Reader Review: Sense and Sensibility, Repertory Theater of Iowa

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Review by Ben Millett

My wife Katie and I attended the 11 June production of a Sense & Sensibility staged reading. The new adaptation by Kerry Skram was performed by the Repertory Theater of Iowa at Terrace Hill, the Iowa governor’s mansion. A light supper of carrot-ginger soup, a chicken salad sandwich and open-faced cucumber sandwich, grapes, and apple slices was served. We were seated with seven of the other 40 or so attendees. Five had previously attended productions at Terrace Hill and were not necessarily Janites. The others at the table had a cat named Bingley, so it should be obvious why they were at a performance of a Jane Austen adaptation. We had an enjoyable discussion during supper about our favorite of Jane’s novels and some of their adaptations. Continue reading

REVIEW: Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

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Prada and Prejudice by Mandy HubbardReview by Lisa Galek

On her high school trip to London, fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada shoes, hoping to impress the other girls in her class. While walking back to the hotel in her new heels, she trips, hits her head, and wakes up in Regency England.

Once she arrives in the English countryside she meets Emily who (as luck would have it) mistakes Callie for her long-lost American friend, Rebecca. Emily’s cousin is the Duke of Harksbury, a nineteen-year-old hottie named Alex, who is (surprise, surprise) exceedingly hoity and arrogant. Callie knows she only has a short amount of time before the real Rebecca shows up and she’s kicked out of Harksbury for good. She has to figure out a way to get back to the present. But how?

The premise of Prada and Prejudice is pretty interesting (it’s hard not to call it the young adult version of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict) and I found myself liking the story a lot. The tone and language are perfect for teens (and for those of us who like reading about them). Callie is clumsy, but likeable, and it’s fun to follow her growth and development throughout the novel. I liked how the author kept me guessing right until the end, though there were a few points where the story became a bit predictable. Continue reading

REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Graphic Novel

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Graphic Novel Review by Trai

I was asked to include that Del Rey publishes this book in the United States, whereas Titan Books does in the UK.

If you’re a Janeite, or even if you’re not, I’m sure you know about the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies craze by now. I’m sure that many of these mashups were in development before PPZ and were released once it was known there was an audience, but many of them have not had the same success as the original. I’m one of the more accepting of the craze myself, but I still find myself rolling my eyes as more and more books join the fray. Having read this graphic novel adaptation of the work that started it all, it seems like an attempt to join in on the cash cow–one that doesn’t seem to have worked quite that well.

So we all know the schtick by now: it’s Pride and Prejudice, plus zombies. The original author, Seth Grahame-Smith, worked closely with Austen’s text to figure out which parts he felt needed more action–mainly, the parts that he found boring. I can’t speak for myself–a few other Jane fans I know and I agree that if you’ve read the original, PPZ can be quite slow going–but of the (mostly men) non-Jane fans I know who have read it, they all seem to be in agreement that the zombies help them get through and actually enjoy the book. To each their own, one supposes. Continue reading

REVIEW: Ellie and Marianne

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Ellie and MarianneLongtime Gentle Readers will remember news a few years ago about a student film made by the Department of Communications at Ball State University, a modern-set adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. It was said the film would be made available via iTunes, but we’re not sure if that ever happened. However, Alert Reader Amy H. took the initiative to contact a professor at the university, who offered to send a DVD for review. Information for ordering a DVD of the film will be available at the end of the review. Thanks to Amy for tracking down the film and for her review! –Ed.

Review by Amy H.

“Ellie & Marianne,” released in 2006, is a modern-set adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic Sense and Sensibility. The film was written and produced by and stars the students of Ball State University. In brief, Ellie (Elinor) is a paralegal who sketches and draws. Marianne is a former soap opera star who takes up a role in a local play. Together the sisters follow Austen’s canon pretty closely. In the end Ellie ends up with Edward (a professor in Art) and Marianne with Brandon (who has a job crunching numbers and is a peer in this film) only after being tossed aside by Willoughby, who moved onto the next pretty girl. My best comparison for this film would be to the Mormon “Pride and Prejudice”; I neither really liked nor disliked it. I found parts quite amusing and enjoyable, while others were just hard to watch due to over-acting. Now, that being said, I highly commend the students for their wonderful efforts in putting together such a project and I did find the script pretty solid. I would say it’s worth the watch for those diehard “Sense and Sensibility” fans looking for anything S&S-related. I would also like to thank Tim Pollard, Associate Professor, Department of Telecommunications at Ball State University. I had emailed Prof. Pollard inquiring about “Ellie & Marianne”, and it’s thanks to him that we are able to get our Janeite hands on this film. So a big Thank You goes out to him!

You can purchase the “Ellie & Marianne” from Ball State University at the following links:

TAXABLE – Indiana residents

NON-TAXABLE – non-Indiana residents

Film trailer:

Reader Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-SmithReview by Cynthia Kartman

Mr. Seth Grahame-Smith
Los Angeles, California

Tuesday 16 June 2009
Literary Pantheon, The Great Beyond
Universe, Known and Unknown

Dear Sir,

It has come to my attention that you have used my book, Pride and Prejudice, as the basis of your new book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, published in April of this year.

All of us here in the Pantheon are surprised and many of us not a little jealous that you, by modifying one of our works, have made the enormous sums of money that eluded us in our earthly lifetimes. Mr. Dickens, in particular, is distressed; anything touching royalties sets him off. One might think that we would be beyond jealousy here; but sadly, it is a truth pantheonistically acknowledged that there is no such place in the universe. Continue reading

REVIEW: Cassandra and Jane by Jill Pitkeathley

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Cassandra and Jane by Jill PitkeathleyReview by a Baja Janeite

I am a lazy reader. I realized this recently, after abruptly abandoning two Jane Austen biographies. I became impatient with 1) the number of pages dedicated to Jane’s relatives or 2) poorly documented theories about Jane’s love life. However, I just discovered a charming “Jane Austen Novel” that focuses primarily on Jane’s life and does not try to pass off fictionalized romance as true biography. Perfect!

Cassandra and Jane by Jill Pitkeathley (US Copyright 2008, HarperCollins Publishers, New York) recounts Austen’s life from sister Cassandra’s sympathetic viewpoint. Opening and closing with the famous letter burning scene, Cassandra remembers Jane’s birth, life, and contributions. There are historical facts woven throughout the book as well as three or four direct quotes from Austen’s novels. The language seems appropriate for the period. The conversations reflect both Jane’s astuteness and Cassandra’s affection. The almost-romance even seems plausible, given the little we actually know about Jane’s life and tastes.

The story behind Cassandra and Jane is interesting, too. Baroness Pitkeathley has been a true Austen devotee for over fifty years. She rereads at least two or three novels each year and “never goes on holiday without at least one in her luggage.” During her second serious bout with cancer, she vowed to write a book about her favorite author, and Cassandra and Jane is the result. The tender insights and conversations reflect Pitkeathley’s many years interacting with people as a social service worker in Britain.

REVIEW: Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo

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Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo Review by a Baja Janeite

“I will share the letters with you…if you meet my conditions.”

“Conditions?” This was the first I’d heard of conditions. Our correspondence had never hinted at anything like this.

“A series of tasks, really, more than conditions, per se.”

“Tasks?”

“So that you may prove yourself worthy.” (Jane Austen Ruined My Life, p. 23)

Professor Emma Grant, devastated by her husband’s unfaithfulness and his attempt to destroy her career, is easily tempted to accept a mysterious invitation to South Kensington. Mrs. Gwendolyn Parrot has promised Emma a glimpse of Jane Austen’s unpublished letters. With these letters, Emma could possibly salvage her reputation in the academic world.

Mrs. Parrot is a member of the Formidables, a secret Jane Austen organization. They are the sentinels of the three thousand unknown Austen letters. Mrs. Parrot challenges Emma to complete a number of tasks which include visiting Austen related places and discovering new information about the famous author. Only then will the Formidable permit Emma to see an original.

Adam, once a former fellow graduate student and long time admirer, receives a different type of invitation. Emma’s cousin invites him to England, hoping that he can finally win Emma’s heart.

Emma does not always cooperate with her cousin’s plan. Emma’s second goal is to revenge herself on Jane Austen whom she blames for her present unhappiness:

“So I’m going to England to get my revenge on Jane Austen. And my parents. Not to mention my cheating ex-husband. Most of all, I’m going to England to prove that there’s no such thing as a happy ending. And that I was a fool to think I could ever have one.” (Prelude)

There are several things that I liked about this book. It is an easy read–the kind you’d enjoy on a vacation to Los Cabos. (plug, plug) It has plenty of information about Jane Austen and her times. I delighted in creative descriptions such as “a gaggle of children” and “well-upholstered granny.”

There were two things that bothered me, however. Emma is supposed to have a doctorate in English literature- but neither her speech nor her writing are on that level.

Faithful Adam is obviously Emma’s “Mr. Knightley,” but Emma was married to a calculating “Mr. Willoughby” and is attracted to a fickle “Mr. Wickham.” The ending will not be satisfying to romantic-hearted readers.

This book has many of the elements of the film National Treasure: a secret society, a series of clues to follow and tasks to perform, lost documents, and a dose of romance. I think that most readers will enjoy this newest release by Beth Pattillo.