The Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Jane Austen around the blogosphere for the week of September 14th.

The Jane Austen Centre’s September newsletter arrived in my mailed box. You can sign up for your very own free monthly copy here.

Austen-esque author Jane Odiwe has announced the publication by Sourcebooks, Inc. of her new book Mrs. Brandon’s Invitation, a sequel to Sense and Sensibility. The release date is set for September 2009, but well worth the wait since her other novel Lydia Bennet’s Story is due out next month and will tide us over for a bit. Congratulations Jane!

Its Book Blogging Appreciation Week, September 15-19 at My Friend Amy Blog with many daily giveaways. Check it out. Becoming Jane Fan Site offers a great Austen quote of this week from Pride and Prejudice. The Jane Austen for President campaign continues at Jane Austen Addict.

Another Austen sequel you say? Well, gentle readers, this one will be something very special and already highly prized by me. Janeite Deb at Jane Austen in Vermont has all the scoop on the upcoming The Independence of Mary Bennet by best selling author Colleen McCullough (of The Thornbirds fame) due out in Australia on October 1st, and in the US on December 9th. Could this be the first time a best selling author has taken on a Jane Austen sequel? I think so, and all of the Jane Austen community is all anticipation.

Austen-esque book reviews for the week include New Friends and Old Fancies, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, The Darcys and the Bingleys, Seducing Mr. Darcy, and The Annontated Pride and Prejudice, Sandition, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.

Take a journey through Jane Austen’s Letters as Janeite Deb at Jane Austen in Vermont reads and writes about our strongest primarary source on Austen’s life.

Lost in Austen continues to garner quite a bit of attention in the press and online. Episode 3 aired this week, and you can catch up on all the dish at AustenBlog. You can read reviews of Episode 2 at Jane Austen’s World, & Austenprose. This critic gives it a thumbs up, but needs to use another first line phrase to open her article, cuz we already know that it is a truth universally acknowledged, and this critic gives it a thumbs down, prefering not to have fun with Dickens and Jane.

We can rest assured that the BBC is still pumping out quality costume dramas after the reviews and news of the new Tess of the d’Urbervilles TV movie this week. This new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1891novel has an Austen connection through the talented and stunningly beautiful Gemma Arterton who plays the heroine Tess Durbyfield and also portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in the new ITV Lost in Austen currently airing in the UK, and with Anna Massey as Mrs. d’Urberville whom veteran Austen movie watchers will remember as Mrs. Norris in the 1983 BBC adaptation of Mansfield Park. Hopefully this production will make its way across the pond to PBS next year.

Actress Carey Mulligan who played Isabella Thorpe in the 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey will be trodding the boards on Broadway this month continuing the role that she originated in The Seagull from London.

The Duchess opens on Friday September 19th in the US staring Keira Knightley as the 18th-century “it” girl of fashion and society, Lady Georgiana Spencer. Readers will remember that she portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice who in that particular version frolicked through fields and played with pigs. This outing gives Knightley the chance to highbow with hobnobs, wear resplendent finery and really big hair. Austen-esque author Diana Birchall was priveldged to see an advance screening of the movie with JASNA-SW and personally interview author Amanda Foreman at their Q & A. Wow, good job Diana. Isn’t it amazing what connections Jane Austen opens up for us!

And finally, Austenprose is happy to announce its second Austen novel event entitled “Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey” during the month of October, 2008. We shall be exploring Jane Austen’s gentle parody on Gothic fiction, Northanger Abbey with a group read and chatting about all of the famous Northanger Cannon, the twelve Gothic novels that are mentioned by Isabella Thorpe to the heroine Catherine Morland in the novel. There will be a reading challenge, book reviews and plenty of Northanger Abbey themed giveaways, so please visit and join in, starting October 1st.

Until next week cheers to all,

Laurel Ann

Northanger Abbey: No Notion of Loving Isabella Thorpe by Halves

Illustration by H.M. Brock, Northanger Abbey (1897)“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature. Isabella Thorpe, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 6 

Jane Austen’s character Isabella Thorpe is a strange creature by way of a friend; an odd mixture of affability and cunning, ready to fiercely defend her new friend Catherine Morland if anyone should slight her, flatter her ego to earn her trust, and ply her with advice on romance! What an ingenious character to throw in the path of our young heroine in the making, who innocently does not know what may be “lurking behind the dreadful black veil” of new acquaintance.   

The quote above is from one of my favorite early scenes in the novel when Isabella and Catherine are developing their friendship. They have met in the Pump-room in Bath (England), and their conversation is described by the narrator as an example of their “very warm attachment, and of the delicacy, discretion, originality of thought, and literary taste which marked the reasonableness of that attachment.”

Image of Carey Mulligan as Isabella Thorpe & Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, (2007)

Isabella and Catherine discuss topics of acute interest to young ladies, that would be pertinent even today; friends, dancing, personality, romance and men! Observe Isabella’s language. Her enthusiasm and attention to her naïve friend feeds Catherine’s insecurity and inexperience. 

(Isabella)… My attachments are always excessively strong… Now, if I were to hear anybody speak slightingly of you, I should fire up in a moment: but that is not at all likely, for you are just the kind of girl to be a great favourite with the men.” 

“Oh, dear!” cried Catherine, colouring. “How can you say so?” 

“I know you very well; you have so much animation,… Oh! I must tell you, that just after we parted yesterday, I saw a young man looking at you so earnestly – I am sure he is in love with you.” Catherine coloured, and disclaimed again. Isabella laughed. “It is very true, upon my honour, but I see how it is; you are indifferent to everybody’s admiration, except that of one gentleman, who shall be nameless. Nay, I cannot blame you” – speaking more seriously – “your feelings are easily understood. Where the heart is really attached, I know very well how little one can be pleased with the attention of anybody else. Everything is so insipid, so uninteresting, that does not relate to the beloved object! I can perfectly comprehend your feelings.” 

“But you should not persuade me that I think so very much about Mr. Tilney, for perhaps I may never see him again.” 

“Not see him again! My dearest creature, do not talk of it. I am sure you would be miserable if you thought so!” 

“No, indeed, I should not. I do not pretend to say that I was not very much pleased with him; but while I have Udolpho to read, I feel as if nobody could make me miserable. Oh! The dreadful black veil! My dear Isabella, I am sure there must be Laurentina’s skeleton behind it.”

 Illustration by Trina Robbins & Anne Timmons, Gothic Classic Vol 14, (2007)

Catherine’s interest in Isabella is entirely genuine and unaffected. Her mention of Udolpho shows that she is still focused on her first love, Gothic fiction. Isabella also shares Catherine’s passion, but she uses Gothic novels as a consumable commodity, purely entertainment in between her next romantic conquest. Author Francis Warre Cornish (pg 180) describes Isabella’s interest in Catherine quite openly. 

“Isabella’s interest in her was no doubt quickened by the fact that she admired James Morland, Catherine’s brother. For the present the friendship was all-satisfying. Isabella Thorpe is one of those females not unfrequently met with in Jane Austen’s novels, who combine an empty head and agreeable manners with a clear view of personal advantage. Some of them succeed, some fail in their object, which is to get a husband and a position. They are in the middle distance, between the heroes and the villains, between the Darcys and the Wickhams, the Elizabeths and the Lucy Steeles. Poor Catherine was so delighted with finding a friend to sympathise with her about the Mysteries of Udolpho that she did not observe how vapid, vulgar, and self-seeking her new friend was.” 

Cornish’s book entitled Jane Austen is a literary critique written in 1913. In the chapter on Northanger Abbey, he mentions this opinion in the first paragraph!  Geesh, don’t you hate it when authors say too much too soon, and spoil the plot? Isabella Thorpe may have no notion of loving people by halves, and be a gold-digger, but I will concur with her until Austen reveals otherwise! 

Image of Carey Mulligan as Isabella Thorpe, Northanger Abbey, (2007)Be sure to catch actress Carey Mulligan, who played Isabella Thorpe in the recent adaptation of Northanger Abbey, in the premiere of My Boy Jack, airing Sunday, April 20th at 9:00 pm on Masterpiece Classic on PBS. I admire this talented young actress, and you can read further about her career on my co-blog Jane Austen Today.  

  • *Illustration “Always arm in arm when they walk” by H.M. Brock, Northanger Abbey, Frank S. Holby, New York, (1906)
  • *Illustration by Trina Robbins & Anne Timmons, Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 14 (Graphic Novel): Northanger Abbey, Eureka Publications, (2007)
  • Cornish, Francis Warre, Jane Austen, McMillan, London (1913)

In Remembrance of The Complete Jane Austen

“This present from the Campbells,” said she — “This pianoforté is very kindly given.” 

“Yes,” he replied, and without the smallest apparent embarrassment. “But they would have done better had they given her notice of it. Surprizes are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable. I should have expected better judgment in Colonel Campbell.” Emma Woodhouse & Mr. Knightley, Emma, Chapter 26 

Gone, but not forgotten, The Complete Jane Austen series on PBS ended last Sunday with the final episode of Sense and Sensibility. It was a bittersweet moment for me, kind of an anti-climatic ‘day after the wedding’ kind of funk. And now, I feel a deep malaise setting in! Whatever shall we all talk and ruminate over? Continue reading “In Remembrance of The Complete Jane Austen”

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (2007) Movie – A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.”

The new ITV/Masterpiece PBS adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey aired on PBS last night. After viewing a pensive Persuasion adaptation last week during The Complete Jane Austen, I was all fired up to be shaken out of my Jane Austen adaptation stupor with a new production of Northanger Abbey. This is a lively story of youth, inexperience, and first love played against campy Gothic fiction. How could I not be revived?

So let me begin by telling you that two filmatic productions were never at such opposite ends of the Jane Austen gene pool emotionally and spiritually. What a relief to play with Catherine Morland and the other youngsters in the shallows. Continue reading “Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (2007) Movie – A Review”

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