The Making of Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Happy 210th birthday to Pride and Prejudice

To celebrate this anniversary, I have decided to review a Pride and Prejudice themed book, film, or item at least once a month throughout the year.

One thing I decided to do was finally review Pride and Prejudice (1995) I was originally going to wait for its 30th anniversary but decided, why wait?

But before I can review the episodes, I decided to first read and review The Making of Pride and Prejudice (1995), a book that was included with my special DVD box set.

The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Britwistle & Susie Conklin

What I found extremely interesting was that the spark to creating one of the best adaptions of Jane Austen all came about due to Northanger Abbey. Isn’t that cute? Sue Bristwhistle (producer) and Andrew Davies (writer) were watching a screening of one of the worst Jane Austen adaptions, Northanger Abbey (1986), when Andrew Davies broached the topic of creating a filmed version was the catalyst to one of the mose beloved Jane Austen adaptions.

Although it wasn’t easy. The book begins with Sue Bristwhistle sharing how it took quite a bit of time to garner the interest and how they had to face off against people who didn’t think it would come out well.

I really enjoyed this book as it is extremely detailed from every step of creating it: scriptwriting, casting, costumes, locations, editing, makeup, filming, food, editing, sound mixing, PR, etc. It’s really worth it for any Austen fan and Pride and Prejudice (1995) fan.

There were a few things I absolutely enjoyed reading in this book. First Andrew Davies thoughts on writing the script. He has said that he loved the book, it was one of his favorites and you can see how much he adores it and is a fan in this. I love how he points out the cleverness of Austen’s writing and how great she is at plotting her works.

“Because the book [Pride and Prejudice] is so tight – her [Jane Austen’s] plot works just like a Swiss clock and doesn’t have any flabby bits in it – everything counts.”

-Andrew Davies in “The Script” from The Making of Pride and Prejudice

I feel like most studios struggle with this when it comes to adapting Jane Austen works and this seems to be the biggest complaint Austen fans make about the adaptions. Studios slice too much and important plot points are lost, characters are nonexistent, and crucial scenes of the novels are now flat in the film.

I do feel that this is something that makes this adaptions superior to many others, Andrew Davies really loved the original work and did his most to try and keep Austen’s spirit; while at the same time trying to make sure he had something that would appeal to all viewers.

One thing I really appreciate is that Davies wanted to give us a view into the men of the novel and as to what they think and do. With a novel you have more leeway to have a mysterious character, fully based on what our main characters view then as; but in a TV show most people want to know more about these people and who they are if they are planning to come back every week to watch.

Also the Pemberley diving in scene is such a crucial scene to understanding and. Darcy we we finally see him wiping away the structures of society and instead being able to really “be” himself.” And of course has been a fan favorite.

The casting chapter I also found very interesting as it is so important to find the right people for period pieces.

“So we were looking for wit, charm and charisma, but also for the ability to “play” that period. Some people simply can’t do it; everything
about them is too modern. It’s a difficult thing to analyse; there are a
lot of good young actors and actresses around, but they are just very
twentieth-century and don’t have the right sort of grace. I don’t think
that can be instilled any more than you can train someone to be funny.”

-Janie Forthegill in “Pre-Production” from The Making of Pride and Prejudice

I 100 percent agree. I feel like this a problem today where studios hire people who the think will draw views, even though they just don’t work for the drama. They look or act too modern and make everything feel out of place.

Colin Firth had to dye his hair because he is a blonde, I’m surprised as he looks so good with dark hair.

One of my favorite parts was on the costuming. It was so interesting to read how they had to make all the costumes and get the prints designed and printed on the fabric. A lot of clothes from the previous adaptations were in terrible condition or didn’t work. It was absolutely fascinating and makes sense why the clothes are constantly reused by the studio.

Elizabeth Bennet

There is a section with Colin Firth where he describes his journey to the role and experiences filing and I loved it! In fact it reminded me of my own journey to Jane Austen. I also find it interesting that Firth felt he wasn’t sexy enough when comparing himself to Laurence Olivier. He was extremely afraid everyone would just compare the two and find him lacking. It’s amazing to think of when Olivier isn’t as remembered as Colin Firth. It’s like he threw down a reverse UNO.

I highly recommend this for any Austen fans as I think you will really enjoy it, especially if you love the 1995 adaption.

For more on the making of an Austen film, go to The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A Book-to-Table Classic by Martha Stewart

For more nonfiction, go to Jane Austen (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

For more Colin Firth, go to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A Book-to-Table Classic by Martha Stewart

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: A Book-to-Table Classic by Jane Austen and Martha Stewart

This book came out about five years ago and it has been on my to-buy list for a while.

But it no longer has a place on my list as I was blessed with it by my friend for Christmas. After all, books make the best gifts!

When this book first came out Martha Stewart and articles touted it as the “…newly released Fall cookbook Jane Austen diehards could only dream of.” They also claimed that these “…recipes by Martha Stewart will make you want to host a tea even if you aren’t looking to woo a wealthy suitor for one of your many daughters.”

Party time!

From all I heard about it, I really expected it to be the novel with recipes for food mentioned in the book; along with historical info or facts about Jane Austen and the recipes. It was really promoted as the first of its kind, a book to table classic, with the actual Pride and Prejudice novel and recipes for the perfect teatime.

This book was not what I was expecting. It wasn’t a bad book but from all that Martha Stewart talked it up I was expecting more recipes. Something more along the lines of the The Mitford Cookbook or The Betty Crocker Celebrate Cookbook.

The first thing that surprised me with this book is that there is no foreword about Martha Stewart’s love of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, or why she even wanted to make this book.

Hmm…?

The book goes right into the novel with recipes put here and there. The recipes are:

  • Sugar-and-Spice Cake
  • Linzer Hearts
  • Cream Scones with Currants
  • Rosemary Pound Cakes
  • Petits Fours
  • Chocolate Shortbread Fingers
  • Old-Fashioned Berry Layer Cake
  • French Almond Macaroons
  • Fruit Turnovers
  • Gingerbread Icebox Cake
  • Lemon Madeleines
  • Hazelnut Cookies

The other thing that surprised me is that there is nothing in here why she picked these recipes or why they would be perfect for a Pride and Prejudice cookbook. These recipes aren’t ones mentioned in the novel and some are interesting choices, like the icebox cake, which was made popular in the 1920s. Why is that perfect for a Pride and Prejudice tea party?

For someone, who according to her author bio, “is America’s most trusted expert and teacher and the author of more than ninety books on cooking, entertaining, crafts, homekeeping, gardens, weddings, and decorating”; I excepted more. Unfortunately I don’t think as much effort went into this as could have been implemented. It makes me wonder if they moved up the publication date to cash in on holiday sales and then weren’t able to add all the extras.

Even though I’m a little disappointed in Martha Stewart as this wasn’t what I was expecting or how they marketed it I still like that this was a wonderful gift from my friend, is another book to add to my Jane Austen collection (and Pride and Prejudice collection), and am looking forward to trying out some of these recipes.

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

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptions, go to Christmas at Pemberley Manor (2018)

For more Jane Austen adaptations, go to An Appearance of Goodness

For more recipes, go to Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato Tea Sandwiches

Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen Children’s Stories #1) by Jane Austen adapted by Gemma Barder

It was time to shop for a Christmas gift for my friend’s daughter, and I always give her a book.

I didn’t even have to think about it as I knew the perfect one: another book from the Jane Austen Children’s Stories.

As I mentioned in my previous review, any time I spot a children’s book that has to do with Jane Austen, I try and purchase it to gift to kids in my life and hopefully brainwash spark a love of Jane Austen in them.

The Jane Austen Children’s Stories series takes the text of Jane Austen and adapts it for children who are reading on their own and want something longer than a beginning reader, but not quite ready for thick chapter books. Each novel has easy to read text, illustrations, but at the same time still retain the plot of the original novels.

The recommended age for this series is 7-10 years old. The series has adapted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Love and Friendship. You can buy them individually at ~$7 a paperback (hardcover is ~$12 per book) or in a set of all seven in paperback form (plus a journal) for ~$17.

The story of Pride and Prejudice is about a mother, Mrs. Bennet, wanting to marry off her daughters as quickly as possible, as when their father passes away they will have very little to live on (her husband is not I’ll but Mrs. Bennet doesn’t want to take any chances.) Two men move to their community that Mrs. Bennet is intent on harpooning, no matter what. One, Mr. Bingley, falls for the elder daughter, Jane, while the other man, Mr. Darcy, is overheard insulting the second daughter, Elizabeth, by Elizabeth herself. (Ouch!) Elizabeth is wounded and when she hears a tale about how horrible Mr. Darcy is from a handsome charming man, she readily believes it. She later discovers there is more to all these men than meets the eye and that she may have judged them too quickly.

Like Emma, this book starts off with a breakdown of the characters, a who’s who of everyone.

We then get into the story which is done very well. I was curious how they would deal with the Georgiana/Mr. Wickham but they still have it, focusing on him wanting her money over anything else which to me was a very good choice to make.

I thought it was a very good abridged adaption for children. And I’m eager to see what the remaining Austen books are like.

I do think the illustrator was influenced by the 2005 film adaptions as Mr. Darcy looks like Matthew Macfayden and Mr. Bingley looks like Simon Wood.

For more Jane Austen Children’s Stories, go to Emma

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to Northanger Abbey

For more on Pride and Prejudice book adaptations, go to An Appearance of Goodness

For more on Pride and Prejudice , go to The Clergyman’s Wife + The Question is Mr. Collins Really THAT Bad?

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Castaway in Cornwall

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers is something I started a while back for fans of Jane Austen who after reading all her works are looking for something else to read.

There are numerous variations of Jane Austen’s works, but while those adaptations are fun, sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. Sometimes you want Austen-like works, but not exactly the same as Austen’s works. But what can you read instead?

That’s why I started this series. I will be reviewing books that have components of what we love about the Austen novels, but are not just another retelling, but their own unique story.

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen

The book begins with our main character Laura Callaway once again feeling left out of her family and community. She was born and raised in London, but ended up moving to Cornwall when her parents died, having been sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Truro. When her aunt passed, her uncle Matthew moved them to the rural Cornwall seaside and remarried, Laura gaining a step-aunt and step-cousin.

Not having been raised in Cornwall, Laura often feels left out and alone; this further exacerbated by her aunt who treats her as a stranger and tries her best to exclude her. Laura has tried to form a bond with her step-cousin but her aunt tries to keep them separated.

So sad.

Even in 1813, Cornwall practices the tradition of “wrecking”, taking goods from wrecked ships. This is seen as a way for many people to survive and a part of Cornwall life. For Laura, her conscience won’t let her partake in the same way, before she keeps or sells anything she tries to locate the owner; along with saving it for a year and a day. After that she does whatever she wants with the items.

Her days seem very much the same until one night she hears of a wreck and goes out to help with taking care of the dead (back in the early 19th century there was no coastguard and many did not know how to swim). While combing the beach she happens upon a man, alive but soaked through and doing poorly. She manages to save him and with help from her uncle and neighbors, nurse him back to health. But while this man, Alexander Lucas, introduces himself as a man from the island of Jersey trying to get home admits the war, something about him doesn’t quite ring true. What secrets could he be holding?

Hmm…

Alexander wants to trust this beautiful woman who saved his life, and she and her family seem to be ones he can rely on, but he’s still not sure. Alexander is plagued with a mission to save his brother, one he has risked his life, his reputation, and his freedom to accomplish. Every day he stays on English soil is another day that his brother may be lost to him forever. Alexander tries to recuperate, find the evidence needed to save his sibling and get home as quickly as he can.

When Laura discovers Alexander’s secret that he is a French soldier who escaped from imprisonment (for a good cause) will she be willing to help him? Or will her interference only harm him? Can romance bloom in the midst of a war?

Why do I recommend for fans of Jane Austen? First of all, this books brings another view of life in the Regency era. While the war with France is mentioned in several of Austen’s novels, and there are multiple soldiers in her works, we don’t see it’s effect on people like we do in this book. In this novel the characters live on the shores of England (much closer to France), have their fishing and trade affected by war, etc.; the war is very present in the daily lives of the people.

Kind of like in Poldark

The other reasons I recommend this to Jane Austen fans is that Laura reminds me a bit of Anne Elliot from Persuasion and Fanny Price from Mansfield Park. Like Fanny, Laura is sent to be raised with family but often feels like she’s not really a part of them and lonely. Like Anne, Laura feels as if she doesn’t really belong with her family (although she does have a bond with her uncle) and often acquiesces what she wants to keep the peace. However Laura, like both of Austen’s women, stands up for what she believes in and will not be forced into doing something she does not agree with. While all three women are not the typical headstrong outspoken ladies, all have an iron backbone.

The character of Alexander and his relationship with former best friend Francois mimic Darcy’s relationship with Wickham. Darcy and Wickham were friends from childhood and grew up together. Darcy of course was the heir of Pemberley and Wickham was the steward’s son, but the elder Mr. Darcy treated him well and even prepared to pay for his schooling. Of course we know that Wickham housed some resentment against Darcy and over not being lord of the manor; later one trying to hurt Darcy and ruin his family and reputation. Francois is the same as his friendship turns to hate as it becomes twisted with jealousy of Alexander’s wealth and status; Francois doing everything he can to destroy the Alexander’s family name and spirit.

The end was a happy one but I do appreciate how it took a little while to get there instead of most historical fiction romances. At first I wasn’t sure if Laura would get TBE happy ending she wanted.

I really enjoyed this book as I after I started reading it, after a only few chapters I could not put it down.

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Miss Abbott and the Doctor WEBTOON

An Appearance of Goodness

An Appearance of Goodness by Heather Moll

I received this advanced reader copy free in exchange for an honest review.

What if in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy gave Elizabeth his letter at Rosing Park, immediately left to tell Charles Bingley his regret at separating him and Jane, and let Mr. Bennet know what happened to his sister?

What if Mr. Bennet never let Lydia run off with Mrs Forester and the officers? What if she never was compromised and forced to marry Wickham?

Hmm…?

Well that is the alternate universe this adaption takes place. In this Bingley immediately came to ask for Jane’s hand, the two married, and as Mr. Bingley was told through Bingley not only what happened to Georgiana (but also of Wickham’s debts), Mr. Bennet the family were not disgraced and Darcy wasn’t needed to save the day.

Instead Mr. and Mrs. Bingley (plus Elizabeth) have been living at Netherfield Park. A very happy circumstance for all, except that Mrs. Bennet comes too often with her friends. Mr. Bingley decides a break is needed and intends to take Jane to meet all his friends this summer, ending their vacation in Scarborough. He also invites his sister Caroline Bingley, his other sister Mrs. Hurst, her husband Mr. Hurst, and Elizabeth to accompany him.

As they travel they have fun meeting all Bingley’s friends, stopping of course to visit his best friend; Mr. Darcy at Pemberley. Mr. Darcy has been in anguish over his rejected proposal, but in light of what had happened he tried to fix his mistakes, continuously works hard better himself, and is eager to host a party at his beloved home. Staying with him will be Georgina Darcy: her companion/governess Mrs. Annesley; his friend Lewis Balfour; Balfour’s sister and rich widow, Mrs Lanyon; Mr. Utterson, a newer acquaintance training in law; along with Mr. Bingley and his party.

What Mr. Darcy was not expecting was to find Elizabeth along the party. At first the two are rather awkward around each other; but as Darcy’s feelings remain steadfast and loyal to her, he tries his best to show how her words have affected and changed him, while trying not to make her uncomfortable.

Stuck inside due to heavy rainfalls, Elizabeth thought being at Pemberley with Mr. Darcy would be truly terrible. However, the more time she spends there with him; the more she realizes that her view of him was discolored and finds herself not only enjoying time with him but actively seeking it out.

“On closer examination, there was a certain gentleness in his eyes, and often a humour in his look. Had that always been there, or was she now a better observer of him?”

Elizabeth Bennet from An Appearance of Goodness

Elizabeth falls for him and is trying to find a way to show or tell him, when there lovely trip goes to complete ruin. The very heavy rainfalls have caused incredible damage to the fields, crops, bridge, mills, homes, etc. Tensions run high and Darcy is pulled in every directions as he tries to help take care of everything and every one of his tenets. This is not the time to propose as not only is it a very depressing time but he isn’t even sure if he will have anything to offer after all this.

Crying! [Still from The Wolf Man (1941)]

Elizabeth was certain that Mr. Darcy was heading toward a proposal but after all the aftermath of the storms it looks as if that will not be happening anytime in the future. She is heartbroken at all that has happened and wishes she could be there for Mr. Darcy, but as she is just the sister-in-law of his friend she has no place acting as is they are more “familiar”. Elizabeth does all she can while following propriety, but if only she could do more.

Mr. Bingley wants to make things easier on his dear friend Mr. Darcy and will take his party to stay with other friends to help him; leaving Mr. Utterson, Mr. Balfour, and Mrs. Lanyon behind. As Mr. Bingley is going, so will be Elizabeth and any chance of them being more…

Aw!

Luckily, Mrs. Lanyon loves to matchmake, having been instrumental in assisting Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. She asks is Elizabeth could stay and be her companion; and Elizabeth eager to have more time with Mr. Darcy readily agrees.

Mrs. Lanyon right now

Things are still dire and Darcy is hanging on; but knowing he still has chance with Elizabeth has him feeling like things are looking up…except they aren’t.

That’s not good.

While in the middle of clean up the body of Georgiana’s lady’s maid is found in the river. At first Darcy believe her to be Elizabeth as she is wearing her coat, but upon closer examination they discover her the identity and that she has been murdered. How? By a silver candlestick stolen from Pemberley. The reason for the murder is uncertain: could it be she saw something she shouldn’t? Perhaps she was in an illicit relationship? Could she be pregnant and the father not wishing to be in her life? Could she know something the killer does not want to get out?

Wait a minute! This is a mystery?!!! I didn’t realize that. A mystery?!!! I got this!!!

Mystery, you say?

So suspects, after looking into everyone it comes down to the murderer is someone in Darcy’s home. Darcy, Georgiana, Mrs. Annesley, and Mrs. Lanyon are all cleared as r wh have alibis and people to back up their whereabouts. After careful discussion Elizabeth and Darcy discover the only ones who could have murdered the lady’s maid would be either Mr. Balfour or Mr. Utterson.

Time to get on the case!

To be honest, I could not care for either of these characters so I wasn’t upset with them being suspects and was okay with either of them being the villain. I found both to be annoying and odd that Darcy could consider either to be his friends; but as they say love is blind.

Suspect 1: Lewis Balfour

Mr. Darcy has been friends with Mr. Balfour for years and Balfour was there for him when his father passed. Mr. Balfour is biracial (Scottish and Indian) and when his father passes will inherit the family estate. Right now he has no real purpose and lounges about spending money for the fun of it, although he appears to live far outside the allowance given to him by his father (and complains about it).

Balfour is not known to be a maid chasing Lothario and has a pleasant nature. He doesn’t seem to have a reason to murder someone. Could it be him?

Suspect #2: Mr. Utterson

Mr. Utterson is a newer acquaintance to and. Darcy and not as well known to him. Utterson is a second son and is forever in the middle of getting his law degree and lives on an allowance granted by his father. He never seems to have enough money, constantly complaining about the lack of it, along with making very rude jealous remarks.

There are a few stories of Utterson ravishing Lord Poole’s daughter, but rumors aren’t fact and could be true or false. He also has a very mercurial and intense nature. Of course the motive most likely is that he killed for money, possibly stealing; but would Utterson have risked stealing from someone like Mr. Darcy, a man he considered a friend?

Our Regency Scooby-Doo crew is rounded out by the arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam who journeyed to assist in the emergency services. Will these three be able to discover the murderer before he strikes again, or will this be there final case?

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

I enjoyed this novel, especially the mystery aspect, as I love mysteries and try to solve them before the characters do. I was fairly certain I knew who the murderer was and why they did it, and was most pleased to discover that I figured it out. My only criticism on that mystery is that I wish the cover looked a little more mysterious as I didn’t realize it was a whodunit until I saw it on goodreads. Although what should be added I’m not quite sure. Maybe the candlestick that was the murder weapon or a question mark at the end of the title?

I felt that Moll did a great job with Austen’s characters as the Bingleys, Bennets, Georgiana, the Hursts, Colonel Fitzwilliam, etc; were all done well did Austen justice while still being Moll’s creation.

The only thing I felt was not quite right was with Darcy’s character. Bit of a spoiler (not too much) I didn’t like that Darcy and Elizabeth slept together before being married. I’m not saying that didn’t happen in 1813, but I personally feel like Mr. Darcy is too much of a gentleman and so proper that he would wait, especially as he strives to be the nothing like his nemesis, Mr. Wickham.

Moll introduced several new characters and I did enjoy most of them. Utterson and Balfour as I said before really annoyed me as they have money, just not as much as they want, and complain constantly about their lot. At first I was hoping they would just exit the story, but when they turned out to be murder suspects I didn’t mind. As I didn’t like either of them I was content to have either of them turn out to be the killer. By the end of the novel, one of the men is a bit more likable as we are given his story and brought understanding as to why he is so eager for money.

I really loved the character of Mrs. Lanyon a LOT. I myself am biracial and growing up there wasn’t a lot of representation in any type of media. With this novel I really enjoyed how Mrs. Lanyon discusses her interactions with people and the racism and ignorance she faces. Even thought he book is set in 1813, the experiences described are still issues people face today.

My only warning would be that while this book does contain comedy, romance, and mystery; parts of the book are very sad especially in regards to the flooding. Thus far I have only read two of Moll’s books and she seems to be one who enjoys combing multiple elements in a nice balance.

I do recommend for those who enjoy Austen adaptations.

For more by Heather Moll, go to An Affectionate Heart

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Beside Two Rivers

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptions, go to The Clergyman’s Wife + The Question is Mr. Collins Really THAT Bad?

For more Jane Austen adaptations, go to The Emma Project

For more mysteries, go to I Won the Ellery Adams’ September 2020 Giveaway + My Review of the First Two Books in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society Series