2010 Decatur Book Festival

Decatur Book Festival

2010 Decatur Book Festival

This weekend is the 5th annual AJC Decatur Book Festival. I had a lot of fun at last year’s festival. Jonathan Franzen will be there. I’m hoping to be able to see Diana Gabaldon, who I missed last year because the crowd was way too big—her latest book had just been released. I think it should be a good time, and I hope the weather will be nice. Last year was crowded, but it was good because there were still plenty of places to sit, and it was heartwarming for this English teacher to see books bring so many folks out.

I don’t know if I’m being prickly or sensitive, but it bugs me that folks who commented on my review of Charity Girl, even if they agreed with the assessment, felt the need to point out they can understand Georgette Heyer’s Regency slang, ergo, I must have reading comprehension problems. Those exact words weren’t said, but they were sure implied a few times. Listen, I can read Robert Burns’s Scots dialect. I can understand Joseph in Wuthering Heights. I don’t think I have reading comprehension problems if I can’t figure out a few words in what I’m sure is probably historically accurate and meticulously researched but nonetheless dated and unfamiliar—apparently just to me—Regency cant. I didn’t like the book, and I stand by my review, but I don’t think I will participate in something like that again. I think the real problem some of the commenters had with my review is that I didn’t enjoy a book by an author they liked. Honestly, many of them were polite about it. In fact, I felt those who completely disagreed and yet didn’t feel the need to denigrate my intelligence probably made some good points. They know the author better than I do, after all. But I don’t understand the point in trying to belittle someone you disagree with. It isn’t likely to make them decide you’re right.

Charity Girl

Charity GirlI read Georgette Heyer’s Regency novel Charity Girl as part of Austenprose‘s month-long celebration of Georgette Heyer. It was the first Heyer novel I’ve read. My review of Charity Girl can be found here at Austenprose. I was honored to be asked to be a part of the celebration, and I was certainly game to try a new author that so many of my wonderful blog friends have enjoyed. Unfortunately, I don’t think Georgette Heyer is for me. I had a lot of difficulty understanding her Regency slang, which I understand is well-researched and authentic. Still, Jane Austen, who wrote during the actual Regency, managed to make her books timeless and easy for even modern readers to understand.

In addition, I really felt the plot was very thin and driven mainly by dialogue. It was easy to guess how the novel might end only a few pages in, and the characters were not very interesting to me. I’m not sure if I’d give Heyer another try or not. Romance isn’t really my thing, though I have read and enjoyed a few romance novels before.

[rating:2/5]

Reading Update: August 8, 2010

HatsI’m still reading books set in Salem. After finishing Brunonia Barry’s The Map of True Places and The Lace Reader, I returned to Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, although this book is set more in Marblehead than Salem, it does have some scenes in Salem. I think my favorite thing about Salem was just walking around and looking at everything. It truly is a unique town, and I do hope I have the opportunity to go back.

In addition to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, I’ve begun a new DailyLit selection: Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. I haven’t read this one. I know, I know. Well, it sure starts off with a bang! Dickens was a master of characterization.

I am still reading just finished Charity Girl. I believe I’ll be finished with that one in a day or two, but my review will not appear here until the day it is published at Austenprose.

I am now about halfway through A Farewell to Arms. At this point, Catherine is pregnant, and Henry is going back to the front. I am wondering what is going to happen. I know the ending of this book. Years of being an English teacher have spoiled that plot, but I still wonder how we will get from here to there, and I wonder what will happen in between. I also found myself looking up “jaundice” on Wikipedia to see if it can be caused by alcoholism, and it looks like it can. Hemingway’s economy with words is beautiful in its simplicity. He still manages to capture so much with so little.

I’ve been trying to decide what I should read next. I’m still on this Salem kick, so I might read The Heretic’s Daughter, but I think I will scout around. Has anyone read Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman? I was going to swear off Hoffman after her Twitter rant last year, but this book looks interesting to me.

On a side note, Apture, the tool I use to create links on this site, appears to be broken at the moment, so the links might not pop up as enhanced links the way they usually do. And this post took twice as long to write as it would have with Apture. Hope they fix it soon!

photo credit: danahuff

Reading Update: August 2, 2010

Finished scarfAfter finishing The Map of True Places, I decided to re-read The Lace Reader. I won’t give away the spoilery ending, but I will say that The Lace Reader is an interesting and different book on a re-read after the reader knows how it ends. I had forgotten that Ann Chase, who appears in The Map of True Places, was also in this book, but when she mentions being friends with Towner Whitney, I looked it up and discovered she had indeed been a character. She is such a fun character and so well drawn. It would be interesting for Barry to give her a story in which she takes center stage. Barry casts Ann Chase as a descendant of Giles and Martha Corey, which isn’t possible because they had no children together. I don’t know if it’s a mistake, poetic license, or Towner’s error. It might have been fun to cast Ann as a descendant of John and Elizabeth Proctor—perhaps even the baby Elizabeth was carrying that saved her life until the hysteria died down. Lace reading is one of those things that sounds so true it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that Brunonia Barry invented it. I’ll bet it has some practitioners now. At any rate, I think I’m actually enjoying this novel more on a re-read than I did the first time around, perhaps because I recently visited the novel’s setting or perhaps because I’m reading it with different eyes knowing the ending. Either way, I’m turning the pages. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Barry signed my paperback copies of The Lace Reader in addition to my copies of The Map of True Places. I won two copies of each book as part of my prize package. I’m on about page 60, but will probably read some more before I call it night.

Aside from The Lace Reader, I’m also reading Georgette Heyer’s Charity Girl for Austenprose’s Celebration of Georgette Heyer. It’s a quick read, but I have to admit that the Regency slang is hard for me to navigate. I have had to use the dictionary a lot (thank goodness I’m reading it on my Kindle, so that’s easy). I have a quibble with the Kindle edition, however. Many of the words are broken up (i.e. to gether) and the paragraphs are formatted wrong. No indentation at the beginning of a new one and little indication of a new paragraph. It’s been maddening to read from an aesthetic viewpoint. I think I’ll finish it quickly. I’m 46% done now.

I am also reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, which I have never read. I am teaching American literature again this year, and it’s the only required book for summer reading. The other books are choice books. Because we are supposed to teach the required book as our first unit, I need to read it. It’s not bad, but it’s not really what I want to read right now in my current frame of mind, so I’ve not got too far. I’m also reading it on the Kindle, and I’m 12% finished.

So what are you reading? Is it good?

photo credit: Maria Keays

Reading Update: July 31, 2010

WitchI have been reading Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance Charity Girl for the Celebration of Georgette Heyer at Austenprose. I am about 1/3 the way through. I also picked up Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms because I need to have it read before school starts: it’s summer reading for my 10th grade students, and I haven’t read it before. I know, shocking! I like it so far, but I can’t deny that I have truly been wanting to read something set in Salem ever since my trip. I tried to tell myself I was going to finish these two books first and then I could indulge, but you know what? It’s summer, and I’m going to read it now if I want to. So I have started Brunonia Barry’s The Map of True Places. I will probably move on to something else set in Salem for as long as the mood lasts. I had a wonderful time there, and I so enjoyed seeing everything I had read about.

Plus, how cool is it that the first few results in my Photodropper plugin that helps me find Flickr images I can use on my blog returned my own photographs?

photo credit: danahuff

Celebrating Georgette Heyer

Celebrating Georgette Heyer

Celebrating Georgette HeyerIn honor of Georgette Heyer’s birthday on August 16, Laurel Ann of Austenprose is hosting a month-long celebration of Heyer’s work. Yours truly is participating with a review of Charity Girl, which will be my first Heyer read. Please join us at Laurel Ann’s for the festivities.

In other book-related news this week, on this date in 1054, Siward, Earl of Northumbria, invaded Scotland to aid Malcolm Canmore against Macbeth, an event depicted in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Can’t wait to teach that one again this year! It’s also the birthday of Alexandre Dumas fils and the anniversary of the death of Gertrude Stein.

Tomorrow marks the birthday of Beatrix Potter and the anniversary of the death of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Friday is the birthday of novelist Emily Brontë. I hope I can have a review of the novel Emily’s Ghost ready to commemorate that event. Friday also marks the anniversary of the death of British poet Thomas Gray.

Saturday we celebrate the birthdays of J. K. Rowling and her creation, Harry Potter. On July 31, 1703, writer Daniel Defoe was also put in a pillory following a conviction for seditious libel. He was pelted with flowers.

On August 1, 1944, Anne Frank made the last entry in her diary. August 1 is also Herman Melville’s birthday.

Monday August 2 is Caleb Carr‘s birthday and also marks the anniversary of Raymond Carver’s death and William S. Burroughs’s death.