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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Disappointed Hopes & Dreams | A Janeite Conversation

This week's Janeite Conversation is a follow-up to last week's discussion, in which we talked about scene anticipation: those little things that we love so much, we get butterflies pages before we even get to them. This time around, we're looking at the opposite of excited anticipation. . .
Jane Austen, Austen in August, Austenesque, JAFF, jane austen fanfiction, Austen variations, jane austen interview, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty

Are there any things you wish would have happened, either differently or at all, that never did?

MISTY: I would imagine there might be some overlap with our "controversial Austen opinions" conversation.
JESSICA: I wish Edmund Bertram had died in a fire.
MISTY: Welp. Guess I was right...
JESSICA: No, I'm just kidding. I wish he was in the fire, didn't die but suffered terribly...then died in another fire.

MARIA: Sometimes I wish Henry Crawford would have reformed and Fanny would be the making of him. Edmund—sometimes I want to shake him.
MISTY: Same and same.
JESSICA: I do wish that in certain circumstances, Jane gave us a little more insight into what exactly a character said in a certain scenes, especially directly after proposals! My favorite is Emma: "She spoke then, on being so entreated. What did she say? Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does." Friends, I *almost had a meltdown over this when I was adapting Emma. I felt personally attacked by Jane. "Just what she ought?!  AND WHAT IS THAT, MAY I ASK?"
(*actually did have a meltdown, am still actually melting down over it.)
DEBORAH: I wouldn’t mind if Jane Austen had been a little less stingy about her proposal scenes: I know she’s trying to wean us off our Marianne-like romanticism, but a few lines of swoony dialogue wouldn’t come amiss here and there. (You know: how, exactly, it sounded when Darcy “expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.”) The ending of Mansfield Park, in particular, seems under-dramatized (or perhaps over-ironized) to me – I would like to see a bit more about how Edmund finally realized – doh! – that Fanny was the one for him.
MISTY: I used to feel really let down by the proposals, but I've realize as I got older that keeping things vague means that we can each fill in what we think is what she "ought" to have said, what we think is the most romantic or appropriate in the moment. And lemme tell ya, what I would have swooned over when I read Emma at 17 would make my eyes roll right out of my head now.
JENNIEKE: Is it bad of me to wish Mrs. Norris got even more of a comeuppance? I can’t stand that woman!😂
MISTY: Not. Even. A LITTLE BIT. Apparently the whole of Mansfield can be lost to a fire... 
CHRISTINA: And I was always surprised that the heir to Mansfield Park, Tom, never even looked at Mary Crawford. (Edmund is too dull for her! I never saw them as a good match.) I think I’d like to read a Tom and Mary reimagining. I might even have to pen that flirtation into my modern Mansfield Park variation I’ve been toying with for years...maybe give them a one night stand.
MISTY: Please do!
ABIGAIL: Things I wish would have happened? Why do you think I write variations? ;)
MISTY: Ha! Fair point.
ABIGAIL: I wrote my first book, What Would Mr. Darcy Do, because it drove me so crazy that Darcy walked away from the Lambton Inn that day without realizing that Elizabeth thought he was abandoning her forever because of the shame of Lydia's elopement. If he'd just opened his mouth and said something about hoping to see her again soon, it would have saved her so much pain. It wouldn't have made as a good a story, but it still makes me crazy!
MISTY: Eh, I like a little angst. And pining! Having that realization of what could have been — mmm, that's the sweet stuff! (in books, anyway)
MARILYN: I am forever wishing that Emma wouldn't have insulted Miss Bates so harshly at that picnic. Every single time it happens, all of me cringes. Emma's retort was very clever, and it illustrated her wit and arrogance perfectly. And, of course, the consequences of hurting the older woman are required to forward the plot and to aid in Emma's (extremely necessary!) personal growth. I get it. But I still don't like that she did it.
MISTY: Is it weird that I love when Emma insults Miss Bates? I mean, it's awful, and I hate that she does that and allows herself to be led into indulging the worst side of herself to amuse Frank (ugh), but I think because it's such a pivotal, emotional scene, it gives me butterflies. Also probably doesn't hurt that Emma was the first Austen movie I remember watching (though I'm pretty sure I did see S&S before it), and I was obsessed with it and Jeremy Northam as a result. I can still picture everything about that (movie) scene in my head...
MARILYN: HaHa!! No, I don't think it's weird :). You're right that it's a pivotal scene, and it does showcase Knightley's character very well -- and Frank's poor character by contrast. I totally agree with you on the Jeremy Northam obsession! He's one of my favorite of the Austen actors. I was already a fan of Knightley as a novel hero, but I especially loved the way JN played him. He made me fall in love with the film "Possession" also. *swoon* (Have you seen it?? Jennifer Ehle & Gwenyth Paltrow are in it too.)
MISTY:  OF COURSE I've seen possession. Swoon indeed.
CECILIA: Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax...that whole relationship....
MISTY: The whole. . . *waves hand* them.
CECILIA: I'd always wished in the end that Jane had broken the engagement and run off to have her own amazing adventure. His behavior never sat right with me and I felt she deserved better in the end. We've all been friends to a Jane Fairfax in our lives and we've all rallied for her to break up with Frank.
MISTY: Meh. They can have each other. Just... elsewhere.
MARIA: I would have loved the see Elinor marry Colonel Brandon.
REGINA: Personally, I would have preferred to see Elinor, rather than Marianne, with Colonel Brandon, but I understand what Austen was trying to do with the characters. To me, Marianne and Lydia Bennet would have been good friends—both selfish and uncaring.
REGINA: Personally, I would have preferred to see Elinor, rather than Marianne, with Colonel Brandon, but I understand what Austen was trying to do with the characters. To me, Marianne and Lydia Bennet would have been good friends—both selfish and uncaring.
MISTY: I think that's a popular Austen disappointment, actually.
MARIA: I would have liked to see what happened to Mrs. Smith after Wentworth helped make things right with Mr. Elliot. In generally I wish Persuasion had a more fully fleshed out ending and we could know what Mr. Elliot and Mrs. Clay were up to.
MISTY: And yes, I would definitely like to know more about how Elliot & Mrs. Clay ended up, as well as Henry Crawford, Maria/Mrs Norris. Actually, I'd like to know how a lot of the minor, less likable characters fared in the long run.
DEBRA-ANN: I don’t know what I would have changed - except to have Fanny find love with Henry and be very happy despite how she was treated by her family. Only other change I would have made would be to restore Edward’s fortune to him when his brother married Lucy Steele. He stood by her until she switched her affections to his younger brother. The younger brother is not punished so, I would reward Edward for taking a stand.
REGINA: I have a few such wishes. Actually, I think I have written several of those scenes. For example, I so wished Darcy would lose control and take out his frustration on Wickham.
MISTY: PREACH. Yes, Regina!
REGINA: In reality, I have often permitted Colonel Fitzwilliam to do so, for I always imagined Wickham had Darcy’s “number,” but the scoundrel, even when they were all young boys, always feared the colonel.
MISTY: I think a lot of JAFF authors use the Col. to get Darcy's frustrations out! lol
REGINA: And, finally, I would have liked to see Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot brought a little lower. Perhaps, Elizabeth must marry a Cit after Sir Walter dies. In my Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion, I give Wentworth a title (a viscountcy) for valor during the war, which means Sir Walter and Elizabeth and Mary must bow to Anne. I love a bit of irony.
MISTY: This is all I've ever wanted.

And what about YOU, dear readers? What little thing has always niggled at you? Let us know in the comments!

And big thanks to our merry band of Janeites:
Christina Boyd, editor of the anthology Rational Creatures, et al
Marilyn Brant, author of According to Jane, et al.
Jennieke Cohen, author of Dangerous Alliance
Regina Jeffers, author of the Pride & Prejudice Murder Mystery series and many variations
Maria Grace, author of the series' Mr Darcy's Dragons, Queen of Rosings Park, et al.
Cecilia Gray, author of the Jane Austen Academy series, et al.
Jessica Grey, author of Attempting Elizabeth, et al.
Debra-Ann Kummoung, author of Falling for Elizabeth Bennet, et al.
Abigail Reynolds, author of Last Man in the World and many other P&P variations
Deborah Yaffe, author of Among the Janeites

Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
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  1. Most of what went through my head for an answer is up there. Charlotte Lucases' fate was appropriate, but I wish for either a changed Mr. Collins or a widowhood. I do wish Mary Bennet had the chance to shine. And, I always saw Fanny's siblings, William and Susan as worth of their own stories (like Susan telling off Aunt Norris for everyone).

    1. I would love to see William and Susan get their own tales. Preferably adventure tales!

  2. There are two scenes that make me cringe every time. When Emma insults Miss Bates and when Henry and Maria have an affair. Up until that moment I was rooting for Henry to redeem himself and earn Fanny's love. So although I ended up disliking canon Henry, I love him when he is redeemed in variations.

    1. I was so disappointed in Henry, as I think so many of us were. I wonder if it was difficult for her to kill Henry's budding character, or if she delighted in it. lol

  3. I totally agree about the proposals -- Jane does dialogue so well, why is it always missing at that crucial moment??

    Yeah, I cringe with secondhand embarrassment/awkwardness in that Emma/Miss Bates scene, but I think it's really necessary for the storyline and Emma's character development. It's that moment which leads to Knightley's rebuke of her, and her own self-examination.

    As for characters getting their comeuppance, I really wish Lucy Steele had gotten hers. Things end up going pretty well for her in the end, although she *does* have the misfortune to end up married to Robert Ferrars, so I guess there's that...

  4. I agree with the above, but particularly I wish Fanny chose Henry, who stayed faithful to her without changing his character otherwise. Edmund is soooo dull! And Elinor deserved better than that ninny Edward, she deserved Brandon!

  5. I wish that Wickham could possibly redeemed through his marriage to Lydia.


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