Masterpiece Classics: Persuasion
Just finished watching the re-showing of Persuasion by Masterpiece Classics. Also enjoyed the Tweet Party that went along with it. I must say the Tweet party idea was a superb one. Our first was for the debut of the new Emma adaptation and it went splendidly. It is so nice to be able to watch these works and chat with people of like mind and taste. I learn so much from my fellow watchers and we converse on things I may never have really considered. It has become quite addictive. Thanks to PBS and the hosts for some great Austen fun! This Persuasion is indeed not my favorite but I do enjoy it all the same. Cyrian Hinds as I have said will always have my heart as will Amanda Root in the 1995 Persuasion. However it is exciting to see new productions coming out and keeping things new. Who would have thought that one day ladies would “tweet” while watching Austen…certainly not that dear lady herself but alas technology and the greatest writer in literature (in my humble opinion) go quite well together and make a most fortunate match! What are your ideas on tonight’s events? And what do you hope to see a new adaptation of? I myself am always up for a new Tess or Jane Eyre. Any other suggestions?
Our lives can change in a moment. Those truths we hold evident one day can be drastically shattered in another. The people most important to us can be there one second and gone the next. Margaret Hale finds these truths to be evident in her nineteenth year as her world is upended by her father’s resignation from the Church of England and subsequent removal to the northern manufacturing town of Milton. Margaret cannot tell what role she shall take in her new situation as she finds herself torn emotionally. Drawn into the lives of the mill workers, she also finds herself drawn to their mysterious master John Thornton. Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic combines the fundamental issues of her time with the quests of the heart for utter brilliance. This book is one of my all time favorites, I have read it many times and watched the 2004 Mini-series with Richard Armitage so many times…well let’s just say it cannot be counted. I think this classic is often over-looked and would suggestion it to anyone with an affinity for period literature. Gaskell’s other works are also phenomenal with Wives and Daughters being my second personal favorite which also has it’s own wonderful Masterpiece Theatre adaption featuring one of my favorite actresses and favorite Tess of all time: Justine Waddell. However within these two books we see two very different writers in Gaskell. Although both focus on love ultimately, they also lay bare to many truths about life at that time that many may well have wanted to kept hidden in her period. A classic book not to be missed or even read just once but again and again.
Though by my own admittance I have neglected my blogging responsibilities (a new addition to the familial unit will do that to anyone even a devoted Janeite), I have been diligent in my following of all things Austen. And lately I have been very excited about a number of things….Sunday will be the premiere of the new Emma on Masterpiece Classic! I have told my husband that I am reserving babysitting from him and the bedroom TV for this occasion. While I have Return to Cranford sitting on the DVR and waiting, I cannot abide the thought of not catching Emma as it premieres. Also I am so excited about the Emma Twitter Party! Please do come, it’s so nice when those of like mind and passion get together (those of us who adore Austen and will do things like reserve our own bedroom for Materpiece Classic two weeks in advance with our most comfy jammies and laptop of course).
Also I have recently read some very nice Austen inspired works…I am currently devouring Lady Vernon and Her Daughter by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway which is a novel of Lady Susan. I especially enjoy how the authors have kept to Jane’s wit and style while also including the epistolary style which she wrote the original Lady Susan in. I simply cannot put it down at this point and hope to finish it within the day if Sir William (my 11 month old) permits. Also on my nightstand: Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford and in the future Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Patillo…hmmm we shall see. I have no problem with Austen inspired works as long as Austen herself and her work are given respect in some measure and it is obvious that the author has at least some type of devotion to her work and her style of writing (or has at least read her works). For instance I did so enjoy Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange recently. So again we shall see… For reviews of many of these books check out Austenprose who is so diligent in her devotion to everything Austen. I only wish I could be so up to date, fortunately I have her elegant blog to keep me company and give me my regular dose of Austen.
I have been naughty and not posting for some time now. It has been on my list of things to do but something else always seems to need to come first. So here I am but this post maybe be slightly scatterbrained since I have had so much to write about recently. Currently I am absorbed by The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I had eagerly awaited it’s publication and now I think I can safely say that no one will be disappointed. I am only about halfway through but it is one not to be put down. It is a wonderful blend of what makes Stephenie Meyer so great in her young adult books but in a more detailed and adult voice. Combine that with a wonderful plot reminding me of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series and I think she has given us a winner. I will save my review and final judgement for after I have finished.
I am also very behind not just on my reading and blogging but also on my watching TV (what is she doing you might wonder). I have yet to begin Masterpiece’s Cranford and am eagerly awaiting time to do so. Both People Magazine and Vogue gave it glowing reviews. Anytime something of this genre makes it into mainstream culture it is somewhat exciting. Judi Dench I am sure has nothing to do with it right? But most reviewers and online sources seem to have enjoyed it and I am excited we might have another modern classic take on Elizabeth Gaskell’s work.
I have also been busily reading children’s books and have some new favorites for this week and last. Everyone at my branch has fallen in love with Down Girl and Sit. A series by Lucy Nolan, illustrated by Mike Reed. Perfectly delicious early chapter books that even parents will find themselve giggling over. These are not necessarily new but sometimes you just find something that has been on the shelf that you somehow missed. Early Chapter books are a difficult field because they need to be simplistic and sometimes the plot and writing suffer but now with this set.
We have also been chuckling over The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend, illustrated by John Manders. A delightful picture book invlolving a hungry cat, and some very humorous animals. When Jack the cat concocts a plan to get some much desired eggs he finds himself with more than he can handle. A sure winner but how can you lose with a duck that cries “Sacre bleu!”. Bright colorful illustrations and a wonderful sense of expression make this one to share.
And so while it may appear I have not been writing I have been working and keeping my eye on lots of new things. A wild array of things on this post but so are my tastes in some ways. All in all this summer promises to be a great one for reading with lots of new releases so don’t forget to check some out at your local library or book store.
I must admit I am thoroughly ashamed at how long it has taken me to watch the last installment of Jane on Masterpiece Theatre. I have had the two episodes on on my DVR for a few weeks now and just last night decided it was time. This should tell you something since usually with anything Austen or Regency period related…I see it as soon as humanly possible. Needless to say this series of adaptations has left me discouraged in many ways.
I was very glad to see Eliza’s daughter and her baby take a more prominent role in the work but I was aghast at the opening “seduction scene”. Jane would have fainted from embarrassment. Why do we need to sex up Jane? From there I was very lukewarm about the actress playing Marianne. She did not portray the passion the character is known for. All she portrayed for me was an actor acting passionate. Not very convincing. I read somewhere in an article that she made sure that she did not see any other adapatations because she did not want to take things from others. Maybe she should have pulled out the 1995 Ang Lee film…..just a suggestion. And the final scene with Marianne and Colonel Brandon going into the house…him carrying her…cheesy.
However I did love Colonel Brandon. I thought he was wonderfully played. I loved Alan Rickman but you could feel the intesity of his longing for Marianne in this version as well with David Morrissey. He was probably my favorite part. Willoughby was no smoldering love God but merely looked like a cute younger brother. But by far my most critical disappointment was the lack of humor. Sense and Sensibility has such a wonderful wit with so many great humorous moments but you would bever know it from this adaptation.
So in all I would have to say it lacked spark…it lacked wit…it lacked Jane.
I have not blogged in awhile and am feeling rather bad considering I have had a lot to say and on my mind lately. Reading continuously and enjoying the Complete Jane Austen…there is lots to write about. First off perhaps we shall talk about Mansfield Park. I cannot help but say that I did not really care for it. It was over-cut and so much of the plot was left out. Characterization seemed off as well in characters such as Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris. Lady Bertram has always been a favorite with me…for her utter silliness and of course Pug. But not in this adaptation it seems…we have a new Lady Bertram emerge.
In this work she came off as somewhat thoughtful and wise…where did that come from? And she cares so very much for Fanny and her love for Edmund. She is what brings them together in the final scenes making it easier for him to make his vow of love after his sappy falling for you stare in an earlier scene (with background music no less). Also we got none of the naughtiness of the adultery just a curt explanation of the events. Nor any delving into the slavery issue with Sir Thomas. (Let’s keep it simple and short eh?). I could continue into other things but you get the idea, it was chopped and served without spice or flavor. These works just can’t be condensed most of the time into an hour and a half and done well. I did like Northanger Abbey quite a lot but I was lukewarm about Persuasion. However as of yet Mansfield Park is my least favorite so far. But we shall see….at least I will get a few weeks of Mr. Darcy coming up…that’s something. I had wondered if I had been alone in my condemnation but from the other Austen bloggers I see that is not the case. I know that Masterpiece has a lot riding on this new Austen Series and I know they felt that “every generation” needs their own adaptations but aren’t we supposed to be doing Jane Austen. Should it not be faithful to the book? The book which is the origin of it all….am I getting to librarianish?
And now for some praise…yes I do have some for things that are done well. And Jay Asher’s Th1rteen R3asons Why is something done well, very well. What a wonderful job he has done bring a young teenage suicide victim to life. Emotionally, physically he seems to understand her in every way and we get such a pure picture. I love how he shows how the smallest actions “snowball” into what can be the end. It’s great to make teens think about their actions but also to make all of us realize that the small stuff is important. Sometimes we might try to make them feel it is not, but the feelings they feel over the little things are very real. I simply loved to book and read it straight through. I know everyone I have spoken to has loved it as well as everyone on the YALSA discussion list. So I must recommend it as a must read.
For a review check out the PLCMC Reader’s Advisory site.