Book Club Picks: The Masterpiece

So as you all know I started a book club last year. I have fallen behind with my posts, but I was catching up. ¬†I am for sure only one behind now. ūüôā

No I’m serious! This time I am really only one behind!

We’ll see.

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want.

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

So Francine Rivers is a favorite author of mine. I’ve read everything of her Christian fiction, except one,¬†The Last Sin Eater. So when the book club member suggested us reading it, I was totally down and excited.

Grace Moore has been through a lot in her life. A painful childhood, growing up with a cold and emotionally separated aunt. She put her dreams on hold for her husband, had a disastrous marriage, lost her job, and is now a single mom.

She was going to give her child up for adoption, living with the potential family but changed her mind. Now she is trying to figure out how to take care of her son and make enough money to move out as the family is trying to take her child. Everything seems to be a big no, until she finally gets a job as a assistant to temperamental artist¬†Roman Velasco. He’s never been able to keep one as he is too out there and hard to work with, but Grace is hoping to stick it out until she can find something else.

Roman Velasco has his own hard life. He lost his mom years back, was put in foster care, and sent all over San Francisco as they just kept moving him on. He joins a gang as a runner but then becomes the tagger, graffitiing the gang everywhere. He ends up being sent to a ranch, but as soon as he is old enough takes off.

He has always been interested in painting and art, and ends up becoming a very rich and profitable one. But he has a secret. At night he runs around Los Angeles, creating graffiti art going under BRD-Billy Ray Dean, his real name. He also has been growing ill, and not feeling good-but keeps that and the BRD secret.

Grace is instantly attracted to him, but knows she needs to stay away as she has bad choices in men, he has a lot of issues, and is not a Christian.

Roman tries to leave Grace alone, but is attracted to her. He ends up letting her in more than any person in his life has been let in. But then something happens that changes their relationship forever. Will things work out or will this masterpiece go through several changes before it is completed?

This was a fantastic book and a real page turner. I never wanted to put it down, and just had to find out what happened next.

Defintely worth a read! Check it out today!

The cover of the book comes from a real graffiti painting. It is called Time Flies by artist Camer1. For more about it, check out Francine Rivers blog. Our book club member who chose the book actually was able to go to San Francisco and see it in person.

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: O Pioneers!

For more books by Francine Rivers, go to Book Club Picks: A Voice in the Wind

For more Christian works, go to Who Says I Have to Stop: Fireproof (2008)

For more bible verses, go to Book Club Picks: This Present Darkness

Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

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So first of all, Happy Thanksgiving!

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So I was watching this film as I like¬†Hallmark and it is a Thanksgiving film, perfect for the day, but then it got me thinking…it reminded me of something…

suspicious Hmm

And then it hit me over the head!

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It reminded me of a certain Jane Austen story:

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (1940)

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (1940)

But is this film¬†really a modern take on¬†Pride & Prejudice? Or is it just borrowing some elements of it? Let’s take a look!

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The Story:

Emily Jones,¬†(E for Elizabeth?),¬†is the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade coordinator. She loves her job and vintage things; choosing to shop and thrift stores and live her life appreciating the past. She is currently engaged to a marine biologist, who is full of himself and doesn’t appreciate Emily but wants to change her into something, “better.”

That guy!

That guy!

Emily has a best friend, Donna, who helps her with finding her vintage clothing and offers her advice. Emily’s life is going great until she gets the ultimate slap in the face; the city has hired an efficiency consultant, Henry¬†Williams¬†(Will as in FitzWILLIAM Darcy?), to cut costs in the parade.

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Immediately Emily doesn’t like him. Not only is he trying to destroy her favorite thing in the world, but he is wealthy, arrogant, insensitive, impossible, and hates the past as he believes modernity is the way to go. Henry thinks Emily is stubborn, impractical, prejudiced, and doesn’t understand her doggedness about holding onto the parade or her. But they are stuck together.

Henry Williams: We don’t have to like each other, but we do have to work together.

As they start working together, Henry discovers that he misjudged Emily and starts to understand and appreciate her views; changing more and more with each encounter as he opens himself up to care about the heart of the matters, rather than the money. 

Emily starts to fall for him, but her pride and prejudices still keep her from realizing that he is right for her, and her fiancé, Brian, is all wrong. But when Henry decides to change nothing at all, saving the parade for her; Emily realizes she completely misjudged him in every way, and goes after him and in the end they are together.

Double double yay

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So the storyline has quite a few similarities; the bare bones are the same. But what about the characters?

Elizabeth/Emily

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So we are going to start with Emily. Emily was born from a middle class family and has worked hard in her job to make it the best she can as she has a strong sentimental connection to it and the city. She isn’t like other people often being “out of time”, as she loves vintage and retro things of the past.

Elizabeth Bennet is born from a middle/upper class; not wealthy like Darcy or Anne Elliot or Emma Woodhouse, but her family does well. She, like Emily, isn’t always connected to the people of the day as she has her own way of doing things. She prefers walks to riding in a carriage, books to games of whist, etc.

Emily’s¬†pride is hurt when she finds out that the¬†city is going to not only going to try to remove something from her parade to make it cheaper, but also that they would pick an outsider to come in and make those changes. She immediately becomes prejudiced against Henry, no matter what others say about him.

Elizabeth’s pride is hurt when Darcy insults her beauty, and after that becomes prejudiced against him. When George Wickham enters her life, she knows barely anything about him but is willing to believe his testimony against Darcy, rather than Bingley who she has begun to know, as she wants a reason to dislike him even more.

Emily is dating Brian who doesn’t really care for her but who he wants her to be. Elizabeth is interested in George Wickham, who also doesn’t care for her as much as using her as an avenue to spread slander against Darcy and hopefully introduce her to a wealthy woman.

Emily decides the best way to get Henry to save the parade is to show him every facet. As they spend time together; Henry opens up a lot and the two become friends and start falling for each other. However, Emily doesn’t realize how Henry is the perfect one for him until she meets the foster care directors that took care of him when he was younger and when he decides to change nothing, but save the parade for her.

Elizabeth and Darcy don’t share the same type of¬†closeness as the social constraints of the day don’t allow them the same kind of time together. But through the time they do spend and conversations they have,¬†Darcy falls for Elizabeth. Elizabeth doesn’t find herself falling for Darcy until she reads his letter of explanation, hears from his servants about how they feel about him, and when he saves her family and finds her sister.

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Fitzwilliam Darcy/Henry Williams

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Henry Williams grew up in foster care and worked hard his whole life to achieve wealth. Along the way he closed himself off to others, not interested in developing relationships, but chasing after the dollar and making decisions primarily on logical and cool reasoning, rather than emotions.

Fitzwilliam Darcy had a life of privilege, but his responsibilities of being the only son, inheriting and caring for the land, and becoming a guardian for his sister made him focus more on decisions that made sense, rather than emotional.

At first Henry cannot stand Emily¬†as he doesn’t understand her or like the things she likes and the way she dresses (it is strange to him that someone could love wearing¬†used clothing). As they continue working together, he starts to like the way she acts, the things she does, and her.

Mr. Darcy at first isn’t interested in Elizabeth and he really isn’t interested in befriending anybody but being closed off. However, once they spend time together; he starts to like her conversation, her interests, and her.

In the end Henry lets down his facade and barriers allowing Emily in and trying to show her his real self He also decides that his love for Emily is more important and keeps the parade exactly the same. Not only does he save the parade she loves, but saves the actual parade by filling in for their missing Santa.

Darcy does everything he can to try and change Elizabeth’s opinion of him after hearing her objections. He opens his home to her and her family, and tries to show her who he really is under the cold drawn facade. But the thing that really proves to her his care is that he goes to see the people he vowed to never see again, pays a man he never vowed to never give money to again, and saves Lydia and the Bennet family reputation; all for Elizabeth.

Pride&PrejudiceDarcy

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Conclusion?

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Well this isn’t a direct and true adaption of the novel, I do believe that with the large similarities and the core of the characters; while not perfect…it is a modern¬†Pride & Prejudice. And did I like it?

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Yes. Whether you watch it as a modern version of Pride & Prejudice, as a cute Thanksgiving film, or a feel good Hallmark film; I thought it was cute and fun.

I like it!

I like it!

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So that’s our post for today. I thought it would be the perfect Thanksgiving and Jane Austen fusion. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, however you spent it. And don’t forget the pie!

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For more Thanksgiving posts, go to You’ve Got to Accentuate the Positive

For more Pride & Prejudice film adaptations, go to A Murder Has Been Committed on Your Property: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode One (2013)

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to Candy Girls

For more modern retellings of Jane Austen, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more Jane Austen Quotes, go to Lemon Scones

For more bible verses, go to I’d Lay Down My Life for You: Pocahontas (1995)

The Austen Series: Amanda

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Amanda (The Austen Series) by Debra White Smith

So this book is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, set in modern times Australia

Under Capricorn

I know, Australia was an odd choice for a retelling of Jane Austen. I mean most people in Austen’s time wouldn’t really like Australians as they would see them as robbers, thieves, criminals, etc.

I also had a few issues with it being Australian as I am not scholled in Australian. Sometimes they way they talked I had no idea what it was about.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

But moving on…

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Amanda Wood Priebe (Emma Woodhouse) is a successful owner of a travel agency. She lives with her father and takes care of him as he is aging. Even though he doesn’t really need additional care.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

This was one of the problems I had with the book. In Emma, her father was destroyed with the death of his wife and became the biggest hypochondriac and worrywart you could ever imagine. He ages exponentially and this is why Emma want to stay and take care of him. She knows that he needs her or will fall apart, and that factors into her decision to never leave or ever marry.

Emma

In this he is confident, lucid, and¬†perfectly al;e to take care of himself with maybe a little extra help. There is no reason why she feels the need to stay with him. In fact it is kinda weird…

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So Amanda’s best friend is her secretary Haley Schmitz (Harriet Smith). She is currently dating Roger a farmer, who Amanda feels isn’t right for her. Instead she wants to set her up with the new music minister, Mason Eldridge.

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Her other best friend is Nathan Knighton (Mr. Knightley) owner of a well to do department store. He is also the younger brother of the man that Emma’s sister married.

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So the book mostly follows the story of Emma with a few differences.  Instead of a ball, Emma throws a yearly party at her agency. You know, small things like that.

No big deal

No big deal

So let’s go over first what I liked in this adaption.

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Nate Knitghton/Mr. Knightley

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I really liked the way that Smith wrote the Mr. Knightley character.

Say What

Yes. Unlike other adaptions, she really got into his head and showed aspects of the story from his point of view. Often authors only go so far, but I enjoyed how he interacted with Amanda/Emma and the other characters, how they built up his attraction, and his qualms about having a relationship with a friend, what if she doesn’t reciprocate? What if it goes bad?

Knightly proposel28o7_250

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Haley/Harriet

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The Harriet character was also done well. Giving her a background of foster care and being moved from place to place established the perfect level of insecurity to blindly follow all Amanda’s plans with matchmaking.

It makes sense why she would act this way.

It makes sense why she would act this way.

I also like how you see her love for Roger has a few insecurities with him going away and focusing on the business, coupled with her own insecurities and Emma‚Äôs manipulations; all creating the perfect breeding ground for her to be swayed to another. But at the same time we see how she is able to quickly move past that heartbreak of Mr. Elton (as she didn’t really like him), and return to her real love of Roger.

HIMYM TedLove you and not tolerate quirks

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Now what I didn’t like:

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Colonel Wood Priebe/Mr. Woodhouse

I already talked about the Mr. Woodhouse-Emma relationship, so let me move on.

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Christian but Not Really

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Another thing I didn’t like about this book was that it marketed itself as Christian but isn’t really.

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In reality the the praying or ¬†when they talk about their “relationship” with God is just a footnote or an afterthought.

Blah, blah

I mean write if you want to write a non-Christian retelling of Emma then write it. If you want it to be Christian then write that. Just don’t give me this lukewarm mess that is “Christian” but only a smatter. I mean go big or not at all, no in between.

No thank youhowaboutno

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 Amanda/Emma

Emma

So to our final piece, the one that carries it all…how did she do?

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I did not like the character of Amanda.

Something is not right!

Mostly because¬†Emma just didn’t work in this modern setting.

No thank youhowaboutno

In Jane Austen’s work, Emma is from a wealthy class and¬†doesn‚Äôt really have any friends her equal to spend her time with; especially with her sister and¬†governess married. She is extremely lonely and bored.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

She begins manipulating, not out of spite, but because it is far interesting than another night alone with her dad, reading, just doing the same old thing. It doesn‚Äôt fit with Amanda having this other outlet, as she is great at her job and her work is something she loves. Australia is not as constrained by “social standing” so there isn’t the same level of alienation either. Instead of being bored and turning to matchmaking, she just comes off a controlling manipulator who only cares about herself.

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It just didn’t work; instead of the character being lovable or enjoyable she just seemed cold and cruel. A real “Mean Girl”, if you know what I mean.

MeanGirls I know right!

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So in conclusion? I didn’t like it.

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I mean some parts were good like Harriet and Mr. Knightley’s modern counterparts, but on a whole the book was kinda boring and just didn’t work without a fantastic main character, Emma/Amanda.

No thank youhowaboutno

If I were you, I would just pass this one by.

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For more books based on Jane Austen’s work, go to¬†The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more on Emma, go to Is This Really Just the Same?: Daring Chloe

For more Emma variations, go to Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

For more on bible verses, go to I’d Lay Down My Life for You: Pocahontas (1995)