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Word of the Week (167)

DictionaryMary Queen of Scots certainly had a lot going for her at one point in her life. She was Queen of Scotland where she was merely a baby, and for a time, she was also Queen of France. Not too shabby for a teen royal. But the aristocracy is fickle and their moods equally changeable. So on July 24, 1567, Protestant nobles forced the Catholic Mary to abdicate and replaced her with her infant son James. Perhaps had Mary possibly not been linked to the death of her second husband, she might have been spared this opprobrium.

Opprobrium (“uh-pro-bree-uhm”)

Noun; from Dictionary.com:

1. The disgrace or the reproach incurred by conduct considered outrageously shameful; infamy

“I would never burden your name with the social opprobrium resulting from the path my life has taken,” India told him, following up with a smile and a gaze that indicated clear-eyed courage and self-sacrifice. (Three Weeks with Lady X, Eloisa James)

No confusion about this one: opprobrium comes into English directly from Latin, from a word of the same spelling meaning “disgrace, infamy, scandal, dishonor.” The prefix ob in Latin means “against” and the root word probrum means “reproach, infamy.” So while the literal translation of opprobrium may have meant “against infamy” instead of its modern meaning, the history of the word developed in such a way to come up with the current definition.

Your turn, bookworms - Literature is filled with characters behaving badly. Who’s your favorite literary bad boy or girl? I confess a certain fondness for Austen’s Frank Churchill. He behaves terribly, and yet still gets exactly what he wants in the end. Not bad.

[Photo Credit: Google Images]

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

The Secret Diary of Lizzie BennetWhat started as a project for graduate school soon turned into so much more. Lizzie Bennet began making YouTube videos for a class project, but quickly realized there was actual interest in her amusing perspective on her life, from her wild and wildly different sisters to her not-so-disguised dislike for a certain gentleman with a fondness for Newsie caps and bow ties. Still, the Internet is public, so there’s much that isn’t seen on Lizzie’s videos – which is why she also kept a diary of the project. And that diary has secrets her videos never revealed.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a complement to the popular web series from 2012 and 2013, using a diary format to fill in some of the blanks from the videos posted on YouTube. Ardent fans of the web series will recognize and enjoy most of Lizzie’s entries, as they fill in details from before and after each of the videos, as well as provide more glimpses of never-seen characters, such as the Bennet parents.

Overall, I have to say I was a bit disappointed by The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, especially after the web series. I had hoped for something a bit more (at the risk of sounding snobby) literary; instead, Lizzie’s first-person narration and diary entries felt juvenile in a way that the videos didn’t. In fact, in written format, I found Lizzie – at least, pre-”Darcy Day” Lizzie – to be much more judgmental, mean and petty than I did when watching the videos. I found myself disliking the Lizzie on the page, where I had mostly liked her on screen. Interestingly, though, this fictionalized companion novel did help me appreciate and value Charlotte much more than I did previously. There’s certainly something to be said for the voice of common sense and reason.

In another strange twist, I also found the lack of other characters’ points of view more pronounced in book format, even though the videos (or, indeed, Jane Austen’s original novel) didn’t provide these points of view either. I suspect it comes down to my personal expectations for this book. Having watched all the videos, I read the book expecting more, and found myself disappointed when the book basically rehashed all the videos, albeit from a slightly different angle. 

I did think it was interesting and clever to integrate the YouTube videos with Lizzie’s written diary entries in the e-book version of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. After several entries, the writers provided direct links to each YouTube video; on Internet-enabled tablets or e-readers, you could click the link and watch the video as Lizzie wrote about the circumstances that led to its creation. This provided context for each video, which I liked, and helped ground the timeline a bit more in reality. Most importantly, I did like that the diary gave us Lizzie’s inner dialogue and thoughts, all the things she didn’t say on the videos, and therefore, we readers can actually see her judgements undergo change and transformation.

Certainly devoted fans of the web series will want to read this book for it’s small bits of new information, but casual fans and die-hard Janeites can find better adaptations of Pride and Prejudice (in written form, anyway) elsewhere. I’d recommend watching the videos; this companion book doesn’t add much to the overall story. 

[Photo Credit: Goodreads]

Book News, July 19th

Good gracious, bookworms! Where is the time going? I feel like we were just celebrating the 4th of July, and now here we are, and it’s already July 19th! My days are long, but my weeks are flying by, a phenomenon likely due to the fact that I now have an official departure date for Ireland and I’m trying to cram in as many things as possible in these last few weeks. That includes trying to read as many of my hardcover books as possible, since many of them will be left behind. But that’s a post for another time! Now – book news:

  • More Harry Potter? Yes, please! As the real World Cup raged on, Pottermore saw the unfolding of the Quidditch World Cup and JK Rowling contributed by writing a new, original short story which gave avid fans a glimpse into grown-up Harry’s life. The gossipy story, purported to be written by the less-than-truthful Rita Skeeter, included little nods to Harry, as well as the other members of Dumbledore’s Army. In true Rowling fashion, the story includes details that leave more questions than answers, so naturally, Book Riot mused on the possibility of a brand-new, full-length Harry story. I personally still think Rowling will stick with these little glimpses and not another Harry novel, but I certainly won’t stop her if that’s what she decides she wants to do.
  • There’s a rumble in publishing and it’s gettin’ ugly. The dispute between Amazon and Hachette continues, with both sides refusing to back down. Last week, Amazon proposed a plan that would give Hachette authors 100% of e-book profits until a final agreement could be made, which Hachette swiftly refused. The bulk of their disagreement stems from the percentage Hachette would get from e-book sales, versus what Amazon (and, eventually, the authors) would get. It’s a messy, complicated situation all around and with neither Hachette nor Amazon ready to concede, it could be awhile before there’s any resolution.
  • Eff You! That’s what George R. R. Martin has to say to critics who worry about him dying before he can finish his epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. In fact, Martin gave his critics a certain middle finger, lest anyone have any doubts about the sentiment he was trying to convey. Martin has routinely faced criticism for his apparently slow speed of writing, with years in between books in his series. Many fans are also worried the HBO Game of Thrones show will end before he finishes his books, thus potentially spoiling the books’ endings.
  • The Magicians are coming. American television network Syfy (which used to be known by the much more understandable Sci-Fi) is preparing to develop a TV series from Lev Grossman’s book, The Magicians. The book, and its sequels, focuses on students at a magic college who discover the fantasy world of their favorite childhood books is real. This is the second time producers have attempted to bring Grossman’s book to the television screen.
  • Fun stuff: the first full-length trailer for Gone Girl, a movie based on the book of the same name by Gillian Flynn, made its way around the Internet last week. Ben Affleck looks creepy in it, but then I kind of think he always looks creepy. And more literary LEGOs! There’s a collaboration project that came up with a brilliant version of Homer’s The Odyssey, the beacons from Lord of the Rings (the ones that are lit between Gondor and Rohan), and my personal favorite, a re-creation of The Red Wedding from George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords.

As always, happy reading.