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Friday, March 26, 2010

Much-delayed film review: The Jane Austen Book Club

Hi readers! I've been much occupied at present with my very busy spring, not to mention an unexpected ailment that utterly laid me up. One advantage of the aforementioned illness was that I was able to watch the film of the Jane Austen Book Club, whose source material I read years ago on a trip to bonnie Scotland, before there even was such a thing as a blog.* I liked the novel by Karen Joy Fowler and found it hard to put down, but thought it wasn't really that Jane-Austeny.

Well, the movie, and years of studying the subtleties of Austen, have proven me somewhat wrong. The characters' analysis of Austen is on the shallow side, yes, but I think it's more intentional than not. Because what makes the story niftily- Austenish is that the six members of the book club misread Austen's characters' intentions based on their own lives, romantic inclinations and biases, just as characters like Lizzy and Emma themselves misread the people around them. It's quite clever and meta really. I also thought the cast was great, particularly Maria Bello and Emily Blunt. One scene I enjoyed? Their discussion of Fanny Price. I guiltily admit to being in the "I'd love to re-read it and just once see Fanny end up in bed with Henry Crawford" camp. To me, he's one of the hardest of Austen's rakes to really buy as a rake. Hmmm...I think I wrote my junior paper on that.

It's really just a fluffy ensemble rom-com, but it has more vivacity and cleverness than most of the crap they're turning out these days. So anyway, I'm now in the Jane Austen Book Club fan club, if that makes sense ;)



  1. I love this movie and I love the book--and you know I'm picky. ;-) They are like these great big meta celebrations of why we are Janeites.

    I thought Hugh Dancy was great! When he put on the helmet with the mirror I nearly passed out from laughing so hard. Such a delightful nerd. Did you notice his ringtone was an R2-D2 noise?

  2. Anonymous8:28 PM

    Can;t agree that Henry Crawford and Fanny Price should end up together. Crawford is an eogocentrist; the universe has always and will always revolve around him and what he wants at any given time. His sister flat out tells Fanny that he will tire of her in time. Poor Fanny, stuck with a civil but indifferent husband who most likely will have multiple infidelities - she has borne so much already, I like to see her with Edmund Bertram, now that he's learned to tell specious from genuine.

  3. Like the character in the book, I was in jest about Henry and Fanny. I think Fanny and Edmund are well-matched. Still, it would be so amusing to see her succumb to his wiles just once ;)

  4. I think that's one reason why I enjoyed Lost in Austen so much -- the different take on Wickham was so refreshing! One does get tired of rakes being so VERY irredeemably bad, and the Good Guys being so very good. It was nice to be given permission to really like a guy like Wickham for a change.

  5. I felt that this was a rare moment when I liked the movie, better than the book. Agree that it is primarily fluff, but it's enjoyable none-the-less. My fave scenes are the actual book club meetings, especially the disasterous Mansfield Park meeting. Hugh Dancy is wonderful as a gorgeous nerd with his bikewear, tech gadgets, and note cards. It's fun to see him paired with Bello, an older woman. Bello is also very good, and perfect casting for that part. Glad you enjoyed it.