REVIEW: Modern Persuasion

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When we first reported the development of this film in 2018, it engendered a bit of discussion about a perplexing problem with modern adaptations of Persuasion: why would a 21st-century woman feel obligated to give up on a relationship as Anne Elliot did in the novel, as a modern woman has more choices than a woman of the early 19th-century gentry? Could an adaptation of the novel succeed when the rather large stakes of marriage and relationships are removed in our more relaxed culture?

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Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

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Mr. Woodhouse and the Bateses model socially distant celebration. Frank and Jane need to get with the program, however. Stay in your bubble!

Once again, the calendar turns to the end of the year and we gather to celebrate the anniversary of Jane Austen’s birth. Here in Anno Domini Two Thousand and Twenty, well, it’s a little different from usual. To say the least, this year has been deeply weird, and not just because of the pandemic.

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Modern Persuasion Gets Digital Release in December 2020

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Gentle Readers! Remember the tidbit about a modern-set adaptation of Persuasion (creatively called Modern Persuasion) starring Alicia Witt being in pre-production? The idea of it engendered a bit of interesting discussion online, mainly around the question of whether the central theme of Persuasion–that is, giving up love for duty–could be satisfactorily rendered for 21st century audiences. Well, whether we think it can be or not, someone’s tried it. The film actually was, er, filmed, and will be released on digital next month! It’s got a trailer and everything!

Of course we’ll watch it, though to be honest it strikes us as maybe a trifle above the vaguely Austen-themed Hallmark Christmas movies that Deborah Yaffe mocks so amusingly, but we will withhold judgment till we see it. December is the time of year that we crave fluff and feel-good, and maybe even middling JAFF (along with new episodes of The Crown and The Mandalorian) will tide us over till spring training starts.

Free Virtual “Lady Susan” Play Reading, November 14

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As the title says, there is a free reading of a new play by Lynn Marie Macy, “Lady Susan or The Captive Heart: A Jane Austen Bodice Ripper,” will be held via Zoom on Saturday, November 14, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.

From the website:

Manipulative, callous and cruel – the beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon is on a manhunt. To restore her broken fortunes the greatest coquette in England sets out to snare a rich husband. She will stop at nothing to achieve this goal including forcing her own daughter Frederica into an unwanted marriage. Will Lady Susan’s weakness for pleasure derail her own notorious intrigues? Literature’s greatest villainess is about to take center stage. This hilarious adaptation illuminates Austen’s earliest novella while paying homage to Georgian theatrical traditions.

Long-time AustenBlog readers will remember Lynn Marie as the author of our very favorite stage adaptation of Northanger Abbey. Check it out–it should be a good time!

Sarah Snook to Star in New Adaptation of Persuasion

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We ask our Gentle Readers to please temper their excitement as this appears to be very much in development. However, the Hollywood Reporter, er, reports that a new adaptation of Persuasion is in development at Searchlight Pictures.

We say it is “in development” because it appears the script, reportedly by Jessica Swale, is not yet completed. However, we have our Anne Elliot: Australian actress Sarah Snook, best known for playing Shiv Roy in Succession (which we haven’t seen, but hear good things).

HBO

The film will be directed by Mahalia Belo and produced by Alison Owen and Debra Hayward for Monumental Pictures (also known for, gulp, Harlots and, um, Cats. *cringe*).

This project seems to be relatively far along but we won’t get excited until we see the first grainy paparazzi shots from the set or costumed publicity stills. Until then, let’s not talk about it like it’s a done thing. We can look forward with interest to a big-screen adaptation of many Janeites’ favorite Austen novel, certainly, but keep it under control! Dorothy is serving tea in the conservatory for those who need it.

JASNA Virtual AGM Registration Open

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As we were very much looking forward to going to Cleveland in October for the JASNA Annual General Meeting, we were sad when it was canceled*, though we agree with the decision and feel it was the responsible thing to do. However, we (by which I mean all JASNA members, not using the royal we in this case) will still be able to enjoy an AGM this year, virtually!

The theme remains the same: Jane Austen’s Juvenilia: Reason, Romanticism, and Revolution. There will be plenary sessions, breakout sessions, special events, special interest sessions, even a virtual promenade.

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Please Help Save Jane Austen’s House

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By Pierre Terre, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13637088

All hands on deck, Gentle Readers. We started receiving messages this morning that Jane Austen’s House Museum is in trouble. You can contribute to help save it.

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AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

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We were so pleased to be asked to participate in the blog tour for Natalie Jenner’s debut novel, The Jane Austen Society. We were intrigued by the story description back when the book was first announced and have been excited to read it ever since. We were even more excited to be offered the opportunity to review the audiobook, read by Richard Armitage. We love audiobooks and have listened to several read by Mr. Armitage in the past, and they were all wonderful performances, which made the offer difficult to turn down. However, we weren’t sure if we would be able to participate at first, as we have been working extremely long days at le travail de jour during the current Interesting Times (safely home at AustenBlog HQ, thankfully, and we fully recognize our privilege). We usually listen to audiobooks during our daily train commute, which of course is not happening right now, so we weren’t sure if we would have the time; but then realized we could listen to the audiobook on our daily ten turns in the shrubbery around the parking lot, and signed on. We have broken the review into two parts: the story itself, and the audiobook performance.

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Streaming Musicals to Present Pride and Prejudice, Free and Online

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Gentle Readers, here is another treat for us while we are confined to our homes. We may even be able to lure Dorothy away from her garret for this one.

Streaming Musicals will present a free streaming event of Paul Gordon’s musical adaptation of Pride and Prejudice on Friday, April 10, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, with a rebroadcast at 10 p.m. ET. From the website:

Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet (Mary Mattison) meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy (Justin Mortelliti). But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Pride & Prejudice, based on the classic novel by Jane Austen, is a new musical adaptation by Tony Award nominee Paul Gordon (Broadway’s Jane Eyre). The show was filmed at the Tony Award-winning TheatreWorks Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, CA., where it played its world premiere from December 4, 2019 to January 4, 2020 and established an all-time box office record. The production was directed by TheatreWorks’ Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley and choreographed by Dottie Lester-White.

After the free premiere, one can still stream the play, though there will be a rental or purchase fee similar to that of movies ($4.99 to rent, $19.99 to purchase).

You needn’t fear that the actors are in danger from one another: the play was recorded last year. Gordon’s musical adaptation of Emma is also available to stream, though one must pay for that one.

It is unclear if these will be available to view outside the U.S.

A Socially Distant Austen Con

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SOCIAL DISTANCE PEOPLE JEEZ

We are all keeping our social distance these days, and many of us, other than the superheroes in the medical profession and restocking grocery stores, are spending all of our time in our homes. The delightful ladies of Drunk Austen have thus put together a Virtual JaneCon to be held this weekend, March 28 and 29, featuring speakers and movie watch parties. Meetings will be held on various social media and conferencing software. The activities are still coming together, so check out the event schedule for more information.

Seriously, everyone who doesn’t absolutely have to go out, please stay home.