Moving slowly

19 Mar

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It occurred to me the other day that I’m approaching a year since I started on this challenge (2 April 2010). Naturally, this led to a spot of reflection and the rather disquieting realisation that my initial estimate was wildly optimistic. In nearly 12 months I’ve read 10 and a bit books (being fair, I’m probably about halfway through Persuasion). I haven’t even managed a book a month, let alone a book every couple of weeks.

Lest I start beating myself up about this, I’ve also had to remind myself that I have plenty of other demands on my time (work, other hobbies, household chores), and that I’ve read at least three other books (not on the list) as well.

The other reason for reduced pace, with the last couple of books at least, is not a lack of enjoyment, but rather a shared enjoyment; I’ve been reading them to Rose Red. Understandably, it takes a bit longer reading out-loud, and we have to both be there. Also, it means we frequently pause to discuss the implications of what has just happened. We don’t always completely agree (though she does seem amazed and delighted that I’m willing to read and discuss Jane Austen with her).

In this process of reading “good literature” and thinking about it, I’ve noticed the development of certain instincts about story patterns that lead me to make intuitive leaps about where the story is going, or what happens to certain characters. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong, but it’s amusing to find out either way.

One particularly interesting (and amusing) example came from the introduction of Captain Benwick. Now, just by the way, any or all of these posts may involve spoilers*, so if that sort of thing concerns you come back once you’ve read (at least Volume One of) Persuasion. Now, at this point, the love of Anne Elliot’s life, Captain Wentworth**, seems firmly besotted by Louisa Musgrove, so when another young, handsome naval officer is introduced I promptly remarked that he must be going to marry Louisa. Rose Red was flabbergasted.

To me, it seemed a perfectly reasonable conclusion. The main story is about Anne and Cpt. Wentworth; he’s currently wooing someone else; that someone else will be heartbroken when he marries Anne; oh, look, a new (eligible bachelor) character is introduced who can soothe her pains. Of course, I could be completely wrong: Cpt. Wentworth and Louisa could have a long and happy life together, and Anne could end up with Cpt. Benwick (who is mourning a lost fiancee) – mutually aware that they both pine for another but can make a satisfactory life together. It would certainly be interesting how the different characters react to that. However, despite appearances to the contrary, I stand by my theory. Time will vindicate me, or prove me a ninny. If it hasn’t already.

* Though, I’m not sure spoilers count for a book that’s been out for over 100 years…

** The combination of the name “Wentworth”, and the description of Mary’s younger child forcibly reminds me of Tiffany Aching’s little brother in The Wee Free Men, which I was given for Christmas and promptly re-read. It would not surprise me if it is an intentional allusion on Pratchett’s part.


Posted by on March 19, 2011 in General, Persuasion


3 responses to “Moving slowly

  1. Alison Jenkin

    March 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Thats the thing about reading Terry Pratchett- you don’t pick up the allusions unless you’ve read the originals.
    Reading is a lifetime pursuit so don’t worry about the pace you have set, and just think you’ve read 10 books you wouldn’t have if left to your own devices

  2. rainymondaymorning

    March 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I just find it awesome that you’ve been doing this for a year and haven’t given up yet – even if you have been going a bit slower than you would have liked!

    I think it’s lovely you are reading out loud to her – that is incredibly sweet. One of the reasons why I am reading as much as I am is that I lack a love life (a situation I am extremely happy with) and have a rather small social life.

    I agree – with the above commentator – just think, this is 10 books you may not have read otherwise! And you inspired me to get over my fear of literature (bloody high school English teachers) and to follow in your footsteps. That’s got to count for something, right?

    Yes, it is possible to have spoilers for something published over 100 years ago, especially for a book like Persuasion, which isn’t as well known in the public sphere as some of Austen’s other books.

  3. knightowl

    March 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement! As I said, I’m not beating myself up about this, just adjusting my estimations.

    I’m glad my efforts have been inspiring – having supportive followers/fellow travelers has certainly helped.


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