Flashback Friday: Jane Eyre (1997)

*Spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk if you are a newbie to the novel or its various screen reboots.

There is a reason that Jane Eyre has been given the label of a “classic novel”. Charlotte Bronte‘s story of a young woman who defies all odds and creates her own happiness is a tale that we can all learn from.

The 1997 TV movie stars Samantha Morton as the title character and Ciaran Hinds as Edward Rochester, Jane’s mysterious employer, and love interest. As in the novel, Jane is an orphaned young woman who must make her own way in the world. Employed by Rochester as the governess to his ward, their attraction is electric. But he has a past that she knows nothing of. If it is revealed, the truth could endanger their future together.

Presently, Morton is electric in The Serpent Queen. Hinds was perfectly cast as Captain Wentworth in the 1995 adaptation of Persuasion. The problem is that these two actors in these roles do not get my blood pumping and my heart pounding as other pairings in the same roles have.

There is one scene that rubs me the wrong way. After it is revealed that Rochester is married, he tries to convince Jane to stay. Hinds is a little too physically rough on Jane as the character for me.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

P.S. Rupert Penry Jones plays St. John Rivers. Elizabeth Garvie plays his sister, Diana. Garvie played Elizabeth Bennet in the 1980 Pride and Prejudice. Gemma Jones (Mrs. Fairfax in this film) was Mrs. Dashwood in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility. The Austen force is strong with this one. It is ironic, given that Bronte highly disliked Austen’s wrong.


Thoughts On the Persuasion Trailer

If I were to rank Jane Austen‘s novels, Persuasion would be on the top of my list. This story of second chances is one that over 200 years later still hits readers in the heart and sends a few tears down our cheeks.

The trailer for the newest adaptation of the book was released earlier this week.

The film stars Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Frederick Wentworth, and Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot. For those unaware, the plot is as follows: eight years before the book starts Anne Elliott and Frederick Wentworth were young, in love, and newly engaged. She was persuaded to end their relationship due to his lack of status and income. Cut to the present and Anne is still single, still hurting from her decision. Wentworth is back in her life. He is a war hero, wealthy, and considered to be a catch. He is also still bitter from their breakup.

I would love to say that I am jumping for joy, but I have a few reservations. I am going to try to keep my concerns at bay because this is only the trailer. Trailers don’t always match up with the full movie.

  1. The dialogue in the scenes that we see so far seems to be loosely taken from the original text. Maybe it’s the Janeite in me, but I would prefer the wording to be as it is in the novel. To paraphrase her brilliant writing (especially in a reboot set in the Regency era) could be seen as a shanda (disgrace).
  2. The casting of Dakota Johnson as Anne. I have nothing against Johnson. I have a bias against American actors playing lead characters in Austen adaptations. It goes back to the casting of Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1996 Emma. Her portrayal of the character rubbed me the wrong way. But who knows, maybe Johnson will prove me wrong.
  3. Her hair should not be down unless it is either the beginning or the end of the day. Only young girls wore their hair loose. By the time they got to their mid to late teens, their hair was up. On a side note, that was my only beef with Sanditon. Charlotte Heywood’s (Rose Williams) hair should have been up.
  4. It comes off a little too rom-com-like. I like a romantic comedy as much as the next person, but Persuasion is not and has never been one. To turn this story into a rom-com is a double shanda and sure to turn off the fanbase.

On the upside, we see the early romance between Anne and Frederick. In previous film versions, the audience is only told about this experience.

That being said, I am willing to have an open mind and not condemn the film before it is released.

Persuasion will drop on Netflix on July 15th.

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Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin’ Cornbread Book Review

The timeless themes of Persuasion are love, loss and moving on from the emotional wounds of the past.

Mary Jane Hathaway’s new book, Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin’ Cornbread (Jane Austen Takes the South), transports Jane Austen’s final and most romantic novel from early 19th century England to a modern day small town in the South.

Lucy Crawford is a member of a very prestigious and wealthy family. But with a dead mother, a spendthrift father and a crumbling antebellum mansion, her life is not all peaches and cream.  Jeremiah Chevy has risen above his wrong side of the tracks, born to a teenage mother childhood. Ten years ago, Lucy and Jeremiah were young and in love. But Lucy’s father and aunt did not think that Jeremiah was not good enough for her.

Cut to 10 years later. Jeremiah is a successful doctor. The clinic he is working in needs more space. Lucy’s Aunt Olympia, who convinced Lucy to end the relationship ten years ago, suggests that the clinic move into the Crawford mansion to help with the financial costs of maintaining the property. Can Lucy and Jeremiah get back together or will their relationship remain as it was?

I very much enjoyed this book. While the core of the was Persuasion, it was still unique enough to be a stand alone novel.  What I also liked was that the author gave the reader a peak into the mind of her leading man. In Persuasion, most of the novel is through Anne’s eyes. It was a nice change to be able to know what Jeremiah is thinking and feeling.

I recommend this book.

In Defense Of Fanny Price and Edward Ferrars

It is a truth universally acknowledged certain characters with the universe that is the fiction of Jane Austen are more popular than others. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy will always be the alpha female and alpha male of the Jane Austen Universe. That means with every world that contains the alpha male and alpha female, there inevitably be those characters who are least liked and always a subject for vigorous debate.

Two of these characters are Fanny Price, of Mansfield Park and Edward Ferrars, Of Sense And Sensibility.  Both, I believe are under appreciated. If I may, I would like to explain why each of these characters deserve more respect than they get.

Fanny Price

The first paragraph of Mansfield Park introduces the reader to the Miss Wards. The eldest, Miss Maria Ward, married Sir Thomas Betram and upon marriage, became a baronet’s wife. The second Miss Ward, married Rev. Mr. Morris, a friend of her brother-in-law. The youngest Miss Ward, Miss Frances broke from her family and married a Lieutenant from the Marines.  This man was everything her brother in law was not; he was without education, wealth or connections. From this union, our heroine, Fanny Price is born. At the age of ten, she is taken from her family to Mansfield Park, where her wealthy Aunt and Uncle live.

Fanny grows up with her Bertram cousins. She is not a servant, but she is also not a daughter of the house.  The treatment she receives, especially from her Aunt Norris is more akin to an unpaid servant than a member of the family. The novels begins to take off when Mr. Norris dies and the living associated with the parish within the park goes to Dr. Grant, until Edmund came come of age and take orders.  Arriving with Dr. Grant is his wife and her younger siblings, Henry and Mary Crawford.

The complaints about Fanny are that she is weak, physically and emotionally, in addition to always being right.  Some might say she is priggish.

But I argue that despite these drawbacks, she has qualities that I believe are overlooked: a backbone and a sense of self that guides her even when she is told that she is wrong.

“You are mistaken, Sir,”—cried Fanny, forced by the anxiety of the moment even to tell her uncle that he was wrong—”You are quite mistaken. How could Mr. Crawford say such a thing? I gave him no encouragement yesterday—On the contrary, I told him—I cannot recollect my exact words—but I am sure I told him that I would not listen to him, that it was very unpleasant to me in every respect, and that I begged him never to talk to me in that manner again.—I am sure I said as much as that and more; and I should have said still more,—if I had been quite certain of his meaning any thing seriously, but I did not like to be—I could not bear to be—imputing more than might be intended. I thought it might all pass for nothing with him.”

She could say no more; her breath was almost gone.

“Am I to understand,” said Sir Thomas, after a few moments silence, “that you mean to refuse Mr. Crawford?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Refuse him?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Refuse Mr. Crawford! Upon what plea? For what reason?”

“I—I cannot like him, Sir, well enough to marry him.”

“This is very strange!” said Sir Thomas, in a voice of calm displeasure. “There is something in this which my comprehension does not reach. Here is a young man wishing to pay his addresses to you, with every thing to recommend him; not merely situation in life, fortune, and character, but with more than common agreeableness, with address and conversation pleasing to every body. And he is not an acquaintance of to-day, you have now known him some time. His sister, moreover, is your intimate friend, and he has been doing that for your brother, which I should suppose would have been almost sufficient recommendation to you, had there been no other. It is very uncertain when my interest might have got William on. He has done it already.”

“Yes,” said Fanny, in a faint voice, and looking down with fresh shame; and she did feel almost ashamed of herself, after such a picture as her uncle had drawn, for not liking Mr. Crawford.

“You must have been aware,” continued Sir Thomas, presently, “you must have been some time aware of a particularity in Mr. Crawford’s manners to you. This cannot have taken you by surprise. You must have observed his attentions; and though you always received them very properly, (I have no accusation to make on that head,) I never perceived them to be unpleasant to you. I am half inclined to think, Fanny, that you do not quite know your own feelings.”

“Oh! yes, Sir, indeed I do. His attentions were always—what I did not like.”

Fanny is aware that Henry Crawford flirted with Mariah and Julia, knowing full that Mariah is engaged. She is also aware that becoming Mrs. Crawford would elevate herself and her family out of poverty.

The intuition is finally respected when Mariah, now married, runs off with Mr. Crawford, threatening to ruin the entire family.

Fanny is not perfect, but she respects and follows her own intuition.

I’m going to end my argument with the following:

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we attend to it, than any other person can be“.

On a similar note, Mansfield Park is the subject of this year’s JASNA AGM in Montreal, Canada. I suspect there will be many heated discussions that weekend.

Edward Ferrars

Sense and Sensibility begins with the death of Henry Dashwood. The law of the land was primogeniture, meaning the eldest son inherited everything, except for what was specifically left for the younger children. Henry Dashwood married twice, producing four children. His son and heir, John was born to his late first wife and his daughter’s, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret were born to his second wife. John and his wife take over Norland Park and force his step mother and step sisters to vacate their home.

But not before the younger Mrs. Dashwood invites her brother, Edward Ferrars to visit. Edward and Elinor have an immediate connection, but it is broken when Elinor, with her mother and sisters leave Norland Park for their new home in Barton Park.  Edward wears a ring with lock of hair, which he says belongs to his sister. A third of a way into to the novel, we are introduced to the Steele sisters. Miss Lucy Steele, tells Elinor in confidence that she knows of her in laws because she has been secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars, her uncle’s former student for several years. At the end of novel (spoiler alert for those who have not read it), Edward losses his fortune to his brother when his mother finds out about the secret engagement. Lucy does become Mrs. Ferrars, but she becomes Mrs. Robert Ferrars.

Edward Ferrars is not Fitzwilliam Darcy, Captain Wentworth or even his future brother in law, Colonel Brandon.  But he is loyal. He is loyal to Lucy Steele, who is basically a gold digger.  Unlike some of the other Austen leading men, he doesn’t need much a live on. His professional goal is to join the clergy. He doesn’t need a large estate or a house in town. He want’s a parish to run and a home. My favorite thing about Edward is that even though he is engaged to Lucy through most of the story, he is faithful to Elinor.

In short, Edward and Fanny may not be perfect, but they deserve our respect.

*Italics notes original text


*-The only characters are I own are Captain Edward Jones and the Wentworth children, the rest I love too much to claim as mine.


In her nearly twenty five years, Anne Wentworth had two major experiences that would forever alter the course of her life. The first was the day she chose love over her family. The second was the day she had to choose to return to Somerset after Frederick’s death or remain in Lyme.

 She watched impatiently as her father led Frederick into his study. She hoped that her father would see through his pride and give his blessing to their marriage. But his reaction was the same as the rest of the family.

 “He is not for you, Anne; I suggest you let him go, let him find a woman more suitable”.

 Instead of agreeing with her father, she surprised even herself.

 “Frederick!” she called out.

 “If you leave with him, I will cut you off; you are no longer part of this family”.

 “You would leave your father and your family?” Frederick asked.

 “I would”.

 “Anne! You come back here this instant!” Sir Walter’s words fell on deaf ears.

 That was five years ago. They since had three children, the twins, Alexander and Emily who had been born just before their parent’s first anniversary and Henry who was nearly one. While Emily was mirror image of their mother, Alexander was mirror image of their father. Anne and Frederick could not decide who Henry resembled more and came to the conclusion that he was equal parts his father and mother.

 Anne watched her husband pack. His brief month of shore leave was coming to an end.

 Frederick knew that look in Anne’s eyes, despite the fact that she was well schooled in what it meant to be a sailor’s wife, she hated to watch him go.

 The sheets and blankets had made replaced from the night before, hardly indicating of the intimacy between Anne and Frederick.

 “I promise you, I will return” he tried to sooth her fears.

 “And if you don’t?” she asked.

 “I have taken care of everything and if anything should occur, Sophy and the Admiral are more than willing step in”.

 Sir Walter made good on his word, Anne had not heard from her family in five years, except for her younger sister, Mary who would occasionally write to her.  Two years after Anne married Frederick, Mary married the son of a family friend, Charles Musgrove. Without a son to carry on the Elliot title and fortune, Sir Walter’s heir was a distant cousin, William Walter Eliot.

 Replacing her family was Frederick’s family. Sophy and the Admiral had spent many evenings at their modest home in Lyme. Even Edward and his family had traveled from Shropshire to visit them.  

 “Papa, must you go?” the look on his wife’s face was reflected in their children’s eyes.

 “You know wherever I go, I will always love you” he picked up the twins, who squealed in delight as he tickled them.

 He then looked back at his wife, who held Henry in her arms. He was just beginning to walk and even talk a little; it hurt that he would not be available during those first precious moments.

 They shared one last kiss before Frederick’s carriage disappeared.

 The rest of the month flew by without incident.

 Then there was a knock on the door. It was rainy day and with the Admiral off on business, Sophy was spending the afternoon with Anne and the children.

 “There is someone to see you, madam”.

 “You are Mrs. Wentworth, I presume?” the gentleman asked.

 “I am at a loss sir, you know me, but I have not made your acquaintance”.

 “My name is Captain Edward Jones; I have known your husband since we were in the naval academy”.

 “I do apologize Captain, Frederick spoke of you fondly, would you like to come in?”.

 “I thank you, madam, for the offer, but I came on business”.

His tone changed quickly and she attempted to keep the nagging fear from penetrating her consciousness. 

 “Three days ago, our ship was attacked by French warship. The battle was, well, the details are not suitable to be repeated in polite company”.

 The Captain bit his lip, as if looking for the right words.

 “There were few survivors, your husband fought as bravely as I have ever seen a man fight. But he was not among the survivors”.

 He removed a parcel from within his coat and placed it into her trembling hands.

 “I felt, knowing Frederick as I did, that it was proper to personally inform you rather than you hear the news in another form. I am sorry for your loss, madam” With that, he walked away.

 Frederick. Dead.

 She fell to her knees, her tears falling uncontrollably.

 “Anne?” Sophy asked.

 Anne looked at her sister in law, words were unnecessary.

 A week later, Anne, with her children, The Admiral and Mrs. Croft and Edward watched as Frederick’s body was laid to rest.

 The mourners disappeared slowly, until Anne stood alone at her husband’s newly dug grave.

 Perhaps her father and Lady Russell had been right; marrying a penniless naval officer had been a mistake. But she had made her decision; she would live her life and with the consequences, whatever they may be.

 “Anne, I think you and the children should stay with us, at least for a little while” the admiral had offered.

 Anne nodded in agreement; it would be good for all of them.

 “Mama?” her elder children asked, each taking one of her free hands.

 Looking at her husband’s final resting place, she led them away.

 The next few days, mourners came and went, Anne not paying attention to any particular visitors.

 Then it was announced that Mary and Charles had come to pay their respects.  

 “Anne, I am so sorry, poor dear, you must be a mess” she was surprised by the hug from her sister.

 “My husband is dead, there is nothing I can do to bring him back”.

 “Is there anything we can do?” Charles asked.

 “Your presence is enough”.

 “Pardon me madam, he has been fussy today, I cannot calm him down” the maid handed Henry to his mother.

 In a moment, his fussiness disappeared and he lay his curious brown eyes on this visitors.

 “Who is this?” Mary cooed.

 “This is Henry”.

 “And your other children”.

 Anne called the twins over, who properly introduced themselves.

 “Do you know who I am?” Mary asked. They promptly nodded their heads no.

 “I am your Aunt Mary; this is your Uncle Charles”.

 “Anne, may I talk to you for a moment, its matter of importance” Charles asked.

 Mary took Henry from Anne and led the twins away from them.

 “Mary and I have been keeping your father abreast of your situation and he wishes you and the children to return to Somerset”.

 “My father turned me out when I married Frederick, I don’t know if I could ever return. Besides we are happy here, I cannot uproot my children now”.

 “I do understand your feelings, Anne, but you must consider…”.

 “What I must do, Charles is take care of my children, please excuse me” hearing Henry’s wail, she started to walk away. The old Anne would have relented, agreeing to return to Somerset and Kellynch. But she couldn’t, not now.

 “Sir Walter bade me give you this. Mary and I cannot force you to return with us, but I beg you to at least read what he has written” He placed the letter in her hand.

 Later that evening, after her children had been put to bed, she sat alone, the letter from Sir Walter in her hand, until she was startled by the Admiral.

 “You were quiet tonight, my dear” he commented as he sat down beside her.

 “My sister and her husband came today”.

 “I don’t believe I made their acquaintance, but I heard the chap’s last name is Musgrove”.

 “Charles delivered a letter from my father. He wishes us to return to Somerset. There is a property called Armsbury, no more than two kilometers from Kellynch Hall. My father will provide for all of our expenses, including an annual income of 5,000 pounds a year as well as the children’s education and inheritance”.

 “Sophy and I would be sad to see you go, but if that is your decision, we will abide by it”.

 “I don’t know if returning is the best decision. My father, well, he is sometimes akin to a preening peacock”.

 They both laughed at the image, it felt good to laugh, neither had laughed in a week.

 “My elder sister, Elizabeth is very much like my father and my younger sister; she was sometimes bound to fits of folly as a child and has not altered much since then”.

 “What of your mother? What was her opinion?”.

 “My mother died when I was a child, her friend Lady Russell attempted to take my mother’s place, but it was never the same. It was Lady Russell who nearly persuaded me to turn down Frederick’s proposal”.

 Just then a cry of “Mama!” was heard.

 “I shall leave you then, good night, Anne”.

 Two days later, they returned home. After nearly a week and a half, Anne felt it was time to leave.

 Standing in the door way of their home, it was as if she was reliving that moment all over again.

 “Shall I put him to bed, madam?” the nursemaid asked, ready to take Henry from his mother.

 “No, I will put him down. Please unpack and prepare the twins for bed”.

 “As you, wish madam”.

 Later that night, the moon rose as Anne slept in the nursery. She could not return to their bed, it was too much to bear. After she put Henry to bed, she opened the parcel Captain Jones had given to her.

 It contained her letters to Frederick as well as the miniatures of herself and the children. For the first time in weeks, she started to cry.

 “Anne” it was no more than a whisper, but she heard it.

 Looking in doorway, she saw an outline of someone watching her. It was Frederick, as clear as the last day she saw him.

 “Frederick?” she asked.

 “Follow your heart, my love, I promise, all will work out” then he was gone.

 Anne woke up with a start, looking to the doorway, he was not there. It had been a dream.

 As the sun rose the next morning, Anne wrote to her father, her decision has been made.


 I thank you for the offer of Armsbury, as well as the living. But I must decline. My children are happy in Lyme, as am I. I do however, look forward to when you may visit Lyme or we may return to Kellynch, for I would dearly love to introduce you to my children.

 Yours, etc



Knowing her father as she did, he would probably never come to Lyme, nor would an invitation come from Kellynch Hall.

 “Mother?” Alexander’s voice broke her away from her thoughts.

 He stood in front of her, in his naval uniform, as tall and handsome as Frederick had been. She has to often remind herself that it was not her beloved husband, but their eldest son who stood in front of her.

 As she had predicted, her father had not replied.

 Six weeks after burying Frederick, she received a letter that contained his pension. With the money, she turned their small house into an inn; many of their first guests were other naval officers who came to pay their respects.

 Twenty years had passed by without her noticing. Alexander was following in the footsteps of his father and uncle and joined the Navy. Henry was eager to follow Edward’s footsteps and become ordained. Then there was Emily, who had joined her mother at the inn since the day it had opened. She had recently become engaged to the youngest son of a prosperous merchant, who was eager to join his future wife at the inn.

 Frederick had been right, she had followed her heart and everything had worked out. And when the time would come, she would see him again.


The End


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