Monday, February 16, 2015

Let's Bust a Recap

Ok, so if you read my 2015 Book List, you may recall my statement that the first book I ended up reading this year was not on the list.  (Is anyone dying to know what book I read first yet?  Am I doing this whole suspense thing right?)  Today, let me just catch you up on what I've read since January 1st and do a little summarizing. 

The first book I read this year was *drumroll, please*......... Persuasion by Jane Austen! This was not a first-time read for me.  Jane Austen is quite possibly my favorite authoress of all time, and I've read all 7 of her complete novels.  You can bet your butt that you will be able to find at least one of Austen's novels on all my book lists for years to come.  (Unless I'm re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series that year.  I mean, if there was such a thing as death by too much literary goodness in a year, I don't want to push it.)  So why, after putting Sense & Sensibility on this year's list, did I pick up Persuasion and read it like I hadn't even made any reading goals for myself?  Well, the answer is simple really.  I got the movie.  And anyone with even a kernel of sense in her head knows that the book is always better.  This is a rule that I have yet to find any exceptions to.  And the truth is, I haven't read Persuasion in 4 or 5 years.  It's fantastic, but it's not my go-to Austen.  So I wanted the written word to be fresh in my mind before I watched the film.  I finished reading it January 12th. 

Let's summarize: our heroine in Persuasion is quiet, unselfish Anne Elliot, the middle of 3 daughters born to Sir Walter Elliot.  Her mother died when she was 14, and she, unlike her ridiculous and vain father and sisters, drew close to and was greatly influenced by her mother's close friend Lady Russell. About the time she was 19 years old, Anne met and fell irrevocably in love with Captain Frederick Wentworth, but being persuaded (get it?) by Lady Russell and her family (mainly Lady Russell), she chose prudently rather than passionately and regretted her decision for years to come. Our story opens 8 years after all this transpired and through a series of events, she and Captain Wentworth are thrown back into each other's company for the first time since she rejected his proposal.  **Spoiler Alert: they end up together, duh.**

Persuasion is a study in the merits and the defects of a resolute will.  Should Anne have tossed all advice and logic to the wind and run off with Wentworth?  Or was she wise to have heeded the advice of her elder? If you are a first-time Austen reader, I would not recommend beginning with Persuasion.  (Sorry, Jon!)  Although I love Jane Austen unconditionally and all her books suck me in every time, I would not want Persuasion to be my introduction to this hero of the literary world.  Anne's timidity and faint-heartedness can be a bit annoying and the wrap-up is somewhat hurried.  (Probably due to the fact that Persuasion was written in a race against Jane Austen's failing health in the last year of her life.)  If you are looking to ease yourself gently into the wonderful world of Austen, I would recommend Sense & Sensibility if you want a really well-developed, masterful novel, or Emma or Northanger Abbey if you want something shorter and hilarious.  (I guess you could start with Pride & Prejudice...it would just be so cliché of you.  I mean, there's a reason everyone loves it, but really?)  

As far as the movie is concerned, it was a pretty good adaptation of Persuasion.  I took issue with a few liberties they took at the end, but overall, it wasn't bad. (P.S.  I got the 1995 version starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds.) 

Now, I realize this post is starting to get a bit lengthy, but let me give you a super-quick recap of the second publication I read this year: William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. It is one of my life goals to read all of Shakespeare's plays before I die.  To date, the only plays I have read in their entirety are Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar.  Both of which were required reading in high school.  (Let's not bring up how many years ago that was.) Much Ado About Nothing is a play centered around 4 principal characters: Claudio (a young lord of Florence), Benedick (a sworn bachelor), Hero (the virgin daughter of Leonato), and Beatrice (Hero's cousin who is disdainful of men and marriage).  The play was short and funny, full of intrigue, match-making, and teasing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It took me a few days to read it because, let's get real, we don't talk like Shakespeare anymore, and, although the language is beautiful, it can be a little tough to wade through.  I would highly recommend this to anyone desirous of diving into the world of Shakespeare but unsure of where to begin. It was fun. I finished reading it January 16th.

What do you think?  Have you read Persuasion or Much Ado About Nothing?  Any other Austen die-hards out there?  Shakespeare fans, is there a better play to start with? Blow up my comment section.

27 comments:

  1. Jurassic Park movie beats the book. joe wright's "pride & prejudice" is a pretty darn good movie, but i've never read the book. favorite shakespeare is "midsummer night's dream". i like his comedies more than his dramas, i think.

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    1. Jurassic Park is a book? Never would have known. Did you read it? And did you read the book before you saw the movie or did you see the movie first? I've observed that people who watch the movie first are sometimes biased before reading the book. Speaking of which, I've heard that The Princess Bride and A Walk to Remember are books that put their movie counterparts to shame, but I'm not sure I actually want to find out.

      Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice is pretty good. I think the music makes it actually. But the book is still better. Once, I read Pride & Prejudice in one day. You can't put it down. It's so good.

      A Midsummer Night's Dream, huh? That one is not on this year's list, but now I might have to read that next. Have you read Much Ado About Nothing?

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    2. P.S. I love you forever for reading and commenting on my blog. You're the best.

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    3. Kristi LavioletteMarch 2, 2015 at 2:36 PM

      Reagan is right. Midsummer is the BEST in my humble opinion. Second favorite is Hamlet. But I like crazy people. . .

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    4. Hmm...I am starting to think that I will have to add it to this year's list.

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  2. i'm pretty sure i read the book first. i liked the movie because it turned chricton's (and i love chricton) over-long, rambling, overly-scientific book into a sharp, taut, sci-fi thriller.

    a walk to remember the film is a pretty outstanding coming-of-age story all by itself. i've never liked sparks' writing style--his prose is too sentimental for me, so i'll probably just keep enjoying the film. same with princess bride. if the book didn't match the movie's charm i'd be pretty devastated.

    everything about wright's pride & prejudice is good--just from an objective filmmaking standpoint. i'm probably way too simple to really appreciate and enjoy austen's writing, but i might give it a try someday.

    yes, read it. it's hilarious.

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    1. Yeah, I'm not big into the science-y stuff. I don't care to read Jurassic Park or see the movie (as you well know).

      I read one Nicholas Sparks novel (The Wedding) several years ago, and enjoyed it. But there's just too many other good books I'd rather read than Sparks so that may be the only one I ever get to.

      Also, I just don't know coming from a female perspective how many men would appreciate Austen's work. I know Jon DelValle hated Persuasion and didn't even finish it so I'm hesitant to recommend her to guys. I know Cody read Pride & Prejudice and liked it, but it took him a long time to read. (And he's not a slow reader.)

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    2. Have you actually read any of Sparks' books? His writing style IS sickeningly sentimental at times....he knows how to cater to his demographic, that's for sure.

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  3. I have decided that from now on, I will always watch the movie before I read the book. Because the book is most often better, so I don't want to ruin the movie by reading the book first (if that makes sense). Also, I recently read Stardust for the first time after loving the movie for many years, and the movie is way better in my opinion.

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    1. I would always rather read the book first, simply because if the movie IS well done, I enjoy it more because I feel like I really know the characters and have more of the backstory. I'm so glad I read Unbroken before I saw the movie at Christmas, because I felt like if I had watched the movie first, I would have been lost. I think the only time I remember seeing the movie before reading the book was in the case of The Help, and I absolutely love the movie and the book. They didn't deviate from the novel at all, but did have to cut certain things out.

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    2. Caveat: There ARE movies I've seen but never read the book from which they were adapted. (For example, the aforementioned Walk to Remember and Princess Bride as well as The Lord of the Rings trilogy--I did try to read that trilogy one time but never got through the first chapter. It's on my life list.) The Help is the only case where I saw the movie, and then went and read the book afterwards.

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  4. I've tried a couple times with Sparks (snippets of the notebook, a bend in the road, and even a chapter or two of a walk to remember) and just couldn't get through. but he gets his demo for sure. good businessman.

    Christina--good idea. Stardust is a good movie.

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  5. Never read Austen. Going to pick up "Emma" right now. It's on my book list and shelf. Oh, and now on my night stand! 😉

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    1. Yes! Lynds! Mr. Knightley is one of my favorite Austen men. Actually, probably my number 1 favorite. I hope you love it!

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    2. Kristi LavioletteMarch 2, 2015 at 2:38 PM

      YES! If you are going to think a character is dreamy, let's go with the outstanding men of Austen's books instead of the Twilight Edward's and the 50 Shades Christian Grey's. Much more upstanding and VERY dreamy!

      Also, now I can't stop commenting. . .

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    3. RIGHT?! I so agree.

      And I'm LOVING all the comments. Thanks for taking the time to read AND comment!

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  6. Confession - I never read Anne of Green Gables until after I saw the movies! The books were better.

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    1. Mom, I still can't believe that. I always thought that set you gave me was from your childhood and that they were your favorite books. I felt so disillusioned when you told me you just picked them up somewhere for me because they were a good deal. Haha!

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    2. Hannah, that would be a great topic for a casual Friday - things I believed during my childhood that I found out were false in adulthood. #challengeissued

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    3. Baahahaha! Excellent idea. #challengeaccepted

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    4. Perfect! I can't wait :) In fact, I should come over and we should work on it together. #cowritten #kindalookslikecow #butimeantco

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    5. Perfect. Saturday work for you? =)

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  7. Kristi LavioletteMarch 2, 2015 at 2:34 PM

    If I hadn't read both, I wouldn't be a very good English teacher. Having said that, I LOVE Austen, but not more than Charlotte Bronte. Sense and Sensibility is a good starting place, but even if it is cliche, P & P is the best. Even boys like it.

    Shakespeare - who I love - hmmmmm? I would recommend starting with A Midsummer Night's Dream. Very, very easy to follow and very humorous. Especially if you like subtle play on words.

    Hannah, so glad you started this blog! I read so many but this ONE is devoted to one of my FAVORITE things in the world (and, of course, one of my favorite people writes it!).

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    1. It's true. Maybe I should just recommend Pride & Prejudice to boys from now on, and then if they like that, go from there. =)

      And yes, Charlotte. *sigh* Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorites. It's the only thing I've read by her though. I just picked up The Professor in a second-hand bookstore recently. Have you ever read it? Or anything else by her?

      I'm glad you like the blog! Let's get together SOON!

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