Category Archives: Jane Austen

Clueless Character Review: Amber Mariens

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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. There are two types of people in this world. The first are tried and true, staying with us through whatever life throws at us. The second type have ulterior motives that may or may not be obvious to the people around them.

In Clueless, Amber Mariens (Elisa Donovan) is described by Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) as Monet.

“From far away it’s okay, but up close it’s a big old mess.”

A modern version of Augusta Elton, Amber can be described as a fair weather friend. She hangs out with Cher and her best friend Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), but only to gain the access she needs to usurp their social status. When it comes to Cher and Dionne, everything with her is a competition. Though she tolerates Tai Fraser (the late Brittany Murphy) post-makeover, it is only because she has joined their social circle. When she sees an opportunity to hook up with Elton Tiscia (Jeremy Sisto), this adaptation’s answer to Mr. Elton, it is her chance to get one up on Cher and Tai. This is after Elton turns down Tai and Cher rejects Elton’s advances.

To sum it up: If there has to be a baddie in this film, Amber comes pretty close. She is only it in for herself and when the door opens to use her “friendships” to gain the upper hand, she will use it. We, as the audience, may not like her and may see through her, but her existence creates the balance needed to increase Cher’s likability.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Jane Austen, Movies

Clueless Character Review: Josh Lucas

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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 every relationship, whether familial, platonic, or romantic, there has to be an emotional balance. One person can be the dreamer with out there ideas while the other is level headed and realistic.

In Clueless, Josh Lucas, (Paul Rudd) is the former step-brother of Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone). Due to his being in college compared to Cher still being in high school, he tries to enlighten her about the ways of the world. Though Josh tries to get along with her, they tend to but heads. He thinks that she is a superficial ditz who only thinks about clothes and shopping. Her perception of him is that he is not cool, too serious for his own good, and a politically, a little too soft. His career ambition is to be a lawyer and is spending time with Cher and her father, Mel (Dan Hedaya) to gain some real world experience. But as the narrative rolls on, both Josh and Cher begin to see that perhaps they have more in common than they initially thought.

To sum it up: Though Josh can be the annoying older brother type, he is also not as quick to mansplain as his literary counterpart, Mr. Knightley. Like his step sister and future girlfriend, he has a good heart, but he sees the world in a different way. Which makes them compatible and will hopefully lead to long, healthy romantic partnership.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Jane Austen, Movies

Celebrating Jane Austen on the 204 Anniversary of her Passing

Today is the 204 anniversary of the passing of Jane Austen. To say that she was extraordinary in her time and ours is and will always be an understatement. Though her physical remains are long gone, her name and her work will last forever.

Z”L.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics Book Review

Art does not come from nothing. It comes from the world around us and the experiences that have shaped our lives.

Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics by Tom Keymer, was published last year. In the book, Keymer walks the reader through the Regency era and how that world had a hand in developing her voice as a writer. He goes into the politics of the period, the complete disenfranchisement of women, and how a strict, but slowly fading class system played a role in her work.

I loved it. It was short, concise, and a reminder as to why Austen’s work continues to be timeless and universal. I will say, however, that it is aimed at two specific and different groups of readers. The book can be read in an academic setting, but it is neither dry nor stuffy. It also squarely falls into the Janeite camp. My one warning is that to truly enjoy it, the reader should be well versed in her life and work. Otherwise, they may not understand the nuances and the details that a long-time Jane Austen fan can easily identify.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Politics, Writing

Clueless Character Review: Dionne Davenport

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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 need a best friend. Someone who gets us completely, who loves us for who we are, and can call us out on our shit when need be. In Clueless, Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash) is the best friend of the film heroine, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone).

Like Cher, Dionne is high on the social pyramid at their local high school. The difference between them is that while Cher is quick to use her popularity for the greater good, Dionne has to be convinced that it is a good idea. She is also known to be the quieter and more intelligent of the two, usually when Cher is starting to question certain things.

But there is one aspect of her life in which Dionne gets on the emotional roller herself: her relationship with boyfriend Murray Duvall (Donald Faison). Though they are in love, they are also known to get into public fights that draw a crowd. When the subject of her virginity comes up, it goes from maybe its there to maybe its not to finally completely gone after the incident on the highway.

To sum it up: What makes Dionne’s relationship with Cher believable is the genuine chemistry between the actors and innate understanding that the characters have of one another. It is just there, removing the logic that what we are watching is fiction and not real life.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Movies

Clueless Character Review: Cher Horowitz

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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. If you watch enough high school movies, you might get the idea that the popular girls are all versions of Regina George (Rachel McAdams). The surprise comes when we realize that what we see on film does not always match reality.

In the movie, Clueless, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is a modern teenage version of Emma Woodhouse, the heroine of the Jane Austen novel Emma. Living in Beverly Hills with her widower father, Mel (Dan Hedaya), Cher has a good heart, but her head is not always in the right place. She buts heads with her stepbrother Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd) and spends most of her time with her best friend Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash). When new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) arrives at Cher’s school, she sees an opportunity to do some good in the world via a makeover and a potential match with Elton Tiscia (Jeremy Sisto).

She will soon learn that what she sees, the rest of the world does not see. Elton would prefer to be with her than Tai. Tai is crushing on Travis (Breckin Meyer), who is equally into her. Christian, her new boyfriend (Justin Walker) is gay. The only relationship that works is out between her teacher Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Ms. Geist (Twink Caplan). Her pest of stepbrother is not only right about a few things, he is also the right boy for her.

To sum it up: Cher is an interesting character because unlike other similar characters, she is not a b*tch. She is may say and do things to hurt other people, but she does not do that on purpose. She just thinks she knows everything, when she clearly doesn’t. This makes her likable, even if she is completely frustrating to the audience and the people around her.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Jane Austen

The Soulmate Equation Book Review

In theory, dating should be easy. You go out with a number of people until you find someone you are compatible with and let fate take it from there. But in practice, it is not as simple.

Christina Lauren‘s new book, The Soulmate Equation, was published last month. Jessica Davis has been through a lot in her nearly 30 years. Her father is a mystery and her mother abandoned her when she was a child. Raised by her grandparents, Jessica has a seven year old daughter whose father is absent from their lives. Earning her bread as a freelance statistician, she is doing everything she can to stay afloat. To say that dating is the last thing on her to do list an understatement.

When she hears about a dating service that uses DNA to match up their members, Jessica is intrigued. The tests determine that the man who is right for her is Dr. River Pena, the company’s founder. The problem is that River is a first rate asshole. When the company gives her a financial offer she can’t refuse, Jessica agrees to spend some time with him. When the fake relationship begins to turn into a real relationship, she has to re-consider how she sees herself and the people around her.

I loved this book. There is a Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy like dynamic to Jessica and River’s relationship. It could have been stale and predictable. While there are certain narrative beats that are expected, the story is dynamic and exciting. The chemistry between the lead characters is first rate. I don’t read romance novels too often, but this one is pretty good.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives Inspiration and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers Book Review

It takes a brave or naïve person (or both) to step out of the boundaries that the world around them has created. This person knows that when they start to think for themselves, there is a potential firestorm of naysayers and finger pointing. But they do it anyway.

Why She Wrote: A Graphic History of the Lives Inspiration and Influence Behind the Pens of Classic Women Writers, was published in April. Written by Lauren Burke and Hannah K Chapman (hosts of one of my favorite podcasts, Bonnets at Dawn) with artwork by Kaley Bales, the book tells the story of some of the greatest women writers of the 19th and 20 centuries. In additional to listing their most well known works and providing a brief biography, the book also highlights how these women paved the way for future generations to succeed as both women and writers. The list includes Jane Austen, Anne Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, etc.

I loved this book. The artwork is beautiful, the description of the subjects are beautifully written. It made we want to learn more about these women and continue to work towards the day when my writing will be as good and inspiring as theirs.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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Filed under Anne Bronte, Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Feminism, George Eliot, History, Jane Austen, Podcast

Being Mr. Wickham Review

Charm has its uses. It can get us places that being curt or direct cannot.

The new play, Being Mr. Wickham premiered worldwide (via the internet) this past weekend at the Theatre Royal St. Edmunds Bury in the UK. In this one hour, one man play, Adrian Lukis brings his 1995 Pride and Prejudice character, Mr. Wickham back to life. It’s been 35 years since the book ended. Wickham is now 60 and contemplating how his life has turned out. His marriage to Lydia Bennet is still somehow thriving after what looked to be a rocky start. Sitting in his library and enjoying a brandy while his wife sleeps upstairs, Wickham tells his story as only Wickham can.

This play is such a treat for Austen fans. Though it has been 26 years since Lukis played Wickham, it feels like no time has passed at all. He is still the charming, smooth talking rogue that he was in his youth. But age and experience has mellowed him out a bit. Co-written by Catherine Curzon and directed by Guy Unsworth, it is an intimate look at one of the most infamous characters in classic 19th century literature.  I feel like wherever she is, Austen would approve. It is fanfiction of her work in the best sense of the word.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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International Women’s Day 2021 Quote

Give a girl an education, and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without farther expense to anybody.-Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (Volume 1, Chapter 1).

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