I never was really interested in audiobooks until I downloaded overdrive (now MeetLibby) to become better familiar with it, in order to assist library patrons. However, I started listening to them when getting ready in the morning, traveling, cleaning, etc.; and was hooked.
My book club met last month and my pick was Pride and Prejudice. I lent out my copies to the book club members and was going to read off my kindle app, as I always have it with me, but then I spotted this audiobook on MeetLibby and figured why not give it a listen as well? After all:
I really enjoyed this audiobook version as I felt Kate Kellgren did a wonderful job at distinguishing the different voices. As you may recall from earlier reviews, if I don’t like the way the reader/narrator does the voices then I cannot listen to them.
I especially loved Kellgren’s Caroline Bingley voice as she sounded posh, cold, and mean. Exactly how I imagine her to sound when I read the book.
Listening to an audiobook can sometimes bring to light passages you forget about or help see it in a new light. For instance we always laugh about how Elizabeth’s mind changes seeing Pemberley.
But listening to it I was reminded that while she thinks better of Mr. Darcy, she isn’t completely won over until she meets his housekeeper, sees how he honors his father’s wishes and keeps the miniature of Mr. Wickham up (even though he hates him), and how he treats her “Cheapside” relatives with respect. After this she changes from believing she inaccurately judged his character to admiration for the type of person he is.
And of course after he helps her and her family, she fully moves from admiration to love!
If you are looking for a good audiobook to listen to, I highly recommend.
I was given this book free in exchange for an honest review.
Are any of you Community fans? Community is about a former lawyer, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), who faked his degree, and has to go back to community college in order to get a real one. He creates a fake Spanish Study Group to try and get with a girl, but ends up having all these others join them and eventually they all become friends and have a lot of crazy adventures together.
In one episode, two of the friends are having a housewarming party and when the pizza arrives Jeff, not wanting to fetch the pizza, has them throw a dice in the air to see who must go downstairs and retrieve it. This introduces multiple timelines with one of them being the darkest timeline.
So what does that have to do with this book? It starts off in the darkest timeline of Pride and Prejudice.
Our story begins sadly. Jane never met or married Mr. Bingley. Instead she married the gentleman who wrote her a few lines of poetry when she was 15.
“When she [Jane Bennet] was only fifteen, there was a gentleman at my brother Gardiner’s in town so much in love with her, that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were.”
Pride and Prejudice
While this man, Mr. Cuthbert, isn’t horrible, he also doesn’t value his wife as much as Bingley did. The two live in London with four sons and an awful mother-in-law.
Mr. Bennet died of a heart attack two years prior, which caused Mr. Collins to never take orders (become a minister) and he inherited all of Longbourn. At the time he visited Elizabeth was supporting Jane during one of her pregnancies so Mr. Collins married Mary, leaving Charlotte unmarried and no prospect in sight.
Now that Mary is mistress of Longbourn she has become very self important, tyrannical, and uses her position to control her remaining family members: Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth, and Lydia (Kitty is married and lives in Portsmouth).
Elizabeth is not as strong or as fierce as she used to be as grief and circumstances have caused her to fold in on herself. She also is having problems with her heart, and is secretly afraid that she has inherited her father’s heart condition. She also feels unsettled as she is forced to move from Longbourn to London, not really having her own home; along with having to kowtow to the Collinses.
Mr. Bingley has not rented Netherfield but its gatehouse is where Mr. Darcy and Georgiana reside. It turns out that when Georgiana was seduced by Mr. Wickham, she became pregnant. Mr. Darcy decided to lie to family and friends saying they are vacationing in the warmer climate of Spain, while planning to hide out in Meryton until after the baby was born. Unfortunately, Georgiana suffered from a miscarriage and is currently extremely ill with tuberculosis.
To make this even harder on the Darcy’s, with Georgiana hardly going out due to her poor health and Mr. Darcy keeping his true net worth hidden and also not partaking in society; horrible rumors about the two abound in the community.
But while the beginning is a tad grim, let me assure you it does contain a happy ending. I have to admit when I first started this novel I was unsure where it would go as this opening was most unexpected. However, at the same time I was also extremely intrigued as to see what all these threads would produce.
Elizabeth has just returned from visiting Jane when she hears about the latest news of Mr. Darcy moving to town and is warned by Mr. Collins and Mary to steer clear of them. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have a horrible interaction at the apothecary, when Mr. Darcy, eager for medicine to aid his sister, rudely interrupts Elizabeth’s conversation. While Elizabeth doesn’t believe all the stories circling Darcy, she has decided he is an extremely rude man she would like nothing to do with.
Later at a party thrown by Sir William Lucas, Elizabeth spots Mr. Darcy and it appears that he is listening to her stories of London, strangely seeming interested in topics that wouldn’t typically suit a man. She manages to question him later about his interest in her tales of London and he reveals he is picking up tidbits to share with his sister, who’s health keeps her from anything.
Mr. Darcy also witnesses Elizabeth in heart pain, but after her pleas he agrees to not to reveal her illness to anyone.
That evening Mr. Darcy sees his sickly sister pleased at the crumbs of conversation he managed to solicit and decides to join up with Colonel Fitzwilliam (the only one who knows of their ruse), to try and hunt Mr. Wickham down. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has been thinking about Georgiana and how lonely she must be, just like Elizabeth. While Darcy comes to his decision to go after Wickham, Elizabeth is determined to befriend Georgiana.
The two immediately develop a friendship, with Georgiana revealing the true story of why they are in Longbourn. When Mr. Darcy returns (having not located Mr. Wickham), he at first clashes with Elizabeth; him not wanting charity, suspicious she might be hunting for information to ruin his sister’s reputation, and worried that these visits are doing more harm than good. Elizabeth returns somewhat to her old self as she sees him as controlling, rude, and is not afraid to speak her mind on it. Eventually, for the sake of Georgiana, the two make a truce and often enjoy debating or discussing issues.
While Elizabeth enjoys her time with the Darcys, she continues to be unhappy in her life and her heart pains appear to be increasing. She finally comes to the decision to consult the apothecary Mr. Jones, but he is unfortunately called away to care for his sick son before he can give her a prognosis. He promises to write and when a letter does come to the apothecary shop Elizabeth, embarrassed to speak to the assistant, purloins the letter and discovers that she only has a few months to live.
At first distraught over the fact that her life is ending, she then decides she will do whatever she can to ensure her remaining days are how she wants to spend them. She approaches Mr. Darcy and asks for his hand in marriage, not out of love but so that she can care for Georgiana, have her own life, and be buried with dignity rather than pity.
Mr. Darcy is shocked at how brazen Elizabeth is but after she reveals her reasons, and he spends time with her family-he can’t help but feel sorry for her and agrees. For him; his sister will be happy for her remaining time, Elizabeth will have a much happier place to live, he only has to care for her a few months (and she is beautiful and enjoyable to be around), and can use his widower status to keep his Aunt Catherine or any other ladies at bay (“I cannot remarry as my heart is “broken”). The two enter one of my favorite tropes, a marriage of convenience, and of course they eventually fall for each other.
But this path is full of obstacles. As the two grow closer and fall for each other, will Elizabeth continue to feel the same way when she discovers Mr. Darcy is not a poor gentleman but has kept his lineage and estate hidden from her? Will the two be able to swallow their pride and compromise to create a true marriage? And will their love even matter when Elizabeth’s days are numbered?!
My thoughts on this book? I LOVED it.
I knew how it would end and figured out the reveal of a plot twist immediately when it was introduced, but honestly that doesn’t matter. From page one I was sucked in and stayed up all night finishing it.
This book made me laugh, I cried, I went through every emotion and enjoyed every page.
I also think Moll touched really well on complicated grief and the guilt and blame that can come when a sadness of a death is mixed up in a hatred toward life’s circumstances. I used to work with grieving families and children and the scene when Mr. Darcy is trying to cope and work through his inner torment at the death of his sister and nephew is extremely well written.
I really enjoy the slow burn of a romance, and I savored watching the romance progress from civility to passion.
I also liked the way Moll wrote the supporting characters, especially the relationship between Lydia, Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth. In this Lydia is still constantly thinking of getting married, clothes, and still a bit of a narcissist; but as being the only other unmarried sister and stuck under the care of Mr. Collins she and her sister have bonded closer together. We also see that while Lydia is concerned for her welfare first and foremost she loves her sister and wants to help her in the way she best can.
I highly recommend this for fans of Austen variations as I throughly enjoyed it and will definitely be reading it again.
Charlotte’s Story: A Novel from the World of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
by Carolyn Korsmeyer
I was on Instagram when I came across a post by Heather Moll, in which she was looking for Jane Austen fans to read an ARC of her newest book. I of course am always looking for new things to read (even though my to-read list is crazy long) and reached out to her.
We discussed when she would like the review posted, but after we messaged each other something kept niggling in the back of my mind, I had forgotten something? But what?
After I received Moll’s ARC it suddenly hit me! Back in December, Wiley Saichek had reached out to me to review Carolyn Korsmeyer new book Charlotte’s Story. With him emailing me at the beginning of the holiday season it had completely slipped my mind.
Feeling all kinds of horrible for promising to review the novel and having not done it, I decided before I could check out Moll’s work I needed to read and review this immediately.
When I first read the premise of the the novel, I was intrigued as I have always liked the character Charlotte Lucas and I do not feel she gets enough appreciation. She is often seen as the “what not to do” character, but for a woman with limited options she was cunning and wily. She may not have married for love, but she also didn’t have a disastrous marriage like in The Buccaneers. While she married a man that isn’t passionate, she was for it ate to marry one who wouldn’t hurt her, abuse her, or cheat on her. And while he is silly and bumbling, Charlotte could have had it much worse.
For those of you who have never read or watched Pride and Prejudice, or may not know the character of Charlotte Lucas I will give a brief summary. The story of Pride and Prejudice revolves around the Bennet family, a large family consisting of five daughters living on an estate that is entailed (can only be inherited by a male relative). Mr. and Mrs. Bennet always believed they would have a boy and didn’t plan for an outcome of only girls nor have they been very prudent with their money. Mrs. Bennet is eager to marry all her children off ASAP, as when Mr. Bennet dies they will have a very different lifestyle and it will be harder to find them suitors. Two men come into the neighborhood, along with English officers and a distant cousin who will inherit when Mr. Bennet passes. Mrs. Bennet tried to ensnare marriage proposals but things do not go as planned. There is comedy, drama, and more!
Charlotte Lucas is the best friend of Elizabeth Bennet (second eldest Bennet daughter), and when Elizabeth rejects their distant cousin, Mr. Collins’, marriage proposal Charlotte swoops in. She invites Mr. Collins to move into Lucas Lodge and ends up engaged to him! After their marriage Charlotte moves to Hunsford, to Mr. Collins’ parish. When Elizabeth, Maria Lucas (Charlotte’s sister) and Sir William (Charlotte’s father) visit the Collinses, they are invited to dine with Lady Cathrine de Bourgh who not only is Mr. Collins’ patroness but also Mr. Darcy’s aunt; Mr. Darcy being one of the gentlemen who Mrs. Bennet was originally trying to snare and one that Elizabeth can’t stand.
After this vacation, Elizabeth returns home and we do not hear of Charlotte until the end of Pride and Prejudice. So there is a lot of wiggle room to create a “new” story.
This novel starts off with Elizabeth’s rejection and Charlotte deciding to net Mr. Collins. The two are quickly wed and then go to his home. Charlotte begins busying herself with taking everything into hand (as a bachelor does not always keep the best house). She tries to start a friendship with Lady Catherine’s daughter, Anne, but finds it difficult as Anne has a low constitution and a bulldog of a companion.
Charlotte finds it lonely in her new life, missing her friends and family and is also sad not to be pregnant as soon as she wishes. She also finds herself regretting aspects of her marriage, such as the fact that she was not wooed, won, or worked for. It reminds me of Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and how her husband did not understand the value of his wife as she was won “without effort”. Charlotte also realizes that in her quest for marriage, home, stability, etc.-she never really thought about what type of man she should be looking for.
When Elizabeth and Maria arrive, Charlotte becomes the viewer watching the scenes unfold, being told later by Elizabeth what has happened-from Darcy rejected proposal to Darcy’s secret.
In this adaptation Darcy and Anne are close cousins, although he has no desire to marry her. It was nice to see it as in Austen’s original piece all is told from Elizabeth’s point of reference (colored by her dislike of Mr. Darcy and Lady Catherine). From Charlotte’s point of view Anne is very nice, although naive, and the two eventually become friends.
The relationship between the Collinses become fractured when Charlotte falls extremely ill and while appreciative of the care Mr. Collins gave Charlotte is furious that Mr. Collins never contacted her family about it. Mr. Collins apologizes and shares about his childhood and that his parents never planned for children, his mother died in childbirth, and he has no familial bonds with anyone. It never occurred to him to notify her family. Charlotte forgives him, but everything splinters over the Lydia/Wickham and Elizabeth/Darcy situation. Mr. Collins wants to distance himself from his family (and rebuke them for their actions); while Charlotte wants to support her friends. After the dust has settled, and a quick visit to Hertfordshire, with no children on the horizon Mr. Collins sends Charlotte to Bath to partake in the waters. She journies with Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Norris (Mrs. Bennet’s sister), Maria, Kitty, and Mary. Anne and her nurse/companion Mrs. Jenkins also plan to meet them there.
In Bath, Charlotte partakes of the water and again becomes a spectator into the lives of her party. Kitty, Maria, and Mary enjoy concerts, balls, parties, and young suitors. Anne is thrilled with being free from her mother and finds her own suitor, also being followed closely by Colonel Fitzwilliam. *Wink, wink*.
Eventually their time in Bath ends and they all must return home, Mary joining the Collinses-and with one more twist in life’s plans will Charlotte eventually finds happiness or just sorrow?
So what did I think of the book? I thought Korsmeyer did a great job at trying to mimic Jane Austen’s style and stay true to the novel while putting her own spin on it. The only part of the book I really disliked was that several times Charlotte was moved to observer instead of an active member of the story. For a book that is supposed to be about her, at times I felt she felt became part of the scenery instead of staying the main player.
Korsmeyer does take liberties with creating her own story and some changes to the characters will not appeal to everyone. While I don’t agree with her depiction of some of the characters I did not feel that she did anything that was too contrary to the character’s “possibilities”. One example is the character change of Mary Bennet, who people seem to disagree with the most. In this version, Mary is taken to Bath and after she receives positive attention from her mother (and young men) with a new style of dress and a different way of acting; she embraces a new personality. For someone who is often only tolerated, left out, and the source of jokes in her family, I could see that with this change to actually being wanted, Mary would try to do whatever she could to keep it. Such as, completely changing her personality and making decisions she previously would not do. After all, I have known people in my life who have behaved like that. It might not be the route I would have taken, but I do not feel it is out of the realm of possibilities for the Austen character.
Reading this book there were two points Korsmeyer made that I found extremely fascinating. The first is that Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy are the same amount of socially awkward, but in different areas on the spectrum. While Mr. Collins covers his insecurities with a constant stream of words, Mr. Darcy covers his with silence and scowls.
“At one point, I had the oddest impression that in their own ways each man [Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy] was evincing his discomfort with company. How very strange to speculate that my garrulous husband and this stern statue might both be simply ill at ease in society.
Charlotte’s Story: A Novel from the World of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Carolyn Korsmeyer
It is a fair comparison to make as we see Mr. Darcy react different when in company he knows/likes-however in the original novel we never see how Mr. Collins reacts when he is at home just with Charlotte.
The other point I found really thought provoking was when Mr. Collins discusses his childhood. In this adaptation, Mr. Collins’ mother died in childbirth, his father hated/blamed him + ignored him, and Me. Collins spent his whole life trying to get people to like him. Then one day he meets Lady Catherine who actually listens to what he says and enjoys his company. If this backstory were the case then in a way Lady Catherine has filled that vacant “parental” slot in Mr. Collins’ life. He now has someone who will “rear” him, give him advice, financially care for him (she’s his patron), etc. And not only does he have a “parent” in his life, but has gained “family” with Lady Catherine’s family. Just to be clear I’m not saying that Mr. Collins actually believes the de Bourgh family and relations to be his family, I’m saying that subconsciously he’s adopted them and believes they feel the same about him. Also if he never really had family growing up it would explain why he has no idea how to act with the Bennets, talking to them like he read a book on how to converse with one’s relations. But again, this is all supposition.
I found Korsmeyer to be a talented writer who is able to write a story that can hold your interest. This book will not be for everyone but I do believe that if you enjoy Pride and Prejudice adaptations it is well worth a read to see a different view into the Collinses and a deepening of characters that are often at the back of the action. Besides having more Charlotte, I really enjoyed the fleshing out of Anne de Bourgh, Maria Lucas, Kitty Bennet, Mary Bennet, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Whether or not you agree with everything in the story, I still think most will enjoy the stroll down a “what if” path in the Jane Austen universe.
Two years ago I read an article on Nora Ephron and in the article she shared that she is a big fan of Pride and Prejudice and when she wrote You’ve Got Mail, she made it a loose adaption of Jane Austen’s novel. I was surprised when I read that as I don’t see the two being that much alike and last year I decided to finally review You’ve Got Mail and determine whether it:
Should be considered an adaption of Pride and Prejudice
Needs to be excluded from the Jane Austen multiverse/canon altogether?
After rewatching You’ve Got Mail I ended up deciding that it is most definitely not an adaption of Pride and Prejudice and I personally don’t feel like it should belong in the Jane Austen canon/multiverse.
But while this film is not a good candidate, what about the film You’ve Got Mail is a remake of? Could The Shop Around the Corner be considered?
The Shop Around the Corner is not lifted from Jane Austen but a Hungarian play, Parfumerie. It has been made adapted many times: The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and You’ve Got Mail (1998) being only two of them. But just because it wasn’t taken specifically from Jane Austen, doesn’t mean it cannot be included in the canon. After all, The 12 Men of Christmasand Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade aren’t “official” Austen adaptions, but the similarities are close enough that I include them.
Let’s begin with a quick summary of the story of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is about a mother, Mrs. Bennet, wanting to marry off her daughters as quickly as possible, as with their father’s death they will have very little. Two men move to their community that Mrs. Bennet is intent on harpooning, no matter what. One, Mr. Bingley, falls for the elder daughter, Jane, while the other man, Mr. Darcy, is overheard insulting the second daughter, Elizabeth, by Elizabeth herself. (Ouch!) Elizabeth is wounded and when she hears a tale about how horrible Mr. Darcy is from a handsome charming man, she readily believes it. She later discovers there is more to both these men than meets the eye; as the story deals with the concepts of pride and prejudice, first impressions, whether you should be overt in how you feel or play it close to the heart, etc. It has amazing wit and characters.
The Shop Around the Corner takes place in Budapest in the shop Matuschek, and focuses mostly on two of the employees: Alfred Kralik (Jimmy Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan). Mr. Kralik is Mr. Matuschek’s oldest and best employee, the two often having more of a father-son relationship than a employer-employee. One day they are having a summer sale and a woman, Klara, comes in wanting a job as she has just been let go from her previous one. Mr. Kralik dissuades her from trying as they are not hiring, but Klara manipulates Mr. Matuschek into hiring her (she’s a really good saleswoman.) After this the two are constantly at odds as Klara is rude to Mr. Kralik, makes fun of him, and is always surly. After this treatment, Mr. Kralik does not care for Klara, and treats her with an equally surly, but professional, attitude. Meanwhile, months earlier Mr. Kralik had started writing to an anonymous woman for friendship and to to discuss literature. Over time the two have switched from literary topics to love and have fallen for each other. When Mr. Kralik goes to meet his letter lady, he discovers it is his work nemesis, Klara. When he goes in to see her, Klara dresses him down and Mr. Kralik starts wondering about his behavior. As the two continue to work side by side, Mr. Kralik tries to show Klara another side of him, hoping to win her heart as she has already captured his.
Even though this isn’t a true adaption of Pride and Prejudice, in every way it is so much closer to an adaption then it’s later remake, You’ve Got Mail.
First of all the interactions between the two leads in The Shop Around the Corner, is much more similar to Pride and Prejudice then You’ve Got Mail. In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet at a ball and Elizabeth is very attracted to him, but later dislikes him when he says she is tolerable but not handsome enough for him. Klara also later admits in the film that when she first met Mr. Kralik she was very attracted to him, but changed her mind when he didn’t react to her the way she had hoped. Also like Elizabeth, Klara too believes lies about the male lead’s character, told to her by another employee, Ferencz Vadas.
Mr. Darcy on the other hand, didn’t really think anything of Elizabeth, as he considered all in the area to be below his notice. Later, after spending time with her when Jane is ill at Netherfield he falls for her wit and beauty. With Mr. Kralik when he first meets Klara he doesn’t like her or dislike her, he does try to help her find work by suggesting other places she could try, but he’s mostly preoccupied with his own work. Like Darcy the wit and intelligence is what gets him, as he too falls for his lady through the mind first, this case in her letters.
While there are more things at play in the film the springboard for all their fights seem to be in this moment when Mr. Kralik tries to dissuade her from applying for a job (as they don’t have any openings) while Klara not only manipulates Mr. Matuschek into hiring her, but buying worthless items they later aren’t able to sell (what Mr. Kralik had said from the beginning.)
Jimmy Stewart’s character Mr. Kralik is also more like Mr. Darcy than Tom Hanks’ Joe Fox. Joe Fox was cruel, abrasive, insulting, and rude. We see him sweet to his little kid aunt and brother but he never has a place or people he seems to fully relax, like Darcy does with Pemberley and his staff there. In The Shop Around the Corner, Kralik is very decisive, focused, has a tough exterior and can come off cold; but to those who know him, he is has a more relaxed side. We see that with his close friend Pirovitch, and then later when he hears how he is perceived by others from Klara, and tries to be less cold and curt.
Unlike Kathleen, who is not at all like Elizabeth, (having a lack of wit, obstinance, headstrongness, or initiative); Klara is very witty, strong willed, does not shy away from situations or people, is confident, and bold enough to give Mr. Kralik several dressing downs.
I really like the interaction between Mr. Kralik and Klara at the cafe. In the film the two letter writers are supposed to meet up, but Mr. Kralik ends up losing his job (a subplot is that Mr. Matuschek thinks Mr. Kralik is messing around with his wife, but he isn’t). Mr. Kralik isn’t planning on going to see her as he’s feeling depressed, but his friend convinces him to go and when he finds out it is Klara who always makes work unpleasant, he’s not pleased. At the cafe he plans to tell her his identity, her letter lover, but words are thrown around by both and Klara really let’s him know how she feels:
Alfred Kralik: There might be a lot we don’t know about each other. You know, people seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth.
Klara Novak: Well I really wouldn’t care to scratch your surface, Mr. Kralik, because I know exactly what I’d find. Instead of a heart, a hand-bag. Instead of a soul, a suitcase. And instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter… which doesn’t work.
Alfred Kralik: Well, that’s very nicely put. Yes, comparing my intellect with a cigarette lighter that doesn’t work. That’s a very interesting mixture of… poetry and meanness.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
After hearing this, Mr. Kralik takes time to self reflect and realizes that he wants to change how he is perceived by others. Now he has no plans to see Klara again, as he’s been fired, and is not quite sure what to do with the letter writing issue (as it appears she can’t stand him). However, when Mr. Matuschek discovers that he was wrong and a different employee was sleeping with his wife, he becomes so disheartened about everything that he planned to kil himself. Mr. Matuschek is stopped by Pepe the errand boy, and decides to step back from the to recuperate, calling Mr. Kralik, and hiring him back to take over the store. Now Mr. Kralik takes what was said to him by Klara and tries to be be not so cold and distant, while at the same time he also doesn’t try to show off and convince Klara or show her he’s changed-he just makes those changes.
This is much more similar to Mr. Darcy and the way he reacts to Elizabeth’s words. Mr. Darcy too took what was said, improved himself, and also never planned to interact with Elizabeth again. They only cross paths by accident and then later when he goes to support Bingley. When Bingley and Jane are engaged and he is invited to the Bennet’s home and card parties, he never tries to show off that she should be with him, he doesn’t try to take her aside, etc. He respects her wishes and only approaches her again after Lady Catherine’s rude visit and Elizabeth’s lack of promise not to marry him causes him to hope again. But even then, he tells her still cares but if she doesn’t feel that way he understands and will never speak of the matter again.
In contrast, Joe Fox is nothing like Mr, Darcy or Mr. Kralik as he not only makes it his mission to constantly run into Kathleen, but also uses his online persona and in-person persona to manipulate her.
Klara sees this change in him and realizes that she was misjudging him; and at the same time she does her own self reflection and realizes that she didn’t treat him as well as she could and a lot of their issues were caused by both sides.
So while it’s not a perfect adaption, I feel this one definitely is more of an adaption of Pride and Prejudice than You’ve Got Mail.
But while it is better than You’ve Got Mail, should it be considered a Jane Austen adaption?
After careful consideration I think not. It was very close, but it’s missing something else to really put it in the Pride and Prejudice camp. I will, however, highly recommend it for any Jane Austen fan and it will be going on my list of Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans due to its similarities and because it is an amazing film. I love it so much, I have to watch it every December at least once.
It is so romantic and I just adore how they falling in love over letters. I cannot recommend this film more. You are guaranteed to not only enjoy it but want to keep watching it again and again.
So do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!
Last year I read an article on Nora Ephron and in the article she shared that she is a fan of Pride and Prejudice and You’ve Got Mail is actually a loose adaption of it. (I have since tried to find that exact article, but have failed).
When I read that I was shocked? You’ve Got Mail? I mean parts are familiar but at its core I have never felt like it is an adaption of Pride and Prejudice, in fact I think the film that You’ve Got Mail is a remake for, The Shop Around the Corner, is a much better argument for a Pride and Prejudice adaption.
I had thought about reviewing You’ve Got Mail last year, but as usual with the holidays-I ran out of time and instead was only able to review one Jane Austen film adaption, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe.
This year I ran a poll on my instagram and offered up to review Sense and Sensibility and Snowmen, Christmas at Pemberley, You’ve Got Mail, or The Shop Around the Corner; and You’ve Got Mail won. So let’s take a look!
I first saw this film when I was eight or nine and I thought it was so romantic. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have such great chemistry, it centered around books and bookstores, and of course the “star on this Christmas tree” (more in season than icing on the cake), was that the leads fell in love over letters/email messages.
However, it seems like ever year I grow older I like these characters and film less and less. One part of the film that really bothers me is the way that both main characters are feeling stale in their relationships and decide to turn to emotional cheating instead of discussing their feelings with the person they are living with. And I absolutely hate the way Meg Ryan and Greg Kinnear’s characters break up. It’s so weird and awkward how they care so little for the end of their relationship. Like why are they even together? What made them decide to take that step to move in together, save on rent? And another thing I absolutely abhor about this film, Joe’s manipulation of Kathleen, But I’ll save that for later.
But I will try to put aside all those feelings for now and just focus on the film and:
Should this be considered an adaption of Pride and Prejudice?
Does this just need to be excluded from the Jane Austen multiverse/canon altogether?
Let’s begin with the story of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is the story of a mother wanting to marry off her daughters, as with their father’s death they will have very little. Two men come to their town that their mother is intent on harpooning, no matter what. One, Mr. Bingley, falls for the elder daughter, Jane, while the other man, Mr. Darcy, is overheard insulting the second daughter, Elizabeth, by Elizabeth herself. (Ouch!) Elizabeth is wounded and when she hears a tale about how horrible Mr. Darcy is from a handsome charming man, she readily believes it. She later discovers there is more to both these men than meet the eye; as the story deals with the concepts of pride and prejudice, first impressions, whether you should be overt in how you feel or play it close to the heart, etc. It has amazing wit and characters.
You’ve Got Mail begins with two very different people. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), Shopgirl, is the owner of a bookstore, inherited from her mother. She lives with her newspaper boyfriend (Greg Kinnear), but is bored in their relationship and searching for escape (when she really should just break up with her boyfriend) and enters an over 30 chat room, meeting up and creating an emotional affair/relationship with NY152.
NY152 is Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), and the owner of Fox Books, a Barnes & Noble-esque corporation. He is in a relationship with a publisher and they have zero chemistry, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that instead of ending his lackluster relationship, he too decided to search the internet for an emotional affair/relationship. While Kathleen and Joe two are “in love” online they are enemies offscreen as Joe Fox is putting up his new store near Kathleen’s and actively trying to put her out of business.
The two meet when Joe is spending the day with his 11 year old aunt and 4 year old brother. They stop at the bookstore and Joe tries to withhold who he really is. Later they run into each other again at a holiday party, Kathleen angry at his “corporate espionage” and withholding his identity; while Joe is extremely rude and insults Kathleen and her store to her face.
Back online Shopgirl/Kathleen and NY152/Joe decide to meet in person (while still in relationships). Joe brings his friend to scout out how she looks and discovers it is his nemesis, Kathleen. He goes in and harasses/insults her-ignoring her pleas for him to leave.
Afterwards, Kathleen’s store folds and Joe realizes he “loves” Kathleen. He goes to tell her how he feels, and she is rude to him (completely understandable), and he decides to embark on a plan to make her fall for him. Playing her as both NY152 he uses his knowledge for them to “accidentally” run into each other; manipulates the responses he gives as NY152 and Joe, so Joe always comes out better. By the end of the film NY152 and Shopgirl meet in person and Kathleen is ecstatic to see Joe is NY152 her “dream man”. Even though this dream man put her out if business and insulted her several times-not to mention constantly lied and manipulated her; all supposedly “ends well.”
So is this an adaption of Pride and Prejudice? I would say no. Not only does the story not really follow Pride and Prejudice but the biggest problem is Joe as Mr. Darcy. I think the first of all is that the two are way too adversarial. I know everyone says Pride and Prejudice is enemies to lovers, but I disagree. Mr. Darcy never saw Elizabeth as an enemy-he saw her as inconsequential, then interesting, then his match, then a mirror showcasing what is wrong with him and needs to be changed, etc. Mr. Darcy never purposely ever tried to hurt Elizabeth, remember when he insults her he doesn’t know she can hear him, and everything he does regarding Jane and Bingley he did not to be malicious to the Bennets, but because he was trying to act in the best interests of his friend-it has nothing to do with Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the only one who thought of him as an enemy, so the two at war like this makes no sense.
In fact if she wanted to make it more like Pride and Prejudice in a modern setting it would have made more sense to have them butt heads over a diffeeence in thought versus an all out war like this. For instance in The Darcy Monologues, one of the modern adaptionshave the two working at the same school. Or in Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstring Girl they work at the same Hollywood Studio. This relationship also makes zero sense to me as I cannot see how someone who grew up in their mother’s bookshop, cared for it as their mother did, felt like closing it was burying their parent all over again; would ever be able to happily enter a relationship with the man who purposely destroyed it. If, for instance, he just opened his store there before meeting her, but wasn’t intent on closing her down I could see it-but he is so ruthless, rude, and cruel to her. And these two will live happily ever after?
Secondly, this is not a Pride and Prejudice adaption because they take the very thing that sets Darcy apart, what we love him and completely remove it from the script and do the opposite: I’m talking about the way Darcy deals with Elizabeth’s rejection. When Darcy is rejected by Elizabeth he doesn’t insult her, he isn’t snotty, he doesn’t yell at her or tell her she will regret it, etc. He listens to what she tells him, writes a letter explaining his actions, and respects her rejection and leaves her alone. After Elizabeth refuses him he has no intent on trying to win her, change her mind, or try and show her how he is the “good guy”. In fact, not only does he take what she said to him and decides to change himself, (not to impress her or win her but because he wants to), he also never plans to interact with her again. They only cross paths by accident and then later when he goes to support Bingley. When Bingley and Jane are engaged and he is invited to the Bennet’s home and card parties, he never tries to show off that she should be with him, he doesn’t try to take her aside, etc. He respects her wishes and only approaches her again after Lady Catherine’s rude visit and Elizabeth’s lack of promise not to marry him causes him to hope again. But even then, he tells her still cares but if she doesn’t feel that way he understands and will never speak of the matter again. Like I wish guys in real life were as amazing as that.
In this Joe not only belittles and lies to Kathleen, but he completely ignores her feelings or what is best for her. He never thinks of her or what she wants, but only what makes him feel good. He constantly stalks and contrives ways for them to be together, he lies about himself and his intentions, he works hard to show her “how great of a guy he is”, gaslighting her into thinking she was wrong to consider him a jerk. He uses vulnerable information gained from NY152 to make Joe seem better, using it to win her trust and manipulate her into thinking she “loves” him. The whole reason we love Darcy is that he isn’t trying to show or prove something to Elizabeth, he listened to her impressions of him, realized he didn’t want to come off as that, and actively changed himself to make him be better. In this Joe doesn’t go down to the studs and tries to fix the issues in his personality, but just slaps on a splash of paint, bribes the building inspector, and says he’s a brand new building.
In fact rewatching the film this time, this level of manipulation and narcissism makes me feel like if Joe was any Austen character he would be Frank Churchill. And unfortunately in this, Kathleen doesn’t have a great friend like Mr. Knightley who can point out to her that the guy she thinks she could care for is nothing but a narcissistic jerk who will always put his self interest first to achieve what he wants, no matter the cost.
And thirdly, this is not Pride and Prejudice as Kathleen is nothing like Elizabeth. Kathleen is very quiet, sweet, and when it comes to retorts she often stands there uncertain what to say. Unlike Elizabeth, Kathleen only has two real witty moments in the film: her retort to Joe in the coffee shop about Elizabeth Bennet being the heroine of Pride and Prejudice and her insult to him when he visits her after shutting her business down. Most of the time when it comes to verbal wordplay, she has to be rescued by other characters. If I was going to say she is like anybody, I would have to say she resembles Harriet Smith the most. Like Harriet Kathleen doesn’t really make decisions but tends to go along with what other people think she should do. She doesn’t even want to fight Fox Books until NY152, her boyfriend, employees, etc tell her to. She is also easily manipulated and persuaded, and she only gains any type of measure to stand up for herself near the end of the story. But unfortunately for Kathleen, she doesn’t get a Mr. Martin, she ends up with a Frank Churchhill-esque Joe. I hate Frank Churchill.
So is this a Pride and Prejudice adaption, even as a “loose” adaption? I would say no as none of the characters in You’ve Got Mail keep the key components of those found in Pride and Prejudice. With a loose adaption there are a lot you can forgive, but at their core the characters should resemble the ones they are based off, and none do here.
Would I recommend this as a Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans? No. While Joe makes me think of Frank Churchill, and Kathleen Harriet Smith; there really isn’t enough in the themes or the characters to for me to recommend it. Plus I really don’t like it, and I hardly ever recommend a film I don’t like.
Should this just be dropped from the Jane Austen multiverse/canon? Yes, please. Gossip Girl is a more likely candidate for the Jane Austen multiverse/canon then this film.
So agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!
I shared earlier in my post that I think that the film You’ve Got Mail is a remake of, The Shop Around the Corner, is one that I think you can make a strong agreement that it is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. Myplan is to rewatch it, as I typically do for Christmas, and post my review on the 26th. Will I actually be able to do that? I guess we will see. If not I can always save it for next year.
But whether I do or don’t, I did want to end this on one more thing: