Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 3-5

So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?

Hmm…I don’t know!

That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.

I can’t stop watching!

So last week I reviewed The Buccaneers, episodes 1-2. These episodes 3-5 aren’t as similar in the Austen themes, but I’m going to finish the review of the miniseries.

So quick recap-four women, Virginia St. George, Annabel “Nan” St. George, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Elmsworth, Conchita Closson-daughters of new money industry, are finding it hard to be accepted into society. In order to circumvent that, the English governess, Ms. Laura Testvalley, hired by Mrs. St. George, comes up with the idea of them having a London Season. There they could hobnob with the titled English and when they come back be welcomed in open arms.

Conchita marries Lord Richard, who only got with her to get her money. He dumped her off at his family estate, took off gambling and carousing, and using up her allowance allotted by her father. Yep, she married a Wickham/Willoughby.

She has a little girl with him and then finds herself a lover to fill her lonely nights.

 

Lonely and sad from Anna Karenina 

Virginia married Richard’s older brother, Lord Seadown, but finds out on her wedding night he only choose her for her money as he already in love/relationship with another woman.

Replace beauty with money

Lizzy is being courted by Hector, a nobody interested in politics. He has no title, but does have a good sized fortune. Her rivals, Virginia and Conchita feel smug about having the superior men.

But Nan tops them all by landing Duke Julius of Trevennick. She was really in love with Guy Thwaite, but he had lost his fortune due to his father’s mismanagement. Guy left for two years to South America to make his fortune, and Nan wanted an engagement, but he didn’t want to be a man to use a woman’s fortune and doesn’t want to hold her back when he may make no money.

Nan feeling vulnerable, sad, alone, and having been sheltered falls victim to the Duke’s proposal-one of the best proposals. The Duke knows his stuff.

So Virginia is pregnant and gives birth to a son. Good but doesn’t keep her man from straying still. In fact, now that the family line is “secure” he spends even less time with her and more with his mistress. Poor Virginia, she had such dreams, such  hopes!

The Duke and Nan return from their honeymoon and Nan finds herself way over her head. Expected to run the household, send the first of their plants to the queen, meet the queen, her husband being too busy for her and so cold. Before they were married, he talked of love and now that they are there is this barrier between them.

This space between them

She is shocked that he doesn’t have passion with her like Conchita and Virginia’s husband’s do and that they have separate bathrooms and separate lives-so unlike her parents.

All alone

Nan loves the outside, the forest, the beautiful romantic ruins but is now trapped in a gilded cage-jewels, meeting the queen, expected to act like clockwork.

She makes some serious mistakes in the household duties and rankings of the many servants. Every time I watch this I think how much more this is suited for her sister Virginia. That is the type of thing she would love to do and life to live.

Julius loves it as he finds her perfect to train. Seriously? Like she is an animal or doll-just tp be moved and trained-ugh.

I take back what I said about him. Take back your castle. Take back your dog.

You are a MAJOR jerk.

The three married ladies get together and talking and complaining about their husbands-these men suck. Poor girls.

Conchita has taken a lover as her husband is always gone. He comes home unexpectedly with the news that he has syphilis.

Ouch

I had to do my 9th grade health report on it and oh my goodness that is one of the worst diseases. First it is hard to catch as most people don’t show the symptoms and if untreated it makes you go insane.

Nan gets attacked one night by a drunk Julian-yelling at her not to complain about wanting passion and then not enjoying when he is trying to romance her. The pig. The horrid man. Just a glimpse of the horrible marriage Nan suffers.

In other news, the St. George’s have lost everything in Wall Street. Without Virginia’s income the Lord’s are in serious trouble. The West Wing renovations have stopped, and everyone must cut back on spending. Something these Lords are extremely angry over.

Your father can’t give us any more money and we actually have to work or spend less?

Lizzy marries Hector Robinson who makes scads of money and ends up buying an old family mansion for his bride. Lizzy is the only on with a happy marriage. She chose wisely.

After that, Nan tries to remove all the romantic, passionate artwork. She can’t look at it anymore. Poor Nan, I know what that’s like. And she got pregnant from their “encounter”. That’s just agonizingly awful.

Noooo!

Nan wants to help her people, as the tennets are getting sick from typhoid. She tries to get Julius to come and help, but he doesn’t care. He only cares about himself. He isn’t the man you thought he was.

Broken dreams, illusions, hopes, etc.

Ugh, Julius treats her like a child, like a doll, a plaything. As if she knows nothing at all. I hate him. I want to punch him in the face.

Nan does the 1800s lady equivalent-she tells him she would rather be dead than have their child grow up to be like him.” Ouch-zing! And she then runs off in the rain at night.

Ouch

They can’t find her and start up a search party, eventually discovering her by the river, having fallen and lost the baby. Now knowing what she said, do you think she tried to kill herself on purpose? Or accidentally fell?

Hmmm

Nan’s governess, Ms. Testavalley, comes to visit and Nan shares her feelings. She describes how as soon as they were married he became a stranger. Ouch, I know how that feels.

Nan still idealizes Val’s life-when the truth is she is not that free or happy. Sir Guy’s father comes to visit, he has a thing for Ms. Testvalley and reveals that Sir Guy will be returning home, a very rich man, and entering politics. Hmm…interesting!

Conchita is pregnant by her lover, and with Richard having syphilis she can’t sleep with him and pretend it is his child. What will she do?

That is not good,

Julius decides he has given Nan enough time and comes to see test the waters and it is very awkward. And Nan begins rebelling against him. “How would you know what would bore me.”

This continuously makes me think of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. If only he had taken time to know her instead of looking at her face than maybe he would have married someone else and they would have had a good marriage. The same for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram.

Guy has returned home and thinks of Annabelle. Too bad you didn’t get engaged to her or had some understanding or else she would have been waiting for you there.

If only

It’s Christmastime and Connie is visiting Nan. She breaks down about how awful things are going, you don’t know how I feel.

No, Nan has it waaaaaay worse. Connie whines about how all this was all supposed to end happily ever after with marriage. Nan shares how she wants to just run away and pretend she never married. Connie begs Nan for money, but Nan has none. Connie begs and Nan promises to try and get some, but from Julius? Not likely.

Bad, very bad idea

Nan gets everything ready for their Christmas ball and as Julius is in a good move she tries to ask him for the money but he won’t do it. She gets £10 a month and can draw up to £5 a week. She tries to get a little independence, but no dice. She is angry at him treating her like a child but he threatens her saying if she wants him to stop them he must treat her like a wife. Nan’s not for, that discussion closed.

Ugh, you don;t rape your wife. I HATE Julius. he’s horrid, horrid, awful, terrible man.

At the party they dance around in the dark and who should end up in a room together, Nan and Guy.

That is not good,

Ms. Testavalley is interested in Guy’s father, but her friend warns her that he just paid off one woman and has two others.

He’s a no

Everyone returns from the dark except Nan who is still with Guy. Both still have feelings for each other…uh oh. Guy tries to encourage her and she listens, discussing how her feelings go up and down. Ms. Testavalley finds them and saves them both from scandal.

Julius gives Nan the money for Conchita but wants her to sleep with him. She can’t as she is so traumatized from before. He insists that he needs compensation for the money, treating her like a prostitute.

You jerk!

He abuses her, yells, curses, breaks her things, hits her. This gives me flashbacks. Ms. Testavalley has to leave and after she goes, Nan’s mother-in-law lectures her trying to help, but not really. At first I was a little miffed at her, but then she said that she isn’t blind to how her son is and how the late Duke was much worse. Poor mother-in-law-she must have a serious backstory. Full cycle of abuse.

Nan leaves Julius to stay with her sister and then will goes to stay with Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Hector are very happy, healthy, and wealthy. Hector is wary to have her come, as she is the duchess, but wants to court Mr. St. George as he is getting wealthy again on Wall Street. So he allows her to come.

Virginia buys back her jewelry she pawned off to pay for the household expenses and goes to see Idena, her husband’s mistress to confront her. Idena hasn’t seen him, he left her for a younger woman, and she lets off how she feels slapping her, Ouch. That’s the lady 19th century version of:

Nan visits Guy at the House of Commons and is seen by all-uh oh. I sense an Anna Karenenia

Rumors circulate and Lizzy tells Nan she can’t stay with them any longer. Nan goes to church and the Duke meets her there. He explains the rules in society, that she is the Duchess, his wife. She needs to stay 1/3 of the year at home and he will turn a blind eye to her discretions as long as they are private. If she makes a scandal, divorce and he will ruin the lover.

Nan returns home as she wants to protect Guy, but doesn’t tell him the truth. They cry over their love as she leaves and Guy looks on.

Or him

Nan returns home and Julian’s mother gives him some good advice. Leave her alone for six months and woo her, be a lover.

Lord Seadown returns home when Idena commits suicide. He tries to get back with Virginia but she isn’t interested. He pleads and looks at her with his sad eyes and she falls like a house of cards. Fool. He’s a loser & a user.

For the thousandth time

Guy and Julius get in an argument over his politics and the way Guy is leaning. But truth is they are really fighting about Nan. Julius lets Guy know he’s be nowhere without him and he can take it all away just like that. *snap* And then they get in a fistfight.

Wow!

GUY, GUY GUY GUY! Give him the chair.

Nan interrupts and ends it. She has the children’s choir perform Yankee Doodle. Woohoo! Let the stars and stripes fly Nan!!

Guy watches sad and despondent, but I don’t really feel bad as she coutld have been your woman. It’s your own dang fault. You should have made some understanding. He then writes her a sort of love letter-most of it is him half angry she’s not with him.

That night Nan hears strange noises and look for Julius and finds him in bed with a man!!!! A Man! Oh.

So of course I have to ask, does Julian being gay (or bi they never quite make that clear) add or take away from his character and villainous treatment. I mean don’t get me wrong, it is done well. The constant worry of his mother, comments about how he likes to be with men-women do not interest him, him getting worried/defensive/angry when Nan has questions about their love life, the girls talking about her not being pregnant. I didn’t catch it the first time, but did this time. But do you think adds or takes away from him being the villian? He already is abusive, narcissistic, a control freak, a rapist, etc. Do you think he would have been a stronger villain if he was straight, or do you think him being gay adds more to the dashed hopes/expectations of Nan. I mean everything else had already killed every romantic notion she has ever had, being gay the final nail in the coffin of the film. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer and I am just wondering your thoughts are.

Hmmm…

Nan runs away after hearing how Julius turned down his sister’s love because he feels she is too old and needs to be a home (like how the Poldark family treats Verity). She realizes he is a horrible brute and will never change, fleeing to her sisters, where Guy just happened to be. The two run off together in full view of EVERYONE! Oh, the scandal.

Meanwhile, Julius does not want to divorce and his mother pleads with him. She suffered too much to have a son and continue the line and Nan needs to do the same. Wow, she has a really dark backstory.

Nan and Guy discuss what will happen and hope that Julius won’t do anything. Julius sues Nan over adultery.

The elder Lord Seadown dies and Nan comes to the funeral. Lizzy is excited to see her friend but not allowed to spend time with her. Must ignore her because of her scandal. It reminds me of Anna Karenina, Nan is ostracized and alone while Guy goes about his duties, getting heckled and talked about but still is okay. Nan on the hand-must be dead to all. This also makes me think of The Duchess. Such a sad film.

Connie on the other hand stops to hug and see her, not caring at all what people think-Nan is her friend.

Guy goes to speak to his father and say good-bye that he is leaving to South America. His father tells him to give up Nan or else he will disinherit, and Guy does not care. He never wanted politics it was all his dad and Julius. His father yells, storms, and finally cries.

Poor Ms. Testavalley was badly burned in all this. Who will ever want to hire her? She’s not sure what she will do next, but is moving forward.

They end with Nan and Guy riding off together happy, but are they? Even though they have uplifting music, it reminds me of The Graduate, the future might not be as bright as they think.

So a great miniseries, but very sad. And it really helps you see how things would have ended if Elizabeth married Wickham, Marianne married Willoughby, Emma married Frank Churchill, Fanny married Henry Crawford, Anne married Mr. Elliot, Catherine married Thorpe, etc.

It also follows the same theme Austen has regarding getting to know a person’s character over title and appearance. Most important who they are and their character, over what they have.

For more on The Buccaneers, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 1-2

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Stardust (2007)

For more Gilded Age, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

On a sad note, given the context of these episodes I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 1-2

So Happy Indepedence Day. It is time for another:

So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?

Hmm…I don’t know!

That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.

I can’t stop watching!

I was trying to decide what to  post today and was split between Poldark, which takes place after the Revolutionary War and The Buccaneers which is about a group of ladies “invading” England. After a long deliberation, Buccaneers won out.

So I first stumbled on this about six or five years ago when I was scrolling through Amazon Prime looking for the next thing to watch.

I started with one episode and was hooked!

The one thing that really struck me when I was watching it was all the famous actors in it. I mean there is the amazing James Frain as Julius, Duke of Trevennick; why, why, why hasn’t he been in a Jane Austen film yet?

Then there is Spy Kids mama Carla Gugino who plays the lead, Annabel “Nan” St. George.

And Greg Wise, (best known to Jane Austen fans as Mr. Willoughby), as the strong upstanding, Greg Thwaite.

This miniseries is what I consider to be “what would have happened if the Austen characters married the wrong people.” You know the Wickhams, Willoughbys, Churchills, Thorpes, etc.; of the world.

The horror! I can’t even think of it.

So I have yet to read the book and am going to focus on the movie only. There are a few changes-which you will see.

So the series takes place in the Gilded Age, after the Civil War. The St. Georges have become extremely wealthy in the aftermath, Mr. St. George being the third wealthiest man on Wall Street. They have moved to Newport Beach but find it hard to enter society as they are “coarse” and “nouveau riche”. It doesn’t matter that the St. George’s have more money that a whole coastline of “old money” people put together, they are not considered polite society. This hurts Mrs. St. George who wants nothing more than to finally be accepted.

Mrs. St. George was actually from a “good family” and married beneath her (as Nan shares), but her husband made a ton of money in the aftermath of the war. She reminds me a lot of Mrs. Bennet, but isn’t so worried about marrying her daughters off as she is in hoping they can get invited into society.

She is joined as an outcast with Elmsworths (who I don’t know what their money is in, I don’t think they say. The housekeeper from Two and a Half Men plays the mother-but all I can see her as is the grumpy housekeeper in that show and the murdered one in Murder She Wrote.) And rounding out this group are the Clossons. Mr. Closson met his wife in Brazil and married her, making his money in the ranches and plantations she owns combined with the casinos in New York that he owns. Their daughter, Conchita has an even harder time with society as all assume her to be a “dark-skinned Native”. So-yes no one wants them.

However, Conchita is invited to the right parties as she is newly engaged to Lord Richard Marabel, and everyone wants a real English Lord at their party. Remember A Change of Fortune?

Mrs. St. George, feeling desperate, hires an English governess to instruct her younger daughter Nan, and give her family some ummph. Ms. Laura Testvalley arrives from England, happy as the St. George’s not knowing any better are paying her a small fortune. She’s doing way better than she would  have in England. Too bad Jane Fairfax wasn’t born later.

Ms. Testvalley tries to instruct the girls and smooth out their rough edges. But they still are not invited anywhere.

It sucks!

Ms. Testvalley knows Lord Richard as she was governess to his sisters, and I don’t know if this is true but I always felt they had a “thing” in the past. They seem too close, if you know what I mean.

The big party of the summer is happening, and the only one who gets an invite is Conchita, and only because her fiance is Lord Richard. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Elmsworth and Nan’s older sister Virginia St. George, pretend to be Lord Richard’s sisters so they can go to the party, but they are later found out. Awkward!

Nan cannot go as she is not “out” in society, watching this I do get where Mrs.Bennet is coming from. It isn’t fun when you are stuck at home because your older sister isn’t married. Nan is adorable, fun, but a young girl. She thinks being a mistress is “exciting” as you have freedom and can do what you want. She even idealizes Ms. Testvalley’s life. Ms. Testavalley tries to help her with her naivety, but there is only so much she can do.

That is not what life is like.

Mrs. St. George is bemoaning  that she cannot get invited anywhere, when Ms. Testavalley comes up with the idea of a London Season. She understands the American class system better than Mrs. St. George and knows that if the ladies go to England, when they return-everyone will be begging them to attend their functions. Mrs. St. George agrees and they are off.

In England, Conchita marries Richard and meets the family. There are huge issues as they come from very different cultures. Richard is the black sheep of the family, a gambler, loose with everything, etc. He thought marrying the wealthy Conchita would solve everything, but that’s not how it works out for him. Conchita’s family expects him to take care of their daughter and actually work for a living.

Ugh! Work!

Richard was kicked out of the family home and Conchita allows him back in as his father would never kick out a woman, especially one as beautiful as her.

Richard exits the picture, using the allowance she gets to live his life however he wants, and leaving the fiery, fun-loving Conchita in a cold, damp, mansion with the uptight well-to-do family.

Meanwhile, the St. Georges and Lizzy have come to England. Ms. Testavalley wants them to do well and enlists another expatriate, her old friend Ms. March. Ms. Testavalley just wants aid in teaching them proper manners and how to follow society rules, but Ms. March has a better idea. Ms. March was once a young girl who came to England for a season, and it was hard to get into English society. In fact she was going to marry Lord Brightlingsea, Richard’s father, but was left at the altar. It seems that there was some nefarious plot, (I personally think that Lady Brightlingsea found a way to trick him, but that’s just my opinion.) Ms. March wants revenge and plans to do so by getting all the girls with wealthy, important, high-society men.

The girls visit with Conchita who is very unhappy, lonely, and determined to take a lover to ease the days. She loves having the girls to visit with her and brighten her days. She takes them to visit with Guy Thwaite. Every girl loves him but he is “unmarriageable” as he has no money. When his mother died she left him £20000 or £50000 (depending on who is telling the story). His father invested it and lost it all. Many a lady wouldn’t mind marrying him as he is handsome, intelligent, and comes from a great family-but he refuses them all as he wants to have his own money, he doesn’t want to just live off his woman.

This kind of character gives me mixed feelings. He reminds me a lot of Carl from O Pioneers! and both characters infuriate me. One one hand you have to admire a guy who wants to have his act together, provide a life for his family instead of mooching off the woman, and be a man. But on the other hand, having so much pride you waste so much time. And you might lose the girl to another.

Guy and Nan hit it off right away and she falls hard for him. He likes her, but even though she is extremely wealthy, he wants to have his own  money so he’d be worthy of his future wife.

I admire you and I’m angry with you. I’m angire or admry

So Lady Brightlingsea is not a happy woman. Conchita is pregnant, but Richard is never home and the money she brings in is not as much as this family would like to fill their extremely diminished coffers. And to add to it, her older son, the good one, has given no heir and has no interest to marry. He’s been involved with an older woman, Idina Hatton. Idina needs money and rents her cottage out to Ms. March, who brings the girls there. There they have fun and throw little parties.

From Emma (1996)

Nan is bored of those things-as she can’t really join in-and she and Ms. Testvalley go down to the countryside where Nan runs into Julius, Duke of Trevennick. Julius has been breaking hearts of all the ladies as no one can pin him down. He isn’t interested in any women as all they want are his title, he seems sweet but there is also something off-putting about his love of clocks and solitude. Like I get your an introvert, but it seems a tad…controlling. I don’t know.

Moving on…Nan impresses him as she has no clue who he is, loves the ruins as much as him, and is just full of innocence, childlike wonder, imagination, feelings, etc. She’s like a mix between Marianne Dashwood and  Catherine Morland.

The Duke is taken with her and invites her to tea-the two talking and he continuing to be struck by her.

Meanwhile, Virginia and Lizzy have both been struck by Lord Seadown’s “sad eyes”, “brooding nature”, and melancholy demeanor. Oh man, you know the type.

Lord Seadown on the hand has been doing some calculating. His extremely dwindling coffers compared to the GNP of the Elmsworth and the St. George’s. Virginia is a better choice as her family has a lot more money. Seadown boasts of his plan to his brother and how he’ll have the better deal.

One day Lizzy, Virginia, and Conchita are having a little party, when Idina shows up, angry that Seadown stood her up. She makes a scene and yells at Virginia. Virginia is a classy lady, but Lizzy won’t stand the way she is being treated and lets all know that Virginia and Seadown are engaged.

The two marry and Virgina is ecstatic over being married to her love, Lord Seadown, becoming the future Lady Seadown, and winning over her rival Lizzy. But the marriage happiness is short lived as Seadown reveals that he only married her for her money and will be using it to redo the West Wing.

Replace beauty with money

Virginia is crestfallen, but that’s not the worst of it-Lord Seadown just uses her money-giving all love and affection to Idina.

So now we are left with little Nan. Guy is extremely interested, but lets her know that he is not going to marry anyone without money. He also thinks that Nan is too young at 18. He is going to South America for two years to work on the railroad and make his fortune. Nan insists that she is not too young, as her mother married at 18. But he says no and walks out of her life.

You’re making a huge mistake!!!!!!! Come back, at least propose!!! Don’t leave her!!!!!!!

Julian on the other hand is very interested in Nan and goes to speak to her but finds her out. He instead speaks to Ms. Testvalley about his wanting to marry Nan. Now in an interesting twist Ms. Testvalley really discourages him against. She warns him that Nan is young and he should wait as in a year or two-after she’s grown up a bit, she could be an incredibly different person.

This reminds me of Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Bennet. If Mr. Bennet had not been taken in by a pretty face but really spent his time getting to know Mrs. Bennet or maybe had a longer engagement he would have realized she isn’t the right person for him. But they both were young and didn’t think.

Julian ignores Ms. Testvalley and goes to Nan who is crushed and heartbroken and lonely. When Julian proposes he gives her a puppy! A PUPPY!!! There is a guy who knows how to do a good proposal, Mr. Darcy could take notes. She’s sad, crushed, alone as her sister and friends are married ad gone and she says yes.

So Nan becomes the crown jewel for Ms. March and Ms. Testvalley as she snagged the Duke, just under a Prince. Wowee!!

Yes the americans have won and conquered the English marriage market.

So here we have as I see it-Lord Richard is nothing but Mr. Wickham. Charming on the surface but a gambling bounder who only cares about having a good time for himself. We get a glimpse of how life would have been if Wickham succeeded in marrying Georgina or Miss Gray.

Then we have Lord Seadown. He reminds me of Mr. Elliot or Mr. Willoughby. But are as calculating when it comes to maintain their fortunes/way of lifestyle. Either would do all they can to keep it.

Smarming and plotting away.

And then we have the Duke. I’m not sure who he best lines up with, he seems like a nice catch…but I guess we will just have to wait and see.

So I was going to do the whole series in one post, but there is just too much. I’ll do a secondary post on the last three episodes.

In other news, I’ll be spending this weekend with my niece. I usually post every three days, but I might have to postpone as I don’t what we will be doing. I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July, whether it is just another day:

Or celebrating our Independence!

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Stardust (2007)

For more Gilded Age, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

For more 4th of July posts, go to Let Freedom Ring

So I like to joke and have fun, but I’m going to end this post on a serious note. I just want to thank all past and present who have served to protect not only my country and my rights, but those around the world.

Book Club Picks: Julie

So Happy Mother’s Day All!

I have never done a mother’s day post before, why? I don’t know. I must have been too busy celebrating my mom.

I had wanted to review The Mother Keeper on Mother’s Day, I thought it would be cute-but I didn’t want to put off my book club pick reviews that long. I thought I would have them all finished and be caught up by now.

I knooooooooooooow!!! I am so behind. I don’t know what happened. I have no excuse.

What’s happening?

So I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone. For Mother’s Day I will honor my mother with a review of one of her favorite books, which is also the next Book Club Pick up for review-her choice of course. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, book club reviews? Never fear-I can give a brief recap.

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

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. This time, as I mentioned above, the book club member-my mother chose:

Julie by Catherine Marshall

I would also recommend this as a Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers

So this book was written by Catherine Marshall, of the Christy fame. She based the book on her own life, including the poetry she wrote when she was a young girl, and the Johnstown Flood.

Julie comes from a family of five, the Wallaces-mother, father, Julie, a sister Anne-Marie, and a younger brother, Tim. Her father was a Minster in the South, but for some reason unknown to her and her siblings, has quit the ministry and a stable good-paying job to in Depression ridden American to use his wife’s small inheritance to purchase a newspaper,The Sentinel, in Alderton, Pennsylvania.

What’s going on?

Have any of you seen North and South? I love that miniseries (and plan on reviewing it sometime). But the reason I bring it up is that in that series the Dad quits the church and moves them from the South to the factory-filled North. And we are all on the edge of our seat trying to figure out what happened, and it takes quite some time until they reveal it.

It’s the same here. The left the beautiful South to go to North, the town of Alderton, controlled by Yoder Iron and Steel (based on Carnegie Steel). They are shocked when they see the cut up land and the haze and soot.  And boy when they reveal what happened to make the dad leave, it’s a doozy. Worth reading defintely.

Wow

Julie was hurt and upset that they left her senior year to start all over again somewhere new, and completely confused as to why. The trip doesn’t start off with the best of origins as their car overheats and they get covered in mud.

They are rescued by Randolph Munro Wilkerson, English Aristocrat, here in America to run the Hunting and Fishing Club. I know that might sound a little strange, but this is he 1930s when limited income royals were marrying the “gilded” heiresses.

Julie is completely mortified that she has this handsome stranger meeting a muddy mess.

When they get to their home and office, the family is shocked to discover that they are all to be the newspaper staff. Writing, editing, cleaning, collecting subscriptions, collecting ad space, etc. The hardest thing will be having to convince people who are already “trimming the fat” that a newspaper is something they need to spend money on.

This will not be easy

One day, a man, Dean Fleming, comes in to ask them to print some handbills for him and offers his services, free, everyday. Julie doesn’t like him as he knew that her father left the ministry and spoke to him about God and faith. She thinks he is going to use his volunteer time to try and force his philosophy on her father and them.

For the thousandth time

Julie starts school and makes some friends. She even likes the minister, Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like. He cares about social change and is avid about helping the steelworkers, unionizing, aiding the new immigrants by getting them better housing-etc. But to me it rings false. I think he is concerned about these issues, but I feel like he does it for the glory of himself, a complete contrast to Dean who cares about a lot of the same things but has a humble spirit. Dean continuously is there for the family, winning over everyone and becoming a part of the Wallaces.

So the Hunting and Fishing Club has this giant earthen dam, and from the very first moment Julie saw it she has felt weird about it. There is something dark and ominous about it. Now some of you might remember when there was that big scare with the Oroville Dam two years ago and everybody had to evacuate? My family had to be evacuated as we were in the potential danger zone and we went to Las Vegas to wait it out. Before that, I never knew that the Oroville Dam was an earthen dam either. When reading this book, it made me view things differently and brought back all the emotion and things we went through then.

So the Wallace family tries to adapt to their new surroundings and life. Julie helps out with the newspaper, along with navigating normal teenage issues-dating, school, etc. She still has a crush on Randolph, but doesn’t really see anything happening there.

Times get tougher and tougher, as Yoder steel lays people off and it looks like the newspaper is going to go bankrupt, and then what will the Wallaces do?

But thankfully, Dean comes through and the Wallace’s hang on. But times are tough and more and more people lose their jobs, which means less subscriptions. Mr. Wallace has been hit with bouts of depression, Mrs. Wallace saying that it was a malaria attack rising up again from when he spent a few months in the South. On these days, Dean always comes. He doesn’t call or get called, he just knows and comes to help him.

Dean is a powerful character who’s has an amazing relationship with Christ. He comes to help the Wallaces, praying for them nonstop and aiding them both spiritually and physically. Too bad the Hales didn’t have a Dean to aid them.

Flooding happens and the Wallace’s get scared, but the rest if the town is unfazed as it happens every season. The water is a little higher than normal, but flooding is just a part of Alderton. It is so horrible the National Guard is called in and keeps people from going into Alderton. Mr. Wallace is hit hard and becomes bed bound again as he worries about damage to the newspaper office.

When the water recedes and they can get to the town, they discover that the newspaper office is safe, the printing press ad paper managed to be just barely out of harms way. With her dad too ill, Julie picks up the slack and loves it.  Her stories get published, and even her poems later on.

Wow!

While writing the flood story Julie wonders about the Dam. She calls to interview them, but no dice.

I got this!

Spencer creates an aid helping organization to try and help the workers in the Lowlands (immigrants, minorities, etc.) This book presents the hard issues as they discuss who should take the blame for he damage? Who’s responsibility is it to help the people? The church? The town? Yoder Steel? The Federal Government?

Hmmm

Julie joins the crusade and learns about how Yoder treats their employees. They have a baseball team, fire department, library, night classes for the workers, etc. But they also have high rents, a company store that is bought on credit, and essentially “own” their employees. If you have ever read The Jungle (one of my favorite books) it is pretty much the same thing.

Things continue and graduation is looming along with Julie’s senior economic project. She’s unsure what to do it on until she hears her dad is visiting Tom McKeever Jr, (the Senior being the one who owns it) and she tags along hoping to get some answers on the Dam.

Julie finds out that the Dam was bought by private businessmen, which means that since it is not government owned there is no one fact-checking up on it-but it is up to the owners to decide what to do with it and make sure repairs are done, etc. The lake covers 450 acres and has 500 million tons of water. The spillways were fenced off (not good!!!) as the lake above stocked with fish.

Julie writes her paper and her father writes an editorial, that while isn’t outright saying there is a problem, it isn’t going to be something Yoder Steel will love.

A little while after the story is published, Mr. Wallace gets invited out to Tom McKeever, Senior’s private railroad car, a high honor. He brings Julie along to the meeting full of rich food and belongings, extremely posh-a complete contrast to how everyone done below is living. McKeever didn’t like the story and wants the Wallace’s to back off.

julie writes a story on the labor issue but her father won’t print it as it is too one sided. She angrily sends it to The New York Times and forgets all about it as she becomes intangled in love trapizoid with Rev. Spencer Meloy, Randolph, and high schooler Graham Gilliam. But the NY Times calls her a they are publishing the article.

Now this is where the book gets really good. Once I started reading and hit this part, I could not stop.

They start writing articles in The Sentinel, and Yoder Steel does not like it. It’s the Wallace’a against everybody as Yoder Steel tries to destroy them by killing their dog, harassing them, attacking the presses, attacking Julie, threatening others so they drop their subscriptions, etc. Everyone has to make a moral choice on who they will side with. As for the Wallaces, will they stay firm in their beliefs, or fall under Yoder Steel?

Besides that storm, an actual rainstorm is coming their way. And then the real bomb of the book is released.

“Life and death for everyone in Alderton that day hung on such small decisions as to where they would be in the early afternoon.” pg. 324

BOOOM!!! When I got to that line I was crazed to find out how it all ended.

Then the Dam breaks and all hell breaks loose.

Reading this part is amazing, the total destruction only takes a few minutes and she counts them one by one as to what happens. It was so frightening to read that and think that could have been us two years ago if the water went over the lip of the dam. With all the heavy rain and full rivers, we are still jittery. I leave a week’s worth of clothes in my trunk just in case we have to evacuate again.

So what makes this an Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers?

First, the story is about a young romantic, reminiscent of Catherine from Northanger Abbey or Marianne Dashwood from Sense & Sensibility. She loves to read-along with writing poetry and stories. She dates some of her schoolmates, but they just don’t bring up that feeling of romance she’s encountered in books and wants in real life (partly has to do with the fact she fell hard for the English Lord). By the end of the book her life experiences have matured her-keeping some of the same romantic soul, but like Catherine and Marianne, has learned to temper it. 

Julie gets a proposal from the Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like, and it is an awful proposal. Basically “we think alike and like the same things, lets get married.” Not quite as bad as Mr. Collins or Mr. Darcy but still bad.

Like Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility the Wallace family goes through numerous changes that they have no real control over. While the Wallace family is much poorer than the Elliots and the Dashwoods, these girls can relate as they have to trim the fat, adjust their life, and have others see them as not marriageable material from their lack of finances. 

Rev. Spencer Meloy reminds me of Mr. Elton and Mr. Collins as to me I felt he wasn’t really being a minister for Godbut instead was looking to lift himself and his interests. Like these two men, he focuses on what he wants and believes, only. He also proposes badly as he reads women wrongly-thinking Julie is just as interested in him as he is in her because of a “look she gave”, ugh gag.

Ugh, this guy!

But like I said, this was a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it!

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Glassblower

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

For more on The Great Depression, go to I Don’t Want the Money: It Happened One Night (1934)

For more bible verses, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: A Change of Fortune

Have you ever felt this way? You’ve gone through all of Austen’s books and want something more to read? There are variations on her stories, but sometimes you don’t want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read or watch?

Hmm…

That’s why I started this series Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers. In it I will review books that have things we love about the Austen novels but something fresh than a retelling.

A Change of Fortune (Ladies of Distinction #1) by Jen Turano

So this story doesn’t take place in Regency England but Gilded Age America. However, it does have a few elements we love of the Austen fare.

The main character of the story is Lady Eliza Sumner, an English aristocrat who’s family fortune has been stolen and left her with nothing. To try and recapture her wealth and take revenge on her embezzler, she disguised herself and took a job as a governess as she searches for her quarry.

Being a governess can be a hard living. We all remember how it was an awful fate in Emma.

“With the fortitude of a devoted novitiate, she had resolved at one-and-twenty to complete the sacrifice and retire from all the pleasures of life, of rational intercourse, equal society, peace, and hope, to penance and mortification forever” (p. 156)

Anyways, Lady Eliza is asked to join a dinner party when one of her charges is sick and can no longer attend. There she meets two eligible bachelors who all the women wish to marry, brothers Thomas and Zayne Beckett. The Beckett brothers are after a Eugene Daniels who turns out to be working with the man Lady Eliza is searching for.

Hmm…

Lady Eliza, Agatha Watson (daughter of the family she is governess for) and the Becketts all have a hilarious interaction as they try to break into a house and attempt to escape the police. The women are arrested as they are thought to be “ladies of the night”, and the Becketts go rescue them.

Lady Eliza is fired from her position and stays with Thomas Beckett, his two kids, and his mother-casting off her disguise and revealing who she is. She develops friendships with Agatha and the Becketts, and all team up to try and outsmart the villains.

At first Eliza is intent on not trusting anyone, but when all try to help her and show their care for her; she starts wondering if maybe her plans aren’t the ones she needs to follow after all, maybe God has something better in mind.

So the Austen flavors, what do we have?

Hmm…

So Austen had Mrs. Bennet, always worrying and trying to scheme a way to get her daughters married off. In this we have twice the scheming with Mrs. Watson (Agatha’s mother) trying to throw every eligible man she can at her oldest daughter Agatha in the hope of seeing her settled. She quickly befriends Mrs. Beckett who is trying to set up her sons and daughter (even though her daughter is in another state at the moment.) While Mrs. Bennet was shrill in her cries to get her girls settled, these ladies are hilarious at the ways they scheme to settle their own.

We all know of Mr. Darcy’s famous awful proposal, what was he thinking?

We have an equally bad one on this novel when Thomas Beckett proposes to Lady Eliza stating that he wants to marry Eliza as he is “fond of her” and she will be a “good mother” to her children. Actually he does worse than Mr. Darcy, he doesn’t even really ask her to marry him, but states those things

This book is full of mystery, intrigue, although it is far goofier and sillier than Austen’s work. If you are looking for a fast read that is comedic and easily read through, with a handful of Austen elements, this is for you.

For more on lost fortunes, go to A Family Affair

For more Pride and Prejudice, go toDarcy’s ’80’s Power Song

For more book reviews, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks