Pride and Prejudice: Chapters 31 – 40

Part III: Chapters 21 ~ 30

Pride and Prejudice: Part IV (Chapters 31 ~ 40)

Wordsworth Editions
Wordsworth Editions

So this section contains Chapter 34, The Big Moment of First Proposal, and Chapter 35, The Big Revelation of Wickham’s wicked nature.

But first let’s trace back to the three chapters preceding the anticipated (or, from Elizabeth’s point of view, not anticipated) moment.
The arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy’s cousin, causes a small ruckus at the Parsonage and Rosings. The colonel is described as “about thirty, not handsome, but in person and address most truly the gentleman.” (Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 30) It also says that “Mrs. Collins’s pretty friend ha[s] […] caught his fancy very much.” (Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 31) Lizzy is flattered by attention, and enjoys his company highly, as opposed to his cousin’s. But Colonel Fitzwilliam is the younger son of an Earl, and as such, he cannot marry whomever he wants (unless the woman of his dreams is a rich heiress).
But regardless of this tiny entanglement, the point is that Lizzy comes to trust Colonel Fitzwilliam, which later serves as a reliable back-up source to Mr. Darcy’s letter.

Okay, so let’s talk about Darcy’s awkward proposal. I say awkward because obviously Lizzy wasn’t expecting such a thing and what happened after was an ugly scene.
So after pacing around the room, Darcy says:

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” (Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 34)

He then follows to list her unfortunate (read: non-existent bordering on embarrassing) family connections and low social standing compared to his. But he loves her despite this! Oh joy! Any other lady would have fainted by now.
But not our Lizzy, for she replies with spirit: “In such cases as this, […] [i]t is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot – I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly.” (Chapter 34) Bam! That was a hard shot at Darcy, who has been fully expecting a “yes”, but Lizzy is not done.

“I might as well inquire […] why with so evident a desire of offending and insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character? […] I have every reason in the world to think ill of you.” (Chapter 34)

She then challenges him to deny her accusations against him regarding Wickham and his (Darcy’s) interference concerning Jane and Bingley. Boom – Darcy explodes. Well, not really, because his self-control is much better than mine, but in heated words, he turns to Elizabeth and says:

“And this […] is your opinion of me! This is the estimation in which you hold me! […] My faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed! But perhaps […] these offenses might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design. […] But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. […] Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? – to congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?” (Chapter 34)

To which Elizabeth coldly replies:

“You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.” (Chapter 34)

And, the final strike.

“You could not have made the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.” (Chapter 34)

Meltdown.
Well.
Apparently Mr. Darcy thinks that his full honesty no one wants to hear will win Lizzy over, because, obviously she is so undesirable to anyone else but he loves her. I can’t really fault Lizzy for bristling over this. Who wants to hear that kind of harsh condescension, how true it may be? For his defence, I think Darcy meant what he said: The downsides of such union is more than canceled out by his love for her. See how better it sounds? And it still is the same truth.
The thing is, Darcy prides himself over the fact that his manners and etiquette are textbook-perfect. He cringes whenever someone commits a social faux-pas. But in this case? Lizzy was right; he was most un-gentelman-like. Also, hypocritical much? Darcy prevented Bingley from doing the same – marrying for love yet at the same time marrying someone with a low social standing. It’s like “What is bad for you is bad for me, but you still cannot do it, because you’re my best friend, but I will do it nonetheless.”
I do not mean to say that Lizzy’s reaction was an acceptable performance. I know she thinks very ill of him, and I understand her anger at being patronized, but the way she emotionally wounded him (he’s crazy in love! Of course she has the upper hand here, and everything she says is another blow to his heart.) was just mean.

Now the Big Question: Why does Mr. Darcy love Elizabeth Bennet? I mean, she‘s presumptuous and rude to him, he‘s proud and anti-social, not to mention socially awkward. Maybe he was taken by her lively spirit and openness to making fun of people, including herself. But still, I’ll be damned if I figure this puzzle out. Love is not logical. It just isn’t. (Or, love just is.)

Oh, but we are only halfway done. The letter, and the aftermath.
In the first part of the letter, Mr. Darcy explains his role in separating Bingley from Jane. To prevent his friend from entering a marital union with a woman of a lower standing (although, as Darcy puts it, “the want of connection could not be so great an evil to [Bingley] than to [Darcy]”*, so if Bingley hadn’t listened to Darcy, he and Jane would be happily married by now.), Darcy managed to convince Charles that Jane’s affections for him were not as strong as Bingley might have thought. Darcy indeed does believe this to be true; although he later acknowledges that since Lizzy knows her sister better than he, he might be in fault in this one matter.
On the second subject Darcy tells his version of the story: Wickham as a careless man with an extravagant living style; his demand to Darcy to give him three thousand pounds instead of other preferments in Darcy’s father’s will after his death; Wickham, after rejecting one profession after another, asking Darcy for what was written in the will (which he, in exchange for 3000£, threw away); and finally, after Darcy’s refusal, the planning and almost successful execution of seducing Georgiana, Darcy’s more-than-10-years-younger sister.
Now Elizabeth is confronted with two men’s stories, and with sinking feeling does she begin to see the holes in Wickham’s story, and how no one in Hertfordshire really knows about his past other than himself. Also, Darcy’s assurance that she very well may ask Colonel Fitzwilliam about this matter as he, a joint guardian of Georgiana and one of the executors of the will, knows about this matter, convinces Lizzy that Mr. Darcy must be telling the truth.
This realization shames her very much ans she says:

“How despicably I have acted! […] I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust! How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.” (Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 36)

Well, Lizzy is no less honest than Darcy, I daresay. In this monologue she acknowledges the injustice she has done to Mr. Darcy because her vanity (Remember Mary’s distinction between pride and vanity?) was injured the first time she met him. And Lizzy does not give herself the easy way out, because she knew she hadn’t been in love with Wickham, so there is no excuse to fall back on. Her blindness to reason resulted in humiliation, but a just one, as she says. In this moment, Lizzy sees herself really for the first time (“Till this moment I never knew myself.”). I mean, we knew that she was being stubborn and giving Darcy a hard time, but only because we already knew the outcome. But Lizzy realizes for the first time how her rashness in opinion has kind of led her to doom, so to speak. In this regard she is no different than Darcy, who once said “My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.” (Chapter 11) They both don’t budge an inch. Well, until now, that is, hopefully.

Two more short points on this section that are kind of independent from Mr. Darcy’s proposal and his letter.
After the two Fitzwilliams leave, Lizzy can’t help but think about what Lady Catherine would have said or how she would have looked if she had accepted Darcy’s proposal. For me this little musing serves as an evidence of consistency. It would have been out of character if Lizzy had been all demure and full of regret that she could not even entertain the thought of the alternative what-if. That would be more Jane, but not our Lizzy.
Speaking of Jane, it is said in Chapter 40  that “[h]aving never even fancied herself in love before, [Jane’s] regard [for Bingley] had all the warmth of first attachment, and, from her age and disposition, greater steadiness than most first attachments often boast …” I thought this one was interesting.

*And Darcy managed to put this “evil” aside due to the “utmost force of passion” – no one can say the guy isn’t honest.

Part V: Chapters 41 ~ 50

Book Review: Kiss & Blog

Original 2007 cover
Original 2007 cover

Title: Kiss & Blog
Author: Alyson Noël
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan)
Original publication in: 2007

This is the original paperback edition.

Date read: June 27th 2013

Winter and Sloane are best friends who have vowed to get into the popular crowd no matter what. They also have promised to each other that whoever gets in first will help the other cross the side. It turns out, Sloane isn’t keen on keeping her promise… so Winter decides to set up an anonymous blog spilling all of Sloane’s dirty secrets.

I feel like I have to strongly express that Kiss & Blog is not a very authentic novel. It belongs to the category ‘realistic fiction’ because technically, it all could happen. But especially the blog part… there is something that bugs me because Winter got too easily off the hook. You can’t reveal a person’s most intimate, embarrassing and personal details to the whole town (albeit unintentionally – but that’s a risk factor you have to take into account the minute you decide to go online) and just shrug it off and say “Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have done this, so I’ll say goodbye to the blog now.”

Look, we have Winter here, right? She’s the daughter of two divorced hippie parents (she still is, he isn’t), older sister to artistic and mini-hippie Autumn, a book-lover and sarcastic yet shy 15-year-old teenager. She’s also hypocritical because she criticizes and makes fun of the popular girls and their inane conversations, all the while secretly longing for the fame. She wants a make-over, a new wardrobe, a sense of coolness that awes people, yet she does not want to become one of those fake-laughing, image-checking so-called popular girls.
Winter reminds me of me a little. Only I don’t have a best friend (actually pretty glad after reading this book, for obvious reason), was more angsty and rebellious when I was sixteen and a whole lotta more insecure. And I had – still do – tighter and stricter conscience.

So I’d say Alyson Noël has managed to bring crazy-impulses-hormonal, doesn’t-make-sense, insecure-yet-here-I-am teenager to life pretty well.
What I’m more skeptical about is the fact that Winter practically destroyed Sloane’s life and yet isn’t that sorry. (Thirteen Reasons Why – private, personal details told by someone else other than the owner are deadly.) In this regard Kiss & Blog reads more like a Hollywood movie. There is intro, a Turning Point, turns and twists, and finally, the big smack down. The bitchy ex-best friend is now a social outcast, the main character is secure in her happiness, let’s throw popcorn!
I guess Alyson Noël maybe meant the book to be one of the light-hearted “chick lit” kinds. I personally wish she would have pushed more, I think she has the ability to strike that tone between realistic (by which I mean authentic) and humorous. Winter’s impulse trip to her dad and the Social Exile are indicative of that.
The Queen of the kind of authentic and unique voice that feels so real you can picture the whole surrounding places and people and events is E. Lockhart, especially her Ruby Oliver series. (So, to a lesser scale on funny, is Susane Colasanti.)  So if you were a bit let down by Kiss & Blog, I suggest you check out Lockhart’s books if you haven’t already.

Scary Stuff

Scary stuff keeps happening here. First there was this naked man in front of the Berliner Rathaus with a knife nicking himself and ultimately attacked a police officer when approached. He died after a second officer fired a shot.
Then there’s the soon-to-be-teacher man with a training as emergency medical technician who poisoned three men with overdoses of K.-o.-Tropfen, which is like date rape drug, or Liquid Ecstasy.

Personally I had four or five loud, confusing and draining dreams, in two of which I got almost married (to a girl I knew and to a guy I’ve never seen in real life before). I bailed in the last minute, though. Maybe the dreams are warning me to be cautious of any new relationship, friends or otherwise.
The other two I remember are so weird and exhausting that I’ll just let them fade out of my memory.

Friday Reading Update #9

What I read:

  • Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey: The third book in the Drake Chronicles; follows Quinn Drake and Hunter, a student from Helios-Ra. Quinn is charming, but somehow all Drake brothers narrative feel the same, they are just attracted to different girls. I really liked Hunter and the ins and outs of the vampire hunter school.
  • The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson (re-read): If there were soul-books, The Bermudez Triangle will definitely be one of mine.
  • Montana Sky by Nora Roberts: Review here.
  • Kiss & Blog by Alyson Noel: Review to come.

Currently reading:

  • Dance to the Piper by Nora Roberts
  • The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle: After watching the BBC 21st-century serialization, I read Sherlock Holmes books for the characters.

Put on hold:

  • Little Men at 51%
  • Pride and Prejudice at Chapter 33
  • 50 Literature Ideas You Really Need to Know at 57%
  • Work: A Story of Experience at 44%

What I got this week:

  • 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion by Morgan Llywelyn: Since I name Ireland as one of my favorite countries, I thought I should educate myself about its culture and history.
  • Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck: My first Kindle Deal des Tages purchase and I feel as content as a satisfied cat. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a few months now, but it was expensive, even at Kindle standard. Now I got it for 1.69 EUR :)

Book Review: Montana Sky

Montana SkyTitle: Montana Sky
Author: Nora Roberts
Publisher: Jove (Penguin Group USA)
Original publication: in 1996

This is a reissued mass market paperback edition. Montana Sky is the 100th book by Nora Roberts.

Date read: ~ June 25th 2013

After Jack Mercy’s death (not much of tears was shed over that), his three daughters, who have seen each other for the first time at the funeral, have to live at the Mercy ranch together for one year in order to inherit one-third of the ranch.
The eldest, Tess, is a screenwriter working and living in Hollywood. All polish and gleam, Tess finds it unbearable at first to live in cold, hard Montana.
The second daughter, Lily, is on the run from her abusive ex-husband, Jesse Cooke. In Mercy ranch – and Willa’s half-brother Adam -, calm and centered Lily finds peace and happiness.
The youngest, and the one who has lived her whole life in ranch, is Willa. She and Adam share a mother while she, Tess and Lily share a father. Hot-tempered and grumpy, Willa is more than mad to learn that her whole life is threatened by two strangers – half-sisters – she has never met before. (Jack has divorced his two previous wives when he learned that they had a daughter, and not a son. Willa’s mom died before Jack could divorce her.)
As if this arrangement wasn’t a hardship enough, there is a dangerous killer lurking around, mutilating cattle and more…

For her 100th book, Nora Roberts’ editor has suggested a book that is “like a trilogy, but in one book”. So we have three heroines and three heroes. But other than that, Montana Sky did not have the charm of Nora’s trilogies – no thorough acquaintance with the main characters, lots of gory details, and “hurried” (by Nora standard) romances.

I liked the characters well enough, but I didn’t build a strong, lasting connection like I did with Margo, Kate, Erin, Jude, Brenna, Cam, Ethan, Philip, Seth, Anna, Nell, Ripley, Mac, Emma, Laurel, Parker, Carter, Roxy, Luke, Caine, Shelby, Grant and so many other characters. It is weird that I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Maybe a bit with Adam because he sneaks up on your heart without you realizing it.
Because the stories of all three sisters had somehow to be told, each got considerably less attention than she would have in a trilogy or other standalone book. We got all the surface information but somehow we didn’t go deep enough for me.

The mystery element – well, I have developed a Nora radar long ago, and this time it even worked, so I guessed who the murderer was (pure instinct – call it Nora sense). Yet all the butchering and killing was gruesome enough for me to have disturbing dreams the next day. I mean, when people get killed in a book, my rational head knows enough to say “It’s fiction. Of course people get killed to keep the tension. Don’t worry, mind, it’s all fake.” But animal mutilations? Oh, gross. Suddenly it was so scary, so real. To top it off, it is set in the wilderness of Montana – cue ghost music. So my complaint would be it was too real.

The pacing was, as usual, flawless. Just enough unpredictable to keep me guessing when the next big thing will happen.
Nora’s prose has that warm, welcoming feel that envelopes you right into the story. It also fades into the narrative and the setting, so this time the language felt cold, sharp and worried.

Many readers have liked and loved this book. Me? I have to wash the remnant of scariness away with the mundane-ness of Kiss & Blog.

Victory for LGBT Rights Advocates!

Today the U.S. Supreme Court decision that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 are unconstitutional was released! Basically this means two things:1. Already married same-sex couples are guaranteed the same rights and privileges heterosexual couples enjoy.
2. Same-sex marriage is legal in California!

Admittedly, I hoped that the Supreme Court would strike down Proposition 8 on basis of prohibiting same-sex marriage being unconstitutional (Equal Protection & Due Process etc.). But I’ll take this victory over the despicable law (although section 2 remains intact) that entered into force in 1996. 17 years later, and part of it is already gone, gone, gone! And hurray for people in California!

This is a joyous occasion!

WRW #4: The Sequels

Wednesday Reading Wishlist is inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking the Spine but I don’t feature future releases exclusively.
This week it’s about sequels!

Succubus on Top (MMP)1. Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead
1.1 Succubus on Top (ISBN: 9780821780787)
I want to know how Georgina carries out her promise, and also how her relationship with Seth will progress!
1.2 Succubus Dreams (ISBN: 9780821780794)
1.3 Succubus Heat
1.4 Succubus Shadows
1.5 Succubus Revealed

2. Just One Day series by Gayle Forman
2.1 Just One Year (ISBN: 9780525425922) Just One Year[Oct 15th 2013]
After the ending of Just One Day, how could I resist? I should have read JOD with more patience and care. Gobbling up has upset my brain.

3. The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine
3.1 Bitter Blood (ISBN: 9780451414243)
3.2 Fall of Night (ISBN: 9780451414267) [Oct 1st 2013]
3.3 Daylighters

4. Princess series by Jessica Day George
4.1 Princess of the Silver Woods (ISBN: 9781619631267) [Dec 10th 2013]

The Lucky Ones5. Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen
5.1 The Lucky Ones (ISBN: 9780061962714)

6. Divergent series by Veronica Roth
6.1 Allegiant [Oct 22nd 2013]

7. A-List series by Zoey Dean
7.1 Tall Cool One (ISBN: 9780316735087)
7.2 Back in Black (ISBN: 9780316010924)

8. Heist Society series by Ally Carter
8.1 Perfect Scoundrels (ISBN: 9781423166818) [Jan 28th 2014]

9. The Midnight Twins series by Jacquelyn MitchardLook Both Ways
9.1 Look Both Ways (ISBN: 9781595141613)
9.2 Watch for Me by Moonlight (ISBN: 9781595142771)

10. Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer
10.1 The Shade of the Moon [Aug 13th 2013]

11. Healer series by Maria V. Snyder
11.1 Scent of Magic (ISBN: 9780778314189)
11.2 Taste of Darkness (ISBN: 9780778315858) [Dec 31st 2013]

Friday Reading Update #8

What I read:

  • Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez (re-read): Now twelve years after the first publication of this book, I hope the world has gotten better for the LGBTQQI youth and grown-ups.
  • Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry: The romance was too sappy and dominant in the story for my liking. Definitely intrigued by Echo’s memory loss / traumatic experience and Noah’s foster family clashes.
  • A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle: I keep picturing BBC’s 21st-century Sherlock and Watson… other than that, pretty good story.
  • Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey: Quick-paced battle-romance story. I read these only because of the Drakes. Okay, I like Lucy and Isabeau, too. Especially the latter’s past was interesting.

What I’m reading: You know, the usual.

  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Little Men
  • 50 Literature Ideas You Really Need to Know
  • Montana Sky
  • Work: A Story of Experience
  • Dance to the Piper by Nora Roberts

What else is new:
By the time this is published, I will still be gone – after my high school graduation and ball (something like the American prom, I guess) on Saturday, my seven friends and I will have boarded on a train to Szczecin, and from Szczecin to Pobierowo on a bus. My friends and I are taking a graduation trip separately from the rest of the class. I’ll be back next week ;)

Book Review: Violet on the Runway

Violet on the RunwayTitle: Violet on the Runway
Series: Violet #1
Author: Melissa C. Walker
Publisher: Berkley JAM Books (Penguin Group USA)
Original Publication in: 2007

My owned copy is the trade paperback edition.

Date read: April 2011

Violet Greenfield, who thinks of herself as a quiet, shy  wallflower, has always been teased because of her height (six-one, or 1.85m). She longs to be popular like those BK girls (stands for Bee’s Knees, not Burger King), even though she’d never admit it to her best friends, Julie and Roger.
But when she catches the eye of a Tryst agent Angela Blythe, things change dramatically… because Angela is sure Violet can be “the next Kate Moss – but, you know, taller and without the cocaine problem” (that was Violet’s soon-to-be agent). In the following months, Violet will have to wade through the castings, photo shoots, runways, bitchy models and other difficulties to find herself and what she really wants.

As far as I know, the author Melissa Walker used to work in a fashion magazine and has now (well, five years ago) written a series which gives us backstage insights on the glamorous fashion life.

Let’s talk about Violet first. Violet Greenfield is insecure about her height and her body in general – she’s too bony and all angles, she thinks. Of course, those two complexes are what caught Angela’s attention. Angela is persistent on letting Violet fly out to New York (she lives in North Carolina) for the Fashion Week, and when her parents give in, Violet is whisked away to a world in which she feels beautiful, strong and desirable.
Long story short, designers and photographers are taken by Violet’s naturalness, Angela convinces the Greenfields to let Violet graduate a semester early and live in the Tryst’s model apartment in New York – and make a name as a model!

Now, I know, I know that Violet needs to make stupid mistakes in order to learn and grow up, but I was quite exasperated when she ditched her best friends for the BK. What pissed me off, however, was Julie’s response to that. I get she has a valid right to be angry, I don’t blame her for that. What I consider a true BF reaction is Roger’s, Violet’s other friend. He’s mad, gives her silent treatment, but in the end he cares, and he comes up to check on Violet. They fight, but he forgives. Julie’s just petty.

Back to Violet. I think she is a good and nice person at core – that’s her personality, and her nature. She hardens up in this vicious tangle of competition and criticism, but she never develops an eating disorder or turns to drugs. She is hurt by the harsh words people and fellow model Veronica throw at her – about her weight, her nightlife, her privacy – and yet she remains a softie (in a good way) inside.

Violet on the Runway is a book about self-discovery and mocks the fashion world, but in a light-hearted and believable way.

Friday Reading Update #7

What I read:

  • Divided in Death by J. D. Robb: Review here.
  • The Last Honest Woman by Nora Roberts: Book 1 in The O’Hurleys series, part of the bind-up O’Hurley Born. Review here.
  • Hunger by Michael Grant: Finally! Review here.
  • Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker (re-read): Review to come!

What I’m currently reading:

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: no progress
  • Little Men by Louisa May Alcott: no progress
  • Work: A Story of Experience by Louisa May Alcott: no progress
  • 50 Literature Ideas You Really Need To Know by John Sutherland: no progress
  • Montana Sky by Nora Roberts: Current progress: Chapter 8

What I got:

  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell