The Sunday Salon – and a Giveaway-Plus a Postscript

The Sunday

Welcome to Sunday Salon here at Bookstack.  Let me pour you some coffee, while you settle into the big armchair by the window – that’s right, just move my little dog aside, she’ll make room for you to snuggle in beside her.  The croissants are nearly ready to come out of the oven, and I believe there are fresh peach preserves to spoon on top.  (yum)

Now, let me tell you what I’ve been reading this week…

It’s certainly been an Austen filled week at my house – do you think I’m perhaps going a bit over the top?  What with reading a novel, a biography, and preparing to watch another episode on this week’s edition of Masterpiece Theater, perhaps I’m becoming an Austen glutton. 

But, oh, I don’t care!

At any rate,  I’ve been re-reading Northanger Abbey, and find myself chuckling and shaking my head in merriment.  I’d quite forgotten how broadly satirical this novel is.  Catherine herself is such a clueless little cluck, first allowing Isabelle and John Thorpe to commandeer her social life, then remaining oblivious to John’s romantic intentions, and finally letting her overactive imagination run amok with ridiculous Gothic scenarios whilst visiting the Tinley’s at Northanger Abbey.  Really, the novel is quite a bildunsgroman,  isn’t it?  Catherine ventures from  home as an immature tomboy, yet after her season in Bath, complete with betrayals in friendship, an unwanted proposal, falling in love and nearly losing her love (don’t worry, all comes right in the end!), being the victim of vicious gossip~suffice it say, she comes back to the arms of her family a much wiser, more mature young woman (at least one hopes so!)

I can hardly wait to see the dramatization tonight on PBS!

Imagine,  Jane Austen was only 23 when she wrote Northanger Abbey.  And Sense and Sensibility as well as Pride and Prejudice soon followed.    It’s true that her writing here does not demonstrate the subtlety that becomes evident in the later work.  But somehow I think the freshness of her young woman’s perspective adds a great deal of humor to the story.

Speaking of Jane herself, I’ve just begun reading Claire Tomalin’s biography, Jane Austen, A Life.  I must tell you how much I love reading biographies, and most especially writer’s biographies.  How fascinating, to juxtapose the real life circumstances with the ideas that eventually find themselves illuminated in fiction.   So much of Northanger Abbey could have been directly drawn from Jane’s experience – the society lifestyle in Bath, where her family lived for some time, Catherine’s place in a large family, so familiar to Jane who was one of nine children.   Seeing these experiences distilled into words and images on the page is like peeking inside Miss Austen’s brain while her pen scratches across the paper.

Claire Tomalin’s book provides truly fascinating insights into Miss Austen’s life.  Growing up in a houseful of boys, Jane was not the retiring young lady typical of her time and station.  “Jane Austen was a tough and unsentimental child,” Tomalin writes of her subject, “drawn to rude anarchic imaginings and black jokes.”  She was, perhaps, a bit socially awkward, a theme that occurs quite often in her books.  And although  it’s been taken for granted that Jane Austen lived the typically uneventful life of an English spinster, Tomalin informs us otherwise.  You see, apparently there was an ill-fated love affair with a young Irishman, and ….

Oh my, look at the time!  It’s been so lovely talking with you this morning…What’s that? You simply have to know more about Jane and the Irishman?

Well, leave a note in the comments below, and one commenter will be chosen at day’s end to receive a  brand new copy of Jane Austen, A Life  – courtesy of Bookstack. 

Have a lovely Sunday, won’t you?

And, do please tell me, what have you been reading this week?

Postscript: Just a quick word before we turn off the lights and snuggle under the covers.  I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s production of Northanger Abbey, and found it much more entertaining than last week’s version of Persuasion (which i must admit disappointed me just a tad.)  Felicity Jones as Catherine was fresh, delightful, and charming, with just the right amount of innocence.  There was instant chemistry between she and JJ Feild (Henry Tilney), and it was such fun to observe her poised on the edge of young womanhood, ready to fall into that dear precipice known as love. (ah, the joys of youth, she thinks fondly).  It was a perfectly lovely way to end Sunday…and next week, Mansfield Park, so I’d better run downstairs to the bookstack and search for my copy.  

And now, goodnight, all.


22 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon – and a Giveaway-Plus a Postscript

  1. I haven’t read Northanger Abbey, although I’ve had it on my stacks for years (story of my life). I enjoyed reading your post, and I’ve just done my very first Sunday Salon entry. What fun!

  2. What a lovely thought, a Jane Austen week. I’ve been reading a biography of the James family: The Jameses: A Family Narrative, by R.W.B. Lewis.

    I shouldn’t want you to have to send a book to the Netherlands, so please don’t include me in the draw. This is just a comment. 🙂

  3. What a lovely post! Admittedly, I have never read Austen before (gasp! I know!), but you have tempted me!

    This week, I read a book about a Southern Belle: On Agate Hill by Lee Smith. I enjoyed it immensely. I posted my review of this book as my Sunday Salon post, so I hope you will drop by and read it.

    Enjoy your Sunday!

  4. Thank you for the delicious croissant and preserves – how lovely it is to visit you *scratches little dog fondly behind ears*

    Thanks for a fun post! I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey – and it is hard to believe Austen was so young when she wrote these!

  5. I’m also a little ashamed to admit that I haven’t read anything by her… I have quite a few of her books. Just haven’t read them. This post might inspire me to do so soon, however.

    I am reading a book called The Saffron Kitchen. I’m only just beginning it, but it’s starting out promising. It’s about an Iranian woman who emigrated to England, but never really got over her past in a little village. After a tragedy she goes “home” and is now telling the story of her youth. I’m fascinated by Iranian stories and culture lately.

    Also, I deleted your comment about Luanne Rice on my blog, I didn’t mean to. So if you happen back and notice, don’t feel jilted!

  6. This week I’ve been reading two of your recommendations from a prior post, “The Friday Night Knitting Club” and “The Knitting Circle” (the first finished, the second about 3/4). Thank you for recommending them; they remind me of the relationships formed in a group I belonged to for a short while that was dedicated to making chemo caps.

    Also, I listened to Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion” while at work. While I know it would be fun to re-read her works, I still have two more books in my library stack and felt that listening might make better use of my time. I plan to listen after each Masterpiece presentation (so next week will be Northanger Abbey).

  7. Claire Tomlin is superb, isn’t she? A couple of weeks back one of our Saturday reviews listed the 50 best authors since 1945. As you can imagine, there was a tremendous outcry from the fans of all those people who had missed out. (No Peter Ackroyd! I was heard to hollar.) Probably the person most often mentioned in that respect was Tomlin. When you’ve finished the Austen, do explore her biographies of other writers, all equally as enthralling.

  8. Brain candy has been on the menu this week, because I’ve been uber-busy and not feeling well. Just finished “The Buried Age” a Trek novel about pre-Enterprise Picard, and The Amber Spyglass, which is the last part of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Started reading a book called Amy and Isabelle, which is another in my recent “mothers and daughters” cycle.

    And I just ordered the Laura book you mentioned in a comment to me.

  9. Hi Becca,

    Oh, another good spot to read and enjoy. You’re making it hard for a sister to get anything done. And yes, I want to know more about the Irishman. Do tell.

    During January, I’m reading works by and about Audre Lorde for my 12 Poets in 12 Months Challenge. I’ve been reading Our Dead Behind Us, a solid collection about love, war, death and loss. Lorde takes us to several countries but the suffering is universal. Today, I brought home, The Cancer Journal, one of her most celebrated works. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m also reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, (awestruck by Lee’s writing style and the regional dialect) and I recently finished Sold by Patricia McCormick. It’s the story of a girl sold into modern sex slavery in India. The novel is compelling and beautifully told. Highly recommend it. Many passages read like poetry: chockfull of figurative language, metaphor and simile.

  10. Oh! I want to be in the giveaway. 😀 hehe

    Northanger’s one of my favourites of Austen…*sigh*…I wish there were many more Austen novels, but I suppose their very scarcity could be part of the charm. 🙂

  11. I’ve missed PBS again tonight..just in from son’s hockey game!!
    I hadn’t heard of this Jane Austen biography which sounds delightful…and I would so love to own a copy. I’m fascinated with biography and those about authors amaze me — to see the likeness and the imagination — how close to the author the characters are.

    Hope you enjoyed “Northanger Abbey” tonight!!

  12. Hi! I’m up for a chance at a giveaway! It’s interesting how many readers have not read any Jane Austen… You asked what I’m reading and I will echo your thought about enjoying writer bios: I’m learning all about P.G. Wodehouse (Portrait of a Master by David A Jasen) and it is fascinating.

  13. So glad you enjoyed “Northanger Abbey” too! I found it great fun and I agree, it was more amusing and better done that “Persuasion.”

    It was so very cold yesterday — how wonderful to settle in with Miss Jane and enjoy!

  14. I have always loved Pride and Prejudice, and I have to admit I have not read any other Austen books. I need to remedy that situation.

    I’ve been trying to wade through Great Expectations this weekend, without very much success. I just can’t seem to get into it. And this was even the perfect weekend for reading, as it was 3 degrees below where I live. Sigh.

  15. I’m so delighted you are part of the Sunday Salon, and what a delightful post to kick off with! I adore Northanger Abbey; it’s one of my favourite Austen’s. And the more I hear about that biography the more I think I must get hold of it!

  16. It’s always a pleasure to read about Jane! I envy anyone who hasn’t read her yet and still has the pleasure to come.

    I spent my Sunday reading A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy. I’m planning to read Tomalin’s biography of Hardy fairly soon, but would like to read the Austen after that.

  17. Right now, I’m finishing up the autobiography “Scar Tissue” by Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot chili peppers. Crazy stuff. And I’m trying desperately to read Wuthering Heights…

  18. I lam another one that has not read Austen. It is semester time which requires more time reading essays and figuring grades so I am in “light read” mode. I am reading the J.A. Jance Hugh Baumont series. He is a detective in Seattle. They have kept me interested and I don’t have to think too much. 🙂

  19. Pingback: Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters (thoughts) « A Striped Armchair

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