Tania's Words

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Archive for The Lost Symbol

One Scathing Book Review and a Trip to Grand Rapids

Things that have happened recently:

I fell off of the good reading wagon. But it wasn’t really my fault. First I had to read The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown, for book club. Not that that is bad reading. But that created a snowball effect. After finishing that in the car on the way to Grand Rapids, I had the choice of reading an old Nora Roberts book (Homeport), or finishing Cry, the Beloved Country. But I was tired, and had been sidetracked from Cry by Dan Brown, so I went ahead and read Homeport. Then Monday, while at Target with Pilar, I found a book called Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy. It was written by a fan of Pride and Predjudice who had decided to write a story about what happens after they get married. I know that there are a lot of “sequels” to this book written by various authors, so I thought I’d give this one a try.

Big mistake (by the way, I’ll give five points to the first person to tag this movie quote, “You work on commission right? Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”)

Anyway. Turns out this book is actual fan fiction- started on a fan fiction website and eventually published. Man what a waste of money. Not only is the writing absolutely terrible- I mean it was cliched, trite, and often, painfully embarrassing . Moreover, it is so boring. All that ever happens is that Lizzy and William profess their love to each other, make out, say they love each other more, and so on. Seriously? The author of said book admits to having fallen in love with the characters after having watched the recent remake of the movie (which I haven’t seen). She says that she liked the book alright, but still loves the movie more than anything.

Which is apparent, as she has reduced Lizzy to a giggling, girlish, absolutely dependent nitwit. Anytime Darcy leaves her alone for any reason (like to take care of his huge estate) she cries and whines. What is worse, she has turned Darcy into a ridiculous simpleton. He is silly, overly emotional, enjoys  babbling non stop about how much he passionately, truly, deeply, loves his dear Lizzy. Ugh. Vomit. Look I like a man who can profess his love, but there is a limit. At some point, it just becomes boring, and loses its impact.

There are so many things wrong with this story, I don’t think I can even do them justice. First, the story is terrible. I mean love is great and all (why else would I read Nora Roberts?), but there is no driving force to her plot. It is just about them loving each other. To a point that it is ridiculous. She has these two intelligent, independent characters completely dependent on each other. For example, the second or third day that they are married, Lizzy wakes up to find that Darcy isn’t there. Immediately she panics, running out of their room and crying. What? Come on! Is this the kind of love story women want to read?

I’ll admit, the idea of continuing their love story intrigues me. Why else would I be reading this book? Unfortunately, the author of this book bypasses so much rich story telling material and opportunity to get a cheap thrill out of her reader. The characters transition almost seamlessly into a blissful and perfect intimate relationship. They have no real problems. They understand each other completely. Although they are both completely innocent, they are automatically perfect lovers, and have no fears or hesitations. Really?

Moreover, Lizzy is now the mistress of a huge and wealthy estate. Yet even this is hardly addressed as an obstacle or problem.  The episode where she freaks out because Darcy isn’t in bed with her is treated to more emotional drama.

Well, I am gonna move on. I don’t want to keep trashing this woman’s book- it is obvious that writing it brought her a lot of joy and I am sure others will enjoy it. It just wasn’t for me. I am sorry I wasted the 14$.

I am trying to promise myself I am going to finish Cry, the Beloved Country. But this month is my book club month, which means we are reading my  book. Which I never edited for a third time. I tried re reading it last night to start editing, and honestly, I hated it. Maybe because I’ve been reading such great literature. This book certainly isn’t literature. At all.  I am slightly embarrassed to let people read it.  But it is what it is, and that is ok. We will see what comes out of it.

Other than reading terrible books, I had a great weekend. Dan and I drove out to see Carl and Emily. They took us to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, which was amazing. Parker had a ton of fun exploring the various stations- he especially enjoyed the sand station, the racing cars, and of course the little barn that he could climb into. It was so  much fun to watch! Carl got some great video of it, which was really nice, as Dan and I continue to get Epic Fails in the realm of baby video making. I always think that watching Parker learn and explore is great fun, but it was nice to see that both Carl and Emily enjoyed it as well. It was so nice of them to take us there, just so Parker could have fun, so I hope they really enjoyed it. Of course it helped that Carl and Parker were immediate best friends. Usually it takes Parker a while to warm up to strangers, but not them, and especially not Carl.

I have to say, I love Grand Rapids. I wish we could move out there. It has this wonderful, “little big town” feel to it. A little bit of downtown, a little big of close knit little town. It is beautiful too. Sigh. Unfortunately, we are stuck out here. Which isn’t all bad, after all, we have amazing friends and family that would be so hard to leave. I’d definitely love to visit more often (so long as I am not a pain in Emily’s butt, as she does have this amazingly busy life). I always have a great time when I go out there, and then it takes two years to plan another trip. Lame.

Well I am off. I am making Chicken and Rice soup from scratch, and the baby is yelling about something in the kitchen.

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The Olympics, Taco Dip, and the Death Cold.

I am watching the Olympics and eating taco dip. What an exciting day. Really. Lately, it seems like nothing is going on. Maybe it is cause we are all stuck under the misery that is the death cold. Some of you may remember waaaay back around Jan 15th when I was complaining about a death cold. Yes, I am still sick. I think it is finally on its last legs, for which I am eternally thankful. Unfortunately for Parker, this death cold still has him firm in its grip. Two kinds of antibiotics later, he is still not better.  This is really getting rather old.

Due to the cold, I haven’t really read very much. I did finish Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, which I really liked. Although I found her writing to be a rather odd mix of cliche and wonderful. If such a thing works. I do wonder if that isn’t because her style of writing has not aged very well- or if it just became rather over emulated by other writers? At some points, her prose is sparse and moving, beautifully descriptive and very real. At other times, it seems trite and over burdened, even painfully “romance novel”- esque.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the story. It really had me thinking- on the one hand, there is a part of the reader (or maybe just me), that sympathized with Ethan’s plight- his loveless marriage, his absolute lack of choices, his visceral desire to be with the woman he loves. I also appreciated his sense of duty, and the fact that he was selfless enough to realize that he could not leave his wife with no resources or cheat his friends for the sake of his happiness alone. I think because we live in a culture which celebrates individuality, and where there is this idea of taking care of yourself and your happiness at all costs, I really responded to this in Ethan. The fact was that in order for him to be happy, he  would have had to cheat his friends and neighbors, and leave his sick wife with the mess to clean up, and no money or property or family to care for her.

I also appreciated the way that the story ended, although I can’t really explain why. It certainly didn’t have a happy ending. In no way could it have- had he and Mattie successfully committed suicide, it wouldn’t have been happy. It might, however, have held that strange sort of romanticism that stories like Romeo and Juliet have. Instead, Wharton had them  live with the consequences of their choices for the rest of their lives. Because life isn’t easy and we don’t always get what we want. And that is just the truth. I’ve learned this for myself in so many different ways. And even though this is true, we still have this wonderful gift every day- of life. And with it, endless possibilities and opportunities.  But that is just my take. I don’t really know how Ethan felt, as his romantic story ends with the sledding accident, and the reader is just left pondering the consequences of his and Mattie’s impulsive actions.

Anyway, after Ethan Frome, I picked up Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Patton. I’ve been reading it slowly for about a week and a half, and am enjoying it. It is a very different sort of book from those I have been reading. It is really beautifully written. There is something about the literature that has come out of Africa- those books that I have read have a sort of different quality, a different style of prose and narrative, that I really enjoy. I am hoping to finish it soon. Then, unfortunately, I must take a break from the fun book reading, to read The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown, for The Book Club. Blah. I don’t want to read it, but I did promise I’d read all the books this year. So I must.

Might I just add that I had a wonderful little Lost/Book Frenzy mashup the other day? I am watching Season 3, which is notoriously NOT my favourite season. I am enjoying it more this time around than last, but then again, I have more answers now, so I need not be so annoyed that I have no idea what is going on. Anyway, I was watching the episode where Ben cons Sawyer into thinking they’ve given him a pacemaker. Anyway, I laughed my ass off when Sawyer quotes something from Of Mice and Men to Ben and then says, “You’d like it, puppies get killed.” (Or something to that effect). I also, however, really appreciated how much more I got out of that scene, now that I’ve finally read the book. Especially when Ben is quoting the book back to Sawyer- the passage where Crooks says ” A guy needs somebody- to be near him…A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, longs he’s with you. I tell ya…I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”

I think that this passage, in this moment between Ben and Sawyer is so important, especially as we see Sawyer now, realizing that maybe he is just one of those people who is meant to be alone. As he is beginning to blame himself for Juliette’s death, thinking that perhaps if he had not been selfish, if he had been able to bear his loneliness, she might not be dead…I think that this theme will become more important as the show wraps up. But I could be wrong. We will see when it ends in May (sniffle….)

Well I am off to finish my taco dip and watch some more Olympics. I should go to bed early, as Parker will probably be up early- poor thing has a terrible cough, but thank goodness his fever is gone, the bloody noses have passed, and he is eating again.  It helps that the whole downstairs is opened up now, so he can run around and be distracted from his misery. Especially since his Grandma gave him a wonderful valentines day present- a special broom all of his own. His “boom”, has been sawed off so it is shorter, with a good rubber tipped cane tip on the end (so that he can’t hurt us when he is wielding it), and it has his name  on it as well. He loves his “boom” so much, he tried to share it with the cats. They didn’t like that very much 🙂