Monday, March 26, 2012

2. Midnight in Austenland - Shannon Hale

      She blew out her cheeks and tried to focus on driving. She could feel him staring at her, contemplating her, and it was such an unfamiliar sensation that she sprouted goose bumps as if she'd been tickled. Thoughts fled her head. Apparently they found the place too crazy to stick around.

      Charlotte Kinder seeks to escape the complications of her life by vacationing at Pembroke Park - a place where paying customers can have the authentic Jane Austen experience, complete with period clothing, balls, and even a love affair or two. But something dark lingers within the stately grounds and Charlotte can't let her suspicions rest. Where everyone involved is playing a part, will Charlotte be able to tell the difference between act and reality before it is too late?

      LOVED Austenland, this one is so-so. Still highly enjoyable with a splendid cast of characters, such as the return of Miss Charming, the slightly silly but comical Southern darling. The setting and events are even more unbelievable the second time round, and yet I still want to find myself at Pembroke Park. Shannon Hale still amuses with her self-deprecating and likeable characters, with action, dialogue and internal musings set to make you laugh within the first page.  

Starting again - 2012: 1. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

    I went cold with envy. I had never been to Yale, and Yale was the place all the seniors in my house liked to go best on week-ends. I decided to expect nothing from Buddy Willard. If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.

      The account of a young woman's breakdown and treatment, which supposedly reflects the author's own battle with depression. Esther Greenwood is terse, unapologetic, pessimistic and wholly engaging. Although sometimes frustrating or even hopeless, the narrative is never exactly dark and is instead surprisingly objective for such personal experiences. As if seeing events from at some point separate, Esther makes observations about herself and others that seem to cut right to the core of things.

      The fact that this is Syliva Plath's only novel makes The Bell Jar even more poignant. A girl trapped and preserved beneath this bell jar who you want to know received some respite, some experience beyond the blurred glass. I want to know whether Esther is alright, whether the world ever appeared different. In Plath's suicide the answer seems prevented, and yet provided.

2012 - Books read so far:

Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
The Pact - Jodi Picoult
About A Boy - Nicholas Hardy?
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Midnight in Austenland - Shannon Hale


The Alchemist's Daughter - Katharine McMahon
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood