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

 

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

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 (recently I read and loved Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl) but sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read?

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.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

So I read this book and knew it would be perfect to add to this blog.

The story starts off with Sita Kaur Shergill, widowed mother to three daughters, ill. She knows her time is limited and decides before her time is up to write a letter to her three girls to take a trip to India after she passes. She always wanted to go on a pilgrimage with her daughters from their home in England to India, and now her last wish is for them to go.

It sounds like a simple request, but it is anything but as these three sisters are not close and all kick up a bit about going.

Rajini is the eldest sister who when she was young rebelled, but after a trip to India became sensible, reliable, and has done everything right. She went to university, became a principal, got married, and had a boy.

But not all is right in Rajini’s world. Her just graduated from high school son not only wants to forgo college, but he also is dating a 36 year old woman, and…the couple is pregnant. Basically this is Rajini:

Raijini tries to do all she can, but her son won’t listen to her. And now she has to go on this pilgrimage, and leave her husband to try to sway her son.

Ugh!

Raijini doesn’t want to go to India at all, because of what happened last time, but will do it to honor her mother.

Jezmeen is the middle daughter, and she and her mother had a contentious relationship. Jezmeen was always passionate, doing her own thing, reacting, rebelling, etc. She wanted to be an actress, something her mother didn’t approve of. And her mother would constantly ask her why she didn’t have her “big” break yet, something that really grated on Jezmeen’s nerves.

Ugh, not again…

Unlike her sisters, Jezmeen is ready to go to India as she wants to get as far away as possible as she is currently a social media disaster and is hoping that everything will die down if she leaves the country.

But just because Jezmeen wants to go to India, she doesn’t want to do the pilgrimage as she doesn’t get why it is such a big deal, but her big sister is going to make them stick o the schedule.

Youngest sister Shirina excelled at college and her job, but she always felt she was missing something…a real family. Growing up not remembering her father, her mother busy working, and the sisters not getting along more than they do-she wanted a traditional family and signed up on the message boards for an arranged marriage, meeting the wealthy Sehaj and moving to Australia.

She then slowly left her friends, job, and social media. Her sisters have hardly seen or heard from her and she has become a silent figure in her home. She decides to go to India, not for her mother but because her mother-in-law has set her upon a secret task, one she must complete or else she can never return home.

Hmmm…

The three sisters are in for a trip of their lifetime as they learn a lot about their mother, each other, one sister gets involved with private detectives, one gets arrested for protesting, and one almost makes the worst decision of her life.

So we have three sisters…what Jane Austen book do you think I’m thinking of?

A widowed mother with three daughters?

The mother in the The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters, Sita, isn’t in the story a whole lot, but her presence is felt throughout the book as we get memories from each of the daughters. After her husband died, the financial security went away and at times Sita found herself unable to do anything from her distress, stress, and depression. The girls had to be taken care of by a neighbor or by their older sister Raijini. This reminded me a lot of Mrs. Dashwood as after her husband dies, she goes through a similar grief and the responsibilities and it be taken over by others.

Of course Raijini being the sensible older sister makes me think of Elinor. Taking charge, leading her sisters, picking up the void of the missing parent-Raijini is just like Elinor. But even though you think you know everything about Raijini she has a hidden secret-just like Elinor.

“What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering. For weeks, Marianne, I’ve had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.”

Jezmeen is passionate, plunges into things headfirst, and doesn’t always think things through. This of course makes me think of Marianne who lets her passion lead her.

She is upset with her sisters and this trip, gets up late, goes along with a protest because they think she is someone else, gets thrown into jail-and that is just a taste of what she does. However, as the book progresses she, like Marianne, learns to not let her passion go, but to temper it from time to rime and take moments to think before acting or reacting.

Shirina made me think a lot about Margaret as she isn’t as present in the book-not that Shirina is underdeveloped, far from that. Shirina isn’t present as she is folding in herself due to her family drama-her mother-in-law emotionally abusing her.

The other thing that really made me think of Sense and Sensibility is the way the sisters each have these ideas about each other-only to discover that there is than they thought, and how they all grow and bond together.

I really enjoyed it and recommend it.

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: And Only to Deceive

For more on sisters, go to I Won the Two Sisters Tea Giveaway

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

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

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

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

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

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

Febraury: Emma lead by Jocelyn

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

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

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

Huh?

Really?

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

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

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

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

Ugh.

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

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

Ugh!

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

March: Mansfield Park lead by Sylvia

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

Who are you?

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

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

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

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

April: Northanger Abbey lead by Grigg

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

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

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

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

Like Grigg

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

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

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

May –Pride & Prejudice lead by Bernadette

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

That’s it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOOOWW???? Really?

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

She’s just awful.

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

June: Sense and Sensibility lead by Allegra

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

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

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

Or plot!

July: Persuasion lead by Prudie Drummond

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

Majorly

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

Huhhhhhhh

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

Life seems grey…

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

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

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

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

It all makes sense!

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

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

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

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

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

The Jane Austen Book Club

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

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

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

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

So in conclusion:

Jocelyn- AWFUL

Sylvia- Underdevloped

Grigg- I LOVED

Bernadette- Underdeveloped and AWFUL

Allegra- Underdeveloped

Prudie- I Loved her character, poor girl

So yeah, I did NOT like this film.

Other thoughts:

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

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

That movie

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

Hmmm…

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

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

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

For the thousandth time

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

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

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

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

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

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Colonel

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

For more Persuasion, go to Holiday Mix Tape

Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers if Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge

So two years ago in October, my book club and I went to an author Meet & Greet to meet Paula Scott, the author of the California Rising series. There were other authors there, but we spent almost all the time talking to her and picking up the last book of the series, Chasing the Wind, which we were going to read in January 2019.

My friend, and fellow book club member, saw the Praying with Jane booth and pointed it out to me as she knows I love Jane Austen.

I had just seen it on instagram, and put it on my to-read shelf and was very excited about it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy it as I had no extra money, besides buying the Chasing the Wind, as I had a lot of things I had to take care of from my ex-husband.

I was bummed, and just stopped by quickly saying hello to Ms. Dodge, and then taking a bookmark to hold on to. I was planning on buying it after my finances cleared. But…it turned out that I didn’t need to. My friend bought me this book and Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe.  

She knows me very well.

I resolved to read it, February 1st-March 3rd 2019. I started off strong, but fell behind in the middle of it.

I tried a few more times and each time failed:

Uh oh

So in October, I resolved to try in November. This time I would just keep going, even if I failed to read one day-I would just keep moving forward.

I started off badly-beginning on November 3rd-and ended on December 23rd. Yes, as you can see it took me longer to read this.

But it was worth it. This book was fantastic! You can read it anytime, but I found it perfect in the holiday season as it allowed me time to pause, focus on God, and prepare my heart.

So some people are not religious and will not be interested in going through the prayers, but no matter your beliefs, all will appreciate the value and research that Dodge went through in writing this book. Not only did she study Jane Austen’s family, life, and background; but she has read and researched the novels of Jane Austen-highlighting moments from her popular books to the ones that aren’t always mentioned or talked about-Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.

So if you go on my instagram, you can see day by day the parts of each passage that I liked, but on here I am going to mention the ones that really touched me.

Or years.

Day 7

“…Jane had much for which to be thankful. Thus, the last few words of this line reveal an important truth: Discontentment and indifference are two prime enemies of thankfulness. Discontentment is wishing things were different. It’s common when we face trials, compare our lives to the lives of others, or start to think what we have isn’t enough. Indifference is the state of being unmoved by blessings that surround us…Discontentment and indifference are both founded in a lack of thankfulness because when we grumble about out ‘lot’, we’re really grumbling against God.”

“Jane’s prayer reminds us to make thanksgiving an integral part of our prayers lives as a powerful antidote against discontentment and indifference. When you fill your mouth with praise, it has less room for grumbling. Thanking God for what He has done and has promised to do shifts your focus from what you don’t have to what you do.”

I love holidays and celebrating, but when the holiday season comes it can also bring some discontent with bills, holiday celebrations, seeing how others seem happy and together-comparing it to yourself. Reading this in November was perfect as this book helped redirect me from any of those pratfalls and help prepare my heart on thankfulness and being grateful for all I had.

Day 9

“Jane’s prayer reminds us that though we cannot comfort every widow, orphan, and prisoner, we can reach out to one lonely man, woman, or child with the love of Christ. And no matter our age, health, or financial circumstances, we can pray for those in need.”

This chapter was perfect with the holiday season as that is the perfect time to think about others-

And I love how Dodge says that we can help others not just financially-but by spending time with them or praying for them.

Day 13

“Jane’s prayer reminds us to ask God if anything is ‘amiss’ in our lives and priorities. Many of us try to fit God into our lives, instead of making God the centerpiece of our lives. Giving our first fruit to God isn’t just about money; it’s also about our time. One beneficial daily habit is to begin each day with prayer and Bible reading…Ask you seek God first, you will experience steady growth in your relationship with him.”

Ouch, I think we all fall victim to this and Dodge is right. The best way to correct and fix our lives is focus on the one who made us.

Day 14

“Guarding our hearts is essential in the face of temptation. Just as Jane prayed for God’s mercy on ‘Creatures so formed’, we can ask for God’s help in our weak spots.”

This always makes me think of the Johnny Cash song, as we need to keep a close eye on our heart and not allow it to lead is down the wrong path. There is nothing wrong with passion, but unbridled can cause one to make not the best choices, i.e.:

I love Wuthering Heights but let’s be honest-there are no good relationships in there. We have passionate people consumed by passion and not caring who is hurt or damaged.

Day 17

“Yet Fanny Price closely embodies the kind of patience under affliction Jane writes about in her prayer. Despite her troubles, Fanny has an inner strength and fortitude that never lags. Though she is mistreated and suffers in mind, body, and soul at times, she finds solace in her little attic room and in quiet reflection. She doesn’t lash out or become bitter. Even in the face of disappointment and anxiety, she quietly waits and hopes.”

“In this broken world we face illness, danger, grief, but in everything, God is with us.”

So first of all I love that Rachel Dodge discusses every heroine of the Jane Austen novels in this book and that Fanny Dashwood has gotten some love as she deserves it. She may not be as witty as Elizabeth, as self-assured as Emma, or as passionate as Marianne-but would we love Jane Austen’s books if every character was exactly the same? Fanny has a lot of great qualities-patience, kindness, perseverance, courage-I mean she is brave enough to stick to her guns. Fanny has qualities that we should all strive for.

I also loved her part about living in a broken world. Unfortunately bad things will always happen, but at least we have someone we can lean on who understands pain and loss.

Chapter 26

“Mrs. Bennet’s problem is two-fold: She’s dissatisfied with her current situation and worried about her future. She’s done nothing to deserve the life she has, and yet she is unhappy. She lives in a comfortable home, has five daughters, plenty of friends, and dines with ‘four and twenty families,’ but it’s not enough. As long as she thinks she might someday have to live on a small income with five daughters, that none of her five girls will ever marry, and that her husband might die before she does, she’s insufferable.”

“In Jane’s prayer, she prays ‘for a continuance of all these Mercies,’ asking for God’s provision and protection; however, her words also express an underlying sense of contentment. As children of God, we’ve already been ‘blessed far beyond any thing we have deserved.’ Our inheritance, our reward, is kept for us in heaven.”

I liked this chapter as often we get caught up in the worries if the day and future. I know I do.

Chapter 28

“You, too, preach a sermon with your life. What you do with your time, talent, and treasure says a lot about you. The things that make you angry and the things you work the hardest to get reveal what you value most. What values are you preaching to your family, friends, children, and colleagues?”

Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I knew what it was like to be in the “fishbowl”-people watching you and what you do. I thought I would eventually leave that behind, but the truth is people are always watching you. Your friends, relatives, coworkers-all see how you act and react, what you strive for and desire, etc-and what you do and the way you act tells a lot about who you are.

I thought this was an amazing book, and just like Jane Austen’s works you can read it over and over again.

It’s great when you have a writer who loves Jane Austen’s work and really tries to capture it.

“However, her [Jane Austen’s] gift could not, would not be hidden. Her writing outlasts her now by over 200 years, and yet it remains as remarkable today as it was when it was first printed.

We too can live extraordinary lives. Though we may not ever be famous, we all leave behind us a legacy. We will be remembered for who we are more than for what we do. Our friends and family will speak of us based on what they saw of our lives, the way we treated people, and the way we loved.”

If you love Jane Austen, you’ll love this book.

If you want to improve your spiritual life or are looking for a new devotional, you’ll love this book.

Please, oh please!

And if you are a fan of both, you need to check it out.

Its not a want, it’s a need!

For more on Jane Austen, go to Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Holiday Mix Tape

For more Bible Verses, go to Book Club Picks: Chasing the Wind

May the Odds Be in Your Favor

So back in July I celebrated my 7th blogiversary!

I wanted to do something special-but I wasn’t sure what to do…

Hmmm

So I asked you all, and you responded with “do a giveaway”. A giveaway?!!

I have done a giveaway twice before and I swore to never do one again. Why? Well the first giveway–I received zero entries.

But I rallied, I regrouped-instead of one item I decided I would include three.

And I included it on rafflecopter!

And how many entries did I receive? ZERO!

I know I was so sad I swore NEVER, EVER again.

Yes, here we are three years later and I’m trying to do another giveaway. I have worked hard to get a group of items that will hopefully be irresistible to you all. Please, just one person enter or else I’m going to sit in a corner and cry.

Please, oh please!

So you will win:

  • Tea of Life White Tea Pomegranate 50 Tea Bag Tin
  • July 2019 to December 2020 Planner
  • Cranberry Spice Dionis Goat Milk Lotion
  • Jane Austen Notebook
  • Wooden Box
  • Sense and Sensibility Upcycled Bracelets
  • 4 Mini Chesapeake Bay Candles
  • Sense and Sensibility Upcycled Ornaments
  • 1 Wool Multicolored Scarf
  • 1 Upcycled Library Book Checkout Slip Bookmark
  • Flower Earrings

So I am sharing this here on my blog, on facebook, instagram, twitter. To enter to win on each platform, follow the instructions below!

On My Blog:

  • Like this post
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  2. EXTRA ENTRY: Follow me
  3. EXTRA ENTRY: Comment below

On Facebook:

  • Like this post
  1. EXTRA ENTRY: Tag a friend (each comment an extra entry)
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On Instagram

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On Twitter

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This Is Fate We’re Talking About, and If Fate Works At All, It Works Because People Think That THIS TIME, It Isn’t Going to Happen!: Dead Again (1991)

This is fate we’re talking about, and if fate works at all, it works because people think that THIS TIME, it isn’t going to happen!

So many of you say, hey where is the Jane Austen in Horrorfest? Well, we have had Death by Persuasion and Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans TV show High Seas/Alta MarBut I thought I would throw in another film with a Jane Austen connection. Because, you know:

Yes, while they were filming this-producer Lindsay Doran discovered that Emma Thompson loved Jane Austen. They spent a lot of time talking about Austen and her books:

“I got to know Emma very well over the course of the twelve-week shoot, and it wasn’t long before we discovered our mutual passion for Jane Austen. It was clear that she knew the books by heart, and that her appreciation of them was not of the dry, academic sort she enjoyed them, and she loved their wit as much as she admired their intelligence.” Lindsay Doran, from The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen’s Novel to Film

Doran than watched Emma’s show Thompson, and after seeing the writing and acting there-asked her to write Sense and Sensibility. Yes, without this film, this film never would have been born-or a less wonderful version would have been created.

So let’s review Dead Again

This film struck my interest when a patron checked it out at the library. So, of course, when it came back I had to check it out and watch it. It is a film-noir, murder mystery romance.

Film Noir

So the film starts off in black and white in the 1940s-amazingly with newspaper stories and headlines about the Musical Murder of Margaret Strauss by her Conductor Killer, Roman Strauss. Actress Margaret (Emma Thompson) was stabbed by scissors and her conductor husband Roman, (Kenneth Branagh) put on death row for the murder. As he approached the electric chair, journalist, Gray Baker (Andy Garcia), goes to hear the last words-Roman saying that this is far from over.

Now in color it is 50 years later-a woman (Emma Thompson) with no memory and can’t talk is in an orphanage.

The nuns and priest have been taking care of her-but it appears the help she needs is much more than what they can offer. They hire Michael Church, (Kenneth Branagh) a private detective who was raised at the same orphanage, to take her to the asylum and discover who she is.

Laura

Michael Church (Kenneth Branagh) is known for being able to find “anything” and “anybody”. He has just found Dr. Cozy Carlisle (Robin Williams) psychologist turned store owner who’s been hard to discover. He gets the call and heads to the orphanage.

Ready for any case

Michael inspects all that they know about the unknown woman and discovers she has a Claddagh ring-an Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship-but only one band, the other is missing. He takes her to his friend at the newspaper who takes her picture and they plan on it being printed in tomorrow’s edition. Church then goes to take the woman to the asylum, but after seeing how horrible it is-takes her to his home. Just because it looks bad-like it has nothing to do with the fact she is a pretty woman?

The woman experiences nightmares, a fear of scissors, and screams out Dysher. The next day, Church gets all kinds of calls about the woman-but all are just cranks. But then, Franklyn Madson (Derek Jacobi), comes calling. He is an antique dealer and hypnotist who wants to help. He regresses the woman and we shift to black and white-to the Strausses.

Los Angelas Late 1940s

Margaret was an actress-beautiful, English, and beloved by all. She went to a concert and saw conductor Roman Strauss and was struck by him. Roman was from Europe, and escaped the Nazis, his wife dying in the escape.

Roman is just as struck as her and the two date, fall in love, and marry. Roman gifts her the Claddagh ring, with a matching one, and a very expensive anklet.

Roman Strauss: The man I bought it from explained to me that, when a husband gives it to his wife, they become two halves of the same person. Nothing can separate them… not even death.”

They marry and at the wedding, a Mr. Gray Baker (Andy Garcia), writer, comes as the date of someone. He is enamored of Margaret and actually tries to flirt and charm her at HER wedding-ugh this dude.

I’m out!

Understandably, Roman is very upset and does not like him.

Margaret “doesn’t” understand his feelings as she loves Roman.

The two are in love and happy-except for one thing. Margaret hates Roman’s servants -Inga and her son Franky. She thinks they don’t like her and they keep usurping her authority. She wants to be rid of them, but they saved Roman’s life. He never would have made it out of Germany without them.

After the regression, the woman can speak. They look over the Strauss story in Life magazine, located in the antique shop. They see a resemblance between the Strausses and them and that the orphanage where they both spent time, was the old Strauss mansion.

Spooky…

Church gives the woman the name Grace, and then goes to see Dr. Carlisle to talk about what happened. Dr. Carlisle tells him some cases where he worked with patients and regression helped solve the issues. He thinks they should continue to see the hypnotist and see what comes of the Margaret and Roman story. 

Hmmm

Grace and Church spend a lot of time together and fall in love.

They have sex and the next day a man shows up claiming that Grace, real name Katherine Sharpe, is his fiance. He has all the answers to Church’s questions, until he catches him in a lie about gloves. The man takes off and Church tries to catch him-but the man gets away.

Why would they want Grace? WHO would want her?

Hmmm

Church and Grace go back to the hypnotist where Grace regresses more…

Los Angeles Late 1940s

They Strausses are having a few cracks in their relationship. As Roman is not involved in Hollywood, he is seen as a “nobody” and is trying to write an opera but suffering from writer’s block. They are at a party and no one wants to talk to “nobody Roman”.

Margaret gets approached by Gray and the two go outside to talk. Gray is so in love with her it is super obvious-and Margaret should not be feeding it. Gray asks to “look” at her anklet, and she obliges-he holding her leg up to take a “closer look”. Really…really now?

Margaret, can’t you see how this is something you as a married woman should bot be doing with a man who is not your husband? Hmmm….?

Seriously

Roman sees them and becomes understandably furious, punching Gray in the face  (not understandable) which knocks him in the pool. They try to make it sound as if Roman is a jealous brute, making a big deal out of nothing-but I have to disagree. This guy started trying to get with Margaret at her wedding-and he’s still trying. Even though Roman shouldn’t have punched him-he totally deserved it.

The Margaret and Roman get in a fight-with it ending as Roman confesses his insecurities.

Later Margaret catches Frankie in her jewelry and tries to get Roman to fire them, but again he refuses. Gray calls Margaret, which Roman accidentally overhears. He questions her abut the call but she lies to him.

Later, Margaret was lying in bed when she is stabbed-by Michael Church!

Grace wakes up from her trance angry, confused, and scared. Michael takes her home but she flips out convinced that he will kill her.

In order to calm her, Church decides to regress as well. What he discovers changes everything. Will they figure out this mystery and solve it before another murder? Or will history repeat itself?

Hmm…

I liked how the movie was in color for the present and then reverted to the past. I thought it was pretty intriguing with a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming were thrown in very well. And now that I have seen the film, that poster is sop perfect and obvious. It is well worth a view for fans of Spellbound and film-noir

The end is a little cheesy, but Im not sure how else they could have had an ending that satisfied the viewer. I didn’t want to give away the end, so if you’s like to watch it, click here.

For more film-noir, go to Do You Ever Feel Like Your Life Has Turned into Something You Never Intended?: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

For more private detectives, go to Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

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

For more on Lindsey Doran, go to The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries

For more on Robin Williams, go to Diamond in the Rough

We’re Stranded on a Ship in the Middle of the Ocean with a Killer!: High Seas (2019)

We’re stranded on a ship in the middle of the ocean with a killer!

So I saw the trailer for this on Netflix and instantly added it to my to-watch list.

It looked so good!

One day my friend and I were hanging out trying to find something to watch when I suggested this. We started watching it and could NOT stop! And that ending, WOW!

Fridays are when I review TV episodes, but as this show can’t be broken episode by epiode, I’m reviewing the whole first season. I did the same thing last year with American Gothic. So the show is actually filmed in Spanish, its real name being Alta Mar, but you can listen to it with the English (or other language) voiceover. I have to say they did really good with this, there are only a few times that it didn’t sync up.

So the TV series takes place in Spain after WWII.  The cruise ship is departing from Spain to Brazil. Carolina (Alejandra Onieva) and Eva Villanueve (Ivana Baquero) are headed on an Ocean Cruise liner as Carolina is getting married. Their father passed away two years ago and after his death she discovered that their shoe factory trucks were used to aid the Nazis during WWII. With that news, coupled with her father’s death-Carolina decided to sell the business. Instead, after their marriage she will join her fiancé, Fernando Fábregas (Eloy Azorín), cruise business.

Eva is a writer and is happy for her sister, but sad that the family business ended, and she will be separated from her sister-as she will be in Brazil and her sister will be traveling. She doesn’t like Fernando as something doesn’t feel right about him, but when she investigated a rumor that he was a gambler, she turned up nothing.

As they are driving with their maids Francesca and Veronica de García when they hit a woman in the street.

They rush out to help her and she tells them she is being chased by her fiancé. She doesn’t wish to marry him, but he wants her and has decided he must have her or no one can. She is intent on getting away, and getting on the ship.

Carolina, Francesca, and Veronica want to give her over to the police-but Eva wants to help her and convinces them all to smuggle the girl, Louisa, on the ship in their travel trunk.

Hmm, I don’t know about this…

When they get on board the ship they meet the Captain and the first officer, Nicolás Vázquez (Jon Kortajarena). Nicolás is very interested in Eva, but she shrugs him off trying to get the trunk to her room. When questioned why the rest of their luggage remains below, Eva deftly comments on how Carolina is the owner’s bride.

They get to the room where they free Louisa, and she and the maids go to their rooms down below. Francesca loves the Ladies, having been like a mother to them-but Veronica does not. Having grown up playing with the girls and is now serving them-she is very unhappy at her lot an does not want to be a servant, she wants to be more.

I have to work

Veronica helps the ladies dress for dinner and remains in the room, seeing a man try to break in. He claims to have mistaken it as his room, but Veronica is unsure. She leaves, but does not go down to steerage.

Or on this cruise ship.

Meanwhile, Louisa and Francesca are in the room, and Louisa grabs a vase and knocks Francesca out. She then escapes to the Carolina and Eva’s room and starts going through their things. The man comes back from before and he and Louisa fight.

Dinner is a wonderful affair, and of course the two ladies are honored guests and sit at the Captain’s table. Carolina gets up and dances with her fiancé Fernando, the two then separating as Carolina wants to change her shoes. Earlier, Fernando had a mysterious message telling him to meet at a certain point at 12, but he lies to Carolina that he is receiving a cable. Suspicious.

Eva goes out for some air and is followed by Nicolaus, who is really interested in her. He flirts and things are leaning his way when they hear a woman scream from above and a body hit the water.

Eva is worried about her sister and goes searching for her, finding the room a mess. She continues to search and finds her in steerage aiding Francesca.

The girl’s search their room but can’t tell what is missing. While they are doing that, the crew searches for the body and only find a dress-the one Louisa was wearing.

That is not good,

Eva and Caroline come clean about what happened and everyone wants to hush it up. Fernando has a lot riding on his ship and can’t have it be known as the Murder Cruise or else all is lost.

They say it was an accident, and everyone but Eva and Nicolaus believe that to be true. The two begin investigating.

This will be a dangerous voyage as Eva has no clue who to trust and wants to do everything she can to protect her family and find justice.

Nazis, arson, shady deals, dark secrets, three deaths, a murder masked as suicide, and more combine in this show as we have a wonderful cast of characters.

WATCH IT NOW!!

Nicolas is the dashing first officer and the one who was with Eva when they heard the body fall. He is kind, caring, funny, handsome, and intent on finding justice as well. He used to be a street thief until Captain Santiago Aguirre found him and enlisted him on the ship. He seems to be the perfect one to trust-the Tommy to her Tuppence, but Eva discovers that he has a secret-can she really trust anything he says?

The fiancé-Fernando. He I really do not like as he didn’t meet Carolina when she arrived, when she comes to see him pretty much ignores her for work, and just seems altogether shady. The way he wraps the case up pinning it on an innocent steerage passenger, pretends to be robbed-throwing his rings over the boat and lies about the telegram-having received none. Is there something darker going on with him? Or is he the murderer?

Fernando’s sister and her husband are also on the cruise and they are very strange. Natalia is always drunk, unfocused, and a shadow of a person while her husband just exudes bad feelings. His is also unfaithful as he immediately sets his sights on the lounge singer, Clara. He promises to help her, then rapes her-making her promise not to say anything or he will rip her to shreds. No wonder his wife is the way she is-married to that guy. Clara is not the first and could he have been after Louisa too? Or was he involved in the shady business dealings with the Nazis and want to keep that from being found out. He is extremely eager to get to Brazil.

I HATE this character!

Eva and Carolina’s uncle, Pedro Villanueva has been watching over them and being there ever since their fathr’s death. He, their father, and Doctor Rojas used to be business partners. Was their father killed in an accident…or murdered? Murdered by their uncle or longtime family friend? They are both nervous and trying to search the girls things for some microfiche. What’s on that film?

Hmmm

Veronica wants more in life than being a maid and Sebastián de la Cuesta, rich and famous playboy, pays a lot of attention to her…but is he honest in his feelings? Is he just playing with her heart-using and losing, or does he really feel for her? It turns out Sebastian is bankrupt and trying to hide it from all. Could that be all he’s hiding. Could he be involved in something nefarious? Something he wants to keep hidden?

Hmmm…

Dimas Gómez is the sweetest guy, working as valet to Sebastian and also interested in Veronica. He has an idea to turn cane sugar into ethanol. He presents his idea to Sebastian (who may or may not steal it) and pretends to be Veronica’s sweetheart so her mother doesn’t discover she is sleeping with Sebastian. He seems like a great guy, but he was the roommate of the man who confessed to killing Louisa. Is he more involved in this than he lets on?

Hmm…

Plus to top it off we have a Captain who lost his wife and is very suicidal, a skulky crewm ember with a mysterious burned face, and a ship detective who doesn’t care about solving the crime.

And that’s not all, this show will have so many other twists and turns, once you start watching you will not want to stop!

So this movie reminded me a lot of Dangerous Crossings with the cruise ships, wedding, suspicious guy skulking about, being unsure who to trust. And just like that movie I really, really liked it. It was extremely compelling and the characters are amazing.

I couldn’t help but compare this to American Gothic which I reviewed last year. American Gothic had a great idea, but fell apart in the middle as it would lead is in one direction, then have an episode that turned it back on itself saying that it was false and this was the answer…oh wait, no that’s false-this is the answer, making it not enjoyable and obvious you couldn’t trust the show.

With this, it was done like Twin Peaks or Veronica Mars with each episode adding to the solving of the mystery. There were twists and turns along the way, and was amazing to watch!

YOU MEAN, THIS ONE

And the other reason to watch this? The CLOTHES!! THE CLOTHES are GORGEOUS!!! I want everything Eva and Carolina wear. Even the  guys’ clothing are beautiful.

I want to buy all the clothes!!!!

This film is also a Non-Austen Film for Austen Fans

Yes, I think that this is a perfect film for Austen fans.

At the center of the mystery is the love sisters have for each other. Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are both stories that focus on sisterly bonds and friendship. Even though these two sisters have been doing other things, they have reunited and care strongly for each other. Their first thoughts are whether they are okay-and doing all they can to make sure that their sister is taken care of and safe-sometimes hiding things to keep them from being put in danger. In P&P and S&S the sisters were each other’s best friends and always there for each other, just like in this film.

In this show Carolina is poisoned and Eva stands vigil doing all she can to help and aid her sister-Just like Elizabeth caring for Jane or Elinor caring for Marianne.

Carolina reminds me of Jane-beautiful, kind, caring, always thinking the best of people even though they clearly do not deserve it. She is the older sister, but often falls way to the younger sister’s persuasion.

Eva made me think of Catherine Morland: a reader, strong imagination, an investigative spirit. Like how Catherine searches out the Abbey for clues to the murder she believes to have happened there-Eva does the same on the ship. Except in Eva’s case there actually is a murder! Eva doesn’t automatically make me think of Elizabeth but she is just as stubborn and not interested in the main love interest…at least at first.

Nicolas and Eva’s interactions again make me think of Catherine and Mr. Tilney. Like Mr. Tilney-Nicolas is fun, witty, kind, and makes his interest known. Their interactions are fantastic banter.

VIctoria, Sebastian, and Deemis’ love triangle make me think of Isabella Thorpe, Captain Tilney, and James Morland. In Northanger Abbey, Isabella comes from not a super wealthy family and is on the prowl for a wealthy man. She catches James Morland, Catherine’s brother, believing the Morland’s are wealthier than they are but exchanges him for a larger quarry-Captain Tilney. Captain Tilney is not interested in settling down and after sleeping with Isabella, is done with her. Now Victoria, like Isabella, does not want a second class passenger, she wants first class. She has the love of a good man, Deemis, but she won’t even bother with him as she wants someone with and from more. But Sebastian is a famous playboy, and we see after sleeping with her he uses the same lines on another lady.

And the final reason why this made me think of Austen’s works and why you should watch this?

Yes, the very handsome officers. Mrs. Bennet, Lydia Bennet, Louisa Musgrove, Henrietta Musgrove, and Anne Elliot would all approve.

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 3-5

For more mystery cruises, go to I Do Think You Are Confused Mrs. Bowman: Dangerous Crossing (1953)

Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne Dashwood

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

So two years I was contacted by the remarkable Christina Boyd to read and review 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.

The 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! It was just so refreshing to see a point of view that is often overlooked or not done well. 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.

He’s a bad boy-womanizer

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. All on the women of Jane Austen:

But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay.

It sounded great and I planned to review it after a few things on my list, but then time just passed so quickly by.

I said to heck with it, and decided I’m reading it now and reviewing it!

So I decided to break the review up into six posts-going book by book. That way it isn’t one ginormous post.

We are starting with:

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.

Sense and Sensibility, deals with the line between expression. I liked how there is the question of whether too much of either is bad and how much does one need? We have Marianne who expresses too much, while Elinor, expresses nothing. While both sisters are the best of friends; their extremes cause the other to never fully know their sister. Marianne can never see what Elinor is feeling and makes all these assumptions about a “frozen” heart. Elinor on the other hand, never imagines that Marianne has any sense as she assumes she is solely governed by feelings. I liked how the sisters were never privy to each others complete secrets as I feel this is realistic. I can see myself and my sister in these.

Or just sister in this case.

So in a lot of adaptions Elinor is stiff, cold, robotic, icy, or a control freak (looking at you Austentatious 2015), etc:

And Marianne is beautiful, fashionable, and 100% an airhead:

So I was eager to see how they did their adaptations, and hoping against hope that they wouldn’t fall into the same traps:

Self-Composed by Christina Morland

Elinor Dashwood

The story begins in Norland Sussex, 1797 as Mr. Dashwood has died, the house has been inherited by their half-brother John Dashwood, and Elinor, her sisters, and mother must prepare to move their items out. From there it takes them to Barton Cottage when Edward Ferrars visits, Elinor having to be nice to Lucy Steele (Edward’s intended), to the final conclusion of the story.

So first of all it is obvious that Ms. Morland is a fan of Jane Austen and has not only read the story but understands Jane Austen. Often, as I said before, when people do an adaptation they take sense to mean that Elinor is an icy, unfeeling person-made of stone.

But clearly Jane Austen doesn’t intend that as seen-

“Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Oh! worse than cold-hearted! Ashamed of being otherwise. Use those words again, and I will leave the room this moment.”

Elinor could not help laughing. “Excuse me,” said she; “and be assured that I meant no offence to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings. Believe them to be stronger than I have declared…”

What she means by sense is that Elinor controls her feelings and emotions-not that she is a control freak, just mistress of herself.

Ms. Morland captures that perfectly!!!-as she has Elinor in command of herself with a certain demeanor, all the while her emotions exploding on the inside.

I loved it! I thought it was perfect! I think that Ms. Morland captured the true spirit of Elinor.

I also loved how she used the drawing and painting as for how Elinor is feeling, describing the drawing as her trying to help her control her feelings-not so much repress (which most adaptions go with)-by releasing them on paper instead of verbally.

My favorite part is when she draws Lucy Steele, she is trying to be a good Christian woman and makes her as beautiful as she is in real life, but also makes her face look manipulative and cunning.

I LOVE it (sorry to keep using that same word over and over again. Here is one of the passages I loved:

“Elinor closed her eyes and envisioned blank paper, flat and crisp; she imagined lines and circles with no clear end or beginning; she thought of steady hands, of straight edges…”

As I have said, there are very few Sense and Sensibility adaptations I enjoy, but I LOVED THIS!

For more by Christina Morland, go to “One Fair Claim” from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

For more on Elinor Dashwood, go to Call Me, Maybe: Austentatious (2015)

Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston

Marianne Dashwood

We start when Marianne awakens from being sick, having been caught in the rain (it’s not clear whether she was trying to commit suicide, thought she would make it back in time, maybe thought if she was “sick” Willoughby would be sorry and come after her, etc-a discussion for another day.) She begins to recuperate, and you know what, I can’t even get through the synopsis, I absolutely LOVED it!

Finally, finally, finally we have a Marianne Dashwood adaptation that doesn’t make her a ditz but a young, passionate woman.

“Your faults, as you claim them to be, are in equal measure virtues. Blind to them? I could never be. Nor could I admonish you to any degree for past mistakes, for they were the product of an earnest, passionate heart and youthful innocence.”

Finally someone gets it!

In Clarkson’s story Marianne begins to convalescence and starts to think about her behavior-seeing how she let emotion rule her and begins to really study herself, educate herself, and grow to be her better self.

I’m so happy!

I just LOOOOVVED IT! Now don’t get me wrong, I think Ms. Morland’s story was just as amazing, its just this has been driving me crazy!!! The fact that every adaptation seems to make Marianne dumb instead of young and inexperienced. I am so happy to finally see a writer who gets it!

So I really liked this story and how it shows the blooming relationship with Marianne and Colonel Brandon. It was so sweet and a great progression that just makes you squeal with the cuteness!

For more on Marianne Dashwood, go to Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Austentatious (2015)

So in conclusion, I have not read many Sense and Sensibility, mostly because the ones I have read the author’s just don’t get the characters. Elinor is always too cold and unfeeling and just frumpy. Marianne is always a dunce who just kind of lalalas her way through the story.

I’m not happy

But these two stories completely broke those cliches and are thus far the best, and I mean best adaptations/depictions of Elinor and Marianne that I have read.

Both these stories and writers!

With this just being the beginning, I am super pumped to keep reading.

For more Christina Boyd, go to Five Jane Austen Adaptations That Should be Turned Into a Film or TV Show

For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to The Smart One and the Pretty One

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