Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd
So two years I was contacted by the remarkable Christina Boyd to read and review The Darcy Monologues. It contained stories from Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams.
The stories were all told from Darcy’s point of view with half the book set in the Regency Era and the other half set in different time periods (from 1880s Western to modern times). I really loved it! It was just so refreshing to see a point of view that is often overlooked or not done well. Just like the movies, there are many different forms of Darcy, so you have your pick of Darcy-being sure to find one, two, or more to love.
After that project, Christina Boyd teamed up with Karen M. Cox: J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Katie Oliver, Sophia Ros, Joana Starnes, and Brooke West for a new book. This book is Dangerous to Know Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, on the rogues and rakes of the Austen books-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more.
The next one was Rational Creatures, with stories by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams. All on the women of Jane Austen:
But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay.
It sounded great and I planned to review it after a few things on my list, but then time just passed so quickly by.
I said to heck with it, and decided I’m reading it now and reviewing it!
So I decided to break the review up into six posts-going book by book. That way it isn’t one ginormous post.
We are starting with:
Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as their world is drastically changed when their father dies and they older half brother moves them out of the house and basically forgets they even exist. Elinor is the elder sister-logical, sensible, and in command of herself. Marianne is the middle daughter-passionate, outspoken, and emotional. Elinor falls for a man, but finds him promised to another. Marianne meets a man right out of her romantic dreams, but is he all that he seems to be? Each sister goes through a journey and discovers depths to them they never realized.
Sense and Sensibility, deals with the line between expression. I liked how there is the question of whether too much of either is bad and how much does one need? We have Marianne who expresses too much, while Elinor, expresses nothing. While both sisters are the best of friends; their extremes cause the other to never fully know their sister. Marianne can never see what Elinor is feeling and makes all these assumptions about a “frozen” heart. Elinor on the other hand, never imagines that Marianne has any sense as she assumes she is solely governed by feelings. I liked how the sisters were never privy to each others complete secrets as I feel this is realistic. I can see myself and my sister in these.
So in a lot of adaptions Elinor is stiff, cold, robotic, icy, or a control freak (looking at you Austentatious 2015), etc:
And Marianne is beautiful, fashionable, and 100% an airhead:
So I was eager to see how they did their adaptations, and hoping against hope that they wouldn’t fall into the same traps:
Self-Composed by Christina Morland
The story begins in Norland Sussex, 1797 as Mr. Dashwood has died, the house has been inherited by their half-brother John Dashwood, and Elinor, her sisters, and mother must prepare to move their items out. From there it takes them to Barton Cottage when Edward Ferrars visits, Elinor having to be nice to Lucy Steele (Edward’s intended), to the final conclusion of the story.
So first of all it is obvious that Ms. Morland is a fan of Jane Austen and has not only read the story but understands Jane Austen. Often, as I said before, when people do an adaptation they take sense to mean that Elinor is an icy, unfeeling person-made of stone.
But clearly Jane Austen doesn’t intend that as seen-
“Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh! worse than cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise. Use those words again, and I will leave the room this moment.”
Elinor could not help laughing. “Excuse me,” said she; “and be assured that I meant no offence to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings. Believe them to be stronger than I have declared…”
What she means by sense is that Elinor controls her feelings and emotions-not that she is a control freak, just mistress of herself.
Ms. Morland captures that perfectly!!!-as she has Elinor in command of herself with a certain demeanor, all the while her emotions exploding on the inside.
I loved it! I thought it was perfect! I think that Ms. Morland captured the true spirit of Elinor.
I also loved how she used the drawing and painting as for how Elinor is feeling, describing the drawing as her trying to help her control her feelings-not so much repress (which most adaptions go with)-by releasing them on paper instead of verbally.
My favorite part is when she draws Lucy Steele, she is trying to be a good Christian woman and makes her as beautiful as she is in real life, but also makes her face look manipulative and cunning.
I LOVE it (sorry to keep using that same word over and over again. Here is one of the passages I loved:
“Elinor closed her eyes and envisioned blank paper, flat and crisp; she imagined lines and circles with no clear end or beginning; she thought of steady hands, of straight edges…”
As I have said, there are very few Sense and Sensibility adaptations I enjoy, but I LOVED THIS!
For more by Christina Morland, go to “One Fair Claim” from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues
For more on Elinor Dashwood, go to Call Me, Maybe: Austentatious (2015)
Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston
We start when Marianne awakens from being sick, having been caught in the rain (it’s not clear whether she was trying to commit suicide, thought she would make it back in time, maybe thought if she was “sick” Willoughby would be sorry and come after her, etc-a discussion for another day.) She begins to recuperate, and you know what, I can’t even get through the synopsis, I absolutely LOVED it!
Finally, finally, finally we have a Marianne Dashwood adaptation that doesn’t make her a ditz but a young, passionate woman.
“Your faults, as you claim them to be, are in equal measure virtues. Blind to them? I could never be. Nor could I admonish you to any degree for past mistakes, for they were the product of an earnest, passionate heart and youthful innocence.”
In Clarkson’s story Marianne begins to convalescence and starts to think about her behavior-seeing how she let emotion rule her and begins to really study herself, educate herself, and grow to be her better self.
I just LOOOOVVED IT! Now don’t get me wrong, I think Ms. Morland’s story was just as amazing, its just this has been driving me crazy!!! The fact that every adaptation seems to make Marianne dumb instead of young and inexperienced. I am so happy to finally see a writer who gets it!
So I really liked this story and how it shows the blooming relationship with Marianne and Colonel Brandon. It was so sweet and a great progression that just makes you squeal with the cuteness!
For more on Marianne Dashwood, go to Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Austentatious (2015)
So in conclusion, I have not read many Sense and Sensibility, mostly because the ones I have read the author’s just don’t get the characters. Elinor is always too cold and unfeeling and just frumpy. Marianne is always a dunce who just kind of lalalas her way through the story.
But these two stories completely broke those cliches and are thus far the best, and I mean best adaptations/depictions of Elinor and Marianne that I have read.
With this just being the beginning, I am super pumped to keep reading.
For more Christina Boyd, go to Five Jane Austen Adaptations That Should be Turned Into a Film or TV Show
For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Smart One and the Pretty One
For more Austen book reviews, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book
I ALWAYS ENJOY YOUR REVIEWS— thoughtful and fun! But this, “But these two stories completely broke those cliches and are thus far the best, and I mean best adaptations/depictions of Elinor and Marianne that I have read“—you made my day! Week! Month! Thank you for totally getting what we were going for… Hopefully true to Austen while from the POV.
I think she would be proud of it.
Thank you so much for your kind and enthusiastic review! I’m so glad to know that you like these versions of Elinor and Marianne!
I especially agree with your thoughts on Nicole’s Marianne. I think it’s easy for readers to forget how young Marianne is. I certainly don’t know many 17 or 18 year olds who have everything figured out! I’m always struck by how Austen, in the original text, tries to remind us that Elinor is exceptional in her maturity by using the phrase “though only nineteen” when describing Elinor’s “strength of understanding and coolness of judgment” (Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 1). If we accept that Elinor is the exception and not the rule, it only makes sense that Marianne would need more time and experience to grow into a more thoughtful adult — and I think Nicole shows that development very well.
Thanks again for your review! It means a lot to me, particularly as I’m currently trying to write a full-length S&S sequel/variation, and I wonder every day if I will ever be able to represent Marianne and Elinor well.
OMGosh so excited! After reading this story, I can’t wait to read your full length adaptation! I believe you can, as you did a fantastic job!
Thanks so much! So appreciate the encouragement!
Yes!!! Exactly about wanting a young Marianne who isn’t an idiot. I loved both these stories, too.
Yes! I was so excited someone finally got it!