Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Baskervilles Read-Along: The Stapletons of Merripit House (Ch. 7)

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time stopping at the end of a chapter to write a review.  I want to keep reading and reading.  Would anyone object to my posting a bit oftener than 3 times a week?  

So this is the chapter with the creepy and tragic death of a moor pony.  (Insert sad shivers here.)  Coming on the heels of the mysterious nocturnal sobbing at Baskerville Hall as it does, I would not blame Watson if he started getting considerably more creeped out than he's letting on.

Completely unrelated, but wow, Watson is in great shape!  Did you catch that spot where he said, "It was a pleasant walk of four miles" (p. 620) to get to town from Baskerville Hall?  Four miles!  A pleasant walk!  I used to walk two miles a day, and that plumb wore me out.  And then he obviously walks four miles back too.  Sturdy man, Dr. Watson.  

Anyway, we now meet up with Stapleton, the eccentric naturalist.  Isn't he an odd duck?  Bounding around in the mire, fussing over Watson talking to his sister Beryl, and trying to pump Watson for information about Holmes and his investigation and such.

Favorite Lines:

Holmes himself had said that no more complex case had come to him in all the long series of his sensational investigations (p. 620).

"...ever since I have been here I have been conscious of shadows all round me.  Life has become like that great Grimpen Mire, with little green patches everywhere into which one may sink and with no guide to point the track" (p. 627).

Possible Discussion Question: What do you make of Watson's take on Sir Henry's personality at the end of the chapter, that he is drawn to this place because it is dangerous?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chocolate Book Tag

Reyna at A Peace of the Past tapped me with the Chocolate Book Tag.  I love chocolate, I love books... what could be better, right?  How about doing this tag on National Chocolate Day?  (It's totally a thing.)  So here goes.  I'm going to try to answer using books I haven't gabbled on and on about before, just to bring a little freshness.  Stale chocolate isn't half as tasty as fresh, after all!

Dark Chocolate (a book that covers a dark topic):  I read a lot of murder mysteries, so this one is kind of tough to narrow down.  I'll go with In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which is the true story of two men who murdered a family of strangers.  Very dark indeed.

White Chocolate (a light and humorous read):  Henry Tilney's Diary by Amanda Grange made me laugh a lot, and it's definitely light.

Milk Chocolate (a book with a lot of hype that you're dying to read):  The terrible truth is, the more hype a book gets, the less I want to read it.  However, pretty much everyone says I should read The Scarlet Pimpernel, so I bought a copy to ensure I get to it.

Caramel-filled Chocolate (a book that makes you feel all gooey inside):  I sometimes read just the first few chapters of Jane Eyre that have Mr. Rochester in them when I need a swooning fix.

Wafer-less Kit-Kat (a book that surprised you):  I was not expecting to like Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson so much that I would go buy my own copy.

Snickers (a book you're going nuts about):  Middlemarch by George Eliot.  So much more accessible than I'd expected!  Not a dry, weary read at all, and I am madly in love with Will Ladislaw.

Hot Chocolate with Mini Marshmallows (a book you turn to for comfort):  Not a book, but a series.  I read Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries when I need to be cheered up.  Happily, he wrote almost 50 books about Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, some of which contain multiple stories.

A Box of Chocolates (a series you feel has something for everyone):  Wait, what?  Not sure I've ever read a series that had something for everyone.  I read a lot of series, but if you don't like mysteries you're not going to like Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books or Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small books or Laurie R. King's Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes books.  If you don't like slice-of-life books, you're not going to like L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables books or Jan Karon's Father Tim books.  If you don't like off-kilter universes, you're not going to like Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books.  If you don't like espionage, you won't like Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne trilogy (I myself refuse to read the spin-offs).  If you don't like learning about life in the British Navy during the Napoleonic war, you're not going to like Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey & Stephen Maturin books.  If you don't like fantasy, you won't like Christopher Paolini's Eragon books or J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books or C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia or anything by J. R. R. Tolkien.  If you don't like animals, you won't like James Herriot's memoirs about being a country vet.  I happen to love all those series, but that doesn't mean anyone else has exactly the same eclectic tastes as me.  But I do heartily recommend all of them.

Death by Chocolate Icebox Cake - layers of chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse and chocolate graham crackers! And it's no bake!

I don't feel like nominating anyone for this tag, so if you think it looks tasty and fun, consider yourself tagged :-)  Here are the questions, for your convenience:

Dark Chocolate (a book that covers a dark topic):
White Chocolate (a light and humorous read):
Milk Chocolate (a book with a lot of hype that you're dying to read):
Caramel-filled Chocolate (a book that makes you feel all gooey inside):
Wafer-less Kit-Kat (a book that surprised you):
Snickers (a book you're going nuts about):
Hot Chocolate with Mini Marshmallows (a book you turn to for comfort):
A Box of Chocolates (a series you feel has something for everyone):

Now, go eat some chocolate, if you love it, and celebrate National Chocolate Day in style!  I've got a box of See's assorted chocolates that I intend to choose a piece from right this minute.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Baskerville Read-Along: Baskerville Hall (Ch. 6.)

Sorry about the short hiatus!  Real life intervened, in the form of a birthday party for my son, who turned seven this month.  Back on track now!

We say good-bye to Holmes in this chapter, and head off to Baskerville Hall.  This whole chapter is really about atmosphere, isn't it?  We move from the bustling, modern city out through the idylic, pastoral countryside until we hit the moor.  And then everything gets increasingly bleak and foreboding and gloomy.  It's a masterful piece of using setting to create a tone, and I love it to bits.

We also learn there's a killer on the loose, a convict named Selden.  He doesn't seem to be connected with the death of old Sir Charles, but definitely ups the scare factor, huh?  Especially when Watson uses phrases like "wanton brutality" and "peculiar ferocity" to describe the murders he committed (p. 615).  And then says Selden's sanity is in doubt?  Great!  Now we have an insane killer wandering loose on the moor.  Glad Watson has his trusty service revolver in his pocket!

Random moment of cuteness:  Watson spent his train trip playing with Dr. Mortimer's spaniel!  How sweet!  I would love to have a spaniel some day.

Favorite Lines:

Rolling pasture lands curved upward on either side of us, and old gabled houses peeped out from amid the thick green foliage, but behind the peaceful and sunlit countryside there rose ever, dark against the evening sky, the long, gloomy curve of the moor, broken by the jagged and sinister hills (p. 614).

...two copses of trees moaned and swung in a rising wind (p. 618).

Possible Discussion Question:  

There's a bit of foreshadowing going on when we leave the station, with Holmes telling Sir Henry not to go places alone anymore because "[s]ome great misfortune will befall you if you do" (p. 613).  Do you like foreshadowing, or not?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Mr. Knightley's Diary" by Amanda Grange

I did it!  I managed to read this in time to include this review in the "Discovering Emma Week" celebration that Heidi is holding on her splendid blog, Along the Brandywine.

Full confession here:  I didn't love this book.  I don't really love Emma either, so that wasn't a huge surprise.  However, over the course of this book, I grew to like it more and more, and by the end, I was quite pleased with it.

The first hundred pages or so were a bit of a slog, and some of the writing wasn't quite up to Grange's usual snuff.  However, once Mr. Knightley realized he was in love with Emma Woodhouse, I couldn't read fast enough, and I finished the last hundred pages or so in a roaring hurry.  And the ending tickled me so much!  A bit of spoilage here, but Grange gave Miss Bates a happy ending, and I'm uncommonly fond of Miss Bates :-)

I think the reason I had trouble connecting to it at first is that Mr. Knightley is relatively unflawed.  Unlike Captain Wentworth, Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, Edmund Bertram, and even Henry Tilney, Mr. Knightley doesn't have to change much over the course of the story.  He has to see Emma in a new light, but he doesn't have to overcome years of bitterness, pride, reticence, pigheaded blindness, or even a tendency to be too agreeable.  So a lot of the story doesn't have anywhere for him to go, and this is not entirely Grange's fault, as she's merely following Austen's story line.

But anyway, I did enjoy the book, and I do recommend it to anyone who wants some light, cheerful reading that gives a new perspective on a story they might already know.  

Particularly Good Bits:

"I would have her think less of herself altogether.  For that is the evil.  Emma is the centre of Emma's world" (p. 9).

And so she went on, spreading goodwill with every word but saying little (p. 186).

"It is as bad as A Midsmmer Night's Dream.  Are you sure there are no fairies in Highbury, who are making you their sport?" (p. 248).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Gentle and sweet and innocent.

This is my 11th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR challenge.

Don't forget to click here or on the button below to join all "Discovering Emma Week" fun!

Baskervilles Read-Along: Three Broken Threads (Ch. 5)

My margins of this story are full of smiley faces, hearts, and smiley hearts.  Holmes is particularly delightful in this, isn't he?  He even semi-quotes Hamlet!  Which Holmes does rather regularly throughout the canon.  He might quote other plays too, and I simply don't catch the references because I'm not as familiar with other texts, but I was struck last year by how often he quotes my favorite play :-)  Here, the allusion is at the end of the chapter:  when he says, "A touch, Watson -- an undeniable touch!" (p. 610), he echoes Osric's "A hit, a very palpable hit!" (V, 2).

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Back to the beginning of the chapter.  Sir Henry is angry because his boots keep appearing and disappearing, and who wouldn't be?  I hate it when I can't find something of mine.  Makes me very grumpy.

Anyway, Holmes has more praise for Watson, though of course he might be buttering him up so he'll agree to accompany Sir Henry to Baskerville Hall.  First he calls him "a trusty man" (p. 607), and then he says "there is no man who is better worth having at your side when you are in a tight place" (p. 608).  And the chapter ends on a tense but kind note, with Holmes warning Watson that it's "an ugly, dangerous business" and confessing he will worry about Watson until he's safely back in Baker Street (p. 611).  

Favorite Lines:  "There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you" (p. 609).

Possible Discussion Question:  Why do you think the mysterious man with the black beard taunted Holmes by using his name that way?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baskervilles Read-Along: Sir Henry Baskerville (Ch. 4)

Isn't Sir Henry just charming and awesome?  And has any character ever been described as "pugnacious" who does not turn out to be delightful?  And determined.  Though I have to wonder... Sir Henry says "[t]here is no devil in hell, Mr. Holmes, and there is no man upon earth who can prevent me from going to the home of my own people" (p. 600).  And yet he's been living in Canada all this time?  Hmm.

We get to see Holmes fail at something here.  Have I ever mentioned that I love that the canon Holmes is fallible?  He doesn't always solve the case, he doesn't always capture the villain.  He doesn't always catch his quarry.  And when he fails, he's so hard on himself.  Makes him feel so real and human!  Here's our Possible Discussion Question:  Do you think there's a reason Doyle has Holmes fail here, other than to keep us from learning the identity of the bearded gentleman?

Favorite Lines:

"I seem to have walked right into the thick of a dime novel" (p. 598).

"I think anything out of the ordinary routine of life well worth reporting" (p. 598).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Baskervilles Read-Along: The Problem (Ch. 3)

I really like this chapter.  We start to dig into the mystery, Holmes gets perfectly Holmesish, and I'm positively bouncing with delight.

One of my favorite moments is when Dr. Mortimer tells Holmes he knows how long Sir Charles had stood there because of the cigar ashes on the ground.  Holmes cries, "Excellent!  This is a colleague, Watson, after our own heart" (p. 589).  I love that he says "our own heart," not "my own heart."  It's like a little apology to Watson for tweaking him about his deductive abilities earlier.  

And I like Dr. Mortimer more and more, don't you?  Scribbling notes on his shirt cuffs!  Reminds me of me -- I tend to write things on the back of my left hand to be sure I don't forget them.

Something new struck me during this reading.  While showing Watson the map of Devonshire, Holmes says, "This, then, is the stage upon which tragedy has been played, and upon which we may help to play it again" (p. 593).  I never noticed before that Holmes seriously thinks something tragic could happen again, that Dr. Mortimer is not just being superstitious and fanciful.

Favorite Lines:

"I have hitherto confined my investigations to this world," said he.  "In a modest way I have combated evil, but to take on the Father of Evil himself would, perhaps, be too ambitious a task" (p. 590).

"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes" (p. 592).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Holmes says Watson "is not a man with intimate friends" (p. 592).  Do you think he means besides himself?  Or does he not think of himself as Watson's intimate friend either?  (And of course, in that day, "intimate" meant "closely acquainted, familiar, dear.")

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baskervilles Read-Along: Interview with Laurie R. King!

I feel like there should be eighty exclamation points after the title of this post.  Because in case you hadn't noticed, this post contains an interview with Laurie R. King, the New York Times bestselling author of some of my favorite books, like The Beekeeper's Apprentice.  My favorite living author, in fact.  And she graciously consented to do an email interview with me for this read-along.


I'm trying to remain calm.  Trying really hard.  Honest :-)

Laurie R. King writes mysteries, including a series about a pair of detectives named Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes.  (You're starting to see why this interview fits with this read-along, right?)  I absolutely adore her writing, and The Beekeeper's Apprentice is one of my top ten favorite books of all time.  She brings Sherlock Holmes to life in a way that thoroughly delights me, and I heartily recommend her Russell/Holmes books to anyone who enjoys reading good mysteries.

Something too much of this.  Time for the interview!


Me:  You worked The Hound of the Baskervilles into your Russell/Holmes book The Moor.  You haven't used any other canon stories to such a degree -- what is it about Baskervilles that made you want to build your own mystery around it?

Laurie R. King: The Hound of the Baskervilles is such a gorgeous novel: mystery, spookiness, romance -- and Sherlock Holmes! Even Dr Watson gets to show his best side here, which isn't always so in the stories. When I first went to Dartmoor, it was a sunny June day, with cheerful sheep, perky little ponies, and hikers all over: really not what you think of when someone says, "Dartmoor." But the next time, it was October. Everything was dripping including the sheep, the ponies were glum, there was both heavy fog AND a strong wind. Now, it's not that I like to torment my characters, exactly, but… shall we say, Mary Russell has yet to travel to a nice warm vacation spot.

Me:  Do you revisit any particular canon stories for inspiration when you're writing a new Russell/Holmes book?

LRK: It depends on what I'm working on. For the pair of books about Damian Adler, for example, I took a close look at "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Adventure of the Empty House," as well as several of the stories that touch on Holmes' attitude toward women, such as "Copper Beeches" and "Solitary Cyclist." For The Moor, obviously I pored closely over The Hound of the Baskervilles and "Silver Blaze."

Me:  How old were you when you first encountered Sherlock Holmes?  Did you read the stories or see an adaptation first?

LRK: I must have read a couple of stories when I was young, probably Hound and "The Speckled Band," but I didn't start reading them methodically until I began writing the Russell stories. The Jeremy Brett series was being televised at about the same time, so I suppose my print and film immersions were about simultaneous.

Me:  Do you have any favorite filmed adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles?

LRK: In fact, I did love the recent re-telling in the BBC’s Sherlock, "The Hounds of Baskerville." The entire series approaches the Sherlockian canon with marvelous creativity, mixing a deep respect for the stories with a bold iconoclasm. Newcomers to the Conan Doyle stories view the BBC productions simply as great tales; those who know every detail of the originals can delight in the twists, references, and word plays.

Me:  What draws you to the mystery genre and makes you want to write mysteries more than some other form of fiction?

LRK:  I wrote a short piece for the Edgars Annual some years back on precisely this question (link), concluding: Why the mystery? Because it's human.

I can't thank Ms. King enough for answering my questions for this interview!  If you're interested in learning more about her and all her books, please visit her website,  My absolute favorite is The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and I'm even considering doing a read-along for it at some point.  I re-read it earlier this year, and you can read my review of it here.  If you like Sherlock Holmes at all, or mysteries, or books set in the early 20th century, definitely give it a try!  This year is actually its twentieth anniversary, and a new hardcover edition has been released -- read more about that here.

Also, the latest Russell/Holmes book, Dreaming Spies (number thirteen!), will be coming out in February.  I'm eagerly awaiting its release, as you might imagine.  You can read more about it here.

I hope you've enjoyed this interview with Laurie R. King -- I know I still get all tingly and bouncy when I realize that this happened for real :-)  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Baskervilles Read-Along: The Curse of the Baskervilles (Ch. 2)

The very opening of this chapter cracks me up.  I even have "hee hee" written in the margin beside them because those first few lines never fail to make me giggle.  Sherlock Holmes is showing off again, but Dr. Mortimer doesn't make any of the usual "how astounding!" or "you amaze me!" statements to show he's impressed.  He's all matter-of-fact, just asking, "How can you say that, sir?"  I like to imagine this amused Holmes a bit too.

Anyway, this chapter is mostly taken up with the reading of two documents, the legend of the Baskerville family curse and a newspaper account of Sir Charles Baskerville's recent death.  It's an interesting way to present a case, isn't it?  It's not Dr. Mortimer's case.  He's not a Baskerville; he's presumably in no danger himself.  But his friend has died, and he thinks something mysterious is going on, so he brings the problem to Sherlock Holmes.

It's not really a very usual case for Holmes.  There's no evidence of murder.  There's a lot of talk about supernatural things, and at the moment, I can't think of any other canon adventure that deals with anything remotely supernatural.  Can you?

Anyway, this chapter ends with one of my favorite lines ever, and such a magnificent one for a final line, don't you think?  "Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!" (p. 587).  We're out of legends and speculation, and into reality where animals leave footprints.  And yet, something about that statement is chilling.

Possible Discussion Questions:

In the manuscript, Hugo Baskerville writes, "that which is clearly known hath less terror than that which is but hinted at and guessed" (p. 583).  Do you think that has some bearing on why the mystery genre has remained so popular for so long?  Even on why Sherlock Holmes is such an enduring character?

(Stay tuned for my interview with my favorite living author!  I should have it ready to post tomorrow...)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Baskervilles Read-Along: Mr. Sherlock Holmes (Ch. 1)

The read-along is afoot!

But first before we dig into the discussion, a few housekeeping notes.  The page numbers I put after my favorite lines are from this edition.   They're mostly just here for my own reference.  Also, you are totally free to discuss any aspect of the chapter in the comments here, not just respond to what I've said.  The "possible discussion questions" are just things I think might interest people, but they're not a limit as to what we can talk about.  Also, since these are short and quick chapters for the most part, I'll try to post a new one every couple of days -- about 3 a week.  Does that sound too fast to anyone?  That would mean we'd finish up mid-November, before the holidays kick into gear.

And I'm going to tease you a little by telling you that later this week, I will be posting an interview with a New York Times best-selling author as a special guest post for this read-along.

Now on to the discussion!

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988)

I don't know about you, but I had a very hard time stopping at the end of chapter one to write up these notes.  I just want to read on and on and on -- it's the perfect day for this book here, all grey, rainy, thoroughly gloomy and mysterious.  Which is probably why I'm drawn to this story in autumn, when my weather matches its.

But anyway, this first chapter is short, full of Holmes and Watson doing their Holmes and Watson things.  Watson thinks he's done a really great job making deductions from the walking stick left behind by Dr. Mortimer, who visited them while they were out the night before.  And he's done better than I probably would have, even if most of his deductions were erroneous.  Holmes then gets all smug and superior, as he often does -- how can a man be so infuriating, bordering on positively unlikable, and yet be so beloved?  Good writing, I suppose.

I don't have much else to say here, as the mystery really gets going in the next chapter.  This one serves to introduce Holmes and Watson to new readers and remind those familiar with them just what these characters were like.  After all, when this was first published, it was Doyle's first new Sherlock Holmes story in almost a decade, so even the fans might appreciate a refresher.

Oh, and in case your edition doesn't explain this (mine has notes and stuff), when Mortimer describes Holmes' skull as "dolichocephalic," that means it's longer than it is wide.  Mortimer is interested in phrenology, which was a theory that brains have certain areas dedicated to certain functions, and the shape of someone's skull was a guide to what parts of the brain are more developed than others.  You can read more about it here.  Holmes himself may have subscribed to that theory at least a little, judging by his comment in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" that a hat that is too large for him indicates that its owner is an intellectual since "a man with so large a brain must have something in it" (p. 293).

Favorite Lines:

"I am bound to say that in all the accounts which you have been so good as to give of my own small achievements you have habitually underrated your own abilities.  It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light.  Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it" (p. 576).

"Now is the dramatic moment of fate, Watson, when you hear a step upon the stair which is walking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill" (p. 578).

"...a picker up of shells on the shores of the great unknown ocean" (p. 578).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Doyle describes Mortimer as "a very tall, thin man, with a long nose like a beak, which jutted out between two keen, gray eyes" (p. 578).  This sounds a LOT like how Doyle describes Sherlock Holmes in the stories!  Why do you suppose he had this new character bear such a resemblance to the hero?  

Have you ever read this story before, or seen an adaptation of it? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Janeite Tag

Hannah at Miss Daydreamer's Place has tagged me with the Janeite Tag :-)  Many thanks, Hannah!

The Rules:
  • Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  • Tell us how you were introduced to Jane Austen and share one fun fact about your Janeite life (this fun fact can be anything from "I stayed up all night reading Emma" to "I visited Chawton and met Anna Chancellor.").
  • Answer the tagger's questions.
  • Write seven questions of your own.
  • Tag as few as one or as many as seven other Janeites and let them know you've tagged them.

How I became a Jane Austen Fan:  I started reading Jane Austen back in high school -- I got a box set of 4 of her novels for Christmas or my birthday when I was probably 16.  Between then and when I went to college, I read those 4 (S&SP&PEmma, and Persuasion) and didn't really like any of them except Persuasion.  I didn't read Austen again until I was 30, when I read Mansfield Park and disliked it greatly.  But then in 2012, I bought a Jane Austen journal and a completely different boxed set of all 6 of her major novels, kind of on a whim.  I decided to try reading them all in one year.  And I did, and became a firm Austenite in the process.  And discovered that I still don't like Mansfield Park, I still don't completely love Emma or Sense & Sensibility, but that PersuasionPride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey all delight me exceedingly.

My Fun Fact:  I didn't truly become an Austenite until I was twice as old as when I first read one of her books (32 to 16).

Hannah's Questions:

What is your favourite Jane Austen novel?  Persuasion.  I identify with Anne Elliot more than any of the other Austen heroines, I find Captain Wentworth the most interesting Austen hero, and the story line of mature people knowing themselves well and learning to know each other again fascinates me.

Who is your favourite Austen hero and heroine? (I guess that could be considered two questions!)  I think I just answered that.  Oops!  It's Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.

Who is your favourite secondary character?  Miss Bates in Emma.  She's so unfailingly cheerful, even in the face of a very downtrodden existence.  She's one of the few Austen characters who makes me both laugh and cry.

Which relative of any of Austen's heroines/heroes do you find most annoying?  Mrs. Norris.  I want to push her into the coal scuttle.

Provide up to five of your favourite Austen quotes. (I know, hard! Just pick a few random quotes that you love. They don't have to be your absolute favourites)

“It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language” -- Northanger Abbey

“Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again." -- Northanger Abbey

“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.” -- Pride and Prejudice

“Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.” -- Emma

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W." -- Persuasion

(That last one brings me to tears even just reading it here.  Dear, dear Captain Wentworth!)

What is your favourite adaptation for each of Austen's books?  I haven't seen any versions of Mansfield Park, but I own the 1996 Emma, the 2005 Pride & Prejudice, the 2007 Northanger Abbey, the 1995 Persuasion, and the 1995 Sense & Sensibility.  Those are my favorites, though I would like to own the 1995 P&P too, because I like it a great deal.  And sometimes I almost want to buy the 2007 Persuasion, but first I want to get it from the library one more time and see if a second viewing smooths out the things I didn't like about it.

Are there any books that you would recommend to a fellow Janeite? For example: some books that I would recommend to a fellow Jane Austen fan are Much Ado About Nothing, North and South and Cold Comfort Farm.  Hmm.  I do wholeheartedly recommend Amanda Grange's series of "Diary" books (especially Henry Tilney's Diary and Captain Wentworth's Diary.)  They are diverting, amusing, and thoroughly enjoyable.  And they have zero questionable content.  

Okay, here are my seven questions:

1.  Would you rather board with the Bennets or the Tilneys for a fortnight?
2.  Would you rather have Edmund Bertram or Edward Ferrars as your pastor?
3.  If you could play any Austen character in a play or movie production, who would you want to portray?
4.  Which Austen book makes you laugh the most?  (Or do you not laugh over any of them?)
5.  How many times have you read your favorite Austen book?
6.  Which Austen parents do you think do the best job of parenting?
7.  If you could make a new movie version of any Austen book, which one would you adapt, and who would you cast?  (Feel free to get as detailed as you want, or just cast the principals -- your choice.)

And I hereby tag:

Emma Jane of A Lantern in Her Hand
Eva of Ramblings of a Janeite
Heidi of Along the Brandywine
Joanna of The Squirrel's Diary
Lizzie of His Redeemed Child
Monica of Spilled Ink
Ruth of A Great Book Study

Play only if you want to!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Want to Read "The Hound of the Baskervilles" with Me?

Yup, my next read-along is right around the corner!  I'll be posting about the first chapter on Monday, Oct. 13.  Now, you don't have to sign up for this officially or anything, but if you're kind of thinking you'll be participating and you want to say so here, go ahead :-)  Or if you have any questions.  I'll be running this like my LOTR read-along, with individual chapter posts that include possible discussion questions and so on.  You can join this read-along whether you've never read THOTB before or have read it dozens of times.

AND this read-along might possibly-maybe-perhaps involve a Very Special Guest Interview.  Still working on those details, but my heart is pounding just thinking about it.  More on that when things firm up.  Or don't.

If anyone has an idea for a guest post for this read-along, I would totally be interested.  Like a review of a movie version of THOTB, for instance.  A comparison of the Sherlock episode "The Hounds of Baskerville" with the original story.  Soliloquizing on why Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Watson is so awesome.  Your favorite recipe for split pea soup.  I'm up for suggestions!

If you're interested in participating, or just want to share the news about this, please consider putting one of these buttons on your blog someplace, with a link back to this post.  I'm not providing an html code for them right now, but if you need those, I can figure them out.

I'm thinking we'll do about 2 chapters a week, so not a super-fast pace, but not too draggy either.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Betsy-Tacy" by Maude Hart Lovelace

How is it I never read this as a child?  I can only suppose that my local public library didn't have this series, which is a crying shame, because I would have loved them.  Loved them.

Betsy and Tacy are little girls who live across the street from each other near the top of a hill in a small Midwestern town called Deep Valley.  They meet each other when Tacy's family moves there, and become friends before long.  They have lots of sweet adventures, like making a play house inside a piano crate.  And they comfort each other and rejoice with each other through various things like a sibling dying, the first day of school, and a new baby.

It was really easy for me to imagine the town where they lived because Lovelace based Deep Valley on her hometown of Mankato, MN.  And that is where I went to college, at the top of a hill in that very city.  I know exactly how the hills sweep down toward the river and what was once main street.  In fact, it was in Mankato that I first heard of these books, as of course there's a house there to tour and whatnot, though I never did that.  Because I hadn't read the books!  Next time we visit, I'll try to arrange for us to take the tour.

Now, why did it take me more than a dozen years from hearing about these books to actually read one?  I have no excuse.  I'm just glad I've started them at last.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Clean, innocent, and lovely.

This is my sixteenth book read and reviewed for the I Love Library Books challenge and my fourteenth for the Classics Club.