Category: Jane Austen

Friendship and Folly – A Review

I discovered the most delightful regency romance the other day on Amazon. Friendship and Folly by Meredith Allady, Book 1 of the Merriweather Chronicles.

Something that intrigued me from the first was the introduction, where the author explains how she found this manuscript in an old trunk of her grandmother’s, a trunk filled with old journals and manuscripts. She edited the most complete manuscript and has published it as “Friendship and Folly by Meredith Allady.” Whether Meredith Allady is her real name, her grandmother’s, or a pseudonym–or pun (Meredith, A Lady?) matters not. Friendship and Folly

What I discovered when I began reading it is a wonderful story told in what I found is an extremely authentic Regency-style, which I why I think it truly is a discovery from someone’s old trunk and not a well-researched historical. There are allusions to historical events and things only someone who lived in the era (and those of us who have done a lot of regency-era research ourselves) are privy to.

The Christian-spiritual thread through the novel is also in keeping with someone writing from that era, very much like Jane Austen. People pray and quote Scripture in a very natural way. It shows how Bible-illiterate our generation has become. The most moving scene happens during the crisis/climax and is very much a Christian lesson.

The story also has the wit of Jane Austen.

If you go on Amazon, though, the author warns those who don’t enjoy Jane Austen or an old-fashioned writing style to please stay away. On Goodreads.com, she tells readers: “For all those readers who loathe the ‘epistolary’ style of narrative, Meredith tenders her heartfelt apologies; but there it is.”

I for one was caught up from page one of this regency story and am glad to see that there is a Book 2 in the Merriweather Chronicles.

Originally posted 2014-07-15 14:30:01.

A Jane Austen Devotional

My husband and I were in a bookstore one day, where he was looking for a devotional. We were eyeing the shelves full of them in the Christian section when he spied a gem, A Jane Austen Devotional. “That’s the one,” he said. That’s why I love him, he’s an Austen devotee like me! Jane Austen devotional
This devotional compiled and written by Steffany Woolsey and published by Thomas Nelson is not divided by days but by subject matter. A listing includes: Being Generous, Christ’s Unconditional Love, Vanity’s Folly, Faithfulness, Unhealthy Friendships, etc..
Under each section, an excerpt from one of Jane Austen’s novels is included and then a commentary on the spiritual theme gleaned from her writing, since Jane Austen lived in a time when the Bible was the standard of moral authority in Great Britain. Any educated person such as Jane would be well-versed in Scripture, especially as the daughter of a rector in the Anglican church. Her writing reflects her Christian beliefs, even when she pokes fun at certain clergy (remember Mr. Collins?)
In A Jane Austen Devotional under the heading “Being Generous” for example, a segment from Sense and Sensibility is used in which Mr. Dashwood discusses with his wife how much he should give to his bereaved stepmother in order to fulfill his deathbed promise to his father to take care of her. Throughout their conversation he allows his wife to talk him out of giving her anything he originally had decided upon. The author uses this illustration of mean-spiritedness to contrast with Biblical teaching, citing Matthew 15:18 where Jesus talks about the things that defile a person—those that proceed from the heart. The teaching of Jesus regarding generosity is then shown using Mark 12:42-44 in which Jesus compares the poor widow who leaves two small copper coins in the offering box in the temple to a richer person who gives out of his abundance.

Jesus calls us to imitate the widow, who gave so generously out of her poverty. As Woolsey sums up in this segment, “When we choose this route, He [Christ] can begin to develop in us qualities such as generosity, kindness, and compassion.”

For anyone who appreciates Jane Austen’s irony and wit, this devotional is full of snippets of her scenes with a parallel from Scripture on each facing page. My husband and I have enjoyed every entry we’ve read.

 *  *  *

Ruth Axtell hasRuth Axtell (2) written several Regency romances. Her latest series is called London Encounters. Book 2, A Heart’s Rebellion, came out in March. The Rogue’s Redemption, set in both Regency London and frontier Maine, came out in December. She also writes novels set in Victorian England and late 19th century Maine.

Originally posted 2014-06-02 06:00:00.

The Long and Longer Versions of Pride and Prejudice and a Chance to Win

This week we’ve been looking at a few of the many film adaptations of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice. If you are in the mood to spend more than a couple of hours delving in to a cinematic version of this intricate story, I have two more versions for you to consider.

The 1995 Miniseries ~ About 5 Hours

Pride and Prejudice 1995Produced by the BBC in 1995, this adaptation had a great influence on my love for Jane Austen’s story. When I read Pride and Prejudice in high school, we watched the miniseries as we went, bringing life to characters I was already intrigued with. It also started a bit of a fascination with Colin Firth, but I’m not alone in that regard.

Of all the versions I’ve seen, this one stays closest to the actual book. The length alone allows them to go into considerably more detail than a regular length movie. They were able to include all of the characters, scenes, and conversations that other renditions had to leave out.

Colin Firth as DarcyOne of the strengths of this version is Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy. He doesn’t smile until the very last scene of the movie, but that doesn’t hinder the impression of his softening over the course of the movie.

Elizabeth says that she believes Darcy remains unchanged “in essentials”. I think that means he still maintains a severely proper demeanor and overall seriousness. Firth’s portrayal does that. At no point does he lose his composure or rigidity, yet you see him change just the same.

The Bennet SistersJennifer Ehle does a superb job of playing Elizabeth as well. Outwardly, she behaves in all the proper manners. She doesn’t throw off propriety as defined by her society, yet she still finds ways of displaying her displeasure with it through private conversations and pained facial expressions.

One drawback to this version is, of course, the length. You will have to set aside a solid afternoon to watch it if you intend to do it all in one sitting. Originally it aired as five hour-long episodes.

The rigidity and formality of it might make it hard for some people to immerse themselves fully into the movie as well. I also don’t know that Mr. Collins is portrayed correctly. Although I don’t know if any version truly gets Mr. Collins right.

But maybe that version isn’t for you. Maybe you love the story, but just can’t get into the ins and outs of a period piece. Then this next version may be for you…

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries ~ about 10 hours

You read that right. If you want to watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in entirety, it will take you at least ten hours. It also just won an Emmy for Interactive Media.

Poster of Lizzie Bennet DiariesThe Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or The LBD for short, is a modern adaptation of Austen’s story. It aired over the course of a year on YouTube. Lizzie Bennet was a vlogger, meaning she made a video blog. At times, other characters also made videos as well. Each episode ranges in length from three to seven minutes, but that really adds up when you consider at least two videos a week for a year.

The strength of The LBD lies in their determination to stay true to the elements of the story. Today, women don’t have to marry to have a future. It wouldn’t make sense for Charlotte to run off and marry Mr. Collins when no feelings exist there. So the offer of marriage was converted into a job offer. The intent of Austen’s story remains – Charlotte compromising and taking the practical route in order to insure her future – while still being relevant and believable in a modern setting.

Girls of Lizzie Bennet DiariesThe way that The LBD was set up will give you a different perspective on Pride and Prejudice. Because the videos, at first, are filmed in Lizzie’s bedroom, we see a lot more interaction between the female characters. Darcy doesn’t make an on screen appearance until episode 61. I know that after watching it, I view Lydia, Charlotte, and even Mr. Collins in a different way. They do make a few character adjustments. Mary is a cousin and Kitty is actually a cat, but the story essence remains.

You can follow the full LBD story from the website including the multiple You Tube channels and Twitter conversations.

Do you like the longer film versions or prefer the shorter versions that have to leave a bit out but maintain a more traditional movie length?

Comment on any post this week for your chance to win a DVD copy of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries. Winner will be announced Monday, September 2 and must have a US posting address. 

Originally posted 2013-08-30 10:00:00.

Film Editions of Pride and Prejudice: 2005 Version

Congratulations, Merry! You won last week’s prize. Check your email this week for details on selecting your book. 

Today and Wednesday we’re talking about film editions of Pride and Prejudice. I supposeP and P 2005 having a film (or motion picture) edition comes with being recognized as a classic book. Nearly every classic I can think of has a film adaptation somewhere. My favorite film version of Pride and Prejudice is hands down the 2005 adaptation starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden.

So why is the 2005 adaptation my favorite?

The artistic elements of the film put this one over the top for me. The beautiful music. The scene in the rain where Darcy first proposes to Elizabeth. The scene with Elizabeth swinging all by herself and that beautiful piano music in the background. The gorgeous scenery of Lizzie walking through a field reading a book while the sun shines behind her. Those are all things that give this film an extra layer of life. Is the Hollywood adaptation the same as what I’d imagined in my own mind when first reading Pride and Prejudice? Probably not, but it created a rich and complex images and emotions that related easily to my senses.

P swing

Then there’s the music. Oh the music! It’s my favorite movie soundtrack EVER. I own the CD. I own the advanced piano book. I played one of the pieces for my cousin’s wedding three years ago. And even while writing this blog post, I had to go dig out the book and spend a half hour replaying some of my favorite pieces (like “Dawn” and “Georgianna”). I’ve sat through weddings where the prelude and postlude music was all P&P 2005. If you’re interested in some of the facts about the soundtrack, it was written by the Italian composer Dario Marianelli in a classical style modeled after Beethoven’s early piano sonatas. The movie soundtrack is preformed by the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the English Chamber Orchestra.

What’s different about the 2005 version compared to other adaptations?

In 1995, BBC produced a television version of P&P (one which many enthusiasts love and adore). The BBC version has a longer run time and follows the plot of the book more strictly. The 2005 motion picture focuses mainly on Elizabeth and Darcy, taking out a lot of the scenes revolving around other characters (like some of Elizabeth’s travels with minor characters and Lydia’s elopement). The 2005 version runs just over two hours, while the longer BBC 1995 version follows the subplots of the book more carefully and runs significantly longer.

Another large difference between the novel and the 2005 film is the setting. The script writer and the director shifted the movie forward by about 20 years, setting it during the 1790s. The director wanted the 2005 version to differ visually from the 1995 version (and apparently he also had a rather large distaste for empire waist gowns). In moving the setting earlier, he was also able to create a bigger distinction between the wealthy and the poor with clothing and the appearance of Longbourn as a working farm.

The more romantic 2005 portrayal of Elizabeth and Darcy’s story still remains bit controversial among Austen enthusiasts. Many Austen lovers prefer the 1995 BBC adaptation because it is indeed more true to the original novel. The 2005 version received rather harsh criticism for the final scene, which portrays Elizabeth and Darcy at Pemberly after they are married, but has little to do with Jane Austen’s original novel. The ending was removed in the UK version of the film for a few months before being put back in.

P kiss

I much prefer the 2005 version over the 1995. I feel that the 2005 version has a lot of romantic and emotional appeal (which I love both in novels and films). I feel that it does a good job of capturing the attention of a more modern audience while still portraying all the important themes of Pride and Prejudice that have made it such a distinguished and time honored novel.

And just in case you were wondering, my favorite scene is the first time Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, with all that rain coming down and the near tears in Elizabeth’s eyes. My favorite musical score is the theme “Dawn,” but I prefer it with just the piano rather than the full orchestra.

So what about you? Which film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice do you prefer? Do you have a favorite musical score or scene from either of the adaptations? Please share it in the comments below.

Photo credits: The 2005 motion picture version of Pride and Prejudice was produced by Working Title Films. It is believed low resolution screenshots used for the purpose of discussing a film and its contents fall under the fair use provision of the U.S. copyright law.

Comment on any post this week for your chance to win a DVD copy of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries. Winner will be announced Monday, September 2 and must have a US posting address. 

Originally posted 2013-08-26 10:00:06.

Jane Austen Para-literature – Sequels, Retellings, and More by Susan Karsten

Researching this subject taught me a new term and concept: Jane Austen para-literature. Oh my. This is a huge topic. I am only able to skirt around it, since to cover this topic completely would take years. The incredible array of sequels and retellings of the Austen ouvre is astounding. I, dear reader am a veritable babe in the woods when it comes to such reading opportunities. I have read a few spin-offs, no sequels, and no retellings of Jane Austen’s novels.

Is there a name for the phenomenon of the fact that a movie is never/rarely anywhere near as good as the book? Extrapolating that thought further tells me there could never be a sequel book as good as the original Pride and Prejudice.

Creative or knowledgeable people: Please come up with a name for the above phenomenon. Mention it in the comments.

Inveterate Austen sequel/prequel readers: Have you read any great ones? If so, please leave the titles in the comments.

READ ON! Much good information coming your way in this post.

Please check out these websites for listings of sequels: http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/austseql.html

http://webdoc.sub.gwdg.de/edoc/ia/eese/breuer/biblio.html

{The second site lists them alphabetically, but also has a listing of them in chronological order, so you could skip down to the more recent ones.}

There’s also a list on Goodreads of the popular ones: http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/jane-austen-sequels

And another on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Jane-Austen-Sequels-Miscellany/lm/R1SHWQ7HPAS300

From the first link listed above, Ted Adams has a wonderful, comprehensive article slicing and dicing the terminology of Austen para-literature. I have used material from this article below. He said it so well.

“The adaptations, completions, sequels, pastiches and other attempts to tap into the Jane Austen industry … devolve from a most noble sentiment: We have read the six published novels and we want more. We want more and different insights into both the novels and into the type of person that Jane Austen was.

Adaptations are transformations into another medium, e.g., stage, screen and television.

Completions are the finishing off of a novel fragment. Jane Austen’s two fragments, The Watsons and Sanditon have been attempted a number of times.

Sequels are a continuation of the action. To my knowledge, nobody has written a “prequel”, which would be a description of what occurred before the action started.

Pastiches are work written in the style of Jane Austen. Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor is a pastiche. Its premise is that it is a notebook that Jane Austen kept concerning events during a period for which we do not have documentation.

Certainly no Jane Austen pastiche will ever be as good as the original, but that is to be expected. Mind you, when the standard is one of the best writers in the English language, to fall short of the mark is no disgrace. To write with wit, economy, great insight and develop complex and interesting characters is no mean feat. After all, we read Jane Austen with great pleasure 200 years later because she compares well not only with her contemporaries but also with ours and everybody who has come in between.

Personally, I enjoy pastiches for much the same reason that I sometimes enjoy Jane Austen criticism. Even when a pastiche fails or fall short, it can be interesting to try understand how or why it comes up short. And in the meantime, I’ve read a story that really has no requirement to be taken seriously.

The questions I would ask of a pastiche are the same that I ask of criticism: Is the work interesting/entertaining in its own right? How faithful it to spirit of Jane Austen’s novels? Does it provide insights into the work in question and/or the character of Jane Austen? ”

So, dear Austen-loving friends, I highly recommend reading the full text of the Ted Adams article — not the least for the titles of para-Austen books he considers excellent! Thanks for visiting Regency Reflections.

Remember to comment on the questions: What to call the phenomenon when the movie or sequel is never as good as the original AND Give the titles of any Austen para-literature books you’ve read that you think were pretty good.

Susan Karsten

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win. 

Originally posted 2013-08-23 10:00:00.

The Living Legacy of Jane Austen and a Chance to Win

As an author, you never know when a certain book or series will connect with readers in a way that spreads like wildfire. Most authors dream of that breakout book that manages to reach the masses. Few even dare consider the thought that they might leave a legacy behind that would span centuries.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

Jane Austen is such an author. With only a handful of completed novels which, at the time, were contemporary romances, Austen wouldn’t be an obvious choice to be impacting the world two hundred years after her most popular novel was published. Yet her works continue to inspire and captivate to this day.

Austen’s legacy can be seen in everything from research books to pop culture to national heritage.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Jane would grace the ten pound note, an extraordinary feat for an author, not to mention a woman. A 12-foot statue of Mr. Darcy was installed in the Serpentine, depicting the iconic “wet shirt” scene from the 1995 BBC adaptation.

There was even a UK Government injunction against the exportation of one of Jane’s rings, sold at auction to US singer Kelly Clarkson last year. In an effort to keep Austen artifacts in the country, they are trying to raise enough money to purchase the ring back from Clarkson.

Jane Austen Knits
A book of knitting pattern inspired by Jane Austen.

But it is not just Austen memorabilia that captivates people today. There are Jane Austen Societies all over the world. People continue to gather for discussion and immersion into Austen’s world. This obsession people have with Jane Austen and particularly Pride and Prejudice, can be seen in the new movie Austenland as well as the 2008 miniseries Lost in Austen (which also commemorates the memorable wet shirt scene in a moment I found so hilarious and unexpected I actually fell off the couch laughing).

People love Jane Austen and what she represents. The world created by her stories sparked the imagination of authors such as Georgette Heyer, who we looked at Monday, as well as, directly or indirectly, a slew of Regency-era authors today.

Even research books bear witness to Austen’s influence. One of my frequently accessed research books in entitled All Things Austen. Since her books were contemporary to the time period, many look to her novels to see how life might have happened and what things may or may not have occurred.

Many writers have used Austen as inspiration. Friday we look at the multitude of spin-offs and sequels written by fans of Jane Austen’s stories. People so caught up in the world she built that they couldn’t bear for those characters to end there.

Do you see impacts of Jane Austen today? What’s your favorite “Austen sighting”?

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win. 

 

Originally posted 2013-08-21 10:00:00.

Georgette Heyer, an Austen Successor, and Another Chance to Win

Congratulations, Susan Heim, on winning the beautiful hardback copy of Pride and Prejudice. Check your email for details on claiming your prize. See the end of this post by Laurie Alice Eakes for another chance to win a fabulous prize. 

Although I have been devoted to the Regency era since the age of fourteen, I never read a book by Jane Austen, nor did I see one of the movie adaptations, for another twenty years. I haven’t even read all of Miss Austen’s books. Instead of this celebrated lady of letters, my attraction to the Regency came through an intermediate step—Georgette Heyer.

Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer

For years, I tried to get a copy of A Private Life, a biography of Miss Heyer written by another one of my favorite Regency authors, Jane Aiken Hodge. That tome was never available, so I was thrilled when a new biography by Jennifer Kloester was published. Since I’ve been reading it off and on for the past few weeks (it’s a lengthy book), I thought reviewing it in the month we are celebrating Jane Austen wholly appropriate. My Regency sisters have indulged me, since I am far more fond of Heyer than Austen, as blasphemous as that may be.

Kloester executed a tremendous amount of research for this biography. She must have read a few thousand letters and delved into numerous dusty storage rooms for original documents. The details included are more intriguing—and more edifying—than five minutes of TMZ. This is the book’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. The details about her publishing life, her personality, her friendships and animosities are like juicy gossip, especially to a writer or lover of her books. On the other hand, after a while, as many details as we receive go a little too far. I don’t need endless pages—fortunately scattered—regarding the Rougier (her married name) financial difficulties and mismanagement. Nor do I need the author’s speculation about the couple’s sex life.

KloesterBook_HeyerMore important are the details about her ups and downs as a published author. More ups than downs from most writer’s perspective. She sold her first book when she was nineteen. One of her detective novels was banned by the Irish government as being obscene (it’s not) until the 1960s. And although it rather makes me sad, I like the details about her personal habits such as how she smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of her life. It just doesn’t fit my image of this educated and talented Englishwoman born right after the turn of the 19th century. The ways in which she stayed awake when on deadline make me cringe as much as did some of her business decisions.

A business woman she was not unless one counts that she wrote romances, most set in the Regency, for the money, when her heart lay in long historical novels. She did manage to write these, but other than An Infamous Army, these were not the most successful of her books. Readers ate up her Regency and Georgian romances. They also loved her detective novels. To learn that two of her favorite authors were Jane Austen and Raymond Chandler did not at all surprise me.

That others ripped her off didn’t surprise me either. She exchanged letters with publishers and attorneys regarding how closely Barbara Cartland’s books followed Heyer’s, and wasn’t afraid to say the woman needed to do her own research. Cartland wasn’t the only writer who decided to use Miss Heyer’s original research instead of seeking it out for themselves.

Often I have heard that Miss Heyer made up slang terms and even that she inserted false facts to throw off these pretenders to know the time period and write in the same genre Heyer rather developed herself. After reading the biography, I no longer believe these claims to be true. She possessed too much professional integrity to do so.

HeyerBooks

Although Miss Austen wrote during the Regency era that has become a subgenre of romance fiction, the subgenre itself, for which we and dozens of other authors keep blogs,  owes its popularity and stronghold to Georgette Heyer.

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win. 

Originally posted 2013-08-19 10:00:00.

The Women of Pride and Prejudice and A Chance to Win

Wednesday, Mary looked at the interactions and connections of the men of Pride and Prejudice. Today we look at the women.

If I were to write a post containing a detailed analysis of all the women in Pride and Prejudice, it would be long enough to have us all still reading it on Monday. Jane Austen built a wonderful world of women in a story that centered around the relationship between a man and a woman. Here is a look at some of the main ones and how they molded Elizabeth Bennet’s character.

The Mother

Ah, Mrs. Bennet, the woman so comically ridiculous and so blindingly obsessed that we can’t help but feel sorry for her family. As a modern reader, it’s difficult to imagine a life where getting your daughters married off is of utmost importance, but that is the existence Mrs. Bennet lives daily.

A mother seeks to make life better for their children. To care for them, prepare them for the future, raise them to care for themselves and their own families. Is the Bennet sisters did not marry, their futures were debatable indeed.

There are many times where we see glimmers of this worry from Mrs. Bennet. One could argue that she goes about her mission in a nonsensical manner, causing her daughters to react to her single-mindedness in various ways, but at the end of the day it cannot be doubted that Mrs. Bennet loved her daughters and wanted the absolute best life possible for them.

Lizzie reacts to her mother’s machinations with disbelief that is sometimes quiet and other times not. She maintains a level of outward respect for her mother that is admirable considering how preposterous she finds Mrs. Bennet’s attitudes and actions.

The Sisters

Elizabeth is the second of five sisters. It is easy to see how that family structure affected Lizzie’s thoughts, demeanor, and behavior.

Her older sister, Jane, is her best friend and her idol. Without being able to truly look up to her mother, Lizzie instead admires the sweet and quiet Jane. At first Jane appears to be a bit weak. Her quiet nature and desire to see good in everyone could be seen as fragile, but as she deals with the family scandals and the departure of Bingley, the reader sees a strength beneath the gentleness.

Mary and Kitty always seemed a bit lost to me, as if they were still searching for their place in the family. It is pure speculation on my part, but I always thought Mary’s bookish seriousness might have been an attempt to gain the attentions of her father, similar to how Lizzie had done naturally. Kitty, in turn, tried to relate to her mother the way the youngest did. Neither seemed very successful, leaving them a bit on the fringes. Kitty is rarely seen doing anything without Lydia and Mary’s social awkwardness is almost painful to read.

Last, but certainly not least in Elizabeth’s life, is Lydia. As the youngest, Lydia has likely been coddled from the day she was born. She has also absorbed their mother’s obsession with men and marriage. Lizzie sees Lydia as little more than a silly flirt and can be seen indulging her sister much like she indulges her mother – with little true respect, but also little outward censure. I think this is part of why Lydia feels that everything will turn out well when she is in London with Wickham. She had never known anything else.

The Friend

Charlotte Lucas is part of Lizzie’s life from the early stages of the book. I believe Charlotte is in place to be the voice of practical society. She views marriage as a necessity for a woman to secure her future. Love is not of great importance to her.

This is a stark contrast to Lizzie’s determination that only the deepest of loves would induce her to matrimony. We need this contrast and this voice of practicality in order to see just how different Lizzie is. Contemporary readers of Jane Austen’s novel were likely to see life through eyes more similar to Charlotte’s than to Lizzie’s.

Yet Charlotte’s closeness to Lizzie and her practical viewpoints are part of what allows Elizabeth to see things differently as well. When visiting her married friend at Rosings, Lizzie begins to see the benefits Charlotte found in making such an arrangement, even if she could never stomach it herself.

The Enemies

What would a great book be without a great villain? And if ever there were two women readers loved to hate, they would be Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

By the time Caroline comes on the scene, we have already attached ourselves to Lizzie. Caroline’s dismissal and beratement of our heroine makes us want to see her fall. While she never truly receives an on page comeuppance, its almost more fun for the reader to imagine her dealing with the family dinners and parties once Jane and Lizzie marry Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy.

As for Lady Catherine, we almost wouldn’t have a story without her. The link she creates between Elizabeth, Mr. Collins, and Mr. Darcy as well as the results of her presumptive call on Elizabeth towards the end of the book, serve to move the story along in ways that it could not do otherwise. She is not a woman to be overlooked, however, and demands the reader’s attention, even when we would rather focus on Lizzie and what she is doing. It makes it all the sweeter when Lizzie gives her the cut direct and walks away from her.

The Others

Other women play significant roles in the story as well, like Georgiana Darcy and Elizabeth’s Aunt Gardiner. Georgiana plays a distinct role in breaking down Elizabeth’s bad impression of the young lady’s stoic older brother. Any man who loves and cares for a younger sister like that cannot be as cold as Elizabeth’s first impressions made him out to be.

Aunt Gardiner is somewhere between friend and mother figure to Lizzie. They take in Jane and Lizzie at separate points in the book, leading the reader to believe that Mrs. Gardiner has tried to step in and alleviate some of the exuberance of Mrs. Bennet.

What do you think of the female dynamic in Pride and Prejudice? Austen’s amazing ability to craft characters that fit nearly every type of woman and mold them together in a single story is one of the things that makes this book so enjoyable.

Public Domain Image

This week we’re giving away a lovely copy of Pride and Prejudice. The book is hard cover with a ribbon book mark. The pages are rough cut to simulate the cut edges an original print would have had after binding. All comments on this week’s posts will be entered in the drawing. Must have a United States mailing address in order to win. Winner will be announced August 19, 2013.

Originally posted 2013-08-16 10:00:00.

The Men of Pride & Prejudice and A Chance to Win

In my ruminations on the male characters in Pride & Prejudice, I first decided I might discuss them from the least important (in my eyes) to the most important, Mr. Darcy, of course. Or perhaps, I would discuss them from Mr. Darcy to each lesser character. A third option might compare the men from Lizzy’s sphere with the men associated with…Mr. Darcy.

Do you begin to see my dilemma? Jane Austen wrote a book about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy and amazingly ties each male character to the leading man in an intricate way while creating, at the same time, very individualized, stand-alone men in their own right.

So it seems I must discuss each character’s wonderful foibles and personalities (in no particular order) and how they re-make Mr. Darcy into who he becomes, the hero in one of the greatest love stories ever written (opinion mine).

Mr. Bennet

Let us first examine Mr. Bennet. Considered a gentleman, he allows his children, especially Elizabeth, to be who they want to be not who they should be. Lizzy, with her love of books and wonderful sense of the ridiculous, becomes his obvious favorite as the one most like him. And he plays a significant part in Darcy’s preference for Elizabeth.

In describing the really “accomplished” women of the day, Darcy adds, “…and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.” Darcy is already interested in that quality in Elizabeth, one fostered by Mr. Bennett.

She and her father also have their share of fun at Mr. Darcy’s expense until Mr. Bennett discovers what he believed about Darcy to be untrue. Darcy’s intervention in the case of Lydia and Wickham was the eye-opener and he was finally pleased to say to Elizabeth, “I could not have parted with you, my Lizzy, to any one less worthy.” Mr. Darcy began the process of putting himself out for others out of his love for Elizabeth.

Mr. Bingley

Next is the sweet, loveable Mr. Bingley.

I wished to start out with him because he establishes the connection with the Bennetts that allow us to be introduced to Mr. Darcy’s harsher side. We cannot learn of it any other way because the evil of Mr. Wickham cannot begin this early in the story.

But it is through this amiable relationship that we also see a wonderful change in Mr. Darcy. He convinces Mr. Bingley that Jane Bennett does not care for him, but we know it is her low birth that Darcy disdains. He will stick to his story even in the writing of his letter to Elizabeth at Rosings, “…I shall not scruple to assert that the serenity of your sister’s countenance . . . gave me the conviction that . . . her heart was not likely to be easily touched.”

He becomes forced to rethink his actions and in the end must apologize to his adoring friend. The character development of Mr. Darcy through Mr. Bingley is wonderful, compliments of Jane Austen!

Mr. Collins

Shall we move on to Mr. Collins? Who but Ms. Austen could create such a character?

He is a buffoon, a name dropper, a sniveling little man (no matter which actor of choice portrayed him) with a self-righteous piety that lasts only until his benefactress is conjured up by himself or another.

We start out believing Jane created him solely for our enjoy enjoyment, comic relief if you will. But his connection to Darcy is ingeniously interwoven through Lizzy’s best friend, married to Mr. Collins, at Rosings where Darcy has easy access. Elizabeth needed the connection of Mr. Collins at Rosings to allow us to see Darcy in a different light. Well done, Jane!

Mr. Wickham

Ah! The infamous Mr. Wickham… When he appears, we are pulled into his ruse and we can now abhor Mr. Darcy as Elizabeth does. And Ms. Austen adds the twist that Lizzy may have found her match and we sit on the edge of our seats to see.

But Wickham is nothing without his connection to Mr. Darcy. We had to see Darcy’s egotism and snobbery before we could believe the terrible accusations. And it is Wickham’s character development into total degradation with Lydia that allows us to begin to see Darcy in a new light.

New characteristics he declares are only for Elizabeth’s sake, but allow us to begin a love affair with him after chapters and chapters of disliking him heartily.

I’ll declare that Jane Austen never got a note from her editor that her manuscript needed more conflict! She is the queen of conflict in P & P.

Mr. Darcy

We shall end with our hero, Mr. Darcy. I sometimes think technology has ruined literature more than enhanced it. I have opinions on each of the actors who have portrayed this hero but I must be sure to base my thoughts on Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy and not an actor.

Mr  Darcy - all five for Regency Reflections small
Picture courtesy of Jane Austen World Magazine

So when I sit down with the book, all faces disappear and I read and re-read the story always culminating with the picture perfect hero (my own imagination inspires the way he looks) in an amazing love story.

The changes that occur through the pages are all linked to the other male characters enough that we see Mr. Darcy become a new man, not only for the love of Elizabeth, but because he has seen his own shortcomings through the men with whom he interacts.

I look forward to hearing other readers’ perspectives on their favorite characters. I fancy there are as many opinions out there as there are readers!
pandPbookThis week we’re giving away a lovely copy of Pride and Prejudice. The book is hard cover with a ribbon book mark. The pages are rough cut to simulate the cut edges an original print would have had after binding. All comments on this week’s posts will be entered in the drawing. Must have a United States mailing address in order to win. Winner will be announced August 19, 2013.

Originally posted 2013-08-14 10:00:00.

The Publishing of Pride and Prejudice and a Chance to Win

The below article contains information and excerpts pulled from Kathryn Kane’s article on the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice from her blog, The Regency Redingote.

Wendnesday, Laurie Alice shared about Jane’s long and laborious road to publishing and her subsequent career. Today we look at the publishing of Pride and Prejudice.

Original title page of Pride and PrejudiceOriginally titled First Impressions, the story of Elizabeth, Darcy, and their families and friends was originally written as a collection of letters. This epistolary style of novel was familiar to Jane as she had already written one as a teenager and one of her favorite authors wrote in that style as well. Obviously, she adjusted the format as well as the title prior to publication.

Pride and Prejudice was Austen’s second novel and it was instantly popular. The first print run of 1500 copies sold out even before the first run of Sense and Sensibility, which was half the size. Demand was so high that in October of 1813, her publisher, Thomas Egerton, released a second print run of Pride and Prejudice. A third printing was done shortly after her death.

Despite the popularity of the novel, Jane made only £110. Far less than the more than £450 her publisher made. Due to the slow sales of Sense and Sensibility at the time, she sold the rights to Pride and Prejudice for a lump sum.

Even though Pride and Prejudice was well loved by the public, Jane felt a little differently. Shortly after Pride and Prejudice was published, Jane wrote to her sister, Cassandra:

Upon the whole … I am well satisfied enough. The work is rather too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants shade; it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long chapter of sense, if it could be had; if not, of solemn specious nonsense, about something unconnected with the story:   an essay on writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or the history of Buonaparté, or anything that would form a contrast and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and general epigrammatism of the general style.

It may very well be the fact that it was ” … light, and bright, and sparkling … ” which made it so popular.

In 1813, England was involved in wars on two fronts, for both the Peninsular War and the War of 1812 were ongoing. People were weary of war and the privations which it brought. Pride and Prejudice gave them an amusing respite in the peaceful and traditional English countryside, which many valued highly as the epitome of the English way of life. A countryside and way of life which many realized was already under threat from the relentless progress of the Industrial Revolution.

Jane’s fictional village of Meryton was populated by a host of amusing characters involved in the activities of everyday life and her witty tale included a pair of love stories that ended happily ever after.

To read more about the writing and publication of Pride and Prejudice, see Kathryn Kane’s original article 

notecardsThis week we’re giving away a lovely set of Jane Austen notecards. For a chance to win, please leave a comment on any of the posts this week. winner will be drawn Monday, August 12. Winner must have a mailing address within the United States.

Originally posted 2013-08-09 10:00:00.