Reblog: Jane Austen reviews ’Fifty Shades of Grey’ by E.L. James

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED HERE: https://litreactor.com/columns/jane-austen-reviews-fifty-shades-of-grey-by-el-james.

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As well as writing six novels on the subject of love and marriage, Jane Austen kept up regular correspondence with her family, including her niece, Fanny Knight, who once asked her for advice on whether she should marry for love.

More recently, Fanny has come across the BDSM sensation Fifty Shades of Grey (Click here for book review) and, like many young women of independent mind, is unsure what message about modern romance it conveys. Unwilling to approach her mother on the subject, Fanny once again has turned to her aunt for a second opinion about E.L. James’ bestselling book.

***

My dearest Fanny

How touching that you should ask for my opinion on this novel. I received the commission with many tender feelings and in the hope that my thoughts might be of some help in guiding your own.

I had in the past imagined that a harmonious relationship between man and woman might be achieved through a lucky balance of temperaments, an ability to treat the other with respect and a cheerful acceptance of one’s own faults and infelicities.

My delay in replying has two causes, the first owed to some difficulty in securing a method of reading which would prevent discovery. This proved to be the smaller of the two obstacles. After several interruptions in the dining-parlour where I found myself forced to cast the volume under a nearby pelisse, I concealed the book within the cover of a collection of sermons by the late Rev. Ewd. Soames and was able to continue undisturbed for several hours.

The second obstacle took the form of my inability to comprehend certain of the terms used. My recourse to Papa’s dictionary proved futile and in the end I had to avail myself of other counsels. As fortune would have it, a visit was planned to the home of Mrs J-, who, as a married woman, I felt might be able to shed some light on the matter.

I broached the subject as soon as the tea was poured, explaining my difficulty and my heartfelt desire to overcome it.

Mrs J- expressed herself perfectly willing to assist me and proposed I begin with a list of those terms with which I was unfamiliar. These I had noted on the back of the weekly grocery order.

‘Clitoris, vagina, erection…’

Mrs J- stopped me there. She assisted me with some diagrams. Reference was made to bulls and cows. Once we had established those facts, I expressed myself surprised at the notion of female organs of pleasure. Could these truly be said to exist?

Mrs J assured me they did and that all women possessed them. With some reservations, I accepted her word on the subject and proceeded to enquire if she could help me judge the accuracy of some other elements of the work. To this proposal, she agreed.

Was it true, I wondered, if all marital relations required the male to beat the female with a braided leather strop? I had in the past imagined that a harmonious relationship between man and woman might be achieved through a lucky balance of temperaments, an ability to treat the other with respect and a cheerful acceptance of one’s own faults and infelicities. These were the ideals around which I had modeled my own novels – that love might be achieved through conversation, reflection and misunderstandings at country houses. Now it seemed that a whole paraphernalia of objects about which I had up to that point remained completely ignorant formed an essential part of the process. Genital clamps. Handcuffs. Bedposts. Floggers. Baby oil. I referred once more to the back of my grocery account. Were all these devices in common use by young people embarking on their first experience of Romance?

Mrs J- sought to reassure me that none of these appliances had figured in her courtship, nor as far as she was aware in those of any of her family or near acquaintance. She expressed the firm conviction that for most people, married love did not feature being tied to a wooden cross and struck on the clitoris with a crop.

We sipped our tea and fortified ourselves with a buttered scone. I then ventured to comment that in some respects the work possessed some similarities to my own: the disparity in wealth between man and woman, the seeming impossibility of their union in happiness, the interfering family—

Once again Mrs J- interrupted me. She confessed that she herself had also read the book. Everyone, it seems has read it. Even the Minister’s wife has read it. Carried along by this wave of mass approval, she also purchased a copy and read it.

‘But I have not read it,’ I said. ‘Until now.’

She patted my hand and expressed the thought that this did not entirely surprise her, then before I could ask her what she meant by that, went on to enquire as to my impression of the character of Anastasia, the young woman at the centre of the story. Did she, in any respect, resemble the women I invented for my own works of fiction?

I thought of Elizabeth Bennet and her refusal to excuse Mr Darcy’s poor behavior despite his wealth and standing. I thought of Elinor Dashwood’s cool, intelligent acceptance of her circumstances. I thought of Emma who always receives courteous behavior  because she never puts up with anything lesser.

‘Perhaps Fanny of Mansfield Park?’ I ventured.

Mrs J- demurred. Would Fanny allow a man to arrange her visits to a doctor? Would Fanny sit quietly while a man decides what she should eat? Would Fanny allow a man to attempt to win her affections with expensive gifts?

‘No,’ I said. ‘No she would not.’

Exactly, said Mrs J-. The young women I wrote about, she said, were females of sound character and independent thought. Like Anastasia, their experience of the world might be limited, but they placed enough value on themselves to resist the advances of a man whose fundamental emotional weakness meant he could only achieve marital satisfaction through the use of whips, chains and treating his partner in life as though she had the mental capabilities of a small child. In accepting this treatment (and even apologizing when some small act of rebellion threw him into a sulk), Anastasia demonstrated as much self-esteem as Mrs J-‘s antimacassar.

‘What you are saying,’ I interpolated during a lull (for she had grown rather warm), ‘is that Anastasia forms a very poor role model for any young woman happening to read this book.’

Mrs J- recovered her breath and agreed. She would not want her own daughters to believe that a man’s wealth and power excused such infirmities of character. She would not want her daughters to see Anastasia’s behavior as representing anything but a curious twist in human psychology.

‘I see.’ I replaced my teacup in its saucer. ‘Anastasia, poor child, is a flake.’

And so was Mr Grey, concluded Mrs J-. One might read about their antics with interest, but in the end, one could only feel pity for them.

We concluded our conversation on that note, with promises that Mrs J- would repay my visit soon in order that we plan our next round of charitable donations for Relief of the Poor. My account of our conversation forms the basis of my assessment dearest Fanny to which I would add this: Should you happen to encounter a single man in possession of a good fortune but in want of a wife, and his attempts to woo you include a tour of his Red Room of Pain along with an invitation to sign a contract governing your eating, sleeping, mode of dress, personal habits and hygiene arrangements, you have my firm direction to run screaming in the opposite direction.

Yours affectionately

Aunt Jane

Winner’s Curse: Book Review

Author: Dee Walker

The Winner's Curse...

Book Review:

Orphan Harsh makes it to the billionaire club with a burning vision, sheer intellect and the blessings of his political Godfather. The favours must now be paid back through a huge Guru Dakshina. To honour his Master’s wish, Harsh, with the help of his fellow IITians, sets out to create a never-seen-before governance technology around the national ID numbers, that will change the face of democratic India.

Everything is at stake: money, reputations, egos and morals. Even lives.

Will they succumb to insatiable greed in the murky games of politics, backstabbing and subterfuge or will they be redeemed by the ‘Ten Commandments’ that once forged their ideals at college?

If you thought that supreme technology and unalloyed power can bring lasting change or that e-governance and transparency can address the ills of our system, The Winner’s Curse will force you to think again. For what’s at stake is: YOU.

The Winner’s Curse: the turbulent voyage of talent and intellect in the morass of turpitude.

Review:

I really enjoyed reading this book, without a doubt, Dee Walker is a name to look forward to in the Indian Publishing Industry.

The way the entire story was weaved, the fast pace of the story line, the rhythm and the writing were all excellent.

As far as the characterizations go, the male characterization were excellent, but the female characterization were not up to the mark. I personally felt that the amount of males in the story was a bit too overbearing, even in Indian context, I do not think that almost no woman is in any of the political or large scale decision maker (and not just as a secretary to a big shot  guy).

The cover picture and the size of the book is quite perfect. The grammar and the editing was also up to the par with international books.

I especially liked the way the author had taken his inspiration of characters and corporates from the most commonly known entities around us. Like the news anchor that conducts media trials who shouts “THE NATION WANTS TO KNOW!”, we all know who he is 😉

A lot of other reviewers have said that the high number of characters was a negative point for them, but for me, it increased the allure of the story. I feel that so many characters gave interesting depth and increased the angles and the complexity of the story, and made it more realistic.

The book has a definite Indian look and feel to it, so if you are looking for a thriller or a political thriller, this is the book that would not disappoint you in the least.

The story line was complex, yet the language was quite simple. So, all in all, it is a good book.

“This review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours.  To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 13: Your Favourite Author

Woa, talk of tough questions…I had easier time writing post grad thesis!

But if I absolutely had to choose, it would be J K Rowling.

I truly admire how she can write on the most dull and mundane things in the most witty and amusing way. Oh, how I wish she had written my text books.

She is truly the most versatile writer, and I honestly enjoyed all of her books.

If in case you are not aware of all her books, do click on the picture below:

Best Novels By J. K. Rowling

30day

The Tales of Beedle The Bard: Book Review

Author: J.K. Rowling, Albus Dumbledore (Notes)

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Book Blurb:

The Tales of Beedle the Bard contains five richly diverse fairy tales, each with its own magical character, that will variously bring delight, laughter and the thrill of mortal peril.

Essential and enjoyable reading for Muggles and wizards alike, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a uniquely magical volume. With illuminating notes by Albus Dumbledore.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Lumos, a charity working to transform the lives of disadvantaged children.

 Review:

You may be magic or muggle, you may be of sixty or six, you would enjoy this book! This is a book written for young magic kids, but is now available to the muggles as well. And just like any JKR book, this “kid’s” book is filled with sweet, nice stories that are filled with mutilation, adultery, murder and bestiality.

I absolutely adored the Dumbledore’s epilogue as well as his comments on the stories, loved the way he snached it from the library for the muggle’s eyes!

This is a part of the Hogwarts Library Boxed Set. I got this set as a gift from my most favourite person in the world, me ;P

Each story, has been mentioned some or the other time in the Harry Potter books, so reading them it was like: “Ahh…so this is what Ron was talking about!”

Definitely worth a read!

Buy this book:

Flipkart.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.com (For International Readers)

30 Day Book Challenge: A Book That You Loved And Hated At The Same Time

This is the toughest so far… Hate is a very strong word…and I do not hate a book, I dislike some…but hate is taking it a bit too far.

But, if I had to choose that I liked and disliked, it would be “The Bro Code” (Click here for book review)

The Bro Code

I loved the humour, and how it reminded me of How I met your mother, but disliked some of the “codes” for its nearing misogyny.

30day

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: Book Review

Author: J.K. Rowling, Newt Scamander (Pseudonym )

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Book Blurb:

A copy of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them resides in almost every wizarding household in the country. Now Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief, which means that the pounds and Galleons you exchange for it will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, I can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore.

– Albus Dumbledore

Review:

Merlin’s Beard! Who knew that a lady’s imagination can be so rich! Reading this, there is absolutely no doubt that JKR is indeed the queen (not that I had any doubt before!)

If you are a potter head than this is a book for you.

This book has double the enchantment, read it for the amazing JKR’s writing as well as the snarky, sarcastic comments of Ron and Harry at the bottom and the sides of the page.

This is the book that will tell you what is the difference between beasts and humans and why Firenze is a beast, even though he can speak human tongue and is far too intelligent.

This is a part of the Hogwarts Library Boxed Set which consists of “Quidditch Through The Ages (Click here for Book Review) and Tales of Beedle the Bard.

But, I am not really sure how they will make a movie out of it though, as it is written in a very non fictional way. With detailed information about the beasts. It would be very interesting to see how they weave a story out of it. Cannot wait for this movie!!

Don’t Be That Guy: Book Review

A Collection of 60 Annoying Guys We All Know and Wish We Didn’t

Author: Colin Nissan, Sean Farrell

Don't Be That Guy: A Collection of 60 Annoying Guys We All Know and Wish We Didn't

Book Blurb:

Have you ever heard a guy say, “We’re pregnant,” and wanted to hurt him?
Do you have a friend who insists a stripper was into him every time you leave a strip club?
Do you know a guy who emails you the kind of porn that makes you want to cry then vomit?
These are just a few of the many guys you’ll find in Don’t Be That Guy.

Review:

This book is another version of “The Bro Code”  (Click here for book review), but it lacks the humour of the code.

This is a book for males, by males, so it would not really be appreciated by females. Still there were times that the book had homophobic tones to it.

Some of the “Don’t be that guy” offences were funny, but some were ridiculous. Like a guy who supports his wife in pregnancy or who accompanies her to gym are not real “that guy” offences, according to me.

Since there are just a few words on each page, this is a quick and a fast read. Also, the cover and the title is interesting, I picked this book up solely based on the title.

If you like guy humour, pick up bro code, definitely better than this.

 

5 Mistakes We Make In Relationships

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Everybody wants love. Everybody wants to feel loved. But not everybody knows how to love. It is the best feeling in the world, when you are in love, but if you fall for the wrong sort, the “best” becomes the “worst”.

So, here is an amazing video by Lily Singh aka the Superwoman, who lists 5 mistakes that are most common in a relationship. Unfortunately, many people get stuck in a relationship where they get much less than they deserve.

Have a look at this video, and make sure you do not make such mistakes, nor do you accept such behaviour. Have a happy day ahead!

Rapescars: Book Review

Author: Gaurav Sharma

RAPESCARS... They never heal

Book Blurb:

A girl is raped! Her parents insist to report. Police tries to scuttle the case. Her fathers influence works! Doctor, the fourth man, sees her bare. The defense lawyer encounters with obnoxious questions. As if, she had inveigled the innocent boys. As if, shes the one accused and her violators are seeking justice against her. She feels & experiences being raped in public again. Her lawyer manages to seek conviction! Akriti wins the case but refuses her culprit to have imprisonment.

Why does she do this?
What does she decide then?
Is this the decision of her or raped mind?

Rape Scars is the voice of a rape survivor who thrives to stand against the violation of her persona.

Review:

Rapescars is one of the books that define the new age Indian authors who are writing different stories. Since a lot of light is being thrown on this aspect of the society, and many people are now recognising and coutering victim blaming, this book has that added advantage. If there was ever a time to release the book on this genre, it is now. Well done, Gaurav Sharma!

I was quite impressed with the story concept, it was why I picked the book up in the first place.

I felt that the story could have been narrated in a bit lengthier manner, 150 pages is bit short for such complex topic. But it has been handled wonderfully by the author.

The story has a very realistic treatment, the reactions and the mannerisms of the characters as well as the scenes are very believable. I admit, I was a bit disappointed in the decisions that the protagonist, Aarti took, and I almost put the book down. But I am glad I did not, the ending made it great!

Coming to the cover design, I felt that it could have been a bit more attractive.

The language is simple and lucid. A quick, but efficient read.

 

“This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com