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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

True Love, Wasps, and Bodice-rippers

I just have to say that it aggravates the heck out of me when I buy a book and find out it's full of trash.

I bought a book for my birthday last month by an author who I have enjoyed reading in the past: Marion Zimmer Bradley. I enjoy her world-building and her characters sparkle. The problem, I believe, is that she has been dead, now, for some time. Other people are using her name and worlds onto which to build their own junk.

These authors who build bad things onto good structures are like the wasps in our atrium, which appropriate my birdhouses, causing the birds to nest elsewhere. They move in and daub their trash onto the walls of the birdhouse, so that I'm constantly having to clean them back out again. The effect is disheartening.

So I went back to the bookstore and returned the book. It had serious garbage of a kind with which I just can't fill my mind. I looked around and found what I thought was another good book. Usually one can't go horribly wrong with a Jane Austen spin-off. One would think.

This one, however, was chock full of sex. I can't imagine how an author can get Jane
Austen so wrong. Her books were so completely the opposite of bodice-rippers. Her characters got to know the real person instead of feeding the forest fire of sexual voraciousness. The main characters actually fell in love, not lust (I'm not counting Willoughby or the Wickhams here). We knew that those who strayed off the path were very much in the wrong.

This new book could not be more different. The scenes were engineered to raise the blood in increments to the boiling point and then leave off, just like a bodice-ripper. The characters knew they were doing something illicit, but they continuously slapped themselves on the wrist and called it done.


That is exactly the opposite of what Jane Austen stood for. It was probably as bad as net or phone sex, I'm guessing (not having partaken in said activities). I won't say, here, what I think this book would be in aid of, but you get the picture. It was engineered to perform a certain service--which is NOT an evening's light entertainment. This book would
not be one which I would read in the company of my two-time missionary mother.

This book left me feeling completely robbed. I wanted more insights into Elizabeth and Darcy
after the wedding. I haven't really found a book which does that justice. People can't seem to write great love stories about people who are married to each other. I've read many spin-offs from Austen's books and none of them really feature the same people. Why is that?

Why can't a person still be learning how to love their spouse after the wedding? It's not as if life suddenly becomes boring and stodgy the second one gets the ring on. They often have the same struggles they had before the wedding. I'm sure Elizabeth had to struggle all her life with a man who could, at times, be prideful and arrogant. I'm sure she misunderstood him regularly. He hadn't had a mother for the better part of his growing up years. Of course he'd have difficulties. I want to read about how they work through those difficulties. I want to see their love blossom into something full-blown, enduring, and real.

I want it to still be about them, though, and not just hop forward to their children. It's a cop-out (if you bill it as their continuing story) and it's been done. In fact, I and my sister have a fairly decent library of Austen spin-offs and continuations. Don't get me wrong, many of them are pleasant--just not about Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam.

So now I have to take another book back to the bookstore? I suppose if I did that enough times, they might get the hint about the kinds of books they sell. Or not. I'm certain that for every cruddy book I bring back, there are a load of others going out to other people.

Maybe I'll have to be the one to write this story, sometime when I actually learn the secrets of life.