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Little Women

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Happy New Year! We’re back with a classic in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a book that many would call a quintessential American girl’s tale. Do we agree with this assessment? You’ll find out if you listen to this episode. You’ll also discover what we think about feminism in historical context, question certain self-improvements, agree with the narrator’s opinion on spinsters, and discuss the lack of passion in this story. We also talk about ladies who don’t like ladies, the creation of shipping, obnoxious children, and (perhaps oddly) lobsters.

The music bump is Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor, op. 17 due to period appropriateness. Feel free to imagine Beth playing it in heaven if that makes you feel better about it.

109 – Little Women – Marmee is the Worst

Our recommendation: Short version is that it doesn’t really hold up that well.

Ben: 5/10. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I liked that there were a lot of things to discuss, as there usually are with classics.

Gabs: 5/10. 6/10 for part 1, 4/10 for part 2.

Quick administrative note: We’re hoping to post more often this year, though of course we guarantee nothing. As part of this “do more stuff” plan, we would like to be a little more responsive to our listeners. Please leave some requests/recommendations/suggestions for books for future episodes either in the comments for this episode or on our suggestions page.

Wuthering Heights

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Welcome to a very special episode of Novel Ideas. This week we join the Minerva podcast network. If you found us through Minerva Magazine, we’re pleased to have you! A quick word of warning: this podcast contains some adult language, so if that concerns you, consider this fair warning. Our spoiler policy generally doesn’t matter as much for classics, but you should also be aware that we spoil anything and everything because we want to be able to discuss everything in the book in detail.

For this episode we read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, a classic love story that might not be either of those things. We discuss those points as well as 19th century literary devices, the dangers of passion, Victorian values, and (of course) feminism. We also examine why it isn’t okay to hang puppies, weird hate auras, modern adaptations, and the questionable biology surrounding Victorian pregnancy.

The music bump is “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush, which is apparently sung from the point of view of Cathy’s ghost.

95 – Wuthering Heights – Hanging Puppy Love

Our ratings: All of the characters are terrible people, but at least it isn’t very fun to watch them interact.

Ben: 3/10. I didn’t enjoy reading it even a little bit. One extra point subtracted for having multiple instances of puppy hanging.

Gabs: 3.5/10. An extra half point awarded for demonstrating the healing power of reading.

Schedule Update

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We have decided on our next episode of Novel Ideas! We will be reading three short stories from the Sherlock Holmes canon, written by Arthur Conan Doyle. The three we have chosen are: Scandal in Bohemia, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and The Final Problem. We’re hoping to record next week and have the episode posted some time during the week of April 13.

Rumblings and Hearsay

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The Novel Ideas production crew is having discussions about bringing some new things online and possibly “relaunching” the site, which has been dormant for a while. For the exact timing of “a while,” go check the timestamps yourself, we’d prefer to acknowledge a more general form of shame. I’m denying the rumors of our deaths and confirming any hearsay. About anything. You know it’s true because you read it on the internet. Be seeing you soon!

Love,

Novel Ideas Staff (Ok, Ben and Gabs)

Their Eyes Were Watching God

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We apologize for the lengthy interregnum, it was so long that we had to look up a new word just to describe it. Or possibly we just have trouble getting our act together sometimes. At any rate, Novel Ideas is back with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, a story of a woman’s personal journey to self-realization. Listen to the episode to hear our conversation about dialect, ambition, feminism, and race. We also talk about white history professors, bees, how rabies works, and kickass deathbed scenes.

Quick scheduling note: We’re trying to post an episode for John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War next week, followed by our year in review episode for “Season 2” of Novel Ideas. There is likely to be a couple more missed weeks after that as Gabs gets married and goes on her honeymoon. Or maybe Ben will post something highly self-indulgent while we’re waiting. We’ll have to see.

If you have any comments or questions about anything we’ve talked about in the past year, please let us know! Also, if there’s anything you were hoping we might talk about outside those books, also let us know. We’d like to find some interesting and slightly different content for the end of the year episode if we can.

The music bump this week is “Janie Runaway” by Steely Dan, after our plucky protagonist.

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Too Dignified for a Mule Funeral

Recommendations:

A 20th century classic that is commonly assigned in school with a lot of conversation worthy content. A little tough to read due mainly to the use of dialect, but also rather short.

Gabs: 7/10 for literary value, 5/10 for ease of reading.

Ben: 5.5/10 because I liked it more than I didn’t, but just barely. This one felt kind of like assigned reading.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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Welcome to a spooooooky Novel Ideas Halloween episode, featuring “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. This book short story is about an awkward, lovestruck schoolteacher who is terrorized by a headless horseman. Actually, it would be more accurately described as a a very silly person falling for a very silly prank. Probably. Irving doesn’t really commit himself to it one or the other. Listen to the episode to hear us discuss whether this is actually a horror story, adaptations of the story, general silliness, and why this story became a classic.

Also, there’s a little bit of schedule housecleaning to square away this week. Ben is going to be out of town next week, so there won’t be an episode the week of November 4. However, we’re going to air two episodes the following week, aiming for a Monday and Thursday drop date for those two episodes.

The music bump is Psalm 105 “Unto the Lord Lift Thankful Voices.” The Puritan version would be something like this, only more boring. This applies to the Puritan version of most things.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – 1700’s Dudebro

Recommendations:

5/10 Not long enough to warn you against it, but not good enough to recommend reading it.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Just your friendly annual reminder that November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel during the month of November, so it’s an exercise in masochism as much as anything. Actually, the goal is to write 50,000 words during the month, which is closer to a novella, most commercial novels being in the 90,000 word range. That being said, averaging approximately 1,700 words per day for an entire month isn’t easy. Novel Ideas will be attempting to defeat NaNo (as it is frequently abbreviated) this year, for the first time in Ben’s case, and AGAIN in Gabs’s case because she is crazed. Feel like trying with us? Let us know!

Episodes Page

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The “Episodes” page has been revised! Formerly a quagmire of links that only made sense if you had access to Ben’s personal file storage, it is now a chronological listing of every episode we have recorded. Also included are all of Ben’s clever (a matter of opinion – Gabs) episode titles, which WordPress only sometimes sees fit to include with the link to the episode file. So… look for that.