October 10, 2006

Poor, Tragic Mary

Author Marilyn Sachs -- founder of the San Francisco branch of the Jane Austen Society -- has written a novel about our Jane! First Impressions tells the story of Alice, who has just had to read Pride & Prejudice, and who hates it so much that she describes it as a "tragedy!" Alice hates how Austen treats Mary, the plain and downplayed middle child who is basically laughed at, and never gets a gentleman to pay her any mind. Alice - a middle child lost in a big, noisy family herself - can't concentrate on the plot, so great is her angst about poor Mary, who is overlooked and underappreciated, much like Alice herself. Consequently, Alice turns the paper in, decrying Austen as an awful author, and the novel as terrible, and ...gets a C+. Alice is SHOCKED! Alice doesn't do C's, so her teacher's giving her a second chance over Christmas break to read the book again, and try her hand at the paper one more time. Ugh! It's all Alice can do bring herself to crack it open. The only way she can cope is to imagine the story... different. Better. Alice starts reading, and changes the book world. Christmas shopping at the mall, she runs into a guy named Kevin, whom she's known forever, and he offers to read along with her, to make the assignment more bearable. Alice changes her fictional life, and finds her real life is changing too. Kevin is cool -- way cooler than she'd ever noticed. Suddenly everything is like an Austen novel - subtle hints and real-life romances. Alice starts to wonder if maybe this Jane Austen thing isn't as bad as she thinks.

This is a "quiet" novel, in that there's no huge drama, but it really works. It's a fun and creative introduction for readers to the work of Jane Austen, and it's a reminder that what you think you already 'know' is sometimes totally wrong, and that life can hold surprises.

2 comments:

DaviMack said...

...it's a reminder that what you think you already 'know' is sometimes totally wrong, and that life can hold surprises.

So ... does this mean that you're going to start watching movies OTHER than P&P which involve Colin Firth? Hah!

I guess that's the sometimes in that statement, isn't it? No matter what he's in, he's always Mr. Darcy....

tanita s. davis said...

Utterly sad, utterly true...