What do you do with a husband who gives you Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters for Christmas?? I didn’t like to ask if he thought it was a recently-discovered Jane Austen … so I just started reading it. A medley — or maybe a melee — of S&S and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Castle of Otranto … but quite fun if one suspends judgment, and quite well-written …. although the characters are blocked in with a heavier hand, just in case you didn’t realise that Mrs Jennings is vulgar, Lucy Steele on the make, Colonel Brandon the epitome of good breeding, despite being under the curse of a sea-witch and so having a fringe of writhing tentacles — much worse than a flannel waistcoat! But rather good holiday reading.
I also acquired Reginald Hill’s take on Sanditon: A Cure for All Diseases. I like Dalziel and Pascoe on the small screen but find them rather tiresome between the pages, and this was even worse. The two friends who had it before me read it at a sitting (or so they said) but I gave up after Lady Denham was murdered … she certainly deserved that! The friends are much younger than I so I suspect it is a generation gap thing.
Much more to my taste is A Truth Universally Acknowledged, which I happened on most fortuitously in Dymocks as I sought to spend my JASA prize voucher. Anna reviews it in today’s Panorama and is rewarded with a double -page spread on George Clooney! Alas, I thought I was going to get in first by reading up on what the contributors say about Mansfield Park … but now I will have some competition. Anyway, I endorse Anna’s recommendation. I had even copied down the same quote about the reality of the characters. But I wonder what others will think about another quote: Jane Austen has difficulty in making her characters both good and interesting. That one is very appropriate to Mansfield Park.
As for the husband, he is such a good dancer I decided to keep him. Can’t have everything in a man!