Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

The title: Pride and Prejudice
The author: Jane Austen
Publication: Crown, 1981 (org. 1813)
Got it from: Mom, Easter 1996

So if this were a normal review, right now I'd be telling you about the plot and what I liked/didn't like about the book. But this is me, and I ask you, when have I ever given you a boring review? So let's get the good stuff over with right away, shall we? Let's talk about MR. DARCY. I was thinking about this when I was reading P&P, and wondering if there was a woman in the world who didn't go insane for him upon reading this novel. I did try to steel myself against his charms. I tried to be all cynical and mature and weary of all the hype, but dang it! Austen just puts these clever romantic line in and I got all melty inside, like if I'd eaten cheese maybe you could have a fondue party over me.

[Just as an aside, I keep meaning to take notes when I read. Really, it would help me. I can never find what I'm looking for when I go to write my reviews.]

"no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, then he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes."

Yep, you're a goner, Darcy.*

"Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her."


"More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought, and, to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first that it was a favoourite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time, therefore, was very odd!"

Love it.

And it goes on. Suffice to say, there has been much discussion as to why women love Mr. Darcy so much. He's rich and handsome, but so are other Austen heroes. Each reader gets to imagine Mr. Darcy in her own way (I know I did), but the same can be said for almost any romance novel hero. My theory is that if you combine all the factors (rich, hot, disdainful but secretly nice) and add them to the fact he falls in love with Lizzy despite his and everyone else's objections, that's powerful. Who isn't insanely jealous of Lizzy, who can make a man fall all over himself with lust just by being herself? It is the Ultimate Romantic Fantasy.

Yeah, there's other great stuff here too. Witty social commentary. Great characters - Mr. Bennett in particular always makes me laugh. Evocative descriptions of the English countryside. Emotional depth. But saying I read this book for these reasons would be like saying I watch Dr. Who for the science. If you catch my drift. And I think you do.

Fifty giddy stomach butterflies out of fifty.

*Sarah at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, calls this the "I don't wanna like you. I don't wanna love you. Damnit, I can't stop thinking about your hair!" phenomenon.

Jane Austen videos, Part 2

In honour of Pride and Prejudice, this video pretty much explains itself.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fantasy Lover

The title: Fantasy Lover
The author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Publication: St. Martin's Press, 2002
Got it from: ?? an online store

I must be seriously out of it. I didn't know the first durn thing about Sherrilyn Kenyon until the patrons at my library started asking for her books like crazy. When I realized she'd written approximately 1,765 books and had a rabid fanbase, that caught my attention. When Fantasy Lover popped up on a "top five romances every librarian should recommend" list, I did a double-take. Hold the phone! A book about a half-mortal Macedonian warrior who is trapped in a book to be summoned as a love slave? How did I miss this?

Then I started reading it. (Research. For my job, you know). And all I could think of was, dang. This book is so good, I'll never be able to snark it now. I can't think of one bad thing to say about it. Yes, the premise involves one Julian of Macedon ("blessed by the gods, feared by mortals, and desired by all women who saw him") who does some bad things and is cursed to forever be a love slave. If the book had taken that part too seriously, it would have been so bad. Luckily, there was just enough humour to make the silliness downright believable.

Things I liked about the book:
The heroine, Grace, who summons Julian on a dare when she's drunk on her 29th birthday. Grace isn't drop-dead gorgeous, she's suffered in love and life, she's not that confident when it comes to men. But she's smart, funny and loveable, which is difficult to find in a heroine. Initially she thinks the whole thing is a joke, ("Come and ease my aching loins, O great Julian of Macedon") until she gets to know Julian and actually feels sorry for him.

Julian, himself. It's not easy to feel sorry for a guy who have women literally falling all over him, but Kenyon makes him just sympathetic enough to work. You want to talk about tortured heroes? This guy makes their pasts look like marshmallow fluff. Beaten, tortured, starved, unloved - that's our hero. Without this understanding, we as readers wouldn't understand why Grace's caring would make him fall in love with her.

The plot. Think there's lots of sex in it? Not even. Not to divulge too much here, but a central plot point revolves around how the two protagonists have to abstain for the duration of Julian's summoning. Of course they want each other bad, and the unresolved sexual tension creates many hilarious moments of frustration.

Finally, there's the normality mixed with the craziness. Julian and Grace go out for burgers, visit an aquarium, and learn to drive. They also converse with Greek gods who happen to hang out in restaurants and on the beach. Dude, that would be so awesome! "This party sucks, let's summon Bacchus for some good times." I'm such a fan of magic realism, and I loooooove the Greek gods, so this book was perfect for me.

Rating: eight Macedonian love slaves out of ten, and an Eros to go