About a month ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
What I am reading now, and what I have been reading recently are closely related. I have just started reading Shades of Milk and Honey, by award-winning fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal. I'm only a short ways into the book, but already I'm enjoying it thoroughly.Visit D. B. Jackson's website and blog.
I should pause here in the dual interests of full disclosure and larger context, to say that Mary and I are friends, and so I am predisposed to like her work. But more than that, I came to Shades of Milk and Honey with a feeling of some inadequacy. You see, Mary's work is written as a sort of fantasy homage to the work of Jane Austen, and through some inexcusable gap in my literary education, I had never read any Austen at all.
Mary assures me (and I can vouch for this) that no prior knowledge of Austen is necessary to enjoy her book, but I thought that I would more fully appreciate the experience if I did a little homework first. So in the last month or so, I have read both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, and have enjoyed them thoroughly. It will come as no surprise to most of you that Austen's work has an incredibly effective dry wit that is especially effective in her dialogue. She manages to create female characters who live and act within the strictly circumscribed confines of 18th century gender roles, and yet who also manage to be spirited, strong, and admirable. As I say, I loved both books.
The funny thing about this is that I recently mentioned to Mary that I had read the two Austen books before opening hers. I even made some joke about how I had never before done homework before reading a friend's novel.
The joke's on me.
It turns out that Mary's lead character is based not on one of the Dashwood sisters from Sense and Sensibility, nor on Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, but rather on Anne Elliot, the lead character in Austen's final book Persuasion. Which, of course, I have never read.
I guess I know what I'm reading next.
The Page 69 Test: Thieftaker.