Posted on

Jane Austen Adaptations: Behind the Scenes

When the final credits roll on an Austen film, whether you’ve loved it or not, it’s often fun to find out more. What were relationships like on and off the set? Where did they film these great houses? Who designed the costumes? Was the final product true to the script? Were there any extra scenes that were cut? Fortunately for us, many of the movies do have additional information available. Pride and Prejudice (1995) boasts a “Making Of” feature on the newest DVD version and the book The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin answers just about any question interested fans might have. Sense and Sensibility won Emma Thompson an Oscar for best screenplay when it was released in 1995. During the filming of the movie, Thompson kept a detailed diary of life on and off the set. Both the script and the diary are available in individual and combined formats. Also produced in 1995, Persuasion’s script by Nick Dear was printed in book format and is occasionally available from used book sellers. That year’s other Austen offering, Clueless, is an updated version of Emma, set in California. The special edition DVD boasts cast interviews and “making of” information. Scripts were also published of both Douglas McGrath’s 1996 script for the Gwyneth Patrow version of Emma , and for Andrew Davies’s version for TV. That script, along with cast and behind the scenes information was published as The Making of Jane Austen’s Emma by Sue (more…)
Posted on

Captain Wentworth’s Diary, by Amanda Grange: A Review

Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange When one feels that one’s support of Jane Austen paraliterature is a hopeless business as the genre has become a quagmire of revolting twaddle written by people who think Jane Austen was a sweet little spinster penning pretty romances, it is a real relief to be reminded why we still bother. There are some gems to be found in the sludge, Gentle Readers, and Amanda Grange’s previous two books, (Mr.) Darcy’s Diary and Mr. Knightley’s Diary, are among them. We are pleased to relate that her latest offering, Captain Wentworth’s Diary, does not disappoint. The point of these ‘hero’s point of view’ tales is to present backstory, to show the parallel to the heroine’s journey. In this retelling of Persuasion we are given a real treat: the whole story of the summer of the Year Six, when Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth fell in love. Young Wentworth is as full of “intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy” as Jane Austen described him; fresh from his heroics at St. Domingo, he rolls into Somerset ready to dance and flirt with every pretty girl. The last thing he expects is to fall in love–especially not with the quiet Anne; and when he does, and offers for her, and is accepted, the very last thing he expects is for her to break their engagement. He leaves Somerset, injured and angry, to make his fortune. Eight years later, Napoleon has been confined on Elba, and the Royal Navy comes home; (more…)
Posted on

Mr. Knightley’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Our affection for the Rev. Mr. Henry Tilney is well-documented, but we must confess to an occasional fling with Mr. Knightley of Donwell Abbey (and have been known to sit adoringly at Captain Wentworth’s knee whilst he tells sea-stories, but that is neither here nor there). Conceive our delight, then, when we were informed that Amanda Grange has followed up Darcy’s Diary with Mr. Knightley’s Diary. Such anticipation for Austen paraliterature titles has been dashed in the past, but we are happy to report that in this case, our anticipation was not excited in vain. The squire of Donwell Abbey is fond of his country life: looking after his estate with the assistance of the redoubtable William Larkins, attending his whist club, dining at every house in the neighborhood, teaching his nephews to ride their first pony; and his fondest enjoyment is visiting his neighbor Mr. Woodhouse and his daughter, Emma. For a crusty old bachelor, Mr. Knightley spends an awful lot of time thinking about marriage, and an awful lot of time thinking about Miss Woodhouse. With so many concerns to distract him, a generous public must forgive that it takes him half the book (and the intercession of a dispassionate friend) to realize that this is not a coincidence. Fortunately Ms. Grange does not indulge in any creepy suggestions of Knightley having fallen in love with Emma as a girl; as Jane Austen tells us, “Mr. Knightley had been in love with Emma, and jealous of Frank Churchill, (more…)
Posted on

Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

When Lady Catherine de Bourgh tells Elizabeth Bennet that Mr. Darcy comes from an ancient family…well, she isn’t just being a snob. The beginning of the newlywed Darcys’ life together, in which Mr. Darcy takes advantage of the Peace of Amiens to show his wife continental Europe, should be a time of unalloyed happiness for Elizabeth Darcy–after all, if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad–but her joy in her marriage and her love for her husband are dimmed by worry. Why did she surprise a look of pure torment on Darcy’s face only a few hours after their wedding? Why does he not consummate their marriage, despite the obvious passion that they share? And why is Elizabeth dreaming of events that occurred over a hundred years previously–and of a mysterious, compelling gentleman who is not her husband? The mystery builds to a thrilling, chilling climax and a completely satisfying ending. There is plenty of romance and a few dangerously tender moments between the newlyweds. (Let’s face it, the whole bloodsucking thing is not a metaphor for playing whist, know what we mean?) However, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is more than just the simple addition of vampire lore to P&P; instead, Amanda Grange has crafted a clever homage to the Gothic novels that Jane Austen so enjoyed. As in all of Ms. Grange’s Austen-inspired novels, she has clearly done her homework, and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre most strongly echoes Ann Radcliffe’s tales of (more…)
Posted on
Sourcebooks Landmark presents A Darcy Christmas, a collection of three Christmas-themed short stories set in the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The contributing authors are the talented Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan and Carolyn Eberhart. Story 3 – A Darcy Christmas by Sharon Lathan While Sharon Lathan’s novella is the concluding story of the book, I decided to read her A Darcy Christmas first. I recently finished her full-length novel, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, so I still had her voice in my head, so to speak. I was delighted to find that this short story felt almost like a sequel to her third book in The Darcy Saga, although I’m sure that wasn’t necessarily the intent. A Darcy Christmas is a window into many holiday seasons over the life of the Darcy family. It begins the Christmas before Darcy weds Elizabeth and ends many years later when they have been married for 23 years. Each chapter shares moments from a particular Advent season, revisiting the characters introduced to us by Jane Austen and meeting new friends and family members as well. This novella was sweet, innocent and enjoyable, and I loved seeing how the Darcy family grew and matured over the years. Not every year was full of mirth, and I was particularly moved in one chapter when Elizabeth is mourning the loss of a loved one. I may re-read that very chapter someday if I have the misfortune to mourn as she did. It was very (more…)
Posted on

Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda GrangeCaptain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange When one feels that one’s support of Jane Austen paraliterature is a hopeless business as the genre has become a quagmire of revolting twaddle written by people who think Jane Austen was a sweet little spinster penning pretty romances, it is a real relief to be reminded why we still bother. There are some gems to be found in the sludge, Gentle Readers, and Amanda Grange’s previous two books, (Mr.) Darcy’s Diary and Mr. Knightley’s Diary, are among them. We are pleased to relate that her latest offering, Captain Wentworth’s Diary, does not disappoint. The point of these hero’s point of view tales is to present backstory, to show the parallel to the heroine’s journey. In this retelling of Persuasion we are given a real treat: the whole story of the summer of the Year Six, when Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth fell in love. Young Wentworth is as full of “intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy” as Jane Austen described him; fresh from his heroics at St. Domingo, he rolls into Somerset ready to dance and flirt with every pretty girl. The last thing he expects is to fall in love–especially not with the quiet Anne; and when he does, and offers for her, and is accepted, the very last thing he expects is for her to break their engagement. He leaves Somerset, injured and angry, to make his fortune. Eight years later, Napoleon has been confined on Elba, and the Royal Navy comes home; (more…)
Posted on

Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Wickham's Diary by Amanda GrangeWickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange George Wickham is a bad man. Let’s get that out of the way right up front. He is vain, self-centered, and doesn’t seem to care how many lives he destroys as he seeks personal gain. Why would we want to read his innermost thoughts? At least, that’s what we thought when we first heard about Amanda Grange’s latest production, Wickham’s Diary. We are on record as being a big fan of Grange’s hero diaries, but we actually want to know what they are thinking. But Wickham? Really? We don’t want him to be redeemed or made sympathetic. He is a bad man. Fortunately, Amanda Grange resists any temptation to make Wickham terribly sympathetic. He is spoiled, vain, selfish, and hedonistic, just as he ought; but he also is rather amusing, and really, how did he go from being Fitzwilliam Darcy’s “companion of my youth” to someone seeking complete revenge on him, as well as monetary gain, by cutting up poor Georgiana Darcy’s peace? We were hesitant, but this one had us by the second page, buckled up for a bumpy ride. We meet Wickham (and Darcy) first at age 12. Wickham is not yet the bad man he will become, but he’s well on his way: spoiled by his flighty, extravagant mother, who manipulates her besotted husband, and given by her poor principles–rather than preparing and encouraging her son to make his way in the world, she teaches him to take advantage of the good (more…)