Tag Archives: Jane Bennet

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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Flashback Friday-The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013)

Pride and Prejudice remains a favorite book of many a bookworms for multiple reasons. This love opens the door to new and different variations on Jane Austen‘s classic tale of class, money and will they/won’t they.

In 2012, Pride and Prejudice entered the digital world when The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013) premiered on YouTube. Told vlog style in 5 minute long episodes that were released every week, Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements) is a grad student living at home. When her sister Jane (Laura Spencer) starts hanging out with the new boy in town, medical student Bing Lee (Christopher Sean), Lizzie is forced into the presence of businessman William Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordh), Bing’s best friend. 

Needless to say, love at first sight is hardly the way to describe the initial relationship between Lizzie and William.

I adored and still adore LBD. It was funny, it was charming, it was entertaining and it was enough cannon Pride and Prejudice to appeal to the most loyal fans.

I recommend it.

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Unmarriageable: A Novel Book Review

There is more to adapting a classic novel to the modern era. In theory, transferring the characters, narrative and setting from the original novel to a new novel sounds relatively easy. But the reality is that it is easier said than done.

Soniah Kamal’s new novel Unmarriageable: A Novel, was released last month. Based on Pride and Prejudice, the book is set in Pakistan. Alys and Jena Binat come from a family of five sisters. Both are in their early 30’s and neither are married, much to their mother’s chagrin. In their world, social status, connections and money play a role in where one lands on the social hierarchy. Once upon a time, the Binats were high up on the social hierarchy. But a family squabble has forced the Binats into the middle class.

At a wedding, the Binats are introduced to a pair of young men. Fahad “Bungles” Bengla takes an instant liking to Jena, while his best friend Valentine Darsee is quick to dismiss Alys. In response, she hates on him like her life depends on it. Will these two couples end up together?

I loved this book. It has the spirit of Jane Austen’s masterpiece, but it feels new and exciting. I appreciated that Ms. Kamal did not simply translate Pride and Prejudice from early 19th century England to modern-day Pakistan. She added new layers and expanded the characters in a way that did not feel like an utter destruction of the characters that Austen fans know and love. There is also an Easter egg in regards to Austen’s own life, but I will not tell you where it is in the novel. You will have to find it.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Pride and Prejudice Play Review

Pride and Prejudice is the book that Jane Austen is most famous for. It is the story of the rocky courtship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Published in 1813, it remains a beloved classic more than two centuries after its initial publishing.

Recently, a stage version of the book premiered at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City. Written by actor/playwright/Janeite Kate Hamill (who also stars as Elizabeth Bennet), the play is the story of the middle class Bennet sisters who are in need of husbands. With no brother to directly secure the family estate for the next generation and very small dowries to call their own, they have only one choice and that is to marry well. Eldest sister Jane (Amelia Pedlow, who also plays Miss De Bourgh) catches the eye of the newest bachelor in town, Mr. Bingley (John Tufts, who also plays Mary Bennet).  Elizabeth is unhappily introduced to Fitzwilliam Darcy (Jason O’Connell), Bingley’s best friend. They don’t exactly get along.

This play is nothing short of brilliant. Using a small stage, actors playing multiple characters and Austen’s text (for the most part), the play is well worth a few hours of your time. I will warn that Ms. Hamill did make some changes that do not exactly adhere to the cannon, but the changes were well worth it.

I absolutely recommend it.

Pride and Prejudice is playing at The Cherry Lane Theater at 38 Commerce Street in New York City until January 6th, 2018. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices. 

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Caroline Bingley

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

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 the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For most of human history, women have been told, both consciously and unconsciously that being single is unacceptable. A woman needs a husband. This has created in some women, especially those seeking a wealthy husband, a less than likable reputation.

In Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley is one of these women. The older sister of Charles Bingley, Caroline knows that she must marry, like all women of the era. She has her sights set on one man: her brother’s best friend, Mr. Darcy.  But while Elizabeth Bennet, Caroline’s unknowing rival for Mr. Darcy is charming, intelligent, likable and witty, Caroline is the opposite. She is a two-faced snob who pretends that her family wealth does not come from trade. She is constantly flirting and throwing herself at Mr. Darcy, despite the obvious signs that he is not interested in her whatsoever. She also pretends to be friends with Jane Bennet, but then convinces her brother (with the help of Mr. Darcy) to walk away from Jane.

If Pride and Prejudice were set in a modern day high school, Caroline would be the perfect mean girl.

To sum it up:  Caroline is the character we love to hate. We cheer when Darcy and Elizabeth marry, knowing that Caroline has not won, she will not be Mrs. Darcy of Pemberley. Ironically, sometimes the favorite or the most memorable character is not the hero or heroine that we love, but the villain or the pseudo villain that we love to hate. It’s fun to watch them try to win, knowing that in the end, they won’t. A writer’s job is to create compelling and memorable characters. If being compelling and memorable means that the we love to hate to the character, then so be it.

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Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mr. Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

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 the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The first man in any woman’s life is her father, or lack thereof.  He will forever cast a shadow over her life and is the yardstick for how she will judge the men she meets throughout her lifetime. When it comes to dating and relationships, a woman’s father will play a part, even if he is in the background of her life.

In Pride and Prejudice, when compared to his wife, Mr. Bennet can be looked at as an absentee parent. The first description of Mr. Bennet is found very early in the novel:

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.

Mr. Bennet largely spends his time in his library, sequestered away from his wife and daughters. He openly favors Elizabeth (the second of his five daughters), mercilessly teases his wife (who gets sucked in every time) and does not step in as a father should, except when he is forced to (i.e. Lydia running away with Wickham). Unable to divorce his wife (divorce in that era was not only scandalous, but difficult), Mr. Bennet is content to sit in his library and largely ignore his family.

Compared to his wife (and her hysterics), Mr. Bennet is the emotionally absent parent. Unhappily married to a woman whom he is not compatible with, he has dealt with the hand of cards life has given him the best way he knows how to. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I marvel that Jane and Elizabeth have not only come through to adulthood without major emotional trauma, but also that their marriages are much happier than their parent’s marriage.

To sum it up: Not all marriages are happy. In a time when divorce was nearly impossible and scandalous, those trapped in unhappy marriages found ways to cope. Mr. Bennet’s way of coping was locking himself in his library. We all have coping mechanisms to deal with the difficult areas of our lives, in giving characters coping mechanisms, we make them human and despite their flaws, we understand them. The main task of a writer to create characters that the audience can relate to. Without that connection between the characters and the audience, it is highly likely that the audience will walk away and never return.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Charles Bingley

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

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 the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is always something fascinating about the new boy or girl in town.  The aura of their newness and mystery brings out the detective in everyone, eager to find out the details on their new neighbor.

In Pride and Prejudice, the book really gets going when the rumors in Meryton start to fly about the newest member of the community, Charles Bingley.  He is young, handsome and rich, as Mrs. Bennet crows in delight to her husband.

  “What is his name?”

“Bingley.”

“Is he married or single?”

“Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”

The readers and the characters are fully introduced to Mr. Bingley at a local ball. Bingley is amiable, friendly and quickly develops feelings for Jane Bennet, the eldest of the five Bennet daughters. The feelings are mutual, but his best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his sisters, Caroline and Louisa would prefer that Bingley look elsewhere for a wife. Though Bingley is smitten with Jane, he is convinced to break off the relationship even before it has begun.

The end of the book is not unexpected. While Jane is silently pining for Bingley, he is regretting that not only did he walk away from her, but that he let others make his decision for him. He returns to Meryton (with Mr. Darcy in tow, whom he will soon call brother-in-law), proposes to Jane and they all live happily ever after.

Often, when Pride and Prejudice is referred to, most people outside of the Janeite (the nickname for Jane Austen fans) community think of Mr. Darcy. But while Darcy gets the attention, Bingley quietly slips into the background. While he is not the romantic hero and needs to grow a pair, he is amiable, friendly and unlike his best friend, not judgmental or snobbish. Despite his second nature story line, Bingley’s character arc and growth throughout the novel is equal to Darcy.

To sum it up: Sometimes the quieter character growth is more important than the bombastic one. In learning to stand up for himself and his needs, Mr. Bingley grows from a young man who loses himself in other’s opinions to a man who is not afraid to speak up when someone else is trying to make his decisions for him.  Character growth, in whatever direction it takes, is the most important job of a writer, regardless of whether the character is in your face, or waiting in the wings for it’s moment to shine.

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Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Jane Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

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 the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

We all have that nice friend or family member on our life. The one who always sees the glass half full. The one who sees the good in others, despite their flaws. In Pride and Prejudice, that role is played by Jane Bennet, the eldest of the Bennet sisters.

The sugar to Elizabeth’s spice, Jane is soft-spoken, docile, amiable and considered to be the beauty of the family. When she meets Charles Bingley, the new guy in town, the crush between them is mutual. But his sisters and his best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy aren’t exactly keen on the idea of a potential marriage between Mr. Bingley and the eldest Miss Bennet.  They conspire to separate the potential lovers in hopes of steering Mr. Bingley towards a more “appropriate” match.

In the end, Jane does marry Mr. Bingley, but not before he gets a backbone and she waits quietly for him to return.

Not everyone can be an Elizabeth. In creating the antithesis to her younger sister, Austen allowed Jane to shine in her own way. She might not have the bite or the sarcasm of Elizabeth, but Jane has qualities that Elizabeth lacks and visa versa. Where Elizabeth is quick to judge, Jane is willing to give someone a chance before making up her mind. The Hero to Elizabeth’s Beatrice, Jane stands out from her sister because of their differences.

To sum it up: No two characters should be exactly alike. In creating two different characters with different voices, beliefs and different points of view (especially in the same family) the writer enables each character to speak with their own voice and stand out from the rest of the characters. When each individual voice shines through, this engages the reader and gives them another character to potentially hook into and follow throughout the narrative.

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Pride And Prejudice 2003 Vs. Bride And Prejudice 2004 Vs The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Pride and Prejudice at it’s heart, is a very simple boy meets girl story. The beauty of this book, is that despite being set in rural Georgian era England, is that it is a human story. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy can put in another time and place and still be the same characters we know and love.

The last 11 years have give Jane Austen fans three very different and interesting modern interpretations of Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice (2003)

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Kam Heskin), Will Darcy (Orlando Seale), Charles Bingley (Benjamin Gourley) and Jane Vasquez (Lucila Sola)

  • Pro’s: This modern day reboot takes place in Utah. The screenwriters and director did not make any major changes to the plot, except for the older generation is heard of, but not seen. This movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a nice change from the stiff upper lip adaptations that usually come from the Brits.
  • Cons: This movie is not for the cannon only fans.

Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Cast: Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), William Darcy (Martin Henderson), Balraj (Naveen Andrews) and Jaya Bakshi (Namrata Shirodkar)

  • Pro’s: This Bollywood adaptation is colorful and full of life. Director Gurinda Chadha has a nice balance of traditional elements of Bollywood films while staying true to the novel. What makes this movie stand out for me is not just the class difference, but the cultural differences between American William Darcy, his British Indian friend Balraj and the Amristar raised Lalita and Jaya.
  • Cons: None than I can think of.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)

Cast: Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements), William Darcy (Daniel Vincent Gordh), Bing Lee (Christopher Sean) and Jane Bennet (Laura Spencer)

  • Pro’s: This youtube twice a week webisode series bring Pride and Prejudice to the youtube generation. The producers were also very smart to have a very diverse cast of characters and actors. Despite knowing the book inside and out, it was a riveting series that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last episode.
  • Cons: None.

And the winner is…. I don’t know. I’ll let you  choose.

 

 

 

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Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star Review

Jane Austen, like many writers, had a formula to her storytelling. The ending was a happy ending, the conclusion was marriage. But that’s where the story ends. The rules of her era dictated that a respectable unmarried woman did not know the pleasures of the bedroom.

So, what does a Janeite writing a fanfiction do when s/he wishes to know the bedroom life of their favorite Austen couple?

They make it up.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud, transports Pride and Prejudice from rural 19th century England to modern day. Instead of being a wealthy land owner, Fitzwilliam Darcy is the front man for Slurry, one of the biggest bands in the world. The Slurry lineup is completed with Charles Bingley and his cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam.  Longbourne Suffering, a band looking for their big break has Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Bennet on vocals while Charlotte Lucas plays the drums. Slurry has lost the opening act again and needs a new opening act.  What they do not is that the summer that Longbourne Suffering opens for Slurry will change their lives forever.

Is this the best Austen fanfiction that I’ve ever read? No. It’s a little on the cheesy side. The sex scenes are sort of robotic.  It’s the kind of book I would pack when I am going on a long trip and  I need to do something to kill time.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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