Weekend Bookblogging: Variety Pack Edition

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Laurie Viera Rigler continues her series on Jane Austen’s novels at the About.com Classic Lit blog, this week writing about Mansfield Park.

If you’ve ever had an opinion that your friends considered uncool, and you stuck to it despite ridicule and pressure, you’ll find a kindred spirit in Fanny Price, and you’ll want her reward to be the man she loves. However, if you’re still doing shots with your inner bad girl, you’ll be rooting for Mary Crawford to win the object of her, and Fanny’s, affections.

Heh.

Whilst trolling manybooks.net for free e-books, we happened on a site called The Best Media in Life is Free, which has a listing of free e-texts of books from 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. The listings are broken up into Pre-1700, 1700s (The first two on the list…The Monk and The Mysteries of Udolpho!), 1800s (including Jane Austen’s novels), and 1900s. Now that is what we call a reading list! We recommend manybooks.net for e-books in just about any format you need; and feedbooks.com also has a wonderful list of free public domain e-books, which have been beautifully formatted for easy and pleasant reading.

Speaking of e-books, a while back we snarked on the Kindle a bit, but in the past week had the opportunity to play with one. We take back our fugly comment, because the Kindle is anything but. It’s really quite cute! It’s tiny and clean-looking, and it makes using and reading e-books an incredibly easy experience. You just push a button and get a book in seconds; which might pose a problem if one is not careful with paid downloads, but feedbooks.com has set up a really easy way to get free, nicely formatted public domain e-books on your Kindle as easily as you download them from Amazon. Download their Kindle Download Guide, which installs as a book, and “shop” for free e-books right from the guide. We are having serious gadget lust and need to get an eInk e-book reader SOON! It probably still will be a Cybook Gen3; but we really love the ease of use of the Kindle.

Adventures in Reading reviews Jane Austen: Obstinate Heart by Valerie Grosvenor Myer.

Austen is described as a person with charm and wit, but also as an individual looked down upon socially as being rather “backwards” or common by her family later in life. Some of Austen’s nieces and nephews are described as rather snobbish and prudish (they would be entering the Victorian period after all) and Myers discusses how parts of Austen’s life were “white washed” in the years after her death by her family. Myers’ approaches a “sour grape” perspective on Austen’s life versus the romantic entanglements of her heroine’s.

Lori Smith, the author of A Walk With Jane Austen, was interviewed at the She Plants a Vineyard blog.

SPV: Many women love Jane Austen’s novels. What is it about her novels that are so timeless and that we can relate to?
Lori: There are lots of answers to that question—her writing is lovely, she herself had a wonderful wit and energy for life, which comes through in her stories, they’re full of humor and her characters are people that we still recognize today. And she’s writing about falling in love, which is an awful lot of fun on its own. But there’s much more substance to her than just the romance.

I think a big part of it is the character that Austen wove into her stories. They’re not so much about falling in love as they are about the kind of people who are allowed to fall in love, people whose characters have been refined, who have been willing to admit their own faults and change. They’re worthy. I think that gives her stories incredible strength—which sometimes movies and spin-offs miss.

We were referred to A Great Undoing, Natalie Jenner’s entry in the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award competition. The novel is a modern retelling of Persuasion, set in Montauk, Long Island and Manhattan in the 1960s. You can download and read a free excerpt and leave feedback. The novel currently is a semi-finalist in the competition and will advance to the next round based upon the feedback that the excerpt receives, so get to it, Janeites!

And we are reminded that we have not updated our sidebar book links in a very long time, and hope to get to that task this week. That’s it for this week’s Weekend Bookblogging, Gentle Readers, and always remember: Books Are Nice!