Friday, October 28, 2011

Little Miss Austen Review at AustenBlog

I hope you'll all go check out my review of Little Miss Austen by Jennifer Adams, an awesome counting primer based on Pride and Prejudice! Mags, Editrix extraordinaire of AustenBlog, asked me to read the book with my little girl, and it has now become one of our standard go-to books. Here is the link: Enjoy! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: "Waiting" by Jane Odiwe

One of the hardest parts of becoming a parent is finding time for yourself, and I don't mean time for morning yoga on the beach. I mean finding five minutes to shower. It's entirely too easy to completely lose yourself in a child, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that I haven't been finding a lot of time to read. After thirty years of devouring every book in sight, this is a rough adjustment. I am trying to make the most of the opportunities that do arise, and there could not have been a better time for a collection of short stories, the eagerly awaited Jane Austen Made Me Do It (thanks Random House!), edited by Laurel Ann Nattress of, to fall into my hands. I'm indulging in a tale here and there, as I get the chance, and I have decided to review it in a similar manner. I will post on those stories that particularly moved me, beginning with one by a favorite author, Jane Odiwe.  

Jane Austen mocks her readers by beginning the final chapter of Persuasion with a question: "Who can be in doubt of what followed?" I have begged the great authoress aloud, even after countless readings, to not tease me so. It is really quite cruel. How greedily I eat up the few morsels she then bestows on such a simpleton as I, desperate to know far more details than she summarily provides. I tried to prolong that last chapter myself in my Persuasion Janeicillin, and Ms. Odiwe takes a similar approach in Waiting, exploring the minds of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth following their second engagement. The story further gratifies in its inclusion of Anne's memories of her first few meetings with then Lieutenant Wentworth, imagining a charming garden party at the rectory. As always, I was impressed by Ms. Odiwe's ability to paint vignettes as vivid as the lovely watercolors she also produces. Can you not see this moment as Anne arranges roses?
He took her tiny hand. Anne felt the warmth and strength of his long fingers pressed against her own. Her breath quickened. A bead, like a ruby red jewel, spurted to the surface of her skin. She eased her hand from his grasp to bring the finger to her lips knowing that his eyes were on her mouth. Just a small scratch, the flow of blood was easily stemmed, but not before Lieutenant Wentworth took her hand again to inspect the wound. Anne regarded the eyes fringed in black lashes deep in concentration. He seemed to be holding her hand forever.
A bit sensual, perhaps, but the portrait is irresistible (though I have to wonder why she is without gloves at a garden party). As lovely as it is to reflect on Anne and Wentworth's first moments together, the frame for this flashback is the announcement of their second and final engagement, a structure that reinforces the theme announced in the tale's title. It took this couple nearly a decade of heartache before finding happiness. Ms. Odiwe takes this opportunity to explore them in both their youthful optimism and as adults who have endured disappointment, convincingly capturing the sentiments and scenarios that Austen so cruelly skims over. The result is a sweetly satisfying story. Thank you Ms. Odiwe! It is always delightful.