Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Emma sought refuge in Jane

The Guardian on how Emma Thompson turned to Austen--specifically best-movie-of-all-time "Sense and Sensibility 1995"--to heal her disastrous breakup with Kenneth Branagh. Somehow I feel that Greg Wise didn't hurt either.

Anyway, author JoJo Moyes goes on to discuss the healing power of literature and mentions several heroines and anti-heroines from Jo March to Lizzy Bennet to Emma Bovary, who provide guides of how to get through tough times, and also how not to!

In a previous article on the topic, Thompson also reveals a funny tidbit about the set:

Thompson also recounted how Wise initially pursued Winslet during the filming of Sense and Sensibility, because a soothsayer had told him that he would meet his future wife on the set.

She said: "Of course I was still married, so he thought it was Winslet and courted her assiduously.

"I remember him taking her to Glastonbury, which she hated because it was all hippyish, because Greg's quite hippyish and he kept thinking 'this just isn't working, I think she's just got to be wrong'."

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 ;)


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Favorite Irish-Themed Books

There is a lyrical strain in the Irish literary tradition that is really unmatched. I'm reading Angela's Ashes right now and marveling. Here are some of my favorite reads that give you a sense of that tradition and of the country and its people.

Circle of Friends-Maeve Binchy--a young woman from a small town experiences changing sexual codes when she goes to Dublin for school.

Dubliners-James Joyce--dreams deferred in Joyce's beloved city.

My Dream of You-Nuala O'Faolain--Sexy modern love story interspersed with story of the Great Famine. Unforgettable. Will stalk your dreams.

The Butcher Boy-Patrick McCabe-- mentally disturbed serial killer narrates his own downfall

The Complete Poems of W.B. Yeats--just the best. period.

The Last September-Elizabeth Bowen--protestant gentry's family in a "great house" just before the IRA and the civil war forces them out.

Angela's Ashes-Frank McCourt--childhood in Limerick, poverty, pathos and humor.

Ireland: Selected Stories--William Trevor-- The New Yorker's favorite short fiction writer's collection of stories about his homeland.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review Bingo.

Book Review Bingo. A good way to avoid clich├ęs.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Welcome Bronte-Along to the Blogosphere

Lifelong friend of EBC BethDunn and tweep Melissa have started a new blog project to celebrate, communally, the works of the Bronte Sisters. I'll let Beth explain her rationale in her own words:

It is my secret hope that we can expand the theme, make it a true tour of the glories of the Sisters Bronte, and move on from Jane Eyre to Wuthering Heights, to enjoy Heathcliff’s sullen and vengeful brooding… and perhaps end the trip in a prolonged visit to Wildfell Hall to complete the cycle.

For although I love Jane Austen dearly, I often feel like the Bronte sisters get the short end of the stick. All this Darcying about and Colonel-Brandoning it up is quite well and good, but sometimes a girl just wants some dark and brooding moorland action to soothe her soul.

(Artwork by Melissa)

Time to add them to your RSS readers! I'll be participating at some point be re-reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and watching the BBC version.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tsuris and Sensibility

Set in Westport, a Jewish Retelling of 'Sense and Sensibility': I interviewed The Three Weissmans of Westport author Cathleen Schine about finding the perfect Jewish last name for her characters, fighting the crowds at Manhattan’s Fairway market, and Jane Austen’s legacy, beyond “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”"

Here's a taste:

You recently wrote an essay about “Austenolatry.” Will Jane Austen mania ever die out or is it here to stay?

I don’t know if there will even be books in the future — things are changing so fast. But there’s something compelling about Jane Austen’s understanding of families: the combination of domestic life and the sense of urgency about money and financial issues and the commerce of marriage. I think people experience that in different ways in different times but there’s something that perseveres. This particular wave of Austenolatry is huge and very energetic. Like any wave it will calm down a bit, and some other literary fad will emerge.

But, do I think Jane Austen will disappear into recesses of forgotten literature? Until this type of novel disappears, I don’t think she will either. She invented it; she perfected it.

Read the full article here.

Monday, March 08, 2010

JASNA. Hells yeah.

"We have just received your name from JASNA-national as a new member. Welcome."
With this email from the Jane Austen Society of North America, I am officially a Janeite. Incidentally, it's a family membership. I joined with the betrothed one. What better gift could one grant oneself on International Women's Day?

Now back to The Three Weissmans of Westport.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Austenland

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Unlike my friends in the Austen-sphere I tend to avoid Jane-related fiction because it dilutes my pleasure in watching the adaptations--errr reading the books over and over.

But now that I'm twitter friends with some amazing Austen-inspired authors myself, I had no choice but to succumb to their wit and plunge in. This book in particular was a sweet, well-done time-travel piece that really explored the disadvantages to being a woman in the Regency era--oh yes, there were a plethora of those--without bursting the romantic bubble of Austen addicts everywhere (a tough tightrope to walk). Viera Rigler did a great job building a sense of mystery, and I loved the funny but not vulgar anachronistic jokes and shout-outs to feminism. I actually couldn't put this book down on the course of several subway rides. Definitely well-worth a read for those suffering from Austen withdrawal.

View all my reviews >>

As for Shannon Hale's Austenland, which I read in galley form at least a year ago but neglected to review, it's a similar premise but not as meaty. The heroine goes on some sort of Austen immersion trip and embroils herself in romantic hi-jinx therein. The fun in this one is trying to figure out just how much of what's going on is a deliberately-planned part of the program in which she's participating and how much is genuine emotion. Also there's a character named Mr. Nobley. Not quite Mr. Knightley, but kind of cute.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Literary Linkage du jour

Today's reading.
By the way, that production of "The Tempest," which I saw on Valentine's day in previews, was really well-staged. My issues with the acting were well summed up by the Times's Charles Isherwood. Here is his review.

The steamiest period drama fan-vid ever

A tribute to the other Mr. Knightley, Jeremy Northam's err, earthier qualities--set to the "True Blood" theme song.

Somewhat NSFW. Contains literal bodice-ripping and more.

I'm having a stressy Monday morning. I found this this weekend while looking for "Emma" scenes. Hope it puts a smile, or something less wholesome, on your faces.