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.

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

I Only Read Pride and Prejudice Because I Hated the Keira Knightley Adaptation

Yes, it’s the bomb that wrecked the Internet. The hate mail and unhappy comments will be abounding. Oh well. All I ask is that you finish the review before writing them.

So this marks the seventh year of my blogging JaneAustenRunsMyLife and I’ve been thinking, it is about time I share how I got into Jane Austen.

So the first Austen-related thing I was involved in, was watching Sense and Sensibility (1995). I think I was 7 or 8 at the time, and I came into the living room and my mom was watching it. It was at the part when Marianne and Willoughby are going off in the carriage together. I watched a bit but then went off to do whatever it was I was doing before.

My sister read Pride and Prejudice in school and when I asked her what it was about, all I heard was “mother trying to marry five daughters…” and stopped listening. Romance?! Ugh. I was not about that and books that were only about people getting married. Ew! (Which P&P is not)

You see I was into mysteries-Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, etc-and “important” classics like Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Wilkie Collins, etc. Pride and Prejudice, no way.

Me, read Pride and Prejudice?

I know I was a snob.

No.

And of course-gothic fiction. I had read Wuthering Heights, The Phantom of the Opera, Edgar Allan Poe, etc.

So time passed and nothing could tempt me into reading Jane Austen. We even had a lady in our church who “adopted” us as her grandchildren and bought a beautiful copy of Little Women and Pride and Prejudice for my sister and I. I already had my beloved copy of Little Women (I know I owned and repeatedly read it and didn’t consider it girly. Why? I don’t know. I was working off teen logic which doesn’t always make sense), and decided to take the Pride and Prejudice as my goal was to read all the classics. But did I read it? NO. I put it on my stacks of to-read books and forgot all about it.

So what finally got this stubborn, obstinate girl to change her mind? A sleepover.

When I was 15 going on sixteen (circa 2007) we had a church girl’s sleepover. Now granted, I was not in a good mood that day. I was bummed that the boys were doing their own sleepover and making potato guns while we did something I found really boring. I can’t remember what it was we did, I just remember wanting to make a potato gun.

It came for the time of the movie and I was not jazzed as the last time the assistant youth leader, Allie, picked-she chose Master of Disguise. 

Or saw. Just a stupid movie altogether.

There were two choices of films and I can’t remember the one I really wanted to watch and argued long and hard for-but I lost to Pride and Prejudice (2005).

I’m angry with you.

I was totally bummed and we started watching it. From the very start I was not happy.

WHAT!!!!

First of all I do not like Keira Knightley as an actress. I don’t think she’s that good as I feel she is the same in every film. To me a talented actor should make you forget who they are, but think they are the character they are portraying. So of course being an emotional teenager I couldn’t stand her.

As an actress not a person.

I didn’t care for anything else in it and to top it all off I could not understand anything they were saying or follow the film.

Now I have hearing loss in one of my ears, but I didn’t know that at the time. When I was a baby I had constant ear infections, so bad they wanted to put tubes in my ears but my doctor gave me a shot and I was good until 2015, when I got an ear infection but still saw Avengers 2: Age of UltronI had to go in that same year and do a hearing test and discovered that one of my ears is damaged from all those ear infections. So when I’m in an environment where there is a lot going on, such as a lot of people talking, it is really hard for me to hear. And when I watch TV or movies something about the volume always bothers me. Either it isn’t loud eough or it is too loud. So I was already upset and then it was probably my hearing problems.

Whatever it was, I was angry, upset, and I hated this film-with the frigid storm of hate that no one but a teen can give.

Anyways, I kept asking what was happening and just completely hating on this film when Allie said to me, “You just aren’t used to the accents. If you watch British dramas you would understand it.”

Oh no. Heck no, those are fighting words. I was deeply offended at that! You see I’ve been watching Masterpiece Mystery, BBC, and others on PBS since before I was born. English accents don’t bother me none.

Don’t mess with me!

She offended me so much I stopped watching the dreaded movie and spent the rest of the night reading in a corner. The next day I resolved to read Pride and Prejudice.

So of course, the first step I had to root through my pile of to-read and began.

As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked! I felt like Isola Pribby in The Guersney Potato Peel and Literary Society. How come no one told me that there were other men to go ape for besides the brooding Heathcliff and romance that is better than the way Cathy treats him.

Why?

To be honest, my sister did try. I just didn’t listen.

After that little taste it was over for me.

I was hooked on Austen.

I then had to watch every version of Pride and Prejudice-discovering that I had seen the Laurence Olivier version earlier when I was watching anything Olivier-related. He’s such a beautiful man.

So most people want to be Elizabeth, and friends said I was like her in some ways-however, I connected much more with Mr. Darcy, you know except the rich part.

When I finished P&P I then moved on to Sense and Sensibility. I took it along with me for my friend’s Sixteenth Birthday sleepover getaway and we ended up having Jane Austen pop up in more than one conversation.

I then watched all the Sense and Sensibility adaptations as well.

Mansfield Park was next and a little harder to get through. I liked Fanny but I really wanted her to punch Mrs. Norris in the face and was disappointed she didn’t. I mean I knew she wouldn’t do a physical punch, but was hoping for a verbal one.

I watched all the film versions of it that I could get my hands on, which wasn’t many as it is a hard one to get.

Then I tried to read Emma, but she kind of annoyed me and I skipped, planning to come back to it later, for Northanger Abbey,  which I just adored. I loved, loved, LOVED, this book. I adored Catherine as that was me!! I was such a tomboy growing up! I loved Gothic fiction! I had an overactive imagination! I loved that no one expected her to be heroine, but she became one. I loved the whole girl reads books and then has an adventure right out of a story. AMAZING! And I loved Mr. Tilney.

I did the same with the films-although I prefer the Felicity Jones and JJ Feild one to all others!

Then Persuasion, so romantic and sweet. I’m really bummed that Persuasion and Northanger Abbey get passed over so much. Persuasion  is slowly climbing it’s way out of obscurity, but doesn’t get the love it deserves.

I then watched all these adaptions as well.

I think this was from theotherausten.tumblr

I began to talk different, act different, dress different. You know how it goes. Watching all those films and reading those books your speech is extremely affected.

My first Jane Austen meme!

You’re view of the world changes:

My second Austen meme!

Your idea of the perfect man changes:

My sister used to poke fun at me, but I didn’t care.

Your life is consumed:

So I know, you are thinking-what about Emma. I decided to watch it, since I was struggling with the main character, and in the middle of watching it-I realized…Emma is Clueless.

After that-no problem at all. I LOVED Emma and how unique she was to the other Austen characters and women of her time.

Read it, loved it (some of my earliest posts were on it), and watched every adaptation I could.

So there we go, my Austen addiction all started because I couldn’t stand a certain adaptation and I was offended that someone thought couldn’t follow British films. Looking back on it, it all seems so petty. But hey, that’s what teens are right?

I then started a blog back in 2011-12 and then couldn’t find it as the title was too generic. I decided to create a new one and that’s how JaneAustenRunsMyLife was born. I mean it’s not that my friends or family don’t like listening to me, but if you have been following you know that when I like something, I really like it and love to talk about it. Sometimes making it annoying for those who don’t care about it as much as me, or who really don’t care about it at all.

And I know, you are all wondering-do I still hate Pride and Prejudice (2005)?

Do you?

I wouldn’t say I hate it, but I don’t like it. It is my least favorite adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Pigs in the house? What? And why did they try and make them look dirty all the time? They were ladies!! And discount-Orlando Bloom who plays Wickham has no charm. However, I do think that their Mr. Collins was good, I liked how Matthew Macfayden and Simon Woods interacted with each other…and that will all have to wait for a review on another day.

So this marks seven years, and the seventh anniversary is wool. Hmm…what should I give myself? I always try to choose pictures from through the years. How about a Mr. Darcy in a wool coat?

Mr. Tilney in a wool coat:

Or Judd Nelson in a wool sweater from Making the Grade Valentine’s Day post:

How about a wool coat and scarf from Sherlock as well.

Ready for any case

How about a rugged Charlton Heston from The Ten Commandments anniversary post, in his wool coat.

There’s not enough wool coats, let’s throw Mr. Sinclaire in from Desire & Decorum

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

Yay!

In other news, I have decided to do a give away in honor of my 7th year. Now those of you who have been following me, know that after no one, and I mean literally 0, people entered my last one, I planned to never do one again.

But I decided to try again. I’m still putting it together and since “wool” is the theme of the 7th anniversary, I will be dropping it in the fall. So keep an eye out and of course, follow me on instagram, facebook, tumblr, twitter, or here on wordpress. And a special thank you to all who follow me:

For more anniversary posts, go to I Want Candy

 

Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

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

Hmm…I don’t know!

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

So there are a lot of period dramas I plan on reviewing, but to start it off-I’m doing something a bit unexpected.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Laura Jean is is a romantic. She reads romances, watches romantic films and Rom-Coms-her favorite is Sixteen Candles-and she dreams about the beauty of love in her head.

She wishes she could be in a romance book or film.

When Laura Jean falls in love she writes love letters, but she never sends them. Whenever she falls for a guy she writes them a letter, addresses it, seals it, and stashes it in her closet. She has fallen in love with five guys, so far:

  • Kenny from camp
  • John Ambrose McClaren from Model U. N.
  • Peter Kavinsky in 7th Grade
  • Lucas after Homecoming
  • Josh Sanderson, best friend turned sister’s boyfriend

Ouch, that last one-yes, Laura was best friends with Josh, but then her sister and him started dating. Very awkward!

It is the start of junior year and Laura’s sister is heading off to college to Scotland. Laura is feeling a little lost as she is losing her other best friend and the one she has…well it is even more awkward now that he isn’t dating her sister than when he was.

School is okay, as Laura Jean isn’t the most popular girl in school but it never really mattered before, but now she feels lonely without her sister.

Everything is normal until one day Peter Kavinsky approaches her out of the blue stating that nothing will ever happen between them.

Huh?

Laura Jean is confused, until she realizes he has her letter!! Josh does too, so in order to dissuade him-and to keep more awkward conversations from happening between her and Josh and her sister-she kisses Peter and takes off.

At home she discovers that all the letters are gone! Kenny’s from camp is returned to her, as address is wrong (*phew*) but all the others were sent out and received.

Lucas approaches her and reveals to her that he is gay, and the two actually become friends, this continuing throughout the movie. Peter’s girlfriend, Genevieve, dumped him for a college guy, and in order to get her back-he approaches Laura Jean about pretending to be his new girlfriend, as him dating Laura Jean will piss her off. Genevieve and Laura Jean used to be friends, but back in seventh grade it ended. At a party, they were playing spin-the-bottle and it landed on Peter, Genevieve’s crush. (That kiss lead to the writing of Laura Jean’s letter).

Laura Jean isn’t interested, but then Peter points out that if they are “dating”, then Josh won’t believe the letter is how Laura Jean feels now-and no awkward conversations will have to be done with Josh or Margo. Laura Jean agrees after they come up with a series of rules.

The two start “dating” and really enjoying each other’s company. Laura Jean’s mother died when she was little and she grew up with only one parent and her sisters. Peter’s dad left him and started a new family, it being just his mom and brother. They bond over what that feels like and have conversations they would never have with anyone else.

Most of all they just have fun with each other.

And their plan is working. Genevieve hates the situation and her college guy is quickly dropped as she tries to break the two up. Everything is going great until Laura Jean falls in love with her fake boyfriend. Will everything turn out okay?

So not fun…

Let me say that I love, love loved this movie. I put it on as background noise while I was doing something else and I stopped working as I was sucked in and just could not stop watching. It made me laugh, aw, and I just all around enjoyed it.

I can’t stop watching!

Now I know you think this film has been done a thousand times, and yes the fake relationship has-but what makes this stand out is the character Laura Jean. She is relatable, realistic, and so much fun. She was smart, but at the same time didn’t know all the answers to everything. She loved romance in books and movies, but was afraid at real commitment-understandable as she had lost her mother and now her sister has “left her.”

I liked the fact that they came up with rules as I have always thought that if you were to do this in real life the first thing you would need is a set of rules and a strong backstory.

I also liked that they broke up for actual serious reasons. Often they have the couple break up over silly misunderstandings that would be easily solved if the two would just talk to each other. But the fact that this guy says that he is into you but constantly talking to his ex-girlfriend and spent the night in her room? Good for you Laura Jean-that’s a no.

So I know you are all wondering-why would a Jane Austen fan like it? Well there are a few reasons. First of all Laura Jean is sooo Catherine Morland-a girl who loves romance novels and finds herself in one?! Out of all the Austen heroines that’s the one that most kept popping in my mind. How Laura Jean imagines herself in romance novels-and being sweet and naive. 

The relationship between Laura and Peter is reminiscent of Catherine and Mr. Tilney, both couples having great banter with their love interests-laughing and joking around with each other.

Like I said above, Peter isn’t exactly Mr. Tilney, but they do share commonalities. Both care about their younger siblings a lot and have a strained relationship with their fathers. They also don’t always follow social norms but do what they want, and enjoy joking around.

Another thing that Austen fans will enjoy is the family relationships. In Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, the main Austen heroines didn’t have a lot of friends besides their own sisters. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth does have Charlotte Lucas, but just like how Laura Jean’s friend is practically non-existent in this film, the two don’t spend a lot of the book spending time together. Mostly, their best friends are their sisters (like Jane Austen’s sister was). In Pride and Prejudice, Jane goes away for a period of time to stay with relatives, and Elizabeth is very lonely with her gone-just how Laura Jean feels when Margo goes away for school. Speaking of P&P, Laura Jean’s little sister Kitty-she’s like a combo of Lydia and Kitty. Meddling, outspoken, more mature than her years in some aspects (but still a child in others).

Like Sense and Sensibility, we have an older, more sensible sister-Margo/Elinor; a romantic, reader, middle sister-Laura Jean/Marianne; and a spunky, does thing her own thing, younger sister-Kitty/Margaret. Like in S&S, The older siblings have a very close relationship, but both keep secrets from each other. But through all the ups and downs-secret holding and ultimately revealing the truth-the sisters are there for each other.

The other thing that Austen fans will love- is that letters play a crucial role in the film and in the plot. In Austen’s time, letters were extremely important-being the only way of communicating when apart, but often read out loud and like the TV of the day. In Austen’s books-letters play a very important role. The two most known of course are Darcy’s letter in Pride and Prejudice and Captain Wentworth’s letter in Persuasion. Like those novels-the letters Laura Jean writes to her love interests, start all the events in the film, but just like those two Austen men’s letters bring a romantic conclusion-the love notes Peter wrote her are what convince her of his love.

I recommend it for any Austen fan.

For more Young Adult/Teen works, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Suitors and Sabotage

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

For more Austen film/TV show reviews, go to Mrs. Darcy Wants to Know the Truth!: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Three (2013)

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers

So if you are like me, you love Jane Austen:

You like to read her books:

And watch her movies:

But with only six completed and published books, sometimes you want more Austen stuff. There are variations on her stories, but sometimes you don’t want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read?

Hmm…

So I decided that I would do a series of reviews on books that are Non-Austen books, but ones I think Austen fans will love.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily Mystery #1) by Tasha Alexander

Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

Someone to Care (Westcott Novel #4) by Mary Balogh

A Love for Keeps (Brides of Arkansas #1) by Janet Lee Barton

The Widow of Larkspur Inn (Gresham Chronicles #1) by Lawana Blackwell

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning

Homespun Bride (The McKaslin Clan Historical #2) by Jillian Hart

Julie by Catherine Marshall

Anna and the Duke (An Avon True Romance #3) by Kathryn Smith

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

In Honor of Jane

So today is a special day!

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!!!!!!

Best gift ever!!!!

So how will I be spending my day?

Or:

Either way, life stops for one thing:

I hope you all have a Jane-tastic day!

For more on Jane Austen’s birthday, go to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

For more Jane Austen, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

TO the Person Who Hated My Review of Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

Last year I wrote a review of Emma (1996)

No, not that one. This one:

Some people agreed with what I said about it, and some people didn’t. That’s fine, we are all open to sharing our opinion-that being said this is my blog, I will always share my opinion.

Usually I don’t make a big deal over people’s criticisms of my reviews:

But then I received a message from someone on facebook who hated my review of Emma (1996). Not only did they disagree with me, they called me every horrible name you could think of, cursed at me, and went on spamming my inbox.

Usually I just forget it when people say stuff like that. No big deal. I mean:

But it was the venomous way this person spoke to me, and kept writing to me that made me upset.

I am not happy

And made me decide to answer their criticisms:

Jerk

In a polite way, of course:

 

TO: The Person Who Hated My Review of Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

Be not alarmed, Madam, on receiving this letter, unlike you I am not crass, rude, use expletives, or call people names when trying to make my point:

I write without any intention of humbling myself: you must, therefore, pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice.

This could get ugly.

Many offences of various nature you laid to my charge. I will now go through them and defend my thoughts.

A) The Set

No madam I am not an idiot:

I know that “lightbulbs” do not exist in Regency times. I know they had to use candles as their only way of lighting a room. I have studied history and have studied the Regency time period.

What I SAID, and what you failed to read-perhaps your vision is ailing you? Maybe you should visit your optometrist and see if you need an adjustment? – was that I didn’t like the use of candles solely in the film. Yes it is realistic, yes it is accurate, and yes it provides a nice chiaroscuro effect to the cinematography. However, using that as the only source to light your room made it difficult for the viewer to see all that was occurring in the scene. As someone who works hard for their money, I like to use what I spend it on. And if I am purchasing a film I want to be able to see the film.

And I want my money’s worth.

B) The Costumes

You called me quite a few names for not realizing that that the costumes were accurate. I never said they weren’t. Unfortunately, you failed to understand what I stated, perhaps the vocabulary I utilized was too flowery? I will speak plainer here. Out of all the Austen heroines, Emma is the richest. Some may argue that the Dashwoods or Elliots may be, but they lose a lot of their money due to different circumstances. However, Emma starts the book off wealthy, and remains so throughout the book.

In this adaptation, the dresses Emma wears are all boring and drab. I expect her to have something finer and more representative of her station and position in the community. Plus she is only 16 miles from London, she may not visit there but could order more elite fashion. I prefer her gowns in this adaptation:

And this one:

C) Harriet Smith

Now this part of your rantings, I really do not understand. I compliment the film on an actor’s portrayal, in fact the best portrayal of this character I have ever seen, and you yell and curse at me for doing so?

I know, right?

Perhaps you have never paid a compliment so you cannot understand when one is given?

Hmm…

You also yelled at me for misunderstanding the character of Harriet, but the charges you laid against me make me wonder if you have ever read the book, because you don’t seem to understand the character of Harriet.

So the first thing you wrote was that it was idiotic that I called Harriet illegitimate:

First of all I never said that Harriet was illegitimate, what I said-which you failed to read (maybe you need to slow down when reading so you don’t miss so many words?)– was that most people at that time period would assume she was illegitimate the way her father sent her to live in a boarding school and refuses to name himself-wanting to be anonymous instead.

And by the way, Joan Austen-Leigh, the great-grand niece of Jane Austen, stated in her book A Visit to Highbury that Harriet was illegitimate. As she is family and able to look at more personal works that you, I think I trust her information more than I trust yours.

And then you were furious at me for ever stating that everyone hated Harriet, well, once again, I have to say you misread me. Do you wear glasses? Maybe you need a stronger prescription, as what I said was because of not knowing her birth the other girls would not be intent on forming close relationships with her, just in case it turns out that she is illegitimate or from a poor family. Think about Great Expectations, how Pip freaks out when he discovers that his benefactor is the ex-convict Magwitch. He is afraid to tell anyone as he knows how they will turn on him.

D) Jane Fairfax

You went on and on about how I called Olivia Williams a bad actress and how I hated her portrayal, and all I can say is once again you have misunderstood what I said about a character and an actor.

What I had said was that she wasn’t really in the film. True, Jane does not spend a lot of time physically in Highbury, but her presence is always there as the Bateses talk about her constantly. In here we had barely anything about her-from people talking about her to her actually playing a part in the film.

E) Emma Woodhouse

I know you love Kate Beckinsale, and love her films. You went on and on about how well she has done in other pictures and I agree, Beckinsale is a talented actress and has done some great films-however I believe this isn’t one of them. I didn’t think her portrayal was all that great and felt it to be wooden and lacking the emotions if the book.

This, madam, is a faithful narrative of every event-it is done, and it was done for the best. — On this subject I have nothing more to say, no other apology to offer.

-MORELAND

Now to the rest of you, once again this is just my opinion. I am using my right to express myself and my thoughts. I know that not everyone will agree with me, and I am okay with that. If you like what I write:

Yay

If you don’t like it:

That’s okay!

If you want to follow me:

Yay!

If you don’t:

That’s okay

The choice is yours.

For more Emma, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Emma adaptations, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Jane Austen film reviews, go to You Are a Horrible Cook, But I Will Eat What You Prepare Anyway: Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)

Book Club Picks: The Darcy Monologues

So every month  a different member in my book club chooses a book for us to read and discuss the following month; and it has worked out really well.

We only have four members in our club, so we have circled around them all and now it was my turn to pick a book again. I decided on:

The Darcy Monologues by various and edited by Christina Boyd

The Darcy Monologues is a collection of 15 short stories that retell the story of Pride and Prejudice but telling it from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Half the collection is set in the Regency period: taking place during the novel, tweaking a bit of the novel, or taking place where Jane Austen left off.

Hmm…

The second half of the collection tells the story, but isn’t restricted by having to be in Regency times. One story is set in the Wild West, another during WWII, the 1960s, and of course present times.

Hmm…

So we all know how I feel about Jane Austen:

And we all know that I spend a lot of time reading Jane Austen, watching Jane Austen, and reading and watching variations of Jane Austen. Pretty much my life is:

But the other members are not exactly at the same level as I am. One member, Jessica, has seen the 1940, 1995, and 2005 film versions of Pride & Prejudice and read the actual book, but isn’t a fangirl. She likes Jane Austen, but is not a fangirl.

Don’t know why she isn’t.

Another member, Stella, loves Jane Austen but has never read the books. She only watches the films, and has seen both the 1995 and 2005 versions of Pride and Prejudice.

And our other member, Marissa, she has never read anything or watched anything Jane Austen.

So at first when we agreed to do this book I was excited:

But then I grew worried:

What if they didn’t get it, not being fangirls of the book? What if they didn’t like it? Maybe I should have had us read Pride & Prejudice first?

But I decided that we would just have to wait and see.

Hmmm….

So the day to meet came along and I decided to make the refreshments a regency-ish tea time. (Sadly I forgot to take pictures). I made some iced tea:

I had bough some chicken salad sandwiches and scones (I wanted to bake homemade ones but it has been too hot to turn on an oven) and then I made a berry salad, borriwing the recipe from my sister blog: Mysterious EatsIt is super tasty and perfect for a day of reading books or a tea time treat. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow, but you can also check it out here.

So everyone arrived and right away we had a problem. Stella didn’t get the right book. When she typed in The Darcy Monologues, the site sent her to a different book and she ended up buying The Darcy Connection. 

I’m going to lend my copy to her to read and then I will update this post with what she thought of it.

So first of all I just want to say that I have already posted what thought of the book (which if you want to read go to The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency or The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Erasand I loved it!

So I am just going to focus on what Marissa and Jessica thought of it.

Part I: The Regency

Both ladies were able to follow the stories and the thoughts of the authors, even Marissa who knew very little about what the story was based on. They also liked how it was from Darcy’s point of view and enjoyed the way the authors portrayed him, feeling as if they all captured the character. Jessica thought they did well in what Jane Austen wanted, and Marissa enjoyed being introduced to an introspective look of the character.

What Didn’t They Like?

Both ladies felt they would have enjoyed the book better if there had more variations of the story: such as when Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy where older, stories with their children, or sights into areas not shown by the original novel-such as what Darcy does when he leaves Netherfield before he meets up with Elizabeth in Pemberley-things like that.

hmm…

They both did not care for the story Death of a Bachelor by Caitlin Williams and they also did not like The Beast of Pemberley by Melanie Stanford as they thought it was too much Beauty and the Beast.

I KNOW?! How could they not like that one? I guess they just do not undestand how is Austenites find the works so similar. I mean:

To read more, follow this link.

Sorry for the tangent, moving forward.

What Did They Like?

Both loved From the Ashes by J. Marie Croft  as they found her portrayal of Darcy to not only be relatable but hilarious. In this story, Darcy has proposed to Elizabeth and been refused by her. He then goes home to write the letter against her objections to him, releasing his anger and frustrations out, until he has composed the best one to send her. We all thought she captured that the emotions of rejection and heartbreak perfectly.

They also enjoyed Clandestiny by KaraLynne Mackrory, espehially how she describes Darcy’s perfect order and way of life being completly thrown off kilter when Elizabeth enters his life. Both felt Mackrory was able to not only perfectly capture the character but describe what it is like when you aren’t expecting it, but meet the person who ends up changing your life.

In Terms of Perfect Composure by Susan Adriani, was another favorite of the two. Marissa enjoyed the recap as it gave her a stronger foundation into the story of Pride and Prejudice and what happened in the original novel. Jessica liked how this was something different from the other stories as it was a part that isn’t from Austen’s story, it is a part unseen of Mr. Darcy and shows his growth in character.

The Favorite?

Without Affection by Jan Hahn

Yes out of all the Regency stories, this one was both of the women’s favorite story. This story takes place when Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are much older, with Darcy having a flashback to when Elizabeth gave birth to their first child and almost died in the process. Darcy becomes afraid of losing her and reacts with a rule of no more sex for them, something Elizabeth does not agree with.

Both women liked how it showed Darcy and Elizabeth still in love years later, and just how they have had a great life together. They also loved how it captured the uncertainty of childbirth and Darcy as a father not knowing exactly what to do. One of them found it to be relatable to something they had gone through in their own life with their spouse. And we all agreed it was the perfect end to the first compilation.

Part II: Other Eras

Both women were intrigued with this part as they had never read any modern adaptions of classic literature before, let alone ones that took the material and placed it in other eras.

What Didn’t They Like?

Marissa would have liked more variety in the time periods, she was hoping they wouldn’t be as concentrated on present time.

Both did not care for the story Hot for Teacher by Sara Angelini. This one takes place in present times with Mr. Darcy as a principal, George Wickham as the literature teacher, and Elizabeth as the new art teacher. We all did not like how Angelini made the character of Darcy as he was too mean, temperamental, and dorky/awkward.

The Ride Home by Ruth Phillips Oakland was another one they did not like. In this Elizabeth is drunk after a disastrous date, so Darcy goes to give her a ride, the two talking during the drive home. Both ladies did not like how Oakland made Elizabeth drunk and they way she talked to Mr. Darcy. And we all agreed: How was she able to make him breakfast the next day? She should have had a massive hangover.

What Did They Like?

They enjoyed You Don’t Know Me by Beau North, which took place in the 1960s. In this Darcy is sent to Buffalo, New York to take control over the company’s new radio station. He and the top D.J Eliza Bennet clash in the beginning as neither understands the other.

They enjoyed how this story was not only talking about the novel Pride & Prejudice, but actually infused more of a social prejudice introducing a conflict of playing African American music on the radio, life as a Jewish American, and even the trials of having gone through the concentration camps (Eliza’s father). We all enjoyed how North coupled those threads of pride and prejudice with the original types of pride and prejudice in Austen’s work.

They also loved I, Darcy by Karen M. Cox. In this story, Darcy hates that his mother named him “Will” Darcy as everyone mentions Austen’s book. He meets two women who challenges his ideas on the book, surprisingly running into them later when he is starting up his farm to food restaurant.

We all loved how Cox had Elizabeth school him in the literature, causing him to be interested in rereading the book and falling in love with it. We all agreed that incorporating the novel in that way was really cute.

The Favorite?

Darcy Strikes Out by Sophia Rose

From beginning to end this story was just loved. Every part, every character, every single piece of the storytelling was beloved by us. Dandy Darcy? We all wanted him. Turning this into a full novel? We were all down for it. If this was sold separately from the others? All willing to pay.

For all of us Rose really knocked it out of the park!

Couldn’t resist

So what did they think of the whole thing?

They loved it!

Yay!

Yes, they may not have liked every story or every interpretation of Darcy, but that is why they and I loved it. Each author tried to capture the spirit of the character and succeeded in creating their own versions of Darcy that have everything we love about him, yet at the same time not making any exactly the same. By doing this you have many different Darcys to choose from, insuring that you will find the one best suited for you.

We all thought they did a fantastic job in presenting “their” Darcy and highly recommend you read this book.

For more on The Darcy Monologues, go to The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

For more on these authors and Christina Boyd, go to I Have Been Remiss, My Deepest Apologies to The Darcy Monologues

For more on my book club, go to Book Club Picks: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

For more on The Darcy Monologuesgo to The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Pride and Prejudice Paper Dolls

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to The Austen Series: Reason and Romance

And I just want to thank Christina Boyd for sending us these cute charms, we all loved them. I put mine on my bracelet right away and have been telling people about the book whenever they ask me about the charm.