04 December 2010

Miss Austen's Pleasant Characters

There are some characters in Miss Austen's works* novels that are just nice charming people that you would like get have a pint or a cup of tea with. Oftentimes these are minor characters that other writers are now bringing into the forefront of new novels which, in my opinion is nice to see. These are in no particular order:
Robert Martin - now he may not be the most fashionable person in Highbury, but if Mr. Knightly things so very highly of him, I think it would be worth Emma to rethink her pert opinions. " I never hear better sense from any one than Robert Martin. He always speaks to the purpose; open, straightforward, and very well judging. He told me every thing; his circumstances and plans, and what they all proposed doing in the event of his marriage. He is an excellent young man, both as son and brother. I had no hesitation in advising him to marry. He proved to me that he could afford it; and that being the case, I was convinced he could not do better. I praised the fair lady too, and altogether sent him away very happy." Robert Martin seems kind and thoughtful and will lead Harriet Smith into a happy life.

Charles Musgrove - he must be thought a nice, decent guy because he was smart enough to realize that Anne Elliot was worth marrying. He's a kind attentive brother, a VERY patient husband and easily makes new friends. He can certainly see right through the Elliot Pride and isn't above poking fun at his wife's family (Anne, excepted). In a typical conversation between Charles and his lovely wife Mary:
"Phoo! phoo!" replied Charles, "what's an evening party? Never worth remembering. Your father might have asked us to dinner, I think, if he had wanted to see us. You may do as you like, but I shall go to the play."

"Oh! Charles, I declare it will be too abominable if you do,when you promised to go."
"No, I did not promise. I only smirked and bowed, and said the word `happy.' There was no promise."
Sofia Croft - Another lovely character that Miss Austen created. She's independent, in love with her husband (after all these years), intelligent and kind. She would be someone I would love to hear more about her life, as did Mrs. Musgrove:
"What a great traveller you must have been, ma'am!" said Mrs Musgrove to Mrs Croft.

"Pretty well, ma'am in the fifteen years of my marriage; though many women have done more. I have crossed the Atlantic four times, and have been once to the East Indies, and back again, and only once; besides being in different places about home: Cork, and Lisbon, and Gibraltar. But I never went beyond the Streights, and never was in the West Indies. We do not call Bermuda or Bahama, you know, the West Indies."

Mrs Croft continues: "And I do assure you, ma'am," pursued Mrs Croft, "that nothing can exceed the accommodations of a man-of-war; I speak, you know, of the higher rates. When you come to a frigate, of course, you are more confined; though any reasonable woman may be perfectly happy in one of them; and I can safely say, that the happiest part of my life has been spent on board a ship. While we were together, you know, there was nothing
to be feared. Thank God! I have always been blessed with excellent health, and no climate disagrees with me. A little disordered always the first twenty-four hours of going to sea, but never knew what sickness was afterwards. The only time I ever really suffered in body or mind, the only time that I ever fancied myself unwell, or had any ideas of danger, was the winter that I passed by myself at Deal, when the Admiral (Captain Croft then) was in the North Seas. I lived in perpetual fright at that time, and had all manner of imaginary complaints from not knowing what to do with myself, or when I should hear from him next; but as long as we could be together, nothing ever ailed me, and I never met with the smallest inconvenience."

Pride & Prejudice:
Charlotte Lucas - If she is Elizabeth Bennet's particular friend, then she must be pretty special. And she is. While she's a little older, she's practical and actual has good advice - even if it doesn't fix the Elizabeth's romantic ideals such as this:
"Well," said Charlotte, "I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to him to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow suf ciently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."
"You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know it is not sound, and that you would never act in this way yourself."

She may have made a disasterous marriage (there is little doubt of that), but she is smart enough to make the best of it. She's no dummy.

Northanger Abbey:
Eleanor Tilney - Eleanor Tilney's mother must have been lovely to raise such a charming, lovely, mature daughter. I actually would like to be like her. She's accustomed the General's strange ways and manages them with style. She sees right through Catherine Morland's admiration for her brother Henry (but who wouldn't fall for him, I ask you?). She is mortified at the treatment of Catherine by her father, but in the end is able to help secure Catherine's happiness. "Miss Tilney had a good figure, a pretty face, and a very agreeable
countenance; and her air, though it had not all the decided pretension, the resolute stylishness of Miss Thorpe's, had more real elegance. Her manners showed good sense and good breeding; they were neither shy nor affectedly open; and she seemed capable of being
young, attractive, and at a ball without wanting to fix the attention of every man near her, and without exaggerated feelings of ecstatic delight or inconceivable vexation on every little trifling occurrence."

Now here comes the difficult part, I'm having a hard time finding genuinely nice people in Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park. My characters have tended to be minor (ie. not the heros and heroines, esp.) characters but I'm drawing a blank in these two books.

Sense & Sensibility:
Mrs. Jennings - she does mean well, but ... all the gossiping and useless chatter
Lady Middleton - um. no.
John Dashwood - um. no.
I'm at a loss.

Mansfield Park:
There is no one - at all that's really nice. Except Fanny, and she's perhaps too much so.

* I had a college professor who hated describing novels, paintings, architecture, etc. as works. Guess she's made her point. 

02 December 2010

Agatha Christie - Poirot Investigates

I recently finished Poirot Investigates and am starting on The Secret of Chimneys next. I enjoyed PI because it is a series of 14 short stories where Poirot gets to show off in his usual fashion and frustrating Hastings the entire time.

The Collection includes:
The Adventures of the "Western Star"
The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor
The Adventure of the Cheap Flat
The Mystery of the Hunter's Lodge
The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb
The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan
The Kidnapped Prime Minister
The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim
The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman
The Case of the Missing Will
The Veiled Lady
The Lost Mine
The Chocolate Box

I enjoyed the Hunter's Lodge where Hastings takes the lead. I also liked very much the Kidnapped Prime Minister. And in true Poirot fashion - The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim which Poirot solves the mystery w/out leaving his rooms -- what a show off!

Need to get back to Everything Austen II and finish my over committed list, so The Secret of  Chimneys may have to wait until the new year. Perhaps I'll start on Mom's birthday - January 11.

How to spend Black Friday

I had planned on being anywhere that most people aren't and that's exactly what me and MotH did (w/dog 1 and dog 2. The Boy had to work). There is a new farmer's market-type store, taking the dogs to lunch at the Happy Pig, visiting the new cupcake shops,* and checking out the Port Street Market.
The last thing I will do is go to the mall (never do that anyway) or any shop. I certainly slept through many of the sales that took place because being around that many people would make me crazy.
I've never been out shopping on that day and don't plan to start now. Yick!

* In our typical way of being behind trends by years, we have our first two cupcake shops. NYC is so over it, so it must be time for cupcakes to be popular in the Gulf Coast.

30 November 2010

How well read am I?

The BBC contends that most people will have read only six books from their list of 100. Only 6? That's kind of sad and hopefully, it isn't true. I saw this on This Miss Loves to Read and  Austen Inspired Fan Fiction.
•Copy this list.
•Bold those books you've read in their entirety.
•Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.
•Tag other book nerds.
•Highlight the ones that you have but haven't read.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The King James Bible
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (but hated it)
Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D'Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
The Time Traveler's Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (loved it!!)
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
Emma -Jane Austen

Persuasion – Jane Austen (probably my favorite JA ever)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Captain Corelli's Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
Animal Farm – George Orwell

The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown boring
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Handmaid's Tale – Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Dune – Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones's Diary – Helen Fielding
Midnight's Children – Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Dracula – Bram Stoker
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

Ulysses – James Joyce
The Inferno – Dante
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
Germinal – Emile Zola
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Possession – AS Byatt
Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens ( every wanker has read this)
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Charlotte's Web – E.B. White
The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (Assigned reading, but I liked it.)
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Watership Down – Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo