Category Archives: Jane Austen

I’m Willing to Give Modern Persuasion a Chance

Oscar Wilde once said the following:

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

For two centuries, writers have tried to capture the magic in Jane Austen‘s novels. She is one of those authors whose writing seems easy to replicate. But, upon further inspection, the discovery often is that it is much more difficult than it seems to be.

Yesterday, the trailer for Modern Persuasion was released. It is basically the modern rom-com version of Persuasion. Playing the 21st century Anne Elliott and Captain Frederick Wentworth are Alicia Witt and Shane McRae.

I’m willing to give this movie a shot. However, two things immediately come to mind. The first is that the title feels incredibly lazy. It’s as if it was the working title for the first draft of the screenplay that the writers didn’t bother changing. It is possible to create a modern Jane Austen adaptation and be creative with the title.

The second is that based strictly on the trailer, it feels like the standard romantic comedy. Granted, the trailer is not the move in its entirety. But, the only initial connection so far that the film is based on an Austen novel is the mention of the Laconia (scroll down to the bottom of the page in the link for the reference).

Only time will tell if the film is a success or a failure. Either way, it will be a point of contention for the Janeite community for years to come.

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Movies, Persuasion

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things Book Review

If one were to poll Jane Austen fans to determine which of the six completed novels is their favorite, Mansfield Park is likely to be found at the bottom of the list. Similarly, the book’s heroine, Fanny Price is also likely to be found in the same position in a comparable list of Austen’s leading ladies.

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, written by Jacqueline Firkins, was published last year. Edith “Edie” Price has been in the foster care system since her mother’s recent passing. Her father left when she was a baby. Just a few months shy of her eighteenth birthday, Edie is temporarily taken in by her wealthy aunt and uncle.

Though she has two cousins, Maria and Julia who are close to her in age, Edie has nothing in common with them. They are determined to give her a makeover and find her a boyfriend. But Edie is more concerned with making sure that she can stand on her own two feet after high school.

As she tries to stay afloat until graduation, two boys enter the picture. The first is Sebastian, Edie’s first and love and childhood bestie. He is everything she could want in a boyfriend. But Sebastian is taken. The second is Henry, the bad boy who Edie swears to stay away from. That is easier said than done.

Edie knows that she has to choose one of them. The question is, will her heart be broken in the process?

I loved this book. Edie has the soul of her 19th century predecessor, while being a normal teenage girl in the 21st century. Among the JAFF (Jane Austen fanfiction) books that I have read, this is one of the better ones.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Thoughts On the Virtual JASNA AGM

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Covid-19 has flipped our world upside down.

Last weekend was supposed to be the 2020 JASNA AGM. Hosted by the Ohio North Coast region, Janeites would have met in Cleveland. But the virus demanded a change of plans.

Instead of being held in person, the AGM was held virtually. 1400 JASNA members attended via their devices. The plus side was the number of participants nearly doubled compared to previous AGMS. The downside was that like everything that had to transfer to the internet, there were glitches.

Overall, I was pleased with the AGM. It had the look and feel of an AGM without being there in person. Hopefully, we will be able reconvene next year in Chicago, even with the restrictions created by Covid-19.

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, National News, Thoughts On....

Mr. Malcolm’s List Book Review

The world of dating and romance can sometimes be cutthroat.

Mr. Malcolm’s List, written by Suzanne Allain was originally published in 2009 and re-published this year. Jeremy Malcolm is the younger son of an Earl in Regency Era England. Handsome and wealthy, he is considered to be the ideal husband. Though he is ready to marry, he will not marry just anyone.

To throw off any woman who would marry him for less than honest reasons, Jeremy compiles a list which contains the qualities that his future wife must have. Rumors of this list and it’s contents have spread. Julia Thistlewaite is one of the many women who has tried and failed to become Mrs. Malcolm.

Angry at being rejected, she invites her old school friend, Selina Dalton to spend some time with her in London. Selina reluctantly agrees to join Julia on her plan of revenge. When Jeremy starts to judge Selina based on this list, she decide to judge him back based on her own version of the perfect husband.

I loved this book and I think my fellow Jane Austen fans will as well. Mr. Malcolm was created in the image of Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), creating a love/hate relationship with the reader. I appreciated the satire, the humor, the charm, and the reverence for the era.

I recommend it.

P.S. I recommend that you watch the short film that came out last year based on the book. It is the perfect companion to it’s literary predecessor.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

RIP Olivia de Havilland

If we lived in an ideal world, we would all live to old age. But we do not live in an ideal world. If one is lucky enough to see the golden years of their lives, then perhaps, they have come close to an ideal world.

Veteran actress Olivia de Havilland died earlier today. She was 104.

Two of her best known roles are Gone with the Wind (1939 and The Heiress (1949).

In Gone with the Wind, she played Melanie Wilkes, the Jane Bennet to the Elizabeth Bennet of the book, Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh).

In The Heiress, she played Catherine Sloper. Catherine is torn between her emotionally abusive father and a suitor who may be interested in her for the wrong reasons.

In addition to her storied career, she was an activist. The De Havilland Law is named for her, giving actors greater freedom in choosing their roles.

May her memory be a blessing. Z”l.

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Movies, Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl Book Review

If one were to ask readers who their favorite character is, I would suspect that Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice would rank near the top of the list.

Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl, edited by Christina Boyd, was released earlier this year. The fourth book in a series of five Jane Austen inspired anthologies, this edition contains a series of short stories inspired by Austen’s most famous heroine.

Like it’s predecessors, I loved this book. I could feel the presence of Austen’s voice and point of view as a writer, which in the world of fanfiction, is not always present. Balancing Austen’s original narrative and their vision of Elizabeth Bennet, the stories reminded me of why I continue to adore the novels of Jane Austen.

I absolutely recommend it.

P.S. The royalties from these anthologies go directly to Chawton House. I can’t think of a better way to give thanks to Jane Austen and to those who are keeping her legacy going.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Writing

Books That Speak to the African-American Experience

It has been said that we can never know how another person sees the world until we walk a mile in their shoes. But books have a way to providing that perspective.

As our country and our culture once more grapples with racial tension and the troubled history of our mutual past, books may be one of the keys to bringing us together.

The Yellow House by Sarah Broom

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Proud: My Fight For an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Joshua: A Brooklyn Tale by Andrew Kane

It may be simplistic to say that reading the books listed above or any book will help to solve our issues. However, I believe that by at least beginning to understand another’s perspective, the doors to communication, understanding, and diversity may truly start to open.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Jane Austen, National News, New York City, Politics, Pride and Prejudice

Same Hypocrite, Different Day: The Photo Op That Was Just That

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a Jane Austen super fan. If someone were to ask me to describe a character or a scene, I could do so with a reasonable amount of detail. The same could be said for anyone who has regularly the Bible, or any book that is the foundation of a religion.

While on the campaign trail back in 2016, you know was asked to refer to his favorite passage in the Christian Bible. As he often does when asked a direct question, he found a way to not answer the question.

Yesterday, in response the protests in front of the White House and around the country, he did not address the nation as any other President would. Sending police to clear the crowd, he took a walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church. The church has been a site of Presidential worship for over 200 years.

Instead of speaking of the multiple crises that the United States is experiencing in a meaningful manner, he picked up a Bible and used it as a prop. There was only one reason for this, a photo op and a message to his base.

He is not the first, nor will he be the last to invoke the name and image of G-d (in whatever form G-d takes) for questionable purposes. But given what this nation is going through, the last thing we need is a hypocritical President who says one thing, does another, and only prefers those who blindly support him.

America is at the moment of reckoning. This nation has two choices. We can vote for Joe Biden and move forward. Or, we can vote him in for another term and go down a rabbit hole that I don’t want to think about.

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And Now For Something Completely Different: Jennifer Ehle Reads From Pride and Prejudice

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I initially heard about the stay at home order, I though that it was going to be a break from my busy life. But after three weeks of only going out for the essentials, I (like I suspect many of you) are starting to go a little stir crazy.

That’s when creativity and social media comes into play.

Actress Jennifer Ehle (beloved by Jane Austen fans for playing Lizzie Bennet in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice) found a creative way to fill up her time.

She starting reading chapters from Pride and Prejudice and posted them to her Instagram page. Since yesterday, she has been uploading the videos to YouTube.

There is a lot to be obviously concerned about these days. It is extremely easy to dwell on the negative.

But there is also happiness and joy to be found. Jennifer Ehle reading from Pride and Prejudice is puts a smile on my face like few things can.

Thank you Jennifer, you have made this home confinement just a little easier.

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Television

Emma. Movie Review

When Jane Austen introduced Emma Woodhouse, the eponymous title character in her 1816 novel Emma, she wrote the following:

“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”

The new adaptation of Emma. was released into theaters this weekend. Stepping in the shoes of Highbury’s queen bee is Anya Taylor-Joy. Unlike Austen’s other heroines, Emma is not hard up for cash and is not looking for a husband. She spends her days tending to her hypochondriac father, Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) and arguing with her neighbor and long time friend, George Knightley (Johnny Flynn).

She also thinks that she is a matchmaker. When one of her matches lead to a successful marriage, Emma starts to believe that she has the magic touch when it comes to marriage and romance. She will soon find out how wrong she is.

I loved this adaptation. Director Autumn de Wilde adds delicious looking pops of color while screenwriter Eleanor Catton kept as close to Austen cannon as she could have gotten. It is a joyful, hilarious and absolutely wonderful film.

I absolutely recommend it.

Emma. is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen