And we chatted along the way.
There was lots to talk about. The state government almost shut down this week, the new Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts movie was declared a flop, the Republicans are raging about their evangelism (what happened to separation of church and state?), and, by the way, what baseball team tied for first place?
I guessed Omaha. Guess what? Omaha doesn't have a team.
Then there were various personal things.
But after awhile, we were thoroughly tired.
This was my cue to read. But what can you read in the car?
I read one page of John Sayles's A Moment in the Sun. I admire this book, but after 300 pages I'm thoroughly sick of politics. Don't worry, this isn't the only book I rejected. I stared at Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club. Adorable, yes? But these linked stories don't entice me. Sorry, Karen, but you know I liked Sarah Canary and The Sweetheart Season.
So what can you do? I didn't like the men's book; I didn't like the women's book.
I switched to Austen's Mansfield Park.
I've been reading Jane Austen all summer since a doddering V. S. Naipaul denounced her. (I hope that was just foot-in-mouth disease.) And this time around I love Mansfield Park. It used to be my least favorite.
Fanny Price, the reserved, mousy heroine of Mansfield Park, is smouldering with love under the surface but is also highly moral. MP is not a comedy--I've resigned myself to that. Then you realize Fanny is nothing like Elizabeth Bennet or Emma, and you stop worrying about it. Austen is not going to entertain you here the same way.
Don't writers get sick of themselves? Persuasion also was more serious.
The Crawfords, who move in and flirt with Fanny's cousins, are amusing, but they're slick and sometimes hurtful, and as the novel goes on, we understand Fanny's dislike of them.
Miss Crawford urges Fanny to marry her libertine brother, but her argument is fraught with inconsistencies that prove Fanny's good sense.
"...I look upon the Frasers to be about as unhappy as most other married people. And yet it was a most desirable match for Janet at the time. We were all delighted...but he turns out ill-tempered, and exigeant, and wants a young woman of fiver-and-twenty to be as steady as himself. And my friend does not manage him well; she does not seem to know how to make the best of it."
So we're relieved that Fanny loves Edmund. Mr. Crawford is like Frank Churchill, only really corrupt, the kind of guy you'd want to avoid in a Gothic novel.