The truth is I haven’t read anything new lately. I did however finish writing my 60 000 word story in a month. I know the official NaNoWriMo is supposed to take place in November, but that is not a good time for me. August however works well with my schedule. Between my own writing, gardening and various other projects I simply have not read anything new or interesting.
I did however spend a solid six hours watching the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. It is by far my favourite rendition of this popular Jane Austin novel. I actually love the fact it is so long. The perfect sort of thing to have in the background while I am busy hand sewing pieces of denim together to make myself a blanket. Also, it is the most faithful version to the book. Probably the most accurate portrayal of any book converted into a visual format. Because we have so much time to cover the story, the pacing is relaxed. Everything unfolds over time, just as it does in the novel. The visuals also appear, to my uneducated eye, authentic to the time. Some of the characters are more caricatures they are well done and amusing. To me this is the definitive adaptation of P&P.
And I have seen several versions of P&P, including some very cheesy much older variations. There was a black and white set in Victoria period that deviated so far from the novel to leave me a little confused. One version that features prominently is the recent rendition with Kira Knightly and Matthew McFadyen. I remember seeing this one in theatres and laughing throughout the entire two hours. In fact, I laughed the first two times I saw the film. I don’t know if the director intended for the audience to find it quite so amusing, but there was something very comical about their portrayal of the story. That I have seen this version several times does mean I like it on some level.
In fact I think the Knightly/McFadyen version did some very interesting and effective things with this classic tale. I am particularly fond of the casting of Jane and even the younger Bennett sisters. I was intrigued and impressed in the way they dealt with Charlotte and Mrs. Bennett. There were, however, some glaring offenses. The biggest one was the change in dialogue – the paraphrasing of familiar speeches sounded awkwardly modern and abrupt to my ear. The other, cutting hours of material to create a two hour film, I understand was necessary but not endearing.
While Jane Austin’s P&P is probably her most famous and well-loved novel Jane Austin did write other really good stories. Sense & Sensibility is another very enjoyable and popular story. While I liked reading the book, I also really loved watching the film. The movie version with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant is my favourite. It is still so much fun to watch and recognize more and more of the other actors in the piece – it has a very famous caste.
Another favourite novel for me is Persuasion. It is a shorter story and the lead female certainly lacks the outgoing spunky nature associated with many of Austin’s other heroines such as Elizabeth, Emma or Maryanne. Anne is comparatively plain, shy, quiet, reflective, and lonely. Yet, I find her soft manner very compelling. I also like the way the story gives love a second chance between the two leads. Again, I have seen several adaptations of Persuasion. Both the 1995 and 2007 versions have some very good points. They are well caste and both run about the same length. For me it is a tossup as to which I prefer. I do however like both of these far and above the 1971 version which is just silly.
As I write this, I am forced to realize how pervasive Jane Austin’s work is in our society. There are more than just the direct translations of words onto screen; there are also the movies and TV series based on her books. Modern versions have taken the stories and set them in current times – generally I am not fond of these pieces. Though, I do remember thinking that Clueless (based loosely on Emma) was well done. For a woman who wrote only six stories some two hundred years ago, it is impressive to see that her work is still relevant in modern times.