It is sad in a way that it takes the film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels to get those novels a great deal of attention, but certainly that’s been the case all over right now. The Complete Jane Austen in the U.S., recent broadcasts in Canada, Sense and Sensibility in the UK, and The Jane Austen Book Club opening in Australia–she really is everywhere right now, at least in celluloid form.

Media commentary is predictably mixed. The Times has a short opinion piece pointing out that complaints about the irrelevancy of Jane Austen’s plots, with their emphasis on marriage, class, and money, is not as far off as one might think.

Nor would that ruthless analyst of the economics of love, Jane Austen, raise an eyebrow. In her claustrophobic world of drawing-rooms, where respectable women’s earning power was nil, she knew that ladies would of necessity rule out the poor and the socially unsuitable. They would then set their hearts on marrying the only eligible man for miles around, and never hesitate to call it love.

But her heroines generally get the best of both worlds–eligible gentlemen who love them sincerely, and more importantly, are worthy of the heroines’ love. A columnist for the American Chronicle seems to be a bit jaded about the Happy Ever After.

Sometimes along the avenue of life a handful of us might realise that love may not be all that one thinks it is. And maybe we once held on to the notion that love does conquer all things, until we found out from a little trial and error that it is not so.

Not always anyway. Sometimes there is a monetary value involved. And the more this notion lingers in one’s mind, the more evident it is becoming that maybe the late and extraordinarily talented Jane Austen touched on a similar issue in her works. It’s the one that states in a thought provoking, subtle sort of way that maybe we are only as worthy as our bank accounts would allow.

For one can hardly peruse a Jane Austen work without noticing how easily certain characters can dismiss themselves from one´s company the second they learn how much that person is not worth. Pick any work you like, ‘Northanger Abbey’ ‘Pride and Prejudice’ it’s there. It seems as if it’s a great insult to be interested in someone who is not worth something as far as a monetary value goes.

Jane Austen’s novels are all about balance. No matter how much love a couple shares, they need something to live upon (Isabella Thorpe was right about that, even if her wants were not as moderate as she claimed). There’s nothing in her novels that suggests that financial motivations are the only ones worth considering in a marriage; just that they should be taken into consideration.

There are the usual complaints about the irrelevancy of period dramas in general in The Guardian.

When you see it formulaically coagulated thus, there’s something deeply deadening here: Britain embalmed. And Jane Austen – or rather, the film-makers and serial-adapters who grind out TV and film versions of her rather slim output roughly once every five years – have a lot to answer for. Did she write Pride and Prejudice as a recyclable mini-series? Did she ever dream of Billie Piper playing Fanny Price around a cut-price ITV Mansfield Park? Of course she didn’t. The wonder of Austen’s novels is in the pungency of the prose, the wry wit and the observation. Roll them out on a digital conveyor belt as genteel rom coms, and their entire point is lost.

There was nothing remotely fresh or interesting about the Sense and Sensibility that fluttered through its last repeat last night. Just watch another team of gallant British actresses – old, wasted and expensive, or young and much cheaper – go through the motions of whining over Willoughby. Just chalk up another supposed plus for public servicing. But, in truth, it’s high time for everyone to call a halt to this march of battalions of bonnets.

While we agree with some of this comment, we are a glass-half-full kind of girl and still hope to someday see some more really good adaptations–not “fixed up” for modern sensibilities (or what The Powers That Be consider such) and with plenty of time and space for character and plot development. It is possible.