Posts Tagged ‘jane austen’

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