Posted in Books, Movies, Uncategorized

Austenland

austen8OK. Imagine you’re a Janeite…or Austenite…a fan of the works of Jane Austen. A much-maligned group. Portrayed as loser single women who couldn’t get a date so they sit home and re-read the novels of fellow spinster Ms. Austen, that is, of course, after re-watching all these movies and TV miniseries adaptations of Ms. Austen’s works over and over again, including, but not limited to rather excessive viewing (so I’ve heard, cough cough) of the delicious white shirt scene of Darcy (Colin Firth). Sigh.

Whether a loud and proud Janeite or a cupboard one…Austen is now trendy. No longer must we cower in the shadows, no longer must we hide our devotion to Darcy, Wentworth and Knightley!!! We are here! We are here! We are here! It is a truth universally acknowledged that we are here to stay. I never really did understand why people care what others read and watch anyway. To each their own.

Austenland is a delightful book about an Austen fan who unwittingly ends up at a place where everyone pretends to be in a Jane Austen novel for their vacation. Yes, people pay for this. They choose a pseudonym. They dress in period piece clothing. They read, ride, do needlepoint, shoot, flirt, entertain and are entertained with music and theatrics, on stage and off. And of course, a ball, well, something akin to a ball, a dance with a pledge of romance. While I enjoyed the concept and book, I can’t picture myself doing this, ever, even if I won millions. I would just feel weird and kind of icky.

Midnight in Austenland, the sequel was more a tad more thrilling and mysterious. Yet both agreeable reads, just different.

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The movie adaptation of Austenland went in a slightly different direction and includes a marvelous cast:
Keri Russell (Felicity, Scrubs, Waitress, The Americans) shows off her comedic chops and yes, she ha them in spades;
JJ Feild (yes, Henry Tilney from the 2007 Northanger Abbey, Turn: Washingston’s Spies, etc.) is a Darcyesque delight;

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The amazing and unbelievable Bret McKenzie (Flight of The Conchords, The Lord of the Rings, The Muppets, The Hobbit) plays swarmy and charmy alarmingly well;
Jennifer Coolidge (just about everything) is sublime silly in a lovely way;
James Callis (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Battlestar Galactica) is a noxious treat as always;
Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Live and Let Die, Somewhere in Time, East of Eden) is her usual re-gal;
and Georgia King (Jane Eyre, Cockneys Vs. Zombies, Skins), Ricky Whittle (Hollyoaks), Rupert Vansittart (Doctor Who) round out this cast nicely.

I loved the books and the film, although for me the film was even more enjoyable since they did a hilarious take on it. Austenland effortlessly mixes contemporary angst, the discontent of wanting what we perceive as simpler times and Regency romps in a tumbly, bumbly, rumbly bit of joy, with a deeper message – pining for the past is pointless, it’s gone, despite wht it may or may not have been, we are here, we are now, be here.

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Very me

14 thoughts on “Austenland

  1. Sounds like a wonderful book and movie… I haven’t seen it yet… and most people know that I won’t read it….but looks like a good thing to watch…Austenland.

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  2. I surprisingly enjoyed it too! Many Austen-inspired things don’t go so well, exceptions being Lost in Austen and Clueless. But, this was great! I would actually enjoy living in a place like this, if only we could replace the chamberpot situation with something contemporary, which I believe they did do in this. I was in tears when she started playing “Hot in Here” by Nelly on the pianoforte! I thought the movie was going the cynical, fantasy-crushing way, but JJ Field just built his character into the perfect Austen hero out of nowhere! I don’t know if that was in the book or not, but it was genius! Also, Keri Russell looked beautiful as usual, even in the plain brown dress.

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    1. I remember chamberpots from the camp when we were children, it was not fun, although more fun than going out to the outhouse in the middle of the night, with the bears. Glad when we got indoor plumbing there.
      Yes, when she started singing ‘It’s Getting Hot In Here’ I started giggling.
      I liked ‘Lost in Austen’, I wish they’d done more of it. ‘Clueless’ is classic. Have you seen ‘Prada to Nada’ or “Bride and Prejudice’ – interesting versions of Austen as well. 🙂

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      1. Haven’t seen Prada to Nada, but I found ‘Bride and Prejudice’ absolutely awful. Indian clichés galore. Bridget Jones’ Diary is a fantastic adaptation! I wish they’d done more Lost in Austen as well. With Wentworth, Knightley etc.

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      2. Yes, me too. No Daniel Cleaver, when he’s easily the best thing about the films! I like Dempsey…but Hugh Grant just brings a dry humour that is so brilliant. I haven’t read Mad About the Boy either, because Darcy is dead there! Though I read Cleaver makes an appearance.

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      3. Ah, brooding Thornton in the Bridget world, that would be something! He could have a brood-off with Colin Firth! I didn’t know Helen Fielding wrote columns on Bridget. Will go look for them!

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      4. That would definitely bring something new to the table. Leather-clad (LOTS of leather) bad boy who takes Bridget literally on a wild ride, possibly on a horse though a motorcycle would do. Showing a different side to the English gentility/cad divide that you get in the previous films. It would be even better if Keith Allen makes an appearance and rags on Gizzy!

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