We are on record as not being terribly excited about this series, but we must admit we are very curious about it. It is for all intents and purposes fan fiction, and we like fan fiction as a concept; however, we do not like all works of fan fiction, judging each upon its merits. So it remains to be seen whether or not we will enjoy this particular work of fan fiction. We swear we are keeping an open mind.
After all, it is always a reason for celebration when Herself is made prominent in popular culture. And we are truly interested to hear what our Gentle Readers think of it. So we invite you to take this post as a place to share your opinions and comments on Episode One. Dorothy has made strong green tea (for those unafraid it will take away the use of their right side), weak cocoa, and toast, and has determined to look away if anyone adds a little extra butter to their slice.
So we’re sure most of our Gentle Readers have seen the beginnings of publicity for the upcoming series Sanditon, sort of an adaptation of Jane Austen’s last, unfinished work. So, first things first: the trailer!
We have previously expressed our opinion on this upcoming work: that it is not so much an adaptation of Jane Austen’s work, or even an adaptation of Jane Austen’s work with a fleshed-out ending, one story with a plot with a definite beginning and ending, but ITV/Masterpiece’s new Sunday-night series, using Jane Austen’s settings and characters but otherwise completely made up by Andrew Davies and company, meant to extend over several seasons.
Today’s lesson is from the book of Northanger Abbey, Vol. I, Chapter I.
Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as any body might expect, she still lived on — lived to have six children more — to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number…
It has been observed that Jane Austen’s mother characters are often absent or ineffectual (or in the case of Mrs. Norris, who is not a mother but certainly a maternal figure, downright horrible). We don’t think Mrs. Morland falls into the “ineffectual” category, though some have placed her there. She is probably not the sympathetic maternal confidante that many heroines enjoy, or even that modern audiences expect or desire, but as Austen herself wrote, she is “a women of useful plain sense” and rarely does wrong in guiding her daughter. She is not a “smother” either, overwhelming her children with sometimes misplaced affection, but is busy doing her best to launch ten children into the world. We’ll take her. Here endeth the lesson.
Wishing a happy Mother’s Day to all those celebrating today (and an extra virtual hug to all those who are especially missing someone today).
For those unfamiliar with the Rice portrait, it is a painting that for many years was considered a portrait of Jane Austen as a tween, painted by Johan Zoffany. Eventually some nasty critical suspicious people began making inquiries as to the provenance of the portrait. Upon examination, it was found to not have been painted by Zoffany but by Ozias Humphry. It was further suggested that the portrait, judging by the subject’s clothing, was painted when Jane Austen was about 30 years old–much older than the sweet tween in the portrait.
Once again the calendar approaches its end, and with the last month comes Jane Austen’s birthday. The birth of this girl-baby brought some light into her family’s life in the darkest part of the year, and this woman and her work continue to bring light into the lives of her fans around the world, 243 years later. (She doesn’t look a day over 41, though.)
Lift your beverage of choice (we’re currently enjoying some vanilla chai ourselves) and join us in a toast to the baby Jenny, her family’s ray of December light; to the girl, Jane, who danced at balls and flirted with young men and gossiped with her sister and girlfriends and read books and wrote hilarious stories; and the woman, Jane Austen, author of books that have stood the test of two centuries and are still being copied and reinterpreted and celebrated today. Yes, let us celebrate Jane Austen, and her beloved books and characters, and the community that has grown around them, that has existed around them from even before their publication, when friends and family begged to read yet again the handwritten manuscript of First Impressions. Janeites, let us celebrate Jane Austen.
Let us know how you are celebrating Jane Austen today and every day!