And classics…

Well, most of them I’ve listed in my list under the “recommendations” tab at the top of the page. But to recap: (prose only, here)

  • All of Jane. Non-negotiable
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Some of Thomas Hardy. I really like Far From The Madding Crowds and Tess is interesting.
  • Wuthering Heights. Trust me.
  • Virginia Woolf! Esp. Mrs. Dalloway: “Life, London, this moment of June…”
  • Edith Wharton: Age of Innocence, etc.
  • Dracula and Frankenstein. Very different, but both very good. The critical debates surrounding Dracula are so funny.
  • The Scarlet Letter. Again, this grew on me. Hated it when I read it in high school. But…now, not so bad.
  • Orwell: Animal Farm, 1984
  • Rebecca…ooooh creepy. 🙂

Jane adaptations.

Dear N and C,

I am a Jane purist, so I tend to dislike “retellings” of P&P. The one exception to this rule isn’t really a re-telling, per se: it’s telling the story from Darcy’s point of view. It’s called Darcy’s Story, and for awhile it was only available in the UK (Where my very good friend A picked it up for me), but is now available stateside. The UK edition, however, has the origianl P&P artwork in it, which I adore.

I have read Elizabeth Ashton’s “Continuations” of P&P, and I find these “diverting”, as Elizabeth would say. Mr. Darcy’s Daughters is the first one, and imagines Mr and Mrs. D with “five marriageable daughters of [their] own!” Elizabeth and Darcy are in Turkey for the novel–Darcy having secured a plum diplomatic post–so the girls are staying with Cousin Fitzwilliam. It’s an enjoyable romp. But, in general, I tend to read the originals as opposed to “retellings”.

As for modern romances…I don’t do a whole lot of them, if by that we mean the “romance” section at B&N.

I’m intrigued by PJ James’ Death at Pemberly, which is another sort of “continuation” of P&P. But really, who is better than Jane? Almost no one.



A Delightful Diversion

Kara Louise

Just recently, I decided to re-read a book that was returned to me. It is a re-telling of the famous story by Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice.

I can admit that to many and including myself, there are many novels that are re-tellings of this famous story. Certainly they can go from one extreme to the next. I must also admit that because of this factor I am picky and almost hesiate about reading many of these novels.

Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise was a book I had picked up one day at Barnes & Noble because it looked different. I read the first few pages and was instantly grabbed by how she wrote, in my opinion was not how Jane would write, but is has feel of Jane in the style. (If that makes any sense)

What caught my eye also with the novel itself was the re-told story was on the sea, which was absolutely interesting to me, because I did wonder how would that work out. Best part is Kara keeps a good amount of the story in there and everything, well almost everything happens the way Jane plotted.

My first time reading the book, it took me literally a day to finish the book. Kara Louise brings a new “what-if this happened instead” to readers. I like how she kept to the characters personalities, but maybe made a new dimension to them to fit her story.

One thing I love to say about this book, is I wanted to use the term “delightful diversion” as much as Elizabeth did after meeting Mr. Wright (aka Mr. Darcy). It is a lovely read for those who love and adore the characters that were created by the wonderful Miss Jane Austen.

Before I end this entry, I must ask not only Em and Camille, but everyone, is there a good novel based on Jane Austen or really any classic that you loved to read and would recommend?

Learning to Understand Poetry

I delved into poetry in high school. One author we read often was John Donne. At the time, I

found his poetry extremely hard to understand and harsh in tone. So, I wrote him off as a poet I would

never comprehend and left it at that. I also wrote off poetry. I could comprehend prose better and stuck

with that.

About four years later, I came across a HBO movie

Wit starring Emma Thompson. This movie

describes what it is like to die from cancer. The loneliness, the desire to interact with others, the ultimate fear

of death. Well, the person dying from this horrible disease was a Doctor of Philosophy specializing in

the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. Throughout the movie she recites the Holy Sonnets focusing

on Holy Sonnet VI.

Listening to the poem, rather than reading it myself brought it to life for me. I could hear the tone John

Donne was setting. I could sense the dread of facing death. I could feel the relief that “Death is just a

breath, a pause between life and life everlasting” (Wit)

This new-found understanding of John Donne made me want to find more of his poetry, in particular

his Holy Sonnets. They became prayers to me. I was able to find more of his Holy Sonnets in my

prayer books.

While John Donne is still very difficult to understand properly, I have come to appreciate his work even

more. By understanding how to read poetry, I hope to gain a deeper appreciation for the art that is

poetry and fall in love with it even more.

More Poetry!


To respond to the below post: I have quite a few favorite poets.

I love, love W.H. Auden. “Lay your sleeping head, my love” is quite possibly the perfect poem.

Also love Elizabeth Browning (“Sonnets from the Portuguese”, which has “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” in it), and Alfred, Lord Tennyson–who doesn’t love “The Lady of Shalott”? (And Anne Shirley’s recitation of it?) He was also Queen Victoria’s poet laureate, and dedicated his “Idylls of the King” to her husband, Prince Albert.

Am a big fan of Dante, as I am re-reading the Commedia right now. It grows on you.

And I can’t forget Oscar Wilde–his “Ballad of Reading Gaol” slays me every time. Many of his poems have a Catholic sensibility that I enjoy.

Finally, Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments!) and Good Ol’ Chaucer. Just think how long The canterbury Tales would’ve been if he’d finished it!

Wait–I said finally. I lied. There’s more!

Christina Rossetti–Goblin Market! In the Bleak Midwinter!

John Donne--A Valediction Forbidding Mourning

JOHN MILTON! Paradise Lost! Oh, man, that slays me, especially the last lines:

Some natural tears they dropp’d, but dried them soon/

the world was all before them where to choose their place of rest and providence their guide/

they, hand in hand, with wander steps and slow/

through Eden took their solitary way.

And the Russian, Pushkin, for the fantastic Eugene Onegin, which Tchaikovsky turned into a gorgeous opera.

Pains of Sleep

One of the books I received from my Daddy for Christmas was a book of select works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which is one of my top favorite poets of all time. My Daddy said he made sure that the poems I liked were in the book collection. For my favorite poem is titled, “Pains of Sleep”.

Why would I like Coleridge or for that matter why would I love that piece out of all the rest. Well up until my college years I had never read any of the poets my Daddy would read or recite, except for Poe. When I got the chance to read one of my Daddy’s favorite poets, I was excited.

Coleridge is famous for his epic poems “The Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan”, but he is also famous for one poem. The poem: “Pains of Sleep” a poem based on his addiction to opium and his nightmares that torn him asunder. Coleridge, I would consider a depressed man, but one of the few poets I can say that reaches down into my emotions and is able for me to look at myself into his poems, especially “Pains of Sleep”.

Do you have a favorite poet, or really a poem that you find does the same? One that makes you see a mirror of yourself either good or bad.

“To be beloved is all I need, 

And whom I love, I love indeed. “-Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Pains of Sleep”


Books for the Pro-Lifer

OK, yes, I know. This is a divisive topic.

But since the other two BGs are in D.C. at the March for Life, I think they’ll be OK with me posting this.

There aren’t any big tomes, here. They are memoir, fiction, etc.–books that, directly or not, embrace what I consider the pro-life cause.

Letters to Gabriel, by Karen Garver Santorum. Very politically timely, as well.

My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult. Now, I know her political sensibilities (You read her blog, or interviews, or even many of her books, and you pick it up.) So she probably didn’t mean for this book to be that way. But there’s one passage that, to me, sums up a lot I love about the pro-life cause:

I realize then that we never have children, we receive them. And sometimes it’s not for quite as long as we would have expected or hoped. But it is still far better than never having had those children at all. ‘Kate,’ I confess. ‘I’m so sorry.’
She pushes back from me, until she can look me in the eye. ‘Don’t be,’ she says fiercely. ‘Because I’m not.’ She tries to smile, tries so damn hard. ‘It was a good one, Mom, wasn’t it?’
I bite my lip, feel the heaviness of tears. ‘It was the best,’ I answer.”
–Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper 

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. What is this doing here? Because of this passage:

Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh, God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!


Those are my top three, ones that come to mind immediately. If you have others, share them in the combox.




Author spotlight: J. Maarten Troost

One genre I really enjoy reading is travel lit–books where people talk about places they’ve been and the experiences they had. One of my favorites is Getting Stoned With Savages, by J. Maarten Troost. He and his wife, Sylvia, end up living in Fiji/Vanuatu (Of Survivor fame) as his wife works to improve the lives of islanders. Troost investigates cannibalism, huge centipedes, and local intoxicants. Oh, and then Sylvia gets pregnant…

His books are laugh-out-loud affairs and (temporarily) squash any desire I have to leave Ohio winter for 100 degrees on the equator. (I said temporarily!) He’s also written The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Lost on Planet China.

While his titles are a bit unorthodox, the books themselves are well-written, full of humor and less-than-idyllic island living. A good thing to read during the winter.

Book Club meeting #2: Extreme Makeover by Teresa Tomeo

Book #2 in the TBC Book Club was a huge hit–all of us would give it two enthusiastic thumbs up! While the main audience for this book is Catholic women, we think that anyone could benefit from it: Catholic men, and other Christian men and women.

Tomeo talks about how women can walk the line between being holy, but also being “in the world” by offering her own life makeover. Here are the points:

  1. See yourself first and formose as a daughter of the King
  2. Receive the Sacrament of Confession regularly (something that all of us BCs are working on!)
  3. Make a concerted effort to silence the noise in your life (No TV in your room! Make dinner time a media-free zone, etc.)
  4. Remember that the Blessed Mother is watching you.
  5. Brush up on your Catholicism
  6. Remember that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ
  7. When it comes to news media, consider the source. (EM, 157)

We had a long (3 hour plus!) discussion on media–not making the TV the focal point of your life; taking time away for silence, which fosters prayer; not constantly checking cellphones or always having the iPod buds in; finding clothes that are flattering and pretty; what we like–and don’t–about being girls; how “tempting” the opposite sex is a two way street (guys–keep your imaginations under control!); how things, in general (like TV) are not evil inherently, but depends upon how it is used.

For Catholic Women, Bl. John Paul II gave us the idea of “Feminine Genius”, which is a great gif to us. Men an dwomen were indeed created differently–but both in God’s image. But we are not the same! And our differences are what make up special. Tomeo talks about our differences and bolsters the courage of young Catholic women to be the beautiful creations God made us to be.