Giveaway Winners Announced for The Charles Dickens Devotional

A Charles Dickens Devotional, by Jean Fisher (2012)22 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of The Charles Dickens Devotional, edited by Jean Fisher. The winners drawn at random are:

  • June who left a comment on February 08, 2012
  • Julie who left a comment on February 08, 2012
  • Dawn Teresa who left a comment on February 17, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by February 29, 2011. Shipment is to US addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments for the giveaway. Winners, I hope you enjoy your books.

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for The Solitary House

The Solitary House, by Lynn Shepherd (2012)24 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three advanced readers copies of The Solitary House, by Lynn Shepherd. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Aurora who left a comment on February 07, 2012
  • Debra E. Marvin who left a comment on February 07, 2012
  • Melissa who left a comment on February 20, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by February 29, 2011. Shipment is to US addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments for the giveaway, and to author Lynn Shepherd for her great guest blog in celebration of Charles Dickens bicentenary birthday.

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

A Charles Dickens Devotional, edited by Jean Fischer – A Review & Giveaway!

A Charles Dickens Devotional, by Jean Fischer (2012)Guest review by Br. Paul Byrd, OP

Hidden like gems among the pages of [Dickens’] novels are numerous religious images and biblical references: in Great Expectations, Pip praying for the Lord to be merciful to Abel Magwitch, a sinner and formidable criminal; in Bleak House, the image of Christ ‘stooped down, writing with his finger in the dust when they brought the sinful woman to him’; in Little Dorrit, adoration of wealth described as ‘the camel in the needle’s eye, (introduction).

As if A Jane Austen Devotional were not enough, fans of 19th century British Christian piety have a chance to sit and meditate on some of the most memorable and beloved stories of English literature with Jean Fischer’s A Charles Dickens Devotional, a collection of over one hundred vivid and engaging passages from nearly every fictional tale Dickens composed, including the ever popular David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, and Great Expectations along with the important, but perhaps lesser read masterpieces Bleak House, Dombey and Son, and Little Dorrit. And just as with the Austen devotional, each Dickens passage is paired with a short reflection and scripture quote meant to inspire meditation on a particular moral principle or virtue.

As Fischer writes, “[Dickens] was recognized as a nineteenth-century advocate for the poor and the oppressed,” (210)—the result, of course, of Dickens’ own experiences of poverty and child labor. Indeed, he often supported the underdogs of society in his stories—children, women, the poor—and exposed the structures of society that oppressed the weak and allowed the greedy to exploit others even as they maintained a “Christian” front. Like Jane Austen before him, Dickens knew the power of the pen in exposing hypocrisy and upholding the virtuous. Through a keen observation of human nature—the good and the bad—and through his excellent descriptions, Dickens brings to life characters that are themselves parables; none more so, perhaps, than Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser turned saint and hero of A Christmas Carol.

One of my favorite chapters in this devotional takes its passage from Dickens’ last and unfinished work The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Outside the New Testament, I do not think I have ever read a more scathing description of false philanthropy. How it cuts its subject to the quick and thus, as Fischer points out, challenges the reader to search his or her own conscience. Unfortunately, not all the meditations are equally strong, and I found one in particular that I thought was rather dangerous. In the chapter “Bad Company,” Fischer writes in her meditation “In this world, every day, we come in contact with both Christians and non-Christians. God does not forbid this, but rather He desires that we not get too close to unbelievers and risk being pulled into the enemy’s snare,” (77). I understand the best possible interpretation of that statement, but I still found it overly simplistic and unhelpful, especially in a time when it is becoming ever more important for Christians to dialogue with each other and non-Christians.

That said, this is a devotional, not a theological work, and so readers are expected to bring their own faith with them, using what they find in the book, if they can, and leaving what is unhelpful and uninspiring. If you are afraid that you will be lost in a sea of unfamiliar characters and plots, don’t be; Fischer’s book is designed for the Dickens expert and the lay reader alike. The Dickens framework is merely meant to spark contemplation. If it sparks your literary interest and leads you to read the novels, as well, so much the better. I am sure that fans of Austen and Dickens, will find much to enjoy in this helpful little book, so I give it four stars.

4 out of 5 Stars

A Grand Giveaway of A Charles Dickens Devotional

Publisher Thomas Nelson, Inc. has generously offered a giveaway contest of three copies of A Charles Dickens Devotional. To enter a chance to win one copy, leave a comment stating which quotes from Charles Dickens you think are inspiring, or which of  Charles Dickens’ characters would greatly benefit from this devotional, and why by 11:59pm PT, Wednesday, February 22, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, February 23, 2012. Shipment to the US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

A Charles Dickens Devotional, edited by Jean Fischer
Thomas Nelson, Inc. (2012)
Hardcover (224) pages
ISBN: 978-1400319541
NOOK: ISBN: 978-1400319725
Kindle: ASIN: B005ENBBUQ

Br. Paul Byrd, OP is a solemnly professed friar of the Dominican Order of Preachers. Originally from Covington, KY, he earned his bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Thomas More College and his master’s degree in theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology. He is in the writing and publishing graduate program at DePaul University. He is the author of the Dominican Cooperator Blog

© 2007 – 2012 Br. Paul Byrd, OP, Austenprose

In Celebration of Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday: From Jane Austen to Charles Dickens: Guest blog by Lynn Shepherd, & a Giveaway

Google Celebration of Charles Dickens 2012

We are basically a tried and true Janeite, but quietly confess to admiration of another nineteenth-century novelist also born in Hampshire; – Charles Dickens. His style is entirely different than the witty underpinnings of our beloved Miss Austen, but one cannot ignore his fabulous characterizations and amazing plot twists.

Charles DickensToday is the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth on February 7, 1812 at Landport, in Portsea, near Portsmouth, England. If Miss Austen is wholly a Regency author, then Dickens is her Victorian counterpart in popularity. He would become the most famous author of his day, writing sixteen major novels, traveling the world with his speaking tours and publishing other authors works like Mrs. Gaskell.

Like Jane Austen, Dickens has a huge following of admirers and sequelers. I was thrilled to learn last year that Murder at Mansfield Park author Lynn Shepherd was also a fan of Dickens and had written a novel inspired by one of his most popular works, Bleak House. Published last week as Tom-All-Alone’s in the UK, Lynn’s new novel will also be released in the US in May by Random House as The Solitary House: A Novel.

Lynn is the perfect fellow Janeite to share her thoughts on Dickens’ bicentenary celebration with us on his special day. She has generously contributed a guest blog and a very special chance for readers to win one of three advance readers copies available of The Solitary House. Details of the giveaway are listed below. Welcome Lynn:  

Murder at Mansfield Park, by Lynn Shepherd (2010)The last time I wrote a piece for Laurel Ann it was because I had just written Murder at Mansfield Park; I’m back now to help celebrate Dickens’ 200th birthday because I’m just about to publish a new murder mystery, inspired by his great masterpiece, Bleak House.

It’s a very long way from the elegant ambiance of Regency country houses, to the dark and dirty world of Victorian London, so why did I decide to make the move from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens? And having made that decision, what challenges did I face?

The first thing I realized was that I didn’t want The Solitary House to be the same sort of book as Murder at Mansfield Park. In the latter I had worked very hard to mimic Jane Austen’s beautiful prose style, rigorously checking my vocabulary to ensure it was in use at the time, and replicating the special rhythm of her sentences. But I knew at once that I didn’t want to do the same thing with Dickens. His style is almost as distinctive as hers, but I suspected any attempt to pastiche it would descend very quickly into parody.

Likewise I made the conscious decision not to even attempt to cram in everything Dickens does – his books are astonishingly broad in their scope, with comedy and satire at one extreme, and drama and psychological insight at the other. I’ve always been more interested in the latter than the former, and I confess I do find his caricatures rather tiresome in some of the novels.  So by now I was clear: I wanted to write a book inspired by Dickens, but ‘darker than Dickens’, with no comedy, no caricatures, and in a voice of my own.

The Solitary House, by Lynn Shepherd (2012)The result is a book that runs in parallel with the events of Bleak House, with some of Dickens’ characters appearing in mine, and the two stories coming together and intersecting at crucial moments.  Bleak House is, of course, the very first detective story in English, with the first fictional detective, Inspector Bucket. He appears in my story too – my young detective, Charles Maddox, was once fired from the Metropolitan Police at Bucket’s insistence, and their paths cross again as Charles’ investigation deepens.

Anyone who’s read Murder at Mansfield Park, will recognize the name ‘Charles Maddox’ at once, but we’re now in 1850, not 1811, and this new Charles Maddox is actually the great-nephew of my original Regency thief taker. Old Maddox appears in the book as well, but he’s now an elderly man, and suffering from a disease that we recognize at once as Alzheimer’s, but which was unknown at the time. But when Maddox has lucid periods he is still one of the sharpest minds in London, and Charles will need all his help if he’s to unravel the terrible secret at the heart of this sinister case.

One of the great delights – and challenges – of writing The Solitary House was to go back and re-create Dickens’ London. As many people have said, London is not just a setting in Dickens’ novels, but a character in its own right, and I had the opportunity to be even more forthright about the realities of life in the city than Dickens was able to be. We know far more, in some ways, that Dickens’ middle class contemporaries did, and I’ve tried to bring the 19th-century city to life in all its splendor, all its sin, and all its stink.

Great Expectations (2011) UKOf course many of us owe our mental pictures of Victorian London to the screen adaptations of Dickens’ works, and he does translate particularly well to film and TV. The BBC aired a new – and I think excellent – version of Great Expectations this Christmas, with Gillian Anderson as a chillingly beautiful and aloof Miss Havisham. There was also a new adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, with a new ending, and some wonderfully atmospheric scenes. There are many other excellent BBC adaptations of the books, and I’m also a great fan of the 1998 Our Mutual Friend, which has a marvelously intense Bradley Headstone, as played by David Morrissey, but my favorite – perhaps unsurprisingly – is the 2005 Bleak House.

Once again Gillian Anderson is utterly convincing and impressive as Lady Dedlock, and she’s supported by a wonderful cast of British character acting at its best. My only quibble is the choice of actor to play Tulkinghorn, as Charles Dance (in my view) is far too young, attractive, and just plain tall, to play the wizened old lawyer I have in my own imagination.

Bleak House (2005) BBCThe other fascinating thing about that Bleak House adaptation was that it was deliberately constructed in half-hour episodes, thereby mimicking the ‘serial publication’ of the original novel. It was a brilliant coup to screen it that way, since it helps us understand how Dickens structured his story with cliff-hangers at the end of each ‘number’, to keep people coming back for more.

And, of course, they did. And they still do, even 200 years after he was born, whether as readers, viewers, or – in my case – writers inspired by his great genius to create something new of their own.

Author Bio:

Lynn Shepherd studied English at Oxford, and later went on to do a doctorate on Samuel Richardson, which has now been published by Oxford University Press. She’s also a passionate Jane Austen fan, writing the award winning Murder at Mansfield Park in (2010), and just released another murder mystery Tom-All-Alone’s in the UK, inspired by Charles Dickens Bleak House. Retitled The Solitary House, it will be released in the US by Random House in May. You can visit Lynn at her  website, on Facebook as Lynn Shepherd, and follow her on Twitter as @Lynn_Shepherd.

A Grand Giveaway of The Solitary House: A Novel

Enter a chance to win one of three advance reading copies available of The Solitary House: A Novel, by Lynn Shepherd by leaving a question asking Lynn about her inspiration to write a Dickens sequel, her research process, or if you have read Bleak House or seen any of the many film adaptations, which your favorite character is by 11:59 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, February 23, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Thanks for joining us today Lynn in celebration of one of literature’s most revered and cherished novelist of all time on his special day. Best of luck with your new mystery novel The Solitary House. I am so looking forward to reading it. 

© 2007 – 2012 Lynn Shepherd, Austenprose

Preview of Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World’s Classics) New Edition

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World's Classics) 2011We have several of Oxford World’s Classics editions in our library and are quite partial to their expanded editions. From Austen to Radcliffe to Burney to Gaskell, whatever they take on, their introductions and supplemental material are excellent.

The news of this new revised paperback edition of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford is quite exciting. Due out on June 9, 2011 in the UK and August 15, 2011 in the US from Oxford University Press, it will include a new introduction, notes and additional supplemental material. We are quite certain that our friend Katherine at Gaskell Blog will also be anxious to get her mits on it too. Here is a description from the publisher:

A vivid and affectionate portrait of a provincial town in early Victorian England, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford describes a community dominated by its independent and refined women. This edition includes two related short pieces by Gaskell, “The Last Generation in England” and “The Cage at Cranford.” Dinah Birch’s introduction reflects recent revaluations of Gaskell’s work and the growing recognition that Cranford is much more than the gently charming comedy that is was once taken to be. The book includes an up-to-date bibliography and expanded notes.

Features

  • A new edition of a much-loved classic, Elizabeth Gaskell’s comic portrayal of a Victorian small town dominated by women.
  • Dinah Birch’s introduction reflects recent revaluations of Gaskell’s work, focusing on Gaskell’s response to social change as it transformed the lives of provincial women, and the growing recognition that Cranford is much more than the gently charming comedy that is was once taken to be.
  • Includes two related short stories, ‘The Cage at Cranford’ and ‘The Last Generation in England’.
  • An appendix includes a selection of extracts from Dickens, Dinah Craik, Wilkie Collins, Ruskin and other contemporary novelists and social commentators on the coming of the railway, banking failures, household management, fashion, Oriental entertainers and the novel’s first reviewers to illustrate the diverse contexts in which Cranford took its place.
  • Up-to-date bibliography and expanded notes.
  • Introduction by Dinah Birch.
  • Up–to-date bibliography.
  • Revised chronology.
  • Explanatory Notes by Dinah Birch.
  • Appendix of contemporary responses to the novel and contemporary comment on household management, costume, financial and commercial controversies relevant to the text.
  • Reset Gaskell text.

Product Details

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World’s Classic)
Oxford University Press (June 9, 2011 in UK) (Aug 15, 2011 in US)
Trade paperback (256) pages
ISBN:  978-019955830

About the editors

Elizabeth Porges Watson is Lecturer in English at the University of Nottingham. Dinah Birch is Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool.

Many of you may be familiar with the story of Cranford from the two BBC/PBS mini-series starring Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and an incredible British cast. It was a delightful adaptation of Gaskell’s short stories and we encourage you to read our reviews and seek out this new edition of the novel when it is released in August. Mrs. Gaskell’s characterizations are humorous, charming and poignant, and we are very pleased to see her being given this new edition which appears to be quite thorough in scholarly research and engaging detail.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane Eyre 2011: A Film Review by Syrie James

Jane Eyre (2011) movie posterInquiring Readers: We are very fortunate to welcome author, screenwriter and Janeite Syrie James for a guest film review today. She recently attended an advance screening of the new movie adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic Gothic romance Jane Eyre which premieres in limited release today in the US.

Welcome Syrie – and thanks for the timely review!

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has been my favorite book since I was 11 years old. I’ve read it so many times I’ve lost count. The tale of a feisty governess who finds true love in a spooky mansion, while pouring her heart out on the page in lush, romantic prose, has made it to the top of every “Best Love Stories” list since it was first published in 1847, and with good reason.

Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre (2011)The perfect Gothic novel, Jane Eyre melds all the requisite elements of mystery, horror, and the classic medieval castle setting with heart-stopping romance. The story is also very appealing: the rise of a poor orphan girl against seemingly insurmountable odds, whose love and determination ultimately redeem a tormented hero. And the book has serious things to say about issues that are still relevant today: women’s struggle for equality, the realization of self, and the nature of true love. The novel appeals not only to an audience’s hearts, but also to their heads.

Of all the classic 19th-century novels, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has been by far the most filmed, with at least 18 film versions (including a 1910 silent movie) and 9 made-for-television movies.

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, by Syrie James (2009)I have seen nearly all of them—some multiple times—both out of my deep love for the tale, and as part of the research for my novel The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, the true story of Charlotte’s remarkable life, her inspiration behind “Jane Eyre,” her rise to fame as an author, and the little-known story of her turbulent, real-life romance. (My novel was named a Great Group read by the Women’s National Book Association, and the audio book version was just nominated for an Audie Award, the Oscars of the audiobook publishing world—very exciting!)

Every screen version of JANE EYRE has its merits, and it’s always a thrill to re-experience my favorite, beloved scenes from the book with each new adaptation. I especially loved Timothy Dalton’s portrayal of Mr. Rochester in the 1983 mini-series, and the 2006 Masterpiece Theatre mini-series starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

I was very curious to see how the new JANE EYRE adaptation from Focus Films would measure up. I am happy to report that the film, which I saw Monday night at an advance screening, is very good indeed, with marvelous visuals, terrific performances, and enough unique elements to make it a worthy new addition.

The most notable distinction of this film that sets it apart from the rest is its structure. Rather than telling the tale in a straight-forward, linear fashion, it begins at a crisis moment that occurs later in the story, and tells the majority of the tale in flashback–similar to the structure of The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë–and it works wonderfully well here, enabling screenwriter Moira Buffini to effectively compress a long novel into a two-hour time span.

Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) on the Moors in Jane Eyre (2011)The movie opens as Jane is fleeing Thornfield after having discovered Mr. Rochester’s dark and heartbreaking secret. We fear for her as she becomes lost on the stormy moor. The mystery continues as St. John Rivers (well-played by a sympathetic yet appropriately stern Jamie Bell) and his sisters take her in. Who is this lost lamb? Why does she call herself Jane Elliott? Who or what is she running from? As Jane ruminates about the past events that led to her escape, we are treated to the story in flashback.

The casting of Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND) as Jane Eyre also sets this production apart, since she is closer in age than most actresses who’ve played the role to the character in the novel, who was about 18 years old in the Thornfield section. Although I wish Mia’s Jane was a bit more “swoony” over Mr. Rochester earlier on (yes, she is supposed to be stoic, but I missed that phase where we get to see her blossom as she falls in love with him, and then is utterly crushed when she believes him to be in love with Miss Ingram), Mia truly inhabits the role, beautifully portraying Jane’s sense of self-respect, integrity, and restraint, as well as her passion and vulnerability.

Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender) in Jane Eyre (2011)Michael Fassbender was also inspired casting. He embodies Mr. Rochester with the ideal blend of charisma and sinister brooding, while at the same time allowing glimpses of his underlying desperation and the wounded depths of his soul. When Jane and Rochester finally admit their love for each other, it is romantic and exciting, with sparks flying. (As this is my favorite part of the story, for me it was also far too short!)

Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Reed, adorned in stiff ringlets and satin gowns, effectively portrays the icy ogre who menaces the young Jane (a spirited and appealing Amelia Clarkson.)

Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench) and Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska ) in Jane Eyre (2011)And how can you go wrong with Judi Dench as housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax? As always, Dench gives a rock-solid performance, with subtle nuances that make the role her own.

The film’s locations do justice to the novel’s often gloomy, atmospheric tone. Haddon Hall in Bakewell, Derbyshire, built atop a limestone outcropping and one of the oldest houses in England, stands in for Thornfield Hall. According to location manager Giles Edleston, Haddon Hall has “more rooms and sets than a filmmaker could ever wish for,” and Director Cary Fukunaga makes terrific use of it, emphasizing its dark, Gothic, masculine feel, especially effective in a particular, chilling attic scene.

The exterior locations—gardens, cliffs, craggy rocks, stone walls, and seemingly endless fields—make an arresting, dramatic backdrop for the story. The press notes state, “Although we made it seem like Thornfield is in the middle of nowhere, just beyond the edge of the frame was modern civilization.” Rest assured that the illusion is complete; you truly do feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere.

Rochester (Michael Fassbender) and Jane (Mia Wasikowska) in Jane Eyre (2011)

The film also effectively makes use of the top of the gardens surrounding Derbyshire’s Chatsworth House—a location more commonly associated with Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—to film Jane Eyre’s dramatic first encounter with Mr. Rochester, when he appears out of the mist and fog astride his horse.

I have only two minor gripes with the film (WARNING: minor spoiler alert. If you aren’t familiar with the classic story, you might want to stop reading now.) While the revelation of Mr. Rochester’s secret was very well-done, I felt it was a little too “prettified.” And the ending was too abrupt for me. An explanation (for the uninitiated) of Rochester’s condition in the final scene would have been nice, and I would have preferred another minute or two to relish the lovers’ emotional reunion. But that aside, the filmmakers have done a masterful job translating the novel to the screen.

Please share your thoughts and comments about Jane Eyre. When did you first read the novel? Which film adaptations are your favorites, and why? If you’ve read The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, did it enhance your appreciation of Jane Eyre?

You can learn more about the new film at the Jane Eyre facebook page, where there’s a trailer and a “Jane Eyre Challenge” with a kindle as a prize. The movie opens today, March 11. I highly recommend it! Go see it soon at a theater near you!

Bio

Syrie James, hailed as the “queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings” by Los Angeles Magazine, is the bestselling author of four critically acclaimed novels: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel 2008, Library Journal), The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë (Audie-nominated, Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association), Dracula, My Love (which reveals Mina Harker’s passionate love affair with the most famous vampire of them all), and most recently Nocturne, praised by Library Journal as “lyrical, lush, and intensely romantic.” The translation rights for Syrie’s books have been sold in fifteen languages. Her short story “Jane Austen’s Nightmare” will appear in Laurel Ann Nattress’s Austen anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, due out from Ballantine Books in October.  Syrie’s next novel, Forbidden, which she co-wrote with her son Ryan, will be published by HarperTeen in early 2012.

A member of the Writer’s Guild of America, RWA, and a lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Syrie is an admitted Anglophile and is obsessed with all things Austen, although she lives in Los Angeles. For more information about Syrie’s books, please visit www.syriejames.com. Syrie also invites you to friend her on facebook (and leave a comment!) and follow her on Twitter @SyrieJames.

Further reading:

© 2007 – 2011 Syrie James, Austenprose

Is Social Media Responsible for the new Jane Eyre Movie?

Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre (2011)

Lots of news in the media this week over the upcoming release of Jane Eyre, the new major motion picture adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 classic novel produced by the UK trifecta BBC Films, Focus Features and Ruby Films. It premieres in the US on Friday March 11, a full six months before its native land of England, a surprising twist since Yanks usually don’t get anything produced by the BBC until months after it has aired on UK television.

Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre (2011)

We are not complaining mind you, just puzzled at their marketing strategy.  Less than two years ago BBC executives declared the death of the bonnet drama announcing a shift from period fare to contemporary stories. When the premiere television producer of period drama for the past thirty years makes ugly noises we believe them and grieved the loss to our entertainment future. Not only have they changed their minds, but they have moved from television production to major theatrical release of a novel that has been adapted into film no less than 18 times. Why the change of heart, and why Jane Eyre?

Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Reed in Jane Eyre (2011)

Social Times blog asks, How Has Facebook Revitalized Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte? They would like you to contemplate the possibility that social media is driving the market.

More than 150 years after her death, author Charlotte Bronte and her lovable character Jane Eyre are more popular than ever, and experts attribute their newfound notoriety to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

They want to clump Jane Austen into the mix too because Austen has an even stronger online presence than the Brontes. Recently Toronto University English professor Deidre Lynch credited Austen’s recent rise in popularity to actor Colin Firth, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice 1995, for getting “a lot of people got hooked on the novels,” adding “that’s too simple an explanation for Austen’s ever-growing legion of fans. Social media, too, have given Austen a second life.”

Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre (2011)

Devotees of the Bronte’s can be found on Twitter, Facebook and blogs across the Internet, but as someone who searches social media daily for news on Jane Austen and period dramas, we see more chatter and articles on Austen than on the Brontes, by far. If the logic that the new Jane Eyre movie has been fueled by interest on social media, than exponentially, Austen would have ten new movies in production to the Bronte’s one.

Michael Fassbender and Imogen Poots in Jane Eyre (2011)

We are in favor of the new Jane Eyre producer Alison Owen’s pragmatic explanation.  It appears that in the world of period costume drama, Jane Eyre is inexpensive to produce.

“It’s set in a house in the middle of a moor,” she explained. “Jane Austen can be quite expensive. You need horses, carriages, houses, gowns. But on the whole Jane Eyre is much more starkly peopled than most period movies. You don’t need swaths of costumes. And scenery costs nothing. Point a camera at those moors, and it looks like a David Lean film.”

So, there you go Janeites. Because Austen’s novels do not have descriptions of clothing, scenery or political times, our projected expectations make adaptation costly to produce. Could we abide an Austen miniseries without fine frocks, carriages or country manor houses to drool over? Would the lack of an assembly balls or walks in the shrubberies make us change the channel?

Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre (2011)

I will let you ponder that a bit and bring this back to those bare bones Brontes. I have seen six Jane Eyre movie or miniseries adaptations in my day. They seem to arrive every seven years or so like hungry cicada eager to devour our hearts. The 1943 Jane Eyre with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine was my favorite movie for decades. This is a story that demands to remain in black and white. Give it color and you lose the Gothic shadows and creepy coldness that is required. Even the last 2006 version starring Toby Stevens and Ruth Wilson didn’t get it right. Maybe, just maybe this new Jane will be the one. We shall find out next Saturday with family and friends. Hope you go see it too, so we can chat about it on Facebook and Twitter!

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender in Jane Eyre (2011)

Major Cast

• Jane Eyre – Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland)
• Mr. Rochester – Michael Fassbender (Band of Brothers)
• Mrs. Fairfax – Judi Dench (Lady Catherine de Bourgh – Pride and Prejudice 2005)
• Adele Varens – Romy Settbon Moore
• Mrs. Reed – Sally Hawkins (Anne Elliot – Persuasion 2007)
• Blanche Ingram – Imogen Poots (Fanny Austen Knight – Miss Austen Regrets)
• Lady Ingram – Sophie Ward (Land Girls)

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Moorland Cottage Group Read @ Gaskell Blog starts today!

Moorland Cottage Group Read 2011 at Gaskell BlogThe amiable and talented Katherine of the Gaskell Blog is leading a group read of Mrs. Gaskell’s novella  Moorland Cottage. It starts today and runs through February 15, 2011. You can check out the full group read schedule.

Published in 1850, Moorland Cottage is a delightful story of a widow, her two children and her neighbors the Buxton’s. It was the inspiration for screenwriter Heidi Thomas’ plot line and characters featured in the mini-series Return to Cranford.

Katherine has posted the welcome and introduction to the event including this list to get you started. Please join us.

This is my first selection for the Gaskell Reading Challenge and will also fulfill one of my selections for the Classics Challenge by Stiletto Storytime.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose