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The Convenient Marriage

August 15, 2011

After reading about Georgette Heyer, the originator of the historical romance novel, I decided to try reading her novel The Convenient Marriage on an airplane as my first Kindle book. I got a Kindle as a birthday present and took it with me to England, which lightened my luggage.

I was excited about the Kindle, because I thought it meant I wouldn’t have to carry other books when traveling. Since flight attendants specifically forbid the use of a Kindle during takeoff and landing, however, I got interested in the paper book that I had also, luckily, brought along, and took a while getting the Kindle out once we were in the air. Then I had to contend with starting at the beginning and reading the pages in sequence, which is not the way I usually go through a book. I discovered how to make bookmarks and notes, and that helped.

I’ve talked before about my car books, and many of them have been historical romance novels. So I went into reading the Heyer novel with a working knowledge of the conventions of the genre.  I had to laugh at the level of detail this author thought necessary to convey the feel of the period:
“her armazine skirts, spread over very large panniers a coudes, brushed the bannisters on either side of her.”

The very Regency tone with which one mother assures another that a particular man is “the biggest prize in the market” has been softened by subsequent authors, so that its effect struck me as very much like an utterance by Elizabeth Bennett’s mother, a woman of the correct period, but whose sensibilities were considered coarse by the other characters.

I found the writing occasionally quite amateurish; for example, this very poorly-punctuated sentence:
“He was tolerably satisfied himself, employment in a novel house was a fair stepping-stone to a Public Career, but he would have preferred, since he was a serious young man, the service of one more nearly concerned with the Affairs of the Nation.”

The plot involves the marriage of Horatia, whose family needs a wealthy husband, to Lord Rule, who was “the biggest prize” because of his fortune. They fall in love over the course of the novel, as Rule “rules” his wife with a delicate hand, giving her everything she wants and refusing to argue with her, which at one point gives her the “feeling that the wind had been taken out of her sails.”

There are a few surprises, such as a character’s reason for why she doesn’t like to go to the circus:
“I must confess that I can discover nothing to entertain or elevate the mind in the spectacle of noble horses performing the steps of a minuet, and I cannot conceal from you…that I find something singularly repugnant in the notion that the Brute Creation should be obliged to imitate the actions of Humanity.”
That seems an anachronistic attitude, even for a woman of Heyer’s own time period, much less a hundred years previous.

Another surprise, as it turns out, is that Horatia ends up wagering a lock of her hair in a card game, which has to have been a deliberate tip of the hat to an even earlier comic portrayal of nobility in love, Pope’s The Rape of the Lock.

The Convenient Marriage was a good choice for making me learn how to use my Kindle because it’s the kind of book that makes me want to jump around–making it a poor choice for an airplane read; it also made me literally restless. I discovered that when you skip to the end of a Kindle book, you need to do it at a chapter break and remember which chapter you were on, because the Kindle assumes you’re finished with the novel once you’ve gone to the end. I discovered that it’s easy to skim through a Kindle book using only one hand, because the page buttons are well placed and the page comes up quickly enough for a speed-reader like me.

I enjoyed traveling with a Kindle, never feeling that I would run out of something to read, but it’s not going to be my reading method of choice when at home. I like to molest my books, flipping backwards and forwards, underlining a word or putting an exclamation point in the margin, and turning down the corner of a page here and there. But like choosing audiobooks, I think I’m going to like choosing Kindle books that I might read more linearly, for escapism, or else books I love to reread from any point.

If you have a Kindle, do you have a certain kind of book you prefer to read on it?

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2011 9:03 am

    I do have a Kindle, in fact I’m on my second one. Kent left my first one on the plane coming back from vacation in February.

    I don’t use the Kindle for how-to or reference books. Even though I lost nearly all my professional books in our first flood before I got a Kindle, I have continued to replace them with paper books. To your point, there are times I need to flip back and forth, jot down a note or two to remind myself why something is important (or not) and the Kindle doesn’t lend itself well to that. I’m also really getting into sewing again and am determined to learn to properly tailor my patterns. The books I’m getting for that are and will also be paper, not electronic.

    But I prefer the Kindle for every other kind of book . I love the convenience, and I love that I have all those books on each and every trip. Yesterday coming home on the train, I’d bought a new book I ended up disliking and probably won’t finish, so I reread Pride and Prejudice and Zombies instead.

    You didn’t mention this so I don’t know if you had a chance to use yours yet in full on sunshine but it’s amazing–you really can read it sitting by the pool or while at the beach with no eye strain. I was also able to read last night even in the really awful light available on the train.

    Where I differ from you is that I don’t mind the enforced no reading time for take offs and landings. In fact, I kind of like having that bit of time where I can just sit, maybe close my eyes, and most definitely do some quality people watching. It’s just 10 minutes at the start and another 10 and the end of the flight and I like that break.

    • August 16, 2011 9:19 am

      I’m not a nervous flyer, but I tend to be nervous about missing a flight, especially after our experience in Chicago where we had to buy an entirely new ticket because of missing a flight. So by the time I get to the gate and on the plane, I badly need to escape from my surroundings into a book.
      I have trouble reading in dim light, especially as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve never had trouble reading at the beach! I’ve actually thought about finding out if there’s a light for the Kindle, because when I was writing this review it was hard to read, switching back and forth from it to my computer screen.

      • August 16, 2011 9:29 am

        There is a light, and in fact you can no longer buy a Kindle cover (name brand) without the light. So I made Kent give me HIS cover because I did NOT want the light. Please note you can find plenty of non-name brand covers that still don’t have lights but I wanted the one I wanted and so he had to get the new one. He picked a very bright orange one 🙂

        • August 16, 2011 9:52 am

          hmm, I’ll have to go look at the lights! Some friends bought me a cover, and it was just in July, so it must have been since then all the covers have lights.

  2. August 15, 2011 11:39 am

    I keep forgetting about my eBook reader. When I’m looking for my next read, I need to see the book, the cover, etc. But remembering to look at my techie device to find the ‘stack’ of books I need to read? forget it.
    It seems that most of the eBooks I read are for my book club.

    • August 16, 2011 9:21 am

      Because they’re cheaper and/or you can carry them around to read in odd moments? I do like the way the Kindle fits into any bag.

  3. August 15, 2011 1:59 pm

    I don’t have a kindle, but it seems that every one who does eventually loves them. But I also like to read book non-sequentially. In fact, I really can’t bear to read them sequentially. What I really want is an i-phone. I can see the point of that gadget, and I really can’t see the point of a kindle. Books are so wonderfully portable already. But there must be something to them — because everyone who has one loves it.

    • August 16, 2011 9:23 am

      I have an iphone, but don’t read much on it because either the print is little or I only get to read 2-3 sentences per screen. Ron has an ipad and he downloaded the Kindle app when we were traveling. He liked that pretty well, especially because Eleanor and I share a Kindle account, so he could share our books.

      • August 16, 2011 12:41 pm

        No, I don’t want to read on my (imaginary) i phone. I want to look things up on the internet when I’m not at home. Maybe all I really need is an i-touch. With a camera. The sharing sounds good — I can see the point of that.

  4. freshhell permalink
    August 15, 2011 2:27 pm

    I don’t have one and have no plans to buy one yet. I like the physicalness of paper books. I’m listening to Bill Bryson’s At Home which I love for it’s digressions. It’s a book of digressions and I need to own a real copy so I can go back through and do some more digging on people and places he mentioned.

    • August 16, 2011 9:25 am

      Yeah, I’m like that with audiobooks, too–I have to get a copy afterwards, so I can page through it.

  5. August 15, 2011 8:36 pm

    I have a Kindle and I like to use it to read anything over 500 pages. It makes those big fat books much easier to hold!

    • August 16, 2011 9:26 am

      That makes sense. I like the way the Kindle tells you what page you’re on. I’ve always used where I am in the book, physically, to tell me how patient to be with the narrative.

      • August 16, 2011 12:44 pm

        I think I am used to getting all kinds of cues from the physicality of the book — like how patient to be. I always have a physical memory of where in a book something was said. It’s how I can find quotes again. I’m sure all that can translate to a kindle, but it’s one of the things I wonder about.

  6. August 15, 2011 9:49 pm

    I have a Nook, and I look at it pretty similarly: it’s nice for certain situations (traveling, the gym), but not my reading format of choice because I like to flip around in my books too much and the Nook is just not good for that.

    • August 16, 2011 9:28 am

      We sometimes spend time in a Barnes and Noble in a shopping center about an hour away while Walker is taking or giving chess lessons, and one time I was putting my Kindle in my bag, and Ron exclaimed in mock horror “but you can’t take that e-reader to the place they sell Nooks!”

  7. August 15, 2011 10:45 pm

    I didn’t know you couldn’t use a Kindle during takeoff and landing. I don’t get it! What can it possibly do that would mess up the plane’s systems?

    • August 16, 2011 9:29 am

      My tech friends say it can’t do a thing if the wireless is turned off. I think the flight attendants say you can’t use “anything with an on/off switch” because they don’t want to be explaining technicalities to folks all over the plane. So it’s mostly ignorance mixed with laziness.

    • August 16, 2011 9:31 am

      Jenny, anything with an on/off switch is required to be turned off when taking off and landing on the chance that the wifi connection might be on and interfere with the air traffic control instructions.

      • August 16, 2011 9:53 am

        even though it’s pretty darn easy to turn off the wifi and keep it off–you don’t need it to read. Just another annoyance about flying.

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