Sanditon Character Review: Young Stringer

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

I apologize for not posting last week. I had other writing that had to be done.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

We all have dreams. What happens when those dreams clash with what our parents want for us? In Sanditon, Young Stringer (whose legal name is James) (Leo Suter) wants to be an architect. He and his widower father, known as Old Stringer (Rob Jarvis) work for Tom Parker. While he dreams, Young Stringer knows that it will take work and drive to get to where he wants to be. He also comes home to a father who would prefer that his son set his sights a little lower.

Encouraged by Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), Young Stringer sees a professional future outside of Sanditon, even with the stringent class structure that could hold him back. He also develops feelings for Charlotte, who is equally ambitious and not afraid to get her hands dirty. But she leaves him in the friend zone.

After an accident disables Old Stringer and then a fire kills him, Young Stringer decides to stay in Sanditon, even after being offered an apprenticeship that could open doors for him.

To sum it up: Young Stringer is a young man with heart, enthusiasm, and a bright future. The question is, where does that future lie? In making that decision, he proves that success on one’s own terms is possible, even with the obstacles in his way.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Sister Novelists: The Trailblazing Porter Sisters, Who Paved the Way for Austen and the Brontës Book Review

For everyone who makes a crack in the glass ceiling, they stand on the shoulders of someone else who made that crack possible. Lovers of classic literature are (hopefully) well-versed in the lives and works of Jane Austen and the Brontes.

What has been lost to history is that without Anna Maria and Jane Porter, neither Austen nor the Brontes would have been able to become published authors. The story of the Misses Porter is told in Devoney Looser‘s new book, Sister Novelists: The Trailblazing Porter Sisters, Who Paved the Way for Austen and the Brontës. Published last fall, Looser introduces modern readers to the sisters and their numerous works.

They lived what can only be described as a double life. Though they were respected authors/celebrities of their era, the Porters were never financially secure. Debt and poorly made monetary decisions followed them from the time they were young. They were also posthumously buried by the male writers of their era (Sir Walter Scott to be specific), who never publicly named the Porters as the inspiration for their own works.

It goes without saying that the book would be completely up my alley. It goes without saying that it is for a niche audience. But that’s fine. What Looser does so well is to bring her subjects and their world to life. I felt like I knew them as human beings, not as icons and proto-feminists. While she kept to the standard womb-to-tomb biography format, it was far from the dry academic title that it could have been.

I think it is pretty safe to say that every female writer since then, regardless of genre or format, owes the Porters a debt that can never be repaid.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It is a must-read.

Sister Novelists: The Trailblazing Porter Sisters, Who Paved the Way for Austen and the Brontës is available wherever books are sold.

Sanditon Character Review: Diana Parker

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Determination is a wonderful thing. It allows us to pursue our goals when all seems lost. But, at the same time, it can create blinders to being open to change. In Sanditon, Diana Parker (Alexandra Roach) is the only daughter of the Parker family. With three brothers, Arthur (Turlough Convery), Sidney (Theo James), and Tom (Kris Marshall), and a comfortable inheritance, she does not have a care in the world. Or so one would think.

Diana is hypocondriac. Any sort of perceived malady or over-exertion sends her down a wormhole of anxiety. Joining her down this wormhole is Arthur. Though she can be perceived as a concerned older sister, she can also be seen as enabling him to lead a sedentary life. Rarely seen without Arthur, they can best be described as co-dependent. That does not mean, however, that she is not in bed all day.

Like all of the Parkers, she is active in supporting the town and Tom’s dream of creating a seaside resort. Unlike Tom, she is not married and has yet to consider the prospect. her 30’s, she would prefer to watch other people dance at balls rather than step onto the dance floor herself. Upon seeing Arthur pair up with Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke) at a local dance, she becomes concerned that he has matrimonial designs on the heiress. But at the end of the day, he returns to her side.

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To sum it up: Diana is an interesting character. She (and Arthur by extension) provides comedic relief, creating a balance with the drama. While we laugh at her, we can see her love for her family and the stubbornness that exists in all of the Parker siblings.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Sanditon Character Review: Sidney Parker

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

It is easy to judge a book by its cover. It is harder to get to know them and understand the circumstances that made them into who they are. In Sanditon, Sidney Parker (Theo James) does not make a great first impression. Like his predecessor, Fitzwilliam Darcy, he comes off as rude, arrogant, and a snob.

One of four children (three boys and a girl), Sidney is the dark sheep of the family. Tom (Kris Marshall) is the dreamer. Arthur (Turlough Convery) is the layabout. Diana (Alexandra Roach) is the worrier. He has been away for many years and would rather be anywhere else than be in the company of his family.

When he meets Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), it is hate at first sight. Sidney perceives Charlotte to be a naive country girl. Charlotte thinks that he is a little too full of himself.

Things start to change when there is an accident in the town and Charlotte steps in to help. He begins to see her intelligence and her willingness to step in when necessary. They go back and forth for a while. It gets rocky when Charlotte does not understand the pressure that Sidney is under to keep his ward, Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke) safe from golddiggers.

When they finally get together, it is a moment that has been a long time coming. It seems that Charlotte and Sidney’s future is all settled. But before Sidney can properly pop the question, he has to settle some business issues for Tom (again).

When he returns, he has bad news. The only way to save the family is to marry his ex, Eliza Campion (Ruth Kearney). Eliza is a wealthy widow who abandoned Sidney for her late husband. Upon previously encountering Charlotte, she promptly switched into Mean Girls mode, mocking her for her “low” upbringing.

Unfortunately, the next time we hear of Sidney, he is dead, leaving everyone around him heartbroken.

To sum it up: Sidney’s arc is one of opening up and learning to love. Not just romantic love, but the love of family. It is that love that forces him to make the decision to ultimately marry for money.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Best Movies of 2022

  1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: After the death of Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther), the questions on how the IP would continue without its leading man seemed endless. Black Panther‘s sequel is both the perfect memorial to Boseman and a continuation of the narrative.
  2. Avatar: The Way of Water: The 13-year wait for the follow-up to Avatar was worth it. The themes of climate change are just as relevant now as they were in 2009.
  3. She Said: Based on the book of the same name, it tells the heart-pounding story to uncover the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. NY Times reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) take on Weinstein and the Hollywood machine in a way that is jaw-dropping.
  4. Elvis: Austin Butler transforms himself into Elvis Presley, adding new layers to the music icon.
  5. Call Jane: Elizabeth Banks plays a housewife whose pregnancy is not going well in the days before Roe v. Wade. Denied an abortion by the local hospital, she finds an underground group and soon joins them in their mission to help women.
  6. Hocus Pocus 2: After 29 years, the Sanderson sisters are back. It has enough of its predecessor while holding its own in the best way possible.
  7. Mr. Malcolm’s List: Based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm is the most coveted bachelor in this Jane Austen-inspired narrative. In order to fend off marriageable young ladies and their match-making mamas, he creates a list of qualities that his wife should have. Little does he know that it will soon be moot.
  8. Downton Abbey: A New Era: This second film in the franchise opens the door to new stories while closing old ones in perfect fashion.
  9. Cyrano: This musical adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac starring Peter Dinklage adds new flavors to the well-known tale.
  10. The Tragedy of Macbeth: Shot in stark black and white, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand star as the power-hungry and bloodthirsty Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
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Sanditon Character Review: Esther Denham

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

I apologize for the time in between posts. Life (and other writing got in the way).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In a perfect world, the person we love would not just return that love. We would walk into the sunset with that person. But that is not always the case. In Sanditon, Esther Denham (Charlotte Spencer) has two sides to her personality. When she is at home with her stepbrother Sir Edward Denham (Jack Fox), she is like a lovelorn teenager, hanging on his every word. But in public, she is sharp-witted, honest to the point of almost being rude, and quick-tongued. They both live in genteel poverty, hoping to become heirs to their aunt, Lady Denham (Anne Reid) when she dies. The only person standing in their way is another relative, Clara Brereton (Lily Sacofsky).

Esther’s aunt keeps bringing up the fact that she is single and has to marry a man with a significant income. But Esther remains stalwart in her love for her brother. Every man who has previously attempted to court her has walked away empty-handed. But there is one man who finds her insults amusing: Lord Babington (Mark Stanley). Despite being told time and again that she is not interested, he keeps coming back for more.

Just because Esther loves Edward does not mean that he loves her back in the same manner. When he sees Lord Babington coming around with greater frequency, Edward starts to manipulate Esther, drawing her ever closer to him.

The war between the Denhams and Clara comes to head while their aunt is sick. Clara and Edward plan to find her will and change it. It backfires when they sleep together. When Lady Denham gets wind of this, Edward and Clara are disinherited. Esther becomes the heir and admits to her feelings for Lord Babbington. Freed from Edward’s constraints, she gives herself permission to be happy and feels truly loved.

When we next see Esther, there is one thing that would make her life complete: a child. After several miscarriages, she has been warned about trying again. With her husband off on a business trip, she is living with her aunt. The hurricane that Clara and Edward come back, wreaking havoc. Clara is pregnant with Edward’s child, and he is determined to ruin his sister’s life.

Mad with jealousy of Clara’s pregnancy and grieving over the lack of response from Lord Babbington (via the stolen letters taken by Edward), she starts to think that she is losing her mind. But once again, her brother’s objectives are foiled. He is sent away with the tail between his legs. Knowing that she is unable to care for her son properly, Clara gives him to Esther to raise.

To sum it up: Esther’s character arc, I think is one of the most interesting ones in the world of Austen’s fiction. She thinks that she knows love and what she wants. When that does not come to pass, she somehow finds the strength to open her heart and love again.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

P.S. As a fellow redhead, I love her costumes and would wear them in a heartbeat. The colors that the costume department chose are spot on.

Amanda Book Review

Emma Woodhouse, the eponymous title character of Jane Austen‘s novel Emma, is not exactly the most likable character when we first meet her. She has a good heart, but does not always have the ability to read the room.

Amanda (published in 2006), by Debra White Smith, is the 5th book in the Jane Austen Series. Set in Australia, Amanda has taken over the leadership of the family business. But that does not mean, however, she spends all day working. After disapproving of her assistant’s boyfriend, she tries to set Haley up with someone else. This sets off a series of romantic disasters that force her to re-evaluate her perspective.

Amanda is also determined to remain single. That plan goes awry with an attraction to Nathaniel, a friend of the family. When Haley sets her eyes on Nathaniel, Amanda starts to question her decisions.

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I wanted to like this book. But I didn’t. It was hard to read and it felt like a surface retelling of Emma. It was also missing a key scene from her character arc that makes the narrative.

Do I recommend it? No.

Amanda is available wherever books are sold.

Reason and Romance: A Contemporary Retelling of Sense and Sensibility Book Review

On the surface, it seems that logic and emotion are at odds with one another. But, when coupled together, they are a powerful force that cannot be ignored.

Reason and Romance: A Contemporary Retelling of Sense and Sensibility (published in 2004), is the second book in The Jane Austen Series by Debra White Smith. Sisters Elaina and Anna Woods are as different as night and day. At 27, Elaina is a newly minted Ph.D. and a college Professor. A mini-me of her late father, her life is ruled by rationality. Her younger sister Anna is 22, a dreamer, and still trying to find herself.

Both reckon with an unexpected romance. Elaina is attracted to Ted, who seems perfect for her. But as soon as their relationship gets off the ground, it falls apart. Anna instantly falls in love with Willis. She is already dreaming of what their future will look like. Then he disappears, leaving a series of unanswered questions behind.

Will these sisters find the love they deserve? Or will their dreams of romance remain just that?

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The author does a good job of giving equal weight to the modern world and Austen’s original text. My only qualm is that with all of her books, she is a little too heavy-handed on the religious faith of the characters.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Possibilities: A Contemporary Retelling of Persuasion Book Review

The beauty of Jane Austen‘s work is that her stories are timeless and universal. This, of course, opens the door to modern writers trying their hand at adapting Austen’s work in another time and place. The question that the reader has to ask is if the author was able to balance their vision with Austen’s narrative?

Possibilities: A Contemporary Retelling of Persuasion was released in 2006. The 6th in a series of reboots of her novels, it was written by Debra White Smith. In this version, Allie comes from a wealthy family whose fortune comes from farming. She is expected to marry “well”. When she falls for Frederick, who has been hired to maintain the family estate, her aunt intervenes.

Years later, Frederick returned as a military hero. He is also in a better financial situation and a catch. When they meet again, Allie is still grieving and Frederick is still angry. Will they get back together or move on?

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White does a good job of keeping to the original text while adapting it to her world. Though she goes a little overboard in making two characters mercenary, they do not stray too far from their Regency counterparts.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Possibilities: A Contemporary Retelling of Persuasion is available wherever books are sold.

Sanditon Character Review: Clara Brereton

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In a world in which class status, patriarchy, and money rule, an unmarried woman who lacks a steady income has a limited number of options. The first is to marry well and hope that her husband treats her right. The second is to rely on family for financial support. The third is to find employment that will allow her to enter genteel poverty. In Sanditon, Clara Brereton (Lily Sacofsky) is in this state.

One of three potential heirs to her wealthy aunt, Lady Denham (Anne Reid), Clara is in a state of survival. Forced to become two-faced, she is one way with her aunt and another way with her cousins. Sir Edward Denham (Jack Fox) and his step-sister, Esther (Charlotte Spencer) are also vying to inherit their aunt’s fortune upon her death. Knowing that her intellect may be the only thing that saves her, Clara knows how to play the game.

Each tries to one-up the other when it comes to their aunt. Like Clara, Edward and Esther play sweet to Lady Denham’s face, but snipe at her when they are alone. Though she tries to reason with Esther that the money can be split three ways, Esther will not hear of it. A survivor of sexual abuse, Clara decides to change tactics and fight for the whole kit and caboodle.

The game reaches its apex when Lady Denham is sick. Clara and Edward tear her library apart, looking for her will. They end up sleeping together. When this comes to light, both are disinherited and Esther is named as their aunt’s heir.

Cut to a while later. Clara lands on Lady Denham’s door, pregnant with Edward’s child. While Esther has wised up to her brother’s schemes, Clara has not. After their son is born, she believes what Edward tells her. After she finally sees the light, he is once more kicked out and she walks away, giving Esther her son to raise.

To sum it up: Clara is doing what she must do. In her world, she is disenfranchised and because she is, must play the hand that she is dealt. But that does not mean she is completely heartless. The birth of Clara’s son reveals her humanity and her ability to change.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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