Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jane Austen Goes Hi Tech

Yesterday I received an Amazon Kindle 2 in the mail. I know that many people are against the e-book and the e-book reader. I must admit I love it. It's not backlit and it's easy to read. I just downloaded my complete works for $4.49. Shockingly low but what a great value. I also got the complete works of Elizabeth Gaskell. I picked up a new book called "Dear Jane Austen" which is a series of Jane Austenesque letters. I have read a few and they are quite charming. I will let you know what other books I find as explore the Kindle 2 store. All I have to say is don't knock the Kindle 2 till you try it. It's a fun technology.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Is It All Just a Cinderella Story?

As I'm watching Wives and Daughters I see a little Cinderella involved and as I was thinking about that I saw a little Cinderella in Pride & Prejudice as well. Sense and Sensibility could also be a Cinderella story. So could Jane Eyre and Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park and Persuasion. Emma is not a Cinderella story. However I started to wonder about our famous romances and our favorite fairy tale. A Cinderella story exists in almost every culture. Similar to the flood story that exists in every culture. Do we love the idea of the underdog, the witty girl, the nice girl, the shy girl, the steady girl getting the great guy so much that we read and write it over and over again? A few days ago I spoke of Thomas Hardy. Now here was a man who did not believe in Cinderella. Wuthering Heights and Bronte definitely not a Cinderella. Anna Karenina and Tolstoy not Cinderella. But how many of our great love stories are Cinderella? Sent me a comment and let me know what your favorite love story is and if it is a Cinderella or if it's not.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Edmund Bertram: What a Twit

So I know I wrote Mansfield Park and I know that Austen scholars say that if you are a true Janenite you love Mansfield Park the best, but seriously I can't stand it. Fanny is such a wonderful person the fact that Edmund doesn't love her right away makes me angry. And as you can see, no one voted for him in the poll. I'm not even sure why Fanny decides to take Edmund in the end anyway. I have just received Amanda Grange's Edmund Bertram's Diary and am intrigued to see if I will have warm and fuzzy feelings about Edmund. I like to see what Grange thinks my heros are thinking and I'd like to see if maybe Edmund was just awed by the newness of Mary Crawford and then realizes that he always loved Fanny. I like to think that's how it should be.

Let's quickly discuss the movie adaptations of Mansfield Park. There's the Frances O'Connor version where Fanny is more like a young me than she is her. Plus there's the lesbian sex scene. Suddenly I see NetFlix getting a huge run on this movie. Then there's the one PBS did with Billie Piper. No offense to Billie, I love her in Dr. Who, but she is not Fanny. She's more Victorian prostitute. Again I see NetFlix having a huge run on this movie. It just seems that people need to spice this movie up. They can't leave the plot. Which makes me think, why did I write it in the first place?

I'll let you know if I have warmer feelings toward Edmund, but I feel like I'll still think he's quite the cold fish. Although it is one of my racier books with all the bed hopping. Suddenly I see having a huge run on this book.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shoot Sir Elton John

Okay, so vampires and zombies. I suppose I can get that, but aliens? Now I'm just pissed.

Sir Elton John's movie company is making "Pride & Predator" where the alien predator from the Alien vs. Predator movies will come to Pride & Prejudice. Are you kidding me? This is worse than the Crocodile Rock! This man gave beautiful songs to women like Princess Diana and Marylin Monroe and me, I get an alien abduction?! Did Marylin really give anything to the world? I know she acted and such, but what else did she do? Princess Di was a nice woman, a real humanitarian, but her personal life overshadowed her good deeds. Now me, who hasn't really lived a crazy life, gets aliens?! I created a genre. I made the smart girl in class realize she could be loved for her wit and not just her fine eyes. My books are required reading in school and instead of being an English rose, I'm a bloody alien horror movie.

You know I love to see what people do with my books. I love to see how they love the characters and want to see the story continue. But this is making me sicker than all the sex.

I am incredibly sad and have lost my faith in humanity. Thank you Elton John. I fear I shall no longer refer to you as sir.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thomas Hardy Meets Jane Austen

In recent years Thomas Hardy has been making his way into Jane Austen movie adaptations. My question is why? Hardy is well for lack of a better word: hard. His characters face hardships and poverty is openly seen. Austen is different. Her world is a world of manners and social situations. The Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice has the girls feeding chickens and shows the muck and the mire of Regency England. Jane and Elizabeth even share not only a room, but a bed. The thing is, Mr. Bennet's estate is worth around 2000 pounds a year. This may make him poor because of the entailment and having no sons, but he by no means needs to use his daughters to help run the farm. Plus the actual farm would be away from the main house.

The Kate Beckinsale version of Emma also shows the poverty and the muck and the mire. This is why I prefer the Gwenyth Paltrow version. Besides Jeremy Northam just looks yummy in Regency clothing.

It's not that the movies are bad, it's just that they aren't Jane Austen. In today's world we seem to want reality in our historical dramas. While it's historically accurate that's not the point of Austen's books. They're character studies, not poverty studies. So give me my genteel world.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Good

So lately I've been talking about some of the bad P & P fan fiction. Obviously no one wants to read that, but if you are looking for something to read, here are a few that might help:

"Pemberley Shades" by Dorthea Bonavia-Hunt is probably the best P & P sequel I've read. It was written in 1949 and was almost impossible to find until recently. I first heard about it several years ago and through the magic of interlibrary loan was able to borrow it from the University of Pennsylvania. The bad thing is the book, which was one of the original 1949 printings was missing some pages, so I didn't get to read the whole story. Then one day I found it had been reprinted and was available through There is a problem with the reprint as well: it is riddled with errors. There are typos everywhere, but if you can get over that, then it's a great read. One thing that makes this sequel so great is not overly much happens. There are no rapes or kidnappings. It's like an Austen novel. There's a masquerade, which creates the main part of the story. The characters act like you want them too. There is no, "This isn't really how Elizabeth would act." It's well done and I enjoyed it immensely. If only we could get a decent copy.

The other sequel I really enjoyed was "Conviction" by Skylar Hamilton Burris. This follows Georgiana's path after Elizabeth and Darcy marry. It's a truly beautiful story. There might be a little more politics than Austen would give us; abolitionism takes a major role, but it is really well written. Georgiana becomes engaged and then her fiance leaves and she develops a friendship with another man. Obviously you can see where this goes, but the love story is sweet and the decisions real. I've actually read this book several times and love it each time. It's timeless like P & P. I can read it 100 times and each time wonder what will happen at the end.

Happy reading.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Purple Prose or Making Pride and Prejudice X-Rated

I'd love to know why, oh why, new authors have decided to sex up Pride and Prejudice. I really don't want to read about 'Darcy's quivering member' or 'Elizabeth's swelling bosom.' To me I want what Cristina and Owen Hunt have on "Grey's Anatomy": The Victorian Love Story or be it as it really is: the Regency Love Story. Side-long glances. Hands barely touching. A spoken word. A dance. A look. A kiss on the palm, which was considered quite intimate.

I don't know how much you know about Regency times, but they were quite different as to male/female relations. Single men and women could not correspond. They could not be alone for any length of time. Forget even a chaste kiss or perhaps a quick feel; these, if seen by anyone else, would surely get you engaged with a quick special license wedding sure to make people talk and make you a nine-month wonder. Plus if you danced with a man more than three times in a night you were practically engaged. I shudder to think of the men I would have had to marry because of some junior high dances! Rules had to be obeyed else you faced ostracism. So why have modern day authors taken to sexing up Pride and Prejudice?

The new "Seducing Mr. Darcy" has a little Jasper Fforde ala Eyre Affair about it where a woman who seduces Darcy while dreaming about him in a special massage parlour changes the ending of Pride and Prejudice. Then there's "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" and yes I realize they are married, but I still don't want to read about how Lizzie won't take a bath because she doesn't want to 'wash Darcy off her' or how she wants Darcy to make love to her after a rape attempt and Darcy is all 'Honey, I just killed three men; I really can't get it up right now.' It's so not what the whole point is. I realize they have an amazing love and connection and that would leave to an amazing physical connection, but please leave the throbbing bratwurst in your pants and in your brains. Let us use our own imagination instead of spelling it out for us!

Currently I am reading "Affinity and Affection" by Susan Adriani. The opening scene is a lustful dream of Darcy's involving Elizabeth, which then turns into an awful scene where Elizabeth catches Darcy aroused. Now I know that in the 1995 Colin Firth Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice, which is the best, I apologize David Rintoul lovers, when Darcy comes across Elizabeth as she's walking to Netherfield the stage directions read "pretend you have an erection", but I don't see that. In fact most people don't even know that's what Darcy is thinking.
Take this section for example: 'An engaging smile overspread his handsome features as he beheld her -- her cheeks aglow from the exertion of her morning exercise. It took less than an instant for his mind to begin contemplating how she might look after having partaken of another form of exercise -- that of writhing beneath him in ecstasy as he plundered her enticing lips and pleasured in her inviting body; claiming her -- no, branding her -- as he so fervently wished to do, forever as his own.' I don't know about you, but don't people normally writhe in agony? Also isn't plundering considered a bad thing? Vikings and Genghis Khan did it and we don't look on them with favoritism. Finally, I have never been branded, but shoving a hot poker on my skin to claim me as yours? That sounds like it hurts! I'm not so sure I'm fond of this.

'The Bingley's and the Darcy's" by Marsha Altman handles it the best. The book takes place after the sisters' marriages and involves a lovely book we know as the Kama Sutra. While this could get very dirty very quickly, it doesn't. It only hints at what happens. The book is actually quite funny and very tongue in cheek. It has a wit that even I admire.

So future writers of Pride and Prejudice sequels I ask of you this: let readers use their imaginations and in no way shape or form let me read about the one-eyed purple-headed yogurt slinging monster of Darcy's or Elizabeth's dewy flower of a woman's pleasure and pain.(Pain because of Eve....even in sex scenes she haunts us. !) Really if I want that I'll get a subscription to Playboy, which I would only read for the articles!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Jane Austen and the Undead

It appears that zombies and vampires have come to Jane Austen. The first is "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". The original P & P with new zombie action scenes. I'm not sure how I feel about this. The book cover says "Ultraviolent" zombie action. Isn't all zombie action ultraviolent? I mean eating someone's brains obviously requires crunching of the skull. Unless you pull an ancient Egyptian and put a hot poker up someone's nose and drag the brains out through the nostrils. Still that sounds like it might hurt....maybe....just a I'm guessing.

It was really only a matter of time until the undead or something dark entered Jane Austen's world. And while I will certainly buy them because let's face it, I buy everything about me. I guess that makes me a megalomaniac or perhaps just very curious as to what impact my books have had on people.

Also coming out is Jane Austen as a vampire struggling with 200 years of writer's block in "Jane Bites Back." Here's the blurb from the NYT:

Liz Scheier at Ballantine won a four-way auction for Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Bites Back, taking world English rights to three books via Mitchell Waters at Curtis Brown. The novel presents an undead Jane Austen, frustrated by nearly 200 years of writer's block and 116 rejections of an unpublished novel she finished just before turning into a vampire; she's becoming increasingly irritated that the rest of the world seems to be getting rich and famous off of her works and her life. The two follow-up books will be derived from the first. Waters said Ford, the author of many books for young readers and adults, is likely to publish this under a pseudonym; pub date still undecided.

All I have to say is "Seriously?! A bidding war between four companies to see me as a vampire?" Also I question this whole not being able to get published again crap. That's one of the reasons I turn to the dark side as a vampire: I can't get published. I don't buy this a bit. I created the entire genre of chick lit. I invented it. Me! Me! Me! And now I can't get published, but people like Lauren Willig can? I'm skeptical of this, but am hoping that since this is a young adult book it might be a way to introduce me to the young while maintaining my hip status ala Twilight. I really think I'm hip enough.

I hope both of these come out soon. I'm sure some of you are dying (hahaha) to see the undead meet Jane.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

LDS Pride & Prejudice?

Recently I rewatched "Pride & Prejudice: A Latter Day Saint Comedy". Yes, there is a Mormon P & P and no, Darcy does not marry all the Bennet sisters. In fact, they aren't sisters at all. Instead they are roommates.

I must admit I did not think I was going to like this version of P & P, but it's wonderful. It's really funny and there are scenes with quotations from the book itself. Collins is hysterical. One of the best scenes is when he is preaching in church about how horrible Elizabeth Bennet is. In her fantasy she throws a book at him. I too, have often thought about throwing a book at my priest (I'm Catholic), but haven't yet. I came close Christmas Eve when he gave a homily about Henry VIII who had eight wives and divorced himself from the Catholic Church so he could marry Catherine of Aragon and ditch Anne Boleyn. For anyone who doesn't see why this is wrong at least wikipedia it. I don't count on wikipedia for much, but I feel their information would be better than my priest's.

The LDS P & P finds unique ways to update the tale and is actually quite humourous. I laughed quite a bit. Givie it a chance. You might end up loving it.