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Jane Austen News – Issue 117

Jane Austen News listens to Audible

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Jane Austen Meets Midsomer Murders

We’re not sure how big the crossover is between Jane Austen fans and Midsomer Murders fans, but if you (like me) enjoy a nice bit of escapism with DCI John Barnaby as he investigates yet another murder in the deadliest county in England (luckily fictional) then good news: he’s back and this time he’s in the middle of a Jane Austen fan event!

Episode five, titled Death by Persuasion, will take us back in time. When the body of a woman dressed in Georgian costume is found, a couple who run Jane Austen-themed weekends, James and Kitty Oswood (Samuel West and Claire Skinner, who you might recognise as Fanny Dashwood from the 2008 BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility) are questioned. DCI Barnaby and DS Winter discover there is more to the story: the victim was a journalist, interested in the village’s healthcare drone delivery programme.

The episode is due to air in the UK on Sunday the 13th of May at 8pm on ITV.

 

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 117

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Jane Austen News – Issue 79

The Jane Austen News in the future?!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

A New Pride and Prejudice is Coming!

Big news!!! Set to air twenty-five years after Colin Firth first set hearts racing while playing Mr Darcy in the BBC’s 1995 series, is a new TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Mammoth Screen, the makers of the hit series Poldark and Victoria, are currently working on a TV adaption of Pride and Prejudice for ITV. The production firm has said that they’ll focus on “the darker tones” of the novel and have commissioned playwright Nina Raine to adapt the book, though the cast is yet to be confirmed. Raine is an interesting writer to choose for the job as she hasn’t adapted novels for TV before, but her play, Consent, which opened at the National Theatre earlier this year has gained strong reviews. She’s keen to show Austen’s “dark intelligence” and prove that Pride and Prejudice was “actually a very adult book; much less bonnet-y than people assume”.

Damien Timmer, the managing director of Mammoth, told Radio Times: “In this age of the box set – with audiences loving to binge on complex, serialised dramas – it feels absolutely right to reassess the great classics. Every generation needs its own adaptation of this perfect novel.”


Jane Is A Big Favourite Worldwide

Pride and Prejudice has won first place in many different polls looking to find the nation’s favourite book, but it’s not just the UK that loves Austen. New Zealanders are also big Austen fans – with Pride and Prejudice coming in the top 15 of the country’s favourite books, alongside the likes of the Lord of the Rings and 1984.

What really struck us here at the Jane Austen News however were the reading statistics that came out just before the new list of the country’s top 100 books. It shows that New Zealanders read an average of 20 (20.6 to be exact) books a year! Although it also showed that around 394,000 New Zealanders didn’t read a single book during 2016.

How do your reading habits compare?


Win A Signed Pullman With Pride and Prejudice Yoga!

If you’re quick you might just have time to enter this great competition…

Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Joanna Trollope, Lamn Sissay and Joanne Harris are all taking part in a five-day yoga challenge organised by The Society of Authors in order to raise awareness of how important it is for writers to look after themselves and each other.

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Almost Persuaded | ITV’s Persuasion

Persuasion 2007

The game is afoot in ITV’s Persuasion as Anne Elliot (Sally Hawkins) speed walks down a maze of hallways in Kellynch and jogs down the streets of Bath in what was, presumably, the film makers’ attempt to add action and energy to Jane Austen’s posthumously published 1817 classic. No doubt, the film’s creators felt challenged by a novel with more substance than could possibly be squeezed into a 90 minute time frame and by the precedent of the critically acclaimed 1995 Persuasion which set the standard for Jane Austen film adaptations very high indeed. Screenplay writer Simon Burke and director Adrian Shergold resorted to some rather desperate maneuvers to make this version unpredictable and a bit surprising, but their stratagems were not always successful. Some of the camera work is dizzying, and, at the conclusion of the film, when the compressed plot finally implodes, the viewer may well be left confused as to what just happened and why. If you are searching for an adaptation that is accurate to Jane Austen’s novel, this is not it, but, standing alone as a film, Persuasion has much to recommend it.

Sally Hawkins has a sweet, open face, and, like Amanda Root, those large, liquid eyes inspire the viewer to sympathize with her. Ms. Hawkins cries very convincingly. As she is in nearly every scene and has a great many close-up shots, the film proves something of a showcase for Hawkins, who held up remarkably well, not only as an actor but as an athlete. Eventually, the viewer forgives the ITV Captain Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones) for not being Ciaran Hinds, but it’s difficult to imagine a pretty boy like Penry-Jones commanding a battleship of hardened seamen in the Napoleonic Wars.

The sets and scenery are splendid, one can never grow tired of Bath, the costumes charming, and the supporting cast talented, but Jane Austen’s sense of humour appears to have been lost somewhere along the way, a damning criticism to be sure, and following hard on the heels of ITV’s clever and witty Northanger Abbey, one was encouraged to hope for better. And more’s the pity, as Austen supplied plenty of humour in the novel. In this film, Sir Walter (Anthony Head), Elizabeth Elliot (Julia Davis) and Mary Musgrove (Amanda Hale) are more appalling than funny, and some of their best lines were cut, such as Mary Musgrove’s immortal whine: “If there is anything disagreeable going on men are always sure to get out of it.” Who is responsible for such an omission?

Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove (Nicholas Farrell & Stella Gonet), Charles (Sam Hazeldine), Louisa (Jennifer Higham), Henrietta (Rosamund Stephen) and the Crofts (Peter Wight & Marion Bailey) are given minimal dialogue, and perhaps the time constraints demanded some neglect of their characters, but there are other inexplicable changes. While Captain Benwick (Finlay Robertson) is reduced to little more than a plot device, if you blink you may miss him entirely, Captain Harville (Joseph Mawle) becomes a matchmaker. Mr. Elliot (Tobias Menzies) is an obvious cad from the start, an arrogant, impudent puppy of the highest order, and yet the otherwise prudent and overly cautious Lady Russell (Alice Krige) recommends him to Anne. Why? Unfortunately, Lady Russell’s judgment is not the only lapse of common sense in this film.

What about the invalid Mrs. Smith’s (Maisie Dimbleby) unexplained and miraculous cure which not only allows her to rise from her bed and walk but to sprint down the street calling out the latest gossip like the town crier? And how did Kellynch Hall, an entailed estate under lease to a tenant, suddenly become available for purchase? But, apparently, these are minor details and should arouse neither curiosity nor interest. We are merely the viewers. Ours is not to question why, or to question at all. We are, presumably, to be bowled over by the love story, to care about nothing else and to sit back and enjoy a painfully prolonged build up to a kiss and an impromptu waltz on the lawn. The good news is that the ITV Persuasion seems to improve on subsequent viewings. The trick is in forgiving it for being neither Jane Austen’s novel nor the 1995 film. Aye, there’s the rub.

****

Sheryl Craig is an Instructor of English at Central Missouri State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Kansas.

 

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