Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bloody Jack, Jane Austen's Brothers, and Future Reading

Well, I have to say that I agree with Publisher's Weekly, which called Bloody Jack "a rattling good read."

I have to agree with a lot of the posters from last week that at times, it did go a bit over the top...but mostly I was just so absorbed in the story that I was able to suspend any twinges of doubt...and absorbed by the details of 18th/19th century shipboard life that Mr. Meyer included. I didn't mind Jacky's character lapses, either, chiefly because as a writer I (a) find flawed characters are more interesting and (b) think that being flawed gives them the opportunity to grow. I'm curious about Jacky's further adventures in Boston, and whether she'll stay in that girls' school. :)

On a slightly different note...Regina mentioned that two of Jane Austen's brothers went to sea, which helps account for her very positive portrayal of Navy men in Persuasion. Frances (also called Frank, 1774-1865) and Charles (1779-1852) both prospered in the Navy. They attended the Royal Naval College as boys; Frank headed off to sea at 15 and rose rapidly through the ranks. He served throughout the Napoleonic Wars and just missed fighting at the Battle of Trafalgar; eventually he rose to the position of Admiral of the Fleet. Charles followed behind his brother, but saw much action and was by all accounts a remarkably brave officer. It was Charles who, with prize money he received from helping to capture an enemy ship, bought topaz crosses for his sisters Jane and Cassandra (that's them in the picture above. Notice the crosses Jane and Lizzy wear in the A&E Pride and Prejudice mini-series? I always thought this a delightful touch.) He rose to the rank of Rear-Admiral.

Now, concerning future Young Bluestockings Book Club meetings... Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 8, when I'll be presenting one of my favorite Georgette Heyer books, Cotillion. It's recently been re-released by Sourcebooks in trade paperback format. From the back cover:

A most unusual hero

Freddy is immensely rich, of course, and not bad-looking, but he's mild-mannered, a bit hapless--not anything like his virile, handsome, rakish cousin Jack...

A heroine in a difficult situation

Young Kitty Charing stands to inherit a vast fortune from her irascible and eccentric guardian--provided she marries one of his great-nephews...

A sham betrothal

No sooner does Kitty arrive in London than the race for her hand begins, but between confirmed rakes and bumbling affections, Kitty needs a daring scheme.

Cotillion covers a lot of familiar themes I thought it would be interesting to discuss here on Nineteenteen: courtship and marriage, inheritance, fashion, and bad boys versus good ones. It's quietly funny and surprisingly moving. But I hope, if you choose to join us, that as you read it you'll think a little bit about how historical fiction is sometimes as much about the time in which it's written as it is about the past.
We hope you'll join us then!


C.R. Evers said...

I haven't read Bloody Jack, yet. I think I'll have to promptly to to my online library reserve and check out a copy. Sounds awesome. I love flawed characters!

Unknown said...

Oooh, Heyer. I just bought my first Heyer (The Masqueraders) last week!

Marissa Doyle said...

I hope you do, C.R. Evers--I definitely enjoyed it!

Let us know what you think of the divine Georgette, Meg. I, uh, think you can all guess what I think of her. :)

ChaChaneen said...

Oooooh I am on board again for this! Georgette Heyer I am very familiar with and I will enjoy this VERY MUCH! I have about 10 of her books but not this one... this will be fun and I will definitely keep your suggestion in mind of the historical past. Have a great day ladies!

Tricia Tighe said...

Looking forward to Cotillion! That's one I haven't read yet. :D

Marissa Doyle said...

I hope you'll enjoy it! Don't expect an alpha hero...but do expect a very sweet story, the sort that makes you go "awwwww..." at the end. I wanted us to try a Heyer with a younger heroine, but not a totally ditzy ingenue. If this works, maybe we'll try "The Corinthian", which also features a spunky young heroine who (of course!) disguises herself as a boy. That would be an interesting book to compare with Mairelon and Bloody Jack.