The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: The Air Is Full Of Spices Edition


Northanger Abbey is up Sunday night, and Team Tilney trembles in anticipation, for whatever value one wishes to place on “trembles.”

Two reviews of the new film have been posted on PBS’ Remotely Connected blog. AustenBlog’s own Cub Reporter Heather L. has written a thoughtful and perceptive review that highlights what is enjoyable about the adaptation as well as why so many of us who love the novel were disappointed with it.

The challenge in adapting Northanger Abbey – or any Jane Austen novel – is to capture the wit and telling details which define a character or scene, and give such keen insight into human nature. These lift Jane’s novels above the myriad boy-meets-girl stories (even though they may share the same plots) and give her timeless and universal appeal.

[. . .]

It’s entertaining, but details that made the story special (and worth adapting in the first place) are gone.

We highly recommend that you check it out. Mr. Tilney would approve.

Fashion blogger Natalie Zee Drieu has a most harmless delight in being fine, and her review includes a Best Bonnets lineup.

The press coverage, unsurprisingly, focuses on the extra dash of Andrew Davies special spice that has been given to this new adaptation. And we just threw up a little in our mouth as we were typing that.

The New York Daily News seems to have swallowed the propaganda whole. (Now, do not be suspecting us of a pun, we entreat.)

“Northanger Abbey,” the first novel Austen completed, was not published until after her death, and Catherine in some ways feels like an early draft of later Austen figures like Elizabeth Bennet. But Catherine has a distinct character of her own, and her dreams reveal a restless, visceral spirit that some today will argue reflects Austen’s own.




*reads again*

No, it still says the same thing; we are not hallucinating.

For the record: Catherine is not a prototype of Elizabeth Bennet, as though Jane Austen wrote the same heroine six times; nor is she a portrait of the author (for crying out loud!). She is a parody of the typical heroine of the Gothic and sentimental novels of her time. She is a parody in her ordinariness and imperfections, and like Henry Tilney, we come to love her for them, not in spite of them. She is a brilliant creation from the wonderfully humorous and ironic imagination of Jane Austen, who was a genius.

We also are highly amused by the single spammy comment to the article! HA! (And you wonder why we have the Occasionally Overzealous Spam Filter on AustenBlog. Isn’t it worth getting caught occasionally to keep our little playground here free from that sort of thing? Not to mention keeping the Editrix from setting her hair on fire as she cleans 500 spam posts off the blog?)

Andrew Davies was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition (thanks to Alert Janeite Jenn for the heads up). We caught a bit of it but had to turn it off before it was over. It’s the usual “Jane Austen is all about sexy sex” stuff from what we could determine. You can listen to it at the link.

Alert Janeite Susan sent us a link to an article on the series in the latest issue of Newsweek, which is most remarkable for one of the first reviews of Miss Austen Regrets.

What trumps these three Austen adaptations is the series’ bonus, “Miss Austen Regrets,” a surprisingly good fictionalized biography. Beautifully acted—especially by Olivia Williams in the title role—it focuses on the last years of Austen’s life and displays a richness and wit often missing from the new films. Austen’s novels always end with a wedding, but this biopic opens with one, where the spinster Austen is a guest. As the happy couple—her niece and her bridegroom—burst out of a picturesque country church, they pass among the gravestones. The shadow of death isn’t far in this autumnal tale as it explores the question: did the author who wrote so magically of true love regret never marrying? “This is the real world,” Austen tells another niece. “The only way to get a man like Mr. Darcy is to make him up!” Yet middle-aged Miss Austen still loves to dance, to flirt (“I’m still a cat when I see a mouse,” she says) and, most of all, to match wits. She’s had some literary success, but she and her family, like many of her well-bred characters, suffer financial misfortune. As her novels do, this film points up the precarious position of women who lived outside the security of marriage to a man of means. The house she shares with her mother and sister resembles that in “Sense and Sensibility,” which will be the final PBS film. You may wonder how this new version compares with the first-rate 1995 Ang Lee-Emma Thompson movie. Then again, comparing competing Austen films has become half the fun.

That’s because you don’t have to moderate the “comparisons.” 😉 (Not that such considerations should hamper our discussion! Keep it lively, Gentle Readers!)

2 thoughts on “The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: The Air Is Full Of Spices Edition

  1. Caroline

    She’s right about the bonnets. I just LOVED Isabella’s outfits! It’s nice to see Carey Mulligan looking really pretty, not like she did in P&P3


  2. Mandy N

    I found Heather’s review compares NA and the film in a thoughtful, constructive way. I especially like the point on how Catherine becomes a more discerning reader as she acquires more experience of life and people round her. Quite enlightening. 😀
    Interesting comments on cast, wardrobe and locations.
    Yay for JJ Feild !
    But can Bath be replaced for Bedrock ?! 😉
    Brava Heather !


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