October Wrap-Up

One of the best reading months I’ve had in a while – in terms of both quality and quantity! 😁 I’ll definitely need to buckle down on my reading resolutions if I want to complete them all before the end of the year, but if the next two months are anything like October, then completion is a real possibility~ 🎶 Over the last month I read a grand total of five novels, and one collection of essays, and those were…

The 100 by Kass Morgan. The first book in a series by the same name, which follows a group of teenagers who’ve lived in a space station all their lives due to a nuclear apocalypse that took place 300 years ago, but are now being sent back to Earth as an experiment to see if the radiation levels have died down enough for the planet to be survivable. This book was great fun, if a bit unbelievable at times, and watching the (much darker, and arguably superior) TV adaptation alongside the book made for an interesting experience; they’re great complements to each other. I’m hoping to do a side-by-side comparison of the two once I’m all caught up on both series, but that shouldn’t be too far off at the rate I’m devouring them! 😋Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs. The third and final book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series, which marries creepy vintage photography with a story about a group of talented children travelling through time in order to save their friends (and the world). I found this to be the weakest book in the series for a number of reasons, but it was still very enjoyable to read… It was also my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for the month, so you can find a full review of it here.On the Pleasure of Hating by William Hazlitt. A collection of essays on various topics, including imagination, slavery, monarchy, and more. I found Hazlitt’s writing style to be somewhat unnecessarily wordy, but his ideas were very interesting. The autobiographical essay The Fight I had no interest in whatsoever (it being an impassioned defence of a sport I have no opinion of whatsoever), but I enjoyed all the other five – and in particular, the final (and titular) essay, On the Pleasure of Hating.Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, wherein Lizzy and Darcy are brought together in mutual disdain when reality-TV star Chip Bingley moves to Lizzy’s hometown and begins a relationship with Lizzy’s yoga-instructor sister Jane. Not too far from the standard for an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but beyond its basic premise, it was imaginative and unexpected, and excellently written. I’ve posted a full review of Eligible, which you can read here if you want to find out more. 😊

Day 21 by Kass Morgan. The sequel to The 100, which I talked about at the beginning of this post… It picks up exactly where the first book left off, and continues with the same tone and pacing – though there were a great deal more eye-roll moments in this one. (Just so you know, I say that with great affection.) Of the four main characters, I’m most invested in Clarke and Bellamy (naturally), but I also really like Glass’ perspective… and I could do without Wells. It’s not that his actions in this book are particularly objectionable, but I really dislike how Morgan seems to be setting him up as a heroic character, despite the highly questionable backstory she’s given him in the book-continuity. There were also a couple of big plot twists near the end of the book, but neither of them came as a huge surprise; the foreshadowing was a bit too obvious. Nevertheless, I am still really liking this series! (… Though each book is such a quick read that I almost wish that the whole series was just one massive novel.)The Black Moon by Winston Graham. The fifth book in the Poldark series, and the first of the ones that Graham wrote after his twenty-year break… It’s surprising how seamlessly it continues on from Warleggan, though it was somewhat calmer in tone than the last couple of books, since the most pressing dramas from the first four books had already been (mostly) resolved. I personally had been getting a bit worn out by the constant tension, so this change was something of a relief to me, but a few new dramas were introduced in order to take their place, involving Dwight’s stint in the Navy, and some new protagonists; Demelza’s brothers Sam and Drake, along with Geoffrey Charles, and Elizabeth’s young cousin Morwenna, to whom I became particularly attached. This was an incredibly strong revival for the series, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

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Review: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (Spoiler-Free)

Liz Bennet and her sister Jane have returned to their childhood home in Cincinnati to look after their father’s health, not to be pestered by their mother about their non-existant love lives, and rapidly approaching expiration dates – but apparently nobody bothered to inform Mrs. Bennet of that fact… Enter Chip Bingley, wealthy doctor, reality TV star, and on the lookout for love! He’s everything that Mrs. Bennet ever wanted for one of her daughters. But although Jane does like Chip very much, Liz’s feelings are complicated by the presence of his obnoxious, entitled best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Eligible is a novel that brings Pride and Prejudice beautifully into the present day, managing to modernise the storyline without abandoning any of the complexities that gave the original story its charm, but instead updating them to work in a modern setting: The way to fix the Bennets’ financial problems is not simply for one of the daughters to find a wealthy husband, and Liz could never marry even this new version of Mr. Collins (who she’s actually quite fond of), not only because he’s her cousin, but also because she will always think of him as the naked three-year-old that he was when they first met. The way that Sittenfeld interpreted the Wickham episode by breaking it in two I found particularly clever, and while the progress of Liz’s relationship with Jasper Wick was somewhat predictable, the fued between Wick and Darcy had an interesting origin, and I loved the portrayal of Ham Ryan, the second half of Wickham who is heavily involved in Lydia’s character arc.

The writing and pacing are both excellent as well. I found the first few chapters quite slow, but by the time I was around fifty pages in I was completely hooked, and I managed to read the whole book in just a few sittings (and it’s a pretty long book; around 500 pages, with a tiny font and margins). Sittenfeld also side-steps a lot of the common problems with Jane Austen retellings by not even attempting to imitate Austen’s style (something that’s frequently done, even in modernisations, but usually just comes off as contrived), and also by ageing up the main characters from the early twenties to late thirties…

This is a book that I never knew I needed in my life until it was already there, and I’m so glad that I read it! It’s miles better than most of the other best Pride and Prejudice retellings I’ve come across (and I’ve read a lot of them), and interprets Austen’s original tale with wit, originality, and an undated outlook on the world. While it’s far from the best book in the world, it was buckets of fun to read, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for more of Lizzy and Darcy in their life.