Miss Austen Regrets to be broadcast in UK on April 27


Miss Austen RegretsAt last! A very good article in the Independent about Miss Austen Regrets gives a broadcast date for the UK: April 27. We’re sure the Region 2 DVD will quickly follow for all the Europeans waiting on it.

In a break between scenes on set at Hall Barn, an appropriately stately manor house near Beaconsfield, the 39-year-old actress confides that she’s fearful of the consequences if Austen’s legions of passionate fans – the “Janeites” – take against her portrayal of their heroine.

“It’s a terrifying prospect,” Williams shudders. “These diehard Janeites will pelt me with rock cakes if I make a mistake. Already, they’re complaining online – ‘She’s too tall, she doesn’t look right!'”

For once, that’s not us. But this is the sort of thing that gets us tossing cakes, er, swinging the Cluebat:

Jane reflects wistfully on the fact that this episode put her off the very idea of marriage. Consequently, she never settled down with her soulmate, the Reverend Brook Bridges (Hugh Bonneville)

Soulmate? Let’s not get carried away here.

In a feat of serendipitous timing, we also got word yesterday of a lovely essay on JASNA’s website about Brook Edward Bridges and his relationship (such as it was) with Jane Austen. The essay was written by Elizabeth Philosophos Cooper, the regional coordinator of JASNA’s Wisconsin region.

A few years later Austen wrote to Cassandra from Godmersham: “Lady Bridges looked very well, & would have been very agreeable, I am sure, had there been time enough for her to talk to me . . . . Her son Edward was also looking very well, & with manners as un-altered as hers” (30 June 1808). A letter written later that year to Cassandra, who was visiting Godmersham, includes an important emphasis: “I wish you may be able to accept Lady Bridges’s invitation, though I could not her son Edward’s; she is a nice Woman, & honours me by her remembrance” (7 October 1808). Citing this letter, Deirdre Le Faye, in Jane Austen: A Family Record, says, “it seems possible that Edward Bridges proposed or attempted to propose to [Austen during her visit in 1808], . . . a proposal which she had no difficulty in politely rejecting.”

What was that about soulmates again? 😉 Back to the Independent article…

Even if these events saddened Austen as a woman, they enriched her as a writer. Her life bled into her work. In Persuasion, for instance, she writes wryly that “a woman of seven and twenty can never hope to feel or inspire affection again”.

Psst. Not Persuasion. Try Sense and Sensibility. And since it’s coming out of Marianne Dashwood’s mouth, it’s certainly not meant to be taken as Jane Austen’s opinion.

Austen’s bittersweet experiences endowed her novels with a rare astringency. “One’s impressions from screen adaptations of Austen is that it’s all lovely girls running down hills in flowery dresses,” Williams says. “But Austen could be a real bitch as well. She could nail the weaknesses in someone’s appearance or accent. She could deconstruct people accurately and uncharitably, and would rail against their faults and foibles. That’s why I – and the vigilante Janeites – love her.”

Well, one of the reasons, but that’s nicely said!

Williams, who studied English at Cambridge University, says: “I’m in awe of Austen. She is the reason I’ve never written anything. I remember trying to write like her once and coming up with these clearly risible attempts to plot or describe things as brilliantly as she does.”

Oh, honey. That’s no reason to not write. Don’t try to write like Jane Austen. Trust your own voice, and work at it. Remember those lovely encouraging letters from Aunt Jane when asked to read her nieces’ and nephews’ writing. She would never tell you to not at least try.

The actress, who says she never goes anywhere without Austen’s letters


Miss Austen Regrets Region 2 DVD Release Date Changed to May 5


Alert Janeite Cinthia let us know (last week, and we forgot to post it!) that the release date for the Region 2 DVD of Miss Austen Regrets has been pushed back from March 24 to May 5. That is probably because the film has not yet been broadcast in the UK or Europe. We will keep an eye on the listings for a broadcast date, which we hope will be the first weekend in May now for the UK at least.

Miss Austen Regrets on BBC One…soon!


Alert Janeite Cinthia found the press pack for Miss Austen Regrets on the BBC website. It will be on BBC One…soon. No date yet, but Cinthia points out that the DVD is set to ship on March 24, and it is likely that when the Week 13 schedule is announced, we will see Miss Austen Regrets on Saturday the 22nd or Sunday the 23rd; Sunday being more likely. Watch this space.

Jane Austen Film News Roundup: Coming to a Television Near You Edition


While we’re taking a (probably needed) break from the Complete Jane Austen, a few interesting pieces of news crossed our desk.

According to a column by the president and CPO of Twin Cities Public Television, despite all the Janeite complaints, the ratings for the films have been quite good.

And suggesting that “Masterpiece Theater” has “settled” for an all-Jane Austen format is simply incorrect — “The Complete Jane Austen” drew the highest audiences for the program in more than a decade.

Yep, they might stink, but we watched them like the big Janeite saps we are, and that’s all that matters. Sad but true.

For those of you outside the U.S. and UK, many of you are going to have the chance to see some of the new films, if you haven’t already. The BBC has sold rights to S&S07 and Miss Austen Regrets around the world.

Meanwhile, acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies’ adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility” sold to 11 markets, including Japan, Sweden, Poland, Canada and Korea, and Jane Austen biopic “Miss Austen Regrets” also enjoyed solid sales.

Naturally, if we hear anything we’ll let our Gentle Readers know!

There’s even a tidbit of Becoming Jane news of sorts: a profile of Laurence Fox, whom many of us adored as Mr. Wisley, reveals that he originally was offered another role in the film, but turned it down.

“…With Becoming Jane they wanted me to be another part who was a bit jokey and buff but I didn’t have any interest in it. I quite liked the concept of going, ‘Maybe there is an alternative for everybody. Here is this shy guy who’d like to be able to express himself but can’t.’ Which is probably more like me anyway.”

Soooooo, who was it? Jokey and buff? Henry Austen, perhaps? Or–dare we say–Tom Lefroy himself? Because who else COULD it be?

Crudely tattooed on his left wrist is “Mrs Fox 31-12-07”, a memento of their honeymoon in Mexico. “Drunken moment in Playa del Carmen. And she’s got ‘Mr Fox’. But don’t tell the agent.”

Just how Fanny and Edmund would have spent their honeymoon, eh?

Lastly, a lot of viewers seemed to really like the music video that PBS put together for the Complete Jane Austen set to the music of Coldplay’s “Fix You.” It’s on YouTube now, so you can rewind to your heart’s content. (And a PBS representative told us about it, so the self-appointed Jane Austen Copyright Police can go have a cup of tea or something.)

Miss Austen Regrets available on Region 2 DVD on March 24


Miss Austen RegretsAlert Janeite Helen B. wrote to let us know that Miss Austen Regrets will be available on Region 2 DVD on March 24, 2008.

We wonder if that means it will be shown on television around that time? Hmm.

And look! Cover art!

We’re just posting stuff now to take up space so the title of the next post doesn’t overlap on wide-screen monitors. 🙂

That’s much better.

Freedom for Miss Austen!


Alert Janeite DeeDee let us know that there is an online petition to release Miss Austen Regrets on DVD on its own, not just bundled as an “extra” with S&S08. Freedom for Miss Austen! 😉

Any Regrets?


(Regrets? Get it? We do crack ourself up.)

Miss Austen Is Not Amused

No pre-snarking, as we are really posting this before it aired so we haven’t seen it yet…so what’s the verdict, Gentle Readers?

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Don't Mess With Jane Edition


Miss Austen Regrets Well, after we complained about the slowdown in news the other day, naturally there was a veritable tidal wave of opinions and reviews about Miss Austen Regrets. It’s being positioned as An Alternative To That Athletic Contest Taking Place Today as well. Why would it be assumed that Janeites wouldn’t like football, and vice versa? We’re actually not that exercised about it this year ourself, but we’ll watch for the commercials if nothing else. 🙂 Incidentally, TCM will be showing S&S95 opposite the SuperBowl.

The reviews are mixed, as we suspect our own readers’ opinions will be–and perhaps our own. The Los Angeles Times found it interesting, at least.

This is the second recent movie about Austen, after last year’s theatrical release “Becoming Jane,” a thing of wild invention that packed her off on an aborted elopement to Scotland. Like that film, “Miss Austen Regrets” ruminates on the author’s love life, or lack thereof — tries to rectify it, in a way, by painting her as a creature of inner passion. But while screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes (the excellent kidnapping miniseries “Five Days”) has drawn some serious curlicues around the few available facts — and she has definitely done her homework — she has also managed to create plausible characters and crises.

Well, that sounds good. Continue reading

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Are We Outraged Yet? Edition


As we mentioned previously, the news flow around The Complete Jane Austen is slowing down some, but has not completely stopped. We found a common theme among some of the latest items: either they express outrage at the latest crop of adaptations, or spark outrage in the reader.

Alert Janeite Surreyhill sent us a review of Mansfield Park from the Flick Filosopher, who apparently took Agent Scully’s ridiculous introduction of MP07 a little too much to heart.

There’s a term for characters like Fanny Price: Mary Sue. And it’s not a particularly nice term. Mary Sues are stand-ins for the author, the author idealized, as Fanny surely must be for Jane Austen in Mansfield Park. Fanny is beautiful, kind, faultless yet modest, noble of heart and spirit but of humble origins that prevent her from being spoiled. She is, in a word, perfect. Fanny may have pleased Austen herself, but she makes for less than compelling drama for the rest of us, at least in the new adaptation of the novel that just aired on Masterpiece Theater, and lands on DVD today.


And misses the whole bloody point of the book. Thanks for playing, enjoy your lovely parting gift. (And we’ve thought of another Fact About Fanny Price: Fanny Price knows you don’t like her, and knows it doesn’t matter.)

Alert Janeite Lisa sent us an interview with Virginia Newmyer, who was to lecture on Jane Austen films at the Corcoran, and expresses her opinions very, um, decidedly.

» EXPRESS: Do you think that, overall, the film adaptations have done a good job at capturing Austen’s novels?
» NEWMYER: I can’t say that, because they started adapting “Pride and Prejudice” [practically] in silent films. They’re not all good. I’ve seen most of this stuff and I know the books quite well. I mean, Andrew Davies did the miniseries adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” — that was absolutely wonderful — but he’s done some of these things that are on television this January that are not worthy of him or of Jane Austen.

I don’t insist on faithful adaptations. One of the best adaptations is Patricia Rozema’s adaptation of “Mansfield Park” and she turns it into a modern look at Jane Austen. “Mansfield Park” is the most problematic of Jane Austen’s books — of the good ones — and Rozema removed all the problems.

*head explodes*

There’s more. Keep reading. We shall retire to Bedlam.

Theresa Hogue expresses genteel outrage with the films so far in the Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette Times. We enjoyed it up until…

Of the three so far that have aired in the series, I can safely say that “Northanger Abbey,” was not only faithful to the text,

Not really. How much more “delightful” would Henry Tilney have been if he had been allowed the witty and intelligent dialogue that Jane Austen gave him, instead of a watered-down rewrite?

Many Gentle Readers are no doubt rolling their eyes at the Editrix once again beating that particular dead horse, but this shows why it’s important.

Northanger Abbey, another Masterpiece Theatre piece, was the first of Austen’s novels to be published.


From a modest family, Catherine’s interactions with the group, coupled with her increasing jump into a fantasy land, make it an interesting concept but a flawed story.

As we were saying…

It shows all the hallmark of a writer struggling to find her voice, and the film reflects it.

Uh, no. The narrator in Northanger Abbey is confident and knows exactly what she is doing. Don’t blame Jane Austen for bad rewrites of her work.

Despite all evidence, we’re still looking forward to Miss Austen Regrets this weekend, not having heard any real evil of it (and the producers having presumably learnt from the experience of Becoming Jane to not attempt to dress up a Made Up Story in truth’s clothing and shine on the Janeites with it)…though the reviews are not exactly promising.

Laurel Ann Nattress has written a review for PBS’ Remotely Connected blog:

I admire how the story succeeds in interweaving moments that parallel scenes or lines from Jane Austen’s novels, or is it scenes or lines from her life that make it into her novels? Art imitating life and it is believable. We see Jane represented honestly and with integrity as a strong woman who made a decision to write instead of marrying without love. Her choices would be against the norms of society, disappointing her family and adding pressure and financial stress in her life. How could anyone not regret the outcome of such adversity?

Ms. Place doesn’t hate it, but is dissatisfied.

I won’t review the entire film for you. Just suffice it to say that if I had been the director of this tale, I would have emphasized that single women do find fulfillment in pursuing their talents, in nurturing family relationships, and in being true to their vision. I wish the plot had dwelled more on the creative, talented side of Jane, instead of her constant worry for money.

And Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune thinks it’s a mess.

Far from shedding light on what made Austen a peerless examiner of the human condition, “Miss Austen Regrets” is an irritating, poorly paced misfire.

Ouch! But this part made us happy:

scenes of Jane ruthlessly, even cruelly, satirizing well-meaning clerics and clerks behind their backs.

HA HA! Can’t wait! What was that about Miss Jane Austen would find sarcasm the lowest form of wit again? 😛

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: In The Doldrums Edition


So, three down, four to go, counting Miss Austen Regrets. We’re actually rather excited about this one. We just have a gut feeling that it’s not going to completely stink. But then we’re a glass-half-full kind of blog, if you haven’t noticed. 😛

Mopping up the post-mortem for MP08, Alert Janeites Christiane and Lisa sent us this review from the Boston Globe.

Tomorrow night, Piper takes on Fanny Price, the shy, morally sound heroine of Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park.” And Piper wins, big-time, as she pulls poor, pious Fanny over onto the Billie Piper side of life. In this third adaptation in PBS’s Austen “Masterpiece” season, our pre-Victorian introvert is a ravishing wild child who recalls Madonna in a Herb Ritts video, or a stoned hippie chick in “Woodstock,” more than a polite teen in a bonnet and frock. In “Mansfield Park,” tomorrow at 9 p.m. on Channel 2, Fanny’s rather rockin’.

Now, there’s an interesting take–Fanny as the rock-n-roll wild child. Not sure about it, but there you go.

Ultimately, this “Mansfield Park” makes Patricia Rozema’s excellent 1999 version (in which Fanny is made into an Austen-like writer) seem stubbornly loyal to the author.

As Christiane said, he had us up to the “excellent 1999 version.” Huh?

AP, via the San Francisco Chronicle, has an article that combines local and international interest, along with some anecdotes from the set of S&S08.

Dominic Cooper recalled the hash he made initially of one of the novel’s most romantic moments — when his character, the “uncommonly handsome” Willoughby, rescues Marianne Dashwood after she slips and twists her ankle running down a hill.

The torrential rain “did make it quite difficult picking her up from a 90-degree angle on a wet, greasy, green hill and turning back to walk up the hill with a very long, wet coat on,” Cooper recalls. “When I kind of squatted down, the jacket got caught. I fell over immediately and put her head in a ditch.”


We found a blogsite dedicated to Miss Austen Regrets. It seems a bit sploggy but we think it’s in earnest. (A hint to the proprietors: To make it seem LESS sploggy, try writing some original content.)

The Jane Austen’s House Museum has seen visitors rise from past productions, and is seeing a surge of interest due to That Made Up Film last year and S&S this year. Also, for our UK readers who are feeling a bit left out of the Complete Jane Austen excitement, there will be an exhibition of costumes from S&S08 at the museum starting in March. If you go, send us a report!