Finding Colin Firth: A Novel, by Mia March – A Review

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March (2013)From the desk of Christina Boyd:

What Janeite would not stop dead in her tracks when she spies “Colin Firth” in the title of a book? Mia March’s latest offering Finding Colin Firth: A Novel certainly set off all my bells and whistles. The smolderingly sexy British actor not only won our hearts when he emerged dripping wet from Pemberley pond as Mr. Darcy in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, he has had an acclaimed career, winning the best actor Academy Award in 2011 for The King’s Speech. Who wouldn’t want to find Colin Firth? But no, dear friends, this is not a “How to” book sharing tips and advice on how to track and successfully have a Firth encounter. Eeesh! It’s a work of fiction about three women unknowingly bound together and whose lives intersect when the actor is slated to film a movie in a coastal Maine town. Daily rumors of Mr. Firth’s arrival fuels fantasy and stirs the excitement in their lives and aspirations. (Just imagining spotting Mr. Firth in my little town sets this fan-girl’s heart racing!)

A year after her mother’s death, (who incidentally was a Colin Firth fan), 22 year-old Bea Crane receives a mysterious letter from her deceased mother, confessing she adopted Bea as a newborn. “…Now that I feel myself going, I can’t bear to take this with me. But I can’t bear to tell you with my final breaths, either, I can’t do that to you. So I’ll wait on this, for both of us. But you should know the truth because it is the truth.” Shocked, Bea tracks down her birth mother to Boothbay Harbor, Maine and decides she must see this unknown woman for herself. Continue reading

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Mini-series – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is my seventh 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 now closed for new participants, but you can join us in reading all the great reviews and comments until December 31, 2013.

My Review

Eighteen years after it first aired on BBC One in October 1995, the television mini-series Pride and Prejudice (1995) is still blowing bonnets off Janeites and wowing them in the aisles! This week in London a twelve foot statue replicating Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy’s famous wet shirt ascent from the Pemberley pond was revealed. Its super hero size seems apropos in relation to the impact that the mini-series had on Britain in 1995, in the US when it aired on A&E in 1996, and the world. If that was not eye-popping enough, the scene recently topped a poll of the ten most memorable British TV moments! We will be bold as brass and claim it as the most memorable TV moment in period drama evah!

Mr Darcy twelve foot statue (2013)

Wet shirt Darcy may have fluttered hearts across the world, but let us not forget that there are five hours and thirty nine other minutes to enjoy too. The screenplay based on Jane Austen’s 1813 novel was written by Andrew Davies and introduced a more energized and sexier version of the classic love story than viewers had previously experienced with the 1980 BBC mini-series or the 1940 MGM theatrical movie. It was a modernized Austen that purist detested, Janeites embraced, and the general public adored, converting millions into fans and launching the Austen renaissance that we are enjoying today. Continue reading

Mr. Darcy, er, Colin Firth waxwork unveiled…

Okay, this requires no explanation!

Colin Firth waxwork at Madame Tussauds (2011)

Follow this link to watch the video at The Telegraph online!

Pride and Prejudice 1995 (Restored Edition) Available April 27th, 2010

Yep. Just when you thought that you would have to buy a Blu-ray video player to get better picture quality than previous editions of Pride and Prejudice 1995 the good folks at A&E have gone a done it. They have digitally remastered the pinnacle of perfection in Jane Austen adaptations, Pride and Prejudice 1995. Now you can really see the drops of water run down Darcy chest after he takes his plunge into the Pemberley pond. ;-)

If you pre-order through that place that is not Barnes & Noble, it is being offered at 52% off the list price of $39.95. Do the math or just go order it.  The offical release date is April 27, 2010. Here is the cover blurb and all the geeky details.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has taken its place as one of the greatest television productions of all time. The landmark adaptation from A&E and the BBC captured the hearts of millions by seamlessly translating the wit, romance, and intelligence of Jane Austen’s classic novel to the screen.

With a masterful script, deft direction, and star-making performances from Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE transports viewers to Georgian England, where affairs of the heart are an exquisite game, and marriage the ultimate prize. But Elizabeth Bennet – spirited, independent, and one of five unmarried sisters – is determined to play by her own rules and wed for love, not money or privilege. Will her romantic sparring with the mysterious and arrogant Darcy end in misfortune–or will love’s true nature prevail?

Now beautifully remastered for the ultimate in picture and sound quality, relive the timeless classic PRIDE & PREJUDICE on 2 DVDs.

Bonus Features:

  • Completely Digitally Remastered for the Ultimate in Picture and Sound Quality
  • Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation
  • Featurettes “Lasting Impressions,” “An Impromptu Walkabout with Adrian Lukis and Lucy Briers,” “Turning Point,” “Uncovering the Technical Restoration Process”
  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurette: “The Making of Pride and Prejudice”
  • English Subtitles

Additional Details:

  • Format: Box Set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Run Time: 5 Hours 23 Minutes + extras
  • Region: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Language: English
  • Studio: A&E Television Networks
  • Closed Captioning: No
  • ASIN: B00364K6YW
  • UPC: 733961206739

I feel a P&P 1995 Twitter Party calling.

Who Wants Mr. Darcy Hanging Around Your House – – All the Time?

Portrait of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (1995)The portrait of actor Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice is on the block on January 21st through Bonhams Auction House in London and available to the highest bidder. This may very well be the ultimate Darcy fan collectible. Not only is it a portrait of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, it represent the most significant turning point in the novel when the heroine Elizabeth Bennet gazes up at the Master of Pemberley and realizes that he’s not the chump that she thought he was; begins to fall in love; changing the course of novel and literary history; tra la! 

And what a clever plot twist Jane Austen devised in having heroine Elizabeth Bennet so moved by the depiction and what he entails, “As a brother, a landlord, a master,” that her reaction to the portrait adds a “more gentle sensation toward the original” and “regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before“. Other authors over the years have recognized the importance of a good portrait and used it to their advantage. Hollywood has picked up on this also, and I have been fascinated over the years how often it pops up in films. The most famous movie portrait is probably from the 1944 film-noir classic Laura, starring Gene Tierney as Laura Hunt whose hauntingly beautiful portrait moves the detective Mark Dana Andrews gazes at the portrait of Gene Tierney as Laura (1944)McPherson played by Dana Andrews to fall in love with her even though he is investigating her murder. Another great movie portrait is shown in Gone With the Wind. The vain heroine Scarlett O’Hara Butler has just given birth, and as the father Rhett Butler toasts his wife and new daughter, we see a huge full length portrait of Scarlett in the background looking down supremely over the scene. From that moment on the plot significantly changes when Scarlett decides she is too fat from the baby and will have no more, spurning her husband from their bed and ruining their love. The ultimate movie portrait gone bad is in the 1945 Gothic classic, The Picture of Dorian Gray based on the 1891 novel by Oscar Wilde in which a vain plea by the young handsome hero to never grow old is mysteriously granted, but his portrait grotesquely ages, ultimatley destorying him. Jane Austen knew of the power of the portrait, but her predecessors have never reached the impact that she achieved in one brief passage in the novel. 

A more flattering view of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, (1995)The Darcy portrait has never been one of my favorites. I have always thought that it was not very flattering to either entities, Mr. Darcy or Mr. Firth. It made them look stout and way too middle-aged, which either was not. It appears that during the production of the 1995 miniseries the portrait had an even worse beginning and improvements were made to try to give Mr. Darcy a more favorable interpretation. You can read the full story written by Colin Firth in the letter that accompanies the lucky winner of the portrait. The proceeds of the auction will benefit charities, though its provenance is not mentioned. One wonders out loud if it has been in Firth’s possession and he was ready to pass it on so to speak. I can’t blame him really, because it is not his best likeness. However, from the viewpoint of a national treasure, that is another story, which some deep pocket or Jane Austen institution will be happy to supplant equal measure in pewter to Bonhams for the sheer pleasure of having Mr. Darcy gaze at them all day long!

Pride and Prejudice: Which Mr. Darcy Has the Noble Mien for You?

Portrait of Edmund Lenthal Swifte circa 1802, by John OpieMr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report, which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley… The Narrator, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 3

This is our introduction to the infamous Mr. Darcy from chapter three. Fine, tall, handsome, noble with ten thousand pounds a year! What a social pedigree. What unmarried woman, or over anxious mother would not want to snag him as a husband for themselves or their daughter? Interestingly, the description is subjective, allowing the reader to insert their own physical characteristics to form their ideal Mr. Darcy. How then did the archetype of Fitzwilliam Darcy as dark haired and fair complected come about? Blame the movies.

This striking portrait of a Regency era gentleman matches my impression of what Mr. Darcy should look like in my mind from Jane Austen’s description and the later influence of Hollywood and television. When I came across this portrait of Edmund Lenthal Swifte on the Tate Museum website, I was struck by the incredible similarity to actor David Rintoul who had portrayed Mr. Darcy in the 1979 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. They could be twins separated at birth by two hundred years. ;)

So gentle readers, who is your ultimate Darcy archetype? In a contest of dueling Darcy’s between Edmund Lenthal Swifte, Sir Lawrence Olivier, David Rintoul, Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen or Elliot Cowan, who really floats your boat? Cast your vote before November 1. You might just be surprised with the results.

Dueling Mr. Darcys

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

Around the blogosphere for the week of September 7th

The great Darcy debate continues! Is Colin Firth or Matthew Macfayden more accurate to Austen’s vision in their film portrayal of Mr. Darcy from the novel Pride and Prejudice? Read about romance author Michele Ann Young’s view on the Casablanca Authors Blog.

Speaking of Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth celebrated his 48th birthday on September 10th, and talks to reporter Benjamin Secher of the Telegram about his continuing romantic roles in films. Secher surmises that “surely the time is approaching for the secretary of the international heart-throb club to inform him that his membership has expired, freeing him from frivolous romantic roles for good“. Obviously not so, as offers keep pouring in eighteen years after he thought he would be too old to play them! Hmm. One suspects that Firth is a bit modest, wouldn’t you say?

Oxford Professor and Austen Scholar Kathryn Sutherland weighs in on her impressions of the first episode of Lost in Austen, the new ITV Pride and Prejudice inspired time travel twister.  Not quite sure if she has an opinion yet. That’s a first for an academic.

Do you remember the first time you read Pride and Prejudice? I do. So when I happened upon this post of a novice reader’s first pages into the book, it made me smile. Austenprose recommends Adopt-an-Austen-Newbie this week, so please head on over and offer a word of encouragement or share your first time reading stories. How I envy them the adventure that is ahead.

Is Pride and Prejudice (1995) screenwriter Andrew Davies a channel of Dickens and Austen for the contemporary world? English professor Laura Carroll of La Trobe University reports in from his recent session at the Melbourne Writers Festival where screenwriter Jane Sardi interviewed him last week. Is this former English professor on an educational mission on behalf of classic literature?

LearnOutLoud.com is offering a free download or streaming audio of a literary summary of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudiceas their free Audiobook of September Podcast. This is part of their Literary Summaries series that outlines classic novels in a abridged format.

Is Jane Austen a sizeist? Sparsely Kate has a few words of contention about a passage in Persusaion that may imply how Austen interpreted people of a “comfortable substantial size” were more suited to be jolly. She may have a good point. Sparsely Kate, that is!

Episode two of Lost in Austen, the new ITV television mini-series aired in the UK this week and is garnering quite a bit of discussion at AustenBlog. Episode one was fun and frolicky, with more than a few improbable surprises. Catch my review of Episode two on Monday, September 15th.

Austen-esque book reviews for the week, Pemberley Shades one & two, Old Friends and New Fancies, The Pemberley Chronicles, and Essential Austen, keep us reading and reading.

Jane Odiwe author of the soon to be released Lydia Bennet’s Story is also a talented artist. Check out her recent portrait of Jane Austen at her blog, Jane Austen Sequels.

J. K. Rowling & Warner Bros, Entertainment won their lawsuit against Michigan-based publisher RDR Books on Monday, blocking the publication of The Harry Potter Lexiconby Steven VanderArk. This is great news for authors everywhere, and I commend Rowling (one of the most financially successful authors in print) for fighting for herself, and the little guys out there. What does this have to do with Jane Austen you ask? Hmm, she is everywhere you know – influencing honor, justice and the Austen-way across the globe – but actually, we have Austen-esque author Diana Birchall to thank for being such an excellent star witness on behalf of Rowling and Warner Bros where she is employed as a story analyst. She wrote about her involvement in the case here last March, so be grateful Janeites that Austen’s is everywhere – cuz she makes all the difference to many, even after 200 years.

Cheers to all, Laurel Ann

*Watercolour engraving by Thomas Rowlandson, Jealousy, The Rival (1787)

Top Ten Reasons to Read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, – Again!

WIN A FREE COPY OF

CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT

 

Image of the cover of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, (2007)

Today is the official release date for the paperback edition of one of my favorite Austen-esque novels,  Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler. Hurrah! You can read a synopsis of the book here

This novel received a most  ‘favourable’ response from reviewers and Janeites when it was released in hardcover last summer. Here are a few highlights… 

This is Laurie Viera Rigler’s first novel and she’s done a wonderful job. Charming characters, matchless plot-lines and a great Austen flavor make this debut a must-read. Fans of Austen will love Rigler’s style and Austen newbies will have no trouble following the story even if they aren’t familiar with all of Austen’s work. Blog Critics Magazine 

…the fans that adored Jude Devereaux’s Knight in Shining Armor or the time travel movies Somewhere in Time, Kate and Leopold, and Big will definitely have a rollicking good time. Jane Austen Today 

Ms. Rigler knows her Jane Austen and sprinkles the book with loving references….This book is a fun, light, fluffy bit of “chick lit” for any Janeite – a good read for a plane trip or a rainy weekend. The Austen Intelligencer 

I absolutely loved the creativity of this novel and admire Ms. Rigler’s bold and inventive plot and characters, which is made all the sweeter since it is just so darn funny. 

So Janeites, inspired by modern comedic brilliance, and Miss Austen’s character Emma Woodhouse who demands from each of you “one thing very clever, be it prose or verse, original or repeated — or two things moderately clever — or three things very dull indeed, and she engages to laugh heartily at them all“, I put to you my top ten reasons to read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, again, – and challenge you to add your share! 

Top Ten Reasons to Read 

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Again…

 

10.) Your cat became a critic and coughed up a hairball on your copy of Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife.

9.) Your boss caught you watching the new adaptation of Northanger Abbey on your computer at work, and has restricted your Austen addiction to lunch room reading. 

8.) Your VCR just ate episode 4 of Pride and Prejudice (1995), and your new DVD will not arrive from Barnes and Noble for three days! 

7.) Your wannabe Captain Wentworth just asked that stick insect cheerleader to the spring prom, and now your last minute blind date is your mother’s second cousins, manicurist’s minister’s, step son who is Mr. Collins’ doppelganger! 

6.) Your 13 year old little sister was just offered a modeling contract with the Wilhelmina agency in New York.   

5.) Your husband has just learned that you are being audited by the IRS because you talked him into claiming your purchases of Jane Austen books, DVD’s and conferences as a charitable contribution on your taxes.      

4.) Your debate team teacher will not let you argue the merits of Colin Firth vs. Matthew McFadyen to prove ‘who is the hottest Mr. Darcy ever’ at the state debate finals next month. 

3.) Your parents think you are crazy for refusing to go on vacation with them to Hawaii because Regency ladies never wore bikinis. 

2.) You have just learned that the movie Lost in Austen has been put on the back-burner, and now there are no pending movies of Jane Austen inspired biographies, spin-offs or adaptations in the immediate future.  

And the number one reason to read

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict again is… 

 

Your new boyfriend thinks that your ‘Darcy on a pedestal’ addiction is out of control after you ask him to bow when he meets your parents for the first time!

Be sure to visit Laurie’s web site devoted to everything addictive about Jane Austen, janeaustenaddict.com and explore the question, what would it be like to live in Jane Austen’s time, read about her latest insights for Jane Austen addicts on A Great Deal of Conversation Blog, or have your share of the conversation on the forum. 

Image of the cover of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, (2007)CONTEST: Win a free paperback copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by stating your unique reason for needing to read the novel in the comments by 11:59 pm on Wednesday May 7th, and the winner will be drawn and announced the next day! Good luck Austen addicts.