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06 June 2009 @ 12:31 pm
The Duke and I, Julia Quinn

This chick really should not advertise the fact that she attended Harvard - the reason being, I associate Harvard with super-duper smart people. Not people who don't know the difference between 'cutting a SWATHE' and 'cutting a SWASH' (whatever the fuck a swash is. It's probably related to swabbing).

This book was purportedly set in Regency England and yet it was rife with horrific modernisms AND Americanisms. I really, really can't believe someone from Harvard didn't know even one English exchange student that she could have inveigled into reading over this and informing her of some salient points, like:

- People in 21st century England don't use the term 'block,' so it is far from likely that people in 18th century England would have. I've been reading American books since the Babysitter's Club as a bb, and I still have yet to figure out what the fuck a block is. A housing block? An apartment block? A street? WHAT? Regardless, I doubt there's a Duchess on record who ever used that term. Okay, maybe Fergie, but she so doesn't count.

- Simon, or indeed any other man, could not sit on his 'fanny', for the simple reason that the distinguishing feature of a human male is the lack of vaginas.

Someone had the audacity to call Quinn 'the modern Austen'. What cheek! Okay, I did stop to ponder whether it would have been more toolish for her to try and write in a contemporary style, but there are some simple rules to follow in cases like these:

Don't use 'a bit', use 'a little.'
Don't use 'sort of/kind of,' use 'rather.'
Don't use phrases like 'ditched her groom'.

The sex scenes were so incredibly, amusingly bad. 'Cradle of her feminity'! OH HOW I LOL'D. Also, I've decided that 'climaxed' is the worst synonym for 'orgasmed', like, ever.

At least this book never aimed to be anything other than mildly bad. It makes a change from lauded classics that are supposed to be the model for all literature and are still bad. I suppose.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2009:
He Knew He Was Right, Anthony Trollope
The Bostonians, Henry James
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
For Esme - with Love and Squalor, JD Salinger
The Outsider, Albert Camus
The Princess Diaries: Ten out of Ten, Meg Cabot
The Vicar of Bullhampton, Anthony Trollope
Molesworth, Geoffrey Willans
Villette, Charlotte Bronte
The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler
Cecilia, Fanny Burney
The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
fat girl rules the worldfatgirlrules on June 6th, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)
Dude, I was going to try to explain what a block is, but I do not have the words this early. It seems it's difficult to do without drawing a picture. Basically though? When intersecting and parallel streets form a square, the block is the area in between. Vaguely.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: halowrites: grey flowersscoradh on June 6th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
So, when people say they walked a block - roughly how many houses do they walk past? Because my only use of the word block heretofore has been a block of land, which would situate about one house.
bare_memabonwitch on June 6th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
Right, it varies hugely. I live in a moderate-sized town, in a residential area, so for me, 3-4 houses. That's on the small side. Also, when people say "a city block", they generally mean a longer one, where you are walking past 10-12 houses or businesses.
fat girl rules the worldfatgirlrules on June 7th, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
Depends. It's kind of a loose term, but I'd say a city block would have maybe four houses on one side. I lived on a street that had two houses on one side, three on another, one on one, and I don't remember how many on the fourth. A block isn't very far though.
Riakessie on June 6th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
I kind of figured out what a block is while over in New York (mostly due to the grid system)--it's basically the area in between streets. A way I described it to myself is that we measure distance in cities by streets, whereas Americans seem to measure it by the blocks in between them. It's not an exact explanation, but it's the closest I've come to.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Bookishscoradh on June 6th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
ahaha what. Everytime I think 'Americans are pretty much the same as us!' I get thrown a curveball like this.
Merit: GWmeritjubet on June 6th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
I also wanted to know what a block was when I was younger. "It is only three blocks away!" always confused me. Even the above explanations don't really help since it isn't a precise form of distance! *pedantic* Not to mention they obviously have never lived in places where there is just one long road. The hick in me is probably showing *g*

- Simon, or indeed any other man, could not sit on his 'fanny', for the simple reason that the distinguishing feature of a human male is the lack of vaginas. Unless this modern day Austen was treading a rather risque subject. Sadly no? :/
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: JK on DHscoradh on June 6th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
I always pictured blocks as housing blocks, and never understood why they ever complained about walking anywhere. As for the town planning, it must be the same in every town and city in America for this to work.

What, like transgenderism? (Is that an ism?) I don't think so. That would be quite out of her league.
Merit: Disney Proud to be Fairiesmeritjubet on June 7th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
All the possible differences made the whole idea of block rather contradictory in my mind.

Yep. And anyway, if she is a modern day Jane Austen shouldn't she be writing about modern manners and love? *nitpick*
you do often seem cursedivyenglish on June 6th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Huh. I actually never thought about how weird blocks were until I was trying to figure out how to explain them. (It doesn't help that they're used in two ways - i.e. "around the block" and "4 blocks away.")

My lame attempt:

Assume to start that the streets of a town or city are laid out in a grid pattern (not always true, but close enough). If I were to walk "around the block," starting at my house, I'll turn right and walk until I reach the first intersection. Instead of crossing the street, I turn right and keep walking until the next intersection, where I turn right again. I do that two more times, until I'm back at my house.

The distance from one intersection to another is also a block. So when you walk around the block, you could also say you've walked 4 blocks, technically. A block might have 4 houses on it or 14, it really varies. (When I used to live out in the middle of nowhere we still referred to them as blocks, even though the distance from one intersection to another was almost a mile.)

So basically, it's a square, and a block either refers to the perimeter of the square or one side of the square depending on the context.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Disney: Little Mermaid pink dress of winscoradh on June 6th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Assume to start that the streets of a town or city are laid out in a grid pattern

This is where the problem lies! Of course, America was colonised by Europeans AFTER the Dark Ages, and most European towns and cities - certainly all the ones I know well - are based on mediaeval towns with walls and streets with about enough room to drive a cart down. They were built pretty helter skelter, whereas I believe New York (and probably all American cities) is a shining emblem of neat, sensible and forward-thinking planning.

So basically, it's a square, and a block either refers to the perimeter of the square or one side of the square depending on the context.

Yeah, I know of no town/city where you could walk around in a perfect square. :D Except the Cork courthouse, and that's only because it used to be surrounded on four sides by rivers that were filled in.
Margravine Palavar: Some Figuresmargravine on June 6th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
Blocks have actually transcended the colloquial. They're built into our tax map systems. When they map out areas with surveys and boundaries and such to distinguish who is paying for what parcel of land, they divide areas into blocks . Like my property is Block 56, Lot 4. However, if you ever find yourself needing to worry about American tax maps for writing purposes I suggest that you start the story over and not do whatever it is that you were doing.

I think you can assume that the Babysitters Club was generally biking less than a quarter mile for each block since they were in suburban Connecticut.

I don't understand how this book you're talking about even happened. Did the editor have a seizure and die after reading the manuscript and they just took that as a sign of approval?

every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Quotey: princesses save themselvesscoradh on June 6th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
Haha, I hope I shall never have call to be writing about ... tax maps. God, I did not even know there was such a thing. (I was pretty happy in my state of innocence, I gotta say.)

Ah, Connecticut. Which I always pronounced Connect-it-cut. Good times.

Meh, I rather think they took a look at the huge sales generated by Mills & Boon novels and decided to try their hand at the same genre. Because I leant this to my mom and she said it was dreadful; as she reads M&B, she would know!
tell me your heart doesn't race for a hurricanejocondite on June 6th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
I tried reading her 'Regency' fiction and UGH, ANACHRONISMS EVERYWHERE. The only 'modern Jane Austen', if there is such a creature, is Georgette Heyer.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: xckdscoradh on June 6th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
Which I could forgive if the story was decent, but it wasn't. Absolutely nothing separates it from Mills and Boon. (Admittedly I have only read one Mills and Boon, so perhaps I judge too harshly.)

Ah, GHeyer. So hit and miss, but still awesome. I just re-read Cotillion for fun. Good times!
lstinhpfdmlstinhpfdm on June 6th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
I wonder if this was by the same person who wrote the awful Pride & Prejudice "sequel" I picked up once, read three pages of and eventually threw away. I am not a regency expert in any way but I had just read an annotated P&P at the time. I was shocked that anyone could get a book published when they clearly new nothing about the history of the era. Drove me nuts..

P.S. Do you mind if I friend you. I love your bandom fic, and am interested in this book thread. I am always looking for good books to read.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: halowrites: pink knittingscoradh on June 6th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
I have read a sequel to Mansfield Park - Joan Aiken. She writes a shitload of sequels and prequels. A retelling of Emma from Mr Knightley's POV. Excuse me while I gag. But you see, Austen is well out of copyright, so anyone can write a sequel if they like. I can. You can.

Sure, friend away! But I usually bash books on this thread; it's more about 'HEY I READ THIS AND IT SUCKED' than proper recs. :D
Sereniaserenia on June 7th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)
That sounds craptastic. I think I shall avoid it! In my eyes, period pieces need to stay true to period. That's why I got along so terribly with Moulin Rouge and A Knight's Tale. I know they did it on purpose, but it wasn't what I wanted to see!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Fooish: purple housescoradh on June 7th, 2009 12:28 pm (UTC)
I loved a Knight's Tale but MR did nothing for me. Anyway, yes, this chick could have done with a tad of research. D:
killer of men... killer of HENCHmen!: chicagocatechism on June 7th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
I am here to confuse the issue! In some cities, blocks actually ARE a precise measurement. Chicago is laid out on a very precise grid, eight blocks to a mile. So here, if something is four blocks away, it's half a mile.

Although! Almost the only time I would say something like that is while giving directions to someone who doesn't know the city very well. If I had to tell a Chicagoan where something was, probably I would give them the full address and expect them to know the cross street. Like I'd say, "2396 W Fullerton," and they'd be expected to say, "okay!" and know that the cross street there is Western. This is crazy magic when you first move here, and then one day you can just do it. But you can do it because of the grid system; Western is 2400 W, and it is ALWAYS 2400 W, and therefore addresses here actually say something about the geographic location of the thing they describe.

But anyway, the blocks-as-measurement thing only works in some places, since obviously not everyone is crazy. Where I actually live (in Evanston, maybe six blocks (!!) from the Chicago city limits), we don't have that kind of crazy grid system, but we are still always talking about blocks. It's just easier to say that Church street is four blocks north, because then you know to go through four stop signs and then you're at Church street. It doesn't actually matter how far apart those stop signs are. It also doesn't matter that much if the road isn't entirely straight; I'll use the term "block" even when I'm in a place with curvy streets.

But even when you're not in a place like Chicago where it IS a unit of measurement, it can a useful rough distance guide. If something is six blocks away it's completely walkable, but if it's 27 blocks away, it's probably a few miles and you want to think a little about if you really want to walk it.

[Bonus tidbit: If you ever hear anyone say "make the block," they mean, "go around the block."]

Man, I had no idea you guys didn't use this term! Or that I had so much to say about it!

Edited at 2009-06-07 01:19 am (UTC)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Marie Antoinettescoradh on June 7th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
*moans* That is so crazily complicated! Blocks, then, can basically mean anything! I think I prefer the whole idea of just saying 'go through three traffic lights and turn right.' D:D:

killer of men... killer of HENCHmen!catechism on June 7th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
They are not really that complicated! At least not until you try explaining them. They CAN be, but pretty much everything has the potential. "Go through three lights" means the same thing as "go three blocks"! Just focus on that, and you'll be fine. That is the most basic meaning: the distance between intersections. All the rest of the crap about whether the streets are straight and how precise the grid is, all that stuff is gravy. Blocks are fun! :D