Monday, January 19, 2009

The Bonnet Rating System

I've decided to reformat my blog and so the bonnet ratings will now be a blog entry. :)

5 Bonnets: You've swooned and gone to Jane Austen heaven. (It must have been a Colin Firth sighting.)

4 Bonnets: It's a truth universally acknowledged that it's a good adaptation all around. It's got wit, it's got period costumes, it's Jane. But there's no Colin Firth.

3 Bonnets: It's like a trip to Meryton, but only to find out all of the officers have gone to Brighton.

2 Bonnets: Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted? At least it's Jane Austen.

1 Bonnet: Listening to Mr. Collins read Fordyce's Sermons is better.

0 Bonnets: It's what life would be like if Lizzy had married Mr. Collins. (Just chuck the book, movie or otherwise into the fire.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Darcy's & the Bingley's

The other P&P sequel I recieved for Christmas was The Darcy's & the Bingley's: A Tale of Two Gentlemen's Marriages to Two Most Devoted Sisters by Marsha Altman. This title was a bit of an easier and faster flowing read than Mr. Darcy's Decision. What struck me most about this novel was the humorous tone that flowed throughout it and that the characters displayed a sense of humor! Even stoic Darcy, had some great lines. In fact, there were laugh out loud moments in this one that made the novel fun, even if the plot was lacking and a bit outlandish. (Caroline Bingley actually finding someone who would marry her & then he turns out to be a fake? Really? Darcy & Bingley each possessing a copy of the Kama Sutra? Of note about that is that the book's back cover uses that device as a selling ploy, but the book itself doesn't focus on it that much.)

One of the best lines, that is often repeated by numerous characters and found me thinking of the movie "Clue" when the butler tries to explain everything and all of the other characters say together "We know." Or something to that extent. In this instance, when people introduce Darcy they introduce him as, "Mr. Darcy of Pemberley and Derbyshire." And sometimes an "all that" is added to the end of the line. Sometimes Darcy adds a snide, "Yes, yes" or "of Pemberley and Derbyshire" himself. It turns quiet comical. At some point just about every character repeats it.

So while the plot was a wee bit outlandish (including a wild kilt wearing Scottsman), it was enjoyable. 3 and a half bonnets!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mr. Darcy's Decision

Christmas was good to me this year and brought 2 more pieces of JA fan fiction to my plate. One of them was Mr. Darcy's Decision by Juliette Shapiro.

This sequel finds Elizabeth & Darcy newly married and adapting to life at Pemberley. Lydia, again, is the cause of the mayhem in this novel. She discovers Wickham's indiscretion with a maid, and also learns that he was bribed into eloping with her. Lydia is also with child, but Wickham does not know this fact. Of course, Lizzy & Darcy are called upon to take in poor Lydia. In fact, they are urged by Mrs. Bennet to call the child their own upon its birth. Lizzy & Darcy agree, but they will have to call the child a twin, as Lizzy is with child and due at about the same time. There are some minor subplots involving Georgiana and the other Bennet girls, but nothing worth noting. Much contemplation of character ensues, Darcy struggles another internal battle and in the end, finds Wickham, urges the man to show some compassion and raise his child. Author Shapiro finds some good in Wickham's character and he concedes, the Darcy's give the Wickham's a small cottage on the edge of the Pemberly estate and all ends well, especially because Lizzy gives birth to a boy, the Darcy heir.

I struggled with this sequel simply because the author gave Wickham a sense of decency and morality! Darcy's deicison is that he "held on to the faint hope that if a small measure of his father's character [Wickham's father, the esteemed steward of old Mr. Darcy.] existed in Wickham I should have a chance to influence him, persuade him, if you like, to take the decent route in life" (171). Rather than keep the child a secret and claim it as a Darcy, Darcy decides to find Wickham in London and urge him to take the high road. Wickham agrees and returns with Darcy. Darcy, of course, feeling that he knows enough of Wickham to know that he is not playacting his feelings, thinks that W's feelings are genuine.

Really? Really? Would Darcy ever think anything good of Wickham after all of his previous scandelous behaviors toward Georgiana & the Bennet family? I doubt that W would return unless it benefited him in some way or another. Shapiro makes us think that Darcy would trust W again and that W has an once of goodness to him. I had a hard time buying it. It is not true to JA's original intent or characters.

All in all, 1 and a half bonnets.

Introducing Jane

And you thought I was going to introduce the newest member of our family! Not quite, but almost. Much to everyone's surprise, Baby did not get a Jane Austen name; so there is no Jane or Emma or anything of the kind. Instead there is Laura now almost 8 weeks old. (Gasp! Has it really been that long-or longer- since I've logged on to blog?)

As any good Janeite would do, one of Laura's first storytimes in the hospital was a short recitation of the characters and plot of Pride and Prejudice. She listened attentively and I am sure was working on memorizing the names.

Shortly after coming home, when Laura was about 2 weeks old, she and I sat down to watch a movie I am ashamed I had not had a chance to see yet--Becoming Jane. I know, I know. I am red faced with shame, that I hadn't seen it. Somehow we missed it in the theatres and well, excuses, excuses...But really, could there be a better way to introduce Jane Austen to your infant? It is, of course, best to start with a bit of a biography of the author.

So, we watched. We laughed. We cried. And I said, "Well done." And Laura said, "Gah." Which, I think translated to, "I like Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy." Really and truly, a fabulous movie, and you can't help but wonder what parts may be true to the history that we don't know about JA. It warranted a big sigh when it was done and if it hadn't needed to go back to the library, we would have watched it 20 more times. I'd write something more critical right now, but that was a solid month ago and with the lack of sleep and my mommy brain (aka no memory), that's all I have for now.

I also have on my nightstand the book that inspired Becoming Jane. The book, Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence. I started it this summer and to be honest, put it down for some more fan fiction and never got back to it. Guess I'll have to get back to it and see if I can make my way through it. Until then...

Cassandra's Sister: Growing Up Jane Austen

So my goal for the day is to get caught up on blogging, and I happened to glance at "edit posts" folder and apparently this entry never got posted. Hmmm....can anyone say "dial-up issues?"

I read this one this fall sometime...
Another piece of Jane Austen fan fiction appeared to me while reading an issue of School Library Journal last spring. There I discovered Cassandra's Sister: Growing Up Jane Austen by Veronica Bennett. This novel is a book for teens and it tells of a young Jane Austen, waiting to grow up and somewhat living in the shadow of her slightly older, of age, sister, Cassandra.

Again, not sure if it's the baby or the book, but this one had a hard time keeping my attention. The book is divided into sections and I found the first section extremely tedious. The second section picked up as it felt like Jane's character started to come alive.

My biggest complaint about the book, however, is that I think it would be hard reading for some teenagers. The style of writing isn't the most conducive to easy reading. One reviewer called the writing "awkward" and I would have to agree. It is like the book is trying to be something it is not. It is trying to be written with a tone of maturity that if the book were really for teens it would not have.

All in all--2 Bonnets!