Archive for books

So Sorry: Bk7-20

I have been intensely busy the past month or so, and I have never felt like  commenting on the books I’m reading. Since it’s reading week, I decided to update a little on my progress through the books, and if you look at my Twitter account, I am up to 20 books! Crazy! Just for one semester, not to mention the books that I’ve been reading on the sidelines, which I will also mention.

So, I will begin my list with perhaps small commentaries just to make up for my lack of visiting:

Book 7: John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, which is a playscript by a Brit playwright from the 60s. This play started the ‘angry young man’ theatre, and it is easy to see why because the main character is a complete and total jackass. He is so verbally abusive and thinks he’s God’s gift to the world. I can’t stand him. But good play, I guess.

Bk 8: Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women. Quite a nice book about a girl’s transition to womanhood in the 30s-40s rural Ontario. The book is a collection of short stories gathered together based on the main character, Dell, who deals with changing ideas of womanhood and sexuality.

Bk 9: The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. Interesting, annoying, revolutionary all rolled into one. I wasn’t too fond of his opinions of white people and the detailing of his transition into the Nation of Islam, but I liked reading about his life becoming a man. I also cried when we saw Spike Lee’s portrayal of his assassination. It seemed like Malcolm X was finally on the right path for civil rights (not just black rights), and some assholes had to go and kill him.

Bk10:  Sharon Pollock’s Doc, a short play on the memories of a workaholic doctor father and his writer daughter. It was quite interesting as it played with how memories could be performed on stage.
Bk 11: Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake (selected poems). Not too bad. Helped me to understand more fully the context for ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ which I’d had to read before.

Bk 12: Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (selected poems). I think I liked Wordsworth’s poems more than Coleridge’s. We also read a hand-out of Dorothy Wordsworth’s prose (Wm’s sister) and she was quite a great writer too.

Bk13: Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Partially autobiographical poetic prose. Having to read it so fast, I missed a lot of the potential of the poetry, so I didn’t really understand much of it.

Bk 14: May Sarton’s Mrs Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. I found this one more interesting than the last one because it revolved around a poet and her writing. There was some detailed discussion on how she came to write her poetry and her muses, and we get snapshots of the people who have been pivotal to her writing. As a writer myself, this grabbed me and gave me a feeling of inspiration. Not that I’d be able to write poetry as good as Mrs Stevens’.

Bk15: Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose (selected). I have loved her poem ‘The Burning of Paper Instead of Children’, though I can’t exactly define it. And reading her poetry was quite nice and gave me more inspiration. I think I’ve written two or three poems.

Bk 16: selected poems of Emily Dickinson. She is quite morbid; a lot of death in her poems.

Bk 17: Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter’. Not exactly a book, I’ll grant you, but long and tedious enough to read. I would have rather been at the scene, watching as they went through the house for the letter, rather than hearing about it second-hand. Then for Poe’s hero to suddenly come up with the answer to the riddle without having told us any clues at all… no offence, Poe, but perhaps that’s why you didn’t get much money for your works.

Bk 18: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Final Problem’ and ‘The Adventure of the Empty House’. I read the first one, but not the second one because I didn’t have time. But I did get to see the recent movie with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, and I was quite impressed with RDJ’s portrayal of Holmes. However, poor Doyle killed off Holmes and had to resurrect him for the sake of the fans.

Bk 19: Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield (Chps 1-13). I could only read 3 chapters because my presentation for Elizabeth Gaskell was on the same day that the reading of this fell on, but I think that I read more of it than the rest of the class. Because of this, I haven’t much to say about it except how sad it is that a little boy gets sent by his guardian to work in a factory.

Bk 20: Four Stories by American Women (Rebecca Harding Davis’ ‘Life in the Iron Mills’ and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.) I haven’t read these yet.

Wow. Lots of reading. And of course, I am apparently masochistic because I read Elizabeth Gaskell books that I didn’t really need to read:

Wives and Daughters. I saw the adaptation first, and Justine Waddell is adorable as Molly Gibson. I got hooked on the love story between her and Roger Hamley, so I started reading the book, and I got hooked on the book. I finally finished it yesterday, but I didn’t feel the closure that I have after finishing other books, mainly because Gaskell died before she could complete this one, and the editor of Cornhill that the book was serialized in added in a synopsis of what Gaskell figured would happen. But it is not as interesting as actually reading the events in narrative form.

I did like, though, how Andrew Davies ended his screenplay. The adaptation was quite faithful to the book, which I found nice because it gave me a picture of the surroundings, but Davies veers off Gaskell’s figured ending by getting Molly to go to Africa with Roger when he is finishing his expedition. I think this is quite nice (even if it is a little bit modern in form) since Molly has been learning a lot of natural history and science through her love of Roger and she can be his companion and coworker.

I would have liked to have seen more, though ;). After reading so much of the two lovers being apart and not knowing their real feelings towards each other, I want to know more of what their life would be like when they are finally together. It always seems in Victorian literature that writers only give us a glimpse of these after-lives, and very rarely do adaptations leave that pattern. Apparently, we have to be content with imagining it happening.

Also, if there were a modernized adaptation, wouldn’t Cynthia be perfect as a struggling fashion designer? I like the story between the two step-sisters so much that I am almost tempted to drop everything and write my own modernized adaptation.

Cranford. I have only read most of this novella, but it is quite hilarious and intriguing, even if the subject matter (the spinster ladies’ lives in small-town Cranford) may seem quite a bit dull. We are taken through the hilarious episodes of the cat that swallowed the lace to moving stories of the Jenkyns’ sisters’ history. I was sad though that Captain Brown died in the second chapter. I know from my research that since Gaskell had never meant to write more than one installment for Cranford, she was sad too that she had killed him off so early.

I do like how this transferred into adaptation. Instead of just the novella of Cranford, the creators of the series mixed in two of Gaskell’s other novellas, Mr Harrison’s Confessions and My Lady Ludlow. These last two novellas were displaced from their own towns and placed into Cranford so that the result was a completely new storyline where the characters of all three towns interact in some way, and yet the adaptation hasn’t lost the spunk of the originals, though I haven’t read the other two novellas yet. Captain Brown was also kept on instead of killed off, and we find out in real-time why Miss Deborah Jenkyns died. I quite like it.

It’s also nice to see the dexterity of certain actors between the series and other shows. Michael Gambon, for one, the man who is now famous for portraying Albus Dumbledore the second time around, plays Mr Holbrook in Cranford and Squire Hamley in Wives and Daughters, and you wouldn’t recognize him much at all. His manner and looks are so different, it’s no wonder they gave him a BAFTA for his portrayal of the squire.

Then there’s Francesca Annis who played Mrs Gibson in W&D and then Lady Ludlow in Cranford. Another fantastic turnover. She goes from bubblingly annoying to very grave and grand. I was surprised when I saw Keeley Hawes in W&D because I hadn’t recognized her in the promotional pictures for the series and I’ve seen her in Spooks which brings her quite a different character. Then there’s Bill Patterson who plays the sarcastic but loving doctor Gibson in W&D and who played a character (forgot the name) in Little Dorrit, who was quite annoying. Tom Hollander who plays the stupid Mr Collins in P&P 2005 played Osbourne Hamley in W&D and looked quite hot doing so that my opinion of him got higher. I can’t stand Mr Collins! And Anthony Howell as Roger Hamley… would be nice to see him in other shows, but I don’t think he works in TV or movie productions much anymore.

I could go on, but I think I’ll stop.


Books 5 and 6

I haven’t finished my reading of Pamela, but I decided that I would work on the other readings for that class for that week. I was quite surprised to find that Book 5, Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, seems to be fashioned after Pamela as if Pamela was Joseph’s real sister and that Fielding’s book was only a response to Richardson’s. The section that I had to read was smaller than Pamela‘s (Chps 1-7), and yet the plot was the same, only reversed in gender. I was supposed to read the preface, and I tried to, I really did, but I guess I missed whether Fielding’s imitation of Richardson’s work was intentional or not.

The only thing I can think of in reading these two books for my Print Culture class would be to examine their differences in form. That week of readings supposedly studies the rise of the novel, and Pamela is an epistolary novel (written in letters to her parents). Joseph Andrews seems to be a translation of epistolary to firmer novel form.

I do have to say how annoying Pamela is. The way she presents herself in her letters makes me think of her as some beautiful innocent girl, and yet her behaviour and the way she writes is so annoying. I don’t know how to explain it, but she seems like the girls of today who are so silly and yet want the world to know that they were justified, almost as if this were chick lit. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being so negative to this character because I can’t see myself finishing off the reading before next Wednesday. I really REALLY don’t want to hear any more about her complaints, her virtue, and about everything that happened to her between each letter and the next.

Maybe the novel form of Joseph Andrews allowed me to complete it much quicker because of its distance. Fielding assumes a third person omniscient narrator and uses this as a means of showing Joseph’s situation. Perhaps this distance makes us see Joseph as a more likeable character. He’s not portrayed as silly like Pamela is, though he has the same object in the book: to keep his “virtue” (whatever the hell that is). His accomplishments are much worthier in my eyes, probably because Pamela’s accomplishments are silly, and Joseph seems like he has more of a right in keeping his virtue. Maybe that is it: maybe because of Pamela’s beauty and her silliness in her letters makes me believe that she doesn’t have the right to keep her virtue.

Alright, I am annoyed about this subject, so I am going to talk about Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, which is Book 6. I actually found this kind of interesting. We were only supposed to read a small portion of this novel: 15 pgs before Crusoe begins keeping a journal. There were things in this section that could be seen as mundane, but it was interesting as well. I guess I just like adventure, especially on the sea, during that time, because I might read more of it. Keyword: might.

This did remind me of Lord of the Flies too much. I don’t remember much of that book since it’s been almost ten years since I’ve read it back in high school, but I remember them digging latrines, and when Crusoe is talking about building a secure place for himself to sleep, I was torn between thinking of the boys digging latrines, and whatever the contestants did on Survivor. Crazy.

Well, I still have portions of three books to read. I have to read Book 7: Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro by Jan 11 (?). I have 50+ pgs of dry, disorganized McLuhan from The Gutenberg Galaxy which I had on a count for my last semester’s readings. Then there is The Sweet Hereafter. And I have an essay due Jan 18. I don’t know how I’m going to get all of this stuff done. I feel like all of my time is going to be taken up before school starts.

My only recourse for relaxation time is The Jane Austen Book Club movie (maybe book as well) and North and South. I have seen the whole adaptation of N&S and I really like it. When I finished reading the second half of the book, I wondered how the heck Sandy Welch was going to compress all of those events into two hours. It didn’t seem possible. But I think she did it better than Gaskell did it herself. It seemed like we lost sight of Thornton in the book and then he pops up again at the end, but in the adaptation, we see his problems with the mill early and we get to watch the reluctant friendship build between him and Higgins. I also liked how Welch sent Mr Bell off to South America instead of waiting for him to die to make Margaret an “heiress”. And seeing Thornton’s reaction to Margaret’s being his landlord: priceless.

The ending was also beautiful. In the book, Thornton goes to London and they reunite, but in the adapt, he and Margaret meet in between Milton and Helstone. An accidental meeting and Margaret decides for herself to continue her journey back to Milton with him, rather than going back to London with Henry to explain to her family her reasons for marrying him. This is more active than in the book and more agreeable to me. And the look on his face when he sees her… wow. Great ending. And the music is beautiful, haunting. I wish the BBC would put out a compilation of the scores they use for their period pieces, because most of it is beautiful.

Book 4: North and South

In February, I have a seminar presentation on Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. The class has to read only Chps 1-12, but I decided that, since I liked the story and since it is break, I would complete my reading of it before school started up again. Half of the book I read around my Christmas baking, my work schedule, and my relaxing time, and the other half I read on Christmas Day, pretty much the whole day. Now I should probably take some time off from my school readings so that I can actually have a few days of vacation to myself. The only problem with that is that I have a week before school and still four books at least to read sections of. Sad.

I wish I could have gotten the image for the edition that I have. I have the Penguin Red Classics edition, which has a very rich colour with an image of a young woman reclining on a sofa. But with this thumbnail, you get the picture.

I think for my seminar I am going to have to tackle the idea of serializations. Gaskell published North and South as a 22-part series in Charles Dickens’ magazine Household Words. As a published book, it has 52 chapters. I wonder if she wrote the whole thing before she began publishing it or if she wrote it as it was published. I used to write fanfiction for the Harry Potter-verse and I know how hard it is to keep a story together when you aren’t able to revise it as a whole.

In a way, the story does seem rather unorganized. For the first half of the book, we focus on the problem of the workers and Thornton vs Margaret, but the second half is dominated by death and we hardly see the workers or Thornton that much. One assumes that there is a high importance on Thornton’s mill and we expect to see the progress of this mill throughout the book, especially after the strike ends, but Margaret’s life intervenes and all of the manufacturing information, which we got so much of in the beginning, is wasted. Then there is the amount of space allowed by Gaskell’s editor, Dickens. As a preface to her first edition of the text coming out as a book, Gaskell noted that she added paragraphs here and there. The ending seems rather rushed as well, and we don’t see what happens after Thornton and Margaret finally reunite, even though seeing the reactions of their friends and relatives and overcoming these reactions would be part of the main theme of the book, which seems to be the prejudice of the north vs the south.

Perhaps that is the problem with serializations. Though there are 52 chapters, Gaskell probably couldn’t do all that she wanted with the story. The story is classed as a love story, but it doesn’t begin that way, and so much happens in the intervening lives of the characters that the love story can sometimes get lost in the other plots. There are moments that are glossed over that Gaskell could have shown us. Thornton went to Helstone and we only get one sentence (perhaps even half a sentence) that implies this event before it is slightly explained in the end to Margaret. I would have liked to have seen him at Helstone: what did he think of it? what did he do? who did he visit? There is also so much telling in the story, rather than showing, as if to fatten up the novel. I have noticed that Dickens has done this too, so I am assuming it is a characteristic of writing serializations that he has forced onto Gaskell, to give us what the characters are thinking and feeling, rather than what they do and say. This type of writing thickens passages up so much that it is hard to get through fast enough. We are forced to slow down and look at the characters as they are, though we know so much about them already.

The characters are wonderful, and there is a huge cast of characters to love. Even those you would hate have redeeming moments in the book. Margaret seems to have a bit of Elinor Dashwood in her, which charmed me, though she is so often viewed as haughty by the other characters. I also liked Margaret’s perseverance and strength for the people in her family. She hardly broke down while her mother was ill and gave all she had to making the others in her family calm. But then, the amount of people she had to take care of sickened me. Beauty seemed to be a huge determining factor in whether she was liked or not. Her beauty seemed to be two things: the descriptions of her when Thornton sees her elevates her to someone who is so beautiful, she dazzles, yet I seem to remember a passage at the beginning saying that Margaret wasn’t supposed to be known as beautiful. Thornton loves her for her beauty (which I am really struggling with), some people pay great kindness to her because of it, and some people hate her for it.

As to Thornton’s character, it changes a bit by the end of the book and I have seen half the 2004 adaptation since beginning my reading so I don’t really remember what he originally was like. Richard Armitage adds anger into Thornton’s personality, and yet on the page, he does seem passionate with what he speaks, but I never imagined it to be so strong as anger that he would speak with. Then, I struggle with whether or not he really loves Margaret or whether he lusts after her. Is it true love in that he goes to her house just to be in her company rather than to “bathe in her beauty” (something that would come from a poem)? Or by not looking at her but noticing her presence a token of his love? Hmm.

I also had so much impatience throughout the second half waiting for Margaret to DO SOMETHING! It is rather annoying when one is a 21st century woman reading about a 19th century woman’s cares and feelings and then that character doesn’t do what you want her to. I was going crazy throughout the second half hoping that Margaret would summon up the courage to get on a train by herself and go to Thornton’s mill to explain herself. She spends a lot of time hoping that an old friend of her father’s (keyword: old) would go up and explain her problems to Thornton. Then that old friend dies, and she still doesn’t do anything. This woman had walked so often through the streets of Milton night and day by herself and she won’t get on a train to see the man she loves? Grr.

Length of time also surprised me. The novel, and the love story within it, spans the course of almost four years (and even then, Gaskell’s markings of time within the text are confusing, so it really might only be three). I was struck by how much time would pass with Margaret doing hardly anything at all, in the second half especially. Once she loses her mother, she loses the main source of employment for her days, and I kept wondering what she did all those days that would force her to put off the task of going to Thornton with her explanation, even though we knew that she wanted to. I feel like a comparison should be drawn between our time and theirs, but here, there is even more employment in people’s days, and I don’t know whether people put off telling the ones they love the important stuff, or whether having more to do forces them to get it over and done with.


Section: Chps 1-12, though I read the whole book to be prepared for my seminar presentation.

POV: 3rd person omniscient. Though the focus of the story is on Margaret Hale, we get insights into other characters during scenes between her and them, or the narrative focuses on Thornton and his family.

I can’t wait to watch the rest of the adaptation! As far as I have gotten, Sandy Welch has slightly different aims to the storyline, so maybe the plot will be leaner. I also saw some pictures of Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe that gives me hope for a nice ending.

I got the book The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, but I won’t have time to read it completely. So far, the method of story-telling is interesting. Each character is assigned one of Jane Austen’s books, and their stories turn out to be similar to that of a major character in their book. Then, for each month/chapter that a book is assigned to be read for, we get into the character’s life. The beginning starts with Jocelyn whose book to read is Emma, and we learn about the sexual harassment that happened to her by the boys she met which will perhaps lead us to why she is still single at her age.

A quandary about the adaptation of this novel though: Bernadette is supposed to be sixty, Jocelyn and Sylvia fifties, Grigg forty-five and Allegra thirty, which seems to be so different in the movie. Are the three first mentioned just young-looking for their age, or did Robin Swicord intend for all five of these characters to have their ages reduced to fit her purposes? At the beginning of the movie, Sylvia mourns that she is too old to start over again, though her husband, the same age, can.  Movie-wise, she seems to be forties, so are these remarks and ages intentional?

I will probably post more on North and South later in order to break down the section that has to be read for school. I can’t right now because I’m reeling from the abrupt ending, what might possibly happen in the adaptation at the end, and I have to do my laundry.

The Jane Austen Book Club

I have a copy of The Jane Austen Book Club, but I never got around to watching it until today. I have recently re-taken an interest in what Emily Blunt has to offer viewers and was curious if she was going to be speaking with her native British accent or with an adopted American accent. I have since found that there are many actors in this movie that I’ve seen elsewhere, and some in strange places. Hugh Dancy was in King Arthur? Kathy Baker played Mia on Gilmore Girls? Maggie Grace looks like Odette Yustman in Cloverfield, and I’m extremely confused as to why Maggie’s face is so familiar and yet I’ve never seen any of her shows.

Now, onto the movie. Maybe I should be honest, I did use this movie to glean insight into Jane Austen’s books. The wide range of characters allowed for a wide range of perspective into the six books that Austen wrote. And, I may like this movie because I am partially a Janeite, but OH WELL! It was fun to go through the books again, one by one, and relive bits and pieces of them, as well as Austen’s life. For Mansfield Park, it was harder for me to understand what the characters were talking about as I haven’t read that book and I’ve seen one adaptation once. For me, “once” is remarkable.

There are plenty of things to say about the movie itself. The characters were indeed a lovable bunch, especially in their opposing ideas about what Austen meant with this or that. We have Allegra vs Prudie when the book club begins, along with Prudie’s ideas of what an Austen book club is supposed to be about. Jocelyn trying to set up Sylvia with Grigg even though Grigg wants to be with Jocelyn–that was fun to watch and I loved its resolution.

I have to admit the way the book club begins is quite interesting. Going into the movie, I was under the impression that all of these people knew each other.  But they didn’t. Bernadette meets Prudie when she bursts into tears at a movie theatre for Jane Austen movies. Jocelyn meets Grigg at a hotel that is having a Buffy convention and allows for a nod to science fiction/fantasy lovers. Chance encounters. That are believable at least.

Looking at the stats for the movie, I find that this was originally a book by Karen Joy Fowler. I will have to read it some day and compare this adaptation with its original, especially since I have seen Robin Swicord’s name on other adaptations I’ve seen and liked. Interesting. Also interesting is the fact that this is yet another adaptation that I have to read the book for, and that, at the moment of viewing, I had no idea it was an adaptation until after the fact. I didn’t even see the ‘Based on’ title they always add. Must’ve slipped by me.

So… for The Jane Austen Book Club

Screenplay: Robin Swicord

Directed: Robin Swicord

Based on the book by: Karen Joy Fowler

Rating so far: A+

Yes, Austen’s novels are about women, and as men may not feel that the lives of women living and loving are that interesting, they will scorn my rating, but I believe that this movie, and Jane’s books too, should be enjoyed by many. I myself have learned that Jane’s books are about living: the way we live, whether it’s right, how we change, why we change. For me, that is interesting. It just so happens that Jane’s books have a female slant (ie, this is about women and how they change ) and may be seen as “chick lit” by those who scorn chick lit because these women fall in love. But beware, falling in love is only one piece of Jane’s puzzle, and it may not even be a piece at all.

Now I’m not really making any sense. I suppose I should move on and tell you that I have started Book 3 for my semester: Pamela (or Virtue Rewarded) by Samuel Richardson, Letters 1-25. I am on Letter 12 and I will say that I am glad that I am not a poor, beautiful maid in the power of a master. I’d be very scared if the master tried to make sexual advances on me and that world is not empathetic to women who have been molested. The Garden of Eden at work, where woman’s virtue is precious and if she should lose it because someone took advantage of her, well it must be her fault, right?

The beginning doesn’t bode well for the rest of the book. It doesn’t help that I have many other books I should be reading before school starts, like Sweet Hereafter, and I have ideas bouncing around my head about a modernized version of Sense and Sensibility. I started working on a screenplay for it. The ideas are good, but so far it seems a little dry to me. There are some good scenes between characters that I might use for my Creative Writing class, but I think it’s like SNW: I have to let the idea of the two sisters’ stories germinate in my head for awhile (a year at least, lol) before I can get used to the idea of them in a modern setting and what might happen.

Okay, I’m tired. Going to bed. Read Jane Austen with pride, dear readers!

Sense and Sensibility Chps1-12

Alright, I have already finished reading this section of Sense and Sensibility, so I took the time this morning to go over what I’ve read and make comments, etc.

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

I was impressed with how short a section could move the action to Devonshire so quickly. The two adaptations, Emma Thompson’s 1995 and Andrew Davies’ 2008, extended the Norland activities, so when I went into reading this, I expected to come across almost the same type of stuff that they’d dramatized.

But no, it seems in the novel, we get a shorter, far quicker glimpse of Norland. The opening pages confused me–there had been another gentleman who’d owned Norland before Mr Henry Dashwood, which I didn’t know about. Then exposition quickens the pace and moves us to Mr Henry Dashwood’s death, his son’s subsequent promise to him, etc etc.

Character changes/fill-in are abundant between book and adapts. I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised with this, but Mr John Dashwood’s character description surprised me. The adapts seem to portray John as a sort-of caring but easily persuaded man (these days we’d call him whipped). Especially in the 2008 adapt, John seems homely and wants to give his half-sisters a lot of money. But in the novel he is portrayed as being just as mean-spirited as his wife, which doesn’t necessarily fit in with the dialogue between him and Fanny.

Lady Middleton has more depth here as well. In 2008, she hardly says a word and seems rather negative or self-serving. But in the book, she’s calm if reserved and proud of her eldest child. Colonel Brandon’s introduction is as rapid as that of Edward’s. One minute he’s not there, then suddenly he is. We get a description of him after-the-fact, provided by Elinor.

I loved the line on Mrs Jennings: “And she had now therefore nothing to do but to marry all the rest of the world.” This amply states Mrs Jennings’ main goal in life in one sentence and makes her out to be a caricature at the same time.

I was also surprised that we did not get to see Edward coming to Norland. His relationship with Elinor is so distant from us in the novel that I was surprised when the narration slipped in Edward’s name. Like, what? Edward’s here? I want more of their romance. It doesn’t seem as believable to me that Edward and Elinor fall in love as it does in the adapts because we don’t even see them together before the idea of marriage between them is presented.

In the adapts, we are fortunate enough to have visuals of Edward and Elinor together. In 1993, they persuade Margaret to come out of hiding but tricking her. Then Elinor watches as Edward and Margaret go outside and battle. They take rides together. In 2008, we see them walking outside, talking about the death of parents and what Edward’s family expects of him. She beats a carpet when he comes upon her. Etc.

To me, all of this is very effective for the building of a romance between them. But perhaps the distance of this relationship in the novel is to distance the readers from expecting a marriage between them. The women in the family get excited at the prospect of the marriage, and the adapts seem to induce the viewers to get excited as well. But being privy to the marriage third-hand may let the reader know that there is trouble up ahead and the marriage may not come to pass.

Or perhaps it is to reflect Elinor’s personality. Elinor is restrained; she wouldn’t show her emotions unless the situation absolutely warranted it, or her feelings her more moderate. But with Marianne and Willoughby, we are shown an abundance of their love because both of those lovers are very open in their feelings. In contrast, the love between Elinor and Edward is hidden because they are both reserved. Hmm. I already feel smarter.

Some things that I was thinking of during the threshold period between Norland and Barton Cottage: what does Jane Austen mean by furniture? At one point, she mentions that the furniture, which is being sent to Devonshire by the sea, is “household linen, plate, china, and books” (21). How is any of that furniture? And what other pieces of furniture would Mrs Dashwood send by water, since the cottage was ready furnished? I was also entertained by Mrs Dashwood’s ideas of renovating the cottage, making it bigger, when (if) she had any money in the spring. My mother and I hardly have any money to buy new paint for the walls, and Mrs Dashwood believes she’ll have money for construction. I doubt it.

Next up! The horse! How insipid could Marianne be that she wanted her family to starve so that she could have Willoughby’s horse? It irks me that she thinks only of herself and doesn’t think of the money that such large-size gifts would require to maintain. Yes, Marianne, how romantic a notion it would be to ride a horse that is “exactly calculated to carry a woman” (don’t get me started on the misogyny of that line), and starve yourself at the same time too!

I was impressed that Andrew Davies chose to include the conversation around the horse between Marianne and Elinor and Willoughby. Willoughby accidentally walks in and discovers just how poor they are, but doesn’t turn away from her, keeps on loving her. I think that is the only part in 2008 that raises his character in my estimation.

I don’t really like Willoughby at all. I feel so sorry for Colonel Brandon throughout the book and both adapts. Though I like Dominic Cooper, who plays Willoughby in 2008, I just can’t get into him. I don’t feel sorry for him at all.

I do admit that I am one of those people who will probably have seen the adapts before reading the book (exceptions: Twilight and HP).  Someone should do a study on what people get from adaptations versus from the books themselves.


Book: Sense and Sensibility

Author: Jane Austen

Section: Chapters 1-12

POV: 3rd-person limited