07 August 2010

Pickles...how much is not normal?

How many jars of homemade pickles does a normal person have in their fridge? I mean is it normal to have so many that it takes an entire shelf? I don't water process my pickles because I have had bad luck with less than crisp pickles and to me that's a crime. So here are the stats:
Bread and Butter Pickles - 3
Dill Pickles - 7
Pickled Okra - 1
Hot Pickled Carrots - 1
Pickled Pear Tomatoes - 1
Pickled Banana Peppers  - 1
Pickled Ginger (in Sherry, no less)  - 1
Squash Relish (yum)
Hot Pepper Jelly
Blueberry Jelly

A friend just gave me some banana peppers so I think I'm w/in my rights to make more of those, but I'll be steering clear of the pickling cukes for a while. There is no sense in looking like a mad woman. 

06 August 2010

Aren't Miss Austen's novels enough?

Is it a bad thing that I really don't care about Miss Austen's letters or read her biographies, of which there must be many? I love her novels, but I don't care to make a pilgrimage Chawton or Bath just because of Miss Austen.  I'm just not sure I need more than her books to get a sense of who she is (was). And does it matter all that much? Do I need to know her to understand her work? I just don't think so. I know next to nothing about Charlotte Bronte, excepting she had a couple of writing sisters (one of whom wrote Wuthering Heights - hated it), but reading Jane Eyre gives me an idea of who Miss Bronte was, not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, since I would love the book even if had been written by a space alien from a Dr. Who episode (even the Ood).
Okay, I know Miss Austen was the daughter of a minister and her best friend was her sister Cassandra; it's quite possible she'd been tossed in love (who hasn't been?), but can that place too much impact on her stories that we start to read things into her works that aren't really there? She's so creative and her characters resonate as real people. Do we need to think that whomever broke her heart is translated into Willoughby or Wickham? I'd prefer not to.
Miss Austen said that Emma was a character no one would like but herself and I find I can't stand Emma for the vast majority of the book. Am I reading into the work Miss Austen's comment? Or ... is Emma just annoying on her own without commentary from Miss Austen. Hell, I never watched Becoming Jane because I thought it unnecessary. Maybe that's it. The novels stand alone, the rest, lovely trivia though it is, is quite unnecessary.

02 August 2010

Everything Austen II - Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler

Summary: Jane Mansfield, after an apparent spill from a horse, wakes up in 21st century Los Angeles. She doesn't understand anything modern, nor does she recognize herself – and the clothes! What lady would wear such things – deplorable! One recognizable thing is the works of one of her favorite authors, Jane Austen.

There is also freedom, making her own decisions (w/out the all controlling mother), but also memories of her own family who would be, if the calendar could be believed to be 2009, dearly departed from this world.  Even the man she thought she loved, Edgeworth, would be long dead. She has friends here whom she does not recognize and a former fiancĂ© (jerk) as well. And then there is enigmatic Wes. What does Jane think of him and what does Courtney know of him? And how is that certain memories come through that aren't really her's but Courtney's. Who and what can she trust to maneuver around this new world? Is Jane better off in the 21st century or would it be better to return to what she knows – if she can?
Jane Mansfield (love the name) has it way worse than Courtney Stone (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict), if you ask me, excepting the discovery of one of our times greatest inventions - hot water showers (any of you been through a hurricane?).
After having read Ms.. Rigler's earlier book Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, I knew I was in for a great story. So many things for Jane to learn and manage and, alone to a large degree, really. Immediately Jane has to put past her ideas of decorum and try to decide who to trust. Wes, Anna, and Paula are all apparently Courtney's friends, but not exactly friendly with each other  - that much is apparent.
Again, the story of Courtney's (Jane's) very complicated life is revealed to the reader and Jane at the same time. I enjoy that because it gives you time to understand a character better. So too do I enjoy Jane's delight in realizing that there are 6 novels by Miss Austen – what a delicious treat for someone who knew of only 2 novels.
I shall not go into all the wonderful discovers and surprises Jane goes through as Courtney, but they are numerous, scary sometimes. and a great freedom for Jane. Vodka seems much appreciated. How lovely.
Deepa, a relatively new acquaintance, is a lovely character that I would like to see more of – genuine, caring and always ready with some pretty steady advice – much like the shape- and time-shifting fortune teller who is a help in Jane's (and Courtney's) confusion.
Frank, Courtney's ex-finance is a jerk and deserves little mention because we all know guys like him don't we??
Now, Wes, our Wes. I'll leave it to you, but let's just say that sometimes nice, decent, loveable guys do finish first.
Bravo Laurie! Loved it!

Georgette Heyer: The Alastair Trilogy - Devil's Cub

Summary: Dominic Alastair, Marquis of Vidal, is the rakish, hot tempered son of the Duke of Avon. Vidal is a chip off the old block, following in his father's wild exploits of youth. Forced to depart for the continent after wounding a man in a duel, he fancies taking some company along with him. This young, beautiful little miss, Sophia Challoner, he correctly surmises will willingly accompany him.
Mary Challoner, the practical older sister, sees the great impropriety in this situation that her sister is so willing to agree to involve herself. She is determined to remedy this problem and separate Vidal from Sophia forever. She accompanies Vidal through a disguise in her  sister's place expecting to be released once the hoax is up. But has Mary risked her own future and reputation in an attempt to save her sister.

Let's continue to party on at AustenProse

Thought {Spoilers}: To date, this is my favorite book by Ms. Heyer. I've always said that I like her heros most when they are bad and Vidal does not disappoint in the least.
Had it not been for the common sense (perhaps not best applied) of Mary Challoner, her vapid sister Sophia would have brought them family into ruin. After the switch is exposed Vidal shows every bit of his reputation as a "young fire-eater." Furious with the deception, he deems Mary a easy woman and plans to take advantage of her virtue. Until he realizes at the end of a gun, that she is earnest in protecting her virtue and finding some way out of this most awkward situation.
Mary Challoner is smart, level-headed and unwavering, but she is also kind, caring and endearing. Slowly (slowly) Vidal comes to see these qualities that make her an extraordinary woman -  Perhaps one too good for him.  When he realizes that by honor he should marry her to save her reputation … she says no, much to his surprise and aggravation.
Mary would like to attempt to stay in France where she is unknown to make her own way, no matter how modest that may be. Finding that a school friend of hers, Juliana Marling, is Vidal's cousin and currently in Paris, she persuades Vidal to take her there hoping Miss Marling can help her find some work so she may free herself from Vidal. All the while Vidal is attempting to find an English priest to marry them. Miss Marling has a suitor that has followed her from England, but she has spurned him in a fit of spoiled girl bad temper. Her suitor, Mr. Comyn is a true gentleman and realizing the trouble Mary is in, and with a bit of spite at the rebuff from Juliana, offers to take Mary to Dijon where Vidal expects the English priest to be so they can marry. Mary accepts.
And the chase, as you can imagine, is on. I'd love to spoil the ending, but shall not. There are two scenes I have read over and over again since I finished reading this book a couple of weeks ago. One involves a duel ; the other a long conversation over supper with and unknown (at least to Mary )gentleman of her own country.
I realize I have only read 14 books by Miss Heyer so far, but this is far and away my favorite.
Read. This. Book!