Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Two Guys Read Jane Austen - Yawn
Posted by JaneGS
I confess, I was really looking forward to reading about how Two Guys Read Jane Austen.
I had a nice long flight from Denver to Boston on Sunday, and settled back and read the whole thing cover to cover. I'm glad I'm done with it and can pass it on to someone else. I don't think I'll even bother to shelve it on my miscellaneous Austen shelf (I had been thinking between Fay Weldon's Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen (Weldon, Fay) and Kate Fenton's Lions and Licorice,which I just found out is now called Vanity and Vexation: A Novel of Pride and Prejudice.
What didn't I like? Well, for starters reading Austen means reading the lot, not just Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. That's called starting to read Austen. There are only six novels, for goodness sake. I got the feel these two guys were so eager to rush to print (to take advantage, as they acknowledge, of the Austen goldrush) that they read two and decided to call it good enough. But, no Emma? No Persuasion? Not good enough.
And frankly, they could have dispensed with the college-prank stories, the rehab stories, the plugging-their-other-books stories, and the wife stories. Publishing their letters is a nice gimmick, but how many times do I need to read "Give my love to Miranda" to get the effect of the letters-between-friends bit? When I read a book about Austen, I want it to be about Austen. I found myself skimming the non-Austen stuff looking for more Austen stuff.
The one bright spot was when one of them--and I never really tried to keep straight which one was talking--gave a reasonably good explanation for why Austen chose Henry VIII as the play from which Henry Crawford read and that Lady Bertram labels Crawford as quite a good actor.
They're probably looking for speaking opportunities now that they're Austen "experts" and they're a novelty in that they are beer-drinking guys who like to talk Austen. If they come to my neck of the woods, I might give them another chance, but I thought the book a trifle dull.