The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)

The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair) [Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery #4) by Carrie Bebris

So this is the fourth book in this Jane Austen mystery series. I have an…interesting relationship with this series. You know I love mysteries, so when I first came across this I was so excited! Jane Austen mysteries?!!!!!

Mystery, you say?

So I read the first book Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) and loved it!

It was a fantastic mystery that left you wondering, was something supernatural going on? Or was Caroline Bingley’s new husband gaslighting her?

The next book, however, left me extremely disappointed.

Suspense and Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited) right away told you it was going to be the supernatural taking all the suspense out of it. Also the Dashwood sisters were hardly in the book, which strongly disappointed me.

I then decided to take a break, and went on reading and reviewing other things.

After a break I decided to read the third book North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley) as I plan to review a mystery every month (to stay in theme for the year) and because it has Northanger Abbey in it. It was good, but it really didn’t have as much Northanger Abbey stuff in it as there should have been.

I want MORE Northanger Abbey!

I liked the book, but was disappointed that there was hardly any Mr. Tilney in it and zero Catherine Morland. Extremely disappointing, but the rest of the book was good.

Hmm…

So now on to this one. My excitement for this was also high as I was excited to see Mansfield Park in something as it literally gets no love.

So one thing that happened in this book that is very different from the others is that there is no supernatural elements in it at all. The first book had a woman possibly going crazy/being mind controlled, the second a mirror with the evil spirit of the Dashwood’s great-great grandfather who possesses his great-great-grandson. The third we had the benevolent spirit of Mr. Darcy’s mother aiding Elizabeth through her pregnancy. In this, there is nothing.

So we start the book off with a Elizabeth and Darcy staying with Roger Fitzwilliam, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older brother and the earl (you know the one that inherited everything making it impossible to marry someone without money). Lady Catherine is there with Anne as well. So remember in the last book…maybe not…quick review. So Darcy and Elizabeth were in Bath to meet with this super special doctor, who was a total jerk.

This dude, ugh!

There they received a note to visit with Captain Tilney, Mr. Henry Tilney’s older brother to visit and got caught up in a robbery of a dead man. No, it really tuned out that the man they thought was Captain Tilney was actually pretending to b him as the real Captain Tilney died a day earlier. The only one who could help them was Lady Catherine, so she traveled with them to Pemberley leaving Anne in Bath, with her companion.

She’s free!

Back in present time, Elizabeth was feeding her daughter early one morning when she runs into Anne. Elizabeth’s surprised to see her up so early, but Anne tells her she wants time to herself and Elizabeth understands-its hard to go from the freedom of Bath to then be back with your controlling mother, Lady Catherine.

The next day at the ball Elizabeth manages to get Darcy to distract Lady Catherine so that Anne can dance. She dances with her cousin Col. Fitzwiliam, who has always liked her. OMG, what if they were to get together! That would be great! Look at me, matching up people like Emma.

They also meet a Mr. Crawford, one of the people who dances with Anne. We know Mr. Crawford.

Just in case you haven’t read or seen the film, in Mansfield Park Mr. Crawford is an immoral man raised by his uncle. His biggest hobby is to seduce women, he likes them falling in love with him.

He and his sister Mary go to visit their half-sister and intersect with the Bertram family at Mansfield Park. He starts to seduce Maria Bertram who is engaged, with no plan of follow through, but it hooks her. Later he starts to fall for Maria’s cousin Fanny, trying to woo her, but when he returns to London he runs off with her.

He’s a bad boy

Time has passed, so he is free from scandal-Just like the Count in Anna Karenina. It’s really not fair that he didn’t get something worse.

Mr. Crawford asks Anne to dance with him, but she refuses. Elizabeth tries to get her to take him up on his offer but she goes upstairs and to bed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy has found out that Lady Catherine wants to have an engagement between Anne and Lord Sennex’s son, Neville (a horrible man with am extremely awful and abusive temper.)

That night they retire and Elizabeth finds a note from Anne, but decides to wait until morning to read it.

Oh no, that’s important-you should read it now!

The next day Lady Catherine starts an uproar when Anne is found missing. She doesn’t want Lord Sennex to know as she hopes that she can get her in time for Anne to marry his son. They search everywhere for her but cannot find her. Lady Catherine latches onto Anne’s letter to Elizabeth and in there it is revealed that she decided to follow Elizabeth’s advice and run off with Mr. Crawford.

Oops! She misconstrued Elizabeth encouraging her to dance with her encouraging her to run off and elope.

Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy run off to follow them hoping that they can reach them before they are wed at Gretna Greene. Oh, poor Darcy this is the third elopement he has tried to stop. Lady Catherine is furious beyond furious and blames Elizabeth 100%.

The two men follow and Colonel Fitzwilliam seems extra invested? OhMyGOONESS! Maybe he was in love with Anne but never did anything about it because he thought she was going to marry Darcy, and let’s face it Lady Catherin would never pick him even if he is a Fitzwilliam. Thinking back he did seem awfully eager to dance with her?! Hmmm…

Hmm…

They reach Gretna Greene and are too late, Anne is already Mrs. Crawford.

Darcy kind of starts to lecture her but she rips him a new one when she shares how she feels! Her whole life her mother has been telling everyone they would wed and chasing all suitors always and then he up and married some other girl and she is just growing older. Ouch, I feel bad. I had never thought about Anne’s predicament.

Darcy and the Colonel try to warn her that Mr. Crawford could be a gold digger but she tells him she has seen plenty of those and knows Crawford isn’t one. She is extremely upset that she has to marry the cruel Neville Sennex and saw this as the only way out. The men are resigned and start to take her home, but unfortunately the wheel of the carriage breaks Anne injures her leg, and their are stuck by Mansfield Park.

So will we see Fanny and Edmund and the whole gang?

No.

A few Mansfield Park characters have brief moments but they aren’t really even in the story. This was the problem I had with the other books. Why bother to bring in the other titles and stories if you aren’t going to use them?

I mean, you could set this anywhere else and just add new characters, like the Sennexs. But instead Bbris gets my hopes up making it sound like we will see all the gang and we don’t, and that really upsets me. Why do this? Just to get my hopes up?

So Lady Catherine is angry and wants to make sure that Anne’s inheritance will stay controlled by her and she sends for her lawyer and he, Lady Catherine, and Elizabeth all travel to Mansfield Park.

When all arrive they discover that Henry Crawford has a very bad reputation. They hear the whole story of how he ran off with Maria Bertram Rushworth and how he had proposed to Fanny Price Bertram.

Anne starts to regret her decision, especially after his other wife comes to town.

It turns out years ago he pretended he was just a sailor and got involved with this girl Meg and then left. He sent her money, but after a fire burned the farm and the death of her only family member she goes to find her husband, the only clue being a jewelry box that leads her right to Mansfield Park.

So now who is really married to Mr. Crawford? They call the magistrate who is of course Edmund Bertram speaking on behalf of his father and it is a real sticky wicket. Mr. Crawford married Meg first, but under a false name, but one he was well known so a good lawyer could say that it was legal. And then there is Anne who married him under his legal name. This sound like a Poldark or Mary Balogh novel.

To make things even worse Mr. Rushworth and his mother, along with Maria Bertram Rushworth and her Aunt Norris, all converge on Mansfield Park to speak to Henry and give him a piece of their minds-ALONG with Lord and Neville Sennex (who happens to be friends with Tom Bertram and stays over at Mansfield Park).

Elizabeth and Darcy remark that things would be a lot easier if he was dead…

So I’m sure you all saw what was coming next. He escaped on his horse and there is a search party out for him. They finally discover his dead body.

At first the Bertrams want to declare it a suicide but after Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam look it over they discover he was murdered.

So who did it? Was Anne angry that she may not be legally wed, but also that she has lost all standing in society? Was it Lady Catherine upset that first this man upset her plans and then that he embarrassed the de Bourg line? Could it be Mr. Bertram, Tom, or Edmund…wait not Edmund as he is a minister, Sir Bertram or Tom avenging the humiliation of their sister? Mr. Rushworth out to get revenge for Mr. Crawford sleeping with his wife!? His mother for embarrassing the Rushworths? Maria, angry that he remarried and is in society while she is doomed to be an outcast forever? Aunt Norris, furious that someone hurt her favorite girl? Meg, the first Crawford wife, furious that he lied and abandoned her? Colonel Fitzwilliam maybe trying to get rid of the competition? Lord Sennex or Neville for the embarrassment? Mr. Darcy…haha yeah right it isn’t him or Elizabeth.

We’ll never know.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are on the case to figure out who and why and get themselves and their family out of this entanglement in order to return home.

But then it is discovered that Henry Crawford isn’t really dead. Well then, who was murdered? And if Mr. Crawford didn’t die was he the intended victim or the murderer?

Hmm…

To further complicate things it turns out that Mr. Crawford has some sort of amnesia and thinks he is a sailer named John married to Meg (the first wife and first wife connection).

It turns out that the person is after Henry Crawford as he is murdered, then Neville is killed, and Colonel Fitzwilliam declare his love for Anne- the Darcys need to find the truth before whoever it is is planning on striking again.

So the mystery was really good, and the double identity and then Crawford turning out not to be dead really threw me for a loop. I had to read to the end.

Tell ME!!!!!

The mystery and the characters were really enjoyable, my only compliant was that I wish it involved more of the Mansfield Park characters. I want to see Fanny, Tom, and William Price.

From Mansfield Park Opera

For more by Carrie Bebris, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene

For more on Mansfield Park, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

For more Mansfield Park variations, go to Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

For more mysteries, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Interference: Friday Night Lights Meets Emma

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

So let me state that this is a review of the film, not the book. I harbor no ill will to the book as I have not read it yet. But do not like this movie. I have watched it multiple times and I like pieces of it, but not it as a whole.

So if you do like the movie, you should probably pass on this review-as you probably won’t like it.

So the film is about five woman and one man starting a book club, a Jane Austen Book Club.

Four of the women are very close, the other two members being strangers they ask to join…and they treat them pretty badly actually.

So we will go person by person for the storyline, Book by Book.

Febraury: Emma lead by Jocelyn

Jocelyn (Maria Bello) is a control freak who also enjoys matching people up. It’s no surprise that she is a dog trainer and breeder-as she treats people the same way. She lives alone, feeling fully content to be with her animals rather than people.

Jocelyn’s best friend, Slyvia, was one of the people she matched up, who unfortunately her husband cheated on her and left her for another woman. This coupled with the death of one of Jocelyn’s dogs gives mutual friend Bernadette the idea to start a Jane Austen Book Club.

However, the heartbreak of Sylvie doesn’t faze Jocelyn. She immediately decides to set her friend up with a random guy she meets at a convention, and not even a random guy from her dog breeder’s convention, but a guy from the Science Fiction and Fantasy convention.

Huh?

Really?

Jocelyn is a horrible friend!!!! First of all, your friend hasn’t even gotten divorced and secodly you are setting her up with a stranger? Someone you know zero about? You suck, Jocelyn. At least take time to find someone with the same interests as your friend or someone you actually know!!!

And then it is so freaking obvious that the guy, Grigg, is head over heels for Jocelyn. OMGosh it made me so angry that Jocelyn kept pressuring him to go with Slyvia, promising to do things with him if he did that, manipulating him, leading him on, etc.

He gives her books to read and she says she will-but completely refuses to do it, making fun of it to her friends. Like what a jerk, even though when she asked him to join book club he did.

And not once is she there for her friend to hear her problems, or be there. There is one scene when she goes over and massages Sylvia’s feet-but Jocelyn talks more than listens. All Jocelyn seems to care about is making her do something else. I really don’t like her.

Ugh.

Like I know they were trying to make her like Emma, but there is a big difference between a young girl who is bored because all she has for friendship are older people and a 40 year old professional woman who is playing with her friends as if they were dolls. She treats everyone horrible, and as one of the more focused characters of the film it really weakens it.

Like look at Confessions of a Shopaholic: Rebecca was selfish at times, believed she knew best and instructed others when she was the one that needed it, wasn’t always there for her friends-but even with all these character flaws she had a good heart. She apologized, she tried to help her friends, she tried to do better, she was likable. Jocelyn was nothing like that.

Ugh!

Jocelyn is also so rude to Prudie. I mean excuse me! You are the one who asked her to be a part-she doesn’t know you people and you treat her like crap. Ugh. I hate Jocelyn.

March: Mansfield Park lead by Sylvia

Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) is in her 40s and a librarian. She and Jocelyn have been friends forever, and she was introduced to her husband by Jocelyn. Beyond that, her character isn’t that strongly developed.

Who are you?

She mostly is a pawn for Jocelyn to try and move around in her dollhouse with Grigg. I really wish there would have been more development over who she is and I hate how she is cheated on by her husband for six months and gets over it just like that. Coming from someone who is divorced and knowing others who have been, even if you have the worst husband in the world it’s not that easy. I think she really got the short straw in all this.

And in the end, she and her husband are reunited like that. We hardly get anything from Sylvia and her storyline is over before it even really begun.

I guess she was supposed to be like Fanny-holding on to love, but she really never showed any similarities. It doesn’t help that they don’t even spend a lot of time discussing the book as Sylvia breaks down crying.

***Side note***-I do think it was cute how her husband tries to win her back and reads Persuasion,even coming to the book club meeting and is all into Jane Austen. That was actually adorable.

April: Northanger Abbey lead by Grigg

Grigg (Hugh Dancy) is the best part of this movie. I could just watch the parts with him again and again. Grigg is in his 30s, ten years younger than Jocelyn and Sylvie. He is a tech genius who sold his business for a ton of money and now works in tech support. He loves science fiction, books, reading, biking, and just is an all out adorable person.

Jocelyn is crazy, if I had a Grigg interested in me I’d hold onto him. He is just so fun-and from the beginning he makes his interest to Jocelyn known, but she keeps passing him on to her friend.

They are rude and make fun of him, even though they invited HIM to join. Like jeez-

He agrees to join the book club to spend time with Jocelyn, but whole heartedly embraces it. He buys the seven novels of Jane Austen, he gets into the book discussions (he brings notecards full of his speaking points), AND when it is his turn to do Northanger Abbey, he also reads The Mysteries of Udolpho and decorates his house to be like the haunted Abbey.

Like Grigg

OMGosh I LOVE it! Grigg is a keeper. And I think he deserves better than Jocelyn. They should have ended it with him falling in love with someone else.

I think Grigg actually fits his book as he has the imagination of Catherine and the openness + good humor of Mr. Tilney.

We also get a lot of development to his character as the film focuses on him and his love of SciFi, family, etc. He is just so dang lovable, I mean he compares Jane Austen to Star Wars (my two favorite things), how can you not love him?

May –Pride & Prejudice lead by Bernadette

Like Sylvia, Bernadette (Kathy Baker) is hardly developed at all besides she has been married multiple times.

That’s it?

She is also immortal as some of the names she drops are impossible. At one point she mentions Fred Astaire being in a movie and liking her so much he gave her jewelry, but his last film was in 1968, she would have been 11.

Bernadette is worried about Sylvia and Jocelyn and when she goes to see a showing of Mansfield Park (1999) and spots Prudie having a breakdown-the idea for a Jane Austen book club forms in her mind and she invites Prudie to join them. However, Bernadette sucks as a friend too. She’s horrible.

She invites Prudie to join her club but takes no other interest in her other than to round out their numbers. She spends no time with her other than the meetings, makes fun of her with her *real* friends, and when Prudie needs help and horribly spiraling out of control-reaching out to Bernadette about how she is having issues with her marriage, grieving for her mother, and contemplating sleeping with a student, Bernadette tells her:

Prudie Drummond: I’m in love with one of my students. I mean, nothing’s happened, much. It could if I let it… I fantasize about him constantly.

Bernadette: Sweetie, your mother died. This is grief.

Prudie Drummond: He looks at me like he’s the spoon, and I’m this dish of ice cream.

Bernadette: It’s a good thing we’re reading Sense and Sensibility next.

WOOOWW???? Really?

Why don’t you say, hey Prudie let’s go out for coffee and talk, or Prudie you need to go see a therapist as you need help. You are thinking of getting with this student because you don’t want to face what your issues with your marriage and husband. You are very vulnrable right now. Not, “good thing we are reading Sense and Sensibility”. What are you doing keeping quiet while you know that if Prudie does that she will ruin her career, marriage, lose everything. etc.

She’s just awful.

I can’t find any connection to her book as there is so little shown of her. Who is she?

June: Sense and Sensibility lead by Allegra

This is another storyline I hated as it is so underdeveloped and really not necessary. So Allegra (Maggie Grace) is in her 20s, likes to do dangerous stuff, creates jewelry, and is a lesbian. That’s basically all she is-there is no other development. She moves in with her mother to care for her, but gets really bored over it and after a skydiving accident, starts dating and instantly moves in with one of the other skydivers there.

She then shares some horrible stories, one of her being mean to an autistic kid (like it is beyond horrible), and all of the stories are stolen by her barely known girlfriend for her writing submissions (and it is also implied that her girlfriend is cheating on her). She then moves home and gets in another accident rock climbing, which brings her parents back together. She then dates her doctor, but at the end of the movie is alone. That’s it, no character development, still running head first into lots of thing and getting injured.

I guess they wanted to make her like Marianne-but Marianne had more substance. She felt strongly for what was happening around her, she was reckless but in a young girl sort of way, and at the end she learned from her experience. Allegra doesn’t seem to care-whatever girlfriend stole from me, whatever dad with another lady, whatever I’m in another accident. Kind of like whoever wrote her character didn’t seem to care about her.

Or plot!

July: Persuasion lead by Prudie Drummond

Besides Grigg, Prudie (Emily Blunt) is the only rounded character in this film. We first meet her as she is excited to be going to Paris with her husband, as she is a high school French teacher and has always dreamed of it.

Majorly

Unfortunately, her husband is no longer going to take her to Paris but is instead going on a trip with a sports star for his job. Prudie is heartbroken as Dean doesn’t see what the big deal is and then turns to watch sports-ignoring her. Immediately we know their relationship is in serious trouble, although I couldn’t get why they were even together. She’s so intellectual, Jan Austen, wine, gourmet cheese, etc. He’s all sports, video games, beer, funyans, etc.

Huhhhhhhh

Her husband, Dean, suggests calling her mom to stay with her so she isn’t alone, and we see that is the issue with Prudie-she is alone. She is emotionally and physically alone as she and her husband and her are existing in different atmospheres, and she has no friends. She has absolutely no one.

Life seems grey…

Every scene with her we get another layer. She throws a breakdown at the showing of Mansfield Park (1999) and Bernadette invites her to be a part of the club, telling her is just for her and Prudie thinks she finally has some friends, but then they treat her horribly-making fun of her. Prudie might not be the friendliest person, she has a lot of emotional walls, but you should really give her grace as she is joining a group of people she doesn’t know.

When her mom comes, oh boy do we get more layers! Her mom was a hippie, always forgetting her, carting her around place to place, getting high-it was amazing she didn’t burn where ever they were living (as she almost does to Prudie’s house) and that Prudie even graduated anything. Her mom treats her horribly-making fun of her and her choices, calling her name as she isn’t a free-spirt like her. She ends up yelling at her mom and telling her to leave.

The dysfunction makes it so clear why she wanted to be with someone like Dean who is so normal. He is the quintessential all american boy-I bet he played football, celebrated every hoilday, had his parents come to all his games, etc. She wanted to be with him for stability, normalcy, and love.

No wonder she is all about her education and intellectualism, the way her mom treats her she probably only got validation at school and from her teachers. No wonder she became one.

It all makes sense!

Her student Trey (played by the guy who was Woody in It’s a Boy Girl Thing and Damian in Gossip Girl) starts trying to seduce her and as her husband hasn’t been treating her like she is anything special so she responds to it. It’s so painful to watch as this is the worst thing you could do right now, you need to go to therapy.

Then her mom dies and Prudie has so much guilt, unresolved anger, etc swirling around in her head. She and her husband go to the funeral and when Prudie sees a mean girl from her high school flirting with her husband she becomes more angry, hurt, and in pain.

She starts unloading on her husband, and even berates and belittles him at the library gala.

The book club ladies, “her friends”, but they don’t really care. Bernadette says poor Prudie but does she do anything, or reach out to her, or see how she is doing? Check up on her? NO and when she did try to get help from Bernadette, you saw the response.

Poor Prudie. Everything comes to a head when its her turn to share on Persuasion, and she heads out to sleep with Trey, but at the last minute changes her mind and instead decides to go home and be with her husband. This part I loved as Prudie convinces him to read Persuasion with her and he does.

The Jane Austen Book Club

And then Dean reads the rest of Jane Austen and even fanboys at the end. So romantic!

Hers storyline has some similarities to the book. Prudie is alone, like Anne is-relationship with her only remaining parent is not good at all. In the book, the Elliots have to the let the house-her father and sister leave for Bath, while Anne has to stay behind at her sisters-just like Prudie has to stay behind when her husband changes their vacation plans.

In the end both Anne and Prudie are reunited with their lost loves-Anne’s being a physical loss (he left to go in the military) and Prudie’s an emotional loss.

This Jane Austen Book Club doesn’t really make sense to me as none of these characters are really friends with each other: just three of the members (but they sure don’t act like friends should). It kind of reminded me of Daring Chloe, but that book was better as the book club members were actually friends with each other! All knew each other, cared about each other, and wanted to be there for each other!

So in conclusion:

Jocelyn- AWFUL

Sylvia- Underdevloped

Grigg- I LOVED

Bernadette- Underdeveloped and AWFUL

Allegra- Underdeveloped

Prudie- I Loved her character, poor girl

So yeah, I did NOT like this film.

Other thoughts:

Slyvia’s husband is played by Jimmy Smits, and he and the actress who played his wife Amy Brenneman were both on NYPD Blue together and their characters dated. I guess we could imagine that they both left the NYPD and moved to Sacramento where she became a librarian and he a cheating butthead.

When Prudie rails on about all the things she hates about Mansfield Park (1999) and I agree. I think that is my least favorite adaption.

That movie

What kind ofd name is Grigg? I wonder why the author picked that. Is it a family name? Did she know someone with that name? Did she make it up?

Hmmm…

There is very little Jane Austen discussed in the movie, with Northanger Abbey getting the least of all. Why is that? For a movie in which “Jane Austen” is half the title, why isn’t there more of it in there?

I hated the line ”There was something appealing in thinking of a character with a secret life that her author knew nothing about.” She wrote the character-she knows it better than you. This is something you can only get away with a dead author. If she had written that about a living author they would be so angry.

So yeah, I did not like this film. If you do I’m glad you do-but it was not for me.

For the thousandth time

For more on The Jane Austen Book Club, go to Reading One Page Turns Into the Whole Book: Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more Austen screen adaptions, go to Drive Me Crazy: Austentatious (2015)

For more Emma, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Mansfield Park, go to Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

For more Northanger Abbey, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Colonel

For more Sense and Sensibility, go to Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

For more Persuasion, go to Holiday Mix Tape

Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

So I had to take a break from finishing my review of Modesto Jane Con, as we had Valentine’s Day posts and some other things, but now I am ready to finish reviewing Modesto Jane Con.

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

I’m sad…

But then Modesto Jane Con was created!

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

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

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

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

So after Dressing the Regency Lady, we had about an hour and fifteen mins before the Mansfield Park Opera pre-show talk by Hillari DeSchane. We checked out a few things and had lunch, and then headed to the Opera.

The building was really cool as it was a classic theater showing old, foreign, & independent films that also hosts concerts & events. It has a snack bar that serves popcorn, wine, soft drinks, and espresso. I really wanted tea, but it didn’t serve any. Oh, well…

So quick review of the book, for those of you who might not have read it. Mansfield Park is the story of Fanny Price, a sweet kind girl-niece to the Bertram family, who was sent to stay with the Bertrams. Instead of being treated as family, she is seen as “lesser” because of the “bad blood” inherited from her father who her mother “married down” to.

She is particularly mistreated by her evil aunt, Mrs. Norris, and two cousins; all of which take pride in bossing her around and being as cruel as can be. Fanny is the essence of sweetness, taking this injustice in stride and trying to remain optimistic in a bad situation.

The life of the Bertrams are interrupted when a Mr. Henry Crawford and Miss Mary Crawford come to visit their half-sister Mrs. Grant. Mary is set on winning the eldest Bertram, but finds her interest captured by the younger brother, Edmund,-even though he is intent on being a minister and Mary finds religion hypocritical. Fanny has loved Edmund since she was young, but he has never thought of her in such a way and he is now completely captivated by Mary. Henry Crawford’s sole interest is to upset the apple cart by going after the Bertram sisters for sport, having no intent of being serious or facing any consequences. Will the Bertrams and Fanny survive this?

That is not good,

The Mansfield Park Opera was a part of the Story into Song Literacy Initiative and worked with a lot of literacy advocacy organizations, (such as the Becoming Jane Austen Book Club, Modesto Library, Modesto Friends of the Library, and more) and half of the cast are making their solo professional debuts. Pretty amazing!

So like when I did my Psycho (1960) review, I brought my notebook and took notes in the dark of my thoughts of the performance. Hopefully I can still read them.

So we attended the preshow with Hillari DeSchane:

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

So the program gave a copy of the full talk, but I’m not going to write it word for word. I’ll just write my notes and paraphrase a bit.

So taking a book as long and complex as Mansfield Park and cutting it down to a two-hour opera is no easy feat. Mansfield Park is a “tapestry of human emotion and psychology.” (Deschane).

In the opera they strip the book down to the central theme and a small number of characters. The story is told as a chamber opera, more intimate-like a theater in the round. The opera itself is group centered, with no arias or being solo based.

The opera also focus on the theme of “The Fall of Man” and the “Expulsion from Eden.” Mansfield Park is Eden, a paradise, and each character is tempted by their own personal snakes, with many falling victim to their pleasures and “biting the apple”.

As seen with the recent TV show Sandition, there are many who think Austen needs to be sexier and steamier but truth is-they just need to remake Mansfield Park as it has it all: gambling, drinking, seduction, adultery-just full of thse vices without modern additions.

We really see the focus of this motiff in Scene 5: Chapter Five. In the Wilderness. Here they explore Mr. Rushworth’s home in Sotherton, where they walk a “serpentine path”. Henry offers to explore with Maria Bertram while her fiance is gone, tempting her with the two being alone together, even singing “how tempting those pathways that lie hidden-how much sweeter are the joys we are forbidden.” Edmund is given the choice to wait with Fanny while she rests from the walk, or to go off with Mary alone-and he walks off with Mary forgetting all about Fanny on her own.

The ending was changed to be more happily ever after for all, (in the novel people have to face the consequences of their actions), but I didn’t mind too much.

So the ten characters we have are:

  1. Fanny Price (Alexandra Jernic)
  2. Edmund Bertram (Andrew Pardini)
  3. Mary Crawford (Angela Yam)- Professional Opera debut
  4. Henry Crawford (Emmanuel Mercado)
  5. Maria Bertram (Darby Schmidt)-Professional Opera debut
  6. Julia Bertram (Brylan Finley)- Professional Opera debut
  7. Mr. Rushworth (Luca Mitchell)- Professional Opera debut
  8. Aunt Norris (Alison Collins)
  9. Lady Bertram (Anakira Gabriella-Graça)
  10. Sir Thomas Bertram (Brad Reed)- Professional Opera debut

From The Modesto Bee. Left to Right: Lady Bertram, Sir Thomas Bertram, Fanny Price, Henry Crawford, Mary Crawford, and Edmund Bertram.

There is no Tom, although he is mentioned, and sadly no William Price who I love. Oh, well.

Sad really.

So the opera was AMAZING! As I mentioned in an earlier post the group of us who came varied in our knowledge of Mansfield Park. One book club member had never read or seen a film version of Mansfield Park (or any Jane Austen beside The Darcy Monologues), one book club member had seen the 2007 film version, my sister had seen the 2007 version and the 1999 version years ago, and I had read the book and seen the 1999 film, 2007 film, & the 1983 miniseries. However, all were able to follow the storyline and completely comprehend and bcome fully involved in the story.

We all loved the music and found everyone to be entertaining, talented, amazing, and that they completely captured the characters they were portraying.

Fanny was perfect! She had an amazing voice; along with perfect facial expressions. I’m not a big opera fan (as in I don’t watch them all the time), and this was my first time attending one, but one thing I have noticed when I’ve seen the films or clips of Operas is that they don’t always focus on the acting-more on the singing. Alexandra Jernic was spot on. The way she looked at Edward when singing, as if they were the only ones in the room. The incredible sorrow when seeing Edward and Mary together and knowing his preference for Mary over Fanny. Or the ball scene when all are happy and excited for what the night will bring, but Fanny who all this is supposed to be for her, but she is sad and alone as her love is excited to dance with another.

Mrs. Norris was just as perfect. You hated her as immediately-every time she sang and the way she acted toward Fanny, I don’t know if there has been a better one.

Mr. Rushworth was wonderful. He was kind caring, goofy, hilarious. It amazed me that he was only 18 when he was so talented.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the performance is that  each character had their own distinctive music, tone, and speed. For instance Mr. Rushworth’s was fast and quick, just like how his character spoke in the book and sang-while Henry’s music was slower, softer, more seductive.

We also loved seeing the costumes and how they looked on the performers, as in an earlier workshop we saw the swatches. We also kept an eye out for Kristine Doiel’s favorite dress of the production, 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:

But the one who stole the show for me was Angela Yam, Mary Crawford.

Every time she entered the stage all my attention went to her. She had an amazing voice and was equally amazing in her acting. One of the best scenes was when she and Edward first see each other, the way she doesn’t sing anything other than hello, but her whole body language is changed. The rest of the scene continues in the way she acts and looks. It was fantastic. That continued throughout the whole Opera as she was able to convey sooo much in her tone, a look, a motion. I was surprised this was her debut as she just blew me away. I stopped taking notes as I just wanted to enjoy her performance.

We had to leave after the opera and head home, but we did all the way humming, singing, and talking about how much we enjoyed it.

It was a wonderful experience and I am so happy to have been able to watch it. If I could have, I would have stayed the next day and watched it again.

For more on Modesto Jane Con, go to Modesto Jane Con: Looking Around the Library, Lunch, and a Crazy Random Happenstance

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

For more Mansfield Park adaptions, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

For more Hillari DeSchane, go to Modesto Jane Con: Gowns & Groans, A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage

For more Opera, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 8, Ill Repute

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

Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston & Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes & Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith from Emma in Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder,The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft and In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams And what have I thought of it so far?

This one is on Mansfield Park:

If Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are often forgotten or ignored Mansfield Park is just plain hated on. Mostly because people think Fanny is “boring” and “spineless”.

But Fanny isn’t boring or spineless. Mansfield Park is a great book and Fanny is a fantastic character! Fanny is a sweet kind girl-niece to the Bertram family, and was sent to stay with them. Instead of being treated as family, she is seen as “less” because of the “bad blood” inherited from the low class, wastrel father her mother married down to.

She is particularly mistreated by her evil aunt and two cousins; all of which take pride in bossing her around and being as cruel as can be. Fanny is the essence of sweetness, taking this injustice in stride and trying to remain optimistic in a bad situation.

The life of the Bertrams are interrupted when a Mr. Henry Crawford and Miss Mary Crawford come to visit their half-sister Mrs. Grant. Mary is set on winning the eldest Bertram, but finds her being struck by the younger. Henry’s sole purpose is to upset the apple cart by going after the Bertram sisters for fun, but having no intent of follow through. Will the Bertrams survive this?

That is not good,

So Mansfield Park is in a unique position. I believe (not quite sure as I’d have to count them) Mansfield Park has the least amount of adaptations. Besides Dangerous to Know the only one I’ve looked at are the films. And I know a lot of people like it, but I could not stand the Mansfield Park (1999) film as they had no concept of Fanny.

Did you even READ the book?!

Fanny is a hard character as society today doesn’t seem to like or encourage this type of character, but want them to be more aggressive, flashy, or loud. So I was a bit anxious, would this go well or would they fall into the same trap?

The Meaning of Wife by Brooke West

We pick up in this story at the end of Mansfield Park. Fanny turned down Henry Crawford’s proposal and was sent home to live with her family as punishment. Then Tom became sick and almost almost died. Fanny was brought back to Mansfield Park. Henry ran off with Maria Bertram-Rushworth. Mary Crawford wished Tom would have died and didn’t see the scandal of Maria and Henry as a big deal so Edmund ended everything.

A lot of people think Mansfield Park is boring but it has quite a bit of action in it. Look at that summary.

Anyways, so Fanny and the Bertrams are hanging out one morning when Tom reads a letter about a friend’s sister who is going to Europe to study philosophy. He makes a snide comment and then Edmund chimes in with a compliment to Fanny, that actually insults her. WOW!

Dude just pulled a Barney Stinson:

“The backhanded compliment is truly an art form – the best will lower the intended target’s self esteem thus making them more susceptible to the power of suggestion.”

Fanny has been crushing on Edmund for years, although I honestly don’t know why. If I had to rank my favorite Austen men, Edmund is on the bottom. I am joyful that Fanny gets her true love, but I think she could have done better.

Nope!

Anyways, Edmund looks at her with ardor and Fanny should be happy, but he completely just insulted her, again. Ugh.

Seriously stop!

Fanny shares how she would enjoy such a trip that they discussed and then Edmund says:

“The journey alone would be well beyond your capabilities.”

Ouch! This dude.

The conversation at the table made Fanny think and wonder and she takes a look at the book they were skewering, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and enjoys it.

As Fanny finishes reading, Edmund comes to talk to her. He tries to console her over her heart being broken by Henry. Ugh, men. He won’t listen that she isn’t heartbroken.

But ugh, he won’t listen. He goes on for a while, talks about Mary who he has been mooning over, and then proposes.

He’s been my least favorite and West made him even more so.

Ugh!

So then the story takes a twist. Fanny refuses him!

But I wasn’t upset with this twist. West did this really well as Fanny considers whether or not this will be the best choice as does Edmund really know her? Does he really care about her? Or is she his rebound from Mary. I love how she has Fanny wanting to say yes, the thing she has wished for her whole life is in her grasp, but is it what she really wants?

Hmm…

This is where I was hooked in. I LOVED it. We have Fanny considering is this is what she wants? Will this lead to happiness or a marriage like her mother and aunts have? Could she be happy with Edmund? Should she search for happiness in another person? What does she want to do with her life?

West has set the standard really high for any Mansfield Park adaptations. She really captured the character of Fanny, put her own twist on it, showed how she was the powerful character she is without ripping off Elizabeth or changing her complete personality.

And the ending was so cute. You’ve got to read it. I actually liked Edmund and Fanny together and this whole story made me like him more. We don’t really see Edmund romantically in love with Fanny:

“I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that every one may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people. I only entreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny as Fanny herself could desire.”

-Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

So it was cute to see him actually romantic. So adorable.

“If an idea takes root in your mind and you find merit in it, then I am persuaded that idea too, is moral and right. Your endorsement is all I need.’ He [Edmund] set his book aside and took her hands in his. ‘You are all I need.”

Brooke West, The Meaning of Wife

For more by Brooke West, go to “Last Letter to Mansfield” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

For more on Fanny Price, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

What Strange Creatures by Jenetta James

Mary is living with her uncle, the Admiral. He is a cruel, horrid man and it has become more unbearable living with him since her aunt passed away. Anyways, it seems to be an ordinary day, until a magistrate from Bow Street, Mr. James Hunter, comes calling about her missing friend, Miss Verity Stanhope.

Gone Girl

Mary just laughs it off thinking that she probably ran off with some guy. She thinks they eloped and will be back, or took off and now have to elope. But Mr. Hunter assures her that this isn’t a “normal” disappearance. She is the third in a serial kidnapping.

What? A mystery? And a Jane Austen mystery?? You know me…

Mystery, you say?

So where will this story take us? Is she going to become a super sleuth? Will she solve the mystery? Could it be someone she knows? Henry? Her uncle, the admiral? A new character? I’m invested.

Ready for any case

He questions her, but there is no new information regarding her missing friend. Although Henry did leave early. And Verity always liked him. Hmmm….

Hmmm…

No, he has an alibi. It is clearly not him.

Mary keeps trying to shrug it off as an elopement as Verity was having a fortune coming her way, but Mr Hunter is not convinced. The two share a brief flirtation, and he is gone. A brief flirtation is all it could be as Mr. Hunter isn’t the type of man Mary is after.

The next morning Mary is at home with the Admiral, ugh. Things are harder with him now that her aunt has passed and Henry is away. She tells him about an invite they received, but he declines as he will be out. He always does that sort of thing, could he be up to something nefarious? Such as…kidnapping?

Hmmm

The admiral doesn’t care about her or what she does, she can go to the party by herself. And he doesn’t care about this Verity business, as he sees her as just a dumb female.

This guy!

Mary tries to stay away from the idea that it is more than just an elopement, but Mr. Hunter’s words keep coming back. She goes shopping and is enjoying herself, but then thinks how can she be happy and go out when something horrible could be happening to her friend?

“The loss of a person one loves, however so occasioned, can draw a line through happiness as surely as any of life’s misfortunes.”

She continues on her way and then she notices a carriage, it seems that wherever she goes the carriage follows. She goes, it goes. She stops, it stops.

She starts to become alarmed and wants to go into a shop when someone comes out…Mr. Hunter?

Huh?

He followed her?! Is he the kidnapper?

Yes, he followed her, but just because he was worried maybe she could be next. He wasn’t going to say anything, but she was about to go into the shop of Madam Villechamp, a place where all the women who disappeared went into before they vanished.

Mary never would have gone in there, (except she was being followed), as her aunt always forbid her. Her aunt didn’t like the shop. But Mary must know what is going on and so she makes an appointment. She goes to check it out and when the assistant is out of the room she starts investigating.

She goes through the correspondence and writings There she finds a letter from her uncle! Her uncle’s mistress is Madame Villechamp! And he wants her to move in with him.

She runs to Bow Street and talks to Mr. Hunter, and finds out that Verity was found, it was an elopement. Mary talks with him and leaves to start a new life, going to visit Mrs. Grant and entering the Bertram’s lives.

So…what about the missing women? Their disappearances? Serial kidnapper? What happened? I wanted to solve the mystery.

But that aside, I think Mary was very well-written and I liked how they showed her character. And I enjoyed the view into her dysfunctional family as it really does give a great view into their dynamic.

For more by Jenetta James, go to “The Lost Chapter in the Life of William Elliot” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE

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

These stories were really great, even though I didn’t get to fully utilize my detecting skills.

Next time…it has been a while since a Bebris mystery.

 So we have had nine incredible stories. Will the next ones be just as good? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Mansfield Park, go to Once Upon a Time There Were Three Sisters…

For more Austen book reviews, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

Once Upon a Time There Were Three Sisters…

So I was trying to figure out how to review the beginning of Mansfield Park as it is a little different from her other books. It is more like Sense and Sensibility with a bit of a backstory on the three sisters, Fanny’s mom and aunts.

Hmm…

The more I thought of it, the more it made me think of a fairy tale opening, I mean you have three sisters that only one marries well-it kind of made me think of the folktale The Three Sisters, Cinderella, One Eyes, Two Eyes, and Three Eyes, etc. So that is how I am going to treat this-like a fairy tale.

Our story starts many years ago (thirty to be exact): Once upon a time there were three beautiful girls: a Miss Ward, a Miss Maria Ward, and a Miss Frances Ward. These ladies were lovely, but unfortunately:

The second sister married first, and had the extreme luck to catch the eye of a Baronet, Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park. The two married and she became Lady Maria Bertram.

Lady Bertram exalted in her success, a lady! Such an elevated status was a beautiful thing to behold!

Her family were in sweet felicitations over the event as well, especially her older and younger sister who hoped that such a marriage would also give them their own happily ever after. Unfortunately, this is not that type of story.

The other two of these sisters were so unlucky that nothing ever succeeded with them, the eldest, Miss Ward, after six years was finally able to win a husband, a Reverend Norris. He was friend of her brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Bertram, and having no fortune, Sir Thomas kindly bestowed the living and parsonage of Mansfield-so that this sister was cared for all her life.

The youngest sister, no less pretty, had the worse luck of all. She married a “lieutenant of marines, without education, fortune, or connexions[sic],” and became Mrs. Price.

Sir Thomas would have easily done all he could to have helped his brother-in-law (as pride made him wish all in connection to him were of an upstanding position), although his profession was something that he had no easy hand involved in.

But alas, before any such things could have been put into motion, a terrible and destructive row was set up betwixt the sisters. The eldest sister had a thorny heart and her temper was not easily assuaged. She immediately sent forth the most powerful soldier in her arsenal-an angry letter. Lady Bertram thought no longer of her sister-out of sight out of mind-except that Mrs. Price was spurned on by the missile and fired off one of her own.

And as it goes, the sisters were locked in bitterness and the bonds broken betwixt them.

Eleven years passed by and the Prices went further and further into poverty. The Prices had fallen into such poverty that Mrs. Price was faced with the decision of whether to swallow her pride or continue the separation.

Mrs. Price had lived a disheartening and dark life. “A large and still increasing family, an[sic] husband disabled for active service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very small income to supply their wants…” With every passing day she grew more unsure what to do next, how to survive.

She became pregnant with her ninth child, and with this child was born a renewed hope, and she sent a missive to Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, full of “contrition and despondence, such a superfluity of children, and such a want of almost everything else, as could not but dispose them all to a reconciliation.”

Mrs. Price hoped and prayed they would take one of her sons, any of them and raise them in a wonderful fashion. But instead the choose the eldest girl?

The eldest girl, Fanny, was a lovely and sweet-natured girl. Kind, humble, quiet. Mrs. Price was puzzled at first as why they choose her, but eagerly sent the child on her way.

The new child was quiet, scared, unsure. She would often tuck herself away in the chimney corner to sit quietly.

Her two eldest cousins, Tom and Edmund, were seventeen and sixteen. Tom, the eldest, ignored her, while Edmund looked upon her kindly as any sixteen year-old would look upon a ten year old. The two younger, female cousins were a different story. Maria, thirteen, and Julia, twelve, did everything that they could to make her unhappy. The poor girl, Fanny, bore everything patiently and dared not complain to any.

For more Fanny Price, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

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

 

Mad about Mansfield Park

So back in 2013 I had this idea that I would reread all the Austen novels, starting with Pride and Prejudice as it was turning 200. I thought it would take me only like a year to read through each one, writing a post on any little thing or thought that came to mind while writing. In my timeline, I’d be halfway through Persuasion. 

Uh, yeah. It didn’t happen. Life got in the way.

So then I adapted. Instead I would do the first four chapters of Pride and Prejudice, then Sense and Sensibility, then Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. 

Great idea!

I finished up Pride & Prejudice in November 2014, and then moved onto the first four chapters of Sense and Sensibility  in December 2014.

I finished up the four chapters in March 2015 and then moved onto Emma, skipping Mansfield Park (sorry), as it was Emma’s 200th year.

I’m just burning through

Then that’s where we ran through another snafu. Life got in the way and I am still currently finishing up the first four chapters of Emma. 

Oh no!

Yes, problems arose last year-the 100th anniversary of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I took a break from Emma to work on Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I planned to work on both throughout the year. Great plan, right?

Yeah, that didn’t work out either.

Oops!

So this year, I was little lost and decided why not do all three? I’ll be doing the first four chapters of Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, instead of making them wait.

But then I started thinking about Mansfield Park. Poor Mansfield Park, you’ve become like your main character Fanny Price-forgotten, ignored, seen as not as important, witty, or powerful. Poor little Mansfield Park.

And I decided that I am going to throw it into the mix as well. Yep, all four books out at once!

Yes, Lady Catherine be darned-this stubborn gal has them all out at once!

So thanks for putting up with my lengthy intro, now onto the (mostly) serious part. Mansfield Park like Northanger Abbey gets very little love. Mostly because people think Fanny is “boring” and “spineless”.

But Fanny isn’t boring or spineless. Mansfield Park is a great book and Fanny is a fantastic character! Fanny is a sweet kind girl-niece to the Bertram family, and was sent to stay with them. Instead of being treated as family, she is seen as “less” because of the “bad blood” inherited from the low class, wastrel father her mother married down to.

She is particularly mistreated by her evil aunt and two cousins; all of which take pride in bossing her around and being as cruel as can be. Fanny is the essence of sweetness, taking this injustice in stride and trying to remain optimistic in a bad situation.

While she is humble and kind, she is not timid or spineless. When push comes to shove, she can out-stubborn Elizabeth Bennet.

So if you haven’t read it, I would start reading it-you won’t be sorry.

Or you can follow me as I journey through Mansfield Park and the books/films based on it.

Books:

The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair) (Mr. &  Mrs. Darcy #4) by Carrie Bebris

Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE edited by Christina Boyd

Mansfield Park Cloth Book by Little Literary Classics
Edmund Bertram’s Diary (Jane Austen Heroes #4) by Amanda Grange

Mansfield Ranch (The Jane Austen Diaries #5) by Jenni James

My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones

Fanny Price, Slayer of Vampires by Tara O’Donnell & Stephanie O’Donnell

Mansfield Park and Mummies: Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses, True Love, and Other Dire Delights (Supernatural Jane Austen Series #1) by Vera Nazarian & Jane Austen

Central Park (Austen Series #3) by Debra White Smith

 

Movies:

Anna Karenina (1948)

Mansfield Park (1983)

Mansfield Park (1999)

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Mansfield Park (2007)

 

Other:

From Mansfield With Love (2014)

Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

If you have noticed the lack of Mansfield Park gifs, memes, images, etc.-it’s hard to find them. I wasn’t kidding when I said the world treats it like how the Bertram’s treated Fanny.

Sad really.

For more on Mansfield Park, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

For more Fanny Price, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Stardust (2007)

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.

I can’t stop watching!

Here we go with:

I lOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOve this movie!

So years ago my friend and I were having a hunk-a-thon, a movie marathon with films that had men we found attractive in it. We used to do this every three or four months.

Squee! I loved it!

I remember that my friend Anne had brought this and wanted to watch it. I wasn’t feeling it as I wanted to watch another movie, but it was her turn to choose, so we did and I straight up loved it! She fell asleep as she had seen it before, while I wanted to watch every minute.

I love it so much I will watch this film over and over again.

I loved it so much that of course I wanted to read the book…and I did. Let me say that this is a statement I rarely ever, ever say: The movie was way better.

I know, the world must be ending again.

Anyways…let’s get back to the plot synopsis.

There is a small village called Wall that resides next to an ancient wall. No one knows why it was built, who built it, or why they are supposed to keep people from crossing it. On one side of the wall is the village, and the other is a field.

A long time ago there was a break in the wall, and as long as they can remember there was a guard there to keep people from crossing it. One young man, Dunstan Thorn, has been very curious and decides to vault over there.

When he does he finds himself in a magical world. There is a market by the wall, and Dunstan stops at a caravan which houses a beautiful woman, Una (Kate Magowan), an enslaved princess. She is trapped by witch Ditchwater Sal and can’t be free until the witch dies.

That’s my life. 😦

She offers the wares, and sells Dunstan a snowdrop flower for a kiss. The snowdrop is a very special enchanted flower that offers protection to the owner. She invites him into the caravan, and after Dunstan returns home.

Dunstan tries to get over the wall again, but the spry wall guard will not allow it. He thinks that is all, until nine months later a baby is left at the wall with a candle, a note for Dunstan, an a note for the boy, Tristan.

Oh…

Years pass and Tristan is a young man and played by the very handsome Charlie Cox, also known as Daredevil.

Tristan is just an average boy, with an average life. His father is a farmer and he works in a shop. He is in love with the town beauty, Victoria, but she isn’t interested. She wants Humphrey, who has money.

I’m on the Tristan side as I find Cox attractive and love that name.

He loses his job at the shop for being more focused on Victoria. He feels out of sorts, but his dad encourages him and he surprises Victoria with an amazing picnic and watch a falling star. He tries to woo her and Victoria tells him that he has a week-until her birthday-to get her that star or she will marry Humphrey.

Now in the magical land on the other side of the wall, Stormhold, the King is dying. He had seven sons and one daughter. There is a fierce competition for the throne-although three of the sons have been murdered, the sister has vanished, and one is pushed out the window-leaving three left. A male heir must take the throne and to decide who will inherit the king throws his priceless ruby into the sky-knocking a star down (the one Tristan and Victoria saw)-and whoever finds it will be the next king. Another brother is disposed of and we are left with only two- Primus and Septimus (Mark Strong)-both searching for the jewel.

Mark Strong, you say?

Meanwhile, the falling star awakens the three witch Queens-Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), Mormo, and Empusa. They need the star’s heart in order to maintain immortality. Lamia eats the remaining part of a former heart, giving her some youth and power, and she sets off to find the new star.

Meanwhile, Tristan wants to get over the wall, but the wall guard won’t let him and beats him up. When he gets home his father sees him and after they talk, decides to reveal his true parentage. Tristan reads his note and that his mother wanted to keep him but was unable to. She gifted him with a Babylon Candle, that will send the owner anywhere they think of when they light it. She tells Tristan he is the only one who can save her and tells him to light it and think of her and nothing else.

Tristan does, but instead of his mother ends up on top of Yvaine (Claire Danes), the star. Yes, when a star is knocked out of the sky it becomes a human form. It turns out Tristan was thinking of Victoria and went to the star instead.

He chains Yvaine to himself and prepares to take her to Victoria, promising that if she goes with him to win his true love, he will give her the rest of the babylon candle and she can return to the sky.

As they go along, the brothers are also searching and plotting against each other. Meanwhile, Lamia, prepares a trap for the star.

That is not good,

Tristan and Yvaine are separated when she can no longer walk on, and Tristan goes in search of how far the next town is and falls asleep. A unicorn comes to help Yvaine, but instead goes right into the trap that Lamia has set up-a fake inn. There she gives Yvaine a bath to refresh her as she sees a happy, glowing star.

The forest wakes Tristan and warn him that something bad will happen to Yvaine. He wakes up and catches a ride with Piramus, who is still searching for the ruby.

They manage to get to the inn before Lamia puts her plan into action. Although, Piramus isn’t so lucky-he gets his throat cut.

Ouch

Tristan pulls out the Babylon candle and tells Yvaine to think of home, he thinking of Wall-she thinking of space, and they end up in the middle-the sky!

There they get picked up by Captain Shakespeare and his lightening pirates. Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro) is known throughout the land to be fierce, strong ruthless, and has a dreadful reputation.

It turns out that Captain Shakespeare isn’t as bad as he seems. He is fun, loves England (named himself Shakespeare after the author), ballet, music, clothes, etc. He “kills” Tristan to protect his reputation and then gives him a fierce makeover (sorry I have been watching a lot of America’s Next Top Model). And teaches him to sword fight, dance, etc.

He takes them to as close as he can and gives Tristan some advice to not pass over Yvaine. They continue to the Wall, but will Tristan continue on his quest to give a jerk not worthy of his time something priceless? Will he ever find his mother? Will Yvaine get her true love and find her home? Who will be King? And will they outsmart the witches, or Yvaine be on the menu?

Hmm…

So an AMAZING!!!!! AMAZING!!! AMAZING film!!! I LOVE it.

So what makes it something an Austen fan will love?

Hmmm…

So the first thing that kept popping in my head when they spoke about Tristan was that he was a lot like Catherine Morland. Both growing up in okay families, seen as ordinary and average-nothing special.

“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.”

But Catherine ends up being whisked away to the big city, has two men after her, goes to a mysterious abbey, etc. Tristan has to fight witches, get kidnapped by pirates, outwits princes, etc.

Catherine is also like Yvanie. Both are dreamers wanting more. Catherine a reader-reading romances and dreaming about them. Tristian dreams about adventure as well. And both find themselves smack dab in the middle of a romantic adventure with gothic elements.

Yvaine: You know, it’s funny. I used to watch… I used to watch people having adventures. I envied them.

Tristan: You ever heard the expression “Be careful of what you wish for”?

Yvaine: What, so ending up with my heart cut out – that will serve me right?

Tristan: No, I didn’t mean it like that. Look, I admire you dreaming. A shop boy like me… I could never have imagined an adventure this big in order to wish for it. I just thought I’d find some lump of celestial rock, take it home and that would be it.

Yvaine: And you got me. [they both begin to laughIf there’s one thing I’ve learned about all my years watching Earth, is that people aren’t what they may seem. There are shop boys, and there are boys who just happen to work in a shop for the time being. And trust me Tristan, you’re no shop boy. You saved my life. Thank you.

And then there is Victoria.

Ugh!

Victoria is the girl that Tristan likes and wants to win her heart, but she doesn’t care about him. She is just interested in money and wants Humphrey as he has it. She plays around with Tistian’s feelings, enjoying how he does things for her, let’s her cut in line at the shop, gets Champagne, etc. She reminds me of Mary Crawford and Mr. Wickham with their search for a wealthy partner to take care of them; along with being like Mr. Wickham and Frank Churchill in how she flirts, teases, and plays on other’s affections-when she has no intention of being with them at all. Frank just messes around with Emma, and Wickham toys with Lydia and Elizabeth.

And of course, Mark Strong is in it. Mark Strong played Mr. Knightley in Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version.

Mark Strong, you say?

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

For more Neil Gaiman, go to Heaven on Earth: 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

For more Charlie Cox, go to Old Fandoms and New Fancies

For more Mark Strong, go to Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

For more Jane Austen film/TV, go to I’ll Be Watching You: Austentatious (2015)

Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

So first of all:

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

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

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

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

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

Yay!!!

And you know me and Jane Austen stuff:

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

Hmmm

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

WHAT!!!!!!

Huh?

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

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

Now! Or in 4-6 weeks.

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

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

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

Please, please, please…

And it finally arrived on April 21st!

So I opened it out and saw the fabric:

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

What am I going to do???

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

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

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

Here are a few squares:

So I do not sew at all:

And I was suffering from a sinus infection…

So my mom went to work:

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

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

So my mom embroidered a flower over the spot.

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

The finished product:

So what did I think?

Hmmm…

I loved it!

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

I really want all of them:

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

Hmm…

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

Moreland APPROVED!

To purchase your own, click here.

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

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

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

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

For more sewing, go to The Conscripted Seamstress