Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jane Austen in Scarsdale

Jane Austen in Scarsdale by Paula Marantz Cohen is a modern telling of Austen's Persuasion. It's set in a snobby area of New York and the main character is a high school guidance counselor helping kids get into college. The rest of the story is basically Persuasion. Overall, it was a nice, fluffy little book. However, I think the story was a little difficult to translate into modern times. Anne Elliot in Persuasion was persuading by her family to stop seeing the man she loved because he was not of their position in society and was poor. Eventually, their positions are reversed. It's understandable that a young woman in the early 1800s would be persuaded by her family not to marry someone below her station. It's not as understandable in today's society. It makes her rather unlikeable. Because I like Persuasion, I gave her the benefit of the doubt in that area, but then she was a spineless loser in another area. She let someone temporarily move into her apartment while she was living with her grandmother while she recovered from a stroke. When it's time for her to move back home, she generously gave the other girl three weeks notice to find another place (which she was supposed to be doing all along because the situation was temporary). The girl refuses to leave and Anne barely reacts! Rather than calling her landlord or the police, she hires a lawyer and doesn't seem to know how long it will take to get it sorted out. Really? I'd be getting that taken care of that day, forget the notice time to move out. But still, overall it was a nice little read, and the parts about the college application processs was interesting and sad. And the grandmother in the story, who is a wise and wonderful character, watches General Hospital. Gotta love that!

Here are a few interesting quotes:

"I think we're leaning toward St. John's, the Great Books college in Maryland. Did you know they read the Greeks during the freshman year?" This struck me as odd, because she's discussed all of these high-brow, Ivy league schools, and then notes this as an oddity. It is so strange to me that most schools don't require this. OBU did. We read the Illiad and the Odyssey, and plays by Sophocles, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Aeschylus, all in one semester of freshman year. It's appalling that so many schools, even liberal arts colleges, don't require this. I am so thankful that I went to OBU. Great program, great professors, great environment, great U.S. News and World Report rankings, plus I met my husband there.

"Your grandmother is such a classy lady. She's even rubbing off on me. She told me to stop wearing so much eye shadow and to get rid of all my designer logos." I loved that. I seem to be one of the few people that thinks wearing designer logos is tacky. The only reason to own a Louis Vouitton purse is show off the fact that you spent a ridiculus amount of money on it. It's stupid.

"[W]here do you want to put these books? Don't you think we should give them away since you already read them?" "She can't understand that books don't get used up. I've tried to explain that they aren't like clothes or furniture - that we keep them because we might want to read them again." "And because they remind us of how we felt when we read them." Very few people understand my obsession for owning books. Why buy them when I can get them from the library? Or at least sell them back when you're done. But I enjoy seeing them, and like Anne says, being reminded of how I felt when I read them. Passing by them is like seeing an old friend. I have been using the library recently for books I wouldn't normally buy, or that I would end up selling back, but I will always want to purchase books that I would want to revisit.

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