Netflix Adaptation of Persuasion to Air July 15

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We have a date for the Netflix adaptation of Persuasion. (The tweet says “this summer” but the first response gives the exact date.) No trailer yet though. #WheresTheTrailerNetflix

Our friends across the pond won’t have to wait, either.

Our apprehensions about this film remain, but of course we’ll watch it and hope we are wrong. Persuasion is such a lovely novel and demands the loveliest of films.

ETA: Had to add this fantastic tweet from Devoney Looser:

A Conversation with Stephanie Barron

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Stephanie Barron

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.

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REVIEW: Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron

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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.

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The State of Persuasion on Film

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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.

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Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

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“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.

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Henry Golding to Play Mr. Elliot in Netflix Adaptation of Persuasion

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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.

Sanditon to Return for Second and Third Season

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As the headline says…

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.

Persuasion Adaptation in Development at Netflix

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Dakota Johnson
Pietro Luca Cassarino, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

We who love Persuasion are wallowing in adaptations these days! Variety reports that Dakota Johnson is set to star in an adaptation of Persuasion currently in development for Netflix. It is unclear if this is meant to be a period-set adaptation or a modern day-set adaptation, and in either event is a bit of overkill as we’ve already had a modern-set Persuasion adaptation earlier this year and there’s a period-set adaptation meant for theaters that, if not in production, appears to be very close to it.

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Your Sunday Austen Meditation

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Today’s lesson comes from the book of Pride and Prejudice, Volume III, Chapter XVIII.

Elizabeth’s spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. “How could you begin?” said she. “I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?”

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

“My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners — my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?”

“For the liveliness of your mind, I did.”

“You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very little less. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, ecause I was so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable, you would have hated me for it; but in spite of the pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always noble and just; and in your heart, you thoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you. There — I have saved you the trouble of accounting for it; and really, all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be sure, you knew no actual good of me — but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love.”

“Was there no good in your affectionate behaviour to Jane while she was ill at Netherfield?”

“Dearest Jane! who could have done less for her? But make a virtue of it by all means. My good qualities are under your protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible; and, in return, it belongs to me to find occasions for teazing and quarrelling with you as often as may be; and I shall begin directly by asking you what made you so unwilling to come to the point at last. What made you so shy of me, when you first called, and afterwards dined here? Why, especially, when you called, did you look as if you did not care about me?”

“Because you were grave and silent, and gave me no encouragement.”

“But I was embarrassed.”

“And so was I.”

“You might have talked to me more when you came to dinner.”

“A man who had felt less, might.”

“How unlucky that you should have a reasonable answer to give, and that I should be so reasonable as to admit it! But I wonder how long you would have gone on, if you had been left to yourself. I wonder when you would have spoken, if I had not asked you! My resolution of thanking you for your kindness to Lydia had certainly great effect. Too much, I am afraid; for what becomes of the moral, if our comfort springs from a breach of promise? for I ought not to have mentioned the subject. This will never do.”

“You need not distress yourself. The moral will be perfectly fair. Lady Catherine’s unjustifiable endeavours to separate us were the means of removing all my doubts. I am not indebted for my present happiness to your eager desire of expressing your gratitude. I was not in a humour to wait for any opening of your’s. My aunt’s intelligence had given me hope, and I was determined at once to know every thing.”

“Lady Catherine has been of infinite use, which ought to make her happy, for she loves to be of use. But tell me, what did you come down to Netherfield for? Was it merely to ride to Longbourn and be embarrassed? or had you intended any more serious consequence?”

“My real purpose was to see you, and to judge, if I could, whether I might ever hope to make you love me. My avowed one, or what I avowed to myself, was to see whether your sister were still partial to Bingley, and if she were, to make the confession to him which I have since made.”

“Shall you ever have courage to announce to Lady Catherine what is to befall her?”

“I am more likely to want more time than courage, Elizabeth. But it ought to done, and if you will give me a sheet of paper, it shall be done directly.”

“And if I had not a letter to write myself, I might sit by you and admire the evenness of your writing, as another young lady once did. But I have an aunt, too, who must not be longer neglected.”

We’ve seen several tweets and posts and listicles recently asking which Mr. Darcy on film is the best, or making an ordered list of film Darcys. The best Darcy on film is, of course, Wishbone, as any reasonable person would acknowledge. He’s a Jack Russell Terrier, and he’s dancing. Any other opinion is obviously invalid. However, the reasons given tend to do with a wet shirt or a stare over a piano or hands touching while helping a young lady into a carriage, none of which ever happened in the novel itself.

One thing that did come up in today’s lesson is Elizabeth teasing Darcy, and he engaging with her and evidently not minding it. Austen mentions in the next chapter that “Georgiana had the highest opinion in the world of Elizabeth; though at first she often listened with an astonishment bordering on alarm at her lively, sportive manner of talking to her brother. He, who had always inspired in herself a respect which almost overcame her affection, she now saw the object of open pleasantry.” So a feature of the Darcys’ marriage is Elizabeth teasing her husband, and he enjoying it (and maybe even eventually learning to give it back). That is something we would wish to see more of in any future adaptations of the novel. It’s not lushly romantic or sexy or Gothic-inspired, but it is very Jane Austen. Here endeth the lesson.

Hmm, maybe piano stares are kind of nice.

Joel Fry to Play Captain Wentworth in New Adaptation of Persuasion

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We previously reported on a new adaptation of Persuasion in development, and things seem to be moving along nicely as we now have our Captain Wentworth to go along with our Anne Elliot. The Hollywood Reporter, er, reports that Joel Fry has been cast opposite Sarah Snook as Anne Elliot.

No information about when filming will take place or a release date, but this seems to be a real thing. Shall we celebrate with a sea chantey? (The Editrix was into sea chanteys before they were cool.)