Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Homespun Bride

So this is something I started a while back. We all love Jane Austen and it is such a bummer that there isn’t more of her works to read.

Variations are a ton of fun, and there are great ones out there, but sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read?

Hmm…

That’s why I started this series. I will review books that have the things we love about the Austen novels, but is something fresher than a retelling.

Homespun Bride (The McKaslin Clan Historical #2) by Jillian Hart

Thad McKaslin has returned home after being away for eight years. He always wanted to live in Montana-dreaming of owning a plot of land and having a ranch for him and his wife-who he hoped to be Noelle Kramer. There was no happier day than when he proposed and she said yes.

How sweet!

But it was not to be as her father, the banker who owned the mortgage on Thad’s family farm, threatened to evict his family-including his sick mother-if he didn’t leave his daughter alone.

Choosing not to meet to elope with Noelle at their meeting place, he instead left for the West and cattle drives-planning to never return, but did when his family needed help-his younger brother (who got into trouble) has just been released from jail and his older brother widowed.

Aw, that’s sad.

He expects Noelle to be married to her father’s choice, have children, and to never run into her. But as he is out running an errand, a runaway horse almost plunges two women and their carriage into a river. He helps them and is surprised to see they are Noelle and her Aunt Henrietta, and Noelle is blind!

Huh?

Noelle was heartbroken when she went to meet Thad and he wasn’t there. When she returned him crying, she confessed to her father who assured her she was better off than to be with that cad-probably persuaded by the thrill of going out West and sowing oats than being married. Noelle had given up on love and planned on marrying her father’s choice as she didn’t care anymore…

But then Noelle was in an accident that killed her mother and father and left her permanently blind.

Her fiancé didn’t want “damaged goods” and left her-her aunt and uncle (and their four girls) moving from the East to take care of her. Noelle has never stopped loving Thad but having him back makes her anger come out-how could he have been persuaded by the Wild West, how could he have left her.

Thad realizes that Noelle doesn’t know the truth of what happened, but decides to not say anything as he knows how much she loved her father and he doesn’t want to taint her image of him. He decides to stay far away, but her matchmaking aunt who worries about all her girls being settled and her uncle Robert who has no horse sense and is in severe need of aid, keep him coming around.

After Robert has an incredibly dangerous fall, Thad joins the household by taking care of the ranch and spending more time with Noelle, his love reigniting. Will the two be able to move forward? Or be stuck in the past? Will each be able to overcome their insecurities of not being enough (Thad’s “lower class background” and Noelle’s blindness) or will they let that keep them far apart?

So the first reason why I recommend this for Austen fans is that it instantly made me think of Persuasion. Two people in love, separated by youthful persuasion, reuniting wiser and more experienced, a bad fall bringing them together, etc.

In this, Thad is like Anne Elliot- In Persuasion Anne wants to marry Frederick Wentworth, but is persuaded by the fear that he could die, she’d be left alone, etc outweigh her love and she refuses him-him thinking that it is because he is lower than her, not knowing really how Anne loved him. Thad is the same way as he knows the full reason why the engagement ended and has both hurt and pain, but not anger or bitterness.

Noelle is more like Frederick. Both have misunderstood the reason why the person they loved left and start the first half of the book angry and bitter, but then after a bad fall (for Noelle, her uncle Robert and Fredrick, Louisa Musgrove) they realize who they love and want to be with that person. While Frederick writes a letter of his love for Anne, Noelle anonymously sells the land she owns that Thad has been dreaming of buying to show her love for him.

Aunt Henreitta reminds me of a combination of Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Jennings, and Aunt Gardiner. Aunt Henrietta is the mother of four girls and is constantly worrying about marrying them off, providing dowries, etc.

Hardly a page goes by when she isn’t plotting some sort of matchmaking, but unlike Mrs. Bennet she isn’t silly or has gauche behavior. Like Mrs. Jennings she wants to marry off any eligible man or woman she likes and has a forceful presence. Like Mrs. Jennings, Henrietta will back and protect anyone she cares for, so don’t mess with either one’s girls.

But unlike those two ladies, Henrietta is also very sensible and has a great relationship and love with her husband Robert. She reads the emotions of Thad and Noelle early and tries her best to get them together.

I thought it was a cute story and recommend it for Jane Austen fans.

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

For more on Persuasion, go to You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

For more Westerns, go to Will We Survive the Night?: Rawhide (1951)

Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious (2015)

Almost done! It’s the final countdown,

Three more episodes left and than I am done FOOOOOOOREEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So if you have been following me you know that I hate this show. I really, really do not like this or how they portray the characters.

That movie

But I started it, so I’ve got to finish it.

So Austentatious is the story of Elinor, Marianne, Emma, Elizabeth, and Mr. Knightley being friends in modern times. But they don’t involve ANY Austen plots or subplots. In fact, besides names they hardly share anything with the original source material.

So in the last episode Elinor and Edward were doing IRS stuff and she is smitten with him, Marianne accidentally dyed herself blue and met Knightley’s friend Nurse Brandon (he chose not to be a doctor big plot point in the previous episode), the friends set Emma up on blind dates to get back at the disastrous dates she paired them with, and Elizabeth had acrylic nails that she hated.

Yes…this is why I don’t like this show.

For the thousandth time

So Edward is back, and he and Elinor have finished getting their IRS stuff all together.

Elinor has a hoodie on, which seems really weird as we spent a large time with her being on Marianne’s case about being a good worker and professional, and she was promoted to be in charge-so why isn’t she dressing professionally?

Elinor is on cloud nine as she loves her IRS man (one of the few people who are happy to see and deal with the IRS). She gets home and Emma and Knighltley are at her house…or is it all their houses? They never make that quite clear and everyone is always in that one apartment.

Weird…

Emma is on break and Knightey is bored. What does he do for a living? He dresses nice but never seems to be doing anything at all…

Elizabeth and Marianne bought an exercise bike and brought it to Elinor’s apartment. So if it is Marianne and Elinor’s apartment why are Emma and Knightley over when she isn’t? Why don’t they go to their houses? I mean I must not be the only one who finds it weird that their friends hang out in their apartment when they aren’t home do I?

I mean if they were going to just use one location then they should have had them share an apartment or a house.

Emma is “working” and wearing a hoodie and ripped jeans? Like what is going on with the clothes today? This whole entire show Emma was a fashionista and as a lawyer always dressing professionally. What is happening here? I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone, more than ever.

Emma: [To Grant Knightley] “What’s the point of having all those muscles if you don’t help a damsel when she’s in distress?”

I actually like that line. One flake of gold in the whole program.

Emma and Elinor leave Elizabeth and Knightley to put it together as they head over to the smoothie shop to “work”. Emma is secretly reading a regular book instead of a law tome, as it turns out she lied to get out of putting the machine together. I knew there was a reason she wasn’t dressed in her usual wear.

Marianne goes to Emma for advice over Elinor and Elinor’s mad, but I don’t blame Marianne for thinking Elinor knows zip. She doesn’t have a great track record, I mean I saw the makeover/date episode.

Elinor complains that they are being loud and distracting as she is working. Well helloooo Elinor you are in a public shop-if you want quiet why don’t you go home and work in your room or go back to the office?

I mean for real!

Lizzie and Grant/Knightley are trying to put the bike together and are seriously struggling. Grant tries to convince Lizzie to get a gym membership like him instead, and Lizzie is surprised that Grant goes once or twice a week to the gym.

Okay that was funny.

Lizzie doesn’t want to go to the gym as they are gross and full of sweaty people, people hog the machines, creepy guys-I feel for you Lizzie, although I don’t have a gym membership as I don’t have time.

Emma can’t stop thinking about the exercise machine is freaking out about her weight and the cupcakes she is eating at the shop. But then she is distracted when Elinor accuses her of manipulating Grant Knightley and that Emma takes him for granted. (She does).

Back at the apartment Grant and Lizzie are talking but Grant is the only one doing anything while Elizabeth is just chilling. That’s how my sister would be.

Grant is struggling and he calls Brandon to help put it together, but doesn’t tell him that he needs his help to put a bike together…a bike that doesn’t even belong to him.

I mean for real!

Marianne comes home and Lizzie is all mad that Marianne bought a take and bake pizza. She’s all why buy a pizza and take it home to cook-well gee Elizabeth maybe I don’t want to take the time to do it myself, maybe I don’t want to travel with my cooked pizza getting cold on the way home, maybe I want to make it when I want to, maybe I want my house to smell of pizza and not pizza grease, maybe I like how it tastes, maybe I got a good deal-I could go on and on with different reasons. Pizza is always good.

It’s times like these I am like we are sooooooo far off what the plot was in any of the books. Like Jane Austen has soooo much for you to work with-and yet you decide to do acrylic nails, exercise bikes, and whether take and bake pizzas are worth your money.

I am so upset right now.

This is awful!

Brandon is so into Marianne, it is soooo cute. This guy, Blake Webb is saving this episode. I don’t know if he read the book or watched an adaption but he is the only one that got his character. You sure are going to make these last few episodes bearable, and I’d appreciate it if you could teach the guy who is Darcy how to act like his character.

Speaking of which there are only three episodes left (including this one) and we have yet to resolve the Darcy house issue, Brandon and Marianne need to get together, Elinor and Edward need to get togther, and Emma and Knightley need to match up. There are a lot of loose ends and only 50 mins until resolution (I paused 10 in and each episode is 20 mins). And what about Collin, is he coming back too?

Or plot!

So back to the Smoothie Shop Elinor admits to Emma she really likes Edward and all I can think is what about Lucy? In fact what about Fanny Dashwood, Lady Catherine, Mr. Wickham, Mr. Willoughby, Frank Churchill, Jane Fairfax, etc.? Where are the villains and character foils? Where is the drama? Where is the comedy? Where are the components of Jane Austen we love, her giant tapestry of plots and characters, and so on.

Where are the Austen things and characters I love??!!

I am extremely disappointed.

UUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Like in the Jane Austen Academy they kept the issues from the books and transferred them to the story. Instead of losing her home-Anne lost her school that her ancestors had founded, Elizabeth is sparring with Darcy, Fredrick Wentworth is back in town, you know….

Elinor wants to date Edward but isn’t sure as they wok together-but they don’t, not really. I mean Elinor is an accountant and he’s with the IRS so you do not work together and it won’t be breaking any rules.

Seriously

Emma encourages Elinor, trying to get her to ask Edward out, but Elinor says she physically can’t. We then get a flashback of her being geeky and struggling. I think she looks cute with glasses on, glasses that we never ever see her wear again. Hello actors and actresses that’s not how glasses work. Even if you do wear contacts, you eventually have to wear glasses again or else you’ll mess up your eyes. And what’s wrong with having a character wear glasses. We defintely need more characters who wear them.

So Lizzie and Marianne are not helping at all, while the guys do all the work. Brandon is so into Marianne, still being cute. Grant/Knightley is like you don’t know that much about Marianne are you sure and Brandon is all I know her medical history (last episode). Whoever wrote his lines- you get a gold star, you are actually getting some laughs out of me.

Knightley/Grant is the one doing all the work, while Brandon is distracted by Marianne. Knightley/Grant is like dude just ask her out so we can get this torture machine put together and Brandon is all no, I need her to get to know me first. Awww, Brandon you are actually making watching this bearable. Too bad you weren’t here earlier.

Soooo cute!!!!

Grant/Knightley is all it’s better to ask someone out and be possibly turned down then to become a friend and stuck in the friendzone. Hmm…who could he be talking about?

The pizza burns as Lizzie and Marianne were too bust talking right next to it and didn’t notice, or smell it, and Lizzie is all that’s why you should never make or bake pizza at home. Whatever. How did they not notice it, being right next to the oven? How could they with the vast amount of choices and plots to use decide to focus on take and bake pizzas.

Back to the Smoothie Shop, Elinor “I’m working stop distracting me” Dashwood is going on about how she wants Edward to ask her out. Girl you have two episodes left, better get to asking.

Elinor can’t move in that but decides to flat out tell Emma Grant is into her.

Like that wasn’t your secret to tell Elinor. And Emma is actually shocked at this. Really?

I present Exhibit A:

And let’s not forget his massaging you, paying for the food, tipping Marianne and making her look good at work because Emma told him to, putting the exercise bike together as Emma told him too, etc.

Mr. Knightley loves Emma

Elinor gets all psychoanalyzing Emma and Knightley, but they are interrupted when Elinor spots Edward at the smoothie shop.

Look at that guy…

Emma encourages Elinor to not hide behind the couch but go ask him out. I’m going to pause here and say I do NOT get why in movies do they always hide behind or underneath things when they spot someone they want to avoid. Who really would hide under a restaurant table or other things in public where is it dirty and you are sure to touch something you would rather not.  Why not just make sure they only see the back of your head.

I mean for real!

Edward has like button up shirt and pants from circa 2005 there. Where did you get those, and put them back in their time machine please and thank you.

It’s not working for you. Those pants, that shirt…

Edward is there WITH A girl!!!

Is it Lucy? Are we finally getting some actual Jane Austen content???

Please, oh please!

Back at the apartment they are eating the burnt pizza, although I’m thinking why don’t they just order a new one.

The girls eat ice cream while the guys build the bike.

Poor Grant, he’s all sweaty and tired from doing 99% of the work. Poor dude. And all because you’ll do anything Emma tells you to do.

Poor Elinor is sad and depressed and Emma tries to cheer her up by saying maybe the girl is Edward’s sister and they are just creepy close. Really, Emma? Really?

Like HOW would that make her feel better? HOW? But this is so true, us women do this to each other all the time.

Grant Knightley takes a break and talks to Marianne, who decides to ask him for help with her guy problem. He tries to encourage her to not try to focus on making changes for guys but do changer herself only if she wants to do it. That instead she just needs to be herself. Aw, that’s cute. Even though I am sad/upset that there is no Fanny Price, Catherine Morland, Anne Elliot, Mr. Tilney, or Captain Wentworth I do like how Grant/Mr. Knightley is friends with everyone and counsels not just Emma but all the ladies. It is very cute and very well done.

How sweet!

The bike is finally put together, Emma tests it out, and it falls apart. Yes…that’s it. All that work for nothing. It’s supposed to be funny, but falls flat.

So where is the Jane Austen?!!! It’s like not even here, just a few drops. Why? Why? There is so much you could do, choose from, there is just so much…and this is what you came up with.

Why?

I can’t wait until I’m finally finished with this. Then I’ll be freeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Only two left!!!

For more Austentatious, go to Make Me a Match: Austentatious (2015)

For more Jane Austen film retellings, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

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

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to NovelTea Tins’ Romance Sampler

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

NovelTea Tins’ Romance Sampler

So my church is doing a “secret sister”. You get matched up with another woman in the church for three months, praying for them and sending them notes or giving them gifts.

With COVID-19 having us shelter in place and not being able to meet at church, if we want to give our secret sisters gifts we have to come up with different ways. My secret sister ended up mailing me $20 to buy myself something nice for Easter.

Hmm…

What to buy? I knew I wanted to support a small business as they are hurting, and searched through Instagram to see which one.

Hmmm…

So a while back I found this company NovelTea Tins and instantly loved how cute it was. They are book tea tins and each have a punny title off of classic literature. You all know how I love classic literature.

War and Peach (Peach Tea + War and Peace), The Picture of Earl Grey (Earl Grey + The Picture of Earl Grey), Matcha Do About Nothing (Matcha Green Tea + Much Ado About Nothing), Pride & Peppermint (Peppermint Tea + Pride and Prejudice), Anne of Green Gables Tea (Green Raspberry Tea + Anne of Green Gables), Sense and Senchability (Green Sencha Tea + Sense and Sensibility), Don Quixote: Man of La Manchai (Chai Tea + Don Quixote: Man of La Mancha), and more. You know me, I love:

So I was excited to try these out. I agonized over which to buy as there were so many that sounded good…but I finally decided on the Romance Sampler, as it had The Picture of Earl Grey, being my favorite type of tea-Earl Grey.

Along with Pride & Peppermint (Peppermint Tea) and Sense and Senchability (Green Sencha Tea). I also love both of those teas and couldn’t resist them being Jane Austen. You know me…

The sampler cost about $24 with shipping and handling and it came extremely fast. I ordered it afternoon on Sunday and it arrived on Tuesday.

Tea #1: The Picture of Earl Grey

This tea is inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, one of my favorite Gothic novels where a young, gorgeous, rich man gets seduced by the Hedonist lifestyle and wishes that he would never grow old but his beautiful picture would instead. It does, but also with it growing older instead of Dorian-every selfish, cruel, rude, horrible acts he commits-gets transferred onto the painting as well.

It is a great book, and I highly recommend reading it.

The tea actually has the picture of Earl Grey-Charles Grey 2nd Earl Grey, the namesake of the delicious tea, the one that the tea was presented to and comes with a bookmark with his face on it as well.

This tea is made of Jasmine Green Tea, Black Tea, Rose Petals, Natural Flavor; and has moderate caffeine.

So I LOVE Earl Grey, but I did not love this one. It wasn’t bad, but I felt the Jasmine Green Tea in it was too strong. I tasted that over everything else and I prefer my Earl Grey with black tea, lavender, and bergamot oil. 

What I ended up doing was mixing it with my Tiesta Tea and enjoying it. My mom loved it, so please don’t think I’m saying the tea is bad, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

For more on The Picture of Dorian Gray, go to If Only It Was the Picture Who was to Grow Old, and I Remain Young: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

Tea #2: Pride and Peppermint

This tea is inspired by Pride and Prejudice and I’m sure most of you know how much I love this book.

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-but the story is MORE than that. It 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.

This peppermint tea has Elizabeth Bennet on it and comes with two bookmarks, one with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Peppermint tea was my first love, when I just started drinking tea. It is made of organic rooibos, organic peppermint, and organic chamomile; it is also caffeine-free.

I thought this tea to smell absolutely divine and it was so delicious. I absolutely loved it, and immediately drank three cups.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

Tea #3: Sense and Senchability

This tea is inspired by Sense and Sensibility, and like Pride and Prejudice I love Sense and Sensibility.

Sense and Sensibility follows two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as their world is drastically changed when their father dies and they older half brother moves them out of the house and basically forgets they even exist. Elinor is the elder sister-logical, sensible, and in command of herself. Marianne is the middle daughter-passionate, outspoken, and emotional. Elinor falls for a man, but finds him promised to another. Marianne meets a man right out of her romantic dreams, but is he all that he seems to be? Each sister goes through a journey and discovers depths to them they never realized.

This tea has both sisters on it and comes with a bookmark that has a Dashwood sister on either side. This has green Sencha tea and “sensible levels of caffeine.” Haha, I love that.

This tea was fantastic. It probably is the best Sencha tea I’ve ever had.

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

So these teas were so cute and good, even though the first one was not my cup of tea-but I had  wonderful time drinking them.

For more tea posts, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

 

Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

So I was on instagram, like always these days, and someone shared in their stories that Streaming Musicals was going to do a free live streaming film premiere of the new production of Pride and Prejudice: A New Musical. 

Or watch it!

I had seen it shared on facebook, I even shared it myself, but hadn’t really decided if I was going to watch it or not. However, after seeing everyone sharing about how much they enjoyed the virtual tea conference that occurred the day before, and that I couldn’t go to as I’m still going into work, I was like I’m not missing out again-I’m watching it.

I love musicals, in fact I studied drama in high school and attended a college prep/art school.

My senior project for my drama class was we had to find a musical, budget it, design costumes, set, etc-and create a look book with our findings. I of course being a Jane Austen fan actually chose a Pride and Prejudice musical, although that one was called, First ImpressionsSo not only did I want to see this because I love Jane Austen, but I was excited to see how this compared to the 1959 musical.

Hmmm…

So at 7 o’clock PST I got my pot of tea, computer, notebook, and sat down to watch.

The actual production was performed and filmed at Palo Alto’s TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley, where it ran December 4-January 4. Book, music, and lyrics were written by Paul Gordon, and of course Jane Austen.

It was really interesting watching it this way. I know I appreciated it as I may live in California but that does’t mean I have the time or money to see it live, so even though COVID-19 is a serious downer, I’m thankful it gave someone like me this chance to be a part and view this musical.

Hosts:

Before the production started we were hosted by three ladies, who unfortunately I only have two names, Beth Leavel and Julie James. They gave a little preshow talk, but I didn’t think it was as well done as Hillari DeSchane’s talk before the Mansfield Park Opera. I guess they thought that most people would already know the story, but I still think it would have been wise to have a quick summary of the book, the time period, and place for anyone who didn’t.

Hmm…

One lady described the summary of Pride and Prejudice as being a boy is rude to a girl, tries to ask her out and she refuses, but then she finds out he is rich and wants to be with him.

What are you talking about?

That really bothered me as it is 100% inaccurate. They knew from the beginning he was rich, richer than Mr. Bingley in fact, and it wasn’t seeing the house that changed her mind so much as seeing how he acted at Pemberley and how the servants praised him.

But they did have very high energy though, and when they returned at intermission they hosted the question and answer session better.

Quick Summary:

The story is really about a mother who wants to marry her five daughters as she constantly worries that her husband will die and leave her and her daughters with little to live on (her husband’s estate is entailed and neither person was very good at saving). She tries to match them up with any eligible men whether or not they want it.

 Netherfield Park is let and with it comes single and wealthy Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Mr. Bingley falls for the eldest daughter, Jane Bennet, and she falls for him. No ones tries to win Mr. Darcy as though he is rich, he is very proud looking. Elizabeth overhears him make a unflattering remark about her and she is extremely angry.

Her sister goes to visit Mr. Bingley’s sister, Miss Caroline Bingley, and grows ill after being caught out in the rain. Elizabeth goes to stay and take care of her sister, also spending time with the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy.

Later, Elizabeth meets a man, Mr. Wickham, who says he grew up with Mr. Darcy and shares how Darcy kept his inheritance, forcing Wickham to join the military instead of the church. Elizabeth is pleased to have another reason to dislike Darcy, besides her wounded pride, and Wickham spreads the story throughout the community.

Mr. Bennet’s cousin Mr. Collins, who will inherit their home, comes to visit and plans to ask one of the Bennet girls to marry him. Mr. Bingley holds a ball, and Elizabeth hopes to dance with Mr. Wickham, but he doesn’t come and she ends up dancing with Mr. Darcy. Her siblings also are very embarrassing and her mother.

So embarrassed

Mr. Collins asks Elizabeth to marry him, and she refuses him. He becomes hurt and angry and instead marries her best friend Charlotte Lucas. Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley leave with no engagement to Jane. Later Elizabeth visits Charlotte and meets Mr. Darcy’s aunt and Mr. Collins patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. There she discovers from Mr. Darcy’s cousin that Darcy was the one who convinced Bingley not to ask Jane to marry him. Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth to marry him, which surprises her and she refuses him.

Later Mr. Darcy gives Elizabeth a letter in which he shares why he encouraged his friend to refuse Jane and the true story of what happened with Mr. Wickham, that he spent his inheritance and when Darcy refused to give him more, Wickham goes after his fifteen year old sister. She knows this is true as what he shares is something no one would want to ever come to light. But after reading the letter, Elizabeth is even more confused. How could she be such a bad judge of character? She and her aunt and uncle Gardiner take a walking tour and stop at Pemberley, where they are surprised by Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth sees another side of him.

But then her younger sister, Lydia, makes a disastrous mistake by running off with Mr. Wickham. Will this destroy her family? Will this end her chance with Mr. Darcy?

Costumes:

The one costume I didn’t like was Elizabeth’s outfit.

From left to right: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Mr. Collins, Kitty, and Lydia.

So I really like the 1800s, especially the West, and one thing I read years ago that has never left my mind is that one way to tell if a Western film is accurate or not is whether or not the cowboys wear suspenders or belts. Belt loops were not created until the 1920s (for men and women), cowboys/cowpokes copyed the Chilean huaso of wearing sashes or suspenders. Some people wore belts, like soldiers, but they were often more ornamental and overlaid outfits not sitting in belt loops. So all I could do was look at this skirt and see those belt loops which were completely inaccurate to the time period. It probably was just an oversight by the costume designer, and I don’t know if anyone else noticed it, but I didn’t like it.

Although I do like the way they did her quick changes. Elizabeth is in every scene and wears the same outfit throughout the whole first act, but with other scenes adds a ribbon at her waist, a vest, and a jacket. I liked this as I had the same idea when I did my project although I did not care for the vest the put her in as it did not match.

Elizabeth Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins, Mr. Bingley, and Charlotte Lucas.

But I love what she wears in the second act. That dress was so cute!

I lovd Mr. Darcy’s costumes, but you know me:

This should say breeches instead of pants, but I didn’t write this so it gets a pass. It was an instagram answer from a question I asked my followers.

But enough about that, let’s move on to the musical.

Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

Act I

The style of music reminded me a lot of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s choice with Jesus Christ Super Star. In that production we have an ancient text juxtaposed with rock songs, while in this we have a regency story paired with pop. I really enjoyed it and the music as I think they captured the heart of the novel and were extremely enjoyable. Many of them I could see purchasing and downloading and listening to over and over again.

So I wish I had a book to go off, but I don’t so I don’t know what every song is called. But we start off the musical with Elizabeth Bennet (Mary Mattison) quoting the first line of Pride and Prejudice:

Then she and Charlotte Lucas then sing about “happiness in marriage.” In this Elizabeth isn’t looking for a man, in fact she has a strong leave me alone vibe, while Charlotte (played by Dani Marcus) was spot on in counseling her. I felt Marcus completely captured the character of Charlotte Lucas.

I really enjoyed Mattison’s singing and I think she did a wonderful job with the character of Elizabeth, although Gordon did make a few changes to Elizabeth. As said above, Elizabeth doesn’t want to get married and she doesn’t want a man (which isn’t what happens in the book as in the novel she isn’t against marriage, but just isn’t throwing herself at men nor is she interested in Mr. Collins.) In fact this sentiment is more similar to Emma Woodhouse..

At first I was a little upset at the change, but as I continued watching the musical I think it served well to enforce Elizabeth’s headstrong and stubborn side. Elizabeth believes what she wants and won’t listen to others, like Charlotte. Having her be so staunch in her beliefs mimics the way she acts about Darcy, believing Mr. Wickham and never considering there could be another side to the story, or thinking about the fact she believes this man with no proof. My interpretation of this was that one should be film in their beliefs, but at the same time not let their headstrong or stubborn ways blind them. In the end Elizabeth acknowledges that it is not a truth universally acknowledged that a man with fortune is in want of a wife or that every woman wants to marry, but to keep your heart open.

Elizabeth is also the narrator of the musical, and introduces her family-her father Mr. Bennet, mother Mrs. Bennet, and four sisters-Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. I also enjoyed the tizzy Mrs. Bennet is constantly in as she worries over their future and felt that Heather Orth truly captured the character-and Gordon was perfect in the lines he gave her.

“Mrs. Bennet: None of my five daughters will be old maids if I can help it…even you Mary.

I also enjoyed Tara Kostmayer’s portrayal of Lydia as silly, flirty, and needing to be the center of attention. And Gordon summed up her character very nicely in this:

“Elizabeth Bennet: Lydia is just 15.

Jane Bennet: Going on 25.

Mr. Bennet: In all but wisdom.”

I also loved Melissa Wolfklain as Mary Bennet. She was just so droll and perfect.

Elizabeth sings a song about being headstrong that I enjoyed, but the whole time I kept thinking of Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong GirlIf you need something new to read you should definitely check it out.

So after being introduced to the Bennet family we have the ball where we meet Mr. Bingley (Travis Leland), Miss Caroline Bingley (Monique Hafen Adams), and Mr. Darcy (Justin Mortelliti). I really liked the way Gordon and the actors interpreted these characters. Mr. Bingley is extremely tongue-tied and often has trouble relaying how he feels relying heavily on Darcy. This worked well to show why Darcy feels the need to protect his sweet, friend (treating him very similar to how he treats Georgiana) and why Bingley so heavily values on Darcy’s judgement over his own.

Bingley and Jane sing a song about their love and it is so cute. They both sing about how they like each other and want to tell each other, but when they try to talk they are too tongue tied and say hardly anything. It was absolutely adorable and both Leland as Bingley and Sharon Rietkerk as Jane Bennet were just perfect. I think this song really captured what Austen wrote:

“…in spite of his [Mr. Bingley] being a lover, Elizabeth really believed all his expectations of felicity to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the excellent understanding, and super-excellent disposition of Jane, and a general similarity of feeling and taste between her [Jane] and himself [Mr. Bingly].”

-Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 55

Adams as Caroline was also perfect as she was just the right amount of mean and snobby-she made the friendliest words sound like a slap in the face. Leland and Adams worked well off each other as Mr. and Miss Bingley. They were like two sides of the same coin-he geniality, kindness, optimism, glee; she rude, snobby, sarcastic, and cold.

“Mr. Bingley: I’m enjoying myself immensely.

Caroline Bingley: Yes brother, but that’s why you have me.”

But out of all the characters, my favorite was Mortelliti as Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, and Miss Bingley.

One thing I really, really enjoyed about this musical was while it is narrated and told from Elizabeth, every song that Mr. Darcy has gives us a view into who he is. I think this worked for this medium as a musical and stage production you aren’t given the time and subtly a movie has as you can’t concentrate on something small, but have to make sure that no matter the seats they can witness what is happening. With having the songs show Darcy’s point of view and feelings alongside Elizabeth’s it works in with the themes of first impressions/pride and prejudice, and gives it a kind of his story/her story dynamic.

I really enjoyed this interpretation because even though we see how Darcy feels about Elizabeth throughout, it doesn’t take away from what Austen wrote and the realizations they have after the proposal and his letter (Darcy seeing how he presents himself and that he’s not right about everything [Jane + Bingley], and his decision to change; nor does it take away from Elizabeth realizing that she is not right about everything [Wickham + Darcy] and that she was judgmental because she was wounded, she changing as well.) Having Darcy’s songs just allows us see the two character’s journeys from the beginning. The title of the musical is a “new” musical so it seems fitting for Gordon to try a different interpretation.

Mr. Darcy’s first song is about being separated from the others, about keeping away from these people and to not fall for anyone. It is really interesting as the words are juxtapositioned with a soft melody, one that could easily be a love song. I personally believe that when Mr. Darcy made that comment about Elizabeth being not tolerable enough for him it was more trying to get Bingley to leave him alone as he didn’t want to dance or be there. Then later when she visits her sister, he pays attention to her and likes her-not realizing she heard his earlier comment. But this particular song and the music almost sounds to me as if Gordon is saying he did see her and is trying to convince himself to stay away, the melody being a seed of romance, the not tolerable being him trying to convince himself to not like. It is an interesting point and feel free to comment below what you think.

After Jane visits and grows ill, Elizabeth comes to stay and help. One of the best scenes was the accomplished woman and the turn about the room scene. In this Mortelliti did some brooding, but when he mentions their reasons for walking about he says it more flirtatious. We then have Caroline trying to bully Elizabeth and have Darcy find her boring. After Darcy shares his idea of an accomplished lady he says this while looking right at Elizabeth:

“All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

It is hilarious how Elizabeth drops the book like it is on fire and immediately takes it as a negative.

And of course spending this time with Elizabeth Darcy has fallen for her. He sings a song about it and I loved when he belted out how much he was in love with her. I also really loved this line:

“Oh dear God…must I like her eyes. Oh, I’m in so much trouble.

I like your eyes and d***it,  it’s alarming.”

I thought this perfectly captured how much he didn’t want to like her, it was the foundation of his future proposal, and I just all around enjoyed this song, best song so far.

Mr. Collins is introduced and Brian Herndon was fantastically pompous. He just was just so ugh-there aren’t any other words to describe him. And in my book if you don’t feel ugh when you see a portrayal of Mr. Collins than they are not doing it right. His song is just so awfully perfect as he sings about the sisters being this abundance of riches, Mary and Kitty’s face express exactly how I felt listening to it.

From left to right: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Mr. Collins, Kitty, and Lydia.

This song and the acting was great, but the person who stole the stage in it again was Melissa Wolfklain as Mary Bennet. There is a part where they sing Mary should be the one and her face is like Lord please, no anything but that-I’ll join a convent, I’ll go help lepers, just please no Mr. Collins. And later she uses a book to try and shield herself from his view.

Later the girls are out and run into Lydia and Kitty’s friends, Captain Denny (Sean Fenton) and a new face Mr. Wickham (Taylor Crousore). Everyone is pleased to run into the handsome and genial men…except Mary. In her droll and moralizing tone she states:

“Mary Bennet: I find war to be very upsetting.”

Melissa Wolfklain seriously just killed it as Mary Bennet. She was hilarious and perfect.

Mr. Darcy comes upon them and I love the staging of him and Wickham. Both on opposite sides and staring each other down like two gunslingers. With Bingley in the middle.

Mr. Bingley tries to flirt with Jane and instead it comes out horribley

“Mr. Bingley: Good afternoon Miss Bennet. You look…thirsty.

Jane Bennet: [Confused but really likes Mr. Bingley]…I am thirsty.”

They end up leaving Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth together and Mr. Wckham shares about Mr. Darcy being cruel to him. I liked Crousore’s and Gordon’s interpretation and how Wickham tests the waters with Elizabeth, feeling out what Elizabeth thinks of Darcy, and after hearing she can’t stand him then promptly upends his sob story. He sings a ballad about how he’d been wronged, (with the perfect level of pretend humbleness and smaryness) and his heartbreak to know being forced to live the life of a soldier instead of a clergyman. I really liked this line:

“I speak my truth to you”

Key word there my, my truth as in I’m lying.

The ball at Netherfield comes and Elizabeth is disappointed to be dancing with Darcy rather than Wickham. I really enjoyed the interaction between the two as Darcy is trying so, so, so, so, hard to flirt with her but everything he says Elizabeth takes as an insult. It was hilarious as he not overt in his attentions, but you can tell he is trying to compliment her but each time Elizabeth assumes he is making fun of her.

Again I really enjoy how much time we spend with Darcy and him sharing how he feels. It works really well in this format and makes a stronger show. Plus I like that they are trying to distinguish it from other adaptions, along with keeping pieces that people love from the previous ones.

After the ball Mr. Collins tries to propose to Elizabeth and when she hears he wants to have a private word with her I love how she immediately picks up a cup of tea. She’s all-I need tea if I’m gonna get through this.

The two sing a song with Mr.Collins going on about his proposal completely ignoring Elizabeth’s refusals. She rebuttals with the perfect blend of anger and good manners, and I like her final shove at the end that helps her words get through his head.

After that Mr. Collins marries Charlotte and the  Bingleys & Darcy leave Netherfield.  Elizabeth tries to comfort Jane, but Jane insists that that Mr. Bingley was just an acquaintance and she is fine.  Jane’s song is the perfect mix of beatiful and sad as she tries to convince herself she doesn’t love him but isn’t fooling anyone as in every note we can feel the heartbreak. It was a fantastic performance.

We then find ourselves with the Collins, Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Bingley at Lady Catherine’s home. Now I know why they were there as I’ve read the book, but it was a bit weird they didn’t have an introduction as to who she was or why Elizabeth was visting. However, my thoughts didn’t rest on that long as Lucinda Hitchcock Cone was perfect as Lady Catherine as she was just relentless in grilling Elizabeth. I really enjoyed how Mortelilti as Darcy has a smirk the whole time, as if he was just enjoying watching Elizabeth hold her own against Lady Catherine. Mr. Bingley just looks uncomfortable and as if he wants to leave, but is afraid to as Lady Catherine might turn on him, just trying to blend into the furniture.

In this Colonel Fitzwilliam is not Darcy’s cousin but is introduced as his friend, why the change I don’t know.

Oh, well.

Lady Catherine sings her song and it is one of the most egotistical songs I have heard, like levels of Ratigan’s song in The Great Mouse Detective or Gaston’s in Beauty and the Beast.

Elizabeth Bennet, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins, Mr. Bingley, and Charlotte Lucas.

I love how Elizabeth and Lady Catherine share that same stare of Death that Darcy and Wickham did earlier when they do a song battle:

And right in the middle of their “song battle” Mr. Darcy laughs and all pause and stare daggers at him.

I should not have laughed.

Later Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam are talking and he relays that Mr. Darcy is the reason Bingley left and didn’t propose to Jane. She is furious and sings a song about what kind of man could do this-but every trait and action she uses to describe Darcy perfectly applies to how she has been toward Darcy. This was very interesting as I’ve never thought of them as being the same, but in this production they are quite similar in their personality and the way they are perceived by others; except Elizabeth is a extrovert while Darcy an introvert.

Hmmm…

Darcy of course doesn’t hear her song and thinks it is the perfect time to propose, and again the comedic timing in this is just perfect. And while we are not surprised at Darcy’s feelings I love how both he and Elizabeth are

“Mr. Darcy: “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Elizabeth: [Completely shocked] You do?

Mr. Darcy: [Utterly baffled] I do?!

I could not stop laughing, that is comedic gold. Neither one can figure it out and he is so flabbergasted when proposing.Elizabeth of course objects and I love how he continues to be baffled and confused at her statements

Then Morteletti as Darcy sings and I loved this song. Morteletti gave it the perfect blend of anger, pain, and heartbreak. He runs the gamut of emotions. He has a great voice and every time he sings Miss Bennet you can just feel his heartache as he holds the note. Elizabeth is on the other side of the stage and sings as well, and you can feel their anguish. I know some people might find it as a cliche but I am a sucker for things like that.

End Act I

Intermission:

With intermission I put my kettle on the stove,

Got the snacks…and settled down to listen to the talk with the cast and Paul Gordon.

So they had a few questions for the cast and crew and it was really interesting to see them this way as you saw a view into their home.

Paul Gordon shared that he read Pride and Prejudice and watched many film adaptions before he wrote the musical. He said that instead of doing how he did with other Austen musicals, he decides to write the songs the way he felt, and that’s why they came out more pop-like.

One question to Taylor Crousore struck me as strange, as they asked him how it felt to play “Mr. Wickham, a very misunderstood character.”

Huh?

I don’t think Wickham is misunderstood, I think he is extremely clear in what he does and wants. Crousore, however, brought up an excellent point about the character. He shared how crucial Wickham is to the story, I mean he is the reason why Elizabeth’s dislike of Darcy is so high, but also the reason she realizes she was wrong about him, and in the end he brings them back together. Without him Elizabeth probably would have forgiven Darcy sooner and might not have refused him when he proposed-but then on the flip side without Wickhim, she and Darcy might not have gotten together. We will never know!

I didn’t take as much notes on intermission as I was getting the tea + snacks ready, and before I knew it, it was time for the second act.

Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

Act II

We start off with Darcy giving Elizabeth his letter, having had to write his feelings down as he wasn’t able to say it. Aw, poor Darcy.

I really enjoyed this scene as Elizabeth reads it angry and talking back to Darcy’s words, only to stop when she gets to why Darcy doesn’t like Wickham. It was done extremely well as Elizabeth is hurt and angry over what happened with her beloved sister Jane and Wickham, but then she softens when Darcy talks of his beloved sister.

Darcy’s song made me think of an ’80s power ballad, about his sister and the part when he belts out “she was fifteen”, you can really hear his heartbreak. Mortelliti was perfect in this as you could feel the love he had for his sister, the guilt he has for not protecting her better, and the anguish he shares over someone hurting his sister that he raised as a daughter (they are many years apart and his dad died when she was so young).

I’m crying!

I loved the duality of the song as Darcy sings softly, still in love with Elizabeth while Elizabeth is loud and harsh as she is angry-but then she softens when she reads of Darcy’s sister.

Elizabeth returns home and learns of Lydia’s plans of going off to Brighton. Jane has a song that she sings as they share each other’s news and their relationship is so adorable. I like how Elizabeth protects her sister, mimicking how Darcy protects his.

Before Lydia and the soldiers leave, Wickham and Denny stop by and say goodbye. I loved the exchange between Elizabth and Wickham as she lets him know she knows the truth and won’t take any of his charm. Wickham is so baffled as what to say or do, he ultimately just leaves. Hilarious!

Elizabeth is invited to go on a walking tour with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner and they end up at Pemberley, which gets its own song. I’m glad it does as it needed to and if it hadn’t I would be solely disappointed.

“Cast: Pemberley we love you tenderly.”

I’m so happy they said that this would be on the site forever. Then all of you who missed it can have another chance to watch, or rewatch it.

Elizabeth listens to the  servants talk about Darcy, and that combined with the letter leaves her puzzled as to who is Darcy. I really enjoyed this song, as I did with all of them and I encourage you to purchase them and sing while quarantined.

As Elizabeth sings Darcy coms up behind her, surprising her. It is such a cute scene I wish I had been fast enough to screenshot it.

Elizabeth is embarrassed to be there as they didn’t realize that he was coming home.

“Mr. Darcy: I find the intrusion rather agreeable.”

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOhhhhhhhh!!!!!! He is so cute!

So while this Darcy isn’t as broody as other depictions, you still see a change in him as he realized how he was being seen by others and becomes much more open. It is amazing what a difference in body language, and looking back there were sublte difference throughout the musical in every scene with him. They are so cute together, *Swoon*. 

How sweet!

He introduces Elizabeth to his sister Georgiana, and it is so adorable.

“Georgiana Darcy: It is a pleasure to meet you. My brother speaks of you so often!

Elizabeth Darcy: [Surprised] Does he?

Mr. Darcy [Definitely] He does!”

AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! So cute!

How sweet!

Miss Bingley is back and snobby and sarcastic as ever. Monique Hafen Adams, you are perfect at it. Mr. Bingley is there as well and it is so obvious he is trying to grill her about any news of Jane.

Darcy was just so perfect- I gushed so much while I was watching this scene that I accidentally wrote over what I wrote and I now cannot decipher it, except that Justin Mortelliti and Paul Gordon did this perfectly and I think Jane Austen would be proud.

Elizabeth receives Jane’s letter about Lydia and then Darcy finds out he is angry. I liked the way Mortelliti portrayed it and how you can see how upset he is and the guilt he feels-taking on the blame that another 15 year old and another family has to go through this. He quickly leaves, running off to find them.

But Elizabeth misunderstands it, thinking that it is directed at her, that he is ashamed and it is so sad as she has lost him. She has finally admitted it and realizes she does care for him and wants to be with him. It is a powerful song!

Back at home it is a mess. Mary tries to be helpful, but her moralizing is horrid and anything but soothing. Mrs. Bennet is going to pieces and if they had a play with just the two of them I would love it. They would be a screwball comedy team for sure.

Mr. Bennet returns:

“Mrs. Bennet: You look miserable.

Kitty: Papa always looks miserable.”

So usually in this scene Mr. Bennet threatens Kitty with no trips, no going out, being grounded until 50 years of age, etc. But instead of Chanel Tilghman playing Kitty as whining and throwing a tantrum at how unfair it is-Tilghman just looks at her father and laughs it off. I really loved that as Mr. Bennet is so curmudgeonly throughout the play that I could see her not taking him serious, much better than her wailing.

Lydia returns with Wickham and he tells everyone about how wonderful and happy he is to be married. Wow, Crousore is a talented actor, I almost believed him. He is so smarmy and slimy I just want to punch him in the face, perfect! In my book you are not a good Wickham unless you make me want to sock you.

Lydia let’s it slip that Darcy was at the wedding, and Elizabeth is further puzzled. Who is Darcy? She was so sure who she knew his character, but now she does not know. She muses over what Lydia said…

“Elizabeth Bennet: [Singing] And he didn’t want it known…”

You know, that speaks really well of a person’s character when they do something extremely kind and don’t want it known. Darcy didn’t want to do this for Lydia he wanted to do it for Elizabeth and he never wanted her to know, he never wanted her to think he was trying to bribe her affections, or buy them back.

“Elizabeth Bennet: Is it too late to tell you…”

Aw, so heartbreakingly sad. So perfect!

Bingley returns and all pretend they don’t care but the do. I can see pieces of the other films in this, such as the hustle and bustle they have when Bingley is coming is like Pride and Prejudice (2005).

Mr. Bingley is so shy and tongue twisted, you once again see why Mr. Darcy wants to help him and protect him. He sings about how much he loves Jane and it is just so gosh darn adorable. Now if only you could just tell her that.

He and Darcy leave, but then Bingley gets his strength back and returns.

“Jane Bennet: Wonderful to see you again and so soon…after your last visit.”

Aw, they are so cute!!!

Come on Bingley!!! Just say it already!

And then he does! He finally sings all his feelings!! Yay! Aw, so cute!!!

After that happiness we have the horror. The carriage is coming…DUN, DUN, DUN! Lady Catherine!

She and Elizabeth have another song battle and every word that comes out of Lady Catherine is dripping with disdain. Elizabeth’s song is a verbal beatdown of Lady C. and it was perfect.

The interaction after this of Darcy and Elizabeth is one of my favorites, Darcy is practicing what to say to Elizabeth, and it is soooooo cute. It is the scene I have always wanted and ever realized it.

When he and Elizabeth have a chance to talk and he hears that her feelings have changed, oh the hope in his voice. I love it!!! My favorite part is they are seprated by a stream and Darcy moves to her…

But then he waits, letting Elizabeth make the final step-everything is in her court, he doesn’t want to push her, he doesn’t want to influence her, he wants her to decide based on her heart and feelings. And when she moves in they kiss! So cute and their song! So adorable! So romantic. He waits for her to take the “leap” to him ad then after they cross over together.

Soooo cute!!!!

And they take the leap over the stream together! Awwwwwwww! It was so adorable and gosh darn romantic and aw! Aw! I LOVE IT!

At the end we have a review of the couples as as it ends I’m sad it is over.

So I just LOVED it! I thought it was amazing and cute and adorable! The music was fantastic and I think you all should watch it if you haven’t, and if you have-it is definitely worth another rewatch. Go here to watch it.

For more Pride & Prejudice, go to Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part II, Other Eras

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

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part I, The Regency

Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part II, Other Eras

Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl edited by Christina Boyd

So first of all-let me apologize.

I have been calling this book by the wrong title this WHOLE time. This book is ELIZABETH: Obstinate Headstrong Girl. Like I don’t how I missed that. I mean “Elizabeth” is in huge giant letters.

I will be fixing that in the other post. I…I don’t have any words…

I don’t know what to say…

So moving on from my faux pas:

Hurry!

Elizabeth Bennet

Whether or not she is you favorite character or Austen heroine: we all love her. After all, who can resist her wit and confidence?

Now some people may think, hasn’t there been enough written about her? What else could be said? Does she need an anthology? Well I think Meg Ryan answers that question perfectly:

Yes, Elizabeth is a fantastic and complex character and Christina Boyd, Elizabeth Adams, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Leigh Dreyer, Jenetta James, Christina Morland, Beau North, and Joana Starnes have written 10 different stories on her.

In the last post, I reviewed the five stories that are set in the Regency time period; whether before the novel, after the novel, or taking a new path from some point in the story. They were five amazing and different stories that really captured the spirit of Elizabeth and the theme of “obstinate headstrong girl”-I  think Jane Austen would be proud.

This post is going to be on the five stories that are set in different time periods. Usually I review this from the farthest back in time to the most recent, but we are switching it up a bit. This time we are starting with the most recent time period and working our way backwards as I promised Christina Boyd that her story would be last. So without further intro, buckle up in your delorean:

Because here we go:

 

The Last Blind Date by Leigh Dreyer

Circa: Present Day

Elizabeth is a grad student at University of Oklahoma, waitressing at Bennets to put herself through college. Others who work there are her best friends Jane and Charlotte.

Friendship goals!

And an odd guy, Bill Collins also works there. Collins keeps asking her out but Elizabeth turns him down each time.

For the thousandth time

But she is going on a date tonight. Her best friend Jane and her boyfriend Charles have set Elizabeth up on another blind date.

Change Highbury to college.

This time it is with Will Darcy, CEO of Pember Oil and Charles’ best friend from boarding school. Elizabeth fought it, but finally agreed to go on this date, her final blind date (especially as they are seeing her favorite football team.)

Ugh. This is the last one.

The day comes and Elizabeth has no idea what yo wear so of course:

While they get her ready, Elizabeth’s friends encourage her to be not so obstinate and headstrong that she lets her preconceived notions paint a picture of who the guy is when they haven’t even met. Already by looking at his photo and hearing about his business Elizabeth has assumed he is a player, workaholic, emotionally stunted, a jerk, etc.

Here friends remind her of some other quick judgments she has made in the past about men.

After they leave, Elizabeth straightens up her house and takes out the garbage. While doing so-she overhears her date complaining about the blind date. Elizabeth is mad, understandable, but at the same time-weren’t you just doing that with your friends a little while ago?

Darcy comes to her door and he has a slight stutter. At first I thought maybe it was surprise, but after I realized it was a stutter and of course this popped in my head:

I mean Mr. Darcy + Colin Firth + Stutter = The King’s Speech. I’m I the only one? Anyways, Elizabeth is surprised that Darcy isn’t as awful as she thought he was, and is trying to be angry with him still-but has a hard time as they have prime seats for football, and Elizabeth is a giant football fan! Plus Darcy knows zero about football and isn’t intimidated in having her tell him what it is all about.

The two begin to talk, and football is a game where something can happen and turn the whole game in an instant. Will Darcy and Elizabeth come out a team? Or will their misunderstandings cause further issues?

Hmmm…

So I like that this book was set with Elizabeth in college as I haven’t read too many Pride and Prejudice retellings set in college. Usually Elizabeth and Darcy are in high school or out of college. This was a new view.

The other thing I thought was interesting was to have Darcy have a speech impediment. It is one author’s interpretation of the story but I think that adds to his quiet stoicism, although in this he isn’t so broody-it turns out that he is actually shy and used to not saying much.

It was a cute story and they were very cute together. Darcy is so bashful and sweet.

Resistive Currents by Karen M. Cox

Circa: 1980

I love the ’80s-film, music, clothes. When I was reading this I was trying to imagine them in full ’80s clothes. And you know what that means-’80s cosplay of Elizabeth Bennet is a go!

Beth Bennet is studying engineering at Fordyce University, and you know that’s a hard field-especially in 1980…especially for a woman.

Yes, Elizabeth has to deal with a lot of crap from guys mostly as she has to work harder to prove herself.

The story starts off with Beth on break and attending a funeral for her great grandmother, Elizabeth Alton Gardiner. There they see other family members and Beth’s father tries to show off Beth’s accomplishments to everyone. It’s nice that he is proud of her, but at the same time it is upsetting. Is she going to be living her life for that? Or will she be able to do her own thing? That really resonated with me, and I think it will with other readers.

I think this is an extremely on point mark as well-as I think we can all agree that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are not the best example of a good marriage or good parenting. Most people talk about how Elizabeth and her father are close-he finds her the only one worth talking to- but at the same time while his sarcasm isn’t turned on her like the other children, it doesn’t mean everything was perfect between them.

Grandma Alice tells Elizabeth about her mom, Beth’s great grandma (who passed), and how she had traveled West and was a teacher at the turn of the 20th century. She shares a little about how Great Grandma met Great Grandpa and at first couldn’t stand him, but in the end love came softly and they fell for each other.

“It pays to judge slowly, sweet girl. You mark my words.’ Out of respect Beth didn’t disagree, but in her soul-in her very being-she knew Beth Bennet’s first impressions were d*** near infallible.”

Back at school, Beth is relaxing with coffee and a good book at the local coffee shop when she looks up and sees a very handsome guy. They share a few words, and she hopes to run into him again, but doesn’t. Darn!

Beth meets up with her friends-Charlotte [Lucas], Charles [Bingley], and Rene- they talk about class and how much they really dislikes her cranky professor Dr. De Bourgh [Lady Catherine]. It seems like things have just gotten worse as they have a new T.A. who seems to be just as difficult.

Beth is waiting outside for Lab with the new T.A. and overhears Dr. De Bourgh talking about her. The Dr. calls her an “obstinate headstrong girl”. The T.A. tells Dr. De Bourgh that he thinks an ECE education is really difficult to take if he is just looking for her MRS degree or wanting to please her dad. To make it worse-she sees it was the hot guy from the coffee shop.

Beth is angry and hurt! Although, in his defense-T.A. Darcy didn’t say anything horrible about her, he actually seemed to be defending her. If anything that ire should be pointed at Dr. De Bourgh. Beth begins to fume and believes Darcy is going to treat her like every other misogynist guy does, but instead of making fun of her-he seems to ignore her. He never calls on her or looks at her.

Beth waits as long as she can, and then she meets with Darcy and let’s him have it. I really liked this exchange between them as it was funny with all the misunderstandings and twists but how Cox laid it out.

Things get better as Darcy listens to what she said and starts calling on her. In fact, everything is great until Elizabeth gets sick and faints in class right over Thanksgiving break, Darcy takes her to the hospital and stays with her-but as her family can’t come right away and all her friends are not answering their landlines or out of town, the only one who can take care of her is Darcy. Will this time together cause something to bloom? Or will they continue to clash?

Hmmm…

This is technically a double story as in this as Beth reads the diary of her great-grandma Elizabeth Alton Gardiner from 1906. Elizabeth Altonlost her family and is alone. She worked hard to get a teaching degree and applied for the position in Colorado under the name of  E.M. Alton. She knew they probably would’t want a woman (typically settled Western towns wanted women as teachers or in the town so this must not be a very settled place.) She hopes that when she gets there, they will keep hr because the needs is so high.

She meets Sheriff Gardiner-who wants her to go back home, as he doesn’t think she should be here. But Elizabeth is angry and determined to stay. Later, she visits with Jane and Dr. Bingley and overhears the sheriff and the Doctor talking about her, the sheriff saying that it is going to be extra work for him to protect a single woman living alone.

With a greeting like that, Elizabeth is set dead against the man. What can be done to change her mind?

Hmm…

All the interactions between Beth and Darcy were so refreshing and spot on. They were just so darn adorable together, I just loved every minute of it.

So romantic!

I love Pride and Prejudice, I love the ’80s, and I love the Old West-so this one was an obvious winner for me as it blended all these themes I loved.

For more by Karen M. Cox, go to “A Nominal Mistress” from Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

Love in the Limelight by Beau North

Circa: 1930s

So I love movies, especially old movies: you may or not have noticed.

I watch them, I read about them, I just love them.

So when I saw that this was 1930s Hollywood inspired story of Pride and Prejudice I was super excited.

Elizabeth Bennet is a theater actor who landed a huge Hollywood role! How did this all happen? Well that’s the story Caroline Conway, reporter, is after. Elizabeth Bennet is a smart girl and doesn’t want to talk to her, but has to. Of course, she won’t give her the real story…but we get to read it… A year earlier, Elizabeth was ending her seven years time in London. She loves the city and is sad to leave, but leave she must. After getting her heart broken and money stolen, the only thing she can do is go to stay with her sister Jane in California.

All her money is gone, jewelry gone-the only things shs had left was some clothes, a few photographs, and a handful of cards from a mysterious admirer. Reading them always made her feel better, now more than ever.

On the boat she spots Gigi Duvall, former child star who has been transitioning into a full-fledged actress. She had had trouble in Hollywood making the jump and decided to try out in London, where she did well. But now Gigi seems to be fighting with a handsome men. Ugh Elizabeth is so over men-all are big dump brutes or dopes.

She watches as Gigi accuses the man of not caring about her, only money and he promising to start over.

Ugh.

They all say that.

The couple move on their way and Elizabeth goes back to mourning leaving her beloved city. Now in California, Jane and Elizabeth are running lines for the new picture, The Headstrong Girl, as Jane is trying out for the main lead. That night they are going to a party and Jane is eager to get to Charles Bingley as she wants to impress him and get the part.

Elizabeth goes to help be her wingwoman, but she isn’t really needed as Charles has no eyes for anyone else than Jane.

Elizabeth finds herself bored and pushed in and steps outside where she runs into Gigi Duvall. The two talk and enjoy each other’s company when they are interrupted by the man on the boat, William Darcy head of Pemberley Pictures. Darcy and Gigi argue and Elizabeth gets mad seeing him bully Gigi. Who cares that he is the head of the studio. She let’s it rip at him-which surprises both Gigi and Darcy.

Darcy threatens her not being able to work in Hollywood, unless she apologizes, and Elizabeth doesn’t care. When he brings up her sister, Elizabeth apologizes in gritted teeth, after he leaves she vows to one day make him pay!

Elizabeth tells her sister about the party and meeting Mr Darcy, and hearing him and Bingley talk about her. But she doesn’t share that Mr. Darcy isn’t planning on hiring Jane. He thinks she isn’t right for the picture and as Charles has a thing for her, the gossip eags will say she slept with him to get the part, and he will not have is company dragged through the mud. Elizabeth is angry, but what can she do now. Nothing-powerful men suck! She never wants to see him again. Of course Jane asks Elizabeth to come with her to her audition, and as all good sisters she does. There she just has to run into Mr. Darcy-today is not her day, week, month, or year.

They have a exchange and Darcy mentions that he has heard of her and seen her perform in London-leaving Elizabeth stunned. He then tries to get her to audition, but she refuses. She doesn’t want to be in pictures, she’s just here as support. And she would never steal a part away from her sister.

Later, Elizabeth and Jane are talking about Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth finds herself very puzzled. Who is this man? The night before and with Gigi he was a beast and now in the studio-kind, charming, funny?

Who is this guy?

That evening they get a call from their uncle and agent Edward Gardiner. Jane didn’t get the part but she does have a part in the new Cagney film-but only IF Elizabeth signs a contract to be the lead in The Headstrong Girl. Apparently, Darcy wanted to sign her after seeing her perform the year before but didn’t for some reason. OH NO, NO WAY is Elizabeth doing that. Never!

But then Gardiner lays down the amount of money she will be getting, the guilt of her mother and sisters struggling on the apple farm, Jane’s chance at being a star, etc; and of course she says yes.

Ugh!

Elizabeth starts production and actually finds herself enjoying it. Charles is a great director, her costar Rollo Fitz is fun and friendly, Cat-Darcy’s personal assistant and cousin is eccentric and kind,-the only one she doesn’t like is Darcy.

Ugh, he may be “gallant” and “charming” to others but she knews he was a jerk the moment she saw him on the boat. Maybe he acted nice in the studio, but that must have been a weak moment as she is still upset and blames him for blackmailing her into this rile. NO siree she will never, ever like him.

One day on set Darcy wants to talk to her. He gas seen the papers and how she and Rollo have been going out (they are just friends). He wants her to end it (and this kind of thing happened a lot with studios back then) and Elizabeth of course flat out refuses to. The two exchange witty banter and almost…kiss? What?! NO! No, no, no she IS NOT interested in him.

They go to an after party for the Academy Awards at Darcy’s home, Ashwood Manor. Things are going good until Darcy asks her to speak to him in his library. Which Darcy will she get the jerk demanding things? Or…the one that makes her blood boil not in anger but passion? Actually neither. He compliments her, her acting, and offers her a contract.

Huh?

Elizabeth is furious! That’s what he wants to talk about-not them? Not about them being together?!!!! OMGoodness I laughed so hard!!! I love the screwball comedies if the 1930s-Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, William Powell and Carole Lombard, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell-and this made me think of them so much. I wish this was a real movie. I could see Cary Grant as Mr. Darcy and Irene Dunne or Rosalind Russell as Elizabeth shouting at him.

Elizabeth realizes that she likes him, both give into their feelings-but are interrupted by Cat relaying that “George” has been seen trying to get into the house. Oh drat, blasted Wickham!

Darcy and Cat leave to deal with it and protect Gigi, Darcy asking Elizabeth to wait for him. After they are gone our plot takes a swerve as it appears George has been hiding in the library the whole time! And George isn’t just Gorge-but Buster! The louse who stole Elizabeth’s money, jewels, and broke her heart.

Gigi and Darcy return and revelations are dropped right and left, I don’t know if anyone can survive the things coming out this night. But as with every good picture we need a storm before we can end on a perfectly lovely note. This was fantastic! If I had money I would turn it into a movie. And that ending with Mr. Darcy and his attempts to woo women-priceless!!

I also love how when North describes the picture they are filming a lot of the descriptions bring to mind Pride and Prejudice (1940). The gowns, the hair, the archery. I don’t know if she did that on purpose (I hope she did) but I love it either way.

For more by Beau North, go to The Colonel

The House Party by Jenetta James

Circa: Fall 1913- Early 1914 (No mention of WWI)

Do you like Downton Abbey?

Have you ever wished for a Jane Austen Downton Abbey fusion?

By God, yes!

Well then here you go! Jenetta James’ story takes place roughly 1913-1914 England (my guess based on an event she mentions that happened in 1913 and no talk of WWI) in an old manor house, Netherfield Park-just like Downton Abbey!

Yay!!!

Jane and Elizabeth have been invited to join in on the hunt and the weekend house party. It looks to be a grand affair and Elizabeth notices a handsome man-handsome but stern.

Look at that guy…

They go to their rooms and get ready for the evening, discussing Mr. Charles Bingley, who only has eyes for Jane, and on the way downstairs meet a friendly girl with a lisp, Mary King, visiting from Northampshire and feeling a little lost and alone. Elizabeth immediately befriends her.

Jane and Mary go off with Charles and Elizabeth finds herself alone. Not for long as she is entered into conversation with Caroline Bingley and the stern man-Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy seems friendly enough but Caroline keeps changing the conversation and starts talking bad about Elizabeth’s sisters, you know how she rolls:

The Bennet girls are trying to get votes for women, being leaders in their community’s women’s suffrage movement.

Elizabeth continues this conversation believing:

“Give votes to women. Then there would be fairness all around and no broken post office windows.”

Mr. Darcy disagrees  saying that such a sentiment is “unlikely” and Elizabeth is incensed. How dare he.

Now truth be told I was thinking the same thing? How on earth can he rebound from this? But after reading their exchange a few times I was like you got me good James. I see what you did.

Wow!

Elizabeth and Darcy part ways-Elizabeth continuing to be furious, but at dinner she doesn’t help but notice that Caroline sits Darcy next to her. And it kind of makes her upset. But why should she feel this way? He’s a jerk.

She’s seated next to George Wickham, writer, working on his first novel. They talk and he shares about how Darcy is a jerk and an antiquarian-he;s living in the past and can’t stand the modern age. Wickham shares more on how Darcy treated him, and Elizabeth decides not to give this jerk another thought. The next day is the hunt, with Elizabeth being one of the few ladies who is riding.

George saddles up next to her and they talk about horses and races and he shares he was there the day Emily Davison threw herself on the tracks to raise awareness for votes for women. Elizabeth shares how she felt saddened by her sacrifice but admires her bravery to fight for what she believes in. She wants to know how George feels, but they are interrupted…but she is sure such a good man would be. He’s not going to be like Mr. Darcy…

They ride out and Elizabeth loses track of George and later she realizes she hasn’t seen him for a while. She searches for him and finds that he has fallen off his horse, his face bleeding, and arm hurt. Darcy comes upon him and at first she is glad for his assistance, but when he wants her to return to he hunt-ugh all she can think is what a horrid man. She refuses to go and he rides off for help. But weirdly-he should have been more concerned with George’s heath but seemed solely focused on her.

Elizabeth is amazed at Darcy’s swiftness in retuning especially as he doesn’t like George, that much is certain. Darcy tells her that he does’t care for George, but that he was worried about her. The two argue with Elizabeth not believing how he could be so cruel to an injured man, a man he has known forever, and calling him a rogue-when he is a sweet and charming guy.

But Darcy doesn’t say anything on that and leaves.

Later, Mary King visits with Elizabeth and she is legit one of the cutest and sweetest characters in this. She is embarrassed because she ate the jar of biscuits given to them and left in the bedroom, but doesn’t want Caroline to  find out and think badly of her. Elizabeth doesn’t really see it as an issue, but shares hers so it looks like Mary only ate a few. Mary is so precious. Mary decides that to thank Elizabeth she will reveal something she knows about George, who she noticed Elizabeth spending a lot of time with. She reveals that George is a ruthless “yellow” journalist. He will trample on anyone and do anything to get his story. He’s been doing a serious on the women suffragists who have gone to prison and are doing hunger strikes. Most of them go by an assumed name and he has ben revealing who they really are in the hopes to embarrass their well-to-do-families and paint them as princesses playing at politics. One woman he really ran through the ringer was Georgiana Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s sister. Oh no. Elizabeth was so wrong about him-and Darcy’s anger at George it all makes sense. Oh no, what is she to do? Can she fix this?

I really enjoyed this story and not just because I git to trot out the Downton Abbey memes and gifs I’ve collected (although that was fun). It was the same story of Pride and Prejudice that we love but told in a different, new, and fun way. Plus I really liked the way she wrote the misunderstandings of what was said. I deeply applaud you!

For more by Jenetta James, go to “What Strange Creatures” from Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

A Mate for Life by Christina Boyd

Circa: 1852

I was so excited to see that Christina Boyd included a story. I always suspected she had one brewing inside her.

So I have been made to promise not to reveal certain things as to not give away the ending…

So in this Elizabeth Bennet is a grandma, (that’s why I believe it to be the 1870s), and her granddaughter has fallen for a man. Elizabeth knows her daughter-in-law only cares if he is wealthy and from a good family so she has decided to check on whether this man is really the right guy. She gives excellent advice, some that everyone who is single should take to heart.

 

This was so cute as Elizabeth shares her story with her granddaughter, about Mr. Wickham, the misunderstandings, Mr. Darcy-the whole thing.

How sweet!

That’s all I’ll say on that. I don’t want to ruin the story.

Oops! Wrong book!

I loved it and thought it was adorable. Although I will say one more thing…when her granddaughter’s beau comes over, this meme did pop in my head LOL.

So no lie, when I finished the last story this was literally how I felt:

I was like where’d the book go? How did I read it so fast? Why isn’t there more? Where are the rest of the stories?

I had to go back and count to see if I had actually read all ten stories. It just seemed to be over so quickly.

Each story was a delight and I loved them and the book.

Just one of these stories is worth the amount you pay for the book and you don’t get just one you get 10!!! Why don’t you head over to Amazon and order a copy?

Each story took the theme of obstinate headstrong Girl and created their own tale of Elizabeth Bennet. I recommend it to any Jane Austen fan!

 

I suggest you do! 🙂

For more on Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl, go to Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part I, The Regency

For more on Elizabeth Bennet, go to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to P.S. I Like You

For more edited by Christina Boyd, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part I, The Regency

Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl edited by Christina Boyd

So a while back Christina Boyd asked me to be a part of her Book Tour and I wholeheartedly said yes.

I have always wanted to be a part of a book tour, it’s like being a rock star, but even better as it involves books. 

Although…unfortunately I realize that I am too much like Stacey Jaxx the rockstar as I forgot all about the book tour until I saw posts on social media.

But hey, better late than never right?

So when I went to read the book, I saw that my link to get a free copy of the ebook was expired.

I thought of asking for a new one, but I decided to just buy my own as Christina Boyd and the others have been so generous to me. The book, whether as an ebook or physical copy, is really not that much. So if you are stuck in the quarantine and looking for something to read, why don’t you head over to Amazon and order a copy?

So a little backstory before we review the book. Back in 2017, Christina Boyd (editor) and the following writers: Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams-put together an anthology that had stories on Mr. Darcy, The Darcy Monologues

After all, who doesn’t love Mr. Darcy?

Half the stories had a Regency theme, while the others were set in different times (Old West, 1960s, 2017, etc.) Each one did their own spin on the story-keeping the things we love but trying a new look, or new path on the tale. With so many Darcys there is sure to be a Darcy for everyone to love (there were several that I loved). [Also something to get if you are stuck in quarantine and looking for something new to read.]

In the back of this book, Obstinate Headstrong Girl, Christina Boyd shared that from the publication of The Darcy Monologues, readers suggested doing the same for Elizabeth-but she wasn’t sure. With all the retellings of Jane Austen’s most loved novel:

“…I thought all the Elizabeth Bennet point-of-view stories surely must have been told.”

But you know us Janeites-no matter what character may be your favorite, everybody loves an Obstinate Headstrong Girl.

So here we go with the five Regency stories. All of these are set in the Regency whether before the novel, after the novel, or taking a new path from some point in the story. I am going to do them in the order they are as you read it.

Resolution by Amy D’Orazio

It is two weeks before Elizabeth’s wedding and she eagerly awaits it. If was marrying Mr. Darcy I would feel the same way. 

She is staying with Jane (now Jane Bingley) and Mr. Bingley and glances out the window and sees Mr. Darcy-becoming stricken with fever at seeing him. Aw, she is so excited to wed him…so cute.

Jane is in a lather trying to get things ready for Elizabeth’s engagement party-upset that Mr. Bingley keeps inviting people so she has no clue how many people are coming. I really liked that, as I think it is nice seeing Jane more than the perfect angel and I think every marriage has its annoyances. Elizabeth is a bit distressed that Darcy would be coming (weird as they are getting married.) 

Whatever, Jane asks if Elizabeth holds a grudge and that it shouldn’t be weird having him at her engagement dinner.

OMGOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHATTTTTTTTTTT?!!!!!!!!!!!!! ELIZABETH AND DARCY ARE NOT ENGAGED???!!!

literally spit out my tea! WHAT??????!!!!!!!!

Do you ever get shocked in reading that you read faster, because you have to know what happens next?

ANSWERS!!!!!

So in this version everything happened as in the original book, but Darcy did not come back a second time to propose to Elizabeth. He did visit with Bingley, so he went back and spoke to Jane but Elizabeth and Darcy never had their walk together, time passed, and she met another man-Mr. Julius Timpson-who also happened to be wealthy as he is a banker-and got engaged and is to be married. Mr. Timpson is older, opinionated, and Elizabeth isn’t in love, she loves Darcy, but as she cannot have him sh but believes herself to be content with him. WHAT? ConTeNT?

OMG I have to take a breath.

Okay, so I calmed myself down, I’m sure Darcy and Elizabeth will straighten everything out. So that evening Elizabeth can’t stop thinking of him. Why didn’t he come back, was Lydia’s shame too great? Has he found another. She wishes she could speak to him, but doesn’t get a chance to as she is next to Mr. Timpson (if you can’t tell whenever I say his name I say it in a snotty tune as I don’t like him) and Darcy is on the other side of the table.

She gets a chance to break away from the ladies, and tries to talk to him-overhearing Darcy and Bingley talking about her engagement. She interrupts them and she and Darcy get a moment to talk when Bingley gets called away. The two parry blows with their wits, and Darcy admits that he loves her aw! They are going to get together! But no, he leaves. What!!!

Go BAAAAACK!!!!

13 Days until the wedding, the wedding that should not be happening, but is.

Elizabeth wants to be with Mr. Darcy, she imagines him when kissing her fiancé. Oh no, Elizabeth-but she can’t she doesn’t even know if Darcy loves her still. I think D’Orazio speaks for us all when she describes Elizabeth’s feelings:

Elizabeth drinks a bit too much wine and writes a note to Darcy asking him why he didn’t come back. The note is delivered and he replies he did what he thought she wanted. WHAT!!!!!!!!

What are you talking about??

He didn’t know if her feelings changed and then Lady Catherine, that evil schemer went and told him that Elizabeth would never want to marry him.  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

But what will happen? Will they get together? Will Elizabeth break her engagement?

So I really liked this story and I think it was perfect for the beginning of the anthology. Not to talk bad about the other writers, as I loved their stories too, but this story itself was worth the price of the book. D’Orazio took parts and texts of the original novel and gave it her own spin. We  get to see a view of what would have happened if Darcy did not come back? Would she have gone on to be a spinster? Or would she have become like Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride, not loving or caring and entering the marriage having no feeling regarding it. 

And NO lie, every time the days before the weddings shortened, my heart leaped in anxiety, will they or won’t they? I zoomed through this story as I just had to finish it before my lunch break ended.  Plus I LOVED that ending, it was amazing. and just what I was hoping for. 

For more by Amy D’Orazio, go to “The Wishing Ball” by Amy D’Orazio” from YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-Inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

Atmospheric Disturbances by Christina Morland

Darcy and Elizabeth are fighting. 

But not about her sister or Wickham. The two are engaged and we have fallen right in the middle of their unknown dispute. Elizabeth is angry and trying to poke at Darcy to get him to react, he wanting to leave, but she not letting him until they have it out. 

Mr. Darcy is a puzzle to her-he is “cold and warm, kind and aloof, reticent and garrulous”-a walking contradiction. He is kind and loving enough to each her sisters to play chess, gives everyone in her family gifts,  but doesn’t give her anything but the compliment of his attention.

Hmmm…

So…I was really not getting into this story. I love Darcy, but in a different way than most people. I mean I love that he is kind and caring and a romantic hero, but I also love him because he reminds me a lot of myself, personality-wise (not money or family). Like that earlier quote I pulled, that could describe me.

So as I’m reading this I’m like, why you mad Elizabeth? Look at all the stuff he is doing- spending time with all the people who are the last he’d want to be trapped with, Mary and Kitty, ugh Mrs. Bennet. And I’m sure he feels that giving his time is the best thing to give, after all that happened I’m sure he feels that any larger gift would look as if he is trying to purchase her love not an act of love. 

I’m done

But, then we get why Elizabeth is fighting with Darcy, the real reason:

“No, what truly frightened her was the epiphany he was bound to have, and soon: she was, and always would be, headstrong and obstinate. When he came to understand this unalterable aspect of her character, would he also come to regret his love?”

OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH…she is feeling insecure.

It all makes sense!

Will they be able to work through these issues? Or will their wedding not take place?

Hmmm…

I really liked the rest of the story as I think this was a new view into Elizabeth Bennet. I mean we all love her wit and how she has no fear toward Lady Catherine, but even though she loves Darcy and was a very confident person, she is no longer blind to her family faults and she must have spent time afterwards wondering if this would work, if Darcy would be okay with it, if he would regret his choice. 

Does he regret marrying me? (from Death Comes to Pemberley)

 

I also like how Morland shows that just like any couple-Darcy and Elizabeth have to work through from being a “I” to becoming a “we”, and that it can be done with communication and still retaining one’s independence and obstinate, headstrong ways.

For more by Christina Morland, go to “Self-Composed ” from Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

The Uncommonly Busy Lane to Longbourn by Joana Starnes

Elizabeth is trying to hide out as her mother is trying to match her up with Mr. Collins. 

Elizabeth thinks to herself about how soon Jane will get with Mr. Bingley and then maybe Mrs. Bennet will lay off. Thinking of Mr. Bingley of course brings thoughts of Mr. Darcy-how dare he say she isn’t tolerable, and that in turn brings thoughts of Mr. Wickham. Poor Mr. Wickham, so rudely mistreated by Darcy. 

As she runs home, she runs into Mr. Darcy, who is out taking a ride on his horse. They actually engage in decent conversation, surprise, to Elizabeth’s total surprise! But she hurriedly scurries away as she does not want to spend any more time with him-confusing man.

At home, Elizabeth tries to put in her plan to have Jane influence their mother to pass Mr. Collins on to Mary, as Mary enjoys his sermons and has her own self-righteous streak. It works half right well, as Mr. Collins secures the first two dances with Mary, but that leaves Elizabeth open to Mr. Darcy asking her to dance! She does, but ends up getting her foot squished by Mr. Collins. That man!

She has to sit out the dance, but who should come and keep her company, Jane?…no Mr. Darcy. 

Elizabeth is shocked, but the two actually have some decent conversation, until Darcy warns her against Wickham. That will not do and she becomes extremely angry.

Thinking you were nice.

The rest of the night is horrible as she doesn’t get to dance and instead has to watch everyone else dance and she gets to see how silly her family is acting. 

The next day they are walking to visit their Aunt Phillips and tell her of the ball, and when they come back they come across Mr. Wickham who joins their party of Elizabeth, Kitty, Lydia, and Jane. 

The other girls walk ahead to give Wickham and Elizabeth time to talk to each other,  but as Wickham tries to steal a kiss, before Elizabeth can decide what to do they are interrupted by Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy begs a moment with Wickham and the girls walk off. 

They are almost home and there is no Mr. Wickham behind them. Elizabeth starts to grow fearful and decides to head back as maybe Mr. Darcy did something to him? She and Jane hurry and they spot motionless riding boots emerging from a bush. Oh no!!!!

Elizabeth thinks it is Wickham and reaches out to him, only to discover it is Mr. Darcy and he has a headwound!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! NOt Mr. Darcy!!!!

Nooooo

They take him home and call the apothecary but Elizabeth is in shock. She cannot believe that Wickham could do such a thing, such a decent man-it must have been Mr. Darcy’s fault, it must have been an accident, he must have gone for help, Wickham can’t be a bad man.

But why didn’t he get an apothecary? Why didn’t he get help? Darcy must have caused it himself, right? She can’t have been wrong about Wickham, could she?

 

I liked that Starnes took the obstinate and headstrong down this pathway. I know I am an obstinate and headstrong girl and I have often in my younger days, not as much now, held onto a view of belief of a person even when the evidence seems glaringly opposite. It is a major fault of being an OHG that we can be so obstinate that we deceive our own selves. 

And she receives the truth hard-with the officers saying that Wickham spread the account of Darcy (Mr. I won’t speak an ill word and disgrace his father), meeting Georgiana Darcy and seeing she is nothing like Wickham said, and Georgiana sharing the truth about his character.

 

But don’t fear, let me calm your hearts-Darcy survives and there is an amazingly cute scene when he thinks Mr. Collins is Elizabeth as he is suffering from a bad concussion. But will he want to be with her still? I mean he almost died for her-will that deter him from this OHG?

For more by Joana Starnes, go to “And Evermore Be Merry” from YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-Inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

Something Like Regret by Elizabeth Adams

Elizabeth and the Gardiners have decided to tour Pemberley as Mr. Darcy is gone. Elizabeth immediately regrets this as seeing it reminds her of what she gave up.

However, she also would have had to marry Mr. Darcy, and who would want to be married to Mr. Darcy?

 

She realizes however she was wrong about Mr. Wickham and about Mr. Darcy. Seeing the beautiful place isn’t what chnges her mind but hearing what all his staff say about him-she starts to wonder. Could it have been that Mr. Darcy was just seeking intelligent discourse, seeing her as a match for his wits-rather than trying to argue with her? Could she have misconstrued his intentions? Could he have fallen in love with her mind? Is that why he said he loved her?

I don’t know…

She then sees a portrait of him when he was 22, before his father died. And she can see the difference in his countenance-before he had to be a serious landowner, responsible to all the people, and a father to his sister-in fact, he only a year older than Elizabeth and he took all that on. And Elizabeth knows she would find difficulty in being responsible for so much, and looking at how it has flourished:

They learn from the houskeeper how wild Mr. Wickham turned out and Elizabeth starts to wonder about her judge of character.

Maybe…being obstinate and headstrong isn’t the only way one should be. Maybe they should be firm in what their beliefs but also allow a flexibility in judging characters.

Hmmm…

She looks at the late Mr. Darcy’s study-left exactly how it was when he died and how he kept a small miniature of Mr. Wickham to honor his father. Elizabeth thinks that if she had accepted Darcy’s proposal her first act as mistress of Pemberley she would “accidentally on purpose” smash Wickham’s picture, and I’m 100% in agreement with her!

NOT REALLY

Elizabeth realizes that she let his comment and injury to her vanity color her every perception of him. Being obstinate and headstrong sure can lead to misunderstandings. (I know it!) 

Then Mr. Darcy comes…awkward.

Elizabeth is later surprised when Mr. Darcy joins their tour. He converses with her uncle, and is extremely friendly and not at all what she expects, and when Elizabeth apologizes for the way she treated him in Kent-he turns it around and admits his faults and apologizes to her.

How romantic!

The two begin to spend quite a bit of time together as Mr. Darcy invite her and her aunt and uncle over. And what of Mr. Wickham? Well, he does not cut their visit short as he won a ton of money and took off to hide from his creditors. So good-bye to you!

Adams is an excellent romance writer as they are just so cute together-the way they talk, and act, and such. Ah my heart melts like butter. 

Squee! I loved it!

For more by Elizabeth Adams, go to “And Evermore Be Merry” from YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-Inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

The Age of Nescience by J. Marie Croft

So this was a very different story. We start the book off in 1806, when Elizabeth is 15 and at her coming-out into society. I really like that Croft went in a different direction than most people-I don’t think I have ever read any other retelling that starts long before Pride and Prejudice

The first party was not so great as she and her mother argued over the clothes-and there were no proposals. We all know Mrs. Bennet is not happy about that.

Later a Mr. Archibald Crosbie visits, both handsome and charming, and Elizabeth develops a crush on him. She goes to visit with her Aunt Gardiner who is planning on buying her clothes that are fashionable and actually suits Elizabeth, also using this time to try and talk about her about men-warn her that not all have honorable intentions, but Elizabeth doesn’t really listen. She believes she is an excellent judge of character and will not be hoodwinked-us poor obstinate headstrong girls-we don’t listen.

She picks out lovely material for her new gown, and knows it will catch Crosbie’s attention. 

But Mr. Crosbie attracts too many women, and nothing happens. Poor Elizabeth is hurt and slightly angry at him-you know teenagers:

She then concludes that she will never pursue a man again-they need to pursue her!

Sir Jack Ashe moves into the neighborhood and pays a ton of attention to Elizabeth, pursuing her over her beautiful sister Jane. As anyone who has ever felt second best to a sister, Elizabeth’s heart gets stolen by his attention. He tries to woo her, but unfortunately all Elizabeth’s illusions and hopes are broken when she discovers he just wanted to take a roll with her in the hay-he never had any intention of anything more than seducing a “simple country girl”.

 

Elizabeth is angry at her naiveté and decides to never be used in such a way ever again and to not even look at wealthy man, but set her sites lower; developing an unknown prejudice against the wealthy class. 

There is more to the story, I don’t want to give everything away, but I found this to not only be an interesting view into Elizabeth and her obstinate, headstrong ways-but very new. I also like how the author concentrated on Elizabeth’s relationship not with Mr. Darcy, but with all the people that are very important to her: Jane, Mrs. Gardiner, Charlotte Lucas, and her father Mr. Bennet. 

For more by J. Marie Croft, go to “Homespun for the Holidays” from YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-Inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

Some people might feel what more can be done to Pride and Prejudice? Does Elizabeth really need her own book? Well I am going to stop you right there because first of all-

And secondly, this anthology proved that yes there is plenty more stories to tell about Elizabeth. 

So I really loved and enjoyed all these stories!

Especially how each author took the theme of “obstinate headstrong girl” and worked it to create five very different stories that still kept the heart of Jane Austen and the fire plus wit of Elizabeth.

So if you love Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, or am a cardcarrying member of the Obstinate Headstrong Girls’ Club-you should definitely check this book out (and what better time when you are basically being told to stay home and read?) Why don’t you head over to Amazon and order a copy?

I think it is a fantastic idea. 

So this of course is only the five Regency stories, the next post on 3/26 will be on the other five stories-these of course will be set in different time periods. We have the Victorian Era, Edwardian Age, 1930s, the ’80s, and present time!

For more on Elizabeth Bennet, go to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to P.S. I Like You

For more edited by Christina Boyd, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

P.S. I Like You

So if you are following me on Instagram, you know that I am reading Obstinate Headstrong Girl edited by Christina Boyd but as I haven’t finished the book yet, I’ll tide you over with one of these. I had thought this was a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers, but after rereading my review-I realize this is closer to a retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

Hmm…

So without further ado-let’s get onto the review!

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

So I like to buy books for people as gifts, especially those under 18 as they have more free time and I want to encourage reading. All my nieces and nephews know this and expect it.

This past February marked the 15th birthday of one of my nieces and I found myself falling into a problem. I haven’t read as much new Young Adult novels and I knew there that if I got her one from when I was her age she wouldn’t be interested. They would be talking of razors and sidekicks, etc-terms they don’t know.

What?

My coworker and I had been talking of different books for young adults and she brought up Kasie West, that she supposedly writes clean young adult romances.

Hmmm…

So flash-forward six months, I’m trying to figure out what book to get my niece when I remember Kasie West. Only West has written a lot of books, so I wasn’t sure which one to get her.

Huhhhhhhh

So I googled “best Kasie West books” picked a list at random, Awkwordly Emma: Emma’s Definitive Ranking of Kasie West’s BooksThe number one book was P.S. I Like You and as it was on sale on Amazon I bought it. You know I cannot resist a deal.

The book order came with a snippet to read on your kindle immediately, which I did, and then the next day when Amazon dropped the book off, I was hooked enough to peruse it.

I started reading, just planning to check out a chapter-but instead I was sucked in.

Lily Abbot is a junior in high school. She likes reading, music, and creating her own clothes from thrift store finds. She is shy, but hides behind of shell of impassiveness and an “I don’t care” attitude. Inside she secretly lacks confidence.

Pretending all the time…

She’s horrible when it comes to dating as she finds it incredibly difficult to talk to guys, as she freezes or rattles on.

She comes from a large family-older sister, two younger brothers, goofy parents who’s job earnings fluctuate they go from well to lean.

Lily’s best friend is Izabella, they have been friends forever, with only one black spot in their history together, Cade Jennings.

When they were freshman, Lily was doing poorly at P.E. in volleyball, with everyone lobbing their balls toward her. Cade Jennings, handsome jock only made things worse as he nicknamed her magnet-“as she attracts all the balls”, a nickname that continues to follow her around to this day.

Ugh.

So how did he impact their friendship, well Izabella dated Cade and Cade and Lily would go at it like cats and dogs, with Izabella having to choose between them and picking Lily.

It is two years later, and Izabella is now dating the sweet and kind Gabriel-but Lily and Cade still go at it every time they see each other.

Lily is frustrated with her family as she wants to enter this song writing contest, but finds herself without any time to herself to write. She starts writing in Chemistry class, but then is caught by the teacher.

Her precious notebook of possible songs being threatened at being confiscated, she then starts writing on the desk-just a little.

The next class she is surprised to find something written on the desk in response. This begins a friendship between Lily and her mystery pen pal as they write each other little friendship notes every class, hiding them under the desk.

At first Lily thinks it is a girl, but when she realizes that it is a guy she starts falling for him.

Love him.

As she writs out her feelings, when talking to him, she lets her guard down and really becomes herself-no masks, nothing fake, the real Lily.

The same goes for her mystery guy-a guy who completely releases his feelings and becomes true to himself.

Lily does’t want to know who it is as she doesn’t want to be disappointed if it turns out he has a girlfriend or is anything less than the perfect man she built up in her dreams-but she starts trying to find out who it is.

Time to get on the case!

But then she discovers it is her archenemy Cade?! Oh no, what’s a girl to do.

How can this amazing person she writes to be the same jerk she goes to school with? How could she have fallen for her best friend’s ex? Who is the real Cade, the letter writer or the school hotshot?

Sh knows she should give this whole thing up before he realizes who she is, before Izabelle realizes it, before she falls even harder…but can she do it?

So this reminded me of Pride and Prejudice meets The Shop Around the Corner with the way that Lily has a prejudice against Cade and Cade has his pride.

Both have to work through those things-Lily realizing maybe her disliking Cade had a bit more to do with her being jealous that Izabelle’s time being taken up by someone else and one nickname he gave her-and Cade letting his pride be torn down (in front of the whole school).

There is even a scene when Cade and his friend are talking about school stuff and his friend mentions that Lily is at the craft fair and is cute and Cade says she’s tolerable, but not handsome enough for him.  (Okay not in those words, but that just flashed in my head when I read his response.)

We also have Sasha, a popular cheerleader, who is after Cade and does all she can to try and trap him into getting with her, constantly flirting with him nonstop, and even pretending to be his mystery letter writer. Like to me-that sounds like Caroline Bingley, and if she had the opportunity to pretend something Elizabeth did that Mr. Darcy found appealing was her-you can bet anything she would do it. She constantly makes fun of Lily in front of everybody and talks smack of her to Cade.

 

We also have the incredibly kind Izabelle and equally kind and adorable boyfriend Gabriel (hands down Jane and Mr. Bingley) try to set Lily up with a guy that is who I believe is Mr. Collins. Very little personality besides one thing, tries to go after Lily even when she makes it clear she is not interested, and their disastrous date-modern Collins to a T.

I can’t remember the name of this character, and I can’t look it up in the book as it is with my niece, but Lily has a crush on a guy she thinks is “cool” and “artsy”. He doesn’t turn out to be a cad like Mr. Wickham, but Lily does realize she didn’t really “see” him for who he really was. And he makes a promise that he will call someone up to see about fixing her guitar strings, and reneges-just like Wickham promised to come to the ball but then doesn’t show up.

As I mentioned before, Lily comes from a large family with two silly parents. While they love each other and treat each other with respect-they are pretty goofy and their antics of competing, along with other things, often deeply embarrass Lily. The same goes for her siblings.

So embarressed

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth starts to view Mr. Darcy in a different light when he’s in his home-seeing what his servants say about him and seeing him more relaxed-in this Lily starts to think she was wrong about Cade being a jerk when she sees him in her home. He is the coach for her younger brother’s team and he speaks highly of him, he is much more relaxed and open in Lily’s house and with her family.

Open and smiling

I loved the letter writing, as that always gets my heart! So in Pride and Prejudice, a letter changes Elizabeth’s mind about Darcy, while in this book it is a series of letters. Of course that part makes me think more of The Shop round the Corner, with Cade and Lily verbally duking it out in the physical world, while falling in love through paper. And then like how Jimmy Stewart’s character, Alfred Kralik, finds out the truth and tries to figure out what to do about it-made me think of when Lily discovers it is Cade.

But then Cade does a final letter to let Lily know how seriously he cares for her-P.S. I like you.

This was a cute adorable read, and if you are an Austen fan-I think you will love it. Or you can use it as the foundation to give a teen, the next one being an actual copy of Pride and Prejudice.

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to The Colonel

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more love letters, go to Love Notes: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

For more young adult books, go to Pride, Prejudice, and Personal Statements

Saving the Photo Shoot: The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)

Most Romantic Moment #10

So I love this movie and try to watch it every Christmas and it is totally Pride and Prejudice (so if you haven’t seen it, you should totally check it out.

E.J. Baxter is a genius New York publicist that after being betrayed by her fiance, leaves that life to move out to Montana. When she gets there she clashes heads with good-looking bad boy, Will Albrecht. She hears the plight of the volunteer search-and-rescue team, as their lack of funds are causing them to use out-of-date equipment. E.J. comes up with the idea of creating a “naked” calendar (nothing is shown but bare chest) to raise the money.

The calendar is a success and both Will and E.J. realize that there is more to each other than meets the eye and they fall in love. After some misunderstandings the two break up, and E.J. returns to the big apple. But will she stay in NYC, or will she realize her heart is in Montana?

Most Romantic Moment: Saving the Photo Shoot

So this comes about 2/3 of the way through. E.J. has pitched the idea of the “naked” calendar, and with a little help from the officer who is Mr. May, everything is going great. That is until the guy for Mr. December drops out.

Everything is set with the printer, photographer, release, and they are out a person. Someone suggests they do group pic, but the guys don’t really want to do it again (one pic was hard enough to get out of some who were very shy) and there is no one left to ask. The clock’s ticking, and E.J. is looking at having to scrap everything and be out all the time, effort, and money.

But then Will shows up to do the photo. Now Will was against this from the very start. He thought it was a dumb idea and tried to convince others to be against it. He even told her he would never, ever do it. But, because he loves E.J., he swallows his pride and he takes the last photo, saving the day and the project.

So romantic!

For more on The 12 Men of Christmas, go to On the 12th Day ’til Christmas: The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

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

YEEEEES!!!!!!

But then there was a light in the darkness! On my instagram popped up a post about a Jane Con in Modesto! Modesto! I could go to Modesto!

No horror-glee and happiness instead!

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

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

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

So the first workshop of the day was Gowns & GroansAfter that you had your choice of The Definitive Darcy or Start You Own Book Club. 

Our group decided against the book club workshop as we already had one, although I am sure it was absolutely amazing, and instead decided to attend The Definitive Darcy. 

Ah, Darcy.

I was excited for this workshop as there are so many adaptions of Pride and Prejudice, oh this will be so much fun! I mean you have a ton of Regency Darcys to choose from:

AND a ton of modern adaptions (and yes I know the above has a picture of Darcy from Bride and Prejudice. I didn’t make the image):

And let’s not forget-we aren’t just looking at Darcy. We are also trying to define the definitive Elizabeth.

This workshop was run by Erin E. Connor and Melissa Ruzika:

Why is Mr. Darcy such a big deal and why are we wild about Lizzie? Join JASNA Central California executive committee members Erin and Melissa as they delve into Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, and its three most popular film adaptions. Bring your own opinions and take sides in a friendly debate as to who is the definitive Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

Erin E. Conor is a lifelong Jane Austen fan. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) and serves as member-at-large on the Executive Committee for the Central California region of JASNA. Her favorite Austen novel is Emma, and her favorite Austen inspired film is Austenland.

Melissa Ruzika is a long time JASNA member and Central California Region Executive Committee member. Her knowledge of Jane Austen and her works is deep, and Melissa is known for being an acute observer of JA in popular culture with solid textual backing for her opinions.

Debate you say? Okay:

I’m ready:

So one of the nicest things that Connor and Ruzika had with their workshops were handouts and a paddle with the Firth and Macfayden Darcys to engage the crowd in the debate in order so that everyone could be heard.

Connor and Ruzika started off with Historical Context, discussing what the Regency period was. You can click on the link above for more information, but a brief overview:

  • Crazy King George III (sorry I’m American) had to take a step down from ruling as he was suffering from a disease (believed to be porphyria) that made him mad, and his son had to become Prince Regent.
  • The Regency Period is believed to be 1795-1837, with the Prince Regent ruling from 1811-1820. When King George died in 1820, the Prince became King.
  • The Prince Regent was a giant fan of Jane Austen.
  • There was the Industrial Revolution in the North (Any North & South fans out there? It is set in the Victorian time period but shows the difference between the industrial North and the Countryside South extremely well.)
  • There was serious class division, with an emerging middle class (The Gardiners who reside in Cheapside
  • It was the Romantic Era.

From there we got a quick overview of the book Pride and Prejudice as Connor & Ruzika had provided a handout from Playful Paths to Love and one from shmoop to give us a better idea on how rich Darcy would be today. We (book club, sister, and I) really loved that as while I am the serious Janeite, the rest of the group isn’t. One member of our group had never even read the book or seen any of the movies, only having read The Darcy Monologues for our book club. I’m not sure about the rest of the crowd, but I am certain that there had to be some others who were grateful for the refresher.

And even if you know the story frontwards and backwards, it is one that I never get tired of hearing.

We then had a brief discussion of Pride and Prejudice (1940), but they didn’t spend that much time on it. They later explained that they felt that not that many people have seen it (or liked it), and I understand time is limited.

Aw, man!

But as we have time, I’m throwing the trailer in here. It may not be accurate, but still is a great film and the first P&P adaption I ever saw. Plus LAURENCE OLIVIER! *Sigh*

I wish we could have looked at all the depictions, but that would have taken too much time. Although I’d be down for it.

Anyways-we then moved onto the debate. Colin Firth versus Matthew MacFayden, Jennifer Ehle versus Keira Knightley, Simon Langton versus Joe Wright, BBC versus Universal, etc.

 

Fight, fight, fight! (from Jane Austen Fight Club)

So starting with the trailers:

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

So now that we have seen the trailers, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So after they discussed each facet they had us hold up our paddles to determine who won.

I’m in this photo.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write down who won each scene:

So I’ll just put my thoughts at the end.

Round 1: Mr. Collins, Tom Hollander Vs. David Bamber

So the group started off with the Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (2005) the boiled potatoes scene. 

I know a lot of people love that scene, and I admit that I love Hollander’s stone faced delivery, however, it never really struck me as much as it does everyone else.

For Bamber they showed him trying to dance. But the scenes that really sell me on Mr. Collins is when they are getting ready for the ball and he runs into Lydia, and the Mr. Collins wave. Those scenes are priceless! 

IMO Winner: P&P (1995) David Bamber

Well-played!

Round 2: Sexy Darcy, Hand Clench Vs Firth in Bathtub & the Wet Shirt Scene

So the hand clench scene, I understand it but I don’t go crazy over it. First of all, as Doiel said in Gowns and Groans, they should have been wearing gloves. And not to be rude-but to me it always looks like his hand has a spasm. That’s just my view, if you love this scene then love it. I actually like this scene better.

For the 1995, they had the bath scene:

And the wet shirt/lake scene:

This had an obvious winner, I mean how can you resist Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt?

IMO Winner: P&P (1995) Bath Scene + Wet Shirt

Round 3: Meryton Assembly

So they started off with the Meryton Ball in 2005. Now I don’t really care for it as I am mostly distracted by how Caroline Bingley forgot to put a real dress on, she looks as if she is in a chemise not a gown. I never cared for how casual the Bennet sisters look as Mrs. Bennet most definitely would be wanting the girls to be more dressed up in order to snag a husband. It is lively, but I don’t care for the interactions between the characters:

Now the 1995 version is more subdued, but I like the costume choices better, and to me I like that it is concentrated on small scenes (Bingley & Jane along with Darcy & Elizabeth) with not so much going on in the background.

IMO Winner: P&P (1995)

Round 4: Romantic Aesthetic Vs. Accuracy

So Pride and Prejudice (2005) has a lot of romantic elements. You have these big scenic panoramas, Elizabeth on the cliff, Darcy and Elizabeth in the neoclassical building when he proposes (1st time), and the slow walk along the field in the early dawn (2nd proposal). This I personally don’t like, as Connor and Ruzika said, it is very Bronte-esque, but that is my biggest problem. Jane Austen is not Jane Bronte. And I really don’t like the scene where he finds her in the rain, as how did he know she would be there? And the field scene, they just happen to be there at the same time? Besides one of my favorite parts is at the end of the book when Mr. Darcy comes around with Bingley and Elizabeth is doing all she can to try and get his attention and figure out a way to talk to him, but is thwarted and unsure. And that longing and loss of hope-just gets me every time, will they get together ?!

And “Your hands are cold” I’ve always disliked that line as I feel it just kills the mood.

With me I love the accuracy of the mini-series, but of course there are things added in, like the Lake scene. But one of my favorite is when they are getting ready for the ball and the interaction between the sisters and Mr. Collins.

IMO Winner: P&P (1995)

Round 5: Bennet Family, “Behave Naturally” Vs. “Meet the Bennets”

So to get a view into the different relationships with the Bennet sisters, they used the “Behave Naturally” scene from P&P (2005). This is a great scene, even I love it.

The scene they chose from the P&P (1995) version is also a great scene. You really get the family dynamic in this one.

IMO Winner: Tie

Round 5: Darcy’s Flirtation, Sisterly Help Vs. Hungry Eyes

So with 2005, they chose the scene in which Elizabeth goes to Pemberley and meets Georgiana. It is a good scene as we get a new view of him from the servants, how he interacts with Georgiana, and that Darcy has been talking about her quite a bit with his sister. However, I have always hated Elizabeth skulking around and that peeping tom camera angle. I know it is partly because they had to combine different parts of the book for time limit, but her looking through the door gives me Norman Bates Psycho vibes.

For the 1995 version, they used a fan made video of Darcy staring and Hungry Eyes playing. That video is AMAZING but my favorite flirtation scene is when Darcy goes to see Elizabeth when she is staying at the Collins’ house, and Darcy comes to visit her and just stares or stares out the window because he doesn’t know what to say.

IMO Winner: P&P (1995)

So in my opinion there is a clear winner between Firth & Ehle versus Macfayden & Knightley:

But as for Jane Con? Everyone who had a paddle held it up and it came out to be 18-18

But then someone brought up the fact that not everyone had a paddle so they had us stand and count. The final result came out to be…………………………….

22-20 in favor of………

Yes Modesto Jane Con 2020 Declared Colin Firth as the Definitive Mr. Darcy.

So we all loved this workshop. They were fun, informative, interactive, and in the end we all could agree whether you love the 1995 or 2005 version, we all love Pride and Prejudice.

The only thing I would love more is if we looked at the other Darcy’s from films and TV shows, although I understand that wouldn’t be possible in one hour. I also would like to know who they think the worst Darcy is. I personally think it is the one in Austentatious (2015), which  ugh, I still have to finish watching.

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

For more Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

For more Elizabeth Bennet, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

For more on Mr. Darcy, go to I Wrote Mr. Darcy a Letter

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories

So I had planned to review the film version of Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe but after reading the book, I really was in a bah humbug mood, and needed something to lift my spirits.

I had Holiday Mix Tape, which I will be reviewing soon, but I was in the mood for Pride and Prejudice and Holiday Mix Tape is a modern adaption of Persuasion. Too bad no Jane Austen film adaptions don’t show more of Christmas, or I could include them in my watching a Christmas film every day.

Aw, man!

But then, I realized-I had the next best thing! The YULETIDE audiobook narrated by Harry Frost, and edited by Christina Boyd.

Christina Boyd has worked with several writers to create many different Jane Austen anthologies. The first I read was The Darcy Monologues. It contained stories from Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams. These stories were all told from Darcy’s point of view with half the book set in the Regency Era and the other half set in different time periods (from 1880s Western to modern times). I really loved it! Just like the movies, there are many different forms of Darcy, so you have your pick of Darcy-being sure to find one, two, or more to love.

After that project, Christina Boyd teamed up with Karen M. Cox: J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Katie Oliver, Sophia Ros, Joana Starnes, and Brooke West for a new book. This book is Dangerous to Know Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, on the rogues and rakes of the Austen books-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more. This book was a lot of fun as we got a chance to see things from the bad boys point of view.

The next one was Rational Creatures, with stories by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams. Each story was on a different woman of Jane Austen novels-our heroines along with supporting characters and a few bad girls.

So the book was published last November, and this year they came out with the Audiobook.

So audiobooks, I like but my problem is that the people read too slow. I get into the story and then I need to find out what happens NOW…so I usually get the book and read it, and stop listening to the audiobook. That did not happen with this one. Harry Frost is amazing! I could listen to him over and over again, and while I am writing this I am on my third go round with this book.

Or in this case Audiobook, and I could never hate it.

Harry Frost is a marvel at doing the different tones of voice and accents of the different characters. This book has Regency and Modern Darcys and even though both are done in a British accent, there is a big difference between the two.

He also does an amazing job at the female voices by giving them a higher tone, but not doing that thing most narrators do when they make the ladies talk really high pitch, you know a voice that sounds so unrealistic and annoying. Instead, he changed his tone so you knew it was a woman speaking and not in an annoying way. And with each character he made subtle changes so not all sounded the same.

I love it!

He also did a great job with the American accents, especially the one when Mr. Collins sounds like a total bonehead (many of you are thinking which one doesn’t he sound like that in everything?), and his voice was spot on what I would have imagined he sounded like.

And listening to him didn’t make me want to leave the audiobook and get the book to read. When Harry Frost narrated he wasn’t just reading it, he really put in emotion and captured the spirit of the characters and the stories that it was all together a fantastic experience. How fantastic my you ask? Well, I’m on my third listen…listen through? I don’t know what the term for it would be but every time I finish the audiobook I just start it back from the beginning.

Audiobook

So Harry Frost is amazing, now that we have talked about him it is time to talk about the stories themselves. I LOVED ALL OF THEM!

Like when I said that Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe made me lose my Christmas spirit and put me in a Scrooge mood-I’m dead serious. It is an awful book, that made me feel awful.

These stories, they were perfect! They fulfilled my need for Jane Austen Christmas!!! They filled me with Christmas joy! They were exactly what I needed to help get me in the Christmas mood after reading Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. Listening to them brought back my Christmas spirit faster than the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

They were so enjoyable, they made me think of that song from Jack Frost:

“It’s just what I always wanted, it’s perfectly right! It’s just what I always wanted, a Christmas delight!!”

This book

So usually I save the praise after I’ve gone over each story, but I don’t know I felt like doing it first. I mean I have said I keep listening to it over and over again, so I don’t think anyone was in suspense whether I thought this was good or not. But each writer deserves their due, so we need to go through the individual stories.

The Forfeit by Caitlin Williams

So this is my favorite of all the stories. It made me laugh, it had me in suspense, it made my heart go all fuzzy in feelings.

I love it!

This is a Regency story and takes place in Christmas after Mr. Bingley came and left. Charlotte is engaged to Mr. Collins, and the Bennets are getting ready for the holidays-even though not everyone in the family is happy (Jane brokenhearted, Mrs. Bennet angry at Elizabeth, and Elizabeth upset at Darcy). Elizabeth is walking home after visiting Charlotte and runs into Mr. Darcy!

He came for some business but oh no, his carriage is stuck in the snow, a storm is coming, and he’s stuck at the Bennet’s home for Christmas. Will this be a Christmas to remember? Or the worst Christmas of their lives?

It was great, as I said already it was my favorite. The story was fantastic, the language and the writing amazing, I loved this line “their elbows bumping as frequently as their intellect…” Oh and the story-not only do we have Darcy trapped in the Bennet home, but oh-no then Wickham comes on the scene, and Elizabeth and Darcy make a bet, and they plan a Christmas scavenger hunt, and oh I loved it. I would talk about it more but I’m afraid I’ll give away the ending.

Oops! Wrong book!

For more by Caitlin Williams, go to “In Good Hands” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

And Evermore Be Merry by Joanna Starnes

This is also a Regency story told from the point of view of Georgiana Darcy. It has been a few years since the end of Pride and Prejudice with Georgiana having been married and visiting Pemberley for Christmas.

This is a cute story that starts in the present festivities, Pemberley filled with family again and children laughing, but then takes us back in time as Georgiana remembers the Christmas when Darcy and Elizabeth fought over who she wanted to marry. That moment that did start with fighting, was also a great lesson to Georgiana on love, marriage, forgiveness, and family.

I loved seeing the events from her point of view and it was a cute tale that showed the bonds that formed between this family.

For more by Joana Starnes, go to “Charlotte’s Comfort” from Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

The Wishing Ball by Amy D’Orazio

This is a modern Pride and Prejudice tale, set in 2014, with Mr. Darcy in New York with Georgiana. She gave him a christmas gift, a wishing ball ornament that you place a wish in when you hang it on the tree. In a Twilight Zone-esque twist the ornament has his initials on it and a wish inside-even though Georgiana didn’t get it monogrammed and it was sealed.

Spooky…

The strangeness of the evening, doesn’t end there as that night insomniac Darcy goes on facebook to kill time and sees that even though he hasn’t been on facebook since he joined everything is different! He’s married, has children, and when he looks at the most recent date it says 2018!

In a reverse Christmas Eve Darcy sees what his life could be like, but after the night ends will it be enough to change his ways, or will he continue on the path he is on?

I LOVED it, it totally appealed to my love of Twilight Zone-esque plots and kept me on the edge of my seat! What was going to happen next?!

For more by Amy D’Orazio, go to “Happiness in Marriage” from Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

By a Lady by Lona Manning

This takes place in the Regency Era, a few years after Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth and Darcy have a little boy and a baby girl, and are headed to spend Christmas with Lady Catherine.

She still doesn’t like Elizabeth, but likes the children so that’s what mended fences between them. This trip Elizabeth is on a mission as she wants to befriend Anne. She takes with her as many books as she can possibly fit in the carriage, hoping they can be a great conversation starter…hopefully?

This was such a cute story as Anne does open up about her secret hobby of writing and Elizabeth tries to help her secretly get published. But will anyone be interested in the story? Will Lady Catherine discover the truth?

So heart melting! We need more Anne stories anyway, I really liked the way many of the authors portrayed her in The Darcy Monologues and she definitely deserves more attention.

For more by Lona Maning, go to “The Art of Pleasing” from Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

Homespun for the Holidays by J. Marie Croft

Mr. Darcy was in America for business and is stopping by a shop called Homespun to get the jumper, sweater, that his sister wants for Christmas. He is in an extremely bad mood, made even blacker when he gets there and discovers that the sweater he asked to be held for him was purchased by someone else.

He throws a bit of a fit, I love all the English slang in this although I wasn’t always 100% sure what he was saying, but after talking to Elizabeth he calms down and apologizes. Unfortunately, to make things even worse-a giant storm stops him from being able to leave, there’s no room for him at the local inn, and he has to stay on a loft in the barn.

Yes, he joins the Bennet family for dinner and her cousins keep thinking he’s Jesus, lol (not in a sacrilegious way, but a way that kid’s make connections). This is the one that has the serious bonehead Mr. Collins, but is a story of bad first impressions and trying to set them right again. A hilarious and fun tale, I particularly love Elizabeth’s retorts, oooh Mr. Darcy…

For more by Lona Maning, go to “The Simple Things” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

The Season for Friendly Meetings by Anngela Schroeder

This story takes place in the Regency era and takes place in the same time as the first story-the Christmas after Mr. Bingley came and left. Mrs. Bennet is unhappy and when an opportunity comes for Jane and Elizabeth to visit York and be in the presence of eligible young men-she sends them off to stay with the Longs, Mrs. Bennet’s sister.

There the girls attend a ball and their cousins hear some not so happy things about Mr. Wickham. She also meets Colonel Fitzwilliam, who talks to her and starts to raise some serious questions about the truth of Wickham.

If that’s not enough Darcy and Bingley are headed to the same party! Whoo, it’s going to be some type of party!

This was another cute story and it brought up a lot of points that Elizabeth and we overlook in Wickham when we first meet him as we are still smarting from Darcy’s remark about being “tolerable”. I loved it! Plus Colonel Fitzwilliam as a matchmaker?

For more by Anngela Schroeder, go to “Knightley Discourses” from Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

Mistletoe Mismanagement by Elizabeth Adams

Darcy and Elizabeth have only been married a month and are having Christmas with the Fitzwilliam family. Colonel, his older brother, along with his mother and father are all attending.

Along with them we have a Miss Wheeler and two Miss Becheems. Colonel Fitzwilliam is interested in Miss Wheeler, and Elizabeth is trying to help him and her get together.

But that has to take a backseat to some other Christmas shenanigans, as Captain Watson comes interested in Colonel Fitzwilliam’s brother’s wife and they have another guest who the Earl is trying to swing with.

They don’t want that happening in their home, and the evening becomes an unhappy game of musical chairs to outwit these couples.

For more by Elizabeth Adams, go to “An Unnatural Beginning” from Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

I LOVED this and it is going to become a yearly tradition for me. And if that isn’t enough to get you interested, all proceeds from buying the book go to benefit Chawton Great House in Hampshire, former manor house of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight and now the Centre for the Study of Early Women’s Writing, 1600-1830.

This has been the best Christmas gift so far!

At first I was sad that I didn’t get this review out when I wanted to, but then I realized that not posting on Friday lead the next post to be on December 16th, which is none other than Jane Austen’s birthday!

Happy 244th Birthday!

For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

For more Christmas posts, go to I Don’t Want a Lot for Christmas, There is Just One Thing I Need