Why Do I Torture Myself?

I read a lot.  I read pretty much anything you put in front of me.  I do tend to get on a roll with certain genres from time to time, most recently my addiction to YA dystopian fantasy, but then I try to read something a little more challenging or scholarly.

I had Sense and Sensibility in the pile for years now. I kept shuffling other books ahead of it, telling myself I wasn’t quite ready to take it on just yet.  I would make excuses like “Oh the movie of that book is coming out in a few months” or “Well someone gave me this one as a gift, I should read it so I can tell them that I liked it for x,y, and z.”  Well a few months ago, I realized that I had played this game for far too long.  I picked up the novel by Jane Austen and began my very first Jane Austen novel.

Being an English major, you are subjected to many different genres and many different periods of literature.  As you go through your education, you come to find things out about yourself, like which of these genres and periods you like and those that you really have to drudge through to the end.  However, oddly enough, as an English major, I never read any of Jane Austen’s works.  I read other Victorian and Romantic writers.  Dickens is one of my favorites.  Mary Shelley was pretty darn good too.  I have come to learn that I have a very hard time getting through the Victorian/Romantic works of Jane Austin.

Once I start a book, I am stubborn and must finish it.  I feel that if I do not finish it, I have no real reason as to why I didn’t like it.  At least if I finish it, I can say I didn’t like it because the main character was a wimp or because the ending was too contrived.  Sometimes, I have finished a book I thought I didn’t like only to find that the last few chapters did have a bit of a silver lining to an otherwise grey cloud of a three hundred pages.  It’s a labor of love in a sense.  I love the fact that someone took the time to pour these words onto a page and allowed me to read what was rattling around in his or her head.  I feel I owe it to them to finish the book, no matter how difficult I may find it.

Sense and Sensibility has been taking me an insane amount of time to finish.  I am sad to say I don’t find it to be a book I can just pick up and blow through.  I have seen the movie.  I remember Emma Thompson playing Elinor, the eldest of the Dashwood girls; Kate Winslet playing the overly dramatic Marianne; Hugh Grant  as Edward Ferras; and Alan Rickman playing Col. Brandon.  It was a very good movie.  The book, however, does not flow for me the way the movie does and before you all hang me and take away my Voracious Reader card, hear me out for a minute.

sense and sensibility

The story starts out well enough.  Mother and her three daughters find themselves needing a new place to call home after their father dies and, because of the laws of the land, his son from his first wife, inherits everything.  The son doesn’t want to do wrong by them but his greedy and somewhat trollish wife insists that he owes his half-sisters nothing.  Off they go to their new cottage and begin life anew in the country.  Nothing too hard there.

Then we find ourselves with the Dashwoods at Barton.  So begins the line of new characters who come and go but don’t make a lasting enough impression to remember their names.  They are all so similar!  Col. Brandon stands out but only because he is made out to be pitiful and hopelessly in love with one of the girls.  Edward Farras is also pretty memorable as is Willoughby but everyone else is almost filler, just promoting how eligible these young women are and how tough it is to break into social circles of the English countryside.

The only thing that seems to drive the characters is just the need to keep busy during the day.  There is no real motivation for any of them. It is as if this book is just a “day in the life” kind of book that shows life at the time.  Now, I do NOT in any way, shape, or form pretend to be an Austen scholar and if you are one, then I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  I am not trying to be mean.  I just don’t get it.

Now, I’ll admit, I haven’t finished it yet.  So, maybe I’ll feel differently in the end. I just feel I owe it to myself to read at least one Jane Austen book.  I have Pride and Prejudice in the pile too. I just hoped that it would be sweeping and epic like Jane Eyre – one of my top five favorite books of all time.  So far though, I haven’t felt a connection to any of them.  Again, I haven’t finished yet, but I had to get all that off my chest.  After all, it’s taken me a month to just get through Volume I.  I promised myself that I would not read any other books until I finished this one.  For my birthday, I received six new books.  All of them books I very much wanted to read.

They are calling me…Must finish Sense and Sensibility.

Must finish.

Must finish.

Must be Sensible.

Must finish book…

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Why Do I Torture Myself?

  1. You are strong – I would be so in any one of those birthday books. Wishing you a speedy read and a belated Happy Birthday.

  2. Another English major here who never read any Jane Austen either. Don’t all her books revolve around women trying to get married? I guess there’s probably more to them, but good freaking grief, I never wanted to read about young Mary Falkenstaff’s heart being broken by the third son of Sir Worcestershire, and her sisters, Edwinna and Cornelia, being matched off to Mr. Dougherty and Captain Whosington.

    • That might be another reason I avoided the books. The movies are one thing but, all this drawn out discussion over who is engaged secretly to whom and whether or not his intentions are pure or he is of a kind countenance is starting to really get to me. I will persevere though so that I can really say exactly what made me not like it…

  3. Pingback: Book Hoarder or Bibliophile? | Singing Underwater

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