Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm Getting Lost in Austen

I don't know when it happened exactly. Well, maybe I do. In 2005, an amazing adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was released. Who knows how many times I went to see it in theaters. I bought it the day it came out on DVD, and watched it every night as I fell asleep. Hello Darcy.

I read the book, expecting to join the masses of women in the Austen craze. Didn't fancy it much. I'll just watch the movie, I said.

Then this past August, I started taking piano lessons (again), and by September I bought the songbook from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack by Dario Marianelli, and am learning my third song from it. It's challenging, but I'm in love with it.

Then this past October, I read Austenland by Shannon Hale. Have any of you read it? I've seen quite a few bad reviews for it, but I absolutely FLIPPED over this book. I gobbled it up in just a couple of evenings. I never saw the twists coming! (By the way, Hale is writing a sequel!!)

Then around November, my mom introduced me to one of the most creative and hilarious takes on Pride and Prejudice yet. Lost in Austen. Yes, I've discussed this 3 hour BBC mini-series before, but it needs repeating because it's just THAT GOOD. Rent it, buy it, just WATCH IT, so Kristi and I aren't the only ones emailing each other back and forth, quoting it until all hours of the night. (Pictured is Darcy on the left, and Bingley on the right) -- We first meet Amanda Price in modern day London, reading her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. She loves the language, the manners... it's given her standards that simply cannot be filled in her time. One night, she hears a noise in her bathroom of all places, and finds Elizabeth Bennett!! Amanda walks through the door and into Elizabeth's house, and Netherfield has just been let (at last!). She gets to live through the whole thing, but her presence has caused things to change. People start falling in love with the wrong people, marrying the wrong people... Amanda tries to make things follow the book (even though Elizabeth is still stuck in modern day London), but Darcy believes that everyone has become her instruments and that she is "quite possibly the instrument of Satan." This is not for the Jane Austen purist, because they do expand on a few storylines, but it's just that much more interseting. And HILARIOUS. --

Then I watched Colin Firth as Darcy in the 90's BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and finally understood the scene in Lost in Austen where Darcy takes a dip in the pond. The whole thing seemed to drag a bit until the last segment, but it was good.

Then I watched Persuasion because a good friend of mine made me. I'm tempted to think she watches it almost daily. It was frustrating through most of it, but I enjoyed it by the end. Not sure if I'm interested in tackling the book, which as I understand, was published by Jane Austen's brother after she died. She probably didn't intend for it to get out (along with Northanger Abby).

Then I happened to catch the new Masterpiece version of Emma on PBS last month, and Oh My Gosh. Forget Darcy, bring on the Knightley! At first, I watched this show cringing, because as you all can see on my sidebar, according to the Jane Austen quiz, I am Emma Woodhouse. It's a scary thing, but I totally am. Not that I've gotten into the matchmaking bit, but I have definitely been known to speak out of turn (Badly done, Kristin! Badly done!), and having earned a degree in Sociology, I have this interest in learning about social classes and blocked opportunities and what not. It's fascinating to me. And this Emma, wheeeeew. "A young farmer, whether on horseback or on foot, is the very last sort of person to raise my curiosity. The yeomanry are precisely the order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing to do....But a farmer can need none of my help, and is therefore in one sense as much above my notice as in every other he is below it." Ouch! Quite the snob!! Hopefully this was not the trait that pegged me as Emma!! (Though I have been guilty of snobbery in the past, and sometimes may come across as such since I sometimes prefer to be alone as opposed to being social. Misconception, I say! - I should strive to be more like Melanie Hamilton Wilkes from Gone With the Wind... no one ever said "Badly done, Melanie! And yet, I identify with Scarlett so much more... eeeks!)

Last Sunday, Masterpiece played its 2007 version of Northanger Abby, which I'm still a bit miffed about. The ending was so abrupt... I find it hard to say if I liked it or not.

Now I'm reading Emma. The Masterpiece tie-in edition with this lovely cover:

So far, I am following it surprisingly well. I don't read literary type fiction, ever, mostly because I can't understand it. It's too... beyond my abilities. I don't usually like to think too hard when I read. Just give me mainstream fiction please, or young adult paranormals!! But I find Emma much easier to digest than Pride and Prejudice. My next Austen plan is to tackle Sense and Sensibility.

Tune in to Masterpiece on PBS, Sunday nights! I think this Sunday is Persuasion!

What about you? Are you addicted to Austen? Are you out of that phase? Are you avoiding the craze? Any Darcy lovers? Mr. Knightley? Mr. Tilney?


  1. I watched "Lost in Austen" a couple of months ago, and I really liked it. Wasn't too sure in the beginning, but then it just became better and better. They must have had great fun in finding actors that actually look like the BBC version's actors (I've watched that version 3 times or so). The 2005 movie never got to me in the same way, but I guess that is because I already read the book, and, even more, I had watched the BBC series. But, by all means, it's a good movie, and I love Donald Sutherland in the role as Mr Bennet. Talking about roles,- in "Lost in Austen" Alex Kingston is Mrs Bennet, and I have never seen her as anything else than Elisabeth Corday in E.R. ! She is hilarious as the hysterical Mrs Bennet.

  2. Good for you for taking piano lessons. A girlfriend gave us a piano about five months ago, and I still don't know how to play.

    I have an award for you on my blog:)

  3. I LOVE the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice! I own the dvd and watch it all the time, it never gets old! I have noticed Lost in Austen on Netflix and i've watched the preview a couple of times... it just didn't grab my attention but I think I will have to watch it now.. :)

  4. Oh, how I love Mr. Darcy! (wistful sigh) The Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfayden version of Pride and Prejudice is my favorite. When Darcy stutters as he's telling Elizabeth he loves her? Awesome! At the end, as he's calling Elizabeth Mrs. Darcy over and over? More awesome! Being an Austen fanatic, I also saw Lost in Austen and read Austenland. I'm glad you have the fever, too. Isn't it great that there are things this good in the world?

  5. lost in austen sounds great. I wonder if i can get it on my netflix.

  6. I'm with you. I love the movies and have read a few of the books. Emma was great on pbs. I didn't see Northanger, but maybe I'll read the book first on that one.

    And I love Mr. Darcy (the 2005 version).

  7. Kristine - I hadn't seen her in anything other than ER either! She was hilarious as Mrs. Bennet!

    Lisa - we also were given a piano (a 1924 Steinway baby grand! had to move some things around to find a place for it - it sounds amazing), so I signed up for my 5th piano teacher in my life. I think it will stick this time! Thanks for the award!!

    Sherry - just give it a try! As long as you're not a purist, you just might love it.

    Roxy - it's such a great fever to have! And I'm itching to get into one of those dresses. Honestly I want to have one of my birthday parties (one of the big numbers, maybe 30th) to be at a place where we learn English Country dancing and dress up. I just don't know who else would get into it with me... :(

    Falen - Yes, Netflix does have Lost in Austen. That's where I first rented it. :) Give it a shot and let me know what you think about it!

    Patti - another fever victim!

    Loving this!

  8. I love the books. I love the movies and I am so sad that I missed the PBS version of Emma. Lost in Austen sounds so interesting! I'll have to see if I can find it somewhere. Thanks for the tip. I can't wait!

  9. I've heard of Lost in Austen but I haven't seen it yet. I may just have to :)

    I took the Austen heroine quiz. I'm Elizabeth Bennett. Didn't even have to take the quiz. I already knew it.


  10. I read Pride and Prejudice at least once a year. I'm an Austen Fanatic. I love the movies too, but haven't seen any of the miniseries that have been on PBS. Apparently, I'm falling behind. Better get a move on!

  11. My wife is a Jane Austen fan (big time) and it sounds like I just might have to get Lost in Austen for her, because I don't think she knows about it yet. Could be a nice little surprise for her... :)

  12. I'm so behind on the Austen movement. I bought Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility to read, but they're not just books you can whiz through. And I agree with you, sometimes I think they are far beyond my reader abilities. I hope to get to them soon, though! : )

  13. That Darcy is HOT!!! oh my gosh. Wow.

  14. It's interesting how Jane Austen pops up in February--like Austen season. Yes, she's great, I have devoured all of her books and seen nearly all the films and BBC specials. I must admit my favourite is Mansfield Park--who couldn't love a heroine named Fanny? But, yes, Pride and Prejudice has got to be the best, if for no one but Mr. Darcy.
    If you liked the actress from the new Emma, she plays a wonderful part in the film, I Capture the Castle. It's another period film, but from the 30s time period. very good. not Austen, though.

  15. I could watch Kiera Knightly all day long. She's gorgeous! I've not seen Pride and Prejudice or read the book -- but I will and am looking forward to it. I love hearing you talk about it, though. You're passion is awesome!!!

  16. I love Darcy... good old fashion Mr. Darcy... however I am ashamed to admit I've never once read one of the books, but the more and more I hear about them the more and more I want to look into them (did I say more enough?!)

    I love the movies so much that I should give the books a chance!! I love how much you are into it!!! It's fantastic! Can't wait to hear back for more!

  17. As an English major, it is sad and embarrassing for me to admit I have never read Jane Austen. sh. don't tell ANYONE.

  18. Jane Austen's books have influenced me more than I can say. And the 2005 movie of Pride and Prejudice was exactly like I pictured the novel in my head. But whats a little embarassing about my Austen fetish is that sometimes while pondering a question I think what would Eliza do in my situation? ( I know sounds crazy right? but it really works!)

  19. I am quite disappointed I was sick yesterday and missed this post!!!! You know what a Lost in Austen fan I am!

    Thanks for the pictures too...I'm tempted to keep this exact post as a favorite on my toolbar so I can come back to it at any moment and stare.

    But, really, what I want to know is...why no photos of Wickham??? Seriously! What are you thinking? I would seriously consider boycotting this post but since you listed the pond scene I guess I'll settle for that.

    And suddenly I want to go home and rewatch Lost in Austen!!!!