Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 3-5

So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?

Hmm…I don’t know!

That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.

I can’t stop watching!

So last week I reviewed The Buccaneers, episodes 1-2. These episodes 3-5 aren’t as similar in the Austen themes, but I’m going to finish the review of the miniseries.

So quick recap-four women, Virginia St. George, Annabel “Nan” St. George, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Elmsworth, Conchita Closson-daughters of new money industry, are finding it hard to be accepted into society. In order to circumvent that, the English governess, Ms. Laura Testvalley, hired by Mrs. St. George, comes up with the idea of them having a London Season. There they could hobnob with the titled English and when they come back be welcomed in open arms.

Conchita marries Lord Richard, who only got with her to get her money. He dumped her off at his family estate, took off gambling and carousing, and using up her allowance allotted by her father. Yep, she married a Wickham/Willoughby.

She has a little girl with him and then finds herself a lover to fill her lonely nights.

 

Lonely and sad from Anna Karenina 

Virginia married Richard’s older brother, Lord Seadown, but finds out on her wedding night he only choose her for her money as he already in love/relationship with another woman.

Replace beauty with money

Lizzy is being courted by Hector, a nobody interested in politics. He has no title, but does have a good sized fortune. Her rivals, Virginia and Conchita feel smug about having the superior men.

But Nan tops them all by landing Duke Julius of Trevennick. She was really in love with Guy Thwaite, but he had lost his fortune due to his father’s mismanagement. Guy left for two years to South America to make his fortune, and Nan wanted an engagement, but he didn’t want to be a man to use a woman’s fortune and doesn’t want to hold her back when he may make no money.

Nan feeling vulnerable, sad, alone, and having been sheltered falls victim to the Duke’s proposal-one of the best proposals. The Duke knows his stuff.

So Virginia is pregnant and gives birth to a son. Good but doesn’t keep her man from straying still. In fact, now that the family line is “secure” he spends even less time with her and more with his mistress. Poor Virginia, she had such dreams, such  hopes!

The Duke and Nan return from their honeymoon and Nan finds herself way over her head. Expected to run the household, send the first of their plants to the queen, meet the queen, her husband being too busy for her and so cold. Before they were married, he talked of love and now that they are there is this barrier between them.

This space between them

She is shocked that he doesn’t have passion with her like Conchita and Virginia’s husband’s do and that they have separate bathrooms and separate lives-so unlike her parents.

All alone

Nan loves the outside, the forest, the beautiful romantic ruins but is now trapped in a gilded cage-jewels, meeting the queen, expected to act like clockwork.

She makes some serious mistakes in the household duties and rankings of the many servants. Every time I watch this I think how much more this is suited for her sister Virginia. That is the type of thing she would love to do and life to live.

Julius loves it as he finds her perfect to train. Seriously? Like she is an animal or doll-just tp be moved and trained-ugh.

I take back what I said about him. Take back your castle. Take back your dog.

You are a MAJOR jerk.

The three married ladies get together and talking and complaining about their husbands-these men suck. Poor girls.

Conchita has taken a lover as her husband is always gone. He comes home unexpectedly with the news that he has syphilis.

Ouch

I had to do my 9th grade health report on it and oh my goodness that is one of the worst diseases. First it is hard to catch as most people don’t show the symptoms and if untreated it makes you go insane.

Nan gets attacked one night by a drunk Julian-yelling at her not to complain about wanting passion and then not enjoying when he is trying to romance her. The pig. The horrid man. Just a glimpse of the horrible marriage Nan suffers.

In other news, the St. George’s have lost everything in Wall Street. Without Virginia’s income the Lord’s are in serious trouble. The West Wing renovations have stopped, and everyone must cut back on spending. Something these Lords are extremely angry over.

Your father can’t give us any more money and we actually have to work or spend less?

Lizzy marries Hector Robinson who makes scads of money and ends up buying an old family mansion for his bride. Lizzy is the only on with a happy marriage. She chose wisely.

After that, Nan tries to remove all the romantic, passionate artwork. She can’t look at it anymore. Poor Nan, I know what that’s like. And she got pregnant from their “encounter”. That’s just agonizingly awful.

Noooo!

Nan wants to help her people, as the tennets are getting sick from typhoid. She tries to get Julius to come and help, but he doesn’t care. He only cares about himself. He isn’t the man you thought he was.

Broken dreams, illusions, hopes, etc.

Ugh, Julius treats her like a child, like a doll, a plaything. As if she knows nothing at all. I hate him. I want to punch him in the face.

Nan does the 1800s lady equivalent-she tells him she would rather be dead than have their child grow up to be like him.” Ouch-zing! And she then runs off in the rain at night.

Ouch

They can’t find her and start up a search party, eventually discovering her by the river, having fallen and lost the baby. Now knowing what she said, do you think she tried to kill herself on purpose? Or accidentally fell?

Hmmm

Nan’s governess, Ms. Testavalley, comes to visit and Nan shares her feelings. She describes how as soon as they were married he became a stranger. Ouch, I know how that feels.

Nan still idealizes Val’s life-when the truth is she is not that free or happy. Sir Guy’s father comes to visit, he has a thing for Ms. Testvalley and reveals that Sir Guy will be returning home, a very rich man, and entering politics. Hmm…interesting!

Conchita is pregnant by her lover, and with Richard having syphilis she can’t sleep with him and pretend it is his child. What will she do?

That is not good,

Julius decides he has given Nan enough time and comes to see test the waters and it is very awkward. And Nan begins rebelling against him. “How would you know what would bore me.”

This continuously makes me think of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. If only he had taken time to know her instead of looking at her face than maybe he would have married someone else and they would have had a good marriage. The same for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram.

Guy has returned home and thinks of Annabelle. Too bad you didn’t get engaged to her or had some understanding or else she would have been waiting for you there.

If only

It’s Christmastime and Connie is visiting Nan. She breaks down about how awful things are going, you don’t know how I feel.

No, Nan has it waaaaaay worse. Connie whines about how all this was all supposed to end happily ever after with marriage. Nan shares how she wants to just run away and pretend she never married. Connie begs Nan for money, but Nan has none. Connie begs and Nan promises to try and get some, but from Julius? Not likely.

Bad, very bad idea

Nan gets everything ready for their Christmas ball and as Julius is in a good move she tries to ask him for the money but he won’t do it. She gets £10 a month and can draw up to £5 a week. She tries to get a little independence, but no dice. She is angry at him treating her like a child but he threatens her saying if she wants him to stop them he must treat her like a wife. Nan’s not for, that discussion closed.

Ugh, you don;t rape your wife. I HATE Julius. he’s horrid, horrid, awful, terrible man.

At the party they dance around in the dark and who should end up in a room together, Nan and Guy.

That is not good,

Ms. Testavalley is interested in Guy’s father, but her friend warns her that he just paid off one woman and has two others.

He’s a no

Everyone returns from the dark except Nan who is still with Guy. Both still have feelings for each other…uh oh. Guy tries to encourage her and she listens, discussing how her feelings go up and down. Ms. Testavalley finds them and saves them both from scandal.

Julius gives Nan the money for Conchita but wants her to sleep with him. She can’t as she is so traumatized from before. He insists that he needs compensation for the money, treating her like a prostitute.

You jerk!

He abuses her, yells, curses, breaks her things, hits her. This gives me flashbacks. Ms. Testavalley has to leave and after she goes, Nan’s mother-in-law lectures her trying to help, but not really. At first I was a little miffed at her, but then she said that she isn’t blind to how her son is and how the late Duke was much worse. Poor mother-in-law-she must have a serious backstory. Full cycle of abuse.

Nan leaves Julius to stay with her sister and then will goes to stay with Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Hector are very happy, healthy, and wealthy. Hector is wary to have her come, as she is the duchess, but wants to court Mr. St. George as he is getting wealthy again on Wall Street. So he allows her to come.

Virginia buys back her jewelry she pawned off to pay for the household expenses and goes to see Idena, her husband’s mistress to confront her. Idena hasn’t seen him, he left her for a younger woman, and she lets off how she feels slapping her, Ouch. That’s the lady 19th century version of:

Nan visits Guy at the House of Commons and is seen by all-uh oh. I sense an Anna Karenenia

Rumors circulate and Lizzy tells Nan she can’t stay with them any longer. Nan goes to church and the Duke meets her there. He explains the rules in society, that she is the Duchess, his wife. She needs to stay 1/3 of the year at home and he will turn a blind eye to her discretions as long as they are private. If she makes a scandal, divorce and he will ruin the lover.

Nan returns home as she wants to protect Guy, but doesn’t tell him the truth. They cry over their love as she leaves and Guy looks on.

Or him

Nan returns home and Julian’s mother gives him some good advice. Leave her alone for six months and woo her, be a lover.

Lord Seadown returns home when Idena commits suicide. He tries to get back with Virginia but she isn’t interested. He pleads and looks at her with his sad eyes and she falls like a house of cards. Fool. He’s a loser & a user.

For the thousandth time

Guy and Julius get in an argument over his politics and the way Guy is leaning. But truth is they are really fighting about Nan. Julius lets Guy know he’s be nowhere without him and he can take it all away just like that. *snap* And then they get in a fistfight.

Wow!

GUY, GUY GUY GUY! Give him the chair.

Nan interrupts and ends it. She has the children’s choir perform Yankee Doodle. Woohoo! Let the stars and stripes fly Nan!!

Guy watches sad and despondent, but I don’t really feel bad as she coutld have been your woman. It’s your own dang fault. You should have made some understanding. He then writes her a sort of love letter-most of it is him half angry she’s not with him.

That night Nan hears strange noises and look for Julius and finds him in bed with a man!!!! A Man! Oh.

So of course I have to ask, does Julian being gay (or bi they never quite make that clear) add or take away from his character and villainous treatment. I mean don’t get me wrong, it is done well. The constant worry of his mother, comments about how he likes to be with men-women do not interest him, him getting worried/defensive/angry when Nan has questions about their love life, the girls talking about her not being pregnant. I didn’t catch it the first time, but did this time. But do you think adds or takes away from him being the villian? He already is abusive, narcissistic, a control freak, a rapist, etc. Do you think he would have been a stronger villain if he was straight, or do you think him being gay adds more to the dashed hopes/expectations of Nan. I mean everything else had already killed every romantic notion she has ever had, being gay the final nail in the coffin of the film. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer and I am just wondering your thoughts are.

Hmmm…

Nan runs away after hearing how Julius turned down his sister’s love because he feels she is too old and needs to be a home (like how the Poldark family treats Verity). She realizes he is a horrible brute and will never change, fleeing to her sisters, where Guy just happened to be. The two run off together in full view of EVERYONE! Oh, the scandal.

Meanwhile, Julius does not want to divorce and his mother pleads with him. She suffered too much to have a son and continue the line and Nan needs to do the same. Wow, she has a really dark backstory.

Nan and Guy discuss what will happen and hope that Julius won’t do anything. Julius sues Nan over adultery.

The elder Lord Seadown dies and Nan comes to the funeral. Lizzy is excited to see her friend but not allowed to spend time with her. Must ignore her because of her scandal. It reminds me of Anna Karenina, Nan is ostracized and alone while Guy goes about his duties, getting heckled and talked about but still is okay. Nan on the hand-must be dead to all. This also makes me think of The Duchess. Such a sad film.

Connie on the other hand stops to hug and see her, not caring at all what people think-Nan is her friend.

Guy goes to speak to his father and say good-bye that he is leaving to South America. His father tells him to give up Nan or else he will disinherit, and Guy does not care. He never wanted politics it was all his dad and Julius. His father yells, storms, and finally cries.

Poor Ms. Testavalley was badly burned in all this. Who will ever want to hire her? She’s not sure what she will do next, but is moving forward.

They end with Nan and Guy riding off together happy, but are they? Even though they have uplifting music, it reminds me of The Graduate, the future might not be as bright as they think.

So a great miniseries, but very sad. And it really helps you see how things would have ended if Elizabeth married Wickham, Marianne married Willoughby, Emma married Frank Churchill, Fanny married Henry Crawford, Anne married Mr. Elliot, Catherine married Thorpe, etc.

It also follows the same theme Austen has regarding getting to know a person’s character over title and appearance. Most important who they are and their character, over what they have.

For more on The Buccaneers, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: The Buccaneers, Episodes 1-2

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: Stardust (2007)

For more Gilded Age, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

On a sad note, given the context of these episodes I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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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