I plan on grabbing one of my books and cozying up in a chair to spend some time with my favorite characters. And I’ll be hopping around the blogosphere hanging out with my fave book bloggers.
I’ve got a few more titles on my To Be Read Pile Challenge completed, but need to do my reviews. So here’s what I’ve recently been reading!
Read this one for my book club and we had a great discussion with it. It’s about a young man with the world before him who befriends a rather poor influence. By making just a few despicable choices, he alters the path of his life forever.
If you’re familiar with the paranormal aspect of the book, you know that Dorian never ages. He remains a beautiful and suave gentleman, while a portrait of him takes on every crooked and cruel act he does, displaying his true nature.
I thought this was a great eerie read and a classic I would recommend. When Wilde describes the portrait, hidden away in the attic, it left me cold!
I would also recommend the 1940’s film version of this story. The special effects of the times for the final view of his portrait are seriously terrifying! It’s one of the American Film Institutes Top 100 Thrillers.
Fans of Wilde’s work will be surprised by the artsy, dramatic voice in Dorian Gray as its very different from his other works like The Importance of Being Earnest. And I would recommend it for book clubs as we did have a rich discussion about Wilde and his book.
The last book I had to read in order to complete Austen’s six main novels. I hope to start in on her novellas this year and read Sanditon.
Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, a woman who abides by duty and what others desire of her before her own heart. As such, she refused the hand of the only man she has ever loved. But when chance propels them into each other’s lives again, will she have the gumption to share her true feelings? And will he have the heart to forgive her all these years later?
I am always delighted by the works of Jane Austen. Each one is a treat to read bringing lovable and not-so-lovable *cough* (Anne’s sister, Mary Musgrove) *cough* to life! Persuasion is one of her best. It has overbearing family members, silly schoolgirl crushes, a family feud, a mysterious cousin, hidden affairs and agreements, and oh yes – a romantic sea captain, Frederick Wentworth!
Persuasion is a tale about second chances and trusting one’s own mind. True to many of Austen’s works, the reader must know that not everyone can be trusted based on their first impression. Cold and stoic personages can be caring and charming, gentlemanly characters may be downright scoundrels. But that’s why you have to keep reading!
Even if you watched the BBC miniseries, you really ought to read the book. There’s much more to the story and you learn a lot of details about what became of each of the Bennett sisters. For example, it is Kitty who remains at Longbourn taking care of their mother, not Mary!
The book picks up a few years after Darcy and Elizabeth are married. The household is preparing for a ball when suddenly Lydia, Elizabeth’s ill-mannered, flirtatious sister shows up announced and screaming that her husband is dead!
Fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice know that Lydia marries the scoundrel, George Wickham, and he is no less changed in this fan mystery. It is not Wickham who is found dead in the woods behind Pemberley, but his best friend Captain Denny. Wickham is however, the prime murder suspect!
The author, P.D. James is one of Britain’s foremost mystery writers and she captures Austen’s voice meticulously. The last thing Darcy wants to do is save Wickham yet again, but save him he must if he wants to keep scandal away from his home and family.
I listened to this book on audio and it was a delightful mystery to get swept up in. And of course be reunited with all the best characters in Pride and Prejudice. Even Mr. Collins!
That leaves just five more titles to complete for the TBR Pile Challenge. How are the rest of you doing?
What are you currently reading right now?
Any fun plans to celebrate Book Lovers Day?
I’ve been known to achieve ‘fangirl’ status now and again. You can pretty much count on it whenever anything Jane Austen or Anne of Green Gables pops up. I know those aren’t the popular characters that teens fangirl over today. But, I can get down with those too.
I am Team Edward. A Gryffindor. Divergent. And Team Gale (in the book). Team Peeta (in the movie).
Oh and I’m a full-fledged member of Team Christian Gray needs a restraining order.
I have made real life, lasting friendships through joint fangirling. My pal, Misty, and I became soulmates after discovering a mutual love for the film Singles. And Reality Bites. Talking with Misty is like that scene where Winona Ryder and Janeane Garofalo are in the gas station and their jam comes on.
Yah, it’s like that. AND, that’s why I can send her a chalkboard thought bubble and she can send me a kabuki bottle opener and a cup with a Gremlin on it. We just GET each other.
Thanks to fangirling.
But back to my obsessions. It’s true, I can fangirl over just about anything. I have a loud, energetic, and passionate personality that friends euphemistically call “quirky.” Thanks, friends.
We all go back to what we know, right? And when I was growing up there were two things I came to know very well. Jane Austen movies and Anne of Green Gables.
And Rodgers and Hammerstein’s showtunes. So, three things.
Well, and Shirley Temple movies, so four. Four things.
And then came Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman…
I’m basically a WEALTH of nerd know-how! Like, if it involved singing, Regency Englanders or the fucking prairie, I knew about it.
What can I say, I was raised by old people.
These things haven’t left me. I still love all of them. Because I am a fangirl and my love does not wane.
My sole purpose of having a Pinterest account is a place where I can pin pictures from Jane Austen movies and Anne of Green Gables, losing hours upon HOURS of my day. You can check them out on my pinterest boards So Austentacious and You May Call Me Cordelia.
Here’s what you will find there:
I’m thinking of starting a new board called “Sashay-Bronte” where I can pin things from Wuthering Heights.
I recently scored a new addition to my collection of fangirl swag. I purchased a copy of Shirley Temple’s autobiography Child Star. It’s out of print and you can only get used copies now. Plus Target released the Little Darling Collection of her films, which is to date the most comprehensive of all the sets. I was pretty psyched about this. And I displayed my little “Good Ship Lollipop” of joy for my husband to see.
He wasn’t that amused. In fact, I think he may have been frightened.
No worries. His lack of excitement and psychiatric concern could not put a damper on my spirits!
Because I am a fangirl!
What do you fangirl about?
Do we share a propensity for all things Austen, Anne, or Shirley?
What are your favorite fangirl crazes that stick out from your childhood?
Last night, like so many Jane Austen fans across the country, I tuned in to watch Masterpiece’s mini-series version of Death Comes to Pemberley.
Ok, I did a little more than “tune in.”
Yes. Yes, that is me watching the show, following the live tweet stream,
and texting my sister about it all at the same time.
I need 2 more hands and maybe a Go Pro to capture the real magic of this moment.
Lizzie Bennett is now married and mistress of Pemberley. She and Darcy have one son. And the day before they are to throw a grand ball, Lizzie’s compulsive little sister, Lydia, shows up screaming bloody murder. A search party finds the body of one former militia man, Denny, DEAD in the woods. And the leading suspect? None other than Derbyshire’s King cad, George Wickham.
Much to their disappointment, Lizzie and Darcy now find themselves pulled back into the reckless life of Wickham.
It’s murder and mayhem with a dash of Mr. Darcy!
Matthew Rhys as Mr. Darcy and Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Darcy
The Twitter feed following the first episode was alive with comparisons of P.D. James’s book and Jane Austen’s. Everything from the cast to the costumes was scrutinized, and for the most part applauded. I did laugh out loud when for a brief minute, the hashtag #FreeWickham started trending.
Five Reasons to Watch Death Comes to Pemberley
1) Reunite With All Your Favorite Characters
They’re all back. Lizzie. Mr. Darcy. Lizzie’s parents. Jane.
2) Reunite With All Your LEAST Favorite Characters
Lydia is a big part of this murder mystery, as it is her husband, the sleazy George Wickham who is suspected of committing the crime. Twitter fans raved over Jenna Coleman’s portrayal of the selfish, whiney Lydia. She is still selfish beyond compare. And Wickham is still deceitful and anything but a gentleman. But, is he a murderer?
3) Return to Pemberley
The set of Pemberley and the rooms inside were well constructed to match that of the previous books and films we’ve come to adore. An English manor set in the countryside full of the finest china and most beautiful sunrooms. The costumes are exquisite. Darcy is still strapping as ever. Lizzie is handsome in egg shell blue gowns. Even Wickham, in his redcoat regimentals, has the ladies of Twitter still swooning – it helps that he’s played by Matthew Goode.
4) Experience the Gothic Version of Pride and Prejudice
The cinematography of the show is quite stunning. From wide open green spaces to haunted woods with scraggly trees, to mist covered mansions, and ghost stories! P.D. James’s version of Pemberley seems to be taking a nod from the Bronte sisters’ love for gothic literature. Or from Ms. Austen herself, with her earlier work, Northanger Abbey.
5) Find out MORE about the Lizzie and Darcy love story!
Yes, there’s a happily ever after, but that isn’t the end of the tale. Both Lizzie and Mr. Darcy still struggle with their pride and prejudice. And there are secrets Darcy hasn’t yet told. Can Lizzie reconcile the damage her family has once again caused their social standing? So many new questions!
The second, and final, episode of Death Comes to Pemberley is set to air on November 2nd, 8pm CST. Join in to witness how Wickham’s trial for murder goes. If he’s found guilty, he will hang.
Did you tune in this week?
As writers we want our main character to be likeable. But we also want them to be real. That means they have to have flaws.
Have you ever read a book where the main character didn’t have any flaws?
I recently finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen as part of my To Be Read Pile Challenge. It’s a goal of mine to finish reading all of Jane Austen’s works because I
want to live in a Jane Austen movie admire her work’s critique on social classism and gender inequality.
With that said, I’m just gonna set this here for a minute…
(I have a whole Pinterest board for this.)
Mansfield Park has never been one of my favorite Austen storylines, although some critics argue it’s her greatest work. The novel tells the story of Fanny Price, a gentle-hearted, kind girl who goes to live with her wealthy aunt, uncle and cousins. She is obedient, grateful, and never says an ill word about anyone even though she is often mistreated by her aunt, uncle, female cousins, and neighbors.
And let’s face it, she falls in love with her cousin, Edmund. I know that’s how things were done back then, but ew.
You know else does that? Karen from Mean Girls.
The happily ever after in the book depends on all the other characters screwing up in order to fulfill Fanny’s dream – marrying her cousin, Edmund.
I did enjoy the novel. And, I really liked re-watching two of the film versions to see where they adapted the storyline. But I don’t know if I ever really liked Fanny. She’s too good.
One could argue that Fanny’s flaw is being too nice. While other characters do point that out, there is no change in Fanny’s character. She remains constant in her loyalty to family, service for others, and everyone else achieving happiness over herself.
I would argue that’s the reason the 1999 film adaptation was quite liberal with their side stories including slavery and an extra-marital affair, which though it could be insinuated happened in Jane Austen’s novel, it is never said outright. In the movie, Fanny (played by Frances O’Conner) is a cheeky little thing and also hopes to become a published authoress. None of her quips, nor challenging statements to her uncle, or the notion of writing her own novels are in the book.
So I ask again, can an audience bond with a character that is too likeable?
What examples can you think of?
Have you read a book with an overly likeable character? How did you feel about them?
Are any of you participating in Austen in August?
Adam from RoofBeamReader.com is hosting a readalong in honor of one my favorite writers – Jane Austen!
I’ve been a fan since my sister first introduced me to Mr. Darcy many, many years ago.
I now own ALL the BBC productions (and then some) of her films and of course, all her books.
But I have a dirty little secret.
I haven’t read all her books yet.
I know, I know! How shameful of me! There’s just two left for me to read…and then I can start all over!
The two left on my bookshelf are Persuasion and Mansfield Park.
What’s your favorite Austen novel?
Jane Austen Today: How Jane Remains Popular 200 Years Later
Earning a spot on England’s 10-pound bank note.
Controversy sparked over the announcement of Jane Austen’s picture on the 10-pound note. See the news article here.
Release of the new film Austenland!
Starring Keri Russell (Felicity, Dark Skies), JJ Field (Northanger Abbey, Captain America: The First Avenger), and guilty pleasure favorites of mine – Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Wedding Crashers) and Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords). Obsessed with Jane Austen, a woman travels to a Jane Austen Theme Park in search of Mr. Darcy.
Jane Austen: Fact and Fiction
Adam at Roof Beam Reader shared a guest post full of interesting facts and myths debuffed about Ms. Austen and her family. Read it here.
Vote for your favorite Austen novel!
How will you celebrate Austen in August? What’s your favorite novel and why? Which Austen character are you and which one would you want to date?
I’m Catherine Morland!
“You’re young and imaginative – but make sure you have a handle on your imagination, or it might cause you all manner of difficulties.”
We interrupt our Featured Writer Series for this post about Jane Austen! Tune in next week to join me and Kait Nolan hamming it up on The Happiness Project! I’m convinced we’re the funniest two women in the blogosphere. You should see our google chats!
I pride myself on my Jane Austen pop culture. A Jane Junkie since birth, I’ve made it my business to investigate any remakes and spin offs of her tales. This year, I included Sense and Sensibility in my To Be Read Pile Challenge.
It’s the story of the Dashwood girls, recently fatherless and without income. The family uproots from high society to the country life in a cottage. Elinor, the eldest, is responsible, reliable, and always keeps her emotions in check. Marianne, the middle child, is free-spirited, dramatic, and quick to angst. Margaret, when she can be found, is the youngest, and usually hiding with a good book somewhere or eavesdropping on others’ conversations.
Like any good Austen novel, she discusses issues of class and gender, but she also discusses love. For Elinor, it is the doting Edward Ferrars, favored son of the Ferrars, intended for great things. And for Miss Marianne, it is all Willoughby, romantic and forthcoming. But Willoughby is not all he seems, and waiting patiently and ever ardently in the shadows is Colonel Brandon.
Ang Lee directed the most popular film version of the book with Academy Award winning screenwriter, Emma Thompson, who also played Elinor.
Then BBC TV launched a Jane Austen series on Masterpiece Theater where a new version of Sense and Sensibility was shown, a bit more scandalous version if you ask me. Oh Mr. Willoughby, you tease!
And oh, Austen fans, it gets better! With the success of the Bollywood Bride and Prejudice spinoff of Pride and Prejudice, Indian film star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan also starred in the Bollywood version of Sense and Sensibility called I Have Found It.
If you’ve never seen a Bollywood film, I recommend it. Their cinema is known for its music, dance, and colorful costumes. Here’s an example from I Have Found It.
Bollywood isn’t the only one taking liberties with Austen’s work. I also included the sci-fi adaptation, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters on my TBR book list this year.
In this kitschy version, Elinor and Marianne are well adept swimmers and expert harpooners. Willoughby rides up on a dolphin instead of a horse, and wears a very becoming wetsuit. Colonel Brandon was cursed by an evil Sea Witch and is now half aquatic with tentacles and gills. More sci-fi than Austen, but still mostly true to plot, and very entertaining.
Now Onto the Bad Remake!
Elinor (Ashley Williams) and Marianne (Marla Sokoloff) Dashwood live a charmed life. They get everything their hearts desire, plus they never have to work. But all of that changes when their father is indicted by the FBI for swindling millions. Now that their family fortune is gone and the Dashwood name and reputation are ruined from the recent scandal, the Dashwood girls must try to make it on their own in life, in work, and in love. From the start, the girls find it virtually impossible to find good, well-paying jobs with employers willing to hire them. Love also becomes a big challenge for Elinor and Marianne, since they keep falling for the wrong men at the office. In Elinor’s case, that man is Edward Farris (Brad Johnson), whom Elinor comes to believe steals. Marianne falls for John Willoughby (Jason Celaya), who is a liar, and Brandon (Nick Zano), who brushes her off. When the Dashwood girls decide to try to market Marianne’s homemade lotion, they find that they just may have found a way to turn their lives around. Can they find their happy ending in work and in love?
I normally share positive reviews. I love to rave about things I find I think you guys might like too! But in this case, I just want you to save 2 hours (89 minutes if you take out commercials) of your life. And to convince you I’ve done my research, I’ve made a play by play review of the things I hated in this movie.
1. Marianne graduates from college. In the opening scene, the Dashwood family has assembled to honor Marianne’s apparently long education process. While I never heard a year amount named, it was noted as more than 4. And for some reason, this was joke worthy and appalling. This may seem pointless now, but I will refer to it in a later scene. Marianne is accompanied by John Willoughby at the party. Sitting blatantly next to him on the couch, the camera cuts him from the shot and has Elinor give Marianne the third degree about taking things slow with Willoughby. Um, I think he can hear you…
2. Henry Dashwood is arrested, family meets with lawyer. The lawyer tells the distraught family that their father is being arrested for fraud, “more commonly known as a ponzi scheme” he says, to which Marianne cries, “What does that mean?” Stupid dialogue encounter #1. Who uses a basic term like “fraud” and then explains its definition through an obscure historical reference? No wonder Marianne didn’t have a clue what he meant, although her dialogue was just as stupid as his! For reference, you can learn about the “common Ponzi Scheme” here.
3. Mom and Daughters Make a Budget. Dad gets thrown in jail, and we have to watch a heartwrenching scene where Elinor stands in the street while their SUV gets taken away. I’m supposed to feel bad because… Mom’s plan is to move in with her sister, but the girls are on their own. Suddenly Elinor and Marianne have to find jobs, and these jobs have to pay for up-until-now-unmentioned-and-unnamed-diseased suffering sister, Margaret’s medicine.
4. The job hunt joke. Montages of Marianne on the phone looking forlorn as she makes calls and Elinor having her resume’ actually crumpled up in front of her face flash before our eyes! Cut to a Help Wanted sign and there’s Elinor, employed in a gorilla suit waving a giant banana sign advertising smoothies! All hell breaks loose when the sprinklers turn on and she runs off camera screaming. Yah, um, how can she feel the water inside giant monkey suit? Poor Elinor is fired after day one.
5. Marianne gives work a try. Marianne lands a job by lying about her name! Congratulations, Marianne, the newest copy assistant in town! Kudos!
6. To the Batmobile! Uh-oh, Marianne needs a car to get to work, because “the bus is stinky.” So Elinor hocks their giant flat screen for apparently enough money to buy a truck. Sure wish I didn’t have to cash in my savings bonds from a middle school essay contest just to pay my parents back for my car!
7. Marianne puts her skillz to use. Remember when I said I’d come back to Marianne’s college education? Here’s the thing, she majored in English and was there for sooo many years. Her first 5 minutes on the job show her aimlessly walking around the copy room doing God knows what! Looking for Rumplestilzkin? I don’t know! She can’t use the copier, and when another employee hands her his flash drive to print copies from, she has to talk out loud to herself just to muster the courage to find out what’s on it! In all her extensive years working towards an English Degree, did she never write a paper? Use a copy machine? A flash drive? So, you want me to believe she came from a wealthy family with all the latest trends in flat screens and vehicles, but she needs the voices in her head to pump her up to just to plug in some plastic?
8. Marianne = Copy Room Conondrums, But Chemistry Whiz? After a hard day’s work in the copy room, Marianne settles in for the night making organic flowered lotions. She gives a bottle to Elinor. Do you know how to whip up homemade floral lotions with scratch products? Oh you do, but now can you use a copy machine?
9. Elinor pimps product at her new job: Janitor of the Spa! While collecting towels from the pedicure room, Elinor overhears a client talk about the increasing arthritis in her feet. Elinor offers the use of her sister’s lotion for the foot massage. Sugary sweet comments are exchanged about the heavenly scent, “What is that? Ambrosia?”
10. Ambrosia Cures Arthritis? Someone should have told my mother! Within seconds of putting some on, the woman raves about how much better her feet feel and that her friend with back problems needs it and she’ll pay whatever it costs to get some! Since when did aromatherapy cure all forms of joint pain?
11. Marianne suffers from boy problems. John Willoughby is the love of Marianne’s life, but he’s led her to believe he’s in Switzerland, working abroad with a great business opportunity. In fact, John is playing video games right here in the same town, but he’s covering up his tracks on those overseas phone calls, discussing how the “holey cheese” tastes better there than here, I mean here than there! I mean, look a squirrel!!!
12. Marianne Catches Uber-Obvious Typo. Marianne is given an assignment from the company boss. Uh-oh! There’s a typo: IT’S is spelled ITS. She circles it with red marker, she talks to her advisor, and yet she’s told to run it. Then, surprise, surprise, the boss comes and chews her out for making him look like a fool. Since when did the copy assistant become responsible for final edits?
13. Doomed Spa Side-plot. The owner of the spa Elinor works at is Fran. Fran’s brother is Edward. Edward likes Elinor. Suddenly strange side-plot of Fran’s spa business owing lots of money unfolds and Elinor’s sister’s freaky magic lotion could be the answer. I love it when there’s blatant foreshadowing!
14. World’s Shortest Bowling Game Ensues. Elinor gets asked out on a date by Edward. He takes her bowling. We watch Edward bring 2 giant florescent bowling pin shaped soda cups out, he teaches Elinor how to roll in a “romantic” scene, and then she’s called away by a catastrophe message from Marianne. What a lame date!
15. Big Surprise, Truck Dies. The catastrophe Elinor must help with is the dieing vehicle Marianne rolls home in. Whine, whine, whine. Poor Marianne has to walk. In the Austen book, Marianne loved to walk! While walking in the park, Elinor and Marianne see Willoughby holding hands with another woman! And yet, there’s no raucous fight scene. The girls just leave! Wha????
16. Worst Conspirator Award Goes To… Lucy! Lucy works at the spa and is a minion of Fran. Fran asks Lucy to break into Elinor’s locker and steal some of the lotion out so she can test it and sell the product to save the salon. Here’s how Lucy goes about her sneakery: Jiggle the lock, grab a fire extinguisher, and smash the sh*t out of the locker creating a huge scratch mark across the front and leave the broken lock dangling from the latch. Touche’ Lucy Steele!
17. Surprise Date Followed by Liar, Liar Pants on Fire Terrible Dialogue Scene: Marianne goes on an impromptu date with boss and everything Willoughby is forgotten. However, Elinor surprises Marianne for dinner and learns through a large print sign on the office door that there are jobs available in the office where Marianne works. Meaning: If Marianne had come clean about this, Elinor wouldn’t be stressing out working as the maid in the spa! Elinor also finds out Marianne lied about her last name so people wouldn’t connect her to her family. Ooooh! Double whammy!
Elinor: “I had no idea how selfish you are.”
Marianne: “I’ve been doing pretty well considering we have no TV!”
18. Brandon Makes a House Call. After the sisterly blow out on the sidewalk, Marianne’s boss, Brandon, makes a house call to check on her. Wait, how’d he get her address if she used a fake name? Apparently all was revealed during the missing scene between him on the doorstep and nodding at the kitchen table. To make it that much better, he asks to learn how to make lotion! My guy is always asking me questions about how to do a nice mani-pedi at home too! While using a mortar and pestle to grind flower petals, Brandon injures his hand, and once again the miracle of ambrosia lotion saves the day!
19. Lotion Gets Stolen – Oh my! Elinor finally sees her broken locker and clearly tampered with lock. Lucy does the smart move and blames Edward. Elinor leaves feeling crushed in confidence and in love.
“I’m just tired of having to work so hard only to be disappointed.”
Really, Elinor? I’m so sorry your dad got arrested for a crime and took away all your toys and free time!
20. Edward Shows Telepathic Abilities. In the race to the end of the movie, Edward pops into the spa looking for Elinor. After learning she didn’t show up to work that day, he immediately races to the exact location she is sulking. Did I mention Edward is a patent lawyer in this movie? Very convenient, no? So it’s Edward to the rescue, protecting our Dashwood girls from the patent-stealing sister of his, Fran.
21. All is Well, Cut to the Wedding Scene! Everything left hanging gets wrapped up in a matter of seconds. We see Willoughby called out for the slime that he is in a split second duel where he, Brandon, and Marianne all happen to be. ???? The sale of the ambrosia lotion is prevented just in the nick of time and Elinor and Marianne are able to quit their jobs and work on lotions full time! They’ve magically sold enough bottles to get diseased sister, Margaret her medicine! How fabulous that Brandon owns a PR company and Edward oversees their patent. And of course, Marianne proofreads all the labels!
22. As If The End Scene Wasn’t Enough of an End Scene. To really clue its watchers in that the movie was over, we have to sit through a good 2 minutes of photo montages describing for us the future of every character. Fran had nothing but terrible things happen to her, Willoughby marries an overweight foreign woman, Lucy becomes manager of the spa?, the girls have their magic lotion, and oh yah, sister Margaret – she gets to live on a horse therapy ranch!
Gosh it’s like they copied Jane Austen or something! I can’t believe you missed this! What horror shows have you watched recently hoping they’d get better? And tell me about your favorite Jane Austen original and remake!
I’m a Jane Austen Junkie. And I mean it in the worst way. I wish I could brag that I’ve read all her novels four times each, but truth be told, I haven’t read them all even once. I’ve made it through three: Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Emma. I’ve enjoyed them all immensely and will one day complete all six books. What makes me a junkie then? I will eagerly and expectantly watch every film version of these books gladly and on repeat. And I don’t feel ashamed one bit. Proof: Last Christmas, not only did I complete my collection, but I copied it (Shh!) for my sister. Did I include just one version of Emma? No no. One requires all three for whatever quirky and spirited protagonist you’re interested in viewing that night. I’ll break it down for your cinematic netflicking pleasure (What is the present tense form of netflix? Past tense: I netflicked it? Sounds too raunchy for my Miss Austen. tsk.) Just get them from your local library, it’s simpler and most likely closer and FREE and smells like old books and has happy, educated individuals who wear business casual called “Librarians!”
First of all, GO READ THE BOOK! Why not? Emma is a girl full of joie de vivre. Her favorite hobby is matchmaking with a track record of 1 out of 3. Not terrible odds. She can tete-a-tete with the rest of the boys and likes to do good unto others when it suits her liking. Honestly, Emma might be the character some people hate, but I adore her. She means well, and it takes a few social blunders for her learn the importance of being true to oneself, and allowing others to do the same. And it doesn’t hurt that Mr. Knightley is above and beyond a gentlemen, one of the best Austen created men for sure!
Side note, don’t you wonder why Jane Austen gave her romance worthy men names like Fitzwilliam, George, and Edmund? I always sigh at this fact. Then again, I’m kind of a Colonel Christopher Brandon girl, you know an older, well studied, worldly man devotes himself to the over passionate girl who takes long walks on the moors and reads poetry. *sigh, another post, another day…
If you are looking for the abridged, cinematic version, I feel it is my duty to break them down for you.
Released in 1996, this version of Emma stars Gwyneth Paltrow as the lead and Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley. Though the version takes the most liberties I’ve seen, it still maintains the major plot points, only witnesses of said events may differ from the novel. You’ll find Paltrow’s version of Emma to be the most witty in the role, she uses facial expressions and adlibs a little providing a fun, entertaining banter between her and Northam. A charming addition to the cast in this version is Toni Collette as the makeover-of-a-lifetime friend, Harriet Smith. You will never see Collette in another role like this, it is amusing. Allan Cumming is an eerily creepy and smarmy Mr. Elton, the town vicar. And Ewan Macgregor plays Frank Churchill, and you won’t want to miss his wavy red locks of hair! Ha! A smaller standout role includes Juliet Stevenson as Mrs. Elton. I’m not so sure of the Jane Fairfax in this film, she seems too old and dressed too well for her character’s circumstances in the book. All in all, the costumes are simple and elegant, the acting quite good and humorous, if not a little exaggerated, but this was the version I grew up on, so if you want introductory Austen in under two hours, I recommend this film version.
Also released in 1996, I can’t say much for this TV version of Austen’s Emma starring Kate Beckinsale. I find her portrayal of Emma almost too doe-eyed and naive which makes me want to gag. If this version is your favorite, I’m sorry, but I recommend you try the third option and seek physician care if side effects from this film still occur. Mark Strong makes an odd and ugly appearance as Mr. Knightley in this film suffering from hair too boy band for my likes. Harriet Smith is played by Samantha Morton, a rare cameo, where performance is good, but her looks don’t seem true to the book. Harriet is supposed to be a great beauty, and I think they make Morton look rather plain. I’d give you something else about this film as I recently started watching it for the second time, but I can’t get past pouty old Kate Beckinsale. *Eject*
The newest version from 2009 is the best and truest tale of Austen’s classic. Starring Romola Garai in the first good role I’d say she’s done (I know, I know, I love me some Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights too, but it wasn’t exactly the SAG Awards now, was it?) Garai does an exceptional job of capturing Emma’s playful nature, combining the daydreams with the duties of a lady of the house. Jonny Lee Miller plays a believable older Mr. Knightley, and many of you who are Austen Junkies too will recognize Blake Ritson as Mr. Elton (he plays Edmund in BBC’s version of Mansfield Park!) The BBC 3 part edition is very congruent with the novel, and all of the characters are age appropriate and befitting their looks and mannerisms of the book. Most notably, I think you’ll enjoy Miss Bates played by Tamsin Grieg and Jane Fairfax played by Laura Pyper. And the Mr. Frank Churchill of this version is right up there with cads such as Willoughby! Do yourself a favor if you have a day off, and enjoy this version of Emma; it’s wonderful!
What’s your favorite Jane Austen book and why? Do you have a favorite film version? Why do you like it? And what Jane Austen character is your man of choice? No, I won’t accept Colin Firth, it must be based on the novel character, not a sexy English actor who jumps into a pond and comes out with his shirt clinging to his muscled chest. You can do better than just that. Movie night, anyone?
I’m stuffing lettuce in my face right now. Guilt tripped after a weekend with the family, I devoured bite size bits of chocolate, ate french toast for supper, and cheesy potatoes for breakfast. But I was leaving soon, and if I didn’t eat them for breakfast, I wouldn’t get any more!
Penitence: a light green salad, smidge of a smidge of a drizzle of caesar dressing, and Morning Star chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce and pomegranate juice. It’s sort of like a kids meal at a fast food restaurant isn’t it, which tells you how well I prepared for this week’s resolution to eat healthier.
I swear to you, come morning, it’s back to Luna Bars and orange juice for breakfast.
Ok, Jess, distract the readers from your failings, what did you accomplish this week?
Let’s see, I relaxed. Sure that may not sound like an accomplishment, but for me, it’s not an easy thing to do. And I bet many of you find it difficult too. We writers can procrastinate to no end, but that’s not the same thing. Say it with me, it’s not the same thing! Procrastinating requires you to be doing other things when you should be doing something else more important. But I had no immediate task to undertake. I was free for three days to lay on the couch, watch movies with my parents, color with my niece, and read 100 pages of Jane Austen’s Emma while either in bed or in the tub. That’s right, I took baths! To some, the notion of a bath is disgusting, as you’re sitting in the same water for so long, but I freaking love them!!! And we have no tub at our house. Well, we do, but it’s in my roommate’s bathroom, and I wouldn’t step a toe in that tub; it’s full of man hair and year old mold. ylech!
I just got to hang out for a few days with my best friend, the red fleece blanket my parents call “Bette.” Don’t ask. I saw my dad attempt to latin dance, and my mother repeatedly fall asleep during every movie we watched. I had my two year old niece pretending to be a monster crawl all over me growling and tell me what I thought was her monster name, “GaGaGooGi.” Turns out, she wanted to recite “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.” *shrug*
I also attended a church service for the first time in maybe four years, Christmas excluded. My dad recently transferred, if you can use that verb while talking about religion, to a new church and my mom still goes to Catholic mass. I decided to appease him and go to his service on Sunday morning. I was a little out of my realm. Half an hour before the service started was pure parish singing, and there were a decent number of raised arms about me. I’m not comfortable with that. I ventured down that path once before, and the more I got into it, the more I found out my beliefs differed from everyone elses. Still, I admit, it was moving. The pastor had a very moving lesson to teach us, and I applied it as fittingly as I could with my current endeavors. The lesson essentially taught us, “God is a filler, not a forcer.” God will never force us to do anything, but if we give him SPACE he will fill it with all his goodness.
Ok, stay with me. I’m not about to change platforms and write about religion. But I can appreciate situations where I feel uncomfortable. And I can learn from them, and from those around me. Even though my religious views don’t match my fathers, it seemed more meaningful that I go with him, and when he held my hand in prayer, I felt it shake. So, I listened to the sermon, and I said, “Self, how can you make SPACE for your writing? What will you allow your SPACE to be filled with? Who will you show off your new SPACE to? And before you can do that, what must you clear away first?”
When I opened my thoughts to my writing, and how a silly thing like SPACE could impact it, I was sort of stunned. I think it does apply that for us to be creative and embracing of criticism and feedback, we have to open and give ourselves SPACE to hear those things. For us to try a new idea, a new genre, a new publishing venture, we have to give ourselves SPACE to show those things.
How are you giving yourself SPACE this week?