Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chapter 5: A Journey for Jane

Really, what's better for a ten-year-old than a fifty-mile coach journey by herself? Over early-nineteenth-century roads? I think Mrs. Reed would say the answer is "nothing."

Jane's just arrived at Lowood School, and while her arrival there doesn't sound like a lot of fun, it's not overly inauspicious:
"I passed from compartment to compartment, from passage to passage, of a large and irregular building; till, emerging from the total and somewhat dreary silence pervading that portion of the house we had traversed, we came upon the hum of many voices...a congregation of girls of every age, from nine or ten to twenty. Seen by the dim light of the dips, their number to me appeared countless, though not in reality exceeding eighty; they were uniformly dressed in brown stuff frocks of quaint fashion, and long holland pinafores."
Now, I've never tasted porridge in any form, let alone burnt. Or rotten potatoes, for that matter. But "burnt porridge is almost as bad as rotten potatoes" is one of the lines I remember from this book. Ugh.

But Miss Temple, one of the unequivocally good characters here, jumps in to save the day:
"'You had this morning a breakfast which you could not eat; you must be hungry:—I have ordered that a lunch of bread and cheese shall be served to all...It is to be done on my responsibility,' she added, in an explanatory tone to them, and immediately afterwards left the room."
Brave Miss Temple. We'll be returning to this decision in a few pages.

One other important character makes her debut in chapter 5: Helen Burns. But we'll leave her details for next time.

While we're having fun with alliteration, here's another J word for Miss Jane: judgmental. Nothing's stopping this girl from forming opinions, even if she's smart enough not to share:
"none of whom precisely pleased me; for the stout one was a little coarse, the dark one not a little fierce, the foreigner harsh and grotesque, and Miss Miller, poor thing! looked purple, weather-beaten, and over-worked"
And on Helen's choice of reading material:
"a brief examination convinced me that the contents were less taking than the title: 'Rasselas' looked dull to my trifling taste; I saw nothing about fairies, nothing about genii; no bright variety seemed spread over the closely-printed pages."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

10-10-10 Challenge update

Well, none of the categories are 0/10 any longer:

1. Shakespeare-related (2/10)
Shakespeare: The World As a Stage, Bill Bryson
Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, James Shapiro

2. Poetry (1/10)
Red Bird, Mary Oliver

3. Biography (1/10)
Shakespeare: The World As a Stage, Bill Bryson

4. Contemporary young adult (9/10)
Sweet, Hereafter, Angela Johnson
A Wish After Midnight, Zetta Elliott
The Clearing, Heather Davis
The Things a Brother Knows, Dana Reinhardt
The Six Rules of Maybe, Deb Caletti
Extraordinary, Nancy Werlin
Kissing Tennessee, Kathi Appelt
My Most Excellent Year, Steve Kluger
Habibi, Naomi Shihab Nye

5. Children's non-fiction (4/10)
Honeybees: Letters From the Hive, Stephen Buchmann
The Boys' War, Jim Murphy
How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?, William Pogue
Bloody Scotland, Terry Deary

6. Science fiction (1/10)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne

7. History (9/10)
Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews, Melvin Konner
The Boys' War, Jim Murphy
The Imperial Cruise, James Bradley
Blood and Thunder, Hampton Sides
Playing the Enemy, John Carlin
The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman
Helluva Town, Richard Goldstein
Hellhound on his Trail, Hampton Sides
A Nation Rising, Kenneth C. Davis

8. Mystery (5/10)
Poirot Investigates, Agatha Christie
The Seven Dials Mystery, Agatha Christie
The Mapping of Love and Death, Jacqueline Winspear
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, Alan Bradley
A River in the Sky, Elizabeth Peters
The God of the Hive, Laurie R. King

9. Written before 1900 (3/10)
Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
Roughing It, Mark Twain

10. Pulitzer winners (3/10)
Among Schoolchildren, Tracy Kidder
The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman
Red Bird, Mary Oliver

(Post pic from my collection; location unknown but probably Yosemite.)