Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Austen Fever

Emma. Harriet. Jane. Elizabeth. Marianne. Elinor. Darcy. Bingley. Knightly.

We are deep in the world of Jane Austen at our place. It was bound to happen. A house mostly full of girls and entering the junior high era...I am thrilled.

We've watched a few of the BBC versions of Austen's adaptations and started to read Emma and Pride and Prejudice, my favorite book of all time.

And, as a result, I find myself using words like keen, dashing, nonsense and phrases like fond of, at present, and I flatter myself, and quite shocking indeed.  At least if not spoken aloud, I am thinking in these terms more lately.

 Almost makes me want to buy or sew an empire waist dress.  Almost.  I don't think I could stomach it if when walking about I was stopped and asked, "Oh, when are you due?"  Which is bound to happen in my case.

I avoid empire waist clothing for that reason. I flatter myself that the style is just not that flattering on me.

In regards to Emma, I have seen at least three film versions of the story.  I am particularly fond of the BBC Masterpiece Classic version starring Romola Garai. I love her. She's Hungarian. She's gorgeous.

It could have something to do with the reddish hair, but I think she is a fabulous actress. Her expressions and ability to be youthful and mature when the plot requires are spot on, in my opinion.

I enjoy her performance and character in Amazing Grace as well. I am also beginning to wonder if the British are capable of making a film not starring Michael Gambon as well.  He's fantastic.

Come to think of it, when you see enough period British films you see the same gifted actors appear and reappear multiple times.  It's as if Maggie Smith is destined to play grandmotherly, snobbish old dames who zing one liners and steal each scene.  I mean, can you even picture her in pants?

At present we are knee deep into watching Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford - funny as heck and wonderfully, simply shot.  Gambon appears here too and his character contributes to one of the most heart breaking love stories in the plot. So far. We are half way through the film.  You never know with these stories. Money, scandal, disease, a glance from one to another.  They all force changes in relationships so quickly.

A confession: I've broken down into tears only once when reading a Christmas letter. Of all the ones we have received over the years, one made me just bawl.  We received in the mail  two years ago. A family acquaintance of ours living elsewhere and raising three daughters and a son updated us on their year.  They regularly had the privilege of watching their offspring join with the neighborhood kids and perform small impromptu plays based on Austen's stories.  They had recently performed Emma and roped in some younger guys to take the parts of men.
[Aside note: We had to bribe my brothers to be the "priest" and "groom" whenever we played "wedding", it took a lot of coaxing for those boys to comply. Can't say that I blame their hesitancy when I think back on it. We were pretty demanding brides in those days.]

Why the tears?  I've so wanted that kind of camaraderie and play-making to be a part of even one of my kids' lives.  The current make up of the neighborhood doesn't lend itself to the kind of productions mentioned in the letter. But sharing these wonderful stories in these little ways with my daughters is rewarding enough.

Quite rewarding indeed.


Jen said...

Is Cranford available for streaming online?

We choose to live this life. said...

No, we have been watching it via Netflix video coming in our mailbox. Second half came today!

Jen said...

I really enjoyed "Wives and Daughters" as well as "North and South" by Gaskell. Those are available for streaming on Netflix when you are done with "Cranford".