Saturday Shelfie

It has been three weeks since I last blogged. I guess that hiatus has effectively broken my “one post per week” goal! But now I have five weeks of spring break (five whole weeks!) in which I hope to find more time to blog, as well as writing all of the essays and tackling the mountain of coursework I need to catch up on. And of course, more free time equals more time to read! My current read and this week’s Saturday Shelfie is an intriguing re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

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Saturday Shelfie is a fortnightly feature and blogging event here at Cultural Life. If you’re a blogger and would like to take part, the guidelines are simple: grab the Saturday Shelfie badge for your post (right click on the badge and “save as…”) and publish a photo of your current read, along with a brief synopsis and/or your thoughts on it. Don’t forget to link back to this post so that your Saturday Shelfie post will appear as a “pingback” link below this post!

Longbourn

Longbourn by Jo Baker is a re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the perspectives of the servants who live and work in the Bennet household. Although I have written before about my objections to the retelling of classic novels in my posts Do Modern Retellings of Classic Novels Actually Work? and Classic Novels, Retold, I was mostly focusing on modern re-imaginings of Jane Austen’s novels. Those irk me because I see no need to update classic novels for contemporary readers.

However, Longbourn is different. It uniquely complements Pride and Prejudice because it provides an insight into the world of the people who worked behind the scenes. Although beloved characters such as Elizabeth and Darcy are, of course, present in the book, they are always viewed through the eyes of the household staff. For example, those of you who have read P&P may remember the scene when Elizabeth enjoys a walk across the fields to visit her sister Jane.

“Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last within view of the house, with weary ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise” (P&P, chapter 7)

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In Longbourn, Jo Baker gives a new perspective to this scene and presents a very different view of P&P: the ‘other side’ of genteel Georgian England:

“If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields” (Longbourn, page 11).

What are you reading this weekend?

Saturday Shelfie

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Saturday Shelfie is a new fortnightly feature and blogging event here at Cultural Life. If you’re a blogger and would like to take part, the guidelines are simple: grab the Saturday Shelfie badge for your post and publish a photo of your current read, along with a brief synopsis and/or your thoughts on it. Don’t forget to link back to this post so that your Saturday Shelfie post will appear as a “pingback” link below this post!

Image courtesy of Goodreads

The book I am reading at the moment is Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler. Set primarily in small-town Wisconsin, it traces the stories of four people, Ronny, Lee, Kip and Henry, who grew up together and were boyhood friends. Now adults, their lives have diverged onto four very different paths but their shared past links them together, including old rivalries which threaten to reappear. I am only half-way through this novel and so far, it is an engaging read which is making me want to read on. The characters in this story seem very real and authentic and the author has a gift for portraying the nuances of friendship and loyalty.

Saturday Shelfie

Inspired by participating in the Daily Post’s Zero to Hero blogging challenge, Saturday Shelfie is a new fortnightly feature and blogging event hosted by my blog. I invite other bloggers to get involved and take part.

The criteria are simple: take a photo (a shelfie!) of the book you are currently reading, write a short, spoiler-free synopsis of the book and your thoughts on it so far, and post it on your blog with the title “Saturday Shelfie” and the event badge (right-click on the image and “save as…”, then upload it into your post).

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Make sure you link back to this post when you publish your Saturday Shelfie post; it means a link to your Saturday Shelfie will appear below this post. And that means we can all find each other’s posts. Not only does it help to introduce book-loving bloggers to exciting new reads, it is also a great way for all of us to find new blogs and that helps publicize our blogs too. Score! You can also use the hashtag #saturdayshelfie on Twitter when promoting your Saturday Shelfie post.

The book I am currently reading is Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld. I have nearly finished it – only a couple more chapters until the end – and it’s a very compelling read.

Growing up in St. Louis, identical twins Kate and Violet shared everything like two peas in a pod, including the ‘gift’ of having senses: being able to see some parts of the future. But a couple of decades later, their lives have gone in different directions. Kate is a suburban stay-at-home mother while Violet, who makes her living as a psychic medium, is eccentric and unconventional. When Violet predicts that a massive earthquake will hit St. Louis on October 16, both of their lives are jolted off course.

This is Sittenfeld’s fourth novel and, like all of her writing, it engages the reader and is very readable. In my opinion, it is her best novel so far. Sittenfeld has a knack for writing about the many aspects of family life and Sisterland is a book which will make you stay up late to read more!