It’s amazing how many hours of entertainment I’ve found in Jane Austen’s work. Pride and Prejudice and Emma, written over 200 years ago, still offer characters and situations so amusing and heartfelt that they made me giddy with excitement when I reached the pinnacles of each story.
But reading the original stories is not the only way to enjoy Jane Austen. Thankfully, the BBC has produced miniseries of each one (available on Amazon Prime), that made my reading experience far more satisfying.
Pride and Prejudice was my first introduction to Jane Austen. Admittedly, I had trouble visualizing the story at first, especially because of to the number of characters introduced in the first chapters (Elizabeth Bennett has four sisters, after all). But when I started the BBC version, my enjoyment improved dramatically; NOW I understood that all these characters are sisters; NOW I understood that Mrs. Bennett is, in fact, a very silly mother. The dialogue in the BBC version is almost completely preserved from the book, and the characters are perfectly cast. Mr. Darcy, portrayed by Colin Firth, is stolid and proud, and nothing short of dreamy. As a reader, I knew how it would all end. But the journey was still so, so fun.
By the end of the story Austen imparted to me a little truth, which is that Elizabeth Bennet, though headstrong and independent, is still by all measures, a lady. Considering the state of being female today, this is enough to make any woman stop and realize that being independent and empowered does not preclude one from being ladylike or, as Jane Austen would say, well-bred. In this way, Elizabeth Bennet should rank high with the likes of Wonder Woman and Princess Leia, as a strong female characters we ladies should all want to be like.
The world of men and boys had always felt foreign to me. I suspect one reason why is that I didn’t grow up with a brother. Even so, while I served in the military I thought myself attuned to the guys by virtue of being immersed in a masculine culture. But several years later when I had my son, my delusions about how well I understood the opposite sex were once and for all set straight: I didn’t get it. Continue reading
I put off reading the Book Thief for some time. Something about its cover, its title, and the Young Adult marketing, led me to assume that The Book Thief was a Pollyanna-esque story about a girl in the foreground of a trying time in history who discovers the power of books and reading.
I was way off. Continue reading
When I read this play, I could not help but appreciate the talent Oscar Wilde had in storytelling, especially crafting dialogue. A playwright is almost completely limited to dialogue when painting a picture for the reader. There is no description, no narrative voice. And yet without me having seen the movie (of which there are several), or the play itself, Wilde’s characters, setting, and situations all come to life based entirely on what the characters say and do. Wilde’s dialogue is so precise; so specific. It goes to show how unimportant, how unnecessary, description can sometimes be. Continue reading
Last month, I watched “The English Patient” on HBO for the first time. I remember trying to watch it years ago and thinking it was boring; I was a teenager of course and not mature enough for the “high-brow” storytelling style. This time around I had the opposite reaction from years ago, and I admit that I haven’t been so moved by a story in a long time. The movie led me to Michael Ondaatje’s book on which the movie is based.
People sometimes assume that the best war stories are fact based. Logic tells us that truth is more authentic than fiction. But Adrian Bonenberger and Brian Castner challenge that assumption in a new anthology of short story fiction, “The Road Ahead: Stories of the Forever War.”
Read the full review on Task & Purpose
They say that a good book is one that changes your life, but I like to be more specific. A good book changes your behavior, and no other book has changed my day to day behavior like “Bringing up Bebe”. Continue reading
Rather than create a top ten list, below I’ve listed the books I read this year that I loved, either because the book was a page turner or– as is more often the case– because I gained a new perspective that I could not have otherwise.
I stuck to popular titles that I found available for free in the public domain or through my library. I hope there are at least a few titles that are new to you, that you can enjoy in 2017. Continue reading
Remember that scene in The Martian when (spoiler alert!) NASA attempts to send a Mars probe loaded with food to keep Mark Watney from starving? In the movie, the probe ascends into the atmosphere and tension in Mission Control builds signaling to us, the audience, that something is going wrong. Then the probe blows up.
In the book, the reader learns more about what happens inside the probe: Continue reading
I thought about reading Aristotle’s Poetics because, in an advertisement for MasterClass, Aaron Sorkin says something to the effect of, “Aristotle’s Poetics should be every screenwriter’s Bible.” If Aaron Sorkin says Poetics is core to learning narrative, then it probably is. Continue reading