February Wrap Up

monthlytotals

February!

This month I read 8 books for a total of 2,490 pages and an average of 89 pages per day. I’m pleased with how Austen Month wrapped up – in addition to 7 Austen-inspired books, I tackled one of my genre switch up books (romance) and watched four movies. Overall I’m very pleased with the books I read, but Austenland reigns supreme.

Reviewed:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
First Sentence: Well before his arrival in Cincinnati, everyone knew that Chip Bingley was looking for a wife.

Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope
First Sentence: From their windows – their high, generous Georgian windows – the view was, they all agreed, spectacular.

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith
First Sentence: Emma Woodhouse’s father was brought into this world, blinking and confused, on one of those final nail-biting days of the Cuban Missle Crisis.
Notable Quote: “Never underestimate the capacity of the human mind for ignorance.”

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
First Sentence: Would it kill you to be here before noon?

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
First Sentence: It was generally agreed by female residents of Meryton that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn had been fortunate in the disposal in marriage of four of their five daughters.

A few thoughts on Goodreads:

Jane Austen: A Life by Carol Shields
First Sentence: In the autumn of 1996 my daughter, the writer Anne Giardini, and I traveled to Richmond, Virginia, to present a joint paper at the Jane Austen Society of North America, an organization that comprises of some of the world’s most respected Austen scholars, as well as rank amateurs like ourselves.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
First Sentence: Each of us has a private Austen.

Austenland by Shannon Hale
First Sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her.
Notable Quote: “Why was the judgment of the disapproving so valuable? Who said that their good opinions tended to be any more rational than those of generally pleasant people.”

Watched:

Austenland
Clueless
Becoming Jane
Death Comes to Pemberley

Movie Reviews: Austen Month

To round out my celebration of Jane Austen’s work, I watched a few movie adaptations she inspired. I started with my favorite:

Austenland
2013, PG-13, 1h 37 m
Director: Jerusha Hess, Screenplay: Shannon Hale, Jerusha Hess

If you haven’t heard (read) me say this before, this film is based off the book by Shannon Hale. Back in 2015 my Mum and sister recommended this movie to me and I’ve been in love with it ever since. Last year I got my hands on the novel and loved that too. This movie is a solid adaptation with only minor changes to the original story and it has become one of my favorite films and certainly my most watched over the last year or so.

Keri Russell as Jane Hayes is a charming Austenite trying to get over her Darcy obsession. She takes a trip to Austenland, an estate in England offering an immersive stay in Jane Austen’s world. She finds because she’s paid for the Copper Package that her experience will differ from those of the more wealthy residents, but she’s determined to make the best of it and put her Darcy fantasies in the past where they belong.

my current desktop background

                                my current desktop background

This movie is all sorts of cute and even if you’ve never read Austen’s work, if you like romantic comedies and the Regency era, I highly recommend this. Also, JJ Field 😀

Clueless
1995, PG-13, 1h 40 m
Director & Screenplay: Amy Heckerling

I’m not sure when I first saw this movie, but it was long before I started reading Austen’s work, so I was unaware it was a modern adaptation of Emma.

Cher, typical popular, rich valley girl, sees herself as a matchmaker and when she meets scruffy, but kind-hearted Tai, she decides to give her a makeover and set her up with one of the local hotties. Tai rises to the occasion and soon becomes more popular than Cher, throwing her life into perspective. Cher suddenly begins to see how selfish she can be and works to remedy that, while also taking a shot at love.

I enjoyed this movie more than I thought. Though I recalled the main plot, the little details of the movie made me smile and I now enjoy the parallels to Emma. The entire cast is great and young Paul Rudd is a super cutie. I assume everyone has seen this, but if for some reason you haven’t, give it a chance.

Becoming Jane
2007, PG-13, 2 hours
Director: Julian Jarrold, Writing Credit: Kevin Hood & Sarah Williams

There is actually a book with the same title and though I haven’t read it yet, I’m not sure the movie follows it very closely. I’d seen parts of this movie before, but never sat through the whole thing.

The film depicts young Jane, around age 20, as a young writer who dreams of marrying for love. Her parents would rather she marry for money (the mother feeling a lot like Mrs. Bennet) and are eyeing up rich, young, rather boring Mr. Wisley. Jane instead falls for Tom Lefroy, but if the two marry he would lose his chance at any inheritance and both would fall from polite society.

This movie threw me for a loop by opening with a scene hinting at oral sex between Jane’s parents and frankly I thought it unnecessary. Overall the movie gave off very Pride and Prejudice vibes, but without likable characters. Anne Hathaway is lovely (and McAvoy is a cutie) but she didn’t win me over. There’s three men courting Jane and while I know Lefroy was real and not much is known about what might have been the start of a relationship with him, I think the movie felt the need to jazz up Jane’s life and add a heavy amount of drama. Halfway through I stopped paying attention and it didn’t really matter. Can’t say I’d recommend.

Death Comes to Pemberley
2013, 3 episodes, about 1h each
Director: Daniel Percival, Writing Credit: Juliette Towhidi

I’ve just reviewed the book this mini-series is based on, so this follows the same story of a murder mystery unfolding at Pemberley several years after the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth.

Overall, I think the series did a fairly faithful job in adapting the novel by P.D. James. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet take the place of Jane and Bingley as guests at Pemberley and this added some unnecessary extra drama thanks to Mrs. Bennet’s personality. Mr. Bennet does slap Lydia at one point though, which is super gratifying. The series also amps up how much of a prick Wickham is (which really isn’t needed) and created drama between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana, as well as Elizabeth and Darcy. The added drama felt cheesy to me, but if you watch the series before reading the book it likely won’t bother you.

They did include a paraphrasing of the de Bourgh line about death that I liked, so that made me laugh again. There’s also some Regency sex, which wasn’t necessary and of course didn’t fit with the story being told because heaven forbid anyone even kiss in those novels! I don’t think I’d ever watch it again, but it’s worth a viewing if you have a spare three hours.

~

There were a few more movies I would have liked to watch (though I can’t recall most of them because they were saved on my Netflix list but now they’ve all been dumped from the site) and I did try to find The Jane Austen Book Club, but I didn’t want to pay to rent it so I gave up.

Have you watched any of these or any other Jane Austen-related films you’d recommend?

Book Review: Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley
By P.D. James

My Edition:
Paperback, 291 pages
2011, Vintage
ISBN: 9780307950659

Elizabeth and Darcy, happily married for six years and parents to two boys, are having their annual ball. The night before the ball, Lydia appears unexpectedly, frantically screaming that her husband has been murdered in the woods of the Pemberley estate. An investigation is launched and the Darcys and their family are pulled into a murder trial that could affect the rest of their lives.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, as I’ve read some disappointing sequels and reimaginings of Pride and Prejudice, but from the start I found myself pleasantly surprised by the tone of characters. James has done an excellent job keeping the narrative voice true to the original and the characters behaved as I think they would have should Austen have decided to pursue this genre. I expected a murder mystery involving the Darcy family would have been a bit hokey, but I was interested in the story and constantly trying to guess who the murderer was.

James sets the scene by revisiting some of the events from the original novel and detailing how Elizabeth and Darcy have children now and how they’ve fared since their marriage. There’s also some speculation from the neighborhood as to why Elizabeth and Darcy married and this felt like a natural follow up to the end of the original. James also has Mary happily married and though she’s really not mentioned beyond that in the book, it was nice to see her settled rather than turned into an even more obnoxious character, as is common in other renditions of Pride and Prejudice. As usual, I can’t stand Lydia or Wickham and James managed to make me dislike the couple even more throughout the events in her book.

Lady Catherine even makes a small appearance and has a fantastic little monologue on life and death which made me chuckle:

“The de Bourghs have never gone in for prolonged dying. People should make up their minds whether to live or to die and do one or the other with the least inconvenience to others.”

There’s even a nod to characters from Persuasion and Emma, implying they run in some of the same social circles as the Darcys.

The mystery turned out to be more complex than I expected and my only real complaint with this book is with the latter portion where all is revealed. A murder trial is held and of course the witnesses are asked to speak and in doing so they repeat a lot of what has already been revealed to the reader. After the trial, even more details are revealed and due to the conversational nature of how everything took place, it turned into a massive infodump. The book really slowed down and was dull for me, despite the interesting details being discussed. I don’t think there was any other way the story could have wrapped up other than everyone talking about what happened, but it was tough to get through.

If you’re an Austen fan and the idea of her characters being involved in a murder trial sounds interesting, I think you should give this book a chance. It didn’t disappoint me and if James has any other Austen-inspired work I’d certainly read it.

5 Reasons Why I love Jane Austen’s Work

I’ve been reading Austen for years now and she’s on my list any time I’m asked who my favorite authors are. I’m even planning a tribute to her in one of my future tattoos. It struck me recently that I’ve never bothered to share what it is about her work that makes me love it so much.

-Her Wit

Despite Austen’s work being over 200 years old, I still find it funny. There’s a subtle humor to many of the conversations she writes between her characters and I find myself picking up on new details with every re-read. I’ve mentioned before I’m not terribly well-read when it comes to the classics – sometimes I connect with older work, sometimes I don’t. So I still find it pleasantly surprising when Austen’s work makes me chuckle.

The first example that comes to mind is from Pride and Prejudice, when Mr. Collins makes a clumsy (and eventually insulting) proposal to Elizabeth. Before even hearing whether she’ll accept him, he’s going on about how he doesn’t expect a dowry from her father considering how little money the family has.

Elizabeth thanks him for his offer, but politely declines and Mr. Collins, thinking he’s on the up-and-up comments on how he knows ladies often reject a proposal when they truly mean to accept it:

“I am not now to learn,” replied Mr. Collins, with a formal wave of the hand, “that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.”

Every time I read the book, this scene makes me laugh. Mr. Collins is so ridiculously out of touch with the woman he aims to marry that he can’t detect her sincere rejection of him. Despite her telling him no several times, he goes on to state why he feels there’s no reason she wouldn’t accept him:

“You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin, that your refusal of my addresses is merely words of course. My reasons for believing it are briefly these: — It does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy your acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable. My situation in life, my connections with the family of De Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in its favor; and you should take it into farther consideration that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications. As I must therefore conclude that you are not serious in your rejection of me, I shall chuse to attribute it to your wish of increasing my love by suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females.”

He is so dense that he can’t understand how insulting his proposal is and that if he had any hopes of actually winning over Lizzy, they’d be dashed after that monologue.

-She’s Inspirational

Jane’s works have inspired countless literary and film adaptations, as well as fanart, clothing and household décor items!

Books and films based on her work run the gamut from faithful adaptations to modern remakes to paranormal parodies, sequels and murder mysteries. I think I speak for many of us when I saw that Colin Firth is the best Darcy-I especially love that they threw in that wet shirt and bathtub scene! There’s even a statue to commemorate the scene!

Wet shirts aside, I’ve found some fabulous films and books inspired by Austen:  Lost in Austen, Austenland, Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, Bride and Prejudice, Clueless, Longbourn, Bridget Jones’s Diary. There are also adaptations that make me groan: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Jane and the Damned, the 1999 Mansfield Park film.

Whether I find these adaptations good or bad, it makes me happy to see when creators are still inspired by Jane’s content and I hope she’d be happy too!

-Her Female Characters

To someone who isn’t really a fan of Austen’s work, her books may appear to have the same theme – a somewhat poor girl who is down on her luck ends up finding love and marrying up the social ladder. But her stories are more complex than they appear and her main characters are flawed and exhibit depth and growth beyond simply finding a rich husband (though many of them actually do that.) She has a varied cast of heroines, many of whom are striving to find their place in the world where their options are so limited.

My favorite is of course Lizzy Bennet, as I’ve read Pride and Prejudice most often. She’s smart, quick-witted and not afraid to say what she thinks. But she’s also arrogant and rude at times, unable to see her own harsh judgements because she’s so caught up in those of others (ahem, Darcy.)

Marianne Dashwood is a total diva that acts solely based on her feelings at any given moment and thinks later (or not at all). But her passion for life and emotions is heartwarming, even if she needs a good slap.

Elinor Dashwood bottles up her feelings in order to put her family first, to the point where many assume she’s actually cold and incapable of romantic love. Yet it’s the fact that she’s so willing to strive to make her loved ones happy that draws me to her (though sometimes she’s such a pushover that I want to shake her and tell her to stand up for her damn self.)

I love Catherine Morland’s wild imagination and love of novels, though it gets her into a lot of trouble and almost ruins her shot at love. I actually misunderstood her when I first read the novel because she’s felt so unlike any other character I’d read that I couldn’t take her seriously.

Emma Woodhouse is the spoiled know-it-all who does her best to control those around her with the belief that she’s improving their lives. She is possibly the harshest of the heroines because of her privilege and her complete inability to walk in anyone else’s shoes. But I still find her charming and I do think she comes a long way in her efforts to improve herself (once she’s thoroughly scolded by Knightley anyway.)

Despite their flaws, I root for them all – well except Fanny Price because she was insipid and I couldn’t stand her (but maybe a re-read of Mansfield Park will fix that someday) – and I don’t really have much in common with these characters and their situations.

-Her Perseverance

While four of her six finished novels were published before her death, Jane Austen received little fame from her writing career. Having read up on Austen’s life (though not extensively) I’ve learned that while she did experience a modicum of success considering the time in which she lived and the fact that she was female. However, she died without knowing the true effect she would have on readers for generations beyond her own. Not knowing what her work would become, Jane worked hard on her novels and even after a lapse of many years where she did not write, and dealing with the struggles of publication (like how Northanger Abbey was sold to a publisher, but then never actually published), she never gave up and I’m thankful for that.

-The Atmosphere

Jane’s work truly transports me to another time, both in landscape and culture. Her stories depict a time in England that is so far away from my modern American life, yet I don’t feel isolated as a reader. I’ve always been immediately sucked into the settings of her novels, and like the heroine of Austenland, I can understand wanting to experience a little taste of that society (though I don’t envy the lack of women’s rights and general hygiene).

If you’re an Austen fan, what is it about her work that you love?

Book Review: Emma

Emma
By Alexander McCall Smith

My Edition:
Paperback, 361 pages
2014, Anchor Books
ISBN: 9780804172417

Emma Woodhouse has grown up on her father’s large estate, complete with a governess. She’s just finished school and decided to start her own interior design business, but finds herself more interested in the doings of her friends and neighbors. She starts with her governess, Ms. Taylor and after taking credit for successfully fixing her up with family-friend Mr. Weston, Emma decides matchmaking is her new business. She begins sticking her nose into everyone’s business and soon learns that they don’t view her as helpful, but rather meddling and snobby.

I’m now all caught up on the books in this modern Austen project and I’m satisfied with how they’ve all turned out. Despite each novel having its own author and varied voices, I still think they have all captured the spirit of Jane Austen’s novels and feel like a series that belongs together.

Smith’s Emma stands out as more of a spoiled, meddling, brat than the original (though I didn’t dislike her and was naturally excited to see her character growth) and I think that’s because our modern language and times allow her character to be depicted more bluntly. As a result, I think her change of heart and her efforts at self-improvement stand out more as well.

Mr. Woodhouse is a charming hypochondriac and his constant worries about the air quality of London (where Emma’s sister resides with her husband and growing brood) and the evils of microbes had me chuckling. George Knightley was less developed than I would have expected however; he doesn’t play a large part in Emma’s life until the latter part of the novel and I had been hoping for a bit more of a build-up in regards to their relationship.

The ending wrapped up a little too quickly for my liking, but overall this was a cute, contemporary take on the classic. As with the others, I recommend it if you enjoy Jane’s work – really, if you haven’t read any of her work, these modern adaptations might be right up your alley, to give you a feel for her stories without the potential intimidation of an older writing style.

You can check out Smith’s website or Tweet him or visit his Facebook page.

Book Review: Sense & Sensibility

Sense & Sensibility
By Joanna Trollope

My Edition:
Hardcover, 362 page
2013, Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062200464

Recently forced to vacate their long-time home after the death of Mr. Dashwood, the four Dashwood women must rely on the goodwill of a cousin and settle into country life with more limited means than they’re accustomed to. Elinor, eldest of her three sisters, struggles to keep her over-emotional family together while also managing the bills and working to support their income. Drama ensues as new friends and potential lovers enter their lives and the family tries to find their way in the world.

This is the third book of the modern retelling “series” that I’ve read and I enjoyed it just as thoroughly as I enjoyed Northanger Abbey and Eligible. Trollope successfully brought the Dashwood family and all their friends and enemies into the 21st century and crafted a mostly believable version of a beloved classic.

In this version, there is still a trouble with inheritance that causes the Dashwood’s to have to leave their family estate because after the death of Henry Dashwood, the estate falls to his son from his first marriage, John. This is due in part because Ms. Dashwood never actually married Mr. Dashwood and partly because of some old inheritance traditions and I found this to be a believable modern take on the issue.

Sense & Sensibility lacks the sometimes drastic character changes employed by Eligible, but I still found all the characters enjoyable. Marianna is wonderfully annoying – she is a complete brat, totally over dramatic, and I mostly wanted to slap her. But she does exhibit character growth and her severe asthma condition fleshes out some of the drama she tends to create. Wills is a perfect modern cad, gold digger and general d-bag.

I especially enjoyed the sibling-esque relationship that developed between Colonel Brandon and Elinor. It’s been ages since I read the original, but Trollope seemed to do a better job of convincing me that Brandon cared for Elinor and the rest of the Dashwood family and not simply because he loved Marianne.

I read this in two days and I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of the original.

You can check out Joanna’s website here.

Book Review: Eligible

Eligible
By Curtis Sittenfeld

My Edition:
Hardcover, 492 pages
2016, Random House
ISBN: 9781400068326

The Bennets have come to modern America, Cincinnati, to be precise. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet reside in a crumbling old Tudor, with Mary: currently unemployed and working on yet another Master’s degree, Kitty: currently unemployed and attending a local CrossFit gym with Lydia, and Lydia: currently unemployed and attending a local CrossFit gym with Kitty. Liz and Jane have managed to escape to New York where they work as a magazine writer and yoga instructor respectively. But their father’s recent heart attack has brought the eldest daughters back home where they meet Chip Bingley, recently finished with a stint on a reality dating show and working with Fitzwilliam Darcy at a local hospital.  

I wanted to kick off Austen Month with a retelling of my favorite Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice. I’ve heard this book has mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it immensely and while it wasn’t perfect, I think it’s a fantastic modern adaptation.

I think Sittenfeld did a great job of keeping the tone of the original, while updating both characters and situations to suit current times – some scenes felt more realistic and developed than the original. While the bones of the story are the same, Sittenfeld added many little twists to make this story her own and I appreciated most of them.

Liz and Darcy’s relationship feels a little more natural, if not slightly more awkward thanks to Liz’s big mouth (which I found funny) and there’s finally some action! –wink wink- Jane is pushing forty, single and trying to have a baby via artificial insemination. Chip Bingley spent time on a Bachelor-esque show trying to find love and Darcy is a neurosurgeon. Kathy de Bourgh shines as a feminist icon and (sadly) Mary is more selfish and annoying than I’ve ever seen her portrayed before. Sittenfeld even includes some LGBT characters.

I wished Mary had been likable (for once!), but overall I was happy with how all the characters played out and the pacing kept me saying “just one more chapter” over and over – it helps that the chapters aren’t more than a few pages each.

I do think the story concluded on a weird note. Not the actual plot of the ending, but the last two pages had an odd tone that didn’t feel like a conclusion for me and brought the focus back to Mary, rather than Liz and Darcy. Rather than finishing with a smile I was left scratching my head.

I recommend this to anyone looking for a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, if only for some scenes where Liz and Darcy actually make physical contact! Jokes aside, this is a solid adaptation and I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the updated rendition of Northanger Abbey.

You can visit Sittenfeld’s website or chat her up on Twitter.

Austen Month

It’s February once again, so that means it’s Austen Month. Why? Because I started focusing on Jane Austen’s work in February two years ago and now I’m just going to keep doing it…until I stop! This year I’ve picked six books (though Austenland is really just an optional re-read, so it’ll be last on my list) that include modern retellings, a paranormal reimagining, and non-fiction.

Netflix has decided to pull almost everything Austen related (grrr!) so my movie options are limited but I’ll probably rewatch Austenland and Clueless (it’s Emma!) and Becoming Jane. I might watch Death Comes to Pemberly, but I’d like to read the book first, so we’ll see.

As usual, I’ll be using #AustenMonth on Instagram and Twitter. Feel free to join me!

I’m also participating in a read-along of Gone with the Wind with some lovely ladies on Instagram, so you might see some posts about that as well.

February (Austen Month) Wrap Up

February!

For Austen Month I read 7 books for a total of 2,164 pages and an average of 77 pages per day. In addition, I watched 8 movies! Somehow I forgot to watch Sense & Sensibility though – oops!

Minor Works by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
First Sentence: It was a source of constant disappointment to Catherine Morland that her life did not more closely resemble her books.

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James
First Sentence: Why I feel the sudden urge to relate, in pen and ink, a relationship of the most personal nature, which I have never before acknowledged, I cannot say.
Notable Quote: “We can always find a reason to put off that which we aspire to do, or fear to do, until tomorrow, next week, next month, next year – until, in the end, we never accomplish anything at all.”

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda George
First Sentence: Elizabeth Bennet’s wedding morning was one of soft mists and mellow sunshine.

Austenland by Shannon Hale
First Sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her.

Longbourn by Jo Baker
First Sentence: There could be no wearing of clothes without their laundering, just as surely as there could be no going without clothes, not in Hertfordshire anyway, and not in September.

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice by Susannah Fullerton
First Sentence: On 27 January 1813 a parcel was delivered to a cottage in a small Hampshire village.

Mini movie reviews:

Bride and Prejudice – this movie is just so much fun and one I’ve seen several times. I talked about it in my Nostalgia Watch post, and I’ll repeat that I’m not sure how accurate this is as a Bollywood film (because I think I’ve only seen one other and it was years ago) but it does capture the essence of the plot of Pride and Prejudice. It’s colorful, the songs are catchy and it’s got a good sense of humor (though the dialog is a bit lackluster).

Bridget Jones’s Diary – another movie I love to watch. Bridget is certainly more awkward and definitely less classy than Elizabeth, but she’s a modern heroine who just can’t seem to find love. It’s been an age since I read the book, so I can’t talk about the movie’s accuracy…accurately, but  who cares because it’s funny and Colin Firth is hot.

Pride and Prejudice (2005) – this is a decent adaptation (though I seriously cannot stand Keira Knightley’s fish mouth) and McFayden makes a pretty good looking Darcy. I enjoy that he’s more shy and awkward than haughty and priggish. They also throw in a rain scene (though it does feel odd that she would run from the church, after learning about his breaking up Jane and Bingley, through the rain, and then he’d propose to her…). Also that bit where Lady Catherine comes to tell Lizzy she can’t marry Darcy in the middle of the night, is totally bizarre. Like she’d ruin a good night’s sleep for that!?

Pride and Prejudice (1995) – FINALLY I watched all six billion hours of this well-known mini-series. It’s certainly the most thorough adaptation of the book and includes all the characters (sometimes Kitty is left out) and I recognized  a lot of the dialogue as having been pulled from the book. But oh my gourd, HOW BORING! I’m exceedingly puzzled by my reaction to this adaptation – it has Colin Firth (both in a bathtub and a lake, hell yeah), it’s long enough to thoroughly encompass all the important characters and scenes as well as the lesser ones, and the scene setting was lovely. And yet…and yet…SNORE. Somehow, though faithful, they killed the spark of the novel with this film and not even Firth’s smoldering gaze could induce to me sit through it again.

Lost in Austen – another re-watch for me, though it’s been a few years since I first watched this. I’d forgotten how awkwardly Amanda Spencer blunders through the plot of P&P, mucking up everything as she goes. But it’s lovably awkward and I imagine I wouldn’t do any better if I was suddenly thrust into that world. In fact, I would probably throw myself at Darcy and be rejected and forced to live as a servant in the Collins household or something. Also there’s a nice nod to the 1995 adaptation when Amanda makes Darcy get into the lake for a moment.

Emma – I assume this is a pretty faithful adaptation, as I’ve only read the novel once. It’s amusing, and the acting is decent, though, nothing special. Mr. Knightley is pretty cute…yeah…I don’t have much more to say about this.

Pride and Prejudice (1940) – this was new for me and so much fun to watch, despite it being incredibly different from any other straightforward adaptation. It opens with a carriage race, which puzzled me and also sets the scene with Wickham and Darcy meeting Elizabeth at the same ball (for brevity, I assume). The costuming is so whacky – it’s Gone with the Wind, not Regency era, and everyone’s bonnets are enormous. Lizzy and Darcy lack any real tension, or feelings of romance, Kitty and Lydia are borderline drunks and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet seem to have a pretty calm relationship. They really toned down the first proposal scene and the two reconciled with the help of Lady Catherine in an attempt to redeem her character.  But Greer Garson made the loveliest Elizabeth I’ve ever seen and Laurence Olivier is probably the second handsomest Darcy in my book. The end was lackluster but their smooch was pretty decent considering it was the 40s!

Austenland – I only just watched this movie a few months ago, but the book was so much fun and it made me want to watch the movie again. Now that I can properly compare the two, I still think the movie does a decent job of capturing the book. Though I dislike that in the movie they made Jane a complete Austen/Darcy nut (seriously, her apartment is whack) rather than just someone who has rotten relationships and a mild longing for a Mr. Darcy type. I also prefer the ending of the book to the movie – though in essence they’re the same, I think it played out better in the book. But I did notice in the movie Colonel Andrews was reading Pride, Prejudice and Promiscuity on his break, and the guy who plays Mr. Wattlesbrook is also Mr. Hurst in the 1995 edition.

Book Review: Celebrating Pride and Prejudice

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice
By Susannah Fullerton

My Edition:
Hardcover, 225 pages
2013, Voyageur Press
ISBN: 9780760344361

This work examines the language, setting and characters of Pride and Prejudice and how Jane Austen’s creation has come to be so beloved. It discusses the myriad of sequels, prequels and spin-offs written in admiration of her work, as well as the various TV, movie and theatrical adaptations, and even touches on the merchandise that has become available, all long after the respected author’s lifetime.

I’ll say right now, if you really love Pride and Prejudice and you just want to know more about the work and what it has inspired, then read this book. If you’ve never read the book or you weren’t a fan, I’m not sure why you’d pick this up.

Reading this book is sort of like studying, mixed with a slew of facts that would be useful in a P&P themed trivia night. For myself it was also a pretty useful source for Austen-inspired reading (added a few books to my Amazon wishlist) as well as a handy guide to those works that might not be worth pursuing.

It was interesting to read about what other writers thought about Austen’s most famous work and I especially liked hearing that A.A. Milne (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame) thought that if you didn’t enjoy Pride and Prejudice there was something wrong with you. Apparently he smuggled a copy of out of his school library (which didn’t allow borrowing?!)  to read at night and that image just makes me smile.

The book has a chapter dedicated to the various translations of Jane’s work and made me remember how fortunate I feel to be able to read the book in its original language. Just reading about how hard it can be to accurately translate the first sentence of the book, because of the many meanings of certain phrases and the difficulty in conveying Jane’s wit, made me wonder how the book reads in other languages.

Even on film, it can be hard to capture the original source – Elizabeth and Darcy sometimes fall flat, Lady Catherine is constantly portrayed as too old, Mary becomes a caricature, the scenery is wrong, etc. Pride and Prejudice holds a sort of magic for its fans that can never be captured by any other writer or medium.

I certainly learned a few things about the style of Jane’s writing that I never picked up on before and I think it will add to my next re-read. If you’re a big fan, pick this up!

It also has illustrations throughout the book: