Friday, December 28, 2007

Jane Austen on PBS

Frustrated at not being able to find the schedule of the Jane shows for next month, I sent the following mail to KCTS, our local PBS station..............
I have eagerly been awaiting the Jane Austen Shows that will be aired beginning in January, since last march when they were on ITV in England, but not in a format for American TV. I am finding it hard to get any information from your website about the Jane Austen Season. I know many of my friends are excited as well but nobody knows what is being aired, and when. Why is this PBS's best kept secret? Can you give me any information on when the shows will air? All I can find by forwarding in your little gray schedule are the new Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park. I am anxious to see the new Sense and Sensibility and the Jane Austen Biography, and frankly, I'm very suprised, with Jane Austen being so hot right now, that more isn't being done to promote the episodes. It is obvious PBS is not a commercial endeavor. With the rest of the television world on a writer's strike, and nothing to look forward to but a January filled with reruns and reality shows, your channel is preparing to air brand new adaptations by one of the best writers in history, and I can't even find a blurb about it on your website. Please send me any scheduling information you can regarding these Jane Austen shows.
........................................................................................................................................And for emphasis, I signed it 'Mrs. Ashton Dennis' but I'm sure there are no Janeites there, or there would not be this problem.
Anyway, the shows I could find on the schedule were....
9:00pm Sunday January 13th Persuasion

9:00pm Sunday January 20th Northanger Abbey

9:00pm Sunday January 27th Mansfield Park
I'll let you know what else I can find out.(I am editing this a little later with the link to the preview from the pbs website )
P.S. I got the 'Frank Churchill'

Friday, November 23, 2007

Christmas in an Austen Novel

I was shopping at Target the other day, and who should I see, but Frank Churchill.Actually it was 'Beach Glam Ken' but I would recognize that face anywhere, and the resemblance to Mr. Weston was unmistakable. I put him in my cart for a while and walked around the store, but then, like Emma realizing that Frank is not the one for her, I put him on the shelf (in the candle section). I've been thinking of using dolls to make some little Christmas vignette About Emma at the Weston's party. As busy as I was with throwing a huge thanksgiving dinner, I haven't had time act on any Jane Austen related whims. Especially when I'm supposed to be shopping for someone else. Then there is the additional fact that Frank wasn't AT the Weston's Party. But who wants to make a Mr. Elton Doll.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Austen Heroine or Disney Princess?

I know I have missed a few days. Still caught up in the glow of the AGM ball, (just ask everyone I come in contact with who sees my pictures which I conveniently carry around at all times) I am preparing for our anniversary trip to Disneyland next week. But it’s not as much of a shift of gears as you might think. There are some very interesting parallels between Austen’s heroines and the six Disney Princesses.

Catherine Morland- Snow White. Young and innocent, she heads out into the world only to be surrounded by mental dwarfs. Complete with scary old buildings and General Tilney as the wicked witch, instead of being poisoned, she is exiled in the middle of the night, alone. And who wouldn’t want Henry Tilney on the other side of “love’s first kiss”?

Fanny Price- Cinderella, but with no Fairy Godmother, no little mice, and no sunny optimism to cheer her on. Though a family member, she is reduced to the level of a servant. She has a brief moment of glory with her first ball, but then is sunk even further, locked up and confined, and not until after her release is she found to be the perfect match to her prince.

Emma Woodhouse- Princess Jasmine. Living alone as daughter to the nutty and lovable Sultan, Jasmine can’t see the handsome prince that is right under her nose. Like the story of Jasmine and Aladdin, Emma is a fairy tale……from the male’s perspective. Mr. Knightly is able to charm the young woman of his dreams, the woman he’s always loved, the woman whose father’s land completed the missing chunk of property cut out from his own inheritance generations ago. This may be a bigger feat than Aladdin’s rags-to-Prince Ali-riches story. Way to go, Knightly. Does this mean Mr. Perry is Jafar?

Elinor Dashwood- Belle. Though Elinor doesn’t fall in love with a beast, she does fall for a man with a beastly secret that threatens to separate them forever. A folly in his youth made him what he is and now he must pay the price. Elinor also endures trial and sacrifice for the good of a family member. Belle’s common sense and emotional restraint make her the perfect modern fairy-tale counterpart to Elinor.

Elizabeth Bennet- Ariel. Though at first glance you would think Ariel has more in common with young, headstrong Lydia Bennet, I ask for your indulgence. (As if your reading of this piece so far isn’t indulgence enough). Elizabeth has the grace to shine among a myriad of sisters (many of whom are out), as does Ariel. She finds entertainment in odd and interesting people the way Ariel is amused by gadgets and trinkets. And Ariel goes to great lengths to ‘Quit the sphere in which she was born.” as Lady Catherine would say. But how will either lady maintain the balance between her new life and love of her old family? Only sequel novels and straight-to-DVD movie releases will tell.

Anne Elliot- Sleeping Beauty. As the lovely Princess Aurora, promised in youth, her love is doomed when outside forces intervene. In a forgotten thorn covered castle she sleeps, waiting for the dashing Captain Wentworth to slay the dragon of seven years of bitterness and resentment, and come bounding through the window to awaken her and claim his one true love. Aaaahhhh.
Also Aurora was raised as an orphan by fairies. Which gets me thinking, is there any possible way Anne could actually be related to Elizabeth, Mary and Sir Walter Elliot?

I hope you enjoyed my musings. Austen really is everywhere.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Jane Austen Society Annual General Meeting

I'm home from my wonderful trip to Canada for The Jane Austen Society of North America. It was a great experience, though it was so Jam packed with Austen goodness that I rarely had time to eat if the meal wasn't included in the convention with the time blocked out. I also rose around 6 and stayed up till at least 1 am each day, so I'm beat. On Friday night this was my fault for bringing a dress and gloves that still needed the little tiny buttons sewn on.
I drove up on Thursday afternoon, and after a little map confusion, arrived at the Hotel around 7:45. The first lecture was at 7:30, so I dropped my luggage in the room and when down for that hour, which was followed by another, smaller discussion group where people shared their favorite quotes from Emma.

In this room I recognized my roommate, and after the class was done she was heading down to the hotel lounge for a drink, so I decided I would go along to get a dinner of appetizers and a soda at 10:00 p.m.
The next morning at 9 was my 'reticule' class, where we sew by hand a cloth purse like they used over the turn of the 18th to 19th century. The kits were precut, linings and lovely fabrics, with trims and drawstrings in the packet. Some of them had beautiful antique lace or bead trims within the kit. Mine wasn't as fancy but I wanted one that matched my ball dress. Now that class had been an additional $35.00 fee, and I later saw a purse much like mine that a woman had bought pre-made upstairs in the Jane Austen Emporium for half the price it cost me to go to the class and learn to sew it by hand. Still, the class gave me a chance to sit with other ladies and get to know them as I was sewing, and I would do it all again.
Even thought the class was two hours, few people finished. I packed up my materials and put it all in a little gift bag so I could carry it around and sew during lecture classes. I finished, and this is the reticule you see me holding in the pictures.
About the speeches and breakout sessions- even though I love the information, class after hour long class of someone reading their presentation, even about Jane Austen, can get a little tiring. So the lighter side activities were, shall we say, SO REFRESHING! I’m not used to sitting still all day, and if I would have had more free time I would have taken a few laps around the block.
Quite a few ladies attended the entire conference in costume, and I wouldn't mind doing that if I had more of a wardrobe. It was very fun to see people dressed up.
Friday Night there was a play, “Mrs. Knightly Pays a Call: A Conversation at Randalls”. I went very early, skipping dinner so I could have a good seat. I have heard from many attendees that they didn’t enjoy the play because they couldn’t hear in the back of the room. It’s unfortunate. I really enjoyed it and the women who performed were great.
On Saturday during the lunch break there was a more informal play called “The Courting of Mrs. Elton”. My roommate went down early to hold a chair for me, and I arrived soon thereafter- thankfully, because the little room filled up fast and people were left out in the hall. I say this was informal, because the actors held scripts and read their parts as they acted them out, but it was a delightful comedy. I would love to report who was in the play, and can only say, having lost my flyer and being uninformed as I am, that the authoress acted the part of Augusta Hawkins, the future Mrs. Elton, and Juliet McMaster, to the intense delight of the crowd, played the role of Mr. Elton. This was one of my favorite events of the whole AGM. Worth missing lunch for and only eating a glass full of dry raisin bran from my room and a diet A&W to get me through till banquet time. I don’t mean for the lack of food to be a repetitive theme here. Perhaps it’s just to show you my dedication to Austen, opting to attend events rather than eat.
There were many good discussions and detailed interpretations of Austen's novels, and many people to meet and talk to while waiting for an event to begin. It is so easy to be friendly when we all have a common interest. As you know, I was matched with a roommate. My roommate and I got along well together and I think I did well in that department. I’m only sorry I left the light on so long on Friday trying to finish the sewing!

Saturday night was the feast and Regency Ball. The dining was wonderful. I had the roast pheasant, which was delicious. The Ballroom itself was a magical regency style ballroom with decorated walls and ceiling and three huge chandeliers. There was a large ornate stage at one end where the little orchestra was, and a dance mistress helped to guide us novices through the steps until we had caught on. There were several hundred people there, so often the dance formed three long lines. A lot of ladies danced with other ladies for a partner but it was fun because anyone who wanted to could give it a try.
I danced four dances. Each one probably went on for 15 minutes, and that would only get you halfway up the entire line of couples dancing. I’m told that a dance at a real ball would continue until the head couple has worked their way all the down to the bottom of the set and back up to the top again. So it is easy to see how one could go on till the wee hours of the morning.
We didn't do any dance for that long because they wanted to get through at least 8 and there were so many couples. Even so, we went until midnight and I was only thinking it was about 10:30. My favorite dance by far is the one seen in A&E's P&P at Netherfield, when Mr. Darcy first dances with Elizabeth. This dance is so beautiful. The couples mostly walk from place to place, weaving within their line, but at one point two couples join hands in a line facing the head of the room, and step forward for three, and back for three. The result over a whole ballroom is fabulous, because there is all this weaving and confusion, then all of a sudden everyone is lined up and the whole room moves forward in this wave, then goes back, then its all mixed up again. It really was a magical moment.
The very unfortunate name of that beautiful dance is Mr. Beverages Maggot. This afternoon I watched that section of A&E’s Pride and Prejudice to recognize the dance that I had learned. I was stunned, (though why should I have been surprised?) at how perfectly the dance was performed and how well choreographed their conversation was within the dance. I’ve always found it strange that Sir William Lucas stops to talk to Mr. Darcy during the dance, and Darcy is just standing there. Now I understand that they had reached the end of the line, and they wait out for a moment and join in again to head back up the set, turning from a #1 couple to a #2 couple. As they move back up the set they have less dancing to perform than they did at first, and more moments where they are just standing. This perfectly suits the agitated nature of their conversation and symbolizes the awkwardness of feeling by the time the dance is finished. I should have expected no less from the most perfect show ever to be seen on television.
Sunday morning I attended an Anglican church service across the street that incorporated texts written by Jane Austen. I checked out of my room after that, then attended the closing brunch, and finally a wonderful concert of music from the era of Jane Austen by Pro Musica, “A Jane Austen Parlor” It was simply beautiful!
Leaving my family for several days is a new thing for me. I think my trip was a success and I am already longing to go to another one. Next year is Chicago, then Philadelphia, but after that is Portland, so if I don't get to go sooner I will be planning for that on Oct of 2010.

See You there!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Preparing for AGM

A friend I met today sent me an article about the upcoming AGM in Vancouver.
I have much to do to get ready, and to get my family ready for me to leave. At this moment I have to put up my daughter's hair for ballet. (If only I could send Chapman to her...)
If I don't post more today I'll be finishing my dress.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

What I would Like to See in Sense and Sensibility

I really enjoy the Columbia Pictures version of Sense and Sensibility from 1995. I thought it was a great adaptation, even though the story line is so contracted. I guess they can't all be a mini-series. Even though the actresses Emma Thompson and Kate Winslett each gave an excellent performance, all in all I would like to see a younger Elinor and Marianne. These sisters are both supposed to be in their teens. Winslett may pass, but not Thompson. I once heard somewhere of Sense and Sensibility with the mock subtitle; "You're Never Too Young to be an Old Maid." I know to carry a movie like this you want the acting clout of an Emma Thompson that is hard to find in someone who looks nineteen. It does change the story though to have the sisters older. (Having said that, I will let you know that Emma Thompson has me Crying like a baby every time I watch it). The men cast in this version couldn't be more perfect. And I don't say that lightly. In addition to being good actors they look the part, and the age, that they should. I love Alan Rickman as Brandon. Now let me tell you what I would really like to see, regardless of the age of the participants. I would like a little more something between Elinor and Lucy Steele. Their story is a genteel, regency version of a hair-pulling, nail slashing cat fight, and I would like to see the claws out a little more. As I read the novel, Lucy knows Edward Ferrars is in love with Elinor, and I suspect Elinor know that Lucy knows it. Lucy is not just trying to warn her off, she is basking in the drama and her own triumph. Engagements were virtually legally binding at the time. In the movie Elinor seems to be trying to be polite to Lucy and not letting it be known that she loves Edward. It the book it seems that every comment is a bit of a barb, and all of Lucy's comments and little worries are gloating jabs back at Elinor. I would like to see this played up.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Opinion About Mansfield Park

This was in reply to a thread but I thought I'd post it here. Some people get turned off of Mansfield Park because it doesn't suit everyone, But maybe a few positive accounts will encourage more people to give it a try. I also like to think of Jane Austen at this time in her life being more willing to experiment with different combinations of character traits. For example, Mary Crawford at first appearance is a lot like Elizabeth Bennett. They are both quick witted, lively, and fun loving. But on further study they are quite different. Elizabeth has sense of right and wrong and an appreciation for goodness, while Mary's underlying values are seriously flawed and corrupt. Yet look how they each attracted the hero of the novel with their outward charm. Mr. Darcy was almost immediately attracted to Elizabeth, but he didn't take it seriously until he had learned her true worth and goodness. Edmund was almost as instantly attracted to Mary, but eventually, and only through many painful revelations, was he able to see past the veneer to her dark character. Here are my earlier posted comments: Mansfield Park is my Favorite Jane Austen Novel, and I read all of them often.I adore Fanny Price. Maybe because she is the one I identify with the most, though I could never be as good as she is. I feel so strongly for her. I beleive Fanny is extremely powerful. It is only her health and constitution that is weak. She is submissive not because of weakness, but out of self control and her extreme belief in doing what is right at all costs. The only time she wavers is when it is not quite clear exactly what is the morally correct thing to do. Furthermore, though Edmund gets the credit for shaping Fanny's mind, I believe it is her pure goodness that has influenced Edmund as he matured, raising him above the petty selfishness of his siblings. I've written an essay on this and I should find it and post it.And about the irony, it is abundant in this novel. Almost every cruel remark Mrs. Norris makes is laced with irony for the reader. And there's a wonderful scene where Tom neglects Fanny at a dance until Mrs. Norris asks him to join a card table, and he quickly jumps up and grabs Fanny's hand, saying they were just about to dance. Then he comments on Mrs, Norris selfishly trying to use him to form the card table without consulting his feelings, and how lucky it was of him to think of Dancing with Fanny at that moment.There is so much symbolism in Mansfield Park, the garden gate scene, the necklace and chain, one of my particular favorites is the idea of improving land in general and how each man's thoughts on land improvement reflect his actions in the marital arena, complete with poor Mr. Rushworth's not knowing what to do with his fabulous new property and Henry Crawford stepping in to make a mark on it himself.My true heart's wish is for someone to make an accurate adaptation of this lovely novel.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What I would Like To See in Pride and Prejudice

Last night I was thinking about Jane Austen’s novels, and what the movies are missing, or particularly what I would like to see in an adaptation. I’m sure you have all thought about this before, and rather than spending time wondering why I am not consulted I decided to put all my ideas on the table and see if you agree. Today- Pride and Prejudice.

Any of the books, to be done well, would have to appear as a six part mini-series. Thus The BBC / A&E version of Pride and Prejudice comes closest to approaching perfection as any adaptation can. When life gets a little heavy or the stress is too much, curling up on the couch with this bit of heaven and drifting off to Austen World is just the remedy.
So having said all that, is there anything I would change or add? Yes! And on a five hour show, what are a few more minutes?
During the period when Jane is sick at Netherfield there is another delightful scene chiefly between Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. It shows off Mr. Bingley’s wit, which is usually ignored and in place he is just Mr. Super-Nice guy. The scene establishes the group as good friends, teasing, witty and playful with each other. Here is a portion of the chapter.

"Oh!" cried Miss Bingley, "Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest."
"My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them -- by which means my letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents."
"Your humility, Mr. Bingley," said Elizabeth, "must disarm reproof."
"Nothing is more deceitful," said Darcy, "than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast."
"And which of the two do you call my little recent piece of modesty?"
"The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing anything with quickness is always much prized by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance. When you told Mrs. Bennet this morning that if you ever resolved on quitting Netherfield you should be gone in five minutes, you meant it to be a sort of panegyric, of compliment to yourself -- and yet what is there so very laudable in a precipitance which must leave very necessary business undone, and can be of no real advantage to yourself or any one else?"
"Nay," cried Bingley, "this is too much, to remember at night all the foolish things that were said in the morning. And yet, upon my honour, I believed what I said to myself to be true, and I believe it at this moment. At least, therefore, I did not assume the character of needless precipitance merely to shew off before the ladies."
"I dare say you believed it; but I am by no means convinced that you would be gone with such celerity. Your conduct would be quite as dependant on chance as that of any man I know; and if, as you were mounting your horse, a friend were to say, 'Bingley, you had better stay till next week,' you would probably do it, you would probably not go -- and at another word, might stay a month."
"You have only proved by this," cried Elizabeth, "that Mr. Bingley did not do justice to his own disposition. You have shewn him off now much more than he did himself."
"I am exceedingly gratified," said Bingley, "by your converting what my friend says into a compliment on the sweetness of my temper. But I am afraid you are giving it a turn which that gentleman did by no means intend; for he would certainly think the better of me if, under such a circumstance, I were to give a flat denial, and ride off as fast as I could."
"Would Mr. Darcy then consider the rashness of your original intention as atoned for by your obstinacy in adhering to it?"
"Upon my word I cannot exactly explain the matter -- Darcy must speak for himself."
"You expect me to account for opinions which you chuse to call mine, but which I have never acknowledged. Allowing the case, however, to stand according to your representation, you must remember, Miss Bennet, that the friend who is supposed to desire his return to the house, and the delay of his plan, has merely desired it, asked it without offering one argument in favour of its propriety."
"To yield readily -- easily -- to the persuasion of a friend is no merit with you."
"To yield without conviction is no compliment to the understanding of either."
"You appear to me, Mr. Darcy, to allow nothing for the influence of friendship and affection. A regard for the requester would often make one readily yield to a request without waiting for arguments to reason one into it. I am not particularly speaking of such a case as you have supposed about Mr. Bingley. We may as well wait, perhaps, till the circumstance occurs before we discuss the discretion of his behaviour thereupon. But in general and ordinary cases between friend and friend, where one of them is desired by the other to change a resolution of no very great moment, should you think ill of that person for complying with the desire, without waiting to be argued into it?"
"Will it not be advisable, before we proceed on this subject, to arrange with rather more precision the degree of importance which is to appertain to this request, as well as the degree of intimacy subsisting between the parties?"
"By all means," cried Bingley; "let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their comparative height and size; for that will have more weight in the argument, Miss Bennet, than you may be aware of. I assure you that, if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference. I declare I do not know a more awful object than Darcy, on particular occasions, and in particular places; at his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening, when he has nothing to do."
Mr. Darcy smiled; but Elizabeth thought she could perceive that he was rather offended, and therefore checked her laugh.
***There you go. Wouldn’t you love to see that scene? Bingley is so funny, I love the line “he would certainly think the better of me if, under such a circumstance, I were to give a flat denial, and ride off as fast as I could." It is SO Jane Austen, and reminds me of her juvenilia, as does the line about ‘comparative height and size’ making Darcy an ‘awful object.’

Well, that’s about enough for today. Life has been busy this week, and I’m lamenting the fact that I haven’t had much time to spend on my dress, even as I spend an hour posting to my blog.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Get the Dress Done

I had a phone chat with Mom Thursday and she has already read and finished Persuasion, which she loved. We talked a little more about Mansfield Park, and she was telling me what she plans to read next. When someone is first discovering or rediscovering Jane Austen novels, I get a little jealous of them having all the joy ahead of them. I dream of browsing through a bookstore and all of a sudden finding a new Jane Austen book. How wonderful that would be.

Yesterday I was thinking as long as I’m making myself a dress I should make a little Barbie dress as well and fix up a little regency / Emma Barbie to put on my dash while I drive to Vancouver. I got pretty carried away thinking how fun it would be, then she’d need a room or maybe a little dollhouse……

I have to stick with my FIRST priority this month, which is getting my dress done. Then maybe I can play around with that other idea a little more.

As far as today goes, I’m hoping to work on the dress a bit, maybe get it cut out at least. I am doing my teenager’s Saturday chore for her because she took the ACT test this morning. Fall is definitely in the air today. I made banana-chocolate chip bread, and listened to soft rock oldies till my husband came home and made fun of me. OK, he accepted the music for a while without saying anything, but I swear the corner of his eye was twitching.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

23 Days Untill the Jane Austen AGM !

I finally have a pattern for my regency dress. I will eventually be able to use the same pattern for a few different dress but since this is my first I want it to be a sort of all purpose dress. My fabric is creamy white cotton with black polka dots.

Dotted Fabric- Here is the fabric and a little sketch of the style of my dress.

Regency Dress Pattern- This is the pattern, though I'm altering it a little bit for my first dress. It will be like the light colored dress, except without the over-dress layer, just floor length, and no bow. I will embellish it a little with some lace.

My Inspiration Dress- Here is a picture of the dress I chose to model mine after.
Here are the Breakout sessions I signed up for at the AGM.:
Session A: Status, social climbing and the meaning of gentility in Emma
Session B: Fun with Frank and Jane: Austen on Detective Fiction
Session C: Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Session D: Women’s Clothing in Jane Austen’s Time
Session E: Austen’s “passion for taking likenesses”: Portraits of the Prince Regent in Emma
I am also taking the Regency Reticule workshop, to make a reticule (or as Jane referred to in a letter, a ‘ridicule’) which is a little purse used to hold small items at the ball. We will be making them ourselves. So please don’t ridicule my reticule. Ahem. I know that was pretty weak. I couldn’t resist.
I also want to find the perfect little book for all my note taking, likeness sketching, and maybe for writing down a charade or two. 23 Days 'till the AGM !

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A New Book

Yesterday my husband and I were sitting around the dinner table when my daughter returned from the mailbox. There was a package for my husband, and as he began opening it I was pouting, sticking my lip out a little and saying in a sad little voice, "Gee, I wish I got packages in the mail." Then as he opened it up he said "Hey, this is for you." I was so excited. It was "Jane Austen, Obstinate Heart, a Biography". I've never read it before and love adding to my JA library. I own several Jane Bio's and have read several more. What a fun treat. My husband said "I told you I was getting it for you." and now I may vaguely remember him mentioning something about a book...... I guess when you have a bad memory every day can be a surprise.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Discussions with My AGM Roommate

One exciting aspect of my Jane Austen adventure in October is that I opted for the roommate matching, in order to save money and share a room in Vancouver. While saving money is a benefit, I think it will be great just to have a head start meeting new people in a place where all the faces will be new. The roommate I’ve been paired with works in a bookshop and will be coming to Vancouver from the other side of the USA. Her e-mails are friendly and it’s been fun getting acquainted. Here is a portion of our first e mail exchange, starting with my letter to her. Names have been omitted.

Thank you for reserving the room. I will be getting there Thursday afternoon sometime and staying till around noon on Sunday. The room sounds perfect.
I live in the mountains in Washington, so the trip to Vancouver is just a couple hours drive for me.
It will be so fun to be around people who love Jane Austen as much as I do. I think I drive everyone crazy when a new movie is coming out.

I'll tell you a little about me...
I have a husband and three daughters. Besides reading, I like oil painting, scrapbooking and other art crafts, but I never have time to do them. My favorite Jane Austen is Mansfield Park. Right now I am reading Emma again to get into the spirit of it all!
This October is also my wedding anniversary and my husband and I are going to Disneyland without the kids.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Here is a portion of her e-mail to me:

After a few details about contacting the Hotel she writes:
I can't think of anything that would make me an undesirable hotelroom-mate----I don't snore and I can't imagine that I will be coming in very late at night.

I live in ------------ and belong to the -------- JASNA group. I have not ever attended an Annual General Mtg. before so I am *quite* excited about going! I am an assistant manager of ------------- independent bookshop, and if you're curious you can see my "staff picks". They only list the most recent, so my review of "Persuasion" is not on there, but the ones listed probably give some small idea of my personality.

Let me know what you think & best regards,
Awesome Roommate. (I added that part----FTSJ )


My Response,
I read your reviews and they are great. The book shop has a very nice web page too, I'd like to add. But your reviews were interesting and yet concise, (something I have a problem with sometimes). I'm going to have to get 'The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane' for my 10 year old. She has read 'because of Winn Dixie' once but she actually LOVES 'Tales of Despereaux' and has read it three times.

I'm going to go out on a limb here since you called yourself a progressive, and tell you in the spirit of full disclosure that I am a hard core conservative, sitting here typing in my Reagan sweatshirt, and hope you still like me. I am very excited to just have a full weekend of Jane Austen, so we can just focus on what brings us together if you want. Or we can just be ourselves and consider it a cultural exchange. :) Maybe we could keep a blog.

I am currently reading Emma again in my spare time, so I'll be ready for October. I want to make a regency gown, but I'll have to wait till I get my kids in school to start work, so I hope I can finish. I'm also going to attach a pic so you can put a face to the rambling……..


Roommate’s Response:
She also sent me a pleasant picture.
I had to chuckle! I'm sure we'll have a great time --maybe we SHOULD keep a blog (though I confess I'm not sure how to do that). I tell you what: I'll forgive the Reagan sweatshirt if you'll forgive my cheeky "Republicans For Voldemort" bumper sticker on my car......

Anyway, you have a great brood there; it looks like a happy family.

I will have to start re-reading Emma soon. The last Jane Austen book I re-read was "Sense and Sensibility" and that was because I was involved in a community theatre production of a play based on the book. I was Mrs. Dashwood, of course. That was a great deal of fun! We performed scenes from it for the local JASNA chapter.

I was hoping to have a gown made, but time is slipping away and it may not happen. Good luck with yours, and I'll see you on Thursday Oct.4th.

So, my roommate appears to be very nice, and I think I’m a pretty good roommate too. I like to have fun and maybe even be a little silly, but I’m not wild and am pretty good at reading people and adapting myself to their situation and personality.
One great thing about the roommate is she is active in her local JASNA group. I admire that. Mine is sort of far and I haven’t ever gone, though I would like to do that sometime. OK, now I don’t know if I should say ‘my’ roommate or ‘the’ roommate. ‘my’ sounds a little teenager and possessive, and ‘the’ sounds a little aloof and wry. Maybe it should just be a title, The Roommate.
You also have noticed that since that exchange I have started the blog, (Since you are reading it), It was an idea I had bouncing around in my head and finally asked my husband and kids how to start. One of my daughters said I should have a Jane picture rather than mine as an icon. I thought that was for your own picture, but you see I am still learning the ropes. I’ll see if I can find one.
My daughter just made twelve teeny cookies in her easy-bake oven. They were actually quite good.
OK, that was a little writer’s break. Where was I….Oh! The other thing about the pictures, is that from the start I wanted to put up a lot of pictures from the Jane Austen AGM when I go, and now I don’t know if I can do it here or if they can only be 100x100 like the icons. I want to put up a lot of pictures, so I’ll have to figure it out and look at some other sites to see what they are doing.
That thing about the easy bake cookies made it sound like I ate all twelve. I did not- I only had one.

I talked to my Mom yesterday and she had just finished Mansfield Park for the first time. She was heading out with Dad to take Grandma for a drive, and visit some of my siblings who are all out camping over the Labor Day weekend.
Mom said it had been a while since she had read ANY Jane Austen and she didn’t remember it being so full of humor and irony. One example we talked about was Mrs. Norris, easily the cruelest character in the book, and yet so much humor swirling around her grumpy conversations. I love it! There is no one like Jane. The edition she read had a long introduction dealing with Austen’s use of symbolism, particularly relating the improvement of land to the improvement and education of people. We discussed this theme a little but I would like to have carried it a little further. The theme adds great insight into the book and the characters and I’ve heard it discussed in various essays, but through my almost annual reading of Mansfield Park I have noticed other themes that I never hear discussed, and If I don’t run across it after a little more review I’ll write it up and post it here for you. Fanny Price is an angel. How I would love to see her, true as written, in the movies, or even better, perhaps a miniseries. But who could write her? Who could play her? I’m tired of seeing Fanny Price reduced to a vivacious bustle of scheming defiance. So unlike her.
She asked if I had finished Austenland, which she gave me for my birthday. I did, and I liked it too. It was a lighthearted little romance that was only the slightest bit steamy. I don’t read a lot of the Jane Austen related novels. Even a quick perusing at the bookstore will show me the book doesn’t pass my ‘blush factor’ and I don’t read much beyond what would be a PG rating. Hot scenes don’t make up for the incisive wit and realistically crafted personalities that Jane Austen created.
Mom had also found a copy of Persuasion and might start that. She is a 1st grade teacher and now that their school is in I know she won’t have as much time to read. Still, maybe I can persuade her to read it, or us both to read it together and discuss it over e-mail.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I finished Emma today. Much like Frank Churchill's letter convinces everyone to be happy and like him again, the cheerful final chapters put me in a good mood with this book, and I think it's not so bad after all. Since I finished this morning I've been doing chores and laundry and catching up with everything that falls behind when I have a book I'm reading. I also stopped in the middle of 'Basic Economics' by Thomas Sowell. It's an interesting book, and dovetails nice with Emma.
I read in the Jasna News about an upcoming film entitled Sense and Sensibilidad'. Now that sounds fun. I'm glad Jane Austen never grows old, because there is always another rendition or interpretation around the corner. I was suprised to hear that a friend had never seen 'Bride and Prejudice'. I said "You HAVE to see it!" and she said maybe she'd buy it. To which I said, "Maybe you should just rent it."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Almost Done With Emma

and good thing because I'm getting behind on the housework! I hate to admit this with Emma's AGM coming up, but it is not high on my list of Jane Austen favorites. But maybe afterwards I'll have a greater appreciation. My favorite novel of all time is Mansfield Park, with Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice in second and third. I know Mansfield Park sparks some debate among Jane Austen Fans, But I think I love Fanny Price so much because I more closely relate to her. My DREAM is to see a movie version of Mansfield Park that is fairly accurate to the book, and alas, I don't think this will ever happen. I spend a lot of time trying to persuade Jane Austen fans to even READ Mansfield Park. I was excited to hear that the ITV versions will be on PBS in the US in January. I can't wait. I've wanted to buy them and they are not available in a format for US TV's yet. I have heard from some people that they have been seen on youtube, and some people even stayed up all night to watch all three of the new movies on a four inch screen in seven minute sections and found it well worthwhile. I'm not condoning such crazed fan behavior, but this is what I hear about the movies.......... The new Mansfield Park was dissapointing, and seemed to be made for a teenage audience desiring nothing more than pretty buildings and regency costumes. The characterizations were all wrong, which makes the plot seem random and bizzarre. The Northanger Abbey was delightful, and really gives a new appreciation for the story, which is often overlooked because of it's simplicity and, I feel, because it is a parody of the typical gothic romance of the day. But the book is sweet because of the way Jane's voice comes through, and this movie is just that, sweet, delightful, well cast. There is a fan vieo on Youtube using clips of the movie to the song "As I Lay Me Down' by Sophie B. Hawkins, that is just excellent, by the way, and could serve as a trailer or promo for the film in January if you aren't quite up to watching the little Youtube screen the way some people are. ...As I Lay Me Down...
The ITV Persuasion was the most pleasant suprise and is highly reccommended. The casting was wonderful, the mood came across so well. For being condensed into the length of feature it is, it covered the story well, with a little creative liscence in the epilogue. It is so good it may atone for the weak Mansfield Park. The novel always brings a tear to my eye, even after many readings, and the movie reached that level of emotion. So here's to a countdown till January, and even better if they go on sale for Christmas!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Jane Austen Society

Looks like I’m up and running!

I am so excited for the JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) general meeting, and want to share my plans along with pictures and comments during the weekend of the meeting. I am a first timer, so everything AGM related is new to me. I am a lifetime member of JASNA, thanks to my sweetie’s thoughtful Christmas gift a couple years ago.
I want to make a dress for the AGM. I’d love to have two, but there’s little more than a month to sew, and my skills leave a lot to be desired. I won’t even be able to start until the kids get in school next week. I was hoping to have a pattern picked out by now. One of my friends told me she has regency costume patterns, so I may run over and see what she’s got on Wednesday, before I go to the fabric store. As far as the color goes, I have gone back and forth between red, or white with a sweet little pattern. Now, since it’s mainly for the evening I’m leaning toward the white. I would like to model it after the dress pictured on the cover of “Jane Austen’s Town and Country Style”, which is light with a small dotted pattern, and has rows of lace around the bottom. I want a high empire waist, but not too much gathering. I don’t want to look puffy around the middle, so I may trade historical accuracy for a more flattering fit.
When I registered for the AGM one of my hopes was to get into the Country Dance workshops, but they were full. That was a minor disappointment. Since then additional workshops have been added on Wednesday night of the AGM, but I will not be arriving until Thursday, so it doesn’t help me any. Maybe I can find a video on the internet. Or maybe I should watch the ballroom scenes from P&P over and over again until I have them down….Either way I am going to have a good time and try dancing a little.
I only live a few hours away from Vancouver, so I’ll be driving. I opted for roommate matching when I registered, so that is another fun part of the adventure. My roommate has reserved the room at the Fairfield and I can’t wait to see it, and meet her.
I am reading Emma again so it will be fresh in my mind. I may go into this more in a later entry, but I’m frustrated that Mr. Knightly isn’t kinder. This time through I’m really struck by the sense of ‘entitlement’ that he has towards her. No wonder Emma can’t think of him in a romantic way. He’s been nothing but her critic from the time she was small. Who wants that?