Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Jane in June closes today and I want to  thank Misty at Book Rat heartedly for this great event which was full of interesting blogposts , made me know new bloggers and writers, let me  share my JA fondness with so many and brought  new readers and commenters to my blog/s,  too! It has been a pleasure and great fun to be part of all this. Janeites are a wonderful community!  Till next year? What about a Jane in June II?
Now... the winners of  my giveaways!


(Read my interview with the author at Fly High!)

N.B: I only entered the ones who added their e-mail addresses as requested. I only entered the same commenter once, though they left more than one comment.
N.B. I only entered commenters who left their e-mail address at least once in the month commenting my Jane in June posts on My JA bookclub. I entered the names as many times as the comments they left. Two books ,  one winner!

I'm going to send an e-mail to the lucky winners immediately ! Thanks to all of you who read and commented and contributed to the discussion of this month posting. Jane in Jane closes but tomorrow another great event starts. For JA lovers, Stephanie at Stephanie's Written Word has scheduled THE EVERYTHING AUSTEN CHALLENGE II.  Stay tuned and join the fun!  My list of tasks is almost ready. You'll see it tomorrow! 

Monday, 28 June 2010



Read this excerpt from The Matters at Mansfield

“There is not one in a hundred of either sex, who is not taken in when they marry . . . it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect the most from others, and are least honest themselves.”
—Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park

Chapter One

She was all surprise and embarrassment.Mansfield Park

It is a truth less frequently acknowledged, that a good mother in possession of a single child, must be in want of sleep.
Whatever the habits or inclinations of such a woman might have been prior to her first entering the maternal state, in very short order her feelings and thoughts are so well fixed on her progeny that at any given hour she is considered, at least in the young minds of the principals, as the rightful property of some one or other of her offspring.
Be she a woman of comfortable income, assistants may alleviate many of the demands imposed on her, and
indeed there are ladies quite content to consign their little darlings entirely to the care of nurses and governesses until they reach a more independent age. But in most families, occasions arise when even the most competent, affectionate servant cannot replace a child’s need for Mama, and when said Mama wants no proxy.
And so it was that Elizabeth Darcy, wife of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, mistress of the great estate of Pemberley, and presently the houseguest of the Earl of Southwell, found herself the only conscious person in all of Riveton Hall during the predawn hours of an early August morning. Or rather, the only conscious adult, her daughter being so awake to the pain of cutting her first tooth that none but her mother’s arms could comfort her.
“Hush now, Lily-Anne. Mama’s here.” Elizabeth offered the crooked knuckle of her forefinger to the child to
gum. Having come to the nursery to check on Lily before retiring, she had found both baby and nurse so
overwrought by hours of ceaseless crying (on the child’s part, not the nurse’s) that she had dismissed Mrs.
Flaherty to capture a few hours’ rest. The stubborn tooth had troubled Lily since their arrival and rendered futile every traditional remedy the veteran nurse had tried. If it did not break through this eve, the morrow would prove an even longer day for Mrs. Flaherty and her charge; Elizabeth herself would be unavailable to soothe her daughter, her time instead commanded by the event that had occasioned her and Darcy’s visit to Riveton.
Darcy’s cousin Roger Fitzwilliam, the earl, was hosting a ball to introduce his new fiancée to his family and
neighbors. The Pemberley party—Elizabeth, Darcy, Lily-Anne, and Darcy’s sister, Georgiana—had traveled to the groom’s Buckinghamshire estate earlier in the week, as had the bride’s family and numerous other guests. Darcy and Roger’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, had been the first to arrive, appearing a full fortnight earlier than anticipated to oversee her nephew’s preparations. As the late earl’s sister, her ladyship had grown up at Riveton Hall, and continued to generously dispense opinions regarding its management. That the present earl had little interest in hearing her advice did little to check its flow.
Having herself recently endured an extended visit by Lady Catherine, Elizabeth sympathized with her besieged host.
The earl, however, enjoyed one advantage that Elizabeth, in Derbyshire, had not: Lady Catherine yet maintained a large acquaintance in her former neighborhood, and had absented herself from Riveton for part of each day to call upon them. Her daughter, Miss Anne de Bourgh, joined her on most of these excursions. How Southwell’s neighbors bore Lady Catherine’s company eluded Elizabeth and Darcy, but they were grateful to be subjected to so little of it themselves. Their already-inharmonious relationship with Darcy’s aunt had been further fractured by the events of her prolonged residence at Pemberley, and the present house party at Riveton marked their first meeting since. Her daily absences had enabled them all to settle into a tacit, if tense, truce.
In contrast, Elizabeth had taken great pleasure in renewing her acquaintance with Roger’s younger brother, Colonel James Fitzwilliam, whom she had met two years previous. The colonel’s forthright manners and
intelligent conversation united to make him the most amiable of Darcy’s maternal relations, and she regretted that his military duties prevented more frequent opportunities to enjoy his society.
The only society Elizabeth coveted at the moment, however, were the inhabitants of her dreams. She paced the nursery, murmuring the sort of sibilant nonsense mothers have employed for millennia to calm distressed infants. Despite the stimulus of Lily’s wails, her own eyelids burned with the urge to close. Yet even if she roused Mrs. Flaherty and returned to her own quiet chamber, she knew that maternal anxiety, or at a minimum, maternal guilt, would not allow her to sleep while her daughter suffered.
She sang. She rocked. She paced still more.At last, exhaustion claimed Lily-Anne, and blessed silence settled upon the nursery. It was, however, a fitful slumber. Lily was still in discomfort, unconsciously rubbing her jaw against her mother’s shoulder and squirming each time Elizabeth tried to lower her into the crib. Elizabeth sat with her a while in a chair, but was so tired that she did not trust herself to retain a safe hold on Lily should she, too, succumb to sleep.
She decided to bring Lily back to her own chamber, in hopes that a shared bed would enable them both to rest. Darcy would not mind. There had been a few occasions at Pemberley when Lily, in need of extra comfort, had slept in their bed, and Darcy’s presence often had a calming effect on the baby, awake or asleep.
She moved quietly as she carried Lily down the corridor where the earl’s relations were quartered. The bride and her family occupied the floor above, and several gentleman friends of Roger’s were in another wing altogether. She did not fear disturbing these more distant guests should Lily suddenly waken and complain at full volume, but Lady Catherine’s room she passed with extra caution. Her ladyship’s tenure at Pemberley had proven her a light sleeper, ever alert to everyone else’s affairs.
She rounded a corner and stopped suddenly. Anne de Bourgh appeared equally startled. They had very nearly collided.
“Mrs. Darcy!”
“Miss de Bourgh?”
Both spoke in the lowest of whispers. Anne cast an alarmed glance in the direction of her mother’s chamber. In the weak grey light just beginning to penetrate a nearby window, her face appeared pale as usual, but her features had lost some of their sharpness. The angles of her cheekbones had rounded, dissolving her typically haughty expression and softening her countenance. Instead of pinched, she looked almost pretty.
"I—I did not expect to—that is . . .”
Would you ever expect to meet Miss Anne De Bourgh suspiciously wandering at night? Not in Pride & Prejudice , but in this lovely mystery story by Carrie Bebris this is exactly what happens to Mrs Darcy. Her strange night meeting with Darcy’s former betrothed opens a sequence of surprising facts which will bring Mr and Mrs Darcy to an engaging investigation.

Carrie Bebris is very good at reproducing the witty language style and the atmospheres we Janeites are well acquainted with. Don’t you agree?
The Matters at Mansfield is the fourth of the Mr & Mrs Darcy’s Mystery series and is the latest translated into Italian as “ L’Enigma di Mansfield Park” - but not the latest publication by Bebris , which is, instead, The Intrigue at Highbury ( my review here) . I got this translation directly from TEA,  Italian publisher of Bebris’s Mysteries.

As I wrote while reviewing The Intrigue at Highbury , it is a delight to be back among our favourite characters and see them act and speak as we remembered, but it is even more delightful to see them interact and intermingle in a new and unexpected way.

Let’s go on with some questions. Would you ever think Anne de Bourgh may elope and secretly marry a fascinating rascal? Moreover, would you imagine four different men desiring to get her as their wife? Incredible? Not if you read The Matters at Mansfield.

Lady Catherine De Bourgh is eager to arrange a lucrative and socially  advantageous match for her daughter, Anne. Of course, her ladyship has not taken into account such frivolous matters as love or romance, let alone the wishes of her daughter.

The male protagonist is Henry Crawford, one of Jane Austen’s fascinating rogues. Do you think him capable of redemption? This is what Carrie Bebris wondered while writing this story. Read what she herself said about her Mr Crawford:

“He is an enigmatic character, Mr. Henry Crawford—so utterly charming, yet so utterly callous. Readers have been debating for two centuries whether this favorite Austen rogue is capable of redemption.
I decided to find out.
If you have read Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, you have met Mr. Crawford, the charismatic cad who embarks on a series of calculated flirtations that leave more than one casualty in his wake. By the end of Austen’s novel, he is a man with numerous enemies: the disgraced Maria Rushworth, her humiliated husband, her scandalized father, her reprehensible Aunt Norris . . . to name a few.
And that was before he crossed Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It seems that while Lady Catherine was busy minding the Darcys’ business at Pemberley in North by Northanger, she should have kept a closer eye on her own affairs. Or at least, on her own daughter.
She now finds herself forced to solicit the Darcys’ assistance in resolving a certain matter requiring the utmost discretion. It is one of many matters that challenge Elizabeth and Darcy as they navigate a web of deception to determine which denizen of Mansfield Park harbors the strongest malice toward Henry Crawford”

If I must find a flaw in this story, I’ll honestly tell you, I didn’t like Mr and Mrs Darcy as a married couple. They seem to have lost all the attraction and tension between them, as it very often happens to  any ordinary long-settled couple. I’d have expected more active interaction , more passionate conversation … even stormy arguments between them. However, on the whole, the plot and the style are lively, the mystery intriguing , the characters engaging and the finale quite surprising .   I’m sure you won’t regret to choose this novel as one of your next summer reads.
 This is my last post for Jane in June. Remember this is also your last chance to enter the double giveaway in the right sidebar. Winners will be announced on June 30th.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Journal of the Sixth Meeting - Persuasion

It has been great!
All well that ends well! But I should quote Jane Austen , not Will Shakespeare, since our reading club was dedicated to her. I have not a precise quotation in mind,  but since she’s a master in happy endings, maybe she  wanted to give us one of her best ones  today!

It has been magic!

(Valentina and Ludovica didn't want to read Emma last time, but they had read Persuasion this time: good girls!)

Especially because I have a fairy among my friends and she can do magic! She came to the meeting today and maybe she has played one of her tricks, she has cast one of her spells and this last JA  discussion was full of enthusiasm.

It has been colourful!

My Janeite friends from Rome joined us and their enthusiasm was contagious. Knowing they also were coming  all the readers did their best and …all  had read or re-read Persuasion! Valentina made coloured JA T-shirts for the 5 of us and brought me a JA sack with precious memorable quotes printed on it! Look at how proud we are! (on the right of our T-shirts there was JA's silhouette and her name printed in white)

It has been tasty!

(Simo and Anto having great fun with...children's books! We usually hold our meetings in the children's area of the public library! But I swear,  we  discussed Jane Austen most of the time! Sorry, no pictures of the cakes!)

I made an apple cake and Sig.ra Letizia brought a “crostata” so we started our meeting eating cakes and chatting about the whole experience of the meeting club, planning future possible meetings, commenting with pleasure the presence of our Roman guests.

It has been surprising!

(Thank you! I'm always so glad at receiving books as gifts! And what beatiful ones I got. How did they know I like everything Austen and Bronte? Look carefully behind me and Rosaria, on the desk ... there is one of the cakes!!!)

Rosaria, the lady librarian,  wanted to open the meeting this afternoon thanking me and all the present for the beautiful experience and she had an unexpected gift for me: two books I so wanted to read ! One is Bianca Pitzorno, “La bambinaia francese” , Jane Eyre’s story told from the point of view of a French nurse who reveals what we don’t know about Adele and her mother, the French dancer who met Mr Rochester; the other one is Syrie James , "Il Diario Perduto di Jane Austen"( "The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen"). Perfect summer reads, aren’t they?

It has been interesting and lively!

(Mara, Costanza, Maria Francesca and Marika discuss Jane Austen characters and their love stories but then started talking about ...real life ...stories!)
Since everybody knew Anne and Captain Wentworth’s story and had read the novel , the discussion was lively and even brilliant at times. Sig.ra Pina was less harsh to Jane than in other previous meetings: she said she had liked the beautiful descriptions of the settings,  especially Lyme Regis. She said she had even surfed the Net to see pictures of the place and had liked it a lot. She also loved Anne, because "she’s such a good girl"! Sig.ra Letizia was "a very self-controlled Miss Bates" today: she contributed to the discussion but was not that talkative. Young Valentina had read Persuasion - even the deleted chapter  which is not in the final draft! - and told me she had discussed Jane Austen a lot this month with Rosaria, the lady librarian (where has the critical, prejudiced young Valentina of the Emma meeting gone?!?) Valentina senior, attentive reader and good Janeite, contributed interesting analysis, and Antonella suggested stimulating questions that made the discussion livilier. However, today all had something to say. Much to say. Though I'm not mentioning them all.

It has been awwwww!

We watched bits of Persuasion 1995 and 2007 and we were divided into two halves: one side awwwwwwwwwwwing each time manly Ciaràn Hinds appeared on the screen and the other side swooooooooning when it was blue – eyed charming Rupert Penry – Jones’s turn.

Thanks to all the readers who joined our group at least once in this venture. It’s been a very nice new experience to me which I’d love to repeat. We (Rosaria and I) are already thinking about a new reading group and I’m supposed to propose the titles for next season. I have time, all the rest of the summer,  to choose and decide. We’d like to start again next autumn.

Thanks to all of you, too, who have followed this monthly journal of our meetings and supported me when… a bit disappointed. Love. MG.

Friday, 25 June 2010

PERSUASION - Preparing tomorrow's meeting at the library. Questions and answers.

I'm preparing some notes for tomorrow's meeting at the library. Just some points for discussion. Questions more than answers. Let's hope they can stimulate good discussion and end , positively,  the experience of reading Austen's major six.

Here are some of my points/questions. I'd love to hear any other suggestion from you, of course.

1. Is Anne a frail or a strong woman? What do you most like in her? What, instead, do you like the least? 
2. What about Captain Wentworth? Is he too proud, too austere, too resentful toward Anne? What do you most admire in his character? Is there anything you don't like?
3. What is the role of parents in Persuasion? What kinds of examples do they set for their own children?
4. What rhetorical and narrative techniques does Austen employ in her novel? How do they affect the novel's overall narration?
5. Which characters change throughout the course of the novel? Which ones remain static? What are the larger implications for this personal growth or stagnation?
6. Why is it so important to keep Kellynch within the Elliot family? How important is Kellynch to the different members of the family?
7. Does Persuasion challenge or defend the status of class structure in early nineteenth century British society? How?
8. What is the significance of the title "Persuasion"? How are the novel's characters positively and negatively affected by persuasion in the story?
 9. The rogue in Persuasion: Mr Elliot, Anne’s cousin. Comparison with other similar male figures in Austen’s major works.
10. Persuasion, like Mansfield Park , has a number of characters who are in the navy. How positively/negatively are they depicted?
11. How the depiction of the warm – hearted naval families contrast with Anne’s own family? (her vain and rank-proud Baronet father and her cold and selfish elder sister)
12. Is Persuasion a romantic novel? Why or why not?

We are also going to compare some scenes from Persuasion adaptations 1995 and 2007.  First of all, the scenes in which Anne and Frederick Wentworth meet again after 8 years ; then the scene Jane Austen didn't include in the final version of the story but which she had written in a first version and which is present in both movies: Wentworth speaking on admiral Croft's behalf and offering to give Kellynch Hall back to Anne and her husband -to- be (Mr Elliot)  ;  finally , and of course, the endings of the two film versions.

Before leaving you, as I promised,  here are the answers to the quizzes I posted here

I / I How old is Anne Elliot?
Twenty-seven—a rather more advanced age in the early nineteenth century than it might seem now.

1/2 What is the dominant element in Sir Walter's character?
'Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character' —vanity in the sense of 'egoism' and, secondarily, 'futility' ('vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher': in this case, implieth the novelist).

1/3 Why is the period (1814) propitious for the letting out of fine country houses like Kellynch Hall? And who duly rents the establishment?
The end of the Napoleonic Wars, certified by the Peace of Paris in June 1814, means that there will be a harvestable crop of 'rich Navy Officers ashore', demobilized, wanting to relax and spend their prize money in leisured, elegant surroundings that they have not been able to assemble themselves, being preoccupied with the defence of the realm. Peace (after victorious war) is good for real estate. Admiral Croft duly succeeds as occupant of Sir Walter's Somerset seat.

1/4 How are the Crofts related to the Wentworths?
Mrs Croft, the Admiral's wife, is the elder sister of Frederick Wentworth.
1/5 What is Mrs Clay's connection with the Elliot family?
She is the widowed daughter of Sir Walter's wily lawyer and agent, Mr Shepherd. Mrs Clay also has her wiles and as 'a clever young woman' has Sir Walter in her sights. Her freckles and worryingly prominent tooth may disadvantage her in his critical eyes; as, to the fastidious Sir Walter, might her 'clumsy wrist' (evident, presumably, when she plays any instrument such as the harp). She will also have to combat the apprehension of Lady Russell and Anne (whose position, with a stepmother her own age, would be impossible). All we know of Mrs Clay's marriage is that it was 'unprosperous' and, luckily for her, brief. We can only speculate what prematurely did for the late and unlamented Mr Clay. The couple had two children, of whom we know nothing more than that they exist.

1/6 What rank was Lady Russell's departed husband?
'Only a knight'.

1/7 What formal schooling has Anne received?
Three years at school in Bath, following her mother's death, when she was 14 and in the way at home. She disliked it. She is the only Austen heroine who has attended school. It is not, one gathers—from the examples of Louisa and Henrietta—a good thing to have been educated away from home (although in their case, it may have contributed to their exuberant self-confidence). Unlike Emma  Woodhouse, Anne knew her mother (whom she resembled), loved her, and was—as we guess—psychologically hurt, if not damaged, by the bereavement.

1/8 What profession was Frederick Wentworth's father?
We never know. His brother was a humble curate at Monkford, 'a nobody', as Sir Walter kindly puts it. The family does not, we suspect, have much in the way of private means. It is true that the Revd Edward  Wentworth is now married and has a living in Shropshire, and has made a little way up in the world—but he is clearly only a country cleric, of modest means compared to his nautical brother.
1/9 Why cannot Anne accompany the Charles Musgroves on their first visit to the Crofts at Kellynch Hall? Because Charles's curricle only carries two people—one passenger and one to drive.

1/10 How do Anne and Frederick greet each other, after eight years' separation?
'A bow, a curtsey'.

1/11 How many Charleses are there in the novel, and how many Walters?
Children are named as putative heirs. Charles Musgrove is named after his father, and his eldest son, little Charles, is named after him. Charles's second son, Walter, is named after his maternal grandfather, from whom he can reasonably expect a bequest (assuming the vain baronet does not spend all his substance before he dies). Sir Walter's distant heir, William, has Walter as his middle name. There are two other Charleses in the narrative, Charles Hay ter and Charles Smith. It creates an occasional confusion.

1/12 How often has Mary Musgrove been in her relatives', the Hayters', house at Winthrop?
'Never . . . above twice in my life'. Her father's daughter, she despises the connection as 'low'—or, at least, beneath a baronet's youngest child.

1/13 Has Anne ever visited Lyme before?
Apparently not, judging by the apparent novelty of the tour they all take around the resort, and Anne's later saying to Wentworth 'I should very much like to see Lyme again'. It may seem odd, the coast being so near Kellynch; but the resort was not fashionable (an all-important
consideration for Sir Walter). An early nineteenth-century guidebook tactfully recommends Lyme as being suitable for people of limited income: 'a retired spot. . . lodgings and boarding at Lyme are not merely reasonable, they are even cheap; amusements for the healthy, and accommodations for the sick, are within the reach of ordinary resources.' Definitely not somewhere for a conceited baronet and his family.

1/14 What is Lady Russell's favourite recreation?
Like Anne's, reading. She likes books and bookish people. It is something that has gone against both Frederick (man of action) and Charles Musgrove (sportsman) as suitors for her protegee, Anne.

1/15 What is the 'domestic hurricane' in the Musgrove household?
Christmas festivities, when all the children are home from school. Along with Scott's Marmion (1808), the novel offers one of the fullest literary descriptions of how the holiday was celebrated in the early nineteenth century, before the Victorians made it what it now is.

1/16 Bath rings to the bawling of street vendors (such as muffin-men and milk-men) and the 'ceaseless clink of pattens '? What are these?
Pattens were wooden soles set upon an iron ring, with straps that were then tied over the instep of the already-shod foot. This raised the wearer about an inch above the wet/muddy/messy road beneath, and hence kept the soft fabric or leather shoes clean and dry. When first invented it seems all classes wore them; but then of course it became obvious that any lady would not be walking in a dirty street, she would be in a carriage; therefore to wear pattens meant you were lower class. In Bath, at this date, pattens were probably being worn mostly by tradeswomen, although a few ladies may have used them just to putter around local shops. Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra certainly wore them in the muddy lanes of Steventon and Deane.

1/17 What does Sir Walter regret in his heir, William's, otherwise satisfactory appearance?
'His being very much under-hung'— that is, having a long lower jaw which projects, unaesthetically, beyond the upper, giving the face a bulldog-like appearance.

1/18 How long must Mr William Elliot decently mourn his deceased wife, before being able to remarry?
About a year, as social arbiters like Lady Russell assume. In fact, he is prepared to ride roughshod over such niceties.

1/19 How big is the blister on Mrs Croft's heel?
'As large', the Admiral says, 'as a three shilling piece' (around an inch and a half). The Crofts in Bath do not believe in wasting their money on coaches when God gave them legs.
1/20 What, in Admiral Croft's view, is James Benwick's principal failing?
 He is a little too 'piano'—or soft (his taste for poetry has done him no good in the profession).

1/21 What kind of acquaintance does Sir Walter tell the Dalrymples he has with Captain Wentworth?
 'A bowing acquaintance'—he merely knows the gentleman's name, and that he is a gentleman.

1/22 How old is William Elliot?
Thirty-four, which makes him the oldest lover in the action (unless we include the self-loving, 54-year-old Sir Walter).

1/23 How much has Captain Wentworth in prize money, to support him in civilian life?
A cool £25,000 (it translates as a seven-figure sum, in modern currency). We discover the sum only late in the novel. As a post-captain, he will get automatic promotion, should he stay in the service.

1/24 When Captain Harville tells Anne 'if I could but make you comprehend what a man suffers when he takes a last look at his wife and children, and watches the boat he has sent them off in, as long as it is in sight, and then turns away and says, "God knows whether we ever meet again.r\ ' what, exactly, is he picturing? The fond father and husband has his wife and family accompany him aboard ship, when embarking on a voyage (which may be for years, and may end in death in battle), before dispatching them back in a liberty boat. It is, in passing, one of the more moving moments in the novel and makes one rather love the bluff sea

1/25 What is Anne's final good turn in the novel to those less fortunate than her lucky self?
She induces Captain Wentworth to recover Mrs Smith's property in the West Indies, returning that
lady to a decent station in life.

The sixth and last meeting for this JA Book Club will be tomorrow June 26th 2010 at 5 at Subiaco Public Library. Wish me good luck!

Monday, 21 June 2010



Starring : Amanda Root as Anne Elliot, Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth, Sophie Thompson as Mary Musgrove, Corin Redgrave as Sir Walter Elliot, Victoria Hamilton as Henrietta Musgrove, Fiona Shaw as Mrs. Croft, and Susan Fleetwood as Lady Russell

What I like in this older film version ...
The film manages to capture the poignancy and beauty of the novel and, surprisingly, stays rather faithful to the book. The whole things is very understated and subtle but the body language is electric. Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds excel as the leads and their on-screen chemistry is unmistakable as smouldering, unexpressed emotions threaten to penetrate the surface of their reserve. To read the great anxiety and breathtaking emotion on a manly face as Ciaràn Hinds's is touching.

I don't know exactly why,  but I find this Persuasion 1995 far more affecting than Pride and Prejudice 1995, though the leads there may be sexier. The supporting cast are wonderful and I'm sure that, if you are a lover of Jane Austen the writer rather than simply adaptions of Jane Austen,  you will like this version.


Starring: Sally Hawkins - Anne Elliot, Rupert Penry-Jones - Captain Frederick Wentworth, Anthony Stewart Head - Sir Walter Elliot, Julia Davis - Elizabeth Elliot, Amanda Hale - Mary Elliot Musgrove, Sam Hazeldine - Charles Musgrove, Nicholas Farrell - Mr. Musgrove, Alice Krige - Lady Russell, Tobias Menzies - William Elliot, Jennifer Higham - Louisa Musgrove

What I like in ITV recent TV movie ...

Actually I saw Persuasion 1995 only after this newer version, as a comparison and for a sense of duty. It was a cult a Janeite can't avoid watching. But Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry -Jones were in my mind the first visual representations of Anne and her Wentworth that I could compare to the works of my imagination dating back to the first reading of the book.
I had a soft spot for Rupert Penry-Jones when I bought the DVD ,  I had seen him as Adam Carter in Spooks in at least 2 series at that time and watching him as my first Captain Wentworth on screen just took my breath away. He embodied my Captain Wentworth to perfection. The first time he enters that room - and he is utterly dashing -   with his  blue eyes staring at Anne with cold anger,  I can't avoid shivering. Yes , I know, many  Janeite watchers  have claimed that he is too handsome, his features too gentle to realistically embody a  navy captain roughed by sailing. However, I can't but like him, just as he is. A gourgeously fascinating captain Wentworth.
I also liked Sally Hawkins. Just like Amanda Root , she's not dashinlgy beautiful , but  she works divinely with her looks and facial expressions and is so compelling in her desperate running after Wentworth in the end. Her physical effort, her palpitating excitement, a tear dropping down just in the expectation of a long-wished kiss make the moment of the declaration awesome. Not very Austenesque? Maybe, but very romantic.

Am I supposed to choose my favourite one  at this point? No, please don't ask me. I honestly find them both very good, though one is more appreciated by my literary taste and the other one by my impulsive love for  romance. Is it a deuce acceptable?

Ok. That is all for now. Remember, Jane in June goes on with all its fun at Book Rat. And this post is part of the event. Remember you've got the possibility to win my double giveaway just leaving your comments on the posts showing this badge on the left. For more information on June's giveaway, check my right sidebar. Good luck!

Friday, 18 June 2010


(Captain Wentworth 2007 , Rupert Penry-Jones)

"A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman! He ought not; he does not”.

Is Captain Wentworth the prototype of the romantic hero? In fact , Persuasion is more an elogizing over the self-made man. A very brave, obstinate, handsome and charming self -made man. But Captain Wentworth is just one of several naval officers in this story who have risen from humble beginnings to affluence and status on the strength of merit and luck, not by inheritance. It marks a time where the very roots of society were changing, as 'old money' (exemplified by Sir Walter) had to accommodate the rising strength of the nouveau riche (such as Wentworth). The success of Austen's own two brothers in the Royal Navy is probably significant.

(Captain Wentworth 1971, Bryan Marshall)

Captain Wentworth had no fortune. He had been lucky in his profession; but spending freely, what had come freely, had realized nothing. But he was confident that he should soon be rich: full of life and ardour, he knew that he should soon have a ship, and soon be on a station that would lead to everything he wanted. He had always been lucky; he knew he should be so still. (chapter 4)

(Captain Wentworth 1995, Ciaràn Hinds)

Captain Wentworth is the prototype of the 'new gentleman.' Maintaining the good manners, consideration, and sensitivity of the older type, he adds the qualities of gallantry, independence, and bravery that come with being a well- respected Naval officer. He has made his own fortune through hard work and good sense, in direct contrast to Sir Walter Elliot, Anne’s father, who has only wasted the money that came to him through his title. Without land or high birth, Captain Wentworth is not the traditional match for a woman of Anne Elliot's position.

In the novel, Captain Wentworth develops, eventually overcoming his pride and shame at being once refused, in order to make another ardent overture to his chosen bride: his extraordinarily passionate  letter which was partly the topic of this post of mine in November 2009 .  This development is a sign of a promising future for their relationship. Like Admiral Croft, who allows his wife to drive the carriage alongside him and to help him steer, Captain Wentworth will make Anne happy, respecting and loving her throughout their marriage. This is Austen ideal vision of marriage, a “marriage of true minds”.

Though, when the paths of Wentworth and Anne do cross again,  he goes for a woman who’s the opposite to Anne: Louisa Musgrove. While Anne tends to watch and listen, Louisa is the one who is being watched and listened to by others. Since Louisa goes out and gets what she wants, whether it’s fixing her sister up with Charles Hayter or arranging a family trip to Lyme, Wentworth thinks that’s a sign of her firmness of character. And firmness of character, in his mind, translates as reliability – he can trust that once she makes up her mind, she’ll stick to it, while with persuadable characters there’s no way of knowing what they’ll do next. Wentworth tells Louisa as much:
"It is the worst evil of too yielding and indecisive a character, that no influence over it can be depended on. You are never sure of a good impression being durable; everybody may sway it." (chapter 10)
So, whatever might have been, what we have by the time the novel itself begins is a Wentworth who is doing very well for himself. What he lacks in birth and family connections, he makes up for in wealth and charisma. His "air" (chapter 20) is such that even Lady Dalrymple admires him. His ability to make a convert of even Sir Walter by the novel’s end shows how far money and style can get you even in aristocratic society, and suggests that the social hierarchy might be more open to change than it initially seems.
To get to his eventual revelation of feelings he needs some help, he needs to be sure, he needs to hear Anne demonstrate she's changed. That's spurs his will, he writes his letter while listening to Ann talk to Captain Harville: "No, no, it is not man's nature. I will not allow it to be more man's  nature than woman's to be inconstant and forget those they do love, or have loved. I believe the reverse. I believe in a true analogy between our bodily frames and our mental; and that as our bodies are the strongest, so are our feelings; capable of bearing most rough usage, and riding out the heaviest weather."

"Your feelings may be the strongest," replied Anne, "but the same spirit of analogy will authorise me to assert that ours are the most tender. Man is more robust than woman, but he is not longer lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature of their attachments. Nay, it would be too hard upon you, if it were otherwise. You have difficulties, and privations, and dangers enough to struggle with. You are always labouring and toiling, exposed to every risk and hardship.Your home, country, friends, all quitted. Neither time, nor health,
nor life, to be called your own. It would be hard, indeed" (with a faltering voice), "if woman's feelings were to be added to all this."

Only then Captain Wentworth beautiful words starts flowing down the paper ...

"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago". ........

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010


When writing Emma,  Jane Austen declared:  "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like". In one of her last letters she , instead, referred to Anne Elliot as"a heroine who is almost too good for me."

(Ann Firbank as Ann Elliot BBC 1971)

What did Austen mean with “too good”? Anne Elliot is easily the most unique of Jane Austen's well-known heroines and represents a distinct departure from the author's typical characterization of female protagonists. When the novel begins, Anne is twenty-seven years old. She certainly possesses greater wisdom and maturity; but she lacks the usual verve and sparkle we associate with Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse. Missing, too, is the playful sense of irony which Austen's other heroines revel. The most remarkable thing about Anne Elliot, however, is that she does not seem to have to acquire self-knowledge - her attitudes and behavior are astonishingly consistent from beginning to end. In fact, her character can hardly be said to "develop" in the usual sense of the word. All her development seems to have taken place in the eight years that precede the opening of Persuasion, the eight years since her fateful decision not to marry Captain Wentworth.

(Amanda Root as Anne Elliot BBC 1995)

She is clever and considerate. Anne takes pride in practicality, intellect, and patience.Though Austen very frankly notes that the bloom of youth has left her and that she is not the prettiest of the young ladies in the novel, Anne becomes little by little more attractive when her better qualities are noted. She is level-headed in difficult situations and constant in her affections. Such qualities make her the desirable sister to marry; she is the first choice of Charles Musgrove, Captain Wentworth, and Mr. Elliot.

Noted critic, Harold Bloom, seems to have put his finger upon it when he described Anne Elliot as having a "Shakespearean inwardness" . Like Shakespeare's most intensely inward character, Hamlet, she experiences a spiritual isolation and withdrawal from the dysfunctional world around her, she displays extreme introspection and psychological perspicacity and she possesses the strength of will to remain true to her character and values, despite changes in circumstance.

(Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot - ITV 2007)

In the end, Anne concludes that she is right to have been persuaded by Lady Russell, even if the advice itself was misguided. The conclusion implies that what might be considered Anne's flaw, her ability to be persuaded by others, is not really a flaw at all. It is left to the reader to agree or disagree with this. Do you agree with her?
Personally, I think that the Anne, who made the mistake of being persuaded 8 years before, doesn’t exist any longer when the novel opens. She’s stronger now. She's suffered for the consequences of her choice and won’t repeat her  mistake.

I find Anne a convincing powerful heroine, maybe the strongest of Austen’s heroines. But ... I found this comment in a review of Persuasion online: “Anne would make a really bad reality show contestant, as she’s not one to take center stage and show off. The action of the novel is mostly driven by other people, while Anne observes, listens, and responds. It’s like everyone else has a blog, but she’s stuck just leaving comments” 

Funny,  indeed. Do you agree with this analysis of Anne’s personality? Its  author supports those statements with Anne’s tendency to self-abnegation in a family overcrowded by egos and with her acceptance of self-sacrifice. Is this a flaw or a virtue in her personality?

There is something more, something related to her marriage , which distinguishes Anne from other Austen heroines. I've found it in wikipedia:
"Persuasion manifests a significant shift in Austen's attitude toward inherited wealth and rank. Elsewhere in her writing, salvation for the heroine comes in the form of marriage to a well-born gentleman, preferably wealthy and at least her equal in social consequence. Elizabeth Bennet, for example, who has little money of her own, refuses the hand of a financially secure but unbearable young clergyman; dallies briefly with a penniless (and, as it turns out, utterly worthless) army officer; and finally marries Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, who has a great estate, a Norman-sounding name, and ten thousand a year. Emma Woodhouse, already wealthy and secure, marries 37-year-old George Knightley, a man not only from her own class, but from her extended family; and Marianne Dashwood loses her heart to a charming young wastrel, but then marries the virtuous Colonel Brandon, a man of property twice her age. Anne Elliot's "true attachment and constancy" to a dashing, self-made young outsider distinguishes her from all her sister Austen heroines".

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