Jane Austen Read All A-long: Mansfield Park

This is a “two-gasp” Jane Austen novel. While reading it, I gasped twice. Jane Austen has this way of suddenly throwing her reader for a loop with just a tiny slip of narrative so affecting it makes this reader gasp out loud. She is a master of plotting. My gasping came during the novel’s first…

New Favorite Book/Old Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is at least the third time I’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, maybe the fourth.  So I can’t really say it’s a “New Favorite Book” but I can say that it certainly holds up to re-reading. So that’s what I’m going to discuss here, the pleasures and perils of re-reading. There are some books that can be…

Jane Austen Read All-a-long: Sense and Sensibility

Two impressions: One, I’m surprised by just how much Jane Austen can shock me through effective plotting.  I suspect that most of her fans will list her prose, her sense of humour and her characterization as the reasons why they love her, but she’s very good with plotting, too.  There was a point in the…

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

This was at least the third time I’ve read The Mayor of Casterbridge. Could be the fourth.  I was a big Thomas Hardy fan back in college.  For years I’ve been haunted by that final image of the dead songbird in the cage sitting on the back door steps of the newlywed’s home.  Forgotten and forsaken,…

Mr. Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo

Was it okay for Bernadine Evaristo to write this book? I ask this question in light of the ongoing controversy over cultural appropriation, specifically who has the right to write about whom. If you haven’t been following this issue lately you might want to check out Lionel Shriver’s keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival…