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Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen from the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps (Volume 1) Paperback – February 4, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Rodi is the author of eight novels and two memoirs; he’s also an accomplished monologist and musician. He lives in Chicago with his partner Jeffrey Smith and a constantly shifting number of dogs. For additional information visit his website, www.robertrodi.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1469922657
  • ISBN-13: 978-1469922652
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,188,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This litcrit is well-written and funny, but here's the trouble: I spy a wee thread of sexism.

Rodi is right - there is a "Jane Austen" that is not the same as Jane Austen, a tamed version that lives in people's minds and is associated primarily with romance, and the impulse to push the real Austen forward at the people who can only gush over her ~*~heroes~*~ and their associated most dramatic moments (or wet shirt scenes. To go off on a tangent, it seems immeasurably hypocritical that nobody these days says anything against Colin Firth in a wet shirt, but all hints of eroticism in newer adaptions get pooh-poohed as pandering). However, he presents himself as the sole voice of reason when there are many people in Jane Austen's fandom, mostly women, who are well aware that she was primarily writing comedies of manners, satires on human behavior. And at the same time, when he rails against romance novels and films

("... and Austen, the supposed progenitor of "Regency romance", the patron saint of "chick lit", the inspiration for who even knows how many craptacular costume dramas with dewy close-ups of heaving bazooms and quivering lips ...")

I detect even more revulsion for the people (again, primarily women) who enjoy them. What is it that makes these costume dramas craptacular? Apparently, nothing except their focus on a dramatic romantic storyline.

I cannot speak for everyone who discusses Austen's place in the ancestry of the romance novel, but it seems to me that there *is* a general understanding out there that she did not single-handedly give birth to the genre.
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I adore Jane Austen's novels, but confess that my partiality has been helped along greatly by that "wet shirt" scene in the Colin Firth BBC version of "Pride & Prejudice." I started reading P & P "sequels," only to find many of them mainly an excuse to peep into Elizabeth and Darcy's bedroom. Some do more than peep, they crawl right under the covers. I like Mr. Darcy, but he's more than just a boytoy in (and out of) tight breeches.
So I was thrilled to come across Mr. Rodi's clear-eyed, bitingly funny, dead-on deconstruction of the image of Jane Austen as a paperback chicklit goddess. Thank you for rescuing me from the mire of heaving bosoms and frantic fantasy! It's refreshing to realise that Jane absolutely skewered her characters even as she pierced our hearts with her brilliance. No one was safe from her barbed wit, even the characters she was most fond of, including Marianne and Elinor Dashwood. Heaven help the ones she was least fond of. Yet she wrote some of the most tender love stories in English literature, without a single passionate kiss or wild proposal.

Within the narrow confines of her life, Jane Austen wrote about marriage because it defined women's lives, but she mined the topic as a bottomless source of commentary on human behavior. At the same time, her devotion to her sister Cassandra formed the basis of her deepest and most moving work. The relationship between Elinor and Marianne is the true love story in 'Sense & Sensibility,' as Mr. Rodi shows in his brilliant scene-by-scene analysis that's as sharp, perceptive and funny as the original. I look forward to his next installment!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Robert Rodi‘s "Bitch in a Bonnet" is an amusing commentary on three of Jane Austen’s novels. He presents an interesting discussion of the novels as Comedies of Manners influenced by the Enlightenment. I especially enjoyed his analysis of Austen’s masterful choice of words and use of phrases that make her stories sparkle with wit and astute insight. Rodi ‘s essays on "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice" achieve these goals very well, but I was disappointed with his comments about "Mansfield Park."

Rodi remarks that Jane Austen barely mentions servants in her novels; yet, when she wrote an entire story about a poor relation/servant, he doesn’t notice. Fannie Price is an unwanted child. She is not physically strong or particularly bright; she has minimal education and social experience. Clearly the Bertrams, who have taken her in, do not consider her one of the family. Of course she is passive; she must remain under the radar to survive in the Bertram house. And of course she is terrified when someone notices her, as she does not know how to interact socially. To label her as passive-aggressive makes no sense. Her indication that she would like to visit Sotherton shows only a flicker of curiosity and courage. The better developed and more interesting Crawford characters serve as a contrast to Fannie. Although they are entertaining and exciting and have many advantages, they are basically self-centered troublemakers. Although she is dull, in many ways Fannie has better sense than they do. She certainly does less harm. Austen probably had good reason to cast Fannie as the heroine.
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