Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Looking for Love Stories

15 Feb

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day (or, as it’s known in some cultures, the Festival of Cinnamon Hearts), and I enjoyed reading blogger’s thoughts on their favourite love stories – or lack thereof. Lots of stories have great romances in them (Lyra and Will – swoon!), but are they love stories? Are stories with happy romantic endings (ie. the couple actually ends up together – not separated eternally by parallel universes or genetic time traveling diseases) automatically relegated to the mush pile?

Simon at Savidge Reads and Sasha at Sasha & The Silverfish both mentioned that they haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, a love story favourite. I adore P&P, but not really for the love. Austen’s sassy heroine and powers of subtle sarcasm make this book for me – but Mr. Darcy is a bit of an afterthought. I think of him as more of a prize for Lizzy playing her cards right.

Once you start to think about it, you realize just how few love stories there are in modern literary fiction. Is it because it’s just so hard to make people believe in a happy story? Because writers themselves have especially crappy love lives? I heard once that L.M. Montgomery always had a hard time writing realistic love scenes because it’s not something she really had any personal experience with (would love to get the source for that if anybody knows it).

What are your favourite love stories? How do you think writers manage to avoid mushy territory? With humour, sex, or a bigger overall plotline?

Not creepy at all...

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My Holiday Book Haul

5 Jan

On my way back to London from Toronto, I was forced to take an extra piece of luggage. While it’s true that half of this suitcase was filled with cheese, maple syrup, and leftover beauty booty (translation: fancy shampoo from my old job), the rest of it was crammed with books, both new gifts and beloved oldies that I rescued from the bookshelf of left-behind books. 

I got some pretty good stuff this year, including the Wrinkle in Time boxed set (I used its pretty artwork in my first ever post) and Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness. I also scored this customizable Pride & Prejudice. Gimmicky? Yes. Awesome? Yes. My friend was smart enough to know that the best part would be choosing the new character names, so she left that up to me. I’m really tempted to call Mr Darcy “Mr. Darsehole,” after this guy in my hometown who would always sniff around high school girls well into his 30s. Anyway. 

It’s also worth mentioning that there was a fair amount of book swapping between the family, something my parents started last year by giving each of us a book they already owned that they thought we would like (I got Marina Lewycka’s Two Caravans, which on my North American copy is called Strawberry Fields). It’s a nice way for me to unload some of my book collection without feeling like I’m actually giving it up (it may have been Christmas, but I’m not really all that generous).

Buy More Book (Stuff)

6 Nov

John Steinbeck's The Pearl, as a purse

Right after reading this way-harsh diatribe against Penguin’s practice of lending their covers to mugs, notebooks, and yes – deck chairs, I found out about Olympia Le-Tan’s collection of clutches made from hand-embroidered renderings of first edition book covers. And I liked it. 

I should confess that I’m a huge sucker for the Penguin merch (I’ve been eyeing the Pride and Prejudice mug for a while, and have even added it to my bookmarks folder “Gift Guide,” which is packed with reasonably-priced items for the discerning shopper, should they want to light up my face this holiday season). I was the kind of kid who would hit up the Scholastic book fair and – after picking up a copy of Julie of the Wolves or The Giver – spend the remainder of her allowance on kitten posters and troll-doll pencil-toppers.

So although I won’t be spending my rent money on a Nineteen Eighty-Four purse anytime soon, and I don’t have anywhere to actually put a Brighton Rock deck chair, it really doesn’t bother me that other people do.

These penguin mugs would make a lovely present for Lija

The offending goods taking up shelf space at my local Foyle's