Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A trip to Austenland?


I just finished a nice little book called Austenland by Shannon Hale. I was intrigued by the concept and by the fact that I knew Hale as a YA author and she was now moving into the realm of adult fiction, much as Meg Cabot did. In fact, Hale’s writing reminds of Cabot. It’s sharp, smart and keeps just enough of your funny bone tickled to make the reading from becoming too biting.

Austenland is the story of a young woman, who like many of us, loves Jane Austen. But when she finds herself in a fantasy “theme park” playing the role of a Regency young woman in a house full of Austen-esque characters it becomes hard to remember it’s all an act. Especially hard to remember when faced with the prospect of her own Austen hero stepping out of the pages and fulfilling her deepest fantasy.


My right hand is doing much better. I’ve been able to take off even the little bandage over the actual incision and it’s drying up quite well. I have a large bruise on my palm that makes shifting gears a bit unpleasant. It looks a bit icky, but in a couple of weeks more you will barely see the mark if it’s anything like my left.

Harry Potter

I am a Potter fan. Or I was up until books 6 and 7. Rowling’s final two books had two essential problems IMHO. First of all, they started to read like fanfiction. In fact, what was scary was that I had seen fanfiction that was better written, more imaginative and thought out, than Rowling’s last two installments. Much of the books read as if she had read the fanfiction and said, “Hmmm…I like that idea. Yes, it’s what I’ve had planned all along.”

Secondly, the last book had elements that were not suitable for the audience to whom the books had always been targeted. The mistaken idea that your audience is growing with your characters supposes that new fans will only read one book per year. That’s not how children read. When kids find a series they like, they will devour it in as short a time as possible. So that cute 9 or 10 year old who is delighted by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone will be confronted in book seven by the torturing of a main character and multiple occasions of implied sexual violence. I’m not kidding. What did you think happened to Dumbledore’s sister? And the remarks of Greyback about how “tasty” Hermione is? Yes, he wants to bite her, but the implication goes beyond that.

I will be seeing the sixth movie. I have enjoyed the film series for itself and am curious as to how they will manage all the content of these books. I’m also interested to see how actors that were cast as children have grown to rise to the occasion. Some solid and impressive acting will be required by those playing Draco, Neville and Ginny. Who knows, we may actually get to see Alan Rickman act rather than stand about in camera shot looking grim and intimidating. From the stills released, it looks like the scene between he and Narcissa Malfoy will be in the film. I was certain that would be one of the first things cut.

Oh, and I can’t wait for the final confrontation in the last film between Helena Bonham-Carter and Julie Walters. That short bit will be worth the price of admission.


Molly Daniels said...

I'm looking forward to the remaining films too:)

Did you start to feel sorry for Draco at the end of book #6 and hope he'd redeem himself?

JacquƩline Roth said...

Actually, yes. I was surprised how she "redeemed" to some extent the Malfoys but kept them so in character.

I was furious in book 7 how she handled things with some of the characters. Some of the choices she made were down right unnecessarily dark and sad.