Tag Archives: Janeite

Happy Birthday, Dearest Jane

jane%20austen

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.

Leave a comment

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

JASNA AGM 2016-Emma: No One But Herself

My regular readers might have noticed that I was unusually silent this past weekend.

This was because I attended the JASNA AGM, held in Washington DC this year.

agm

The AGM is a Janeite’s wet dream. Surrounded by fellow Janeites from around North America and around the world, the weekend is a break from reality and a complete immersion in everything that is Jane Austen. It’s my kind of heaven.

I encourage my fellow Janeites who have not attended an AGM or to join JASNA to consider one or both. Next year is in California. We will remember and mourn the 200th anniversary of the too soon passing of our beloved Jane and in two years, the Kansas City region is hosting. The topic is Persuasion. Crossing fingers, I will be at both AGM’s.

The AGM lies somewhere in between comic-con and an academic conference. My experience has taught me that the mark of a good AGM is one with excellent breakout sessions (with plenty to choose from), engaging plenary speakers and an opportunity to meet fellow Janeites with whom I would never meet outside of my local JASNA region.

My favorite breakout session related to the fact that Emma is a black comedy. Unlike other women in her world and her era, Emma Woodhouse is not only unafraid to speak to her mind, but she speaks of topics that make some people (especially men) uncomfortable. There is an indirect line from Emma Woodhouse to women who today dominate comedy and are not afraid to speak to their mind.

While the highlight of the AGM is the banquet and ball (yes I did dress up and dance. English country dancing is quite the workout), my absolute favorite parts of the AGM was visiting the DAR Museum and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The DAR Museum (Daughters Of The American Revolution Museum) is located minutes from the White House. The present exhibit, An Agreeable Tyrant: Fashion After The Revolution, told the story of how America built her economy during her early years by encouraging citizens to buy American made goods. The clothes are authentic and lovely. The exhibit will be at the museum until April 29,2017.
dar1dar2

 

dar3

I am going to save the best for last. The Will and Jane exhibit. And The SHIRT. This shirt is reason I went to DC this weekend.

the-shirt

The Will and Jane exhibit will be at the Folger Shakespeare Library until November 6th, 2016. This exhibit is a must see for any Janeite.

This past weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. I look forward to seeing my Janeites, both new and old in California next year.

Have a good rest of the week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved Book Review

When it comes to classic novels and the authors that wrote them, there are two camps: those who look at the books from a scholarly or academic perspective and those who read and re-read the books because they simply adore them.

Jane Austen’s novels are no exception.

In What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved, Professor John Mullan from University College London takes reader into the nitty-gritty questions that only someone who had stopped counting the number of times they’ve read a Jane Austen novel would ask. He asks questions about why certain character have one or two lines before only being referred to, the real age of the characters versus the performers who played them on stage or screen and the significance of how the characters refer to each other.

This book is amazing, as is its author. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him speak twice. He is as warm, funny, engaging on the page as he is in person. I will warn my readers that this book is for the serious Janeite.  A reader who has casually picked up one of Austen’s books or a reader who is new to the Austen literary universe might not completely understand what Mr. Mullan is stating. But what I loved best about this book is that teeters on academic without talking down to the reader or sounding like a dry college textbook.

I absolutely recommend this book.

Leave a comment

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

Becoming Jane Austen Book Review

Many artists, whether they be poets, painters or writers will often draw from real life when creating their work.

Jane Austen is no different.

One of the myths of Jane Austen’s life is that her brief, youthful romance with Tom Lefroy was one of several elements of her personal life that readers later encountered in her books.

Whether it is fact, fiction or a little of both, John Spence’s 2003 book, Becoming Jane Austen explores the idea of a potential relationship that Austen might have had with Tom Lefroy and how that relationship later worked itself into her novels.

Jane Austen is a mythic figure among writers and book lovers. Her characters have become cultural figures onto themselves. But we know only some of the facts about her personal life. Austen’s older sister and best friend, Cassandra, burned many of her sister’s letters after her death, leaving modern readers with questions about her life that are lost to time.

Anyone who knows me knows that Jane Austen is one of my heroes and one of my favorite writers. I picked up this book, because from writer to another, when you know the personal source material, the fiction is much more potent.

I was sadly disappointed. Mr. Spence, in my opinion, spent too much time on Austen’s family tree in the first couple of chapters. By the time he reaches the romance with Tom LeFroy, I expected to be presented with the facts about Austen’s life during that period.

Did I expect a reenactment of Becoming Jane? No.  But I was looking for some proof that this relationship was real.

By the time I finished the book, my questions remained unanswered.

Do I recommend the book? I will put it this way. If you are an experienced Janeite, then yes. If you are a newbie Janeite or you know nothing about her besides her books, then no.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Writing

Happy Birthday Dearest Jane

jane%20austen

Dearest Jane,

On this day, that is your birthday, I raise my glass to you.

You died at the young age of 41, not knowing that you would become a global super star in the world of literature and popular culture. For nearly 200 years, readers across time and across the globe have read and loved your books.

Your books are more than mere novels. They capture what is to be a human being.  Your characters still speak to readers and audiences today. From one writer to another, that is not an easy feat to pull off.

Wherever you are, I hope you hear our thanks and our wishes for a happy birthday.

Sincerely

A Janeite

Leave a comment

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

Pride and Prejudice: Your Backstage Pass Review

This year, the 1995 Pride and Prejudice turned 20. With any celebration of this kind, there are the usual retrospectives, interviews, reunions, etc.

Published late last year, Jessica Long’s new bookPride and Prejudice: Your Backstage Pass to Jane Austen’s Novel and Making of the BBC TV Series Starring Colin Firth takes the reader behind the scenes of this now classic miniseries. 

I purchased this book, hoping to get some information that I had previously not known before. I did not expect a blow by blow account of the filming. Nor did I expect a tabloid style book containing previously unknown scandalous secrets that have been locked away for two decades. What I received was an extremely skinny book containing information that any experienced Janeite would be aware of. The book is fine for anyone who is new to the world of Austen’s novels and the filmed adaptations of the books.

My problem with this book is that the writing is extremely dry in an almost Wikipedia kind of way. Not that there is nothing wrong with Wikipedia (I use it all the time for various reasons), but for a book like this, I expected the writing to have a little life in it. Granted, Ms. Long is writing as a fan without access to anyone who was actually attached to the production, but to be honest, I felt cheated. Other than a few cosmetic facts, the information in the book can be found easily online.

Do I recommend it? Unless you can get it for free via the library or via an e-reader, no. If I could go back and not pay for it, I would.

 

Leave a comment

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

Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict And Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict Review.

I have a confession to make: I am a Jane Austen addict. But then again, most people know that about me.

In 2008 and 2010, Laura Viera Rigler introduced her readers to two very different Janeites. Courtney Stone, in modern day Los Angeles and Jane Mansfield, a single Regency era gentleman’s daughter are both going through tough times. The only thing that is constant in both women’s lives is Jane Austen.

In Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict,  Courtney Stone has just broken up with her fiance. While nursing her emotional wounds with Jane Austen and Absolut, she wakes up in Regency England. She finds herself in the body of Jane Mansfield. Despite her knowledge of all things Austen, Courtney is not prepared for the reality of life in Regency England and the enigma that is Mr. Edgeworth.

Two years later, in Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict, it was Jane Mansfield’s turn. Nothing prepares her for modern day Los Angeles and the chaos that is Courtney Stone’s life.  The modern world with cars, cell phones, the  variety of clothes and unrestricted lives of women is a shock. While dealing with the modern world, Jane finds herself attracted to Courtney’s friend Wes, who reminds her of the man who broke her heart back home.

Both women are forced to answer questions in their own lives while trying to figure out the life of the other woman whose body they are inhabiting. I recommend both books.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen

My Favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

Adapting a book into a performable format is complicated. It has to be true to the original novel and please the fans while appealing to the entire audience, not just the hard core fan base.

I am a Janeite. As one might be able to guess my personal library and DVD collection contains a fair amount of Jane Austen related materials.

I would to share my top three favorite Jane Austen adaptations and why these three films should be viewed as templates for any writer or filmmaker looking to adapt a book.

My criteria is the following:

1. The actors have to look the part. The chemistry has to be there. Otherwise it all falls apart. (Yes, I am looking at you, 1996 Jane Eyre. William Hurt was too old for the part of Edward Rochester and had zero chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg).

2. The set has to look right. Every reader has their own idea of what the setting looks like, but it has to like right.

3.  It MUST follow the book as much as possible.

That being said, here my favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

3. 1995 Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Ang Lee and written by Emma Thompson  (who also played the lead role of Elinor Dashwood), this adaptation is beautiful.

Joining Emma Thompson is Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon.

Putting aside the fact that Emma Thompson was a generation older than her character and played Elinor as if she was in her late 20’s, I have no complaints about this adaptation. I’ve read that some people didn’t think that Hugh Grant was the right actor to play Edward, but Edward Ferrars is a bit of a controversial character within Jane Austen fiction. I personally think that Dan Stevens was a better Edward, but to each their own.

2. 1995 Persuasion 

Persuasion is the last of Austen’s completed novels. It has an Autumnal feeling, sad and sweet. As if she knew deep down that this would be her last completed work.

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds play the two leads, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth. The chemistry between them is palpable.  They are both age appropriate and look like they have experienced a bit of life.

It’s lush, it’s beautiful and as with the novel, when you think that second chances don’t happen, they do happen. So does the happiness that you thought was lost forever.

1. 1995 Pride And Prejudice

You knew this was obvious. This is the one where Colin Firth in clingy pants strips down to his knickers and white shirt and dives into the lake.

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle have some of the best on screen chemistry that I have ever seen. While I am sure they both would like the audience to look at their entire body of work and  not just this particular performance, there is no denying that whatever it is that make actors look good together on screen, they have it.

The supporting cast works. The filmmakers crossed their t’s and dotted their eyes with this production.  I still get shivers when I hear the theme song.

I recommend any of these films for any viewer or Janeite, whether they be a newbie or old fan.

Leave a comment

Filed under Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

The Friendly Jane Austen- Friendly Indeed

To those of her time, Jane Austen seemed to have lived an unremarkable life. She was the youngest daughter of a country rector. She never married or had children. During her lifetime, her books were published anonymously as “A Lady”.  Northanger Abbey, her first completed novel and Persuasion, her last completed novel, were published posthumously.

Why is it that a woman seemed to have lived an unremarkable life during her own time period, is still discussed and debated nearly 200 years after her death? Natalie Tyler’s 1999 book, The Friendly Jane Austen answers this question.

Through interviews with academics, writers and performers who have acted in the various adaptions, Ms. Tyler makes Jane Austen as vibrant and alive as she was 200 years ago.

I bought this book at a used book store. I didn’t expect to find it, but it was too tempting to not purchase.

I loved this book. Some Jane Austen related books are written only for the Janeite fan community, an newbie or an outsider might find those books to be boring and unreadable. But not this book. The interviewees include writer Fay Weldon and actress Harriet Walter (Fanny Dashwood in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility). This book is for everyone, whether they be a newbie or a long time Janeite or anyone who is curious about her novels.

My favorite part of the novel was the quizzes. Ms. Tyler creates multiple quizzes, asking the reader what type of Jane they might be and asking them to guess the quotes from the various novels.

I highly recommend this book.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen

A Re-Imagined Classic- Not Really

Anytime a modern writer attempts to re-write a classic, they are walking a fine line. It could be interesting and open up a new audience to the classic, or it could be a writer’s easy way to write their next work without actually doing much of the work.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is an example of the first. Joanne Trollope’s modern reboot of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Sense and Sensibility, using the same title, is an example of the second.

Sense and Sensibility, for the uninitiated, is Jane Austen’s first published novel. The protagonists, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are sisters. Elinor is practical and realistic, Marianne is romantic and dream filled. After the death of their father, their elder brother inherits the family home and they are forced, with their mother and youngest sister to find another place to call home.

Ms. Trollope does an admirable job of translating the novel from regency era to the modern era.  However, it doesn’t take much effort to make the necessary changes to move the novel from the 19th century to the 21st century. The only advantage of this novel, is introducing readers to Austen who otherwise might have not read her.

I picked this book up as a lark at the library.   Would I recommend it?  Yes and No.  If the reader is an Austen virgin, then yes, especially if the reader might not understand the original novel.  But to a longtime Janeite who had read original novel many times over and has seen several screen adaptations, I would say no.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Reviews, Sense and Sensibility