Tag Archive: Jane Austin


Quotes from Jane Austin

Here are the contexts of the quotations tweeted from @sueannbowling between July 3 and July 9, 2014. All but the last are from Mansfield Park, by Jane Austin.

Mansfield Park Cover“Thoughtless and selfish from prosperity and bad example.”  Jane Austen’s description of Henry Crawford.

“He had not much to recommend him beyond habits of fashion and expense.”  Narrator’s description of John Yeats, Tom Bertram’s friend who brought the acting virus to Mansfield Park.

“This, though the thought of the moment, did not end with the moment.”  Tom Bertram’s idea of acting a play at Mansfield Park.

“I feel as if I could be anything or everything.”  Tom Bertam, once he begins to get the bit between his teeth on the idea of the play.

“Let us do nothing by halves.”  Edmund’s comment on the play, though he means just the opposite.

“I have no fears, and no scruples.”  Tom Bertam, still arguing for a play. (He unfortunately continues to urge that it will be a distraction for Lady Bertram at the anxious time of her husband’s returning over the Atlantic, not noticing that she has fallen asleep.)

“We can’t help you if we don’t know what’s going on!” Sue Ann Bowling, Homecoming. Derik to Roi, as he begins to suspect what has been happening at Tyndall.

Manfield Ranch CoverJane Austin’s Mansfield Park is 200 years old this year, and in celebration I’m reading and reviewing as many spinoff tales and DVD’s as I can find, as well as tweeting quotes from the original book. This month it’s Mansfield Ranch, one of the Jane Austen Diaries by Jenni James.

The Austen Diaries are re-tellings of the Austen novels with the protagonists re-imagined as modern teenagers. If Mansfield Ranch is a good example, they are effectively high school romance – not a genre I normally read, and not one I particularly care for. That said, the story is well-written and well-edited, and the Kindle edition (the only one Amazon lists) is properly formatted.

The parallels with Mansfield Park are definitely present, though Mrs. Norris and Tom are missing. Lily (Fanny) is a foster child rather than a cousin, and the play (a high school play) is The Music Man rather than Lovers’ Vows.

I had a hard time getting into the book, largely because of a total disinterest on my part in high school doings. Two-thirds of the way through, when Lily is sent to live with her previously-unknown grandmother on the Reservation, I found my interest rising, but if I hadn’t promised myself to write this review I’d never have gotten that far. The ending was much better. But there are two points that bother me.

First is Princess Buttercup, the mare Sean gives Lily. Has Lily fallen in love with the horse from seeing her online? Could a 3-year-old possibly be as well trained as this horse is projected as being, or even a good mount for a 16-year-old’s first horse? If Lily is knowledgeable enough about horses to continue her training, would she challenge her cousin to an immediate race on a strange horse?

The second lies with the definition of incest.

Lily, the Benallys and Lily’s grandmother are all said to be Navajo. The Benallys (including Sean) may have assimilated to the point that Sean sees Lily, his foster sister, as too much a sister for romantic thoughts, but the grandmother, at least, is likely to be more concerned about Mrs. Benally’s clan affiliation. The point is that traditional Navajo society is matrilineal, and the definition of incest is based on not marrying someone of the same clan (which is determined by the clan of the mother) or of the same clan as one’s father.

Over all, however, I think it would be a decent read for someone who likes YA romance.

Quotes from Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice blogfestAll but the last quote from @sueannbowling between July 4 and July 10 were from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

P&P cover“I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good.” Elizabeth defending herself against the charge of making a joke of everything.

“Society, I own,  is necessary to me.” Witham, explaining his presence in Meryton

“Pay me the compliment of believing what I say.” Elizabeth, trying to convince Mr. Collins that she cannot marry him.

“I would rather be paid the compliment of being believed sincere.” Elizabeth is beginning to despair of getting through to Mr. Collins.

“Allow me the free use of my understanding on the present occasion.” Mr. Bennett, after he refuses to side with his wife in insisting that Elizabeth marry Mr. Collins.

“Those who do not complain are never pitied”. Mrs. Bennett, after Elizabeth refuses Mr. Collins (though she has many other excuses for her nerves.)

“He never said anything about your being here to me.” Sue Ann Bowling, Homecoming. Coryn, when the school head implies (wrongly) that he took it for granted that Lai had taken Roi.

Darcy's Decision book coverIt is a truth universally acknowledged that a prequel should at least lead to the possibility of the original book. At least I thought it was universally acknowledged. Darcy’s Decision, by Maria Grace, had me wondering.

Granted, this book is part of a series and I thought the next book might clear things up. But in Pride and Prejudice Darcy’s change of heart, though not really explained, is brought about in some way by Elizabeth. Here a clergyman causes considerable reformation before Darcy even meets Elizabeth. Wickham is certainly a villain and his conduct in this book, though appalling, is in line with the character sketched out by Jane Austin. But the plot development seemed to make his further flirtations next to impossible.

I went ahead and got the second book in the Given Good Principles series, The Future Mrs. Darcy, simply because I was curious as to how on earth the writer was going to get herself out of the corner she had written herself into in a way that made the Jane Austin plot possible. After I read the second book, I started to realize this was never intended to be a prequel. Rather, Ms. Grace has taken the characters and the initial setup of Pride and Prejudice and written her own story. Not a prequel, not a change in point of view, not a sequel, but a “what if?” What if Darcy had been forced to see his selfishness before he ever met Elizabeth? What if Lydia’s flirtatiousness had been recognized earlier? At this point the series has been written out to the point that Darcy and Elizbeth have just met — and not at a ball.

Still, I have few hopes that this series will be anything like as good as Pamela Aidan’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series.

Pride and Prejudice blogfestOne of the things this book has forced me to recognize is that there are a number of kinds of books based on Pride and Prejudice. I’ve categorized them (for the moment) as:
1. Non-fiction. This can include scholarly critiques, biographies of Jane Austin, and books about her times, which can be helpful in defining words such as squabs (carriage cushions) or the difference between a curricle and a chaise.
2. Prequel. Books whose main action is before the action of Pride and Prejudice. I haven’t read one, but a book about the marriage of Darcy’s parents, or of Elizabeth’s early life, would certainly qualify.
3. Pride and Prejudice from a different point of view. There are a number from Darcy’s POV, and of course the movie versions are almost of necessity from an omniscient point of view. I haven’t come across versions from other points of view such as Bingley’s, Mary’s, Wickham’s, or those of other characters such as Lady Catherine de Burgh, but they’re certainly possible. Maybe this challenge will help me find some!
4. Same time period, same characters, different story. The Given Good Principles series falls into this category, and so does Lost in Austin.
5. Sequel. This and 3 are the largest categories. Sequels can be straightforward, mysteries (I have several of those), paranormal (sometimes combined with mystery) or for all I know science fiction or any other genre you can think of. Sequels from different points of view exist, too; I’ve just started reading Georgiana Darcy’s Diary, which starts with Darcy and Elizabeth already married and a house party that makes me shudder. (Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine are both guests.)

I’m not even going to count romances where the characters start out misunderstanding each other; that’s become a plot element too common to catalog.

Henceforth I’ll try to determine what category a book belongs in before writing a review!

Quilling

Quilled Christmas ornamentsEver read Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility and wondered what Lucy was up to in making a filigree basket for Annabelle? I don’t mean her motive; she was obviously sucking up to Lady Middleton. But what was a filigree basket? And what did rolling papers have to do with it?

I must confess that my assumption for years was that the basket was something like crochet or tatting, with papers for temporary spacing. Then a fellow vendor at the Farmers’ Market straightened me out.

Quilled Pendants

These can be worn as pendants.

She was selling quilled ornaments – Christmas ornaments, pendants, baskets of flowers – and said that there was mention of her craft in Sense and Sensibility. I tried googling Jane Austin and quilling, and found that such filigree baskets were made by gluing the rolled and shaped paper to wooden baskets or boxes.

In Jane Austin’s day, quilling was done by wrapping thin strips of paper around a

Quilled Fireweed

This is one of our wild Alaska flowers — fireweed.

literal quill. The roll was glued or pinched into shape, and the edge of the paper glued to the wooden base. Modern quilling can also be done with the rolls glued to other rolls to form shapes, and this is the kind my fellow vendor had for sale. The craft is popular enough that the paper strips – a little heavier than ordinary paper — can be bought precut in a variety of colors, and power tools do the rolling.

Quilled Piano

This piano shows what can be done with quilling.

I keep telling myself that I do not have room for such delicate bits of artwork – but if I see her again before the Market closes for the season, I’ll probably succumb.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

So begins one of the most enduring and enjoyable of English novels.  Over two centuries have passed since it was first written, and very little less since it was published.  It is a comedy of manners, and those manners are very far from today’s – but the human interactions and perplexities remain as strong as ever.  Derivatives have been rewritten on everything from murder mysteries to zombies to time travel. There are of course different editions of the original work or commentaries on it, but there are also sequels, plays, videos, retellings and even a paper doll.

I have recently been indulging in the original novel and two of the derivative works: the DVD of the BBC dramatization and a trilogy by Pamela Aidan of a retelling of the story from Darcy’s point of view.  The three versions give an interesting demonstration of the importance of point of view.

The original book is primarily focused on Elizabeth’s point of view.  It is not a tight point of view; Mr. Collins sneaks out to court Charlotte, Bingley’s sisters talk about Elizabeth behind her back, and even Darcy’s emotions are made clear to the reader long before Elizabeth has any hint that he considers her anything but a nuisance.  But in general the reader is not told much that Elizabeth does not know, and there is no scene without a woman present.

The dramatization follows the book quite closely, even to most of the dialogue being taken word for word from the book. Some changes, such as Darcy’s swim (Jane Austin certainly never thought of his meeting Elizabeth at Pemberley dripping wet) are minor, but the scenes immediately following discovery of Lydia’s elopement produce a definite shift toward a more distant and omniscient point of view.  In the book, the reader is encouraged to think, with Elizabeth, that Darcy wants nothing more to do with the family.  In the dramatization, the viewer follows Darcy to London and knows long before Lydia lets it slip that Darcy, far from withdrawing himself from the contamination of Elizabeth’s family, has humbled himself to bribe the man he hates most to marry Lydia.  The effect is a switch to a more omniscient point of view.

The Aidan trilogy, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, is written using a tighter limited omniscient point of view than the original novel, but this time the character followed is Darcy.  The first book, An Assembly Such as This, follows most of Volume I of Pride and Prejudice.  As far as the scenes in which Darcy and Elizabeth both appear, there is little difference in what happens, though of course the interpretations are quite different.  Three new characters are introduced early, but only one, Darcy’s valet Fletcher, is human.  (The other two are Darcy’s horse and the young hound he is training.)  The last two chapters of the first Aidan book are concerned with Darcy’s attempts to distract Bingley from Jane in London.  Here Fletcher comes into his own in a sartorial rivalry–quite unanticipated on Darcy’s part–with Beau Brummel.  I suspect the major purpose of the author is to depict the shallowness and degeneracy of the group that would be considered Darcy’s social equals, and to point out that Darcy is aware of and disgusted by their behavior.  Other new characters introduced in this book are of minor importance, though some become critical later and at least one, Lord Dyfed Brougham, turns out to be an important character in Darcy’s recognition of his own selfishness.

The second Aidan book, Duty and Desire, covers the period between Darcy’s separation of Bingley from Jane and his visit to Rosings.  Elizabeth appears only through Darcy’s infatuation–which he is trying his best to overcome.  He must have an heir, and Pemberley must have a mistress.  He actively seeks a wife, hoping to put Elizabeth out of his head.  Darcy’s interaction with his sister in the first third of the book, together with the later house party, make his eventual proposal to Elizabeth at Rosings more believable, though it is not until the third book that he finally acts on his infatuation.    (I cannot help but wonder if Ms. Aidan saw the PBS special, Regency House Party, as that certainly ties into the last two-thirds of the second book.)  But the Aidan book is otherwise quite unconnected to the Austen original.

The third book, These Three Remain, covers the second half of Pride and Prejudice, from the arrival at Rosings of Darcy and his cousin, the proposal, and most important, and totally left out of the Austen original, Darcy’s struggle with himself which leads him “to see himself as others see him”. By the time he meets Elizabeth again, at Pemberley, his change is convincing enough that we can follow him to London and his bribery of Wickham to marry Lydia with some degree of belief. After this, the trilogy gradually returns to the original novel, though I greatly enjoyed the scene where Lady Catherine confronts Darcy at his town house.

By itself, the trilogy would not compete with Jane Austen’s novel.  It does, however, complement it, as does the dramatization.

All in all, the novel and the two derivative works form an interesting demonstration of how different points of view can make different stories of the same events.