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

Modesto Jane Con: Looking Around the Library, Lunch, and a Crazy Random Happenstance

So if you have been following me, you know I have been super excited about Modesto Jane Con. The past eight years I have seen pictures from different Jane Cons and festivals and wished I could go-but they were not possible for me to attend as it always came down to a problem of time, money, work, etc. Instead I had to be content with seeing pictures on social media.

 

But then Modesto Jane Con was created!

From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

Your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).

That was it, I was going! And I convinced my book club + my sister to join me. I scrounged around for a costume (I’ll post on that later) and made sure to bring a notebook to take copious notes on the workshop and opera to-of course post on them later (as I am now).

So the first workshop of the day was Gowns & GroansAfter that you had your choice of The Definitive Darcy or Start You Own Book Club. The third workshop was your choice of Dressing the Regency Lady or Are You a Long-Lost Austen? Searching Your Family Tree.

So after Dressing the Regency Lady, we had about an hour and fifteen mins as Layton went over the time. I wanted to look at the library, the art gallery, and a shop all featured on the Modesto Jane Con instagram, but I was vetoed as everyone was hungry.

For the past few months I had been talking to Lynne Marcus from the Modesto Jane Con Instagram page, and we hoped to meet up at lunch. I wanted to check out Mocha Magic  as that is where Lynne was stopping to eat, but I was vetoed again. We had heard some volunteers and organizers talking about pizza and that is what the group wanted.

They were worried about time, as everyone wanted to get to the Opera to hear the preshow talk at 1:30, but I convinced them to stop at let me look at the library, Stanislaus County Library.

You know me, I love the library! Plus I wanted to check out their Jane Austen display that I saw on social media. Everyone was glad we did as we loved the Regency dress they made out of old book pages. So beautiful and crafty!

After that we looked over the sponsors for Modesto Jane Con to find a place that was close to the theater and served the pizza that everyone craved. We decided on Chefs of New York.

It was a cute café that quickly filled up with other people from Jane Con, (we could tell by the wristbands and what they wore). We had quite a few conversations with other fans.

I think that was one of the most enjoyable parts of Jane Con. Not only did we learn a lot, but we were able to spend time with other fans. We met people from different cities who we had never known before but instantly felt a camaraderie in having the same interests.

Here are people that if you aren’t an extrovert, you probably never would have spoken to. But knowing they are a fan of the same thing, it instantly breaks down a wall as you are kindred spirits.

Ad I don’t usually review food (I do have a few tea places I am planning on reviewing in the future but haven’t yet) but as this was part of the experience and they supported Jane Con, I felt I needed to.

Chefs of New York Downtown was amazing! If you find yourself in Modesto, stop there. This food was so good, I couldn’t eat it fast enough.

I asked the waitress for a suggestion and she recommended the vegetarian panini, which came with a choice of soup or salad. When the food came out, I was shocked at the amount of food I was given. The salad was gigantic, I mean I was expecting a tiny plate-not a huge pasta sized one.

The same was for the soup others ordered.

The sandwich was a good size and just fantastic.

So while we had great conversation, fantastic food, spent the morning in wonderful workshops, I was still feeling a little bummed. I was disappointed that we missed meeting up with Marcus and the organizers of Modesto Jane Con.

So we had been sitting and talking with a family at the table next to us, who create and sell old fashioned hats and victorian clothing. They had left when we received our food, as they had finished theirs. We were about halfway-two thirds through our food when a new group of ladies sat down in the table next to us.

We could tell they were attendees of Jane Con from what they were wearing and after a little while they asked if we attending and what we thought. We shared a bit with them and then they asked how we had heard of it. I shared that I saw it on instagram and then convinced my book club to come with us.

They then asked if I was JaneAustenRunsMyLife and I said it was and it turned out that I was right next to Marcus, the very woman I had been speaking to these past few months. What a crazy random happenstance!

What great luck! It was incredible that it happened. I mean if they hadn’t changed their plans of where they wanted to eat at, or if they had come earlier while that family was still eating we never would have met.

I know that this is kind of an unusual post, but I wanted to give props to the Library and Chefs of New York Downtown as I really appreciate their support of Modesto Jane Con. 

I don’t know of the library was paid or gave them the rooms for free, I am not sure how active the staff was in the involvement of the Con, or what roles they played in putting everything together-but I really appreciate the Stanislaus County Library allowing us to use their space and made it possible to have a Jane Con. I mean parking was free, it was a central spot, and a wonderful meeting area.

Chefs of New York Downtown helped sponsor Modesto Jane Con, how much or in what capacity, I don’t know. All I know is that they were willing to help support this in some way, not knowing if they would get a return or not-people might not choose to eat there with or without their name in the program. We appreciated your sponsorship and visited there, doubly rewarded in amazing food and service.

And to Lynne Marcus and the other organizers, thank you for all your hard work. I know it took a lot of time and energy to plan all the events, schedule the speakers, find volunteers, etc. It wasn’t easy, and I’m sure stressful at times-but your end product was amazing. We learned a lot, had a ton of fun, and just all out enjoyed every minute of it!

You organizers, volunteers, and everyone who helped put Modesto Jane Con together.

And we can’t wait until next year! (If there is a next year, please!)

So we will be taking a break from the Modesto Jane Con until after Valentine’s Day as I have some posts planned for the holiday. Last year I didn’t do it, but I’m back to tradition and plan on doing 14 posts on my favorite romantic moments from film and TV shows.

I’m sure you are wondering what is there left to write about? Well-we still have my review of the Mansfield Park Opera and my costume + the Regency Fashion show.

For more on Modesto Jane Con, go to Modesto Jane Con: Dressing the Regency Lady

I Wrote Mr. Darcy a Letter

So if you have been following me on Instagram you know I found Mr. Darcy’s address.

Yes, I have located Mr. Darcy!

So a few weeks ago I was bored and the idea came to me to search for Mr. Darcy in my maps app. I thought nothing would come up and that I could make a funny meme about it, something like:

 Well to my surprise it came up with an address!

Mr. Darcy

28 Longton Grove

London

SE26 6QE

UK

So I tooled around a bit on the internet to see if I could find any info on it/him and I couldn’t find anything.

I’m stumped.

I then decided to write a letter to him. I wanted to make a card, but ran out of card stock.

I could have bought more but I had to go to the post office last Thursday and wanted to mail this then-as I can only go to the post office on my lunch break.

Here is what my letter said:

Dear Mr. Darcy,

I have a Jane Austen themed blog and wanted to make a meme about there being no Mr. Darcy and I typed Mr. Darcy into Google Maps and you came up. I’m not sure if you are a real person or a business, as I couldn’t find out any information online. I decided to write you a letter and I hope you will write me back. If you choose not to, I hope that this letter will at least make you laugh or give you a good story to share with others.

Yours,

Jane Austen Runs My Life

P.S. I hope the Spider-man stationary is okay, it was the only thing I had.

I hope he writes back, and if he does I will post the reply!

For more on Mr. Darcy, go to I Met Mr Darcy

For more letter writing, go to You Were Right, Let’s Get Married: Psycho (1960)

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Happiness is Having a Library Card: Another 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

Five Jane Austen Adaptations That Should be Turned Into a Film or TV Show

So I asked this question on Instagram and got a zero response. I feel that this had a lot of potential so I’m going to answer it myself.

So I haven’t read every adaptation yet, I plan to, but haven’t yet. Out of the ones I have read these are one that I would love to see as a film or TV Show.

5) Jane Austen Academy Series by Cecilia Gray

So in this Jane Austen inspired work, Cecilia Gray takes the characters of Jane Austen’s novels and puts them in a boarding school high school together, pairing up who would be friends and having them live in modern times. She chose the characters Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Emma Woodhouse, Catherine Morland, and Anne Elliot.

The drama comes when this boarding school goes co-ed! Gasp! Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wickham, and Captain Wentworth are coming and bringing all their dramas and the new owners want to change everything. Elizabeth has to save the school, help Anne get back with her love Wentworth, and deal with ugh Darcy.

So I have only read the first book (and need to continue the series, but just haven’t had a chance) and I like the idea-although there were a few things I didn’t agree with (like deleting Marianne Dashwood, why?) that would need to be fixed. I think this would be a good TV show-all the Austen characters as teenagers going to school together and unlike Austentatious, this book if turned show would actually keep the themes from the books instead of making it random nonsense.

For more on The Jane Austen Academy Series, go to Fall For You

4) Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries by Carrie Bebris

So Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are married and happen upon stranger supernatural occurrences and start investigating-well, Elizabeth does and Darcy starts off along for the ride but joins in. In the first book they deal with the question of an insane or possessed Caroline Bingley. Has she gone mad? Is her husband gaslighting her? Or could she be posessed? In book two, Elizabeth’s sister, Kitty Bennet, is planning on marrying Henry Dashwood (John and Fanny’s son) but then he starts acting weird. Was he just pretending to be a nice guy and always a jerk? Or is he possessed by some malignant creature?

Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy are crimesolvers? I’d watch it hands down. It would be something for those who loved Death Comes to Pemberley and Supernatural. Sounds like a win-win and can fill a new hole on TV.

For more Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, go to Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) and Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

3) The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know edited by Christina Boyd and et. al

So in The Darcy Monologues you have Pride and Prejudice envisioned fourteen different ways. Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues is eleven different stories on the “bad boys” of Jane Austen.

So I still have to read Rational Creatures (I know shame on me, time just seems to slip away), but I think these would both be fun as a TV show, each story an episode. As The Darcy Monologues is about one subject you could do an episode from it and Dangerous to Know, to break it up, or just do a miniseries. I would love to see Mr. Darcy as the “Beast”, Pride and Prejudice as a Western, and of course Mr. Darcy Strikes Out as I LOVED Dandy Darcy and would love-love-love to see that. For Dangerous to Know I loved Henry Tilney’s older brother finding love and needing help from Catherine Morland, and when Colonel Fitzwilliam strikes a deal with an heiress to pretend to be interested in her so she can gain her inheritance.

For more Darcy Monologues, go to The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency and The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

For more on Dangerous to Know, go to Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD, Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE, and Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

 

2) Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

I Love, Love, Love, Love, Love this book. We all loved the film Austenland, so why not turn the sequel into a film as well!! You have a broken hearted woman who loves Jane Austen and heads to Austenland to get over her troubles. There she sees characters from the previous book along with getting mired in a mystery!!!

It is a love story, a mystery, comedy, etc and so much fun. It wouldn’t quite work with how they ended the film Austenland, but you could always have Mrs. Wattlesbrook make a new one and try again. It would be FANTASTIC!! Please make it happen.

For more, go to Midnight in Austenland

1)Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Kelly Doornebos

Chloe Parker enters a contest to compete in a documentary about Austenites. Each contestant will live in a Regency-esque world where they will compete in answering Austen Trivia-the winner receiving $100,000. It’s easy right? Wrong! It turns out that this is a Bachelor Reality Show in Regency Flair, all constants competing to win a “Mr. Darcy”.

I could see this being a movie, but even better as a TV Show. You make it in the style of a reality show, but all fake. It would be hilarious as they try and complete the Austen challenges while poking fun at real celebrity dating TV Shows.

For more go to, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

So what do you think? Did I miss anything? Is there something out there you would love to see as a TV show or Film? Comment below to let me know!

Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

So first of all:

I meant to post this over a month ago, but life got on the way…

So before I start my review let me say this is 100% how I feel and I was not compensated for anything. It would have been nice if I had been, and it wouldn’t have changed my review either way, but I just thought you all would like to know.

So one day I was on Instagram, and the Etsy store, Little Literary Classics, popped up in my feed.

They have adorable shirts, patches, paperback books, dolls, and cut/sew cloth books. The books are what interested me as you know me-get kids interested in classics even as children.

They are so cute, The Wizard of Oz, Paul Bunyan, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, etc. And what a great idea, the babies can chew on them, throw them, and just mess around with them with no fear of destroying them.

Yay!!!

And you know me and Jane Austen stuff:

So I started following the store, and when my second favorite cousin’s (my favorite being my other cousin’s little five-year-old girl) wife got pregnant, I had to get them something special.

Hmmm

I looked online at the baby registry, but there were no books on the list!

WHAT!!!!!!

Huh?

I know, I had to rectify this immediately. So first I bought Anna Karenina from Jennifer Adams and Babylit. They have the best books! I have bought Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, The Wizard of Oz, The Jungle Book, A Little Princess, Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and Alice in Wonderland. I have loved each and every one of them and highly recommend any of her books with their beautiful illustrations.

Little Literary Classics kept popping up in my feed and I thought, why not? I liked Pride and Prejudice but I didn’t want a boy doll for the baby girl. I really liked the Sense and Sensibility, but they didn’t have it available in cloth book (only paper) and I didn’t have the time to wait.

Now! Or in 4-6 weeks.

Then I saw Mansfield Park, and thought-why not. I like Mansfield Park and feel it is an under appreciated Jane Austen work. I liked that the doll was darker skinned, as I and that side of the family is Mexican, and decided to buy it.

It came with the option of having a message in it, which I thought was cute and asked for a short one. I ordered it on March 31st and waited.

I started to get worried it might not be here in time…the shower was April 27th and looming closer!

Please, please, please…

And it finally arrived on April 21st!

So I opened it out and saw the fabric:

So I was so excited, until I looked at the top and SAW THE INSTRUCTIONS WERE MISSING!!!! How was I going to put it together???!!!

What am I going to do???

But then I saw they had thoughtfully included a paper with the instructions.

They included the note with it, which I didn’t really like as I thought it was going to be separate, like Amazon does. However, if I was giving it to a friend who could sew, I could see them being put together like this.

So the book’s pages were super cute! They are numbered so you know how to put them together, number 8 was my favorite-I can just imagine Henry Crawford throwing a temper tantrum.

Here are a few squares:

So I do not sew at all:

And I was suffering from a sinus infection…

So my mom went to work:

And we ran into a couple of problems, first the needle in the sewing machine broke!

My mom replaced it, but the canvas was pretty strong-just so you know. The second problem is that a part of Fanny’s dress came off!

So my mom embroidered a flower over the spot.

She had me stuff it as that is something I know how to do.

The finished product:

So what did I think?

Hmmm…

I loved it!

There may have been some hiccups, (and if I were to do it again I think I would pay extra to have them put it together for me), but it was beautiful, fun, adorable, and I LOVED it.

I really want all of them:

And I am trying to think of who should I buy the next one for?

Hmm…

And I can’t wait to see what baby thinks of it when she comes!!!

Moreland APPROVED!

To purchase your own, click here.

For more on Mansfield Park, go to Anna Karenina Made Me View Maria Bertram-Rushworth and Mary Crawford Differently

For more Mansfield Park variations, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

For more children’s books, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more based on Jane Austen, go to The Smart One and the Pretty One

For more sewing, go to The Conscripted Seamstress

The Conscripted Seamstress

From the Madsen Creations tumblr: Fashion Inspiration Journal

So I do not sew-not at all. I have tried to do it and have failed again and again. Sewing is just not for me. I get completely flabbergasted.

From the Madsen Creations tumblr: Fashion Inspiration Journal

I am like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, when I look at the sewing machine and the instruments.

So those of you who follow me on instagram and facebook may have seen my embroidery, and might be wondering, isn’t that the same thing as sewing?

Sewing is about construction-in clothing or accessories. Typically you are joining two pieces of fabric together to make something or mending a hole or frayed edge.

Embroidery is about style-you are adding careful and intricate stitching to something, to elevate a pillowcase, dishcloth, blanket, or other home goods.

So embroidery is something I know how to do, my mom taught us young and I have embroidered pillows, dishcloths, pillowcases, blankets, baby shirts, etc. After all:

So last week my friend was getting married and she was planning on saving money by wearing her mother’s old dress.

I told her to try it on months before, just in case it didn’t fit, but she didn’t. On Thursday, two nights before the wedding, she tried the dress on and it didn’t fit.

They weren’t able to add more cloth to it, instead a new dress had to be made. Friday, the day before the wedding.

But my sister, she went to work and created a dress in a day.

What?

After the dress rehearsal, I went over to my parent’s house and saw my sister sewing on appliques to the dress. If she was to be doing it on her own, she was going to be up all night and we were supposed to be at the church at 9 on Saturday.

Ouch!

So my mom lent a hand and then they conscripted me into service.

Like I said sewing is not for me, and I kept messing up. I threaded the needle wrong and it kept falling out. And I was moving so slow…

We stayed up until two in the morning and my sister and mother did lots of appliques…but in the four hours I sewed….I did one.

Yes, this is why I don’t sew. But I was pretty proud of my one applique.

For more on sewing, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 3, Threading the Needle

For more embroidery, go to Jane Austen Manors

For more on weddings, go to Crazy Rich Asians

Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

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 the book club member chose:

The Mother Keeper by Paula Scott

So in my last book club book review I had chosen The Far Side of the Sea by Paula Scott and our book club actually got to meet her!

Afterwards, we all started following her on instagram, facebook, etc. One book club member spotted this on facebook and afterwards wanted to read it.

Paula Scott told us that she started writing this years ago and tucked it away, bringing it out later when her daughters wanted a romance as she wouldn’t let them read Twilight (thank goodness).

She tweaked it here and there and rewrote it-this being the finishing product.

Jenny McBride and her husband Kevin, live in Colorado, are celebrating New Year’s Eve and ecstatic for their pregnancy. They can’t wait or the baby, dreaming of all the things they would like to do.

Both are Christians and strong leaders in their church. That night Kevin had a drink, something Jenny does not approve of, and she insists on driving them home in the snow. A car comes careening their way, and crashes into them. Jenny loses her uterus, Kevin his leg, and both their baby.

Nooooooooooooooo

Jenny can’t believe this happened to her, her whole life she has been a good Christian and this is what happens to her? She is hurt, depressed, and angry.

Noooo!

Meanwhile, in the country areas of Tennessee, teenagers Ellie Ryan and her boyfriend are making plans for the future. Jamie is a big football star and will get a scholarship, while Ellie can get one with her amazing grades. However, there is one wrinkle-Ellie is pregnant.

That is not good,

She doesn’t tell her boyfriend, she just breaks up with him. She then heads to the pregnancy crisis center where her sister had gotten an abortion before she took off to California. Ellie hasn’t heard from her since.

At the center, Ellie meets Patsy Klein, a pastor’s wife, who invites her to come stay with her and take part in their church’s Mother Keeper program. The Mother Keeper program, is when a family takes in a pregnant teen and helps take care of her until she has the baby. Sometimes they adopt the baby, help arrange adoptions, or just help them until they can figure out their next step. They pay the food and medical bills through church funding/fundraising.

Ellie stays with Pastor Klein, Patsy, and their three boys-Shawn, Seth, and Stephen. For Ellie, this a dream come true as she is finally part a perfect family.

Shawn is upset when he hears that a pregnant girl from Sutterville-Sucksville-is going to be living with  them. He has enough on his plate with football, a scholarship to Vanderbilt, his beautiful girlfriend Jill who desires him. But meeting Ellie and spending time with her-Shawn realizes that the life he has been living isn’t what he wants at all, but what does he want? Now, he doesn’t know.

Hmmm….I need to rethink my life’s choices

As Shawn and Ellie grow closer, Shawn wants to marry her and raise the baby together. But the assistant pastor contacts his sister Jenny, she having gone through a spiritual battle and grief, is ready to adopt-Ellie’s baby. What will Ellie decide?

Many more decisions will be made as secrets are brought out in the open: a secret affair, true parentage revealed, murder, rape, and a fight over who will adopt Ellie’s baby.

Wow!

This was a a fantastic story and a real page turner. Paula Scott doesn’t pull way from anything, but hits the truth hard.

What?

It’s funny because it certain characters reminded me of ones from Desperate Pastor Wives and The MasterpieceThat was completely unplanned by us. In DPW, Jennifer Shores too has lost a baby, and becomes angry with God; having to go through her journey, getting close to God, and figuring what is next in the future. In The Masterpiece, Grace Moore is kept by a family until she has her child, and goes through a similar battle over who will adopt her child, along with having family issues she has to work through.

It was a fantastic book, and I strongly recommend it.

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: Far Side of the Sea

For more by Paula Scott, go to Book Club Picks: Until the Day Breaks

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

Crazy Rich Asians

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

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

Or post in my case.

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

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

Hmm…

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

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

Welll…I thought it was……

Hmmm…

Super Freakin’ Fantastic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Majorly

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

Unacceptable

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

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

Her

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idea!

NO

Yes

I’m serious.

Yes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

And run fast

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

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

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

Idea!

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

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

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

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