Monday, November 17, 2008

About The Author

I thought some of you might be interested in learning more about the author of this months book. (For the whole article, including, why she used a pen name. You can read it at Wikipedia)

Charlotte Bronte: (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855)
Charlotte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England in 1816, the third of six children, to Patrick Brontë (formerly "Patrick Brunty"), an Irish Anglican clergyman, and his wife, Maria Branwell. In April 1821, the family moved a few miles to Haworth, where Patrick had been appointed Perpetual Curate. Maria Branwell Brontë died of cancer on 15 September 1821, leaving five daughters and a son to the care of her sister Elizabeth Branwell. In August 1824, Charlotte was sent with three of her sisters; Emily, Maria and Elizabeth, to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire (which she would describe as Lowood School in Jane Eyre). Its poor conditions, Charlotte maintained, permanently affected her health and physical development and hastened the deaths of her two elder sisters, Maria (born 1814) and Elizabeth (born 1815), who died of tuberculosis in May of 1826 soon after they were removed from the school.

At home in Haworth Parsonage, Charlotte and the other surviving children — Branwell, Emily and Anne — began chronicling the lives and struggles of the inhabitants of their imaginary kingdoms. Charlotte and Branwell wrote stories about their country — Angria — and Emily and Anne wrote articles and poems about theirs — Gondal. The sagas were elaborate and convoluted (and still exist in part manuscripts) and provided them with an obsessive interest in childhood and early adolescence, which prepared them for their literary vocations in adulthood.

Charlotte continued her education at Roe Head, Mirfield, from 1831 to 1832, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. During this period (1833), she wrote her novella The Green Dwarf under the name of Wellesley. Charlotte returned as a teacher from 1835 to 1838. In 1839 she took up the first of many positions as governess to various families in Yorkshire, a career she pursued until 1841. In 1842 she and Emily travelled to Brussels to enroll in a pensionnat run by Constantin Heger (1809 – 1896) and his wife Claire Zoé Parent Heger (1814 – 1891). In return for board and tuition, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. Their time at the pensionnat was cut short when Elizabeth Branwell, their aunt who joined the family after the death of their mother to look after the children, died of internal obstruction in October 1842. Charlotte returned alone to Brussels in January 1843 to take up a teaching post at the pensionnat. Her second stay at the pensionnat was not a happy one; she became lonely, homesick, and deeply attached to Constantin Heger. She finally returned to Haworth in January 1844 and later used her time at the pensionnat as the inspiration for some of The Professor and Villette....

Charlotte's brother, Branwell, the only son of the family, died of chronic bronchitis and marasmus exacerbated by heavy drinking in September 1848, although Charlotte believed his death was due to tuberculosis. Branwell was also a suspected "opium eater", (i.e. a laudanum addict). Emily and Anne both died of pulmonary tuberculosis in December 1848 and May 1849, respectively.
Charlotte and her father were now left alone. In view of the enormous success of Jane Eyre, she was persuaded by her publisher to visit London occasionally, where she revealed her true identity and began to move in a more exalted social circle, becoming friends with Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Gaskell, William Makepeace Thackeray and G. H. Lewes. Her book had sparked a movement in regards to feminism in literature. The main character, Jane Eyre, in her novel Jane Eyre, was a parallel to herself, a woman who was strong. However, she never left Haworth for more than a few weeks at a time as she did not want to leave her aging father's side.

In June 1854, Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate, and became pregnant very soon thereafter. Her health declined rapidly during this time, and according to Gaskell, her earliest biographer, she was attacked by "sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness."[2] Charlotte died, along with her unborn child, on 31 March 1855, at the young age of 38. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as phthisis (tuberculosis), but many biographers suggest she may have died from dehydration and malnourishment, caused by excessive vomiting from severe morning sickness. There is also evidence to suggest that Charlotte died from typhus she may have caught from Tabitha Ackroyd, the Brontë household's oldest servant, who died shortly before her. Charlotte was interred in the family vault in The Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Haworth, West Yorkshire, England.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Are You a Spine Breaker?

This months "in between" question is borrowed from a site called Booking Through Thursday:
Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earrer?
Do you expect to keep your books in pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain?

I have gone through stages of both ways. When I was younger I would break spines to make the book open flat, wrap the cover around the back of a paper back, fold down pages etc. Now, whenever I see my son do that, I scold him. "You're going to ruin the book! We keep books nice in this house."

I try to be careful not to open them too far, but I will open them far enough to read comfortably.
And I must admit I like when others keep their books nice, because my favorite place to buy books is 

So how about you? How do you read/keep your books?


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Time for Discussing

I must admit that before Oct. I had never read Pride and Prejudice. Now that I have, I think I have a crush on Mr. Darcy!
Do you think my husband would mind that I also have feelings for a fictional character?

On the serious side here are some of the thoughts that occurred to me while reading.

#1 In the beginning of the story, I found the book fairly hard to read. It wasn't the large vocabulary, or the more "old english" way of speaking. I can read that fairly easily. My problem was that Jane doesn't use many "he said" or "she exclaimed" or "they interupted"'s. She just starts a new paragraph with a new set of quotation marks. I found myself having to re-read half a page, a couple of times, just to figure out who said what.
If this hadn't been a book club selection, and I hadn't heard almost every friend I know tell me how "GREAT" of a book it was. I don't know that I'd have gotten past chapter 3. By chapter 5, however, I either got used to it, or it got better in that regard, because that was when I started to get hooked. I had a very hard time putting it down. In fact, as soon as I finished it I read Sense and Sensibility and devoured it just as quickly.

#2 Was the change of times

Man did those people like to play cards! Every time it spoke of pulling out the card tables I laughed. But then I thought, if someone were to document my everyday life, people would probably laugh every time I clicked on the television. At least their after dinner past time could involve some personal conversation.
I also longed to be invited to one of the balls. I have always been a dancer, and I wish that the social balls were still apart of our social life.

#3 I LOVED how Jane pointed out that shyness is often confused for Pride. I myself, have been accused of being "stuck up" by people who have then changed their minds once they got to know me. And even though that is the case, I have thought the same of others, just to find out later that they are frighteningly shy. I think it is usually the case that when someone is thought of as prideful, it is usually that they just don't have the guts to prove otherwise.

#4 On a personal note, I very much admired Elizabeth's spunk. I found her character and myself incredibly alike, however, I am VERY non-confrontational and I hardly ever speak my mind to anyone other than my VERY close friends and family. For her to be so bold with her opinions, especially to the wicked Lady Bourdough, in times when most women of that day would have stayed quiet, or conceded was wonderful to me.

#5 As far as the message about marriage I was surprised by how many things have changed and how many things have stayed the same over the years.
People do in fact still marry for status or money. Some people still stay married even though they aren't at all happy. Some people still try to talk relatives out of the marriage they want. However, I don't think many people would even blink at Lydia and Mr. Wickham's situation. Sadly, there is almost no such thing as a dishonorable marriage anymore. (I however, still detested him and do not hold him in any high regard. The little weasel.) And it is much more likely that people who aren't happy do not stay together. Divorce is no longer looked upon as an evil.
It is fascinating to see where all the differences, or lack of them have taken place. Whether they be for the better or the worse.
The one thing that I think very much still rings true is her point of the book: That the only way to truly be happy is to marry the person you love and not to let the other worldly influences sway you from that.
I was very struck by an observation that was made on the inside cover of my copy of the book:
"The making of a suitable marriage was the great theme of nineteenth-century English literature, from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens, from George Eliot to Henry James. and no one has ever pointed out the pitfalls and stumbling blocks on the way to the alter with more verve, wit and sparkle than the UNMARRIED Jane Austen."
Married or not, I think she, obviously, spent a lot of time watching people and was one of earths true romantics. Like I said, I love Mr. Darcy!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

In Lieu of Voting

Before Mrs. Brooke, officially removed herself from this blog. The two of us talked and made an executive decision.

We will not be voting for Decembers book. Instead we have chosen: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
It fits perfectly, not only with the time of year, but also with the era we are reading.

Never fear, though, voting for January's book will be here on Dec. 5th. And I did a lot of research this week on novels for our 2009 scheduled time frame. I have a nifty little list of 38 books to choose from. So this is the only time (at least for a year) that the decision will be made for you.

Discussion for Oct.'s read, Pride and Prejudice, will start (as usual) on the 5th of November. So you have a couple more days to finish up. I can't wait to hear all of your opinions. I have a few myself. And until I "see" you again, work on getting, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens for our next two months.