Monday, June 6, 2011

Jane Austen and Comic Books

I know I just made a fairly mammoth update yesterday, but I just finished this today and I didn't want to wait another month before writing about it.  By the way, if anybody is curious, I have read 28 of the 60 books on my original reading list

by Jane Austen
First published 1818, this edition copyright 1906
Everyman's Library, Alfred A. Knopf, New York
249 pages

It took me a long time to read this book.  This is likely due to the peculiar circumstance that I could rarely venture beyond one chapter at a time without beginning to feel drowsy.  That isn't to say the book is dull, because it's really not; it just consistently made me sleepy. 

Here we have one of Austen's lesser-known romance novels, a story featuring Anne Elliot, who is pretty old by your typical Austen heroine standards (she's all of twenty-seven).  At age nineteen, Anne fell in love with one Frederick Wentworth, but her father and a close friend persuaded her against the match, primarily because of Wentworth's low position in society, and Anne thought it best to submit to their thoughts than follow her own feelings.  Thus the gentleman left and joined the navy.  Fast-forward eight years, and both Anne and Frederick--now Captain Frederick Wentworth--are still single.  They haven't seen or spoken to each other in almost a decade, but life throws them back into each other's paths.  Obviously, things can't just pick up where they left off--there are always complications in Jane Austen romances, though Austen's more popular heroines never seem to have quite so much stacked against their chances for happiness as Anne has.  Her family members are always keeping her down, her father's poor financial choices have left the family somewhat lacking in social prestige (and thus somewhat less attractive to many potential suitors for the Elliot sisters), and Captain Wentworth appears to have not quite forgiven her for breaking his heart so completely eight years before.  As always, Austen weaves a tale that is equal parts social and economic plotting and emotional confusion in a style that is so straight-laced you might miss the wit if you're not ready for it.  It is a story of redemption and second chances.  But it's also a Jane Austen, so you're already pretty sure how it's going to end.  Let's face it, you don't read romance novels for the mystery :-)

I did like this book.  I did struggle somewhat with the sentence structure.  Austen's thoughts often take off in different directions rather abruptly, and there are so many commas and parentheses that I sometimes forgot what was being referenced or who was speaking by the time I reached the end of the paragraph.  Ultimately, it's a very different style of writing and of storytelling than I'm used to, so it took some time adjusting.  I don't read many novels where 95% of the action is sitting/walking and having conversation and/or pausing for reflection.  There's a lot of talking about things that happened between chapters, but very little of things actually happening while you're reading.  At one point, a character falls and hits her head, and it comes as a bit of a shock to the system because it's something happening rather than someone talking about something that happened.  Again, it's just a very different narrative style than I'm used to, and it's a good stretch for my mind to grapple with. 


Speaking of differing literary styles, I realized I haven't been offering any comments on the graphic novels and comic collections I've been reading this year.  This is because I don't count them in my end-of-the-year page count totals.  Still, some great stories, and so I figured I'd let you know what I've read so far this calendar year in the world of graphic novels and comic strip treasuries.  They've all been pretty good.

Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar
Batman: Hush by Jeff Loeb
Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid
Sgt. Piggy's Lonely Hearts Club Comic: A Pearls Before Swine Treasury by Stephan Pastis
Runaways #2: Teenage Wasteland by Brian K. Vaughn
Runaways #3: The Good Die Young by Brian K. Vaughn

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I'm so glad you finished/liked Persuasion. I feel like it is somehow more rewarding than some of her other novels, as much as I love them.