Christmas at Pemberley Manor (2018)

Christmas at Pemberley Manor (2018)

Every year I try and review a Jane Austen type Christmas Film. It started with Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe and has just become a tradition since then.

This year I ran a poll on my instagram asking people to vote between my reviewing Sense and Sensibility and Snowmen or Christmas at Pemberley. Christmas at Pemberley was the clear winner as 71% of those who voted wanted me to review that one.

But before I start my review, let me pause and say:

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

Yes, today marks her 247th birthday, and I thought what better way to celebrate than by reviewing a Jane Austen film? (Although after watching it I may change my mind about that)

I had a really hard time trying to find this film to watch. It’s not on any streaming site as far as I can tell, except on Amazon to purchase. Just trying to watch online seemed imprisons good, so I ended up buying it (I had money from delaying my packages so it only cost me $0.49.)

This film came out back when Hallmark was remaking several classics as Christmas films. It stars Michael Rady as Mr. Darcy, which you may recognize from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or The Mentalist. It also has Jessica Lowndes as Elizabeth Bennet (spelled Bennett in this).

Elizabeth Bennett is a party planner from NYC and is the type of personality where she is on top of everything and always has every thing perfectly planned out in her color coded binders. She works for Caroline Bingley, the actress is the almost stepmother in The Parent Trap (1998). Caroline Bingley is the preeminent party planner in NYC and is a tough woman to work for (according to Elizabeth but she seems fair to me from the little we see). Elizabeth has always been in the background but Caroline is trusting her to be head of a Christmas festival in Lambton Connecticut. Elizabeth knows the mayor of the town as they went to college together. His name, George Wickham.

Before Elizabeth heads out, Caroline warns her to not forget it is Caroline’s name and reputation in this event. She’s trusting her with both and if things don’t go well, Elizabeth is out.

We then switch over to our Mr. William Darcy, as mentioned before played by the cute Michael Rady. He has an assistant, Travis, who is terrible at his job and supposed to be the Bingley character I suppose? Darcy is extremely kind to his assistant, and the two head to his family’s home Pemberley Manor, in Lambton, Connecticut .

We are in Lambton. George is getting ready to meet up with Elizabeth as he is still crushing he’s on her. As they go to meet her Jane Lucas (Jane Bennet/Charlotte Lucas?) remarks how sad she is that Darcy is selling Pemberley Manor and that it will be turned into condos by a developer. The audience is also told of her doubts for the festival as it previously had only been a one day thing of lighting the tree and reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, but Elizabeth is making it a multi day affair with all kinds of events. The movie is trying to scare us into thinking this is impossible for Elizabeth, but I’ve seen enough movies, I know it will all work out in the end.

I know Christmas films.

So this George Wickham seems okay, he cares about the community, Elizabeth,…but I’ll reserve judgement as George Wickham’s can’t be trusted.

Yes!

George is clearly into Elizabeth, but Elizabeth keeps saying they are only friends although goes into detail about the romantic way they met. She’s giving off serious mixed signals to him. She also is reading to get started so they all decide to grab a warm drink from the only hot drink cart located in this town and stand in a super long line. Like why don’t they just go to the mayor’s office? Or a coffee shop?

Darcy has just also just arrived in town and he wants a coffee. He sends his assistant to fetch him one, and his assistant is so hyper focused on doing a good job he misconstrues a joke and thinks if he fails to get the coffee he will be fired. He goes to the only place in town to get a drink, this one lone coffee and cocoa cart and tries to cut in line to get the drink. Elizabeth decides to be his champion and not only inserts herself into the conversation between Travis and the hot drinks cart man, but she also decides to march on down to Mr. Darcy’s car and yell at him.

Seriously, what’s wrong with her? First of all she doesn’t even know that Travis is telling the truth, he could be lying so he doesn’t have to wait in line. Also what good will it do anyone one for her to march over and yell at his employer. At best Travis could get in trouble, at worst fired. She also goes and starts lecturing him about being a good employer completely projecting her own work related issues onto this stranger. So all that tells me is that she clearly has problems with her boss she hasn’t communicated about, but thinks this man she just met, Travis, is supposed to do what she can’t. How do you know you won’t make things worse for him?

Do the writers think we are supposed to be on her side? If anything this makes me like Elizabeth less as she harasses a complete stranger. Mr. Darcy behaves like a perfect gentleman listening, explaining what happened, and being completely courteous to this woman who is acting like a total jerk.

Girl

I know the writers think this is supposed to make us laugh when they have the later “payoff” scene where the two have to work together but I don’t think it was particularly clever as we already know he is Darcy (they should have not told us his identity), and I’m completely all on poor Mr. Darcy’s side.

Mr. Darcy goes to Pemberley and meets the new caretaker, as the former one Willoughby retired. Darcy is more than ready for the house to be torn down which makes me think there are some terrible memories associated with it. The house being sold wasn’t completely Darcy’s decision as it was left to is Darcy Corp and the board of directors decided to sell it.

Darcy hasn’t been there in years and when he goes inside and looks around he doesn’t seem that overjoyed at being back.

Bad juju…

Back with Elizabeth, she and George are having dinner and the character of Elizabeth is so shallow, they just made her like every other Hallmark female main character. They took an interesting character and made her boring.

Of course the next day the festival is in trouble as the water main breaks and destroys the town square and the gazebo. Of course the only answer is to use Pemberley Manor, which we know won’t go well as she just insulted Mr. Darcy the day before.

The other thing that really annoys me about this version of Elizabeth is that she never listens to anyone. Whenever George tries to talk to her about things she interrupts him and moves on barreling faster than a bullet train.

Elizabeth sees that Darcy is the owner of Pemberley, yet her Pemberley demeanor doesn’t even change. She still forceful and barrels through him. She doesn’t even try to apologize or be kind; instead she just runs roughshod over his thoughts and feelings.

The other thing that really annoys me is that she shrugs off all his concerns even though they are valid. He’s selling the manor, he is worried about the liability, and worried about how if something goes wrong not only will he be responsible but his company too as it is a company house. Having put on events for work, I totally see where he is coming from and agree with why Mr. Darcy doesn’t want a festival in his home. But Elizabeth ignores it all and insults him again.

Elizabeth then tries to have George force Darcy to do it. I thinks she’s supposed to be endearing but she is really annoying.

Darcy runs into the caretaker, Kristopher, again, (and he looks suspiciously like Santa Claus), playing Christmas records. I wish they had given Darcy a sister as I feel that works well for his character, it doesn’t have the same meaning with him as an only child. Darcy receives an email from the company purchasing the manor as someone has been complaining about them tearing it down in the community. Guess who did it?

Elizabeth

Speak of the devil, she then shows up and barrels through Darcy with her plan for the festival, not even asking him again. She’s so rude.

So annoying

Darcy and already been convinced by Kris, so they move forward with the festival. Darcy does give her one condition, he doesn’t want any involvement with it. Darcy has been kind, respectful, and a great guy. And I really don’t want him to end up with this annoying version of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is ready to set up and complains about how much work the paperwork was, and all of can feel is told you so. Elizabeth then forces Darcy to help her, clearly being into him as she “can’t have anyone else help her”.

So annoying

They spend time together where she makes him carry thousands of bags. She also makes fun of him for being head of the his company and always working. Hello, he’s head of the company as he has a lot to do. Like you don’t work constantly, you hypocrite. There is no way someone with that many color coded binders isn’t a workaholic.

Elizabeth reveals she has done extensive research on him, and I think it supposed to be cute but it comes off slightly stalkerish as she never seems to stop smiling. Even when she was angry she just keeps smiling, slightly creepy.

Creepy…

Travis goes looking for Mr. Darcy and runs into Jane and it is love at first sight! The two are cute together, someone understood the assignment.

The one thing I think is odd is that Darcy and Elizabeth went to get supplies but they don’t have shopping bags they have gift wrap bags holding all the supplies. Weird set dressing choice.

I enjoy the Darcy character as I feel that they did make him real, a man who has been grieving and given up a lot after his mom died and finally coming to terms; but the Elizabeth character I don’t care for at all as she doesn’t feel real.

So Elizabeth is crushing on Darcy super hard and it’s extremely obvious to everyone, while Darcy is just moseying along. It’s actually funny because she is like begging him to kiss her and he does not see the signs at all.

The next day Elizabeth is complaining to George and is exaggerating about what happened, making it seem as if Darcy threw her out of the house. What really happened was that they decorated his tree, he shared about his mom, and then said he had to go back to work. Like what did he do that was so terrible? Not kiss her? Who says he has to let her stay in his home for all hours of the night?

Every time she talks about Darcy she rewrites what happened to her to make her a victim. Like she has a serious victim mentality. She even complains about him not wanting to be associated with the festival making it sound as if he was demanding it. Which he DID NOT do. This Elizabeth is not the right Elizabeth. She’s more like Lydia or Mrs. Bennet.

George sets her straight and lets her know that Darcy is a charitable man and gives a lot to the community. He talks Darcy ho and let’s her know he just doesn’t like to be in the spotlight.

Back at the house Darcy and Claus, I mean Kristopher talk. Darcy shares some more positive memories he has of Pemberley and we can see him really healing.

How sweet!

Darcy sees Elizabeth outside working late and alone (yeah hypocrite who’s the workaholic now?) and greets her. She mentions she wishes she could make Christmas cookies and Darcy invites her in to bake. Again he is perfect as he is sweet, kind, and even praises her for being the one who takes care of everything in the background.

Then they are start sharing childhood dreams and he shares that he always knew he was going to take over the family. Elizabeth laughs in his face after hearing that. Wow! Girl you should learn how to flirt, or maybe not as you are going to end up with this guy after all. She also makes fun of his cookies and brings up Santa again. Like almost every other conversation she mentions Santa again. I’m surprised no one finds it odd as I do. She’s a woman in her 30s and can’t stop talking about Santa.

Jane and Elizabeth talk about the men in their lives and Elizabeth insults Darcy again. Why is she so rude?

Then Travis, George, and Darcy meet to talk and head to the only hot drink cart in town to talk. George is again trying to convince Darcy to not sell Pemberley. Travis is an utter trainwreck when it comes to being Darcy’s assistant, losing paperwork again. I know we should like him, but every time I see him I wonder how he even got this job? He forgets everything, is extremely messy, and completely disorganized.

Even though Elizabeth has treated him terribly, Darcy is kind and treats Elizabeth well. He’s not only extremely supportive and caring but he even found a carriage to be used for the festival. Man she doesn’t deserve you. You were written too well and wonderful and she was not.

The two work on the carriage And again Elizabeth is rude and assumes that Darcy only dates models and is one of those type of guys, when it just doesn’t turns out. He listens to Elizabeth talk about her ex, is kind, caring, encourages her and tries to give her hope; he’s so cute and sweet and she is not.

That evening is the festival and Darcy is inside as he does not want to be a part and do anything. Elizabeth keeps pushing him and doesn’t listen to what he says and again I’m like please stop thinking of yourself for five minutes. If he’s out there people might get angry about Pemberley, or what if he has a fear of being in crowds. Like seriously, just stop.

Then Kris gets on his case too. Why can’t everyone just leave him alone, it’s cold outside and he wants to be where it is warm.

Darcy does eventually go out and gets caught by a photographer who gets a great shot of him and Elizabeth.

The next day Elizabeth finds him to apologize about his picture being in the paper and he is all sweetness, kindness, and such a gentleman even after she couldn’t do the one thing he asked of her. She then insults him and tries to push him to try to be someone else.

Santa of course gets sick and they have to get a new one, who turns out to be Kristopher. I bet he’s the “real” one.

George tries to get Darcy to be a part of the festival, but he doesn’t want to. They talk a bit about Elizabeth and how George wanted to be with her but she just wanted be friends. George still likes her which means Darcy is going to step aside as he is a good guy. Man both dudes are oblivious as she is super into Darcy.

Darcy and Elizabeth go shopping again. How much of the town’s money is being spent on this festival? They have the decorations Elizabeth bosses’ fee, constructing Santa’s village, the stage, presents, etc. Good thing they have Darcy to find things, otherwise this town would be as bankrupt as Eagleton.

Caroline, Elizabeth’s boss, comes all the way down to Lambton and is upset about the photo as she feel it makes her look like a fool. What she is really worried about is that Elizabeth will leave her and start her own company taking a ton of people with her. Caroline decided to take over and change the simple Christmas festival to an elegant “Darcy-worthy” event in hopes of wooing his business.

Elizabeth goes to break it to Darcy but he’s smart enough to have put the pieces together. Caroline comes in and completely grabs his attention and keeps it.

Darcy invites Elizabeth to go on a carriage ride and is such a dreamboat as he is so sweet and supportive. He tries to help her feel better about everything that has happened. Aw, he’s perfect.

How sweet!

That night at the festival the singer’s voice is gone and Elizabeth has to fill in, of course. Darcy goes to gives her words of encouragement and watches her sing, risking the possibility of more publicity.

George confides in Darcy that he is going to ask Elizabeth out and Darcy is a gentleman , and steps aside. After the concert Elizabeth wants to talk to Darcy but gets blindsided by Caroline who snatches up his time. Caroline also insults Elizaveth and tries to remove her from the area as she wants Darcy all to herself.

Kristopher comes in and tries to start something with Darcy as he is trying to push Elizabeth and Darcy together. Man why is everyone pushing Darcy? Poor guy he just wanted some peace and quiet and now he’s had to deal with the festival, Caroline’s constant whining, Kristopher trying to change him, Elizabeth’s rudeness, etc.

Darcy goes to see Elizabeth and spots the two hugging, assuming they are together and going home, not wanting to ruin it. When he gets back he looks at the house but still signs the sale, and makes plans to go back home to NYC.

Elizabeth stops by the festival before heading to her family’s place and finds them taking everything down. The company was willing to work with them for a bit but doesn’t want to risk the liability and has canceled everything. Elizabeth wants to have Darcy fix it but discovers that he has left. She then is completely rude and mean about Darcy, but maybe you should take a breath. You don’t know his life maybe something happened, like an emergency. He might not have family but what about a friend? It’s like she wants to have reasons to think badly if him and hate him but there aren’t any. And her reasoning behind wanting to hate him, because he doesn’t do what she wants. She acts like a child.

Ugh…this guy

Jane calls Travis to try and stop Darcy, and instead of telling him what happened he lies poorly to get Darcy to stay and try so they can use Pemberley. They do a guerrilla style party planning and begin working on putting everything back on. Except, technically yes Darcy still owns it, but what if there is an accident or a fire? Who’s going to have responsibility? Like the fact that Elizabeth doesn’t think about these things as a party planner is mind boggling.

At the manor Kris is missing, their celebrity canceled, and Darcy is stuck in the snow trying to get back to Pemberley. Kris heads out to get Darcy and reveals he “is” the real Santa after all.

And just as all hope is lost at the festival, Santa and Darcy show up in a sled, Santa hands out the gifts and Darcy reads the story. And there is so much snow everywhere, but no one is cold. Yeah right, I’m surprised anyone showed up with the amount of snow heavy is falling.

And we close with Darcy and Elizabeth together although they never resolve if Pemberley will be sold or not.

Was this a good Christmas movie?

This was an okay Christmas movie. There is no real issue in the film as every obstacle is instantly solved. Even Elizabeth’s boss isn’t really that terrible as after Darcy leaves she relaxes and helps put the festival back on. In fact the only villain is Elizabeth as she is terrible.

Was this a good Pride and Prejudice film?

NO. This has nothing to do with the plot of Pride and Prejudice, and the characters resemble very little to the Austen characters. If you want a good holiday Jane Austen film The 12 Men of Christmas or Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade would be better choices.

For more holiday film reviews, go to Can The Shop Around the Corner Be Considered A Pride and Prejudice Adaption?

For more films based on Jane Austen, go to Pup Fiction: Wishbone (1997) or How I’m Trying to Brainwash My Six Year Old Niece Into Liking Jane Austen (and Wishbone)

For more Jane Austen film variations, go to I Watched Austenland (2013) With My 14 Year Old Niece

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Pride and Prejudice

For more Pride and Prejudice variations, go to An Appearance of Goodness

Persuasion (2022) or MadsenCreations and I Watched the New Persuasion So You Don’t Have To

I have to be honest, when I heard Netflix was making a new Persuasion I immediately had a bad feeling about it. I decided to reserve judgement and hope that it wouldn’t be terrible, but I didn’t really believe we would get a miracle.

Then I saw the trailer and I knew it was going to be bad. I could see in those few clips they has completely misunderstood the character of Anne and that this was going to be another Mansfield Park (1999).

It was worse.

MadsenCreations and I watched it together, she did Instagram live while I live tweeted. You can read my tweets but more terrible and horrible moments happened that I actually couldn’t tweet as fast as the film went. It was a hot mess.

But before I go into what I didn’t like, let’s start off with what I did like

Set & Costume Design

The set was beautiful and the director knew how to utilize the home, forest, seaside, country and city. Unlike some other Austen novels these characters do spend a fair amount of time indoors and outdoors, the weather and scenery tying into the story and the emotions of the characters. This was probably the best thing about the film was how well the director understood to use the set.

The costumes are also well done, as MadsenCreations pointed out there are no large glaring zippers (Netflix has learned since Bridgerton). Although, I am sad that there weren’t any ones from previous Austen adaptions, or if there were any I didn’t catch it. I really love seeing the same gown pop up in adaption after adaption.

Visually the film was good, it was the other choices that were terrible.

Diversity

As with Bridgerton they chose to do a rainbow cast (for those who have never heard the term before rainbow cast means that you cast people for characters regardless of the color of their skin, hence having a “rainbow” cast). While other productions that have done this have either made the character’s skin tone their only character trait (I hate when they do that), this production didn’t go that route. In fact it reminded me a lot of Cinderella (1997), the one that stars Brandy, where they had a family unit that contains a white father, African-American mother, and Filipino son; but nothing is made to explain it and being those races are not the characters only personality; instead they are just people. I really enjoyed it, and feel that of other films and TV shows want to that they should definitely go this route. Although I have noticed that like in Bridgerton, Persuasion has no one of Latin descent. As someone who is Latina. I do find that offensive that they promote how inclusive they are yet there is no one of Latino descent. And if someone wants to say that perhaps they couldn’t find a British-Latino person, while I find that to false. First of all Dakota Johnson isn’t even British and they gave her the main character, and secondly I googled it and found 24 right away. Netflix I’m expecting the next adaption to have someone!

Dialogue

The dialogue in this was horrendous. I’m not sure who was paid for this because it was beyond terrible. If I was Netflix, I’d demand that money back. First we have all these modern sayings, phrases, and slang that just do not fit right with the atmosphere. I think if that’s the route they wanted to take they should have just made a modern Persuasion. Or if they wanted to make this a cross between modern + Regency they should have done it Romeo + Juliet (1996) style with her in the Regency clothes and all modern language; or modern clothes and regency language. But this mishmash, some Regency and some Modern did not work out well at all.

There is a lot of truly terrible dialogue but the biggest offenders to be was when Henrietta tells Anne that to win a guy she should pretend she didn’t know how to use cutlery. Not only is that the dumbest thing I have ever heard, but now a whole generation are going to think that Jane Austen wrote that.

I asked a friend if that would be attractive to him and this was his response was “no” and that he would wonder about her mental capacities. The reason I find this particular scene so offensive is first of all Jane Austen wrote very strong and intelligent characters, there are silly ones but these women were not. And not only are we perpetuating this idea that women need to be dumb and have a man help them in order to be attractive, they are making it sound as if Jane Austen herself agrees with that and promoted it as well!

But that was just the beginning. So much of it is terrible that even the good dialogue is lost in the cesspool of words. And let’s not even begin on the octopus line.

The other truly terrible parts of this dialogue is that there is no subtlety or secrets. Everything is out in the open. In the book no one besides Lady Russell knew that Anne and Captain Wentworth had been engaged; in this everyone knows. In the book, no one is certain of Mr. Eliot’s intentions-he saying that he just wants to fix the rift; but Anne suspecting more. However, in this Mr. Eliot tells Anne right away he wants to keep her father from having a male heir. It’s like did anyone read this book?!!

Where are the Austen things and characters I love??!!

They completely destroyed my two favorite parts: 1) when they discuss the loyalty of women and Anne points out that all the “proof” of men loving more are written by men; 2) the letter scene. It really felt like someone took the bare, bare, almost nonexistent bones of the story to write this production.

Mary Musgrove (Mia McKenna-Bruce), Sir Walter Elliot (Richard E. Grant), Charles Musgrove (Ben Bailey Smith), Elizabeth Elliot (Yolanda Kettle), & the Musgrove Children (Jake Siame and Hardy Yusuf)

So some of the characters and the decisions made about the characters were not good, but I’ll save my complaints for a little later. The ones I did enjoy were the above few. Sir Walter and Elizabeth were so horrible and rude, just as they should be, although I think it would have been better to include a bit more of them as they are hardly in there, but they did good.

Charles Musgrove although he too wasn’t in the film that much. The little Musgrove boys were adorable and they stole the scene every time they were on screen.

The one they blew me away though was Mia McKenna-Bruce as Mary Musgrove. You liked her and hated her, she was extremely awful but at the same time she also said a lot of things I agreed with when it came to Anne. Anne was such a mess that Mary (yes Mary), seemed to be the only adjusted character. She was a narcissist, that didn’t change, but she was more together than Anne (which is not how it should be). Out of everyone, I think she did the best.

Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot

Henry Golding was charming but too charming. He’s supposed to be somewhat suspect from Anne’s pov as he hasn’t done anything outwardly wrong, but she is questioning his interest and sudden appearance with her family. When Anne’s friend warns her against him and tells her she spotted Mrs. Clay and Mr. Elliot together, Anne immediately believes her and thinks something is up (which of course we later discover later that he ran off with Mrs. Clay to keep Sir Walter from siring a male heir [although he should be more afraid that Sir Walter will lose all his inheritance]).

However, someone in their great wisdom (read that sarcastically please) decides to reveal Mr. Elliot’s intentions in the first meeting. That’s supposed to be a big plot point! That’d be like if in Great Expectations when Pip goes to school if Magwitch sent him a letter saying that hey I’m your benefactor! By the way I also have a little girl that was adopted named Estella, do you know anyone by that name?

In this adaption Mr. Elliot also asks Anne to marry him (something not in the book), is messing around with Mrs Clay (which Anne catches instead of everyone finding out later), and they also change his character when he marries Mrs. Clay instead of just putting her up as his mistress. They completely changed the character and while it fit for Henry Golding; I this role was not the right one for him. He would have been better as a Frank Churchill, Mr. Tilney, or as Captain Wentworth as as Golding and a lot more chemistry with Dakota Johnson/Anne than Cosmo Jarvis.

Captain Harville (Edward Bluemel) and Captain Benwick (Afolabi Alli)

These actors did well in their parts but the problem was that there wasn’t a lot of them in the film. Benwick and Anne are supposed to spend quite a bit of time together, that’s why when he is engaged to Louisa all are surprised. In this he and Anne have one conversation and didn’t even use the amazing dialogue that Jane Austen wrote. Harville was also just used as a piece of the scenery.

Louisa (Nia Towle) and Henrietta Musgrove (Izuka Hoyle)

Most adaptions hardly use Henrietta but this one does it the least, blink, and you’ll miss her.

Louisa was not very well done in this either. She is made to be so silly, such as that line about how to get a guy. She also doesn’t make sense as a character. In the original book, she and Anne are close but she doesn’t know about their previous engagement, so when she meets Captain Wentworth it makes sense that she goes after this nice, rich, single man. However, in this production they show Louisa and Anne as best friends; Louisa knowing about the engagement and encouraging Anne to go after him. However, after dinner she then reverses that and tells Anne she is making a play for him. Seriously, what a jerk move to do.

The other thing that didn’t make any sense was that there was hardly any flirting and time spent between her and Captain Wentworth for us to even believe they were interested in each othe. In the book the two flirt a lot as Louisa is interested and Captain Wentworth appreciates having her attention in front of the woman who rejected him. The two do several jump and catch me little scenes, that later caused the accident as Louisa does it in an unsafe area. In this they cut out the previous scenes so when she does the jump it doesn’t make any sense and looks like she just decided to yeet herself.

Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Wentworth

I really didn’t care for Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Wentworth. I felt this version of the character was pretty boring and seemed to have no substance or relation to what was going on in the scenes. He never seemed upset or at all like the book character. And of course a big chunk is off because there are no secrets in this adaption like in the book.

I also didn’t feel as if Jarvis really fit in the regnecy times. He seemed out of place to me, as if he was not really apart of his surroundings.

Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot

I haven’t really seen Dakota Johnson in that many things so I can’t really attest to her acting but in this it was deplorable. A major portion of it has to do with her being the main character and pushing the film forward, but the script was terrible. Like Jarvis, I feel the bigger problem was that she never seemed to really inhabit the scenery as well.

Also her character is terrible. She’s trying so hard to be the “quirky” girl but it feels so out of place. They also made a majority of her character like little wine memes; basically this was her in a nutshell “It’s always wine o’clock”, “don’t give a carafe”, “wine not”, etc. She drank way too much, that is basically all she does-drink and fall down. She looks and acts like she needs to get help as she can barely function and cannot without alcohol.

In conclusion, I don’t care how much Netflix is trying to convince me this movie was “good”, I feel this is one of the worst Austen adaptations I have ever seen.

For more Austen adaptations, go to I Watched Austenland (2013) With My 14 Year Old Niece

For more on Persuasion, go to Recipe for Persuasion Audiobook Narrated by Soneela Nankani

For more Jane Austen retellings, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

I Watched Austenland (2013) With My 14 Year Old Niece

Today’s my blogiversary!

10 years of celebrating Jane Austen (and a few other things!)

10 Years! I can’t believe it. I wasn’t even sure if I’d still be blogging all these years later when I started; but here I am.

I want to say thank you to all of you who have been a part of my blogging journey these past 10 years! I also want to say a special thank you to some of the people who have been big supporters!

A.M.B, ashwillbiologist, Audra’s Book Blogging, Belle, Bibliophile89, caite92lovelythoughts, Christina Boyd, Christina Morland, Countess Parure, Elaine Howlin, Elsie Wells, JASNA EWANID, Jessica Ware, Karen M. Cox, Joy Thompson, lenoremarie34, Lost Opinions, MadsenCreations, Melody Faris, Middle Hyrule, Modesto Jane Con, Ms. Austen is My Homegirl, Northanger Soapworks, Ophelia, the Pretty Poems, ps_hansen_writes, P. S. I Love Rom Coms Podcast, SewMelissaWrites, Sophia Rose, Susan Joy Clark, Tom Austin, What the Austen, and everyone else who has read, liked, or commented!

And to celebrate, as usual, I decided to watch + review Austenland (2013) with my 14 year old niece.

Two years ago my niece and I watched Sense and Sensibility (1995) in my attempt to brainwash share my love of Jane Austen with my niece.

The post was popular and my niece and I had a lot of fun doing it. We decided to continue the following year, but this time I had her watch Northanger Abbey (2007).

I’m still not sure if this is helping to convert her to liking Jane Austen, but I’m still hoping!

This year I had planned to watch and review Pride and Prejudice (2005) but we only had a few weeks with her and even then we ran out of time. It was the night before she had to leave to return home and I needed a shorter Jane Austen film to watch. I ran through the minutes of the different Jane Austen adaptions and the shortest one is Mansfield Park (2007), but if we watched

that then I might turn her off from Austen altogether.

That’s not good.

So I quickly cast a wider net, and discovered that Austenland is only 97 minutes. Not only does it work best time-wise but it is one of my favorites.

Jane Hayes is a giant Jane Austen fan and decides to get out of the grayness of her life (and love life) and go to Austenland- a Regency inspired getaway where you can pretend to be in an Austen novel, go to a ball, and find you own Mr. Darcy ending. Things however, do not go as planned. She ends up having the cheaper package and getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop. She starts to fall for Martin, one of the handymen at the resort, but he ends up dumping her because she is enjoying “their world” too much. (Seriously dude? I’m paying for this vacation-of course I’m going to enjoy it.) Anyways…she decides she is going to take charge of her own story and be the best Austen heroine she can be! Will she get her Mr. Darcy? Will she have the vacation of her dreams? Or will she decide she needs to stop her Jane Austen fascination?

This won’t be a full review as I reviewed it last Sunday, but you can read the full review by clicking here. Instead this will just my niece and mine’s thoughts while watching it. For this I refer to my niece as “G“.

Okay so here we go…

In the beginning of the film we are introduced to our main character, Jane Hayes (Keri Russell). She loves Jane Austen, even wanting to watch Pride and Prejudice (1995) when her boyfriend is trying to get close to her.

G: (Boyfriend tries to kiss Jane) Hahaha. Denied.

Yup, nothing gets between a girl and her Darcy.

Present life isn’t going so well at the moment as her ex-boyfriend hits on her and harasses her.

G: (Ex-boyfriend slaps Jane’s butt) OMG! That loser

Me: I know, right!

Jane decides to take the plunge and go to Austenland.

G: Austenland seems like fun. We should go. Is it real?

Me: No. I wish though. I would have my bags packed in a moment.

Jane makes it to Austenland but finds a few surprises. She does not get be vacation of her dreams

G: Miss Erstwhile? (Makes scrunched “ew” face)…Oooh she has the basic package. Omg! Look at her hair!

Me: I know it is so severe.

Austenland (2013)

We met Elizabeth Charming on the way to Austenland but as we spend more and more time with her she quickly become my niece’s favorite. And how could she not with lines like this

Miss Elizabeth Charming: I sure would like you to turn me upside down in the garden

Miss Elizabeth Charming: Is there something in my eye? (Shoves Mr. Nobley into her breasts)

G: She’s my favorite character.

She also likes Mr. Nobley!!!! Yay!!!

G: [Looking at Mr. Nobley] Isn’t he the guy from that other movie we watched?

Me: Yes, he was Mr. Tilney in Northanger Abbey.

G: He’s cute!

Me: He is indeed!

I am!

As things get worse for Jane she gets lonely and starts to get close to Martin.

G: Uuuuhh! No!

And when they kiss…

G: No!!! What about Mr. Nobley!! Get with Mr. Nobley!!!!

But Martin and Jane are not destined to stay together and a new guy comes in to town, Captain East.

G: He [Captain East] looks like the guy in Criminal Minds.

Me: Shermer Moore?

G: If that’s the guy who plays Derek. Then yeah.

Do you think he looks like Shermer Moore?

Jane is to be sent home for bringing a cell phone but is saved by Miss Amelia Heartwright, another lady at Austenland (and a platinum patron) who takes the fall for her. In return Amelia asks Jane to help her to get with Captain East. Amelia tries to be covert, but just looks silly.

G: [Laughing at Amelia] She runs so funny!

They decide to hold a theatrical and Jane picks Mr. Nobley so that Amelia and East can be together. She and Mr. Nobely have a moment.

Jane Hayes: You’re the resident Mr. Darcy. C’mon you’re every girl’s fantasy.

Mr. Nobley: So I’m your fantasy?

Austenland (2013)

G: Yes.

They do the play and it is terrible. Elizabeth Charming shoots Amelia in the eye, they all “die” terribly, and it is just laughable.

G: [Laughing] Why is Captain East taking off his shirt?!

Jane and Nobely have a romantic moment and she promises him the first dance at the ball. The next night they go to the ball and Nobley confesses his love to her, but she rejects him for Martin.

G: No this can’t be the end! She chose him [Martin] over Nobley?!! The country stable boy and granny hopper?!!

The next day Jane is going to go home when she is stopped at the airport by Martin and Mr. Nobley. She declines both of them and returns home. While back in her apartment she receives a visitor, Mr. Nobley, who traveled all the way from England to bring her, her sketchbook.

G: Gasp!

We then have my favorite scene.

My niece’s final conclusion? She loved it!!!! In fact she was a lot less vocal about this movie than the others as she was so engrossed. I definitely recommend this film for anyone to watch as it is so well done, but it’s also great for people you are trying to introduce to Jane Austen.

For more Austenland, go to Austenland (2013)

For more film and TV adaptions, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more blogiversary posts, go to I Watched Northanger Abbey (2007) with my 13 Year Old Niece

Now what is an anniversary without presents!

The 10th anniversary is tin, aluminum, or diamonds. As usual I look through the past years and try to find some posts that fit that theme. They aren’t my favorite posts, but the first ones I could find that fit the theme.

This year was very hard one, I couldn’t find anything from 2012, but I did manage to find aluminum on the tamale Matt eats in Night of Day of the Dead: Lizzie McGuire (2001) part of Horrorfest II from 2013

For diamonds I have a post on Aladdin in Diamond in the Rough (Day 15 The first Disney film you ever saw) part of the 30 Day Challenge: Disney Edition I did in 2014.

For more diamonds, I have the diamond that horrible Harry stole from his wife to give to his girlfriend in It’s Mrs. Archer. She’s on a Rampage!: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) from Horrorfest IV in 2015.

I purchased a lovely tea tin back in 2016 in My Trip to Teavana (which no longer exists)

There is also Apple pie made in a pie tin in my 2017 Thanksgiving day post, Are Dean Winchester and Jane Austen Kindred Spirits?

They celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986) from Horrorfest VII (2018)

In 2019 I Won the Regency Marketplace Giveaway, part of my prize being two Oliver Pluff & Co tea tins: English Breakfast Tea and Jasmine Green Tea.

disney_52_films_desktop_by_classicalguy-d6anuq4

In 2020 I spent a lot of diamonds trying to get to the final conclusion of Desire & Decorum: Chapter 11, The Clock Runs Out Part III

And our final item is the theft of the priceless diamond called “The Moonstone” in A Legendary Jewel Goes Missing, A Country Manor Full Of Secretive People, Which Guest is the Thief?: The Moonstone (2016) part of Horrorfest X + Catherine Morland’s Viewing List

So thank you all for the past 10 years of awesomeness, and here’s to many more!

And a very special thank you to all who follow, comment, like, subscribe, etc. I wish I could mention you all by name, but even though I can’t, as it would be a really long list, just know I appreciate you all!!

I Watched Northanger Abbey (2007) with my 13 Year Old Niece

Today’s my blogiversary!

9 years of celebrating Jane Austen (and a few other things!)

And to celebrate, I decided to watch + review Northanger Abbey (2007) with my 13 year old niece.

Last year my niece and I watched Sense and Sensibility (1995). The post was popular and my niece and I had a lot of fun. So I thought, why not bring it back with one of my favorite Jane Austen adaptions. And I’m still trying to convert my niece to Jane Austen.

I don’t know if she will like it, but she enjoyed Sense and Sensibility, so I’m confident she won’t hate it.

At least I’m hoping she is!

I will give a quick synopsis for those who have never sent the film or read the book. Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s books to be written and is kind of a parody of gothic novels and a saltire on society. In the story Catherine Morland is a minister’s daughter who loves to read and has an overactive imagination. She is asked to accompany family friends to Bath and while there her life becomes a bit like a novel as she meets the mysterious Tilney family, of which one son she finds delightful and handsome, Mr. Tilney. She also has another man vying for her affections, a more crude and brutish man, Mr. Thorpe. She is later given an opportunity to stay with the Tilneys in their home Northanger Abbey and wonders if there is a dark secret there. Catherine begins investigating but is there really a mystery or has her overactive imagination just struck again?

Hmm…

So this won’t be a full review as last October I reviewed the film for my Horrorfest IX and you can click on the link and read my full review. Instead this will just be our thoughts while watching it. For this I refer to my niece as “G“.

Okay so here we go…

So the film starts off with the great quote from the beginning of the novel:

“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.”

Northanger Abbey

I love that quote. I feel it right away connects you to Catherine as most of us are just average people.

G: What’s a heroine?

Me: A female hero.

The film then progresses to talking about Cathrine more how she was plain and more interested in boy’s things than girls, but around 15 she started to care more about her appearance and other things. Her parents were known to say:

“Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl—she is almost pretty today…”

Northanger Abbey

G: Don’t lie to her.

Ouch!

My niece can be really mean sometimes. I think Felicity Jones is so cute and very pretty.

I also love that quote to “be almost pretty”:

G: Her little sister is so annoying.

Me: Yeah the little sister is very sassy.

So as the film progresses, the Allen’s ask Catherine to come along with them. We both agreed that we wished we had a family friend who wouldn’t ask us on a vacation like that. I mean at least my niece has me, but I wish I had had someone do that for me when I was young.

Sigh!

So in between the action with Catherine every time she reads she imagines herself in the book and we have a dream or imagination while reading sequence. I really like this, but my niece was not a fan.

G: This is weird.

So Catherine and Co. arrive in Bath and when they go out the next day they run into Mr. Tilney.

G: Is that the guy she’s gonna end up with?

Wow, she was sharp. At least she’s not opposed to him like she was to Colonel Brandon last year. But then again who could ever resist JJ Feild?

G: I really like their [Mrs. Allen and Catherine] dresses.

I totally agree, as even though Catherine isn’t the wealthiest Austen heroine, nor the poorest, I like her dresses the most.

I love how Mr. Tilney is able to clear the room for the ladies with a glare. He’s like get out of the way, this table is for the ladies!

So as Catherine dances with Mr. Tilney, she notices another man watching her and questions Mr. Tilney about him.

“Catherine: [Puzzled] Why does he look at us?

Mr. Tilney: I imagine he likes what he sees.

Catherine: [Incredulous] You don’t mean me?”

G: No duh!

Yeah, Catherine is pretty naive. Although in her defense she’s never really been called pretty before so it is easy not to see it in yourself.

Mr. Tilney decides to sassy and sarcastic (as usual):

“Mr. Tilney: So, tell me, what will you write in your journal tonight? ‘Friday, went to the Lower Rooms, wore my sprigged muslin dress with blue trimmings, and looked very pretty, though I say so myself. Danced with one man, was stared at by another much more handsome.”

Me: Who do you think is more handsome, Mr. Tilney or him? [points to Mr. Thorpe]

G: Not him [points to Thorpe], he looks weird. I like that other guy, what’s his name? Christopher?

Me: Mr. Tilney, Henry Tilney.

I’m all about that Henry!

We have another dream sequence and at first G wasn’t into it, but then we started talking about how we act when we read.

G: I like to imagine myself as a character or create my own.

Me: Me too.

Look at that, we both be Catherine Morlands.

The next day Mrs. Allen and Catherine are out and they run into Mrs. Thorpe and Isabella Thorpe.

G: She [Isabella] looks mean.

Me: Well, she’s not a nice. And look at her dress, during the day ladies wore a fichu or lace to cover themselves and only at night would wear something so low cut, but Isabella is not following the rules.

The next day the girls are out checking to see if Mr. Tilney is still visiting the Upper Rooms. They don’t see his signature and leave, being followed by two men. The men go a different way and instead of steering away, Isabella wants to cross paths with them again.

G: She wants to run into those men, that’s why she has her boobs out.

Isabella is definitely on the prowl!

They run into James Morland (Catherine Morland’s brother) and John Thorpe (Isabella’s brother). James is super into Isabella and John tries to get with Catherine.

G: John Thorpe looks so crazy! Hes so creepy.

Me: It is because he has such a heavy brow.

G: Yeah but it is the way he stares at her, with his eyes-it is so crazy [mimics John Thorpe].

Me: Yeah, he makes me think of those tiktok videos when they say do you want to look creepy? Then lower your head and look up with your eyes.

G: He does!

That night they go to a dance and Mr. Tilney arrived with a woman in tow.

G: [Screams]…oh it’s his sister.

The two spend the time talking and make plans to go walking the next day. The only problem is, John Thorpe has other plans. John starts with “I think I saw them leaving”, with Isabella backing him up, then he insists that in this brief passage in the street from far away that he heard them saying they will be gone.

Me: Do you hear that, first he asks Catherine does Mr. Tilney have a certain type of horses and then he’s all I heard them say they will be gone all day. Such a liar!

G: Mmhmm.

Catherine insists they wouldn’t act that way, but then her brother interjects and makes her doubt herself.

“James Morland: My dear scatter-brained sister, haven’t you just heard him say they’re halfway to Wick Rocks?”

G: Shut up James! You’re supposed to be on my side!

Me: I know, right! James is so awful, look how he talks to her.

John Thorpe goes off in his phaeton with Catherine and who should they see as they go down the way.

“Catherine Morland: [Sees Mr. Tilney and Miss Tilney] Oh, Miss Tilney! [To Mr. Thorpe] Stop! Stop now! It’s Miss Tilney and her brother!

John Thorpe: There’ll be hell to pay if I tried to stop him now!

Catherine Morland: Please stop, Mr Thorpe! I’ll get down! I will!

John Thorpe: It’s not possible!

Catherine Morland: Oh!

John Thorpe: Whoa, there!

Catherine Morland: How could you deceive me so?

John Thorpe: Well, what if I did?

G: Boom! I would smack him!

Me: He definitely needs a punch in the face.

G: Get Out and Run, Catherine!

Me: She should! But she won’t as he manipulates her into feeling bad that if she leaves her brother and Isabella, they can’t ride together.

They get rained on, served them right. And the next day they go to the opera where John Thorpe tries to be romantic and fails.

“John Thorpe: Damn fine-looking woman. [To Catherine] But she’s nothing to you, you know.

G: I don’t care!

Ugh, John Thorpe!

Ugh…this guy

Catherine goes to talk to the Tilneys after the opera performance and apologizes. Mr. Tilney tries to act cool, but you know he was probably driving Eleanor up the wall with his heartbroken.

G: You’re [John Thorpe] nothing to him [Mr. Tilney]

A couple days later Catherine learns of James and Isabella’s engagement. John Thorpe tries to ask Catherine, sort of.

“John Thorpe: Miss Morland, I, too, must take my leave for the present, just for the present. I’m going to accompany James to Fullerton, and then onto town to help him choose a ring.

G: I’m not going to miss you.

Me: I know, right.

“John Thorpe: Perhaps I might look for one for myself while I’m there. Do you think I should?”

G: No!

So the men leave and the next time they go to a ball, Isabella states she will not dance with anyone. However, Mr. Tilney’s older brother, the rogue, enters the scene.

“Mr. Tilney: Miss Morland, allow me to introduce my brother, Captain Tilney.

Captain Tilney: [Dismissive] Charmed. [Moves away from them]

Mr. Tilney: Don’t let my brother’s ill manners offend you. That’s how he is, I’m afraid. He was ill-mannered as a baby.

Even though Isabella wasn’t supposed to be dancing as her “love” is away, she dances with Captain Tilney.

Catherine ends up being asked to go visit Northanger Abbey. We both wished we could go to a castle.

Please pick me.

On Catherine’s last day in Bath she and Isabella go to the Upper Rooms. There Isabella hangs out with Captain Tilney.

G: Are they [Isabella and Captain Tilney] dating now?

Me: Just watch.

Catherine then travels to Northanger Abbey which is awesome and mysterious and I really, really, really want to go there one day.

G: I wish I could go to a castle. I want everyone to know the princess that I am.

So at Northanger Abbey Catherine spends a lot of fun time with the Tilneys, especially once General Tilney leaves on business. One thing Catherine had wanted to see was the portrait of Mrs. Tilney, but General Tilney kept them from the room. When Mr. Tilney goes away, Catherine takes the time to search in the room.

G: Why are we snooping around?

I alsways feel embarrassed when Catherine does this but I totally would want to do the same. Unfortunately, Mr. Tilney catches her and as you can imagine it doesn’t go well.

Catherine become even more upset when she gets a letter from her brother James who has ended his engagement as Isabella was trying to get with Captain Tilney, he has left Bath believing the two to be engaged although Eleanor does not believe her brother will, he’s not into commitment.

G: It’s because of all those low cut dresses she wore.

Then Catherine gets a letter from Isabella. Isabella tried to trade up but nothing came of it as Captain Tilney is not into commitment.


”Catherine Morland: I wish I had never known her.

Eleanor Tilney: It will soon be as if you never had.

Catherine Morland: There is one thing I can’t understand. What has Captain Tilney been about all this time? Why should he pay her such attentions and then fly off himselr?

Eleanor Tilney: He has his vanity, as well as Miss Thorpe. And he is accustomed to…having his way. Though I am surprised he should have stooped to such an easy conquest.

Catherine Morland: Really? Then I am sorry for Isabella.

Eleanor: I am sure she will be over it soon enough. “

Oh, Eleanor is just throwing shade.

So the film ends with Catherine being sent home with no escort. She doesn’t cause a scene as she thinks that Mr. Tilney told his father what she thought about him murdering his wife. After she returns home, Mr. Tilney comes after her and declares his love in the most romantic way! It is such a great scene!

So after the movie ended I asked her thoughts:

Me: Did you like it? What did you think?

G: It was good.

Me: Did you like it better than Sense and Sensibility?

G: Hmm…I don’t know.

Me: Which guy do you like the best. One of the guys from Sense and Sensibility or Mr. Tilney.

G: I don’t remember what they looked like.

Me: This one is Mr. Ferrars, Elinor’s love interest [Shows picture of Hugh Grant]. And then the other guy was the actor who played Snape.

G: Snape??!

Me: Yes, Snape.

G: I liked this guy better. I think he was cuter.

Yay! She likes Mr. Tilney and she liked the movie. My work here is done…at least for now.

If interested in a full review, click on this link. Otherwise thank you for 9 wonderful years! Happy Blogiversary!

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

For more film and TV adaptions, go to Dear William: Letters from Georgiana Darcy

For more blogiversary posts, go to I Watched Sense and Sensibility (1995) With My 12 Year Old Niece

Now what is an anniversary without presents!

The 9th anniversary it is pottery, wood, or willow wood. Let’s see what I can find as a gift on here, I’ll try to see if I can find something from every year …

For “pottery” we have a Jane Austen/Harry Potter post from 2014

For “wood” I have a post on Emma Woodhouse from 2015:

Another “wood” piece is my review of Emma [Woodhouse] (1996) AKA The Kate Beckinsale Version from 2016

Some more “wood” is the wooden ship Captain Wentworth has and my 5th blogiversary post from 2017

For “pottery” how about a pot of tea? (Post from 2018)

Another “wood” is my review of Rational Creatures: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. These two are “Self-Composed” by Christina Morland and “Every Past Affliction” by Nicole Clarkston (From 2019)

For more “wood” some Sense & Senchability tea the Dashwood sisters would love! (from 2020)

So thanks for the past nine years of awesomeness, and here’s to many more!

Yay!

And a special thank you to all who follow me:

Modesto Jane Con: Gowns & Groans, A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage

So Modesto Jane Con was this past weekend. From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

I, unfortunately, could only go on Saturday, but I had so much fun and I can’t wait until the next one! If there is a next one…

So 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).

I dressed up for the event (I’ll post on that later) and brought a reticule my sister made. Reticules are tiny, so I couldn’t pack everything in my bag-just the essentials. Debit card, credit card, ID, fan, gloves, pens, glasses (as I was wearing contacts) and a handkerchief. I wasn’t too worried about the size of the reticule though, as I had planned on purchasing one of their cute tote bags.

I also brought my notebook, as I planned on taking notes and later posting them (as I am now).

Our group was traveling from 1.5-2 hours away (depending on that CA traffic) and left around seven and arrived a little after 8:30. We actually headed to the theater as I was looking at the wrong event. You know me and navigating, I always get lost!

I then redirected our group, and we went to the library. We easily checked in and finished just as they announced the first workshop: Gowns & Groans

So of course, we were excited about this workshop. We wanted to learn more about the Regency gowns and who can resist the chance to snark about costumes?

Let the snark begin!

This workshop was run by Kristine Doiel and Hillari DeSchane

“Costumes have a coded language all their own. They can transport us back to Austen’s time and speak volumes about the characters, or they can be a constant distraction and prevent us from losing ourselves in the unfolding drama. Join veteran costumer Kristine Doiel on a lively, and likely to be controversial, stroll through this Regency costume Hall of Fame and Shame.”

Kristine Doiel is a costume designer and theater educator with over 50 theater and dance productions to her credit. A lecturer at Fresno State since 2017, she has taught costume and theater classes and mentored student designers. Awards include the UC Davis Provost’s Fellowship in Arts, the Princess Grace Foundation Theater Grant and a Dramalogue Award for costume design for The Rivals in Santa Barbara.

Hillari DeSchane is a JASNA life member and a board member of Opera Modesto. Her pre-show opera talks have become audience favorites. DeSchane’s first Regency pet cozy: A Christmas Tail: A Regency Holiday Mystery received a Certificate of Merit from the Cat Writers Association hillarideschane.com

Picture by Arnold Chavez

So Doiel started off the workshop talking about her background; moved onto the judging of the film depictions, finished with her experiences in costuming the Mansfield Park Opera, and concluded with a Q&A.

Part I: Doiel’s Background

Doiel shared that didn’t have a background in Regency wear, and had to do research on it-being an archeologist, literary analyst, and art historian all in one. I enjoyed this aspect of her talk as you don’t really think about that when watching a film or performance, that not only do the clothes have to be accurate-but they have to reflect the action of the scene, the context of the characters, and the literature of the piece.

That’s a lot

It reminded me of when I studied art history and how you looked at the art and what it was saying, but at the same time also looked into what was happening at the time and how that influenced it. There are many layers you have to work through-such as a self portrait of an artist wearing red, blue, and white takes on a different meaning when it was created post-French revolution, such as to show liberty, fraternity, that is one of the new citizens, etc.

Part II: Gowns & Groans

The next part of the discussion was Doiel reviewing the clothing choices in Mansfield Park (1999), Mansfield Park (2007), and Pride and Prejudice (1940).

So to start with, I do not like Mainsfield Park (1999). 

Not for me..

Eventually I will review it, but as for now-we will get back to the clothes.

Gowns:

Doiel felt that quite a bit of the costumes in here were accurate. Lady Bertram wore flimsy, lacy gowns that looked like something the wealthy class would wear, but older-late 1700s and post-French Revolution. It fits as Lady Bertram wouldn’t be at the height of fashion, but wearing something more her time. Maria, Julia, and the men were all accurate.

Groans:

So here is the good part, let’s start talking trash! J/K, Doiel was very kind in her remarks, trying to not be too judgmental and try to reason why a certain outfit would have been picked.

The first offender: Fanny Price played by Frances O’Conner

So in this Fanny wears a lot of what looks like a jumper or vest over a shirt. This is not accurate at all. Instead the film, which is one reason why I can’t stand it, doesn’t follow the book at all when it comes to Fanny’s character. Instead, they turn Fanny into Jane Austen, and emphasize the writing aspect, dressing her in this more masculine, “writing type” outfit. I call it a “writing type” outfit as when I saw this the first time it made me think of Jo in the 1933 version and she was a writer. It also is similar to what Jo wears in the 2019 version of Little Women.

The other offender: Mary Crawford.

All of Mary’s clothes were too contemporary. I mean look at the dress above, it is something that we were wearing at the start of the millennium, rather than 185 years earlier. remember wearing sleeves like that on my clothes.

She also has an outfit with a giant collar, that is just what? Doiel pointed out that the person in charge of wardrobe would have the resources and done the research on what was accurate and somebody (whether them, the studio, actor, or the director) picked this for a purpose. Doiel didn’t know why, but guessed that either the director or actor wanted something more modern to relate to audiences.

Mary’s outfits definitely were the worst.

So Mansfield Park (2007) is not the most accurate of films, as they cut a lot out to keep it at standard movie time length-however I am apparently one of the few that actually enjoys it.

Gowns: 

She didn’t talk about any she liked as it was time to move onto the next section.

Groans:

The offender here was Billie Piper as Fanny Price.

So Doil noticed that Piper wore a wide range of styles and thought maybe it was so varied as the production wanted her to be wearing hand-me-down gowns. There is a diamond dress that she wears that is completely inaccurate to the time period. Also her hair is one hundred percent wrong, as it is too modern, and she would have had it pinned up as she isn’t a young child. I think that is an interesting comment in light of the Emma Vogue photo shoot. 

The other outfit that Doiel pointed out as wrong was the white wedding dress Fanny wears at the end of the film. White wedding dresses only became popular after Queen Victoria, prior to that they were colored dresses. I disagreed with this as I thought the white dress was more a comment on Fanny’s innocence, sweetness, and morality versus being white to be in with what is in fashion today. I mean, after all this takes place after an affair, a love proved false, and all the manipulations by the Crawfords. Plus, it is a foil to Maria’s dress who had opulence (check out that hat) and color, Fanny’s being plain not because of what she was forced to wear (as I am sure Sir Thomas would have bought her a different dress), but a testament to her character. But that’s just my thoughts…

The last one we looked at was Pride and Prejudice (1940) a film I love, but apparently a lot do not.

Gowns:

Nothing was accurate.

Groans:

The film was set in the 1830s instead of the Regency period and no one quite knows why. Some say it was because Gone With the Wind was so popular and they wanted to use costumes like that. Others say it was because the Regency gowns seemed too plain. Others believe it was more cost effective to use these gowns than create new ones. Doiel thought that they might have picked such extravagant costumes as England was having to o with sparse materials, “mend and make do” as the slogan goes, and seeing such fun fabric and opulence would raise spirits. I don’t know if we will ever know…

Hmmm

Doiel said that she felt that this style works for Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Lydia as it is extravagant, frivolous, oversized, and fits their characters.

However, with Elizabeth, it works against her.

*Sigh* Laurence Olivier looks great, but he is wearing pants instead of breeches (as are the other men (see below on the view of pants) and Colonel Fitzwilliam wears a kilt (?).

That’s where we ended, although I wished they had discussed Mansfield Park (1983) as that one has some doozies in choices. I mean look at their hair.

From left to right: Edmund Bertram, Mary Crawford, and Mr. Yates

Part III: Costuming Mansfield Park, the Opera

So Doiel said that when costuming something that takes place in the past, buying the right type of fabric can be a problem. You need something that looks right on stage, fits together as a whole (in color and style), and needs to be accurate as to something they would wear.

Doiel did say that she was fortunate in this Opera to be able to reuse costumes from an earlier production, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley that had been done in December 2019.

She brought swatches in of the different fabrics for each characters costumes, and me and my group really liked that. We all enjoyed the closeup look and when we watched the performance later in the day, looked at the costumes and remembered what we had seen earlier in the workshop. We also loved that her mom, who helped her sew and cut things out, was there. It was so sweet how she helped hand out the swatches and supported her. I had tried to take a picture of the one for Fanny, but the people in my row wanted me to pass it along and the pic came out blurry.

But Lynne Marcus, one of the organizers from Modesto Jane Con, sent me a pic a friend of hers took.

Doiel’s favorite dress of the production was the gray number that Mary Crawford wears in Scene 5: Chapter Five. In the Wilderness. It was originally worn by Anne de Bourgh in the Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. I tried to get a good picture, but this was all I got.

She also loved the Navy suit that Edmund wears as she made it.

Part IV: Q & A

Doiel ended the session by answering questions and talking about Regency wear. Breeches were standard menswear. Pants, or pantaloons as they were called, were not to be worn by the upperclass. They were said to cause a scandal because they showed everything too well-even though in reality breeches showed more. But you know how I feel about that!

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.

She said that pants were worn only by the lower class workers, so wearing them was seen as trashy.

Someone asked about the muslin we have today versus then, and she said it is different. The muslin sold in stores today is mostly white and work wear, instead of dress wear. Back in the Regency period it would be block printed, decorated, different colors, and came from India. The muslin was semi-sheer and lightweight, like cotton. Of course whenever I think of Muslin I think of:

India greatly influenced what people wore-in colors, patterns, and of course ladies adopting the use of a pashmina. I had noticed that when I was trying to find something to wear to Jane Con.

From Emma (1996)

Women and men always wore gloves when going out of the house. Doiel mentioned how they weren’t doing that in the Opera as it was too difficult with all the clothing changes. That means that that hand clench scene in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice never should have happened as both Darcy and Elizabeth should have been wearing gloves.

One woman asked about lace, and lace was very in fashion. It came from India or France (probably not as much from France at this time as England and France had been fighting) and was used on hemlines and sleeves.

My book club + sister really enjoyed this discussion. We wished that Doiel had judged the costumes a bit more, (as who doesn’t like a good rip ?), but understood that she was trying to be fair.

We loved that she stayed on topic-discussing only the clothes instead of the actual films. We would have liked to hear her thoughts on more films or more on costuming the show, but understood we only had an hour and had to be a bit limited to have enough time to cover everything.

DeSchane did a great job moderating the workshop, with her interesting questions and keeping an eye on how much time we had.

We loved it and learned a lot. In fact, later we watched the 1983 Mansfield Park and discussed what we learned in this when we looked at the costumes.

This workshop.

For more on Regency clothes, go to Muslin: The Fabric of Jane’s Life

For more Mansfield Park, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more on Jane Austen, go to Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen