Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan

So a few weeks ago I posted on Instagram that I was reading Crazy Rich Asians, but I couldn’t post on it as I was in the middle of Horrorfest VII.

Or post in my case.

So I saw this book when it first came out on Goodreads, it struck my interest and I put it on to-read, but did not read it as, well you book lovers know how it is:

But then I read this article comparing the book’s characters to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. That made me even more interested.

Hmm…

Then when an opportunity to get a copy of the book came my way-I could not resist. I had to read it.

So first things first? Is it really as good as the hype says it is. You know me-the more they over pump the more hmmm…let’s say exact I am in my judgements-picking apart the book.

Welll…I thought it was……

Hmmm…

Super Freakin’ Fantastic

Now you guys know I’m not going to say that if I don’t really mean it. It was so good I didn’t want to put my book down and I am being literal-If I didn’t have to work I would have stayed up reading or just called in sick.

So I know zero about Singapore, the culture, class system, tradition, etc. I am thankful for all of Kwan’s footnotes as they were extremely helpful. Reading it reminded me of the first time I read classic literature and had no understanding of the culture of why people did what they did and had to go do all the research.

Kwan helps you out of hours of work by providing it for you. I don’t know how your publishing process went, but I imagine there was at least one person who was probably like there are too many footnotes, no one will read that, let’s just get rid of them-but let me tell you-I am so, so thankful. Thank you Mr. Kwan.

So the story begins with Rachel who has been raised by her single mother. They moved all over the country, settling in Cupertino, CA and her mother worked hard and moved up in real estate business. Rachel has studied hard, has her master’s degree, and is a Professor of Economics in New York.

So Rachel is set by a friend to meet the “perfect guy” She is completely not interested as she isn’t really looking and she doesn’t like to date Asian guys. Every time she has gone out with an Asian guy she feels as if they are more interested in her resume and transcripts than who she is as a person (I have an Asian friend who has told me she has had the same experiences), but then meets Nicholas Young. He is amazing, has an English accent, and the two fit together.

They have been dating five years and he decides to invite her to come to Singapore with him for the summer. He thinks they would have a great time, with him showing off the places he loves, and them attending his friend’s wedding.

Rachel is unsure at first but decides to go as it will be fun: she loves Nick, and she will be able to visit with her best friend from college, Goh Peik Lin. Her mother is a little worried, as she knows that Rachel isn’t going to be prepared for the traditional Asian culture having grown up in America.

When Rachel gets there she gets the surprise of her life-Nick is crazy rich. Beyond thought of all rich-like Gatsbyian rich (but legal). His family is one of the top richest in Singapore, and he is expected to be the sole heir of his paternal grandmother’s fortune. Nick thinks his family will love Rachel but…

Majorly

Yes, seriously. His mother, Eleanor Young is obsessed with power and prestige. She has been maneuvering the Young life-first watching and planting herself with Nick’s father at time he was ready to be married (who incidentally has since moved to Australia to get away from her)-stealing him from his long-term girlfriend, and taking a backseat in parenting-essentially giving Nick up to his grandmother-so that he could be her sole heir. This girlfriend has thrown a serious gum in the works as his Nick is prime to be thinking of marrying and this California Asian is unacceptable.

Unacceptable

She begins a plan to throw a more suitable woman at him and remove Rachel from the picture. As soon as she had confirmation of her name, PIs have been dispatched.

Edison Cheng is Nick’s cousin, and a very wealthy banker who is always concerned with image and aspiring for more. His brother is dating a more distasteful woman than Rachel-pop star singer Kitty Pong. His family is determined to end their engagement as well for a more “suitable match”.

Her

Nick’s best friend is his cousin, Astrid Teo. Astrid is beautiful, stylish, and envied everywhere-every man wants her and every woman wants to be her. Astrid has her own family melodrama-intervention story. She fell in love with Charlie Wu and the two were engaged, but Astrid gave in to the pressures of her family and how they felt him being a self-made millionaire was not good enough for their daughter. Years later she met and married Michael-handsome, charming, and even more unsuitable. He is in computer technology and trying to create a company. He’s been so busy with it, making excuses to skip family dinners and such. One night Astrid looks at his phone and discovers messages from a woman-an affair?

Nick and Rachel have fun eating food (Singapore’s number one thing), spending time with friends, and then get tied into wedding stuff. Nick heads off to a truly horrible bachelor party-while Rachel is asked to join the bachelorette party. She finds herself mistreated and targeted as every woman wanted Nick and all are doing all they can to get him before the rings get placed on Rachel’s finger.

After the wedding things come to a head. Eleanor reveals the information found out by her private investigator-Rachel’s father is not dead, as she had long believed, but imprisoned in China. She and Nick’s grandma tell him he needs to end the relationship. Rachel is hurt beyond measure with the truth that her mother lied coming out-especially the way it did- and beyond furious at how Nick’s family and friends have treated her. She’s done. She heads to stay with her friend and go to China to meet her father.

Astrid has run into Charlie Wu and run away with him. He comforts her and helps her track down her errant husband as it turns out he isn’t cheating on her.

He wanted her to think so, so she would leave him. He does not want to be known as Astrid’s husband, he wants to be his own man. Charlie feels bad for the woman he loves, yes loves not loved, loves-and begins to do all he can to inflate the stock and make Michael a millionaire. As long as she’s happy he’s happy.

Nick tries to tell Rachel he doesn’t care about his family and loves her, but Rachel is not taking it. It is not enough when his family will treat her like that. Nick heads back to his friend and recent bridegroom-Colin, trying to get advice from him. Colin urges him that if he loves Rachel to fight for her.

Rachel is headed to China when she gets stopped by the surprise of her life. Nick is there, that’s expected, but he brought her MOTHER?! Since Rachel has found out the truth about her father she would not speak to her mother, but now she stops and listens. It turns out that her mother was married off to a wealthy man who ignored her. He did his duty to try and make a child, but otherwise he abused her or ignored her, with his family being even worse. She had an affair with a nice man, Kao Wei. She became pregnant, and fearing for their child’s life-Kao smuggled her out and sent her to America.

Rachel is understanding of her mother-and after all the information Eleanor found out about how awful her mother’s husband was- she is forgiving and willing to give Nick a second chance. They still have the whole Summer and head off to Marina Bay Sands.

It was amazing and the world they live in-it was unthinkable. Reading this I felt like Nick in The Great Gatsby or Dan in Gossip Girl times a 1000.

A great read I could not put down. I was fascinated with this crazy rich world.

So the question on everyone’s mind. Is this Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion? 

Idea!

NO

Yes

I’m serious.

Yes!

Astrid’s story is very Persuasion I will concede that. Charlie is in love with Astrid after she turned him down he continued to love her from afar-never getting over her.

But Rachel and Nick are nothing like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

Elizabeth was from a well-off family, curse you Pride and Prejudice (2005) that makes everyone think they are poor. Mr. Darcy was not as fun and animated as Nick. Yes, Lady Catherine did not want them to marry but their societal classes don’t quite fit. Instead this is Northanger Abbey. 

Northanger Abbey tells the story of a girl from a good family-not rich or gentleman’s family, but one that does well that gets the trip of a lifetime. She goes as a companion to the big city of Bath full of pleasure and parties as such. Rachel Chu is the same. Her mother worked hard and does well for herself, as did Rachel. Like Catherine-we would consider them well off, however people of means: Nick’s family, General Tilney, Blair Waldorf, Tom Buchanan-would not. Catherine finds herself in a world full of sharks-trying to navigate a world she no idea about- just like Rachel.

Nick is wealthy man, but very modest, down to earth, approachable, and fun. Just like Mr. Tilney. Mr. Tilney meets Catherine at Bath and laughs at society’s tradition, going aganist them by speaking to her without be ing introduced, joking around, having fun. Nick is the same way. He even risk disinheritance for her-just like Tilney.

Now there are many factors trying to keep the two characters apart in Northanger Abbey. The first is Jonathan Thorpe. He trumps up how rich and wealthy Catherine is (just like when the rumors abound that Rachel is of the Tawainese plastic Chus)  He tries to drive a wedge between the two as he wants Catherine’s “fortune”. He’s like all the women who are after Nick’s fortune. Also is General Tilney, Eleanor Young and him are a perfect match. Both care about controlling their children’s lives and trying to make sure they choose a path that gives them monetary bliss. Genral Tilney marries his wife for his money and wants his second son and daughter to be wealthily wedded. He steers his son toward Catherine, manipulating and doing all he can to get them together-then when he discovers that the fortune is false-sends her packing. Eleanor works the same way-she tries to get Nick with any number of “suitable women” and does her best to send Rachel packing-succeeding just like the general.

And run fast

Eleanor and Astrid also share some similarities. In the movie (I know what am I saying please forgive me) Eleanor falls in love with an “unsuitable man”-one her father keeps her from marrying. He works hard to create his own business, becoming wealthy enough to please him. With Astrid same story, except the money didn’t matter-it was a class issue.

Pop star Kitty Pong is dating Alistair Cheng. She is a pop star social climber, after him for his money and very low class-just like Isabella Thorpe. Isabella Thorpe hooked onto Catherine and her brother James, becoming engaged like that. Isabella comes from a poor family and is trying her best to poach a wealthy man. When it is revealed that James Morland does not have as much money as she wants-she drops him for Captain Tilney (who ends up leaving her in the cold). Kitty follows the same pattern. When Alistair’s cousin tricks Kitty into thinking the Cheng family has nothing, she dumps Alistair for the very wealthy Bernard Tai.

So what do you think? Are you swayed by my arguments that this is Northanger Abbey? Or do you still think it has more in common with Pride and Prejudice.

Idea!

Either way it is a great story and one that is well worth a read.

For more Northanger Abbey, go to No One Would Have Ever Guessed

For more Persuasion, go to Right Away I Know I Won’t Like You

For more Austen-like reads, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: A Change of Fortune

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The Curious Case and Crime of Jane Leigh-Perrot

In 1799, Jane Leigh-Perrot went on trial for theft, a serious crime that could result in death. Stealing lace, believe it or not, was a capital crime that at worst-ended in hanging, and at best sent to Australia.

She managed to escape this fate, but really laid the defense on thick. Was she always innocent and won justice? Or a guilty woman using wealth as her golden ticket to freedom?

Hmm…

Why do we care about this woman?

I don’t know…

She is Jane Austen’s aunt.

Yes, so I’ve been reading the book Just Jane by Nancy Moser, and when it got to this part I was blown away and had to do more research.

So Jane’s first visit to Bath, an experience she later used in Northanger Abbey, was all because of her aunt of uncle. Like the characters in her novels, Jane had a wealthy family member that brought her along on a trip.

Jane visited in 1797 and while it was a fruitful trip, for us readers, she wasn’t too into it. Two years later the Austens received the news that the very aunt who took Jane on the trip, Aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot, was arrested, living in jail, and on trial for thievery.

So what caused a wealthy woman to ever be in a situation like this?

Huh?

Well, she had stopped at a shop to pick up a length of black lace. When she was leaving, she was asked by the shopkeeper to see her bag and inside was the black lace and a seam of white lace worth 20 shillings (£1)

What?

Jane Leigh-Perrot said it was a mistake by the shopkeeper, while the shopkeeper said it was shoplifting. Jane Leigh-Perrot was arrested the next day and had to be in jail for 8 months!

Wait a sec, let’s be real. Jane Leigh-Perrot was a wealthy woman, because of her husband and family influence she didn’t have to stay in the jail but stayed with the jailer’s family.

While that was better than the jail, it still wasn’t the standards she was used to. Not only did Jane Leigh-Perrot stay, but her husband stayed with her.

“Vulgarity, Dirt, Noise from morning till night…Cleanliness has ever been his greatest delight, and yet he sees the greasy toast laid by the dirty children on his knees, and feels the small Beer trickle down his Sleeves on its way across the table unmoved.”

When Mrs. Austen found out about her sister-in-law she wanted to send both her girls to comfort her.

Luckily, Mrs. Austen’s brother declined the offer and Jane didn’t have to spends months in “jail”. We might have had a much different novel if she did.

Catherine Morland in prison

The trial came and went, justice was served swiftly and Jane Leigh-Perrot was declared “not guilty” and the whole thing hushed up.

So did she do it?

Hmm…

Well let’s take a look. What goes against her ever being a thief? What is for the idea of her being a thief?

AGAINST: She’s a wealthy woman? Why would she bother stealing when she could afford as much ribbon as she wanted.

FOR: Being wealthy is no excuse. How many times have we read stories about wealthy people and stars doing things like this. Sometimes their ego gets in the way of their good choices.

AGAINST: Mr. Filby, the man who accused Jane Leigh-Perrot, later tried to blackmail the Leigh-Perrots. What honest man would resort to blackmail?

FOR: Mr. Filby and Miss Gregory (the shop owner) went several days in a row to the magistrates to try and have them arrest Jane Leigh-Perrot, with what seemed like no avail. Could it be they were tired of never getting justice and went after their own kind of justice?

AGAINST:The detail drawing of the shop that was used in the trial show that the places the lace was hanging there was no way the clerk could ever have “mistakenly” grabbed the wrong color. Did he purposely put it in?

FOR: The detail drawing of the shop that was used in the trial show that the places the lace was hanging there was no way the clerk could ever have “mistakenly” grabbed the wrong color. It was purposely taken. By Jane Leigh-Perrot?

AGAINST: The Leigh-Perrots were respectable citizens with philanthropic tendencies, while Mr. Filby and Miss Gregory were having an extra-marital affair.

FOR: The Leigh-Perrots hired four lawyers to defend them and paid £2000 for character witnesses. Why would they spend so much?

AGAINST; Others came forward and said that the same clerk, Mr. Filby, put things in their bags.

FOR: Another shopclerk said he saw Jane Leigh-Perrot take the lace.

So did she or didn’t she? We may never know.

Oh, well

To read more, click here.

For more on Jane Austen, go to Jane Austen Eyes

For more Jane Austen on trial, go to Brought Shame and Scandal to Pemberley: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Two (2013)

For more posts, go to No One Would Have Ever Guessed

 

 

A Long Fatal Love Chase

LongFatalLoveChase

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

This book by Louisa May Alcott is the anti-Northanger Abbey. That is everything that could go wrong. But I’m getting ahead of myself, first some background.

This book was written in 1866. Alcott had just returned from her job as a companion to a wealthy women during her trip abroad and all throughout Europe. When Alcott came home she discovered that her father had run through almost all their money. Eager to do her part in helping out, she started writing stories and attempted to get them published.

Newspapers were the big story publishers, printing them week by week and often paying per word. Now this was before radio and TV, so these weekly publications of stories was their version of soap operas, every week ending on a cliffhanger.

Since the purpose was to get the reader hooked and constantly buying to find what happened next, they really wanted dramatic stories. Alcott did her best to oblige, only problem? She did a little too well.

Her book was not published as it was far too racy for the day. Think of it as the Fifty Shades of Grey of the 19th century. Yep this novel deals with sex, violence, obsession, abuse, hypocrisy in religion, greed, the question of insanity, mistreatment of women, women’s rights, divorce, bigamy, suicide, murder, etc.

What?

While today’s audiences would go for all that, those back in 1866 dropped it like a hot potato. Alcott shelved the book, it not being published until 1995.

Wow

How Does It Relate to Northanger Abbey?

Hmm…

Well, first you have to understand how Northanger Abbey came about.

In 1605, Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes, was published. This book told the story of Don Quixote, a Spanish nobleman, who reads so many chivalric and romantic  stories (not romance stories as we have today, but the “classical romances”) that he sort of loses his sanity trying to live those values and live in that world, in the modern 17th century. He gets into all kind of crazy antics, battling other “knights”, “monsters”, etc.

In 1752, Charlotte Lennox parodied Don Quixote with her novel, The Adventures of Arabella also known as The Female Quixote. Her story is about a young girl, Arabella, who has been sequestered away in the middle of nowhere with just her father for companionship. Not encountering many people and her mother dying + father ignoring her; she learned all about people and how to interact with them from “classical romances”. This book goes over the problems of having read so many “romance novels”, you expect life to follow, only to be sorely disappointed.

Now Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, published in 1818, was meant to be a parody of The Female Quixote, gothic fiction, societal rules of the day, etc. One of the reasons why a lot of people don’t “get” this novel is that they don’t understand what she is poking fun at or trying to say about these subjects.

Hmm…

In Austen’s story, we have a young girl, Catherine, who has been raised not as sequestered as Arabella, but definitely in the country resulting in some naivety. She loves romance novels and gothic fiction, giving her an overactive imagination.

She is asked to accompany family friends to Bath for a season and while there finds herself encountering some of the problems of the other before mentioned characters. Her education in romance novels didn’t prepare her for how people act. Her overactive imagination does get the best of her as well. The other thing about this book is that Catherine does go through some events that are right out of a romance novel or gothic tale.

She meets two handsome strangers, both trying to win her; encounters some dangerous and immoral men; gets caught up in a plot to get money; and has the man of her dreams come after her to tell her he loves her.

So awesome!

And then we have A Long Fatal Love Chase, written in 1866, and follows the same veins as these other books, except taking a much darker twist.

Now I don’t know if Alcott has read any of these authors and set out to copy part of their ideas or what; but the stories are so similar I can’t help but believe that at least one of these authors inspired her.

The Plot:

A Long Fatal Love Chase, begins with our heroine Rosamund or Rose. She has lived on a small island with her grandfather ever since her parents died when she was very young. She has encountered no other people, from the time of her parent’s death, and therefore has a lot of naivete and a lack of propriety as she doesn’t know better.

Just living in my own world

Life with her grandfather is dreary, as he provides for the physical things (shelter, clothes, food, etc) but ignores Rose and doesn’t care for her emotional being.

This makes her wish that she could have someone take her away from it all, just like in the romance novels. In fact she states

“I would give my soul to the devil, for a year of freedom.”

Enter Philip Tempest.

Tall, brooding, handsome, rich, has a swashbuckling scar, sails around the world on his yacht, etc.

He comes to visit Rosamund’s grandfather and is quite taken with Rose’s sweet disposition, naivete, and young, innocent character. Rose falls in love with him, and dreams of the possibility that he might take her away from everything.

Tempest wants Rose and is not a man used to hearing NO. He plays cards with the grandfather, winning Rose.

I’m taking her.

He carries her away in his boat telling her that he is the master and she must serve him. He wants her only as his mistress, but Rose refuses anything until they are married. Tempest reluctantly agrees.

Women

A year later the couple are living in France to attend the gaieties. Besides Rose and Tempest, their party includes Baptiste, Tempest’s right hand man who does everything he says, and Impolito “Lito”, a Greek cabin boy who looks very familiar (aka Tempest’s child, very obvious). All has been great for the couple until Tempest runs into an old friend Willoughby. Willoughby???!!!

He knows something that Tempest is determined to keep hidden, so Tempest kills him.

Gasp!

Unbeknownst to him, a girl from a flower shop delivers a note to Lito, who then runs off to a secret meeting. Rose sees this and comments on it to Tempest. Tempest becomes so furious that Lito would “correspond” with her, that he sends him away.

Hmm…

Later Rose overhears Baptiste telling Tempest that “no one will find him in the grove.” When she goes to investigate she discovers a  mound of dirt as in a new grave, and the pin she gave Lito.

She starts to think that Tempest might have killed Lito. She still has her doubts, of which all are dashed when she overhears another conversation. This time she overhears a conversation between Tempest and a woman, a woman who is HIS WIFE.

Yes Lito is their son, of which Tempest took when he left his wife. He has wanted a divorce but she won’t grant him one unless he gives her custody of their son, something Tempest would never do. He has been sailing around the world with many mistresses, content if not fully happy. He met Rose and faked the marriage in order to make her happy, knowing that it was void. Rose becomes distraught at his lies and betrayal of trust and runs away.

Noooo!

So here’s where it gets even more dramatic. We see a man from a romance character ready to make your dreams come true, right? Wrong! Tempest is an abuser and a controller. He tells Rose that her loves her, but in truth having her being subservient gives him power. Where ever she runs, he chases her, intent on making her his. We have the anti-Northanger Abbey as instead of a dreamy, true life romance hero; we have a sociopath.

Now some may wonder why is Tempest evil, but Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre who does a similar thing romantic? Well for two reasons. The first is that Mr. Rochester was tricked into marrying his wife by his family, who wanted a merger with their business and her family, who no longer wanted to take care of her. They hid the illness well, and when Mr. Rochester discovered how crazy she was it was too late, and those who are insane can’t get divorced. He’s stuck with her.

He has to live with a woman who is more animalistic than human and constantly trying to murder him.

Tempest married a beautiful, wealthy, Greek-English girl; become bored and left. He hates being tied down and loves being in power. He stole their child from his wife and covered it up by having her told Lito was dead. She was heartbroken as she believed him, only discovering the lie when Willoughby writes to her.

Mr. Rochester does try to marry Jane as he falls in love with her, but is stopped from committing bigamy by his wife’s brother. Jane leaves, and as much as he doesn’t want her to go, he respects her wishes and leaves her alone.

Aw!

Tempest marries Rose, having a friend pretend to be a preacher and perform the wedding service. Rose finds out and leaves, Tempest refuses to acknowledge her feelings and actions and stalks her.

What a psycho!

Rose starts work with a seamstress in a French village, but Tempest finds her barricaded in her room. He tells her that he will be getting the divorce soon, and then they can be together forever. That night Rose escapes, with help from a friend, and finds refuge with an actress. She spends some happy time there, and even reunites with Lito, who was not killed but sent somewhere. All is not perfect as Tempest finds them again, and the two flee.

I’m out!

Rose to a convent and Lito to his mother. Later Rose discovers a dead body, and she plants evidence so that people would think it was her.

Hmm…

Rose enjoys being in the convent and serving, paying penance for her sins. She befriends the two priests; Father Dominic the elder, and Father Ignatius, young and deeply in love with Rose. Rose seeks help from Father Dominic to overcome her love and temptation to return to Tempest, only to discover that both the Mother Superior and Father Dominic sold her out to Tempest.

She escapes Tempest again, and reunites with the Comté who’s daughter she saved from dying of fever. He takes care of her and falls in love, asking her to marry him. She agrees and gets ready to, when Tempest finds her once again. He convinces the Comté that Rose is his wife and insane.

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

As the Comté deserts her, and Tempest is preparing to carry her off, Rose commits suicide, shooting herself.

Unfortunately the shot to her side wasn’t deadly, but does have her thrown into a mental institution (from yours truly Tempest). There she lives some horrible and demoralizing days. She manages to convince Baptiste to turn to her side and help her escape the asylum, only to discover it is another ploy by Tempest to capture her.

AAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tempest carries her away to a remote island, intent on being kind and sweet, wooing her. He is divorced now and wants Rose for his wife and forever. She ends up being saved by Father Ignatious, fleeing to the safety of Tempest’s ex-wife, but finds out that getting out of the Tempest is not easy.

Will it ever be over?

Was the Book Good?

I thought this book was very interesting. And had some pros and cons.

Pros:

First I recommend this book for all Alcott fans as it is so strikingly different from her other works. All the other novels: Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, The Inheritance, etc.; were dramatic and fun stories; but nowhere near as sensational and traumatic as this book. If it hadn’t said Louisa May Alcott on the cover, I never would have guessed it was something she has written. You won’t understand until you read it and get a shock.

I’m in shock

What also is fascinating is how Alcott brings to light how much power men have over women at this time, and the inequality in relationships. You have to remember this was not done at the time. Women were men’s property and they could not only do as they wished, but held all the power. I don’t know how many of you saw The Duchess, starring Keira Knightly, but look how unfair women are treated. Georgina is a Duke’s wife but is forced to share her home with the Duke’s mistress and the mistress’ children. When she steps out on him, she loses everything; position in society, her children, etc. He gets to do whatever he wants, hit her, embarrass her, rape her; but she has to follow society’s rules.

So not fair!!

This is what happens in this book. Tempest is abusive, a stalker, and a psychopath; but gets to continue in his behavior because he is male. When Father Ignatious helped Rose escape the convent and reach the Comté, he writes the Comté a letter with all that happened and warning him against Tempest. Yet when Tempest comes, the Comté easily believes the woman is crazy, rather than this charismatic man is what Rose and the Priest say he is.

Alcott also brings to light abusive relationships, stalking, what it feels like, etc. This book is sort of the 19th century’s version of Sleeping With the EnemyHere Alcott is clearly showing that this behavior is wrong and should not be accepted.

Cons:

It was too dramatic for my taste. I’m not really a soap opera/telanovela type person. The end in which she is in love with the priest and the priest loves her but both resolve to do nothing about it was not only too flowery, but boring.

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Prude & Prejudice

A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma

A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma by Joan Austen-Leigh

So you all know that I’m not really into  diary novels, well that doesn’t apply to epistles, letters, novels. I don’t mind reading books made up of letters (as long as they aren’t solely love letters-that makes me feel like a voyeur).

And that is what this book is about. It is a view of the novel Emma told in letters. But the letters aren’t between Emma, Harriet, Jane, Mr. Weston, Mrs. Weston or Mr. Knightley. Instead the author choose to tell the story from Mrs. Goddard’s point of view, the headmistress of the school that Harriet attends.

What?

I know. At first I didn’t want to read this book. Mrs. Goddard is hardly even in the story except when she brings Harriet to meet Emma and start the two’s friendship. I couldn’t fathom why they would pick her over any other character.

Uhhhhhhh

In fact, the story is told between Mrs. Goddard and her sister Mrs. Charlotte Pinkney, who is living in London after a hasty marriage.

I’m not sure about this.

I wasn’t sure if I would like it but decided to start reading so I could post a review.

So I read it and…

I was so surprised but I loved every page of it and couldn’t stop reading.

The characters were amazing. Mrs. Goddard is very sensible and tries to provide a good home for the girls at her school. She cares heavily for each one and tries to help them as much as she can. She even cares deeply for her staff, as when one maid gets pregnant and the father won’t marry or take care of her-Mrs. Goddard helps her out and keeps her job open for her return.

Mrs. Pinkney has always been happy and a spendthrift. After her husband died and she was left with his debts, she married quickly to the wealthy family friend, Mr. Pinkney. At first she is upset, angry, whiney, and just unhappy as she is still grieving the changes in her life and that her new marriage isn’t so fun and flitty: Mr. Pinkey is more concerned over finances than anything else. She is bored and lonely and instead of working on her marriage devotes all her time to writing her sister.

Mrs. Goddard writes to her everything that is happening in Highbury, even though she thinks the news to be nothing and rather dull.

But Mrs. Pinkney gets caught up in the tales and the story of Emma. Besides that she befriends a young girl, Charlotte, from the school next door (a horribly run establishment). Having her lightens up the home and brings Mr. and Mrs. Pinkney together as they both enjoy Charlotte’s company. They even take her to Bath.

Scene of Bath from Persuasion

There Charlotte meets a sailor and begins correspondence with him. Mr. Pinkey’s Admiral friend also agrees to look into whether Charlotte’s father is still alive, if survived the storm that took his boat.

Aw!

As Mr. and Mrs. Pinkney draw closer together, he too becomes interested in the news of Highbury and the story of Emma.

Now I read an article not to long ago how Emma is a mystery, but thought nothing of it as it didn’t really seem like a mystery to me.

hmm…

But then in this book Mrs. Goddard, Mrs. Pinkney, and Mr. Pinkney all collaborate to figure out different elements of the story. Who is Mr. Elton really after to be his wife?

Hmm…

Why is Mr. Elton so angry at Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith?

Hmmm….

Why does Harriet refuse Mr. Robert Martin when it was clear she was crazy about him?

Hmm…

Who gives Jane Fairfax the piano?

Hmm…

Why do Harriet and Emma suddenly stop being friends?

Hmmm….

Who does Mr. Knightley wish to marry?

hmm…

And much more. The three are on the case:

I thought it was fantastic story telling. Joan Austen-Leigh knows how to have the perfect balance of the original characters:

With brand new, interesting, and fun characters

It was fun, captivating, and as said before, a real page turner.

I highly recommend it for any Jane Austen or Emma fan. This is one book that you shouldn’t miss out on.

For more on Emma, go to TO the Person Who Hated My Review of Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

For more Emma variations, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues

 

For Darkness Shows the Stars

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For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1) by Diana Peterfreund

So I picked this book up as you know I will review anything Austen. I thought it was going to be about Pride and Prejudice as most are, but it surprised me and was about Persuasion instead.

persuasion

Persuasion was published in 1818 after Austen’s death, alongside Northanger Abbey. Out of all the Austen works, these two seem to have the least amount of fans and notice.

It is sad they don’t have more.

I have always found that strange as I love both of these novels.

Even though it isn’t as loved by people, Persuasion has had two films made of it and a lot of it is based on Austen’s feelings of her first love and a wish fulfillment of being reunited.

Anyways, just in case you’ve never heard of it (and as I have yet to work through it as I am still stuck on Emma) I think we need a quick review.

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Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth fall in love. He asks her for her hand in marriage, but Anne’s father refuses. Anne is unsure and goes to a family friend for advice; as her mother is dead, her father lives in his own world, and her sisters don’t care. This family friend persuades her to say no as Anne is above him in station, Fredrick has no options for promotion (as his family can’t procure it), the likelihood of him dying and living Anne a penniless widow (as her father will leave her nothing) is very high, and the two are so young.

Hmm…

Anne goes to Fredrick and refuses, him becoming angry as he thinks it is just because of his lack of money and station. (In Anne’s defense the real thing that made her unsure was the stressing of him most likely being killed and her being left alone.)

Years pass, Anne has never seen Fredrick again or stopped loving him. She had other men interested, but refused them as she didn’t love them.

What has changed is the Elliot family fortune, her father and older sister have blown through their money so fast that they are being forced to let out their home to a sea Admiral. A Captain Admiral Croft and his wife, Mrs. Croft. Mrs. Croft who turns out to be Fredrick Wentworth’s sister!

Anne goes to stay with her sister, Mary Musgrove, for a while, while her other sister and father are staying in Bath, with Anne to join them later.

When she is staying with Mary, Fredrick Wentworth returns to visit his sister and husband. Now a Captain, he has also become extremely wealthy; having taken so many risks in the war that he excelled monetarily and was promoted. Captain Wentworth is searching for a wife, and is funny and kind to all; but Anne.

It appears that old hangups remain so. Will Wentworth and Anne be reunited? Will Wentworth marry another?

You have to read the book!

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So this science-fiction/Fantasy book takes place in the not too distant future…

Sorry, anyways…there were advancements in technology, so much that they were able to do DNA procedures to make your body excel in ways previously unimaginable, almost cyborg like.

These DNA procedures cause a war between people who believe this is not what God wants, and those who believe that the pursuit of science is the only answer. Unfortunately, they discover they did not know everything, as many of these experiments go wrong as people lose a majority of their faculties.

After wars, bombing, and a complete restructuring of the world they know, the people are divided into two groups: Luddites and the Reduced.

Like the class system in Metropolis.

Luddites are the royalty and own all the land, they care for the Reduced in a feudal system/slave system as the Reduced are tied to the land, but more extensively like slaves, yet not traded and sold as slaves are. Reduced are mutes, who aren’t in complete control of their faculties, need to be supervised, etc.

Recently, things have been shifting as there are “Reduced” who are born very intelligent, able to speak, often called “Children of the Reduced” or “CORs”, and “Post-Reduced” or “Posts” by themselves.

Our main character is Elliot North (Anne Elliot) a wealthy Luddite, one of the oldest Luddite families. She, her father, and sister have a farm; but it is going downhill as her father and sister don’t care about the people, the farm, long term care, but only themselves and what they want. For instance her father has cut down all their apple trees for a “better view” or destroyed Elliot’s planted field for a racetrack.

Elliot tries hard to keep things running, to take her mother’s place, but finds herself drowning in the debt her father and sister, Tatiana North, create. In fact, they have had to rent out her grandfather’s, Chancellor Boatwright, home and ship yard to a set of wealthy free Posts- Admiral Innovation, his wife Dr. Felicia Innovation and their crew: Captain Malakai Wentforth, Andromeda Phoenix, and Donovan Phoenix.

Not good

Elliot’s only solace is the barn, where she would work on her plans, and relive her memories with her old friend, the boy she loved, and Post; Kai. Since she has lost her field and all her months of hard work, nothing seems right. But there is plenty to do on a farm.

When the Innovations and their crew arrive, Elliot finds herself admiring and enjoying the company of the Innovations and the crewman Donovan. Andromeda doesn’t seem to like her one bit, although Elliot has no clue what she could have done to upset her. However, everything changes when she meets Captain Malakai Wentforth. It appears it is her old friend and love has returned-Kai (Captain Fredrick Wentworth).

Years ago the two forged a friendship, (despite her father’s constant striving to keep them apart), a friendship that turned into love. The two made plans to run away together, but in the end Elliot couldn’t do it. She knew she had to fulfill her promise to her mother and take care of the farm and the Posts. She wrote Kai a letter:

Dear Kai,

Please do not hate me. I couldn’t bear it if you hated me.

                      But I cannot go with you.

                      I thought I could. Last night, I thought everything was possible. I thought you were right, that there was nothing for me here, either. Mother’s dead, Grandfather’s locked in his own head, and you’re leaving. Why in the world should I stay? It was a beautiful dream. But outside your room, outside the barn, in the cold light of morning, I realized that was all it was. A dream. There is nothing for me here, but that doesn’t mean I am nothing to the North estate.

                     Today, when I was supposed to be packing, I wandered the estate. I watched the Posts in their little cottages, I watched the Reduced in the fields, and I thought about our lots in life.

                    We can’t escape who we are born to be, Kai. The Reduced are Reduced. They will always be Reduced. And I will always be a Luddite. I was born this way. I will die this way. I can’t turn my back on that. Luddites were handed a sacred trust-we are the caretakers of humanity. Without us, the world would have burned, and all mankind would have been destroyed. I cannot ignore that. I cannot forget who I am.

                    But you are not a Luddite.

                    That’s why I cannot go with you. And also why I can’t ask you to stay.

                     God be with you.

Yours,

Elliot

 Elliot’s feelings for Kai resurface but he wants nothing to do with her.

He is rude, cruel, cynical, and nasty around her. He spends a lot of time with their neighbors, the Groves-Horatio and his younger sister Olivia. Olivia has fallen for Kai, and to Elliot’s utter disappointment it looks like he feels the same way.

Noooo!

But Elliot cannot focus on that only as her long lost cousin, Benedict and air to the North estate, returns eager to regain control of the promised land, her grandfather grows more ill, and her father tries to engage her in even more power plays.

During one of her free moments, she joins Andromeda, Kai, Donovan, Olivia, and Horatio on an outing to the sea cliffs. Kai and Donovan jump from incredible distances, and Andromeda explains that they recognize the wind shifts because of their piloting expertise. As they continue, Elliot realizes something is not right.

When Olivia tries to do the jump, she falls and is horribly injured. While they try and help her, Elliot realizes that Kai is hiding a big secret, one that could destroy everything.

Not good

Once again Eliot finds herself at a fork in the road. Should she follow the man she loves? Or cling to her Luddite responsibilities.

***Spoiler Warning***

I thought it was pretty good story and interpretation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Having Wentworth as a slave/serf rather than lower standing put a completely new spin on the relationship.

I liked how in between the time of the novel, there were letters and notes their younger selves passed, giving us a view of how their relationship started.

Aw!

It doesn’t follow the book exactly, but the author did a good job in staying true to the core of the story, while at the same time doing her own thing.

Good job!

Now there are two things I didn’t like.

First, I didn’t like how the author inserted God to create conflict between those who wanted change and mutation and those who wanted things to remain the same. The insertion wasn’t really what bothered me as much as the author not really giving us a stand on how our main character felt. One of the laws is to not try to play with genetics as you are raising yourself for a a fall, messing with things you shouldn’t control, etc. As much as the main character struggles with her ideas and wondering if they are against God, we never see what her relationship to God is. Is she extremely devout? Who or What is her God? What exactly do they believe in their religion? She brings it up constantly, but we never really know why this is such an issue to her because the author chooses to ignore it. We never see her pray, attend church, do any type of worship, etc. In my opinion you either need to go all the way or just leave it out; no in-between.

The second thing that bothered me was how mean Kai was in this. I mean he was horribly cruel. Now in Persuasion she doesn’t really explain herself as to way she refuses him, so he draws his own conclusions. I this Kai knows! He knows that she needs to help care for the people! He knows how her father and sister are, and without Elliot they would be cruel, starve everyone, and run the whole farm down into the groumd! Yet even though he knows this, he is so horrible to her. I understand why the author made him that way, and it completely makes sense as to character to behave in such a way. But it makes it hard to read as he acts like a jerk, before he finally comes to his senses.

But otherwise I thought it was an excellent read and one of the better Austen reinterpretations on the market. I suggest you check it out for yourself.

For more on Persuasion, go to What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen

For more Persuasion variations, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen

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The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen compiled by editors Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. 2003 (originally printed in 1997).

So I read this book I think about five years ago. There is a brief biography of Austen’s life: her as a writer; a work on Northanger Abbey, Sense & Sensibility, and Pride & Prejudice; Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion; her short stories; the Austen letters; class-consciousness; economy of the culture; religion and politics;style in the novels; the significance of her juvenile works; and Austen cults/cultures.

The Lovely Jane

The Lovely Jane

I thought this book was…okay.

Not always the best idea

Meh.

Some of the essays had some very interesting points

StarTrekFascinatingSpockinteresting

While others were boring or just rehashed old ideas that you already knew.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

Now in this book’s defense it was published almost twenty years ago, so the ideas in were most likely new at the time. However, some of those writers are just so dusty. You don’t have to write about the past and make it so stifling.

Really?

Come on now. You can be historical and interesting.

The essay that I recall the most, was the one about Northanger Abbey. It was written by Rachel M. Brownstein and I hated it.

Something is not right!

Something is not right!

In her essay she writes about how Northanger Abbey  is a parody of the romantic genre that was popular at the time. I was okay with that.

okay...

Alright…

Northanger Abbey in a way is a rewrite of The Female Quixote or The Adventures of Arabella by Charlotte Lennox. In fact I agreed with a lot of what she said. How Austen made fun of the romantic tropes, actually quite snarkly. In fact she would have fit in today, on Youtube right next to Nostalgia Critic or something.

Here's to another 200 years!

The part I didn’t like was when she started talking smack about Mr. Tilney.

Ryan-Gosling-Oh-No-You-Didnt-Half-Nelson

In her essay she discusses how Mr. Tilney is the most “feminine” of the Austen heroes and that he is dominated by his father; never really making a move or taking any action toward Catherine; everything being done by General Tilney.

princess-leia-i-dont-know-what-youre-talking-about

So as you can tell I had major issues with that.

I don't think so

So she concludes that he is “feminine” rather than “masculine” because he is interested in muslin (something only for a woman), is dominated by his father, and reads novels. I however, feel he is no less masculine than any other Austen man.

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1)Interest in Muslin

tilneyonmuslin

So Catherine has just met Mr. Henry Tilney who is unlike any man she has met or read in books. Instead of being tall, dark, and brooding; he is jovial, saracastic, witty, hilarious, etc. No reserve for him.

They begin on the subject of muslin by Mrs. Allen who is speaking on her muslin dress and how she would hate for it to be torn. It is a favorite of hers and cost but nine shillings a yard. Henry shares that he would have guessed that as he is a great judge of muslin. He buys his own cravats and sometimes his sister’s gowns.

Now there are many ways to look at this:

1. Henry is a Down to Earth Man

jjfeildhenrytilney

So Henry Tilney is a middle son. He knows that like most middle children, he will not inherit much but instead has to make his own fortune.

workhardforthemoney

Military is out as his older brother is in it already, (who wants to be compared to him?), and it doesn’t suit his temperament. He choose the church as a profession, and while he will live comfortably he won’t be a millionaire, unless he marries up. And until he finds this rich heiress to marry, he most likely won’t have servants doing the shopping for him, so he’ll  probably have to go out and do it himself.

He knows his fabric, most likely because he is getting used to leaving within a means.

2. Henry is a Good Brother

northangerabbeyeleanorhenrytilney

Eleanor Tilney is the youngest of the Tilney clan. She is very reserved and quiet; due to her father General Tilney’s tyrannical ways. We know that the father emotionally abused the mother with his attitude and temperment, being a vampire of spirit, and it is easily concluded that he did the same with his daughter. Because of this, Eleanor doesn’t have many friends, the only one being her brother Henry, and then later Catherine.

The eldest Tilney, Captain Fredrick Tilney, is a lot like his father. He is no friend of Eleanoe; leaving Henry to shoulder the big brother responsibilities and to be the protector of his sister. Like Mr. Darcy, there are probably a ton of different things he does for his sister, buying her clothing the least of it.

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3. Henry is Being Sarcastic

mrtilneynorthangerabbeysass

We know that Mr. Tilney has a wicked sense of humor. He is sarcastic, funny, and likes going against society (not 100% but a mini rebellion).

Right before this exchange he and Catherine are discussing her time in Bath, with Mr. Tilney sassily and snarkily making fun of how society expects such bland converstion (much of how Elizabeth does when she and Darcy dance in Pride & Prejudice).

“[Mr. Tilney] I have hitherto been very remiss, madam, in the proper attentions of a partner here; I have not yet asked you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were ever here before; whether you have been at the Upper Rooms, the theatre, and the concert; and how you like the place altogether. I have been very negligent-but are you now at leisure to satisfy me in these particulars? If you are I will begin directly.’

[Catherine Moreland] ‘You need not give yourself that trouble sir.’

[Mr. Tilney] ‘No trouble I assure you, madam.’ Then forming his features in a set smile, and affectedly softening his voice, he added, with a simpering air, ‘Have you been long in Bath, madam?’

‘About a week, sir. ‘ replied Catherine, trying not to laugh.

Really!’ [said Mr. Tilney] with affected astonishment.

Why should you be surprised. sir?’ [asked Catherine]

Why, indeed!’ said he, in his natural tone. ‘But some emotion must appear to be raised by your reply, and surprise is more easily assumed…

This teasing continues for a while, with Catherine trying her best to withold her laughter.

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So we know that Mr. Tilney is a kidder. He likes to joke around, and he likes to be sassy; it is easy to believe that his remarks on muslin are all just one big joke. That he knows nothing about muslin, but is just being sarcastic again.

SarcasmWayofLife

Maybe he decides to play along with what Mrs. Allen is saying as he is in a silly/sarcastic mood, trying to make Catherine laugh once again. We know he likes to tease, and make fun of other’s foibles (eccentricities) so it is easy to conclude that.

Well, whether he knows his muslin, is a good brother, or just making fun. Mrs. Allen believes he knows his stuff, and that is good enough for me.

tilney on muslin

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2) Dominated by His Father

How do I describe General Tilney?

Jerk

He pretended to be sweet, charming, and kind to win the heart of a wealthy woman, but later revealed his true colors. He was tyrannical and his way always the right one or else. He held all the power and expected his children to bow to his will or find themselves with nothing.

willy-wonka-you-get-nothingyoulose

How is this less than other Austen characters? Mr. Darcy isn’t dominated by a person, per say, but by society. He knows himself to be attracted to Elizabeth, but feels he cannot marry her as she isn’t in his class, nor does he want to be chained to her family. He does all he can to not want to be with her, but ultimately succumbs.

Mr.Darcy Pride&Prejudice

Edward Ferrars is just as dominated by the head of his family, although in this case it is his mother. Just like in the Tilney clan, you must do what she says or risk losing it all. Edward’s mother wants him to follow a more elite career, while Edward wants to be a minister. He almost gives into his mother’s wishes; but luckily stays true to who he is.

quietofPrivateLifeSense&Sensibility

And this was something that happened a lot back then. With inheritance being the key to living comfortably, and rich relatives holding the power, more often than not people always had to bend to their will.

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3) Reading Novels

Stupid Not to Read Jane Austen Quote

So in the 18th century there was what historians call the “reading revolution”. With the printing press improvements that occured then and in the early 19th century, books could be printed more easily and cheaply. Reading and owning books became a huge phenomenon as almost everyone had the ability to purchase them.

NeverCanHaveTooManyBooks

Everything from science, to books we now call classics, novels, romance, history, to cheap thrills, etc. Such romances like The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Monk were popular, but thought to be purposely explicit and exploiting, “women’s cheap novels” but read by all.

So while it would be unusual for Mr. Tilney to admit to reading them, it is not unusual for him to actually read them as most men do. But this admittance goes with his character as we have already seen that Tilney doesn’t feel the need to be reserved but is more open in his demeanor.

Besides as this is still a romance, whether parody or remake, and as Catherine is an avid book reader, her hero has to be as much a reader as her. After all, there is nothing sexier then meeting a man who loves to read.

guysread

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4) Never Makes a Move or Takes any Action Toward Catherine

Really?

Really?

Did you not read the end of the book? Yes, Mr. Tilney does not invite Catherine to his house, his dad does as he is trying to hook them up, but what about that final scene? You know the one where he goes after Catherine and asks her to marry him risking everything for her?

tilney

He is gone from the family home when Catherine was given the boot. When he returns and finds out what happened, he could have just let it go. Or he could have gone and apologized to Catherine, returning home and continuing the search for a wealthy bride. But does he do that? NO! He goes after her, having more balls than Mr. Darcy and Edward Ferrars.

Yes I went there.

Yes I went there.

He not only goes to her house and humbles himself in front of her and her family, but is willing to throw his entire fortune away for her, not even knowing if she feels the same way about him. She could tell him no and then he would end up with nothing, having turned on his father.

riskdish- tilney

Mr. Darcy never went to Elizabeth in such a way, begging her forgiveness. He worked on himself and helped the family, by saving Lydia, but never threw himself at Elizabeth’s feet. Edward comes to Elinor to share his feelings, but he never apologizes for leading her on while engaged or tried to apologize for his behavior, (except for that one time he was interrupted by Lucy before he could say anything). Only Mr. Tilney throws all caution to the wind, and gives up everything for the woman he loves.

-prince-charming mr. tilney

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Mr. Tilney…what else can I say about you?

find mr.tilney

You are definitely hero material

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For more on Mr. Tilney, go to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen 

For more on Jane Austen, go to Jane, Jane, Jane: A Jane Austen Biography

You Cannot Conquer It. It has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

Dr.Jekyll&MrHyde

“You became that monster tonight not of your own accord. It will happen again.

It never will. I’m sure of it. I’ll conquer it!

Too late. You cannot conquer it. It has conquered you!”

So Horrorfest this year got off to a rough start. It’s not that I wasn’t excited for it or not eager to review horror films, I was just floundering. I wasn’t sure what to do for it, I mean after all last year was the best Horrorfest I have ever done. It was planned out way in advance, was half done by the time October rolled around, had a werewolf theme, etc. How could I top that? What could I do? Should I do another theme? I was just so unsure.

I don't know what to do

So I thought and thought and begin reviewing and planning a few things. I don’t know if this year will be as good as last years, but here we go!!!

Horror Films

So of course the most difficult thing in every Horrorfest, is what movie to start with and which to end. The first year I did Carnival of Souls (1962) and Halloween (1978); the second year The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Children of the Corn (1984); and the third year The Wolf Man (1941) and The Wolfman (2010).

After a looooooooong deliberation, I finally chose my final post. That left the first post which created an even looooooooooooooonger debate. But I finally picked, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.

Dr.Jekyll&MrHyde

So before we start the review, let me give you a little background information. This film is based on the novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and is set in Victorian England. It was turned into a play, in which the writer added in two love interests; and then adapted into a silent film in the 1920s. This version is the first with sound, and while similar to the book has made quite a few changes. This film came out in 1931, and is a Pre-Code film. That means this film came out before the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was created and started rating things. So this film has a lot of things that wouldn’t be acceptable later to show on the big screen, in fact when they rereleased it in theaters they had to cut part of the film (added back in on VHS & DVD).

keanu Whoa

This film also had some different ways of filming (more on that later) and landed Fredric March an Oscar for his performance. This was back when the Academy wasn’t so hoity-toity, today they wouldn’t nominate anyone in a horror film unless it was for makeup, sound, or film editing.

The Academy SUCKS!

The Academy SUCKS!

While in the book the story is told not through Dr. Jekykll, but his friend who discovers the whole story, they changed it so that all is through his point of view.

Anyways, lets begin the review.

So our film starts out with the credits and creepy organ music that sets the mood, and shivers down your spine!

shiver

We then are shown a pair of hands playing organ music. Oh early horror movies, you almost always had an organ in there somewhere.

phantom-of-the-opera

But unlike The Phantom of the Opera or Dracula, this music is light and airy, very sweet.

Dr. Jekyll (Fredric March) continues to play when his butler tells him that he must leave soon if he is to reach his lecture hall in time and teach his lesson. Dr. Jekyll doesn’t want to quit his playing, but gets up to go.

Now here is one of the things that director Rouben Mamoulian did much, much differently. The camera angles for the first three minutes of the film are shot from Dr. Jekyll’s point of view, we don’t see his face.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

I know. Very unusual but the effect works. We see him doing the mundane things and talking to his butler, but all I can think is what he looks like. I mean I know what Fredrich March looks like, but will he look the same here? Will they make him older like in the book? Will he be handsome? I just have got to see his face!!!!

Suspense have to know

And when we are finally shown it in the mirror:

DrJekyll&MrHyde

Wow, what a hunk.

swoon dreamy

So after we are shown his face we go back to seeing through his eyes. Throughout the film while they switch back and forth between first person and observer point of view, the film is a majority from an observer/third point of view like most films.

So Dr. Jekyll heads to the University in his horse-drawn carriage. And one thing you notice right away, everyone likes or admires him. His butler, the carriage driver, the students think he’s spectacular, and even the older scholars enjoy his lectures and ideas.

And I truly mean it

So Dr. Jekyll begins his lecture and it is not what anyone has expected. Instead of discussing a part of the physical body, he chooses to discuss the Soul of Man. Dr. Jekyll defines that every person has two pieces to them. One side is constantly striving for the nobility of life, morals, i.e. the “Good side”. The other only cares for satisfying their desires and giving in to temptation, i.e. the “Bad side”.

Both are in an eternal struggle:

Vampires Suck Shovel Fight

The Good side wants to be good all the time, but is constantly tempted to do evil. The Bad wants to do whatever it wants, but feels remorse at the things it does. Both are chained together, with one taking more control than the other, be it bad or good. What Dr. Jekyll proposes is to seperate the two, so that the bad can be destroyed and the good be the only left.

Say What

Everyone is appalled!What could he be thinking? Why would he even consider it?

In fact, Dr Jekyll has already started his experiment and research looks as if it could be possible.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

After the lecture ends, people are split in how they feel about it. The young students laugh it off as a joke, split the soul in two, not even possible. The older attendees are in complete shock! How dare he blaspheme and cross into God’s territory!!!

No thank youhowaboutno

Dr. Jekyll’s friend, Dr. Layon, warns him to give the whole thing up. That this will not end well at all for him. But Dr. Jekyll won’t listen, as he believes that science must push boundaries. There is no lines to consider, all is fair game.

Game of thrones jon Snow kit harrington I know how

Dr. Layon reminds Dr. Jekyll of the appointment they have with the Countess, but Dr. Jekyll tells him he’s not going, but heading to the poor’s hospital. Dr. Layon tells him that he must, certain things are expected of his caliber of gentlemen, but Dr. Jekyll refuses,

Dr. Jekyll: The things one can’t do are the things I want to.

So he goes to the hospital and helps a poor girl, put down her crutches and overcome her fear of walking. Dr. Jekyll would rather help someone who truly needs it, than a hypochondriac that just wants attention.

He is planning on operating on a woman, when Dr. Lanyon comes to bring him to dinner at General Carew’s house, with Jekyll’s fiancé Muriel. But Jekyll refuses dinner, saying he must operate now. So Dr. Lanyon leaves.

After dinner there is dancing and Muriel has had to do with other men, as Dr. Jekyll is still not there. He finally arrives, but Muriel is justifiably upset.

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She quickly forgives him and they go off to the garden to talk. Here we see another side of Dr. Jekyll. He’s no longer the cool, collected, serious doctor; but giddy, adorable, and in love. In fact he wants to get married now.

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It must be so strange for a genius who has been solely concentrated on science, logic, cold hard facts; to find himself with this sudden rush of emotion and desire. It’d be like if Sherlock Holmes met a woman he wanted to marry and have babies. So sudden, strange, and hard to control.

feelings

The General won’t let them marry immediately as he feels that such a short engagement would be indecent (hint: mean that his daughter is not a virgin, is pregnant, or has done other promiscuous/indecent things.) In his defense, he is trying to protect his daughter’s reputation, but this has disastrous results.

Spoke too soon

Dr. Jekyll is a man that once he gets an idea, strives constantly until he come to a conclusion or figured a solution to his problem. He isn’t used to “waiting”.

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To make this even worse, this is a man who has denied himself any kind of passionate emotions. He has always strived to be a good person, but even more so, he has denied himself all emotions for logic, science, etc. Now Muriel has awakened a side of him that he had locked up and all these emotions are coming out.

feelings

It is something that Dr. Jekyll has no way of gageing or keeping in check. And instead of having the ability to wait or hold on, he wants it NOW!

Now as I mentioned before, in the book Dr. Jekyll isn’t engaged, his only love was knowledge, science, etc.: so this question only applies to the film. But if the General allowed them to get married now, would Dr. Jekyll have continued his quest for splitting the soul? Or would he have been too preoccupied with married life?

The plot thickens

After Dr. Jekyll is shot down by the General, he and Dr. Layon leave. Dr. Jekyll is so angry and incensed that he is being denied. Why must we be unable to have the things we want?

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He is so angry he thinks about strangling him.

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While he and his friend are discussing this, he witnesses an altercation with a low-class woman and a low-class man. It might seem a little odd to us now to see such opulence next to such depravity, but a lot of cities were like that for a while, think of 42nd Street in New York, “where the underworld can meet the elite” [from musical 42nd Street].

The good doctor picks her up and carries her into her room. While the film never addresses it, or says exactly what she is, this woman, Ivy, is; but based on the way she acts (and the amount of men she is with) it is safe to say she is a prostitute. In later films and musicals, they make it more definite.

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Anyways, when he gets her in bed, she shows him where the man hurt her, bruising her leg, and not just her leg but upper thigh. Yep, this where the liberties of the pre-code begin.

He tells her all she needs is rest, and Ivy insinuates she’d like him in bed with her.

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He of course moves away from the bed, but Ivy hasn’t given up yet. She likes that he is a gentleman and gives him a strip tease before she gets into bed.

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She sticks out her bare leg, BARE LEG, for Dr. Jekyll to examine as her knee is “broken”. When he comes over, she kisses him, and Dr. Jekyll doesn’t stop the kiss.

As they are kissing, his friend walks in. They leave, with Ivey swinging her leg back and forth and inviting Jekyll to come back anytime.

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In fact as the two leave, her leg continues to swing back and forth over them slowly dissolving and showing how both men are still focused on it.

So the film presents these two women show the duality that Dr. Jekyll will become.

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On one hand we have brunette Muriel, demure, sweet, kind, innocence, a lady: that has awoken feelings of love that he has never been aware of before. On the other hand we have the low class, brassy, blonde, who is highly sexual. She has awakened a lust in him and he wants her to satisfy his longing, but doesn’t want anymore than that.

So he and his friend leave, with his friend appalled at his actions.

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Dr. Lanyon: Perhaps you’re forgetting, you’re engaged to Muriel.

Dr. Jekyll: Forgotten it? Can a man dying of thirst forget water? And do you know what would happen to that thirst if it were to be denied water?

Dr. Lanyon: If I understand you correctly, you sound almost indecent.

Now the problem in Dr. Jekyll’s case is not the Puritan viewpoints of the Victorian Era, a lot of people fall into that misconception. You see a man releasing his sexual drive with prostitutes was actually expected. Sex with a wife was viewed more for children, not “fun”. Dr. Jekyll’s problem is that he does not want to be a regular person who suffers from temptation and desire, he wants to be rid of it completely. He wants so badly to be perfectly good, hence all his charity work, and he wants to remove the ability to even “fall into sin”. Instead of having to make a choice, he wants to remove all need for morality as all would be good and make “good decisions.” He wants to be more than a mere, average, man.

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The problem is that what he strives for is impossible, he is only setting himself up for failure and going to cause an extreme downfall.

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Dr. Jekyll returns to his lab working day and night, not sleeping or eating, all in his quest to split the soul. He makes the potion and decides to test it on himself.

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But in his defense, he does pen a letter telling Muriel he loves her and that he died in the pursuit of science.

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If my love went this way, it wouldn’t make me happy but at least you know he was thinking of you.

So then he looks into the mirror and drinks the potion down.

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As he is doing that, he goes through all those emotions he has been trying to ignore: wrath, lust, greed-they all swarm around him.

He looks in the mirror and we see this ugly thing. Now Dr. Jekyll was a tall, strong, good-looking man . This side hasn’t been used as much so he’s hunched, shorter, also doesn’t look as strong as Jekyll does. He’s more animalistic, apelike, covered in hair, large giant teeth.

Now something you might have noticed is the large amount of mirrors in this movie. There are so many to symbolize the duality of man. The mirror only shows the outside of a person, not their true inner self. The mirror is supposed to show our reflection, but sometimes people see only what they wish to see, not what is really there. The mirror is the only way we are able to see what everyone else sees, and a way in which we can construct what we want people to see in us.

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I could go on longer, but let’s get back to the film.

So the first thing that his darker self, Mr. Hyde, does is cheer about how happy he is to be free. So long has Jekyll kept him crippled, living a good life, and denying the dark side. But now that he las let him out, will he be able to contain him again?

So Hyde is excited to be out and plans to roam the streets, when his butler knocks on the door. Hyde talks to him, but even though he is Dr. Jekyll, he doesn’t sound like him anymore. The butler is afraid and about to come in, so Dr. Jekyll changes back into his true self.

Dr. Jekyll has done it, he has actually done it.

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But while he is pleased his experiment worked, at the same time he is afraid to let the dark side out. But it starts haunting him, tempting him.

Star Wars Dark side power Darth vader

He goes to Muriel to plead with her to marry him now. He is afraid that without her, he might make some very bad decisions. But Muriel and her father are leaving for a trip to Bath for a week.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Muriel asks him to wait for her, and he agrees, but you can see in his face he doesn’t really want to wait. What he really wants is to be satisfied NOW!

Dr. Jekyll is in a tizzy. That swinging leg is still in his mind, along with his potion and he is worried that without Muriel to remind him of what he truly wants, he may give into the temptation.

He then receives a letter from Muriel stating that their week trip, is turning into a month.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Dr. Jekyll has been sitting in his lab, moping and withdrawn from society and his patients. His butler is worried for him and tells him he should go out.

Butler Poole: You should go out, sir. London offers many amusements for a gentlemen like you, sir.

Dr. Jekyll: Yes, but gentlemen like me daren’t take advantage of them, Poole. Gentlemen like me have to be very careful of what we do or say.

Now Poole, the Butler, is trying to get Jekyll to go to the opera, museum, see a play, visit with friends, etc.: something not in the house. But Dr. Jekyll think of those things? No. Immediately his mind goes straight to sex. He cannot control this emotions, and I think that if he could just admit to himself that he is a man and has faults, instead of trying to make himself be perfect being he wouldn’t struggle as hard. Yes Dr. Jekyll, you are good, but just because you are good doesn’t mean that you don’t have flaws, you need to accept that.

FlwsNOoneUseAgainstYou

And you know Dr. Jekyll could choose something else to do with his time, but that’s not what he wants. He wants to be with a woman. But he as Jekyll does not want to ruin his reputation, his good name, so instead he looks to another avenue.

Jekyll&Hyde

Man this transformation looks so painful, I wouldn’t want to do it. This time he looks even uglier, more monstrous, brutish.

Gilmore girls creep

He goes after Ivy, the girl who has awakened his lust. She’s not home but out at the nearby tavern, so Hyde heads there. Even the way that he moves is brutish and apelike.

He meets up with Ivy:

So he tries to be a “gentlemen” as that is what Ivy wants, but can’t pull it off as Hyde as he is too dark in his actions.

Certified Creepo Ribbon

He wants her to be his mistress and while Ivy refuses initially, Hyde makes it clear he gets what he wants.

Jekyll and Hyde

He grabs her acting like an animal, and threatens her. Tells her he loves her but all he wants is sex. In reality he doesn’t love her, he’s attracted to her but wants a placeholder for Muriel.

In the next scene we see Ivy has agreed to being a kept woman, but not because she wants a nice home or things, but because she is scared out of her mind that Hyde will kill her.

Hyde comes to visit her, and we see that he is taller, standing upright, and much stronger looking then before. He is also uglier. It seems that Jekyll has been living Hyde more and more making him much stronger than the good Jekyll side.

my planisworkingStarWars

As soon as Hyde enters the room, he heads straight to the bed, reading the paper. In there he notices that Muriel will be returning.

Spoke too soon

He forgot about that pesky fiancé of Jekyll, this means bad news for Hyde. Here we see that Dr. Jekyll has actually failed. He wanted to separate the two so that one can be destroyed and the good can only endure. But in fact that is not what has happened. Jekyll, when present is always conscious of his desires the Hyde. Hyde while bad and does what he wants, he too is conscious of the good Jekyll, not always choosing to follow. So he never split them, they still are in struggle, he just gave more of himself and power over to his dark side.

StarWarsDarker

In fact the only real difference is that he feels okay being bad as he is not “Dr. Jekyll”. No one knows who he is, so he can do whatever he wants. Kind of like those people who get on the internet and feel free to do whatever as no one knows who they are.

Anyways, so Hyde makes sure Ivy doesn’t think about leaving him, being emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive to her.

Jekyll and Hyde

Then he heads home as Dr. Jekyll wants out. Muriel is coming home, so he takes the potion and returns.

Jekyll&Hyde

But we see all is not well, as his eyes are CRAZED. Dr. Jekyll is losing the war and Hyde is taking over.

He goes to Muriel who is upset that he hasn’t answered any of her letters. He apologizes and tells her he has been sick in mind. He begs her to marry him now instead of later as he NEEDS her. She agrees and the beg her father, who finally gives in. They invite him for dinner the next night, when they will announce to everyone that the two are to be married the next month.

Finally something GOOD!

Finally something GOOD!

Meanwhile, back in Ivy’s house, her landlady is helping tend to her wounds done by Hyde. Dr. Jekyll, feeling remorse for what has happened has sent over £60. Ivy isn’t sure who Dr. Jekyll is, as she didn’t now the name of the doctor who saved her earlier, but decides to see this man in the hopes he can stop Hyde.

Dr. Jekyll goes home, happy and plays the organ. And this time it isn’t light and airy, but dark and creepy. Hyde is still lurking, strong.

phantom-of-the-opera organ

He is interrupted by Ivy who has come to see him. She begs him for help, ripping her top off to show him the whipping that Hyde gave her.

Spoke too soon

Heere Dr. Jekyll is forced to look at the consequences of his actions. He thought it would be okay to have the Hyde do what he wants, and Jekyll what he wants. But no, as both are a part of him, both are connected and cannot be separated.It was all an illusion to think so.

rebeccaitwasallalie

Jekyll promises Ivy that Hyde is gone forever, he will never bother her again. And Dr. Jekyll intends to keep it that way as he is to wed Muriel, he no longer needs Hyde.

He's gone for good

He’s gone for good

But that’s where you are wrong Jekyll. You have given Hyde too much power, and now you will be unable to control him.

Dr. Jekyll walks to the General’s house for dinner when he spots a pretty robin singing. As he looks at him a cat eats him, which upsets Jekyll. And as that happens, Jekyll starts to become Hyde.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

You see Hyde cannot easily be kept down and he does not want to be. Jekyll has given him too much power and liberties. All he needs is for Jekyll to feel dark things: anger, greed, lust, violence, etc and Hyde will come out.

StarWatsDarkSide

I know some of you might be tired of all the Star Wars memes and quotes and think I need to cool my obsession, but in a way Star Wars is similar to Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, particularly Anakin Skywalker. Dr. Jekyll is a man that doesn’t quite follow the rules. There is a moral code to science he should follow, but chooses to ignore it and continue in his experiment, one that ends up having him release his dark side and live out all those emotions and desires with no thought on how this will affect others. With Anakin, he too follows his own code as he doesn’t agree with all the Jedi rules. One of which is not to marry as the powers you have, when tied to emotions, can do some pretty bad things. Both people give into those darker sides, ultimately completely going over to the dark side.

Anyways, so now with Hyde out, he heads over to see Ivy. Hyde hates Dr. Jekyll, as Dr. Jekyll has kept him contained for so long, and still tries to imprison him. Ivy going to him is the ultimate betrayal, and for that she must die.

Jekyll and Hyde

So as he is heading over there we get a great camera view. They split the screen so that in the upper left Hyde is heading off to get Ivy, and in the lower right, Muriel is waiting for Jekyll. As the camera pans in Muriel, we see that she not happy at all. Then Murial is in the lower left and Ivy is in the upper right, celebrating the end of Hyde.

DrJekyllMrHyde

Except Hyde is not quite finished:

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Hyde kills her, but as he is escaping, the others in the building have heard what he has done and follow him.

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Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

He sneaks to Dr. Jekyll’s house, but the butler won’t let him in. So he runs to the tavern and writes a note (as his handwriting is the same), asking his friend for chemicals and saying Hyde will pick up the package.

letter

His friend follows the instructions, but when Hyde comes, he won’t let him leave, unless he promises to take him to see Dr. Jekyll. As Hyde can’t, although let’s be honest Dr. Jekyll is coming through in this moment as he wants to be changed back, and takes the potion, warning his friend about what he will see.

Mr. Hyde: Think before you decide, I tell you! Do you want to be left as you are, or do you want your eyes and your soul to be blasted by a sight that would stagger the devil himself?

When the Dr. Lanyon sees the transformation, he is in utter shock.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

He tells him that he warned him not to do it, that he should have listened to him. Dr. Jekyll agrees, but says that he can control it now. That he will never, ever again become Hyde. Dr. Lanyon warns him that is not true. It is over, he is no longer in control.

Dr. Lanyon: You’re a rebel, and see what it has done for you. You’re in the power of this monster that you have created.

Dr. Jekyll: I’ll never take that drug again!

Dr. Lanyon: Yes, but you told me you became that monster tonight not of your own accord. It will happen again.

Dr. Jekyll: It never will. I’m sure of it. I’ll conquer it!

Dr. Lanyon: Too late. You cannot conquer it. It has conquered you!

They both agree that he must give Muriel up as he might kill her like he did Ivy. The next night he goes to Muriel and tells her that it is over.

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But Muriel doesn’t want to end the relationship, she loves him. But Dr. Jekyll knows it is best to set her free. She tries to hug, him and he doesn’t want her too, as he is afraid it will release Hyde, He is completely  broken in this scene as he loves her so much, but knows that any further involvement means death for her.

Dr. Jekyll: I have no soul. I’m beyond the pale. I’m one of the living dead!

She grabs him and they both sob, but then he leaves, and she continues to cry.

Under Capricorn Aah oh no ugh

As she is indoors crying, Jekyll changes into Hyde, and Hyde sneaks into the house attacking her. When she screams her father and butler came after Hyde, who attacks both of them, beating the father.

He runs home to change back into Jekyll, but it is too late. Dr. Lanyon looks after the General and sees the broken cane Hyde dropped, recognizing it as Dr. Jekyll’s.

They return to his house accusing him of being the murderer. When Dr. Jekyll becomes scared and angry, he turns back into Hyde.

You can’t help but feel bad for Dr. Jekyll. He was  a good man that wanted to do something for the good of all, but as they say: “The Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions.”

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So marks the first post of Horrorfest and there are many good movies coming along. Stay tuned!

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As it has become a yearly tradition, my facebookcover/mini poster.

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For more mad scientists, go to Unleash the Savage Instincts that Lie Hidden Within: I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

For more on men creating monsters, go to In Their Proper Place: Metropolis (1927)

For more on Star Wars, go to Going on a Treasure Hunt

For more films based on books, go to What Have We Done to Each Other?: Gone Girl (2014)