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Jane Austen News – Issue 135

the jane austen news is looking forward to seeing colette

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


In Defence of the Period Drama

Keira Knightley has been in a great number of period dramas. She was Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, Anna in Anna Karenina, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire in The Duchess…the list goes on.

As a regular actress in period dramas, Knightley has been keen to defend the genre, which is often diminished or mocked as blatant Oscar bait or air-headed fantasy. This is something which has often haunted film adaptations of Jane Austen. Her work is often reduced to only its romantic elements, and the socially satirical side of her work glossed over; as if these two elements cannot exist together.

Knightley has done her best to highlight the merits of the genre however, something she has done brilliantly while promoting her latest film Colette (more on that in a moment).

There’s a negativity around them [period dramas], because predominantly they’re female… The strongest characters I’ve found have been in period roles.

And from a 2014 interview:

When I was younger, I felt like I really was doing something wrong for doing period films. I think I’ve now got to where I can stop apologising for that bit, and go, ‘I love them, I’ve always loved them, I loved doing them.’

We totally agree! If you love period dramas, you shouldn’t have to apologise for loving them.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 134

The Jane Austen News defends the ordinary heroine

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


A Georgian Estate For £13.50?

If you’ve always dreamed of owning your own Pemberley, but lack Mr Darcy’s £10,000 a year (more like £800,000 a year these days due to inflation), then the following quirky competition may be of interest.

A couple has decided that, following disappointment as they failed to sell their pricey estate through normal channels, instead of marketing their their luxury six-bedroom mansion through estate agents, they’ll raffle it off.

Located on the edge of North London in Hertfordshire, Dancers Hill House is a Georgian grade II listed property, built in 1760 and worth more than £5.25m – but it could be someone’s for only £13.50.

The current owners, Nigel and Melanie Walsh, who have lived in the house with their family for over 25 years, decided on a raffle after realising that the difficult property market was making it near-impossible to sell the home.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 133

The Jane Austen News has been enjoyed Vanity Fair

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Taking Modern London Back to the Georgian Era

As fans of Jane Austen, and therefore potentially fans of other authors whose stories are set in the early 19th century, you may or may not have had the new TV adaptation of Vanity Fair marked out as required viewing this weekend. Those of us at the Jane Austen News certainly had “Sunday 2nd September, 9pm, ITV1” written firmly in our diaries. If you did see parts 1 and 2 of ITV’s latest period drama this week, then you’ll already know what a fantastic job Olivia Cooke did as Thackeray’s rather flawed heroine Becky Sharp!

However, though Vanity Fair has stellar performances from the likes of Olivia Cooke, Michael Palin and Frances de la Tour in it, it also has incredible attention to detail by way of the settings and costumes. So what did the crew have to do in order to take modern London back in time to the Georgian era? Lots of green screening it would appear!

We hope you enjoyed seeing the transformations as much as we did.

Parts 3-7 of Vanity Fair will air over the coming Sunday evenings at 9pm on ITV1.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 132

The Jane Austen News has a look at a first edition sale

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Bookseller Wanted…In The Maldives!

Philip Blackwell, scion of the bookseller family is advertising a vacancy that might just be the dream job of any sun-loving bookworms. He is looking for a bookseller to work at what is possibly the world’s most remote bookshop, based in the luxury eco resort of Soneva Fushi in the Maldives.

The successful candidate will need to be happy to hold the job for at least three months, which doesn’t seem like too much of an ask as far as the Jane Austen News is concerned. Job responsibilities will include keeping “an entertaining and lively blog that captures the exhausting life of a desert island bookseller”, as well as selling books to A-list celebrities and their friends. Applicants should have “a passion for books, the ability to engage guests of all ages”, as they will need to be able to entertain children with storytelling and host creative writing courses for guests.“

The Maldives shop is a part of Philip Blackwell’s Ultimate Library business. After having trouble finding good reading material while on his holidays, Blackwell thought of creating library collections for resort hotels. To date, Blackwell’s Ultimate Library business has more than 250 library/bookshop projects around the world. For every hotel library supplied, the company also helps donate a reading and reference library to a local institution that can benefit those who live nearby.

Time to give your CV a dust off?

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Jane Austen News – Issue 131

The Jane Austen News this week is Rosamund Pike

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Behind The Scenes With Rosamund Pike

We mentioned in the Jane Austen News a week or two back that Audible Studios will soon be releasing (it’s due on September 4th) a new dramatised audio adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. However, it seems that us Austen fans don’t have to wait even that long for a new audiobook recording of one of Jane’s novels.

Rosamund Pike, who played Jane Bennet in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, has narrated the newly released production of Sense and Sensibility. She’s previously narrated Pride and Prejudice for Audible Studios, and done a fantastic job, so we’re very pleased to hear her new recording.

Below is a behind-the-scenes interview in which she explains why she adores Jane’s work and why it’s still so powerful to this day.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 130

The Jane Austen News reflects on simple pleasures

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


A Nostalgia Trip to the 1800s

Those who think that Jane’s novels sanitised life in Georgian England do like to remind Austen fans that life at that time was no picnic. There was civil unrest in countries across Europe, there were high taxes on commodities such as tea and flour, there was a huge disparity between the classes and the quality of life they had, there were hardly any rights for women. We could go on, but we’re sure you’ve heard the negative side of life at that time before.

However, a blog post we found this week reminded us that it wasn’t all bad, and did make us somewhat nostalgic for certain aspects of like in the 1800s.

A few of the things that sawatdeeka feels she missed out on include:

Letters and journals

“When I see a movie character sit at a picturesque desk, get out a fresh sheet of paper, and start scratching away with an ink pen, I’m reminded that in the last twenty years, we have lost the practice of exchanging long, meaty letters and of saving our correspondence.”

Passing time with family and friends

“It would have been delightful to spend more of life sitting together after dinner–with no interference from TV or radio–reading aloud, playing music, talking or singing.”

Sense of wonder

“The world was young leading up to the 1900’s because there was so much to be discovered. English audiences of the late 1700’s were startled to read of experiences with isolated ethnic groups–the world map still had blank spots in it, and there were limited means of reaching faraway places.”

What would you add to sawadeeka’s list?

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Jane Austen News – Issue 129

The Jane Austen News looks forward to a new dramatisation

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Emma Starring Emma

A new Audible Original dramatisation of one of Jane Austen’s novels is due out in September. The Jane Austen News looks forward to a new dramatisation

In 2017 Audible released a dramatised production of Jane’s Northanger Abbey featuring, among others, Emma Thompson (Elinor Dashwood and scriptwriter of the 1995 Sense and Sensibility film adaptation) and Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza in the BBC’s Poldark series) as two of the narrators.

To follow on from this hugely popular release, Audible have once more enlisted Emma Thompson to be the narrator of their new Austen adaptation – that of Emma.

Other cast members include Joanne Froggatt (Anna in Downton Abbey), Morgana Robinson (Pippa Middleton in The Windsors), and Aisling Loftus (Sonya Rostova in War & Peace).

The new Audible production of Emma is due for release on September 4th, and at the Jane Austen News the date is firmly marked on our calendar!

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Jane Austen News – Issue 128

The Jane Austen News has a growing reading list

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Mary B Gets Rave Reviews

The Jane Austen News has a growing reading listKatherine J. Chen has written a debut novel that may be of great interest to those Jane Austen fans who have always had a soft spot for the quiet and bookish Mary Bennet.

In Mary B, Mary Bennet finally gets what some reviewers have said is a level of revenge, and certainly a greater degree of understanding “in a story that inhabits and critiques Austen’s novel”. The beginning section of the book follows to a lesser or greater extent the plot of Pride and Prejudice (in Mary B Mr Collins is seen more as an outcast like Mary than as an object of ridicule and pomp), and then we see the story continue past that which we know.

As Mary B continues, Elizabeth finds that Pemberley is not so much of an escape as a “gilded cage”, while Lydia finds that society has little sympathy for a woman without money or education. As you can probably tell from those insights, the characters we know so well are changed somewhat in their behaviour and mannerisms in many places, and for this reason it will be a book that is likely to polarise Austen fans.

As for Mary herself, she uses her brains to pen a novel of her own about “the uncouth and vicious men who, despite their titles, have little learning and little breeding and absolutely no manners at all”. Mary cannot show all that she feels, she is still living in a man’s world after all, but Mary B does show the feisty, inner side of Mary that we don’t see a lot of in Pride and Prejudice. Mary B, say reviewers, does a good job of paying homage to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, whilst also critiquing any blind spots in Jane’s perspective, and adding depth to the middle Bennet sister.

Mary B was published by Random House on 24th July and is 336 pages long.

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