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review 2017-09-22 11:29
"The Jane Austen Project" by Kathleen A Flynn
The Jane Austen Project - Kathleen A. Flynn

I found the premise of "The Jane Austen Project", time travelers from our future being sent back to 1815 to inveigle their way into an intimate acquaintance with Jane Austen with a view of diagnosing the disease that would kill her in 1817 and retrieving a copy of her unpublished novel "The Watsons", irresistible

 

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was much more than a good idea written up over a few hundred pages. "The Jane Austen Project" is well written, engaging and original.

 

The story is told from the point of view of Rachel, a physician with a history of working in disaster zones in her own time, who is passionate about meeting Jane and deeply curious about the disease that will end Jane's life.

 

Placing a strong, competent woman with a broad experience of the world and an expectation of being in charge of her own life into England in 1815 is a very effective way of highlighting the constraints placed on women at that time and the frustration and waste that they caused.

 

Rachel is a deeply imagined character that it is easy to become attached to. The future she comes from is tantalizingly different from today. That I wanted to know more about it and her life before the Jane Austen Project, is a sign of skill of the story teller. I was tantalized and intrigued. I came to realise that Rachel's past was as alien as the 1815 present the action takes place in.

 

I was surprised at how much tension I felt reading the book. I wanted to know what happened next. This wasn't an academic exercise or a passive homage to Jane Austen. It started as a difficult mission where failure could have disastrous consequences and became a personal and emotional journey for Rachel and those who's lives she touches.

 

Seeing the world of Jane Austen through the eyes of a woman from an unknown future but who has a detailed knowledge of Jane's life and works produced a kind of refraction of ideas and expectations that kept the novel fresh and made me think again about what I thought I knew of Jane Austen and her times.

 

Fans of Jane Austen will be fascinated by this book. People who only know Jane through various Mr Darcy movies will not feel left out but may find themselves intrigued. My interest in Jane Austen's books was revived to the extent that my next read will be "Persuasion", a Jane Austen novel that I've never read before. 

 

Saskia Maarleveld did a competent job as a narrator but I was distracted by her inability to pronounce place names like "Berkley Square" and "Basingstoke" correctly. You can hear her work on the soundcloud link below.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/317680906" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

 

 

kathleenflynn

 

This is Kathleen Flynn's debut novel, She's a copy editor at the New York Times. In this interview she discusses how the novel came about and what it was like for an editor to be edited.

 

I hope I see more work from her soon.

 

 

 

 

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text 2017-09-21 19:06
techie giggling
The Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross,Gideon Emery

I love how he snipes about power point and Apple user culture.

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text 2017-09-20 19:37
I have no idea what's going on
Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

But I'm liking it.

 

Writing is also incredibly lyrical.

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review 2017-09-18 17:07
Akata Witch / Nnedi Okorafor
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

 

Read to fill the “Diverse Voices” square of my 2017 Halloween Bingo card.

The Nigerian version of Harry Potter, with an albino Nigerian-American girl as the star. Sunny really only wants to be able to play football and attend school without being bullied, but her family has a legacy of magic that no one talks about and which is going to take her life in unexpected direction. Her talent is recognized by the friend of a friend and soon Sunny is being coached in juju, taken to the magical city of the Leopard People, and dealing with some very serious magical situations. Fortunately, she has her own coven of friends to aid and abet her in her adventures.

Here, there are leopards and lambs, rather than magicians and muggles, there is football rather than quidditch, but there is also a whole window into West African life and mythology that will be unfamiliar to many North American readers. Nnedi Okorafor is in the perfect position to open this window for us, being born in the United States with Nigerian immigrant parents. With feet in both worlds, she is able to weave a tale understandable to both sides of the divide.

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review 2017-09-17 17:59
[Book Review] A Canticle for Leibowitz
A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller Jr.


The back of my copy in hand lists an excerpt from The New York Times review, "Angry, eloquent... a terrific story."  I can't disagree with that.  A Canticle for Leibowitz is bleak assessment of humanity in a continual cycle of self-destruction and struggle for survival, with strong themes on information literacy, morality, and anti-intellectualism.

I think I would have been far happier reading it... maybe last year.  However, it is definitely worth reading and I'm glad I got to it.

Discussion Fodder:

  • This book in many ways is about cycles and patterns.  What cycles and patterns did you notice (themes, civilization, narrative, etc)?
  • Does the Church as an archivist change the preservation and passing on of knowledge, and how does that manifest?  What are the differences between Science as a secular or as a religious practice?w
  • What do you think of the permutations of society and cultures present?  What about taboos and superstitions?  Concepts of ability and disability?
  • How do you think the understanding and conceptualizing of a past modern civilization stand?  What misconceptions and misinterpretations stand out?  What makes sense?
  • Let's talk about anti-intellectualism.  How does it resonate throughout the book, how does it resonate with real life?
  • Is the old man the same person in each part of the story?  Does he signify anything?
  • What determines right vs wrong?
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/book-review-canticle-for-leibowitz.html
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