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.
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.
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.
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.
We are hunkered down here at the fabulous high-tech AustenBlog World Headquarters, and maintaining proper social distancing. Dorothy has been basically locked in her garret watching the North and South series on repeat, occasionally emerging to make another pot of tea and mumbling something that sounds like, “Save us, Richard Armitage.” The Editrix is herself indulging in a re-watch, in order*, of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Infinity Saga films, so all we have to say to that is Hail Hydra.
*not including The Incredible Hulk, sorry, we are ride or die Ruffalo, all hail Professor Hulk
Anyway! We have seen comments on the World Wide Web that some of our Gentle Readers and other online friends have expressed an interest in seeing EMMA., but in the Prevailing Times, when cinemas are closed and, even in better times, many films might not even make it to one’s small town, they were not able to see the film before Everything Happened. So we are pleased to inform our Gentle Readers that EMMA., as well as several other recently released films, are available to rent digitally right now. That link has streaming information for the U.S. as well as other countries. (Here at AustenBlog HQ, we use Google Play Movies and “cast” the film to our television via Chromecast.)
It is more expensive ($20 in the U.S.) than most movie rentals, but cinema tickets are not a whole lot less than that these days, at least here in the Editrix’s area (unless the adorable high schoolers selling us a ticket take one look at our gray hair and give us the senior discount for which we’re still a few years short of being eligible, no complaints mind you) but, more importantly, we really wanted to support this well-made, beautiful, funny, sweet, intelligent film. We support and empathize with those who simply cannot spend that sort of money on a movie at this time. However, if you want to watch the film, and can spare the rental fee, this is a good opportunity. We also wish to note you can watch it as many times as you want in a 48-hour period after first starting the film, at least on our service, with 30 days after the rental fee is paid to actually start watching. We watched it twice, and it held up extremely well over both viewings, and we noticed things we didn’t on our first viewing. And yes, we still really like Johnny Flynn. Can we maybe get him in an MCU film?
We were not really sure that the world needed another adaptation of Emma. There are already several, not bad if not spectacular, although none are really the definitive adaptation that fans of the novel hoped for; but all enjoyable in their way. One can nitpick at all of them, but we don’t find any of them tiresome, and that’s saying something. Promises of a “fresh” take on an Austen novel always impel Dorothy to keep our vinaigrette and the bottle of medicinal Tullamore Dew to hand, as “fresh” takes so often mean the imposition of the makers’ often incorrect interpretation of historical manners on Herself’s work. (Bonnets in period films are a clichė because everyone wore them!) However, everything we heard and saw about Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation, EMMA. (capitals and period, as used by the studio, to distinguish it) , made the film seem entirely unobjectionable. We knew little about the actors portraying the main characters, but were very pleased with the selection of Miranda Hart as Miss Bates and Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse, as we thought both perfect choices. So when the members of the Editrix’s JASNA region received an invitation to a free screening, we hastened to sign up for a pass, as everything pointed to at the very least a couple of hours of entertainment.
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.
(Title edited as it was actually two episodes.)
Once again the calendar rolls to December 16, also known as Jane Austen Day. We celebrate every year with our fellow Janeites, remembering the author who has given us so much joy.
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).