When H chose this category last month, the image that immediately came to my mind was that rack of pink-covered Harlequin Romances at the book store when I was a kid.
That rack that I passed with barely a glance on my way to the brown clad books: dogs, horses, reference.
In fact, I went in search of that rack for a picture for this post and you know what I found? Fifty shades of grey. Quite literally. To be sure, there’s still a scattering of covers dressed in pinks and purples depicting clutching couples, shirtless men, and gowned damsels in distress. But most of the romance covers are unlike those of my dusty pink memory. They’re blue and black and grey, with motorcycles and vampires and empty landscapes. Old houses, space ships, jewels, and, of course, blindfolds.
And still, between the covers, it’s almost always that same long-told, reassuring story: one meets another, there’s the spark (love, hate, disdain, attraction), there’s the longing and the eventual coming to terms, there’s the obstruction (cruel step mother, overseas job, old girlfriend, different species, different planet), there’s the long montage of return to each other. And then there’s the ending… together or apart, with some hope that there will be love at some point, if only in a different time and place.
For this challenge, all I really wanted to do was read my favorite Jane Austen (Persuasion), which has all of the above elements in abundance, plus (to my mind) a heroine who truly deserves the happiness she attains at the end. Instead, I read a more recent classic: The French Lieutenant’s Woman, by John Fowles.
It was fine. It had most of the elements. It had Sarah in her dark cloak at the end of the Cobb being buffeted by the wind and waves (the Cobb, in fact, makes an appearance in Persuasion). But it was no Persuasion. And now I’ve learned that the crucial element (for me) is the ending: Elizabeth and Darcy must end up in incandescent happiness. Anne and Frederick must end up on the deck of his ship, setting out for adventure.
Otherwise, what’s the point?
Our books for month 3:
- H ~ The Annotated Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen
- M ~ Waterland, by Graham Swift
- R ~ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, by John Fowles
We’d love to know what you read this month. Please leave a comment telling us about it!
The category for the coming month is:
If you need help finding a book, here are some good resources (note, however, that just because a book was popular or best selling in a particular year doesn’t mean it was necessarily first published in that year; check the information for the particular book you want to read):
- Best Selling books of the 20th Century, listed by year
- Goodreads “Most Popular By Year” search (select the year you want in the “by year” box at the top of the right-hand column)
- Wikipedia Books by Year search
We’ll see you back here on May 9!
This post is part of our multi-year reading challenge. We’d love to have you join us for the whole challenge or any portion. Take a look at the checklist to see the current category (in green). We’ll announce the next category on the 9th of each month.
I kinda got side-tracked in the month that had finish a book you started and never finished. Yikes! I always finish books I start if I like them and if I don’t, then I don’t finish them as there doesn’t seem to be, like you say, a point. So, it’s not like I wanted to go back and read any of those. Also, I read books specifically for specific reasons and don’t intend to “finish” them as when that specific reason is finished, I’m finished, at least in my eyes. Sometimes I just want something or other from a book and that’s that…hard to explain probably. So I didn’t really have any books to finish that I started and never finished. Then last month I was sort of stuck as I’m not a reader of classic romance usually…oh, I read the ones assigned in all my lit classes in college, etc., but if I had to choose one off a shelf and read it…I’m not sure I can bring myself to do that since I have a stack of book and a list that never ends and only so much reading time anyway, and so I just thought about the classic romances I read in college. Does that count? Probably not. lol Anyway, there wasn’t one I wanted to take the time to go back and re-read and I wasn’t sure I had a good intent of searching one out. And to be truthful, the ones I always liked the best were the ones that didn’t work out in the end…Age of Innocence, Anna Karenina, etc. What can I say…I’m not a prime time player. That said, I eagerly look forward to seeing what theme will be chosen for the coming month and one day it might fit the stack of books which always resides on my bedside table, scored from the library and diligently devoured. So, let me see if I can come up with some sort of non-fiction wonder that came out in 1955 and maybe I can play along this month after all. It’s such fun to try to fit in and I am not beating myself up if I don’t, because after all, I am just me. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you all come up with for this one! Such fun. Thanks for offering it!
Thanks, Kayte! I hope you find a 1955 book in your stack and, if not, enjoy whatever you read!
I am not doing that well with following the plan (I finally finished my book set in another country–The Bone Clocks, which I loved, though not quite as much as Cloud Atlas), but just had to chime in and say that I read Persuasion for the first time last September and oh boy, it really is wonderful. One of my favorite Austen stories for sure.
Oh! I’m so glad you loved Persuasion!