Miss Marple and Jane Austen: You Can See Human Nature From Anywhere in a Small Village

So today marks the birthday of a very important writer:

I first was introduced to Agatha Christie when my nana noticed me reading Sherlock Holmes. As she was a lover of mysteries herself, she gave me a few Agatha Christie novels and then that was it, I was an utter fangirl.

Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors. She revolutionized the way mysteries are written, and created a wonderful collection of characters. Not only are her plots amazing, but I like how she presents all the information to you that she gives her detective characters, putting the two of you on equal footing, although, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot tend to always be smarter.

This year I have been honoring her and her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, turning 100-by reviewing a mystery every month. But as I was rereading The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems and it got me thinking about some similarities to Jane Austen.

What??

I know you are probably confused, but hear me out.

Mystery, you say?

So one of Agatha Christie’s detectives is Miss Marple. Miss Marple is an elderly spinster aunt, always watching and observing. People overlook her because of her age, her inexperience (she has lived in a small village), but she is extremely intelligent and has amazing powers of deductions.

When asked how she knows and can figure these things out, she always remarks it is because of her village life. She shares that being in the village she has learned a lot about human nature, and as people are alike all over there is always someone from “back home” that reminds her of others and the clue that reveals the ending-the solution.

In a lot of her books, not just Miss Marple, we see how the characters, their motives, their reasons for why they do what they do are relatable-often many characters you find yourself sympathetic. Agatha Christie knew how to write people so that you connect to them.

Reading that made me think of Jane Austen immediately. Here is a woman who spent a majority of her life in a small village, but yet with what most people would say are limited experiences and a lack of human knowledge-she was still able to write characters that are relatable to people all over the world, 200 years later.

I mean that is one thing I love about her books, how the stories and characters transcend Regency England so that the motifs, personalities, and points raised in her books are still relevant today. Who hasn’t meet a social climber like Caroline Bingley? A schemer like Lucy Steele?  Manipulators like Isabella and John Thorpe? Had a regret like Anne Elliot? Met a flirt like Henry Crawford? Known a person who wanted so badly to have a friend they did whatever someone asked of them like Harriet Smith? Haven’t we all been accused of being an ice queen like Elinor Dashwood? Let our heart rule our actions like Marianne Dashwood? Misjudged someone and actively disliked a person when they insulted you like Elizabeth Bennet? Had to make a choice whether to stick to what we believe in, even if it meant losing something you hold dear like Fanny Price? Disliked someone because they were better than you at some things like Emma Woodhouse? Let our imagination run away with us like Catherine Morland? Lost someone we love like Anne Elliot?

I mean it is just so easy to connect to her work.

If you haven’t read Agatha Christie, I definitely recommend checking her works out, and of course:

For more Agatha Christie, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

For more Jane Austen, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more comparison posts, go to You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

For more mysteries, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

Desire & Decorum: Chapter 11, The Clock Runs Out Part III

 

So as you can see in the title, I didn’t get to finish this chapter. This has been an expensive chapter.

Creators of Choices

It has been two months, so quick recap.

From the beginning.

First of all, this chapter starts off with a warning:

This chapter contains scenes of implied sexual violence that may be upsetting to some players. Discretion is advised.

What does that mean? This sounds bad…

Hmmm…

In the last part, I found out that my father is dying, and instead of keeping it from my arch-enemy, my stepbrother Mr. Marcastle, I told him. He has been trying to destroy me, but it is his father too. Family, right?

While I am commiserating, my maid Briar gives me a stack of love letters. Of course I want to read them-maybe something sweet about my parents or even useful information that can help me is in them?

I discovered that my grandfather is the one that tore my parents apart. Shortly after my stepbrother’s fiance warns me that I need to hurry home as my stepbrother and stepmother are plotting against me. As I was about to leave, I ran into the Duke Richards who is not interested in me saying no to him, he threatens me and now I have the option to strike back. You know what I am going to do.

I verbally filet him and make it clear-I’m not interested in him at all!

Unfortunately, being told no, just set the Duke “afire”. He then tries to attack me, but I evade him and kick him in the balls.

ninjaAustenlandfightkickpunch

As he writhes in pain he continues to insult me, and laughs at my interest in Mr. Sinclaire and calling him a gentleman. For those of you who may have forgotten, Mr. Sinclaire is a gentleman who was very good friends with my father, gives off the Mr. Darcy vibes, and one of your possible love interests (the one I’m leaning toward). I mean how can I not-he’s so Mr. Darcy.

That was defintely worth the diamonds I spent.

But its not over, unfortunately-the Duke gets up and grabs me, he’s not letting me go easily. In fact, I’m sure he has very unsavory plans for me. I’m surprised though, I know I’m lower than him, but I am an Earl’s daughter, not just a maid or serving girl. I mean, there would be repercussions. But before anything could happen who should come marching in?

Yay! Aw yeah, Mr. Sinclaire, and with a sword!

The Duke tries to shrug off Mr. Sinclaire but Mr. Sinclaire knows him too well and takes a firm stand, edging his sword closer to the Duke. Yeah, show him!

Th Duke gets scared off…for now. But we will worry about him later, I have a dying dad and a handsome hero. I was sure relived when he came and he admits he was too, and that he has feelings for me.

But why is he here? Mr. Sinclaire saw the Duke coming over and found that his feet were bringing him my way. Aw! He wanted to make sure I was safe as he knows something about the Duke and doesn’t trust him. But what is the secret?!

Tell ME!!!!!

He admits he can’t stop thinking of me and that he doesn’t know what he would do without me. I know I should be worried that my father is dying, but I can’t help feeling a bit mission accomplished. I mean this is the guy I want and I need to get engaged to ensure I inherit everything, right? Wait-I shouldn’t be like Marianne Dashwood, I need to be like Elinor and temper myself. He may not propose and my grandma still wants me to get with the Duke.

It turns out that Mr. Sinclaire has decided that it is time he stops keeping things hidden. Ohhh! Story time! So who do you think he will be more like? Mr. Darcy?

Colonel Brandon?

Maxim de Winter from Rebecca?

It turns out that Mr. Sinclaire’s wife betrayed him with the Duke and they were lovers!

Mr. Sinclaire offers to share his story and I’m like yes please! I want to get to know Mr. Sinclaire more and get the dirt on the Duke, I might need it to make sure my grandma doesn’t set me up with him.

I didn’t have enough diamonds so I said forget it and ended up buying some as I just had to know!

Tell ME!!!!!

So Mr. Sinclaire was married before and his wife passed away five years ago. They used to be very close to Duke Richards, Mr. Sinclaire would even invite him over for an annual London dinner and other events.

Six years ago they were having a dinner party-the Duke was there as always, and Mr. Sinclaire’s wife Roselyn (which you will recognize from the book Bloodbound) everything seemed well and normal BUT, that night Mrs. Sinclaire disappeared from her hostess duties, and Mr. Sinclair went looking for her and found her and the Duke together.

The Duke didn’t even care that he was caught! What a jerk!! He reminds of that jerk in Poldark, Monk Adderley-thank goodness Ross killed him (in a duel).

Poor Mr. Sinclaire-he describes it as a dagger in his heart. Ohh-such a romantic hero! I LOVE it. Pixelberry can write some characters so well.

Mr. Sinclaire found out that not only was Roslyn cheating on him, but she never loved him-she just married him for his money.

And that’s not all…

Mr. Sinclaire turned her out, but she became pregnant with the Duke’s child and he ended up taking her in after the Duke refuse to help her. Both she and the child died in childbirth. Ouch, that was really sad-like more than I was expecting.

I wonder of he still loved her, but when I ask-he says he no longer does as someone else has made his heart open again…

No winder Sinclaire hates the Duke. I thoroughly hate him too.

But aw, Mr. Sinclaire admitted he loves me. I should be happy, but playing these books have led me to see that something bad is going to happen.

This tender moment has been sweet, but my father is ill and I need to get back to see him before he passes on. Mr. Sinclaire escorts me to the stables and offers to come with me but I turn him down. Why? I don’t know as most women would not travel alone. What if I was taken upon by gypsies? Thieves? Murderers? Rapists? The Duke?

Such a man!

Mr. Marcastle took the carriage but I might be able to beat him on horseback-good thing I bought my own horse back in Chapter 5.

Luke Harper is coming with me, okay good that makes sense. The two of start off for my father when the chapter ends.  Will we make it on time?

So that chapter is finally finished, man I couldn’t believe it took so long. It was an expensive chapter, but for once I feel like it was worth every diamond. Until the next chapter…

For more Desire and Decorum, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 11, The Clock Runs Out Part II

For more on Choices, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 11, The Clock Runs Out Part I

Brown Sugar and Cream Cheese Scones

So last weekend I had a tea party with my friend and sister.

I wanted to share this amazing Golden Tip Lapsang Souchong tea from Crafted Leaf Teas. I got us chocolate biscuits, made Cucumber and Chicken Salad sandwiches, and for dessert the Triple Berry Salad

And then it came time for the scones. The previous recipes were ones I had made before, but for the scones I wanted to try something new. My friend had bought me a subscription to a tea magazine for my birthday, the first magazine being on Teatime Celebrations, and I thought I would try one of its recipes. You know me and holidays!

So I was flipping through the magazine and I had a hard time choosing between Brown Sugar and Cream Cheese Scones from Mardi Gras teatime and Cranberry Spice Scones with Maple Cream from Autumnal Harvest Tea. I eventually decided on Brown Sugar and Cream Cheese Scones with plans to make the cranberry ones at a later date.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of All-Purpose Flours
  • 1/3 Cup of Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Cup of Cold Salted Butter, Cubed
  • 3 Ounces Cream Cheese, Cubed
  • 3/4 Cup plus two tablespoons of cold Heavy Whipping Cream, divided
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • Garnish: Turbinado Sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl: whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut in cold butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Add cream cheese, stirring to combine, but leave in cubes.
  6. In a small bowl, stir together 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of cold cream and vanilla extract.
  7. Add the mixture into the flour mix, until it is evenly moist. (If dough seems dry, add more cream-1 tablespoon at a time).
  8. Working gently, bring the mixture together with hands until a dough forms.
  9. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 4 to 5 times.
  10. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to be 3/4 inch thick.
  11. Using a 2 1/4 inch fluted round cutter, cut 12 scones from the dough.
  12. Place the scones 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
  13. Brush scones with remaining cream.
  14. Garnish tops with turbinado sugar.
  15. Bake until edges are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 mins.
  16. Serve warm.

I also made some mock clotted cream to go with them:

So first of all, I completely recognize that I rolled these out too thin. I wasn’t paying attention to how thick they should be and then just got carried away. They don’t really rise so it is important to make sure  they are the right level of thickness.

These scones weren’t horrible but they turned out a bit plain. They definitely are in need of clotted cream, honey, jam, etc., something to give them a little more umph. But not bad-I would definitely make these again if I wanted to showcase a nice jam or something. They definitely do not overpower the tea or the meal. My sister put the cream on the scone and topped it with berries from the Triple Berry Salad and that came out really good.

For more scones, go to Scottish Oat Scones

For more recipes, go to Super Easy Classic Deviled Eggs

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

I was reorganizing the library’s young adult graphic novels and came across this book. It has a gothic and spooky old house, a secret society, a mysteriously hidden treasure, and teens being trained to be a part of a thieving ring.

Of course it sounded right up my alley.

And not just perfect for me, but for someone else…Catherine Morland. Yep, another book for Catherine Morland’s Reading List.

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, (and I still do), I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

We start off with Katherine “K” Westree dressed in all black with a mask, running at night from a wild boar.

We then go back three weeks earlier…K is a orphan who was placed in an orphanage run by a woman called Mother Claude, who was using the orphanage to create a ring of cat burglars, thieves, and pickpockets.

She forced the kids to do it, threatening and abusing them if they didn’t. If they tried to run away, she would hunt them down and force them back.

The were eventually found out and all the children sent to reform school. After K served her time she stayed on as a live-in counselor for the younger children. She was then located by her aunt who had been searching for her, and her aunt invited her to live with her at Bellsong Academy, a spooky gothic mansion.

Haunted house!

When she arrives at the Academy things are not as she expected. Apparently the school has lost funding and there are only three students there at this time, orphans who have nowhere else to go: Dory, Morrow and Zel. And it turns out that she can’t see her aunt as she is deathly ill and fully covered in bandages.

Now this made my radar go off. Anytime people are all covered up in bandages like that, it means they aren’t who they really say they are. That’s not her aunt, something must have happened to her.

Hmm…

The people running the academy are  the headmistress Mrs. Turtledove, teacher Dr. Kuvac, teacher Mr. Dell, and teacher Mr. Fahr. There also is a very creepy handyman who goes by Stump and the housekeeper Ms. Mund.

Everything seems off with the other girls and the faculty. And then K hears a voice in the wall warning her that she is being watched. Definitely creepy!

SUPER creeped

That night K sneaks out of her room ad uses all her training to try to get in her Aunt’s room, but is caught by the other girls as they have been watching her. It turns out the school is another thief ring,  but an “old, established” one called The Obtainers. Her mother and father were a part of it, and her aunt as well.

K’s father chose to leave the group when she was little and took K with him, that’s why she was never a part of it until now. The rest of the ring are glad she is here as she is incredibly talented and they need her help. Bellsong Academy originally belonged to the Quinn family. When Anodyne Quinn inherited the house she discovered that her family fortune came from pirating, she was deeply ashamed she had been benefiting from stealing from others. She decided to give back by opening the Bellsong Academy, the first woman’s college west of the Rockies. After she passed she left provisions so that it would continue on. There is a rumor of treasure hidden somewhere on campus and no on has ever found it.

Hmm…treasure?

The other thing she left behind was three paintings-one in her youth, one in middle age, and the third as an older woman posing with the graduation class. Each painting was given to a separate family in the neighboring village, they were given a large sum every year-and all they have to do is put their painting on display. The map to the treasure is rumored to be found within those three paintings.

Rebecca (1940)

K finds this extremely odd that they need her to “borrow” them, and I agree. Like if they are this all important and amazing league of thieves why haven’t they done it already?

I mean for real!

K isn’t interested but they insist they need it to keep the academy going and to pay for her aunt’s care. The other girls try to convince her as they give her the grand tour of the property-old time fountains, a sun dial, a “haunted cabin”, a prehistoric sinkhole, and share the stories of the serial killer, “The Moon Killer”, who was rumored to run around the woods.

Spooky…

K decides to train with them, as why not what else has she to do, and they have a practice room right out of a superhero comic. K outshines them all and that night joins them as they break into the first house.

Each house is eccentric and when they leave they are missing a girl. Did they decide to take off and get their freedom? Were they captured? Is The Moon Killer back? Is there something nefarious going on in those houses?

Hmm…

K manages to score every painting and starts putting the clues together. But finding hidden treasure isn’t the only surprise she will discover.

This was really interesting mystery/gothic tale and I liked the character K and the twist ending at the end. I had figured out half of it, but the other half surprised me.

Wow!

The only thing I don’t like is that we never find out what happened to the other girls. I searched but it doesn’t appear that Sala wrote a sequel. I guess it will be an unsolved mystery.

We’ll never know.

I really enjoyed the the style of it too, it has an Edward Gorey feel to it, and I just love Edward Gorey. I recommend reading it even if it has a few loose ends.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

For more mysteries, go to Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

For more Gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene

Have you ever seen Hart of Dixie? I started watching it a few years ago on Netflix after a friend recommended it. It’s funny but ever since I read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, I can’t get it out of my head that Hart of Dixie has a similar vein of that book in it. In fact it has made me want to rewatch the TV Show, so I did.

In Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors Trisha Raje (Mr. Darcy) is a doctor and has a horrible bedside manner. She cares, but is too clipped in speech and the way she treats people-not good.

She meets D.J. a caterer, and treats him horribly-calls him the help, even when she proposes that they start dating she insults him multiple times.

D.J. (Elizabeth) has had a hard life and is tired of snobs and let’s her have it. But both grow from this and you’ll have to read the book or my review to get the whole scoop!

In Hart of Dixie, Dr. Zoe Hart is a similar character to Trisha. She wants to be a cardiovascular surgeon, but isn’t granted the fellowship she wants because she has a horrible bedside manner. She gets told to take a year off and be a GP and then come back after she’s practiced more than just doctoring. She is lost at what to do, but at her graduation she had been approached by a Harvey Wilkes in Bluebell Alabama to come work in his practice and she decides to take him up on his offer.

When Zoe reaches Alabama she is a regular fish out of water and to add to that it turns out that Harvey is not only dead, but he was not a random doctor-but her father.

Zoe decides to stay in town for the year and falls for engaged lawyer, George Tucker, while country boy Wade Kinsella makes a play for her. The way Zoe treats Wade is a lot like how Trisha treated DJ, but much worse. She sees Wade as lower than her, uneducated, a real country bumpkin as she is from New York City and he’s from a hamlet in the middle of nowhere. (Not completely unlike some of the interactions of the Bingley party from London reacts to being on Hertfordshire.)

The show has a whole range of crazy and kooky characters. All are so adorable and it is a great load of fun. Eventually Zoe learns to care and relax her demeanor (like Mr. Darcy) and Wade grows up and learns better how to relate and discuss how he feels.

How sweet!

So the show isn’t enough similar (like Gossip Girl), so this won’t be a comparison review. Instead I want to talk about the Jane Austen scene in season 4 episode 4 “The Very Good Bagel”.

So as the scene I want to talk about comes in season four, I’ll do a quick recap for any who haven’t watched this. The first season is a lot of will-they, won’t they (Zoe and George & Zoe and Wade)? And then Wade and Zoe do get together in the second season, but unlike Trisha Zoe treats Wade like crap. Re-watching it, she actually is one hundred percent is horrible to him until the last season (and even in there). Wade ends up cheating on her as he gets insecure how the bar-tending child of town drunk Crazy Earl can keep such a prize when everyone in town wants her to get with George Tucker. I’m not excusing cheating-but you can’t help but feel a little for him. After they break up Zoe leaves for New York City, but then returns with a new boyfriend-even though Wade apologized and told her he would wait for her.

They end up breaking up when Joel heads to Hollywood and after all the time Wade spent dating Zoe’s cousin she realizes she has feelings for him. She tries to win him back but he is not ready to get his heartbroken again, so Zoe seduces him and gets pregnant. Fast forward eight weeks and Zoe realizes she is pregnant [the actress was in real life] (not telling Wade) and Wade decides he is happy to risk it all and to show Zoe he is serious he came up with a plan, they would take things slow.

Meanwhile, George Tucker and Mayor Lavon Hayes are both in love with Lemon Breeland. When she returned from her singles’ cruise with a handsome, connected, and perfect doctor-they were crushed and angry. They started researching the guy and discovered he has another girlfriend, them leaking it to the local paper/blog The Blawker, so she would find out and dump him. It turns out Lemon knew about it and the two have been pretending to be together so each could inherit their grandmother’s money. Now Lemon is on the warpath to discover who leaked her secret and the guys will do anything to have her not find out the truth.

Including being in the local bed and bath’s owner Dash DeWitt’s special Pride and Prejudice weekend. Lavon Hayes is Mr. Darcy and George is to be Mr. Bingley, and they are to be the weekend escorts for the tourists, all senior citizens.

The guys are not into it at all, which is weird as I’ve seen them dress up lots of times as pirates, Renaissance Knights, Civil War reenactors, etc.

I mean for real!

I think Lavon can pull of the Mr. Darcy look, he just needs less modern hair.

George doesn’t pull the Regency clothes off as well-but it might be the outfit and his hair as well. Not everyone can look good in Regency clothes.

It is pretty funny how awful they are at this. It appears they know zero about Jane Austen or the Regency Era as they try to make conversation while dancing.

“Jane Austen Enthusiast: And, Mr. Darcy, how do you like Lady Elizabeth’s fine eyes?

Lavon Hayes: [As Mr. Darcy] Oh, uh, they-they are fine. They, uh…they shine like dimes. Or whatever change they have in England.”

“Jane Austen Enthisiast: The country is vast more pleasant than the city, is it not Mr. Bingley?

George Tucker: [As Mr. Bingley] Why, yes, it is lovely here in the…in the country.”

It is a short scene as they guys leave because Lemon is in trouble and they won’t let one go without the other. But if you like Jane Austen-it is cute and a silly scene. I really wish it was longer.

Oh, well.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

For more Jane Austen film adaptions, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

So at the library we added this book in June of last year, but as “new books” only have a 14 day checkout limit, I decided to wait. The reading isn’t the hard part as I can read fast, but I sometimes have trouble with the review part-you know life happens.

My life motto right there…

So I ended up checked the book out in October. But then I didn’t get around to reading it until April 2020 (returning and checking it out again) as life (and other books) got in the way.

This book takes place in 2000-2001 Pakistan and starts off with the Binat family. Bark Binat (Mr. Bennet) used to be a wealthy man from a wealthy family, but when his father became ill he relied heaily on Binat’s brother Goga and wife Tinkle. Goga was more traditional, while Bark loved American culture. Bark also fell hard for Khushboo “Pinkie” Gardenaar. Tinkle hated the beautiful girl instantly, and that she would forevermore be compared to her sister-in-law (who is far prettier than her.) She continued to spread slander about her and them, even more after Pinkie gave birth to two gorgeous girls, Jena (Jane) and Alys (Elizabeth). The family was later completed with Lady (Lydia), Qitty (Kitty), and Mari (Mary).

Goga decided to diversify the accounts and start some shops up in Saudi Arabia. Bark didn’t really like it, but as a dutiful brother he wet out there. Life was good but dangerous at times. If anything were to happen, they would always side with Saudis, even if they were in the wrong. After being rear-ended by a Saudi Prince and managing to just get a fine and broken arm he returned to Lahore, Pakistan but discovered his father dead, that his brother stole all the money, and lies and rumors abounding that Bark lost it all in bad investments.

Alys encouraged him to get a lawyer, but he said nothing could be done (having been bribed by Goga)-so the once mighty Binat family has fallen, is continuously gossiped about, and having to figure out what to do next.

The two eldest girls-Jena and Ayls started working at the British School of Dilipabad. It has been 10 years since their return and fall from grace.

Ayls is seen as a rebel to the other girls, teachers, and friends. She constantly encourages her students and sisters to go against the status quo of tradition and be who they want to be. Jena is more traditional, Mary is extremely religious, Lady wants to be famous and rich-and Qitty is still trying to find her place often fighting with Lady.

Life probably would have stayed the same except they received an invitation that changes everything-yes the Binats have been cordially invited to the NadirFiede wedding and Pinkie was pleased as punch that her girls would have an opportunity to trap a husband.

With them attending the mehndi, nikah, and walima ceremonies (two in Dilipad and one in Lahore) they should have ample time to hook a man.

My girls better be the hunters.

At the wedding the family has fun, some people-Lady-having more than others and meet the Binglia clan (Bingley)-“Hammy” Binglia (Caroline), Sumeria “Sammy” Binglia Riyasat (Mrs. Hurst), Sultan “Jaans” Riyaset (Mr. Hurst), and Fahad “Bungles” Binglia (Mr. Bingley). The women hate being in D-Pad, their name for Dilliapad, but Bungles enjoys especially after he meets Jena, only having eyes for her.

They also meet Valntine Darsee (Mr. Darcy)-the guy who happens to own the school that Alyss and Jena work at. He cold, standoffish, grumpy, and jetlagged.

Things get worse as they all sit to eat and Pinkie, Lady Qitty, Mari make fools of themselves and the Binat family. Hammie, Sammie, and Darsee are not pleased. Later that evening Ayls hears Bungles and Darsee talking about Jena. Bungles is crazy about her, and mentions Ayls but Darsee thinks she is just a country bumpkin.

However, the next day/event he hears her talking to a former student about her thesis and starts to view her in a new light.

Bungles invites Jena to a polo match and they all go to Lahore. The driver drops Jena at the match, while Ayls takes a walk in the park, getting sweaty. She goes to the car to return home but it is missing-and it is 2000 so no cellphone! She returns to the polo clubhouse to use a phone and discovers that Jena hurt her ankle when stomping the divots.

They take Jena to the doctors but Hammy and Sammy talk bad about her saying she is faking it to trick Bungles.

Jena is injured by a slight sprain. And Bungles pays for the whole thing, even an overnight stay. He wants to remain there but Ayls kicks him out as they need to protect Jena’s reputation. The rest of the Binat family drop by and thoroughly embarrasses Jena and Ayls. Just…OUCH!

Later as they are waiting for the final party, Ayls goes to the lawyers regarding a land dispute. It is over ten years that it has been going on, and as her father doesn’t trust any lawyers after what happened with Goga-Ayls takes care of all the money matters for him. At the lawyers’ Ayls meets Jeorgeullah Wickaam.

Ayls is charmed by him, although I don’t know why. He is flib and has nothing in common with her. I mean he hates reading-and she loves books.

Guys who don’t are not.

Wickham takes her to see the land in dispute and then out to see the changing of the guard at Wagah-Attari. There they run into Darsee and Wickaam reveals he and Darsee are cousins but don’t get along.

Wickaam shares that his parents died when he was young, alongside Darcy’s father. He moved in with him and his aunt and it was good except that Darsee was a jerk to him and Darsee’s little sister. After Darsee’s mother remarried they moved to Thailand and Wickaam went to stay with other relatives. After Darsee’s mother died, Wickaam was written out of the will by Darsee and lost everything. Of course with her past-something Wickaam knows ALL ABOUT being their lawyer after all-Ayls believes him and hates Darsee.

Alys hates Darsee

Alys of course shares with Jena, but Jena is very against it. Because of their past she knows that relatives can say whatever they want, but it isn’t necessarily the truth. Plus Jena doesn’t think Darsee is that type of person or that Bungles wouldn’t be friends with him.

Hmmm…

Christmas comes and the Binat family visit Nasir and Nona Gardenaar. At the party their cousin, Farhet Kaleen, comes visiting, a physiatrist-a healer of the pain management. He moved to Pakistan as his wife died and he is looking for a replacement.

Kaleen wants Jena, but Pinkie insists she will be engaged soon and instead directs him toward Ayls.

Pinkie claims Alys is traditional, meek, religious, etc-even though like what was she thinking. Why didn’t she try to get him with Mari?

They go to the final wedding party and run into Darsee who gives Ayls the book they talked about when Jena was in the hospital.

He’s so romantic!

After the wedding  no proposal comes for Jena, Kaleen proposes to Ayls who rejects him and ends up marrying Ayls’ best friend Sherry Looclus (Charlotte Lucas). Jena gets depressed and goes to stay with their family in Lahore. Wickaam hitches his rising star to another lady, with a larger bank account. Will the Binat fortune ever chage? It looks like things will stay the same-but will a visit to Sherry present Ayls with an opportunity to see Darsee in another way?

I actually read this book back in April but had a hard time writing this review. Everyone I follow on instagram, facebook, twitter, etc-loves this book. However, reading it right after Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, I didn’t have such a strong love for it. I didn’t hate it, I really enjoyed it except for one thing-one crucial thing.

Hmmm…

So I’ll start with what I didn’t like and then end with everything I did like. I just couldn’t stand the character of Alys.

I know, she is supposed to be Elizabeth, but I just found her to be annoying at times. I felt she was just constantly insisting that her way is the only right way. I like that she encourages people, espechially her students, but what I didn’t like was when she encourages those that she knows she shouldn’t. Her little sister, Lady (Lydia) wants to be a model and her father says no and even though  Alys knows that it is a bad idea, she even says it later in the book, she argues for her sister pursuing her dream because “all women have a right to be whatever they want to be”. The sentiment and Alys’ heart is in the right place but Alys knows (better than her father) that her sister lacks the maturity and guidance to navigate the modeling world. Lady’s lack of temperance, youth, inexperience, and “do whatever is fun” mentality would get her in a lot of trouble. Proof of that is shown when they go to the fashion party and she’s there for only a few seconds before everything goes downhill.

Alys also spent a majority of the book against marriage, to which everyone is allowed to their own opinion, I see nothing wrong with that. But for someone who constantly shares and encourages women to be whatever they want to be and accomplish their dreams, but then is very unaccepting of the dream of being a housewife and mother-that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I mean for some people that’s all they really want to be and there is nothing wrong with them choosing that.

The other thing that I didn’t care for was that Ayls throughout the book constantly states everything women can do and achieve without getting married and without a man-but then Alyss and Jena do none of those things until they are married (let alone married to wealthy men). It felt like mixed messages to me.

I liked all the other characters in the book, along with really enojying the storyline. I think this and Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors really show how universal the themes of Jane Austen are. And how a lot of Regency standards continue to plague some cultures. I mean as a Latina woman I felt “the ‘need’ to be married” and on my Italian side saw how unmarried, childless women were viewed. I have friends of Indian and Japanese descent and they have shared they feel the same.

I think Kamal also made it clear the class systems in Pride and Prejudice better than a lot of people do. I mean living in 21st century USA (me) you don’t quite understand how unusual it was that someone from an old established family, Mr. Darcy, would be best friends with Charles Bingleys (new money).  And reading this book, it really brings the understanding why Caroline was trying so so hard to harpoon Mr. Darcy. Handsome, rich, and the social class they need? He would be a major coup. It also makes it clear why she and her sister were so anti-Jane Bennet and wanted Mr. Bingley with Georgiana. After all the work they have done in social climbing, they didn’t want the Bennet family messing up their plans.

My favorite though had to be Sherry Looclus (Charlotte Lucas,). I thought she was extremely well done. I think Kamal not only understood the character of Charlotte perfectly but understand how to present her in modern culture for readers to really understand her plight. I also thought it was fascinating all she goes through to get married, all the little ceremonies she has to conduct to “interview” as a potential new member of their family.

Please pick me.

I always felt for Charlotte, but never really focused on her as the other characters kind of overshadowed her. In this I was rooting for Charlotte/Sherry and I wanted her to have joy and happiness, in any way possible. The first guy she is engaged to goes to Germany and marries a German woman, the next one dies (he had a liver condition he didn’t disclose), she’s infertile, and now any guy her parents pick she has to go through a series of steps to try and have someone deem her worthy. And she still continues on, poor Sherry.

After she married, I turned the pages and read quickly to see if things went well as I just felt for Sherry and I wanted her to happy.

Tell ME!!!!!

I also love how the principal who has treated Sherry like dirt this whole time, totally changes her tune when she finds out that she is engaged to Kaleen, the school’s owner being his benefactor (Begum Beena da Bagh). Now the principal has to treat Sherry like a princess.

In fact Sherry was the crown jewel in this book. I loved her character!

The Bingleys/Binglas were perfection. I love how Kamal created them. Humeria “Hammy” Binglia (Caroline) and Sumeria “Sammy” Binglia Riyasat (Mrs. Hurst) were just perfect as women of new money trying to raise themselves in society and not always doing the right social cues. They want to speak to people of worth and confuse Sherry Looclus with Sherry Pupels, the politicians wife. Oops!

That’s embarressing.

And Sultan “Jaans” Riyaset (Mr. Hurst) was just perfectly awful. He is fleshed out more here than the just the food-loving man in P&P, and it really showcases how the Bingleys/Binglas are on the search for titles, old classy names, etc-not personality.

Ugh, this guy.

I also liked the depiction of Anne. If I was going to rewrite it, I personally like the version of Anne pretending to be sick so she doesn’t have to be this perfect woman her mother is always bragging about. But in this she was a famous model who fell to a mysterious illness and even though that stopped some of her plans and ambitions she was going to persevere and not be silenced. I really liked that and thought it was a great addition.

You can also clearly see that Soniah Kamal loves literature and I really enjoyed the scenes when Ayls and Darsee discuss the different books they love.

So I didn’t hate the book, in fact this is the best depiction of Charlotte Lucas I have ever seen-but as Ayls wasn’t my favorite depiction of Elizabeth I didn’t absolutely love it. I definitely think Austen fans should check it out-I’m not kidding when I think this is a fantastic depiction of Charlotte Lucas.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to At Legend’s End

For more depictions of Charlotte Lucas, go to The Colonel

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

For more Jane Austen book adaptions, go to Interference: Friday Night Lights Meets Emma

Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Walking on Sunshine (2014)

So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?

Hmm…I don’t know!

That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.

I can’t stop watching!

Here we go with:

So lately Amazon has been horrible in their recommendations, they have bee listing off films and TV shows I have zero interest in.

I was scrolling through the list of recommendations and I saw this ’80s jukebox (songs that are not by the same artist or band) and I had to watch it. I love anything ’80s!

Taylor (Hannah Arterton) is from England vacationing in Italy before she starts University. While on her vacation she met a handsome Italian man, Raf (Giulio Berruti) and the two fall in love.

Raf wanted her to stay with him, and logical, practical, always sensible Taylor thought about it. After all her friend Elena (Leona Lewis) fell in love and is staying. But as tempted as she is, she can’t and instead says goes home-singing Holiday.

Three years later Taylor has just graduated from University and is called by her sister Madison (Annabel Scholey) to join her for vacation in Italy. Taylor arrives in the same place she had vacationed years earlier, Puglia. Taylor is pleased to be spending time with her sister as she’s been so busy with school. She also is looking for some girl time as her sister has finally broken up with her horrible boyfriend Doug, they have been on and off for the past five years.

She arrives and finds their family friend Lil there too and the biggest surprise of her life-her sister has only been there a few weeks and has fallen in love, along with being engaged to be married to an Italian guy, and is going to be married in two days.

This isn’t the first time Madison has made a horrible decision regarding men and love as she is extremely romantic, emotional, and always going with what feels right in her heart.

Madison will not be swayed, espechially after Lil drops that Taylor had a lover in Italy. Madison is surprised her sensible sister could ever have a fling as she has never dated anyone, this “Italian guy” must really be special if he is the only one to ever touch her heart. Madison tells Taylor that they will have dinner with her guy, and she, after singing Venusgoes to get ready.

Taylor starts to the beach and runs into her friend Elena and Raf’s friends. She wants to see Raf, but her friend’s warn her that things are different now. She doesn’t stay but searches the beach for Raf, singing How Will I Know. When she reaches Raf he’s mad. He asked her to stay, and she left him brokenhearted.

The two are starting to talk with Madison comes over and introduces her fiancé Raf to Taylor. 

Both Raf and Taylor are in shock. Raf never put it together as she and her sister look nothing alike, Taylor is a super common name, they have only been together for weeks so he hasn’t met her family until now. Taylor is just stunned.

Dinner that night is an awkward affair for Raf and Taylor, but Madison is full of happiness for all those she loves to be together. She then sings The Power of Love

Raf is not pleased with this turn of events and wants to tell Madison right away. He doesn’t want any secrets, but Taylor convinces him to keep it secret as it will only hurt her sister and might break them up and damage the relationship with her sister.

The next day is the day before the wedding and Madison has a whole list of things that need to be taken care of-asking her maid of honor and sister to do it with Raf. Raf and Taylor do not want to spend anytime together, but do everything-people commenting that they are an adorable couple and it makes them both upset as feelings surface and they end up spending the whole time arguing.

Meanwhile, Madison ran into her ex-boyfriend Doug (Greg Wise) who is a horrible player of a man. He wants her to get back with him, but she refuses as she is getting married. The two sing “Don’t You Want Me Baby” but Doug convinces her to have one last dinner with him to say goodbye.

Back and the villa, Raf and Taylor return, having argued about how much they loathe each other and they run into Madison. She is happy that everything has worked out and asks if Taylor wants to bring the only man she ever loved, her Italian lover from three years ago. Raf is stunned as he thought Taylor saw him as a check off her summer list, all these years he didn’t realize she cared as deeply as he did.

Hmm…

He leaves, and Taylor and Madison talk. Flowers arrive from Doug and when Taylor questions Madison she just laughs it off as a farewell dinner with Doug. No big deal.

Taylor feels otherwise, but Madison is stubborn and unconvinced. While Madison gets ready for her date and hen party/bachelorette party and Taylor and friends all go to the Tomato festival. They are supposed to throw tomatoes at each other and this scene gets hilarious fast as Taylor and Raf angrily sing Walking on Sunshine at each other. But even though they are upset, a little spark is kindled.

They go to the beach to clean up and Taylor sings about her feelings and how much she still cares with Eternal FlameShe kisses Raf and then after realizing what she has done, runs off.

Uh oh

Madison and Doug have an extremely romantic dinner in the Coliseum. But while it is everything she has ever wanted, Madison realizes that no-she doesn’t want Doug. This part, the wooing, the chase is what he does well but the commitment boyfriend part-not so much. She wants more.

She heads back home to get to her hen party/bacheleorette party when she runs into Raf and Taylor talking. Madison quickly puts together that the Italian guy from Taylor’s past is Raf. She is shocked, but Taylor quickly shares that yes he was, and that Raf wanted to tell but she convinced him not to. She is sorry that she was pulled along by the memories and kissed him b-but she does not have feelings for him anymore.

Really Taylor?

Madison loves and trusts her sister so the girls get dressed up like Tina Turner and Madonna and the boys like Boy George. They go out singing  Girls Just Wanna Have Fun/The Wild Boys. After the night out Taylor realizes she does love Raf and leaves for the airport-as she can’t stay and cause trouble between her sister and him. She loves her sister more and wants her to be happy.

Meanwhile, after the party, Doug is waiting at the villa to try and seduce Madison by singing FaithMadison tries to fight him off, almost gives in, and is surprised by a proposal by Doug.

Wow!

Lil went to the airport with some pilots she met and discovers that Taylor there. Lil convinces Taylor to come back as she is the only family that Madison has, and she needs to be there. They hurry to White Wedding

Taylor does come, but the groom is missing as one of his friends drunkenly taped him to a tree. He does get there and the wedding goes on, with Doug trying to object to it and being ignored.

They are going to say I Do, when Madison actually stops the wedding. She realizes that she doesn’t know who she is-she came to Italy to get over a love and just went right into another relationship. She turns him down as she doesn’t love him, but loves love.  She cares for him but realizes that someone else truly is in love with him.

Raf is furiously heartbroken. First one girl rejects him, and after three years he opens himself to love another girl, who rejects him.

Taylor decides to finally take a chance and goes after him-telling him she has loved him for the last three years and wish she never left him in Turn Back Time.

We end on a happy note with Raf and Taylor reunited, Doug after Madison but she choosing to be single and figure out what she wants, Elena and Enrico discover they are going to hve a baby, and Lil and Mikey together with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.

So in a lot of ways it feels like this movie was copying Mama Mia. We don’t know a lot about the characters-whos is the younger or older (I’m assuming Madison is older), what Taylor was studying in school, what Madison does/why she is in Italy, etc. But the story was cute and the music is awesome as I like the songs.

But why do I recommend it for Jane Austen fans?

Hmm…

The first thing it made me think of was Sense and Sensibility. We might not know a lot about Taylor, but all the characters comment and allude that Taylor is the logical, responsible, and practical one. She never lets loose, she is never one to take chances or risks, only does what is a sure thing. She had a fling in Italy on her holiday and the guy asked her to stay with him, and she thought about it-but she knew she could never do it as it isn’t sensible or practical. Of course she needed to go back to her real life and university. The rest of the film she plays it the same way until the very end when she realizes she does want to open her heart-she does want to take a risk and fall in love-not knowing if it will work out-she throws all that aside and takes a leap.

Madison on the other hand is such a Marianne. She is emotional, is in love with love, and doesn’t make the best decisions when it comes to men. Taylor lists off her past relationships and Madison is just a romantic and can’t resist L’amore. Before Raf she was perviously dating a rascally rogue (played by Greg Wise [who was Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility (1995]). I mean she hardly knows Raf, but loves him and is getting married. I like that they made Madison not dumb as they often do (a smart sister and pretty sister) but she was just hopeful and trusting-things that Marianne also shared. I liked how we saw her progression of character as she decides she doesn’t need to throw herself into another relationship, but to figure out who and what exactly she wants.

Madison in the end has learned to temper her feelings and use sense, while Taylor to open herself up and release her sensibilities.

One thing the movie did really was show the way the death of their mother affected the girls. While the loss of their mother made Madison search for love and ultimately be a little too desperate in her search for happiness, Taylor has become more closed off to love as she doesn’t want to lose anyone. While the characters of Elinor and Marianne were formed to events prior to their father’s death, it made me wonder if that affected Marianne in her pursuit of love. Maybe Marianne wouldn’t have thrown herself so hard at Willoughby if they had their father around, maybe she wouldn’t have been so overtly searching for love if she didn’t have a hole from her loss.

The other thing I liked about this was that I thought it also echoed the sisterly love and devotion we see in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Both the Bennets and Dashwoods care about their sisters and will keep secrets to protect them, nurse them, do anything they can for them. In this Taylor wants to protect her sister and have her be happy, so she doesn’t tell her the truth about how she feels for Raf. She goes to the wedding to be there for her sister, even though watching her love marry someone else is more painful than anything. At the church steps Madison gets cold feet, but Taylor just encourages and supports her. Madison shows the same love and devotion when she refuses Raf, knowing they would have a wonderful happy life together-but he’d have a better one with Taylor his true love.

This film also made me think of Persuasion. In Persuasion, Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth fell in love and were engaged, but Anne ended it as she was persuaded it wasn’t a good decision. They are young, he’s going off to war, he could die, her father wouldn’t like it or help her, etc. Years later, she has never married and Frederick has returned-a captain and is hurt over the past. They are put together in situations and it can be very awkward. In fact, the awkward tension the dinner table in Walking on Sunshine made me think of the scenes when they are thrown together in Persuasion. Not to mention seeing the person you love into someone else.

That last scene of Raf and Taylor singing Turn Back Time, I wish someone would recut Persuasion with it because it was perfect. In Persuasion, Captain Wentworth realizes he was a fool and still loves Anne, has only loved her, and writes her a beautiful love letter. In this Taylor does what she said she would never do-she sings her love for Raf from the rooftops.

If interested, this film is on Amazon Prime. 

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Super Power Girl, Blackmail, Gangsters, and a Serial Kidnapper: Strong Woman Bong Soon (2017)

For more ’80s music, go to Darcy’s ’80’s Power Song

For more Greg Wise, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

For more musicals, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

Mystery Blogger Award

Mystery, you say?

So the other day I was going through comments when I saw a ding from another blog, Audra’s Book BlabbingI clicked on it and saw that she nominated me for The Mystery Blogger Award!

You picked me!

Thank you! Thank you for thinking and choosing me!

So What is the Mystery Blogger Award?

“The Mystery Blogger is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.”

Aw, you think that about me?!!

I am so, so, so honored!

Again, thank you for picking me.

Rules:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog ✔
  • List the rules. ✔
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog. ✔
  • Mention the creator of the award (Okoto Enigma) ✔
  • List three facts about yourself and answer the questions given by the person who tagged you.
  • Nominate up to 20 people.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice.
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Facts About Me:

Fact 1: I’m biracial

Fact 2: I’ve never broken a bone, had a bee sting, or the chicken pox

Fact 3: I can’t braid my hair unless my eyes are closed

Questions from Audra:

What’s one question you have never found an answer to?

Why don’t more people love Northanger Abbey? Why is is so ignored. It has a fun relatable main character, an amazingly awesome and unpretentious romantic hero, a mysterious abbey, great commentary on society, etc. It is so fun why isn’t it more loved?

Cold or hot? Why?

Cold. I love fall and winter, wearing sweaters, warm blankets, drinking hot tea, eating soup, etc. I hate the heat. If I could-I would hibernate all summer and awaken in the fall for my favorite season.

What is your favorite warm drink?

Tea! I LOVE tea, Earl Grey being my favorite. I drink it throughout the day-whether it is cold or hot I have to have my cup.

What is one book you will never read and why?

Probably Lolita. Why would I want to read a book about a pedophile abusing his stepdaughter?

How are you?

I’m doing relatively good. I have my job, family, I still see some friends-although I’m missing those who live farther away. Mostly I’m having cabin fever as I want to go other places, espechially when I see memories on Facebook of things I was doing years earlier. I may be ordered to shelter in place but:

I Nominate:

 

My Questions for You:

  1. What is something you’ve accomplished that you feel proud of (big or small)
  2. What is one of the best gifts you have ever received?
  3. Which Jane Austen character do you love, and why?
  4. What book turned movie do you love?
  5. If you could go anywhere (real or fictional) where would you travel to?

Hmmm…

My Best Posts:

It is really hard to choose the “best”, so I’m going to randomly pick some:

 

And again, thank you Audra for nominating me. I am deeply and truly honored!

For more from Audra’s Book Blabbing, go to Shame Book Tag

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, (and I still do), I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than I like to:

The next book I’m reviewing is…

The Poison Diaries by The Duchess of Northumberland

Weed is an orphan boy who is taken in by a drunk apothecary who delights in hurting, beating, and making Weed’s life horrible.

Aw, that’s sad.

One day this horrible man shows Weed a secret garden he found that was supposed to be destroyed. This garden is full of poisonous plants and after it’s creator died it was supposed to be wiped from the earth. …But for some reason it wasn’t destroyed (because evil can’t die)

It now becomes Weed’s duty to come every day and care for them. Weed of course has to follow the instructions, or else he will receive a beating.

When he goes to the garden to care for them, the plants speak to him.

At first Weed thinks that he is crazy, but as he continues in the garden he listens to them, as each plants calls out to him and share their secrets with him-how they can heal, help, and destroy…

Hmmm…

Every plant-Belladonna, Opium, Tobacco, etc. -have a tale to share. Some are on how they helped people, but most end in death or madness…some in worse ways than others.

Going mad!

Every day the plants encourage Weed to use them against his master, to get his freedom. At first Weed completely refuses, as it is morally wrong…but as each visit continues he becomes intoxicated with the power they have.

Will he give in to their poisonous power?

Hmmm…

This book wasn’t that long, but while the book may be short in pages, it is most defintely not a light read. These gothic tales are sad and macabre-very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe.

And this book has absolutely beautiful illustrations, look at belladonna. It is definitely worth reading just to look at them.

I also learned a lot about plants as it was very informative on what they looked like, grew, latin names, etc.

Wow!

It is not a book that I find myself wanting to read over and over, but I did enjoy it and recommend it to other gothic fans.

For more books from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

For more gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

So last week I posted my review of this film with my niece, but didn’t go into all the other parts that make up the film-costumes, set, actors/actresses, etc., like I usually do for a film review. So I decided to instead do a second post on it.

Why not?

If you are interested in the background to the film, check out my review of Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and DiariesI’m just going to start this post off by saying, I love this adaption. The writing was just amazing, the actors were fantastic, I just love it so much! So…this post is going to be about how much I care for it. And what are we waiting for…let’s get started!

Set

So I love the set of this. The houses and hills are gorgeous. I understand the desire to walk about, as how could you not with this:

One thing I enjoy about this production is there is a lot of light. I know a lot of people like it when they are more “historical”, filming indoors with candlelight, but I personally prefer to be able to see what I am supposed to be looking at. Looking at you Emma 1996 AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version. 

I had no real complaints as the homes are gorgeous, although I think the cottage is a little too lavish, I mean I wish I lived in that cottage. I always pictured in the book something much smaller.

But otherwise absolutely beautiful and watching it made me want to travel to England.

Let’s go!

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Costumes

I really like the costumes in this. I think the production paid close attention to making the Dashwoods look lovely but also show that they had fallen on hard times-making those that are wealthy have nicer things, such as Charlotte Palmer. Lucy’s clothes are even plainer in comparison

I like how the awful  John Dashwood wears a ridiculous cravat.

The only negative thing I have to say is that at times Kate Winslet’s curls look a little too harsh on her. It’s not bad, but I think that they should have relaxed her hair in a few scenes.

But otherwise I love the dresses, the bonnets, the coats, Colonel Brandon’s uniform-how everyone looks!

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On to the acting!

Mr. Palmer played by Hugh Laurie

Let’s start off with a small but amazing character-Hugh Laurie’s Mr. Palmer. This is a magnificent gem in a wonderful story. He only has a few scenes, but every second is memorable as his delivery and juxtaposition of his brief sarcasm paired with his non stop chatty wife is just perfect!

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Sir John Middleton (Robert Hardy) & Mrs. Jennings (Elizabeth Spriggs)

Sir John and Mrs. Jennings are awesome characters! And I love how Spriggs and Hardy just nailed it in how the balance-kind, compassionate and comforting with meddling, manipulation, and outright nosey-ness.

These two love the Dashwoods and just want to help them-although spending quite a bit of the time inserting themselves into their business, against the girls’ wishes. But I just adore them. I espechially love how Mrs. Jennings goes full mama bear at Willoughby when he breaks Marianne’s heart.

These two were just perfect!

For more Robert Hardy & Elizabeth Spriggs, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen

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Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs)

Imogen Stubs as Lucy Steele was beyond perfect in this. She is so manipulative and just horribly awful. The directing and her timing. I mean one of the best parts is this:

Look at her eyes-body language, full on power movie. She is so perfectly awful, there are literally no words to describe her wonderful performance.

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Mr. Willoughby played by Greg Wise

Greg Wise is perfect in this roll. He plays a charming gentleman, the type of guy who was born with money, always had money, never thinks about anything other than what pleases him-you know the type. This type of guy has always rubbed me the wrong way as they never think about others but just take what they want. But I can see how girls can fall for him.

I think what Wise does is that he plays the role extremely well-charming, sweet,-but there are slight signs to him not being fully earnest-how he doesn’t care about Marianne’s reputation, stealing flowers from the field to bring her some instead of buying them, making fun of Colonel Brandon who has never treated him wrong, etc. Small things, but then after he breaks Marianne’s heart it makes you realize that this guy doesn’t care for others as much as he does himself. It is very subtle-but very real. Who hasn’t t one point in their life fallen for such a guy or girl and looking back sees the small cracks in the charming veneer through the whole relationship.

Clearly Wontagby

For more on Greg Wise, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 3-5

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Fanny Dashwood played by Harriet Walters

Fanny Dashwood is one of the most vilest characters in Jane Austen and Winner of my “Who’s the Worst” contest and Harriet Walter did a stupendous job.

She treats the Dashwoods like trash, she talks smack about them constantly, she manipulates her husband into ignoring his sisters, is cruel and not just mean but diabolical in her manner. She so horrible it is almost an art form to the subtle ways she just systematically goes after people.

Harriet Walter was phenomenal in this role, I will never be able to view anyone as Fanny Dashwood but her. The lines and acting were just perfect!

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Colonel Brandon played by Alan Rickman

So first of, like my niece kept pointing out, Alan Rickman was too old for this part. He was 49 at the time, but I don’t care-I love Alan Rickman’s portrayal. He was just the perfect blend of kind, compassionate, romantic, heroic, etc. One of the best things about Colonel Brandon is that he falls for Marianne hard, but he doesn’t annoy her or crazily pursue her. He continues to be himself-brings her flowers and a book when she is ill, plans an outing (that accidentally gets canceled), visits when he is in London-the same things he would have done whether he liked her or not.

I think Alan Rickman captured that perfectly. He was never overt but displayed his care and love in the looks he gave and his body language. He can be so expressive in such little movements and moments. As said before my absolute favorite is when at the end when Marianne admits that she loves him-you can just see his relief, his love, everything in his face.

He is just perfect. And I love the way he talks about Willoughby and treats him. This man treated him horribly and not to mention what he did to his adopted daughter! But Colonel Brandon isn’t rude, cruel, or treats Willoughby like poop on his shoe like I would have done-instead Colonel Brandon is way more classy.

For more Alan Rickman, go to I Don’t Want You Far From Me: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Edward Ferrars by Hugh Grant

So there is a lot of argument about Hugh Grant’s portrayal in Sense and Sensibility. Many feel like he is just doing the same thing he did in Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral. I don’t disagree-but I actually think it works for the character.

Edward isn’t my favorite of the Austen heroes. When I think of him I think of a man who has been dominated by others-his mother, Fanny, Lucy, etc. He’s never had a strong spirit but is bent and molded by others, never willing to stand up for himself. His mother is trying to force him into one life when he wants to be a clergyman, Lucy convinces him he loves her and that he wants to marry her when he really doesn’t know what he feels, and Fanny does all kinds of maneuvering in his life. I liked Grant’s portrayal better than Dan Stevens as I felt Stevens was too strong-willed. I mean the only time we ever see Edward really stand up for himself is when his mother threatens to disinherit him if he marries Lucy and he does it anyway.

I also like how Hugh Grant played this character and the way he says these snarky things with such dry wit.

For more Hugh Grant, go to Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)

Marianne Dashwood played by Kate Winslet

Marianne Dashwood and Fanny Price are who I believe the hardest Jane Austen characters to portray correctly in media (and other adaptions). With Marianne she is young, passionate, she believes what she thinks is 100% correct and others are wrong or old-fashioned like most teenagers do. Basically, Marianne is just a teenager (Regency style but still acts like a teenager). But often when writing the character for film (or other adaption) a lot of writers and actresses have trouble with her. Often they make her empty-headed, only cares about her looks, and altogether dumb/foolish.

Kate Winslet, however, does a fantastic job. She acts like any normal 16-year old would (she was 20 at the time, like most teen character actresses are). At times Winslet’s Marianne can be rude and a bit of a jerk to Colonel Brandon, at times she just flat-out ignores him, but what teenager/young adult doesn’t act like that? Winslet is one of the few to really “get” this character. Her Marianne is sweet, passionate, romantic, emotional, and quick to judgement/react.

Not only is she able to accurately show the character of Marianne in her youthful heedlessness-but also accurately shows the despair of a broken heart and her tempered spirit in the end. I love the scene when she is listening to Colonel Brandon and she asks that he won’t be gone long-it’s only a few words, but her tone and expression evoke so much emotion. It is a fantastic portrayal.

For more on Kate Winslet, go to 25 Films of Christmas

Elinor Dashwood played by Emma Thompson

So let’s get it out of the way, yes she is too old to be Elinor. Elinor is 19 in the book and in 1995 Thompson was 36 years old. Yet, I don’t care.

Thompson wrote this amazing script and was able to portray Jane Austen in a fantastic way. She was able to blend comedy with drama-and I believe Jane Austen would have been proud.

By writing the script I think it helped her get into the head of Elinor and portray her perfectly. It can be difficult to portray a character that is logical and sensible and not have her come off annoying, cold, remote, etc. Thompson was able to show her the sensible logical person, but also give her heart–things that were done by a look, glance, etc.

For more on Emma Thompson, go to This Is Fate We’re Talking About, and If Fate Works At All, It Works Because People Think That THIS TIME, It Isn’t Going to Happen!: Dead Again (1991)

Ending conclusion:

I love this film. I just love it so much. The writing is amazing, the actors and actresses. I could watch it over and over again.

For more Sense and Sensibility, go to I Watched Sense and Sensibility (1995) With My 12 Year Old Niece

For more Sense and Sensibility (1995), go to The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries

For more Jane Austen film adaptions, go to Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious (2015)