Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Which I Touch On Austen

I have the first sixty pages of my MG Pirate book written and the end pretty well out-lined. But the middle...well...I have a bunch of ideas and ghost of ideas stewing in my Middle Soup, but no order or flesh to them.

But I'm not here to talk about pirates or ten year-old girls who wear war paint (really, sparkly lip gloss) to scare away the pirates that must be RIGHT outside her bedroom door and who are SURELY looking at her since her door is always open a crack because ever since she was little she was afraid if she shut the door all the way her bedroom would fall off the ship into the ocean. No, I'm not talking about that.

I'm here to talk about Jane Austen. Last night I (re)watched Northanger Abbey-not the 1987 Northanger Abbey where they get into hot, yucky, infected public baths fully clothed but the 2007 one with the perfect garden kiss at the end and the perfect post-horseride-removal-of-mud-from-her-face-by-her-true-love scene. That one.

Although I do like it, I won't claim it as my favorite Jane Austen book or movie (in spite of the 2007 Henry and Catherine chemistry mentioned above). And I think I'm not alone. What is it about Northanger Abbey that makes it the lesser loved of the Austen classics.

Is it the weak and silly Catherine Morland? (although she does change)
Or is it the slightly overbearing Henry Tilney who will probably always see his wife as weak and silly? (even though she DOES change)
Or is it all those references to books we've never read that have long since fell off anyone's TBR list? (although I'm curious about Udolpho)
Is it the flirtation with the paranormal that just seems so out of place in Austen?

Well? Of course, maybe Northanger Abbey is your favorite Austen. Or maybe you don't even read Austen and have no clue. (Shame on you!) Or maybe you just want to talk more about girls who live on ships and eat brownie sundaes every day and brush shoulders with Russian royalty while trying to catch a pirate.


  1. So...your pirate book sounds AWESOME! :D I've never watched Northanger Abbey, or read it. I know. Shame on me. I do however, love Emma, and Pride and Prejudice. Sense and Sensibility bored me to tears. **Gasp** People are probably going to hunt me down and beat me with Jane Austen novels now. Oops. ;)

  2. I've only seen the 2007 version, but now I think I need to see this fully-clothed-in-disease-water scene.

    P.S. MG Pirate book! I'm loving it. :)

  3. I love all of Austen, but the girl is a little too silly for me, so yeah, it's my least favorite, but again, I love them all.

  4. First off I think that Northanger was her first book (though it was released after her death), and first books are rarely as good as later ones. Secondly, I think you hit the nail on the head with the references to books we've never read. It's a bit harder to read a parody when you don't get all it's references. I imagine if I'd read Udolfo (I think that's the gothic novel it always refers to), I would enjoy Northanger even more. But even without that understanding, I actually really enjoyed the book. I think it's full of Jane Austen's insight and wit, but none of the movies have done it justice. Though the most recent one was definitely one million times better than the old one.

    Persuasion will always be the best. I <3 that book and the most recent movies. Rupert Penry Jones. (I just made his name a stand alone sentence on purpose. Who needs verbs when he's around?)

  5. The book was written as a parody for family members. I don't think she ever meant to have it published. It feels immature (writing wise) to me when I read it, and I think it is one of those books that the author hid under her bed, and never meant to unleash on the world. I spent several weeks in a semester at school studying Northhanger Abbey because it was that teacher's favorite Jane Austen (sigh). I love Jane Austen books, but not that one.

  6. You're totally right about the most recent Persuasion taking too many liberties, but I just loved the characters so much more. The Ciaran Hinds version (which I like enough to own) was just lacking for me in the likeable character dept. Alas, we must disagree forevermore on this matter. Good thing they'll probably remake it again someday. Maybe we'll both like a new one the best and overcome our disagreement.

  7. I love them all too but ya it is my least fave Austen. I love that new Persuasion too except that ridiculously long running scene and then the painful like 3 minute pause before the kiss. But Rupert Penry-Jones says it all.

  8. Eeek! I'm flushing with shame as I've never read Austen. *cringe*
    I'm sure this will be the same with us and our books. There will always be the great ones and there always will be our duds. LOL

  9. Loving your pirate book. Sounds so fun.

    I love Jane Austen. Love her. She is so good at romantic tension without making me want to murder all the characters in the end because she drags it on too long. Somehow she makes it perfectly okay that they don't get together until the very end. Sure, I'm dying for it, but that's what makes it all the more sweeter. Love.

  10. The pirate book sounds awesome. The Sparkly Lip Gloss is brilliant. I could see it in my head. Well done.

    As for Austen, I've read a lot of her work, not the one you mentioned though. I find it's often a hit or miss with her work (for me). For example, I quite enjoyed EMMA, but PRIDE & PREJUDICE made me want to place the book in a burlap sack and water-board it until it admitted it's true nefarious goals.