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|Update on discussion of P&P for the reluctant reader
Written by AnnetteJ
(10/3/2013 12:26 p.m.)
Several weeks ago we had a discussion here of how to get people interested in reading Austen in a book club setting. The other citizen of Pemberley had little luck with her older group (most in their 70's and 80's, if I remember correctly). My luck was somewhat better, although I could tell who had read the book for the discussion and who had not -- the latter were very quiet until I asked them to comment at the end.
My approach to the discussion was to look at the basic story and the relationships between characters. This group was younger than the other group -- the oldest present was 90, but the rest were all in their 50's and 60's. We spent much time on Mr and Mrs Bennet -- the group was empathetic to both parents, but particularly to Mrs B, considering the consequences of the entail. They saw matchmaking for her daughters as her "job." We talked marriage as a means of transferring property & providing a stable future for women vs romantic love. They wouldn't want to marry a Mr Collins but they understood why Charlotte did given her circumstances. We talked quite a bit about Lydia and Wickham, less about Elizabeth and Darcy. We even had some few who stood up for Lady Catherine deBourgh, although I think that was based more on the movie versions than the book. Over all, the group enjoyed the discussion.
The ones who didn't like the book had two main reasons: one didn't like the emphasis on marriage and getting a husband (she didn't like the movie versions either for the same reason), and the other two didn't like the writing. They were confused by the language and felt it was so convoluted they had difficulty following the story.
I made a list of characters for the group and handed the list out a month in advance with a follow-up e-mail on the main points for them to look for as they read. They felt that was helpful. This is a pretty well educated group of women who read many contemporary novels and some non-fiction, but are not fans of classic literature.
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