featured, featured, Fun

Miss Austen Mouse Reviews “Confined with Mr. Darcy”

by Cassandra Bates, Treasurer

The country,” said Darcy, “can in general supply but a few subjects for such a study. In a country neighbourhood you move in a very confined and unvarying society.”

“But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.”

Darcy and Elizabeth – ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Chapter 9

“Confined with Mr. Darcy” By L.L. Diamond

Another visit to my dear friend Miss Austen Mouse brought about the most enjoyable discussion about a book over many cups of tea and probably just as many cookies. We both stumbled upon a book by the authoress L.L. Diamond titled “Confined with Mr. Darcy”. Dare I say it, as the Pandemic continues, I thought it a wonderful premise, being under lockdown with a Mr. Darcy.

The book is short, coming in at 107 pages, this is more of a novella and was first released in June of 2020 (so right when, in some areas, were under strict lockdown). The length, Miss Austen Mouse and I decided, was perfect for a cozy afternoon with tea and cookies. This story is a modern adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and would be taking place after the disastrous proposal at Hunsford. In this story, Elizabeth is a writer (and not just any writer, she writes Regency Romance novels) and Darcy is a publisher, and the disastrous proposal is more of a guy asking a girl out after not so much as showing any interest in her and not being all that nice either (very similar to canon). Darcy then proceeds to ask Elizabeth to Pemberley to spend however long during the lockdown, with the justification that she would be able to go outside and not be as restricted in the country whereas if she stayed in London, she would be. Of course, Jane is now married to Bingley so Darcy also dangles the carrot of being able to see her sister whenever she wants as they will be staying at another cottage on the grounds. Without giving too much away, if you are at all familiar with ‘Pride and Prejudice’ this story is a cozy modern parallel using the pandemic lockdown to mirror regency era lack of easy travel. There is a fair amount of banter and flirting, Georgiana is your typical teenager, who just happens to be a musical proficient, with aspirations of Juilliard, and a cat named Tilney. We do not see Caroline or even Wickham as Darcy is pretty well capable of mucking things up on his own without the help of others.

Overall, a short enjoyable read of a modern version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ while utilizing the pandemic as a backdrop and finding some positivity while being under lockdown.

And now as the snow is falling, I am dreaming of Summer and Miss Austen Mouse had the perfect tea cookie recipe to share:

Lemon Tea Cookies

From a Spoonful of Flavor: https://www.spoonfulofflavor.com/lemon-tea-cookies/

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 more cups for rolling

1 egg yolk

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 heaping tablespoon lemon zest

½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and I cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the egg yolk, lemon juice, zest and vanilla until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed just until combined. If the dough is crumbly, use your hands to knead the dough gently until it comes together and forms a ball. Roll dough into 1” sized balls and place 1” apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. While the cookies are still warm, roll in the remaining 2 cups confectioners’ sugar and place on a wire baking rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Fun

A Thankful Sense

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.

Michele Larrow, Regional Co-Coordinator

Fun, Uncategorized

Introducing: Flat Jane Austen!

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!

Fun, Uncategorized

East Coast/West Coast Discussion of EMMA. (2020)

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.

The proposal scene with that beautiful horse chestnut tree

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.

Our Mutual Favorite: Emma (2009) with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller

Final Rankings:

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. 

Austenography:

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.

Fun, Interviews

Member Mondays: Elizabeth Bennet . . . Brink!

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Brink.

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 jasna.ewanidsm@gmail.com! 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.
Elizabeth and her father at the JASNA EWANID 2018 Jane Austen Birthday Tea at the Roosevelt Inn, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
  • 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 jasna.ewanidsm@gmail.com. Cheers!