06 March 2008

Austenland Part II

I generally assume everybody's opinion is more valid than my own, so after posting my last entry, I decided to re-read Austenland, just to make sure I was right about how ludicrous Mountain Mama's complaint about the book was. And I was right. There is exactly one mention of the word 'groin' in the book. And, as BlackJazz pointed out in is comment on the last entry, 'groin' is used medically to describe an area under the pelvis that can be injured or pulled. An injury that can occur in athletes of either sex. Which makes 'groin' the least offensive term Ms. Hale could have used to describe the scene. And I will stop harping on it now.

Mountain Mama's other complaint, that the writing wasn't consistent, is much, much less ludicrous. During my second reading, in which I could spend more time paying attention to details, I noticed that the name of the beneficient aunt was alternately spelled Carolyn/Caroline throughout the book. A good editor should have noticed that. There is only one character in the book with that name and it should have had the same spelling each and every time it was used. I would assume that the manuscript was read by its editor at least twice and if I -- still fairly doped up on decongestants and cough medicine -- noticed it, he or she should have noticed. Also, there are instances where the grammar completely changes. This is acceptable in scenes in which individuals are valiantly trying to mimic the speech patterns of Regency England, but it is not acceptable in the middle of the heroine's internal monologue. It takes the reader out of the book.

With all those nitpicks intact, I still really like the book. There are moments of truth in the story that are very relatable. Who hasn't, at one time or another, wanted to announce to roommates, Family Home Evening groups, or the universe in general, "I refuse to be Fanny Price." Who hasn't realized that her obssession with Mr. Darcy/Thornton/Rochester/Wentworth/
Hornblower just might be getting in the way of her real life? Who hasn't succumbed to the ephemeral delights of FantasyLand? I have spent a lot of time traipsing around FantasyLand these past few years. When life is hard it is easy to want to escape, part of what this novel is wrestling with is whether that doesn't make life harder. Obviously, in the grand tradition of Austen, the heroine gets the (right) guy, which just feeds into the fantasy. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

8 comments:

katharine said...

thanks for the recommendation, I'll add this to my 'to read' list

esperanza said...

Did you know Shannon Hale is LDS by the way?

Scully said...

Yeah, I knew that, E. That is why it took a book club selection to get me to read one of her books. My stubborn refusal to do anything just because someone is LDS kept me from reading any of her stuff. I thought that The Princess Academy was very well done, however, which points to a more thorough editor, or a longer deadline.

katharine said...

did you read the twilight series?
kind of disappointing, especially from an 'lds author'

Scully said...

I read the first book, Twilight, but none of the others. I just didn't care that much about the characters to put in the effort. I wasn't disappointed in it, I just wasn't enamored in it. Considering all the other 'YA' books out there that deal with crap like sex and drugs and then get turned into TV shows like Gossip Girl, Twighlight was tame. So I'm totally understand the obssession adolescents have with it. And I would rather have them reading that than a lot of other stuff. On the other hand, I would rather have them reading classics than Twilight, but you get what you can. Also, I'm usually more disappointed in LDS writers who obviously shoe-horn the Church or its standards into books where the story would be fine without mentioning stuff like that. Which is part of my stubborn refusal to read a book just because the author is LDS. I should probably just write a post on it.

esperanza said...

I haven't read Princess Academy but want to. She also wrote a book a lot of my students loved called Goose Girl that is ad lit.

katharine said...

i absolutely hated the main character, but i kept reading the books hoping that she might 'grow' or something. the books were okay, but the blind obsession really gets to me. left me really wanting to read something with a mentally healthy character.

cherbear said...

Totally off subject, but have you seen the commercials for "Leatherheads?" Your two favorite men are in it!! I can tell this will be your new favorite movie! It looks pretty fun.