I, like many women adore Jane Austen. Unlike some, I cannot say I'm a fan of the dresses usually displayed in illustrations and films. Instead, I love the manners, the characters, the walking around fields and other stuff that seems to happen. Vacuous? I beg to differ. I am many things, but not vacuous. Besides, I adore so much related to Austen's books, and I've recently found reasons to adore them even more.
I've long kept my heart Austen-centered, for I watched the original PBS version of Pride and Prejudice when I was in my teens, read the book, and read it again (and again, and again). I read it in graduate school, and realized at that point that the PBS version didn't do the book justice at all.
But then A and E's version came out--you know the one I'm talking about, with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Dreamy, dreamy, dreamy. I taped it all, then bought the VHS set, and a few years ago my brother bought me the 3-CD Special Edition. I've watched it every few months or so ever since the movie came out originally. It is by far the best version ever made. I also adored Gwineth Paltrow as Emma, the best version of that book I've seen. The film adaptation of Mansfield Park actually improved on the book, so I've seen that one several times over, too.
Recently, though, other Austen wonders have come out--not adaptations of the original novels, but new takes on the themes which run through them. PBS presented a delightful if impossible spin on Pride and Prejudice called Lost in Austen, taking the life of a woman fascinated with Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy character and turning it into a romp through the book, changing events in hilarious ways. (Yes, hilarious. Not just cute or quirky. Laugh out loud funny.)
And recently, I've read Shannon Hale's novel Austenland, a more realistic (sort of) exploration of a fictional "resort" for women who love Jane Austen's time period and characters. The resort goers dress in period costume, participate in pastimes of the period (lots of walks and whist), and mingle with paid actors who pretend to be "types" from the books. Several of my friends read the book as well, and we all wonder whether such a place exists. (It doesn't, at least not that I know of. Yes, I looked.)
So, there it is. And since many of my readers are men, don't think you'll be left out in future posts, for I have many other things I love to discuss. Besides, you could learn a lot from Mr. Darcy.