Category Archives: Mansfield Park

Jane Lives On

201 years ago yesterday, Jane Austen left this Earth.

In her lifetime, she published four completed novels: Sense And Sensibility, Pride And Prejudice, Mansfield Park And Emma. Persuasion, her last completed novel and Northanger Abbey, her first completed novel were published posthumously.

I sometimes wonder if she had any inkling of her pending immortality. Though her mortal bones have long since returned to the Earth, her name lives on. She is as famous as any contemporary author. Her books are read for pleasure and for academic purposes. There have been more than a few film, television and stage adaptations of her works (some which are better than others) and while many modern authors have tried to replicate Jane’s style as a writer, only a handful have succeeded in doing so.

Her work lives on because they still speak to us 200 years later. Above all else, she wrote about the human condition and the ordinary experiences that we all live through.

Wherever you are Jane, thank you.

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

Reading Jane Austen Book Review

Jane Austen and her novels continues to be read and discussed for good reason.

Jenny Davidson’s new non fiction book, Reading Jane Austen, basically explains not only why her novels are timeless, but why we are still reading them 200 years later. While talking about the formal structure of the novels and how Austen created new techniques to develop her narrative and her characters, Ms. Davidson also talks about themes such as the rules of society and how women were seen treated.

This book is well written and enjoyable to read. I will however warn that it meanders towards academic writing at several points and new Janeites may not understand the writing as well as Janeites who are well versed in Jane’s novels.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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

Thoughts On Jane Austen’s Birthday

Tomorrow is Jane Austen‘s birthday.

She was a pioneer in so many arenas. She unknowingly developed the modern novel as we know it to be today. She was a feminist without overtly wearing the label of feminism. Unlike other women who quietly followed the rules of the period without question, Jane asked the questions, both in her fiction and in her own life.

For my birthday a few weeks ago, I received a magnet that states “nasty women make history”. Jane Austen was a nasty woman.  She had a sharp tongue, a quick mind, loved to laugh, loved to have a good time and most of all, never went along with the crowd just because everyone else was doing it.  It would have been easy for her to follow the path in life that according to her society was pre-ordained (i.e. marriage and children), but she didn’t.  Jane Austen knew that marriage for marriage’s sake was not what she wanted. Marriage, in her eyes, was for love, not to fulfill an obligation that she was told to fulfill.

Instead, she chose to remain single. While her ring finger was never covered in gold, she had children: her books. Referring to them as her own darling children, Austen published six of the greatest books in English literature: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

Jane Austen will always be one of my heroes. As a writer and a woman, she paved the way for future generations of women to not only break from the expected roles of wife and mother, but she also paved the way for women to be themselves without having to put on a mask to be liked.

Happy Birthday Jane.

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

Thoughts On The 2017 JASNA AGM

Imagine if you will, an academic conference, but with a twist. Add in a dedicated fandom with lots of goodies to bring home (and a good amount of attendees playing dress up) and you have the 2017 JASNA AGM.

Held in Huntington Beach, California, the title of this year’s conference was Intimations of Immortality. We remembered Jane on the 200th anniversary of her passing as we celebrated her life, her books and her legacy.

The AGM is more than my vacation. This year it was a chance to visit California, spend time with my friends and celebrate anything and everything relating to Jane Austen. It is a chance to thoroughly geek out and know that the people you are with understand why you geek out. It was a chance to dress up, dance and spend three days thoroughly immersed in Jane.

While I enjoyed the AGM (as I do everytime), it was the company (and the heavenly beach in Southern California) that always makes an AGM worth it.

Next year, Janeites  (as we are commonly known) will congregate for our next AGM in Kansas City where we will be celebrating Persuasion and hopefully not fangirling over Amanda Root (Anne Elliot in the 1995 Persuasion).

I hope to see you all there.

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

Jane Austen at Home: A Biography Book Review

The womb to tomb narrative is the standard format for a biography. While it’s fine for a standard format, it can, depending on the person writing the biography, be as dull as a college text-book or as alive as if the reader was watching a film of the biography’s subject.

Earlier this year, historian Lucy Worsley released Jane Austen at Home: A Biography. While Ms. Worsley goes over the basic facts of Austen’s life that any Janeite would be familiar with, she focuses on the places that the Ms. Austen lived throughout her 41 years and the possessions in those houses colored her world.

I’ve been fan of the author for a short time, and I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because there is life, color and vibrancy to what could be a very dull narrative. There are also Easter eggs, connections between Austen’s life and her novels that a newbie Janeite might miss, but a Janeite who is well steeped in Austen lore would understand.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Jane Austen, The Secret Radical Book Review

On the surface, Jane Austen seems to write typical romances. It had the same overall narrative as every story in the genre: the meet cute, the ups and downs, the will they or won’t they and finally, the happily ever after. But Jane Austen was writing far more than fluffy, predictable romances. She was writing about human folly and the injustices of the world around us.

Published last year, Jane Austen, The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly dives into the subtle and subversive that only a seasoned reader of Austen will understand and appreciate. Using her pen and her imagination, Austen deftly and quietly writes about the injustices of slavery, the treatment of women in her era, the anxieties of going to war, the power of the Church, etc.

This book is not for the newbie Austen fan or someone who has simply read one of her books because they’ve heard of it. This book is for the hardcore Janeite who has read her books many times and finds joy in discovering something new with every read. I really enjoyed this book because it points out things that even I didn’t know of. That above all, made this book a joy to read.

I absolutely recommend it.

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

History Bombs-Jane Austen

Despite the fact that Jane Austen died 200 years ago, she is still as relevant, fresh and funny as she was during her lifetime. My only issue with the video (which for the most I enjoyed) above is that say that she died at age 42. She died at age 41, in 1817.

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July 22, 2017 · 9:03 am

RIP Jane

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200 years ago today, Jane Austen breathed her last breath. No one could have predicted that her immortal afterlife has long outlasted her short 41 years on Earth.

Jane Austen is and will forever be a genius. Her writing is full of human characters who still resonate with readers and audiences 200 years after they were introduced to the Regency era reading public.

Sense And Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are adored the world over. Reading her books is like visiting an old friend, the experience never gets old or dull.

As a woman, a writer and a feminist, I look to Jane for comfort, for solace and for strength. She lived in an era when a woman’s only choice was marriage. Marriage in her time was more about income and status than love, companionship and mutual interests. She could have easily given into the pressure and married to keep a roof over her head and food on her plate. But she chose to not marry and instead, she created her own path. 200 years later, we still walk on the path that she created and we still admire her for being strong enough to create that path.

Thank you, Jane, for your strength, your courage, your wit, your intelligence and your amazing ability to craft a story. My world would not be the same without you.

 

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

Poldark Character Review: Caroline Enys

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Poldark, both the books and the television series. Read at your own risk.

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 us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using Winston Graham’s series of novels, Poldark and the subsequent television series to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the previous posts, I wrote about the title character, Ross Poldark , his wife, Demelza, Ross’s cousin, Francis, Francis’s wife, Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s second husband, George Warleggan, Ross’s cousin, Verity Blamey and Ross’s best friend, Dr. Dwight Enys. In this last post talking about the characters within the Poldark universe, I will be writing about Caroline Enys (nee Penvenen).

Caroline is introduced in book 3 and series 2 as the typical rich girl, a la Maria Bertram from  Mansfield Park. An orphan, she was raised by her uncle. At the age when she is eligible to marry, she comes with unwanted baggage: her potential fiance, Unwin Trevaunance.  Unwin makes Maria’s fiance, Mr. Rushworth look like Clark Gable, which is not saying much. A happy marriage, this is not destined to be.

Then Caroline falls for Dwight Enys, a doctor who chooses to practice medicine in Cornwall  among the lower classes instead of in fashionable Bath or London. While Caroline may appear to be the spoiled rich girl, she has a heart. She secretly pays off Ross’s debts and pays for the food that keeps the poorer denizens of Cornwall from dying of scurvy. She also marries Dwight, knowing full well that he is a step down and that her marriage will be frowned upon by some people.

Caroline could have easily been a paint by numbers character: the spoiled rich girl, the character who chooses to live by society’s rules instead of by their own rules. But because she takes a stand for what she wants out of life and gives back to others without expecting anything in return, she is revealed to be a character who surprises the audience.

To sum it up: The writer needs every now and again to surprise their audience. Just when the audience thinks that they know the character, throwing them a curve ball is another incentive to keep the audience engaged and involved. Dull and predictable characters will not hold your audience. Interesting and different characters will hold your audience.

On a personal note, I want to thank the readers who have allowed me to  experiment with a new series of blog posts. It has been a pleasure to examine how writers can create engaging and fully formed characters that keep the audience on their toes. In the next few weeks, I will be examining the characters from the original Star Wars trilogy. I’m looking forward to it.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, History, Mansfield Park, Television, Writing

Happy Birthday, Dearest Jane

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241 years ago today, George Austen, an Anglican Rector from Steventon, Hampshire and his wife, Cassandra welcomed into the world their 7th child and second daughter, Jane to the world. They had no idea that their daughter would become immortal.

Jane Austen was one of the most extraordinary writers in the history of the English language. Only William Shakespeare stands beside her as an icon of literature and language.

Her novels are full of unforgettable characters. No matter who you are you or where you come from, there is always a character to love, a character a hate and the character you relate it. Some may call her books romance novels, but they are so much more. They are coming of age stories, stories of love, both romantic and familial and stories of what it is to be a human being.

I have been a Janeite for nearly 10 years. It has been a pleasure to be fan.

Happy Birthday dearest Jane, wherever you are. I raise my glass to you.

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