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Friday, August 31, 2012

Three Posts That Almost Were, Should Have Been, and Maybe One Day Will Be...

Every year I have this idea that I'm going to review ALL TEH MOVEHS. Or at least some of them.

I'm going to watch as many as I can, approach them objectively, and give clear reviews; if they're direct adaptations, I'll read the books at the same time and compare...

OR I'm going to watch all the versions of one, and give you a point by point analysis of which is better and why.

OR I'm going to just discuss favorite scenes, or maybe characters. OR fashion in the movies. OR I'm going to turn them into a drinking game...

You get my drift. Every year, I sit down with the best of intentions to talk about the movie adaptations with you, because I know that for many, this is what lures you into Janedom. But the thing is...
I sit down to watch them, pen and paper in hand
I do not make popcorn or turn the lights off
I sometimes take a few notes, or screencap a few things for pictures and gifs.
And that's as far as I get before I'm sucked in. I can't make my dutiful blogger-ness go much further than the opening credits before I melt into "Ahhh, Jane..." mode.

This year I was planning a combo Viewing Party/Drinking Game for Persuasion, an analysis of Sense and Sensibility, and a discussion of the character changes (and why I loved them) in Lost In Austen. In preparation, I've watched the 2007 version of Sense and Sensibility three times and the 1995 once; I've watched both recent P&Ps twice apiece (just because, as you see it's not on the list above...); the 2008 Persuasion twice and the '95 once; I've watched bits and pieces of Lost in Austen as a means of gathering pictures, and watched it countless times in a fit of "Ahhh, Jane..." - in short, for the last 3 years I've had all these plans, and for the last 3 years, I've failed at them.
But I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Next year. I promise, next year I'm going to rock your faces off with awesome movie posts. Maybe every weekend, as a night out at the movies thing.
Promise.

Until then, please enjoy:


A sneak peek at why I love this interpretation of Wickham, from the Fuck Yeah Lost in Austen tumblr.


Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!

Items for the Discerning Janeite

Now that we're at the end, I know you're all about to leave me to seek your Jane-fix for the intervening year between this and next year's event. To help you in this, I thought I'd share some of the best, most Jane-y items  of note I've come across.

Of course you already know how much I love Antique Fashionista,
but if you don't happen to win the custom piece, you may want to snag one of these. (Also, can I just tell you: from experience, her pieces come beautifully packaged!)


There are a lot of great things in the Brookish Austen-inspired etsy
and I sorta want them all - but these are some of my favorites.


Two Stray Cats has a section for Janeite things
and 5% of every sale is donated to an animal charity! So when you snag these beauties, you'll be content in the knowledge that your frivolous must-have helped, too.

Austentation has lots of Regency-inspired fashion, 
if you want to look the part. They've even got baby covered. (Plus: bonus points for having Downton Abbey, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre and more)

Pemberley Pond will help you allow Jane Austen to take over your house
with these incredibly cute, quirky designs - and they're super reasonably priced!

Or let Jane take over your car, your fridge and your kitchen
with the awesome stuff that can be found on Cafe Press

Or maybe you want to make your own personalized Jane crafts
in which case there are so many tutorials and blogs out there to help you make things like
These upcycled votive candle holders! 
Or your own Regency sachets


Or make your own Jane Austen wordle poster, like this:
(This is mine, but feel free to use it!)

And there's so much more out there! Like "How to Nurture Your Janeite" via Buzzfeed, or the myriad incredible things to be found on Etsy and Cafe Press! Go, explore, fill your life with Jane - and if you find something cool, let me know!! 



Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!

Buy, Borrow, Skip: a hat-trick of AiA mini-reviews

There are three books Austenesque books I wanted to share with you this year, but just found I didn't have a ton to say about them, good or bad. But I didn't want to leave them out, so instead, I figured we'd wrap up AiA with a neat little hat trick - three quick reviews on all three books, all three of them very different: something for everybody!
These will be brief, spoiler-free, and will end with my overall recommendation.
=)



Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts by Mitzi Szereto
Amazon | Goodreads
Imagine that Jane Austen had written the opening line of her satirical novel Pride and Prejudice this way: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a good romp and a good wife — although not necessarily from the same person or from the opposite sex." In Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts Mr. Darcy has never been more devilish and the seemingly chaste Elizabeth never more turned on.

The entire cast of characters from Austen's classic is here in this rewrite that goes all the way. This time Mr. Bingley and his sister both have designs on Mr. Darcy's manhood; Elizabeth's bff Charlotte marries their family's strange relation and stumbles upon a secret world of feminine relations more to her liking; and, in this telling, men are not necessarily the only dominating sex. And of course there's some good old fashioned bodice ripping that shows no pride or prejudice and reveals hot hidden lusts in every page-turning chapter.

I did a mini-review of this on the vlog, and I called it playful (like a Benny Hill sketch for porn...), and I think that's really what I got from it (and part of why I liked it). It sort of straddles the line between serious and silly, but it's done in a way that works. There are times when authors do parodies, spoofs, or just really random updates/adaptations of a classic, and you can tell that their main goal is to shock and amuse people who didn't like the classic to begin with - you get the feeling that they didn't like the classic to begin with, and that's why they felt the need to spice it up. But I don't get that impression at all from Szereto; as tawdry and bawdy and risque as this book can be, I think Szereto treated the original text with as much reverence as anyone can when turning the characters into sexual playthings. It's like a thinking-person's porn parody: the characters do things that are way out there, but still suited to who they are as a character; it's completely ridiculous and tongue-in-everywhere-cheek, but it works.

This is not for the faint of heart, mind. It's thoroughly blush worthy. Or, fan-worthy, I guess. But when it comes to things like this, I think well-cone ones make you blush and laugh, poorly done ones make you cringe; this made me laugh over and over again. It can be too much at times, just due to the length of the book and pace of the...encounters, but I think those looking for either a really funny, silly, steamy time with their favorite characters won't be disappointed.

Verdict: Buy it if you like some serious smut, get it from the library if you're unsure (but not embarrassed to be seen checking it out...)

*straddles. tongue. length. everything sounds dirty...


Darcy & Fitzwilliam: a Tale of a Gentelman and Officer by Karen V. Wasylowski
Amazon | Goodreads
A gentleman in love cannot survive without his best friend...
Fitzwilliam Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam couldn't be more different, and that goes for the way each one woos and pursues the woman of his dreams. Darcy is quiet and reserved, careful and dutiful, and his qualms and hesitations are going to torpedo his courtship of Elizabeth. His affable and vivacious cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam is a military hero whose devil-may-care personality hides the torments within, until he finds himself in a passionate, whirlwind affair with a beautiful widow who won't hear of his honorable intentions.

Cousins, best friends, and sparring partners, Darcy and Fitzwilliam have always been there for each other. So it's no surprise when the only one who can help Darcy fix his botched marriage proposals is Fitzwilliam, and the only one who can pull Fitzwilliam out of an increasingly dangerous entanglement is Darcy...

I was really eager for this one: I love the dynamic between Darcy and Col. Fitz, and I wanted to see that explored, as well as get some of the Col's story. Unfortunately, the characters I found in this were practically unrecognizable. Lizzie sometimes devolved into a shrieking harpy, Darcy was sort of neurotic, Lady Catherine was actually kind of awesome (which I liked, but you know...Lady C is not awesome, so again it just furthered the idea that they characters just weren't themselves. But it was Col. Fitzwilliam who was the biggest disappointment. He was boorish, crude, had what I'd almost call a violent temper, and is just all-around not what I wanted or expected. He was an aggressive control-freak who boozed and whored his way through the world on a scale to make Wickham blush, until suddenly he finds himself mad about some woman he doesn't actually know (but who does seem to be right for him, I will give the book that).

I think it honestly would have been better if it only followed Col. F and his life, and just kept the rest of them out of it. Then, maybe I could have believed that he had gone down this really dark path as a result of his war experiences, and I wouldn't have been distracted by the failings of the other characters. I actually did put it down for awhile and tried to school myself to treat it as general historical fiction rather than an Austen adaptation; I was unsuccessful - I just couldn't separate who the characters were from who they were supposed to be. And in the end, it wouldn't have really mattered: the book struggled in tone and atmosphere, too, so I think I still would have been disappointed with it. It was like Karen couldn't decide if she wanted the book to be serious or silly, and as a result it felt sort of schizophrenic. It did have its good moments, and I enjoyed the relationship between Fitz and Amanda (when it wasn't controlling), but the good moments weren't enough to leave a good overall impression. And if I had to hear Fitzwilliam call Darcy "brat" one more time, I would have thrown the damn thing against a wall.

Verdict: Borrow it from the library, if at all.


The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss
Amazon | Goodreads
Lucy Derrick is a young woman of good breeding and poor finances. After the death of her beloved father, she is forced to maintain a shabby dignity as the unwanted boarder of her tyrannical uncle, fending off marriage to a local mill owner. But just as she is on the cusp of accepting a life of misery, events take a stunning turn when a handsome stranger—the poet and notorious rake Lord Byron—arrives at her house, stricken by what seems to be a curse, and with a cryptic message for Lucy. Suddenly her unfortunate circumstances are transformed in ways at once astonishing and seemingly impossible.

With the world undergoing an industrial transformation, and with England on the cusp of revolution, Lucy is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy in which her life, and her country’s future, are in the balance. Inexplicably finding herself at the center of cataclysmic events, Lucy is awakened to a world once unknown to her: where magic and mortals collide, and the forces of ancient nature and modern progress are at war for the soul of England . . . and the world. The key to victory may be connected to a cryptic volume whose powers of enchantment are unbounded. Now, challenged by ruthless enemies with ancient powers at their command, Lucy must harness newfound mystical skills to prevent catastrophe and preserve humanity’s future. And enthralled by two exceptional men with designs on her heart, she must master her own desires to claim the destiny she deserves.


Now, this one is not strictly a Jane Austen retelling, I know. But it is set in Regency England, and it does use a certain Mary Crawford (of Mansfield Park) as a character, so I feel completely justified in including it here. I read a pretty early copy, which I think may have detracted from the book (it sometimes felt a little scattered and I wanted some editing and trimming), but I'm going to set that aside on the assumption that these things were improved (though I guess you never know).  On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised by this. It was very inventive, combining real world events, Regency politics, and figures (like Byron), as well as fictional characters, mythology, and a gothic novel mentality to create an engagingly over-the-top read. Mary Crawford isn't the only thing to get it Austen points, as Liss style was at times decidedly Austenesque, even though his subject matter was not. Though sometimes over-written, much of the time Liss captured something really interesting, and the consistent tone had a great historical feel, even when intentionally historically inaccurate.

The plot was a bit too rambling for my tastes, which is part of what makes me hesitant to whole-heartedly recommend it, and until it really got going, I would put it down and not feel really compelled to pick it up again, which makes it harder for me to push a book. But it has a charm to it that does make me want to recommend it. It reminds me a bit of the Thursday Next books in that, if you are familiar with the literature and goings-on of the time, there are lots of little in-jokes and allusions to keep you amused. If you're not, this may end up really hard to follow. I mean, it's hard to love a book about the Luddite revolution (and how it's actually all related back to magic) if you don't know what a Luddite is. In the end, I think this will really come down to personal preference for people, and whether it will suit them as a reader; it's no the type of book to push on everyone, but for those suited to it, this will be a big hit.

Verdict: Read an excerpt of it at your bookstore/library/online, and if engages you, buy it. If it makes you only curious, borrow it. If it confuses you, skip it.

Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!

Friday Face Off: Mansfield Park Film Adaptations


We're down to our final Austen movie Face Off, and this time we're taking on the universally disliked* Mansfield Park. I think everyone pretty much agrees that there's never been a truly good adaptation of this, but I think part of the difficulty lies in the fact that many of the characters aren't all that likable, which doesn't play well to audiences - change the characters, and it's not a good adaptation; keep them as is and people may not like them enough to watch... Dilemma.
But that's not today's dilemma. Today we're simply choosing the best of the worst. How you vote is up to you; you can choose based on which you enjoyed more, which you thought more accurate, which makes a better drinking game - doesn't matter to me, just give us your vote and your reasoning in the comments.
And no, you don't have to have seen both, or either - you can decide based off of the trailers (though unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a lengthy trailer for the newer version, so the best I could find was the quick Masterpiece Theatre promo clip).  So:
Which one did it better?


1999
vs.
2007


*By universally disliked, in this instance, I'm talking about the movies. But the book is certainly low on everyone's list too, so...if you disagree, feel free to go defend it or its characters in the FREE-FOR-ALL discussion!


Last Week on FFO: Versions of S&S went head to head, with the 1995 version coming out the winner, as expected. Unfortunately, I think it was based mostly on knee-jerk response (Emma Thompson! Kate Winslet! I've only seen that one!), but I do think if viewed together, the 2008 will blow '95 out of the water, much as I do like Thompson's work with the screenplay....
Winner --------->


Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!

In defense of... the Free-for-All discussion

You're already seen a few "in defense of" posts (like this one in defense of Lady Russell, or this in defense of Edward Ferrars), but for our last discussion post of this year's event, I wanted to give the authors free reign to defend whatever they thought may need defending.  I mean, let's face it - we Janeites sometimes take flack for being rabidly passionate about the best, most beloved author the world has ever seen being "romantics," reading "fluff," for ceaselessly defending an author who only has "one" plot and no "real" conflicts, etc...

I figure we'd all heard it enough, or even had things we loved in certain books that other Janeites don't, so this is a chance to take your stance, get it out there - loud and proud.

Feel free to give us your own defenses in the comments (especially if you're an Edmund lover. I'd really like to see someone try to convince me be convinced of him...)
=)

I said:
This is a free-for-all to defend some aspect of Jane that you feel needs defending (entire works, like Northanger Abbey or Mansfield Park; characters, like Lady Russell or Willoughby, or Jane herself to non-Jane readers/Jane-bashers, etc)
Answers from:
Juliet Archer in red
Jenni James in green 
Susan Kaye in light blue
Talia Vance in purple
and ME in pink!

ME: Let's have it, ladies! What have you been holding back?
JENNI: I do think I will defend Northanger Abbey, since releasing Northanger Alibi, so many people have come to me and mentioned they never truly enjoyed Northanger Abbey and couldn’t get into it. I myself am amazed by this, since it is so hilarious! I find it by far the funniest of all Jane Austen’s novels and one of the more wittiest in its complete satire of a young girl’s fantasies and belief in fiction. To take such a girl who has never experienced the world, and only read about it through scandalous Gothic novels and place her in the midst of her very own adventure is truly the most genius and humorous thing I’ve ever come across. I loved writing Northanger Alibi, my goodness I laughed so hard I was crying at times. Just by far the most fun and pleasing of the Jane Austen novels--once you realize it’s a spoof of course. *winks*
ME:  I mentioned to a friend in a Goodreads thread the other day that I just don't understand the Northanger hate. I was legitimately shocked the first time someone told me they hated it, and then when I realized that the hatred was pretty widespread, I was like, Whaaaa? I mean, they even made a joke of it being the deadlast pick in The Jane Austen Book Club, and I was like, you're trolling, right? This isn't real; there's no way people hate this book!
[NOTE FROM MISTY: Enter to win Northanger Alibi here!]
How about you, Susan?
SUSAN: I’ve never held it against Lady Russell that she worked Anne over in the year ’06 and helped break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth. From LR’s point-of-view, this cocky, penniless, smart-alecky sailor comes breezing into the neighborhood with no connections except a single brother who’s just a curate. Then, he’s got the nerve to court and propose to the daughter of her dear departed friend. As an older woman who has seen plenty of young women fall prey to cheesy goofs, I’d make sure Frederick Wentworth failed. And failed hard.
Persuasion says that Anne assumed there would be other men coming alone, even after she turned down Charles Musgrove. I’m sure Lady Russell felt that way as well, and lamented Anne’s fate when no more men came ‘round Kellynch. But knowing what she knew of Frederick and life at the time, we know Lady Russell comforted herself that she’d saved her dear Anne from a hardscrabble life full of loneliness and probably faithlessness as well.
Lady Russell was wrong of course, but when you believe you’re saving someone, there are some angles you just don’t allow into your equations.
ME: So you agree with Maria Grace, then, when also backed up Lady R. Personally, I think she's maybe a bit officious, but honestly - who's not? When you're close to someone, your family or neighbors or good friends, you're bound to be in their business and bound to think you know what's best - and they're bound to ask your opinion! It's just natural, and though it ended up proving to be misguided, it really was the best, safest, sanest advice she could give.  
I think a lot of people (Wentworth included) hold it against Anne for being swayed by her, but again, I think that's really just natural, especially for the time and the position a woman would be in if it all went pear-shaped.
Juliet, you look like you have something to add to this...
JULIET: In defence of Anne Elliot - At 19, Anne Elliot broke off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth on the advice of her evil godmother, Lady Russell. The fans of CiarĂ¡n Hinds and Rupert Penry-Jones, who brought Wentworth deliciously to life in screen adaptations of Persuasion, demand a more convincing explanation.
Let’s look at the facts.
First, Anne’s mother had died several years earlier, and Lady Russell had taken her place as confidante and counsellor. We may not warm to Lady Russell, but she means well and she’s a safe pair of hands compared to Anne’s idiot of a father and neurotic sisters.
Second, in those days a woman aged under 21 needed her father’s consent to marry. Given Sir Walter’s fixation with the family reputation, having ‘commoner’ Wentworth as a son-in-law was a non-starter. And, at that stage, Sir Walter hadn’t squandered as much of the family fortune – so could comfortably cast the first stone!
Third, Wentworth was not a safe bet by any stretch of the imagination. As Lady Russell pointed out, he had neither money nor prospects and, personality-wise, he came across as high risk. How would he provide for a wife and for the inevitable consequences of marriage – a string of children? It wouldn’t be difficult to persuade Anne to let him go.
Finally, the personalities of the young lovers played their part. On the one hand, we have shy, dutiful Anne; on the other – impetuous, resentful Wentworth. When Anne broke off their engagement, there was no chance that Wentworth would take the news quietly. He stormed off to sea and spent eight years risking death, no doubt expecting Anne to marry the first eligible man her family picked out for her.
Jane Austen’s contemporaries would understand and accept Anne’s behaviour, whereas today’s readers find it more baffling. One of my challenges in updating Persuasion was making Anne’s motivations plausible to a modern audience. You’ll have to read Persuade Me to see if I succeeded!
[ME: NOTE FROM MISTY - you can enter to win it here!]  
Talia, you're up!

TALIA: Jane needs defending? Say it isn’t so. I would like to defend Jane as a romance writer, because lets face it, that ‘s what she was. Yes, she had spark.
ME: Amen.


And make sure you check out the rest of the discussions so far here:

BIG BIG THANKS to Juliet Archer  Alyssa Goodnight  Jenni James  Susan Kaye  Laurie Viera Rigler  and Talia Vance for participating in this year's interview-discussions!!


Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Misty's Responses to Persuasion (3 of 3)

We've come to the end of this year's read along (for me, anyway - you're welcome to keep reading and responding until you're done with the fabulousness that is Persuasion); I hope you've all enjoyed reading along and seeing everyone's responses - I've certainly loved seeing you get involved, and having all your different opinions, and most of all, loving what is undoubtedly one of the finest novels ever written.

You can link up your own responses on the read along linky, or you're free to respond in the comments (of my response, of other readers' responses - get involved in the dialogue!), but for now, here are my thoughts on the final section of Persuasion.


END (chapters 19-end)
  • What was your initial reaction to Persuasion as a whole? Did you connect with Anne as a heroine, and Wentworth as a hero? 
    It's sort of hard for me to remember now; I've loved it so much for so long, I can't recall if I always did. I remember thinking that it was slower and sweeter than Pride and Prejudice, which was my favorite book of ever at the time (now, these 2 titles compete for that spot). I think maybe I thought it was less impressive than P&P, lacking some of the fire, and it wasn't until I'd sort of sat with it awhile that I realized just how much I appreciated it, and what an impression it'd made.
    I very much connected with Anne as a heroine, which is surprising because I'm very much a Lizzie. But there are fundamental things about Anne that just ring true, and though I used to find her a bit passive, I really don't anymore. She's more...defeated, and sort of trapped, and I think it's a story about her finding her sea legs (see what I did there?), sort of coming into her own. She always has a voice, but she's always been silenced - whether through the good intentions of Lady Russell or the not so good of her family - and this is a story of her learning to use that voice and assert herself. I like that.
    And Wentworth is a dreamboat. No matter how much I want to hold him to account sometimes, I can't help but love him.
  • Has your perception of Persuasion changed since reading it, especially if you've read it more than once?
    Um. See above.
  • The characters are constantly on the move in Persuasion (from Kellynch to Uppercross to Lyme to Bath, etc), so the reader gets to see a variety of scenes; did you like the constant changes of scenery? Did you have a favorite? Do you think the different locations bring out different aspects of the characters?
    I actually really loved this because I think each location brought out different aspects of many of the characters' personalities. I love seeing Anne gradually break out with each new location, and I also just like the sense of movement, pace, and action that it brings to what could be a very sedate story.
    I can't pick a favorite. I've tried. I've written the sentence "I really like Lyme because THE COB" only to find myself thinking, "But then they go to Bath, and the CONCERT and THE THEATER and 
  • Discuss one of the biggest fangirl-inducing moments in Austen: "The Letter;" did you know the ending was originally written without "The Letter" in it? Do you think your overall perception of the story would change without "The Letter"?
    My copy has both, so I read both back to back in my original reading. But even still, it shocks me a bit that there was a different ending - The Letter is so entrenched in Janedom (I mean, you say "the letter" and you don't even have to mention the book, character or situation without everyone immediately a) knowing and b) swooning...) that it's hard to believe there was ever even a thought of something else.
    Looking at it objectively... there's something nice about them both being active participants in this conversation (Hey, you still like me? I like you, too!), but it doesn't really suit their story. Every step of the way has been fraught with near-misses and shuttered communications, interferences and missed-chances, that to have an open confrontation just doesn't fit. PLUS, I adore the delicious tension of the letter-writing scene: the idea of Capt. W listening to the conversation and being so overcome that he's feverishly writing a love letter out in the open; the chance that Anne might misinterpret his "look" or not notice it at all, and so miss retrieving the letter, leaving it there for anyone to find - Ahh! I can barely stand it. It's just perfect for them, the story, and the reader, I think.
  • What do you anticipate for the futures of any of the characters, but particularly Anne? Will her family ever come to accept Wentworth, or is she essentially disowning herself by marrying him?
    Sir E. is about to have his hopes disappointed by Mrs Clay and W. Elliot, so I think his forced moral-compass (Lady R.) and all of Wentworth's delicious monies and new-found status will win him over eventually. But it will be rough sailing for awhile. Elizabeth is going to be p i s s e d, and Anne will bear the brunt of it; things will probably be awkward with the Musgroves for a bit; Mary will be irritated that she had no idea, though she'll claim she did, or that his attention was due to her.  I anticipated the newlyweds will be spending a fair amount of time with the Crofts...
  • On reflection, are you ever bothered by the fact that Anne is essentially put in the same position - to give up the life she knows and loves for Wentworth, and that the same is never expected of him? Does this bother your modern sensibilities, or do you think the right decision is made regardless?
    This bothers modern me, but the realist in me knows that there was really never any other option, anyway. (I mean, they can't all be Knightley's, and if nothing else endears me to that man, the fact that he gives way for Emma will always win him points...)
    But there's also a part of me that says, YES! Go out into the world, Anne; get away from that family and live life! Make up for lost time! 
  • What were your favorite parts of the novel? Your least favorite? Things you wish were different?
    All of the parts.
    All of the parts are my favorite, I adore this book to bits, and even things that irritate me (*cough*Mary*cough*) irritate me perfectly. I don't have a least favorite, and I wouldn't change a thing.
  • Any last thoughts on the book?
    I just wish more people talked about this book, honestly. I wish enough people appreciated this to do it justice on film, because I'd love a really, really GOOD, epically long mini-series I could lose myself in...


Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!

Austen in August Lookbooks Presents: MARIANNE DASHWOOD

Though this was the first lookbook I decided to do, it surprisingly ended up being the hardest.  Emma Woodhouse was classy and sleek, and I found things for her everywhere; Lydia Bennet was bold and a bit garish, and I'm still finding things for her.  But this one... I tell ya, it's not as easy as I thought it'd be to create a romantic but modern look for one Miss
MARIANNE DASHWOOD

Dressing Marianne was surprisingly difficult because I felt like she was judging everything I picked... I could hear her in my head, sometimes sounding like Kate Winslet, sometimes like Charity Wakefield, but always sounding disapproving... I wanted to create a look that suited her youth, her sense of romance, and most of all, her spirit. Turns out, this is no easy task...
Though I have finally come up with something, and I have separated it into "looks," much like Lydia, I feel Marianne's wardrobe would be very mix/match, and would not depend overmuch on whether something actually "goes" together, but rather how it makes her feel. I also didn't include any makeup options this time around, because I think Marianne would keep that aspect as simple and fresh-looking as possible.
My buzzwords in shopping for Marianne were: fresh, romantic, pastel, soft, patterned/textured, natural.

Look #1: I feel like Marianne would be the Queen of Cute Frocks, and her first look might be her "cutest" (and certainly her most quirky).  She loves this dress because something about birds and free-spirits = meant to be.
dress: Hummingbird heartbeat, Ruche; shoes: Tovah in Blush, JustFab; bag: Ditsy Love wristlet, Deux Lux; accessories: Caviar Heart ring, Wet SealBow & Heart necklace, Betsey JohnsonPolka Dot earrings, Betsey Johnson

Look #2: Marianne has stolen the birds from her first look and worked them into almost-matchy garden-party look; she threw in a red hat to shake it up and keep it from being too structured.
dress: Garden Whispers, Ruche; shoes: Aneesa in Coral Reptile, JustFab; bag: Leisure clutch, JustFab; accesories: Square-stone bracelet, RJ Graziano, Five Bird necklace, 'ZAD, and shamefully, I don't remember where I got the hat (so if you know, tell me!)
Look #3: This is Marianne's most casual, effortless look - her version of on-the-go. Also, I think she'd really like fringe...
dress: Retro Print Skater dress from Forever 21; shoes: Phyllis flats, JustFab; bag: Niagara Falls bag, JustFab; accesories:Flicker earrings, Lia Sophia
Look #4: And lastly, we end with her most romantic, most flirty Night Out look. And no, Marianne is never afraid to mix pinks and reds.
dress: Tiered Ruffle Tube Dress from Forever 21; shoes: Jennifer peep-toes, Just Fab; bag: Quilted Heart wristlet, Betsey Johnson; accesories: Hammered Metal bracelet, Carol DauplaiseLe Petite Pastel stretch bracelet, Spring Street

There you have it. That's my last Austen lookbook for this year. Let me know what you guys think, and if you want to see more of these next year!
Also, if you have an opinion on how Marianne would dress, let me know in the comments!


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Excerpt: Searching for Captian Wentworth by Jane Odiwe

Thank you, Misty, for hosting me on “Austen in August”. I’m very excited to tell you about my new book, Searching for Captain Wentworth. It’s a bit different from my usual Jane Austen Sequel because it involves time travel - a modern heroine travelling back to the past where she makes friends with her neighbours, Jane, Cassandra and their sailor brother, Charles Austen. When she’s not living the life of her ancestor, Sophie, she finds friendship with her neighbour, the mysterious Josh Strafford. But, she’s already nursing a broken heart and is determined not to start any new relationships. However, events take their own course and as the book unfolds Sophie finds herself torn between two time zones and the attractions of two handsome men. As she searches for her own Captain Wentworth, Sophie comes to believe that may depend upon risking everything. And when she’s sure of making the right decision, she learns that she isn't the only one caught in a heartbreaking dilemma. Her friend, Jane Austen has her own quest for happiness, her own secrets and heartache.

At the beginning of the book, my heroine Sophie has a broken heart and is feeling very fed up with the world. At the invitation of an aunt, she takes herself off to Bath for a holiday and finds herself living next door to the house Jane Austen lived in 200 years ago. Here’s a little taster - Sophie has just arrived in Bath and has the keys to her flat.
Sydney Place is no longer the quiet spot that Jane Austen must have known and the traffic, which roars past day and night, is as loud as any in London. That was the first illusion shattered, although I felt really thrilled at the idea of living next door to the house of the writer who had penned Persuasion. The thought that perhaps some of Jane’s genius might permeate through the walls to inspire me was exciting. As I walked up the pathway of the imposing Georgian house I looked across to next door looking for any sign of life, but the shutters were drawn like sleeping eyes preventing any glances at the soul within. I’m not quite sure what I’d expected really, but I felt faintly disappointed once through my own front door. It was hardly Jane Austen heaven. In the dim light, I could see scuffed magnolia walls and a blue nylon carpet stretching down the passageway to sweep up the elegant staircase. A torn paper shade over an electric bulb hung just behind the fanlight above the door and smells of rotting vegetation from recycling bags in the corner did nothing to improve my first impressions. It was then that I wondered if I’d made a huge mistake.

On the left was the entrance door to the ground floor flat, which gave no clues to its owner apart from the fact that it was painted a very tasteful grey. I’d just picked up my stuff to go upstairs when I heard the handle of the door start to turn. I didn’t know what to do and, holding my breath, I stood for a moment with a fixed grin on my face waiting for the person on the other side to open the door. The handle rattled again but, to my relief, no one came out. Knowing that I looked a complete mess after my journey, I must admit, the thought of meeting anyone just yet filled me with horror, so I stealthily crept up the staircase as quietly as I could and let myself into the flat.
If I’d been disappointed before, now I was devastated. It was the pungent smell that hit me first, a mixture of stale air and damp, of rooms having been shut up for an age. I couldn’t see it was so dark, but I managed to stumble my way into what must have once been the drawing room. It was a sizeable space with double doors dividing the room beyond. Heavy, damask curtains closed against the three floor-length windows on the opposite side emitted fat sighs of dust to powder the air when I touched them and rattled on brass rings like a wheezing, bronchial chest as they were pulled aside. I unlatched the wooden shutters, top and bottom, and threw them back to send sparkles of light from the sun streaming through the murky windows to gild the ancient objects and faded furniture inside. Struggling with the locks, which were screwed tight, the windows protested against being opened, but at last they gave in and fresher air filled the room.
I felt suddenly overwhelmed. The fact that I was on my own struck me with a force. I’d never been completely by myself before. Even at university I’d always been surrounded by people and friends. Why on earth had I thought that coming to Bath was such a good idea? Right then, all I wanted to do was pick up my phone and call Lucas. But, I couldn’t ring him. I couldn’t give him the satisfaction that I needed him and still wanted so much to talk to him.
And then my phone rang. It made me jump – the stupid ringtone Lucas had chosen for me all those months ago reverberated through the air with a suitably fake rendition of “our song”.
‘Hi Babe, how are you?’
His voice still had the power to make my heart leap even if I’d always hated that particular “endearment”, which I was convinced he used simply because he couldn’t remember which girlfriend he was talking to, and I knew when I spoke that my voice would tremble.
‘I’m okay, Lucas.’ Did I sound as brave as I hoped? I knew I should have ignored the call understanding, all too well, that later on I would be cringing at my responses, as the words I should have said would come to me instantly with amazing clarity. ‘Lucas, I don’t know how to thank you enough. Since you left my life I feel wonderful, everything’s just been incredibly brilliant and I’ve never felt better!’ But, of course, for now I couldn’t think straight, I was a gibbering wreck.
‘It’s so good to hear your voice, Sophie. I’ve really missed you, baby. How about we go out tonight? I was thinking we’d go into Camden for a pint, watch a band and top it all off with a night of love. What do you say?’
It was the “night of love” that gave me the courage. Even though my voice was trembling I’d found a new strength, plus he’d sounded like such a sleaze. ‘I can’t do that, Lucas, and I don’t think there’d be any point. We’ve been over it all so many times and nothing can change what happened. I don’t want to see you again.’
Silence. I knew he was thinking he could just talk me round. He’d always been completely arrogant.
‘Sophie, you know you don’t mean that. Come on, you’re overreacting. Honestly, there’s no one else. Lily means nothing to me. How many times have I got to say it? You know you’ve only ever been my girl, my one true love.’
An image of Lucas and Lily loomed, the memory of the last time I’d seen them together. Starkly lit by spring sunshine, like a framed painting in a gallery, her blossom-white arms were draped over him, in sharp contrast to her rippling, auburn hair that tumbled over his face. Silk sheets, limbs entwined – the image was a picture indelibly etched in my mind.
Summoning up all my courage I took a deep breath. ‘No, I’ve made up my mind for good this time. I don’t want to see you again; I don’t want to hear any more excuses. I’m not in Camden, so please don’t come looking for me. I’m sorry, Lucas, but I need to be on my own for a while.’
And then I pressed the little red button, cutting him off forever before I could change my mind. Burying my phone at the bottom of my bag, I was determined not to cry or to waste any more time thinking about him. Snatching up a plump, velvet cushion from a winged chair by the fireside, I threw it across the room. Sending yet more dust clouds glittering into a shaft of sunlight, I felt a moment of triumph before falling and flopping into the seat like a discarded rag doll.
I took a good look at my surroundings with a sinking heart. It must, at one time, have been a very elegant room, I considered. Jane Austen certainly would have felt very much at home in it judging from the Regency furniture, the clock on the mantelpiece and the gilt candlesticks scattered everywhere. The place just needed cleaning, that was all, and as there was no one else to tackle that but me, I had to stop feeling sorry for myself, dismiss the idea of running back to Camden on the first train going to London and actually do something about it. Some activity would also help to keep me warm. At least the weather was reasonably mild for April; the fireplace had coals laid in the basket and more in a copper bucket. Perhaps if I could get it going later when it was bound to get a lot cooler, all would not be lost and, I could heat up the place.
The whole flat seemed trapped in some kind of time warp. Through the folding doors was a rather austere dining room with a large, polished table in the centre and Sheraton style chairs. Beyond this room was the kitchen and small scullery where I could find nothing useful, except beautiful china that looked too good to use along with some silver cutlery. Unpromising items, (such as a rusty mousetrap, a washboard with a scrubbing brush in a zinc bucket and the only object recognizable as a vacuum cleaner) all looked like museum pieces, the latter blowing up with an alarming blue spark and a puff of smoke the second I plugged it in. So, Great Aunt Elizabeth had meant every word. I wasn’t going to find any modern conveniences.
Up two flights of stairs I found the attic rooms were locked but on the floor below were a further three bedrooms, the largest of which had the same view onto the front of Sydney Gardens as the drawing room. It also had a wonderful tester bed with four posts and curtains to keep out the draughts. I instantly fell in love with it. There were clean sheets and blankets in a linen press by the window, still smelling faintly of the lavender sprigs tied in bundles that lay between each one. Silk lampshades on the bedside lights looked left over from the last war and a Regency toilet mirror on the dressing table was draped in muslin and ribbon. It all looked very pretty, but for a layer of dusty felt on the silver brushes arranged with precision along the top of the table.
I was beginning to feel hungry and not knowing where to start with sorting out the place, I decided to go out and find some lunch. I’d left my bag in the living room so I rushed back downstairs with renewed enthusiasm. It would be great to get out for an hour or two and I knew I’d have more energy once I’d eaten. The vast looking glass above the fireplace twinkled in the light, its old, silvered surface distressed in places giving the impression of almost seeing through mist. I quite liked the effect, I thought, as I ran a comb through my hair: it gave a softer look to my face.
I’ve never been quite sure what happened next, although what followed later gave some sense to the extraordinary experience, but I suddenly felt goose pimples all over and the strange sensation of warm breath on my neck, almost like a whisper in my ear. I felt a piece of my long hair pulled sharply at the nape, as if it had been snagged in the clasp of a necklace, which was impossible because I wasn’t wearing one. It was a natural reaction to spin round and to put up my hand to touch my hair but, of course, there was nobody there. It was only when I turned back again to the mirror that I imagined I caught a fleeting impression of a moving reflection in the murky glass, white and fluttering. Passing silently out of the open door behind me, scenting the air in wafts of orange blossom and frangipani, I glimpsed a cloud of muslin, a flurry of ribbon and a white satin shoe.

Searching for Captain Wentworth is available now in paperback from all the usual places. I’m talking at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, UK on September 19th - I’d love to see you there!


~ Jane Odiwe


*** Don't forget to go enter to win a copy of Jane's Searching for Captain Wentworth!!


Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!

Jane Austen Bridal Shower ~ guest post from Jayme

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a single man (your one and only younger brother) is engaged, a bridal shower for his blushing bride-to-be is bound to happen. And I, a lover of parties, graphic design and Pinterest, jumped on the chance to create and throw her a shower that fit her quiet, bookish personality. Thus, my Jane Austen bridal shower came to pass, after a brief tango with a Gone With The Wind idea.

Now, in a world where money is a mere object, there would have been lovely garden tea, with a string orchestra and period costumes, because that would be amazing and I would die a million literary deaths. But in real life, I just moved a month ago, hadn't finished unpacking and my budget had shrank considerably due to buying a house. So I choose to incorporate the Austen theme in my invites, decor and a few games. We set up a waffle bar, where guests used waffle mix and an assortment of add-ins and toppings to create their own masterpieces.

First up, colors! I choose to purple (one of the wedding colors), along with a sage green. I found the paper on sale, and created the banner using my mum's Cricut.


I also used Jane's books as centerpieces- along with a few Bronte sisters thrown in the mix to add height :) The flowers matched the colors, and I thought they brought in a nice garden feel. And of course, engagement photos of the couples.


I used this Jane Austen silhouette on my invites, name tags, party cups and a "He Said, She Said" game the guests played.

We also played the traditional Toilet Paper Wedding Dress game, and ended with a Famous Fictional Couple matching game, which you can download here. Any guesses on who the first couple could be? :)

Why this may not seem like much, it was perfect for the bride, who wanted something low key, and enough Austen thrown in throughout the shower that those who knew her work got it, and those who didn't were not overwhelmed by it. My mind raced through idea after idea of Austen-themed games, including Austen charades and Pin the Lips of the giant poster of Colin Firth ;) But I wasn't sure how many guests would really get it, so I went a bit more subtle.

And so, Reader, she married him.


Eh. Wrong Jane. ;)

~ Jayme

Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!

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