Its that time again, so pull up your popcorn and let’s talk Books-to-Movies. This month was Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen’s first published work, originally printed in 1811 under the name of “A Lady”, the novel revolves around two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. With the death of their father, the Dashwood’s are forced to move out of their family home and the well-to-do lifestyle they enjoyed into a much smaller home without the luxuries they are used to. In the novel, both Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne are portrayed as emotional almost dramatic women with Elinor being the only real level head in the household. I love Jane Austen’s portrayal of the relationship between sisters, how they can love each other and yet drive each other nuts at the same time.
Elinor is my favorite character, she is pragmatic in the face of the change of circumstances and calmly does what needs to be done to take care of her family. I think she understands better than the rest of the Dashwoods how careful they need to be about their reputations because of their precarious financial position.
I grew up watching the 1995 film version of the novel and while I love Emma Thompson as Elinor I have to admit I prefer the 2008 BBC version. Which do you prefer? There are so many things about the 2008 version I love I almost don’t know where to start (notice I said almost, it is rare for me to be at a loss for words especially about what I love).
First, my favorite scene is when Edward is talking to Elinor after the news of his secret engagement to Lucy Steele is found out. I love how there is an entire room between Edward and Elinor but from the camera angles you feel as if they are almost touching. I think it must be hard as an actor/actress to display sexual attraction to another in a historical film while not touching each other, Edward and Elinor achieve it with this one scene.
Now the the big question is Willoughby: do you love him or hate him? Dominic Cooper is perfect as Willoughby, being charming while at the same time so incredibly selfish. He is exactly how I have always pictured Lord Byron, the poet. Lord Byron has figured in several historical novels I have previously read and has been described as brooding, poetic, with all the ladies falling for him. Do you feel for Willoughby, having to marry for money when he clearly loves Marianne or do you dislike him for refusing to sacrifice for love? I definitely wouldn’t mind being carried through the rain by him though.
Finally, my biggest issue with the story is Edward’s disinheritance because of his engagement to Lucy but his brother Robert is not disinherited when he marries Lucy. I watched the movies (both versions) before I read the book and the reason I originally read the book was because I didn’t understand how Edward could be disinherited and Robert not for the same action. Unfortunately, the novel doesn’t explain it any better than the movie does, it just happens. Do you think this matters? Did the unfairness bother you?
Like the hawks that help him, Luke Aron is a warrior used to fighting for his survival. In To Tame a Tiger by Susan Kelley, the Tigers are a proud warrior race who have been cursed by a witch to be bonded to a sorceress to survive. Now that Luke’s bond holder has been killed, he must find another sorceress soon or he will have to choose between death or bonding to Beka, the woman who murdered his bond holder to gain Luke as a warrior.
Violet is a sorceress who has only used her powers to help her people have a better crop yield but now finds herself a political hostage by Beka. Violet meets Luke while they are both prisoners and agrees to take his bond in exchange for protection and help to escape, little does Violet know what having a Tiger in herkeep will mean to both her body and her heart as Luke and Violet battle to defeat Beka from gaining control of Violet’s family’s land. Violet will do anything to protect her family and lands, even if it means making Luke submit to her will in the battle against Beka.
To Tame a Tiger is a fantasy novel set in a land filled with magic and warriors. I liked the characters of both Luke and Violet, the novel moved at a fast pace and kept me interested in knowing what was going to happen next, wanting to know how they were going to defeat Beka when the odds were against them. Kelley was able to portray the strength of Luke while believably showing his hatred and anger and being forced into anything. However, my biggest issue was the way the bond was passed was during sex because all of the defenses of Luke were down and only then could Violet accept the bond. This meant that right after meeting Luke and Violet had sex in order to save both their lives. This is a personal issue because I prefer the characters to get to know each other a little bit (perhaps even knowing each other’s last names?!) before jumping into bed together. Other than the immediate sex, the novel was well done with an interesting premise of the curse affecting the warrior race and Beka’s maneuverings to get the power she so desperately sought.
Having moved in the last year, I have discovered that the worst thing about moving (even beyond the how many boxes does it take to contain my entire house, why do we have some much stuff?! nightmare) is finding new places to shop and eat. When I was growing up in St. George, UT my mother would take me to Doc’s Bookloft, this incredibly wonderful used book store located in a 100 year old pioneer home. The walls are 12 inches thick and they have built bookcases everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Each turn in the house was a new adventure as different collections were discovered. I would get distracted going up the steep, narrow stairs, pausing to look at a book on the bookcase on the landing, unwittingly causing a traffic jam. The sci-fi room had books stored in the closet and the romance room was so full you had to sit on one of the comfy armchairs to peer around it and see what books were on the shelves behind the chair. My mother usually had to forcibly drag me out of the store because I wanted to “look at just one more book, I promise, just one more please!”
After moving to Salt Lake City, I had to go search out a new used bookstore. Having grown up with the great Doc’s I was SOOO disappointed to discover that most of the used bookstores were very shoddily organized in seedy strip malls where all the owners seemed to smoke inside the building, permeating the books with the smell of cigarettes. (Is there some unwritten rule I don’t know about that decrees that most used book stores must smell like cigarettes?!) Finally, after living in Salt Lake for four years I was able find an acceptable used bookstore. I didn’t love it as it was in a strip mall without the charm and sense of adventure of Doc’s but at least it was smoke free.
I moved to Phoenix almost a year ago and the hunt for the used bookstore began. I found two right away and was SOO excited to enter, one was even this great store with rare one-of-a-kind editions on the shelves but when I asked where the romance section was, I was sneered at. Well, good news, I have found a used bookstore that is great, it has a huge romance section, an impressive young adult section and…my favorite….a clearance section with some of my favorite authors for only a $1.00. Halfprice Books has seen me three times in the last week alone so expect some new reviews as my TBR (to-be-read) stack just grew alot. It doesn’t have the charm of Doc’s but it does have books in a way I can find them so I am content.
This got me thinking about why I choose used bookstores over new bookstores most of the time. Obviously, the first consideration is price. I go through books like they are water, so I am always happier when I can get three books for the price of one. But beyond the money issue, I think part of the reason I like used bookstores is because you really don’t know what you are going to find. When I go to a new large chain store there will be authors I am not familiar with but usually they are best sellers or books that some corporate office has decided to push, which is not necessarily the best book (not that I haven’t found some great books there and spent way too much money). There is more a sense of adventure at a used bookstore, a feeling that you never are sure what is going to be on the shelves. Will be a the latest NY Times Bestseller or will it be a book published twenty years ago by someone I have never heard of?
Little does Kate know that lusting after a man bathing in the pond on her way home from work would lead to such an adventure. A Touch of Scandal by Jennifer Haymore is about the life of Kate, a beautiful servant girl who is really the sister of the man she is pretending to be a servant for, trying to protect her family but pretending to be someone different.
Garrett, Duke of Carlton, is on the hunt for the man who framed him for murder and stole his sister away. After searching England for the two, Garrett finds Kate, a serving girl who distracts him from his revenge and make him think of the future instead of the past. As Kate and Garrett get closer, the secrets they are keeping threaten to tear apart their new found love and keep them from happiness forever.
Okay, honest truth, didn’t love this book. It was okay but some of the events seem a bit far-fetched for me. Also, the main character Kate seemed to have every flaw and strength known to man. The author ran on and on about how Kate was loved by her family and then in the next breathe was talking about how Kate’s older brothers scared her with their viciousness. The novel had all the right elements, a revenge plot, a heroine determined to care for her family at all costs and a hero needing to be saved from himself but just didn’t quite do it for me. It wasn’t horrible to the point that I couldn’t finish the book (I have run across those before) but I really struggled to be invested with the characters and their trials. Read it for yourself and let me know what you think.