Book Club Picks: Julie

So Happy Mother’s Day All!

I have never done a mother’s day post before, why? I don’t know. I must have been too busy celebrating my mom.

I had wanted to review The Mother Keeper on Mother’s Day, I thought it would be cute-but I didn’t want to put off my book club pick reviews that long. I thought I would have them all finished and be caught up by now.

I knooooooooooooow!!! I am so behind. I don’t know what happened. I have no excuse.

What’s happening?

So I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone. For Mother’s Day I will honor my mother with a review of one of her favorite books, which is also the next Book Club Pick up for review-her choice of course. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, book club reviews? Never fear-I can give a brief recap.

So as you all know I started a book club, because you know me and books…

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. This time, as I mentioned above, the book club member-my mother chose:

Julie by Catherine Marshall

I would also recommend this as a Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers

So this book was written by Catherine Marshall, of the Christy fame. She based the book on her own life, including the poetry she wrote when she was a young girl, and the Johnstown Flood.

Julie comes from a family of five, the Wallaces-mother, father, Julie, a sister Anne-Marie, and a younger brother, Tim. Her father was a Minster in the South, but for some reason unknown to her and her siblings, has quit the ministry and a stable good-paying job to in Depression ridden American to use his wife’s small inheritance to purchase a newspaper,The Sentinel, in Alderton, Pennsylvania.

What’s going on?

Have any of you seen North and South? I love that miniseries (and plan on reviewing it sometime). But the reason I bring it up is that in that series the Dad quits the church and moves them from the South to the factory-filled North. And we are all on the edge of our seat trying to figure out what happened, and it takes quite some time until they reveal it.

It’s the same here. The left the beautiful South to go to North, the town of Alderton, controlled by Yoder Iron and Steel (based on Carnegie Steel). They are shocked when they see the cut up land and the haze and soot.  And boy when they reveal what happened to make the dad leave, it’s a doozy. Worth reading defintely.

Wow

Julie was hurt and upset that they left her senior year to start all over again somewhere new, and completely confused as to why. The trip doesn’t start off with the best of origins as their car overheats and they get covered in mud.

They are rescued by Randolph Munro Wilkerson, English Aristocrat, here in America to run the Hunting and Fishing Club. I know that might sound a little strange, but this is he 1930s when limited income royals were marrying the “gilded” heiresses.

Julie is completely mortified that she has this handsome stranger meeting a muddy mess.

When they get to their home and office, the family is shocked to discover that they are all to be the newspaper staff. Writing, editing, cleaning, collecting subscriptions, collecting ad space, etc. The hardest thing will be having to convince people who are already “trimming the fat” that a newspaper is something they need to spend money on.

This will not be easy

One day, a man, Dean Fleming, comes in to ask them to print some handbills for him and offers his services, free, everyday. Julie doesn’t like him as he knew that her father left the ministry and spoke to him about God and faith. She thinks he is going to use his volunteer time to try and force his philosophy on her father and them.

For the thousandth time

Julie starts school and makes some friends. She even likes the minister, Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like. He cares about social change and is avid about helping the steelworkers, unionizing, aiding the new immigrants by getting them better housing-etc. But to me it rings false. I think he is concerned about these issues, but I feel like he does it for the glory of himself, a complete contrast to Dean who cares about a lot of the same things but has a humble spirit. Dean continuously is there for the family, winning over everyone and becoming a part of the Wallaces.

So the Hunting and Fishing Club has this giant earthen dam, and from the very first moment Julie saw it she has felt weird about it. There is something dark and ominous about it. Now some of you might remember when there was that big scare with the Oroville Dam two years ago and everybody had to evacuate? My family had to be evacuated as we were in the potential danger zone and we went to Las Vegas to wait it out. Before that, I never knew that the Oroville Dam was an earthen dam either. When reading this book, it made me view things differently and brought back all the emotion and things we went through then.

So the Wallace family tries to adapt to their new surroundings and life. Julie helps out with the newspaper, along with navigating normal teenage issues-dating, school, etc. She still has a crush on Randolph, but doesn’t really see anything happening there.

Times get tougher and tougher, as Yoder steel lays people off and it looks like the newspaper is going to go bankrupt, and then what will the Wallaces do?

But thankfully, Dean comes through and the Wallace’s hang on. But times are tough and more and more people lose their jobs, which means less subscriptions. Mr. Wallace has been hit with bouts of depression, Mrs. Wallace saying that it was a malaria attack rising up again from when he spent a few months in the South. On these days, Dean always comes. He doesn’t call or get called, he just knows and comes to help him.

Dean is a powerful character who’s has an amazing relationship with Christ. He comes to help the Wallaces, praying for them nonstop and aiding them both spiritually and physically. Too bad the Hales didn’t have a Dean to aid them.

Flooding happens and the Wallace’s get scared, but the rest if the town is unfazed as it happens every season. The water is a little higher than normal, but flooding is just a part of Alderton. It is so horrible the National Guard is called in and keeps people from going into Alderton. Mr. Wallace is hit hard and becomes bed bound again as he worries about damage to the newspaper office.

When the water recedes and they can get to the town, they discover that the newspaper office is safe, the printing press ad paper managed to be just barely out of harms way. With her dad too ill, Julie picks up the slack and loves it.  Her stories get published, and even her poems later on.

Wow!

While writing the flood story Julie wonders about the Dam. She calls to interview them, but no dice.

I got this!

Spencer creates an aid helping organization to try and help the workers in the Lowlands (immigrants, minorities, etc.) This book presents the hard issues as they discuss who should take the blame for he damage? Who’s responsibility is it to help the people? The church? The town? Yoder Steel? The Federal Government?

Hmmm

Julie joins the crusade and learns about how Yoder treats their employees. They have a baseball team, fire department, library, night classes for the workers, etc. But they also have high rents, a company store that is bought on credit, and essentially “own” their employees. If you have ever read The Jungle (one of my favorite books) it is pretty much the same thing.

Things continue and graduation is looming along with Julie’s senior economic project. She’s unsure what to do it on until she hears her dad is visiting Tom McKeever Jr, (the Senior being the one who owns it) and she tags along hoping to get some answers on the Dam.

Julie finds out that the Dam was bought by private businessmen, which means that since it is not government owned there is no one fact-checking up on it-but it is up to the owners to decide what to do with it and make sure repairs are done, etc. The lake covers 450 acres and has 500 million tons of water. The spillways were fenced off (not good!!!) as the lake above stocked with fish.

Julie writes her paper and her father writes an editorial, that while isn’t outright saying there is a problem, it isn’t going to be something Yoder Steel will love.

A little while after the story is published, Mr. Wallace gets invited out to Tom McKeever, Senior’s private railroad car, a high honor. He brings Julie along to the meeting full of rich food and belongings, extremely posh-a complete contrast to how everyone done below is living. McKeever didn’t like the story and wants the Wallace’s to back off.

julie writes a story on the labor issue but her father won’t print it as it is too one sided. She angrily sends it to The New York Times and forgets all about it as she becomes intangled in love trapizoid with Rev. Spencer Meloy, Randolph, and high schooler Graham Gilliam. But the NY Times calls her a they are publishing the article.

Now this is where the book gets really good. Once I started reading and hit this part, I could not stop.

They start writing articles in The Sentinel, and Yoder Steel does not like it. It’s the Wallace’a against everybody as Yoder Steel tries to destroy them by killing their dog, harassing them, attacking the presses, attacking Julie, threatening others so they drop their subscriptions, etc. Everyone has to make a moral choice on who they will side with. As for the Wallaces, will they stay firm in their beliefs, or fall under Yoder Steel?

Besides that storm, an actual rainstorm is coming their way. And then the real bomb of the book is released.

“Life and death for everyone in Alderton that day hung on such small decisions as to where they would be in the early afternoon.” pg. 324

BOOOM!!! When I got to that line I was crazed to find out how it all ended.

Then the Dam breaks and all hell breaks loose.

Reading this part is amazing, the total destruction only takes a few minutes and she counts them one by one as to what happens. It was so frightening to read that and think that could have been us two years ago if the water went over the lip of the dam. With all the heavy rain and full rivers, we are still jittery. I leave a week’s worth of clothes in my trunk just in case we have to evacuate again.

So what makes this an Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers?

First, the story is about a young romantic, reminiscent of Catherine from Northanger Abbey or Marianne Dashwood from Sense & Sensibility. She loves to read-along with writing poetry and stories. She dates some of her schoolmates, but they just don’t bring up that feeling of romance she’s encountered in books and wants in real life (partly has to do with the fact she fell hard for the English Lord). By the end of the book her life experiences have matured her-keeping some of the same romantic soul, but like Catherine and Marianne, has learned to temper it. 

Julie gets a proposal from the Reverend Spencer Meloy, who I don’t like, and it is an awful proposal. Basically “we think alike and like the same things, lets get married.” Not quite as bad as Mr. Collins or Mr. Darcy but still bad.

Like Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility the Wallace family goes through numerous changes that they have no real control over. While the Wallace family is much poorer than the Elliots and the Dashwoods, these girls can relate as they have to trim the fat, adjust their life, and have others see them as not marriageable material from their lack of finances. 

Rev. Spencer Meloy reminds me of Mr. Elton and Mr. Collins as to me I felt he wasn’t really being a minister for Godbut instead was looking to lift himself and his interests. Like these two men, he focuses on what he wants and believes, only. He also proposes badly as he reads women wrongly-thinking Julie is just as interested in him as he is in her because of a “look she gave”, ugh gag.

Ugh, this guy!

But like I said, this was a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it!

For more Book Club Picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Mother Keeper

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Glassblower

For more Christian novels, go to Book Club Pick: Far Side of the Sea

For more on The Great Depression, go to I Don’t Want the Money: It Happened One Night (1934)

For more bible verses, go to Book Club Picks: Desperate Pastors’ Wives

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Desire & Decorum: Chapter 1, The Journey Ahead

So do you all remember the film Big? Tom Hanks is a preteen that wishes to be “big” and becomes a 30-year old man?

He tries to find a Zoltar machine to change him back, but meanwhile works for a toy company to make money. Because of his childlike understanding, he moves straight to the top of the company.

Now his idea for a new toy is a computer game/book that you read but get to make choices as to what will happen next. Well Choices is that.

What?

So a while back they had a preview for an Austenlike game Desire & Decorum

You know me and anything Austenlike or Austen related:

So as soon as it was avliable I decided to play:

You have the choice of being male or female and name. You can also customize your avatar and purchase extras if you want.

So the story is set in 1816 in the country village of Grovershire, England. You have enjoyed your life there but your mother is very ill, and on her deathbed reveals a secret. You have never known your father, but your mother reveals that he is the Earl of Edgewater, a very wealthy and powerful man. The two were in love, but his family drove them apart-and she went to Grovershire. How do you feel? You make the choice.

With the death of your mother you head to Edgewater and to meet your father and his family. Now this is an interesting concept to go with, being born out of wedlock in 1816-not the best way to be treated.

It was very hard when you were considered an “illegetimate” child. You had no legal right to any inheritance unless “an explicit, specific, uncontested written bequest, and inheriting a title from a parent was rare indeed, though not, as we’ve seen, quite impossible.

Ouch

So you are taken to Edgewater and meet your paternal grandmother the Dowager Countess who is quite spunky. Is she an ally? Or will she try and remove you like your mother was removed?

Hmm…

You also meet Mr. Ernest Sinclaire, master of the nearby Ledford Park. He’s handsome, rich, and also the rude man that almost ran you down on his horse a couple days ago. Yes, you have met him before.

I wonder which Austen hero he will be like? Romantic and wise like Colonel Brandon? Idealistic and does the right thing like Edward Ferrars? Broody and serious Darcy? Playful and stern like Mr. Knightley? Serious like Edmund Bertram? Playful like Mr. Tilney? Passionate like Captain Wentworth?

Hmm…

Or will he be a rogue? Sacrifices love for money like Mr. Willoughby? Selfish and narcissistic like Mr. Wickham? An annoying brown-noser like Mr. Collins? A  cruel social climber like Mr. Elton? Only thinks of himself like Frank Churchill? Manipulative like John Thorpe or Captain Tilney? Plotting and cunning like Mr. Elliot?

Hmm…

But more importantly, what about your father. Will he accept you or reject you?

For more Jane Austen games, go to Jane Austen Manors

For more based on Jane Austen, go to Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating

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

You Cannot Think That I Will Leave Off Match-Making

So I have written before how much I like Emma, and that in quite a few ways we are alike. One of which is matchmaking. Emma loves trying to match people up, I used to to; but both of-our matches do not end well.

When I was in high school, I tried setting a friend up with another friend-she was kind sweet and charming. The guy was more outgoing, fun-loving, and I thought the two would balance out.

Did it work out?

It failed. He just ignored her the whole time and ended up dating another girl.

I tried another time with a different friend. She was smart, into some nerdy things (not too much but enough), loved reading, and having fun. I had a guy friend that was intelligent, interested in the same things as she was, and just her type of guy in build.

Did it work out?

It failed. And to make things even worse, they guy ended up liking me! And telling me he had feelings for me!

Just like Mr. Elton

Later on I tried again to get a friend paired up with another friend-football star and just her type.

Did it work out?

Yes, every time I tried to match people it failed, and it failed horribly. The girls were hurt, I was hurt, no one ended up happy. I therefore swore off match-making altogether. Never again.

But then I met my co-worker’s single son.

He would be perfect for a friend of mine! He’s great with children, nice to his mom, interested in the same movies and things as her, and exactly her type in build.

It’s perfect!

But every time I try-even move to do matchmaking-I have to remind myself that I am Emma.

And that it won’t turn out well. Yep, sometimes it is better to leave it to the professionals.

Well, at least for now.

For more on Emma, go to A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma

For more matchmaking, go to Baby Jane Austen

A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma

A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma by Joan Austen-Leigh

So you all know that I’m not really into  diary novels, well that doesn’t apply to epistles, letters, novels. I don’t mind reading books made up of letters (as long as they aren’t solely love letters-that makes me feel like a voyeur).

And that is what this book is about. It is a view of the novel Emma told in letters. But the letters aren’t between Emma, Harriet, Jane, Mr. Weston, Mrs. Weston or Mr. Knightley. Instead the author choose to tell the story from Mrs. Goddard’s point of view, the headmistress of the school that Harriet attends.

What?

I know. At first I didn’t want to read this book. Mrs. Goddard is hardly even in the story except when she brings Harriet to meet Emma and start the two’s friendship. I couldn’t fathom why they would pick her over any other character.

Uhhhhhhh

In fact, the story is told between Mrs. Goddard and her sister Mrs. Charlotte Pinkney, who is living in London after a hasty marriage.

I’m not sure about this.

I wasn’t sure if I would like it but decided to start reading so I could post a review.

So I read it and…

I was so surprised but I loved every page of it and couldn’t stop reading.

The characters were amazing. Mrs. Goddard is very sensible and tries to provide a good home for the girls at her school. She cares heavily for each one and tries to help them as much as she can. She even cares deeply for her staff, as when one maid gets pregnant and the father won’t marry or take care of her-Mrs. Goddard helps her out and keeps her job open for her return.

Mrs. Pinkney has always been happy and a spendthrift. After her husband died and she was left with his debts, she married quickly to the wealthy family friend, Mr. Pinkney. At first she is upset, angry, whiney, and just unhappy as she is still grieving the changes in her life and that her new marriage isn’t so fun and flitty: Mr. Pinkey is more concerned over finances than anything else. She is bored and lonely and instead of working on her marriage devotes all her time to writing her sister.

Mrs. Goddard writes to her everything that is happening in Highbury, even though she thinks the news to be nothing and rather dull.

But Mrs. Pinkney gets caught up in the tales and the story of Emma. Besides that she befriends a young girl, Charlotte, from the school next door (a horribly run establishment). Having her lightens up the home and brings Mr. and Mrs. Pinkney together as they both enjoy Charlotte’s company. They even take her to Bath.

Scene of Bath from Persuasion

There Charlotte meets a sailor and begins correspondence with him. Mr. Pinkey’s Admiral friend also agrees to look into whether Charlotte’s father is still alive, if survived the storm that took his boat.

Aw!

As Mr. and Mrs. Pinkney draw closer together, he too becomes interested in the news of Highbury and the story of Emma.

Now I read an article not to long ago how Emma is a mystery, but thought nothing of it as it didn’t really seem like a mystery to me.

hmm…

But then in this book Mrs. Goddard, Mrs. Pinkney, and Mr. Pinkney all collaborate to figure out different elements of the story. Who is Mr. Elton really after to be his wife?

Hmm…

Why is Mr. Elton so angry at Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith?

Hmmm….

Why does Harriet refuse Mr. Robert Martin when it was clear she was crazy about him?

Hmm…

Who gives Jane Fairfax the piano?

Hmm…

Why do Harriet and Emma suddenly stop being friends?

Hmmm….

Who does Mr. Knightley wish to marry?

hmm…

And much more. The three are on the case:

I thought it was fantastic story telling. Joan Austen-Leigh knows how to have the perfect balance of the original characters:

With brand new, interesting, and fun characters

It was fun, captivating, and as said before, a real page turner.

I highly recommend it for any Jane Austen or Emma fan. This is one book that you shouldn’t miss out on.

For more on Emma, go to TO the Person Who Hated My Review of Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

For more Emma variations, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues

 

Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

So when I say I’ll be reviewing Emma (1996), most people think about this:

Emma1996

I however will be talking about this:

emma1996

So this film follows the book of Emma pretty accurately. It doesn’t have everything, of course, as it is only a hour and 47 minutes, but it does a good job. So how I am going to do this review is a bit different, instead of looking at the storyline I am going to review how the characters were portrayed and the set design.

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Set

Emmatableeating

So let’s look at the indoor set featured above. Now I know that A&E Television was trying to go for a more realistic feel, but heads up movie writers; if we cannot see the action happening then you need to skip “accurate” for enjoyable. Nobody wants to spend their money on something that can’t tell them what is happening.

what what'shappeningSupernatural

I agree that the chiaruscuro and candlelight is a nice effect, but not worth it. It is like when you watch Onegin and you have those scenes where you have no clue what anything looks like. Good thing for Ralph Fiennes’ amazing voice.

The rooms also lacked any pizazz or beauty.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

The outdoors were extremely lovely, and kudus to the screenwriters who show how the servants had to carry every component of the picnic up the hill for their Box Hill little party. That was great.

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Costumes

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So while Emma (1996) aka Gwyneth Paltrow Version had this absolutely beautiful and stunning costumes, this version’s ones were so boring. I mean even Catherine had better things  than what the very rich Emma wore in this.

And “poor” Elizabeth also wore more attractive and beautiful garments.

Pride&PrejudiceDarcyLetter

These ones were just too plain and not befitting someone as important as Emma. I mean even her ball gown was boring.

Mehsleepyhollownotimportant

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Mr. & Mrs. Weston

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV / Rex USA ( 525489SJ ) James Hazeldine and Samantha Bond in 'Emma' - 1996 ITV ARCHIVE

So in the book Miss Taylor turned Mrs. Weston was Emma’s governess, but in reality her confidant and best friend. While they don’t spend as much time together, with her married, in a new home, and concentrating on her new family; still they are buds. In this we hardly ever see Mrs. Weston and I can’t recall a scene in which she talks to Emma, except to warn her about Frank and Jane’s upcoming marriage. Great job there A&E turning her whole character into a little blimp in the story.

Mr. Weston also hardly has any scenes or interactions in this film, which is a complete shame as he is a incredibly cool guy.

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Harriet Smith

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This is one area where the film was fantastic. I have not seen a portrayal of Harriet Smith as fantastic as the one done by Samantha Morton.

Wow

Wow

In this she doesn’t play Harriet as the empty flower pot or the kind-hearted klutz; instead Morton focused on the aspect of Harriet’s unknown parentage and ran with it in her presentation of the character. Before I watched this film, I never thought of what Harriet went through not knowing who her parents were. I mean if you think of how people treated those who were in a slightly lower class, but respectable (like the Bennets in Pride & Prejudice) imagine how they would treat someone who is unknown. When someone would not claim their child as their own, it typically meant an illegitimate birth, usually the mistress. So those girls in school were most likely not interested in becoming besties with Harriet, or having anything at all to do with her.

Noo!

Aw

This completely explains why Harriet is so eager to do everything Emma says. After so long of being alone; family-less and friendless, she finally has someone who cares about her and will do whatever she can to keep it.

EmmaHarrietbreakup

I have to say one of the best scenes is when Emma is chattering away about how Harriet’s father must be an important gentleman and you see Harriet looking down, brokenhearted saying something like I hope so.

Hope

The way she acts around Robert is also just adorable. You can tell she is crazy about him, but also scared. Scared of being abandoned again, rejected by her friend Emma, and making the wrong decision as she has no family to guide her.

I don't know what to do

Great job Morten.

And I truly mean it

And I truly mean it

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Jane Fairfax

6 governessjanefairfaxemma

Jane Fairfax is Emma’s character foil. While Emma doesn’t play piano well, paints okay, doesn’t read, has a meager education as she isn’t into studies, enjoys meddling, can be rude or snobby, and likes to do what she wants without thinking of others; Jane is the opposite. Jane is a superb piano player, an excellent painter, enjoys reading, has a high level of education, enjoys privacy, is kind, compassionate, and considerate of others. A regular Goofus and Gallant, (J.K. I love Emma). This is one of the reasons why Emma dislikes Jane, as she is envious of what she has accomplished.

Person hate talking

However, in this film they didn’t show that at all. Emma dislikes Jane, but we hardly see them react or why Emma is so jealous. We don’t hear others praise Jane, and the conversation when Emma is pumping Jane for information wasn’t intriguing.

This Jane hardly even seemed there, she wasn’t a very intriguing nemesis.

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Mr. & Mrs. Elton

Mr&MrsEltonEmma

So Mr. & Mrs. Elton are some of the villians in the novel and film. Mr. Elton proposes to Emma and when she refuses him he is extremely rude to her and Harriet; going out of town and picking out a shrew of a woman to be his wife.

hate her

In this depiction they didn’t have as much of a role. We see them for the crucial scenes of Elton proposing, them cutting Harriet, and so and so.

I didn’t like their depiction as they are supposed to be more hatable. You are supposed to extremely dislike them and want bad things to befall them.

GoldenGirlsEat&DieTrash

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Mr. Frank Churchill

Frank Churchill - 3creepy

Frank Churchill is also supposed to be the villian in the book. At first he seems like a nice, sweet guy, courting Emma; but in reality he is a major jerk. He ignores his father, ignores his real fiancé, and leads Emma on.

How rude

The Frank Churchill wasn’t quite as sleazy as he should have been, in my opinion, but he did a good job. He had a painted on smile and gave off an air of insincerity; which worked really great. This actor did a great job and I give him a ten.

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Mr. George Knightley

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I thought this was the worst depiction of Mr. Knightley. Where to start? Well first of all his hair. Why did they pick that particular hairstyle? It looks too mulletish and makes him have the appearance of a receding hairline.

ew! Gross Yuck

My biggest issue with Mark Strong as Knightley is that he is just too brooding to be Knightley. Knightley is older, but still relaxed enough to be best friend with Emma and joke around with her. He is serious but can also have fun.

Strong as Knightley is just brooding all the time and whenever he talks his eyes flash and he practically yells in anger. He makes me think of the Beast in Beauty and the Beast the way he reacts to everything and everyone.

Beauty and the Beast

I thought Strong made the character too dark, he would have been better as a Darcy than a Knightley.

I also didn’t like the scene of him with baby Emma, that was a little too weird. And the scene he announces his proposal he sounds as of he is yelling at everyone as if he is planning to destroy them all.

Gilmore girls creep

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Emma Woodhouse

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I really hated this version of Emma. I thought Beckinsale was a horrible actor, just kind of staring off into space and being blank and like a piece of wood.

If she wasn’t being totally deadpan she had this creepy expression on her face like she wanted to devour everyone like a female praying mantis.

I thought it was horribly bland and boring.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

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Ending conclusion:

Something is not right!

I thought the way the characters were portrayed was boring, the transitions weird, and the film all around mediocre. There was no fun to it and the actors talked as if they were being paid an extra bonus if they could finish their lines in under three seconds.

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For more on Emma, go to Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose: Superbowl 50

For more Emma adaptations, go to Mr. Knightley’s Diary

For more Jane Austen films, go to I Don’t Want You Far From Me: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

For more Jane Austen adaptations, go to The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy final

“Pride takes a hit in this Austen Misadventure”

So this was on my list of Pride & Prejudice-inspired books/films/etc and I have to say it was much better than I expected. I liked how it wasn’t trying to retell the story of Pride & Prejudice, but express the author’s love of the books and films.It is very similar to the film I Want to Marry Ryan Banks, so if you’ve seen that movie and liked it you’ll like this book.

The story starts off with 39 year old, mother of one, divorceé, Chloe Parker. Chloe loves Jane Austen. In fact her motto is:

Specifically Jane Austen

Specifically Jane Austen

Anyways so she enters a contest to compete in a documetary about Austinites. Each contestant will live in a Regency-esque world where they will compete in answering Austen Triva. The winner recieving $100,000. Chloe really needs the money as her old-fashioned letterpress buisness is starting to tank and she might end up having to foreclose on her house.

Chloe figures that this contest is in the bag as she knows oodles about Jane Austen, her books, and Regency trivia. This whole contest is supposed to a throwback to how life used to be. No phones, computers, texting, tweeting, facebooking, myspacing, etc. She can’t wait.

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When Chloe arrives on the set she finds out that the show isn’t a documentary about Austinites, but is a reality dating show, a sort of Bachelor-esque one.

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Chloe is in shock and utter disbelief. She decides that she is through with it as reality show is something she never wanted to EVER be on. She is utterly mortified that she was almost on a Flavor of Love or Farmer Takes a Wife show.

George the producer and director convinces her to stay. He promises that this is vastly different from those other shows as it is all about Regency courtship. No hot tubs, none of those outlandish ways to try and win the guy; but all about proper Regency courtship; no touching, no drinking, no alone time (everything is chaperoned), and to win special outings/events with the bachelor, the contestents had to participate in Regency-esque activities, racking up points. The bachelor is Mr. Wrightman, a wealthy individual who is tired of women being after his money and is looking for love the old-fashioned way. All Chloe has to do is play the part of a down on her luck American heiress who is eager to win a man with title and wealth. It seems so easy, and how can she say no to an Austinte expereience with a hot guy and a chance at a ton of money?

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So now Chloe is dressed in a 19th century style muslin dress, wearing lemon deodorant, and has a reticule full of vinaigrette (to avoid nasty smells), a fan, calling cards, gloves, and a bonnet.

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Now this is an area I thought the author should have changed. 39 is much too old for a woman to be man-catching in Regency times (unless she was a wealthy widow). If I was the author, Karen Doornebos, I would have made her younger. She could have still gone to college and had a child, you would just have to bend the years back. Let’s say she graduated at age 22, got married at 23, and then had a kid at 24. You could make her 30 years old with a 6 year old. 39 is much too old.

She is given a fake bio about her family, with the writer’s trying to keep it as close to her reality as possible. As she has English blood on her maternal side they wrote that her mother is English while her father is American, making her daughter Abigail her sister for the bio.

This is another thing I felt was a bit odd. If the whole dating show is supposed to take place in 1812 why have an American contestant? Would she have even been able to travel over with the blockades? Wouldn’t it have looked like her family was partial to the English side? Wouldn’t it make the English dislike/distrust her? Why not set it in 1811 or  late 1815? And being the only American, man that’s going to be hard on her.

They give the contestants carriage rides to the house, Bridgesbridge, where the women are staying, and as they are riding there, Chloe hears a gunshot and the carriage stops dead in its tracks. Lady Grace of the d’Agrgent family, another contestant, has a pistol and was shooting, “accidentally” hitting the carriage. Chloe has a freakout and faints dead away.

She awakens in her new bedroom under Mr. Wrightman, MD’s care. In fact he carried her in from the carriage area (just like Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility)

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While even though being unconscious and thinking she’d been shot (when her carriage really just turned a wheel) made her feel like an idiot, she does love the idea of Mr. Wrightman having carried her. While Mr. Wrightman isn’t exactly what she pictured (a handsome, blond, spetecle wearing, kind looking man rather than the tall, dark, and brooding Darcy-sque that she was expecting) she is happy to have made his aquaintance.

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Chloe also meets her chaperone (as her character is unmarried she has to have one) Mrs. Crescent, who is very pregnant and ready to give birth anytime soon. Chloe also gets another dose of Lady Grace, the most annoying, vile, and irritating woman in this book. A perfect villain. Chloe isn’t one to stand idly by, but manages to put in quite a few of her own barbs, such as telling Grace that perhaps she will get bullet pudding tonight. She also one ups Grace by stating her father always called her a princess, a rank higher than Lady.

Don't mess with me!

Don’t mess with me!

She also finds out that all the other girls in the house have been there for three weeks already and she was choosen to replace a girl who had to go home due to a family emergency. Chloe feels soooo far behind and doesn’t know how she will ever catch up.

She also finds out that Regency England is lacking in quite a few ways. Besides the lemon deodorant there is weak tea because of the “Napoleonic Wars“, micro amounts of butter, no salt, no pepper, etc. They get a small cake of soap a week, a bath a week, etc.

That would be the hardest thing for me. I was actually surprised that they were able to find as many people who would be willing to give up such niceties. Deodorant, toothpaste, food with taste, soap, indoor plumbing, etc; I know that there are somethings I cannot live without and I don’t know if I could go weeks without them. I need my indoor plumbing, I hate it when I don’t have a proper bathroom. I also couldn’t do a bath only on Sundays. And I’m haf-Mexican, I need spice in my food! I can’t live on bland scrump.

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To make matters worse, any thought of bowing out was quickly destroyed when she hears that her chaperone Mrs. Crescent is eager to win because her child, William, has a tumor and needs an expensive operation. If Chloe wins Mr. Wrightman than Mrs. Crescent gets money too.

Chloe’s having a slight meltdown and all she wants to do is take a shower. Unfortunately as those don’t happen until Sunday, and today is Monday. She can’t handle not getting cleaned up and just happens to look out her window and see a pond. As every true Austenite has seen Pride & Prejudice (1995) she gets the idea of taking a bath in the pond. While she can’t dive in competely like Colin Firth, she is still able to clean a majority of her body.

Just like Mr. Darcy, Chloe is also caught , but by two attractive men. The first is this tall, dark, handsome, Darcy-ian man. He tries to talk to her, but she is so embarrasssed that he caught her she is rude to him. He warns her that she is on Darthworth property which are grounds for termination. As she is gathering her belongings and leaving, she runs into Mr. Wrightman. As Chloe tries to explain what was happening, Mr. Wrightman makes a reference to P&P (1995) telling her that he was hoping she would emerge in a white shirt. Chloe is all:

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The two have a great conversation together and Chloe is amazed at how well they seem to click. In fact, Chloe is starting to think maybe this won’t be so stupid, but perhaps fun as Henry, Mr. Wrightman seems like a really great guy. More Henry Tilney than Darcy, but Tilney isn’t that bad. (In my opinion he’s amazing)

On her way back she meets the rest of the contestants who all seem to be much, much younger and more carefree than her. There is Miss Julia Tripp  who is very exuberant and full of energy, Miss Kate Harrignton who sufferes from allergies, Miss Becky Carver who is African-English and just turned 21, Miss Gillian Potts who is a bit of a whiner, and Miss Olive Silverton who is a tad critical.

When dressing for dinner, Chloe asks Fiona, her maid, who the tall, dark, stranger might have been. Fiona responds that it is Mr.Wrightman. Chloe is confused as the blond doctor is Mr. Wrightman. That is when she finds out there are two Mr. Wrightmans. Sebastian is the brunette and the eldest so he is the one to inherit, the one the contest is all about. Henry, the blond doctor, is the youngest and has to marry wealthy as he won’t have a large inheritence (Very Mr. Tilney indeed). Chloe is horrified that she might have just lost her chance at Mr. Wrightman. Uber embarressment. Very reminiscent of the Sense & Sensibility Mr. Ferrars incident.

So embarressed

So embarrassed

The next day the competition begins as the girls are taught archery and dance. None is allowed to move to the next task until they have finished their first assignment and gained their points for the day. Chloe is far behind the other girls in everything as they have been there for weeks. Chloe even finds out that many of the girls know little about Austen; such as Grace saying that her favorite Austen is P&P, the Keira Knightley version. Obviously not only does she have no idea that P&P wasn’t published until 1813, Sense and Sensibility was the only book out at the moment. Chloe’s reaction to this statement is exactly how I would respond.

“Chloe cringed. Not her favorite adaption. It was historically inaccurate, for one thing…Chloe looked at her in askance…” (Pg. 81)

I know how she feels, that is my least favorite version. For me it is always P&P 1940, then P&P (1995).

Chloe thoroughly enjoys Regency dances, but Grace tries to throw a wrench in her plan saying she can’t dance with a girl who has ink all over her fingers. “She might catch it” Hmmph…what a pansy. Instead Chloe has to dance with Cook, Cook who she relies on and always tries to help her.

Grace and Chloe trade barbs once again, wth Chloe being the victor. However, her win rings hollow when Grace runs off to meet with Mr. Wrightman, having garnered the most points and won time with him.

As Chloe looks outside the window to watch Grace, her spying quickly ends when Mrs. Crescent’s dog Fifi runs off and Chloe runs after him to get him. She runs smack dab into Sebastian and has another awkward conversation with him.

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But by now she’s hooked. He is so dashing, charming, and always knows the right thing to say. Chloe is in this thing totally and completely.

Something that puts a whole damper on the situation is a call from Chloe’s daughter, Abigal. Apparently Chloe’s ex, Winthrop, has met somebody, and is getting married, and wants to change the custody arrangement. Apparently he got a promotion so he won’t be traveling as much anymore. Chloe is freaking out over it, but can’t really get involved as she is away in England.

What else could go wrong?

What else could go wrong?

Also to Chloe’s surprise there is a new guest, Miss Imogen Wells. Apparently she was there the whole time but had to be apart from the others as she was on her period. In olden times when women were having their time of the month they had a lying in time period and had to be away from all the others. Chloe is freaked out that there is another girl to contend with, but quickly gets over that as she finds Imogen to be one of the friendliest girls ever.The two become fast friends. The two both love painting, drawing, and Jane Austen.

I couldn’t imagine being in Regency times on my period, that would be awful. Back then they didn’t have underwear, and you just bleed through your clothes. Washing and changing clothes were seen as unhealthy. Ew! Being on your period is bad enough but without pads, tampons, and in a chamber pot?

However, things take a turn for the better, Chloe gets an invitation to meet up with Sebastian (Mrs. Crescent has to come too) to see castle ruins! And they will all be having diiner at Dartworth Hall the next day too.

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Later that day Chloe is out gathering ingrediants to make ink, Sebastian comes bounding by on a white horse. A man on a white horse?

So romantic

So romantic

Chloe is in deep, and she isn’t looking for a way out.

Later she runs into the other Wrightman brother. He comes upon her as she is painting and compliments her work. (Very reminiscent of Emma, except Herny isn’t the creepy Mr. Elton.)

Imogen and Chloe discuss the two brothers, their merits and qualities. Imogen brings up  her partiality to Henry, as he is honest and forthwright, while Sebastian is more of an enigma.

Chloe goes off with Sebastian and Mrs. Crescent and has a truly romantic time. He even gives her a set of paint, paunting papers, and a pink cabbage rose. Chloe is just drowning in her crush.

162808404She also finds out that Grace is not only after the money, but wants to get her family’s land back. They been lost to the Wrigtmans for centuries and she is still carrying anger for it.

That night is the ball and when the girls get there Chloe immediately checks out the library. I love libraries, I mean I have done all thise book posts. (The Important Things in Life, Surviving the Worst, They Change You, Hardest Decision of My LifeMe, Me & Me Again, Best Pickup Line Ever!, If Onlyand Words to Live By.)

I mean I would rather gush over a library than a man. But hey, that’s just me.

But before the girls can continue to dinner they do the invitation ceremoney (much like the rose ceremony in the Bachlor or the picture one in America’s Next Top Model.)

Imogen, Becky, and Olive end up being sent home. Grace is so annoying and everyone wishes she was sent home, but she makes great TV.

Since Chloe is lower than the other girls, she enters last but she does have Henry to guide her in, and he is also placed next to her. Chloe makes a Persuasion reference about lotion, and while Kate Harrington doesn’t get it, Henry does.

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After the conversation the two have, I would far rather have Henry than to risk getting Sebastian, who one knows nothing about. All are having a wonderful time until Grace pops out a boob in order to get the focus on hre.

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Sebastian makes plans to have a faux fox hunt for the girls. Everyone is excaiming over it when Mrs. Crescent screams out that

The BABY"S HERE!

The BABY”S HERE!

Immediately Chloe goes to help. It turns out to be a false alarm, but Henry seems more interested in her than ever.

Chloe goes out the next day and runs into Henry falconing. The two share some tender moments. She also runs into Sebastian who gives her a message with clues in it to find a great prize.

Instead of trying to make ink to get her accomplishment points, Chloe goes into the kitchen to make strawberry tarts. She isn’t supposed to be in the kitchen as she is a lady, but Chloe finds it so hard to be proper all the time, (blame it on her American upbringing).

Afterwards Sebastian come to take her silhouette. She finds out that he knows more about Chloe as he has had the oppurtunity of watching her audition video, check her facebook, twitter, and research her through the internet. He tells her they have a lot in common. He also takes a lock of her hair. Taking someone’s lock of hair meant you were very interested in them and were planning o courting or possibly proposing. Most would turn them into rings or place them in lockets.

The next day is the fox hunt and Chloe is ready to give it her all.

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The first to reach the area where the faux fox is wins the challenge and accomplishment points. Chloe is in the lead, but as she is going Henry falls off his horse. Apparently his horse was injured. Chloe stops to help him even though she is sacrificing her chance of winning. Henry strips off his shirt so that he could use it to help the horse, but seeing all the blood, makes her faint again.

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Henry wakes her up and kisses her.

Everyone returns indoors after the hunt. Chloe is certain she will be the next to go home as she never made it to the tree. But to her suprise she wins all the points as the real test was to see who would stop.  To add to Chloe’s joy is that she is hosting the after hunt tea. Before they can enter though, they all have to have their reticule’s examined to make sure that no contraband has been carried through. Chloe is sure that she will pass but then they find a condom in her purse.

images-3Chloe is shocked at how that got in there. She argues that it is obviously a plant as why would she even chance it at her own tea party. They let her continue, but tell her that she is on probation until they get to the bottom of it.

What starts out as a normal tea party ends up becoming a a full fledged food fight. Somehow Chloe manages to make it through the next invitation ceremony.

However she feels awful about some of the things she said about Henry when she and Grace were arguing (what escalated into the food fight). So Chloe does the only reasonable thing and dresses up like a messenger boy so she can tell Henry how sorry she is.

I can be a dude. I'm a dude.

I can be a dude. I’m a dude.

This Shakespearean twist isn’t completely crazy. There is no way Chloe could send him a letter, note, or talk to him priovately about how she feels. Women could only do that if they were engaged.

The next day everyone is going to the maze for an outing, but both Grace and Chloe are on probation for their outlandish tendencies. Fifi takes off into the maze and Chloe follows, it begins to pour (hey its England). Instead of turning back she takes off after him to save him., Henry also goes. Fifi gets in a fight with a weasal and Henry runs off with Fifi to help with his wounds leaving Chloe behind. She gets lost and Sebastian goes in there to get her. Carrying her out Colonel Brandon style.

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 He puts her down and as Chloe is making her way to the house she realizes that while she is falling for both men, she needs to put her eyes back on the goal and win Sebastian and the $100,000.

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Even though she had just had Sebastian’s arms around her, Chloe is depressed as she looks like a wet dishrag in comparison to the others.

Elinor Dashwood: Marianne, you must change. You will catch a cold. Marianne: What care I for colds when there is such a man. Elinor Dashwood: You will care very much when your nose swells up.

Elinor Dashwood: Marianne, you must change. You will catch a cold.
Marianne: What care I for colds when there is such a man.
Elinor Dashwood: You will care very much when your nose swells up.

She has to return home, quite sad that she couldn’t stay longer.

That night Chloe is able to take a bath, but finds out that she has to take it after all the other girls because she is lower than them. EWWWWW! She has to use USED BATHWATER!!!! NFM! I could not handle that. I’d be in that pond. To make matters worse she finds a mouse in her rooom. It’s just not her day.

What else could go wrong?

What else could go wrong?

Chloe gets a letter from home and becomes extremely stressed out. Without a gym or kitchen to be able to go in and destress, she skips an accomplishment task to take a walk. The cook agrees to cover for her, and Chloe takes off. Running right into Henry and feelings about him that she doesn’t want to think about. The two enojy a bit of birdwatching and she tells Henry that she has a mouse.

She returns home and cook starts grilling her about her about where she has been. She questioned whether Chloe is throwing away her oppurtunity on the penniless brother. This gets Chloe all riled up, but makes her wonder. She finds out that she missed Sebastian calling and Grace won the next outing with Sebastian. Then she ends up fainting. That makes it the third time.

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The next day Chloe gets a present from Mr. Wrightman. It’s a cat! Ah, he’s perfect! He got her a mouser. Now Chloe thinks that Henry told Sebastian, but it is obvious that he sent it. I mean the guys titally in love with her. And I feel that he is a much better guy than Sebastian as he is real. Sebastian is to oily, and too perfect.

Chloe has a moment upstairs when she really wishes she could just chill out to some tunes. Since she can’t she just sings her heart out and does a Sweet Charity number. And to her embarrassment she spots Sebastian watching her through her window outside.

Next up is the archery tournament and one has to get four bulls eyes. Chloe is not on the top of her game and manages to shoot very badly.

Henry loans her his glasses so that she can make her bullseye and proceed to the ball. All us going well until Grace steps on her foot and causes her to miss, sending the arrow right ay Henry. Grace faints once again and Chloe thinks she has just killed him. Henry is alright and Chloe thinks she’s out of the contest. ;(

Chloe ends up getting another shot and gets a bullseye.

Grace gets first place and the first dance with Sebastian. Chloe has second but has to sit out as her arrow went awry. Julia has third. When Chloe returns to her room she finds that her cat has got the mouse and an invite to the Grecian temples with Mr. Wrightman.

Chloe is so excited about her date she bribes a footman to get her a razor and shaves her legs.

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The date isn’t all as she hopes it would be. Sebastian has a toothache and has to suck on cloves as they are “in the 1800s”. Chloe tries to discuss things with him, but garners no response at all. To further ruin the moment, Chloe has to pee and there is no chamberpot in site. Lucky for her Henry’s lab is nearby and Sebastian tells her that he has a water closet. She has more moments with Henry and gets something to help Sebastian’s toothache. She givs him a drop of laudaum, and Sebastian really cuts loose. He starts saying all kinds of things and starts trying to get all over him. Charlotte ends up decking him as he as he tries to pull her dress off. Henry arrives in time to cart him off.

Now here I would have completely jumped off the Sebastian train and gone Henry all the way. Sebastian is a loser.

Grace had been shooting a gun trying to ruin their date and Chloe is set on trying to prove that she is doing all kinds of illegal activities. She finds all kinds of things and even gets caught by Grace as Grace is trying to get down with a footman.

Later she is requested by Mrs. Crescent to help her when she has the baby and tries out some of the toys Henry got for Mrs. Crescent’s children. Chloe then has a very embarressing moment when the contraband she stole from Grace drops out of her bonnet. She leaves and goe to get her new dress finished for the ball and finds that she has lost weight. (Due to her hating and refusing to eat the food offered at the areas). She also spots Grace (through her window) putting the moves on Henry amd becomes livid, though she can’t imagine why. She also gets a note from Sebastian to meet up during the ball in the icehouse. She is extremely worried as she hopes that they don’t have a repeat of the Grecian temple.

The have the final invitation ceremony and Julie is sent home; only Grace and Julia are left. Since Mrs. Crescent is about ready to pop she can’t go, so the cook accompanies and chaporones her, rescuing her from the evil clutches of Grace & Co. It turns out the cook is actually Mrs. Wrightman, the Mr. Wrightmans’ mother.

Henry takes her to the library and gives her a first edition of Sense and Sensibility.

So romantic

So romantic

Henry really knows how to win a girl over. I’d propose to him.

Anyways, while they are there Henry reveals his feelings for her quoting P&P

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Chloe gets the second dance with Sebastian and gets to do the dance Darcy and Elizabeth do in the ’95 adaption.

She also makes a great Darcyian refrence, but one that Sebastian does not get. To cause further frown she spots a girl making the moves on Henry. Then when she is about to dance the very risqué waltz with Sebastian she gets a message from Fiona that Mrs.C just went into labor. She steals a horse and is off to help.

However when she gets back to the house she discovers Mrs. C is perfectly fine. Mrs. C is not having a baby. FIONA LIED!!!!!

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She tries to run back to the party and totally messes up her oufit She runs into Henry. He tries to console her. It is then that she ercognizes sge is in the icehouse. When she triesto get rid of Henry as Sebastian is coming Henry is dissappointed (even worsethan angry) and tkes off.

When she meets up with Sebastian she realizes this isn’t what she really wants. He admits to flirting with Fiona. He pulls out a knife and plays with it, (what a psycho) and then tries to strip her. She freaks out and Sebastian proposes. The footman enters and tells them Mrs. C is having the baby. As Chloe tries to leave Sebastian pulls  her back.

Now I don’t know why Chloe says yes, Sebastian is crazy. Ad this dude clearly doesn’t take no for an aswer.

Sebastian lets Chloe take his horse and she goes off. There she helps Henry deliver the baby.

She has a fight with Fiona and goes back to her room. She looks out the window and sees Sebastian and Fiona finishing the “horizontal tango”. This man is definitely not Mr. Darcy, Tilney, Knightly, Brandon, Wentworth, Bingley, Ferras, or Bertram.

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He’s nothing but a Wickham, Elliot, Willoughby, and Crawford.

The have a huge fake wedding to end the show. They even bring Chloe’s mom and dad over. Chloe has a huge freakout as she marches down the alley and dumps Sebastian taking off to find Henry. Henry who Chloe has has anounced that she loves.

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As she tries to go to town to get home to her daughter and find Henry. She runs into some people who tell her that Sebastian isn’t the heir to Dartwiorth Hall, but Henry is.

Henry comes after her on a white horse. A WHITE HORSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Henry takes her out and explais everything.

Henry is a forty year old man who is heir to the Dartworth estate and a very large fortune. He works as a doctor because he loves helping others. He loves art, architecture, Jane Austen,

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museums, bird-watching, etc. Women have been after him for his name and fortune so he hasn’t been able to settle down. His friend George came up with the idea, and Henry was hoping he would find an Anne Elliot. Sebastian is his cousin, and an aspiring actor, and Lady Anne (the cook) is actually his mother. He hated Grace but had to keep her on for ratings. Henry tells her he loves her, but Chloe is just so angry she returns home, doesn’t want the money, and goes home.

So Chloe goes home. She gets a beatiful letter Henry and the cat, but that is all she takes from Henry.

I would have kept the money and Henry. Chloe is crazy.

So Chloe is back in the states. She has given up in tryingv to find a fary tale guy. She dates regular guys. The only Austen thing she does is watch the show she was on, Dating Mr. Darcy. In the last episode she see that they did exit interviews with everyone but her. Grace went back to her trading firm and is dating a politician. Fiona set a date with her fiancée who is back from fighting in Afgahnistan (the guy she was porking about behind his back). Mrs. Crescent’s son had a sucessful operation and the lump is benign. Sebastian was given a leading role in a TV series and is currently dating one of the milkmaids from the show. Henry ends with a heartwarming plea telling Chloe that she pierce’s his soul and asking her to contact him.

So romantic

So romantic

The book ends with Chloe emailing Henry. Hoping to start a new beginning.

Not exactly the romantic ending one wants but is still quite sweet. So both guys were definitely not Mr. Darcy, but Henry turned out to be one great guy.

For more things based on Pride and Prejudice, go to On the 12th Day ‘Till Christmas: The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)

To read another Pride & Prejudice post go to Parental Favoritism 

To read another Northanger Abbey post go to Storybook End