Monday, May 31, 2010

Want to swap books? (Any classicists out there?)

So all our books are now unloaded and alphabetized, a very satisfying accomplishment. In the course of organizing the library, my husband and I discovered that we not only have multiple copies of several books, but multiple copies of the same editions. When these happened to be drama, I have kept the extra volumes, just in case we should ever decide to entertain ourselves with theatricals (a very unlikely thing to occur, but the notion amuses me excessively). I plan to dispose of the rest. Here is my idea - below is a list of all the duplicate books (all paperbacks), are any of my readers interested? If so, how about a trade? I am willing to entertain all proposals. Unfortunately, there is no JAFF on the list. Sorry. I have included images of the covers when available from Goodreads.

The Oresteia  by Aeschylus, Translated by Robert Fagles, Introduction, Notes, and Glossary by Robert Fagles and W.B. Stanford (pretty good condition, used when purchased)
Aeschylus trumps both Sophocles and Euripides in my book. Besides being the only surviving complete trilogy of Greek drama, this tragedy provides the foundation for the modern justice system - rather important reading as well as amazing literature.

The Oresteia by Aeschylus (again), Translated by Richard Lattimore, Edited by David Green and Richard Lattimore (descent condition but used when purchased with notes in the margins and purple pen underlines)

Four Major Plays by Aristophanes, Introduction by N.R. Teitel (interior is nice but cover is dogeared, used when purchased)
Four great Greek comedies: the notorious Lysistrata, The Acharnians, The Birds, and The Clouds.

Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle, Edited by S. Marc Cohen, Patricia Curd, and C.D.C. Reeve (the sections I read in class are marked up, but in reasonable condition of a text book, slightly dogeared)
Everything you ever wanted to know about Greek philosophy. Go from dilettante to expert in 700 mind bending pages.

 The Grey King by Susan Cooper (great condition)
A beloved, fantasy favorite from my husband's childhood, based on Welsh folklore. Part of The Dark is Rising sequence (number four).

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper  (mediocre condition, due to slight water damage)
The first book in The Dark is Rising sequence.

Ten Plays by Euripides, Translated by Moses Hadas and John McLean, Introduction by Moses Hadas (used when purchased and in descent condition, though the cover is a bit worn)
Alcestis, Medea (my favorite), Hippolytus, Andromache, Ion, Trojan Women, Electra, The Bacchants (second favorite), Iphigenia Among the Taurians, and Iphigenia at Aulus

A Room with a View  by E.M. Forster (good condition, though the cover is a bit dogeared)
One of the greatest novels written in the English language. Florence meets Beethoven meets Helena Bonham-Carter. What could be better?
The Use of Pleasure by Michel Foucault, Translated by Robert Hurley (pretty good condition 
Volume Two of The History of Sexuality, an incredibly detailed (and frank) exploration of ancient Greek perceptions of sexuality.

The End of The European Era, 1890 to the Present, Forth Edition, by Felix Gilbert and David Clay Large (though the spine is slightly bent and the corners slightly dogeared, pretty good condition)
Twentieth century European history, up through 1990.
The Histories by Herodotus, Translated by Aubrey de Selincourt, Introduction and notes by John M. Marincola (good condition, though used when I bought it
Have you seen 300? How about the real story. This is quintessential classic reading.

Seize the Night by Dean Koontz (some wear in the corners of the cover, but otherwise pretty darn good condition)      
Never read it, but Koontz is a passion of my husband. here is what Amazon has to say:
Chris Snow, the light-phobic, oddball hero of Dean Koontz's Fear Nothing, is once again caught in the middle of something ugly. The children (and pets) of Moonlight Bay, California, are disappearing. The first to go is Jimmy Wing, the son of Snow's former girlfriend, Lilly. Then Snow's own hyper-intelligent dog goes missing. Snow decides that he will find them, but what he uncovers is more than just a simple kidnapping; before he can turn back, he's up against an age-old vendetta, an active time machine, and a genetic experiment gone awry.
Seize the Night offers up the same eclectic mix of characters that appeared in Fear Nothing: boardhead Bobby, disc jockey Sasha, Snow, and all of their friends band together to find the missing kids and figure out why the people of Moonlight Bay are morphing into demonic versions of their former selves. They outsmart corrupt cops, outrun genetically enhanced monkeys, and outlive a time warp with a vengeance--all between nightfall and sunrise, the only time that Snow can be outside.
Coldfire by Dean R. Koontz (bent spine, but otherwise like new)
Belongs to my husband. Let's look to Amazon, shall we?
Teacher Jim Ironheart, aptly named, is sent by forces unknown to save chosen people in life-threatening situations. By chance, a young but jaded reporter stumbles onto his missions, and joins him to investigate who is controlling him and why. Shared nightmares begin to point to an extraterrestrial influence, and the pair are forced to confront Ironheart's forgotten past for answers. Koontz ( The Bad Place , LJ 12/89), a master at maintaining mystery and suspense, weaves themes from earlier novels into this latest thriller. Even if the ending calls to mind DuMaurier and Hitchcock, Cold Fire contains all the ingredients--likable characters, nail-biting suspense, and above all, unlimited imagination--that will please Koontz's fans. For all popular collections. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection; Mystery Guild featured alternate; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/90. 

Phantoms by Dean R. Koontz (good condition but for the bent spine and a slightly dogeared cover)
One of the hubbies. According to Amazon:
The lights are on in Snowfield, California, a cozy ski village nestled in the Sierra Madres, but nobody seems to be home. When Dr. Jenny Paige returns to the small town, she finds tables set for dinner, meals being prepared, and music playing in living rooms, but there's no trace of the people who put the water on to boil or set an extra place for company at the dinner table. As she explores the town, Paige finds friends and neighbors felled by a mysterious force--the bodies show no visible signs of violence or disease, and no known plague kills victims before the ice in their dinner drinks has time to melt. But the deep quiet that surrounds her offers few clues about the fate of the town's inhabitants. Dean Koontz's Phantoms strikes fear in readers from the very beginning. The mystery deepens, paving the way for a chilling journey toward the truth. If you plan to catch the film version, starring Ben Affleck and Peter O'Toole, remember that you'll be experiencing this terrifying story in a dark theater. So bring an arm to grab!

News From Nowhere and Other Writings by William Morris, Edited with an introduction by Clive Wilmer (pretty descent condition, though with a marker slash upon two of the cut sides, purchased used)
That guy who designed all those really cool textiles goes agro-Utopian. Wonderful reading for all those interested in the response to English industrialization.
No Exit and Three Other Plays by Jean-Paul Sartre, Translated by Stuart Gilbert and Lionel Abel (O.K. condition, with some writing in the margins courtesy of the previous owner)
Existentialism 101 and a great companion to The Orestia, as The Flies is a
      modernization of the Orestes/Electra myth. Also includes Dirty Hands and The                       Respectful Prostitute.

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (fair condition)
An environmental story about a philosophizing gorilla. 90's classic.

Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories by Philip Roth (pretty descent condition if you can overlook my notations, used when purchased)
A phenomenal collection of modern, American stories with a Jewish edge. Philip Roth is one of my very favorite authors.

The Aeneid by Virgil, Translated by Robert Fitzgerald (good condition, used when purchased)
The story of Aeneas who flees the burning city if Troy and sets out to found a new kingdom, Rome. Incredibly important epic literature.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm Still Here ...

... and finally sitting in front of a functioning computer in my new house. I had no idea I would be without internet for so long (almost two whole weeks!), but it was worth it as the new house is gorgeous! As I am still in midst of getting settled and my super wonderful mother-in-law is in town helping me, this will not be a long post - just a quick check in. My sixth anniversary is this weekend and we intend to celebrate in style. Regular posts will recommence in June.

I am profusely sorry to all of those who have been looking for Janeicillin these past two weeks. Persuasion will commence next Thursday, I promise. Those who were looking for the answer to the riddle included in the final installment of Pride and Prejudice, it is "Tomorrow".

I have read a bunch of JAFF in need of review. Check back to read my thoughts on Deception by Ola Wegner, Perfect Fit by Linda Wells, and  Twilight of the Abyss by Casey Childers. My husband and I have plowed through a bunch of Heyer which I would also like to comment on. I am also participating in Jane in June, for which there will be giveaways and at least one review of First Impressions, as well as my ramblings on Austen obsession. Please check it out. The event is going to be wonderful.

Almost as exciting as a new house and anniversary is that Outskirts Press announced that yours truly was one of their top ten selling authors in April, during which time I sold nearly 400 books! Thank you to all who have purchased, read the book, and enjoyed it. I am absolutely flabbergasted by the positive response it has received and can't wait for life to settle back down so I can pick back up the pen.

So until next week, I hope my fellow Americans thoroughly enjoy the holiday and that our international Austenites are happy and flourishing.  Have wonderful weekends everyone!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mansfield Park (1983)

I really do not have time to write this, the move being in full swing, but I have been rewatching my very favorite Mansfield Park film, the 1983 BBC mini-series, while packing and must make a few comments. Of all six BBC adaptations in my Jane Austen box set, Mansfield Park is, in my opinion, the jewel of the collection. Sylvestra Le Touzel is the only actress to have ever portrayed the Fanny Price Jane Austen created, as opposed to some other creature thought up by screen writers. She is a bit robust for Fanny, but plays the part excellently. In fact, the entire cast is fabulous (my feeling on this issue were made apparent when I mashed up Mansfield): from Henry and Mary Crawford, Robert Burbage and Jackie Smith-Wood, to Aunt Norris played by Anna Massey. But far and away, the outstanding performance in this movie is Angela Pleasence's as Lady Bertram. This brief post is dedicated to her.

Almost every time Ms. Pleasence opens her mouth in this film I burst out laughing, even more so now that I have watched it six or seven times than I did at first. She precisely captures the comic in Lady Bertram, which readers are less inclined to recognize in her than in similarly one dimensional characters, like Mr. Woodhouse. All the languid insipidity Austen endowed her with is here portrayed, with a fluttering, high-pitched delivery that perfectly complements each line, almost all directly transposed from the book. Check out this scene from YouTube (sorry, I can't embed it), in which her wide eyed, drowsy bewilderment is simply phenomenal:

Even if you do not have the patience for British cinematography from the 70's and 80's, I highly recommend this film. Frankly, it is the only version of Mansfield Park that doesn't make me want to throw something at the television screen. It deserves far more comment than I have provided here, and I hope, at some calmer, future time, to write more extensively about it. 

So one last, unembeddable clip before I close. It is the ball at Mansfield and, while far from my favorite scene (those cinematography issues I mentioned before being most apparent and the audio dreadful), it contains my favorite line from Lady Bertram - "I sent Chapman to her" - and perfectly illustrates how Ms. Pleasence hones in on and amplifies the comic nature of this role. Enjoy. I'm off to continue packing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pride and Prejudice Mashup

No, no monsters here. Those who have long read this blog will recall my flights of fancy with Mansfield Park and Emma, in which I picked and chose my favorite actors in each role to compose my idea cast for each film. It is a highly prejudiced exercise, and I intend to fully exercise that prejudice here, appropriately (and repetitively), as I perform the same office for Pride and Prejudice. This most beloved of Austen's novels has been portrayed on film numerous times: first in 1938 (a mere 55 minutes!), then in 1940, starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, and again in 1952, 1958, 1967, and 1980 (staring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul - read my review), all in mini-series format, well before Andrew Davies made his monumental, 1995 mini-series staring Jennfier Ehle and Colin Firth (which is by far my favorite, so consequently over represented here). Next came the 2003, LDS modernization and, of course, the 2005 production staring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. This does not include Bollywood's 2004 Bride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones's Diary, Lost in Austen (read my review), or the upcoming and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The variations are seemingly endless, so for clarity (and for the sake of my sanity), I will focus on only the four best known, traiditonal adaptations: 1940, 1980, 1995, and 2005. As all have numerous merits, the following casting decisions were extremely hard to make:

Elizabeth Bennet - Though all four actresses play the part well, it is Jennfier Ehle who will always be my personal favorite. The indignation and joy she expresses with her eyes are perfectly Elizabeth. No one else captures the liveliness that characterizes her so well. Her performance is, in my opinion, definitive. 

(image -

Fitzwilliam Darcy - Um ... Colin Firth of course. Any one who has been paying attention knows my love of his performace. Just like Jennifer Ehle expresses Elizabeth's "sparkling" nature through her eyes, in Colin Firth's we see all of Darcy's pain and struggles. This has nothing to do with wet shirts and bathtub scenes, in fact I think he looks more handsome in his great coat, but is premised on the fact that he totally embodies the role. If Ms. Ehle's performance is definitive, his is iconic.

Jane Bennet - I really love Sabina Franklyn's 1980 performance. She makes Jane more warm and feeling than she is usually portrayed, without sacrificing that notoriously private lady's composure. I do tend to think of Jane as a blond, but Ms. Franklyn's hair color is not enough to sway me from her.

Charles Bingley - I have to go with Simon Woods in 2005, mostly because he just looks the most like I think Mr. Bingley should. It was a very hard call, as Crispin Bonham-Carter played the role superbly in 1995 (who also has the advantage of being related to one of my favorite actresses, as well as having made an appearance on one of my favorite TV shows), but some roles must go to the 2005 cast and, if Mr. Bingley had a larger role in this version, I believe Mr. Woods (who was actually in yet another of my favorite TV shows) would have been remarkable.

(image - Flore et Faune)

Mr. Bennet - This one is easy. Benjamin Whitrow was Mr. Bennet in 1995. He is perfect in the role, from the sardonic twinkle in his eye to the humored grimace he maintains throughout. No one else has matched him.

(image - BBC)

Mrs. Bennet - Also easy, and though I do not think Alison Steadman is quite as fabulous as her counterpart, it is her voice I now hear shrieking in my mind every time I read the book, which should certainly count for something. She does a better job with the comic aspect of the role than some of the other actresses, and she flutters divinely.

(image -

Lydia Bennet - Those of you who have been following my many links in this post may already know why my prejudice is completely with Julia Sawalha on this one, who performed the role amazingly well in the 1995 mini-series. She played Saffron on the 90's TV show Absolutely Fabulous, a role as different from Lydia as it  possibly could be, and for which she will always command my loyalty.

 George Wickham - Adrian Lukis of course, 1995. I mean, just look at him! Need I say more?

Caroline Bingley - There is a a reason why Miss Bingley almost always wears orange (and looks ghastly in it) in Austen fan fiction: because Anna Chancellor made such a huge impression on everyone who saw her 1995 portrayal of the character. Really, she was fabulous.

(image - Jane Austen Today

Mary Bennet - Mary gets a few more lines in the 1980 mini-series, which might be why I favor Tessa Peake-Jones in the role. Her piano playing is atrocious, her countenance smug, and I just adore the entire performance. I also enjoy how the character was developed in 2005 by Talulah Riley, but she was not as Maryish as she should have been.

Kitty Bennet - If Carey Mulligan had the opportunity to cough in this role, I might have had to go with her, but as it is I must give it to Polly Maberly, 1995.

(image -

 Mr. Collins - Once again, I have to go with the 1995 performance of David Bamber (though Malcolm Rennie must be commended on his dancing in the 1980 version), and again, not just because he is spectacular, but because he is reaping the benefits of my prejudice being on his side. I was always amazed by his perfect portrayal of one of the silliest characters in Austen, but after boggling my mind as Cicero in Rome, he has my undying devotion.

  (image -

Charlotte Lucas - After much deliberation, I have to say Claudie Blakley in 2005 was the best. I really love both Lucy Scott (1995) and Irene Richard (1980) in this role (though I always considered Ms. Scott a bit too pretty for it), but Ms. Blakley, with very little time on screen, nails it.

(image -

 Lady Catherine be Bourgh - This is a little unfair, as this fabulous role has been performed beautifully by all the actresses who have undertaken it, but when Judi Dench is in play, who can really compete? In her hands, it is like the character stepped out of the book and onto film, an indomitable force demanding to be reckoned with.

Georgiana Darcy - I like Emma Jacobs' very short 1980 performance, because it best represents the shyness and timidity Austen gave to the character. Unfortunately, I cannot find an image of her.

(Added 4/21/11 - Thanks to Vince Runza for the following image!

Anne de Bourgh - Again, I like the 1980 representation of this character by Moire Leslie, although this time it is because she is developed beyond what Austen provides. With no lines, it takes only one tender moment for Ms. Leslie to garner our sympathy. Very well done. Sadly, I cannot find an image of her either.

Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner - I love how this couple was portrayed by Michael Lees and Barbara Shelley in 1980. Sophisticated, agreeable, and snidely witty, their performances were dead on. While I cannot find an image of Mr. Lees, here is Ms. Shelley with Elizabeth Garvie.

(image -

Mr. and Mrs. Hurst - Rupert Vansittart and Lucy Robinson (who also played Mrs. Elton in the 1996 TV adaptation of Emma) were perfect in 1995. I especially love when Ms. Robinson demonstrates what good piano playing sounds like with Mozart's Rondo alla Turca, played with such a self-complacent smirk on her face.

Colonel Fitzwilliam - 1995 again, Anthony Calf. He just has the correct manner: not stiff or too handsome but with good air.

Maria Lucas - Lucy Davis (1995) doesn't have a lot of competition, but she does do a wonderful job. Her performance reminds me of Mary Crawford's thoughts regarding the distinction between ladies who are out and those who are not. Here she is with Jennifer Ehle.

(image -

 Sir William Lucas - Christopher Benjamin's 1995 performance is perfect.

(image -

Mrs. Phillips - No one has made her quite vulgar enough for my tastes, but I prefer Lynn Farleigh's 1995 rendition to the others. I love this image of her with Alison Steadman and only wish it were clearer.

 Forgive me for stopping here, to the neglect of Lady Lucas, Mr. Denny, and Mrs. Hill, amongst others. There are so many players in this story that it is difficult to be conclusive. And what of the 1940's version, which I have totally failed to represent? It is so different from the book that it has proven too difficult to plug its characters into a scheme like this, but that does not mean that it isn't a wonderful movie, if a product of its time. In way of making amends, I am concluding on this clip from the film, which includes my favorite scene, in which Greer Garson shows up Laurence Olivier in archery. Enjoy it, as I hope you enjoyed this highly prejudiced exercise. Who would you have cast?

Fabulous Review of First Impressions at Austenesque Reviews!

Meredith of Austenesque Reviews has written the most amazing review of First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice. She says, "Ms. Adams has a beautiful command of language and successfully captures Jane Austen's satirical tone in her writing." No words could coax a sillier grin to my face. Austenesque Reviews is a blog totally dedicated to JAFF reviews, and I frequently wait for Meredith's opinion before buying a book I'm unsure of, as I find her taste very similar to mine, and her reviews are detailed and insightful. It is one of my favorite Austen blogs, and if you have never visited before, please read the First Impressions review and browse around Austenesque Reviews for a while. It is a wonderful resource. Thanks Meredith!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pride and Prejudice Janeicillin: Part Six (Conclusion)

With Miss Bingley back in residence at Netherfield, she wasted no time enacting her plan to pay off every arrear of civility to the Bennets by issuing an invitation to the entire family for dinner, including the Gardiners, recently arrived from London. The Longbourn party arrived in two carriages, the first bearing Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, their two youngest daughters, and Miss Darcy, while Elizabeth and Jane rode with their aunt and uncle. Mr. Darcy smiled broadly as Georgiana entered the house, comfortably chatting with Kitty and Mary, while Mrs. Bennet doted on her, “There now Miss Darcy, we deliver you again into the comfortable presence of your dear brother.” The siblings greeted affectionately. “That is just what I like to see. Good brothers make for good husbands, as my brother Gardiner proves. Miss Darcy would have preferred to wear her silk pelisse. Such a fine wardrobe! Kitty put the notion in her head that it is more becoming with this bonnet – simply nonsense I told her! – Miss Darcy looks very well in the kerseymere and it is far more subtable on an evening such as this. We would not want her catching a cold, now would we Mr. Darcy?”

Once the hypocrisy of this statement, issuing from the mouth of the woman who sent her daughter out on horseback in the rain, would have made Mr. Darcy scornful, but under the tutelage of Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet he had learned to see the humor in Mrs. Bennet's behavior. As her new found zeal for his sister showed no signs of endangering the latter's health, he saw no harm in it. If anything, Georgiana was apt to become terribly spoiled by Mrs. Bennet's attentions, who made sure her favorite foods were always served, that she was always seated in the best place by the fire, and had even gone so far as to surprise her with several trimmings that had caught Georgiana's eye in Meryton, the costs of which she refused to allow Mr. Darcy to defray.

Miss Bingley greeted everyone warmly, and if her face grew tauter than usual when Mr. Darcy stepped forward with a warm welcome for Elizabeth, no one noticed and she quickly recovered herself. When an attempt to draw off Georgiana for a quite tour of the house quickly escalated into an excursion for the entire party (Mrs. Gardiner being particularly intent on surveying her niece's new home), Caroline's smile was perfectly gracious, for the world appearing as if nothing would make her happier than to guide a gaggle of noisy Bennets and their Cheapside relations through Netherfield. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth stayed behind, happy to grab a moment to themselves.

“I shall thank Miss Bingley for so adeptly maneuvering her guests so as to procure this time alone for us. Surely that was her intention; do you not think so?”

“While I can willingly credit Miss Bingley's determination to make amends for former slights, I cannot go so far as to believe she is as pleased as she appeared with her current employment.”

“But her manner was so hospital! She has even learned to pronounce my name without that distinctive, nasal sneer she used to employ whenever she said, 'Miss Eliza Bennet.' She maintains the uninvited familiarity, but as she shall soon be Jane's sister, I will overlook the offense.”

“I must give her credit. A woman with less countenance could not hide her mortification so well, though her recent acquaintance with Sir Ludlow seems to be acting as a balm.”

“You think Miss Bingley has strong countenance? Should I be jealous?”

Darcy laughed, “Well, if you could cultivate her ability to find glory in everything I do, I would not complain. Instead you only perceive my faults.”

“I am blind to your faults, Fitzwilliam Darcy. The only folly I ever perceived in you was of my own fabrication. It never existed.”

“Oh yes indeed it did, my dear, and I trust you to keep me in check from now on.”

“Soon we shall be each other's support, be it in improvement or folly, till death do we part.”

“Just one week more.”

“It feels an eternity.”

“It will be over before you know it.”

And so it was. The next several days found Longbourn in even greater chaos than ever, as Mrs. Bennet strove indomitably forward towards her goal: nothing less than the most memorable wedding Meryton has seen in generations. Mrs. Phillips became a daily visitor, her sister claiming her presence invaluable, the only one who understood the state of her nerves (Mrs. Gardiner proving almost as unsympathetic as Mr. Bennet to their demands), and Miss Darcy was finally induced to see the justice of her brother's delicately phrased criticisms of his future mother. She could not bear witness to Mrs. Bennet's spasms, which at first appeared debilitating, followed by a frenzy of activity only the stoutest individual could sustain, without realizing that the lady was ridiculous, but Mrs. Philips's vulgarity was another, and perhaps a greater, tax on her forbearance. Georgiana approached with composure the unpleasant task of crediting Miss Bingley with some insight when she warned of the discomforts of Longbourn, an admission Caroline was quick to repeat to Mr. Darcy. Though Mrs. Philips, as well as her sister, stood in too much awe of him to speak with the familiarity which Georgiana's age encouraged, yet, whenever she did speak, she must be vulgar. Nor was her respect for him, though it made her more quiet, at all likely to make her more elegant. When Mr. Darcy approached his sister on the matter, however, she stoutly refused any change in her abode. Mrs. Bennet might not be quite what she hoped, but she had been kind and loving to her, and she would not repay such hospitality by abandoning her now.

“Besides, Kitty and I are supervising several preparations. Mrs. Bennet would be beside herself were I to relinquish my responsibilities.”

“You could visit daily from Netherfield.”

“But Brother, that is when Mrs. Phillips visits, so I should not be spared the real evil of the situation. She stares at me so, questioning Mrs. Bennet all the while about our family, as if I were not in the room. It's nearly intolerable. No, the evening are by far the most pleasant time at Longbourn. Kitty and I were up so very late last night, engaged in the most amusing conversation, I am surprised I could open my eyes this morning, but I feel perfectly refreshed.”

“I am glad you enjoy Miss Catherine's company. Of what did you speak?”

Georgiana looked askance, “Nothing I shall share with you, Brother.”

He laughed, “Oh no, of course not. I shan't force your confidence, but I am glad to know you have made a friend. Do you spend much time in Miss Mary's company.”

“Yes. We have been practicing together, which, and I hope I many not be accused of arrogance, has resulted in a great improvement in her performance. Mr. Bennet even said so. But she is not like Kitty, who is so very unreserved – not in any negative sense, it is just that she speaks so honestly and without disguise. I feel as if I could tell her anything, even about Wickham.”

“Have you?”

“No. It would not be right to say such things of her sister's husband, but I do hope she does not spend much time with them in the future. Kitty tells me Lydia was always pushing her to venture into schemes with which she was uncomfortable. Such companionship cannot be good for her.”

“I think you have little to fear. But for when the Wickhams travel here, an expense which they are unlikely to be able to often afford, Catherine will not be seeing her sister. Mr. Bennet sees the situation much as you do.”

“I am very glad to hear it.”
“I think we had better invite Miss Kitty to join us at Pemberley, as her companionship is so agreeable to you. What do you think of the notion?”

Georgiana's face lit up, “Oh yes! That would be delightful, as long as Mary doesn't feel slighted.”

“I have already discussed it with Elizabeth, and she assures me that Miss Mary's sense of duty would not allow her to abandon her parents. We will have her to Pemberley another time.”

Georgiana's obvious pleasure warmed Mr. Darcy's heart. They were comfortably ensconced in Mr. Bennet's library, the only room in the house where any privacy was to be had, while their host was about his business on the estate. When Elizabeth knocked on the door to join them, his happiness was complete.

“I am not intruding?”

“Not at all.” Georgiana rose and hugged her. “Fitzwilliam just told me we shall invite Kitty to Pemberley. I am thoroughly pleased with the idea. Does she know yet? May I tell her?”

Elizabeth laughed, “No, we thought it best not to say anything unless you approved. She is in the store rooms, overseeing the inventory.”

“I will go to her at once.” She dropped a hurried curtsy and left the room.

“She seems much happier. Was it a difficult conversation to have?”

“No. She was honest about her discomfort, but has not the least intention of decamping.”

“I wish I could better shield her from the frequent notice of my aunt. You I can keep to myself, and to those of the family with whom you might converse without mortification. Georgiana, here in the heart of bedlam, is harder to shelter.”

“She seems to think just as she ought on the matter. A few more days will bring an amendment to the situation.”

“So they will.”

Elizabeth and Darcy sunk in to silence, enjoying this rare moment alone. Their peace was disrupted by the loud chatter of young ladies. “It seems Georgiana found Kitty.”

“And that her news was taken well. I hope you do not regret your generosity to my sister. Her presence will certainly enliven Pemberley.”

“I am looking forward to it. She will keep Georgiana entertained while I engage in more important business.”

Elizabeth blushed, but any uncomfortable feelings arising from his look only added to her hope for the future. She looked forward with delight to the time when they should be removed from society so little pleasing to either, to all the comfort and elegance of their family party at Pemberley.

“Lizzy? May I come in?” asked Jane, with a perfunctory knock at her bedroom door.

“Of course! I was just going organizing my correspondence. Will you help me decide what to keep and what to burn? It is so hard to know what will have meaning and permanence in this new life, and what should be relegated to the past.”

“I know what you mean, though it is easier for me. There are several items of childhood memorabilia I am leaving behind for now, knowing I can easily transfer them to Netherfield later.”

“Look - here are your letters from London. Shall I relegate those to the fire?”

“Most certainly. It will not do to remember such times.” She sat beside Elizabeth on the bed and glanced over the sad lines written in such misery, though she tried to hide it, when all hope of Mr. Bingley seemed lost. Acting her own advice, she cast them into the hearth. “I found the book of pressed flowers I made when Lydia was born, as well as our collection of riddles. Remember what a nuisance we made of ourselves, quizzing all the neighborhood for submissions?”

Elizabeth laughed, “How could I forget?

'I never was, but always am to be;
None ever saw me, you may never see;
And yet I am the confidence of all
Who live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.'”

Jane smiled at the memory and resumed the recitation, “'The lover trusts me for his destined bride;/And all who hopes or wishes have beside.*' And now it is our time. Are you nervous?”

“Yes, but it is a happy feeling. In many ways I am sorry to leave Longbourn, but as I have every reason to believe that the future holds far more pleasures for me than I have ever been accustomed to, it is easy to overcome such regrets.”

“I will miss you terribly.”

“Oh Jane! So will I. When I think of you, Derbyshire seems farther away than ever before.” The sisters embraced, all their hopes and fears for the future conveyed in their loving arms. They were interrupted by Mrs. Bennet, who insisted they get to bed in order to be in their best looks on the morrow.

“We will write so often and at such length that our husbands might very well fear for their purses,” laughed Elizabeth as she pulled away from her dearest sister.

“What nonsense Lizzy! Why, Mr. Darcy has ten thousand pounds! He can well afford your correspondence.”

The wedding day dawned cold but fair. While Mrs. Bennet attended to last minute details, Mrs. Gardiner assisted Jane and Elizabeth to dress. Both wore elegant white muslins: Jane's whiteworked and Elizabeth's embroidered with primrose flowers. Mrs. Gardiner smiled approvingly at both ladies as they happily adjusted each other's gowns, relishing the knowledge of what delights lay in store for her favorite nieces, so blessed as to be marrying honorable men whom they loved. Their beaming faces assured her of their felicity, and she said a silent prayer of thanks that circumstances had worked out as they did.

At Netherfield, the gentlemen gathered in the hall as they waited for the ladies to appear. Colonel Fitzwilliam had arrived the evening before and Miss Bingley immediately made him the recipient of her attentions, requiring a much longer time than usual to expend on her dress. Mr. Darcy paced the floor while Mr. Bingley stared at the stairwell, his pallor tinged green, all to the Colonel's great amusement. When Caroline and Louisa finally began to descend, both grooms were out the door and in the waiting carriage before they reached the bottom step. At one time, such a slight would have raised Miss Bingley's ire, but as Colonel Fitzwilliam graciously took her arm and escorted her to the door, she found it quite easy to make allowances for the impatience of two gentlemen in love.
Friends and family assembled at the church to see the double wedding, all of whom proclaimed the brides beautiful, the grooms beaming, and the recitation superb. Mr. Bennet was particularly affecting as he proudly gave away his eldest daughters. Those in attendance who knew his disappointment over Lydia's marriage had some notion of how deeply he appreciated the characters of his new sons. He kissed Jane before placing her hand in Mr. Bingley's and then performed the same office for Elizabeth, whispering, “You will always by my little Lizzy,” before taking his seat. Those invited to partake of the wedding breakfast had the satisfaction of being able to declare it the most complete of its kind. If Mr. Hurst found fault with the preparation of the ham, no one paid him any heed, least of all his hostess.

Happy for all her maternal feelings was the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters. With what delighted pride she afterwards visited Mrs. Bingley, and talked of Mrs. Darcy, may be guessed. I wish I could say, for the sake of her family, that the accomplishment of her earnest desire in the establishment of so many of her children produced so happy an effect as to make her a sensible, amiable, well-informed woman for the rest of her life; though perhaps it was lucky for her husband, who might not have relished domestic felicity in so unusual a form, that she still was occasionally nervous and invariably silly.

Very different sensations belonged to Lady Catherine when she read the wedding announcement in the paper. Fortunately, by that time Elizabeth and Darcy were well on their way to Pemberley, and Lady Catherine was the farthest person from their minds.

The End

*I never was, but always am to be;
None ever saw me, you may never see;
And yet I am the confidence of all
Who live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.
The princely heir, his honours not yet blown,
Still looks to me for his expected crown;
The miser hopes I shall increase his wealth;
The sick man prays me to restore his health;
The lover trusts me for his destined bride;
And all who hopes and wishes have beside.
Now name me, but confide not, for believe
That you and everyone I still deceive.

From The American Girl's Book: or, Occupation for Play Hours by Eliza Leslie
Leslie, Eliza. The American Girl's Book. Boston: Monroe & Francis, 1831.

Can you solve the riddle? Come back next Thursday to learn the answer and for your first dose of what is likely to be Persuasion Janeicillin!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Fabulous Review of First Impressions at A Whole Book World

CaRiiToO of A Whole Book World has posted a glowing review of First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice! I can't properly describe the surge of happiness that courses through me each time I read that someone loved the book, but it is such a glowing, contented sensation that I refuse to believe that anyone could have derived similar joy just from my scribblings. Knowing that I have touched just the one or two people who have told me how much they loved the book makes all the effort worthwhile, and makes me anxious to pick back up my pen! After the move ...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mansfield Park and Mummies by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian

I simply adore Lady Bertram. The languid portrait Austen paints of a lady of leisure, oblivious to all but her own comforts, is one of my favorite - standing right beside Mr. Collins, Miss Bates, and Sir Walter Elliot in ridiculousness. So when I heard that the plot Mansfield Park and Mummies was driven by the actions of this rather immobile character, I was intrigued in spite of myself. My feelings are terribly mixed about these monster mash-ups, having barely gotten through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the reading of which endangered my walls and valuables, as it was a great struggle not to pitch the book across the room), abandoned Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters after the first chapter, but was amused by Vampire Darcy's Desires (read my thoughts). When Vic at Jane Austen Today so eloquently championed Vera Nazarian's mummification of Mansfield Park, it tipped the scales in the book's favor.

The biggest difference between Mansfield Park and Mummies and the other books I have read of its ilk is that it makes not the slightest, irritatingly pretentious, attempt to take itself seriously. In her Author's After-Note, Ms. Nazarian attributes all historical inaccuracies and liberties taken with the plot to "literary mayhem", a term I much prefer to monster mayhem and which perfectly describes what occurs in this book. The text it riddled with ridiculous footnotes, providing a rather Beavis and Butthead - who I never thought would make an appearance on this blog - style of commentary (he he, she said mounting) and randomly italicized words, giving the text a consciously absurd atmosphere. But it is not Ms. Nazarian's tongue-in-cheek presentation that tantalizes the Austenite through 555 pages of mummies, werewolves, and vampires (yes, this is a veritable menagerie of monsters), but that she achieves in this book what all the very best JAFF does: making our fantasies for beloved characters come true. In this instance, such imagining have everything to do with Fanny Price.

Though it is Lady Bertram's obsessive zeal for Egyptology that brings the mummy, Lord Eastwind, to Mansfield, it is for Fanny Price that he comes, the reincarnation of his long lost love:
"Miss Price. You promised me the honor of a single dance tonight. The night may not end without it."

Fanny felt a quickening in her chest, a shortness of breath, while a blush spread to her cheeks and filled her, like ancient fiery wind of the desert.

"Sir - I am rather tired. And it is late."

And yet, even as she said it, she knew that she must acquiesce, and she felt the warmth of his gaze upon her like a thing tangible.


Fanny looked up and for the first time fully met the gaze of his strange familiar eyes.

The world turned. The candlelight flared, seeming to glow more golden, and the dance music gathered around them with a rich swell of the Nile overflowing the boundaries of all.

Fanny took his hand, feeling a jolt of awareness at the touch. All her weariness fled. She was suddenly aflame; she was sun itself, as he led her into the dance.
Now Edmund Bertram never made that happen, did he? Lord Eastwind is precisely the devoted lover Fanny deserves - so much more satisfying than Edmund, who for so long remains oblivious to her charms, and the selfish Henry Crawford, who, let's give him his due, does at least appreciates her.  Nevertheless, this is still Fanny Price we are speaking of, who knows very well that marrying a mummy is not a recipe for happiness. She feels her connection to him but recognizes its impossibility, able to see the chaos that has beset Mansfield (just like in the original book) when everyone else is blind to the evils that surround them. It is Fanny who is impervious to the vampire (very appropriately, Mary Crawford) and discovers how to destroy the herds of mummies who make up Lord Eastwind's entourage. She is the defender of Mansfield - both of its values and from the monsters. Ms. Nazarian's portrayal can be read as an admonishment to those who think Fanny a dull heroine, as she raises her to almost super-hero status with only those powers that Austen originally endowed her with - loyalty, honesty, and gratitude.

While there are scenes which made me groan, I really enjoyed this book. Ms. Nazarian skillfully incorporates the mystique and lure of vampires and mummies into the original themes of the book. She engages in a great deal of nonsense as well (beware the Brighton Duck), but what kept me reading was her careful and sensitive reading of Mansfield Park. Ms. Nazarian's respect for Jane Austen is apparent throughout the book - the key ingredient to a mash-up worth reading.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Jane Austen does not portray ideal representations of parenthood. Mothers and fathers in her books are never perfect and usually far from it. I could spend a great deal of time analyzing the function of ineffective or absent parenting in Austen, as many people already have, but it would not be in the spirit of the day. So instead I ask: if we pick and choose qualities amongst Austen's mother figures, could we not piece together just one lady quite worthy of the title Mama? She would be always supportive, like Mrs. Dashwood, and willing to go to great lengths to insure her family's well-being, like Mrs. Bennet. You could always depend on her for advice, like Lady Catherine, but like Lady Russell, she'll learn to accept that hers is not always the best. When far from home, she would be a dedicated correspondent, like Lady Bertram, and when ill, your best nurse, like Mrs. Jennings. She would be magnificent to behold but still thoroughly sensible, like the late Lady Elliot, and perhaps most importantly, like Mrs. Weston, would always consider you her picture of perfection. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pride and Prejudice Janeicillin: Part Five

“It is a pleasure to see you again, Mrs. Gardiner,” Georgiana sincerely smiled at her visitor, inviting her to sit down. The ladies made themselves comfortable while Mrs. Annesley called for tea.

“My dear Miss Darcy, you have no notion how pleased I am about the engagement of my niece to your brother. Lizzy has always been special to me, she has such a lively mind, and often have I worried that she would never meet the man to suit her. Mr. Darcy surpasses my wildest hopes for her. He is the best of men, and it is my belief that their marriage will be uncommonly happy.”

Georgiana glowed, “You express my feelings precisely. Miss Bennet is everything I ever hoped for in a sister. I do so look forward to seeing her again.”

“I understand you will be a guest at Longbourn for the wedding.”

“Yes. The Bennets have been so good as to accommodate me.”

“So I understand, which is what brings me to you today. I hope you will honor Mr. Gardiner and I with your company on our journey to Hertfordshire.”

Georgiana blushed, “Thank you. I very much wish I could, but the Hursts have already asked me to join their travelling party, and I fear it would be rude to alter the arrangements now.”

“Well, we shall have ample opportunity to get better acquainted when we are all in residence at Longbourn.”

“I would much rather ride with you and Mr. Gardiner,” she replied consciously. “I am afraid I find Miss Bingley’s company rather unnerving.”

“It is only a short journey, and surely you must be more comfortable with those whom you know so well.”

“One would think so, but it is not the case. Indeed, Mrs. Gardiner, though we have met but a few times, I feel infinitely more at ease with you, just as I do with Miss Bennet. I cannot wait to meet the remainder of your family. It is rare that I meet people whose intentions are so trustworthy, endowed with natures so kind.”

Now it was Mrs. Gardiner’s turn to appear conscious. It was impossible to disclose precisely why such assumptions should not be made about the Bennet clan as a whole, but she felt she must say something to Miss Darcy, lest she be shocked upon arrival at Longbourn. “I feel I am very fortunate to be married into such a warm family, but as content as I am with my relations’ frank and unpretentious discourse, I value them even more for their diversity. Do not think that all at Longbourn are like Lizzy. Each of my nieces has distinct interests and pursuit – their own, individual identities. Jane is one of the sweetest creatures alive, while Mary is scholarly and Kitty playful. Of course, Lizzy is thoroughly her father’s daughter, observant and spirited. I hope you will love them all.”

“I have no doubt I will. Since leaving school, I have had little opportunity to be with girls my own age. It will be a great treat to spend several days in such company.”

Mrs. Gardiner smiled, hiding her anxiety at these words while fervently hoping her young friend’s prediction would somehow be fulfilled.

While Mrs. Bennet might frequently boast of the superiority of her table over that of her neighbors, evenings at Longbourn were almost entirely devoid of the key ingredient for every successful gathering: the good will of the hosts. Not so at Lucas Lodge. Sir William Lucas, though not a man of many subjects, could be counted on to greet each guest with delight while his sensible wife administered to their comforts. Thus Mr. Bingley left Netherfield lively, with a spring in his step, certain of a pleasant evening with his beloved Jane. While Mr. Darcy was also bound to see his equally beloved Elizabeth, he could not, as usual, share his friend’s cheerful prospect. It was precisely the kind of gathering which he usually avoided, and while recent practice had done much to inure him to his future family’s oddities, the notion of Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins at the same table was not one her could think on with ease. He was willing to endure much for Elizabeth’s sake, however, and he managed the semblance of an amiable smile as he entered the Lodge.

His composure was greatly tried by what met him. Before either host could greet the new arrivals, Mr. Collins put himself forward, bowing profusely and quick to enumerate on his growing connections to the Darcy family, “Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley! I hope this evening find you both hale and happy, as how could you not be, when the prospect of my lovely cousins’ felicitous company must be such a constant buoy to your spirits.” Here he made many suggestive movements of the eyebrows, causing Darcy to call upon all the power of his notable self-restraint in order to fight the temptation to administer a thorough set down. “Having so recently entered the blissful married state myself, I thoroughly understand how young love renders one immune to those cares which, under normal circumstances, must cause excessive grievance. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, while I fully feel the honor of one of your exulted position deigning to seek affection in such a humble, though undeniable attractive, lady as my cousin Elizabeth, it pains me to know that such happiness is bought at the price of my esteemed patroness’ peace of mind. While her grief is certainly understandable and my sympathies are all hers, the great compliment you show my family is a substantial condolence. The connection is imminently desirable, for not only do I have the privilege of calling Miss Elizabeth cousin, but as she is also the particular friend of Mrs. Collins, I must rejoice in match.”

Fortunately, Sir Lucas now found the opportunity to make his own greeting, as Mr. Collins was forced to gather his breath. Never before was Mr. Darcy so willing to endure the older gentleman’s conversational inanities. Where was Elizabeth? He should have kept Bingley from leaving so early, making sure they were not the first arrivals. After an interminably long wait, all the while enduring the civilities of Sir Lucas and Mr. Collins (neither of their wives succeeded in checking their enthusiasm), it was with relief he heard a carriage arrive, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of Mrs. Bennet scolding, her voice carrying itself into the house well before the family crossed the threshold. “Stand up straight Mary. Why would you insist on that tucker! Let me look at you, Jane and Elizabeth. You look wonderful my dears, if only Miss Lizzy would wipe that smirk from her face! Stop coughing Kitty! You try my nerves mercilessly.”

When the family finally made their appearance, Mr. Darcy immediately sought Elizabeth’s eyes, their smiling aspect soothing his entire being. He stepped forward to claim his lady, as did Bingley, ignoring the smiles and illusions Sir Lucas would insist on making. “Nothing so predictable as young love, is their Mr. Bennet? You should have seen these gentlemen not two minutes ago – all anxiety and impatience! I think I was more at ease upon receiving my knighthood. And now they are all smiles and contentment! Quite an entertainment, young love!”

While neither Darcy nor Elizabeth found the notion of being a spectacle for the amusement of the neighbors agreeable, in each other’s company they could overlook such impertinences and enmesh themselves in their own world. Though Elizabeth would strive to shield Mr. Darcy from all the parading and obsequious civility of her cousin, it was with pleasure and amazement that she witnessed how he bore it with admirable calmness. He could even listen to Sir William Lucas, when he complimented him on carrying away the brightest jewel of the country, and expressed his hopes of their all meeting frequently at St. James's, with very decent composure. If he did shrug his shoulders, it was not till Sir William was out of sight, when he and Elizabeth could safely smile at the proceedings. “I see you have been imbibing my father’s philosophy - making sport for our neighbors, and laughing at them in turn. It is a very useful practice in a gathering such as this one, though sometimes it can be taken too far.”   

He smiled, looking across the room to Mr. Bennet as he listened to Sir Lucas with an air of serious attention, but a comic twinkle in his eye, “I think I have a long way to go before I can see humor in all the people you father does. It is your presence, Elizabeth, which makes me tolerant and easy – without it I would be very much that same man you first met at the assembly in Meryton, offending everyone in the room with a glance.”

“It was you who made the change.” She frowned, “I might have provided inspiration in the form of a few hastily chosen and terribly misguided words, but you deserve all the credit.”

“Now what of your philosophy, to only remember the past as it gives you pleasure?”

“Yes indeed. I intend in the future to create a far vaster supply of pleasant memories, in order to make that dictate as easy as possibly to follow.”

“Shall we begin now?” Darcy asked with a grin.
Elizabeth looked across the room to see Mr. Collins determined approach, followed quickly by his wife, who was trying in vein to redirect his attention towards Mrs. Bennet. “Perhaps tomorrow would be preferable?”

Darcy looked up and saw the rector with a sigh. “I can’t wait to take you home to Pemberley, where we can finally be truly alone. While Mrs. Collins will always be a welcomed guest, perhaps we can arrange her visits for those times when Mr. Collins is indispensible at Rosings?”

“Between Charlotte and myself, I feel certain we can manage.”

It was a bright day, and while the weather remained seasonal, the sun beating down through the windows of the crowded carriage made it hot and uncomfortable. Not being as well-sprung as the Darcy vehicles to which she was accustomed, Georgiana found the rocking of the coach unnerving. Her discomfort was aided by Mr. Hurst snoring loudly in a corner, completely undisturbed by his sister-in-law’s incessant chatter. It was the most unpleasant journey she could ever recall enduring.

“I met Sir Ludlow at Mrs. Stanton’s just s few weeks ago, and ever since we see him so often in society. He has called in Grosvenor Square three times, and has dined with us once. He was at the theater last week and joined us in our box for the entire second act.”

“Don’t forget, Caroline, that you also rode with him in the park.”

“Very true, Louisa, how could I fail to mention it? It was a lovely day, the perfect temperature for such activities, and Sir Ludlow was anxious to try the new team of grays he just purchased. His attentions are very flattering, indeed, though I cannot possibly take them seriously.”

Georgiana wanted to close her eyes and block out as much of her surroundings as possible, but Miss Bingley was clearly expecting her to respond. “Do you doubt his intentions?”

Caroline look horrified, “No. Certainly not.”

“He has made it quite clear that can expect a proposal upon our return to London,” supplied the more diplomatic Mrs. Hurst.

“Yes indeed, but I do not believe I shall accept such a poor looking man, even if he is a baronet. Why, he is no taller then myself and wears his coats very ill. Besides, his estate is overdrawn.”

“Which is why we can be certain of his offer,” mumbled Louisa, causing her sister to scowl.

The coach turned, placing the sun behind them, and Georgiana could once more look out the window without scalding her eyes. She thought they should be nearly there by now, and the approach of a quaint town raised her hopes of relief. Never was one of Miss Bingley’s complaints more welcome to Georgiana’s ears than when she said, “Well, here we are again. Meryton is such a worthless little town. I do hope Charles chooses to settle elsewhere.” She thought a few months spent so near to his new relations would serve as strong encouragement towards such a course, but would not say so in front of Georgiana, holding her peace until she and Louisa were alone.

Soon they were pulling in the drive to Longbourn, and Georgiana’s longing for release was replaced by anxiety for the approaching meeting. She fervently hoped the ladies of the house would like her, as she was terribly lonely for female companionship. The carriage came to a halt and several women filed out of the house to greet the newcomers. Miss Bingley descended with her broadest smile for the Bennets, formerly so often snubbed, greeting both Jane and Elizabeth like old friends. The latter came forward to introduce Georgiana, and she looked with trepidation at the examining faces of what must be Mary and Kitty. However, before they could exchange even a few words, a matronly woman embraced her warmly, in such a manner as Georgiana had never before known. “You look tired my dear. Travel is so fatiguing. Come inside and we will see you settled comfortably.”

Mrs. Bennet might terrify her brother and embarrass Elizabeth, but to Georgiana, so long deprived of maternal care, she was like rain in the desert. Mary and Kitty would wait – for now, Miss Darcy was happy to bask in Mrs. Bennet’s fawning and over-attentive care.   


Come back next week for another dose!