Tossing a Costume Together + Regency Runway

So this is the last of the Modesto Jane Con posts…

I know, I’m sad it is over too. I miss Jane Con.

Life seems grey…

So quick review, (just in case this is your first post). 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.

But then Modesto Jane Con was created! And with Modesto not being too far and this only costing $30, I was going!

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

Wow!

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).

So I saw the ad on instagram in July and convinced my book club + my sister to join me. As it was way off in January, I knew I had plenty of time to get a costume together. I was going to have Madsen Creations make one for me, but saw no rush as I had plenty of time.

Well, time went by and in October, I thought maybe should I order my Jane Austen outfit? But Madsen Creations was moving, and I decided to wait. After all I had three months, that was plenty of time.

Yes-October flew by to November, November to December, and next thing I know it was December 30th, Jane Con was next weekend, and due to a unforeseen Cat health emergency-I didn’t have the money. What was I going to do?

I then had the idea, what if we decorated shirts with quotes or fun Jane Austen sayings?

But then time slipped away. And Modesto Jane Con was the next day. I then came up with the idea-what if we did Jane Austen in another time period? Like in The Darcy Monologues? I could be Elizabeth in the Wild West like in “Pemberley By Stage by Natalie Richards!

Or 1960s Elizabeth from “You Don’t Know Me” by Beau North.

How cute is Tippi Hedrun’s outfit in this? I love it.

But was vetoed by my mom and sister, who both said no one would know who I was and thought me walking around with the book and explaining it wasn’t the best idea. I just resolved to wear something nice when my sister said to check out the costume box for my Charles Dicken’s Day dress.

So back in 8th grade my school used to do Dicken’s Day. Everyone had to dress up in historical costume, we had to sign up to bring a historical meal, decorate the Youth Hall across the street in Victorian Christmas Decorations, have a “secret santa” we made a historical gift for, etc. We usually had some kind of performance related to Charles Dickens, whether it was a play, brief performance, songs, etc. I loved it as I love Charles Dickens.

So I needed a dress and my mom was going to make it. We went to Joann‘s, but it turned out they didn’t have the pattern we needed.

(This was back in 2005.) So instead of having a Victorian costume, we had to go with a Colonial pattern that had American Revolution style costumes (late 1700s).

I tried!

I didn’t even think it would fit, but was surprised it did! It wasn’t accurate-neckline wrong, waist, etc. (you can read more on how it should be in Dressing the Regency Lady). We ended up joking that I was a poor relation returned from America, that had to wear out of date clothing since I was out West and we didn’t have enough supplies in the colonies to be on the height of fashion.

I wasn’t sure if we would be spending time outside or not, and decided to wear tights and leggings, as I read online that the best way for Regency women to stay warm in the winter is layers and thicker material of clothing. I wanted to wear my boots, but thought my Vikings-inspired fur boots would be too much. (You ever watch that movie Vikings? It is an interesting story), and went with suede lace up oxford shoes instead. I then decided to top it with my capelet I won from MadsenCreations:

The hair was hard as I got up extra early and tried, but could not get it how I wanted. That’s one thing I wished we still had, maids to do hair for you-as I don’t know about you all, but my hair has a mind of its own.

After failing again and again, I decided to go with Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park (2007) as not only would I be matching the Opera, but I owned a straw hat.

I have to say, I may not have been accurate, but I was very pleased that I was able to throw something together so quickly.

I borrowed a reticule from MadsenCreations, grabbed a few essentials-and we were on our way!

On our way!

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.

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.

During intermission, they decided to hold a Regency Fashion show and contest. Now I knew I had zero chance of winning. During the first workshop, Gowns and Groans, I noticed two ladies down the row who were in perfect Regency clothes they had made themselves.

I knew they were probably going to win. But I wanted to join in anyway.

I tried!

Right at intermission I got in line and we waited a while for the other ladies. Unfortunately,  a lot of ladies went straight to the restroom and got caught in the long line to use the restroom (there was only two stalls) or get snacks. I enjoyed the wait for the contest (and didn’t mind the bathroom one too much) as I spent that time talking to other Janeites. There are no words to describe being with other fans.

And we spent the time waiting, talking about Jane Con and Jane Austen.

Everyone I spoke to loved Modesto Jane Con. Some had planned to come, some where in the area, and some just spotted it on social media and decided to attend on a whim.

I ended up being the first in line for the fashion show, but I wish I had waited. I had no clue what I was supposed to do-while the other ladies had more time to think and copy the spin I did and show their outfits off more. I didn’t win (one of the ladies I thought would win did), but I had a whole lot of fun. So did all the other ladies who I spoke to. It was nice that we all got acclaim for our efforts, even if we didn’t win first prize.

They also gave a prize to a woman who dressed up as Steampunk Elizabth Bennet. It was very cool.

Like every other part of Jane Austen, I had a ton of fun, enjoyed every minute, and can’t wait until next year!

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

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

For more fashion, go to A Fashion Statement

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

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

Anna Karenina Made Me View Maria Bertram-Rushworth and Mary Crawford Differently

So my second year in college I took a history class, History 202-16th Century to Modern times, with a Professor O’Malley. Professor O’Malley loved Russian history, and that was his forté, so we spent a lot of class discussing Russia, reading Russian novels, and watched a Russian film.

Hmm…

One thing Professor O’Malley would say is that (and I’m paraphrasing)

“Russian stories are not like Jane Austen. They all end sadly. Austen would have figured out a way to make it be happily-ever-after.”

Now whether or not you or I agree with that statement (feel free to comment below what you think about it)-two things have always stuck with mew. 1) Professor O’Malley either read or watched an Austen book or movie (or read about her work) and 2) every time I read or watch a Russian novel or film-I always think is this like Jane Austen or the opposite of her?

Hmmm…

I have never read the book Anna Karenina, but it is on my to-read list. I haven’t gotten to it yet because it is a gigantic book and I know that with the Russian literature the characters use multiple names, so confusing, so I’ve just stalled from it.

I have always wanted to see the film though-the 1948 Vivian Leigh one. I cannot stand Keira Knightley and will avoid her films as much as possible because I think she is a horrible actor.

As an actress not a person.

So even though Mr. O’Malley didn’t think that Russian literature had anything to do with Jane Austen-when I was watching Anna Karenina (1948) all I could think of was Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.

Hmmm

Anna Karenina was published as a serial from 1873-77 by Leo Tolstoy-it is divided into eight parts and has over a dozen major characters. In my opinion, what it boils down to is the story lines of two characters-Anna Karenina and Konstantin “Kostya” Dmitrievich Lëvin/Lyovin. The movie doesn’t really showcase the second character, so I’m going to focus on the former, as the movie does.

Countess Anna Arkadyevna Karenina is one of the most beautiful women in Russia. The book and film, starts with her heading to St. Petersburg to visit with her brother, Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky, who’s affair with his children’s governess has been discovered. When traveling she visits with Countess Vronskaya and talk about their sons-showing pictures. Countess tells Anna how his son is supposedly engaged, but she doesn’t believe the womanizing man is ready to settle down-she sees it in “his eyes”.

He’s a bad boy-womanizer

When the train stops, Anna meets Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. She is nice and goes off with her brother-but the Count is struck by her and that’s it. He is set on going after her.

I want her!

Anna helps with her brother’s marital problems, ironing everything out, and encourages her sister-in-law, Princess Ekaterina “Kitty” Alexandrovna Shcherbatskay, fiancé to Count Vronsky. They go to a ball and the Count completely ignores Kitty telling her “I didn’t see you” when she is right next to him.

Way harsh,

He pays attention all night to Anna. Anna enjoys it because her husband is too busy for her, too busy caring for Russia as he is an important politician. But after the ball, she heads home as she knows Vronsky’s attentions are wrong (and too tempting) and she’s sad she hurt Kitty.

Vronsky follows Anna on the train and from then on pursues her nonstop. We see that Anna has had a good life. She married a wealthy and powerful man for security-but he doesn’t give her any attention. All she wants is for his focus, for him to take her to the opera-but he’s made other plans with state officials.

She goes on her own-where her “shadow” as everyone calls it-Count Vrosky, is there. She succumbs to him.

Anna Karenina: If you have any thought for me you will give me back my peace!

Count Vronsky: There can be no peace for us, only misery, and the greatest happiness.

Dude, she asked you to leave her alone, SO LEAVE HER ALONE!

Ugh, this guy!

They begin an affair, which no one cares about her stepping out (as all do it in society) except that Anna doesn’t hide it. In fact, she and Vronsky want to run off and get married, but her husband, Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, won’t divorce her.

This space between them has been in the beginning of the movie and continues.

Anna grows extremely ill and almost dies (in the book it is from a rough pregnancy, in the film they make it more nerves related). Count Alexei forgives her, and wants to stay with her-realizing that she is a real person and he loves her.

But it is too late for Anna, who leaves him and she and Vronsky end up in Italy. They grow uhappy as Anna is separate from her son, never able to see him again, and can not go out in society.

When they return to Russia-Vronsky can go out to parties, the opera, even has a princess wanting to marry him-but Anna is stuck at home. She is the one that made all the sacrifices to be together and is trapped in the cell she created as she is a marked woman, the scarlet letter A is metaphorically burned into her forehead.

She grows more agitated and crazed and upset-trapped in the house and the bad decision she made. In the end she kills herself by jumping in front of a train.

Nooooooooooooooo

Yes, it is very sad.

I’m going to hide under the covers with my ice cream

So how does it make me think of Mansfield’s Park‘s Maria and Mary?

Hmmm

Well in Mansfield Park, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry visit the Bertram home. Mary originally decides to go after the eldest brother, but falls for the second son, Edmund. Her brother isn’t set on anyone, but flirts with Mary and Julia Bertram, even though Maria is engaged.

Devilish grin must stay grinning…

Later, Henry goes after Mary’s cousin Fanny Price, but she turns him down. He runs into the married Maria and the two run off together, but do not marry. For Henry he is disheartened to lose Fanny, but it hasn’t really hurt him. Yeah people will talk, but it will blow over in time. He’ll have lots of women after him to marry.

It’s no big deal

But the women, are not so lucky.

Both Maria and Mary are very damaged from the dalliance. Maria ends up divorced and living with her single aunt, kicked out of society, estranged from the rest of her family, never to be married again or have any children. Her life is pretty much over. Mary loses the man she is in love with and it isn’t certain she will recover from this. Unfortunately, Mary’s reputation is tied to her brother and severely damaged.

So unlike Anna, I really do not like Maria at all. She is mean, rude, cruel, a total jerk-so when she everything goes down, I have to admit, I feel very much like “Just desserts” was served.

Sucks to be you

However, after watching this I started thinking of her different-I still don’t like her, but I viewed her differently.

Hmm…

So Anna married an older, wealthy, powerful man. It may have been for wealth, security, power, a family alliance-we don’t quite know. We do know that it isn’t for love as she says she’s never been in love until Vronsky. Now Count Alexei isn’t a bad man, just too focused on himself and Russia. He reminds me of Torvald Helmer in a Doll’s House, and how he never viewed his wife as a person but an object, his doll. Count Alexe doesn’t think he needs to give Anna any attention, as she is already a part of his collection. He never thinks of her as a real woman with needs, emotions, desires, until she almost does and realizes that he could lose her.

Anna could have lived a good life with him, maybe not an extremely happy life, or romantic one, but a good one. The Count is a bit narcissistic, but it could have worked out. The same is true with Maria. Now we know that Maria choose Mr. Rushworth him for his wealth and power, there was no love on her side, just £12,000 a year (making him the wealthiest character in any Jane Austen novel).

And the same would have been for her. Maria wouldn’t have had a perfect, or romantic, or completely happy life-but she would have had a good one. She had her home, friends, society, and eventually children. Both women would have had good marriages if they continued.

Unfortunately, each has a man come waltzing in who doesn’t care and won’t leave them alone. Now Anna does the right thing and tries to leave. She doesn’t want to go down that path. Maria on the other had, she enjoys it and encourages it (that’s another reason I don’t like her).

But the thing that really bothered me was the men. I mean we don’t see it in Mansfield Park as much because the story is not focused on Maria as Fanny is away from her. But in Anna Karenina we see how awfully she is treated. She’s ruined in society, she can’t go anywhere, she becomes trapped in the house-and the Count he no longer loves her.

WHAT!!!!

Yes, the Count wanted her when she was beautiful, the belle of the ball, the one everyone desired.

But after, when more problems arose than were solved, when his happiness was not achieved by a person, he begins to resent her. He hates being trapped in the house and as he is a man, the scandal just rolls off his back and he can move forward and date a princess! He doesn’t get why she is so upset about how she is being treated, he doesn’t understand her loss of her child, her fear of losing him and being alone, etc. And he’s basically like “girl why you mad, you shouldn’t be upset.”

Ugh!

The same is with Henry Crawford, like Maria we don’t see everything that happens to him, but we know all he has to do is go into the country for a bit, and then he can be back and out in society. He’s not going to be seared with the “red letter”, be estranged from his family (his uncle probably loved it), never get married (unless it is by choice), never have children (unless by choice), etc.

Me with Henry Crawford and Vronsky.

So while watching Anna Karenina didn’t make me like Maria and Mary better, but it did make me feel sorry for them that they receive the brunt of the outfall of the affair while the men get to take off and live their lives.

It also makes so angry that these men pursued these women when they were off limits.

True Henry was only doing it for fun-but still. These men did that knowing that nothing could happen to them, and doing their best seduction to trap them.

You jerks!

Ugh, after watching this I hate Vronksky and Henry even more than before.

I kind of debated adding this to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, but I wasn’t sure. It is such a sad movie-and so sad what happens to her-I don’t know if I would recommend it. I might put it on the Mansfield Park page though.

Hmm…

And in conclusion, Professor O’Malley you are wrong. Jane Austen and Russian stories are similar-and Jane Austen doesn’t end happily-ever-after for everyone.

For more Mansfield Park, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

For more Maria Bertram, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more Mary Crawford, go to The Heartbreak Kid

For more Henry Crawford, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

The Heartbreak Kid

So I wrote this post years ago, but didn’t post it as I don’t like to write about my friends on my blog-only me. However, as I was going through them I came through this and looked it over again.

Hmmm….

Now it has been years since Eliot and I have talked. He stopped responding to any of my texts, or cards, or etc. I think the last time we had a conversation was in 2013. So I don’t feel too bad about sharing this now, especially as I have changed the name. Hopefully if we become friends again he won’t be mad about this. We’ll see…

I haven’t changed anything, but kept it all the same.

Edmund Bertram:

Scenario One

Edmund Bertram (1999)

1) Edmund and Mary

-Eliot and Carrie

-Eliot and Liz

-Eliot and Chastity

Why is it that really nice people are always attracted to the wrong kinds of people?

The one thing that always bugged me about Edmund Bertram’s character in Mansfield Park is how stupid he acts with Mary. Why is he so dumb and naive around her? Many of my friends feel I am too hard on Edmund, but when all of Jane Austen’s other heroes are so perfect, it can be hard to adore one who has such an achilles heel.

However, I am getting too far ahead of myself.

In Mansfield Park, Edmund is the younger brother. He is very smart and responsible. His older brother Tom, is supposed to inherit everything, and run the household in his father’s absence, but instead takes off to London to “enjoy” the “good times” that go on there; and Edmund steps up to the plate. At this time, Henry and Mary Crawford come to visit the family; Mary having set her sights on the eldest son to ensure a title and money; and Henry to play around with the Bertram girls. With Tom gone, Mary spends a lot of time with Edmund. She likes things about him and Edmund falls for her.

There is only one problem; Mary hates church, clergyman, and says she will never marry one. She tries to convince Edmund to change his profession, and he is stupidly convinced that she will come around and became a minister’s wife. Edmund sees more in her than is really there. Mary cares only for material goods and being high in society while Edmund has a higher consciousness. Edmund only realizes how wrong he is when:

  1. Mary tells Edmund how great it would be if Tom died (at this point in the story Tom had grown quite ill and was at death’s door), and he could inherit everything, and not become a minister
  2. She doesn’t care that her brother and Edmund’s sister Maria committed adultery, but that they were caught. She feels there was nothing wrong with it as long as no one found out.
  3. Her biggest regret about Maria and Henry is that is ruins her chances in moving up in society

It is then that Edmund finally realizes they have a completely different set of morals and values and could never be together.

Seriously

The thing that bugs me about Edmund is how long it took him to realize this! I mean she tells you point blank that she will not marry a clergyman. Why can’t you believe that? Why must you torture yourself believing that you can fix her! Why, why, why? Unfortunately this often happens in the real world. We care for people so we become blind to their faults.

I have a friend Eliot, who is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. He is sweet, gentle, patient, understanding, etc. He is the type of guy who has no enemies. He has the worst luck with women. It’s REALLY bad! You think someone that nice, would be able to find a worthwhile person, especially since they have so much to offer, but alas he doesn’t.

So first Eliot started dating this girl Carrie. I hated Carrie! She and I were enemies!

She had made it her personal vendetta to be rude and snide to me. And, if one is mean to me I usually reciprocate the same attitude back.

She was an awful person, and completely wrong for Eliot! She started dating Eliot and really yanked him around. He really cared about her, but she just busted him in two. She cheated on him with another guy and left him heartbroken.

Now like Fanny tries to warn Edmund, I tried to warn Eliot. I let him know that Carrie was not the right person for him, but like Fanny, I was dissed and dismissed. Instead, he was convinced that she would change. But like Mary, she didn’t.

Seriously

Then there was Liz. I told Eliot that Liz wasn’t a great girl. She too liked having boyfriends, she just had trouble staying faithful to them. You think he would have listened this time right? But nooooo….instead they date, they become boyfriend and girlfriend. Then one day they are out on a date and bam Liz picks up a guy and starts making out right in front of Eliot. And not just a simple kiss, but full complete action going on there.

I mean seriously, what were you thinking?

They broke up.

Then came Chastity. Now Chastity I disliked more than Carrie. Chastity would ALWAYS cheat on her boyfriends. She hurt another one of my friends that way.

Oh no you don’t!

He too was a really sweet, great guy; and she just mangled him. Now once again I tried to tell Eliot about her. I warned him that she had a tendency to cheat on her boyfriends and that it was best to just stay away from her. You think after Heartbreaker One and Two he would have listened to me finally…right?

Majorly

He was convinced that I was “mistaken”, in fact I had to watch what I said about Chastity as he fell really hard for her, so hard that if I made any more comments, our friendship would have been over. Everyone else really liked her. All of his friends liked her. His parents liked her. Her parents liked him. Her friends liked him. Everything was going great…..until it wasn’t.

One day at school I was TAing a class making copies, when another TA, my friend Susan, came into the office room to talk to me. She told me she really liked Eliot and hated the way Chastity treated her boyfriends, and she had something she wanted to tell me. Before the words came out of her mouth I knew that Chastity was cheating again.

This is one of those situations where you know no good will come out. If you tell the person they will hate you, but if you don’t you hate yourself for keeping them in this situation. I knew that he wouldn’t believe me, and even though it was extremely painful I didn’t tell him. I waited and eventually she told him and broke up with him.

Ouch!

It amazes me how he has gone through this and more but doesn’t give up. He still is trying to find a girl that won’t cause him any pain.

At least he was the last time I spoke to him. I don’t know if he still is. It amazes me the people who can be just decimated by something like that, but continue to search for love.

For more Edmund Bertram, go to You Put the Jedi in Pride & PreJEDIce

For more Mansfield Park, go to Jane Austen Chinese Zodiac

Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

 

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

So here we are with the final post, the conclusion to Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. It is always nice to finish something you start, but at the same time sad that it is ending.

Aw…

So quick review. For those of you who missed posts 1, 2, & 3Dangerous to Know is a compilation novel of the bad boys of Jane Austen-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more.

A great thing about this book is that with these men, besides Wickham, we don’t know that much about their past or who they are. Most only play a small role-but have a big impact. This allows the authors a ton of wiggle room and almost anything can happen.

As these are rakes, rogues, & villians-they aren’t the best of men. Their stories being sexy

And I just want to say thank you to Christina Boyd for including this little chart to help you:

Mature Content Guidelines:

  1. None: Possible kissing and affection.
  2. Mild: Kissing.
  3. Moderate: Some sexual references but not explicit.
  4. Mature: Some nudity and some provocative sex.
  5. Erotic: Explicit, abundance of sex.

Because not everyone is interested in books like this:

It’s nice giving us a head’s up, so those that aren’t interested know to skip or skim, or those that do-can enjoy.

Something for everyone

So first we had the none posts, which had stories on Captain Fredrick Tilney, General Tilney and John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey; along with Sir Walter Elliot from Persuasion. I loved these stories as some of these men I love to hate and it made me hate them ever more: And some men I have hated and actually began to like them:

What! It did all that? Wow!

Then came the mild posts. I was really surprised with these stories as they were on Tom Bertram from Mansfield Park and Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. I had never thought of these two as rogues, mostly because they have two of the biggest, baddest Austen rogues-Henry Crawford and George Wickham. The stories were really good and sucked me in, making it very hard to stop reading.

Then came the moderate. These had stories on Frank Churchill from Emma, Mr. Elliot from Persuasion, and Mr. Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility. I really enjoyed them as each author gave us a fresh view into the characters-before they enter the Austen novels. They really fleshed those men out while making me still hate those guys.

This last one will be Mature-Some nudity and some provocative sex. So with out further ado-bring on the bad boys!

A Wicked Game by Katie Oliver

So we start off with George Wickham, Austen’s most notorious bad boy. Reams upon reams have been written about him.

 George Wickham was raised with Mr. Darcy and frittered away the money the elder Mr. Darcy left for his education; later tried to take off with Darcy’s sister; ran up debts all over town while smearing Darcy’s name; and runs of with Lydia Bennet. He’s one really bad boy.

This story begins in 1812, with Wickham fighting for the British army and is struck by the enemy. As he is injured, his life flashes before him and he finds himself wanting. He thinks back to where he all started on this profligate path:

We travel back to Derbyshire 1800. Wickham is heading to church with Mr. Darcy Sr and Jr. It is the summer before he is to start his first year at Cambridge and he is a restless young man.

Especially today as he finds church dull. (And this guy seriously thinks he is going to be a minister?) But then he spots her, a vision-Lady Clémence Harlow, widow and sister-in-law to Mrs. Fanshaw. He gets to meet the beautiful and stylish woman and is smitten.

The Fanshaws join the Darcy’s for dinner and Wickham sits across from Lady Harlow so he can spend the whole night looking at her.

While at the table-Wickham realizes how dissatisfied he is with his life. Everything is plotted and planned by Mr. Darcy Sr., he has no say. He would love anything out of this blueprint-such as the lovely Lady Harlow, which the Darcy’s can’t stand. He’s at a crossroads and leaning toward the crazy path, more than the steady one.

Which way should I choose?

That night a big storms comes up, so the Fanshaw party has to remain at Pemberley. Wickham approaches Lady Harlow for a bit of flirting and she plans to meet him later-in his room.

He waits for her to come, but she never does. At one point he thinks he hears angry voices and a door closing-but Lady Harlow never appears-except in his dreams.

The next day he is grumpy and mad at Lady Harlow for standing him up. She conspires to get them alone and apologizes, blaming it on the brandy they drank. She invites him to walk with her and they take off into he woods. They can’t stay too long and return to the house. Lady Harlow promising that they will have a chance in the future.

Wickham is grim until a ball at cousin Fitzwilliam’s house occurs. The Fanshaw family is going too, this could be his night. Mr. Darcy Sr, doesn’t like Lady Harlow and cautions Wickham against her, but he doesn’t care.

Or what I’m doing!

He finally gets a chance to dance with Lady Harlow that night and the two make plans to run off to a hotel and France together.

He makes his way out there, pretending to be traveling with a friend, but using him as a cover. His friend tries to warn him that things won’t go well-Lady Harlow is not the woman for him, but he won’t listen.

He gets in the room and the two:

But in the morning there is no Lady Harlow…just Darcy!

What?

Okay, not like that-they aren’t in bed together or anything. Wickham wakes up to Darcy in the room. Lady Harlow never intended to take him with her, she used him to get what she wanted and for Darcy to pay her off, £500.

What?

It turns out the lady is a gold digger. First she tried to seduce Darcy, when that failed to be “compromised” into marriage, and lastly use Wickham to wrangle some cash.

Wickham continued down his path, but as his life is saved in Spain he looks at life with new eyes-seeing that he should change the person he is and become better.

Hmmm….I need to rethink my life’s choices

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was an interesting view into Wickham, a softer side if you will. I liked seeing Wickham made a fool of, he angers me down to my core so I took great pleasure in it. But then you realize that he pulls the same scam on Georgina, what scum.

Forget you!

Last Letter to Mansfield by Brooke West

Oh Henry Crawford, one of the biggest rakes and rogues in all of Austen’s work. He is taken charge of his sister, Mary,  when his Uncle scandalously moves the mistress into the house. He and his sister visit the Bertram family where he flirts with the engaged elder sister Maria and the younger sister, Julia. Later, he decides to bring their cousin Fanny into his web, but ends up falling for her.

That wasn’t part of the plan…

Fanny seeing that Henry is no good, sidesteps him. Later, he and married Maria take off together. He and his sister try to get him back in Fanny’s good graces, but no dice with Fanny.

I was really interested in this as I have always wondered what the heck was going through Henry’s mind? Why run off with a married woman?

October 1809

So the story starts off after all that happened. Henry is trying to write a letter to Fanny to beg her back. He’s been with Maria for months, but wishes it was Fanny. He is dying to go back, but…can’t. He tells her that he din’t want to seduce Maria, had no plans to…

We go back…

September 1809

Henry and Maria have been together for a while. Maria is angry and getting ready to leave as nothing turned out how she wished. Maria loved being in charge at Mansfield Park as the eldest woman, then as Mrs. Rushworth, but now she is a scandal and staying at an inn in the middle of nowhere. Henry keeps trying to get rid of her-but she doesn’t want to leave-she has nowhere to go.

So what happens now?
So what happens now?
Where am I going to?
[Peron:] You’ll get by, you always have before
[Mistress:] Where am I going to?
[Eva:] Don’t ask anymore -Hello and Goodbye from Evita

Maria hoped to be with the sexy, charming man rather than her simple husband and is angry that nothing has come from it. Henry blames Maria for seducing him-and causing him to lose his love.

Wow, real mature. You need to take responsibility for YOUR actions.

Henry spends as much time away from Maria but returns every night and uses her for sex-wanting to hurt her, making her cry every night.

Eventually, Maria gives up and leaves with her Aunt Norris, the only one who doesn’t hold her responsible for her sins.

Henry goes home to his sister, Mary. Poor Mary, I actually feel sorry for her. She went from the scandal of her uncle to the scandal of her brother. Unfortunately, the men will go on but what about her? She’s too sullied by them.

Five Months Earlier

Henry and Maria  met up again and they had a night of fun together. Henry hopes to walk it off, no needs to know-but Maria craves it. She hopes to run off with him and have him marry her-even going as far as to follow him when he leaves for home. She had planned to trap him, and Henry in his vanity fell right in it.

Oh no!

London 1799

18-year old Henry and his uncle are out together, his uncle deciding it is time for his nephew to become a “man”. His uncle buys him his first, Arabella- beautiful young woman. She teaches him how to make love

He loves being with her and seeks her again and again, something his uncle notices and does not care for, as women are nothing but tools to be used.

This dude

One day he goes to be with her and finds his uncle on top of her.

After that, they were all the same to him-somethig to have his needs met, nothing more. Basically the Joe of Say Anything:

Corey Flood: Hi Joe, How are you? I love you.

Joe: I love you too.

Corey Flood: You invade my soul

Joe: I want to get back together, Mimi is gonna go to college and I’m gonna be alone and I’m gonna break up with her before she leaves, have sex with me.

Until Fanny, but that’s over.

He finishes his letter to Fanny, pouring everything out into it…and then throwing it on the fire. The rakish roguish Crawford must live on.

Devilish grin must stay grinning…

Thoughts After Reading:

Like Wickham we regress into boyhood, get a very different view of the character than seen before.  Although I still didn’t feel bad for him, no one made you do it and you can’t keep blaming women, “Fanny of only you had loved me”, “Maria, if only you hadn’t seduced me.” What about what you did, punk? Hmm…

This did make me view Mary in a completely different way. Poor girl, she has the worst guardians, and she will be forever tainted by their shame. What will be come of her?

So now that we have reviewed the stories let’s talk about the other question on people’s minds: How sexy was the sexy parts?

Hmm…?

The sexy parts were pretty sexy. If that is what you enjoy, than you will definitely like it. If it isn’t something you like reading, than like I’ve said before, they don’t make up the entire story so you can skim/skip it. There is something for everyone.

So my final conclusion:

I LOVED It! I thought it was an amazing addition to any Jane Austen fan’s bookshelf. Each author was able to write a wonderful story that took the few scenes we had of each character and really flesh them out to a complete story. One thing I really enjoyed was that in doing so, each author kept true to Jane Austen’s story. True, they are creating their own tale but none of these men seemed too out of character or so radically different that it causes Jane Austen to roll over in her grave. You can tell that each story was lovingly written, in honor of Jane, but still allowed each author their own individual style. I highly recommend it. You should read it now!

Yes! If interested, here is the Amazon link

But this book did leave me with one question: Christina Boyd will you be editing a book on the bad girls of Jane Austen?

Can you see it? Lucy Steele and Mrs. Fanny Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility; Lydia Bennet and Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice; Maria Bertram, Julia Bertram, and Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park; Mrs. Elton from Emma; Isabella Thorpe from Northanger Abbey; Mrs. Clay from Persuasion. Think about it…

For more reviews of Dangerous to Know, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

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

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Retellings Strike Back: Pride & Prejudice, cont.

The Jewel Carries a Curse: Ruby in the Smoke (2006)

So I was shelving films in the library when I spotted this. A mystery starring Billie Piper, the actress who played Fanny in Mansfield Park?

And J.J. Feild who was the incredible Mr. Tilney in Northanger Abbey?

I just had to watch it.

Victoria Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart’s (Billie Piper) father has died and left her with nothing more than questions and a mean relative that insults her and abuses her.

She receives a letter telling her to question Mr. Marchbanks and to stay away from The Seven Blessings.

Hmmm….

She has a lot of unanswered questions and heads to the merchant’s office where her father held a position. She tries to get answers from one of the head clerks, but as soon as he hears The Seven Blessings he becomes angry, orders her out, has a heart attack, and dies.

They call the police and deal with everything, the only good thing coming out of it is that an errand boy, Jim (Matt Smith, yes Dr. Who himself) agrees to help Sally.

Sally has no other leads so she sends a letter to Mr. Marchbanks to get some answers.

Meanwhile, there is an ugly (the character’s comments not mine) woman who has been torturing, killing, and hunting something. She has kidnapped a sailor, Matthew Bedwell, and is trying to get information out of him, but he refuses as he has a message for Sally Lockhart alone.

Sally hears from Mr. Marchbanks and heads out to meet with him. She stops to ask handsome and dreamy photographer Frederick Garland (J.J. Feild) for directions. The part that I really likes is how he looks at her when he is talking to her, but once she starts talking about photography he really looks at her-and is amazed: like what a gorgeous brilliant woman. I thought it was cute.

So sweet

I just love J.J. Feild in everything I have seen him in. He’s just so dreamy.

Anyways, he sends Sally on the right way hoping to get her name, but no dice. She goes to Mr. Marchbanks, but he tells her he can’t talk as Mrs. Holland is in the house. Sally has no clue what he is talking about, but listens to him as he gives her a package and asks her to leave as Mrs. Holland is dangerous and will try to kill her.

I’m out!

Sally runs off while Mrs. Holland comes and tries to get the package from Marchbanks. It turns out that Mrs. Holland is the woman who has been chasing and killing all the people-“the old hag”.

When Mrs. Holland returns from the other room, Mr. Marchbanks taunts her- telling her that she is out of luck and never going to get the package. Mrs. Holland becomes so angry she kills him.

A Maid sees her, and in fear for her life tells her that a Sally Lockhart was here and just left pointing the way she went. Mrs. Holland runs after Sally and Sally has only moments to hide. She runs to Fredrick, and he hides her in his photography tent. To show her gratitude she gives him her name and takes a train back to London.

As she rides the train back to her Aunt, she opens the package and sees it contains a journal. She starts to read and discovers that her father, Captain Lockhart, was given a giant ruby from the Maharajah when he was a soldier in India. But before she can continue she falls asleep.

Unbeknownst to Sally, Mrs. Holland has a thief on the train, Mr. Hopkins. He steals the journal but doesn’t notice one page falls out.

When Sally wakes up she discovers she only has the last page which give clues to where to find the Ruby. When Mrs. Holland sees that the most important page is missing, Mr. Hopkins travels to Sally’s aunt’s house to steal the last page. His arrival wakens Sally and instead of wondering if she is okay her Aunt accuses her of making the whole business up for attention, Sally moves out and in with Fredrick and his sister Rose (played by Hayley Atwell-who also starred in Mansfield Park as Mary Crawford,) an actress.

Fredrick is a very educated man and deduces the Latin in the riddle. Meanwhile, Matthew sends a servant girl, Adelaide to give them a message. Sally searches for Matthew Bedlam but ends up taking some opium and sees a memory from the past.

Meanwhile, Matthew and Fredrick break into Holland’s place to get Matthew out. Matthew reveals to Sally that a criminal called Ah Ling, head of the Chinese Triads called The Seven Blessings killed her father, Captain Lockhart.

Also Sally and Fredrick have been growing closer together…

Mrs Holland figures out the riddle and heads to find the ruby but it is gone. She has Matthew killed and Adelaide kidnapped. Fredrick and Jim run after and try to get her back, but while they stop her people, Mrs. Holland and Adelaide slip out of her grasp.

But what happened to the Ruby?

Sally goes under the opium to remember what happened as a child. She decides to go after the ruby, but Rosa reveals that Jim found it a long time ago and hid it to protect Sally’s life.

Sally goes to meet Mrs. Holland, against Rose’s wishes, and brings the ruby. The truth is revealed. Captain Lockhart is not Sally’s father.

Mr. Marchbanks was Sally’s father.

Mr. Marchbanks was an opium addict and actually caused the death of the Maharajah when he left for his fix. Captain Lockhart saw Marchbanks’ daughter in the opium den, and afraid for what would happen to her he traded the ruby for Sally.

Mr. Marchbanks said the Ruby belongs to Sally-her inheritance, but Mrs. Holland said it was hers. It turns out that when she was a young girl she traded her virginity in exchange for the ruby, but the Maharajah reneged in the deal.

Sally tosses the Ruby in the water, as she doesn’t need it. Mrs. Holland follows the ruby that she desire so much she has killed, stolen, and destroyed many things to acquire.

Meanwhile, Sally is approached by one of her father’s trusted men, Hendrik Van Eeden. She expects him to give her a ride home but he ends up kidnapping her!

It turns out that he isn’t who she thought he was. He is Ah Ling.

Not kidding, I thought the same thing. Turns out that he is biracial-Dutch and Chinese. H goes by Ah Ling as his criminal name in moving the opium, and then using his father’s name to fool the English soldiers. He has been killing all kinds of people who interfered with his opium trade, like Sally’s father. He threatens Sally with a knife, but unbeknownst to him her father taught her well, and Sally always carries a gun on her.

After all this turmoil with Sally returns to the Garland home with her friends-Frederick, Rose, and Jim-deciding to remain Lockhart (as he was her real father) and just taking each day by day.

It was a good movie-with a great twist. I did not see the Ah Ling being Van Eeden.

It has wonderful characters that I’m sure you will enjoy.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Go Ahead and Shoot…As Far As Killing Me, Well, I Don’t Think You’re That Good a Shot: Possessed (1947)

For more J.J. Feild, go to Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart

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

For more Northanger Abbey, go to No One Would Have Ever Guessed