Today’s lesson is from the book of Pride and Prejudice, Volume I, Chapter 10.
When that business was over, he applied to Miss Bingley and Elizabeth for the indulgence of some music. Miss Bingley moved with alacrity to the piano-forte, and after a polite request that Elizabeth would lead the way, which the other as politely and more earnestly negatived, she seated herself.
It has been said that each generation gets its own film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. It’s been 15 years since the last adaptation of Persuasion, so we suppose it’s time for a new one. The latest adaptation of Persuasion is very much a thing of its time. Whether or not that is a good thing is up to the viewer.
This is part of the blog tour for Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron.
We started reading Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries series around the time the fifth book, Jane and the Stillroom Maid, came out in 2000, though being a completist naturally we read the first four first, in order. It made perfect sense to us then, and does now, that Jane Austen would be a dab hand at solving mysteries, and we were happy to suspend disbelief to allow that the “Editor” of the mysteries had discovered a cache of Jane’s forgotten journals in a British estate house describing her doing so. It could happen! And we’ve continued enjoying the series ever since.
The first time we met Ms. Barron in person was at the 2008 JASNA AGM in Chicago, where the Editrix was presenting a poster session about this very blog, and the authoress unwarily wandered by at a quiet moment so we were able to fangirl all over her. (Actually we rather shyly muttered something about being “a really big fan” a la Kathy Bates in Misery and she was quite gracious.) So we are delighted to be participating in the blog tour for the latest Jane Austen Mystery, Jane and the Year Without a Summer, fourteenth in the series, and the opportunity to pester Ms. Barron, Lady Catherine-like, with our impertinent questions.
AustenBlog is delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for Jane and the Year Without a Summer, the latest entry in the Jane Austen Mysteries series by Stephanie Barron.
We have long been delighted by Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries series, though as it continues and the timeline grows closer to the fateful year of 1817, we find ourself wondering, how will it end? For end it must, as Jane Austen’s own life ended, much too soon, to the grief of her family, her friends, and her fans over the past two centuries. But if Jane must leave us, Stephanie Barron has determined she shall do so with style.
We’ve seen some discussion and questions about this around the World Wide Web so we thought we would have our share in the conversation.
Many online Austen commentators, including the Editrix, marveled at the sudden spate of Persuasion film adaptations of various kinds under which Hollywood is/soon would be groaning.
First to the gate was Modern Persuasion to provide a bit of levity to the depths of the pandemic. While we found it momentarily amusing, it was far from being the really great adaptation that our favorite Austen novel deserved. Though we remain more than delighted with the excellent 1995 adaptation and frankly need no other, our pointy little ears perked up when we first got word that a new film adaptation of Persuasion, to star Sarah Snook of Succession fame as Anne Elliot and Joel Fry as Captain Wentworth, was in development at Searchlight Pictures. “In development” being the key phrase here; we recommended in the post that our Gentle Readers keep expectations to a minimum and it proved we were right. Deborah Yaffe spotted an article quoting Ms. Snook that the film had been cancelled, to much disappointment.
“By the bye, as I must leave off being young, I find many Douceurs in being a sort of Chaperon for I am put on a Sofa near the Fire & can drink as much wine as I like.” – Letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, November 6, 1813
Today is Jane Austen’s 246th birthday, and we are delighted as always to celebrate Jane Austen Day with our Gentle Readers. We didn’t bake a cake, and frankly we are not the world’s greatest baker to begin with, but assure you that, if we had ever learnt, we should have been a great proficient. We found the above photo on the World Wide Web, and as Jane Austen, by her own admission above and in some other quotations from her letters, enjoyed a glass of wine, we would have been delighted to use that proficiency to produce such a cake for Herself.
Deadline reported further casting in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of Persuasion. Henry Golding, one of the leads of the delightful Crazy Rich Asians, will play Mr. Elliot. (Much of Janeite Twitter rejoiced at first at the idea of him playing Captain Wentworth, but oh well. The article reports, “I hear what attracted Golding to the role was the opportunity to play against type; Mr. Elliot being the callous and classic Austen foil.”)
At first we were quite excited and instantly revised our previous mixed reaction to this adaptation. Then we read the accompanying article…
In the Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow penned script, Anne Elliot is an unconforming woman with modern sensibilities, living with her snobby family who are on the brink of bankruptcy.
What? What? What are these people doing to Persuasion? Unconforming? Modern sensibilities? Are filmmakers congenitally incapable of creating a strong female character who isn’t “unconventional” too? All they had to do was, you know, copy Jane Austen, who did it several times! And what does that mean, anyway, “unconforming”?
And why in the name of Rupert Penry-Jones are they making what will clearly be a terrible adaptation of an Austen novel and casting a really hot actor in it? Why?
Also this news about Unconforming Anne Elliot makes us wonder once again if it’s a period-set or modern-set film. But our questions remain. Quiet, introspective, intelligent, strongly moral women with quiet senses of humor exist in 2021, too. But if it’s period-set, we suppose that means she will go out without a bonnet and her hair all ahoo, or refuse to wear her corset so tightly laced it causes her skin to bleed.
There are a lot of members of a certain campaigning sorority congratulating themselves all over Twitter because “WE BROUGHT IT BACK” but it is our considered opinion that they would do better to thank Shonda Rhimes, for it is much more likely that the success of Bridgerton revived this series than the fan campaign. The people who greenlight these things are not well acquainted with the concept of original ideas, and most of the work is done already for this one. Maybe it will be marketed as being Bridgerton-adjacent rather than Austen-adjacent, which would be a relief.
One piece of good news we noted, from Crystal Clarke, who plays Miss Lambe on the series:
We beg the new writers to re-read Jane Austen and pray try to avoid nonsensical melodrama, which had no part in her work.