This is my fifth selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013.
I have been blogging about Jane Austen here at Austenprose for over five years and I have reviewed many books and movies, yet I have held off writing about the one that really turned me into a Jane Austen disciple—the 1980 BBC Pride and Prejudice. When something is close to our hearts we want to keep it in a special place, so my personal impressions of Fay Weldon’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s most popular novel has remained my own. In this bicentenary year, I think it is time for me to share.
It first aired in five (55) minute episodes on the BBC in the UK in 1979, and on US television on Masterpiece Theatre between October 26 and November 23, 1980. I was a great fan of Masterpiece and period drama and remember being quite excited to watch the new series. I was not disappointed in the first episode—in fact I was mesmerized—and watched the episode again when it aired again that week on PBS. Considering that in 1980 disco music was all the rage and Magnum P.I. and Three’s Company were the most popular television shows, you might understand why this anglophile was entranced by a series set in Regency England with beautiful costumes, country houses, sharp dialogue and swoon worthy romance. I was totally hooked and started reading the novel for the first time while the series aired.
Now, considering that many of you who are reading this review where not even born by 1980, you might not get the significance of the way in which our entertainment was doled out to us in the those early days. There was the television broadcast, and that was it. In fact there were no VCR’s yet, so you could not tape a video. I had to wait another 10 years before I saw the series again. Shocking, I know. But remember that the Internet would not be born until the mid-1990’s and the concept of streaming video was totally unknown.
On reflection, why did I like P&P 1980 so much when it originally aired, and does it still stand up to the litmus test for P&P adaptations?
Even though the BBC had produced radio and television adaptations of Pride and Prejudice in 1938, 1952, 1958 and 1967 this would be the first time that a US audience would see a television series of Jane Austen’s novel. Some of us had seen the 1940 MGM move of P&P staring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, but it was hardly faithful to the novel and was a two hour theatrical movie. Very little of Jane Austen’s original language had been used and let’s not even begin the conversation about the changes that were made. Now for the first time we could hear Austen’s words and see the plot unfold as she imagined it—well not word for word or scene by scene—but screenwriter Fay Weldon did adhere much more faithfully to Austen intensions than we had ever seen before, nor since. Here is a list of the cast and production team:
- Elizabeth Bennet – Elizabeth Garvie
- Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy – David Rintoul
- Mr. Bennet – Moray Watson
- Mrs. Bennet – Priscilla Morgan
- Jane Bennet – Sabina Franklyn
- Mary Bennet – Tessa Peake-Jones
- Kitty Bennet – Clare Higgins
- Lydia Bennet – Natalie Ogle
- George Wickham – Peter Settelen
- Mr. Collins – Malcolm Rennie
- Charlotte Lucas – Irene Richard
- Mr. Bingley – Osmund Bullock
- Caroline Bingley – Marsha Fitzalan
- Lady Catherine de Bourgh – Judy Parfitt
- Director – Cyril Coke
I will spare you the rehash of the synopsis and cut to the case. This adaptation flies freely by the strength of the screenplay and the interpretation by the director of the actors. They act like Regency era ladies and gentlemen and in the manner that Jane Austen intended. Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet is perfection. She is just as clever and impertinent as her book persona. If she has any defect it is that she is too perfect, appearing too controlled at every moment and not quite as spirited and flawed as one would expect. Her hero Mr. Darcy, portrayed by David Rintoul, is flawed, but that is his strength. He is stiff as a wooden solider, and we hate him until we meet him again at Pemberley two thirds through the story. But, his portrayal is as Austen wrote the character: noble, proud, arrogant, overconfident and infuriating. His transition to an open and engaging personality is a gradual shift which grows as his affection for Elizabeth does. His transformation from an arrogant prig to an amiable gentleman suitor for our heroine is a great character arch well worth waiting for.
Every director wants to put their own stamp on a classic. I cannot condemn Cyril Coke for taking his chance. He does not swerve off the garden path too far. There are two moments that are his creations that are memorable for me. The first was when Darcy hands Elizabeth the “be not alarmed, Madame,” letter after the first proposal. Elizabeth and Darcy meet along a path at Rosings Park and he hands her his letter. She accepts it and takes a seat on a fallen tree and reads it. We hear David Rintoul’s beautiful velvet voice, and perfect diction, as a voiceover as she reads the letter. As he walks away from her, the camera pulls back and follows him. As he gets father away we see both Elizabeth and Darcy in the frame become smaller and smaller. It is quite affective in relaying his presence and driving home the fact that as she reads his explanation of his behavior, and she has her “until this moment I never knew myself” revelation, we are left with the feeling that he has walked out of her life, and now how will she get him back?
The second great moment comes when Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner are touring Pemberley. They think that Darcy is far away in Town. They are in a garden adjacent to the house and Elizabeth is admiring the facade and looks down to see Mr. Darcy’s dog appear around a corner of the building. His master soon follows and walks into the garden and is surprised to find Elizabeth at his home. They have an awkward meeting and Elizabeth is very uncomfortable. Now, Mr. Darcy does not have a dog in the original novel, but this addition of the well-trained spaniel, as proud and contained as his master, appearing as a foreshadowing to Elizabeth was brilliant.
The secondary characters really shine in this production too. Malcolm Rennie as Mr. Collins is just priceless. He is tall and toady and just the perfect smarmy buffoon. Peter Settelen as George Wickham is such a handsome, charming cad that we want to love him like Elizabeth is tempted to do. There is a scene where he and Lizzy are walking in the garden and all I can concentrate on are his canary breeches! Judy Parfitt gives us an imperious Lady Catherine de Bourgh that is quite younger than I had envisioned in the book, but still as imposing.
Since the 1980 P&P aired there has been one major miniseries filmed in 1995 and a movie in 2005. Everyone has their favorite and I have this pet theory why Janeites love one version and abhor another. Everyone seems to bond with the first version that they see, so for those who love the 2005 Keira Knightley version with pigs in the Longbourn kitchen and Mr. Darcy walking across a misty morning glade to find Elizabeth in her nightgown, or the 1995 version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy taking a bath or a dip in Pemberley pond, think long and hard about what Jane Austen wrote about and what she wanted us to experience with her characters, and watch the 1980 version again.
And, what may you ask is the P&P litmus test? Why the first proposal scene of course. If the screenwriter, director, and actors can portray the misguided, passionate tension of Mr. Darcy and the cool indigence of Miss Eliza Bennet in Austen’s masterful scene as well as it unfolds in the 1980 version, then there is hope for the rest of the production.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Pride and Prejudice (1980)
BBC Worldwide (2004 re-issue)
DVD (226 minutes)
DVD cover and images courtesy of © 2004 BBC Worldwide; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Posted in Blog Events, Jane Austen Adaptations, Pride & Prejudice Movies, The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 | Tagged BBC, Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Movies, Masterpiece Theatre, Movie review, Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice 1980, Pride and Prejudice Movies, The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 | 72 Comments »
38 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of A Garden Folly, by Candice Hern. The winner drawn at random is
- Beverly Abney who left a comment on April 24, 2013
Congratulations Beverly! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by May 8, 2013. Please tell me if you would like a print or digital version on the book. Print book shipment to US addresses, or eBook internationally.
Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013. The challenge is open until July 1st, 2013, so please check out the details and sign up today!
Image courtesy © 2012 Candice Hern; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Posted in Blog Events, Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 | Tagged A Garden Folly, Candice Hern, Giveaways, Regency romance, Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013, Swag | Leave a Comment »
As an avid garden and Jane Austen enthusiast, I have been waiting patiently for this…a rose named after one of my favorite novels, Pride and Prejudice!
It was inevitable that some rose breeder would cash in on the Pride and Prejudice bicentenary. I am just surprised it took them so long to name a rose after one of the novels or characters created by my favorite author Jane Austen.
Huzzah! Just announced by Harkness, a specialist rose growers in the UK, Pride and Prejudice, a floribunda rose in pale peach. WOW! Here is the description:
Pride and Prejudice
- Family: Floribunda
- Star Rating: 5
- Scent Rating: 4
- Flower Diameter: 8cm
- Petals: 35
- Flowers Per Cluster: 7-11
- Plant Size: H90cm x W60cm
- Colour: Pale Peach
We are delighted to introduce the new Pride and Prejudice rose, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s classic book. The detail and characters are so well constructed in the book, the dialogue so elegant with scenes capturing the essence of the period.
Not sure if they ship to the US, but it is great to know that someone FINALLY named a rose after the most popular classic in literary history.
For those who want to continue on the P&P rose theme, here is something fascinatingly creative…a paper rose made from the pages of Pride and Prejudice.
Etsy artist HBixbyArtworks has cleverly crafted roses from paper, and in this case from the pages of Pride and Prejudice. Imagine a bouquet of P&P paper roses? Stunning! Artists description:
This listing is for one vintage book paper rose which is about 3- 3.5″ in diameter. This paper rose is fashioned from the pages of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, (which is a very popular book,) and I made several dozen paper flowers from it!
The rose is on a 8″ wire stem, so can be put into a vase, or can be made into a brooch for a small extra charge, or you can buy several and have a whole bouquet!
A complimentary ribbon can be tied around the stem upon request :)
P&P roses and ribbons? How delightful!
AND…who could forget the Pride and Prejudice cover resplendent with roses by Harper Teen from 2009? It is eerily familiar to the designs for the Twilight book covers, but I think that was the point…to entice younger readers to read the classic mentioned by Bella and Edward.
For those not lucky enough to be a climate where the roses are already blooming, like the rose garden at my favorite place in the world (so far), The Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, California. This photo of their famous rose garden, where I have spent many happy hours enjoying the sights and scents, is a delight. Hope you can visit there too!
Happy May Day Janeites!
Images courtesy of © 2013 Harkness, © 2013 HBixbyArtworks and © 2009 Harper Teen; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Posted in Jane Austen Inspired, Jane Austen Merchandise | Tagged Jane Austen, Jane Austen Merchandise, Jane Austen Rose, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary, Pride and Prejudice Rose | 10 Comments »
From the desk of Br. Paul Byrd, OP
“This book is something different and more experimental. Rather than rehearsing all the known facts, this biography focuses on a variety of key moments, scenes and objects in both the life and work of Jane Austen…In addition, this biography follows the lead of Frank Austen rather than Henry. It suggests that, like nearly all novelists, Jane Austen created her characters by mixing observation and imagination” (6-7).
I was very excited to be asked to review Paula Byrne’s new biography on Jane Austen. Not only is it the first rigorous biography on Austen to appear in print since Claire Tomalin and David Nokes both published their works in 1997 (both entitled Jane Austen: A Life), but it is also an example of a refreshingly different approach to biographical presentation. Like the famous British hermit and art critic, Sister Wendy, Byrne begins each chapter with an image and a short commentary which then serve as gateways into the central details about Austen’s life that she wishes to highlight. This allows her to avoid the expected plodding pace of a chronology so that she can then linger over the events, relationships, or ideas that she finds most compelling. And, as one might hope, Byrne’s fresh analysis extends to Austen’s oeuvre.
Fine. But were there any surprises, any moments when I felt like I was getting a glimpse into Austen’s life, personality, genius? I am glad to say there were many moments like this. For example, I so enjoyed chapter three in which Byrne contradicts the common opinion that Austen’s major influences were male writers like Richardson and Fielding, positing that, in fact, she more admired female novelists who were taking risks with their novels, like Burney and Edgeworth who “led [her] to see that the novel could be a medium for showing how seven years, or seventeen, were enough to change every pore of one’s skin and every feeling of one’s mind.” (88). Similarly, I enjoyed chapter five, which reexamines the relationship dynamic between Jane and Cassandra. How charming it is to contemplate Austen embracing the role of the younger sister, viewing Cassandra as her primary confidante and someone with whom she could be catty and silly (98). Perhaps more interesting is Byrne’s theory that Cassandra was the greater romantic of the two, meaning the traditions that she passed on about her younger sister, particularly those regarding Austen’s romances, may more reflect her own regrets rather than Jane’s (103).
Readers already comfortable with Austen’s literary interests, her family’s literary activities, and her publication triumphs and losses, may enjoy some of the more modern concerns that Byrne brings to light—for example, Austen’s playful treatment of homosexuality (63, 242-243), her avid enjoyment of the theatre (143-145), her connections to places like India, China, France, and the Americas, which brought with them conversations about opium, revolution, and the emancipation of slaves, along with the social status of biracial people and the question of interracial marriage (see chapters twelve and fourteen, among others). My own two favorite chapters were ten and fifteen. In the former, Byrne reviews the rumors about Jane Austen’s love life, including the Tom Lefroy affair, the Harris Bigg Wither disaster, and the mysterious romance at the seaside that apparently dashed Austen’s hopes of marriage. Byrne challenges popular notions on these events, and balances the family accounts with what Austen herself said and did, leaving one to wonder if this great genius and even greater flirt ever really did find a man who could win her heart. In Chapter fifteen, she explores the other side of the love coin—motherhood. I do not think there is a more enlightening way to re-encounter someone you think you know than to see them playing a role that has nothing to do with you. In Austen’s case, I mean her role in the family as “Aunt Jane”. She adored children, and had an important impact on shaping the imaginations of her young relatives. Indeed, as Byrne mentions, several of them grew up wanting to be writers just like “Aunt Jane” (290-292). There is just something about imagining Austen laughing with Fanny, Anna, Edward and the rest and mentoring them that makes her seem more tangible to me, which is why I am glad that this component to her life is so well drawn.
Although I loved much in this biography, I did often find myself taking note of things I did not necessarily agree with, sometimes simply because I did not think Byrne was being logical—for example, the idea that because Frank Austen read into his sister’s novels that she has a blank check to do so, too (5). Also, throughout the biography, Byrne illustrates Austen’s knowledge of the larger world around her beyond Hampshire, but she never satisfactorily answers why Austen did not wrestle with major historical events more thoroughly in her novels—for example, with the question of slavery mentioned in chapter twelve, or English Catholic Emancipation or the French Revolution mentioned in chapter two. While I understand it, I am not sure I buy Byrne’s argument that Austen felt too deeply about things to write about them, since we surely cannot argue she only wrote about things about which she did not feel deeply (50). There were smaller concerns I had, too, like her rather blithe labeling of Tom Bertram as homosexual, her dismissal of The Watsons as too flawed a piece to be reworked, and the rejections of Austen’s reputation for piety just because she also had a typical Georgian sense of humor (150, 275, 59 respectively). I am not saying Byrne is wrong in any of these places, necessarily; rather, I simply want a richer examination of these intriguing topics.
Despite my objections, I think Byrne’s is the best Austen biography that I have read to date. It is written well, constructed well, and so reads well. Most importantly, there were definitely moments in which I felt I had been sitting with Austen—or shopping with her, as the case may be—which is exactly the kind of Midnight in Paris experience one wants from a biography.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, by Paula Byrne
Hardcover (400) pages
(editor’s note) We think this is the most strikingly beautiful cover of any book written about Austen or anyone for that matter. The copyright page acknowledges Sarah Mulvanny for the illustrations, but we know for a fact that the cover image is based on an illustration from The Gallery of Fashion, September 1797 which we have long adored. Note the bathing machines in the lower left corner. I have always envisioned this as Jane and Cassandra during a trip to a seaside resort.
Cover image courtesy © 2013 HarperCollins; text © 2013 Br. Paul Byrd, OP, Austenprose
Posted in Book Reviews, Jane Austen Biography Book Reviews | Tagged Biographies, Book Blog, Book Reviews, Books, Georgian Era, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Biography, Nonfiction, Paula Byrne, Regency era, The Real Jane Austen | 14 Comments »
This is my fourth selection in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013, our celebration of Regency romance author Candice Hern. We will be reading all of her traditional Regencies over the next nine months, discussing her characters, plots and Regency history. You can still join the reading challenge until July 1, 2013. Participants, please leave comments and or links to your reviews for this month in the comment section of this post.
In landscape design, a garden folly is a structure whose only objective is to deceive. They have no purpose other than as ornament—to delight the eye and draw one to their door to evoke a romantic scene or time. How apt that author Candice Hern chose to name her Regency romance A Garden Folly, since her main characters are follies themselves.
Set at the Kent grand country estate of the Duke of Carlisle, two impoverished sisters impersonate aristocrats to entrap rich husbands, while the wealthy and titled owner of the dukedom, and the continuing custodian and creator of its grand landscape, hides behind the mantle of head gardener to avert interaction with Society. Both hero and heroine have serious trust issues. How they will overcome their personal challenges is a serpentine path that teasingly twists, turns, and surprises the reader until the last page.
Catherine and Susannah Forsythe are down on their luck. Living in genteel poverty in the wrong side of London with Aunt Hetty was not what they had expected at this time in their lives. Their father, Sir Benjamin Forsythe, squandered their family fortune before he died two years ago, but they still have beauty and wits in their corner. A surprise invitation from Aunt Hetty’s childhood friend, the Duchess of Carlisle, for her annual summer house party at Chissingworth may be their only chance to catch rich husbands. Determined to pull off the deception that they are wealthy young ladies, Catherine, with the help of their servant McDougal, magically acquire all the tools needed to disguise their poverty: clothes, carriage, jewels and servants. Now they must set their caps for the right man, steering clear of the wrongs sorts: “penniless younger sons, clerics, or half-pay officers.” Arriving in style, the deception begins.
Stephen Archibald Frederick Charles Godfrey Manwaring, Duke of Carlisle, is a serious gardener and devout bachelor. At two and thirty he has managed to avoid marriage and his mother’s annual summer garden party, devised to introduce him to marriageable young ladies, for years. Since the enigmatic duke has succeeded eluding polite Society most of his life, he has been tagged an eccentric half-wit. He has, however, devoted his life to the management of his estate’s landscapes, collecting rare plants and avoiding love. Catherine, also a great admirer of rare plants is thrilled at the chance to be in the country again and happily strolls the gardens to drink in the verdant countryside and profuse flora of the magnificently landscaped Chissingworth gardens. When the young duke and young the masquerading fortune hunter collide in the garden, he is roughly dressed and she mistakes him for the head gardener. She is a passionate admirer of rare flowers, especially hybrids, which are his favorites too—so he lets the deception continue. They agree to meet again the next morning, and thus begins his infatuation with a new rare flower named Catherine. She, on the other hand, is deep into discovering the “right” husband for her beautiful but dim sister Sukey and herself, and with the help of McDougal, who runs recon to determine who among the 60 guests are listed on the top 50 bachelors under 40 in Britain, is totally oblivious to who she is actually meeting every morning to tour the gardens. Also among the guests is Stephen’s friend Miles, the Earl of Strickland, a recent widow who takes a shine to Catherine. There are many other eligible bachelors to pursue until nearsighted Susannah goes after the wrong green-coated man and all of the weight of finding a rich husband falls on Catherine. As she and the head gardener become more than friends, and an earl is courting her, Catherine must decide if she should marry for love or money.
The British are indisputably passionate gardeners. Setting A Garden Folly at a country estate at the height of August, the peak blooming season, allowed the author to take us on a fabulous journey through the gardens as they would have appeared in Regency times:
“With this in mind, she wandered through the surprisingly informal arrangement of gardens. In the dressed grounds nearest the house, high, clipped shrubbery hedges of sweetbrier, box, and hawthorn surrounded each garden. Moving through the enclosed hedges was akin to walking through the various rooms of a house, each room different from the last. One was awash in bright colors of summer, the gravel paths bordered with stocks, pinks, double rocket, sweet Williams and asters. The morning sun fell upon spires of delphinium sparkling with dew. Her artist’s eye was drawn to the glitter of the moisture on the indigo and royal peaks, and she paused to seat herself on a nearby stone bench. She pulled a pencil and a scrap of paper from her pocket and roughly sketched the familiar blossoms.” p. 36
Hern is renowned for her Regency research and descriptions in her novels. Usually we are treated to vintage clothing fabrics and home interiors, but in this case we are delightfully entertained with flora and folly. The landscape as an artist’s canvas can be formed and molded and admired. So can people, and I was not only struck by our journey through the gardens of a vast country estate, but through the transformation of the characters.
Catherine was determined that she and her sister marry for money to save and protect their family. During Regency times that was not uncommon, but her mercenary motives eventually catch up with her as she reveals her true motives to the head gardener/Stephen as a fortune hunter of the worst sort. As her “veneer of perfection” to Stephen crumbles, he sees her fierce determination to bag a fortune—a large fortune—and is disgusted. Her heartless calculation repulses him and reinforces his trust issues. He is certain that no one can love him and not his title. He will not reveal that he is duke until he has secured her affection as a commoner; she will not let herself love a man who cannot provide for her in a grand style. Two people who have been forced by circumstances to be “follies,” destined for heartbreak.
I can’t honestly say that I admired Catherine and Stephen’s motives, nor their personalities, but by the end things do evolve and their facades change. How we are taken down the garden path is a delightful excursion. This garden geek was not only entranced by the picturesque views and swooning fragrance of an English garden, but by the transformation of the characters by love. A Garden Folly was the perfect antidote to a dark winter of rain and snow. A refreshing journey of discovery and delight.
4.5 out of 5 Regency Stars
A Garden Folly: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern
Trade paperback (236) pages
A Grand Giveaway
Author Candice Hern has generously offered one print copy or one digital copy of A Garden Folly to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about this novel, or if you have read it, who your favorite character is by midnight PT, Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Winner to be announced on Thursday, May 2, 2013. Print book shipment to US addresses only. Digital copy delivery internationally. Good luck!
Book cover image courtesy © Candice Hern 2012; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Posted in Blog Events, Book Reviews, Regency Era Book Reviews, Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 | Tagged A Garden Folly, Book Reviews, Books, Candice Hern, Fiction, Giveaways, Historical Fiction, Reading, Regency era, Regency romance, Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013, Swag | 42 Comments »
Just in case you were interested to know how much your first editions of Jane Austen’s works were worth, this video featuring Adam Douglas, Senior Specialist in Early Literature at Peter Harrington, a rare book dealer in London, introduces a selection of Jane Austen’s first editions and explains how bindings affect value.
We just love how he handles the books. It’s like an aphrodisiac for an Austen fan as he sensually glides his hands over first editions of Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park and speaks in reverent and seductive tones! Adam, you are such a Willoughby!
Posted in Jane Austen Book Sleuth | Tagged Book Binding, Books, First Editions, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Rare Books, Sense and Sensibility | 8 Comments »
From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington
This week I am wrapping up my look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed watching these videos. They are light, bright and sparkling, just as Jane Austen describes Pride and Prejudice, yet they also have serious modern themes that are relevant today and make the story more accessible to younger generations.
Jane and Bing (Episodes 90-92 & 95)
Bing comes back. He and Jane get a fresh start, yet Lizzie is still unhappy that Jane hasn’t made him beg her to take him back. Bing does try to make amends by bringing Jane snicker-doodle cookies (like she made him right after they broke up). Before their relationship really gets underway again, Jane gets a job offer from New York. Bing finds out about the job offer from Lizzie’s videos and seems hurt that Jane didn’t tell him herself. She was trying to spare both of them the pain that would be cause if he asked her to stay, yet Bing doesn’t ask Jane to stay. Instead he asks if he can go with her. He confesses that he quit medical school several months ago because he was so unhappy, so he too is looking to make a fresh start in NYC.
After Jane and Bing (Lydia calls them JING!) are happily settled in New York, Caroline (as a replacement for Lady Catherine in the novel) confronts Lizzie and accuses her of plotting to make Bing quit med school and runaway with Jane. Lizzie is shocked by these allegations but turns the tables on Caroline. Lizzie questions her about the “indiscretion” that Darcy saw at Bing’s birthday which caused Bing to break up with Jane in the first place. Caroline came up with a convoluted plan to have another guy kiss Jane right when Darcy was looking. This is what made Bing break up with Jane in the first place and it was all because of Caroline. Caroline also accuses Lizzie of trying to seduce Darcy. Lizzie baulks at this and says that, “Darcy is in charge of his own life and I am in change of mine.” (It is these lines that give Darcy hope when he watches the videos).
Lizzie and Lydia
Yet again Lizzie and Lydia have some adorable moments in these episodes. In episode 94 Lydia tells Lizzie that Darcy was responsible for the website publicizing the release of her private video with George Wickham being taken down. He bought the company that was releasing the video and shut it down. Lizzie can’t believe what Darcy did. Lydia is not as shocked and replied, “When you care about someone you will do anything for them whether they know or not because you can’t stand to see them hurt.” Lydia was hoping that George was the one who actually took the site down, but when she, “talked to some people,” she found out it was Darcy. Lydia hints that Darcy must still have feelings for Lizzie otherwise he would have no reason to go through all of the trouble of buying an entire company to taking down the video.
Lizzie and Lydia are continuing to get to know each other again. They are very sweet sisters. In episode 100 Lydia even gives Lizzie a new list called, “20 Reasons Why Lizzie Bennet Is No Longer Perpetually Single,” and says, “You are way to cool not to get any guy you want.” There is a new understanding and appreciation between the sisters that is lovely to watch.
Lizzie and Darcy
After Lizzie finds out what Darcy did for Lydia, she decides to call his phone, yet she doesn’t hear from him for 3 days. He shows up at her house on her 25th birthday (March 18th), so he can see her face when he asks her, “Why did you call me?” Their whole interaction is so delightfully embarrassing. She thanks him from her whole family for taking that video down. In reply he says, “I did it only for you.” Darcy then tells Lizzie that he doesn’t want to be just friends and that his feeling are still the same, if not stronger. At that point Lizzie kisses him.
(YOU GO GIRL! Take control and get what you want! Amen to that. I applaud Lizzie for making the first move like that and going in for the kiss). Darcy and Lizzie (Dizzy as fans call them) proceed to kiss a lot more throughout the episode, and it is super adorable.
On Lizzie and Darcy’s one-week anniversary Darcy tries to hijack Lizzie’s videos but ends up being fairly awkward in front of the camera by himself. Darcy says that the week with Lizzie, “…has been the best week of my life.” He also says, (what the viewers already know), “My name is William Darcy, and Lizzie Bennet is amazing.” Lizzie teases him about the first time they met which was, “The most awkward dance ever!” While Lizzie seems to enjoy these memories of their early encounters, she also presses Darcy about when his feelings for her started to change. Darcy says, “I honestly can’t remember. I was in the middle before I knew it has begun.” Lizzie says her moment of realization came when she saw the beautiful offices of Pemberley Digital. These light banters are wonderful. They are straight from Jane Austen’s novel, yet they are in modern speech.
Darcy offer’s Lizzie a job at Pemberley, yet she turns him down. She has decided to start her own digital media company and wants to move to San Francisco after graduation. Darcy is supportive of her move and of her decision to start her own company. He even offers to help her find potential investors, even though her business will be competing with him. I am so thankful that Lizzie did not just go to work for Pemberley. That would have been a let down. Lizzie defends her decision by saying, “I don’t want to be the girl who dates the boss.” I applaud her spirit and her desire to make it on her own and I think Jane Austen would too!
Lizzie and Charlotte
I am so pleased that the series does not end with Lizzie and Darcy. Rather Lizzie shares her 100th and final episode with Charlotte and Lydia. As much as I love Darcy and Lizzie’s relationship, I love Lizzie’s relationship with her friend, sister and herself more. I think it was a very brave choice for the creators not to have Darcy in the last episode. It concludes the theme that has been running through the series; the relationship between sisters (whether by birth or choice) is one of the most important relationships in a person’s life. I agree completely and applaud The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for their focus on women and female relationships. It was also delightful to watch Lizzie grown emotionally throughout the course of the series. As she started to see her own flaws, and while she still sees the follies of others, she might judge them less harshly or quickly in the future.
The girls’ faces are priceless in this picture
TWO SURPRISES AT THE END (Spoilers)
1st SURPRISE — At the very end of the 100th episode Mrs. Bennet walks into frame so the viewers can just see her torso and says, “Lizzie what are you and dear Charlotte doing in here?” It is an amazing moment since it has been a running joke through the series that Lizzie is trying to keep the videos from her mother.
2nd SURPRISE — As a little postscript after the final episode, the creators released some pictures on twitter of Lizzie, Darcy, Charlotte, Lydia and Ricky Collins hanging out at a bar celebrating Charlotte’s promotion and Ricky’s move to Canada to be with his fiancé. I am glad Mr. Collins makes one final appearance because he is just a fabulous character.
A giant thank you to Virginia for her insightful and passionate commentary on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for the last eleven weeks. What a great series. We are looking forward to the production company’s next venture that was announced with a Kickstarter fundraiser:
Welcome to Sanditon
Based on one of Jane Austen’s unﬁnished novels, Welcome To Sanditon will be a full interactive experience that takes you to the beach town of Sanditon, California as it attempts to revitalize itself into a modern resort destination.
Through Gigi’s videos, you’ll meet the residents of Sanditon as she brings the beta version of Domino to reveal the drama in their lives. But we’re not stopping there.
In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, you got to interact with the story. In Welcome To Sanditon, we’re taking things one step further — you’ll get a chance to be a part of the story.
We’re busy putting the town together now, and will reveal more details soon.
Welcome to Sanditon will launch in early May 2013.
Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington, Austenprose
Posted in Jane Austen Adaptations, Lizzie Bennet Diaries | Tagged Jane Austen, Jane Austen Movies, Lizzie Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice Adaptations, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries | 2 Comments »
From the desk of Katie P.
In keeping with her much loved style of traditional Regency romances, Julie Klassen has recently published her sixth novel, The Tutor’s Daughter, a romantic mystery set in Regency England. This novel blends the satisfying romance of Jane Austen with the Gothic surprises of Charlotte Bronte, coming together in a delightful style that is all the author’s own.
Ever since her mother died, Emma Smallwood has helped her father run his all-male boarding school. At twenty-one, she has found her time consumed by the many school related burdens that her father, in his grief, has ignored; teaching history, geography, and math, as well as trying to make ends meet for the quickly failing academy, with only a few moments to spare to dream about travel and adventures of her own. But just when the last pupil graduates and Emma runs out of all options to restore Smallwood Academy to its glory days, a letter arrives offering a new position to both Emma and her father, as tutor and tutor’s daughter for one year at Ebbington Manor along the stormy coast of Cornwall. While her father is overjoyed to leave the place that reminds him of his departed wife, Emma unearths long buried memories, ones that remind her of two particular pupils from her father’s academy. Phillip Weston, of the kind blue eyes, warm friendship, and stolen kiss, and Henry Weston, of the flashing green eyes, malicious pranks, and partner in one hard-to-be-forgotten dance. For Emma has discovered that the letter and advantageous job opening is from none other than Lord Weston, the father of both her friend, and her nemesis.
On her arrival at Ebbington Manor, Emma is disconcerted by the mysteries that seem to be in every dark corner and abandoned wing of her new home, as well as in the lives of everyone she meets. She and her father arrive virtually unexpected and are treated with suspicion from Lady Weston and disdain from Rowan and Julian Weston, the twins they are to teach. From the desperate cries that wake her in the middle of the night, to the hauntingly beautiful piano music that no one admits to playing, Emma is torn between staying uninvolved and seeking out the answers to all her questions on her own. But when she receives bloody threats and the animosity of Mr. Teague, the local who makes a living from salvaging cargo from wrecks, Emma finds herself caught up in a whirlwind of treachery, not knowing who to trust. Should she trust Lizzie, Lady Weston’s young and mercurial ward, Philip, who is the same friendly and flirtatious man she remembered, or Henry, who has transformed into a man of resolve and courage? With her life in danger and her faith in God tested, Emma must make her choice and discover the answers to all the many secrets, even those of her own heart.
The Tutor’s Daughter is definitely a novel of suspense. Every character–every chapter–has some newly uncovered mystery or clue. Sometimes this got to be a bit much—as I was reading I tried to tie in all the individual “clues” to one big mystery, only to discover that there were literally nine different secrets, large and small, that are all revealed at the end. At 409 pages, this should be considered an epic. Julie Klassen seemed to want to add everything possible to this book, from historical anecdotes about Cornwall, wreckers (those who salvage leftover cargo from wrecks), and special needs children, to romantic peril tied in with faith in God. All of this together made for a well written and exciting, if sometimes exhausting, read. Some of the most interesting parts of this book were Emma’s flashbacks of her growing-up years at her father’s academy. They provided much needed insights into who Emma really was, since at the beginning of the book she seems more repressed (busy as she is with taking care of her father and the school). Her past relationships with Henry and Philip Weston are slowly revealed by flashbacks chapter by chapter, so almost like an onion (or a flower if you’d rather a more romantic allusion), her back story is revealed layer by layer. By the end of the novel I found myself, almost without realizing it, very much attached to the main characters, much more so than when I first met them.
One of my favorite parts of The Tutor’s Daughter is Henry’s point of view past and present. Through his eyes you can see his take on some of the same events that Emma remembers (and cringes at), sometimes from a drastically different angle.
On a whim, he decided to toss pride aside and try transparent honesty instead. “Do you recall the last time you and I danced? I am afraid I was rude to you.” She ducked her head, embarrassed. “You didn’t like being forced to dance with me than any more than now, I imagine.” It was his turn to be taken aback. “Miss Smallwood, you are mistaken. I am very much enjoying dancing with you.” She stole a glance at him from under her long lashes. “And the last time we danced?” He grimaced, almost wishing he hadn’t brought up the past. “I had a dashed wart on my hand and was afraid you’d be repulsed.” She looked up, a grin quivering on her lips. “That was all?”
“That was enough. Dashed embarrassing.”
Her grin widened. He wasn’t sure if he liked her reaction or not. She seemed to be enjoying his mortification a bit too much. She said, “You might simply have said so.”
“In front of that lot? Never. Probably would have given me the nickname Wartson before the day was up.” p. 204
Julie Klassen did a fine job varying the conversations and emotions shared between the two main characters—there was a perfect balance of light-hearted banter–
“I have a good stance. Let me help you.” She grinned. “Just try to remain vertical so you don’t butt me with your very large head.”
He smirked up at her. “One wonders how I’ve found hats to fit me all these years.”
“I imagine your hatter is exceptionally well paid.” He placed his hand in hers but warned, “If I start to fall, let me go. Do you hear? I don’t want to have to put my back out lifting you up again.” p. 349
–and powerful interchange–
She walked through the water, her steps made slow and arduous by heavy, sodden skirts. Her eyes remained fastened on his. Another wave sprayed through the window, pelting Emma’s face. Her eyes filled with tears, too many to be blinked away, and salt water both warm and cold ran down her cheeks. She saw answering tears in his eyes. And somehow she knew the tears were not for himself but for her.” p. 348
–that made the climax, as well at The Tutor’s Daughter as a whole, a book well worth the read.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Regency Stars
The Tutor’s Daughter, by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers (2013)
Trade paperback (416) pages
Cover image courtesy © 2013 Bethany House Publishers; text © 2013 Katie Patchell, Austenprose
Posted in Book Reviews, Regency Era Book Reviews | Tagged Book Review, Books, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Julie Klassen, Reading, Regency era, Regency romance, The Tutor's Daughter | 4 Comments »
From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington
This week on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries I will be looking at episodes 85-89 and Gigi’s Domino videos. There was just too much to get through with the Lydia storyline to add in Jane and Bing, so I will save that for next week. These are emotionally packed videos, though a lot of the action happens off stage like it does in Pride and Prejudice.
Lizzie and Lydia
Lizzie rushes home from her internship at Pemberley Digital, Darcy’s Company, when Charlotte tells her about Lydia and George Wickham’s website. George videoed an intimate encounter between he and Lydia and sold it to a distribution company. The website was advertising the count-down to the release of the video. When Lizzie arrives home she thinks that Lydia knows about the website. It is only after she confronts Lydia that she reveals she had no idea about the site. Lydia stares at the website in horror and disbelief. She just keeps repeating, “This is a joke right?” Yet Lizzie knows it is no joke. George sold the tape without Lydia’s knowledge and never returns any of Lydia’s text, calls or tweets.
A main theme from this week’s videos is Lizzie and Lydia’s coming to terms with each other. Episode 87 makes me tear up every time I watch it. It is really wonderful, though it strays from Jane Austen’s original text which does not give Lydia and Elizabeth a chance at reconciliation. When Lydia returns home, she is gloating over her marriage to Wickham and pretends that her elopement was not scandalous. The fact that George abandons Lydia in The LBD is perhaps the best thing that ever happened to Lydia. It allows her to go back to her family instead of her remaining in his clutches.
In later episodes Lizzie blames herself for this fiasco. She thinks she could have prevented it if she would have just talked to Lydia or been there for her. Yet in episode 85, she acknowledges George’s power over people when she says, “George has a history of convincing smart women to do dumb things.” I think this is a direct reference to Gigi, but it might also be an indirect reference to herself. George helped to convince her that Darcy was rude, and spiteful. Lizzie and the viewers can see George’s power to manipulate women when we looks at how he treated Gigi, Lizzie, and Lydia.
Lydia was vulnerable to George. She fell for him hard and quickly. She believed that he loved her, and to prove her love to him she let him film them. She was cut her off from her normal source of support (her sisters), which made her dependent on him. Lydia is devastated by George’s betrayal and questions her own self worth. She says, “If he is all bad then what does that say about me?” Lizzie consoles her by saying, “You don’t deserve awful things to happen to you because you trusted someone who was there for you when no one else was.” Episode 87. These are powerful lines and really show Lizzie’s compassion for her sister. She doesn’t blame Lydia, but herself for not being there when Lydia needed her.
Lizzie proves that she is there for Lydia and apologies for not “really seeing her” before. Both sisters admit that they have been rather consumed with themselves and neglected their relationship with each other. This makes The LBD stand out from the novel by focusing on sisterly relationships. Lizzie and Lydia do reconcile in The LBD. In one of the most touching moments from the series, Lizzie hugs Lydia and cradles her in her arms saying, “I love you… I love you… You are not alone.”
The Domino Videos
Domino is a new communication application that is being developed by Darcy’s company, Pemberley Digital. Gigi Darcy (Darcy’s sister) does “test videos” to check out Domino’s features. Domino is suppose to be a “life revealing application.” The application can call by phone and video a conversation. The system is also suppose to auto-edit, auto-update and auto-upload the demo videos. In describing the Domino, Hank Green says, “Domino may be a fairly weird application in real-life terms, but it totally kicks ass for the purposes of this show in terms of giving us unedited real-time conversations that otherwise have no business being shared.” I think he is right. Domino might seems a little far-fetched, with its self editing videos and such, but I think it is mainly a plot device so that the application will auto update the videos even if Gigi does not want all of the information on the internet.
The Domino videos are interesting because they let us see more of Gigi, Fitz, and Darcy, and we get a glimpse into what they are doing to find George Wickham and take down the site. The videos are vague about how Darcy and Fitz are trying to take down the site, but we do know that they are working on it. Gigi also gets to play a role because she is the one who calls George and gets him to answer the phone and use Domino (thus download the app and accepting the terms and conditions which allows Darcy track him). We don’t exactly know how Darcy found him, or what they said to each other when Darcy confronted him, BUT I don’t think there were many nice words exchanged. Here are some of the tweets between Gigi and Fitz about the search for George
Jane Through It All
Jane is a wonderful support for both of her sisters throughout these videos. She comforts them and brings them tea saying, “Everyone deserves tea.” Her sweetness and astuteness really show how much she loves her sisters and how well she knows them. Jane truly is wise when she says, “It not about doing anything. Its just about being here and her knowing that she doesn’t have to go through any of this alone.” The sisters are there to remind Lydia that she doesn’t have to face the world alone. After the video comes down, Lizzie finally admits to Jane that she saw Bing when she was at Pemberley (but more on that next week).
THE VIDEO COMES DOWN
When the video is removed from the website in episode 88, Lizzie and Lydia are both grateful and thank whoever took the video down. They also apologize to each other. Lizzie says, “I am sorry I didn’t really know you.” and Lydia says, “I didn’t really let you.” Both sisters acknowledge their mistakes and move forward with their relationship.
These are the most serious videos in the series. They are also some of the most moving and most heartfelt because it is through adversity that the sisters begin to see each other in a new light. Though these episodes also stray from the novel, I think they stray in a way that makes the story stronger. Lydia is no longer a throw away character. The viewers have come to know and love Lydia’s much more in The LBD than the readers ever did in Pride and Prejudice. This investment in the character development is not wasted because Lydia is allowed to change and grow.
Next week I will be looking at episodes 92-100! I can’t believe the series is really over!
Don’t forget to check out the LBD Kickstart. They have some fabulous perks, and we want them to keep up the great work!
Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington
Posted in Jane Austen Adaptations, Lizzie Bennet Diaries | Tagged Jane Austen, Jane Austen Adaptations, Jane Austen Movies, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice Adaptations, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries | 3 Comments »
This is my fourth selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013.
In 2005 author Amanda Grange gave Pride and Prejudice fans what they had been craving for centuries—Jane Austen’s classic story retold entirely from the perspective of its iconic romantic hero—Mr. Darcy. It was certainly not the first novel to explore this concept, but Mr. Darcy’s Diary remains, after many other attempts, the best in a very crowded field of Darcyiana.
I first read Darcy’s Diary eight years ago when it was released in the UK. I paid a fortune for the first edition to be shipped to the US. I did not regret it. My copy retains its place of honor on my Austen sequel bookshelf, along with the five other novels in her Austen Hero Diaries Series that Grange has since produced. She has a large international following for her work which she has earned through honest homage and clever craftsmanship.
Writing a first person narrative of a classic hero who is a bit of a prig in the original story has its challenges. In Pride and Prejudice the reader sympathizes with the heroine Elizabeth Bennet in her dislike of Mr. Darcy. We meet him and draw our conclusions of his personality from her perspective—he is a proud and disagreeable man—we see why she thinks so, but we do not know why.
Seeing the same events unfold from his eyes does not absolve him of his bad behavior, but as the narrative progresses, we are more sympathetic to his reasons. As we discover his inner thoughts and outward actions, our second impressions countermand his arrogant noble mien: we learn details of his chance intervention of the elopement of his sixteen-year old sister Georgiana with his nemesis George Wickham; we see his management of his soft-hearted friend Charles Bingley and learn why he is guiding him by the manipulation of his confidence and Bingley’s sisters; we see his attraction to Elizabeth Bennet spark and grow from his original cool intolerance to his admiration of her “fine eyes” and saucy impertinence—and his puzzlement of her brusque behavior to him.
‘Oh,’ she said, ‘I heard you before; but could not immediately determine what to say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say “Yes,” that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes. I have therefore made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all – and now despise me if you dare.’
‘Did I really seem so perverse to her? I wondered. And yet I could not help smiling at her sally, and her bravery in uttering it.’ p. 40
Close readers of Pride and Prejudice will recognize lines of Austen’s original dialogue (like Elizabeth’s speech to Darcy quoted above) interlaced with Grange’s new text. This ingenious co-mingling is seamless and we partake in many of the important passages where Darcy interacts with Elizabeth in the original novel, and then his private reaction. This works for this reader because Grange does not try to write like Austen in Elizabeth head, but as Grange in Darcy’s.
For those who are a student of character (like our heroine Elizabeth) it is interesting to observe our hero Darcy’s view of events from a male perspective. The whole Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus theory plays out beautifully and Grange takes full advantage of the differences in the sexes and how they think and react to the same scene when Elizabeth arrives at the Netherfield Ball.
“I continued walking towards her. ‘I am glad to see you here. I hope you had a pleasant journey?’ I asked. ‘This time, I hope you did not have to walk!’
‘No, I thank you,’ she said stiffly. ‘I came in a carriage.’
I wondered if I had offended her. Perhaps she felt I had meant my remark as a slight on her family’s inability to keep horses purely for their carriage. I tried to repair the damage of my first remark.’” p. 51
Clueless! There is some hope of improvement. As Darcy’s admiration of Elizabeth grows, it begins to humble his pride. While he is in Kent visiting his aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh, we begin to see the change as he reacts to Elizabeth’s explanation to Darcy’s cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam of his behavior when they first met at the Meryton Assembly.
“In her eyes, my refusal to dance became ridiculous, and I saw it so myself, for the first time. To stride about in all my pride, instead of enjoying myself as any well-regulated man would have done. Absurd! I would not ordinarily have tolerated any such teasing, and yet there was something in her manner that removed any sting, and instead made it a cause for laughter.” p. 78
Even though many will know the final outcome of the story, Grange keeps us in suspense by adding new scenes and inner thoughts that only Darcy would be privy too—and now we are too. What fan of Pride and Prejudice, and Mr. Darcy, could possibly resist reliving a cherished novel and walking in his shiny, black Hessian boots? I couldn’t.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel, by Amanda Grange
Trade paperback (320) pages
Cover images courtesy of © 2005 Robert Hale Ltd & © 2007 Sourcebooks; text ©2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Posted in Blog Events, Book Reviews, Jane Austen Sequels Book Reviews, The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 | Tagged Amanda Grange, Book Review, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Sequels, Mr. Darcy's Diary, Pride and Prejudice Sequels, Reading, The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 | 40 Comments »
From the desk of Christina Boyd
In a departure from her Napoleonic spy romances of the Pink Carnation Series, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig ventures into new territory with The Ashford Affair. Entwining one generation’s story with that of another, from post-Edwardian British society to modern day Manhattan to a coffee farm in Kenya, the long veiled secrets of a woman are unraveled.
Clementine Evans, a focused, driven law associate on the cusp of making partner in a large Manhattan firm, attends her beloved grandmother Adeleine’s 99th birthday and is accidentally enlightened to a family secret. At 34, Clemmie, feeling like her life is nothing but a 70-plus hour workweek, and a failed engagement, this intrigue becomes more than a distraction to the un-fulfilling, lonely details of her days.
“Clemmie slid the picture back into the drawer. There was another underneath it, a studio portrait of a woman, her head tilted. Her pale hair was crimped in stylized waves around her face and her pale eyes gazed soulfully into the distance. She looked, somehow, strangely familiar, her cheekbones, the shape of her lips, as if Clemmie had seen her somewhere before.” p. 65.
But trying to get any information from her own tight-lipped mother proves difficult. And how is it that her ex-stepbrother knows more about the family histories than she does?
Adeleine Gillecote’s parents die when she is almost six and she grows up as the mouse-brown ward of her aristocratic aunt and uncle at Ashford Park, a grand English country house. Though brought up with her cousins, Addie never overcomes the status of a poor relation. Despite this, her best friend from almost the start is her vivacious, beautiful, golden cousin, Bea, who takes Addie under her wing, sheltering Addie from her unwelcoming mother, and earning her love and fidelity. As the girls grow and experience the pre-WWI balls and English society, Addie tries not to begrudge Bea’s beauty or her unaffected graces. But when a man comes between the two, it appears all loyalties come to an end, and, escaping to Kenya still isn’t quite far enough. “Addie pressed her fist to her lips, trying not to think what she was thinking. She closed her eyes, fighting a terrible certainty, the certainty that what she was hearing was true, that this was Bea, that Bea had, did, and always would do what she liked, regardless of the consequences, regardless even of Addie.” p. 196.
Although this latest offering is a non-Pink novel, fans of Willig’s the Pink Carnation Series will be giddy with delight when they meet the handsome, cynical and witty descendant of Lord Vaughn. Yes! That Vaughn from The Masque of the Black Tulip.
“He looked feline himself, all boneless grace, with the measureless self-satisfaction afforded by knowing his ancestors had been dining off gold plate when others had still been scratching about in the dirt: the Honorable Theophilius Vaughn, the despair of the ancient line. According to his frustrated family, he had both the morals of a cat and all of its nine lives.” p. 248.
“The spawn of Vaughn.” Ha!! Her words from her website, not mine!
Some have described this novel as Out of Africa meets Downton Abbey. *sigh* Well, use those cinematic visuals if you must, but I can honestly attest, The Ashford Affair is so much more. Much more. This is the kind of the novel that will stay with you; keep you mulling over the vibrant characters and intrinsic detailing long after you’ve inhaled that satisfying last page. Lauren Willig’s The Ashford Affair is brilliant! Glittering brilliance.
5 out of 5 Stars
The Ashford Affair: A Novel, by Lauren Willig
St. Martin’s Press (2013)
Hardcover (368) pages
Cover image courtesy © 2013 St. Martin’s Press; text © 2013 Christina Boyd, Austenprose
Posted in Book Reviews, Edwardian Era Book Reviews | Tagged Book Blogs, Book Reviews, Books, Downton Abbey, Edwardian-era, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Lauren Willig, Out of Africa, Pink Carnation Series, Reading, The Ashford Affair | 5 Comments »
From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington
There are only 8 videos this week of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but they are packed full of important information and plot developments. Here are some of the highlights and my take on them from these episodes.
Meeting Gigi Darcy:
Gigi Darcy, played by Allison Paige, is a pretty big departure from her character in Pride and Prejudice. In the novel Georgiana is EXTREMELY shy. In the LBD Gigi isn’t shy at all. She is fun and outgoing, even if a little inexperienced. She becomes a tour guide for the day to show Lizzie around and then seems to be confused by the fact that she can’t leave a school group roaming around Pemberley Digital by themselves. Yet it is clear that she likes Lizzie and wants to be friends with her. I love that Gigi seeks out Lizzie and watches her videos. Lizzie is a little hesitant about Gigi since she is Darcy’s sister, but the two do get along well from the very beginning.
Lizzie and Darcy Meeting:
I am biased, but this is my favorite video in the series. The meeting at Pemberley is one my favorite chapters in the novel also because that scene is so perfectly awkward in my eyes that it makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. So little is said, as described by Jane Austen, and no lines are actually given between Lizzie and Darcy, yet every reader fills in the lines for themselves.
“As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road, which led behind it to the stables.
They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immoveable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility.
She had instinctively turned away; but, stopping on his approach, received his compliments with an embarrassment impossible to be overcome.” (chapter 43)
The LBD version of the meeting at Pemberley Digital is equally delightful and uncomfortable, but in different ways. Gigi instigates the meeting instead of it happening by chance. I see why the creators did this. Perhaps it was so that it could more easily happen on camera. Perhaps they wanted Gigi to take a more active role in brining the couple together. Either way—I like it. Gigi‘s scheming is good-natured and well meaning. She seems to know her brother and Lizzie better than they know themselves because she sees that they are compatible. Gigi is able to give Lizzie and Darcy a second chance at getting to know each other and seeing each other in a better light. Gigi also seems to have a partner in crime for her scheming… Fitz! Check out their tweets to each other. They are adorable.
Bing and Lizzie have some AWKWARD conversations. She seems semi-hostile to him and he seems like a sad puppy that is looking for some sort of consolation. Either way this is not my favorite part of the series. Bing also looks like he has been constantly crying because his eyes look red. Lizzie makes the remark “he is a med student… shouldn’t he be in class at least some of the time?” Overall I was totally bored by the Bing videos especially when compared to the other videos from this section. Bing without Jane=Dull… he should figure that out SOON.
Gigi decides to tell Lizzie what happened with George Wickham on the videos. Lizzie tells her she doesn’t have to, but Gigi insists. Wickham took advantage of Gigi when she was in school and became her swim coach. They started a relationship and Wickham moved in with her. Wickham’s motives seem to have been revenge on Darcy and to get money from him, or at least to mooch off Gigi for a while.
This is a particularly powerful episode since the story comes from Gigi herself instead of from her brother. Gigi explains her vulnerability when she says, “He said he needed me.” She was doped by George and taken in by his lies and promises. She dreamed that George really loved her and that she could convince her brother that their love was real. Darcy proved her wrong when George left so easily because of a check from Darcy. Gigi says she was drawn to Lizzie because nothing she said about Darcy comes close to what she has said about him to his face. She ends her story by telling Lizzie, “He [Darcy] really takes care of those that he cares about.” Gigi gives us a new perspective on Darcy and on George so that we can begin to see both of their true characters.
Lizzie and Darcy Development:
Lizzie, Darcy and Gigi spend the weekend sightseeing in San Francisco, and while there isn’t a video blog about their exploits there are their tweets!
Lizzie and Darcy’s relationship seems to blossom while she is visiting Pemberley, but since she knows he and sister watch the videos, she does not give much personal feedback on how she is feeling about their changing relationship. I understand why she couldn’t/wouldn’t post a video with commentary about her time at Pemberley and her actual thoughts about Darcy and Gigi, but I do wish we could have a little more.
Lizzie interviews Darcy, as the head of Pemberley, about his company, but he actually turns the conversation to be about her video diaries. He complements them and Lizzie. Then they have an interesting discussion about the costume theater and whether it is mocking or not. Both Lizzie and Darcy say that they have been too quick to judge others, and they are now trying to see things from other people’s perspective. This is a wonderful video that shows both Lizzie and Darcy’s growth and how they are becoming more comfortable with each other. Darcy REALLY lightens up when he impersonates Fitz in the costume theater. It is wonderful!
The Bad News:
And then to the bad news… Lizzie gets a new phone because her old one has been messing up so much, so she has not been able to talk to Charlotte for a day or so. When her new phone finally finishes authorizing she sees that she has 7 missed calls from Charlotte. Darcy is with her because he came to ask her to the theater that night for a date. She says she would be happy to go… BUT, then she gets the news about Lydia. She had no idea Lydia was dating George because she has not been watching her videos and has not talked to her sister since Christmas. Lizzie blames herself. She says, “I could have prevented this.” She is upset and frazzled, but Darcy steps in and tries to calm her down. He is level headed and offers to get her home right away and to send her stuff along after she leaves. Lizzie is grateful and says thanks, but she does seem very uncertain of what the future holds.
Overall the Pemberley episodes are my favorite. We meet Gigi who is a wonderful addition and a great modern take on the character of Georgiana. We see Lizzie and Darcy getting to know each other again and starting to like each other, and we see how they handle themselves in a crisis. We can really see the chemistry between Darcy and Lizzie in these videos since they are together so much more. There are several episodes where they both look at each other and the looks on their faces are just BRILLIANT!!!
Next Week, episodes 85-92, and Gigi’s Domino Videos
Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington
Posted in Jane Austen Adaptations, Lizzie Bennet Diaries | Tagged Jane Austen, Jane Austen Adaptations, Jane Austen Films, LBD, Pride and Prejudice Adaptations, Pride and Prejudice Movies, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries | 2 Comments »
26 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of An Affair of Honor by Candice Hern. The winner drawn at random is
- sherrysbooks who left a comment on March 29, 2013
Congratulations Sherry! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by April 10, 2013. Please tell me which item you have won and if you would like a print or digital copy. Print book shipment to US addresses, or eBook internationally.
Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013. The challenge is open until July 1st, 2013, so please check out the details and sign up today!
Image courtesy © 2012 Candice Hern; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Posted in Blog Events, Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 | Tagged An Affair of Honor, Books, Candice Hern, Giveaways, Historical Romance, Reading, Regency romance, Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013, Swag | Leave a Comment »
From the desk of Veronica Ibarra
Ever love a book so much that it is committed to memory? Have a favorite book that provides comfort and escape from life’s more troublesome realities? Pride and Prejudice is just such a book for many, including Kelsey Edmundson, the heroine of Jessica Grey’s new Jane Austen-inspired novel Attempting Elizabeth, who is magically transported through time and dimension jumping right into the story.
Kelsey is a grad student with a deep and abiding geeky love for TV, movies, and books, particularly Pride and Prejudice. She is also in recovery after a bad breakup. In an effort to help Kelsey get back into the game of life, her roommate Tori Mansfield coerces Kelsey into putting on her shortest dress and best boots for a night of dancing. Kelsey, however, is not at the top of her game, suffering through a dance with an overly grope-y acquaintance, manages to insult the Aussie hottie Mark Barnes, and then utterly fails to redeem herself as the evening comes to a close.
If that is not bad enough, the next day Kelsey’s given a second chance to make a better impression with Mark on a group hiking excursion. Unfortunately, hiking is not really Kelsey’s thing and her foul mood prompts more ill-judged comments. Then without a chance to freshen up, the group goes out for dinner, where Kelsey’s downward spiral continues as she spills her drink and the sight of the woman who had put the nail in the coffin of Kelsey’s last relationship hanging all over Mark sends her into a bit of self-pity relapse.
This is when Kelsey seeks comfort in the way so many of us can relate. Dressed in her “rattiest sweats” and armed with a glass of wine and her favorite book, she settles on the couch for some escapist reading. Kelsey escapes far more effectively than she intends as she comes to inexplicably inside the body of Georgiana Darcy. Kelsey is confused. Not only is she inside the world of her favorite book, but being Darcy’s sister is no way to enjoy the experience.
Kelsey’s efforts to cope with her “delusion” are hilarious until she finally discovers the key to returning to her reality. However, reality finds Kelsey still unable to say or do the right thing around Mark, who fate seems to keep throwing at her. Kelsey wonders if it was just a fluke that got her into Pride and Prejudice or if there is a way to repeat the experience. With the exciting discovery that it is possible, Kelsey’s mission becomes jumping into Elizabeth in order to be with Pride and Prejudice’s hero, Darcy. But Kelsey finds that becoming Elizabeth is not so easily done and that her emotional baggage may have something to do with it.
Through Kelsey’s various character jumping Grey demonstrates a keen understanding of the characters Jane Austen created, and also looks at them through the eyes of a modern woman dropped into their world as a participant and not merely as an observer. This presents an added challenge for Kelsey who must fight against her desire to deviate from Austen’s story or suffer on repeat—to truly understand that, you really have to read Attempting Elizabeth.
While Kelsey can jump into Pride and Prejudice and live there with the Regency society, it is Regency as Austen wrote about it. Still the need of maids for dressing, how bathing is handled, and even how relieving oneself is done are only hinted at, but not explored in detail. How the lack of indoor plumbing alone does not kill Kelsey’s determination to be Elizabeth can only be explained by her desire to be with the real Darcy. If you have read Pride and Prejudice then you know that Elizabeth and Darcy do not hit it off from the get go and that there is a lot of time between meetings, we are talking months of time. Even having an escape hatch, I am not sure I would have the same determination as Kelsey.
Kelsey’s journey to true love and through the pages of Pride and Prejudice is fun and quirky. Her internal dialogue is full of references to things Austen would have known nothing about, such Star Wars and Quantum Leap. At the beginning of every chapter there is a quote from a movie, television show, or book, but the details are not given until the end of the story. I am not sure if Grey intended it to be a guessing game or not, but I had fun playing it that way as I read. I got sixteen out of twenty-two. Not sure how geeky that makes me, maybe slightly above average. It is also kind of interesting how the quotes fit with the chapters, but even without them the book is a fun read I would recommend.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
Attempting Elizabeth, by Jessica Grey
Tall House Books (2013)
Trade paperback (320) pages
Cover image courtesy © 2013 Tall House Books; text © 2013 Veronica Ibarra, Austenprose
Posted in Book Reviews, Jane Austen Sequels Book Reviews | Tagged Attempting Elizabeth, Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Sequels, Jessica Grey, Pride and Prejudice, Reading, Time Travel | 6 Comments »
From the desk of Sarah Emsley
“The closer you look, the more you see,” writes John Mullan in What Matters in Jane Austen? Elizabeth Bennet learns this lesson in Pride and Prejudice when she reads and rereads Mr. Darcy’s letter “with the closest attention” to understand why he separated Bingley from Jane and why he doesn’t trust Wickham. Mullan’s compelling analysis of detail in Jane Austen’s novels persuades us that “Little things matter.” In a series of chapters on what he calls “puzzles,” he asks questions about details and discusses how and why they matter. In the process, he demonstrates that the popular pastime of answering quizzes about the novels is not necessarily trivial, but can lead us to a deeper understanding of Jane Austen’s careful craftsmanship and her innovative contributions to the history of fiction.
Mullan pays attention to everything from the ages, names, looks, reading habits, sex lives, incomes, and deaths of Austen’s characters, to the narrative techniques she uses when she shows us their thoughts, when she breaks the pattern of narration to address her reader directly, and when she departs from the consciousness of her heroine to give the point of view of another character. Details about income, for example, show how in Mansfield Park “The reader truly attuned to the value of money should know that the Price family could live a more comfortable life than they do.” Mullan makes the excellent point that “Willoughby reads his way into the Dashwoods’ hearts”—and that while the 1995 film of Sense and Sensibility shows Willoughby and Marianne reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, in the novel they read Hamlet, a choice of play that “testifies to the literary seriousness of the Dashwoods, and to the willingness of Marianne’s suitor to take on the most demanding parts.” When he asks “What Makes Characters Blush?” he shows how Austen uses blushes to signal guilt, which sets her apart from other contemporary novelists whose heroines blush virtuously, and he points out that the spontaneous “Austen blush” is nearly impossible to perform on screen or stage.
Austen wants her readers to think about sex and death, although she is not always obvious about the way she calls our attention to these matters. From the first line of Pride and Prejudice, in which we’re asked to believe the universal truth about a rich bachelor’s desire for a wife, “Austen’s stories rely on an acknowledgement of men’s sexual appetites,” writes Mullan. Very few deaths happen within the novels—only Mrs. Churchill in Emma, and Dr. Grant and Lord Ravenshaw’s grandmother in Mansfield Park—yet Mullan shows how the responses of Austen’s characters to these deaths and others, such as the deaths of Fanny Harville, Sir Walter Elliot’s still-born son, and Lady Susan’s husband, tell us much about the living. While he argues that such details about money, reading, blushing, sex, and death matter because they “reveal people’s schemes and desires,” however, he focuses more on what they tell us about social history and Austen’s narrative strategies than on what they say about her understanding of psychological complexity and her moral vision.
At times Mullan overstates his case or doesn’t fully develop his argument. After discussing the often-overlooked role of the lower classes in the novels, he concludes, “the servants see everything.” While he’s right to claim that “we as readers should see them watching and listening,” there are still many private scenes and conversations they do not witness. In discussing right and wrong ways to propose marriage, he claims that a “good man” would be bound to honor his first proposal, as Edward Ferrars does in Sense and Sensibility, but “A woman … can change her mind.” I wondered why he doesn’t explore the question of whether Austen believes a “good woman” may reverse her decision after accepting a proposal. The women he cites who change their minds, including Lucy Steele, do so for radically different reasons. Lucy’s moral character is not improved by her decision not to marry Edward Ferrars, even though the decision improves his life and that of Elinor Dashwood. When Mullan discusses why Austen’s plots rely so much on “blunders,” he suggests that a line from the ending of Emma could serve as a motto for her fiction: “Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure.” At the same time, however, his own approach in reading and rereading the novels, just as Elizabeth reads and rereads Darcy’s letter “with the closest attention,” points to another line from the novels that could equally serve as a motto. Almost no one tells the complete truth, but Austen suggests it’s always worth paying attention to the details to get as close as possible to it.
Little things do matter in Jane Austen, because they tell us about bigger things. Janeites, rejoice! This beautifully written book about Austen’s six major novels, plus Lady Susan and the unfinished novels Sanditon and The Watsons, is both a helpful, highly readable guide to Austen’s work, and a scholarly contribution to criticism that analyzes Austen’s achievement. Such books are rare. Mullan argues persuasively that Austen knew she was creating a kind of fiction quite different from what her contemporaries and predecessors produced, and he highlights her successful experiments in conveying the thoughts and inner lives of her characters (pioneering the technique that later came to be called “free indirect discourse”).
What Matters in Jane Austen is a thoroughly engaging close reading of Austen’s fiction that encourages us to read closely to see and understand more. I can’t help but wish, however, that Mullan would take his argument even further: little things matter not only because they show us Austen’s “extraordinary narrative sophistication,” as he concludes, but also because they reveal the subtleties of her insight into the moral lives of her characters. Ethics matters in Jane Austen, as well as craft.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved, by John Mullan
Bloomsbury Press (2013)
Hardcover (352) pages
Cover images courtesy © Bloomsbury Press 2012 & 2013; text © Sarah Emsley 2013
Posted in Book Reviews, Jane Austen Critiques & Analysis Book Reviews | Tagged Book Reviews, Books, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Analysis, Jane Austen Nonfiction, John Mullan, Nonfiction, Reading, What Matters in Jane Austen | 14 Comments »
From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington
We have been taking a closer look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries over the past few weeks. Lizzie has two sisters in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice: Jane and Lydia. While Lizzie is the main character of the novel, and this new series, her wild and outrageous younger sister Lydia often steals the show—so much so that she started her own spinoff videos. Today we will focus on LEE DEE YA and her own The Lydia Bennet Videos!
Lydia Bennet in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is one of the biggest deviations from the novel, and I think it is one of the reasons why the series seems so modern and original. Lydia shows up in Lizzie videos frequently, but it is through her own videos that we really get to see her development and spiral to be under Wickham’s control. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries gives a much more sympathetic look at Lydia because we get to know her so much better than we do in the book; we see more of her mistakes, and (spoilers) she is able to redeem herself in the end.
Mary Kate Wiles plays a wonderful Lydia Bennet. She was actually the first part the producers cast. I am so glad that Mary Kate got Lydia because she brought such energy and vitality to that role in the beginning and we are totally drawn in when we witness her decline. Rachel Kiley was the writer who did most, if not all, of the Lydia Bennet videos, and I think she did an amazing job. The writing of Lydia and Wickham’s relationship I find particularly terrifying because it seems so true to life.
Storyline for The Lydia Bennet Videos:
Lydia’s videos are much more scattered than Lizzie’s because they start and stop depending on when Lizzie is out of town. Here are some highlights though through the videos:
- Lydia goes to stay with her cousin Mary when the girls are at Netherfield.
- Lydia gets even with some girls who were making fun of Mary.
- When Lydia returns home, she continues to hang out with Mary because she is helping her study for her exams
- Lydia starts skipping class more to go hang out with Mary.
- Lydia runs off to LA to go see Jane and skips a lot of class.
- Lydia and Mary get in a fight when she discovers that Mrs. Bennet has been paying Mary to tutor her, resulting in Lydia ditching Mary.
- The girls come home for Thanksgiving and Lydia takes a break from making videos because Lizzie is home.
The next group of videos involves Lydia and Lizzie’s fight after Lydia’s birthday. Lydia takes Lizzie’s birthday gift as a criticism of her life choices and she freaks out on Lizzie. Both sisters are stubborn and refuse to apologize thus giving the Christmas videos a lot of tension. Lydia posts a video to Lizzie called “Dear Lizzie Video” where she talks about how lame Lizzie is and how Lizzie needs to get a life. It is a pretty mean spirited video and Lizzie doesn’t like it at all. Lydia then goes to Vegas for New Years with her friends because she wants to be around fun people and not lame people like Lizzie. Yet even when she is in Vegas “partying it up” she is still fixated on Lizzie because many of her videos are rants against her. George Wickham and Lydia meet in Vegas though we only hear about this later when he says, “After what I did for you in Vegas?” It is never clear what Wickham did for her, but they do talk about kissing on New Year’s.
Wickham is back in town and Lydia starts hanging out with him a lot more. Even though they are in a new relationship and are just starting to hang out they still seem to be fixated on Lizzie. He talks about her and, “to her through the camera” several times. This is really where we begin to see the darker side of Wickham because he seems to be doing this to get back at Lizzie. He starts manipulating Lydia very early on. It is also clear that there relationship is moving very fast because Lydia has been spending so much time at Wickham’s apartment and spending the night. George seems to be being a gentleman and loving on Lydia just so he can break through her comfort zone and make her dependent on him.
I actually found it hard to watch Lydia’s last videos. I think speaks to the powerful writing and acting. We all know the story. We know what is coming for Lydia, so it is hard to watch her be so happy only to know that it will be snatched away from her very shortly. George and Lydia fight only to have him tell her that he loves her. The he realizes that it was the first time he said it and that it was on the videos. This seems to be obvious manipulation on Wickham’s part because he is trying to control Lydia and make her fall deeply in love with him.
Lydia’s last video is the saddest of all. She is talking about how much she loves George and how happy she is to be with him while all the time looking sad and alone. George has isolated Lydia even more than her fight with Lizzie did. Lydia use to love her family and her sisters but now she doesn’t care what they think about her relationship with George. She is under the misguided impression that George “puts her first.” She says she will do anything for him. She struggles with the idea of “real love” and “family love.”
Lydia, who has always seemed so self-confident and fun, now says, “I feel good enough good enough for somebody for once… Is that weird… it is really nice.” There is no more heartbreaking line in the entire series. Lydia’s vulnerability here is so evident and yet she also just seems like a normal teen trying to figure out true love. It makes me so sad to think that the LEE-DEE-YA from LBD episode 20 has become this Lydia.
There is redemption for Lydia. I think this is the biggest difference between LBD and the novel. We have not watched the episodes yet, but if you don’t already know instead of running off with Wickham, he makes a sex tape and sells it to a company who will release it. I will talk more about this next week, but I do want to mention that unlike the novel Lydia is redeemed because she breaks from Wickham, has remorse for what she did/let him do, and starts to put her life back together with the help of her family. In the novel Lydia seems like a lost cause. She is still devoted to Wickham in the final chapters and we want to ring her neck for it. In the LBD Lydia’s tryst with Wickham causes her to see her mistakes. She learns about his betrayal and that she must really rely on herself and her family for support instead of him. Lydia has always struck me as the type of person who gets her happiness from other people. I think she learns in later episodes that she must get her happiness from within herself, and while this will be a learning process for Lydia, I think she is capable of it.
The Lydia Bennet Videos are truly a rollercoaster of emotion because they start out so fun and light hearted, but Wickham sends Lydia into a very dark place. I think this Lydia Bennet will rise up from that place though and will be an even stronger and smarter woman, though I don’t know if she will keep her same exuberance as she did in the early episodes.
Next week I will be talking about Episodes 77-85 of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
A Few Announcements:
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are officially DONE! TEARS, WEEPING, and NASHING OF TEETH, ENSUE. The final episode was yesterday, and all I must say is that it did not disappoint. WELL DONE and THANK YOU to everyone involved.
- Sanditon, Jane Austen final unfinished novel is going to be the next mini adaptation that the team does. I am very intrigued by this project because I don’t think there has ever been an adaptation of Sanditon. Gigi Darcy will play a role in it and she is one of my favorite characters from the original series.
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries started a Kickstart campaign to raise money for the DVD’s, the new mini-series — Sanditon, and to pay the actors, writers and creators royalties since they have been working for very little pay on the first series. As of Tuesday, the Kickstart campaign has raised almost $300,000 and has had about 4,500 contributors. This shows you the devotion of the fans to the LBD and the stories they will be creating in the future. There are lots of great incentives for those willing to give. The creators also announced that they are coming out with a special edition of Pride and Prejudice along with the DVD.
Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington
Posted in Jane Austen Adaptations, Lizzie Bennet Diaries | Tagged Jane Austen, Jane Austen Films, Lizze Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice Adaptations, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, The Lydia Bennet Videos | 2 Comments »
This is my third selection in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013, our celebration of Regency romance author Candice Hern. We will be reading all of her traditional Regencies over the next nine months, discussing her characters, plots and Regency history. You can still join the reading challenge until July 1, 2013. Participants, please leave comments and or links to your reviews for this month in the comment section of this post.
An English gentleman lived by a code of honor, but does that also apply to rakes? Even if he is a gentleman by birth do his actions make the man? An Affair of Honor plays on that premise in an amusing way.
After being thrown from his curricle and hitting his head, Colin Herriot, Viscount Sedgewick thinks he sees an angel hovering over him, so he must be dead. Better angels than devils; though his capricious life and rakish ways should equal the later. The figure dons coppery curls and creamy skin so he must be in heaven.
Cradled gently in her arms, Meg Ashburton recognizes the injured traveler immediately as Lord Sedgewick whom she met six years prior during her London Season of 1808. She was a gangly debutante imitating a wallflower. He was a handsome rake with an infamous smile and scandalous reputation. He gallantly asked her to dance. She was smitten. She would never forget the handsome, charming man who showed a kindness to one who others of his station would not give the time of day. She doubted that he remembered her.
Meg and her brother Terrence rescue Sedge and bring him to their home, Thornhill, a horse breeding farm not far away from the scene of the accident. His head injury and broken leg bring on a serious fever which engulfs him for days. Letters are sent to his family and soon Cousin Albert Herriot arrives to see him improving, well cared for, but bedridden until his leg mends. Sedge is unconcerned when Terrence tells him that the axel of his curricle was purposely cut. Who could possibly want to harm him? He truly believes that it was just an accident.
After her disastrous debut season six years ago, Meg has had no interest in men and does not realize the beautiful woman that she has become. Sedge does, and is immediately attracted to her. She enjoys their time together as she helps care for him during his convalescence. She hopes he might propose. Cousin Bertie sees the attraction building between Meg and his cousin and tells Terrence that Sedge is not the marrying kind. Meg overhears his warning to her brother and the reality check hits her hard, so hard that when Sedge decides to propose she believes that he is playing true to form as the consummate rake and wants to engage her as his mistress and not his wife. This misunderstanding separates them brusquely and he returns to London a sullen man totally baffled by her refusal. She is totally offended by his dishonorable proposal. “He wanted her for his mistress. He could not have been more plain. He wanted her body and was willing to pay for it. What a fool she had been!”
This is the third novel in the Regency Rakes Trilogy and I am sure it is no surprise that all three heroes in the series meet their match and fall in love; these novels are romances after all. Each of the stories is connected through the friendship of the three men: Robert Cameron in A Proper Companion, Jack Raeburn in A Change of Heart and Colin Herriot in An Affair of Honor. Each are aristocratic libertine’s who have seduced women, gambled, drank, and avoided romance for many years, yet each in their own way are changed by the love of a woman.
Colin, or “Sedge” to his friends, is the last holdout of the group. The story opens brilliantly with the scene of the carriage accident and renewed acquaintance with Meg, an unlikely heroine who does not realize the power of her beauty or the charm of her own personality. It is a stark contrast to our hero who knows exactly the effect of his charms and plays them like a masterful musician. We don’t trust him, nor do we trust Meg’s inexperienced judgment. It is a perplexing misalliance.
The characterizations in An Affair of Honor are articulated and engaging. Hern gave herself a big challenge by confining the hero to his sickbed for half of the novel. To compensate we are given a generous helping of inner exposition, so be prepared for a slower pace. There is an interesting mystery that threads its way through the story which, though predictable, was intriguing. I was hoping for an Agatha Christie-like twist at the end, but we do get our share of romance. Huzzah indeed! “…he was a cad, she was a fool…” but who isn’t when it comes to love?
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
An Affair of Honor: A Regency Romance by Candice Hern
Trade paperback (278) pages
A Grand Giveaway
Author Candice Hern has generously offered one print copy or one digital copy of An Affair of Honor to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about this novel, or if you have read it, who your favorite character is by midnight PT, Wednesday, April 3, 2013. Winner to be announced on Thursday, April 4, 2013. Print book shipment to US addresses only. Digital copy delivery internationally. Good luck!
Book cover image courtesy © Candice Hern 2012; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Posted in Blog Events, Book Reviews, Regency Era Book Reviews, Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 | Tagged An Affair of Honor, Book Reviews, Books, Candice Hern, Giveaways, Reading, Regency Rakes Trilogy, Regency romance, Regency Romance Challenge, Swag | 28 Comments »
From the desk of Katie P.
An innocent young lady with a secret past preparing for her first Season. Her guardian torn between chasing off suitors and becoming a suitor himself. His friends (who just so happen to be spies) preparing to do what they do best to fend off the rogues. All of this together with a dash of romance, a pinch of adventure, and a handful of espionage, and you have the Pride and Prejudice continuation, Loving Miss Darcy: The Brides of Pemberley.
Georgiana Darcy’s life is peaceful. Her new sister, Elizabeth Bennet Darcy has brought the family together as never before, and Georgiana has happily spent her days in the countryside doing what she loves best with those she loves best, particularly her older cousin and guardian, Col. Richard Fitzwilliam. Surrounded by her music and family, she quickly flourishes into a beautiful young woman of eighteen, with only one dark moment of her past to shade her happiness. But just as she finally manages to put her failed elopement with Mr. Wickham behind her, Georgie finds out that she must go to London for the Season to be thrown in amongst men who only desire her for her fortune, men who might turn out to be exactly like Wickham.
On the eve of Georgiana’s season, Richard rediscovers some old friends and his guardian problems are solved. After all, who better to watch Georgiana and chase off suitors who are not worthy of her (which oddly enough, happens to be all of them), than seasoned spies? And why is it that he seems so against her meeting, well, any eligible gentleman?
With her brother Fitzwilliam Darcy and cousin Richard Fitzwilliam to protect her, Georgiana feels she is safe from ever falling in love again, but what if love has been right in front of her all along? What can Richard and Georgie do when old secrets come to light, and specters from their past come back to haunt them? When her past and future collide, Georgiana must learn to rely on her family and trust the one who loves her, while Richard must begin a search to discover the traitor in their midst before it is too late.
I’ve always been wary about reading Jane Austen continuations, especially Pride and Prejudice ones. All of her characters are so special and beloved, that I’m afraid to come across one that distorts my own opinion and ideas of how they’d act or talk. So I am happy to say that Loving Miss Darcy is a refreshing continuation of Pride and Prejudice. I could easily imagine Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, Kitty, Georgiana, Mrs. Bennet, and Richard in the drawing room discussing art (or attempting to, in the case of Mrs. Bennet) and exchanging witty banter. Nancy Kelley treats the characters with respect and opens them up in a natural way that holds steady to the aspects of their personalities, yet adds some new surprises. For example, sisters Kitty and Mary Bennet are both mature, and soon become Georgiana’s friends. I was pleasantly surprised to see Kitty and Georgiana’s friendship develop, as I had never thought about how Georgiana would interact with Elizabeth’s family. I also loved the new characters that were added. Richard’s family did not appear in more than a few chapters, but when they did, their scenes were so very special. Every family member, no matter how small a role, was entertaining and unique: Elaine (his nagging sister), John and Sally (his cute nephew and niece), Simon (his foppish and irritating brother), and Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam (his wise and loving parents). It was wonderful to read a book that not only had action and adventure, but also tender family scenes. More new characters included the spies: perceptive Sebastian, lovelorn Ashford, and good-natured Colin. They were all well developed, and I just have to sigh a girlish sigh over Richard’s spy friends (gotta love a mysterious and crafty secret agent).
One of the interesting things I learned more about from Loving Miss Darcy was the importance of the coming out Season. I had never thought about the details, or how frightening it would seem in a society where that was the one and only chance at an advantageous marriage—and all of us Jane Austen fans know that an advantageous marriage during the Regency was the highest aspiration for a well-bred female. Georgiana was afraid that she wouldn’t find a worthy man to marry, and Nancy Kelley did a good job portraying this so that the reader could understand the weight of her (and any Regency female’s) decision. Imagine choosing your spouse after knowing them only a short time, and only making your decision based not on character, but on the well-known facts of his or her family property and wealth! As Georgie says, “Flowery speeches have not stood me in good stead. I would much prefer an honest man who speaks from his heart.”
My only problem with this book was the flip-flopping of names. Fitzwilliam Darcy is sometimes called William, but other times called Fitzwilliam. Richard is also Mr. Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam (Richard’s parents) also go by the names of Lord and Lady Matlock. This wasn’t a huge problem when reading, but it was confusing at first.
I love three things in a book—adventure, banter, and romance. This book had all of them, and I cannot wait to read more from this author (and hopefully more about the characters)!
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Loving Miss Darcy: The Brides of Pemberley (Volume 2), by Nancy Kelley
Trade paperback (244) pages
Cover image courtesy © 2013 Nancy Kelley; text © 2013 Katie Patchell
Posted in Book Reviews, Jane Austen Sequels Book Reviews | Tagged 5 Stars Review, Book Blogger, Book Reviews, Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Sequels, Loving Miss Darcy, Nancy Kelley, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice Sequels | 1 Comment »
From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington:
This week on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries Lizzie comes home from Collins & Collins and celebrates the holidays. Episodes 67-76 don’t introduce any new characters (though we do see Mary from Lydia’s videos in Lizzie’s videos for the first time), but there is significant character development of Lizzie, Jane and Lydia. The girls catch up on news from Jane, like that she never heard from Bing when she was in LA, and Charlotte tries to get Lizzie to explain more of what was in Darcy’s letter. Lizzie does do a “story time” where she talks about Darcy and Wickham and how Wickham squandered all his money for college in one year, but she does not mention Gigi at all. Lydia then takes over Lizzie’s vlog while she is in the library studying for exams. Lydia says that the girl’s “summer friends” (Darcy, Caroline and Bing) have “toes filled our lives with drama and annoyance” (Episode 69). She “liked it so much better when it was just you and me and Lizzie and Charlotte and Mary.” Lydia shows her love for her sisters when she says, “It’s almost New Years and that means new people and new places and new super fun times. No more anx’ and drama and stupid people who don’t matter.” While Lydia remains vivacious and lively, this is a slightly more serious side of Lydia because she seems lonely and to be looking out for her sisters and wishing that they could go back to the way they were before Lizzie started her vlog. Lydia says, “We work best just us.”
This, new side of Lydia, is contrasted later by the fight that she and Lizzie get in after her birthday party extravaganza. Lizzie gives Lydia a book as a birthday present called Where Did I Park My Car? A Party Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Successful Adult. Lydia is really hurt by Lizzie’s gift when she realizes that it isn’t a joke. Lydia sees the gift as a condemnation from Lizzie of Lydia’s behavior. Lydia thinks that Lizzie has been influenced in her opinion of Lydia’s actions by Darcy and Caroline and their criticism of Lydia. While Lydia might have a point she seems to be blowing this out of proportion in Lizzie’s eyes and continues to hold a grudge against Lizzie. This will be one of the factors that drives Lydia into the arms of George Wickham.
The girls celebrate Christmas and New Years where Lizzie makes a New Years resolution. She wants to “find out where I am suppose to be” (Episode 76). It is a New Year and a new Lizzie. While I like the old Lizzie just fine, I do think she is growing and changing to become an even brighter, smarter and funnier woman. Lydia is off to Vegas to celebrate the New Year and though the sister are fighting, Lizzie confesses that she is hard on Lydia but that is because she does not want Lydia to make bad decisions and get hurt by the world. As we will soon find out Lizzie’s protection can only go so far.
Lizzie ends by saying that she is taking a week off vloging so she can get ready for her trip to go shadow Pemberley Digital. Then she says “Why does that sounds so familiar?” (I don’t know Lizzie but you are going to be in for heck of a shock when you find out)
Narrative Voice of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries
This is a topic that I have been pondering for a while, narrative voice the LBD v Pride and Prejudice. Having Lizzie narrate the videos gives an interesting twist on the story since in the novel there is a 3rd person narrator most of the time, yet sometimes the reader does get Lizzie’s free indirect discourse where we follow her train of thoughts as if it was narration. Jane Austen was an early writer to experiment with free indirect discourse so it is wonderful to see the vlogs experimenting with this type of narration compared to other adaptations.
Free indirect discourse involves both a character’s speech and the narrator’s comments. What distinguishes free indirect speech from normal indirect speech is the lack of an introductory expression such as “He said” or “he thought.” Free indirect discourse can also be described, as a “Technique of presenting a character’s voice partly mediated by the voice of the author, or, the character speaks through the voice of the narrator, and the two instances then are merged.”
Her astonishment, as she reflected on what had passed, was increased by every review of it. That she should receive an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy! that he should have been in love with her for so many months! so much in love as to wish to marry her in spite of all the objections which had made him prevent his friend’s marrying her sister, and which must appear at least with equal force in his own case, was almost incredible! (Pride and Prejudice chapter 34)
This seems to me to be what The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are when Lizzie looks directly at the camera and tells us her thoughts and feeling. We lose the boundary between narration and her thoughts. This is so interesting because the free indirect discourse is what almost every other adaptation lacks. The 1980s version comes as close as any when it did a voice over for Elizabeth saying, “till the moment I never knew myself”.
All the other versions require dialogue or facial expressions for the viewer to see how Lizzie feels. With The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Lizzie tells us exactly how she is feeling and what she is thinking. While this isn’t exactly free indirect discourse, because Lizzie is speaking to the camera, it is as close as I have ever seen in an adaptation. This is one thing that makes The LBD so unique and actually so like the book.
Next week I am going to focus on the Lydia Bennet Diaries before going back to look at Lizzie’s videos. We need to see her relationship with Wickham progress. ENJOY!
Favorite Quotes of the Week:
- “Is that a Darcyism?” – When Lizzie thinks she might have quoted Darcy (Episode 68)
- “We work best… Just us.” – Lydia talking about her sisters (Episode 69)
- “Yeah 21! And we are going to go out and celebrate your 21st the American way… by going to a bar and getting card and showing your real ID for once.” – Lizzie talking about Lydia’s birthday (Episode 71)
- “Stain in all colors, a small fire out back that was luckily put out before it burned anything other than a shrub and someone keeps spiking volleyballs at the garden gnomes.” – Lizzie describing the insanity of Lydia’s Birthday Party (Episode 72)
Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington
Posted in Jane Austen Adaptations, Lizzie Bennet Diaries | Tagged Jane Austen, Jane Austen Movies, LBD, Pride and Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries | 1 Comment »
From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:
Ever since Shannon Winslow debuted with The Darcys of Pemberley (DoP) in 2011, she’s been an Austen fan-fiction author that I’ve kept on my radar. In the two years since she published DoP I’ve not only read everything else she’s written, For Myself Alone (2012) and Mr. Collins’s Last Supper (2012), but have shared countless conversations with her about life, Austen, and everything in between. She is a woman that truly understands people and deep feelings. It’s easy to understand this without knowing her when you read her latest novel Return to Longbourn. The depth of feeling that the characters go through by the end of the novel is nothing short of astounding.
Mary Bennet is happily ensconced at Netherfield Park as the governess for the Farnsworth family. All is well in her life until her father suddenly passes away. Back at home in mourning with her family she realizes how alone she feels. Her sisters Elizabeth and Jane have their husbands to turn to, while Kitty has Lydia. She feels that her only value is to remain stoic and take care of the household while the rest of her sisters fall apart emotionally. It’s this event that triggers a sudden heaviness to her life. When it’s announced that her cousin Tristan Collins (the heir to Longbourn) will be notified of Mr. Bennet’s death, well, that’s when her life turns a bit hectic. Mrs. Bennet announces her plan to have Kitty marry Mr. Collins so that they can remain at Longbourn, while Kitty confides to Mary that she is planning her escape to Pemberley. Mary understands Kitty’s reluctance to enter a marriage without love and agrees to keep their new cousin occupied until Kitty is summoned back to Longbourn. Much to everyone’s surprise, Tristan Collins arrives and is the complete opposite of his odious older brother William in every way. Mary feels herself beginning to fall in love with him and internally questions her decision to live her life without the love of a man. Add to all of this the bipolar friendship she maintains with her employer, the widowed Mr. Farnsworth, and you have the makings of much soul searching. Will Mr. Collins return her feelings? How will Mr. Farnsworth deal with her possible leaving Netherfield Park?
Upon first glance, many readers will find this to be a story about love, and in some aspects, redemption. The deeper, more beautiful story to take away from this novel is that of a young woman trying desperately to find her place in a world where she begins to feel valueless. Winslow’s Mary (and Austen’s too) is a stoic individual, not much taken with the fancies of romance, men, balls, or fine clothes. She much prefers to toil her hours away with books and reading. She can at times be a woman of unyielding character, but deep down past this hardened exterior is a woman just like any other. She wants to have purpose, she wants friendship, and yes, she even longs for love. In Return to Longbourn, we see a Mary who is beginning to question the way she has lived her life emotionally. Add to that the grief from her father’s death and the relationships of her sisters and brother-in-laws, and you find a very lost woman indeed. All of this coupled together makes Mary a very relatable character. For who among us can claim to never have felt lost in their own skin and unable to make sense of a multitude of new and unusual emotions?
I truly loved how Winslow showcased Mary’s multiple dimensions through her relationships with the other characters of the novel. Her personal connections with her students, employer, cousin, sisters, and mother all helped create a depth to Mary that wasn’t there before. Winslow has mastered the technique of writing like Austen. I can honestly say she’s one of the best writers of the genre, getting not only the language down, but Austen’s tongue-in-cheek humor as well. While a majority of the book has Mary in contemplation of her life, these small sections of humor helped lighten the load of her inner-reflections. This is definitely Winslow’s strongest novel to date and hands down my new personal favorite—possibly due to the Jane Eyre-esque style the story takes on towards the end—which I will leave for the reader to discover.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Return to Longbourn: The Next Chapter in the Continuing Story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Shannon Winslow
Heather Ridge Arts (2013)
Trade paperback (270) pages
Cover image courtesy © 2013 Heather Ridge Arts; text © 2013 Kimberly Denny-Ryder
Posted in Book Reviews, Jane Austen Sequels Book Reviews | Tagged 5 Star Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Books, For Myself Alone, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Sequels, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice Sequels, Reading, Return to Longbourn, Shannon Winslow, The Darcys of Pemberley | 11 Comments »
From the desk of Jeffrey Ward
How differently would Pride and Prejudice have proceeded if Miss Elizabeth Bennet had not overheard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s insulting remarks during the Meryton assembly? Differently? Yes, very-very differently according to this debut author’s totally diverting and brilliant re-imagining of Jane Austen’s timeless romance.
Starting at page one and continuing all the way to page 457 (rather lengthy for a work of this nature), it never falls off or fails to delight at any point or on any page. So, if you love Elizabeth and Darcy, please read on…..
Two years in the writing, and perhaps more in research, validate the author’s mastery of the Regency period, especially her intimate portrayals of Elizabeth and Darcy, clear down to the least significant character. I am astonished at how the author totally re-charts the course of Miss Austen’s most famous story, yet manages to respectfully maintain and indeed significantly expand upon the expected attributes of its most important personalities. Just about every Austen character makes an appearance and I love the way the author chooses to highlight Miss Anne de Bourgh, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, Miss Caroline Bingley, and Miss Georgiana Darcy. Just name ANY other character from P&P; they’re all in there in some capacity.
The story centers on Netherfield, Meryton, and Longbourne with a brief Sojourn to London. That would seem restrictive for a lengthy novel but this plot device allows the author to deftly focus on the complex and ever-evolving emotional relationship between the heroine and hero. With the “prejudice” portion removed, the encounters between Miss Bennet and Mr. Darcy begin with initial wariness but grow gradually to respect, regard, affection, and ultimately love. The angst generated over this two-steps-forward-one-step-back romance is the foundation that makes this story so irresistibly seductive.
Putting aside my blathering plaudits, how better to recommend this book than to read samples of the author’s delicate wit? Darcy and Elizabeth meet by chance on their outings as they witness a beautiful sunrise. The incongruity is priceless as Miss Bennet admires nature but Mr. Darcy admires only her, yet cannot gain her regard.
“Look, Mr. Darcy. Is the sight before you not a fair prospect? I do not know how to bear it sometimes, to gaze upon such beauty and not be able to ever hold it, to be limited to just looking. It seems a hardship.” “Yes,” Mr. Darcy said, looking at Elizabeth, the sunlight glinting off her hair, and her face flushed from exertion. “I believe I understand how you feel.” p. 145
Here is a rousing verbal joust between two strong personalities as Darcy’s insistence on teaching Elizabeth how to ride disguises enormous romantic implications:
“I taught Georgiana.” Darcy replied. Elizabeth shook her head. “I do not feel safe on a horse.” “you will be safe with me,” Darcy said. “How many ways must I refuse before you relent?” Elizabeth laughed. “How many times must I offer before you accept?” Darcy countered with a smile. “It is not in me to back down, Miss Bennet. Once I have set my course, I persist. “Mr. Darcy, it is my course you are setting, not your own.” Elizabeth replied.” p. 221
I laughed over this classic regency eaves-dropping moment as Mr. Darcy leaves Elizabeth’s sick bed following a supposed private attempt to confess his love for her:
Darcy backed silently to the door where he would leave, his eyes never leaving the woman he hoped to make his wife. Upon reaching the door, he opened it, only to find that Jane, Bingley, Anne and the colonel were all pressed up against it. Only the colonel actually fell. p. 276
I must make mention of some threads not “pulled” but “woven in” by the author that may raise both curiosity and doubt: Mr. Collins attempting to compromise Elizabeth Bennet? Miss Caroline Bingley mentally unsound? Elizabeth Bennet collapsing in the middle of the Netherfield ball? Mr. Wickham extorting Mr. Darcy? Mr. Bennet’s almost impossible courtship demands on Darcy and Elizabeth? Mr. Bingley’s secret sister? Mr. Collins’s entail invalid? As I initially read these threads, I thought “That’s far-fetched.” No worries whatsoever, because the author neatly and plausibly explains each of them in a very convincing and satisfactory manner which makes the entire book breathlessly unpredictable.
The conclusion comes abruptly and would be a disappointment for most readers if a sequel was not forthcoming. It is! This reviewer keeps top-five lists of his very favorite works from a variety of genres and this one has easily parked itself in my top 5 list for favorite regency romances which puts it in with some distinguished titles indeed. That upcoming sequel, Constant as the Sun, can’t get into my hands quickly enough!
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
One Thread pulled: The Dance with Mr. Darcy (Volume 1), By Diana J. Oaks
Trade paperback (456) pages
Cover image courtesy ©Diana J. Oaks 2012; text ©Jeffrey Ward 2013
Posted in Book Reviews, Jane Austen Sequels Book Reviews | Tagged Book Reviews, Books, Diana J. Oaks, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Sequels, Mr. Darcy, One Thread Pulled, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice Sequels, Reading | 9 Comments »
From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington
This week I will be looking at episodes 51-66 of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries starting with Lizzie’s life while she is visiting Collins and Collins. We get to meet several knew characters and get to see some of the most beloved ones in a new setting. Did I also mention that we get to see DARCY for the first time!
Lizzie goes to visit Charlotte at Collins and Collins. She meets Lady Catherine and her dog Annie Kins (though we never get to see Lady Catherine we just see Lizzie’s impressions of her). We also get to meet one of my favorite characters in the novel and in the series, Fitz, who comes with Darcy to look at Collins and Collins and give Lady Catherine a report on its progress. Darcy finally shows up in the videos and tells Lizzie he loves her. She flatly rejects him and tells him off for his rude behavior towards her and others and she also tells him to watch her videos. He returns later with a letter and having watched videos. Lizzie reads the letter but refuses to share its contents even with Caroline who comes trying to snoop and find out what is in the letter. Lizzie and Charlotte face off against Caroline and call her out for her manipulation of Bing. Collins flits in and out of several episodes mostly causing havoc by making Charlotte dress as a condiment or trying to make Charlotte work over Thanksgiving. By the end of these episodes Lizzie is ready to go home because home would probably be less stressful. In episode 62 Lizzie says, “This is definitely messing with my world view. Its like I don’t know myself anymore” (I consider this line akin to Austen’s “Till this moment, I never knew myself.” It is the turning point in the book for Elizabeth’s character)
Here are some highlights from Episodes 51-66:
We meet Fitz:
Colonel Fitzwilliam is one of my favorite characters from the novels. I have always had a crush on him because I found him to be so much nicer than his cousin. In some alternative universe I really think he and Lizzie would work out (even though he is a younger son and has no money).
In the alternative universe of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries Fitz (Craig Frank) and Lizzie can’t work out as a couple because he is gay. I think this modernization is BRILLIANT because it allows Fitz and Lizzie to be good friends, but it is known from the start that they will never be more than friends. Fitz in the LBD is a smart and well-established business executive (he can see two bridges from his corner office) but he is also super fun. I automatically want to be his friend and so does Lizzie. Lizzie wonders why Darcy can have such nice friends when he is so cold and stiff. Fitz explains “The guy doesn’t always make the best first impression, and he has the social skills of an agoraphobic lobster.” (episode 56). Fitz does a fabulous impression of haughty Darcy and really enjoys goofing off on the videos. He says “Well what is life if you cant have a little fun? Am I right Lizzie B? You know you should meet Gigi… because she is a cool kid and I think you too will like each other” (episode 56). Fitz seems to be a nice guy who cares about his friends and has his head on straight yet a guy who can also loosen up and have a lot of fun.
Catherine de Bourgh and Annie Kins
I hate that we never to get see Catherine de Bourgh but Lizzie’s impressions of her make up for this loss. Her daughter Anne is transformed into a snaggletooth, asthmatic dog named Annie Kins that Catherine dotes on. Mr. Collins prepares Lizzie for dining with Catherine de Bourgh by giving her a long list of dos and don’ts and by telling her “so if you will simply choose the least offensive outfit you have brought along with you, I am certain that will be more than satisfactory.” (episode 53). Catherine still tries to but into everyone’s conversations and adores Caroline Lee for her accomplishments even though it is unclear what Caroline does or if she even has a job or goes to school.
Charlotte and Mr. Collins Dressed as condiments
Mr. Collins is full of hair-brained ideas about improving the company morale. One if his ideas involves a “spirit week” of sorts culminating in a Halloween party where he and Charlotte dress up as condiments. Seeing Charlotte as a giant ketchup bottle is pretty amusing, but Mr. Collins as a giant mustard bottle takes the cake. His sincerity and seriousness make him even funnier. Collins tries to make Lizzie come to the party but Charlotte steps in and shows her control and handling of him. Mr. Collins might be the head of the company but Charlotte is the neck and she can turn the head anyway she chooses.
Darcy, Darcy, Darcy… everyone freaks out when Darcy is finally shown. Not this girl. I am going to try and keep my talk of Darcy to a minimum for several reasons:
- We don’t see that much of him.
- I don’t like Darcy Hype.
- He does come off as a pretty big jerk.
- I agree with Lizzie about him.
The viewership of the Darcy episode almost doubled compared to other episodes. Episode 60 (where we first see his face) has had over 466,000 views. Don’t get me wrong– he will improve, and I do think the writing on his episode is fantastic; I just hate Darcy hype. These are called the LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES and that is who the story is about, so I applaud the writers and creators for putting off introducing Darcy till 3/5 of the way through the series.
Ok, now on to Darcy. Daniel Vincent Gordh plays Darcy and does a very good job. He comes off as haughty and austere early on but does loosen up in later episodes. The writing for the proposal episode is a wonderful modernization of the scene from the book. I was worried that they would stray too much from the novel in his insults to Lizzie or that they wouldn’t have him insult her, but they did. Darcy says “I have been fighting against this for months now but Lizzie Bennet I am in love with you… I cant believe it either; that my heart can completely overwhelm my judgment.” Lizzie responds, “I hope that your judgment can be some solace in your rejection because those feelings are not mutual.” (Episode 60) In his video about the episode, one of the creators of the series Hank Green talks about how much effort and time went into writing this episode because they knew it was so important. Hank and his wife Katherine had a lot of input into who they chose for Darcy and the scene. Overall I applaud the series portrayal of Darcy because he does come off as a pretty big jerk at first and then starts to soften so that maybe you think he is just super awkward instead of a jerk. I could also do without the suspenders and skinny jeans, but I see why they did it.
Darcy hand writes and wax seals his letter to Lizzie, which is pretty cute and shows his quaintness. I thought they might do his letter as an email but I like that Darcy hand writes it and says that sometimes he has trouble expressing himself in words so he has to write things down. I think this is just the beginning of Darcy opening up. He also watches Lizzie’s videos because she tells him about them. He says, they were “illumining… you called me a robot and a newsie.” (Episode 62)
Lizzie and Charlotte v Caroline
Caroline Lee shows up to try and see what was in the letter. Charlotte and Lizzie question her motives in befriending Lizzie and helping Lizzie with her videos since Caroline hasn’t spoken to Lizzie since they left. This betrayal by Caroline seems worse than in the book because in the book Lizzie never thought that Caroline was her friend. The fact that Lizzie and Jane are both hurt by Caroline’s lack of communication with them shows Lizzie’s vulnerability in a new way. Caroline comes off as manipulating, conniving and superficial. The nicest thing I can say about her is that she has great hair. Lizzie and Charlotte call Caroline out for her behavior, and I say, “You go GRILS!” If only Lizzie got to tell Mrs. Bingley off like that in the books. I think it would be very therapeutic to her.
I am leaving out Lydia’s videos from this weeks article because I want to be able to do them justice in an article all to themselves.
Next Week 67-76
Favorite Quotes of the Week
“If Lydia ends up with in anyway involved with someone who traces back to Darcy I swear I am going to steal a plane and crash land onto a desert island. I can totally survive on coconut and crabs… assuming there is wifi.” (Lizzie in episode 54)
“He is like a robot with buggy programing for social interaction”– “Darcy- bot Malfunction” (Lizzie on Darcy in episode 55)
“He was probably just looking for an air conditioned place to drink his probiotic hemp latte”- (Lizzie guessing why Darcy keeps stopping by to see her in episode 57)
“I am pretty sure the guy read Tolstoy for you”
“Even if that is true the virtues of reading Russian literature are far out weighted by the fact that he disinherited George. Oh yeah and he broke up Bing and Jane” (Charlotte and Lizzie talking about Darcy in episode 61)
“You should see the texts I have been getting from Lydia about this OMG… WTF… WHATEVS… YOLO… FTS… PQZ!!!!” (Lizzie talking about Lydia’s reaction in episode 62)
“If you are in the Raleigh, North Carolina area this weekend please join JASNA NC for a discussion of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The talk will be held on Sunday March 17th at 2:00 at the Cameron Village Regional Library. Virginia Claire Tharrington will be showing clips and leading a discussion about the adaptation. We would love to see you there. Thanks VC”
Images courtesy © The Lizzie Bennet Diaries 2012; text © Virginia Claire Tharrington 2013
Posted in Jane Austen Adaptations, Lizzie Bennet Diaries | Tagged Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Adaptations, Jane Austen Movies, Mr. Darcy, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Virginia Claire Tharrington | 3 Comments »
This is my third selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013.
If you can, take yourself back to 1993. Some of you reading this review were not even born yet, so bear with me. Imagine the Jane Austen universe pre Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy emerging soaking wet from Pemberley pond in the 1995 A&E/BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice. No dripping Darcy. No thousands of Jane Austen-inspired prequels, sequels and inspired-by novels and self-help books brimming book shelves at your local bookstore. No buy-it-now button at your favorite online retailer. No INTERNET for that matter! You have read Pride and Prejudice (multiple times) and seen both the adaptations: the1940 movie starring Laurence Olivier and the 1980 BBC mini-series starring David Rintoul on Masterpiece Theatre. You are violently in love with Jane Austen’s novel and know of no one else who shares your obsession—and then one day you are in a bookstore and see Pemberley or Pride and Prejudice Continued, by Emma Tennant. You stare at it in total disbelief. Could someone else continue the story of your beloved Elizabeth and Darcy? Could you be back at Pemberley again?
Now that you have a closer understanding of the environment that Tennant’s brave foray into Jane Austen sequeldom entered in 1993, and what anticipation the reader might have felt, you will have a greater appreciation of its tepid reception. When the vast majority read this book they delusionally expected Jane Austen, again. How could they possibly not be disappointed? By the time I read it in 2002 it had gotten a bad rap all-around by media reviewers and pleasure readers. My first impressions were not positive either. Now, after eleven years of reading numerous Pride and Prejudice-inspired novels that have been published in its wake— I have re-read it with an entirely new perspective—with an open heart and a sense of humor.
It has been almost a year since the happy day in which Mrs. Bennet got rid of two of her most deserving daughters. Elizabeth Darcy nee Bennet is learning the ropes of being the chatelaine of Pemberley House while obsessing over her insecurities and lack of producing an heir. Her dear father has died and his entailed estate of Longbourn has passed on to his cousin Mr. Collins and his wife Charlotte. The displaced Mrs. Bennet and her two unmarried daughters Mary and Kitty have taken up residence at Meryton Lodge, their new home not far from Longbourn and neighbors Mrs. Long and Lady Lucas. Elizabeth’s elder sister Jane and her husband Charles Bingley have purchased an estate in Yorkshire thirty miles from Pemberley. After four years of marriage they have one daughter and another on the way. Thoughtless younger sister Lydia, her ner-do-well husband George Wickham and their four children are continually in debt and an embarrassment to Elizabeth and her family.
The holidays are approaching and the plans for the annual festivities will include gathering family at Pemberley for Christmas and a New Year’s Ball. Besides Georgiana, Mr. Darcy’s younger sister, the guest list is growing out-of-control. Even under the care of her capable housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds, Elizabeth is overwhelmed. Included are Elizabeth’s family: some welcome and others not. Mrs. Bennet, Mary and Kitty will make their first visit to Pemberley. Jane will also journey with her husband and his sisters Miss Caroline Bingley, Mrs. Hurst and her husband. Elizabeth’s favorite Uncle and Aunt Gardiner have let a house nearby so that the unwelcome George Wickham and his family can visit with Mrs. Bennet. Also on the guest list is Mr. Darcy’s officious Aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh who disapproved of Darcy’s choice of bride but seems to have mended the fence enough for an extended stay. Arriving with her is her unmarried daughter Anne and the heir to the Pemberley estate, a distant cousin of Lady Catherine, Master Thomas Roper. Shortly before Mrs. Bennet is to depart for Pemberley she reveals to her friend Mrs. Long that even though Mr. Bennet departed this life but nine months ago, she intends to marry Colonel Kitchiner, a cousin and a crush from her youth whose father was a business partner of her father in Meryton. She has invited him to Pemberley as well—so it is a full house of unlikely companionship for its new mistress.
Any fans of Pride and Prejudice will recognize the irony of the guest list. The back story from the original novel and the combination of personalities is a set-up for the conflicts that inevitably arrive even before the guests do. Tennant has fudged on the facts from the original novel which were a bit off-putting. I remember being irked by this the first time around, and the second time did not sit as well either. Jane and Elizabeth were married on the same day in P&P, yet she chose to have Elizabeth marry Mr. Darcy four years after the original event—and how could any author writing a sequel or any historical novel set in the Regency-era not understand the ins and outs of British primogeniture? Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s cousin Thomas Roper, also the cousin of Mr. Darcy’s mother Ann, could not be the heir to Pemberley. If so, it would mean that the Darcy family and his mother a Fitzwilliam were related in earlier generations. This is possible but highly confusing to the reader who may understand the English inheritance laws, or not.
Quibbles in continuity and cultural history aside, my second impressions of Pemberley or Pride and Prejudice Continued were much more favorable—at least I didn’t despise it anymore. With the exception of Elizabeth Bennet being overly angst ridden and atypically un-spirited, I enjoyed Tennant’s characterizations of the delightfully dotty Mrs. Bennet and the slippery Bingley sisters. My biggest disappointment remained with the male characters. We see all of the action through Elizabeth’s eyes, and since she is uncertain and overly grateful of Darcy’s love, their relationship is strained and unpleasant. He is proud again and given nothing to say, and she is too unprejudiced to do anything about it. Tennant excelled most with her new creations: Mr. Gresham, Thomas Roper and the hysterical Col. Kitchiner who rivals the odious Mr. Collins (thankfully not invited to Pemberley) in the role of buffoon.
I appreciate Tennant much more as a writer than I did at first reading. It was interesting to put Pemberley into a wider perspective after many years. She was helping to create a new genre in which many would follow. This first attempt, though seriously flawed, merits some respect and congratulations. It is a must read for any ardent Austenesque fan, but most will be disappointed.
3 out of 5 Regency Stars
Pemberley or Pride and Prejudice Continued, by Emma Tennant
St. Martins Press (2006) reprint
Trade paperback (226) pages
Cover image courtesy St. Martins Press © 2006; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Posted in Blog Events, Book Reviews, Jane Austen Sequels Book Reviews, The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 | Tagged Book Revews, Books, Emma Tennant, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Sequels, Pemberley or Pride and Prejudice Continued, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice Sequels, Reading | 51 Comments »
From the desk of Laura A. Wallace.
Originally published in 1989, this 2012 re-issue of To Marry and English Lord is an attractive trade paperback edition by Workman Publishing. Promoted as “an inspiration for Downton Abbey,” Julian Fellowes, the screenplay writer who created the series, has been quoted as saying that he was reading this book when approached about writing the series, and that the first character he conceived for it was Cora, Countess of Grantham, an American heiress.
This book has long been on my “to acquire and read” list so I was really looking forward to finally reading it. I found it to be fairly light reading. The chapters are divided up into short sub-headings, sprinkled with lots of side-bar quotations and tid-bits (at least one on every page), and interspersed with little mini-articles on every third or fourth page. Illustrations are copious; decorations are Victorian and Edwardian. Overall it presents a great deal of factual information in a very digestible way.
This is the sort of book that serves as an introduction to a topic, and a launching pad for further research. (It is the type of book that novelists unfortunately use as a primary source, but that is a rant for another time.) It has no footnotes or endnotes, but does have a good selective bibliography which includes a list of period fictional works. The index is good (if imperfect) and there are excellent appendices, including a “Register of American Heiresses” and a “Walking Tour of the American Heiresses’ London” which are handy references.
The text is organized in a loosely chronological way. It begins with the origins of Anglomania (the 1860 U. S. visit of the young Prince of Wales) and the beyond-Almack’s-despotic exclusivity of Old New York “Knickerbocker” society which ruthlessly excluded new money. So the first set of snubbed wives and daughters left New York for Paris and then London in the 1870s, where they scored aristocratic English husbands, got themselves into the Prince of Wales’s social set, and rarely bothered to cross the Atlantic again.
This first set was comparatively small, comprising only about half a dozen women, and it is they who earned the sobriquet “The Buccaneers.” The most famous girl in this first wave was Jennie Jerome, who married Lord Randolph Churchill and became the mother of Sir Winston Churchill.
But that was just the tip of the spear of the “American Invasion.” The ranks grew steadily and kept up the pace until the death of Edward VII in 1910, after which it trickled off and ended with World War I. I had not realized, until reading this book, that the invasion was so extensive. There were at least two dozen who married into the peerage itself, and dozens more who married younger sons, baronets, M.P.s, and gentry. The “Register” at the back of the book lists about 115 of them, and this list, of course, cannot be exhaustive.
It was not just their pots of money that made these women so attractive to Englishmen. Their manners were free, easy, and confident, the complete opposite of those of demure, shy English girls. They were well-educated and very well-dressed, usually by Worth. They were pretty, too, their very lack of “breeding” apparently considered a bonus by their targets, if not by their mamas (appealing at a genetic level, perhaps?). The Prince of Wales loved them, and where he led, everyone followed.
I did find a few factual errors, an occasional absurd assertion, and a couple of errors in titles usage (of course), but overall the information presented seems solid. I encourage readers to use this book as a spring platform to explore other works, whether Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough’s memoirs, the novels of Wharton, James, and Hardy, or perhaps some of the lesser-known novels of the day. (The latter are featured in a mini-article, but not listed in the bibliography.) The book nicely provides the most general background material to improve enjoyment of the portraits of Sargent (there are hundreds on Wikimedia Commons) or of the costume dramas to which we are all highly addicted.
4 out of 5 Stars
To Marry an English Lord, by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace
Workman Publishing (2012)
Trade paperback (403) pages
Cover image courtesy © Workman Publishing Group; text © 2012 Laura A. Wallace
Posted in Book Reviews, Edwardian Era Book Reviews, Victorian Era Book Reviews | Tagged Book Reviews, Books, Carol McD. Wallace, Downton Abbey, Edwardian-era, Gail MacColl, Nonfiction books, Reading, To Marry an English Lord, Victorian-era, Workman Publishing | 4 Comments »
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