Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That... And Ta da!

I've got a lot to catch up on! Three days of yom tov with no Internet access and nothing to do but read... well I actually finished four books, which I guess isn't a ton, but I'm not sure if they're all getting full treatment - I'm taking them one at a time.  Let's start with #1 - #1 because it's the first one I finished, but easily #1 of the bunch in any case.  That's Sanditon, which is slightly by Jane Austen, mostly by Another Lady (Anne Telscombe is her name, I think).  The story with this one is that Jane Austen wrote the first 11 chapters of the book right before she died.  There are a few versions finishing it, but I think this is the original.  I never had much of an interest in reading it - I think I thought Sanditon was kind of like Cranford, a village tale with not much romance for some reason - but I read a review of a few of the different ones on one of the Austen websites and decided to read this one (well I wanted to read others too, but this was the one I found first - and lucky for that :)) I read it in December (actually got it out the last day of school :)) and I LOVED it - so much that I immediately bought a copy (yes, this was after I started getting into buying books, and the main reason I bought this one was because the only library that had a copy was Prince Georges but still... I really liked it).  Anyway, that was in December.  For some reason, I picked it up earlier this week and decided to reread it.

So right away, I found myself caught up in it again.  I was kind of hyper aware the first 11 chapters of it being Jane Austen's writing and trying to compare it with her other books, but the truth is, I think it's a lot less polished than any of the others because it was a first draft.  So it's not Jane Austen's writing even in the beginning, and certainly not after that, but Jane Austen isn't the only decent writer around :) What I mean to say is, Jane Austen's writing is perfectly crafted, exquisitely witty, full of subtle meaning... but light and easy writing sounding straight out of my comfort zone is fun to read even if it doesn't quite meet all those criteria.  Whatever, the writing was 100% enjoyable, I would say totally unobtrusive, completely quiet and completely unboring.  So I could concentrate on the story... and on the romance of course.  Now the romance was definitely a good one - Sydney's a great guy, personable, smart, very eligible, nice and loyal, he loves Charlotte the whole time, there's a fair amount of doubt on both sides so they don't get together too soon... but the truth is, a lot of the romance is not at all overt.  I mean, we know Sydney loves her, but the book doesn't give much hint of that.  And there's a whole lot of attention given to the main plot (can't even say subplot) involving Sydney's friend Henry Brudenall and lovely girl Clara Brereton.  And of course I have no interest in that romance, none at all :)

So why did I like this book so much? Like I said, the writing style is *just* up my alley, but why is that enough? There's also the setting, which I suppose would be even more up my alley if they were *just* a degree higher socially (why not go for nobility? :)) but English Regency gentility's good enough for me. Of course there's the all important every character is likeable and there's like *no* tension (not even when Charlotte (main girl - don't believe I've mentioned that yet :)) is kidnapped by Sir Edward... I guess it's just a combination of all factors.  It's funny, because I enjoyed it when I was reading it, but only after I finished was I like, wow this is a great book.  And I think it was like that last time too.  I think all those factors combine to make a product so satisfactory that that's my reaction.... So writers, if you're looking for the blue-ribbon recipe in writing books Rochel likes... you can do no better than this book's combo :)

Verdict: 5/5
Food: thought of a perfect one while I was writing that recipe part - chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream - I mean, talk about perfect combo :)

P.S. on a slightly more literary note, I was thinking that this book might have been meant as a reworking of Northanger Abbey - it has some similarity in an older/wiser hero with a sense of humor, a heroine away from her country home at a watering place... with the significant difference that this heroine is as practical as Catherine is flightly... I wonder if there are critics out there who agree with me? You never know :)

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