Sunday, March 22, 2009

Famous First Lines

It was the best of times it was the worst of times. I was born. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

The first two are Dickens, but the last is mine. I recently came across is in an article about natural gas in Pennsylvania. I thought it strange that my work had worked its way into natural science. In fact I recently made a friendship through this line in a very unexpected area.

So I'd like to hear from you. Tell me how you've seen this famous line used! Post your comment.

1 comment:

  1. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when readers fall in love with a literary couple they want to know what happens next. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a classic character study following the manners and mating mores of the gentry during the 19th century, has created such a truth. Since the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice in 1995, the genre of Elizabeth-and-Darcy-inspired fiction has grown. Some of these sequels are much like Mr. Collins, silly and superficial (Truth and Triumph by Norma Gatje-Smith). Others are akin to Wickham, raunchy and racy (Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll). There are also Bingleys that are pastoral and promising (Conviction by Skylar Burris). Then there is Pemberley Shades by Dorothy Bonavia-Hunt, the Mr. Darcy of sequels with $10,000 a year and a beautiful estate in Derbyshire.
    Pemberley Shades, back in print after a 30-year hiatus, is considered the first of the Pride and Prejudice sequels since it was first published in 1949. In fact, editor Marsha Morman states that Bonavia-Hunt created fan fiction. The story focuses on the Darcys after three years of marriage. Unlike other novels, Elizabeth has no problem conceiving an heir and the couple lives a happy, simple existence. The problem arises when the rector dies and Darcy must find a replacement. Enter Stephen Acworth, a recently widowed vicar in search of a change. When Acworth arrives Elizabeth feels she has seen him before, but does not confide in Darcy and cannot place Acworth’s face. What follows is a character study in the manner of Pride and Prejudice, where the reader learns first impressions are not always true. Bonavia-Hunt invents new characters and continues the stories of old characters. Mr. Collins, Kitty, Jane, Bingley and Mr. Bennet maintain their identities created by Austen and the new characters are just as quirky as Austen’s own extras. The Miss Robinsons continue with Austen’s beliefs that some members of the clergy act ridiculously and pass that on to their children.
    Bonavia-Hunt mimics Austen’s style well and even throws in a quick elopement to Gretna Green for a little excitement, but the true joy in this novel lies in its ability to follow Austen’s thoughts and ideas. While very few action scenes take place in the book, it is still an enjoyable read because, like Austen’s novels, this book is a character study. It follows everyday life in Regency England and gives us a glimpse into gentry life.
    Unfortunately, the shades of Pemberley have been thus polluted just like Lady Catherine feared. This particular edition has at least one typo per page, which detracts from the reader’s pleasure. The book does begin with a note explaining that changes have been made to the text for copyright reasons, but this does not excuse the mistakes. Extra punctuation marks, random capital letters and words that do not fit in the sentence are a few of the problems the reader will run into. If proper grammar and punctuation are pet peeves of yours, I suggest going to the library and borrowing the original 1949 publication. As someone who loved this book enough to want to own my own copy and not pay $500 for a used copy, I will put up with the mistakes. It is a small price to pay for reading a book that Austen herself would enjoy. I recommend this book for all Pride and Prejudice fans who want to know what happens next.
    Price: $14.95
    Paperback: 319 pages
    Publisher: Laughing Man Publication (2007)
    ISBN 13: 9780979564505
    ISBN 10: 0979564505
    Rachel Stevenson works at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville and holds a “Tea with Jane Austen” every March. She is also an avid Austen fan and has read any sequel or update of Austen’s novels available.