Persuasion and The Last Single Woman in America could not possibly be a more contrasting pair -- one about chaste, enduring love and another about what it means for one woman to be a single woman in America (moral ambiguity figures largely into the latter, in my opinion).
Persuasion by Jane Austen - Anne Elliott was engaged to and very much in love with the dashing but impoverished Frederick Wentworth. But, thanks to the persuasion of her most trusted mother-substitute friend, Lady Russell, she broke the engagement off, only to end up pining for Wentworth and slowly losing her youthful glow. Now, years later, the Elliott household is in upheaval after her father's careless handling of funds has forced the family to rent the estate and move to a humbler home in Bath.
The wife of the admiral who is renting the Elliott estate turns out to be none other than the sister of Frederick, now Captain Wentworth, who is home from the navy and independently wealthy. Age has brought self-awareness and a firm resolve to our heroine. Anne knows that, given a second chance with Wentworth, she would grab it with all her might. But, when they cross paths, there is pain and anger in Captain Wentworth's eyes. Thrown together and then pulled apart by numerous events, it seems unlikely that they'll ever resolve their differences. And, then, Anne has an interesting conversation with a mutual friend . . .
It took me quite a while to get into this particular Austen, but I eventually figured out the problem had to do with the edition, not the author. Commas and quote marks were thrown around willy-nilly, words misspelled, text tangled; and, the result was a difficult reading experience. But, once it became clear that the trouble was with the editing and not the story, I mentally reworded or figured out the correct structure and began to read apace.
As always with Austen, it was readily apparent how the book would end; and, yet, Jane did an excellent job of setting up road blocks and tormenting her heroine. Oh, the passion! I love Austen. While not my favorite from the Austen canon, Persuasion was an enjoyable diversion and well worth the time. I hate to admit it, but there was a point at which I was brought to tears. The Borders Classics version is a mess, though, unless my earlier crack about the book being published posthumously and the editor dying along with her is correct.
Thumbs up, of course.
The Last Single Girl in America by Cindy Guidry is the opposite of Austen. A set of essays covering an indefinite number of years of the author's life (thirty-something to forty-something), the writings are humorous but -- as is often true of humorous writing -- her tone quickly becomes predictable and annoying. The vast majority are, in my opinion, just flat offensive. I should probably have known, given the title, that I was going to end up reading about the sex life of yet another confused woman from the generation of have-it-alls. Do people really think we want to know about their sex lives? Yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck. The vast majority of the essays in this book revolted me, to the point that I considered ditching it. And, to think, she let her mother read it.
What kept me from quitting? Every now and then, along came one of those rare gems that was both funny and wise. "Rare" being the operative word. Plus, I won the book in a drawing at Dewey's website and I felt obligated to read and review, as that was the commitment: sign up to try to win a book, agree to review. Fine. Done. But, it wasn't pleasant. Guidry is a New Orleans transplant, living in Los Angeles. The setting figures heavily into the essays and her life. It's a crazy place and she tries to be sane, but I think she's got her morals mixed up with her feminism and the end result is that she keeps falling in love, but then she's not really sure what exactly love is. And, she really, truly does not get that old saw, "Why buy the milk when you can have the cow for free?" Not at all.
Thumbs down. Not recommended and definitely not family friendly. The author's blurb describes her as a woman with "razor-sharp wit" and I should add that her sense of humor is biting -- very negative, in my opinion.
Totally different topic: I love, love, love this quote by Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin, who has just announced (to the surprise of everyone, including journalists who watch her closely) that she is seven months pregnant with her fifth child:
"To any critics who say a woman can't think and work and carry a baby at the same time, I'd just like to escort that Neanderthal back to the cave," Palin said.
This quote was cut and pasted from Star Captain's Daughter.
Next up: My version of the Six Word Memoir.