May 16, 2011

Two More Good Books to Read

I always find myself admitting to terrible personal deficiencies on this blog. I'm going to do it again, right now. I haven't read all of Jane Austen's novels. Don't start throwing things at me! I love Austen. I fell in love with Austen the summer after grade 6 when my father handed me a copy of Pride and Prejudice and said, "You'll like this." My desire to please my father was such that I read it immediately. And loved it. Mr. Darcy was one of my first character crushes (then I met Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights soon after and fell in looovvveee).

Later, in grade 10, I read Sense and Sensibility. Loved it, although not quite as much as Pride and Prejudice.

When I was an undergrad, I read Persuasion. It hovers just under P&P in transcendence.

Until last week, I just never got around to reading the other three. Like I have a tendency to do, whenever I had a spare minute and felt like an Austen I pulled out my tried and true favorites--either P&P or Persuasion. I don't read as much as I'd like to anymore so when I can sit down and read, I almost never read something new. Sad, I realize. I just don't want to waste time on an inferior book.

But last week I read Northanger Abbey and I loved it. Not as good as my two favorites, but excellent, nonetheless. What I liked is that you could tell it was a young, inexperienced Austen writing. She was more obvious in her put-downs and she "told" instead of "showed" some of the time. However, it was still worlds better than ordinary authors and helped you appreciate the growth Austen experienced as a writer. The main character was charming, the love interest wry and witty, the General perfectly believable in his tiresome arrogance. Ah, it is always good to read Austen--she helps you appreciate people and all their little quirks and foolishness.

If you haven't read an Austen lately, do so. They are good for you.

And if you have a daughter about 11 years old on up (depending on reading level), hand her an Austen. She'll thank you.

PS Are there any good movie versions of Northanger Abbey?

Smith by Leon Garfield is one of those library finds that make you wonder why you haven't heard of a book before because it is so amazingly awesome. Now, my sister just told me that I killed The Penderwicks for her by overstating its goodness, leaving her feeling let-down upon its completion.

There is no way that can happen with this book no matter how I rave about it. The plot centers on a murder of a British gentleman farmer. A murder witnessed by a 12 year old pickpocket called Smith, who happened to steal minutes before what the murderers killed to get--a letter. The rest of the book is high adventure as Smith tries to avoid getting killed (someone saw him pick the pocket) while trying to learn how to read (so he can understand the letter's importance).

If you have a boy or girl age 8 on up (depending on reading level--it is aimed for the 12 on up crowd but could easily be read by someone younger) who likes adventure stories, this one is superb.

Happy reading!


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  2. Sorry about the earlier reply, it was a response to another post I had up on my computer but I somehow ended up over here instead. Strange things happen to me with computers all the time!
    I'd like to read Northanger Abbey, it's one I haven't tackled before. I'm really not much for romance in books, but generally enjoy Austen. '
    Oh, and do come visit me on my new blog:

  3. if you like N Abbey, you'll like Mansfield Park as well. i like that they are petite and don't eat up my time too much, so if i need a quick fix of austen - i can get it.

  4. I don't like any of the Northanger Abby movies- don't even try.

    Also we went to the valley recently to watch the new Jane Eyre movie- which ended up as a double date when my sis-in-law and I originally planned a girls night. Which was okay but they did kind of put a damper on our girly giddiness. After we watched the movie Alma asked "Are you supposed to want them to get together?" Which i thought quite funny. silly boy.

    And the first time I read Wuthering Heights I was on a beach in Italy and hated it. Which just goes to show that sometimes you can read the right book in the wrong place. Hard to really get in the brooding misty moors on a sunny beach surrounded by boisterous Italians.

  5. Oh I am home! Back to the world. Somehow survived a week with out the internets.

  6. Andrea!! I just watched a movie Northanger Abbey and I LOOOOOOVED it! Like, way more than the book. (I know, hang me.)
    Anyway, it's
    so so so soooo good!