I thought I would be spending this weekend with Pioneer Girl, the annotated edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder's unpublished autobiography, which finally (finally) arrived on Friday. But instead I am reading another autobiography, Benjamin Franklin's. I was already in the middle of it, and I found that I didn't want to put it aside, even for Laura Ingalls Wilder. Though every time I look at Pioneer Girl I am sorely tempted. No one told me there is a picture of Mrs. Boast! Mrs. Boast!! For some reason that made me giddier than anything else I've seen in my quick glances. But I keep going back to Dr. Franklin, because his story is just so interesting. I feel like I've stepped through a door into 18th-century Philadelphia, with a side-trip to London. Of course, his is a little Penguin paperback, while Pioneer Girl is a massive square hardback, which I will be toting around this week to the detriment of my back.
I nearly took both of them with me to our JASNA Houston meeting yesterday, just to have someone to gloat over Pioneer Girl with me. The tea was delicious, as always. It was disappointing that in the end, we didn't have enough people to play whist. We played a Pride and Prejudice trivia game instead, which is always fun. However, though the moderator was completely impartial, something was obviously favoring the opposite team. Actual questions for them: Who did Mr. Collins ask to marry him after Elizabeth Bennet turned him down, and What was one reason that Mr. Collins gave for seeking a wife? Actual questions for our team: Who did Lydia and Kitty dress up in women's clothes to fool visitors, and How many were supposed to be in Mr. Bingley's party for the assembly ball? Needless to say, we lost. (We also missed "How many dances did Bingley dance with Jane at the ball?" and "Who married 'a man of more fashion than fortune'?") However, we successfully contested one point. On the question, What was Jane Austen's father's name, after we tried "Mr. Austen," we decided on "George." The card said "William," which I knew was wrong! We weren't using our phones, just our wits, but I did have to look that one up. I should have petitioned for a forfeit at that point.
And finally, a mini-review: after reading and loving Sharon Shinn's The Turning Season, I was very excited to get the first two books in the "Shifting Circle" series. I had some pretty high expectations for the first, The Shape of Desire, and at first I was disappointed. Told in the first-person present as well, it is narrated by Maria Devane. She met shape-shifter Dante Romano in college, and they have been together ever since. She has adapted her life completely around him, but his time in human form is steadily decreasing, and now she sees him only a few days every month. This is a darker story than Kara's in the later book. Maria is more isolated, by choice in order to keep Dante's secrets and her own. I felt initially like she had lost herself in the relationship, like she was paying too high a price for a few days of manic happiness and sex with her lover, followed by weeks of isolation and depression. But the story turns out to be more complicated than that, as does their relationship, and I found it increasingly absorbing. Here again there was a surprise at the end that I did not see coming (though I can see in hindsight that hints were planted), and I found the ending very intriguing. I would like to check back in on the characters - maybe they will appear in later books? I don't know if Sharon Shinn will be writing more of this series, but I hope so. I still have one more to read, Still Life with Shape-Shifter, which is connected to the third book. After I read that, I'm looking forward to exploring her other books, and would welcome any recommendations (Reading the End Jenny already mentioned one that is a take-off from Jane Eyre).
I hope everyone has a good week! We are supposed to have some terribly wet and stormy weather starting tonight, which will be a great excuse to curl up with tea and cats and autobiographies. Mrs. Boast, y'all! And I just opened it randomly, to a picture of the Farmer Boy family! Back to Ben, and then on to Laura!