Incense and Sensibility

Incense and Sensibility (The Rajes #3) by Sonali Dev

I thought what better way to commemorate or commiserate (depending on your point of view) the California Governor Recall Election than with a book that is about a California Gubernatorial Election.

Incense and Sensibility is the third book in the Raje series. The first, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice and I really enjoyed that book. It had biracial characters, it kept to the story while at the same time allowing the author to tell “her” story, and it had wonderful descriptions of food (depicting the tradition, love, and culture weaved into the making of it.

The second book, Recipe for Persuasion, is based on Persuasion. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous one. I liked the diversity of the characters, but I didn’t feel as connected to the people.

I had seen on Instagram that the third was going to be published soon and as soon as it was added to the library I immediately checked it out.

This book is based on Sense and Sensibility, and focuses on Trisha Raje’s brother (mentioned in both previous books) and a new character, India Dashwood. In the previous books we were given some information about Yash; he is the eldest brother of the Raje family and was in a horrible accident that caused him to lose his ability to walk. Originally told that he would spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair, he proved all wrong and was able to walk again.

However, even though this is a miracle he still felt very insecure and has never let anyone look upon his naked body and see his scars. His dream was to always go into politics, but again he faced another hurdle. At the bequest of his sister Trisha, he offered a job to her best friend Julia Wickham. Julia Wickham turned out to be a truly horrible person, (of which there are no words to describe how horrible); who used his generosity to grow close to him, drug him, rape him, and then blackmail him (as she was underage), and the Raje family. Yash never properly dealt with that trauma, but become not only more suspicious and closed off from others, but all thoughts of a relationship with a woman was pretty much gone forever as the experience left him with severe trauma.

Such a sad and traumatic story [image from The Wolf Man (1941)]

At his sister, Nisha’s, wedding he met his cousin’s friend India Dashwood. He and India had a wonderful evening together, Yash allowing a new person into his life, and made plans to get together when he returned from an already scheduled trip. But when he arrived in Singapore for a wedding, he was convinced to pretend to be engaged to his best friend, Naina Knightley. Naina convinced him it would help them both as her parents do not see Indian women as having any other role than married and she will be able to continue her dream of running her own nonprofit. For Yash he can have someone to be by his side for important events and not have to worry about people focusing on his sexuality over his political agenda. (This makes me think of Kevin Kikey, someone running for governor of California who is single. Everyone is trying to figure out if he is gay, asexual, is involved with a married person, or just hasn’t found his dream mate.)

Hmm…

Even though this trade off helped his friend (and him), while Yash was okay with it in the beginning-it has been grating on him. But Yash is a professional and sets all that aside as he prepares for a new speech given at a rally. As he goes on stage to begin his speech, a shot rings out. Yash’s bodyguard Abdul takes the brunt of it and is put in ICU while Yash is grazed and has a concussion.

When he has recuperated enough to be released he find himself, for the first time in a very very long time, at a loss of what to do. He doesn’t feel anything, every time he tries to give a speech he has a panic attack, he is angry and guilty that his bodyguard is lying in a coma, he wants nothing to do with the farce of a fiancée, and he doesn’t even want to be governor. His family is worried about him, and as Ashna has suffered from panic attacks in the past (previous book), she encourages him to see India Dashwood, her friend and yogi-the last woman he ever thought he would see again.

That’s not good.

India Dashwood’s family came to America, and the Bay Area, to start a barbershop. India’s great-grandparents hired an Indian immigrant, Ram, to be an assistant who also taught them Yoga. What none planned was for their daughter, India’s grandmother, to fall in love and become pregnant. Ram was fifteen years older and left town due to fear of what would happen to him, and India’s grandmother raised her daughter, Tara, changing their business from barber shop to yoga studio. When Tara was old enough she went abroad to search for her father, but was unable to find him. Instead she returned home with a baby she adopted, continuing that two more times. Her son Siddhartha is from India, her daughter India from Thailand, and her other daughter China from Kenya. All the children had cleft palates, but she didn’t care and adopted them anyway.

Out of the children, only India was the one to carry on the family’s traditions of the Yoga studio as her sister China is a TV producer and their brother a photojournalist. The family is in a bit of a financial strain as India used what money they had saved to do some much needed renovations, and now her mother has grown seriously ill. So when Yash comes back into her life after dropping her all those years ago, she would like to reject him and hurt him (a bit like how he hurt her), but instead agrees to help him, not just for the money, but to help him through his trauma. Will these two find a way to maneuver through the trauma, overcome hurt feelings, get through youthful decisions made for the wrong reasons, stalking paparazzi, and become something more?

Hmmm…

Meanwhile, China Dashwood has everything coming up roses. Her cooking show is going great and she is dating KDrama star, Song Ji Woo. True, she doesn’t like having to keep it hidden, but understands that Song can’t reveal her homosexuality as it would end her career. The two spend all their time in hotel rooms, at China’s apartment, or China’s mother’s house. China encounters Yash’s new body guard, former marine Brandy and tbe two do not get off on the right foot when Brandy fails to let China inside the building. The two have a bit of a better relationship after China meets Brandy’s daughter. Brandy and her best friend were heading toward one direction, but her friend ended up marrying an abusive man. When her husband murdered her, Brandy was given legal custody of their daughter and adopted her and raised her as her own. When Song has to return to Korea, China decides to give up her life in America and follow her to Korea. Tara, India, and Brandy try to caution her and convince her to wait and see-but China won’t be dissuaded. Will she get her heart broken ? Or have her happily ever after?

Hmm…

So as always I like to start with what I didn’t like and then move onto what I did like about the book.

First of all I don’t enjoy the political part of this book, as I read to escape. I understand that the author has a particular story she wants to tell and there are opinions she wants to express and share with her readers-I have no issue with it. Just for me, I like to read to escape the world we are in and this book had too much real world for me personally. Especially as I happened to read this book when a real election was going on.

I also find the absence of Latino people from this book to be really odd. Yash started going over with Rico the different political groups on his side and it seems strange to me that Yash discuses the African American vote and working with thE BLM, but there is no mention of a Latino vote, even when they discuss immigration. Not only am I Mexican, but I was born in California, grew up here, lived in the area the books take place and the more and more I think about it, the absence of Latino people in this book is extremely weird. I mean if she decided not to make a Latino a main character, fine it’s your choice and your story, but Yash is running for governor of California and there is no mention at all of the Latino vote or a Hispanic alliance group? It seems strange that both Nisha and Rico who are supposed to be extreme experts have decided to ignore the largest non-white racial demographic in California, especially as his only rival is white and anti-immigration. It seems to me that the smart thing would be to use that to show why the Latinos should vote for Yash.

I also think it is odd that the issue the book and Yash focus on are health care, it is partly what pushes him back into running for governor after his near death experience. I know that is an important issue, but is that the number one Californians are facing? I’m surprised that Yash doesn’t focus on any of the huge CA issues that those running for Governor usually go over (I mean I know because not only have we been going through the recall election but also I remember when governor Newsome was running a few years ago.) One of our biggest issues are water rights and farming rights, something that has carried over every with drought concerns get worse and worse, yet Yash doesn’t even focus on this or talk about it. Nor does he focus on the wildfire crisis even though the deadliest fire was in 2018 in Butte County (Camp Fire) and the biggest CA wildfire was the August fire in 2020. But even if the book was going through revisions there was the Mendencino fire in 2018. And then what about homelessness? We have one of the highest homelessness levels in the nation. I know health care is important, but again it seems strange to me that it was the only issue he seems focused on besides immigration.

I also felt that Song wasn’t really a a very good Willoughby. Willoughby used a woman, got her pregnant, and left her! Then he romanced Marianne only to leave her with no explanation when his aunt threatened to cut off his inheritance, and he decided he needed a woman with money. Song on the other hand is in a harsh reality of the fact that she has no choice in her life. KPop and KDrama stars are owned by their companies and have to be single as their boyfriends and girlfriends are their fans. If they start dating someone they are dropped as the fans don’t want them, and they lose everything. I mean it is CRAZY how obsessive their fans are and how they treat them. If they found out she was in a relationship, her life and career would be over. One woman got married without approval of her agency and she was dropped, blacklisted, and the only way she could make music was her husband had to buy a company. When fans found out that this one KDrama star had a girlfriend and she was pregnant, he was dropped by the fans and his agency. He and his girlfriend got married and I believe it has been five years and he is just barely being allowed to act again. Not to mention that Korea is super conservative and if people found out she was a lesbian that would be even worse for her. So while she doesn’t treat China as nice as she should, Korea is very different from America. And unlike Willoughby, Song is providing for her family. She’s providing money for them and they probably still have debts to the company they belong to that she still needs to pay. Willoughby was a jerk that thought only of himself, while Song is in a completely different situation. For me I would have made Song an American or British actor, or have had her made the crossover into American film and TV (beyond a cooking show), as I feel that the way she treats China and her wanting to keep them hidden would have been more a clue to Song’s behavior rather than her complete lack of control over her relationships.

From True Beauty. They are discussing a KPop idol

So what did I like? First of all, I thought the story line and the characters were more engaging than the previous one in the fact that the plot propelled forward and made me want to read more. I also felt that there was conflict and more on the line for every character’s decision.

I like the multicultural/multiethnic families A LOT! As someone growing up biracial, there was hardly anything out there for me, so I love that we have that in here.

I also like that the Marianne character in this isn’t just a flighty, silly, unintelligent girl. So often authors get the spirit of Marianne wrong and make her just all froth and no substance.

I liked that in this China (Marianne) was passionate and gave everything all of her, no holding back, but that she was also intelligent and a hard worker (not a bubble head like they usually write her). I thought that Dev making her a workaholic really did well for the character as I could see someone who is so passionate about their job to be just as passionate in everything else they care for, such as a new relationship. But while I enjoyed those parts of her character I didn’t care for the romance with Brandy. China barely interacts with Brandy, actually spending more time with Brandy’s daughter (who ends up working at the Yoga studio). She is pretty much just rude to Brandy when she is around her, moves to another country to be with Song, it doesn’t work out, she returns home, and then she and Brandy watch a few movies and are now a couple in love? It felt extremely fast as they hardly shared any scenes or time together in the book. At least in Sense and Sensibility, Marianne and Colonel Brandon spent time together. I think she should have fleshed that out more as the book only takes place in like two months. It really felt like Brandy was just a rebound instead of a “love” as she just returned home like a week ago “being fully committed” to Song and now she’s with someone else?

I also really, really liked how she wrote Yash. The trauma he encountered was horrendous, and the way he closed himself off to people-choosing the easy way out of love and relationships by agreeing to this fake relationship, made perfect sense for his character. I’m not a big fan of Edward Ferrars, but I did enjoy this Yash version of him. Dev dealt with this subject extremely well, although I still think he should have continued his therapeutic help, and it should be with someone he’s not having a relationship with. I understand the security issue of it as they didn’t want the media getting wind but him having India help him fix everything in a couple months and then he ending up with his “therapist”, rubs me wrong. I just think it isn’t a good foundation for a romance, and it feels unethical as well. I also am not a fan of the one night together and then years later, just a couple months and they are “in love”. I prefer my romances to happen over a period time, so that wasn’t for me.

I also enjoyed the character of Tara as I thought she was extremely interesting and I wish we had a little more of her. Growing up biracial, trekking across Asia to find her father, adopting children from across the globe, her strange illness/healing stories, etc. She was the right amount of unusual and relatable. She also was a more active mother than the original Mrs. Dashwood, yet recognized that her children needed to make their own decisions and mistakes.

I enjoyed this book more than the second one, but I still liked the first one best of all.

The one thing that really confused me about this book was that Yash’s fake ex-fiancé is Naina Knightley, so I’m assuming that the book Emma is next on the adaptions schedule, but Naina’s actions don’t seem anything like Mr. Knightley at all. I mean she is manipulative, takes advantage of Yash, and exhibits truly horrible abusive behavior as she tries to force him to stay with her. I’m not excited at all for the next one if it features her.

For more Persuasion, go to Achy Breaky Heart: Austentatious (2015)

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

For more on The Rajes, go to Recipe for Persuasion

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to I Was Asked to Be a Guest on the Podcast P.S. I Love Rom Coms + My Review of their Bridget Jones’ Diary Episode

Jane Austen Birthday Party: Jane Austen Trivia

So as I have been saying in every post, I have been planning my Jane Austen 29th birthday party for a few years (it was originally supposed to be my 27th birthday celebration but things happened); and I was finally able to have it.

So in my previous posts I went over the invitations, the prizes, the decorations, making a teapot piñata, the menu, etc. The next step in my party planning was activities. I ended up choosing to have the activities of paper fan making and croquet for those who didn’t want to play the games; or for the little girls to do while the adults played the games.

Party time!

So originally I had planned for three games, but I ended up doing four. The first game I had wanted to play a type of guess who game where I gave an Austen character to each party guest. I planned for each to have a short bio of their character along with a list of characters everyone else was going to be. I planned for each to act out their character, the first person to get someone to guess them right would receive a prize. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but then my sister and mother pointed out that the people attending were not really Austen fans.

Yes it turned out that all my friends who had actually read or watched Austen’s works were unable to come and the friends that were attending had very limited exposure to Jane Austen. So it was back to the drawing board .

Hmm…?

My next thought was that I would do a game that was more of “Who Am I?” I would give everyone a list of characters and then I would read out a short bio of each character and they would have to match up who goes with which storyline. I thought this would be easier and I could do it either before or after the trivia game, that way it would help people get a boost in answering one of the games.

But when I presented it to my mom and sister, they both still thought it would be too hard. So it was back again to try and come up with a new idea.

Hmm…

I decided to shelve it altogether and instead work on the Jane Austen Trivia game I had planned. I sat down and wrote it up, but then when I looked it back over, I realized it was too hard. I ended up throwing it out and starting all over again.

So I rewrote it, and then this time it was far too easy. I thought if I used it then everyone would be a winner. That one joined the other in the trash.

Ugh, so hard.

I did a few more drafts and then finally settled on one that I thought wasn’t too hard, but also not too easy.

However, it still appears that I made it too hard as everyone said it was really difficult.

From Clueless

My friend who won got 9/15 questions correct and chose prize three. I will attach the Trivia file below and let me know what you think. Was it too hard? Too easy? Or do you think just right?

At the end of the post I’ll put the answers. Let me know what your score is.

I’ve been having so much fun sharing all these things with you, and even though the party has ended I will be continuing to share all my other party plans!

Answers: 1.B, 2.A, 3.C, 4.D, 5.A, 6.A, 7.B, 8.B, 9.B, 10.C, 11.B, 12.D, 13.A, 14.C, 15. A&K, B&M, C&N, D&H, E&J, F&L, G&I

For more of my Jane Austen Birthday plans, go to Jane Austen Birthday: Prize One

For more Jane Austen party ideas, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party Menu, Plus How to Dip Cookies in Chocolate, and a Sugar Cookie Recipe

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

Achy Breaky Heart: Austentatious (2015)

I have a broken heart…

By watching this horrible show: Austentatious (2015)

But I pulled myself together to write this post.

So for those who haven’t been reading my posts or may have forgotten, this is the worst Jane Austen adaption I have ever seen. It is absolutely HORRIBLE!

On paper this sounds great, four of the Austen heroines (Elinor Dashwood, Marianne Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, and Emma Woodhouse) in modern times all being friends with each other. Mr. Knightley, Mr. Collins, Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, and Edward Ferrars are in this as well. Should be fun right?

Majorly

The problem is that none of this has anything to do with Jane Austen, it is boring, and it does the unthinkable-it actually makes you hate Mr. Darcy.

Yes, this is truly, truly, truly terrible and I really regret ever watching it.

But I’ve started it and now I have to finish it. So here we go…

So, May 2020 was the last time I posted on this. My goal was to review one episode a month, but as you see-I didn’t try that hard to achieve that.

So Austentatious is the story of Elinor, Marianne, Emma, Elizabeth, and Mr. Knightley being friends in modern times. But as I’ve said before they don’t involve ANY Austen plots or subplots-in fact, besides names they hardly share anything with the original source material. Elinor is an accountant, Marianne a Smoothie Barista, Emma a divorce lawyer, Elizabeth a real estate agent, and Knightley/Grant I don’t know.

So in the last episode, Elinor had a huge crush on IRS agent Edward Ferrars, but she discovers him with a girl in the smoothie shop. She doesn’t know if they are together or nor, bur assumes so and I think this episodes title refers to her “broken” heart.

Elizabeth and Marianne bought a workout machine which Emma volunteered Grant (Mr. Knightley) to put together and then left to “work”, but really hang out with Elinor who is working on tax stuff at the Smoothie Shop. Marianne is supposed to be helping put the machine together, but instead goes to ask Emma dating advice as she is interested in nurse Brandon, Grant’s friend, the one she met in the episode where her skin was turning purple (I am not making this up).

It’s super obvious!

Elizabeth is the only girl who stayed in Elinor and Marianne’s apartment, but doesn’t help put the bike together, instead just talks to Grant (who is hardcore crushing on Emma). Grant is struggling with the bike and invites Brandon over, who is hardcore crushing on Marianne.

I really hate this show, words cannot describe it although I do try, and the only thing I like is Blake Webb, (Colonel) Nurse Brandon. I cannot wait for it to be over. But the problem is we just have this and one more episode but there are a loooot of loose ends and plot points to sum up. Maybe they thought this trainwreck was going to go on to more seasons? (In what dreamworld?) I don’t know, but here we go with this boring mess of Jane Austen’s work. She would be so disappointed in you writers.

They failed!

They took this off Amazon Prime and I was afraid I would actually have to buy the episodes in order to watch it:

Thank goodness, tubi has it.

So we start off with Emma in her office with a bunch of dresses. Grant stops by, why?, oh-as she called to ask his opinion on what to wear for a date. Emma is really into this guy, who turns out to be a former client (oh honey no) Patrick. Oh, sorry- my objection is that Emma is a divorce lawyer and it seems like bad idea to date your former client who was recently divorced.

She should not do that.

Why is she asking Grant and getting angry at his guy answers when she should have asked Elizabeth or Marianne. Seriously, who wrote this? Was this just a shallow attempt at furthering the story by having Grant be here sad and contemplate whether or not he should share his true feelings. What does Grant even do for a living anyway that he is was at Emma’s beck and call?

Elizabeth gets a call and then runs into the worst Darcy in the history of all Darcys.

Ugh…this guy

Wow, for once he is actually is nice and not calling Elizabeth names and saying he trusts her with finding his perfect house.  Hold up, I think he has been abducted by pod people.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Back at the Smoothie Shop Elinor stops by sad and depressed. We get a flashback to the last episode where she saw Edward at the smoothie shop with a girl. Elinor shares that ever since then she has been feeling awkward. Edward senses her very cool mood toward him, and tries to get at why, but Elinor is just an ice queen.

Marianne tries to cheer her and gives her a hug.

Or life…

Back with Emma, Grant stops by with coffee ad lunch. He also pumps her about he date and brings up some concerns-a former client is not a good idea. He’s totally just trying to sway her against it.

Except he also LIKES her…

Elizabeth and Darcy go to look at the house and Darcy likes it. He doesn’t say who it is for but as he is buying it for “her” and she plays piano, it is obvious who it is for:

Back to Elinor who is so mean, and such an ice queen. Edward is trying to be sweet, and Elinor shoots him down. There is actually some good acting here. Poor puppy dog Edward leaves and Elinor feels like a jerk.

She should not have done that.

Wait, Edward comes back! What?

Wow!

He tells her he felt friendship and maybe more? He throws all the cards down that he is involved with someone but didn’t want her to think he was leading her and to apologize if he is out of line, or crossed the line in anyway. Aw, that is such a cute scene. And all Elinor says is thank you, ouch.

Poor Edward looks so sad and after he leaves Elinor cries.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Grant calls Emma to invite her to a movie, but  of course she still has her date. All I can think again is Grant what do you do? You need to stop obsessing about this and go back to work, or work on a hobby. Grant continues to grill Emma and try to dissuade her. Like dude, seriously dude, dude no. You are just looking like a crazy friend and going to push her towards him.

Darcy invites Elizabeth to lunch and acts like an actual human being. Will wonders ever cease?

Wow! from The Blob

At lunch Darcy asks her why she wanted to be in real estate and Elizabeth chose it because she wanted to be her own boss. Darcy went into law because “it pays well” but really likes to fix things, using law to resolve conflict…and he likes to argue. It is a cute scene but I think it would have been stronger and had a better connection to the source material if it was his family’s firm as you know Darcy is all about his family name and honor.

Emma goes on her date with Patrick (Frank Churchill, maybe? They don’t make this quite clear) and this guy is an arrogant jerk. Just schmoozing smugness and just ugh! Patrick is putting it on thick for Emma and I’m just like PUH-leeze.

Just prattling on about his divorce is amicable and it lead him to be introduced to an exceptional women.

So annoying

Elinor and Grant are hanging at the Smoothie Shop, both sad and down.

Or heartbreak smoothie shop

Elizabeth interrupts them when he comes in and shares her great news of Darcy wanting the house and not being a total tool. We flashback and this scene is actually really funny where Darcy is joking but Elizabeth takes everything seriously and admits “you are fine just the way you are”, I’m sure the writers were trying to echo Bridget Jones’ Diary.

The next day Grant stops by Emma’s work again (what does he do for a living?) and quizzes her about her date. Emma loved it and receives flowers from Patrick (Frank Churchill?). Man I wish this show was a little more clear on who everyone is along with actually copying things from Austen’s novels. Grant seeing the big bouquet, gets down and exits.

Later Emma and Elizabeth are talking, but Emma no longer seems enthused by the date. It’s now just fine instead of being “great” like she told Grant. Everything went perfect-the food was good, the talk was fun, he’s handsome, but…it is also a copy of the first date he took his ex.

Yeah, GIANT red flag!!!!

Yes, when he got divorced he shared a bit about his first date with his wife to Emma and those details match up exactly with what happened last night. Now Emma isn’t sure this is the guy to be with.

Good for you Emma, run far away from this bad relationship.

Back at the apartment Marianne got a persent for Elinor. It is a box of folded paper and when Marianne pulls one out it says “Oliver”. It turns out that all the guys Marianne knows she put in the box, and when Elinor draws a name she’ll show her a picture and if she is interested set up a date.

Awww, Marianne is so cute.

Uh, oh. I hope Brandon isn’t in there. By the way, where has he been this entire episode? He’s the only one who actually acts like he read the source material and he is by far the best part of this adaption. Marianne rejects Oliver and pulls out “H”,

This is funny and a cute thing for sisters to do, but I honestly thought it was just going to be cute guys in movies and they were going to do a movie marathon or something.

Anyways, “H” is a guy with a cute dog, H being the first initial on his credit card (H as in Henry Tilney? Will we be introducing Northanger Abbey in the last episode? No, that would be too cool and too interesting, This show is not that.) H turns out to be the kid of guy who drinks out of the same glass as his dog and Elinor vetoes him as well. Then episode ends.

Soooo yeah, I hate this show. This episode was actually the least awful so far in the series. It still doesn’t have a lot to do with Jane Austen, but at least it wasn’t a mouse killing party or having other dumb story lines like in the previous episodes. It is a waste of time, but at least I only have one episode left!

 

IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN…

For more Austentatious, go to Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more Jane Austen film retellings, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (2018)

For more Sense & Sensibility, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

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

For more Emma, go to Is Emma Jane Austen’s Only Mystery?

I Will Be Calm. I Will Be Mistress of Myself

Happy New Year!

So to say 2020 didn’t go as expected is an understatement. Most people spent the year like this:

I know whenever I am troubled, there is always something I turn to:

Or her other works. Or read her books.

That lead me to this year’s theme. There is no better book to help you get over 2020 and move forward than Sense and Sensibility. I mean the Dashwoods encountered grief, hardships, huge changes, etc.

As this year marks the 210th anniversary of its publication, of course it will be the theme of the year.

I’m not quite sure how I will work it in, will it be an Sense and Sensibility post every month or just more Sense and Sensibility? I reviewed the 1995 film this year, maybe I’ll do the miniseries? I guess we will just wait and see.

Now on to the year in review!

Let’s go!

The Views

From Clueless

This year I had over 118,200 views!

Wow! from The Blob

The most viewed day of the year was November 7th with 6225 views! That was the day I posted nothing, but the number one post viewed that day was What Happened to Ally Palmer?: The Good Student (2006) from Horrorfest VII. That doesn’t surprise me as the end is confusing and I’m sure many google and read it to try to find out the answer.

The Top Five Posts

Here are the top five most viewed posts of the year, although again none were posted this year. I guess whatever I post in the actual year is never popular enough? Who knows.

5) A Real Man from 2014

4) I Ran Out of Milk So I Put Buttermilk in My Tea from 2019

3) Fulfilling the List: A Walk to Remember (2002) from Romance is in the Air 2013

2) What Happened to Ally Palmer?: The Good Student (2006) from Horrorfest VII 2018

1) Being Friends is Good Enough: Catching Fire (2013) from Romance is in the Air II from 2014

The Followers!

So this community has really grown in numbers and I can not describe how pleased I am about that. We have gone from 14 followers in 2012, to 439 in 2015, to 1021 in 2017, and now 1714 in 2020.

Jane Austen Posts:

Of course there will be quite a bit of these as Jane Austen is the name of the blog.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen Products

Sense and Sensibility

Pride and Prejudice

Mansfield Park

Emma:

Northanger Abbey

Persuasion:

Recipes:

Nothing goes better with reading than something yummy to snack on!

Modesto Jane Con:

This year my book club and sister attended JaneCon in Modesto. I took copious notes which I transcribed into the following posts:

 

Mystery Posts:

From Knives Out

This year’s theme was mysteries in honor of the 100th anniversary of The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie being published. I tried to post at least one mystery a month. I also received a mysterious package every few months and detailed what was in it.

Mysteries:

Mysterious Packages in the Mail:

Romance is in the Air Part VII:

Every year I do 14 posts on a romantic moment in TV and film, below are this year’s picks.

 

Giveaways:

I love giveaways! Every time I win something I try to post a review of what I received.

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers:

There comes a time when you have read all the Austen books and quite a few adaptions and are searching for something else. Something like Jane Austen, but not a direct retellings. That’s why I created the Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers and here are the ones I reviewed this year.

Catherine Morland’s Reading List:

Any Gothic novel lovers out there? Catherine Morland’s Reading List is a review of Gothic novels I know Catherine would love (if she were alive today).

Horrorfest IX:

Every year I let my Catherine Morland spooky girl side out and have 31 posts of different horror films or TV shows to countdown to Halloween.

BookishFirst Bingo:

On Instagram (@janeaustenrunsmylife) I try to achieve a Bookish Bingo every month. I usually read whatever I like and then see which slot it fills. I write how it fits the categories in my stories and save them for the moth and the one after, replacing it with the new month’s selections. It is a lot of fun, and I recommend trying it out.

Jane Austen Bingo:

So Jane Austen bingo is when you spot a Jane Austen actor in a non-Jane Austen film or TV show. Before I just snapped/shared a picture, now I post a picture on my Instagram (@janeaustenrunsmylife) that has the actor in their Jane Austen media alongside their other work. It’s a lot of fun and this year I determine the film with the most Jane Austen actors in a non-Jane Austen film is Love Actually as it has 8: Bill Nighly (Mr. Woodhouse in Emma 2020) as Billy Mack, Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (1995) & Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones’ Diary series) as Jamie, Emma Thompson (Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995) as Karen, Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (2005) as Juliet, Julia Davis (Elizabeth Elliot in Persuasion (2007) as Nancy the caterer, Alan Rickman (Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995) as Harry, Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility (1995) & as Mark Cleaver/Mr. Wickham in the Bridget Jones’ Diary series) as the Prime Minister Davis, and Kris Marshall (Tom Parker in Sanditon) as Colin Frissell.

Period Drama Saturdays

With COVID19 my sister and I have started a new tradition, Period Drama Saturdays. Every Saturday we make a pot of tea and watch a period drama, alternating who gets to pick. Quite a few of these I plan to review for Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Here are the ones we have watched this year:

  • Poldark (1996)
  • Drover’s Gold (1997)
  • Ever After (1998)
  • Turn of the Screw (1999)
  • Lorna Doone (2000)
  • Under the Greenwood Tree (2005)
  • Little Dorrit (2008)
  • The Young Victoria (2009)
  • Titanic: Blood and Steel (2012)
  • Poldark (2015-2019)
  • Dr. Thorne (2016)
  • The Moonstone (2016)
  • Victoria (2016-)
  • Selena: The Series (2020-)

Instagram Photo Challenges

From Clueless

So I have only done a few photo challenges in the past but this year I decided to try a few others. All are on my Instagram (@janeaustenrunsmylife) if you are interested in seeing the pics, and if any interest you-join me this year.

  • 30 Days of Jane Photo Challenge from Jane Austen Festival Kentucky
  • 30 Day Literacy Challenge from Jane Austen Literacy Foundation
  • Sip Down September 30 Day Photo Challenge
  • 31 Days of Hallotean
  • Tea Advent Calendar Swap on Instagram: This year I did another tea advent calendar swap and posted a photo every day leading up to Christmas on the tea. I will be doing a full review later.

Blogiversary Jane Austen July

My blogiversary is in July and alongside a post, I also like to do a series of questions on Instagram (@janeaustenrunsmylife) and post the results. This year I asked the following questions with the results on my Instagram if you are interested.

  • If you were going to match up Georgiana Darcy with one of Jane Austen’s remaining bachelors (Colonel Fitzwilliam, William Price, Thomas Bertram, or James Morland) who would you pair her up with, and why?
  • Who was the worst of Jane Austen?
  • Which Jane Austen character has the best clothes?
  • Which Jane Austen character needs their own story?
  • Which actor/actress would you love to cast in a Jane Austen film or miniseries?
  • What period drama would you love to see a crossover with a Jane Austen story (time period and country doesn’t matter)?
  • Who is the worst Mr. Darcy?
  • If the Jane Austen characters lived today what jobs would they have?
  • Do we need more Virtual Jane Austen festivals/events that run on PST?
  • What Jane Austen mashup do I need to do next?
  • If you had to wait in line with a Jane Austen character, who would be the worst one and why?
  • If you could live in any Jane Austen home or estate which one would you want to live in?
  • What Jane Austen adaption needs to be turned into a TV show or film?
  • What is something from the Regency Era you wished we had today?
  • If the Jane Austen characters could eat any food we have today, which one would they be going crazy over?
  • If you could cast any actor as Mr. Darcy (alive or passed on) in a Regency or modern adaption, who would you pick?
  • If you could cast any actress as Elizabeth Bennet (alive or passed on) in a Regency or modern adaption, who would you pick?

25 Films of Christmas

So I started a few years ago on Instagram (@janeaustenrunsmylife), watching and posting a Christmas movie everyday in December. This year I actually ended up watching 29, but the original 25 were:

  • A Christmas Carol (1954)
  • Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1988)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
  • Home Alone (1990)
  • The Santa Clause (1994)
  • Jingle All the Way (1996)
  • Borrowed Hearts (1997)
  • Eloise at Christmas (2003)
  • Love Actually (2003)
  • Christmas Child (2004)
  • Deck the Halls (2006)
  • Christmas in Wonderland (2007)
  • 12 Men of Christmas (2009)
  • RED (2010)
  • Rise of the Guardians (2012)
  • The Christmas Candle (2013)
  • Christmas in the City (2013)
  • A Christmas Mystery (2014)
  • The Holiday Calendar (2018)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (2018)
  • A Very Nutty Christmas (2018)
  • A Kiss on Candy Cane Lane (2019)
  • A Recipe for Seduction (2020)

Other Posts:

Here are the others who don’t fit a theme (or I didn’t have enough similar posts to give them their own):

That’s it for 2020, here’s hoping 2021 will be better!

For 2019 in review, go to The Mysterious Affair at Jane Austen Runs My Life

For 2018 in review, go to The Future is Bulletproof

For 2017 in review, go to Life Seems But a Quick Succession of Busy Nothings

For 2016 in review, go to A New Hope

For 2015 in review, go to To Boldy Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

For 2014 in review, go to Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

For 2013 in review, go to Looking at the Past, Focusing on the Future

For 2012 in review, go to Looking Back, Moving Forward

 

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)