Thursday, August 11, 2011

Scones and Sensibility

Book lovers have all experienced times when they feel a book is consuming them.  It becomes all you think about and you find yourself wanting to live out parts of the story.  This is particularly magical when you are a child as it is possible for your imagination to get you there.  And children are not looked at as ridiculous for playacting.  Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland is a book about girl who is trying to live like she's in one of her books, namely Pride and Prejudice.
Synopsis (from book cover):
Twelve-year-old Polly Madassa is convinced she was born for a more romantic age.  A time when Elizabeth Bennet and her one true love Mr. Darcy strolled the grounds of Pemberley.    A time when Anne Shirley and her bosom friend dreamed of life beyond their Prince Edward Island home.  But Polly was born in twenty-first century New Jersey.  Such a small detail will not stop our young heroine.  Tasked with the summer job of delivering baked goods from her  parents' bakery to the residents of her small shore town, she finds a way to romance to blossom.  But when she learns the pitfalls of playing matchmaker, will she be able to patch up relationships while making sure that love can take its course?

Polly is a very quirky 12 year old.  She is a precocious young reader who read Anne of Green Gables in fourth grade and at 12 has just read Pride and Prejudice for the first time.  She has requested that her computer be replaced with an old fashioned typewriter, learned calligraphy, embroiders and wears frilly dresses.  She also talks like Anne at her most flowery and melodramatic.  The book is a first person narrative from  Polly's POV so the entire thing is written in this style.  Which was cute at first but became annoying after a while.  Polly did slip up every now and then, resuming 21st American tween speech, but the slip ups didn't occur nearly as often as would be realistic.  

There were some amusing parts in the story one of my favorites being this exchange between Polly and a boy who has a crush on her:
Boy:  "I know.  Mind if I call you sometime?  Maybe tonight, and we can talk about...about the olden times or something.  My dad used to have an Afro when he was in college, you know.  And my grandpa, he's even older than that."
Polly:  "I...I am afraid I cannot commit to any telephone calls about your family genealogy at this time.  Pleas enjoy yourself, and perhaps I may see you when school, once again, commences in the fall.  Good day.

I was interested in reading the book originally because I saw a lot of reviews saying the story worked Jane Austen into it well and that its language was reminiscent of Austen's language.  Except it's not.  Jane Austen wrote in the language of her period and genre but her heroines never sounded as though they were vomiting up a Hallmark store on every page.  The language is more like Anne waxing lyrical, but instead of it just popping up every now and then the entire book is written that way.  As far as working in elements of Austen, that is definitely there.  The book mentions both P&P and Persuasion.  The title is a riff on Sense and Sensibility.   Polly is playing matchmaker like Emma.  However, her character most resembles Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey.  She is applying the romantic notions she has picked up in books on the world around her and trying to force real people into the roles of characters.  She makes an absolute cake of herself and hurts some people in the process.  As Northanger Abbey is a satire making fun of romantic melodrama and its effects I was left wondering what the author was trying to do with this.  But that could be me, who wrote way to many English papers on Austen, overthinking the whole thing.  Probably.

Overall it is a cute and fluffy story if you can stomach the language.  It is best suited for its intended audience, 8-12 year old girls (particularly those who have shown a partiality to the types of stories mentioned).

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