When Blind Dates Go Bad

I deeply love the works of Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice, for all its flaws–it does have them–is one of my favorites. I also enjoy retellings that put a new spin on things. Not so long ago I went starry-eyed over a modern retelling set in Pakistan. Sadly, my blind date book did not inspire such affection.

In fact, it not only didn’t inspire affection, the whole “date” went wrong before the proverbial appetizers were finished. Check, please.

Every new chapter had a new problematic issue; xenophobia, homophobia, fatphobia. Seriously. Liz likens her father’s neglect for their familial estate to an obese person not cleaning parts of their body in the shower because they can no longer see them. Kitty repeatedly and condescendingly calls Mary a lesbian as a way to provoke her. Mrs. Bennet is terrified that Jane is too old–at 40–to bear children and will be like a neighbor of theirs who “after all those procedures still ended up with little Ying from China.”

Also, in the original P&P, Lizzie befriends Wickham after having met Darcy. They bond over their mutual dislike of him. In this version, before we are ever introduced to Darcy (I didn’t make it that far) Liz is already dating Wick–a very married man. He keeps telling her that he’s only still with his wife because they don’t want her “very Catholic” grandmother to disinherit her so their 19-month-old can’t go to private school; and that the only reason they still sleep in the same bed is that the couch is uncomfortable. She is gullible in a way that I never found Elizabeth to be. Elizabeth believed Wickham because her disapproval of Darcy colored her perspective, Liz believes Wick because she wants to sleep with him.

As I ranted about this to someone else, it was brought up to me that maybe it is all so bad to showcase how each person changes and that it will get better. Maybe. But I’m not sure I can stomach any more of it. I have never DNFed a P&P retelling before. This may be the first.

I judged the book by the cover and got burned. I should have known better.

P. S. It was not an oversight, but a conscious choice that I did not name the book or the author. I didn’t want to draw attention to the book. No need to give it any publicity.

P. S. S. If you recognize the book I am referring to and it has any redeeming qualities or plot points, you are welcome to say so in the comments. I would love to have a reason to keep reading, but right now I just can’t.

Blind Date Update

My weekend did not go according to plan, but it went awry in all the right ways. Instead of getting to enjoy my blind date with a book, I only got as far as opening the package to reveal the title, author, and book jacket synopsis (more on that later).

I didn’t get to read a book cover-to-cover, but my five-year-old knows how to play Monopoly now. Well, he knows how to play both Star Wars Monopoly and Disney Monopoly. He has no idea what Park Place is. Still. He not only understands the game, but he can also win against adults–provided someone is there to help him add or subtract the “really big numbers”. He’s five. I’m still impressed.

My one-year-old mastered the “crying as you hit your knees in the mud Shawshank Redemption style” level of melodrama, which is also fun. No, really. It’s really hard to be mad at someone who is throwing a tantrum when you’re laughing at their thespian prowess. Not everyone can conjure crocodile tears and channel Marlon Brando screaming “STELLA!” after being told they couldn’t go play “ball ball” (kickball) with the big kids (preteens).

Anyway, the point is that sometimes life is unpredictable. I had a great weekend with my kids even if it didn’t look anything like the weekend I had originally envisioned. I’m still hoping to read my book this week, but I’m not going to stress myself out over it. Yet. The due date is still far enough in the future that I’m optimistic about my levels of free time.

Speaking of my book. Y’all. It’s a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice. I’m kind of excited because this is either going to be wonderfully delightful, or so awesomely bad that I’ll get several rant posts out of it. I’m hoping for delightful, of course. I love Jane Austen and her sense of humor that pokes fun at frivolity while also making us enjoy it. I have read all of her fully completed published works. I have read several retellings of both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility over the years and enjoy about 80% of them, so I have a good feeling about this. Side Note: Does anybody know of a retelling of Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey? Even Emma got an update in the 1990s with Clueless, but the Park and the Abbey seem to have been left behind (I’m not complaining, those weren’t my faves by any means).

On a heavier note, over the weekend severe flooding and tornadoes wreaked havoc in parts of my state. If you pray, please keep those affected in your prayers. The Mississippi River will continue to rise for the next two weeks and is expected to crest at its fourth highest level on record (and for that to happen in March before the snow up north melts means we could be in for a dangerously wet summer). That means more flooding for a lot of people, and some in lower elevations have already been evacuated. Some farms have already been lost for the year. Expect the price of corn and soybeans to go up this fall. It also means a more difficult time getting supplies to people who desperately need them after tornadoes tore through towns destroying houses, schools, and anything else in their wake.

I am grateful that I have not personally been affected by the severe weather, but my heart goes out to those who were not so lucky. We will do what we can to help shoulder your burden.

Blind Date with a Book

For the month of February, my local library is hosting an event called “Blind Date with a Book”. A selection of books has been wrapped up so nobody can see the cover. This means you have no idea who the author is or what the title might be. Each package has a card with a code for the library staff to use to check the book out to you (so they don’t have to open it on the spot) and a genre for the book inside the package. You find a genre that you usually like to read and pick a package at random, take the book home, and fill out the rating and review card to return with the book.

I checked out my book this week. I haven’t had a chance to open it yet so the only thing I know about it so far is that it’s a Romance. I’m stoked. Even if I end up disliking the book, the concept is fun. As my librarian put it while she checked out my “blind date”, “If you love it, great! You might have just discovered a new author to follow. If not, no harm no foul and you can always try again if you’d like.”

As far as Valentine’s themed promotions go, I think this one is the best I’ve seen in a long time. Nobody is left out. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, dating, or completely uninterested in all things romantic. Anybody can find a genre they like and have a fun “blind date”. Just like in real life, there is no guarantee your “blind date” will go well and you may end up abandoning it early on. Or it might be fun and refreshing. You might have a hot date with a Thriller; an out of this world good time with a Sci-Fi; a magical night with a Fantasy. Okay, my maturity level is dropping. I’ll stop.

Anyway, here’s hoping my blind date goes well. I’ll have to check in with y’all next week and let you know!