Adapting Austen: A Roundup of My Favourite Austen Adaptations

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I’m a sucker for a good Jane Austen adaptation. In fact, I think I’ve seen just about every one in existence, apart from those awkward 1970s BBC ones that are about as exciting as cohabitation with Mr Collins. So, naturally, this week’s Classic Remarks topic is right down my alley. But since I’ve been watching Austen adaptations since I was about thirteen, it’s kind of tough to pick my favourite. So, instead, I’ve decided to group my selections to cover all the bases you might use for evaluating an Austen adaptation. Continue reading

Top Ten Books That Have Made Me Laugh

I’ll admit, I’m cheating a little this week – instead of following The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt this week, I’ve decided to make a small modification. This is mostly because I think humour is hugely subjective. It’s also because I’ve been told on multiple occasions that I have a simply dreadful sense of humour, so I feel it’s only fair that I not impose that on others. So instead of sharing ‘Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh’, I’ve decided to list the books that have made me laugh (or, at least, think ‘hey, that’s pretty funny’). Warning: the following may contain incredibly childish jokes, simply dreadful puns, and even a little toilet humour. You’ve been warned. Continue reading

My Top Ten Non-Romantic Loves in Fiction

FezzikInigoThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about Valentine’s Day, but since I’ve always been a bit of a cynic about a commercial holiday which demands that lovers be nice to each other for one day (thus allowing them to be perfectly horrible to each other for the next three hundred and sixty-four days in the year), I’ve decided to make this Top Ten Tuesday list all about my favourite examples of non-romantic love in fiction. The following relationships are not without their struggles and complications, but I think they all show that non-romantic love can be just as messy, affectionate – and ultimately uplifting – as romantic love.

My Top Ten Non-Romantic Loves in Fiction

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My Favourite Classics (Top Ten Tuesday)

favouriteclassicsEvery week the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish prompt bloggers to compose a Top Ten list based on a weekly theme. This week’s theme is ‘Top Ten Favourite Classic Books’. Since I don’t think I’ve actually shared a list of my favourite books yet, I thought today would be as good a chance as any to share some of them with my lovely readers. :)

So here they are, just for you… Continue reading

Longbourn (2013), by Jo Baker

longbournI’m sure that many reviews of Jo Baker’s Longbourn begin like this, but I’ll say it anyway: I don’t usually read Jane Austen sequels. Or prequels. Or indeed anything ‘inspired by’, ‘in the style of’, or ‘after’ Jane Austen. In fact, many years ago now I declared my household a ‘Jane Austen Sequel-Free Zone’, a new development my family had no trouble getting behind on account of them not really caring about Jane Austen at all (it’s tough, but with family you have to love them for all their qualities, good and bad).

The reason behind this strict ruling is simple. I admire Jane Austen. I admire her as a writer, and in particular as a comic writer of incredible skill and subtlety. Continue reading

Pride and Prejudice (1813), by Jane Austen

imagesR599V0UM2013 marks the two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. I’ve arrived a little late to the party, but I decided to re-read Austen’s most famous novel a few weeks ago in order to try and figure out what, exactly, is so engaging about it.

Many people find it strange that a two-hundred-year-old novelist, who wrote primarily about the process of courtship in the early nineteenth century, should still be so popular in the twenty-first. Jane Austen is often dismissed as ‘girly fiction’, as the precursor to ‘chick-lit’ and the modern romantic comedy.

But the idea that the plots of her novels merely appeal to the ‘romantic’ reading tastes of women (the notion that men and women exclusively enjoy certain types of fiction is in itself laughable) is, to me, insufficient to explain why Austen is so popular today. Why does she continue to be read by critics and ordinary readers alike? And why does she, despite all the criticism aimed at her, hold such an important place in the Western canon?

I’ve always felt the need, when speaking about books, to defend my love of Austen’s novels. To say someone is a fan of Austen these days seems shorthand for suggesting that they are romantic, fanciful, and unrealistic. And if you’re involved in any kind of literary studies, admitting to liking Jane Austen often singles you out as an imposter; as someone who likes reading ‘easy’ books for enjoyment rather than ‘hard’ books for deep intellectual examination.

So I admit to liking Jane Austen with a hint of embarrassment, and always accompany the admission with a hurried explanation: “I don’t like her because of her plots, you know, I like her because she’s a brilliant writer technically,” or “People don’t realise how nuanced and intelligent her writing is until they start to dig deeper.” No matter what I say, I inevitably end up sounding either unconvincing or pretentious.

Despite these setbacks, however, I will persist in defending Austen. And in honour of two hundred years’ worth of reading, I’ve compiled a short list of Austen’s achievements in Pride and Prejudice. Most of them, I hope you’ll agree, could just as easily apply to her other novels. Continue reading