For Austen Month I read 7 books for a total of 2,164 pages and an average of 77 pages per day. In addition, I watched 8 movies! Somehow I forgot to watch Sense & Sensibility though – oops!
Minor Works by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
First Sentence: It was a source of constant disappointment to Catherine Morland that her life did not more closely resemble her books.
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James
First Sentence: Why I feel the sudden urge to relate, in pen and ink, a relationship of the most personal nature, which I have never before acknowledged, I cannot say.
Notable Quote: “We can always find a reason to put off that which we aspire to do, or fear to do, until tomorrow, next week, next month, next year – until, in the end, we never accomplish anything at all.”
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda George
First Sentence: Elizabeth Bennet’s wedding morning was one of soft mists and mellow sunshine.
Austenland by Shannon Hale
First Sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her.
Longbourn by Jo Baker
First Sentence: There could be no wearing of clothes without their laundering, just as surely as there could be no going without clothes, not in Hertfordshire anyway, and not in September.
Celebrating Pride and Prejudice by Susannah Fullerton
First Sentence: On 27 January 1813 a parcel was delivered to a cottage in a small Hampshire village.
Mini movie reviews:
Bride and Prejudice – this movie is just so much fun and one I’ve seen several times. I talked about it in my Nostalgia Watch post, and I’ll repeat that I’m not sure how accurate this is as a Bollywood film (because I think I’ve only seen one other and it was years ago) but it does capture the essence of the plot of Pride and Prejudice. It’s colorful, the songs are catchy and it’s got a good sense of humor (though the dialog is a bit lackluster).
Bridget Jones’s Diary – another movie I love to watch. Bridget is certainly more awkward and definitely less classy than Elizabeth, but she’s a modern heroine who just can’t seem to find love. It’s been an age since I read the book, so I can’t talk about the movie’s accuracy…accurately, but who cares because it’s funny and Colin Firth is hot.
Pride and Prejudice (2005) – this is a decent adaptation (though I seriously cannot stand Keira Knightley’s fish mouth) and McFayden makes a pretty good looking Darcy. I enjoy that he’s more shy and awkward than haughty and priggish. They also throw in a rain scene (though it does feel odd that she would run from the church, after learning about his breaking up Jane and Bingley, through the rain, and then he’d propose to her…). Also that bit where Lady Catherine comes to tell Lizzy she can’t marry Darcy in the middle of the night, is totally bizarre. Like she’d ruin a good night’s sleep for that!?
Pride and Prejudice (1995) – FINALLY I watched all six billion hours of this well-known mini-series. It’s certainly the most thorough adaptation of the book and includes all the characters (sometimes Kitty is left out) and I recognized a lot of the dialogue as having been pulled from the book. But oh my gourd, HOW BORING! I’m exceedingly puzzled by my reaction to this adaptation – it has Colin Firth (both in a bathtub and a lake, hell yeah), it’s long enough to thoroughly encompass all the important characters and scenes as well as the lesser ones, and the scene setting was lovely. And yet…and yet…SNORE. Somehow, though faithful, they killed the spark of the novel with this film and not even Firth’s smoldering gaze could induce to me sit through it again.
Lost in Austen – another re-watch for me, though it’s been a few years since I first watched this. I’d forgotten how awkwardly Amanda Spencer blunders through the plot of P&P, mucking up everything as she goes. But it’s lovably awkward and I imagine I wouldn’t do any better if I was suddenly thrust into that world. In fact, I would probably throw myself at Darcy and be rejected and forced to live as a servant in the Collins household or something. Also there’s a nice nod to the 1995 adaptation when Amanda makes Darcy get into the lake for a moment.
Emma – I assume this is a pretty faithful adaptation, as I’ve only read the novel once. It’s amusing, and the acting is decent, though, nothing special. Mr. Knightley is pretty cute…yeah…I don’t have much more to say about this.
Pride and Prejudice (1940) – this was new for me and so much fun to watch, despite it being incredibly different from any other straightforward adaptation. It opens with a carriage race, which puzzled me and also sets the scene with Wickham and Darcy meeting Elizabeth at the same ball (for brevity, I assume). The costuming is so whacky – it’s Gone with the Wind, not Regency era, and everyone’s bonnets are enormous. Lizzy and Darcy lack any real tension, or feelings of romance, Kitty and Lydia are borderline drunks and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet seem to have a pretty calm relationship. They really toned down the first proposal scene and the two reconciled with the help of Lady Catherine in an attempt to redeem her character. But Greer Garson made the loveliest Elizabeth I’ve ever seen and Laurence Olivier is probably the second handsomest Darcy in my book. The end was lackluster but their smooch was pretty decent considering it was the 40s!
Austenland – I only just watched this movie a few months ago, but the book was so much fun and it made me want to watch the movie again. Now that I can properly compare the two, I still think the movie does a decent job of capturing the book. Though I dislike that in the movie they made Jane a complete Austen/Darcy nut (seriously, her apartment is whack) rather than just someone who has rotten relationships and a mild longing for a Mr. Darcy type. I also prefer the ending of the book to the movie – though in essence they’re the same, I think it played out better in the book. But I did notice in the movie Colonel Andrews was reading Pride, Prejudice and Promiscuity on his break, and the guy who plays Mr. Wattlesbrook is also Mr. Hurst in the 1995 edition.