I have been watching Pride and Prejudice while knitting. This might be my favourite P&P adaptation.
I can’t remember where I first heard of this (or when), but, of course, I wanted to read it. Then there was a scathing review by John Mullan and I had second thoughts, but I had already purchased a copy by then.
Here is the blurb …
A brilliant, illuminating reassessment of the life and work of Jane Austen that makes clear how Austen has been misread for the past two centuries and that shows us how she intended her books to be read, revealing, as well, how subversive and daring–how truly radical–a writer she was.
In this fascinating, revelatory work, Helena Kelly–dazzling Jane Austen authority–looks past the grand houses, the pretty young women, past the demure drawing room dramas and witty commentary on the narrow social worlds of her time that became the hallmark of Austen’s work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, deeply subversive nature of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical subjects–slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church, evolution, among them–considered treasonous at the time, that Austen deftly explored in the six novels that have come to embody an age. The author reveals just how in the novels we find the real Jane Austen: a clever, clear-sighted woman “of information,” fully aware of what was going on in the world and sure about what she thought of it. We see a writer who understood that the novel–until then seen as mindless “trash”–could be a great art form and who, perhaps more than any other writer up to that time, imbued it with its particular greatness.
Ms Kelly has a warning at the end of chapter 1
If you want to stay with the novels and the Jane Austen you already know, then you should stop reading now.
and I think for many people that is good advice.
There is an introductory chapter, a chapter on each of the 6 novels and a concluding chapter. Each chapter begins with an imaginative excursion into Austen’s life – I must admit these sections annoyed me. The rest of the chapter is devoted to convincing the reader of Austen’s hidden meanings. Ms Kelly has an accessible style – no dense academic jargon – and reading this book made me want to read Austen again (surely a good thing).
Some of her theories I agreed with (Mrs Tilney dying from a miscarriage or ‘a disasterously mismanaged early labour’) and others I didn’t (Mr Knightley is my favourite hero, so I might be biased, but I refuse to believe he married Emma for her money and land).
Some of her arguments were of the type A relates to B, B relates to C, so A relates to C. It is impossible to know what Austen was thinking, so people need to decide if a series of coincidences are in fact coincidences or a code that Austen was using that contemporary readers would comprehend (do any contemporary reviewers comment on this stuff?). It reminds me of other Jane Austen conspiracy theorists, however, Ms Kelly has written her book and put her ideas out in the world and I am glad that I read it even if I didn’t agree with everything.
Another review …
This is the fourth novel of the Austen Project following Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, Northanger Abbey by Val Mc Dermid and Emma by Alexander McCall Smith. I had high hopes for this one – how could I not? Curtis Sittenfeld was the selected author.
Here is the blurb …
From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .
And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.
Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today
I was concerned to see a quote by Mark Twain at the start – did Ms Sittenfeld not know the antipathy Twain had for Austen?
To me his prose is unreadable — like Jane Austin’s [sic]. No there is a difference. I could read his prose on salary, but not Jane’s. Jane is entirely impossible. It seems a great pity that they allowed her to die a natural death.
Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
And then I read the rest and realised Ms Sittenfeld doesn’t like Austen and this is her revenge. I am sure she is laughing at Austen fans all of the way to the bank.
This Lizzie is rude not witty (and doesn’t appear to be overly bright) and the crisis (the equivalent of Lydia running with Wickham) is awful and such a non-crisis. Spoiler alert! I don’t understand how running away with a transgender man called Ham can be at all morally reprehensible. The Lydia in the original would have been cast out of society if Mr Darcy had not intervened. In this one, Mr Darcy reconciles Mrs Bennet to the elopement by describing Ham as having a ‘birth defect’.
More reviews …
Like all of these older adaptations, it is not particularly beautiful, but this one at least has outdoor scenes. It consists of 7 episodes – each 30 minutes long – and it is quite faithful to the novel (they do get rid of Margaret Dashwood).
I thought Irene Richard’s Elinor was great, but Tracy Childs over-enunciated as Marianne (she had obviously had elocution lessons).
Robert Swann was a great Colonel Brandon, but Alan Rickman is always going to be the definitive Colonel Brandon.
This was a good adaptation, but there is better available now. It is probably only for the die-hard Jane Austen fans.
More reviews …
I continue on my Jane Austen Adaptation Festival with the latest (2007) version of Northanger Abbey – I do prefer this one to the 1987 version. First, it has high production values – beautiful to look at, secondly Andrew Davies is the screenwriter and he always manages to be reasonably faithful to the novel, but ramps up the sexual tension a bit (Mr Darcy diving into the lake?).
I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation – even the extra bits added by Andrew Davies – I thought it was well cast (the two leads in particular). It is short (93 minutes), but manages to get across all of the important plot points.
More reviews …
https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/the-three-northanger-abbey-films/ – this one is worth reading!
It is always interesting what you find when clicking links indiscriminately while browsing the internet.
I came across this interesting article Jane of Green Gables: L. M Montgomery’s Reworking of Austen’s Legacy by Miriam Rheingold Fuller, which links my two favourite authors.
I found this article via Sarah Emsley and I find her through the janeites email list ( it is worth being on the list for all of the controversy about shadow stories and conspiracies).
I have set my self the task of watching the adaptations in the order Austen wrote the novels :- Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. I have several versions of each so this should keep me busy for sometime.
First up this version of Northanger Abbey
It is quite faithful to the story – except for this character
who is General Tilney’s ‘friend’ – she apparently gives him all of the gossip.
Although this adaptation is a bit dated (and a bit strange at times), it is still worth watching.
More reviews …
A number of Jane Austen related books was donated to my Jane Austen group (mine had a ticket – number 100 – to an ‘At Home’ for the Dean and Chapter of Westminster and the Officers of the Order of the Bath). I had heard of this book, but never came across it, so took the opportunity to snap it up for $2.
Here’s the blurb …
The late 18th century world in which Jane Austen lived was one that combined good sense, elegant manners, intelligence and piety with a liberal dash of spirited fun. Drawing on Jane Austen’s letters, novels, and other people’s memories of her, David Cecil sets out to “reconstruct and depict her living personality and to explore it in relation to her art”. The portrait that emerges is of a clear-sighted, observant, strong-minded woman whose witty and ironic representation of her own society has delighted millions of readers for centuries.
Not much is known about Jane Austen’s life and what little is known is not full of excitement and incident, so a bit of authorial poetic license is to be expected. This biography was first published in 1978 and part of the joy in reading it is to compare it to later biographies – this one definitely falls into the ‘Aunt Jane’ category. David Cecil, in his Foreward, tells us he is trying ‘to reconstruct and depict her living personality and explore its relationship to her art’. It is split into three parts – Part 1 (five chapters – The Family, Early Years, Steventon Days, Bath and Southampton), Part 2 (two chapters – Life at Chawton and Fulfilment) and Part 3 (two chapters – Growing Fame and The End). In each section he writes what is known about Jane Austen from various sources and then interpolates her behaviour and reasons for her behaviour (whether you agree or not will depend on your own vision of Jane Austen). David Cecil has a lovely writing style – no convoluted academic sentences – I particularly enjoyed the section where he described the 18th century mind as apposed to the 19th century mind and how Jane Austen 18th century ideas and religion influenced her writing.
Although there is nothing new to be learnt about the facts of her life each biographer brings their own interpretation and therefore something new to the field of Austen studies.
I have to say this blog is in a decline a bit like Mrs Bennet after Lydia runs off with Wickham. Time, content and motivation are all my problems. Anyway, Bitch in a Bonnet, was recommended by one of the members of my Jane Austen group – I bought the Kindle version.
Here’s the blurb …
Novelist Rodi (Fag Hag, The Sugarman Bootlegs) launches a broadside against the depiction of Jane Austen as a “a woman’s writer…quaint and darling, doe-eyed and demure, parochial if not pastoral, and dizzily, swooningly romantic — the inventor and mother goddess of ‘chick lit.’” Instead he sees her as “a sly subversive, a clear-eyed social Darwinist, and the most unsparing satirist of her century… She takes sharp, swift swipes at the social structure and leaves it, not lethally wounded, but shorn of it prettifying garb, its flabby flesh exposed in all its naked grossness. And then she laughs.” In this volume, which collects and amplifies two-and-a-half years’ worth of blog entries, he combs through the first three novels in Austen’s canon — Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park — with the aim of charting her growth as both a novelist and a humorist, and of shattering the notion that she’s a romantic of any kind (“Weddings bore her, and the unrelenting vulgarity of our modern wedding industry — which strives to turn each marriage ceremony into the kind of blockbuster apotheosis that makes grand opera look like a campfire sing along — would appall her into derisive laughter”).
“Hilarious…Rodi’s title is a tribute. He’s angry that the Austen craze has defanged a novelist who’s ‘wicked, arch, and utterly merciless. She skewers the pompous, the pious, and the libidinous with the animal glee of a natural-born sadist’…Like Rodi, I believe Austen deserves to join the grand pantheon of gadflies: Voltaire and Swift, Twain and Mencken.” Lev Raphael, The Huffington Post.
I loved this book – it was like chatting to a rather acerbic friend about Austen. Although, I do disagree with his take on Fanny Price (I have a soft spot for Miss Price) I thought the rest was excellent – funny, insightful and easy to read. What’s more it made me want to go back and read the books again (surely that is the highest praise for a book on Austen?). I’ve bought the second volume and will get onto it as soon as I’ve cleared some of my (enormous) to be read pile.
If you are an Austen fan, then you will definitely enjoy this book (particularly if like me you think most people who write sequels etc have completely missed the point – they’re not romances people!).
I saw the last performance of Sense and Spontaneity (I know no good if you then write a review, but now I don’t feel so bad about taking so long to write this review!)
This show was hilarious – the two actors were brilliant (so quick witted). With a series of hats and bonnets they created various different characters – you know a Miss Bates, a Mr Darcy, a Mr Collins, etc. There was much tea drinking and Austen-like dialogue. I would say the plot and action owes more to Austen film adaptations than the novels, but who doesn’t love an Austen adaptation? This was a fast-paced romp, which the actors seemed to enjoy as much as the audience and I would definitely see it again (well a different version as it is improvisation after all).