Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?

Last year I read an article on Nora Ephron and in the article she shared that she is a fan of Pride and Prejudice and You’ve Got Mail is actually a loose adaption of it. (I have since tried to find that exact article, but have failed).

When I read that I was shocked? You’ve Got Mail? I mean parts are familiar but at its core I have never felt like it is an adaption of Pride and Prejudice, in fact I think the film that You’ve Got Mail is a remake for, The Shop Around the Corner, is a much better argument for a Pride and Prejudice adaption.

I had thought about reviewing You’ve Got Mail last year, but as usual with the holidays-I ran out of time and instead was only able to review one Jane Austen film adaption, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe.

This year I ran a poll on my instagram and offered up to review Sense and Sensibility and Snowmen, Christmas at Pemberley, You’ve Got Mail, or The Shop Around the Corner; and You’ve Got Mail won. So let’s take a look!

I first saw this film when I was eight or nine and I thought it was so romantic. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have such great chemistry, it centered around books and bookstores, and of course the “star on this Christmas tree” (more in season than icing on the cake), was that the leads fell in love over letters/email messages.

How sweet!

However, it seems like ever year I grow older I like these characters and film less and less. One part of the film that really bothers me is the way that both main characters are feeling stale in their relationships and decide to turn to emotional cheating instead of discussing their feelings with the person they are living with. And I absolutely hate the way Meg Ryan and Greg Kinnear’s characters break up. It’s so weird and awkward how they care so little for the end of their relationship. Like why are they even together? What made them decide to take that step to move in together, save on rent? And another thing I absolutely abhor about this film, Joe’s manipulation of Kathleen, But I’ll save that for later.

But I will try to put aside all those feelings for now and just focus on the film and:

  • Should this be considered an adaption of Pride and Prejudice?
  • Should this instead be put on my Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans?
  • Does this just need to be excluded from the Jane Austen multiverse/canon altogether?

Let’s begin with the story of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is the story of a mother wanting to marry off her daughters, as with their father’s death they will have very little. Two men come to their town that their mother is intent on harpooning, no matter what. One, Mr. Bingley, falls for the elder daughter, Jane, while the other man, Mr. Darcy, is overheard insulting the second daughter, Elizabeth, by Elizabeth herself. (Ouch!) Elizabeth is wounded and when she hears a tale about how horrible Mr. Darcy is from a handsome charming man, she readily believes it. She later discovers there is more to both these men than meet the eye; as the story deals with the concepts of pride and prejudice, first impressions, whether you should be overt in how you feel or play it close to the heart, etc. It has amazing wit and characters.

You’ve Got Mail begins with two very different people. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), Shopgirl, is the owner of a bookstore, inherited from her mother. She lives with her newspaper boyfriend (Greg Kinnear), but is bored in their relationship and searching for escape (when she really should just break up with her boyfriend) and enters an over 30 chat room, meeting up and creating an emotional affair/relationship with NY152.

NY152 is Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), and the owner of Fox Books, a Barnes & Noble-esque corporation. He is in a relationship with a publisher and they have zero chemistry, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that instead of ending his lackluster relationship, he too decided to search the internet for an emotional affair/relationship. While Kathleen and Joe two are “in love” online they are enemies offscreen as Joe Fox is putting up his new store near Kathleen’s and actively trying to put her out of business.

The two meet when Joe is spending the day with his 11 year old aunt and 4 year old brother. They stop at the bookstore and Joe tries to withhold who he really is. Later they run into each other again at a holiday party, Kathleen angry at his “corporate espionage” and withholding his identity; while Joe is extremely rude and insults Kathleen and her store to her face.

Back online Shopgirl/Kathleen and NY152/Joe decide to meet in person (while still in relationships). Joe brings his friend to scout out how she looks and discovers it is his nemesis, Kathleen. He goes in and harasses/insults her-ignoring her pleas for him to leave.

Afterwards, Kathleen’s store folds and Joe realizes he “loves” Kathleen. He goes to tell her how he feels, and she is rude to him (completely understandable), and he decides to embark on a plan to make her fall for him. Playing her as both NY152 he uses his knowledge for them to “accidentally” run into each other; manipulates the responses he gives as NY152 and Joe, so Joe always comes out better. By the end of the film NY152 and Shopgirl meet in person and Kathleen is ecstatic to see Joe is NY152 her “dream man”. Even though this dream man put her out if business and insulted her several times-not to mention constantly lied and manipulated her; all supposedly “ends well.”

So is this an adaption of Pride and Prejudice? I would say no. Not only does the story not really follow Pride and Prejudice but the biggest problem is Joe as Mr. Darcy. I think the first of all is that the two are way too adversarial. I know everyone says Pride and Prejudice is enemies to lovers, but I disagree. Mr. Darcy never saw Elizabeth as an enemy-he saw her as inconsequential, then interesting, then his match, then a mirror showcasing what is wrong with him and needs to be changed, etc. Mr. Darcy never purposely ever tried to hurt Elizabeth, remember when he insults her he doesn’t know she can hear him, and everything he does regarding Jane and Bingley he did not to be malicious to the Bennets, but because he was trying to act in the best interests of his friend-it has nothing to do with Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the only one who thought of him as an enemy, so the two at war like this makes no sense.

In fact if she wanted to make it more like Pride and Prejudice in a modern setting it would have made more sense to have them butt heads over a diffeeence in thought versus an all out war like this. For instance in The Darcy Monologues, one of the modern adaptions have the two working at the same school. Or in Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstring Girl they work at the same Hollywood Studio. This relationship also makes zero sense to me as I cannot see how someone who grew up in their mother’s bookshop, cared for it as their mother did, felt like closing it was burying their parent all over again; would ever be able to happily enter a relationship with the man who purposely destroyed it. If, for instance, he just opened his store there before meeting her, but wasn’t intent on closing her down I could see it-but he is so ruthless, rude, and cruel to her. And these two will live happily ever after?

Secondly, this is not a Pride and Prejudice adaption because they take the very thing that sets Darcy apart, what we love him and completely remove it from the script and do the opposite: I’m talking about the way Darcy deals with Elizabeth’s rejection. When Darcy is rejected by Elizabeth he doesn’t insult her, he isn’t snotty, he doesn’t yell at her or tell her she will regret it, etc. He listens to what she tells him, writes a letter explaining his actions, and respects her rejection and leaves her alone. After Elizabeth refuses him he has no intent on trying to win her, change her mind, or try and show her how he is the “good guy”. In fact, not only does he take what she said to him and decides to change himself, (not to impress her or win her but because he wants to), he also never plans to interact with her again. They only cross paths by accident and then later when he goes to support Bingley. When Bingley and Jane are engaged and he is invited to the Bennet’s home and card parties, he never tries to show off that she should be with him, he doesn’t try to take her aside, etc. He respects her wishes and only approaches her again after Lady Catherine’s rude visit and Elizabeth’s lack of promise not to marry him causes him to hope again. But even then, he tells her still cares but if she doesn’t feel that way he understands and will never speak of the matter again. Like I wish guys in real life were as amazing as that.

In this Joe not only belittles and lies to Kathleen, but he completely ignores her feelings or what is best for her. He never thinks of her or what she wants, but only what makes him feel good. He constantly stalks and contrives ways for them to be together, he lies about himself and his intentions, he works hard to show her “how great of a guy he is”, gaslighting her into thinking she was wrong to consider him a jerk. He uses vulnerable information gained from NY152 to make Joe seem better, using it to win her trust and manipulate her into thinking she “loves” him. The whole reason we love Darcy is that he isn’t trying to show or prove something to Elizabeth, he listened to her impressions of him, realized he didn’t want to come off as that, and actively changed himself to make him be better. In this Joe doesn’t go down to the studs and tries to fix the issues in his personality, but just slaps on a splash of paint, bribes the building inspector, and says he’s a brand new building.

Ugh…this guy

In fact rewatching the film this time, this level of manipulation and narcissism makes me feel like if Joe was any Austen character he would be Frank Churchill. And unfortunately in this, Kathleen doesn’t have a great friend like Mr. Knightley who can point out to her that the guy she thinks she could care for is nothing but a narcissistic jerk who will always put his self interest first to achieve what he wants, no matter the cost.

And thirdly, this is not Pride and Prejudice as Kathleen is nothing like Elizabeth. Kathleen is very quiet, sweet, and when it comes to retorts she often stands there uncertain what to say. Unlike Elizabeth, Kathleen only has two real witty moments in the film: her retort to Joe in the coffee shop about Elizabeth Bennet being the heroine of Pride and Prejudice and her insult to him when he visits her after shutting her business down. Most of the time when it comes to verbal wordplay, she has to be rescued by other characters. If I was going to say she is like anybody, I would have to say she resembles Harriet Smith the most. Like Harriet Kathleen doesn’t really make decisions but tends to go along with what other people think she should do. She doesn’t even want to fight Fox Books until NY152, her boyfriend, employees, etc tell her to. She is also easily manipulated and persuaded, and she only gains any type of measure to stand up for herself near the end of the story. But unfortunately for Kathleen, she doesn’t get a Mr. Martin, she ends up with a Frank Churchhill-esque Joe. I hate Frank Churchill.

Seriously!

So is this a Pride and Prejudice adaption, even as a “loose” adaption? I would say no as none of the characters in You’ve Got Mail keep the key components of those found in Pride and Prejudice. With a loose adaption there are a lot you can forgive, but at their core the characters should resemble the ones they are based off, and none do here.

Would I recommend this as a Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans? No. While Joe makes me think of Frank Churchill, and Kathleen Harriet Smith; there really isn’t enough in the themes or the characters to for me to recommend it. Plus I really don’t like it, and I hardly ever recommend a film I don’t like.

Should this just be dropped from the Jane Austen multiverse/canon? Yes, please. Gossip Girl is a more likely candidate for the Jane Austen multiverse/canon then this film.

So agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

I shared earlier in my post that I think that the film You’ve Got Mail is a remake of, The Shop Around the Corner, is one that I think you can make a strong agreement that it is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. My plan is to rewatch it, as I typically do for Christmas, and post my review on the 26th. Will I actually be able to do that? I guess we will see. If not I can always save it for next year.

But whether I do or don’t, I did want to end this on one more thing:

Merry Christmas!

For more Jane Austen Christmas adaptions, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to You Ever Notice That Harry Potter is Kind of Like Elizabeth Bennet in the Way He Treats Snape and She Treats Mr. Darcy?

For more Emma, go to Emma Manga

For more Pride and Prejudice film adaptions, go to Dear William

Jane Austen (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

Jane Austen (Little People. BIG DREAMS) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Another Jane Austen biography for children?

What can I say?

But before I start my review, let me pause and say:

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

Yes, today marks her 246th birthday, and I thought what better way to celebrate than by reviewing a Jane Austen biography.

This year for my littlest niece’s (5 years old) Christmas gift, I bought her some tiny tea cups that she could have tea with. You see when she visited this summer I converted her to a love of tea and tea parties and want to reenforce that as much as possible.

Party time!

Of course something else I am trying to brainwash encourage in the younger members of my family is a love of Jane Austen. I had already bought this niece the Babylit books and needed something else Jane Austen related that fit her age. I thought about gifting her the same book I gave my 10 year old niece, A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, but decided to wait as that book was more advanced and designed for older children. Instead I starting searching for something suitable for a 5 year old.

Hmm…?

I started searching through Amazon (I don’t have a local bookstore) and found this biography from the Little People, BIG DREAMS series. It looked cute so I ordered it, and of course had to give it a quick read and review.

I really liked the amount of pictures to text this book had as it was a great balance for a children’s book. It gave a basic biography in easy to understand terms, while still telling a cute story that children in the age range of 4-7 years will enjoy following.

I also loved how it highlighted her playwriting and the way her family would act her works out.

But the thing I enjoyed most of all about this book is that instead of just mentioning Pride and Prejudice or Elizabeth Bennet, it actually highlights all the heroines of her novels. You hardly ever see anything that mentions Fanny Price/Mansfield Park, Catherine Morland/Northanger Abbey, or Anne Elliot/Persuasion in kids books and I’m so happy this one did. I need to lay the groundwork for Northanger Abbey.

If there are parents, or kids, who are interested in knowing more about Jane Austen, there is an expanded short biography in the back of the book.

I thought it was a cute book and a great one for kids.

If interested in purchasing, click on this link. (If you do choose to purchase through the link provided, a small percentage does go to me through the Amazon affiliate program).

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice

For more Jane Austen biographies, go to Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper

For more picture books, go to How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea

Pride and Prejudice: The Game

So last year I reviewed the card game Marrying Mr. Darcy, and decided that this December I will review another Jane Austen game, Pride and Prejudice: The Game.

Each player chooses two corresponding couples: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley, Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham, & Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins. Each of your couple will start in a different location (for example Elizabeth at Longbourn and Mr. Darcy at Pemberley).

The object of the game is to collect all Regency Life tokens (nature, tea time, society, music & dance, and letters); along with The Novel tokens: Vol. I, Vol. II, and Vol. III. The areas to store the tokens are located on the back of your character sheets.

To gain Regency Life tokens you have to go around the board and enter different locations from the book and purchase the tokens. You need a token from each category to win. You can use both characters of your couple to collect them or just move one around the board.

To gain The Novel tokens, you have to answer trivia about Pride and Prejudice, needing to gain each volume (answer three questions correctly) to win.

Of course there are other squares on the board that will redirect you, cause you to lose money, gain money, and lose a turn.

If you run out of money, you can return home and gain two shillings, or you can sell tokens back to the bank for money as well.

Once you have all the tokens needed you must have both couples to enter the church, but you must enter by an exact roll of the dice.

Now this is the tricky part, I ended up losing the game as I had only one character in, and just could not roll the right number to send the other in.

I thought this game was fun, except I didn’t like the initial set up. It took forever as you had to punch out every card and token. I don’t mind doing some, but for the price you are paying for this game it would have been nice if the cards were already done and the tokens were the only ones you needed to punch out.

I thought this game was a lot of fun, except unlike Marrying Mr. Darcy, it can only be played by people who like and know Pride and Prejudice. The trivia questions weren’t too difficult but you need at least a basic knowledge of the story to play.

The game moved a bit slow in the beginning, but once you have the tokens and are close to getting everything, it picks up.

I would recommend this for Pride and Prejudice fans who have friends or family that equally love it and are willing to play it with you.

This definitely would be great for a Jane Austen book club or to play at a Jane Austen tea party (although it is only for four people). I do wish they had two more couples you could play, I know the Gardiners, Hursts, and Bennets are already married but they could have included them; or Kitty, Mary, and Georgiana. But otherwise this was an interesting game and a great way to test your Pride and Prejudice trivia.

For more Pride and Prejudice games, go to Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

For more Jane Austen games, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: Jane Austen Trivia

For more Jane Austen products review, go to Jane Austen Runs My Life Spooky Collaboration with Madsen Creations!

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to You Ever Notice That Harry Potter is Kind of Like Elizabeth Bennet in the Way He Treats Snape and She Treats Mr. Darcy?

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice by Jasmine A. Stirling

I have been meaning to write this review since July, when I purchased this book for my niece, but it just seems like every time I try to sit down and write it something gets in the way. Don’t you hate when that happens?

But no longer, I am happy to finally post my review of this book.

Back in August of 2020, Jasmine Stirling reached out to me regarding her new children’s book on Jane Austen. As part of a lead up to the release of her book, she was reaching out to various Jane Austen bloggers, writers, etc.; and creating a resource center for parents and children wanting to learn more about Jane Austen.

She asked if she could interview me, and I agreed. It was the first time I have ever been interviewed and I found it to be such an honor, especially as she included me alongside some powerful Austen players. I have copied the interview below:

What Jane Austen film adaptation do you think would most appeal to kids?

Me: For a modern adaption, I believe Clueless is probably one of the best gateways into Jane Austen. It is funny, has great lines, and is something that teens will immediately love. Another great modern adaption of Jane Austen for kids is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as it is a series of short videos (something they are more used to watching with tiktok, Snapchat, etc.) and with it being told in the format of a Youtuber, kids can easily connect to it and the story. For a Regency adaption I would suggest Sense and Sensibility (1995) to start with. While Sense and Sensibility (1995) is an older adaptation it has really good pacing with comedy and drama. Kids can sometimes find it hard to connect to period drama but this has romance, drama, grief, mean girls, etc.

What’s a kid-friendly Regency or Jane Austen-related activity, craft or other entertainment you might suggest for families to try?

Me: I love crafts so I have a few suggestions. One easy and fun craft to do is make silhouettes of each other as kids will love tracing each other and having themselves traced. Another cute craft is to make paper fans or paper boats. Or if your children enjoy playing with dolls making paper dolls, felt dolls, or clothespin dolls is also something they will always find fun.

If you know how to to embroider or sew, working on a group project together-such as making a quilt, pillows, hand towels, tea towels, pillowcases, etc.-is also something you can do.

What’s one thing you love about Jane Austen? Why?

Me: There are two things I absolutely love about Jane Austen. The first is that I love the pacing and plotting of her books and the balance between drama and comedy. All her novels have extremely somber or heart wrenching moments; along with comedic lines or hilarious scenes. She also always knew how to end a chapter leaving you wanting more.

The other thing I love about her books is 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 imaginations run away with us like Catherine Morland? I think one of the reasons we still read Jane Austen 200 years later is that it is so easy to connect to her work.

How do you share your love of Austen with children?

Me: I do not have kids but that hasn’t stopped me from sharing Jane Austen. For little ones I like to gift the Babylit Jane Austen books by Jennifer Adams. They are on different subjects like numbers and emotions, but each book features characters or items from the novels. I first read Jane Austen when I turned 16 and it has now become a tradition for me to gift one of her novels when someone I know turns 16. I am also always trying to encourage my nieces to read or watch Jane Austen, and there are a lot of adaptions out there that make great gifts. With so many fans of Jane Austen you have a lot to choose from, both from modern adaptions and her works.

The picture book was released in March, but I decided to wait to purchase it until my niece’s birthday in July. The age range recommended for this book is 5-9, but as my niece was turning 10 and still enjoyed reading picture books from time to time, I thought she might enjoy this too.

When the book arrived, I of course had to read it first and I really liked it. First of all it had beautiful illustrations, I really enjoyed Vesper Stamper’s style.:

I also liked that this book had a lot of information on the Jane Austen and her family, yet it wasn’t overpowering or too much for children to understand, and it did have additional information in the back of the book for anyone wanting to know a bit more. I felt it was a beautiful and great beginning biography to brainwash share with the children in your life.

One thing I have noticed in recent Jane Austen children’s biographies is that many authors go overboard trying to make Jane “ahead of her time” or that she was so “progressive” she “rebelled” against society disliking needlepoint or other feminine things, etc. I definitely didn’t feel that with this picture book was trying to paint her in any particular way, it felt like an honest portrayal of Jane Austen, written by someone who is a fan of her works.

My niece doesn’t typically read nonfiction books, but when she opened her gift she was immediately drawn to the illustrations, and read through it quickly, reading it again later, much slower.

I definitely recommend this book for the child in your life. I think it would be a perfect addition for any child’s bookshelf.

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

For more Jane Austen biographies, go to Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper

For more picture books, go to How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea