Jane Austen Runs My Life Holiday Gift Guide: Jane Austen Books

So I don’t usually write one of these, but thought why not do a holiday guide this year? A few days ago I posted on Jane Austen products, but I thought I would I also share some books that would make the perfect gift for the holidays.

I do not receive any money from any of these books for promoting them, I am just honestly sharing books I have enjoyed and I think you, or your loved ones will. I have attached links to all the items if any of you are interested in purchasing any of these products. If you do choose to purchase an item from Amazon, by going through these links, I will receive a small percentage through the affiliate program.

So enough business:

It’s time for Christmas!

This list of books are the perfect gift for Janeites in your life OR you could always share this list with your loved one that may be struggling to find you the perfect gift.

The books are all listed in alphabetical order and it was SO HARD to choose just 10 books. I really tried to create a variety of books and genre types in order to ensure I have something for everyone.

Just as difficult as choosing 10

Babylit Jane Austen by Jennifer Adams and Allison Oliver

Do you have a little one on your Christmas list? Why not start their love of Jane Austen early with these Babylit board books? Babylit has taken three Jane Austen novels and turned them into board books that cover topics important in children’s development from birth to 5 years old. Each one has lovely illustrations and are the perfect addition to the young child in your life’s bookcase. Sense and Sensibility covers opposites, Pride and Prejudice is on numbers, and Emma is on emotions.

I absolutely LOVE these books and they are always a constant on my gift list. Every time I gain a new niece, cousin, or a friend has a baby, these three becomes a birthday or Christmas gift.

To order, click here

Quill Ink Anthologies edited by Christina Boyd

The Quill Ink had published several anthologies on Jane Austen variations: some are set in different time periods, some answer “what if” questions, are told from secondary characters’ points of view, etc. There are so many great stories in these anthologies that I just couldn’t pick one, I had to include them all. If interested in more detailed reviews, just click on the titles.

Does the person you love, LOVE Mr. Darcy? Buy The Darcy Monologues. Is Elizabeth their favorite character? Buy Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl! Are they a fan of Jane Austen’s bad boys? Get Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues! Are you searching for a Jane Austen Christmas combo? Then Yuletide is perfect for you. Do they like all the Jane Austen main characters? Rational Creatures is the book to fulfill your shopping list.

These books are available in print, as ebooks, and in audiobook format; so however they like to read, there is an option for them! I personally don’t feel like Christmas is coming until I listen to my audiobook of Yuletide (over and over and over again).

To order, click here

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (The Rajes #1) by Sonali Dev

Is the person on your shopping list looking for a more contemporary Jane Austen novel? Maybe they would like to see diverse characters? Then Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors is a great choice for them. In this Darcy is Trish Raje, Indian royalty and a doctor; with Elizabeth having become D.J. Caine, multiracial chef (Anglo-Indian and Rwandan). After a series of misunderstanding in their first meeting, Trish and DJ end up being thrown together when Trish has to take over the planning of an event for her sister. There are a series of missteps and mistakes, but in the end romance will always triumph.

As a biracial person I really enjoyed seeing that represented, along with this not only be a story of falling in love, but the love and comfort food and family can bring to us.

To order, click here

Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge

Do you have a friend that loves Jane Austen and devotionals? Then this is the one that you need to get them. There are 31 chapters to read, for every day of an average month, that take you section by section through Jane Austen’s prayers. This is a great way to refocus your life, learn about Jane Austen, and increase your prayer time.

I really enjoy this devotional and read it at least once a year (typically in the days that lead up to Christmas). Plus Rachel Dodge has great customer service. I ordered autographed bookplates for her books for Christmas last year and they never arrived. I contacted her about it and she sent new ones immediately.

To order from her website, click here

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

This is an older book, as it was published in 2011, but it is such a wonderful and funny book and perfect for fans of dating shows (and a great way to pass the time while we wait to see if Peacock will really make their Pride and Prejudice/Regency inspired dating show.) in this Chloe Parker is a single mom in need of money to keep her business afloat so she applies to be on a Jane Austen TV show. However, when she gets there she finds out that the network felt they needed a change and now it has become a “The Bachleor-esque”competition. Chloe is convinced to stay and try to win her own “Mr. Darcy”…but what if she doesn’t fall for the “Mr. Darcy” but for another man on the show? Will Chloe get her Jane Austen ending? Or go home with no money and no man?

A hilarious book that any Janite will love.

To order, click here

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

I LOVE THIS BOOK! This is the sequel to Austenland, although both books are independent stories and do not have to be read in order. This book has romance, mystery, comedy, and more. It’s the perfect book for anyone who loves Agatha Christie and Jane Austen.

After Charlotte’s husband cheats on her, leaves her, and remarries she finds herself at a loss of what to do. She ends up finding a teenage list of things she wanted to do before 30, one of which is to read all the Jane Austen novels. She does and of course becomes a fan, deciding to take a vacation to Austenland in England. While the Regency activities are fun, something mysterious is going on. Will Charlotte be able to figure out this whodunnit, or will she become the next victim?

This is a fantastic book and I strongly recommend it.

To order, click here

Emma: Manga Classics adapted by Stacy King and illustrated by Tse

Do you have a teenager you want to introduce to Jane Austen? Do you know someone who loves Manga and Jane Austen? Then this reimagined classic is perfect for your holiday shopping list! This Emma manga has beautiful illustrations that bring the classic tale to life.

I bought this for my teenage niece, of course had to read it first, and loved it! It is definitely a great addition to a Janeite’s shelf.

To order, click here

Just Jane by Nancy Moser

Are you looking for a biographical fiction book on Jane Austen for someone on your list? This is a wonderful book and fits that slot! This book is part of a series on famous women, but do not have to be read in order and all the books are independent of each other.

This book is on Jane Austen’s life and was extremely well done. Not only was it a fun story, but brought up little real life anecdotes that I just had to learn more about, and would often fall down a research rabbit hole. As there are parts of Austen’s life that we know little about, the author does take some liberties in telling the story. However, I felt the author tried to tell a story that does its best to represent Jane Austen.

I really enjoyed it and I think that if you have a friend who loves Jane Austen and wants to know more about her, but doesn’t care for typical biographies, this is a great route to take.

To order, click here

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfruend

Do you know someone who loves Jane Austen but is also into science fiction? Then this is the perfect book as this adaption of Persuasion has a SciFi twist. Set in the not too distant future, the author has welded Austen’s classic take of love lost, love returned, and misunderstandings with cyborg-like accruements. Elliot’s (Anne) old love has returned with a new name and new enhancements. But can the bitterness and hurt be laid to rest, or will this couple face even more odds at romance.

I enjoyed this book a lot and felt that the fusion of genres was extremely well done.

To order, click here

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson

Do you have a friend/family member that loves Jane Austen and their favorite film is Sense and Sensibility (1995)? Then this would be perfect for them. The book has an intro by producer Lindsay Doran, the screenplay to the film, and the notes Emma Thompson made while filming. It is a great behind the scenes look that is perfect for the Janiete on your list.

I personally loved reading about how they had to work together to overcome cultural and at times language barriers-being an American producer, British screenwriter/actress, and a Taiwanese filmmaker.

To order, click here

So of course this is just a small sampling of all the Jane Austen adaptations out there, but I hope that this has helped some of you who might be searching for that perfect Jane Austen gift for your friend or loved one! If none of these strike your fancy, I will post links to my posts that list all the Jane Austen adaptions I have reviewed.

I wish you all a happy holiday and happy holiday shopping!

Sense and Sensibility Adaption Reviews

Pride and Prejudice Adaption Reviews: Part I

Pride and Prejudice Adaption Reviews: Part II

Pride and Prejudice Adaption Reviews: Part III

Mansfield Park Adaption Reviews

Emma Adaption Reviews

Northanger Abbey Adaption Reviews

Persuasion Adaption Reviews

Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl Audiobook

So I was given this audiobook, Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girlfrom Christina Boyd of The Quill Ink and I was really excited about it as I had really enjoyed the book and their other audiobook, Yuletide.

I had no doubt that this would be just as enjoyable.

Or audiobook, although I know I’ll never hate it.

But I just don’t know what is wrong with me. Every time I tried to write this review something would come up that interrupted me, and this just ended up in my drafts, yet again.

But in July I became sick and had to stay home for most of the month, allowing me time to go through my drafts and get to things I’ve been wanting to write on. I decided no more waiting on this one, I will write this review or die trying. (Just kidding I won’t die)

So quick backstory-back in 2017, Christina Boyd (editor) and several writers wrote The Darcy Monologues, which was a series of stories from Mr. Darcy’s point of view, some in the Regency period and some in the present. After the book came out Christina Boyd shared that from the beginning of the publication of The Darcy Monologues, readers suggested doing the same for Elizabeth-but Boyd wasn’t sure. With all the retellings of Jane Austen’s most loved novel:

“…I thought all the Elizabeth Bennet point-of-view stories surely must have been told.”

But you know us Janeites-no matter what character may be your favorite, everybody loves an Obstinate Headstrong Girl.

So the fans persevered and Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl was born. Yes, Elizabeth is a fantastic and complex character and Christina Boyd, Elizabeth Adams, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Leigh Dreyer, Jenetta James, Christina Morland, Beau North, and Joana Starnes have written 10 different stories on her.

Yep, 10 more Elizabeths to love. And with so many stories, you know without a doubt there will be several ones that you love.

So I’ve reviewed the book, splitting it between the Regency and modern eras and my opinion is, I loved it! It was amazing.

After loving the book, I couldn’t wait to listen to the audiobook. It was narrated by Elizabeth Grace and Grace did a fantastic job. Often times, female narrators can sound a bit silly when they try too hard to have a deeper “manly” voice but Grace’s narration didn’t sound silly. She was also able to differentiate between characters clearly.

The only time Grace had a slight struggle was with the Southern accent, which I completely understand as doing a Southern accent is easy, but keeping it is very, very difficult.

In my opinion the best thing about this audiobook is that listening to the words being spoken highlights the parts you love and also brings to life passages that you might have overlooked or forgotten how well crafted they are. Every story was wonderful and Grace brought them all to life.

When I took my niece to Reno for her birthday we ended up getting stuck in three car accidents. It took us 6 hours to get there instead of 3. And as we were stuck in traffic no music would play on my radio or through Amazon music as we hit an area where the towers weren’t changed out yet, and there was no service. The only thing I had for us as it grew dark, and we were bored, was this audiobook as I had downloaded it on my phone. We ended up listening to Resolution by Amy D’Orazioon the way there andLove in the Limelight” by Beau North on the way back.

My niece and sister enjoyed Resolution, but I had to explain the plot of Pride and Prejudice to my niece as she has never read or watched it (at least not yet).

They both really enjoyed Love in the Limelight, the 1940s Hollywood one. That one didn’t need any back information and was really intriguing. In fact, my niece asked to finish listening to it instead of the radio as she had to know what happened next, did they end up together or not?

I definitely recommend listening to it if you like Jane Austen, audiobooks, and are looking for something new to love and listen to over and over again.

You definitely need to check this out!

For more on Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl, go to Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part II, Other Eras

For more audiobooks, go to Northanger Abbey Audiobook Narrated by Anna Massey

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

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: Prize Two

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Jane Austen-Inspired Magazine Cover Cards

Return of the Retellings: Pride & Prejudice, cont.

So most of you are like, what is this? A post on the many retellings of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Don’t we have a post on that?

What??

Yes, but the problem is that there are just sooooooooo many books and films based on Pride and Prejudice…

Or read it, or watch it.

I decided that instead of doing an endless list, I would do a post of thirty, then make another post with thirty. To see the first installment of Pride and Prejudice works I have reviewed, click here: Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice.

The second post is The Retellings Strike Back, and has the next thirty posts.

But now to the next thirty (subject to change)…

Books:

Duty & Desire (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman #2) by Pamela Aiden

These Three Remain (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman #2) by Pamela Aiden

The Darcys & the Bingleys: A Tale of Two Gentlemen’s Marriages to Two Most Devoted Sisters by Marsha Altman

Georgiana and the Wolf: Pride and Prejudice Continued by Marsha Altman

Pied and Prodigious by D. M. Andrews

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini

Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Diana Birchall

Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl Audiobook by Christina Boyd and Others

Recollections of Rosings (The Pemberley Chronicles #8) by Rebecca Ann Collins

Mr. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Edmondson

Disappointed Hopes (A Fair Prospect #1) by Cassandra Grafton

Darcy’s Dilemma (A Fair Prospect #2) by Cassandra Grafton

Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Amanda Grange

Pride and Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb

A Darcy Christmas by Sharon Lathan

Bluebells in the Morning by Karalynne Mackrory and Christina Boyd

Darcys of Derbyshire by Abigail Reynolds

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster

Movies/TV:

Pride & Prejudice (1940)

Can The Shop Around the Corner Be Considered A Pride and Prejudice Adaption?

Is You’ve Got Mail Really Pride and Prejudice?

Furst Impressions (1995)

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Austenland (2013)

Achy Breaky Heart: Austentatious Episode 9 (2015)

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (2018)

Dear William: Letters from Georgiana Darcy (2020)

Other:

L.A. Theatre Works Pride and Prejudice Audio Adaption

P. S. I Love Rom Coms Podcast Review of Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) Featuring Nick Catalonia and Muriel Montgomery

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Dear William: Letters from Georgiana Darcy

Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

So I was on instagram, like always these days, and someone shared in their stories that Streaming Musicals was going to do a free live streaming film premiere of the new production of Pride and Prejudice: A New Musical. 

Or watch it!

I had seen it shared on facebook, I even shared it myself, but hadn’t really decided if I was going to watch it or not. However, after seeing everyone sharing about how much they enjoyed the virtual tea conference that occurred the day before, and that I couldn’t go to as I’m still going into work, I was like I’m not missing out again-I’m watching it.

I love musicals, in fact I studied drama in high school and attended a college prep/art school.

My senior project for my drama class was we had to find a musical, budget it, design costumes, set, etc-and create a look book with our findings. I of course being a Jane Austen fan actually chose a Pride and Prejudice musical, although that one was called, First ImpressionsSo not only did I want to see this because I love Jane Austen, but I was excited to see how this compared to the 1959 musical.

Hmmm…

So at 7 o’clock PST I got my pot of tea, computer, notebook, and sat down to watch.

The actual production was performed and filmed at Palo Alto’s TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley, where it ran December 4-January 4. Book, music, and lyrics were written by Paul Gordon, and of course Jane Austen.

It was really interesting watching it this way. I know I appreciated it as I may live in California but that does’t mean I have the time or money to see it live, so even though COVID-19 is a serious downer, I’m thankful it gave someone like me this chance to be a part and view this musical.

Hosts:

Before the production started we were hosted by three ladies, who unfortunately I only have two names, Beth Leavel and Julie James. They gave a little preshow talk, but I didn’t think it was as well done as Hillari DeSchane’s talk before the Mansfield Park Opera. I guess they thought that most people would already know the story, but I still think it would have been wise to have a quick summary of the book, the time period, and place for anyone who didn’t.

Hmm…

One lady described the summary of Pride and Prejudice as being a boy is rude to a girl, tries to ask her out and she refuses, but then she finds out he is rich and wants to be with him.

What are you talking about?

That really bothered me as it is 100% inaccurate. They knew from the beginning he was rich, richer than Mr. Bingley in fact, and it wasn’t seeing the house that changed her mind so much as seeing how he acted at Pemberley and how the servants praised him.

But they did have very high energy though, and when they returned at intermission they hosted the question and answer session better.

Quick Summary:

The story is really about a mother who wants to marry her five daughters as she constantly worries that her husband will die and leave her and her daughters with little to live on (her husband’s estate is entailed and neither person was very good at saving). She tries to match them up with any eligible men whether or not they want it.

 Netherfield Park is let and with it comes single and wealthy Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Mr. Bingley falls for the eldest daughter, Jane Bennet, and she falls for him. No ones tries to win Mr. Darcy as though he is rich, he is very proud looking. Elizabeth overhears him make a unflattering remark about her and she is extremely angry.

Her sister goes to visit Mr. Bingley’s sister, Miss Caroline Bingley, and grows ill after being caught out in the rain. Elizabeth goes to stay and take care of her sister, also spending time with the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy.

Later, Elizabeth meets a man, Mr. Wickham, who says he grew up with Mr. Darcy and shares how Darcy kept his inheritance, forcing Wickham to join the military instead of the church. Elizabeth is pleased to have another reason to dislike Darcy, besides her wounded pride, and Wickham spreads the story throughout the community.

Mr. Bennet’s cousin Mr. Collins, who will inherit their home, comes to visit and plans to ask one of the Bennet girls to marry him. Mr. Bingley holds a ball, and Elizabeth hopes to dance with Mr. Wickham, but he doesn’t come and she ends up dancing with Mr. Darcy. Her siblings also are very embarrassing and her mother.

So embarrassed

Mr. Collins asks Elizabeth to marry him, and she refuses him. He becomes hurt and angry and instead marries her best friend Charlotte Lucas. Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley leave with no engagement to Jane. Later Elizabeth visits Charlotte and meets Mr. Darcy’s aunt and Mr. Collins patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. There she discovers from Mr. Darcy’s cousin that Darcy was the one who convinced Bingley not to ask Jane to marry him. Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth to marry him, which surprises her and she refuses him.

Later Mr. Darcy gives Elizabeth a letter in which he shares why he encouraged his friend to refuse Jane and the true story of what happened with Mr. Wickham, that he spent his inheritance and when Darcy refused to give him more, Wickham goes after his fifteen year old sister. She knows this is true as what he shares is something no one would want to ever come to light. But after reading the letter, Elizabeth is even more confused. How could she be such a bad judge of character? She and her aunt and uncle Gardiner take a walking tour and stop at Pemberley, where they are surprised by Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth sees another side of him.

But then her younger sister, Lydia, makes a disastrous mistake by running off with Mr. Wickham. Will this destroy her family? Will this end her chance with Mr. Darcy?

Costumes:

The one costume I didn’t like was Elizabeth’s outfit.

From left to right: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Mr. Collins, Kitty, and Lydia.

So I really like the 1800s, especially the West, and one thing I read years ago that has never left my mind is that one way to tell if a Western film is accurate or not is whether or not the cowboys wear suspenders or belts. Belt loops were not created until the 1920s (for men and women), cowboys/cowpokes copyed the Chilean huaso of wearing sashes or suspenders. Some people wore belts, like soldiers, but they were often more ornamental and overlaid outfits not sitting in belt loops. So all I could do was look at this skirt and see those belt loops which were completely inaccurate to the time period. It probably was just an oversight by the costume designer, and I don’t know if anyone else noticed it, but I didn’t like it.

Although I do like the way they did her quick changes. Elizabeth is in every scene and wears the same outfit throughout the whole first act, but with other scenes adds a ribbon at her waist, a vest, and a jacket. I liked this as I had the same idea when I did my project although I did not care for the vest the put her in as it did not match.

Elizabeth Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins, Mr. Bingley, and Charlotte Lucas.

But I love what she wears in the second act. That dress was so cute!

I lovd Mr. Darcy’s costumes, but you know me:

This should say breeches instead of pants, but I didn’t write this so it gets a pass. It was an instagram answer from a question I asked my followers.

But enough about that, let’s move on to the musical.

Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

Act I

The style of music reminded me a lot of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s choice with Jesus Christ Super Star. In that production we have an ancient text juxtaposed with rock songs, while in this we have a regency story paired with pop. I really enjoyed it and the music as I think they captured the heart of the novel and were extremely enjoyable. Many of them I could see purchasing and downloading and listening to over and over again.

So I wish I had a book to go off, but I don’t so I don’t know what every song is called. But we start off the musical with Elizabeth Bennet (Mary Mattison) quoting the first line of Pride and Prejudice:

Then she and Charlotte Lucas then sing about “happiness in marriage.” In this Elizabeth isn’t looking for a man, in fact she has a strong leave me alone vibe, while Charlotte (played by Dani Marcus) was spot on in counseling her. I felt Marcus completely captured the character of Charlotte Lucas.

I really enjoyed Mattison’s singing and I think she did a wonderful job with the character of Elizabeth, although Gordon did make a few changes to Elizabeth. As said above, Elizabeth doesn’t want to get married and she doesn’t want a man (which isn’t what happens in the book as in the novel she isn’t against marriage, but just isn’t throwing herself at men nor is she interested in Mr. Collins.) In fact this sentiment is more similar to Emma Woodhouse..

At first I was a little upset at the change, but as I continued watching the musical I think it served well to enforce Elizabeth’s headstrong and stubborn side. Elizabeth believes what she wants and won’t listen to others, like Charlotte. Having her be so staunch in her beliefs mimics the way she acts about Darcy, believing Mr. Wickham and never considering there could be another side to the story, or thinking about the fact she believes this man with no proof. My interpretation of this was that one should be film in their beliefs, but at the same time not let their headstrong or stubborn ways blind them. In the end Elizabeth acknowledges that it is not a truth universally acknowledged that a man with fortune is in want of a wife or that every woman wants to marry, but to keep your heart open.

Elizabeth is also the narrator of the musical, and introduces her family-her father Mr. Bennet, mother Mrs. Bennet, and four sisters-Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. I also enjoyed the tizzy Mrs. Bennet is constantly in as she worries over their future and felt that Heather Orth truly captured the character-and Gordon was perfect in the lines he gave her.

“Mrs. Bennet: None of my five daughters will be old maids if I can help it…even you Mary.

I also enjoyed Tara Kostmayer’s portrayal of Lydia as silly, flirty, and needing to be the center of attention. And Gordon summed up her character very nicely in this:

“Elizabeth Bennet: Lydia is just 15.

Jane Bennet: Going on 25.

Mr. Bennet: In all but wisdom.”

I also loved Melissa Wolfklain as Mary Bennet. She was just so droll and perfect.

Elizabeth sings a song about being headstrong that I enjoyed, but the whole time I kept thinking of Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong GirlIf you need something new to read you should definitely check it out.

So after being introduced to the Bennet family we have the ball where we meet Mr. Bingley (Travis Leland), Miss Caroline Bingley (Monique Hafen Adams), and Mr. Darcy (Justin Mortelliti). I really liked the way Gordon and the actors interpreted these characters. Mr. Bingley is extremely tongue-tied and often has trouble relaying how he feels relying heavily on Darcy. This worked well to show why Darcy feels the need to protect his sweet, friend (treating him very similar to how he treats Georgiana) and why Bingley so heavily values on Darcy’s judgement over his own.

Bingley and Jane sing a song about their love and it is so cute. They both sing about how they like each other and want to tell each other, but when they try to talk they are too tongue tied and say hardly anything. It was absolutely adorable and both Leland as Bingley and Sharon Rietkerk as Jane Bennet were just perfect. I think this song really captured what Austen wrote:

“…in spite of his [Mr. Bingley] being a lover, Elizabeth really believed all his expectations of felicity to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the excellent understanding, and super-excellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity of feeling and taste between her [Jane] and himself [Mr. Bingly].”

-Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 55

Adams as Caroline was also perfect as she was just the right amount of mean and snobby-she made the friendliest words sound like a slap in the face. Leland and Adams worked well off each other as Mr. and Miss Bingley. They were like two sides of the same coin-he geniality, kindness, optimism, glee; she rude, snobby, sarcastic, and cold.

“Mr. Bingley: I’m enjoying myself immensely.

Caroline Bingley: Yes brother, but that’s why you have me.”

But out of all the characters, my favorite was Mortelliti as Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, and Miss Bingley.

One thing I really, really enjoyed about this musical was while it is narrated and told from Elizabeth, every song that Mr. Darcy has gives us a view into who he is. I think this worked for this medium as a musical and stage production you aren’t given the time and subtly a movie has as you can’t concentrate on something small, but have to make sure that no matter the seats they can witness what is happening. With having the songs show Darcy’s point of view and feelings alongside Elizabeth’s it works in with the themes of first impressions/pride and prejudice, and gives it a kind of his story/her story dynamic.

I really enjoyed this interpretation because even though we see how Darcy feels about Elizabeth throughout, it doesn’t take away from what Austen wrote and the realizations they have after the proposal and his letter (Darcy seeing how he presents himself and that he’s not right about everything [Jane + Bingley], and his decision to change; nor does it take away from Elizabeth realizing that she is not right about everything [Wickham + Darcy] and that she was judgmental because she was wounded, she changing as well.) Having Darcy’s songs just allows us see the two character’s journeys from the beginning. The title of the musical is a “new” musical so it seems fitting for Gordon to try a different interpretation.

Mr. Darcy’s first song is about being separated from the others, about keeping away from these people and to not fall for anyone. It is really interesting as the words are juxtapositioned with a soft melody, one that could easily be a love song. I personally believe that when Mr. Darcy made that comment about Elizabeth being not tolerable enough for him it was more trying to get Bingley to leave him alone as he didn’t want to dance or be there. Then later when she visits her sister, he pays attention to her and likes her-not realizing she heard his earlier comment. But this particular song and the music almost sounds to me as if Gordon is saying he did see her and is trying to convince himself to stay away, the melody being a seed of romance, the not tolerable being him trying to convince himself to not like. It is an interesting point and feel free to comment below what you think.

After Jane visits and grows ill, Elizabeth comes to stay and help. One of the best scenes was the accomplished woman and the turn about the room scene. In this Mortelliti did some brooding, but when he mentions their reasons for walking about he says it more flirtatious. We then have Caroline trying to bully Elizabeth and have Darcy find her boring. After Darcy shares his idea of an accomplished lady he says this while looking right at Elizabeth:

“All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

It is hilarious how Elizabeth drops the book like it is on fire and immediately takes it as a negative.

And of course spending this time with Elizabeth Darcy has fallen for her. He sings a song about it and I loved when he belted out how much he was in love with her. I also really loved this line:

“Oh dear God…must I like her eyes. Oh, I’m in so much trouble.

I like your eyes and d***it,  it’s alarming.”

I thought this perfectly captured how much he didn’t want to like her, it was the foundation of his future proposal, and I just all around enjoyed this song, best song so far.

Mr. Collins is introduced and Brian Herndon was fantastically pompous. He just was just so ugh-there aren’t any other words to describe him. And in my book if you don’t feel ugh when you see a portrayal of Mr. Collins than they are not doing it right. His song is just so awfully perfect as he sings about the sisters being this abundance of riches, Mary and Kitty’s face express exactly how I felt listening to it.

From left to right: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Mr. Collins, Kitty, and Lydia.

This song and the acting was great, but the person who stole the stage in it again was Melissa Wolfklain as Mary Bennet. There is a part where they sing Mary should be the one and her face is like Lord please, no anything but that-I’ll join a convent, I’ll go help lepers, just please no Mr. Collins. And later she uses a book to try and shield herself from his view.

Later the girls are out and run into Lydia and Kitty’s friends, Captain Denny (Sean Fenton) and a new face Mr. Wickham (Taylor Crousore). Everyone is pleased to run into the handsome and genial men…except Mary. In her droll and moralizing tone she states:

“Mary Bennet: I find war to be very upsetting.”

Melissa Wolfklain seriously just killed it as Mary Bennet. She was hilarious and perfect.

Mr. Darcy comes upon them and I love the staging of him and Wickham. Both on opposite sides and staring each other down like two gunslingers. With Bingley in the middle.

Mr. Bingley tries to flirt with Jane and instead it comes out horribley

“Mr. Bingley: Good afternoon Miss Bennet. You look…thirsty.

Jane Bennet: [Confused but really likes Mr. Bingley]…I am thirsty.”

They end up leaving Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth together and Mr. Wckham shares about Mr. Darcy being cruel to him. I liked Crousore’s and Gordon’s interpretation and how Wickham tests the waters with Elizabeth, feeling out what Elizabeth thinks of Darcy, and after hearing she can’t stand him then promptly upends his sob story. He sings a ballad about how he’d been wronged, (with the perfect level of pretend humbleness and smaryness) and his heartbreak to know being forced to live the life of a soldier instead of a clergyman. I really liked this line:

“I speak my truth to you”

Key word there my, my truth as in I’m lying.

The ball at Netherfield comes and Elizabeth is disappointed to be dancing with Darcy rather than Wickham. I really enjoyed the interaction between the two as Darcy is trying so, so, so, so, hard to flirt with her but everything he says Elizabeth takes as an insult. It was hilarious as he not overt in his attentions, but you can tell he is trying to compliment her but each time Elizabeth assumes he is making fun of her.

Again I really enjoy how much time we spend with Darcy and him sharing how he feels. It works really well in this format and makes a stronger show. Plus I like that they are trying to distinguish it from other adaptions, along with keeping pieces that people love from the previous ones.

After the ball Mr. Collins tries to propose to Elizabeth and when she hears he wants to have a private word with her I love how she immediately picks up a cup of tea. She’s all-I need tea if I’m gonna get through this.

The two sing a song with Mr.Collins going on about his proposal completely ignoring Elizabeth’s refusals. She rebuttals with the perfect blend of anger and good manners, and I like her final shove at the end that helps her words get through his head.

After that Mr. Collins marries Charlotte and the  Bingleys & Darcy leave Netherfield.  Elizabeth tries to comfort Jane, but Jane insists that that Mr. Bingley was just an acquaintance and she is fine.  Jane’s song is the perfect mix of beatiful and sad as she tries to convince herself she doesn’t love him but isn’t fooling anyone as in every note we can feel the heartbreak. It was a fantastic performance.

We then find ourselves with the Collins, Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Bingley at Lady Catherine’s home. Now I know why they were there as I’ve read the book, but it was a bit weird they didn’t have an introduction as to who she was or why Elizabeth was visting. However, my thoughts didn’t rest on that long as Lucinda Hitchcock Cone was perfect as Lady Catherine as she was just relentless in grilling Elizabeth. I really enjoyed how Mortelilti as Darcy has a smirk the whole time, as if he was just enjoying watching Elizabeth hold her own against Lady Catherine. Mr. Bingley just looks uncomfortable and as if he wants to leave, but is afraid to as Lady Catherine might turn on him, just trying to blend into the furniture.

In this Colonel Fitzwilliam is not Darcy’s cousin but is introduced as his friend, why the change I don’t know.

Oh, well.

Lady Catherine sings her song and it is one of the most egotistical songs I have heard, like levels of Ratigan’s song in The Great Mouse Detective or Gaston’s in Beauty and the Beast.

Elizabeth Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins, Mr. Bingley, and Charlotte Lucas.

I love how Elizabeth and Lady Catherine share that same stare of Death that Darcy and Wickham did earlier when they do a song battle:

And right in the middle of their “song battle” Mr. Darcy laughs and all pause and stare daggers at him.

I should not have laughed.

Later Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam are talking and he relays that Mr. Darcy is the reason Bingley left and didn’t propose to Jane. She is furious and sings a song about what kind of man could do this-but every trait and action she uses to describe Darcy perfectly applies to how she has been toward Darcy. This was very interesting as I’ve never thought of them as being the same, but in this production they are quite similar in their personality and the way they are perceived by others; except Elizabeth is a extrovert while Darcy an introvert.

Hmmm…

Darcy of course doesn’t hear her song and thinks it is the perfect time to propose, and again the comedic timing in this is just perfect. And while we are not surprised at Darcy’s feelings I love how both he and Elizabeth are

“Mr. Darcy: “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Elizabeth: [Completely shocked] You do?

Mr. Darcy: [Utterly baffled] I do?!

I could not stop laughing, that is comedic gold. Neither one can figure it out and he is so flabbergasted when proposing.Elizabeth of course objects and I love how he continues to be baffled and confused at her statements

Then Morteletti as Darcy sings and I loved this song. Morteletti gave it the perfect blend of anger, pain, and heartbreak. He runs the gamut of emotions. He has a great voice and every time he sings Miss Bennet you can just feel his heartache as he holds the note. Elizabeth is on the other side of the stage and sings as well, and you can feel their anguish. I know some people might find it as a cliche but I am a sucker for things like that.

End Act I

Intermission:

With intermission I put my kettle on the stove,

Got the snacks…and settled down to listen to the talk with the cast and Paul Gordon.

So they had a few questions for the cast and crew and it was really interesting to see them this way as you saw a view into their home.

Paul Gordon shared that he read Pride and Prejudice and watched many film adaptions before he wrote the musical. He said that instead of doing how he did with other Austen musicals, he decides to write the songs the way he felt, and that’s why they came out more pop-like.

One question to Taylor Crousore struck me as strange, as they asked him how it felt to play “Mr. Wickham, a very misunderstood character.”

Huh?

I don’t think Wickham is misunderstood, I think he is extremely clear in what he does and wants. Crousore, however, brought up an excellent point about the character. He shared how crucial Wickham is to the story, I mean he is the reason why Elizabeth’s dislike of Darcy is so high, but also the reason she realizes she was wrong about him, and in the end he brings them back together. Without him Elizabeth probably would have forgiven Darcy sooner and might not have refused him when he proposed-but then on the flip side without Wickhim, she and Darcy might not have gotten together. We will never know!

I didn’t take as much notes on intermission as I was getting the tea + snacks ready, and before I knew it, it was time for the second act.

Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

Act II

We start off with Darcy giving Elizabeth his letter, having had to write his feelings down as he wasn’t able to say it. Aw, poor Darcy.

I really enjoyed this scene as Elizabeth reads it angry and talking back to Darcy’s words, only to stop when she gets to why Darcy doesn’t like Wickham. It was done extremely well as Elizabeth is hurt and angry over what happened with her beloved sister Jane and Wickham, but then she softens when Darcy talks of his beloved sister.

Darcy’s song made me think of an ’80s power ballad, about his sister and the part when he belts out “she was fifteen”, you can really hear his heartbreak. Mortelliti was perfect in this as you could feel the love he had for his sister, the guilt he has for not protecting her better, and the anguish he shares over someone hurting his sister that he raised as a daughter (they are many years apart and his dad died when she was so young).

I’m crying!

I loved the duality of the song as Darcy sings softly, still in love with Elizabeth while Elizabeth is loud and harsh as she is angry-but then she softens when she reads of Darcy’s sister.

Elizabeth returns home and learns of Lydia’s plans of going off to Brighton. Jane has a song that she sings as they share each other’s news and their relationship is so adorable. I like how Elizabeth protects her sister, mimicking how Darcy protects his.

Before Lydia and the soldiers leave, Wickham and Denny stop by and say goodbye. I loved the exchange between Elizabth and Wickham as she lets him know she knows the truth and won’t take any of his charm. Wickham is so baffled as what to say or do, he ultimately just leaves. Hilarious!

Elizabeth is invited to go on a walking tour with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner and they end up at Pemberley, which gets its own song. I’m glad it does as it needed to and if it hadn’t I would be solely disappointed.

“Cast: Pemberley we love you tenderly.”

I’m so happy they said that this would be on the site forever. Then all of you who missed it can have another chance to watch, or rewatch it.

Elizabeth listens to the  servants talk about Darcy, and that combined with the letter leaves her puzzled as to who is Darcy. I really enjoyed this song, as I did with all of them and I encourage you to purchase them and sing while quarantined.

As Elizabeth sings Darcy coms up behind her, surprising her. It is such a cute scene I wish I had been fast enough to screenshot it.

Elizabeth is embarrassed to be there as they didn’t realize that he was coming home.

“Mr. Darcy: I find the intrusion rather agreeable.”

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOhhhhhhhh!!!!!! He is so cute!

So while this Darcy isn’t as broody as other depictions, you still see a change in him as he realized how he was being seen by others and becomes much more open. It is amazing what a difference in body language, and looking back there were sublte difference throughout the musical in every scene with him. They are so cute together, *Swoon*. 

How sweet!

He introduces Elizabeth to his sister Georgiana, and it is so adorable.

“Georgiana Darcy: It is a pleasure to meet you. My brother speaks of you so often!

Elizabeth Darcy: [Surprised] Does he?

Mr. Darcy [Definitely] He does!”

AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! So cute!

How sweet!

Miss Bingley is back and snobby and sarcastic as ever. Monique Hafen Adams, you are perfect at it. Mr. Bingley is there as well and it is so obvious he is trying to grill her about any news of Jane.

Darcy was just so perfect- I gushed so much while I was watching this scene that I accidentally wrote over what I wrote and I now cannot decipher it, except that Justin Mortelliti and Paul Gordon did this perfectly and I think Jane Austen would be proud.

Elizabeth receives Jane’s letter about Lydia and then Darcy finds out he is angry. I liked the way Mortelliti portrayed it and how you can see how upset he is and the guilt he feels-taking on the blame that another 15 year old and another family has to go through this. He quickly leaves, running off to find them.

But Elizabeth misunderstands it, thinking that it is directed at her, that he is ashamed and it is so sad as she has lost him. She has finally admitted it and realizes she does care for him and wants to be with him. It is a powerful song!

Back at home it is a mess. Mary tries to be helpful, but her moralizing is horrid and anything but soothing. Mrs. Bennet is going to pieces and if they had a play with just the two of them I would love it. They would be a screwball comedy team for sure.

Mr. Bennet returns:

“Mrs. Bennet: You look miserable.

Kitty: Papa always looks miserable.”

So usually in this scene Mr. Bennet threatens Kitty with no trips, no going out, being grounded until 50 years of age, etc. But instead of Chanel Tilghman playing Kitty as whining and throwing a tantrum at how unfair it is-Tilghman just looks at her father and laughs it off. I really loved that as Mr. Bennet is so curmudgeonly throughout the play that I could see her not taking him serious, much better than her wailing.

Lydia returns with Wickham and he tells everyone about how wonderful and happy he is to be married. Wow, Crousore is a talented actor, I almost believed him. He is so smarmy and slimy I just want to punch him in the face, perfect! In my book you are not a good Wickham unless you make me want to sock you.

Lydia let’s it slip that Darcy was at the wedding, and Elizabeth is further puzzled. Who is Darcy? She was so sure who she knew his character, but now she does not know. She muses over what Lydia said…

“Elizabeth Bennet: [Singing] And he didn’t want it known…”

You know, that speaks really well of a person’s character when they do something extremely kind and don’t want it known. Darcy didn’t want to do this for Lydia he wanted to do it for Elizabeth and he never wanted her to know, he never wanted her to think he was trying to bribe her affections, or buy them back.

“Elizabeth Bennet: Is it too late to tell you…”

Aw, so heartbreakingly sad. So perfect!

Bingley returns and all pretend they don’t care but the do. I can see pieces of the other films in this, such as the hustle and bustle they have when Bingley is coming is like Pride and Prejudice (2005).

Mr. Bingley is so shy and tongue twisted, you once again see why Mr. Darcy wants to help him and protect him. He sings about how much he loves Jane and it is just so gosh darn adorable. Now if only you could just tell her that.

He and Darcy leave, but then Bingley gets his strength back and returns.

“Jane Bennet: Wonderful to see you again and so soon…after your last visit.”

Aw, they are so cute!!!

Come on Bingley!!! Just say it already!

And then he does! He finally sings all his feelings!! Yay! Aw, so cute!!!

After that happiness we have the horror. The carriage is coming…DUN, DUN, DUN! Lady Catherine!

She and Elizabeth have another song battle and every word that comes out of Lady Catherine is dripping with disdain. Elizabeth’s song is a verbal beatdown of Lady C. and it was perfect.

The interaction after this of Darcy and Elizabeth is one of my favorites, Darcy is practicing what to say to Elizabeth, and it is soooooo cute. It is the scene I have always wanted and ever realized it.

When he and Elizabeth have a chance to talk and he hears that her feelings have changed, oh the hope in his voice. I love it!!! My favorite part is they are seprated by a stream and Darcy moves to her…

But then he waits, letting Elizabeth make the final step-everything is in her court, he doesn’t want to push her, he doesn’t want to influence her, he wants her to decide based on her heart and feelings. And when she moves in they kiss! So cute and their song! So adorable! So romantic. He waits for her to take the “leap” to him ad then after they cross over together.

Soooo cute!!!!

And they take the leap over the stream together! Awwwwwwww! It was so adorable and gosh darn romantic and aw! Aw! I LOVE IT!

At the end we have a review of the couples as as it ends I’m sad it is over.

So I just LOVED it! I thought it was amazing and cute and adorable! The music was fantastic and I think you all should watch it if you haven’t, and if you have-it is definitely worth another rewatch. Go here to watch it.

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part II, Other Eras

For more Jane Austen stage productions, go to Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part I, The Regency

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

So this is something I started a while back. We all love Jane Austen and it is such a bummer that there isn’t more of her works to read.

Variations are a ton of fun, and there are great ones out there (recently I read and loved Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl) but sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read?

That’s why I started this series. I will review books that have the things we love about the Austen novels, but is something fresher than a retelling.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

So I read this book and knew it would be perfect to add to this blog.

The story starts off with Sita Kaur Shergill, widowed mother to three daughters, ill. She knows her time is limited and decides before her time is up to write a letter to her three girls to take a trip to India after she passes. She always wanted to go on a pilgrimage with her daughters from their home in England to India, and now her last wish is for them to go.

It sounds like a simple request, but it is anything but as these three sisters are not close and all kick up a bit about going.

Rajini is the eldest sister who when she was young rebelled, but after a trip to India became sensible, reliable, and has done everything right. She went to university, became a principal, got married, and had a boy.

But not all is right in Rajini’s world. Her just graduated from high school son not only wants to forgo college, but he also is dating a 36 year old woman, and…the couple is pregnant. Basically this is Rajini:

Raijini tries to do all she can, but her son won’t listen to her. And now she has to go on this pilgrimage, and leave her husband to try to sway her son.

Ugh!

Raijini doesn’t want to go to India at all, because of what happened last time, but will do it to honor her mother.

Jezmeen is the middle daughter, and she and her mother had a contentious relationship. Jezmeen was always passionate, doing her own thing, reacting, rebelling, etc. She wanted to be an actress, something her mother didn’t approve of. And her mother would constantly ask her why she didn’t have her “big” break yet, something that really grated on Jezmeen’s nerves.

Ugh, not again…

Unlike her sisters, Jezmeen is ready to go to India as she wants to get as far away as possible as she is currently a social media disaster and is hoping that everything will die down if she leaves the country.

But just because Jezmeen wants to go to India, she doesn’t want to do the pilgrimage as she doesn’t get why it is such a big deal, but her big sister is going to make them stick o the schedule.

Youngest sister Shirina excelled at college and her job, but she always felt she was missing something…a real family. Growing up not remembering her father, her mother busy working, and the sisters not getting along more than they do-she wanted a traditional family and signed up on the message boards for an arranged marriage, meeting the wealthy Sehaj and moving to Australia.

She then slowly left her friends, job, and social media. Her sisters have hardly seen or heard from her and she has become a silent figure in her home. She decides to go to India, not for her mother but because her mother-in-law has set her upon a secret task, one she must complete or else she can never return home.

Hmmm…

The three sisters are in for a trip of their lifetime as they learn a lot about their mother, each other, one sister gets involved with private detectives, one gets arrested for protesting, and one almost makes the worst decision of her life.

So we have three sisters…what Jane Austen book do you think I’m thinking of?

A widowed mother with three daughters?

The mother in the The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, Sita, isn’t in the story a whole lot, but her presence is felt throughout the book as we get memories from each of the daughters. After her husband died, the financial security went away and at times Sita found herself unable to do anything from her distress, stress, and depression. The girls had to be taken care of by a neighbor or by their older sister Raijini. This reminded me a lot of Mrs. Dashwood as after her husband dies, she goes through a similar grief and the responsibilities and it be taken over by others.

Of course Raijini being the sensible older sister makes me think of Elinor. Taking charge, leading her sisters, picking up the void of the missing parent-Raijini is just like Elinor. But even though you think you know everything about Raijini she has a hidden secret-just like Elinor.

“What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering. For weeks, Marianne, I’ve had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.”

Jezmeen is passionate, plunges into things headfirst, and doesn’t always think things through. This of course makes me think of Marianne who lets her passion lead her.

She is upset with her sisters and this trip, gets up late, goes along with a protest because they think she is someone else, gets thrown into jail-and that is just a taste of what she does. However, as the book progresses she, like Marianne, learns to not let her passion go, but to temper it from time to rime and take moments to think before acting or reacting.

Shirina made me think a lot about Margaret as she isn’t as present in the book-not that Shirina is underdeveloped, far from that. Shirina isn’t present as she is folding in herself due to her family drama-her mother-in-law emotionally abusing her.

The other thing that really made me think of Sense and Sensibility is the way the sisters each have these ideas about each other-only to discover that there is than they thought, and how they all grow and bond together.

I really enjoyed it and recommend it.

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: And Only to Deceive

For more on sisters, go to I Won the Two Sisters Tea Giveaway

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)