Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference.” Jane Austen, Prayer 1, Minor Works 454
Jane Austen’s prayers give wonderful insight into her values for living and aspirations for interactions with her “fellow-creatures”. Whether one shares her Christian faith or not, I think her desire to be more thankful in Prayer 1 has resonance for this strange year. This is a year in which many things that we took for granted suddenly became of central importance. I am thankful for having food to eat, shelter, good health, and ways to connect with those I love, even if I cannot see them in person. I am thankful for the work of all those who keep our everyday lives running—those who staff the stores, work in the hospitals and clinics, care for loved ones, produce our food, deliver mail, and move goods around. I am consciously trying to be more grateful each day for the small things—a hot cup of tea, the sound of a loved one’s voice, a walk outside–and to acknowledge those big blessings in my life.
I am also grateful for Jane Austen. Reading Jane Austen helps me to find some sense of calm when everything seems upended. Each time I re-read one of her works I re-discover some new treat of phrasing or characterization. It has been a joy to connect with people who love Jane as much as I do either on social media or through our region’s Zoom meetings. Our region is very spread out geographically, so it is a celebration for all of us to gather together on Zoom and be joined by people from around the country and Canada. I enjoyed being able to attend the JASNA virtual Annual General Meeting in October and watch the videos throughout the month. We even had JASNA president Liz Philosophos Cooper come to our virtual tea in May. If there is one upside to things going online, it is the ability to participate in Jane Austen events worldwide and meet fans from all over.
I am also thankful to the people who make our region special. Amy Lyons formed the region with me in 2017 and was a Regional Co-Coordinator for three years. Jane Provinsal is our current Regional Co-Coordinator and does an amazing job running our social media. Cassandra Bates is our treasurer and party-planner extraordinaire. Debra Peck is our secretary and is so generous of her craft and sewing talents for our events. Our members engage in dynamic discussion of all things Jane Austen. It has been a pleasure to be able to host more frequent events thanks to Zoom and get to know people better. Most of our events are free and open to anyone, so we hope you will join us at our events.
We have been working on a special project which combines friendship with something Jane Austen loved doing, writing letters, and are so pleased to share it with you today!
Introducing “Flat Jane Austen”!!!
In the last three years, we have loved developing friendships with you, whether on our various social media platforms or at our events, through your comments and emails. It has saddened us not to be able to meet in person for our usual lovely gatherings. In an effort to strengthen our friendships, provide a connection between members and the friends we have made in the Jane Austen world, and have a little fun while possibly staying closer to home than usual, we have set up this special project with Flat Austen, as we affectionately call her, an endeavor similar to the “Flat Stanley” activity popular with many school children.
Here’s how it works:
1. After you have read this post, if you wish to participate complete this form that adds you to our database for the project: https://forms.gle/GR6RnfiVvmodSDFm8 . If you have any questions, email us for the project at: FlatJaneAusten@gmail.com. 2. Let’s say Anne Elliot signs up first and gives us her address. Flat Austen travels to Anne’s home via the mail (hopefully not too bumpy or hot like a ride in a mail coach). 3. Anne and Flat Austen visit Anne’s house, yard, favorite places, famous places in Anne’s city, and Anne takes photos of Flat Austen there (and herself, if she wishes!). Maybe they have tea or make cookies or read a book or go on a boat! The sky is the limit (although please nothing which would scandalize someone like Mrs. Weston or Jane Bennet Bingley)! 4. Anne emails the photos to us at the email above so we can share them on social media & in a Google Photos album for everyone to see, and shares them on social media herself, if she wishes, using the hashtag #FlatJaneAusten. We give her the address of the next participant. 5. Anne writes a little note about where Flat Austen has visited on the sheet provided, puts it and Flat Austen in an envelope, (and maybe a little letter to the next recipient) and mails them to the next person on the list. 6. The next person receives Flat Austen in the mail and repeats the process! Each “visit” to someone’s house should last about 3 days at most (unless there are special circumstances—email us!). 7. We all wait to find out what lovely things Flat Austen has done with our wonderful friends and how far she has traveled! This can go on as long as people are interested.
If this sounds like fun to you, then fantastic! Please do sign up by completing this form: https://forms.gle/GR6RnfiVvmodSDFm8. This project does require you share a mailing address with us, give us permission to share it with someone else who will then send Flat Austen to you, and be willing to provide your own regular envelope and stamp to send her on to another person. We promise to keep your information confidential and only give it to the next person on the list. It will not be used for any nefarious purposes (We are NOT Willoughby, after all.)
If you are outside of the United States and wish to participate, please contact us and let us know. Hopefully the mail between countries will begin moving quickly again and we can open this up for international “travel.” 😉
If you wish to write a reply to the person who sent Flat Austen to you, then that’s absolutely lovely and completely in the spirit of this project and Jane Austen’s life! We hope this project can be a way to connect our region members until we can meet again in person.
Questions? If you want to create a Flat Austen project for your group, email us at FlatJaneAusten@gmail.com!
Keep an eye on #FlatJaneAusten & #FlatAusten on social media!
One of the joys of social media is that you can connect with people from around the country and around the world. Kirk Companion, the man behind Austen in Boston: A Jane Austen Book Club (AiB), has been one of our region’s long-distance supporters since we started on Facebook in 2017. He has come to many of our online events and, like Mr. Knightley says of Robert Martin: “I never hear better sense from any one than” Kirk. I asked him to join me in this discussion of the 2020 EMMA. movie. Michele Larrow, Regional Co-Coordinator JASNA Eastern WA/Northern ID
**Note: There are some spoilers in this review.**
Kirk: I saw EMMA. 2020 in a free preview Feb 25 (the Biogen conference that brought Corvid-19 to Boston had just started that day) @ Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre. I attended with two members of AiB, two members of the Jane Austen Reading Group, and one friend from a meetup.com social group. The Director Autumn de Wilde and Lead Actress Anya Taylor-Joy of EMMA. 2020 attended a Q&A afterwards. It’s on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyDhhwDq-S4
Michele: I did not see EMMA. until it came out for rental because it came to Pullman when COVID-19 started shutting things down. I watched the movie three times since I had the rental for 48 hours 😊. I also re-watched Clueless, Emma 1996 movie, and Emma 2009 before writing the review.
1. What aspects of the 2020 film did you like?
ML: The cinemaphotography is amazing with lots of wide shots out of doors. I also like the locations and set design, although having Mr. Knightley live in a palace seems ludicrous. The costumes are wonderful and derived from period fashion magazines, but I feel like they came out of a Georgette Heyer novel (i.e., Regency high society and nobility) rather than a Jane Austen novel. I loved the music and how it both feels modern and of the time period; I bought the sound track and am enjoying it a lot.
KC: Hmmm….well I liked Harriet Smith’s story. She gets a delightful ending. I agree about the cinemaphotography and the locations. Laugh at myself…not big on costumes in general (I’m as unfashionable as can be!) and disliked 2/3 of the one Heyer novel I read. I’m glad you enjoyed the music. I enjoyed the classical music in the movie. Whereas….I hated (going full Marianne) that music from the Cold Mountain (big US Civil War reader) sound track in an Emma adaption. Seriously???? NO NO a thousand times….
2. You and I are both huge Mr. Knightley fans. What do you think about the way the character is written in the movie? Thoughts about Johnny Flynn’s performance?
KC: Okish. While apparently, he is actually not too many years younger than most of the other Mr. Knightleys, he appears to me to be in his mid 20’s. I hate to say he lacks gravitas but… One moment unacceptable…rolling on the floor…seriously??? One of the trailer scenes is Emma and Mr. Knightley arguing about Harriet (I think). That’s fairly well done. While I think he’s the youngest to play Mr. Knightley on screen, he is in fact nearly the actual age in the book…which matters not one wit to me. Judge the performance, not the age of the performer!
ML: I thought the movie was trying to romanticize Mr. Knightley—to turn him into a silent, brooding, isolated hero. He is the center of the community in the book—always doing for others and, in his own word, “amiable”. I agree about the rolling on the floor—also, OUR Mr. Knightley does not run anywhere, least of all through Highbury to Hartfield. I did like Johnny Flynn’s performance of the role as it was written. He is a fine musician and I loved that he played the violin and sang in the movie.
3. What about how Emma is portrayed in the movie—do you feel like anything is missing compared to how she is characterized in the book? Any thoughts about Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance?
ML: I thought Emma in the movie was missing the sweetness and care-taking with her father that makes her character more likeable in the book. The book also shows how much of a strain she experiences in trying to manage his life and minimize his distresses. Movie Emma doesn’t seem very friendly with people—in the book she may be bored with Miss Bates, but knows what is expected of her and talks politely to her. I also thought that Emma’s reaction after Mr. Knightley’s proposal of telling him she can’t marry him because of Harriet lacks the impact of Emma’s decision in the book to keep Harriet’s love of him a secret from Mr. Knightley in order to maintain Harriet’s dignity. Anya Taylor-Joy was so serious in the role—it seemed like the fun of Emma was missing, although she did capture her self-confidence and condescension.
KC: Far far too chilly! 90% unpleasant 10% pleasant…whereas maybe Emma ‘09 the reverse. And the nose bleed…no…gross…not not acceptable EVER!!!
Alas…having watched and read various versions of Emma, it’s hard to compare to the actual book, and I reread the book this year!
4. In the book, Emma and Mr. Knightley clearly start the story almost like siblings in that they argue, but have a close relationship and then they evolve into a romantic relationship. What do you think of how the relationship is portrayed in the movie?
KC: Ugh…not like siblings please!!! Too many people who dislike the Emma/Mr. K story use that! (I wrote a blog post about a long time ago) A bit chilly, perhaps. With such a chilly Emma, it’s hard to see the romantic relationship. Also, the short time of the movie. Emma ‘09 and Gwen Emma (and perhaps Kate Emma too) have them doing stuff in a sorta “dating” way. I can’t remember…does Emma in 2020 hold Isabella’s baby? In Kate Emma and Emma ‘09 it is quite touching. And Gwen Emma has the archery scene.
ML: In the book there seems to be several cycles of fight and make up between Emma and Mr. Knightley, where when they make up, you see that they would be good together and there is emotional closeness. There doesn’t seem to be much making up and emotionally connecting before the proposal scene in EMMA. Even when they sort of make up at the holidays (where Emma does hold the baby), the 2020 scene ends with discord about Robert Martin’s pain, rather than some emotional connection about it (as is shown in 2009). I also like the archery scene in the 1996 movie—even though they are fighting it seems gentler than the fights in some of the other versions. Also missing from 2020 is how Emma and Mr. K tag team to manage Mr. Woodhouse—which was very well done in the 2009 mini-series.
5. Aspects of the film that you didn’t like or characterizations that seemed wrong?
ML: Of course, to condense a long book into a 2-hour movie you have to cut a lot, but I think that the Jane Fairfax/Frank Churchill subplot gets almost written out of the 2020 movie. Jane is supposed to be a foil and potential rival to Emma for Mr. Knightley’s affections, but she just seemed depressed the whole movie. There is little sense that the disaster at Box Hill is instigated by Frank Churchill in his frustration about his fight with Jane. When Frank and Jane become engaged, it is out of nowhere if you don’t know the book. Also, I hated the way that the Isabella and John Knightley marriage was portrayed, with Isabella being a shrew. WHY?
KC: Apparently a Jane Fairfax/Emma reconciliation was deleted….what?? John Knightley, from what I remember, is basically a blank. Zero personality. While I’d rather be George Knightley, in truth I’d too much like John Knightley in real life!! In Emma 09, he almost steals the scenes he’s in. And Isabella shows a quiet strength and wit of her own. As Michele points out, she is a shrew in 2020. Mrs. Elton 2…no thank you!!!!
6. Favorite scene in the film?
KC: I hope a re-watch will increase my appreciation for the film. Harriet Smith’s final moments in the film with Robert Martin. Also, Harriet’s moments with her friends.
ML: My favorite scene is probably the ball scene when Emma and Mr. Knightley dance.
Rating and Ranking all the Emma versions
(in chronological order, information from imdb.com)
1. Clueless (movie with Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, director and writer:Amy Heckerling, 1995)
KC: I’ve seen it once and it was better than I thought it would be. Rolls eyes…I suppose I should watch again.
ML: Love the new setting, costumes, fun of the dialogue. Don’t like that Cher is in high school and Josh is in college, ugh! They do get the playful dynamic between Cher and Josh. The movie is very funny!
2. Emma (movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam, director and screenplay: Douglas McGrath, 1996)
ML: Playful relationship between Emma and Mr. K, well written and summarizes the novel well in 2 hours—hits all the subplots. The proposal under the oak tree is lovely. Gwyneth is too pouty at times, however. “Try not to kill my dogs” is a funny line and Jeremy Northam’s performance is perfect.
KC: My first Emma (although my hometown High School was filled with Emmas….Emmi?). I agree with the “Try not…” line! While I hate to use the word perfect….Jeremy Northam’s performance wow just wow.
3. Emma (TV series with Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong, director: Diarmuid Lawrence and screenplay: Andrew Davies, 1996)
KC: Yes, Mark Toooooo Strong. Kate B’s Emma a bit too cool for me but Olivia Williams as Jane Fairfax! The harvest scene at the end is a nice touch…that’s not in the book.
ML: Kate B. is quite good, but I found Mark S. too angry. (I know this version the least).
4. Emma (TV mini-series with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, director: Jim O’Hanlon and screenplay: Sandy Welch, 2009)
ML: Extremely well-written and close to the book. Romola Garai and JLM are a great match. Michael Gambon is a great Mr. Woodhouse and we get a full sense of how challenging life with him is. The Jane F/Frank C subplot is fully developed.
KC: And Mrs. Weston and Emma joking about Jane Fairfax and Mr. K and the John Knightleys and Frank C that isn’t so foppish and this is my favorite Austen Adaption!
5. EMMA. (movie with Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn, director: Autumn de Wilde and screenplay: Eleanor Catton, 2020)
KC: A rewatch is needed but my rating declined from 3.5-3.75 just after seeing it to 2.75-3 a few days later.
ML: I think 2020 has great sets, costumes, and amazing shots but not the emotional connection for me that the others, especially 2009, have.
ML: (I like them all in some ways, but 2009 is head and shoulders above the others, the next three are close together and the last one is farther back) Emma 2009, Clueless, Emma 1996 movie, EMMA. 2020, and Emma 1996 tv
KC: Emma 2009…big gap Emma 1996 movie…small gap Emma 1996 tv…small gap…Clueless small gap EMMA. 2020. i.e. maybe 5….3.75…3.5…3….2.75 Frankly….the recent on-line Emma musical and Emma 1972 (sedate version of Emma) are more enjoyable to me than EMMA. 2020…at least without a re-watch of it. I’m not usually soooo critical….well sorta…. oh and there’s Emma Approved too.
Kirk’s Austenography: My first Austen experience that I remember was S&S 95 movie (my parents watched Masterpiece Theatre every week so it’s possible I could have seen the 1980 P&P (Robo-Darcy!)). I saw it three times in the movie theater. It was love at first sight for me and Marianne!!!!! 🙂 My favorite cousin purchased P&P ’95 and we cousins watched it at holiday gatherings. I saw ’96 Emma in a movie theater. Read those three, found other three Big Six novels, and read them. I then read what little fan fiction was out there, starting with The Third Sister (Margaret Dashwood). I joined several meetup.com groups in January 2010. One was an Austen group that had met three times in 2009 but was inactive. A week later a new person joined and said they had three of the books. So I asked which ones and on the site suggested that the group meet. Lol…the person who started the group then quit!! I and one of people who attended in 2009 volunteered to manage the group for a while (I had never attended a book club before). After a year, she wanted to read all Dickens all the time. NO WAY….and she quit co-leadership. In April 2011 we moved from meetup.com ($) to Facebook and renamed ourselves Austen in Boston (AiB). In Sept 2010 I attended my first JASNA-MA meeting (the great John Wiltshire was the speaker) and I was recruited to the JASNA-MA reading group.
Michele’s Austenography: I read P&P and saw 1980 BBC P&P when I was in high school (both probably 1981). I read the other novels at some point in my 20s, but didn’t become a major fan until re-reading them all in my 40s, when Emma became my favorite novel. I joined JASNA in 2009. One of my proudest accomplishments was presenting on “Mr. Knightley’s Development of Sympathy” at the 2016 Emma AGM in Washington DC and then having that published in Persuasions On-Line (http://jasna.org/publications/persuasions-online/vol37no1/larrow/). Following the AGM, I knew I wanted to form a JASNA region in my area and, with Amy Lyons, founded the JASNA Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho region in 2017.
Welcome to another installment of Member Mondays! Every so often, we will share a profile of a region member, featuring answers from our questionnaire. If you would like to participate, please email Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org! We want to hear about everyone!
This week our featured region member is Elizabeth Bennet . . . we mean, Elizabeth Brink!!!
Name: Elizabeth Bennet . . . I mean Brink Location: Spokane, Washington
How did you become a Jane Austen fan? How long have you been one? I went to see a play of Pride and Prejudice in high school (age 16) and loved it! That sealed my fate.
Favorite Jane Austen novel:Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice
Favorite Jane Austen character: Anne Elliot
Favorite Jane Austen couple: Mr. Darcy and Georgiana Darcy, such a good older brother!
Which Jane Austen location would you most want to visit? The Lake district, even though Lizzy didn’t make it all the way there
Favorite JA Adaptation: 1995 Pride and Prejudice AND the 2009 Emma is SO GOOD!
Special Jane Austen items in your in collection? A picture of me on the Cobb in Lyme Regis pretending to be Louisa Musgrove, though not actually falling! (Editor’s note: a screenshot of the photo with caption and location is featured above!)
Any little Jane Austen rituals you associate with the books or movies, etc.? Not really, but what a great idea!
Favorite Jane Austen quote? “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and to laugh at them in our turn?” -Mr. Bennet, P&P
Best part about being a Jane Austen fan? The connection with my dad, he quotes Pride and Prejudice and then I jump in and finish the line.
If you could invite Jane Austen or some of her characters to a meal/tea, what would you serve? Who would you invite? What question would you want to ask Jane or a character? Tea and homemade gingerbread. NOT Mr. Collins! What enneagram number are you?
Biggest villain in a JA novel? Henry Crawford
Favorite JASNA EWANID events so far? The very first tea was so fun and the food was delicious! My napkin kept slithering off my lap like Harriet Vane’s in Gaudy Night.
Favorite place to read? Drink? Snack? The back deck in summer. Assam loose leaf tea. Any homemade bread.
Are there any other authors you recommend? Anthony Trollope, Angela Thirkell, D.E. Stevenson, Dorothy Whipple, Elizabeth Gouge, Elizabeth Fair, Miss Read
Hardback, paperback, or e-reader? Any and all. 🙂
How do you mark your place in a book? A literary heroine bookmark from the Carrot Top Paper Shop on Etsy.
How do you organize your books? By genre, though my English books are split on a different shelf.
Any other thoughts/comments on Jane Austen or JASNA EWANID? Loving all of it!
Thank you so much for participating, Elizabeth! We loved reading your answers!
If you wish you participate (and we hope you will!), please email us at email@example.com. Cheers!
’Good gracious! I have had such a time of it! I never saw Lucy in such a rage in my life. She vowed at first she would never trim me up a new bonnet, nor do any thing else for me again, so long as she lived; but now she is quite come to, and we are as good friends as ever. Look, she made me this bow to my hat, and put in the feather last night. There now, you are going to laugh at me too. But why should not I wear pink ribbons? I do not care if it is the Doctor’s favourite colour. I am sure, for my part, I should never have known he did like it better than any other colour, if he had not happened to say so. My cousins have been so plaguing me!– I declare sometimes I do not know which way to look before them.’
She had wandered away to a subject on which Elinor had nothing to say, and therefore soon judged it expedient to find her way back again to the first.” Sense and Sensibility, p. 272 Oxford U. 3rd Edition
Poor Miss Steele is vulgar, unmarried at 30, and left broke by Lucy. She only wants someone to kid with her about the Doctor and to have the warmest seat by the fire. She does not get much love in Sense and Sensibility, but it is through her good offices that the truth about Edward and Lucy comes out, so that Edward can be disinherited and Lucy can release him from her grasp. I think we all have a little bit of Miss Steele in us. I, for one, love pink ribbons. This sewing project, which I created for our Spring Tea, was my homage to Miss Steele’s joy in pink ribbons. I used a sewing machine for most of the sewing and I also used a shirt for the top of the over-dress, so this is beginner-level Regency sewing.
Note: the pictures of the sewing
in progress were taken by me. The
pictures from the Spring tea were taken by Jane Provinsal.
To create the over-dress, I used a short-sleeve white cotton shirt I had with ruffles sewn onto the top in a diagonal pattern. The bottom of the dress was made out of some white shirting fabric that I found at a second-hand store with a pink window-pane pattern with a pink medallion in some of the squares. It was rather sheer, but had good body. I cut the bottom using my trusty Simplicity #4055 (Sense and Sensibility) pattern, putting the front panel on the selvedges instead of the fold to create a front opening. I cut the length a little shorter than full-length, but longer than the overlay pattern that comes with View A of the Simplicity pattern.
For my under-dress, I have a sleeveless full-length lined silk petticoat with a drawstring neckline that I had already made for a previous outfit. Both the top and the bottom of the over-dress had to be gathered some—the top just a little bit and the bottom quite a bit to create the gathered back. I sewed the bottom sides together and pressed the seams open, then sewed a small hem along the front opening and the bottom (using the sewing machine). I basted the back as instructed in the pattern to create gathers and then pinned the right side of the shirt to the right side of the bottom of the dress, gathering the shirt slightly below the bust. I basted the shirt and bottom together before cutting off the lower part of the shirt to make sure that the fit was correct.
Once I was sure that the size was correct, I trimmed the lower part of the shirt and then used the sewing machine to sew the basted high waist. To give the high waist seam some reinforcement, I covered over the raw edges with the seam allowance of the cotton shirt (which I left a little longer) and then sewed that down to the top through all layers about ¼” from the waist seam. I made belt loops out of the pink ribbon I was using for the belt (hand sewn after folding in thirds) and then basted and sewed them on the seam of the bottom of the dress and straight up on the shirt. The dress was a little large around the empire waist, but cinched nicely with the ribbon belt (1 ½” grosgrain ribbon). I left the plastic buttons on the top because I was not able to find anything more authentic looking that was small enough for the button loops.
The Drawstring Mob Cap
I really liked the lace that was at the bottom of the shirt that I was cutting up, so I thought I might be able to preserve it by incorporating it into a mob cap with a pink ribbon behind it. When I cut the bottom half of the shirt off, I trimmed it close to the lace and sewed the front two sides of the shirt together, creating a circular band. I pinned the right side of the band onto the right side of a round piece of cotton (leftover lining material from the petticoat), leaving about an inch and a quarter around so that I could create the space for the ribbon. After sewing the ruffle and making sure that I was at the very edge of the lace, I flipped it out and then sewed around on the inside of the cap, creating about a 7/8” channel for the 5/8” ribbon. I cut the seam in the center of the lace in the channel so that the ribbon would be at the center of the cap when threaded. Once I made sure the ribbon worked (threading it with a safety pin), I tacked the ruffle into the inside of the cap, over the seam allowance, so that the ruffle was not too big and had a little puffiness. The cap itself was not very large due to making it the size of the ruffle band, but for a first attempt, I think it came out well.
The shawl was created using a purchased Ralph Lauren Home white viscose/cotton bed throw (found on clearance!) that had 8” fringe and measured about 70” by 50”. I cut the throw about 21” from the long side so that it would sew to a 20” by 70” shawl (plus the fringe). I took the fringe off of the cut side where I was going to turn it in (it had a double thickness) and sewed it on the long edge, as close to the edge as I could get it. The hardest part about sewing the shawl was making the side even, since the inside of the fabric was slippery. I was glad I had my shawl the day of the tea because the weather was cool.
None of these projects took great sewing skills. I especially liked the ease of using a blouse for the top of the over-dress. Other than using the Simplicity pattern for the bottom of the over-dress, I eye-balled the other measurements, such as when creating the mob cap. Basting before cutting really helps. It was fun to create a full outfit for the Spring Tea (although I did not have time to make a reticule). Several other members came in outfits that they had sewn too. You can see more pictures in https://jasnaewanid.org/photos-of-past-events/. Wishing you happy sewing! Michele