• Romcom

    Old Maids and Mind Games in Austenland

    Jerusha Hess’ Austenland (2013) centers on Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), a thirtysomething Jane Austen devotee who is having difficulty in the dating world. The audience is led to believe that Jane’s primary problem is her all-consuming love for Austen’s romantic stories. In one scene, Jane is watching BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with her date. He nibbles provocatively at her neck while she’s distracted by the sight of a sodden Colin Firth walking onto the banks of the lake on his Pemberley estate. Austenland follows Jane as she decides to become her own Austen heroine in a last-ditch effort to exchange modern spinsterhood for a love story written only…

  • JAFF

    Presumption: An Entertainment

    Julia Braun Kessler (1926-2012)  and Gabrielle Donnelly’s Presumptions: An Entertainment: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice (1993) offers a continuation of the well-loved 1813 novel, from the perspective of Georgiana Darcy. Written under the nom de plume Julia Barrett, who has also written two other Austen engagements, Presumption introduces readers to the happy marriage of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, explores Georgiana Darcy’s coming of age, and follows the Bennet family through another set of crises. The focus of the novel is marriage, particularly the marriage of Georgiana Darcy. While echoing the beginning of Pride and Prejudice (1813), as any discerning reader will recognize, Presumptions opens with “If, as the prevailing wisdom…

  • PBS Masterpiece Sanditon

    Three questions about Andrew Davies’ Sanditon

    Two weeks after Andrew Davies’ PBS Masterpiece Sanditon (2019) concluded, the #sanditonsisterhood continues its bid for a second season. Even some diehard #Sidlotte fans, though, have conveyed disgruntlement about the contrived finale, which completely turned the series on its head with Sidney Parker’s (Theo James) selfless decision to marry Eliza Campion (Ruth Kearny) in order to save his brother’s resort, thereby abruptly ending his and Charlotte’s imminent engagement. Fans have expressed their desire for a “neat ending,” arguing that Jane Austen would have given her readers such an ending. Although the design of the conclusion was meant to breath life into a second season, it has ironically had the opposite…

  • PBS Masterpiece Sanditon

    Episodes Five and Six

    It remains to be seen if Andrew Davies’ Sanditon (2019) will prove popular enough in the USA to justify a second season, but the extreme reactions to the series do not bode well for a continuation. On one end is the #sanditonsisterhood’s plea for a second season, whose hype for the series is indexed under #sanditonseason2, #SaveSanditon, and the compound proper noun, #Sidlotte, after the series protagonists Sidney Parker (Theo James) and Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams). A second season depends entirely on how it fares with American viewers, according to Davies and ITV, since its popularity in Britain was not enough to warrant a second season (Hallemann). On the other,…

  • Web Series

    Rational Creatures: The inclusive Austen inspired series we need

    In this transition from 2019 to 2020, Janeites have been regaled with a TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s last and incomplete novel, Sanditon (1817), directed by Andrew Davies and produced by PBS Masterpiece, and a glamorous new version of Emma (1815), directed by Autumn de Wilde and produced by Focus Films. Both are backed by major production companies, whose prowess is evinced in the quality of the production, the casts, and the costume design. Both have generated a frenzy of Tweets and a proliferation of online essays. Unlike Sanditon, which will almost certainly not see a second season, Emma has fans and critics—especially those with a penchant for period minutia—drooling, albeit not enough to…

  • PBS Masterpiece Sanditon

    Episodes Three and Four

    Although PBS’ Sanditon (2019) has made many departures from the original, incomplete text, the series itself reflects an interest in patriarchal structures inherent to the original text and all of Austen’s published work. As Madeline’s review argues, the older women in Sanditon, while being either idealized or vilified, model potential paths for young women who depend upon their success in the marriage market and their resulting position of operation in a patriarchal society. However, another interesting and related facet of female agency within a patriarchal framework is explored in the relationships of Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) with Miss Lambe (Crystal Clarke) and Clara Brereton (Lily Sacofsky) with Esther Denham (Charlotte…

  • JAFF

    Privileging the Male Perspective: Wendy van Camp’s The Curate’s Brother

    Wendy van Camp’s The Curate’s Brother: A Variation on Persuasion (2015) traces its literary ancestry back to fanfic more than the Regency novel. Whereas the Sir Walter Elliot of Jane Austen’s Persuasion (1818) reads through centuries of his family’s published lineage, the modern reader of Camp’s novelette skims through just over a decade’s worth of literary internet culture deceptively packaged as a period piece (Persuasion 1). Fanfic may have been coined in the 1930s, but according to Stephanie Burt in “The Promise and Potential of Fan Fiction”, the digitized fanfic that we recognize today began in 2007 (The New Yorker). Notable for its interactive qualities, fanfic allows writers and readers to mold literary…

  • Engraving of Thomas Rowlandson Sea Bathing 1813
    PBS Masterpiece Sanditon

    Episodes One and Two

    Andrew Davies’s 2019 television adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sanditon (1925) promised to be a departure from the text: “there isn’t much of ‘Sanditon,’ a new eight-part Austen adaptation arriving Sunday on PBS’s ‘Masterpiece,’ that was taken directly from the author’s writings” (Suclas, NYTimes). The lack of Austen’s Sanditon in PBS’s Sanditon is abundantly clear in the first two episodes of the series. The first episode quickly diverges from the original plot; and while the viewer will find similarities between the two, the Twitter backlash facing the series becomes increasingly understandable with each episode. In an article for The New York Times, Davies revealed, “‘It’s not a secret that we were…

  • A Pouch of Pride and Peppermint Tea by a Christmas tree
    Holiday Austen

    Pride and Peppermint

    When I was perusing the closely placed bookshelves at a favorite cozy bookstore, I noticed books that were not books. These faux books were glossy tea tins of the NovelTeas tin collection. I immediately noticed the Pride and Peppermint tin and knew that I had to try it. It was snuggled in between Sencha Sensibility and Don Quixotea: Man of La Manchai. The tea tin, complete with a two-ounce bag of ‘Pride and Peppermint” tea brought puns, tea, and Austen references together. What kind of Austen fan would not love everything about it?  The NovelTeas tin itself was very fun. Apart from the tea, it also came with a Mr.…

  • Bridget Jones sitting cross-legged wearing Christmas pajamas and reading a magazine
    Holiday Austen

    Bridget Jones’s Diary

    Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) is a staple of many Christmas movie diets. Its popularity and appeal are no wonder as the film constitutes a melding of the well-loved genres of Christmas films, rom-coms, and Austen adaptations. Although its heroine Bridget (Renée Zellweger) bears very little similarity to Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice (1813), there is one significant continuity at the heart of each work: each protagonist experiences challenges making a good romantic match in a society which systematically devalues them- albeit for disparate reasons. While Elizabeth experiences pressure to marry due to her lack of dowry and is critiqued as a result of her family’s dysfunction, Bridget’s primary issue-…

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