A Long Fatal Love Chase

LongFatalLoveChase

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

This book by Louisa May Alcott is the anti-Northanger Abbey. That is everything that could go wrong. But I’m getting ahead of myself, first some background.

This book was written in 1866. Alcott had just returned from her job as a companion to a wealthy women during her trip abroad and all throughout Europe. When Alcott came home she discovered that her father had run through almost all their money. Eager to do her part in helping out, she started writing stories and attempted to get them published.

Newspapers were the big story publishers, printing them week by week and often paying per word. Now this was before radio and TV, so these weekly publications of stories was their version of soap operas, every week ending on a cliffhanger.

Since the purpose was to get the reader hooked and constantly buying to find what happened next, they really wanted dramatic stories. Alcott did her best to oblige, only problem? She did a little too well.

Her book was not published as it was far too racy for the day. Think of it as the Fifty Shades of Grey of the 19th century. Yep this novel deals with sex, violence, obsession, abuse, hypocrisy in religion, greed, the question of insanity, mistreatment of women, women’s rights, divorce, bigamy, suicide, murder, etc.

What?

While today’s audiences would go for all that, those back in 1866 dropped it like a hot potato. Alcott shelved the book, it not being published until 1995.

Wow

How Does It Relate to Northanger Abbey?

Hmm…

Well, first you have to understand how Northanger Abbey came about.

In 1605, Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes, was published. This book told the story of Don Quixote, a Spanish nobleman, who reads so many chivalric and romantic  stories (not romance stories as we have today, but the “classical romances”) that he sort of loses his sanity trying to live those values and live in that world, in the modern 17th century. He gets into all kind of crazy antics, battling other “knights”, “monsters”, etc.

In 1752, Charlotte Lennox parodied Don Quixote with her novel, The Adventures of Arabella also known as The Female Quixote. Her story is about a young girl, Arabella, who has been sequestered away in the middle of nowhere with just her father for companionship. Not encountering many people and her mother dying + father ignoring her; she learned all about people and how to interact with them from “classical romances”. This book goes over the problems of having read so many “romance novels”, you expect life to follow, only to be sorely disappointed.

Now Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, published in 1818, was meant to be a parody of The Female Quixote, gothic fiction, societal rules of the day, etc. One of the reasons why a lot of people don’t “get” this novel is that they don’t understand what she is poking fun at or trying to say about these subjects.

Hmm…

In Austen’s story, we have a young girl, Catherine, who has been raised not as sequestered as Arabella, but definitely in the country resulting in some naivety. She loves romance novels and gothic fiction, giving her an overactive imagination.

She is asked to accompany family friends to Bath for a season and while there finds herself encountering some of the problems of the other before mentioned characters. Her education in romance novels didn’t prepare her for how people act. Her overactive imagination does get the best of her as well. The other thing about this book is that Catherine does go through some events that are right out of a romance novel or gothic tale.

She meets two handsome strangers, both trying to win her; encounters some dangerous and immoral men; gets caught up in a plot to get money; and has the man of her dreams come after her to tell her he loves her.

So awesome!

And then we have A Long Fatal Love Chase, written in 1866, and follows the same veins as these other books, except taking a much darker twist.

Now I don’t know if Alcott has read any of these authors and set out to copy part of their ideas or what; but the stories are so similar I can’t help but believe that at least one of these authors inspired her.

The Plot:

A Long Fatal Love Chase, begins with our heroine Rosamund or Rose. She has lived on a small island with her grandfather ever since her parents died when she was very young. She has encountered no other people, from the time of her parent’s death, and therefore has a lot of naivete and a lack of propriety as she doesn’t know better.

Just living in my own world

Life with her grandfather is dreary, as he provides for the physical things (shelter, clothes, food, etc) but ignores Rose and doesn’t care for her emotional being.

This makes her wish that she could have someone take her away from it all, just like in the romance novels. In fact she states

“I would give my soul to the devil, for a year of freedom.”

Enter Philip Tempest.

Tall, brooding, handsome, rich, has a swashbuckling scar, sails around the world on his yacht, etc.

He comes to visit Rosamund’s grandfather and is quite taken with Rose’s sweet disposition, naivete, and young, innocent character. Rose falls in love with him, and dreams of the possibility that he might take her away from everything.

Tempest wants Rose and is not a man used to hearing NO. He plays cards with the grandfather, winning Rose.

I’m taking her.

He carries her away in his boat telling her that he is the master and she must serve him. He wants her only as his mistress, but Rose refuses anything until they are married. Tempest reluctantly agrees.

Women

A year later the couple are living in France to attend the gaieties. Besides Rose and Tempest, their party includes Baptiste, Tempest’s right hand man who does everything he says, and Impolito “Lito”, a Greek cabin boy who looks very familiar (aka Tempest’s child, very obvious). All has been great for the couple until Tempest runs into an old friend Willoughby. Willoughby???!!!

He knows something that Tempest is determined to keep hidden, so Tempest kills him.

Gasp!

Unbeknownst to him, a girl from a flower shop delivers a note to Lito, who then runs off to a secret meeting. Rose sees this and comments on it to Tempest. Tempest becomes so furious that Lito would “correspond” with her, that he sends him away.

Hmm…

Later Rose overhears Baptiste telling Tempest that “no one will find him in the grove.” When she goes to investigate she discovers a  mound of dirt as in a new grave, and the pin she gave Lito.

She starts to think that Tempest might have killed Lito. She still has her doubts, of which all are dashed when she overhears another conversation. This time she overhears a conversation between Tempest and a woman, a woman who is HIS WIFE.

Yes Lito is their son, of which Tempest took when he left his wife. He has wanted a divorce but she won’t grant him one unless he gives her custody of their son, something Tempest would never do. He has been sailing around the world with many mistresses, content if not fully happy. He met Rose and faked the marriage in order to make her happy, knowing that it was void. Rose becomes distraught at his lies and betrayal of trust and runs away.

Noooo!

So here’s where it gets even more dramatic. We see a man from a romance character ready to make your dreams come true, right? Wrong! Tempest is an abuser and a controller. He tells Rose that her loves her, but in truth having her being subservient gives him power. Where ever she runs, he chases her, intent on making her his. We have the anti-Northanger Abbey as instead of a dreamy, true life romance hero; we have a sociopath.

Now some may wonder why is Tempest evil, but Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre who does a similar thing romantic? Well for two reasons. The first is that Mr. Rochester was tricked into marrying his wife by his family, who wanted a merger with their business and her family, who no longer wanted to take care of her. They hid the illness well, and when Mr. Rochester discovered how crazy she was it was too late, and those who are insane can’t get divorced. He’s stuck with her.

He has to live with a woman who is more animalistic than human and constantly trying to murder him.

Tempest married a beautiful, wealthy, Greek-English girl; become bored and left. He hates being tied down and loves being in power. He stole their child from his wife and covered it up by having her told Lito was dead. She was heartbroken as she believed him, only discovering the lie when Willoughby writes to her.

Mr. Rochester does try to marry Jane as he falls in love with her, but is stopped from committing bigamy by his wife’s brother. Jane leaves, and as much as he doesn’t want her to go, he respects her wishes and leaves her alone.

Aw!

Tempest marries Rose, having a friend pretend to be a preacher and perform the wedding service. Rose finds out and leaves, Tempest refuses to acknowledge her feelings and actions and stalks her.

What a psycho!

Rose starts work with a seamstress in a French village, but Tempest finds her barricaded in her room. He tells her that he will be getting the divorce soon, and then they can be together forever. That night Rose escapes, with help from a friend, and finds refuge with an actress. She spends some happy time there, and even reunites with Lito, who was not killed but sent somewhere. All is not perfect as Tempest finds them again, and the two flee.

I’m out!

Rose to a convent and Lito to his mother. Later Rose discovers a dead body, and she plants evidence so that people would think it was her.

Hmm…

Rose enjoys being in the convent and serving, paying penance for her sins. She befriends the two priests; Father Dominic the elder, and Father Ignatius, young and deeply in love with Rose. Rose seeks help from Father Dominic to overcome her love and temptation to return to Tempest, only to discover that both the Mother Superior and Father Dominic sold her out to Tempest.

She escapes Tempest again, and reunites with the Comté who’s daughter she saved from dying of fever. He takes care of her and falls in love, asking her to marry him. She agrees and gets ready to, when Tempest finds her once again. He convinces the Comté that Rose is his wife and insane.

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

As the Comté deserts her, and Tempest is preparing to carry her off, Rose commits suicide, shooting herself.

Unfortunately the shot to her side wasn’t deadly, but does have her thrown into a mental institution (from yours truly Tempest). There she lives some horrible and demoralizing days. She manages to convince Baptiste to turn to her side and help her escape the asylum, only to discover it is another ploy by Tempest to capture her.

AAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tempest carries her away to a remote island, intent on being kind and sweet, wooing her. He is divorced now and wants Rose for his wife and forever. She ends up being saved by Father Ignatious, fleeing to the safety of Tempest’s ex-wife, but finds out that getting out of the Tempest is not easy.

Will it ever be over?

Was the Book Good?

I thought this book was very interesting. And had some pros and cons.

Pros:

First I recommend this book for all Alcott fans as it is so strikingly different from her other works. All the other novels: Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, The Inheritance, etc.; were dramatic and fun stories; but nowhere near as sensational and traumatic as this book. If it hadn’t said Louisa May Alcott on the cover, I never would have guessed it was something she has written. You won’t understand until you read it and get a shock.

I’m in shock

What also is fascinating is how Alcott brings to light how much power men have over women at this time, and the inequality in relationships. You have to remember this was not done at the time. Women were men’s property and they could not only do as they wished, but held all the power. I don’t know how many of you saw The Duchess, starring Keira Knightly, but look how unfair women are treated. Georgina is a Duke’s wife but is forced to share her home with the Duke’s mistress and the mistress’ children. When she steps out on him, she loses everything; position in society, her children, etc. He gets to do whatever he wants, hit her, embarrass her, rape her; but she has to follow society’s rules.

So not fair!!

This is what happens in this book. Tempest is abusive, a stalker, and a psychopath; but gets to continue in his behavior because he is male. When Father Ignatious helped Rose escape the convent and reach the Comté, he writes the Comté a letter with all that happened and warning him against Tempest. Yet when Tempest comes, the Comté easily believes the woman is crazy, rather than this charismatic man is what Rose and the Priest say he is.

Alcott also brings to light abusive relationships, stalking, what it feels like, etc. This book is sort of the 19th century’s version of Sleeping With the EnemyHere Alcott is clearly showing that this behavior is wrong and should not be accepted.

Cons:

It was too dramatic for my taste. I’m not really a soap opera/telanovela type person. The end in which she is in love with the priest and the priest loves her but both resolve to do nothing about it was not only too flowery, but boring.

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Prude & Prejudice

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Too Pretty

Too Pretty by Andrea Grigg

Gabrielle “Ellie” Paxton is has had to deal with constant criticisms, stereotyping, refused from certain circles, rumors, bad mouthing and unfair firings all because she is-too pretty.

In fact she has just lost her job, is always mistreated by her aunt, and her latest boyfriend just wanted to date her because he wanted to brag about being with her.

Everyone

She goes to her cousin’s congratulation party and meets a handsome guy named Nathaniel. He is interesting, a good listener, well off, and seems perfect. But too bad he doesn’t seem interested in her, she will probably never see him again, and her ex-boyfriend just mauled her and caused her to decide to stop dating men for a year.

Her aunt causes a giant scene and Ellie has enough!

After praying about it, she decides it is time to move from her small town to the big city of Sydney (Australia).

But even though it feels as if God is pushing her in that direction, things don’t seem to be going as she hoped. She is able to meet up with her old friend Annabel, but after she puts out massive amounts of resumes, but  nothing comes of it. Will she be able to make it work?

Annabel is from the same small town as her, and the two went through some rough times before they settled into the confident secure women they are today. Annabel has started dating a very kind and wonderful man who turns out to be extremely wealthy. He has a great family and friends, one of which turns out to be the tall, dark, brooding Nathaniel. As they continue to spend time together, will Ellie keep to her vow of no men?

So what does this have to do with this blog? Why am I reviewing it? Because this is a rewrite of Pride & Prejudice.

Yes, this is another rewrite of Jane Austen. How do I know? Let’s count it down.

A) Gabrielle “Ellie” is like Elizabeth “Lizzie”.

I know that sounds like a stretch, but that is just the first thing. There is more.

B) An Evil Aunt

While in this version the evil one is is Ellie’s aunt (the Elizabeth) instead of the Darcy character the aunt is still the same. She is demanding, rude, cruel, critical, and just all around one of the most awful characters in this.

C) Tall, Dark, and Brooding

Nathaniel is Mr. Darcy. He’s tall, handsome, brooding, rich, etc-all the same qualities. He also doesn’t like to dance, takes a long time to warm up, likes the girl before anyone else realizes it, etc.

D) Best Friend Marrying a Nice Wealthy Guy

So Jane Bennet’s character is taken by Ellie’s best friend Annabel. While Annabel has a past, she is now kind, caring, compassionate, sweet, and thinks the best of everyone. She also manages to score an equally sweet guy, Theo, who turns out to be rich! A real Mr. Bingley, if you know what I mean.

E) Theo has a Mean Girl Sister, Just like Mr. Bingley

While in Pride & Prejudice, Caroline doesn’t like the Bennets because of their class, her main issue is that Elizabeth throws a wrench in her plans to snag Mr. Darcy. In Too Pretty, Alicia likes Annabel and welcomes her into the family, but she hates Ellie. She instantly picks up on Nate’s interest of Ellie and tries all she can to get rid of her as she has been after him for a long time.

F) After They Spend Extended Time Together They Discover Their True Feelings

In P&P Jane becomes sick and Elizabeth travels out to help take care of her. She stays there for weeks, and here is where Mr. Darcy starts to fall for her. In Too Pretty, staying weeks in our modern age wouldn’t work; so instead Ellie is invited for a long weekend and the two realize their feelings for each other.

 G) The Author Mentions Pride & Prejudice Again and Again

She first mentions it when they go to the ball, later there is the whole hand flexing thing from the 2005 film version, and the characters even watch the film. It is clear that this was what inspired the author in writing this book.

So yes, while this isn’t a clear remake of the original book, you can clearly see that the author was greatly inspired by Pride & Prejudice.

But What Did I think of the Book?

I didn’t like it.

The story really fell apart for me because of two things:

1) Going On and On About Ellie Being Too Pretty

So the book starts off with Ellie going on with how she is mistreated because she is too pretty. People think she’s some dumb blonde, want to use her, women mistreat her, people talk bad about her; and on and on.

What jerks

You feel for Ellie, but then she doesn’t stop talking about it. She goes on, and on, and on, and on.

Blah, blah

I get what she is saying, but her continually going on about how beautiful she is chapter after chapter makes it really difficult to not get annoyed. When I was a teenager and suffered from acne, I tried everything to get rid of it, tons of products and nothing worked. When I finally went to a dermatologist I discovered I was allergic to salicylic acid. It is a rare allergy and left scars on my face. I never leave without make up as I don’t like the way I look. So reading about how hard Ellie’s life is because she has a perfect figure, skin, etc-I just can’t feel sorry for her. I would happily trade in an instant.

And that is the problem. Most of the people who read this are going to have some body issue so hearing again and again how she is gorgeous but hates it, doesn’t endear her to the reader.

2) Pretending to Be Someone They Are Not to Get Something and It All Blows Up in Their Face.

This book takes part in one of the worst clichés in books, film, and TV. The character decides to dress up and pretend to be someone else. And what happens in the end? It all comes out and blows up in their face.

It is really dumb, I mean come on what did you think was going to happen? Ugh! I can’t stand it.

Seriously

Yep, those two things killed it for me. I would pass this book on by if I were you.

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

For more Australian Austen works, go to The Austen Series: Amanda

For more on May Vanderbilt, go to A Fashion Statement

Midnight in Austenland

Day 10) J is for Jane Austen: Choose a book based on, a sequel to, or a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s works

So I know I said I wasn’t going to review one of Austen’s works as that isn’t really fair as I talk about her books all the time.

reading Jane Austen

But I never said anything about a retelling!

Go on...

Go on…

So I’m going to review my absolute favorite out of all the books I have read so far.

Austenland

Midnight in Austenland (Austenland #2) by Shannon Hale

So I one day I was going through Goodreads and looking at if any authors I liked had published anything new. I really enjoyed reading Shannon Hale, and thought Austenland was pretty good except for a few things, so when I saw that she did a sequel I decided to check it out.

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I got the book and started reading it…but then I couldn’t stop.

100pgs

I became so invested, I actually snuck it into my History of American Music class and read it instead of listening to the jazz music.

RealLifeVSBook

This book was AMAZING!!!!!

Iloveit love

It had Austen and mystery, both things I love!

Put my crime-solving cap on.

Putting on my crime-solving cap on.

I just adored every page of it and didn’t want it to end.

SadBookEndedfinishedover

So the book is a sequel, but you don’t have to read them together or in sequence. While the place they visit, Pembrook Park, is the same; the characters and story lines are new and different.

While the other book focused on Pride and Prejudice this one went more Northanger Abbey; something I appreciate as it just doesn’t get enough love.

Bruce-Almighty-Love-Me

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

Charlotte Constance Kinder is a nice woman. So nice no one thought she would live an interesting or adventurous life. But you know what Austen says about that.

adventures

Charlotte went to school, met a nice man named James, married him and had two kids; and then did the unexpected. She created a website, sold it for an outrageous profit, and started another one.

Wow

Wow

She bought nice things for her, her husband, their kids. Everything seemed fine, but then it turned out her husband was cheating on her and wanted to leave her for another woman.

heartbroken

Fast-forward, he is remarried and living with his new wife receiving alimony from Charlotte. And Charlotte is alone, left to pick up the pieces of her life.wantYoutoStay

She starts dating A LOT!. Anyone and everyone her friends and friends’ husbands toss her way; but nothing feels good or right.

hitonyourefuseyouareanonowayNo

Besides being worried about her own self and issues, she starts to worry about her daughter. Will she make all kinds of horrible mistakes, have “Daddy issues,” or go looking for love in all the wrong places?

Not good

Not good

She makes a really bad decision to have a private investigator follow her daughter’s boyfriend around, and even tries it herself; convinced that he is going to hurt her. After her daughter says she she doesn’t remember what it was like being her age, Charlotte decides that her daughter is right.

I'm crazy

I’m crazy

That Easter she goes home and digs through her old items that her mom saved and tries to look into her teenage mind. She finds a diary and on the first page is a list she made.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE I’M 30

  • Get married [✓]
  • Have a baby [✓✓]
  • Walk in high heels without wobbling [✓]
  • Climb Kilimanjaro…
  • Understand Physics [✓ish]
  • Help save the whales or other animals in danger [✓]
  • Read Jane Austen…?

Charlotte couldn’t remember why she wanted to read Jane Austen, but the next weekend the kids are with their father, and Charlotte devotes the weekend to reading

JaneAusten

And she reads and reads and reads. And before you know it, she is a hardcore fan.

AnatomyofaJaneite

And caught in the Austen cycle like us all.

austendisiilouisionmetcycle

Charlotte’s sister-in-law Shelby convinces her to take a vacation when the kids are with their dad for the summer. The only place Charlotte wants to go is into Austen’s books

escaperealityreadbooks

And luckily we have just the thing…Austenland.

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Yes, for a few weeks Charlotte will leave, breathe, and be Regency woman. And at the end of her time there is a big ball.

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And possibly a proposal…

marrymeKnightly proposel28o7_250

Charlotte is sold on it, packs up her stuff, and flies out ready to dive into her fantasy.

Let'sdothis

As Charlotte is a “quality guest”, i.e. rich, she gets the best treatment and the gold standard in clothes, transportation, etc. Charlotte takes on the character “Mrs. Charlotte Cordial”, a widow with two kids. In this story, Charlotte doesn’t have to go it alone but has a “brother”, Edmund Grey.

northangerabbeyeleanorhenrytilney

Besides him there are two other ladies, Miss Elizabeth Charming (from the previous book) and Miss Lydia Gardenside. And then there are two other men who will come to call on them: Colonel Andrews and Mr. Thomas Mallery who is…

TallDarkBrooding

Charlotte meets the ladies and enjoys Miss Charming, but is shocked to see that Miss Gardenside is none other than the famous pop sensation, Alisha. What is she doing here?

IndianaJonesHmmMaybe

So their days at Austenland begin and one of the reasons I like Charlotte better than Jane Hayes, the heroine of the last book, is that Charlotte embraces her love of Austen and goes full force into it.

the-grady-twinsPride&Prejudice Elizabeth Jane come play with us the shining

That day the Colonel has a surprise, they are going on a trip to an old crumbling abbey! What mysteries await them?

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

As they journey in twos, the phaeton holds only that umber, with Charlotte with Mr. Mallery. Mr. Mallery is very intense and lives and breathes being the Regency gentleman. When two backpackers come upon them he isn’t threatening but so forceful that he causes the pair to run off like frightened rabbits.

And run fast

And run fast

When they reach the Abbey it turns out there us a dark tale that goes with the old ruins:

Three hundred years ago (~1520) the abbey was home to twenty-one nuns, an abbess, and one novice. They worked in the kitchen garden, growing healing herbs, kept goats and chickens; everything was peaceful until one January night.

shiver

The sisters made dinner as usual and sat down to eat. The abbess was getting older and not feeling well, so after she made the tea she blessed the meal and went to lie down. She rose an hour later to do chapel prayers, but found all the nuns dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The abbess went through trying to find one that was alive. There were no wounds on the body, but all’s pulses had ceased. All except Mary Francis, the novice.

The next morning, the abbess awoke to find that Mary Francis had cleaned up from dinner, and laid all the nuns out, covering them with blankets.

No one was ever hanged for the deaths…the bodies were buried, the abbey abandoned, and the abbess went to live with a niece and succumbed to dementia. But she was known to cry out: “Either she saw who did it or she did it herself.”

Mary Francis was an orphan and after the deaths wandered from house to house as a trying to work as a servant, but the suspicion around her past always pushed her on. Some believe ghosts still haunt the area….

screamhouseonhauntedhill

The last place she went she worked for a few years, and they say uncanny things happened. The place she worked? Pembroke Park.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At first they don’t believe the house is old enough for the story to be true, but Mr. Mallery corrects them. He is second cousin to the Wattlesbrooks and says that parts of the houses go back that far. Sadly he would have inherited the grand old house, but his grandfather lost it in a card game.

Aw, man.

Aw, man.

Colonel Andrews says that that isn’t the end of the story, he has an old text that they may read and reveal all.

I love it!

I love it!

Charlotte is enjoying Pembrooke Park because she doesn’t have the strain of having to do the work. As her “brother” Edmund pointed out, she is here to have fun and relax, Mr. Mallery and the others have to work to impress her. It is a nice feeling after all those blind dates and trying to put on a show that you are okay; all you have to be is yourself or your character and the others have to do the real work.

spockstartrekidon'tknowokayiguesmovingongo

The group has a picnic in which Colonel Andrews reads from the diary of Mrs. Kerchief, the housekeeper three hundred years ago, and supervisor of the newly arrived servant, Mary Francis.

(I’m just going to paraphrase as it would take to long to write word for word)

“Hired the new scullery maid, Mary. No one else will hire her because what happened. I don’t care what happened in her past as long as she is ready to work.

Coal is running low and they seem to be burning more and more these past weeks. Simon says that it is Mary, she bring the cold with her. Nonsense. Still…she sleeps in the room next to mine and at night I hear noises I have never heard before. It wakes me up”

Gilmore girls creep

Mr. Mallery “Regency” flirts with her and Charlotte finds herself surprisingly enjoying every minute of it.

When they return to the house, Miss Gardenside retires as she is suffering from “consumption” (is it really or something else? Maybe withdrawal?). Miss Charming and Charlotte are still psyched from the mystery and decide to search the house.

dangerous-crossing-crain-b16weirdsuspicious

However, the only thing they stumble upon is a maid dressing. No clues, no bodies, no nothing.

Before Divorce: When Charlotte first started her website it was just to be a hobby. She liked growing plants, she often helped others, and decides that it would be nice to have a place people could go for inexpensive custom residential landscaping. They weren’t as grand as those who would visit the place and see it, but her designs based off a questionnaire they answered were cheaper and still beautiful. People loved it. She had to hire employees, and revenue increased crazily, and she made her first million.

That night they are having dinner toasting to each other when who should walk in, Sir John.

That guy!

That guy!

This is the only thing that enhances if you read the previous book, but like I said it is not necessary. You quickly learn why we hate this guy. Sir John is Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s husband and he doesn’t care about the park or their home. All he does is drink, gamble, and take any of Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s money away. He also tries to hit on the women, and doesn’t take no for an answer. In the last book, they had to cart him off as he was causing problems.

im-back

uh-no-gifuhno

This time he goes by Mr. Wattlesbrook instead of Sir John, and is dressed in modern day clothing instead of Regency wear. It unsettles everyone, but Colonel Andrews tries to bring them back to 1820.

19thc_christmas

That night they are interrupted of their sleep. As they go outside they see firetrucks and that Pembrooke Cottage, (the one Miss Amelia Heartwright stayed in, in the last book) has been burned. Mr. Wattlesbrook has no remorse even though he started the fire.

CaptainPlanetFireWheeler

Mr. Mallery has a bucket by his feet, as he was trying to put out the fires. He is furious that the cottage went as it was his inheritance. Now that is the character’s motivation, but he seems as if he is really upset, the man behind the character.

weirdtwilightzone

The next day Charlotte continues her search of the house. She really has become invested in the mystery and wants to find clues.  After a finding nothing and a game of croquet, she goes to Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s office to call her children.

dangerous crossingphoneringsscared

This does not go well at all. Her daughter finds out she had hired a private detective to follow her boyfriend.

ouch Hermione

Her son doesn’t want to talk to her.

Not good

Not good

She finds out from Justice, the new wife, that her son called her mom.

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Not a good call at all.

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Charlotte decides to snoop through the office and discovers that Windy Nook and Bertram Hall properties were sold off, foreclosed, and contained a series list of debts. She sees the former casts and notices that Mr. Mallery used to be in all of them. Mrs. Wattlesbrook is a very smart businesswoman, so it is clear that the one who caused the trouble is Mr. Wattlesbrook.

Jerk

The next day rained all night and morning. The group play charades and a card game that involves running about.

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But after the men leave to do whatever they do, maybe a break room, the women are embroidering.

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They are interrupted by the return of Mr. Wattlesbrook, who once again is dressed in modern clothes and tries to get in with Charlotte.

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The men come and try to carry him off. Miss Charming thinks it is a part of the “experience”, but Charlotte doesn’t think that Mrs. Wattlesbrook would do such a “messy” plot.

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Hmm…

That night is stormy, spooky, gray…

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Just perfect for reading more about the mystery of the nuns, the diary of Mrs. Kerchief!

I hear sounds in Mary’s room at night. It sounds like a pacing or scraping. It is unnerving and I want to talk to her, but in the morning Mary Francis is so tired I can’t say a word. The girl Betsy who used to room with her took off and never came back to get her money. The cook says she feels a cold wind around her…

The lights go out and all they have are firelight. They decide to play a game called Bloody Murder, with Mrs. Wattlesbrook going off to bed.

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They decide to play the game: the murderer has to hide in the house somewhere, after a count of fifty the rest hunt him out. The first to discover the murderer shouts, “bloody murder”, and all run after him. After that they all run off, and the murderer chases them. If he catches them, they fall down and the last one to “die” is the next murderer.

They draw straws and the short one leads Mr. Mallery to be the murderer.

One of the characters I love is Charlotte’s “brother”, Edmund. He is just so fun and fantastic, a real Mr. Tilney.

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Charlotte finds Mr. Mallery and ends up being the only one who has been touched. Now she is the next murderer.

She doesn’t want to walk and go around the house on her own. She is extremely scared and as she roams the dark halls she accidentally goes into a secret room. As she is searching the room for a way out, she finds a person laying on a chaise. She goes to touch them, feels the hand…they are dead!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She goes running out and finds the group telling them everything. They don’t believe her and can’t find the room. Charlotte is so incredibly freaked out, that Miss Charming can see that she needs a little care and asks if she wants to sleep in her bed for comfort.

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The next day, she starts questioning people trying to find out who the dead person was. Eddie goes to help her and they find the room but nothing but a fencing foil.

They leave for breakfast and run into Mary, Charlotte’s maid. Mary is really strange, always jumpy, and acting weird.

strange things are afoot at the circle k

She tries to tell Mrs. Wattlesbrook about the dead body, but she doesn’t believe her. She thinks it is just part of a game.

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Charlotte deduces that the dead body must be Miss Gardenside’s nurse or Mr. Wattlesbrook as they are the only two missing; and that it must be a part of the Colonel Andrews mystery as no one seems to care.

Eddie, Edmund, doesn’t believe that the murder is real, but helps Charlotte investigate. He is hilarious and I just love him. Forget Mr. Mallery with his brooding, smirking is so much better.

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After Divorce: Justice, James’ mistress, sends Charlotte an invite, can you believe that? An invite!!!

Charlotte worries about how the divorce affects the kids but James doesn’t care. He says that 50% of marriage end in divorce. Here are statistics that matter to Charlotte.

-James saw the children 75% less than before

-He missed 85% of their afterschool woes

-He was absent for 99% of their family dinners

-100% of Charlotte’s marriage ended

That night they read the diary:

Mary and I were shelling peas. Mary has been here for three months and doesn’t seem as if she can settle down. All the other hands treat her horribly but all Mary does is pray. Why does she pray so much? For other or her own soul?

The next day Charlotte picks up her search with Eddie. They go back to the room, but find nothing but a glove, a washing dishes type of glove. Is that part of it?

suspicious Hmm

Charlotte drops it as she thinks it is nothing. Eddie picks up fencing foils and the two duel before lunch.

You're so cute

Even though everyone has forgotten the game, Charlotte still thinks that someone might be after her, but who?

Gilmore girls creep

The next day Charlotte goes riding with Mr. Mallery. They stop a while so Charlotte can call her kids, but no answer. She tries her husband, no answer. Charlotte spends the rest of the night worried about them and that something happened. The next day she finds out their phones were dead.

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The next day Charlotte decides to write her kids a letter. Eddie joins her and consoles her over her missing her kids. He shares about his daughter and that he misses her as he hardly gets to see her. They start writing and Charlotte wonders if Julia exists, but Eddie is writing a long letter to someone.

letter

After the letter writing, Eddie goes over the dances, as “their mother” was a dance instructor. They have such fun, with Mallery interrupts them. They go for a walk, but are found by Colonel Andrews who tells them he has a great passage for tonight.

Everyone is mean to Mary. They start chanting “What do you know of our Mary? Twenty-one nuns did she bury.” We were working outside when there was a howl and they saw something white and filmy, floating. It had a horrible screeching voice that shouted “Leave innocent Mary alone. The nuns cannot rest when folk stain Mary’s name with lies.” Mary was the only one who wasn’t afraid, but continued her work.

Right after they read that, they see a ghost outside!

GHostFantasia

They all run after it and try to find it, but the ghosts disappear.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

Charlotte is the only one who notices tire tracks on the ground, as if someone drove their car.

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The next morning, Charlotte takes Miss Charming and Miss Gardenside aside and tries to have them help her find the missing clue. They come across a painting of Saint Francis. Miss Charming spots it as a fake and they rip it open, finding a note written in lemon juice:

Among the dusty tomes stands

The work of the saint

And one girl’s confessions

Penned without constraints

They run to the library and find a book on St. Francis, in it is Mary’s tale. The nuns died accidentally. The abbess eyesight and memory was failing and she accidentally boiled yew, poisoning them.

OMG gasp

That answers one question, but what about everything else? What about the secomd mystery with the dead body? Then Charlotte gets a few more realizations:

  1. The Murderer approached the victim and had to lure them into that room, with an intent to kill.
  2. The victim was killed in a secret room and the body abandoned on the sofa, as whoever had to leave, and then return to move the body at a more convenient time.
  3. Charlotte finds the body in the room. The body was not smelly; so they were killed recently.
  4. Charlotte announces the find, but all claim to know zero about the room.
  5. Charlotte hears a thud in the middle of the night, below the secret room. Maybe someone tossed the body out the window?
  6. The next morning the body was gone.

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

Before Divorce: Late nights “working”, phone calls from unlisted numbers, caller hangups, James never touching her, James staying out of town but spotted by a friend, lingerie in the closet not her size…etc. It is easier to solve someone else’s mystery than your own. Sometimes we see only what we want to see.

They only have three more days, only three more days to solve the case. Charlotte sees that Mrs. Hatchet, Miss Gardenside’s nurse, has returns and deduces that Mr. Wattlesbrook must be the murdered one. She questions the men about the night they removed him and they say that they put him in a room out of the way as he was incredibly wasted, Edmund punched him after he spoke nastily about the women, and the next day he was gone.

suspicious Hmm

Later Charlotte looks after Miss Charming as she seems out of sorts. Miss Charming was unhappy thinking of her former husband. She had married and helped her husband build up the business into millions, as she was the brains of the operation. She found him with a salesclerk, divorced him, and took off with the staggering alimony. She’s been running as she can’t go home and and face that she was dumped.

Broken Heart

Afterwards, Charlotte decides that with the limited time left, she can’t be messing around. She has searched everywhere for the body and there is only one place left, She and Eddie, the Watson to her Sherlock, head to the pond. She goes swimming to see what it may hold and finds a car submerged.

OMG gasp

They convince Mrs. Wattlesbrook to call the police and it turns out that Mr. Wattlesbrook is dead. Now the question is, which one of the guests is a killer!

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Could Mrs. Wattlesbrook have done it? Eddie? Colonel Andrews? Thomas Mallery? Miss Charming? Miss Gardenside? One of the staff?

WhoDoneItMystery?whodunit

Charlotte realizes she doesn’t really know any of these people and any one of them could be a killer. And they may be after her next!

tumblr_dr.jekyllhydemirrorsneakupbehindscareaah!

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So I won’t reveal the ending, as it was amazing. Shannon Hale just did a fantastic job.

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And that through the rest of her trip Charlotte learns her own worthiness.

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And is able to pick up to the strong person she used to be.

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I also just loved Eddie and thought he was just an amazing character. A real Mr. Tilney!

find mr.tilney

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

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For more by Shannon Hale, go to Austenland

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Candy Girls

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

For more mysteries, go to Your Cases Have Indeed Been of the Greatest Interest to Me: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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As this is a book that goes to the past but is also modern, I thought the best carol would be What Child is This?

In 1865, William Chatterton Dix was an insurance company manager and became seriously ill. During this time he gave his life to Christ, writing this carol. He set it to the song Greensleeves which has been registered in 1580 by Richard Jones.

I have never been a fan of this song, I’m not sure why, until I heard the Josh Groban version, so that’s the one I went with.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

Austenland

So this isn’t part of our 30 Day challenge. I just felt I needed to post it as I wanted to review the sequel for the 30 Day challenge and I couldn’t do the second without the first! After this we will continue the 30 Day challenge.

Austenland

Austenland (Austenland #1) by Shannon Hale

I first read this book back in high school, I was a freshman or sophomore at the time. I really loved the premise of the book and most of the characters and thought the story was fantastic. I only had one issue, and that was with the main character Jane. I hadn’t really been in a relationship before I read this and I thought the main character was a bit…bonkers. She seemed to throw herself into “relationships” without them even dating, like Gigi in He’s Just NOT That Into You.

I then went on to read the sequel as soon as it was printed, Midnight in Austenland, and just fell in love with it. I thought it was amazing!

I love it

Then the film trailer came out for Austenland and it looked like it was to be mostly this first book, but have a few traits of the sequel that I loved. I was so excited.

FangirledWhenSeeingPreviewI tracked that film and when the release dates were changed, waited. And waited. And then when it wasn’t released in any theater near me, I waited some more for it to come out on DVD.

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I rented it as soon as it was out, watched it, and adored it from beginning to end!I thought it was sooo much better than the book.

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But then I began thinking…what if the book wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was? Maybe as an adult my perspective would change then when I was a teenager? It has been almost ten years (time flies!) since I last read it and decided it would be the perfect time to reread and review it (especially as I want to review the sequel but can’t until I review this one!)

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Austenland

Jane Hayes is obsessed with Jane Austen.

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She reads all of Austen’s books and watches the 1995 miniseries again and again.

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But unlike most fangirls, Jane is ashamed of her love. I don’t know why, I embrace mine.

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It goes for the rest of her work as well.

Anyways…Jane’s mom comes to visit with her great aunt Carolyn. Carolyn is super rich and her mother is trying to get her into the will. She hides her Austen items and DVD disc, (I proudly display mine), but Carolyn finds it.

clueless mybad oops

Carolyn waits until Jane’s mother goes to the restroom and warns her about Darcy, letting him in and taking over.

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Hey, I don’t see anything wrong for striving for a guy like that or any other Austen man. I don’t want to settle. I want someone special.

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Six months later, Aunt Carolyn dies and leaves something for Jane. She gets all excited dreaming about what she could buy or do with the money:

Good job screenwriters.

But it turns out she is not rich.

Reality Sucks

Instead she gets a three week paid vacation to go to Pembrook Park in England. There she is in a Regency Westworld (except no killer robots), dressing, talking, and acting as it it is 1816. There is no scripts or written endings, but there is a ball and you might meet your dream man there.

see cute guy look

Now they make it seem as if wanting to be with an equivalent of Darcy is a bad thing and that that love is to blame for her bad relationships but that’s not true she is crazy when it comes to relationships. She thinks every guy she has ever been with is her “boyfriend”, even when they haven’t even dated! Even when she just talks to them or thinks about dating them.

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She goes to the Park reading about all the rules they have to follow in that time period. In fact there are a lot of rules with the park as to what they can and cannot do.

She meets Mrs. Wattlesbrook who introduces her to what she will wear and introductory rules. She is now to go by the name Jane Erstwhile, instead of Hayes, and although they were supposed to change their ages and create this fake cover story; Jane wants to be real.

OneTreeHillIAmWhoIam

So Jane finds out that she isn’t the usual type of client. Most of the time, like in Westworld, they have a ton of money. Unfortunately, Jane is not rich so she will not be treated special like the other two guests: Miss Elizabeth Charming and Miss Amelia Heartwright.

Really?

Really?

Jane has to get rid of all her modern items, although she secretly holds back her cell phone, and dress only in Regency wear.

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She meets Theodore, the undergardener, who helps her learn the dances she’ll need to know for the ball.

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Jane is ready and determined that this vacation is going to be great and she will conquer.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #1 Alex Ripley, 4 yrs

She was four years old, he kissed her, and he moved to Minnesota that summer, never to be seen again.

The next day is day one of Jane’s trip to Pembrook Park. She meets her “aunt” Saffronia and “uncle” Sir John Templeton who she will be staying with during her time there.

She meets Miss Elizabeth Charming who is a very wealthy, buxom, and “twenty-two” (fifty). She is extremely wealthy, recently divorced, and looking for a book happily ever after ending.

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The two then meet the men, the reason they are here. The first is the fair-haired, roguish, open man Colonel Andrews.

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And then we have Mr. Nobley: tall, dark, and brooding.

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You know how I like them!

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And Jane likes what she sees.

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Sir Templeton is pretty much just drunk all the time and not interesting. Colonel Andrews is a  lot of fun, and Nobley? Well…

DancingNotforme Darcy Pride and prejudice

Elizabeth Charming really wants one of the men and throws herself at both of them, making for some fun and interesting adventures.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #1 Justin Kimble, 12 yrs

They started “going out” in 4th grade when they shared Pixy Stix, scored each other as 1os, and gave each other Valentines. But then he chose another girl for the folk dance and it was over.

So this is a big part of my problem with Jane (Hayes). Those aren’t real relationships, she shouldn’t count them. She was just a child!

The next day she goes out for a walk and runs into Theodore. Even though they aren’t supposed to talk, as he is a servant, they do anyway. Theodore hates the Regency story and gives up on it, revealing his name is really Martin Jasper. Even though it is against the rules, Jane actually starts to like it. It is a secret, “bad”, and Martin is a nice connection to the real world.

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Jane starts to feel strange about this whole “fake Regency” thing, as if she can’t do it. Mr. Nobley and the Colonel see her grow pale and Nobley urges the Colonel to get her some water. There Jane and Nobley have a private conversation, where Jane tries to figure out how Mr. Nobley can pretend like this. Mr Nobley misunderstands her and becomes upset.  He tells her that she can’t play games and try to trap him.

IDon'tevenknowhowtorespondGilmoreGirls

Later while the men are out doing their manly things, the women wait for Amelia Heartwright to call. They hope she won’t be attractive as it seems there isn’t enough men for everyone. She comes in, and you know how we girls are.

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Unfortunately, she is absolutely beautiful; but along with that she is very kind and hard to dislike. But Jane’s earlier dismay proves to be true as Mr. Nobley and Miss Heartwright appear to have had a history. With those two paired and the Colonel for Miss Charming; Jane is left alone with no one.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #2 Rudy Liev, 15 yrs

Rudy was hilarious and always cracking jokes, ones that were extremely harmful and unfunny. After four months of dating he told everyone when Jane kisses, she licks like a cat. He continued to make fun of her, the moniker “tiger tongue” staying with her even at her ten-year reunion.

After they break up, she reads Pride & Prejudice for the first time.

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Miss Charming won’t let herself be dominated or destroyed, and immediately snags both gentlemen for Whist after dinner. Miss Amelia makes up the fourth, leaving Jane out in the cold again.

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Which unfortunately sets her in Sir John’s drunken sights. He passes out, and tired of overhearing the lively conversation from the whist table, Jane decides to go out for a walk, major Austenland and Regency no no.

clueless mybad oops

Jane hears a TV and goes to it, being Martin’s  trailer. She overhears the Knick game and is invited inside. Things ensue, and before you know it they are making out. Jane leaves after their session and heads back to sneak into the house.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #3 Dave Atters, 16 yrs

Star of the high school basketball team and Jane was extremely infatuated with him. One night he tried to put his hand up her skirt, she refused, he dumped her.

Instead of blaming Dave she blamed Mr. Darcy for her high expectations of men.

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Dave was a jerk. High expectations have nothing her other than you fell for a guy who thought he was the best and didn’t want to take no for an answer.

You should have high expectations. You shouldn’t have been dating a jerk like him. Any guy who won’t respect you isn’t worth it.

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Every night she goes to see Martin and they make out, eat junk food, etc. She is bored with Regency things as she can’t stand to do any more of them.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

Uh, embroidery is not boring or easy. It is hard work and fun. I”ll have to post some of the things I’ve done.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #4 Ray Riboldi, 17 yrs

Ray was nice, and Jane decided after the last two boyfriends she wanted a nice guy. After a few months, two guys who’d been longtime friends played a prank involving Ray’s jeep and dog poop, telling him to stay away from pretty girls. He then retaliated to Jane believing she was the one to put them up to it.

Jane has horrible taste in me, but she can’t blame Austen for it. The men she are picking are the problem. Maybe you should befriend and get to know them instead of going into “dating” them.

She gets bored of relaxing during the day, which I don’t get. Two weeks in England, relaxing? Sounds good to me.

Let's go now!

Let’s go now!

She runs to see Martin, but he ends that, being offended that she is “one of those women” interested in Austen stuff and that she was with the other two men this morning. He’s a total jerk and Jane is upset as she came all this way, just for more disappointment.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #5 Rahim, 35 or 40 yrs

She meet him while working the perfume counter at age 19. He dates her for three weeks taking her to expensive restaurants, buying her gift; Jane almost fulfilling a cliché of being a “shopgirl”. I say almost because when he took her to her apartment and tried to sleep with her, she laughs and it ends.

Jane is depressed. She has no one, made a fool of herself going after Martin, and is still the fifth wheel. That night she turns down a game of whist and heads outside to walk again.

Saint Elmo's Fire Love sucks

Mr. Nobley surprises her, having come to check on her. He warns her about Martin, his protectiveness getting her all upset. Later she comes back in the house and sees the book Mr. Nobley always reads with a pay stub made out to a Henry Jenkins. Hmm? Could that be his real name?

Thinking Hmm

As she starts for her room, she comes upon a drunk Sir John who hits on her.

Uh no.

Uh no.

He tries to get with her, but she knees him in the groin and stops him.

No thank youhowaboutno

Mr. Nobley comes upon them, and lends a hand. Here he shows his other side, no longer brooding and distant, but actually charming funny, and dare I say…a delight.

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Jane is thoroughly disappointed in all that happened and decides no more nice-Jane. She is going to rock Austenland and be the best Regency lady ever.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #6 Josh Lake, 20 yrs

Met at a college carnival fundraiser when two groups of friends merged together. They get stuck in a ride and the fear and adrenaline make them start a relationship, but after three months they both know there is no pop to the relationship and break up.

Not Austen’s fault but Jane’s for letting the situation’s emotions create a false relationship and love. Like in Bones when Booth and Hannah get together.

The next morning, Jane pulls out her smuggled cell phone and emails a friend for info on Martin Jasper and Henry Jenkins, hoping to unearth the real person under the mask.

That morning the men are out of town, which upsets Miss Charming. She didn’t dole out the big bucks to be ignored or play second fiddle to Miss Heartwright.. She goes to speak to Mrs. Wattlesbrook and straighten out what her vision of Austenland is.

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Jane, bored, goes to visit Miss Heartwright. She doesn’t really want to, but as this is something Emma would do, she’s in the game.

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When the two ladies return to the park, they have an unexpected visitor! Miss Heartright’s jilted lover has returned, a Mr. George East who has recently become Captain. Miss Heartwright takes off, and Jane rings for a maid to show Captain East to his room.

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Hmm…so now we have three ladies and three men. But who goes with who? And will Jane get the dream proposal promised?

IndianaJonesHmmMaybe

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #6.5 Paul Diaz, 20

She meet him in a watercolor class, sort of talked believing they clicked, but when she asked him out; he didn’t even know who she was.

At dinner Jane flirts as widely as she can, staying in Regency fashion. She throws Mr. Nobley out as it seems Miss Charming and Miss Heartwright care for him. Instead she tries to kill the Captain and the Colonel with her charm.

Emma

That night Jane, the Captain, and Colonel stay out of cards and tease Mr. Nobley. The teasing goes a little too far with Jane giving a short rant on the men of the day:

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And Mr. Nobley has a longer rant about women. Clearly he has some wounds.

ouch Hermione

They then dance with East taking Heartwright and the Colonel paired with Miss Charming. Jane is left all alone until Mr. Nobley steps up and asks her for a dance.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND 7 Juan Inskeep, 25 yrs

Gay.

The next morning the men are out “shooting”, Miss Charming is upset and heads out to see Miss Heartwright, so Jane goes upstairs to check her email. Nothing on Martin Jasper but she hit the motherlode on Henry Jenkins. He studied theater and history at Cambridge, and four years ago was in a crazy divorce. He was very calm but recounted how when his wife cheated on him with a neighbor, he forgave her; when she sold his car to pay for a wild weekend in Monaco, he forgave her; but when she shish-kabobed his fish because he said he wanted kids: that’s when he decided the relationship needed to end. Sounds like a modern-day Mr. Rochester with a crazy, cruel wife.

She is crazy!

She is crazy!

Later in the library, she overhears the Colonel’s proposal to Miss Charming. One man down and two left to go. The game is on!

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #8 Bobby Winkle, 23 yrs

They started as friends and moved on to dating. The relationship lasted six months and then he left for an internship Guatemala. He returned six months later and never called.

The next day they play croquet. Andrews and Miss Charming, Nobley and Miss Heartwright, & Jane and Captain East. Jane doesn’t mind being with Captain East as he is not only attractive but as bad at croquet as she is.

However, she notices that Mr. Nobley keeps staring and watching her. And even more she realizes that she cares what Mr. Nobley thinks about her.

OMG gasp

The game is interrupted when Mrs. Wattlesbrook drives up. They found Jane’s cellphone and she is to be kicked out of Austenland.

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She goes to get in the carriage upset that the men didn’t stand up for her. Before she gets in, they are interrupted by Miss Heartwright. She claims that it is her phone, she accidentally brought it, and that Jane was holding it for her. Because Miss Heartwright is so wealthy, they let her pass.

Life'sNotFairPrincessBride

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #9 Kevin Hyde, 27 yrs

She loved him. They dated for almost two years, Jane even went wedding dress shopping, but one day he told her he wanted to end it. He said it was too hard and that he wasn’t having fun.

The next day Miss Heartwright and Mr. Nobley are going horseback riding. They invite Jane, who determined not to be a third wheel, invites Mr. East. As they ride she tries to have intimate time to flirt, but Mr. Nobley keeps messing things up when he separates them. He eventually makes up Jane looking poorly, and sends the other two on ahead.

That guy!

That guy!

Jane is angry with Nobley for messing things up, but then he relays that Miss Hearwright asked him to intervene and give them a few minutes alone to talk about their past.

clueless mybad oops

She and Nobley start talking and he manages to trick her into revealing something personal, her love of painting and her old dream. They are interrupted by East, but later that evening she finds a package for her. When she opens it, it is oil paints, an easel, and canvas.

How sweet!

How sweet!

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #10 Peter Sosa, 29 yrs

She met Peter in the work elevator. They dated for five weeks and he was perfect. She started to dream only to have that crash down when he revealed that he was already dating someone. His girlfriend bet him he couldn’t make the next girl fall in love with him, and the little game went too far.

The next day is rainy and Jane spends the morning painting. She’d rather not tear herself away, but does as she knows she needs human contact after all that time alone.

She goes to the library to read and is met by Mr. Nobley. He reads the book to her, but it is too boring they cannot continue.

The Colonel wants to do a play, but they would need Mr. Nobley and he refuses. However, after Martin approaches and tries to re-romance Jane, Mr. Nobley tries to warn Jane against him once again. Jane finds herself falling for him, and promises to stay away from Martin if Mr. Nobley performs in the play.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #11 Clark Barnyard, 23 yrs

He was a younger man and someone she worked with. They joked and flirted for months when he asked her out finally. They start kissing when he tries to get her clothes off. She had to tell him no four times before he stopped, confused as to why they weren’t going to have sex.

This wasn’t even a real boyfriend! They went on one date! Jane is a tad delusional.

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Mr. Nobley continues to look and watch Jane. They run off together to practice their parts, and actually break a few Regency rules with proximity.

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Jane feels secure in having Mr. Nobley at her ending. But as they talk she remembers the ball is in two days and the vacation ends in three. It will all be over soon. 😦

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They come upon a tender moment of Captain East and Miss Heartwright. While they talk about love and whether it can be done under fiction; Mr. Nobley reveals he had a “friend” who was heartbroken but if you asked him now, “he” might be opening his heart again to another.

Is it a "friend" or him?

Is it a “friend” or him?

They perform two hours later, badly, but something happens with Mr. Nobley. They way he looks at her, kissed her cheek…it seems more than just a part. But that’s silly it can’t be…real?

Could it?

Could it?

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #12 Tad Harrison, 35 yrs

They were engaged after a year, adopted a dog, and picked out baby names. But he wouldn’t set a date. A year later, they take a break and Tad starts sleeping around. He kept the dog.

The next day, Jane paints all morning. After spending the whole morning alone, she goes out looking for the men. There are only two days left!

She sees the Colonel talking to someone out of sight  and overhears that the Colonel has to get back to work, only to see it is her! Disgusted Jane goes back to her room and starts painting again.

Men?

Men

Later that evening, Mr. Nobley takes her aside and asks her about her painting. They spend a long time as Jane shares her feelings of painting, the things she has been doing; just going on and on. Mr. Nobley smiles through the whole thing and asks to see her paintings.

How sweet!

How sweet!

He compliments her work and then leaves. But then returns to ask her to reserve the first two dances for him.

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FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #12.5 Jake Zeiger, 30ish yrs

Her neighbor that she saw every time she gets her mail. She tries to ask him out, but he turns her down as he never saw her as anything but neighbor.

This was not her boyfriend either! Just in her head!

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The ball comes and Jane is dressed elegantly. She is approached by Martin, dressed up as an extra, who tries to get the first two dances, but Nobley interferes, whirling her away.

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Eventually they break way from the group and Mr. Nobley asks for her hand in marriage. Jane is upset at the faux love and walks away, deciding Mr. Darcy is not for her but she needs a “real man.”

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She runs off to find Martin, as he is “real”.

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They make plans to meet up the next day and for Jane to rearrange her schedule and get a few extra days in England.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #13 Jimmy Rimer, 38 yrs

They walked the same path every day in central park for five months. Then Jimmy snorted when laughing, and Jane avoided him.

The next day she says good-bye to Miss Charming and she and Miss Heartwright head out. It turns out Miss Heartwright is not British as they thought. She is a rich wife who comes out annually to have some fun. She shares that it was Mr. Nobley’s idea to save Jane from being thrown out, asking her to pretend it was her phone.

OMG gasp

After Jane dresses in her old clothes returning her Regency wear, Mrs. Wattlesbrook lets her know that Martin is an actor. He was picked for her but had to be taken out if circulation when thinks got too heated.

What jerks

What jerks

Jane is so angry at them making a fool of her, picking a gardner as her match instead of any gentleman because she’s poor and not an “ideal” client.

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Jane lies about her magazine, pretending she is a staff writer, threatening Mrs. Wattlesbrook and having a ton of fun making her sweat.

FLASHBACK: BOYFRIEND #14 Martin of Sheffield, 29 yrs

An actor posing as a gardener, who posed as a gentleman on the Austenland estate.

Jane heads to the airport: angry, sad, and feeling foolish. As she is thinking to herself, she hears in the airport:

Paging Miss Jane Erstwhile

Is it Mr. Nobley?! Did he comes after her?

Double double yay

No. It is Martin.

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He was sent by Mrs. Wattlesbrook to mend things. He tries a few lines, but Jane sees right through them all.

No thank youhowaboutno

But then the most surprising thing happens. A man dressed in Regency wear approaches! It is Mr. Nobley.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

He tell her that he loves her! He got caught up in the role and gave her the same old proposal he always does, the Darcy proposal. But he truly does love her. Being with her was different than being with anyone else.

lovedyou Persuasion

Martin and him fight, calling each other names; but Jane is just done with it all. She boards her plane saying good-bye.

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On the plane, she is surprised to see that Mr. Nobley has bought a ticket and will be joining her on her flight. She questions why Mrs. Wattlesbrook would go that far, but he tells her she didn’t send him. He came on his own, he Henry Jenkins. In fact, Mrs. Wattlesbrook never sent him to go after Jane, not at the park and not now.

Wow

He knows she has no money, he never heard the article rumor, and bought the ticket even though he is deeply afraid of flying to prove his love. He tells her that if it is too much he can wait, if they just start out slow and then see where it takes them.

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But then he says he lied.

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Ah snap, knew it. It was too perfect.

Reality Sucks

He tells her that he doesn’t want a fling. For him it is all or nothing and he is throwing himself at her feet.

How sweet!

How romantic!

And then this part, this is the best:

“But wait, stop, it’s not supposed to end this way! You’re the fantasy, you’re what I’m leaving behind. I can’t pack you up and take you with me.’

‘That was the most self-centered thing I’ve ever heard you say.’

Jane blinked. ‘It was?’

‘Miss Hayes, have you stopped to consider that you might hav this all backward? That in fact you are my fantasy?”

How sweet!

How sweet!

Present: Boyfriend #15 Henry

Jane is taking this relationship one day at a time and no longer seems to be ashamed of her Pride and Prejudice love.

In the end Jane does the one thing everyone dreams of, she gets a “real” Mr. Darcy.

Don't Stop Believing!

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So I liked the novel, the only issue I really had was Jane’s feeling ashamed at being an Austen fan. I just don’t get it and it made her less likeable. I also didn’t like how she complained about her vacation or blamed her horrible choices in men on Austen. Those things were corrected in the sequel and film which is why I liked them better.

But the end was just perfect. It was incredibly romantic and just the type of thing we dream of. Hale sure knows how to write

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For more by Shannon Hale, go to I Found this Blank Book of Stitched Together Pages…I’ll Record the Details of Our Confinement: Book of a Thousand Days

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to The Bend and Snap

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Meet Cute: Darcy & Elizabeth Style

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So even though this isn’t a part of our scheduled posting, as it is a post in the first 25 days of December I am going to add a Christmas Carol.

Today’s song is one that my sister loves and used to play all the time. It is On This Very Christmas Night or Christmas Canon by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

This song was published in 1998 and strayed from rock to being in the form of a children’s choir. It is a great song, but once played remains in your head forever.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to You Will Be Haunted By Three Spirits: A Christmas Carol

Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version

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

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I however will be talking about this:

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

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Set

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

what what'shappeningSupernatural

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

The rooms also lacked any pizazz or beauty.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

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

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Costumes

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

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

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

Mehsleepyhollownotimportant

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Mr. & Mrs. Weston

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

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

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

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Harriet Smith

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

Wow

Wow

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

Noo!

Aw

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

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

Hope

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

I don't know what to do

Great job Morten.

And I truly mean it

And I truly mean it

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Jane Fairfax

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

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

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

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Mr. & Mrs. Elton

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

hate her

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

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

GoldenGirlsEat&DieTrash

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Mr. Frank Churchill

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

How rude

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

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Mr. George Knightley

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

ew! Gross Yuck

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

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

Beauty and the Beast

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

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

Gilmore girls creep

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Emma Woodhouse

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

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

I thought it was horribly bland and boring.

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

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Ending conclusion:

Something is not right!

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

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

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

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

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

I Want to Understand You: North & South (2004)

Most Romantic Moment #11

NOrth&South

So I’ve mentioned my love of this show before. My friend introduced me to it and I fell head over heels for Mr. Thornton.

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So the show takes place during the English Industrial revolution, the late 18th century. Reverend Richard Hale has decided to leave the church of England, and is forced to leave his parish in the country South, and go to Milton, in the industrial North. He brings with him his wife, and daughter Margaret.

 Her father becomes a private tutor, with only one client, Mr. Thornton. Mr. Thornton was born poor and worked his way up, now owning his own cotton mill and becoming one of the richest men in the area. He’s also just how I like them:

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He and Margaret get off on the wrong foot, and continually are having misunderstandings. However, as much as Margaret and Mr. Thornton say they don’t care about each other; time will tell.

Besides their relationship, there are others things clashing. The workers want more money and are threatening to unionize.  But Mr. Thornton doesn’t have more money to give them. He may be wealthy, but his money is wrapped up in cotton prices and completely dependent on how well it does: plus he bought new, pricey, technology to help the workers and doesn’t have enough profits to pay everyone what they wish. It’s a complicated issue.

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Most Romantic Moment: I Love You and Want to Understand You

*Spoilers*

So the romantic moment I have chosen comes at the very end of the series. Mr. Thornton has already declared his love and proposed to Margaret.

How romantic

How romantic

But she has refused him because she thinks he just wants to add her to his possessions.

As if Clueless

I mean:

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Since then they have had several more misunderstandings, Margaret’s parents have died, she returned to the English countryside, and the mill has been closed (with the town most likely following). Mr. Thornton has decided to journey to the South and visit Margaret’s hometown.

How romantic

How romantic

I know some of you probably don’t understand this. How could I pick it over Margaret saving his life or his famous “look back at me scene.”

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The reason why I choose him traveling to Margaret’s old home this time around instead of the other two was because of one simple thing: he wanted to travel there because he loves her and wants to fully understand who she is.

Mr.TorntonNorth&South

He has heard her talk about the South on and on. So he decides to travel there because he wants to finally get a view on who she is.

He has been wrong about her before, as she was about him; and has decided that the only way he will be able to convince her that he really and truly cares; is if he he goes to her hometown and learns everything he can about who she is, why she loved the South, her home, her whole culture that makes up who she is.

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He loves her just so much that he wants to know every thing about her; from beginning to end.

swoon dreamy

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To start Romance is in the Air: Part IV from the beginning, go to I Can’t Pretend I Have to Be: Casual Sex? (1988)

For the previous post, go to I’m Putting You First: How to Steal a Million (1966)

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For more on North & South, go to Old Fandoms and New Fancies

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One of Many

FavoriteBookReading

24) A Book You Love

[Sorry, I’m late again!]

So this was a hard thing to do. Pick one of my favorite books? So impossible.

ChoosingFavoritebookNeilGaiman

So I thought on this and decided that I wouldn’t talk about Jane Austen. I’m pretty sure you already know how much I love Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion.

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Then I thought, well I can’t do The Phantom of the Opera either as I have already done two posts on how much I love that book.

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So then I thought, what is a book I really, really liked as a child; and still love today?

The plot thickens

Then I thought:

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I first read this book as a kid when I was going through the Great Illustrated Classics at the library. It was my first introduction to English 19th century fiction.

I love this book a lot. I just loved Heathcliff.

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You feel for this orphan man, always mistreated with everyone who ever loved him dying or betraying him. Yep, you know my type:

TallDarkBrooding

So in the story we are given the picture of a cruel man, and then go through the rest of his journey in a flashback. He was orphaned with no name and speaking some other language. Mr. Earnshaw found him on his trip to London, and brought him back to his home. He had bratty two children: Hindley and Catherine, who are cruel to Heathcliff. Hindley hates him because his dad likes him better than him. Catherine hates everything, but to her and everyone’s surprise she and Heathcliff become best friends.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

When Mr. Earnshaw dies, Hindley becomes man of the house and is incredibly cruel to Heathcliff, demoting him to dog status. He and Catherine fall in love, but she marries the wealthy Edgar Linton, as Heathcliff is too lowborn.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Breaking Heathcliff’s heart.

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He leaves, bent on becoming rich and getting his revenge.

So I won’t ruin the rest of the story as it is dramatic, gothic, supernatural, and thoroughly amazing.

Or 10th, 50th, 100th....

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

And as the extremely handsome Laurence Olivier player Heathcliff in the movie, as you read the book imagine a man just as handsome as him…or him. 🙂

Laurence Olivier Mr. Darcy

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to Musical Madness

For the previous post, go to Be It Ever So Humble

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For more Wuthering Heights, go to Smells S’Wonderful

For more bookish posts, go to You Weirdo

For more on Tall, Dark, & Brooding Men; go to Old Fandoms and New Fancies

For more Neil Gaiman, go to Heaven on Earth