Friday, October 21, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 33

A few chapters ago, I mentioned that the tendency for books of this era to rely on coincidence and convenience can be hard to accept.  We've come to the huge coincidence:  Jane just happened to land on the doorstep of her only living relatives in all of England.What're the odds?  Pretty slim, I would think.

However, I love this book anyway  You couldn't write it today without people calling you far-fetched, so I guess we can all be glad it was written when it was!

Don't you love how, when St. John tells Jane that she's being sought by a lawyer, she doesn't care a smidge why he's looking for her -- she only wants to know how Mr. Rochester is.  That is her single-minded inquiry, again and again until she is sure St. John can't tell her anything.  And, when St. John piously declares Rochester to be "a bad man" (p. 442), she insists on defending him.  Oh, steadfast Jane.

And I also love her generous nature.  She doesn't want to be an heiress anymore, with money to attract a Rochester.  She wants a family, and if she can buy one by sharing her fortune, she will consider the money well spent.

Favorite Lines:

"As you hope ever to be forgiven, Mr. Rivers, the high crime and misdemeanor of spoiling a sanded kitchen, tell me what I wish to know" (p. 445).

This was wealth indeed! -- wealth to the heart! -- a mine of pure, genial affections (p. 446).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Jane says "I don't want to marry, and never shall marry... I know I what I feel, and how averse are my inclinations to the bare thought of marriage" (p. 449).  If events had not transpired the way they do, do you think she would ever have married someone else?  Or would she have stuck to this and remained single?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 32

You're not going to believe this, but I'm starting to change my opinion of St. John Rivers.  Just a bit.  I didn't remember this chapter much at all -- to be honest, several of the times I've read this, I skimmed through this whole part of the book.  I've always been irked with him for his seemingly high-handed rejection of Miss Oliver and insistence that being a missionary is holier than being a parish minister.  I still disagree with the latter, but his decision not to pursue Miss Oliver makes a lot more sense to me this time through.

And I've had a thought.  Do you think that St. John and Miss Oliver are foils for Jane and Mr. Rochester?  This thought occurred to me when I was reading the description Jane gives of Miss Oliver's character:  "she was coquettish, but not heartless -- exacting, but not worthlessly selfish.  She had been indulged from her birth, but was not absolutely spoiled" (p. 426).  That struck me as very similar to Rochester.  And Miss Oliver herself says Jane is like Mr. Rivers.

St. John is handsome, and Jane is not.  Miss Oliver is beautiful, and Mr. Rochester is not.    Both St. John and Jane are poor, while Miss Oliver and Mr. Rochester are rich.  Like all good foils, they have just enough similarities to illuminate their differences and show off the main characters' good and bad points.

St. John had an iron resolve, like Jane.  Miss Oliver wants him to stay and marry her, and he believes he should not, just like Jane believes she should not stay and marry Rochester.  But unlike Jane, who is morally right in her decision, St. John is merely stubborn.  And unlike Rochester, who is intelligent and a good match for Jane in the ways that matter to them, Miss Oliver is St. John's mental and emotional inferior.

So, anyway, I don't quite dislike St. John like I always did before.  I still agree with his self-assessment that he is "a cold, hard, ambitious man" (p. 434), and I don't think I will ever truly like him.  But I think I understand and pity him more now.

Favorite Lines:

To live amid general regard, though it be but the regard of working-people, is like "sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet;" serene inward feelings bud and bloom under the ray (p. 425).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Jane says, "Reserved people often really need the frank discussion of their sentiments and griefs more than the expansive" (p. 431).  Do you find that to be true?

Have you changed your opinion of any characters during this read-along so far?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 31

And so Jane begins her newest adventure, teaching poor young girls.  I do like her attitude that "the germs of native excellence, refinement, intelligence, kind feeling, are as likely to exist in their hearts as in those of the best-born" (p. 415).  Yet, she feels as if she's sunk to a lower place in society than she previously possessed, which I'm sure she has -- schoolmarm to a bunch of commoners must be a lower station than private governess to a gentleman's ward.  What I love best here is that Jane points out that she should not hate or despise herself for feeling this because she knows it is wrong to feel herself degraded.  Recognizing herself as being petty and weak is a great step forward.  Way to go, Jane!

I also love how worried she still is about Mr. Rochester.  She worries that he will be driven to "desperate grief and fatal fury" (p. 417) by her disappearance.  

And then here's St. John, kindly inquiring as to whether Jane likes her cottage and job.  I do like him for that.  But then Miss Oliver turns up, and he gets all flower-crushing and distant.  St. John, St. John, you're such a stubborn fellow, but not in the good way, I fear.

Favorite Lines:

God directed me to a correct choice.  I thank His providence for the guidance! (p. 416)

Possible Discussion Questions:

Jane says of Miss Oliver possessing both beauty and fortune, "What happy combination of the planets presided over her birth, I wonder?" (p. 421)  Do you think she's being tongue-in-cheek here, or does Jane believe in astrology?  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Lady Cop Makes Trouble" by Amy Stewart

You might remember how much I ooohed and ahhhed over Girl Waits With Gun this summer.  I snatched up a copy of the sequel while I was on vacation, but didn't have time to read it until we got home.  However, once I was in it, I was really in it, and I think I liked it even better than the first book!  Girl dragged a little in places, as the Kopps waited and waited to catch Henry Kauffman.  But Lady never felt draggy at all.  Yay!

Once again, what I liked best was Constance Kopp herself, the lady cop -- or at least, she wants to be a lady cop, but there's some confusion as to whether ladies are allowed to be cops yet, this being the early 20th century.  But she's still the sort of resourceful, level-headed, determined woman I have always striven to be, and I quite admire her.  The fictional her, I mean -- I have no idea how close the personality of the character is to the real Constance Kopp, but whatever.

In this book, Constance kinda sorta accidentally lets a prisoner escape, gets removed from her tentative post as deputy, and sets out unofficially tracking the prisoner down.  Because she's awesome.  Norma and Fleurette are back again as well, and of course, Sheriff Heath.  Poor Sheriff Heath, he's beset from all sides in this, and I felt quite sorry for him at times.

Particularly Good Bits:

I carried a gun and handcuffs.  I could make an arrest, just like any deputy.  I earned a man's salary.  People did find it shocking and I didn't mind that one bit (p. 13).

It occurred to me that there was something admirable about a man in his late thirties.  He was old enough to know his own mind and still young enough to do something about it (p. 46).

"Yes, well, he's a man of limited intellect, and if he had more than one idea at a time they'd die from overcrowding" (p. 71).

How often would I have to run to get away from my own mistakes? (p. 174)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 again, for some hints and allusions to unsavory behavior, violence, and suspense.  Little or no bad language, and astonishingly clean overall.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Read Thanks to You

Today's topic from The Broke and the Bookish is "Ten Books I've Read Because of Another Blogger."  I have gotten so many wonderful recommendations from other bloggers, even before I started a book-dedicated blog.  Here are ten I've loved, with the titles linked to my reviews of them:

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery -- I read several rave reviews of this over the course of a year or two, and finally got it from the library.  And promptly cursed my reticence to read it, because wow... it's now one of my absolute favorite books, and I plan to re-read it this winter.

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster -- another one that lots and lots of people told me I should read, so I finally tried it, not expecting to love it, and then I couldn't put it down.  It makes me laugh and laugh, and I dearly love to laugh over a good book.

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay -- Reay's books have been alllllll over the corner of the blogosphere I inhabit, and with good cause.  She smooshes classic plots, a love of books, and modern problems together to make beautiful stories.

Greenwillow by B. J. Chute -- my friend Heidi gave me a copy of this because she knew I would love it.  She was right!  It is utterly charming, and another book that made me chuckle.

I, Claudia by Charity Bishop -- funny story:  One day, I suddenly realized that the Charity who wrote the book I, Claudia that I kept reading reviews of, the Charity who edited that Femnista magazine I liked to read, and the Charity who ran my favorite MBTI typing site were all the same person.  The day I realized that was the day I applied to become a writer for Femnista.  But I didn't actually manage to read this book until a couple months ago -- in fact, my mom had read it before I did!  Crazy, huh?

Middlemarch by George Eliot -- I read this because I participated in a watch-along of the BBC movie version hosted by Birdie, loved the film, made my best friend watch the film, she loved it too, and we decided to read the book together.  It's one of the deepest and most profound works of fiction I've ever read.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell -- oodles of blogging friends kept insisting I needed to watch the BBC miniseries and read the book.  But until my best friend watched it and basically ordered me to see it, I just never quite got around to it.  And I fell so much in love, I gave copies of the miniseries away for Christmas and then read the book.  Delicious.

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson -- one of the best bits of western Christian fiction I've ever read, and I never would have known it existed if I hadn't read about it on a blog!

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd -- Kara raved and raved and raved about this book, so when I spotted it at the library, I gave it a try.  Both my son and I loved it so much we had to buy our own copy, which is pretty well-worn by now.

Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- book blogger Dale reviewed a story from this that sounded so funny, I had to go get the book and read it myself.  So happy I did!  In fact, I discovered that, for the most part, I like Fitzgerald's short stories better than his novels.

What books have you read because of a review on a blog or GoodReads?  Please share!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 30

One of the things I have had the hardest time reconciling myself with, when I read books from the 1800s, is how often they rely on coincidence and convenience.  Faint with hunger and desperation, Jane just happens to fall in with people she likes!  And not just likes, but with whom she shares "perfect congeniality of tastes, sentiments, and principles" (p. 405).  I'm happy for her, but wow, how convenient, huh?  And the coincidence will come into play in a couple of chapters, but we'll get to that later.

The one thing that makes the happy, instant, blissful life for Jane at least a bit believable is exasperating, restless St. John, with his "reserved... abstracted, and even brooding nature" (p. 407).  I've been trying to figure out why I don't like St. John as much as Rochester, because really, he's a much better person.  Maybe it's that lack of "mental serenity" and "inward content" (p. 407) -- he seems to enjoy being discontented.  And he's so, I don't know, bound up and closed off, like he's closed and locked himself and tied himself all up so no one can ever get close to him.  It's not a healthy way to be, certainly, and it makes me tired just thinking about what being around him would be like.  I have a great need to make people happy, to help them out of unhappiness, but when someone like St. John steadfastly insists on being miserable, then my instincts are thwarted, I get annoyed, and eventually I give up on them.  And I think that's what makes me not simply like St. John Rivers less than Rochester, but actively dislike him at times.

And then there's the lack of Gospel in his sermon.  And in his life!  He's all Law, insisting on denying himself everything so he can earn his way to heaven.  Not how it works, buddy.

Plus, dude, what even are you trying to do by taking page upon page to tell Jane you've got a teaching job for her?  It smacks of teasing.

Possible Discussion Questions:

Why does Jane say, "compared with that of a governess in a rich house, it was independent; and the fear of servitude with strangers entered my soul like iron" (p. 411)?  When she left Lowood, she was more than happy to take a position as governess working for strangers.  What has changed?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Anne of Green Gables Week Tag

How perfect is this for my Year With Anne?  I just discovered, via Naomi Sarah, that a blogger named Miss Evie is hosting an Anne of Green Gables blog week!  Looks like I finished reading the original series just in time, eh?

To kick things off, she's provided a nice tag for anyone to fill out if they're so inclined.  I'm so inclined!  Here we go.

1. How did you get introduced to Anne of Green Gables?

When I was around 7 years old, a friend of my parents happened to have a copy of one of the books tucked in her diaper bag or purse when she came visiting one day.  My mom had never read the books, and her friend gushed over them to the point that my mom promised to get them from the library.  She did.  She read the first one aloud to us as a family, probably in the car on random jaunts while my dad drove.  We loved it, and so she read us the next, and the next...

2. Are you more like Anne or Diana? Why?

I'm not sure.  I'm highly imaginative like Anne, and I'm also a writer, like her.  But I'm more sensible, like Diana, and also not so likely to get carried away with my emotions.  And I've got dimpled elbows, hee.  So I guess I'm a mix.

3. If Rachel Lynde called your hair as red as carrots how would you react?

Laugh.  My hair actually IS red at the moment -- I dyed it back in late July.  It's not really a carrot color (and yes, people, red carrots do exist), but anyway, I've never been especially sensitive about my appearance, so even if she called my (natural color) hair "as brown as sticks" or "mousy brown," I probably would be like, "Yeah, it kinda is."

Not carrot-like at all.  Really more cherry-like, when I first dyed it...

4. Gilbert or Morgan Harris?

Gilbert, all the way.  Morgan Harris isn't even in the books.  But even if he was, I would still choose Gilbert over him because Gilbert is a brick, and Morgan Harris is a dictatorial grump.  I also choose Gilbert over that Royal Gardner dude from the books, though he was much nicer than Morgan Harris. 

I could easily spend the rest of my life married to Gilbert Blythe.  (Plus, Gilbert is an ISFJ like me, so of course he's my second-favorite character in the series!  ISFJs pretty much always are.)

5. Honest opinion on the third Anne film.

I actually haven't watched it yet.  It came out when I was in college, and I got kind of snotty about how it wasn't based on the books at all, so why would I watch it?  But, having just finished rereading the books, I'm kind of interested to see it now, which surprises me.

6. Have you seen the New Anne film?

Um... I... wait, what?  New Anne film?  ::Scoots over to  Oh my!  Martin Sheen, huh?  Well, obviously, no, I have not seen it.  But I might like to.  As my sidebar says:

7. What in your own words is a Kindred Spirit?

Someone who intuitively sympathizes with another person even if they don't know them very well.

8. Movie Gilbert or Green Gables Fables Gilbert?

I haven't watched "Green Gables Fables" at all yet, but I do want to try it out.  I'm going to sound old and crotchety, but I must admit I have not really gotten into the whole web series retelling thing.  I keep trying different ones, but none of them have interested me enough to get me to watch more than 2 or 3 eps.  

So, obviously, Movie Gilbert!  I was so sad to hear of Jonathon Crombie's passing last year.

Jonathon Crombie, not as Gilbert, but honestly, it could be Gilbert.

9. Does anyone know where we can watch Road to Avonlea online?

Not at the moment, but the website says it will have full episodes available on a new streaming site starting in November.

10. Favourite book cover?

There are so many gorgeous ones!  I think I like this one best, though:

11. The Films or The Books?

Both!  I love the first five books, but the last three kind of dwindle down into me being disappointed and a bit grumpy.  But the first two films from the '80s don't do that to me at all.  However, they're far too short, so... I love both.