16 July 2010

Georgette Heyer: The Alastair Trilogy - These Old Shades and thanking authors I enjoy.

I made a point of reading the Alastair trilogy in order and I'm glad I did. It's not that you couldn't read it out of order, but it's just easier to follow along if you start at the beginning, as they say.
Summary: Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon, is called "Satanas" by all who know him and he certainly deserves it. He is known in both London and Paris as a rake of the first order and can be a dangerous man to know be you male or female. He can hold a grudge long, but he has a  quizzical eye and is mischievous as well.  When an ill-treated boy tumbles into Justin in the streets of Paris he takes it upon himself to purchase the child from a unkind brother to serve as his page. His new page, Leon, becomes useful and dedicated despite a wicked little temper, and there is something in his look that reminds Justin of his long hated enemy Comte de Saint-Vire. 

Comments: This is most decidedly a character driven novel and Justin Alastair is a most intriguing character that I have read so far from Heyer. He's equal parts devilish and sporting. You're never sure what he really means and it's almost impossible to read him, which makes him draw you into the book. Personally, I don't think he's evil, just selfish -- someone who concerns himself with only what will please him, but I do so like him ... the sort of slow way he speaks and the inferences he suggests. As much as I adore his grace, I do have a slight crush on Hugh Davenant, a friend of Avon's,  who is just a decent fellow and perhaps guides his grace more than Justin realizes. Heyer, in all her power here, is so descriptive of clothing, of language... again, I'm wondering if she actually lived the life and was reincarnated... she's masterful. Of course we know, about mid ways, how the story will go, but you just have to go along with it. {spoiler} Leon is, um, a girl, and a very beautiful one at that - Leonie has captured the old rake's heart, but ... ah, it's a Heyer novel and all, through its twists and turns, ends well. What a lovely book. I do think I prefer the books where the hero is a little bit of a bad boy and chooses to do the right thing, but perhaps that's just me. 
 I only wish I had known Ms. Heyer (and Miss Austen) when she was alive and could have told her how much I enjoyed her writing. So now I would like to say to the writers I'm reading now how much I enjoy reading their works. 

Thank you: 
Alexa Adams (some of the best short stories on the web and I love Janeicillin (for which I must thank you - it keeps me sane some days) and I'm starting First Impressions today!)
Mary Lydon Simonsen (WWII and Austen could it be better? And Anne Elliot w/a spine -- and saying all the things I want to say - hot damn. My comments will be forthcoming,)
Laurie Viera Rigler (Love time travel or something like it - but I'm a BIG fan of Dr. Who - wonder if he ever met Miss Austen because we know he met Agatha Christie, right? And you must watch the videos -- too amazing funny - when will there be a movie? There has to be a movie! Again comments forthcoming - Everything Austen II)
Beth Pattillo (Jane Austen ruined all of our lives in some way or another, at least I'm guessing. Everything Austen II)
Margaret Sullivan (Mags - There Must be Murder (how can you not love McGuffin??) is so good that I think it's part of Northanger Abbey - you're wonderful! BTW - let's get out the cluebat of Janeite Righteousness. Bring it.)
Tracy Kiely (all I need is a good murder (ah, this girl does love a murder) ... and a little bit of a love story)
Jane Odiwe (oh Willoughby, but you know... it's Brandon that makes it real)
Monica Fairview (I mean, did  you just make up your name? It is just too perfect. Loved the Darcy Cousins, but I read your books out of order which I do not like to do. That said, The Other Mr. Darcy is on its way as part of Everything Austen II. Can't wait!)

You guys (ladies) are great!

14 July 2010

Beer and Miss Austen - The Summer Edition

In a recent conversation with another Janeite that enjoys beer (shock - are there more than two of us??), the question came up - what beer goes best with what book?
I have several beer prejudices: 1) I learned to drink beer when I lived in Great Britain just as I turned 30, not at keggers in high school, so I am a huge fan of stouts and porters. I mean what goes best when it's dark outside at 3:45pm? Guinness, of course. 2) That said, I live in a tropical climate now and stouts and porters have their time (our 6 weeks of winter), but the rest of the time it's hot and humid in the gulf coast (and sometimes covered in oil... damn you BP), so I turn to lagers and pils and almost anything from the Czech Republic. I've also decided that beers that come from hot places make nice beers here in the 46 weeks of summer - so Presidente from the Dominican Republic or Estrella Damm from Spain make nice summer enjoyment.

I have often been know to have a beer while reading Miss Austen's works, so here are my thoughts on what works well for me with each novel. I imagine that during the winter, my tastes would change - somewhat. 

Sense and Sensibility - something fresh and crisp - Stella Artois

Pride and Prejudice - something light, easy, and familiar - Warsteiner would work well here.

Mansfield Park - I think only an ale would do for this book which I was late to really understand, but now enjoy greatly - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Emma - Probably my least favorite heroine (see here and here), but one of my favorite beers - Lagunitas Pils

Persuasion -  My favorite book - the one that breaks my heart every time and then puts it back together - Staropramen (from Prague - an absolute favorite)

Northanger Abbey - Light, bubbly, fun ... and a little gothic mystery too with my new favorite beer - Victory Prima Pils

Beer and Miss Austen - a good combination