For those of you interested in exactly how this is going to go, we are taking two months and posting discussion posts on a weekly basis. There are set chapters to read for each week, and this week was chapters I-II. If you are curious about my Whispersync experience, I listened to the audio entirely, and every time I checked in on the Kindle app, the page had switched to wherever I was in the audio. Cool.
One of the most important details I learned in these chapters is that hobbits do not crave adventure. My only exposure to their world is from watching the movie versions of The Lord of the Rings, where of course all we see is hobbits going on adventures. There is some nostalgia for their lives back at the Shire, of course, but I didn't know what a "typical" hobbit was like.
"'Very pretty!' said Gandalf. 'But I have no time to blow smoke-rings this morning. I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone.'I'm just now noticing the lack of commas in the dialogue, seeing as I listened rather than read the text. It is a little disturbing, isn't it? Sidenote: I keep hearing Bilbo in Jim Broadbent's voice. Maybe it is the naivete and generosity that makes me think of some of Broadbent's roles, that wide-eyed open face.
'I should think so - in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them,' said our Mr. Baggins...."
The first two chapters do an excellent job of introducing us to Bilbo Baggins and contrasting him to the other types of characters. Gandalf brings the dwarves in, and they require so much food, the hobbit housewifes around after them, cooking and cleaning while they tell stories and sing. (By the way, the reader of the audio, Rob Inglis, does a great job with dwarf voices, even in song.)
It is clear that Bilbo Baggins is going to have a major experience. The dwarves are skeptical, but Gandalf has his reasons:
"'Let's have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you... There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet.'"And we are off on our adventure!