February, 2011

Although this post is shamefully overdue, and the events I wish to relate arte not as fresh as daisies in my mind, I would still like to tell you of the charming little play we janeites three went to see the other week.

The production was Pride and Prejudice, by the Chapter House theatre Company, and although it was  very low budget with a limiting number of actors (meaning Kitty was non-existent) and a tiny set of just a few chairs and two windows, we all enjoyed it immensely.  We three, you see, are also rather low budget ourselves.  Not all of us have ten thousand a year.

I won’t bother with a review- everyone knows what P&P is about- but there were other things going on that we noticed.

Instead of trying to disguise the many set changes they had to do with their tiny array of props, they played it up, and had a disgruntled footman with a skew-whiff wig (who also played Wickham, incidentally) come on stage and cantankerously heave and kick furniture round the stage like it was the bane of his life.  That got a couple of laughs because he was just so miserable.  Who doesn’t like a miserable footman?

It wasn’t the actual funny parts of the play that got us giggling however, although there were a few instances where Miss Warburton nearly wet herself because Mr Darcy was unashamedly eyeing up one Miss Elizabeth Bennet.  But, once I get the giggles, I can’t stop, which meant that right from curtain up, I was shaking uncontrollably and attracting glares of contempt from fellow janeites.

Why?  Because the second Mr Darcy first appeared onstage at the Netherfield Ball, a very funny, very loud and very Northern woman on the top shelf  ‘murmured’  ‘he’s no Colin Firth is he?

Mr Darcy clearly heard her.  I’m sure it took some guts to carry on after everyone laughed more at a wisecrack from the audience than at his attempts to be comedically surly.

Secondly, as soon as I managed to quash those giggles, I was attacked by anther wave of mirth when some random weirdo behind us kept bizarrely moaning!  Just going MMMMMmmmmmMMMmmm at odd intervals.  I could not fathom why; it wasn’t a moan of pain or of joy, just like the lowing of cattle or perhaps the high whine of a Dyson zipping round a carpet.  Weird.

Anyway, we couldn’t stop laughing at this, and when the interval blessedly came so we could discuss it whilst raiding our ‘I Heart Mr darcy’ bags fior clandestine snacks, I made an arse (pardon me Jane, would you rather I said fool?) of myself.

‘Why was that random freak in front of us moaningall the time? It was bliddy creepy.’

Miss Warburton’s eyes widened and she shook her head frantically.  ‘Not in front of us.’she hissed, head nodding towards the empty row.  ‘Behind.’

I turned hesitantly round and was glowered at by an odd man who was noisily slurping some ice cream.

He supplied us with more moans and noisy eating in Act 2, just to spite me I think.

Apart from the special effects the audience supplied, the play was ordinary but amusing- it stayed true to the book for the most part but missed out my absolute favourite line! (Arte the shades of pemberley to be thus polluted?)  Gutted.

The only bit we found really disconcerting was the very end- the double wedding.  Now this could have been done a la BBC, where we just see them leaving the church with music etc bla bla happy ending- scary frozen kiss BUT, although they decided to keep in that vein, they supplied the music themselves.

A strange gregorian chant emanated from the characters making us slightly uncomfortable, like we were eavesdropping on someone’s dream or awkward role-play.

Anywho, twas a fun evening out at the theatre, making us feel very cultured indeed.

If The Chapterhouse Theatre Company visit again, perhaps reprising Sense & Sensibility,  we would be happy to see it!

So, whilst Fanny Price looks on in horror, get involved in the theatricals and keep an eye out for Jane on the stage near you.  We’d love to hear about different plays and adaptations.

Happy austening.

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Since it is indeed Valentine’s Day, Miss Smith and Miss Warburton asked me if i would care to explain why I have a small place in my Janeite heart for Mr Edmund Bertram, as they think it nonsensical and absurd.Well, they shall soon see…
Some people think that Edmund is blind, ridiculous and well, an idiot. In a recent Janeite survey (i do like surveys for Jane things :-D), it was proven that Edmund was the least favourite hero, and Mr Henry Crawford was preferred as the main role (come on girls, we all like a blaggard). Although i may agree in some parts, I do feel that

Edmund Bertram/ Blake Ritson

Edmund does not receive worthy credit by Austen readers. Mansfield Park: my first Austen novel, yes, it was not Pride and Prejudice like most Janeites. This is partly why i feel a duty towards the characters of this novel, as i have grown up with them since my early Jane worshipping years. This may shock Miss Smith and Miss Warburton since they know of my hatred toward spine-creasers (yes, they are a race of horrible and scary people), but my copy of Mansfield Park is my only book which has quite a lot of creases down its lovely creamy spine of janeness. Shocking indeed! Thus showing my love for this novel, and how no matter how much i read it, Edmund and Fanny will always be my third favourite couple (Darcy and Wentworth come first).

In Mansfield Park we watch Edmund mostly through Fanny’s eyes and we know she can’t be objective. What is puzzling is that we get very limited details about Edmund’s relationship with the woman he eventually marries- he acts like an affectionate older brother to Fanny until the very end of the book, where the narrator gives us a brief account about how he fell in love with Fanny.  We know a lot about Fanny’s love for Edmund, but we don’t get much of the reverse at all. Perhaps if we could see more of Edmund’s insight, then we may notice the love for Fanny which has always been there in the heart of the novel.  Even Edmund’s relationship with Mary, a much more sizeable chunk of the book, is very lacking in details. We see them together almost exclusively through Fanny’s eyes, or else hear about them briefly from the narrator: “They had talked – and they had been silent – he had reasoned – she had ridiculed – and they had parted at last with mutual vexation”
At times it seems that we get more interaction between Fanny and Edmund not just because the book is Fanny’s story but also because that’s the story that Edmund “ought to be” participating in. What complicates this further is that Edmund’s romance with Mary doesn’t seem like a mistake. They both seem to genuinely love each other but, in the end, their relationship comes to a very messy end. This is, in my opinion, what makes the readers view on Edmund so complicated. The fact that we don’t witness a great deal of Edmund’s true feelings, makes it quite difficult to grasp the idea of him suddenly realising his love for Fanny.
Anyhow, we can say he is a romantic hero, at least, in Fanny’s eyes (and mine). He seems to live two parallel lives: one in the reality of facts in his turbulent relationship with Mary, the other one in Fanny’s mind and heart, where he is irreprehensible, affectionate, sensitive.
Well, that is all i can think of at this very moment in time. My soft spot for Edmund can change over different courses; one day i could ramble off many reasons why he is a favourite hero, other days i would just say that i don’t know why, but i just do. There you have it, my Edmund explanation; although, i do like to make fun of him sometimes. For example…

Myself, Miss Smith and Miss Warburton agree that this is Edmund's 'rapey vicar' face. It is indeed extremely creepy but amusing :)

Happy Valentine’s Day,
Janeite love,
Miss Wareham x

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Happy St Valentine’s Day, internet savvy Janeites.  Although not one to celebrate the day myself due to my spinsterhood state, I do not deny others the pleasure of radiating smugness at people who are not in a state of domestic bliss- or at the very least, some form of ‘relationship.’
To celebrate this most exploited of days, we Janeites three decided to keep our posts about love.

I would like to share a thought on what first taught me to love Jane Austen- Pride & Prejudice.

My first love was Elizabeth Bennet.  As the pages of P&P drew me closer to the characters, I began not only to be enthralled by the language, plot and subtext- I found Elizabeth was my literary soulmate.

It’s a cliche, I know, that all girls relate to Lizzy Bennet and I don’t deny that there are probably women (or men, JaneiteJournal is not sexist, for all Miss Warburton’s posts would have you think we were drooling harpies) elsewhere in the world who feel a more profound, deeper apathy with Miss Bennet than I, but personally, nothing can compare to the connection I made with her on that fateful first reading.

Lizzy was everything I was and everything I wanted to be; she was not the prettiest, the best or the cleverest- not a paragon of virtue.  She was an attainable goal, a sister in feeling and in thought, and for all Mr Darcy captured my heart as well, my affection for him does not compare with that for his bride.

Although I often wish I was not so outspoken, headstrong or indeed obstinate, I still view Lizzy Bennet as the ultimate heroine; flawed and imperfect, but utterly accessible in every way.  I love her the best, even whilst striving to like sensible Elinor and steady Anne much more, and emmulate their respectability.  I loved these characters, but I do not connect with them in the same way.  They are a constant reminder of everything I should try to be, whereas Lizzy cheers  up and reassures.

Lizzy has gotten me through some tough times- without her I would not be the person I am today; I would not be as content, not knowing that there is a happy ending out there for the flawed, foolish girls of the world.

My spinsterhood state may account for the fact that my heart truly belongs to Pride and Prejudice, namely its heroine, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

And indeed I owe this ardent love to Jane.

Happy Valentine’s Day Miss Austen, and thank you.

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Want this pretty piece of stationery goodness for yourself?

Read more in Barton Cottage Industries > New Purchases

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This is our first book review for the blog, so we decided on a book which we all loved…

Romantic dilemmas, handsome young men, a Jane Austen conference, and two chickens named Freddy and Fitz; A Weekend With Mr Darcy is the perfect weekend read for any janeite. Victoria Connelly’s  UK debut novel is lifted out of the usual chick- flick entertainment with her thorough knowledge of Jane Austen’s world.

Two unlucky in love protagonists, Katherine Roberts and Robyn Love are faced with an unforgettable journey of love, heartbreak and the life of the author we all know and love; Miss Jane Austen.

What develops over the course of an entertaining weekend set in Hampshire, is a true comedy of errors, complete with romantic entanglements, gender misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and of course, men on horseback.

To read more on this book review, visit the book review section in literary frivolity…

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Through the eyes of a Janeite began while watching the 2007 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. After many efforts in trying to make  Captain Wentworth see sense, and complaining about Elizabeth’s head- basket (noone will ever know what that thing is), I thought ‘Why is noone writing this down?’ So here it is, a collection of screencaps annotated with the opinions of a very diligent yet humble janeite, who is truly and utterly besotted with Captain Frederick Wenworth (you can’t beat a handwritten letter like his).

Each week, new annotated screencaps will be added to the story and can be found in the Moving Pictures/ Through the eyes of a Janeite section. Here are just a few to begin.

Enjoy xx

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Look at the waistcoat...

Benedict Cumberbatch is seriously in the running for the title of The Bloke What Looks Best In A Waistcoat

He’s not the new Darcy, unfortunately.  He’s playing Dr Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster on stage , alternating with Johnny Lee Miller (our most recent Mr Knightley.)

The ‘Sherlock’ star is building up a massive fangirl following, which I, as an ardent admirer of a proud, tall man with a mass of curly hair and a quick wit am determined to be part of.

I know it’s not Jane Austen- it’s Frankenstein,which is not a cheerful novel- trust me I’ve had to study it.

But he does look splendid in a cravat.

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Janeite Journal – the land where the bonnet roams free, the barouche runs wild and the quizzing glass skips gaily across the meadows.

This is a haven for everything Austen- from balls and books to Chawton and Chatsworth.

Discussions, observations, exlamations and literary nonsense; we’ll have it all here, hoping to bring yet another slice of Janeite sisterhood to the interweb – analysing, examining and gossiping about the Jane Culture which has pervaded the 21st century.

So if you like us, have an avid admiration for all things Austen, and frequently ask What Would Jane Do?, join us thrice weekly in a merry celebration of the resplendent Regency writer, Divine Jane herself.

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery, we quit such odious subjects as soon as we can.

Welcome, verily, from Miss Smith and Miss Wareham.

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