Friday, August 29, 2014

What Excellent Boiled Potatoes

Rose, over at the beautiful The Best of Classics, is hosting a Jane Austen Week.
Pfft. You couldn't expect me to pass up an Austen party, could you?
(P.S. I apologize if this is a bit disjointed, but I decided to read The Histories of Middle-Earth, but started with The Lays of Beleriand, and it's poetry, and it's book 3, and there's only about 14 different languages in Middle-Earth......transitioning back to Austen is a little tough. I swear I'm gonna read Emma again when I finish Tolkien.)

When and how did you first get acquainted with Jane Austen?

Oh, now, here is a jolly story. Once upon a time, when I was 13, I finished my church's Bible program for girls, and my leaders threw me a surprise sleepover with my best homies. They promised a movie that I would just LOOOOVVVEEE. This ended up being Sense & Sensibility (1995), and Yours Truly, Hopeless Romantic was hooked. The others kept talking about a movie that had something to do with pride and something about prejudice, but I vehemently assured them that NO love story could be more romantic than Brandwood.
Heheh. Within a year, I had watched Pride & Prejudice (2005), and I changed my mind so fast my brain had whiplash. Elizabeth Bennet was THE woman, in my eyes, and Mr. Darcy was incomparable. Oddly, though, I never read the books until 6 years later. I think I was intimidated. In 2012, my good friend Alecia had an Austen film marathon for her birthday, and I realized I had some homework to do.  I had already read P&P and S&S, so I finished Emma, and then devoured Persuasion, Lady Susan, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park in 2 months. Hence began an obsession.

Favourite Jane Austen book?

I am struggling to choose, because, again, I’ve been immersed in Tolkien, and I forget some things. I love many things about the books, but for different reasons. Looking at the books and stories as a whole, I think it’s a tie between P&P and Persuasion. I love the depth of P&P, its tongue-in-cheek social commentary, the character development, and the range of characters it shows. The character development impresses me so much that I am considering doing a character study of P&P and Proverbs (but I don’t know if normal people do that). But I really, really love the story of Persuasion. The lessons it presents: love with all you’ve got, true love doesn’t easily die, forgiveness is worth the effort, avoiding bitterness is a hard but rewarding choice, second chances do come sometimes…shall I continue?!

Favourite heroine?

With so many brilliant heroines, how does a girl choose? For several years, I loved Elizabeth best. In my eyes, she was the perfect woman: beautiful, witty, charming, polite, smart, well-spoken, brave. (Actually, no woman can surpass Polly Milton Shaw, but she’s Alcott, not Austen. Wrong party.) But the more I read of Emma, the more she grows in my estimation. She is by no means perfect, and that is what I now love. In short, Emma exhibits all my worst character qualities, and she overcomes them. And does her best to mend what her mistakes have ruined. She gives me hope.

Favourite hero?

Well, I was about to say Thornton…never mind. I love the idea of Darcy, but only in the traditional sense that he is the quintessential fantasy of practically all women. My favorite characteristic about him is his quiet demeanor. I think I would work best with a quieter man, but I have yet to catch one, because I’m pretty sure I scare them. ANYWHO. As a hero, I think I like Knightley Mr. Knightley (POOH ON YOU AUGUSTA ELTON) best, or perhaps Tilney. I lovelovelove that Mr. Knightley is brutally honest, yet everlastingly patient with Emma. And Tilney? Well, he is so gentlemanly and polite and pleasant. (Also, how could anyone not love JJ Field?!)

 (That's Austenland, FYI. Another great Austen.)

What makes Jane Austen special to you?

One word: character. I love to read how each heroine grows and learns through the stories. Yes, there’s social commentary, and yes, there’s magnificent, sometimes heartrending love stories, but look at how people change in Austen’s works. Not only the heroines, but also the heroes. The protagonists use conflict—between themselves, among their families, with their society—to smooth their flaws and magnify their best qualities. And dare I wax even more eloquent, I venture to say that, if responded to correctly, conflict is what makes a good love story—or marriage—a great one.

What is your favourite adaption of a Jane Austen work?

Um. I have seen the adaptation of each book maybe once. No, I lie. I have seen the mainstream ones about once each, S&S (1995) twice, and I haven’t finished P&P (1995), but I’m working on it. And then there’s Pride & Prejudice (2005), which we’re currently on our 21st viewing, and I jest not. How do I count the ways I love thee… (Don’t even start the comparisons here, boys, ‘cause Mama Wolverine’s claws will come out and I will poke you.) It suffices to say that I am very defensive of this movie, because 1) it drew me to the books, and 2) sometimes you don’t have 6 hours to spare just to watch a good story.

Oh, the question was about my favorite adaptation. Okay, well, I love P&P (2005), but I think my favorite would be Persuasion (2007). It is so hard to watch Anne interact with Wentworth, and I love that the directors chose an actor who was not conventionally ‘beautiful’, which, of course, is in the correct spirit of the book.


  1. Loved your answers!!!
    I completely agree that the characters of Austen is really one thing that makes reading her so enjoyable.
    And I love the "what I learned from Jane" picture - I would really like to use it in a post tomorrow if that is ok with you.

    1. You are more than welcome to use the collage picture. It's not my mine. ;-)

  2. Emma is my favorite. EVER. She's so human, and her love story is so beautiful because it isn't some big revelation, or some passionate romance, but just the steady, good, love. ♥ Thanks for this, and love the title, haha. Best cure for an awkward silence. ;)

    1. Steady, good love--exactly. I love her little introspective speech towards the end when it dawns on her that she loves Mr. Knightley. I love that they were good friends that became something more. It's something I always kind of dreamed of for myself, but that may not happen yet. :)

      And, yes, awkward silences are not the same since I've been introduced to Austen. There's s many witty comments one can make.

  3. P&P 2005 and S&S 1995 are two of my favourite films of all time. <3 And your post-title. It's been many years since I've read such an exemplary blog-party. To which of the fair cousins do we owe the pleasure of the cooking? ;) Spot on. I'm so glad to have discovered your blog!

    1. Why, thank you, Grace! I think I'll meander over to your blog in a bit. :-) S&S 95 is an amazing movie, but I confess I like it less after watching all the others. I think it's because Alan Rickman made Col. Brandon a little creepy to me, even though he's an amazing actor. But I think Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant were perfect casting. Emma broke my heart as Elinor; she IS Elinor, in my mind.

  4. I just found your lovely blog and it made me squeal! Another Tolkien, Austen, (Thornton) lover! <3 How wonderful! This post made me smile. :) I definitely agree with you about Emma...she has such a womanly human element to her - her weaknesses are well known to us all. However, she has the grace and charm of a true lady, and she knows how to love greatly and accept correction. I'll stop rambling now. But God bless!

    1. Squealing is totally acceptable around here; I do a good bit of it myself, usually when I find a clever post about Frozen, or Master Gamgee.

      I love how Emma accepts correction. It's something I've worked on my whole life, so Emma encourages me. Blessings to you, too!

  5. What do normal people have to do with anything? Normal people are boring. And anyway, 'normal' is just a setting on a dryer.

    I pop my imaginary Wolverine claws to defend P&P05 too. Cuz I like '95, but I don't find it to be the end-all, be-all of literary adaptations. Also, I much prefer the rain scene in '05 to the swimming scene in '95. It's more realistic and less voyeuristic.

    But I digress. I do that a lot, as you know. I LOVE your post title, and I sooooooooo wish I'd had time to participate in this Austen party. Pooh on you, Real Life!

    1. Yes, of course, normal is a subjective term. That's my excuse for most things. :-)

      I haven't gotten to the swimming scene yet in '95, but I'm a little tired of hearing about it. To me, it's as pointless as watching Thor for the shirtless scenes. Also, I am less than enthused by the All-Great-All-Wonderful Colin Firth. I loved him most in The King's Speech.

      I kind of love my post title, too. It came to me late at night, which is when I get my best inspiration. ;-)

  6. Can I just say how very much I love this? I'm currently in Barnes and Noble and my neighbors probably think I'm absolutely nuts because I keep bursting out in laughter! Well done, indeed! :D

    I promise not to get on your bad side by mentioning P&P 1995 (although may I admit that its my favorite? It was the first P&P version I watched, so it's the definitive one for me. The one that I fell in love with first. But I DO absolutely love the 2005 version as well! So maybe that'll help put me back in your good graces?).

    If you ever actually do a study between P&P and Proverbs, I'd absolutely love it if you'd share it! Because that sounds way awesome to me.

    Persuasion is my favorite book of hers. Although I haven't read them all yet, I never, ever, ever get tired of Anne and Wentworth's story. As you say, the redemption and forgiveness and love that is portrayed is simply beautiful! :)

    Also, it looks as though you may be a fan of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell as well. As that's my absolute favorite mini series ever, I had to mention that.

    What a great post! You sound like we could be friends, Hamlette recommends you highly, so I think we should be friends. Okay? :)

    1. If your neighbors think you're nuts, then my cousins should be giving me eyebrows for clapping at your adaptations post. Because you're good, man, really good. :-)

      It's really okay to mention P&P 95, because it is a beautiful version. I want to cheer on Jennifer Ehle in every scene because she is such a strong Elizabeth. But I get sick of bloggers hating all over 2005 when it is beautiful in its own right.

      I am working through the P&P/Proverbs thing slowly. I have ideas, but they require time to sit down and mark up the books, which I haven't had time to do yet. Story of most of my blogging plans, actually.

      I LOVE NORTH & SOUTH. It's hilarious because my friends convinced me to watch it, and I couldn't figure out what was great. I was SUNK by episode 4, and then the book made me laugh, cry, and think. Which I consider a book's best compliment.

      I'm good with being friends. I am really impressed by your blog, so it would be an honor. Thanks. :-)