SeptembEYRE: Finale!

IMG_20130901_071408It’s all over, folks. Our dear little Jane Eyre has transformed into Jane Rochester. Now that her marriage plot has ended let’s discuss the last fourth of the novel.

St. John Eyre Rivers. That man has some serious issues, no? He’s described as marble – cold and hard. His marriage proposal to Jane was seriously unsettling to me – all 30 or so pages of it. Some of the things he said about Jane’s character were truly horrible. Do we still like St. John? Do we understand where he comes from and his lack of warmth? Do we agree with his decision to need a missionary companion more than an emotional connection?

I think St. John exists solely as the antithesis of Mr. Rochester. We need to see Jane interact with this man of God to not only get Jane back to Rochester, but also to the get the reader back there as well. I know my final impressions of Mr. R were ones of assholery.

What did you think of Jane’s inheritance? I mostly think it just helps bring Jane closer to Mr. R’s equal. Now that she can support herself and doesn’t need a man, she can marry freely and openly a man of her own choosing.

Back in Millcote, Jane learns that Thornfield has gone BANG in a blaze of fire provided by the ever lovely Bertha (could someone else have done it?). Mr. R has lost a hand, an eye, and his vision. Now he’s finally ready for his dear little elf, Jane. Quickly, they marry and live the happily ever after. What about these crippling events (beyond Bertha’s demise) finally set Jane and Mr. R up for marriage? Are they truly now on equal footing? I’m at least glad R has no need to make Jane into a trophy wife.

As for our supporting cast, I’m glad Jane stays close with her cousins. I’m not surprised St. John meets an early end. Pilot!! So happy to see Adele back under Jane’s guidance. But I was a bit miffed not to have Mrs. Fairfax back. I know she was mentioned, but I wanted to talk with her a bit.

This has been such a marvelous read-a-long! Thanks to everyone who has visited and commented. A HUGE thanks to Kerry for hosting. I can’t wait for more group reading in the future!

RATING: starstarstarstarstar

SeptembEYRE: Week Three

IMG_20130901_071408All of the things happened this week, am I right? First, there was the love confession and proposal in the garden plus the creepily split tree. Mr. Rochester then tried to make Jane a trophy wife by adorning her in silk and jewels. Next we had the wedding that wasn’t meant to be and the uncovering of Bertha Mason. These events all led to Jane’s fleeing Thornfield, wandering the countryside in destitution before finally finding solace (sort of) with St. John and his sisters. Who is named St. John?

So much plot progression and so many symbols. We’re left without knowing what will become of our dear Jane. I couldn’t help but think she was a tab bit melodramatic in her exit. I know she’s prone to passionate outflows, but she’s also practically minded as well. At least have a place to go for goodness sake.

Anyway, let’s talk Rochester. Do we like him at all? He seems such a bear to me and not in a good way. His trying to make Jane into something shiny really pissed me off, but I’m glad Jane put her foot down. Do we feel sorry for him in regards to Bertha? Do we wholeheartedly believe his story? Do we think he should be free to marry? And what of the first Mrs. Rochester?

A whole paragraph of questions with no answers!! I don’t have much commentary other than I both loved and hated Rochester and Jane at various points. Bertha has always been an intriguing literary character and one I’ve never wholly known what to make of. Rochester makes her out to be this utterly unsympathetic demonic monster whose only happiness is destroying him. How convenient.

Jane’s brief visit to beggar-dom was heartbreaking until it was eye-rollingingly over the top. Two days of begging and she’s ready to keel over and die. Really? I’d think Jane’s spirit would keep her going a bit longer, no? What did y’all think?

Now that St. John has come into Jane’s life, the novel’s end is nigh. What are you hoping happens in the last few chapters?

Sorry for the rambling post – writing this in a flash before dashing off to work. Can’t wait ’til the finale next week.

Announcing: Southern Literature Month 2014

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my homeland recently, particularly in regards to the literature I read. Susan Gregg Gilmore co-hosted the Books on the Nightstand podcast earlier this year and really got me thinking about what is Southern American Literature. Does it deserve its own genre? What makes a Southern novel tic?

With these questions in mind I’ve decided to host a themed month of reading every January! I’m really thrilled to invite y’all down to the South through some good ol’ fashioned armchair travel. While reading will be our main medium – please feel free to explore film, art, food, and even actual Southern travel (you’ll love our mild winter temperatures!).

I haven’t ironed out all the details yet, obviously. January 2014 is still ages away, but I wanted to go ahead and put some feelers out in the blogosphere to see if anyone would be interested in participating. I run things super casual so you can join in anyway you choose, and I’d just have a main linky page for everyone to come together. Community for the win!!

So if you’ve always meant to read Gone with the Wind or wanted to try fixin’ some grits for breakfast (lunch or dinner works just fine) leave me a comment below! Feel free to grab the button and pass on the message.

SeptembERYE: Week Two

IMG_20130901_071408Gypsies, oh my! That’s the scene that particularly stands out to me from this week’s reading. I’ve been thinking about how this particular development changed my views of Rochester – and I must say they are, on the whole, not improved. It just felt so underhanded and sleazy.  I do think Jane had an inkling what was going on though and was a smart cookie not to divulge too much. She’s quite the clever spirit.

Then there are the Ingram women and the rest of the festive party that come to visit Thornfield. Aren’t they a lovely bunch? Assholes. Some part of me thinks that Rochester deserves Ingram as his bride. He makes such fascinating choices in his wives don’t you think? I can’t help but scream internally at Jane to run away from these vapid, horrid people before she gets in too deep. But since she already claims to love Rochester, I suppose I am much too late.

Jane also journeys back to Gateshead to confront her dying aunt. The Reeds are still pretty despicable, but at least Jane knows she has a relative out there looking for her and who wants to give her MONEY. What will Jane do? I’m glad no one shed a tear (Georgiana doesn’t count) over Aunt Reed. Loved seeing Bessie and her happy, healthy family.

As for the happenings on the third floor? What is this Grace Poole up to? Why the secrets? Why am I asking questions I already know the answers to…haha.

Still absolutely loving the story and loving Bronte’s imagery. Have you noticed how much nature tends to follow or augment Jane’s character? She’s constantly described alongside the moon or the wind or the birds.

Okay! Let me know what about this week’s reading you enjoyed most and what you liked least down in the comments.

SeptembEYRE – Our First Week of Reading!

IMG_20130901_071408Oh, Jane, how I’ve missed you! As much as I love Jane Austen’s works, I think Jane Eyre is my favorite heroine ever. EVER. That’s quite a compliment and might change next week, but let’s go with it for now.

During this reread, I’m trying to discover just why I love Ms. Eyre so much. The first 11 chapters were assigned (that’s a terrible word choice) this past week and I flew through them in 1.5 days. These chapters cover Jane’s life from ages 10-18 as an orphan first in the household of her Aunt Reed – a major bitch – and then in Lowood School, a place for wayward orphans with no place else to go.

Jane is spirited, headstrong, and quick to act. She’s angry at her lot in the world – not so much her class or social standing – but rather with the evil people she’s forced to endure. She’s not meek at all. She prefers immediate retaliation and revenge against the wrongs done her than killing with kindness. Until she meets her dear friend Helen who teaches her all the things. I loved Helen and her death scene is just so moving.

Chapter Eleven brings us to Thornfield where we meet Adele and Mrs. Fairfax. Jane is taken with the house and its splendidly vast views. I like that Jane has worked on her own behalf to find herself a new position and has ambitions beyond her very insular childhood. We only have the vaguest notion of Mr. Rochester and only one instance of hysterical laughter so far. The foreshadowing is a little more overt than I remember.

Really excited to move forward in the story and continue down the path of madness that is to come! I’m remembering details in bits and pieces, but mostly the story feels fresh. I wish I had read Jane Eyre as a teenager in high school. I just think it’s such an immensely accessible Victorian classic – far more so than Dickens or Thackeray.

Onward we go!!!!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

IMG_20130901_102915Mansfield Park was a book with baggage. Lots of bad baggage. I originally read the book after seeing the 1999 film with Johnny Lee Miller that I absolutely adored. Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I watched that movie. Video Warehouse probably hated me with how torn and damaged their VHS copy was by the time I graduated and moved away. This was all before my Jane Austen obsession.

Even though I wasn’t quite the book fangirl I am now, I still wanted to read the source material. But Mansfield Park just wasn’t a book I should have attempted in high school. Obviously, I hated it and chucked it into a dusty corner to be forgotten. Until now!!!

Fourteen years have gone by and man, what fourteen years can do. I loved Mansfield Park this time around despite all of the anxiety and apprehension I felt going in. I’m also well aware that the 1999 film only borrowed bits and pieces from the novel and is in no way an adequate representation of Austen’s original story. And, for me, that’s okay. I still love the movie for what it is. Although I was a bit shocked at how sexualized everything was in the film…not that I should have been. Edmund is also far more appealing in the movie.

I read Mansfield Park over the course of four weeks. Slowly, but surely, I made my way through Austen’s most serious novel and mostly adored every word. I liked Fanny – her moral compass, although rigid, was respectable because she truly believed in her morality in the face of so many detractors. She fiercely defended her beliefs and didn’t back down for anyone. That’s far more than we can say about Edmund and his fickle morality in the face of Mary Crawford.

Sir Bertram is another father figure I’ve come to love (I know that Sir Bertram isn’t always the kind of character one can praise – specifically when you consider whether or not he was involved in the slave trade). Jane Austen can write some excellent fathers. Aunt Norris is a despicable bit of comic relief. I loved that Aunt Norris dotes on Maria while trashing Fanny which only manages to ruin Maria in the end.

As for Fanny and Edmund’s ending, holy rushed romance, Batman! Jeez. Edmund essentially just decides to be in love with Fanny and marry her in about two sentences. To me, this romance is underdeveloped and swept under the rug which tells me Austen’s point wasn’t to get Fanny a hero, but rather to let her be her own hero. I like that. I like Mansfield Park. For the moment, however fleeting, it shall stand as my favorite Austen. Until my next reread…

Rating: starstarstarstar

Join Us for SeptembEYRE!

IMG_20130901_071408I have my Classics Club list organized by year – meaning, I have my 75 books sorted into 14/15 book mini-lists with a year attached to said mini-list. That makes the list feel more manageable. Mind Games. Anyway, this year Jane Eyre is on the list and I couldn’t be happier that there’s also a fabulous readalong happening during September to facilitate my reading.

Super huge thanks to Entomology of a Bookworm for hosting the event! Head over to her page and sign up if you want to participate. The reading schedules look like this:

 

September 2nd: Kick-off post, introductions, why you’re reading, etc.
September 9th: Chapters I-XI
September 16th: Chapters XII-XXI
September 23rd: Chapters XXII-XXIX
September 30th: Chapters XXX-End

This reading will be my second time through Jane’s story. In college, I first read Bronte’s most popular novel for a class on women in literature. I loved it then and can only hope to love it more this time around. Charlotte Bronte is one of my top 5 favorite authors of all time. I love everything the woman wrote.  To honor this most wonderful of readalongs, I purchased a new, lovely copy of Jane Eyre to replace my tattered and torn Norton edition. As you can see in the picture, I’m thrilled to have a shiny, new, and supremely gorgeous Penguin English Library edition. Yay for the pretty!

Enough writing – time for reading!! Follow me on twitter for all my incoherent ramblings: @wickedinnuendo

Announcements!

First, a huge congratulations to Grace from Books Without Any Pictures who won my Anniversary Giveaway! She requested a copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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Announcement part the second, I’ve officially signed up for RIP VIII hosted over at Stainless Steel Droppings and can’t wait to get started! I love creepy reads! Going to blow past 4 selections and hopefully fill most of the next two months with books that fit the following categories:

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

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You can see some of my choices in the picture above. It’s my first time participating. Let me know if you’ve signed up and what you hope to read!!

Vanity Fair by William Thackeray – Readalong Wrap-Up!

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So Vanity Fair has come to an end. And getting to that end had some rather painfully boring bits – not going to lie. In fact, there were chapters that convinced me I would never finish the book, chapters that I literally have no recollection of what happened. But that’s okay because much of Thackeray’s story was superfluous fluff that got lost somewhere along the way for me. I definitely think my main issue was the audio. Not that this particular audio was bad, just that an 800+ page Victorian monstrosity should probably be read if I want to catch all the nuances and details. Lesson learned. Also, SPOILERS.

However, the last 200 pages or so were quite entertaining learning how everyone’s story concluded. I’m glad Amelia finally understood that her marvelous George was a devious rascal and that Dobbin truly loved her. I did get the feeling that by the time they married Dobbin’s feelings had rather cooled towards Amelia though. As for dear, darling Becky, we can only assume that she had some major role in Jos’s death as she continued on with her wily ways. The children, little Rawdon and Georgie, appear to have grown up well enough and hopefully their lives in the Vanity Fair will turn out more honest. But judging how ensconced society still is in the conceit of the Vanity Far some 150+ years later, I sort of doubt it.

In addition to finishing the novel, I also viewed the 2004 film starring Reese Witherspoon. I thought the movie was okay. The casting really intrigued me and turned out fairly perfect. I especially loved Jonathan Rhys Meyer as George Osborne. Perfection. Reese Witherspoon was a good choice for Becky, but Julian Fellows and his fellow script writers dropped the ball on her characterization. They did their best to make her a redeemable character – far less of the wicked little social climber that Thackeray created which bothered me. Do we not watch films with wicked women as lead characters or do we just demand that a wicked woman be getting ahead for reasons we can justify? Can’t she just want a title and money for a title and money’s sake?

I compared Becky Sharp to Moll Flanders throughout my entire time with her. I love Moll Flanders something fierce, even the movie adaptations. For this reason, I think my love for Becky Sharp could never surpass a trifle fondness. Without a doubt, a marvelous character and Vanity Fair’s best, but I didn’t embrace her quite as much as Moll.

Do I recommend this book to fellow readers? If you love Victorian literature and can deal with myriad side plots and large families with the same name – YES! Otherwise, good luck! I’m immensely glad I read Thackeray’s supposed masterpiece but have a feeling the details will fade over time. Now that you’ve read my ridiculous blunderings, head over to Melissa’s blog for the official wrap up post! And a huge thank you to Trish and Melissa for hosting!

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Vanity Fair Readalong: Midway Check-In

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At least it’s midway for some lovely folks! I, however, have fallen a bit behind, or rather I got a late start. I set aside the audio of IT in order to spend all my time listening to Vanity Fair in a desperate attempt to reach the finish line on time. Despite my slight failure at the midway point, I’m fairly positive I’ll finish up along with everyone else. For the sake of this update, I’m on chapter 29 when we should have read through chapter 34 – not too shabby! So what do I think so far?

There are far too many people named Crawley. And no one has a first name so they are impossible to follow. I feel like audio makes this even more difficult for some reason. Or maybe my mental capacities just fall short when I don’t have words to stare at.

Our two protagonists – Amelia and Becky – are interesting opposites who play well against each other. I don’t particularly like either of them, but look forward to seeing where their separate plots will take them. I’m also enjoying Amelia’s growing disdain for Becky and eagerly anticipate someone bitch slapping Becky soonish.

As for the men, I don’t even know what to think. Honestly, most of them bore me to tears and I’d marry not a single one of the bunch.

What keeps me going in Thackeray’s little story are the plot twists. While I haven’t encountered too many as of yet, the ones I have stumbled upon only promise more delicious delights in the near future. I can feel a trembling underfoot – something insanely wicked is sure to happen soon and I wouldn’t be opposed to this or that character biting the dust. With old Boney and the Battle of Waterloo quickly approaching our strapping young men, I predict bloodshed and weeping women soon enough. Is it wrong to look forward to this?

To be completely honest, Vanity Fair hasn’t lured me in like many other Victorian novels. I’m feeling rather lost in the minute details that don’t seem to matter much, the headache of remembering one Crawley from another, and this overwhelming feeling that none of it matters.  Hopefully, a turning point will come soon and I’ll race through the latter half of the novel.

If you want to join along in the discussion, it’s never too late! Just hop on over to Trish’s or Melissa’s blog and get chatty! They are our fine hosts for this readalong and pretty much group read experts at this point! Now I better get back to the Fair!!