I've started reading Sense and Sensibility for the first time. For some reason I avoided all those Brit-chick novels when I was in high school. Except for Wuthering Heights. I loved that, presumably because it's kind of half-ghost-story, and I was a huge Kate Bush fan. Even with these factors to recommend it, it was pretty tragic and swooney and girly. I'm not, so far, getting the gush over Jane Austen. Does that make me some kind of philistine? In the first 10 admittedly short chapters of this book, it seems like typical unrealistic romance novel stuff that would have inspired two different John Hughes movies in the '80s. Austen must have had teen aged girls traipsing all over the countryside hoping for a fortuitous sprain that would put them within striking distance of a dashing and rich husband in the early 19th century. I wonder how many needlessly muddy shoes turned up on back porches of the well-bred middle classes after the publication of this treasure.
To be fair, I have no real knowledge of literary criticism. I never took any literature or English courses in college; I'd showed up with enough AP credits to opt out entirely. What a bargain. My literary sensibilities lean toward smart use of humor, precise grammar, and correct word usage, preferably with at least three or four words I have to go look up. I once rejected a book because the author used the word "undermine" when the context of his sentence clearly called for "impugn" or "deride." (Chris Bohjalian, you ninny.) And, for some reason, I deeply enjoy the artful and non-gratuitous use of expletives, in the style of Christopher Moore's Fool.
The really good thing about this book for me is that it's extremely talkey, and uses quite a bit of colloquial language that forces me to think harder than the plot, to this point, would require. So I'll undoubtedly carry on with it. After all, Sacre Bleu won't be released until April 3, so I've got a little time.