So Happy Indepedence Day. It is time for another:
So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?
That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.
I was trying to decide what to post today and was split between Poldark, which takes place after the Revolutionary War and The Buccaneers which is about a group of ladies “invading” England. After a long deliberation, Buccaneers won out.
So I first stumbled on this about six or five years ago when I was scrolling through Amazon Prime looking for the next thing to watch.
I started with one episode and was hooked!
The one thing that really struck me when I was watching it was all the famous actors in it. I mean there is the amazing James Frain as Julius, Duke of Trevennick; why, why, why hasn’t he been in a Jane Austen film yet?
Then there is Spy Kids mama Carla Gugino who plays the lead, Annabel “Nan” St. George.
And Greg Wise, (best known to Jane Austen fans as Mr. Willoughby), as the strong upstanding, Greg Thwaite.
This miniseries is what I consider to be “what would have happened if the Austen characters married the wrong people.” You know the Wickhams, Willoughbys, Churchills, Thorpes, etc.; of the world.
So I have yet to read the book and am going to focus on the movie only. There are a few changes-which you will see.
So the series takes place in the Gilded Age, after the Civil War. The St. Georges have become extremely wealthy in the aftermath, Mr. St. George being the third wealthiest man on Wall Street. They have moved to Newport Beach but find it hard to enter society as they are “coarse” and “nouveau riche”. It doesn’t matter that the St. George’s have more money that a whole coastline of “old money” people put together, they are not considered polite society. This hurts Mrs. St. George who wants nothing more than to finally be accepted.
Mrs. St. George was actually from a “good family” and married beneath her (as Nan shares), but her husband made a ton of money in the aftermath of the war. She reminds me a lot of Mrs. Bennet, but isn’t so worried about marrying her daughters off as she is in hoping they can get invited into society.
She is joined as an outcast with Elmsworths (who I don’t know what their money is in, I don’t think they say. The housekeeper from Two and a Half Men plays the mother-but all I can see her as is the grumpy housekeeper in that show and the murdered one in Murder She Wrote.) And rounding out this group are the Clossons. Mr. Closson met his wife in Brazil and married her, making his money in the ranches and plantations she owns combined with the casinos in New York that he owns. Their daughter, Conchita has an even harder time with society as all assume her to be a “dark-skinned Native”. So-yes no one wants them.
However, Conchita is invited to the right parties as she is newly engaged to Lord Richard Marabel, and everyone wants a real English Lord at their party. Remember A Change of Fortune?
Mrs. St. George, feeling desperate, hires an English governess to instruct her younger daughter Nan, and give her family some ummph. Ms. Laura Testvalley arrives from England, happy as the St. George’s not knowing any better are paying her a small fortune. She’s doing way better than she would have in England. Too bad Jane Fairfax wasn’t born later.
Ms. Testvalley tries to instruct the girls and smooth out their rough edges. But they still are not invited anywhere.
Ms. Testvalley knows Lord Richard as she was governess to his sisters, and I don’t know if this is true but I always felt they had a “thing” in the past. They seem too close, if you know what I mean.
The big party of the summer is happening, and the only one who gets an invite is Conchita, and only because her fiance is Lord Richard. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Elmsworth and Nan’s older sister Virginia St. George, pretend to be Lord Richard’s sisters so they can go to the party, but they are later found out. Awkward!
Nan cannot go as she is not “out” in society, watching this I do get where Mrs.Bennet is coming from. It isn’t fun when you are stuck at home because your older sister isn’t married. Nan is adorable, fun, but a young girl. She thinks being a mistress is “exciting” as you have freedom and can do what you want. She even idealizes Ms. Testvalley’s life. Ms. Testavalley tries to help her with her naivety, but there is only so much she can do.
Mrs. St. George is bemoaning that she cannot get invited anywhere, when Ms. Testavalley comes up with the idea of a London Season. She understands the American class system better than Mrs. St. George and knows that if the ladies go to England, when they return-everyone will be begging them to attend their functions. Mrs. St. George agrees and they are off.
In England, Conchita marries Richard and meets the family. There are huge issues as they come from very different cultures. Richard is the black sheep of the family, a gambler, loose with everything, etc. He thought marrying the wealthy Conchita would solve everything, but that’s not how it works out for him. Conchita’s family expects him to take care of their daughter and actually work for a living.
Richard was kicked out of the family home and Conchita allows him back in as his father would never kick out a woman, especially one as beautiful as her.
Richard exits the picture, using the allowance she gets to live his life however he wants, and leaving the fiery, fun-loving Conchita in a cold, damp, mansion with the uptight well-to-do family.
Meanwhile, the St. Georges and Lizzy have come to England. Ms. Testavalley wants them to do well and enlists another expatriate, her old friend Ms. March. Ms. Testavalley just wants aid in teaching them proper manners and how to follow society rules, but Ms. March has a better idea. Ms. March was once a young girl who came to England for a season, and it was hard to get into English society. In fact she was going to marry Lord Brightlingsea, Richard’s father, but was left at the altar. It seems that there was some nefarious plot, (I personally think that Lady Brightlingsea found a way to trick him, but that’s just my opinion.) Ms. March wants revenge and plans to do so by getting all the girls with wealthy, important, high-society men.
The girls visit with Conchita who is very unhappy, lonely, and determined to take a lover to ease the days. She loves having the girls to visit with her and brighten her days. She takes them to visit with Guy Thwaite. Every girl loves him but he is “unmarriageable” as he has no money. When his mother died she left him £20000 or £50000 (depending on who is telling the story). His father invested it and lost it all. Many a lady wouldn’t mind marrying him as he is handsome, intelligent, and comes from a great family-but he refuses them all as he wants to have his own money, he doesn’t want to just live off his woman.
This kind of character gives me mixed feelings. He reminds me a lot of Carl from O Pioneers! and both characters infuriate me. One one hand you have to admire a guy who wants to have his act together, provide a life for his family instead of mooching off the woman, and be a man. But on the other hand, having so much pride you waste so much time. And you might lose the girl to another.
Guy and Nan hit it off right away and she falls hard for him. He likes her, but even though she is extremely wealthy, he wants to have his own money so he’d be worthy of his future wife.
So Lady Brightlingsea is not a happy woman. Conchita is pregnant, but Richard is never home and the money she brings in is not as much as this family would like to fill their extremely diminished coffers. And to add to it, her older son, the good one, has given no heir and has no interest to marry. He’s been involved with an older woman, Idina Hatton. Idina needs money and rents her cottage out to Ms. March, who brings the girls there. There they have fun and throw little parties.
Nan is bored of those things-as she can’t really join in-and she and Ms. Testvalley go down to the countryside where Nan runs into Julius, Duke of Trevennick. Julius has been breaking hearts of all the ladies as no one can pin him down. He isn’t interested in any women as all they want are his title, he seems sweet but there is also something off-putting about his love of clocks and solitude. Like I get your an introvert, but it seems a tad…controlling. I don’t know.
Moving on…Nan impresses him as she has no clue who he is, loves the ruins as much as him, and is just full of innocence, childlike wonder, imagination, feelings, etc. She’s like a mix between Marianne Dashwood and Catherine Morland.
The Duke is taken with her and invites her to tea-the two talking and he continuing to be struck by her.
Meanwhile, Virginia and Lizzy have both been struck by Lord Seadown’s “sad eyes”, “brooding nature”, and melancholy demeanor. Oh man, you know the type.
Lord Seadown on the hand has been doing some calculating. His extremely dwindling coffers compared to the GNP of the Elmsworth and the St. George’s. Virginia is a better choice as her family has a lot more money. Seadown boasts of his plan to his brother and how he’ll have the better deal.
One day Lizzy, Virginia, and Conchita are having a little party, when Idina shows up, angry that Seadown stood her up. She makes a scene and yells at Virginia. Virginia is a classy lady, but Lizzy won’t stand the way she is being treated and lets all know that Virginia and Seadown are engaged.
The two marry and Virgina is ecstatic over being married to her love, Lord Seadown, becoming the future Lady Seadown, and winning over her rival Lizzy. But the marriage happiness is short lived as Seadown reveals that he only married her for her money and will be using it to redo the West Wing.
Virginia is crestfallen, but that’s not the worst of it-Lord Seadown just uses her money-giving all love and affection to Idina.
So now we are left with little Nan. Guy is extremely interested, but lets her know that he is not going to marry anyone without money. He also thinks that Nan is too young at 18. He is going to South America for two years to work on the railroad and make his fortune. Nan insists that she is not too young, as her mother married at 18. But he says no and walks out of her life.
You’re making a huge mistake!!!!!!! Come back, at least propose!!! Don’t leave her!!!!!!!
Julian on the other hand is very interested in Nan and goes to speak to her but finds her out. He instead speaks to Ms. Testvalley about his wanting to marry Nan. Now in an interesting twist Ms. Testvalley really discourages him against. She warns him that Nan is young and he should wait as in a year or two-after she’s grown up a bit, she could be an incredibly different person.
This reminds me of Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Bennet. If Mr. Bennet had not been taken in by a pretty face but really spent his time getting to know Mrs. Bennet or maybe had a longer engagement he would have realized she isn’t the right person for him. But they both were young and didn’t think.
Julian ignores Ms. Testvalley and goes to Nan who is crushed and heartbroken and lonely. When Julian proposes he gives her a puppy! A PUPPY!!! There is a guy who knows how to do a good proposal, Mr. Darcy could take notes. She’s sad, crushed, alone as her sister and friends are married ad gone and she says yes.
So Nan becomes the crown jewel for Ms. March and Ms. Testvalley as she snagged the Duke, just under a Prince. Wowee!!
Yes the americans have won and conquered the English marriage market.
So here we have as I see it-Lord Richard is nothing but Mr. Wickham. Charming on the surface but a gambling bounder who only cares about having a good time for himself. We get a glimpse of how life would have been if Wickham succeeded in marrying Georgina or Miss Gray.
Then we have Lord Seadown. He reminds me of Mr. Elliot or Mr. Willoughby. But are as calculating when it comes to maintain their fortunes/way of lifestyle. Either would do all they can to keep it.
And then we have the Duke. I’m not sure who he best lines up with, he seems like a nice catch…but I guess we will just have to wait and see.
So I was going to do the whole series in one post, but there is just too much. I’ll do a secondary post on the last three episodes.
In other news, I’ll be spending this weekend with my niece. I usually post every three days, but I might have to postpone as I don’t what we will be doing. I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July, whether it is just another day:
Or celebrating our Independence!
For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Stardust (2007)
For more Gilded Age, go to Book Club Picks: Julie
For more 4th of July posts, go to Let Freedom Ring
So I like to joke and have fun, but I’m going to end this post on a serious note. I just want to thank all past and present who have served to protect not only my country and my rights, but those around the world.