Today I am thrilled to welcome Laurel Ann Nattress to the blog to help celebrate the release of her first book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It! Laurel Ann is the genius behind Austenprose, one of the premiere destinations in the blogosphere for all things Jane Austen-related. I'm honored and thrilled for the chance to partner with her to celebrate her newest writing venture.
Without further ado, please welcome Laurel Ann! (Giveway information at the end of this post!)
Hi Ruth, so after over two weeks on my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, I am finally here with you at Book Talk & More. We both share an affinity of Jane Austen and the many movie, television adaptations and spinoffs that have been produced in the last fifteen years, so I thought I’d write today about some of my favorites.
The demarcation line in the world of Jane Austen-inspired films and mini-series can be drawn decisively at the 1995 airing of the A&E/BBC five hour mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. We can credit its screenwriter Andrew Davies for exposing Austen to a wider audience with his more energized and sexed up interpretation of Pride and Prejudice. The landmark production not only included complete passages of Austen’s witty dialogue, but the provocative plunge into the Pemberley pond by Colin Firth as Austen’s hero Mr. Darcy, who emerged not only dripping wet, but a romantic icon of Nonpareil. We have seen a steady stream of movie and film adaptations since P&P 1995, some more successful than others. Here are some of my favorites:
Screenwriter/director Amy Heckerling’s pitch perfect modernization of Austen’s novel Emma, is now a cult classic. A very young Alicia Siverstone stars as Cher, a privileged high-school teen living in Beverley Hills who spends her days shopping for designer clothes, playing match-maker to her friends or looking for a boyfriend. The Valley-speak language was totally rad.
Cher: Wasn't my mom a total Betty? She died when I was young. A freak accident during a routine liposuction.
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan make a delightful Mr. Darcy and Lizzy Bennet in Nora Ephron’s loosely-based P&P comedy where two New York book retailers, one an independent “Little Shop Around the Corner” and the other a mega chain Fox Books “hate each other at the office but fall in love over the Internet.”
I love the scene where Kathleen describes Austen’s language, “Confession: I have read Pride and Prejudice about 200 times. I get lost in the language–words like thither, mischance, felicity. I’m always in agony over whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are really going to get together. Read it – I know you’ll love it.”
Lost in Austen (2008)
Writer Guy Andrews and director Dan Zeff’s clever spin on present day Londoner Amanda, played by Jemina Rooper, who is lost in Austen, literally, by being magically transported into the novel Pride and Prejudice. The scene where Elliot Cowan as Mr. Darcy ironically emerges from the Pemberley pond dripping wet is indeed a postmodern moment for us all!
I enjoy these modern takes on Austen because they are so creative and funny, paying homage to their inspiration and at the same time entertaining. I hoped for something similar in my new Austen-inspired anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I think that my authors who chose to do contemporary pieces closely matched the tone and energy in these effective Austen-inspired movies in their rom-com’s and parodies. Here is a description of their stories:
“The Ghostwriter,” by Elizabeth Aston
Sara, obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, is jilted by Charles, who can’t compete with Mr. Darcy. His parting gift is a lock of Jane Austen’s hair. Sara wakes the next morning to find a strange woman sitting on the end of her bed. A figment of her imagination? No, it’s the astringent ghost of Jane Austen. On a mission to restore the reputation of forgotten Gothic author Clarissa Curstable, Jane Austen saves Sara’s career and brings Charles back before taking herself off into the ether, but there’s a price to pay, as the couple discover when they wake up to find another ghostly visitor at the end of the bed. It’s Jane’s friend, Clarissa – and she plans to stay.
“Faux Jane,” by F. J. Meier (Frank Delaney & Diane Meier)
A rich young American actress anxious to marry an English Lord buys a “signed first edition” of Pride and Prejudice as a gift to impress his rare book collecting mother – which, of course, is a fake. The actress’s friends are the story’s two protagonists – a fashionable New York photographer and her chic-restaurant owner husband – they’re Nicola and Charles Scott. The story mirrors many of the snob and society nuances excelled in by Jane Austen – on whom the restaurateur, Charlie (as his wife calls him: he’s “Charles” to everyone else) is encyclopedic. With the help of their butler-manservant, a former hood named Uncle Julius, Charles and Nicola crack the fraud.
“Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!,” by Janet Mullany
It’s 1964 at the height of Beatlemania and the girls of Cleverton High School in England are out of control. Julie Morton, the most junior staff member, finds herself supervising three of the school’s worst offenders, and the resulting conversation about Sense and Sensibility starring the Fab Four gives the girls insight into Austen’s novels and teaches Julie something about her own choice in men.
“When Only A Darcy Will Do,” by Beth Pattillo
Elizabeth Brown hopes her bootleg tour of Jane Austen’s London will bring in some quick extra cash, but when a real-live Mr. Darcy shows up for the tour, her day takes an unexpected turn. Elizabeth has very real problems. Her father’s lost everything in the economic downturn, her parents have split up, and she has no idea where she’ll get the money she needs for grad school tuition. Her afternoon with Mr. Darcy, though, shows her that even in the midst of turmoil, happiness can arrive in the most unexpected ways.
“Me and Mr. Darcy, Again…,” by Alexandra Potter
Mr. Darcy is every woman’s fantasy. But what happens when he becomes one woman’s reality? In 2007 Emily traveled from New York to England to go on a Jane Austen-inspired literary tour. There she met and fell in love with Spike, an English journalist.
She also met Mr. Darcy… Or did she? She can never be sure if it really happened, or it was her over-active imagination. Now, four years later, she’s had a huge row with Spike and is back in London nursing a broken heart. And there’s only one person who can mend it. Mr. Darcy….
“The Mysterious Closet: A Tale,” by Myretta Robens
In the wake of her most recent failed relationship, Cathy Fullerton takes an extended vacation in a converted Abbey in Gloucestershire, England. Ensconced in the Radcliffe Suite, a jet-lagged Cathy mistakes a walk-in closet for a Vaulted Chamber, a clothing rack for an Instrument of Torture and an accumulation of cobwebs for her True Love.
“What Would Austen Do?,” by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Fifteen-year-old James Austen always thought Jane Austen was for people like his mom – people who read stuff, old people. But when he mistakenly signs up for a country dancing class, James realizes that all kinds of girls actually read Jane Austen. If he wants to figure out why, he’s going to have to actually…read the books.
“Intolerable Stupidity,” by Laurie Viera Rigler
Well hidden from the ordinary world, in a little-known corner of jurisprudential hell known as the Court of Intolerable Stupidity, a legal drama of literary proportions unfolds. The plaintiff is none other than the most famous romantic hero of all time, Mr. Darcy. The defendants are the authors who dared write sequels, adaptations, and inspired-by’s of his Creator’s most beloved work, Pride and Prejudice. One of those works, whose author was tried and convicted in absentia, is so popular that its salacious swimming-in-the-lake scene has resulted in Darcy’s being forced to endure a perpetual state of shivering wetness in a transparent white shirt. For when Darcy’s adoring public isn’t throwing water on him, his umbrella breaks in the midst of a downpour. And now, between the zombies and the vampires, Darcy and his wife Elizabeth are at their wit’s end. So is defense attorney Fritz Williams, who not only fights a losing battle in a kangaroo court ruled by Darcy’s tyrannical aunt, the Honorable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but also his secret infatuation with prosecuting attorney Tawny Wolfson. Who has her own secret: a hopeless addiction to the illegal miniseries that she is supposed to abhor.
“A Night at Northanger,” by Lauren Willig
Our heroine, Cate Cartwright, is part of the cast of “Ghost Trekkers”, currently filming at one of England’s most haunted homes, Northanger Abbey. Naturally, Cate knows there’s no such thing as ghosts. It’s all smoke and mirrors for the credulous who watch late night TV. At least, that’s what she thinks… until she meets the shade of one Miss Jane Austen during one fateful night at Northanger.
There are also an additional thirteen stories ranging from Regency to mystery to paranormal. I hope readers will have as much fun reading Jane Austen Made Me Do It as I did editing it.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts here today on my favorite Austen-inspired movies Ruth. The exciting thing is that we can all “suppose as much as you chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford” and see where the new movies and books take us.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.
Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by November 14, 2011, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on November 15, 2011. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!
Laurel Ann, thank you SO much letting me join your "Grand Tour"! Good luck, everyone!