant knowledge and opinions that are most personally relevant to you. We feature reviews, tips, lists, polls, and ratings contributed by Lunch members on almost any imaginable topic. From the latest YouTube video, bestselling novel, or political policy, to a local mechanic, life philosophy, or snowboard, it's a place for all interests.
You get a chance to rate books, post reviews, take polls, earn badges, make lists and give your opinions.

I'm just getting the kinks out and learning as I go. Please come on over and have Lunch with me!

March 9, 2011

This Old Thing? The Sea Change

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Welcome back to This Old Thing! It's been awhile. This Old Thing? is where I feature an older book, maybe not even a well known book, that I've picked up.

Today's book is The Sea Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Emmanuel is a famous playwright. Lillian is his sickly and embittered wife. They have never fully buried the memory of their dead daughter, Sarah. Rich but discontented, they flit from capital to capital in the company of their hero-worshipping young manager-nomads on the international air-lines.

Then Alberta, straight from an English vicarage and the pages of Jane Austen, is appointed as Emmanuel's secretary. This prim and utterly delightful figure works on the 'family' like milk on a disordered stomach. One by one the leopards change their spots.
Sounds pretty good. I've never read anything by her before, have you? I'm sure I'll get to it one of these days. It was originally published in 1959 but this copy is a 1976 version. The cover looks like something from the 70s. I don't know why but the model reminds me of Lady Gaga. Hopefully it's not a Bad Romance.

To the shelf it goes!

March 8, 2011

Thoughts, Re-reading Jane Eyre: Lowood

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In this section of my re-reading of Jane Eyre, Jane's life at Lowood begins.

Lowood School 

"I dimly discerned a wall before me and a door open in it; through this door I passed with my new guide."

Jane is sent off to Lowood School alone, which appears to shock good English folk, but arrives safely in the night. She's immediately thrown into things. She manages to tread the waters of the institution, following the rules like everyone else. The food is terrible, the treatment of the students worse, yet she likes it more than Gateshead with all its comforts. Why? Is it because she can see a future for herself here?

Brocklehurst

"They have ought to have come a little sooner to have heard this lecture on dress, for they were splendidly attired in velvet, silk and furs." 

Jane learns a great deal about Brocklehurst when he tours the school. After lecturing everyone on being humble and avoiding the trappings of vanity (he spotted a red head with naturally curly hair), his family walks in all dolled up. Maybe Jane isn't old enough to understand hypocrisy but she knows this scene is all wrong.

When Brocklehurst points Jane out as a liar before the whole school, Jane is ashamed and afraid her hopes to do well are dashed. She comes to find out that the man doesn't have many fans among the Lowood inhabitants and more people pity than hate her. For all his strutting around, he's not respected.

Helen Burns

"...it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear."

Helen is a miniature Ghandi, calm and spiritual. She is the first girl Jane befriends at Lowood. Jane's passionate nature often overwhelms her when she sees the injustices Helen endures. Helen takes it all calmly as just another thing she must suffer through in the mortal world. Despite their differences, Helen is the first person in the world Jane truly loves.

Helen dies in Jane's arms. A little hint of the future finishes Chapter Nine: "Her grave is in Brocklebridge churchyard:  for fifteen years after her death it was only covered by a grassy mound; but now a grey marble tablet marks the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word 'Resurgam.'" Only someone who remembered a poor, humble girl fifteen years after her death and has the resources could have done that. Hm, I wonder who that could be?

Miss Temple

"Miss Temple had always something of serenity in her air, of state in her mien, of refined propriety in her language, which precluded deviation into the ardent, the excited, the eager..."

Miss Temple is the polar opposite of Mr Brocklehurst. She is kind and compassionate. She takes to Jane right off and gives her a chance to defend herself from Brocklehurst's accusations. Jane sees her as a surrogate mother.

Leaving Lowood

"now I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils."

Jane makes a place for herself at Lowood as a teacher but after Miss Temple marries and leaves, Jane feels restless. She wants to see more of the world and isn't afraid to work to see it. This is quite a statement. Jane has a comfortable and dependable job. For a woman to give this up for an unknown situation was quite daring. Jane is an unusual woman.

Jane finds her first situation outside Lowood by advertising in the newspaper. Now Jane will go out into the wide world.

The next post I write Jane will have started a whole new life at Thornfield. Tune in then!

March 7, 2011

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (Audiobook): Review

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Changelings, underground creatures, human sacrifice. Sounds like the plot of a Clive Barker film, don't it? But no, this is what you'll find in the pages of Brenna Yovanoff's The Replacement.

Mackie is our young protagonist, a high school student trying to disappear into the wallpaper. Why? Because he is a replacement, a changeling switched with a human child in the town of Gentry. Gentry has issues that no one likes to talk about, like the babies getting switched with reasonable facsimiles. It's a giant purple elephant playing the bagpipes in the room. Mackie walks around trying to give off 'I'm a perfectly normal boy' vibe except that he can't touch metal without barfing and the smell of blood gives him the vapors. This has recently become quite a problem as his reactions are getting worse, that is to say, Mackie is deathly ill.

Now is not a convenient time to have Otherworldly disease since a toddler just died. Mackie knows that he was supposed to die as a child when the boy he replaced was taken. Tate, the toddler's sister, suspects this is what happened at her house. She figures he has all the answers. However, Mackie doesn't because, hello Tate, he was a baby at the time and can't remember. And do I have to repeat- NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT. She makes him feel as low as dirt until he decides he has to find out what really happened to the little girl.

There were parts of this book that just didn't add up. First, there is Mackie. Obviously, he's an odd duckling. Everyone seems to know that; Tate heads right for him after her sister disappears. Yet for all his negative thinking he has charming friends and the most popular girl in school wants to date him. (Jodie at Bookgazing has a thorough analysis of Mackie if you are interested.) Now, maybe I can't see Mackie as a social butterfly because he spends the first part of the novel going over in excruciating detail his every ache and pain. It's hard to get to know a character when that's all he talks about. This part of the novel really dragged because of it.

Then there's Tate. It should be easy to sympathize with a girl who's lost her sister but it was a struggle for me. I did not like this girl. Was she supposed to be strong? I did not find her so. She bullies Mackie into doing what she wants (then they make out a little) and when he tries to do as she's demanded and fails she yells at him some more. And yet he likes her? I couldn't figure out what the attraction was there. Perhaps I could have liked Tate more if she made an attempt to find her sister herself rather than bully Mackie into it. Yes, he did need a kick in the rear but Tate's tactics are questionable at best.

The Replacement feels a bit like a young adult version of The Lottery with a paranormal twist. However, I think the underground world Yovanoff creates is the best part of the book with it's Lewis Carroll quality. Emma, Mackie's sister, is without a doubt the most interesting character. The parents and other adults, like in so many YA novels, practically useless.

Despite feeling that the book dragged in places and I questioned the actions of a number of characters, I was intrigued enough to listen to it to the end. It was interesting and I'd like to see what else Yovanoff can come up with but it wasn't my favorite read (or listen) of the year.

Note: This is a young adult novel. However, before you run out buy it for your kiddies then come back here and yell at me, you should know that the F-bomb is dropped many times and there are sexy situations (groping). Just so you know.

About the Audio: Kevin T Collins was the narrator. He was a lovely voice but his pronunciation is PRE-CISE and careful. I found it slow.

March 6, 2011

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Look What I Bought

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Well, well, well, looky here. I bought some books. I did a used book store raid this week and here's what I picked up.

No your eyes do not deceive you, those are Harlequin romances. I have a craft project in mind for them but first I will read them. They were 2 for 99 cents. I do want to know What the Librarian Did. It sounds very entertaining. The other one is Cruel Lord Cranham. I wonder if he's related to Bad Bad Leroy Brown. I bet he's the cruelest man in the whole damn town.

The Sea Change is not the recent novel by Jeremy Page. This is a much older book by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I bought it because of the title, they tend to stick in my head. And a little birdy (in a crown) told me Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters is quite good. I love the shoes on the cover. I also picked up Affinity at the library for Andi's readalong.

I'm continuing re-reading Jane Eyre and just got through Lowood School. I'll post my thoughts on that later in the week.I just found out that the movie is a "limited release" and I'm afraid that my town won't be picked to view it. I'm crossing my fingers that it will.

In other news, I've actually started using my Goodreads account regularly. I neglected it for so long it took me hours to put all my books in it last month. I've been making an effort to keep it up and make sure to put my books in it when I get them. So far, so good. If you're on Goodreads, here's where you can find me.

What's happening in your reading world today?

March 3, 2011

My Bookish Box Set: Those Crazy Immortals

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The origins of this feature:

Every so often I get emails from a certain big box bookstore that I've purchased from in the past with the declaration, "If You Liked...., Then You'll Like...." The trouble is I often wonder how these books are related. Who made the decision that these books are similar enough that having liked one, I'll like the other? Was it a real person? Or a computer generated list?

I've thought about this form of marketing and believe I know a few books that belong together. If there was a box set of related books, like they do those movies at Halloween or Valentine's Day, these are the ones I'd choose to package together.


Those Crazy Immortals Box Set

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Philips

A group of Greek gods are living in a run down apartment in London with nothing to do. Even though they aren't worshiped by humans the way they would like, they can't resist meddling in the love affairs of mortals.

My review of Gods Behaving Badly


Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor

A mysterious stranger appears in the town of Otter Lake riding a 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle. He is looking for a little bit of fun and he can't help it if he unleashes mayhem while he's at it.

My review of Motorcycles and Sweetgrass


On the surface these seem like wildly differing books, what does the great city London and a tiny native community in Canada have in common? Well, ancient gods apparently. Immortal beings getting all up in humans' business, especially when it comes to love. Hilarious results. There's also the underlying theme of faith and belief, with an appearance or two of that JC guy. One thing though, Motorcycles and Sweetgrass doesn't have as many sexy times as Gods Behaving Badly.

March 2, 2011

Thoughts, Re-reading Jane Eyre: Gateshead

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This weekend I had the urge to re-read Jane Eyre. I found myself missing Jane. She's become quite the popular gal lately and I wonder if she's just how I remember her or if she's changed. I curled up in a chair and started the first chapters...

(These are just random musings. I'm not sure if they will make sense or will just seem like ramblings. I just feel like putting them down here.)

Gateshead Hall

"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day."

Charlotte Bronte sets the scene and creates the atmosphere for the book. It's November. It's raining. The rain pelts the glass of the window where a little girl is hiding from her tormentors. It's dripping with angst and loneliness.

Mrs Reed

I tried to give Mrs Reed the benefit of the doubt this time around. Why is she so mean to Jane? Is it that she is saddled with this kid that isn't hers? Is Jane a reminder of her husband's embarrassing family? Is there just no room in her heart for another child? Is Jane really that unlovable? Mrs Reed is a product of her class. Jane is the daughter of a poor minister, who died of a poor person's disease. If she were kind, she would be making Jane equal to her own children, and that is unacceptable. Yet she made a promise to her dead husband too and she fears that she has done him wrong. I try to understand Mrs Reed but I can't pity her.

Class, Religion, and the Poor


"it is your place to be humble..."

Mrs Reed contacts Mr Brocklehurst the head of Lowood school, a place where Jane will be "brought up in a manner suiting her prospects", where she is "to be made useful, to be kept humble." The gap between the classes is apparent here. Mr Brocklehurst's own children wear silk, yet he talks of mortifying the schoolgirls of pride. Mrs Reed's kids are holy terrors, yet Jane is given the pamphlet on deceit. God's rules on humility are for the poor; the rich can do as they please.

Jane

"if she were a nice pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one cannot care for such a little toad as that."

Jane is a contradiction. She is a person apart. She is not one of the family and, as one of the maids says, she is less than a servant. Jane hates the way she is treated but if given the choice she'd prefer it to living with a poor but kind family. Even if Jane is treated terribly, she has a roof over her head, and clothes to wear. Of course, she's a kid so she doesn't know any different. She's frustrated, angry and at an age where she can see the injustice of it all. Then there's her looks. The above quote was said by the maid Abbot. Riiiiiiiiight. Because we should only be nice to the pretty ones, the ugly ones are on their own. Unfortunately, Abbot is only expressing a cruel truth about the world. The attractive ones get all the advantages the plain ones don't. It sucks but it's true.

************************

That was the first few chapters. I stopped just before Jane leaves for Lowood. I'll share my thoughts on that next time.

March 1, 2011

Challenge Roundup for February

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March is definitely coming in like a lion. It's another snow day here with the added bonus of rain just to make it slushy. Hopefully, it will go out like a lamb. For now, let's look back at February. It wasn't a great month for challenge reads or any reads actually.

First up is the 4th Canadian Reading Challenge. I managed to get one book read for that challenge Motorcycles & Sweetgrass which was a great read. I highly recommend it. That brings my total to 11. Just 2 more books and I will have completed the challenge for this year.

I had more success with the Audio Book Challenge. I read 3 in total: The Dark Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, The Prince of Mist and Married With Zombies. I completed the requirements for my challenge but since I like audiobooks, I'll keep going.

Unfortunately, I haven't read anything for The Foodie Challenge, The Nordic Challenge or The Daphne du Maurier Challenge. I've been looking for a good cookbook but haven't found one that appeals to me lately. Do you have a recent favorite?

I ran into a snag for The Daphne du Maurier Challenge review blog. The Linky tool no longer works. I'm glad I have all the review links for the participants up to January here on this blog in the Challenge Roundup posts. I'll work on getting them together. Unfortunately, if you left a link during February, I don't have it. Please leave a link in the comments to your review and I'll post it. I managed to find Sarah's (The Book Nook) link to her thoughts on The Loving Spirit, an older work of hers. Thanks Sarah. Only a couple of months left to the end of the challenge!

Speaking of Daphne. There will be a 'new' book of her work published in May (in the UK). These are 5 short stories written in the 1920s, thought to be lost, and another 8 of her stories written in the 1950s. I can't wait to get my hands on it! I hope the book will be available in Canada too.

How did you do?

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