Sunday, January 27, 2008

Need Jane?

This is my first time participating in the Barren Bitches Book Brigade traveling book tour. This round, we read The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.

I found the book to be OK; not the greatest book of our time, but a pleasurable read. As my mother and I might call it, a "beach read."

I was glad that I read this book as an audio book from iTunes, I find it much easier to get through certain books by listening, rather than having to slog through pages.

Question 2
Did you find the allusions to the various Austen books distracting or helpful in understanding the characters in the book? Were there enough similarities to Austen's characters for you to distinguish who was who (i.e., Jocelyn=Emma)?

I think one of the problems that I had with the book is that I have not read all of Jane Austen's novels. More familiarity with the source material would have been helpful in dealing with the material. Instead, I struggled with relating to each of the characters and how they represented Austen's characters and vice versa.

Question 6
Jocelyn and Sylvia are closer than most sisters. Their relationship has withstood many tests. Do you have a particular friend who has stood by you through thick and thin in ways that stand out from most friendships, and if so what brought you together and what keeps the relationship so special?

For me, BFF is as close as to me as my biological sister. We first met in college, where we lived on the same hall during our freshman year. We have been as thick as thieves ever since. She is truly my kindred spirit, the Diana to my Anne Shirley.

I saw many similarities between Jocelyn and Sylvia's relationship and that of BFF and me. BFF is much like Jocelyn - the sophisticated singleton who knows what she wants from the world and goes out there and takes it. I find myself to be more like Sylvia - past of a troubled, but generally happy, marriage with thoughts of children, spouse and friends crowding my mind and time.

I think our friendship lasts because our relationship is based on humor and similar trains of thought and feeling. Our common bond is not merely based on the fact that we went to college together. Like the friends in The Big Chill, we did "know each other really well for a short period of time;" but we also have "known each other forever."

Question 8
Allegra is described as "liking being an aunt. That it offered all the kid time she needed. Probably. All she wanted mostly." If you don't have your own children, but are an aunt, how important is that role to you and, what special rewards does it offer?

I do not have children of my own. I am an aunt to two small boys. I do believe that being an aunt is important. I would like that, as my nephews grow up, they can see me as a trusted adult to bounce ideas off of and learn more of how to be an adult different from their parents. Not that their parents are bad, just that I think we need more than one model for how to be a grownup.

Yet, being an aunt does not fulfill my visceral need for my own children. I do not see SIL's kids often enough, nor am I a true part of their care to feel "ownership" in their lives. I love them, but they do not ease the pangs in my heart and my womb for children of my own.

Intrigued by the idea of a book tour and want to read more about The Jane Austen Book Club? Hop along to more stops on the Barren Bitches Book Brigade by visiting the master list at Want to come along for the next tour? Sign up begins today for tour #10 (Embryo Culture by Beth Kohl with author participation!) and all are welcome to join along. All you need is a book and a blog.


loribeth said...

Thanks for your comments. I totally agree that nieces & nephews, while wonderful, do not erase the desire to have children of our own. And, as a huge L.M. Montgomery fan, I love that you brought up the Anne/Diana comparison!

Jen said...

I'm in the middle of all the Anne books. I am going to have to do one of these book clubs.

The Town Criers said...

It sounds like you have a great friendship with your BFF. Can I tell you--it seriously never occurred to me to get some of these books in audio form! Now that I just read that idea, the wheels are spinning...

The Dunn Family said...

I agree with so much of what you said. I've never read Austen, so I did find that a bit distracting. I found myself skimming through some pages just because I had no idea what was being talked about.

I don't know about you, but I think I might go out and read some now.

Thanks for your responses.

Deb said...

Yep, I totally get that. "I love them, but they do not ease the pangs in my heart and my womb for children of my own."

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I guess I am the odd one that thought the Austen references were somewhat helpful even though I haven't read much. Unless I am just delusional about that :)

Ms. Infertile said...

I liked your answer about your BFF and the comparisons to Jocelyn and Sylvia. Sounds like you two have a great relationship.

I've got to look into those audio books too.