I decided a few weeks ago to try to get through a specific set of books before Christmas. I had slacked off in my reading. TV shows and racing games on the X-Box my husband was borrowing were always both too tempting in comparison with sitting quietly on the couch with a book. By the time I fell into bed at night, sleep was about all I wanted. But I was finding that I missed it terribly. I made a list of books to read by Christmas or else. (Don't ask what the "or else" is - it could be any number of things, none of which would be worse than a general feeling of shame and self-loathing.)
The first on the list to be read was Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I tried to read it at least three times before but never was able to wade through the beginning... half. It is certainly not my favorite of Austen's works. Fanny Price, the main character, is generally a bit (excuse the term) prudish and too "perfect." She lacks the basic faults of some of the other heroines. For example, Elizabeth Bennett is impulsive and unreasonable- but loving and well-meaning. I can love her IN her flaws because she seems real to me, she seems like someone I can relate to and understand. Fanny Price, on the other hand, does not have the same "flawed" character; she is practically perfect in every way. Quiet, demure, perfectly in control of her actions regardless of her feelings, I can't think of one action she committed in the entirety of the novel that is less than commendable. Which made for no little amount of boredom through at least the first half.
The story on the whole was an interesting one, full of the social commentary at which Jane Austen was so adept. She had no apparent fear of creating other characters who were utterly despicable- if only she had imparted to Fanny the smallest amount of the folly or vice present in the antagonists, the book would have have been more attractive and believable.
Next on the list is Funny in Farsi, which I started a month or so ago and never finished. It was pretty interesting and Dumas has a great style for comedic writing from her perspective of an Iranian child growing up in the US with a family that would probably be considered quirky in any country but seemed particularly quirky given the circumstances. I look forward to delving back into her episodic chapters, including such events as when her uncle came to visit, ate too much fast food and tried every remedy for weight loss except cutting back on fatty foods and exercising!