I finished two of the books on my spring reading list: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and Forever by Karen Kingsbury.
I have to say I didn’t like Sense and Sensibility as much as I did Pride and Prejudice, though I liked the film version of it more. It may be because I read it in kind of a disjointed way. The “show, don’t tell” mantra of writing apparently wasn’t in vogue then. 🙂 And there seemed to me to be a lot of derogatory sarcasm rather than a gentle poking of fun at the foibles of others. I felt that I got a fully-fleshed out version of Elinor, Marianne, Mrs. Jennings, and a few others, but not really of Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon. I liked Marianne’s progression in the book. I was disappointed that one of the main storylines was wrapped up with the anticlimactic, “About three hours after his arrival he had secured his lady’s hand, engaged her mother’s consent, and was not only in the rapturous profession of the lover, but in the reality of reason and truth, one of the happiest of men.” I thought, “That’s all you’re going to tell us after waiting for this moment all through the book?!” It may be that in that time such moments were considered private and handled with discretion — I can’t remember how the similar scenes in P&P were handled. It also may be that the events leading up to a climax just before this were considered the major components of the story, and this result considered just a natural outflow. Overall I am glad I read the book, though, and want to continue on exploring Austen’s works.
Forever is the last in the second series about the Baxter family: the first was the Redemption series with five books; the Firstborn series followed and ends with this fifth book. The Baxter saga will continue and conclude with the Sunrise series, the first book of which is due out May 8 (I didn’t know that when I made my reading list, but will definitely add this one on!)
One thing that you can definitely say about Karen is that she knows how to spin a story, how to draw you in and make you care about the characters. I have heard her speak three times now, and between that and her comments at the end of her books, I know her heart is to convey Scriptural truth to her audience. And I think she does do that. My only relatively minor criticisms are that I think she overplays the emotional aspects of a story a little bit, and I have heard her say that she tends to write fast, and I think that shows just a little (I didn’t think to make note of particular examples).
Some of her books do have kind of a made-for-TV-movie feel to them. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I have heard some criticize many of the modern Christian fiction writers for not being very “literary.” But, you know — a high-end literary classic style just isn’t going to appeal to everyone. I think of it kind of like this: I love some of the meaty, doctrinal, literary hymns of the 1700s. But I also like short and simple choruses that emphasize one truth that I hum around the house while I’m dusting. I think there is a place for both styles. And I think that’s true in literature, too. Some of these thoughts have me considering a post along the lines, “Just what does make a classic, anyway?” I might explore that some time.
But for now, back from general principles to this book, this continues the story of Dayne Matthews and Katy Hart and a major obstacle to their wedding plans, while the rest of the Baxter family is still coming to grips with the reality of Dayne’s being part of the family. The underlying theme has to do with loving and serving others, and this is played out in several different directions. One of my favorite scenes was when Regan thinks her husband, Luke, is leaving her alone with the children when he gets home in the evening, cleaning the stovetop in the kitchen piece by piece, after she’s been alone with the kids all day and wants not only a break but time with him, but later realizes that that’s his way of showing love (“acts of service,” if you’ve ever read or heard of the Five Love Languages.) I think Luke’s and Regan’s struggles to find a way to get on the same page in the midst of the problems in their lives is probably pretty typical of many couples.
I was a little disappointed that one of the major storylines wasn’t wrapped up at the end of the book — I discovered that accidentally at an author event with Karen Kingsbury when someone from the crowd mentioned it, so I was a little sad knowing ahead of time. But, when I got to the end, I could understand why it was written that way.
I am looking forward to Sunrise. I don’t know how many books will be in this final series, but it will be a little sad to have the Baxter’s story come to an end.
I went to the library this morning to try to check out A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or The Princess Bride, but they didn’t have a copy of either one at any library in our system. :O There’s always Amazon.com, I know, but I hadn’t intended to buy them (my bookshelves are over-flowing). I guess I can always resell them if I decide I don’t want to keep them. I just got a Barnes and Noble coupon in my e-mail this morning — I may go see if they have one or the other.