Making Books with Jane Austen

imageI spent this past week, the last of my summer vacation, at the Center for the Book in San Francisco  taking a four-course intensive book binding class.  We learned how to make the four bindings shown in the picture here; Coptic, flat-back case, limp paper and rounded back case.

I’ve been making my own books for many years now, following the directions in various how-to books I’ve picked up, mostly on sale, here and there.  For me it’s the perfect combination of mechanical engineering and visual creative arts.

While I thoroughly enjoyed my week of courses, it has left me exhausted. Fortunately, my students don’t arrive until Thursday.  Though I do have to go in to work, I don’t have to be “on time” in the morning quite like I do when students are expected.

I did get plenty of reading time on the ferry ride to and from San Francisco this week, but I didn’t get any time outside of that.  Either in class or sleeping basically.  But, that said, I am nearly 200 pages into Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the second book in the Jane Austen Read All-a-long.

It’s soooo much better than Sense and Sensibility.  Her humor is in full flower with Pride and Prejudice.  It’s a very funny book. While Austen’s scope remains a limited one, it’s much bigger here. More characters, more settings, more themes.  I’m loving it.

This time around, it’s at least my third read–maybe my fourth, I’m finding Mr. Bennet is my hero. A serious, thoughtful man married to a frivolous woman raising five daughters, he is the odd man out in so many ways. But I’m finding him to be very much in love with his wife this time.

You can see it in the way he consistently acts to make her happy. When new single men arrive in town, she begs him to arrange introductions.  He has no desire to participate at all which he makes perfectly clear. He argues with his wife about this, getting in more than a few really good digs at her which the readers sees though she doesn’t. But a few days later, the arrangements have been made and the introductions are set to happen.

This happens several times.  He wouldn’t say so out loud, but I think he’s still in love with his wife and he cares very much for his daughters.  This character has become a type, but Jane Austen with Mr. Bennet got there first.  As far as I know.

It’s probably me, but Ms. Austen still grabs me with her plotting.  When Mr. Darcy proposed, I was just as shocked and Elizabeth Bennet was.  Her casual dismissal of him struck to the bone, too. Again.

I do hope it all works out in the end.o-prideandprejudice10a-570

One little thing that floored me this time was a simple scene at home, after dinner. The major characters were sitting, relaxing, reading, playing cards, when Charlotte says to Elizabeth, “Would you care to walk around the room with me?”

Walk around the room?  I thought.  They’re going to walk around the room together. That was a thing?!?

The gentlemen tease them, saying they do not really want exercise, they just want an opportunity to gossip privately. The ladies dismiss this idea, then proceed to do just that.

I guess it was a thing.

Must have been a pretty good-sized room..

7 thoughts on “Making Books with Jane Austen

  1. I love how our perceptions of books change with time and re-reading. And how marvellous to create those book bindings but I imagine that WAS exhausting indeed!

  2. I enjoyed your comments on Pride and Prejudice. I finished reading it a couple of days ago, and loved it. It was a re-read but it has been a long long time since the previous read. Working on a review now.

  3. This book is an enjoyable read. I can see us ‘walking around the room ‘ in our small house. Cat tree, comfy chairs, dog beds. We would be maneuvering an obstacle course of animals and forget all about our gossip. Like the books you made. All the best for the upcoming school year. I look forward to stories.

  4. I believe they also take a turn around the room in Sense and Sensibility when Lucy ‘confides’ in Eleanor (or perhaps that’s just in the movie).

    Bigger homes and English weather no doubt!

    1. I could see the weather as a factor. Must have been big rooms, but the men in Pride and Prejudice seem to be much richer than the men in Sense and Sensibility, they probably had much bigger rooms, too.

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