Book: “Persuasion” by Jane Austen

Ah, the wit of Jane Austen is sharp in this novel, and enjoyable as always. 

It is laid out a lot like a theatrical play. Many of the scenes could be played in their own stage. Except perhaps the long walks and the beach strolls. 

This novel is her shortest, I think. However, I was stricken by the over-abundance of the word “and”.

I may return to this post with more to add. I have only finished it now after starting it yesterday, and I may need to let it sink.

2022-07-27 update: “and” appears 2802 times in the span of 227 pages, and 24 chapters (that’s 12.3 per page) (*)

(*) [After starting to underline them in my book, I found it tedious and unreliable, so I found an HTML version of the book, stripped it of non-novel cruft using emacs and then piped a word count to a grep, embracing the nerddom, but then ran a better grep(**) command which Bert supplied and explained, because the simpler one would find hand, grand or wander, but not And,]

 (Wed, 27 Jul 2022 01:11:29 CET)-(koalie@gillie:~:)$grep and /Users/koalie/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com\~apple\~CloudDocs/Downloads/Persuasion\,\ by\ Jane\ Austen.html | wc -l

(**) (Wed, 27 Jul 2022 07:11:31 CET)-(koalie@gillie:~:)$grep -E -i -o '\band\b' /Users/koalie/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com\~apple\~CloudDocs/Downloads/Persuasion\,\ by\ Jane\ Austen.html | wc -l

(where -E = enable regexps, -i = case-insensitive, -o = put every occurrence on a separate line, \b = word edge) [Thanks Bert!]

Book: “Mr Murder” by Dean Koontz

It’s the second time I read this book. While it took me 2 days only to read it the first time when I was a student in 1997, it took me over a month in 2022.

The book had left me then with a big impression and for years it was the gold standard for « entertainment I thoroughly enjoyed. » Having read it again, I know it isn’t the gold standard anymore. In the 25 years that passed since then, I discovered Jane Austen :)

One detail I loved about Mr Murder:
The creative fictitious names one of the characters makes up as titles for the science fiction books another character keeps reading. Since the former doesn’t approve of that kind of literature, the titles are very funny.

One thing I hated:
The sheer amount of guns and firing arms owned by the main protagonists, who are otherwise completely traditional and everyday people. So much so that their veneration for them doesn’t ring true. They fit in the plot but there are way too many, particularly as this is obviously not a satire of gun ownership and worship in the USA.

I found it rather well written, but a bit too long while at the same time the end is rushed and superficial.

Book: “Sycamore Row” by John Grisham

Having read and enjoyed several dozens of John Grisham’s novels, I made myself finish this one, but it took me four or five months.

Photo of the paperback book next to my reading glasses and a blue fleece blanket

Every time I closed the book I would read the testimonials printed on the cover “no one does it better than Grisham”, and “just when you think you know Grisham he surprises you.” Well, the former is true only up to this book, and the latter is true particularly in light of this book.

It takes ploughing through 400 pages (out of 550) for the book to begin to start. But it never really takes off, and seems even rushed at the end. Such a disappointment.

The book was boring, shallow, and while the writing isn’t bad, it is too verbose and very tedious. The plot is weak and stretched ultra thin; in this form it could and should have been a novella.

It is astounding that over the course of so many pages, and despite a rather small group of characters, we readers get to know hardly anyone.

The book is touted as “The sequel to A TIME TO KILL” which was such a fine novel that I hope that anyone who hasn’t read it isn’t put off by this one. Commonalities between the two are the main litigator and his family and a couple people who work with him, and a few irrelevant references to the other story. This novel attempts to shine by association but fails.