One of the folks in my online Trollope group has written a mystery, Fifty-Third and Dorchester by Marvin Waschke. Think Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Think Chandler and Hammett. The story opens with a good-looking dame in the shamus' office. A treat.
Over the years I've often been asked "How many times you have read that book? In the case of Sense and Sensibility I have to report "too many to count." And yet every time I read it there's something new to notice.
This time around I had been looking at a book called The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility by Natalie Tyler. It has essays on Cowper and Crabbe, Lucy Steele, Sexy Men, and the novels of sensibility. It also has a perceptive essay on carriages vs walking in the works of Austen.
The author makes the surprising statement that "in the novels of Jane Austen the pedestrian possesses moral superiority." And sure enough, as I read I kept my eye on those carriages (Willoughby taking Marianne for rides vs Elinor walking with Edward. In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth walks to Netherfield to visit Jane. While visiting the Collins family she walks every day around Rosings. In Northanger Abbey Catherine walks with Henry and his sister while John Thorpe tools around in his carriage.
I also noticed this time how the rude Mr Palmer becomes much more relaxed and gentlemanly at home and is sympathetic and helpful to Elinor when Marianne is ill. Mr Darcy is also much more relaxed and friendly when he is at home at Pemberly. I wonder if Jane Austen was trying to say something there.
And the familiar quotations: Elinor: "Do you compare your conduct with his?" Marianne: "No. I compare it with what it ought to have been; I compare it with yours."
And the quote that says it all: "It is not everyone," said Elinor, "who has your passion for dead leaves."
A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen, Natalie Tyler, Pride and Prejudice, re-reading books, Sense and Sensibility, The Friendly Jane Austen, walking vs carriages
A sparkling memoir by the daughter of English theater critic Kenneth Tynan and his wife, Elaine Dundy, author of The Dud Avocado. Tracy was obsessed with clothes from her first onesie and became a costume designer in Hollywood. Her sense of style (rather like her father's really) is not the sort of thing I would think up but her outfits are stunning nonetheless. (Her wedding dress was an oversized tee shirt hitched up at the waist with a belt.) Each chapter focuses on a piece of clothing and what the author was doing at the time she owned it.
Jeremy Thorpe was once the center of a scandalous murder for hire trial in England. At one time the head of the Liberal party and an apparently well-liked MP, Thorpe was tried for trying to hire somebody to kill off a loose-cannon of a guy who was at one time his homosexual lover. He and his would-be hit men talked of tossing his body down a Cornish tin mine, encasing his feet in cement and dropping him in the English Channel, and my favorite, killing him in the middle of the Big Cypress Swamp in Florida with hopes the alligators would eat his body.
There is controversy to this day as to why but the result of the man's trial was acquittal although it's quite clear that he did encourage various men to "save me from this meddlesome Scott." Unfortunately he chose men of great ineptitude. The whole book reads like a Dudley Moore/Peter Cook satire.