Monday, January 28, 2008

Mansfield Park

The Book: Phew, that was a long one...nearly twice as long as Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. I do remember reading this one in high school and thinking, "Ew, cousins, weird." But, I'm over it now. My favorite part of this book is the last 100 pages, where all the action is packed. Jane Austen sure doesn't let you wallow in the happy conclusion for long. Just one page of something like, "And they got together and lived happily ever after." Not much to swoon over really. Still, I think this is a great book for its interesting social commentary on the time and to compare and contrast how much has/has not really changed.

The Movie: I should say from the outset that I liked this one better than Northanger Abbey. But since the book was twice as long as the others, and we were still cramming the story into an hour and half, a LOT gets chopped and reworked. I was mostly disappointed that we never got to see the gross house of chaos in Portsmouth or meet Susan or Yates. Although I liked Fanny in the movie, she was certainly much more perky and sprite than the amoeba Austen portrays her to be who can't go for short walk without getting "fagged" or "knocked up." And in case you haven't read the book, none of that stuff at the end actually happened (see above). I have to say I think the person who played Mary Crawford really nailed the character. And I liked that, for the most part, the characters looked really similar to how I imagined them in my head.

Next up: Miss Austen Regrets (which seems a lot like Becoming Jane) followed by Pride and Prejudice. The Colin Firth version of P&P will be shown over the last three weeks in February. If you haven't seen it before, I command you to watch. Having just received the DVDs for Christmas and having watched it myself over New Year's, I am not planning tune in. I'm going to give myself a little Jane Austen respite and try and get some other stuff read before the end of February when I will pick up Pride and Prejudice once more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Northanger Abbey

The Book: I think I last read this one about 16 years ago, which made this kind of fun since I remembered it not-at-all. I thought this book was hilarious. I actually laughed out loud in some parts. Catherine is a real dingbat, but kind of endearing. I loved all the baddies in the book--Isabella, Mr. Thorpe, and General Tilney. I think after reading this I may be tempted to pick up The Mysteries of Udolpho at some point.

The Movie: I was not a fan. Catherine was more contrived dingbat than actual dingbat. And, she seemed way too young. Eleanor seemed way too old. The story didn't end right. The whole thing was frantic and rushed. And, Mr. Tilney was no Captain Wentworth. The only bright spot for me was the actress who played Isabella Thorpe, Carey Mulligan. Dan and I enjoyed her in The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, where she plays a remarkably similar character. She also plays Kitty Bennett in the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice.

Monday, January 14, 2008


The Book: Said to be the thinker's Pride and Prejudice, this is the last book Jane Austen wrote and is said to be her most autobiographical. Not a lot happens in this novel, but it is so interesting to study the psychology of all the characters. Austen's use of wit and irony is at its finest. I love it!

The Movie: I understand you've got to cram a 238 page book into an hour and a half for Masterpiece Theatre. And for the most part I forgave the necessary screenplay alterations. But, Anne running around Bath like a chicken with her head cut off was just too much. And, especially when she runs into Mrs. Smith, who, if you recall from the book, can't even WALK, puh-lease. Not to mention, who wants to kiss the love of their life when they are out of breath and sweaty...and in public? I didn't buy it. Having said that, I do have to say I prefer this version to the 1995 BBC version because, quite frankly, I wasn't so fond of Amanda Root as Anne. Plus, watching Captain Wentworth made this time well spent. Sometimes these Austen guys get a little lamb-choppy for me. But, even Dan had to admit Rupert Penry-Jones is hot.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Shadow of the Wind

I finished it a couple of days ago, but I wanted to process it a little before I wrote my review. I liked it a lot when I finished it, but I've decided that I like this book even more now.

The plot of the novel is actually kind of difficult to describe. The book is set in Barcelona in the post-WW2 era, when fascism reigns supreme. The story involves a bookseller, his son, a beggar, a villain, love interests, a murder, and a very singular book--The Shadow of the Wind. Being that it is a book about a book, any plot synopsis you may read can be somewhat confusing. But, the way the story unravels is truly spectacular and beautifully crafted.

There was something about the book that reminded me of The Rule of Four, although I liked this one better. This book came recommended to me by two friends from my church book club. But, be aware, Clean Flicks would have had to delete words and scenes.

Even though it is the first book I've read this year, I wouldn't be surprised to see it on my Top 10 list at the end of 2008.

Monday, January 7, 2008

PBS Classics

Here's the schedule folks.

PBS begins airing the Jane Austen movies starting THIS Sunday.

In honor of Masterpiece Theatre's showings, I've decided I'm ready to re-read my beloved Jane Austen's books.

Excuse me while I pop out to grab Persuasion.