Pleasantly Lost in Austen

Pleasantly Lost in Austen

“Selkie,” a reader of this blog, left a comment on my “best of 2014” blog post about my love of the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice (staring Kiera Knightly). She said she watches an Austen movie once a week. (I can understand!) Very kindly, she gave me a list to share here. As comprehensive as it is, she notes that is only of the films she owns.

Emma (1972), starring Doran Godwin and John Carson.

Emma (1996), starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam.

Emma (1996), starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong.

Mansfield Park (1983), starring Sylvestra Le Touzel and Nicholas Farrell.

Northanger Abby (1986), starring Katherine Svhlesinger and Peter Firth.

Persuasion (1971), starring Firbank and Bryan Marshall.

Pride and Prejudice (1940), starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier.

Pride and Prejudice (1980), starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul.

Pride and Prejudice (2003—an extremely modern version), starring Kim Heskin and Orlando Seale.

Pride and Prejudice (2005), starring Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen.

Sense and Sensibility (1981), starring Irene Richard and Tracey Childs.

Sense and Sensibility (2004), starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant.

Related movies: 

Becoming Jane

Becoming Jane (2007), starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy.

Lost in Austen (2008), starring Jemima Rooper and Elliot Cowan.

About this last one,  Selkie notes, “I absolutely love this movie!” That’s high praise indeed; I’m going to try to find it!

Thank you so much, Selkie!

I discovered that I had a 6-book credit on that had to be used before the end of this month. Needless-to-say, I went on a book-buying spree. Here’s what I bought:


Landline by Rainbow Rowell, because I enjoy YA and I especially enjoy Rowell’s work.

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. On many “best of 2014” lists.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Ditto.

Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill. This unusual novel was on the very interesting New York Times 10 Best Books of 2014 list and I really liked what the NY Times team had to say about it on their Podcast. (It’s a poetic novel, and I’m not sure how well it will work on audible, however.)

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. This one is on virtually every “best of” list.

Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Because laughing is wonderful, but most of all, because it is narrated by the amazing Meryl Streep.

I listen to “books on tape” (not that they are on tape anymore) when I’m exercising, so this collection should get me in excellent form.

Yay! A “tenner” for Jane

I’m thrilled that the UK is gracing their “tenner” with a portrait of Jane Austen. [Shocking and upsetting update: the young woman who spearheaded this is being massively harassed by threats of rape on Twitter. As in 50 an hour. Sign the petition to get Twitter to make it easier to report abuse.]


I’m coming to think of this as my Jane Austen summer. In addition to a biography and books about Jane Austen, I just finished reading every word of the massively annotated Harvard edition of Pride & Prejudice.


Immediately I ordered a second, Persuasion



It’s hard to express what a delight these massive editions are. This video gives you a sense of the richness of it:


For me, as a researcher, the scholarly annotations provide a wealth of fascinating information into the daily life of the period. 

In short: heaven


Update: I’m slowing reading (and correcting) the “first pass” of THE SHADOW QUEEN: that is, the typeset script. I have to say: it’s a pleasure. I’m pleased. 

I believe I’ve showed the cover before. I love it more and more:

Shadow Queen

I’m also daily writing the YA about Hortense de Beauharnais, Josephine’s daughter. I’m at 40,000 words now, about half-way. 

In a few days I’m heading to the Napoleonic Congress in Toronto to give a talk on the documentary about Josephine. 

And then back home to sport with friends and family. Happy summer, everyone!

2013-06-30 13.35.47 copy

It’s all about Jane …

It’s all about Jane …

As research for writing a YA about Hortense, I’m reading a lot about Jane Austen right now—or, at the least, I seem to be surrounded by books and blogs about her. Yes, I admit, I’m seeking her out.

For example, this wonderful website: What Jane Saw, an exhibit she actually went to see. Follow in her footsteps; look at the paintings she saw.

I’m reading—very, very slowly—the Harvard University Press annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice (shown above). This is a sumptuous book, a sumptuous series. (For a video on this book: click here.)

The Real

Another book I’m reading is The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne: delicious.

And another: A Dance with Jane Austen by Susannah Fullerton, which I discovered through the wonderful blog Jane Austen’s World. This is a wonderful book.


“Why Jane?” my son asks, and I have to tell him frankly that I don’t think she’d be his cup of tea. But then neither might be Dickens or Shakespeare, at least not in his fast-paced world. In a University course: certainly. And then, forced into another time and pace (the beauty of higher education), he might think, “Wow.” For she’s right up there with the greats of literature.

This in spite of the fact that she is so very subtle, so not showy. Who was it who said—I think it was Virginia Woolf—that it’s very hard to catch Jane Austen in an act of greatness.

Jane Austen page copy

She wrote during the day, and read what she’d written to her family in the evening. She did not have a desk of her own, much less a room.

It’s a mistake to think that her’s was a purer world. The worlds she created are pure, yet a man she and her sister admired, a nobleman, had a strange affection for drinking the blood of his servants. (Note that such details do not show in her novels.)

For Mother’s Day, my son suggested I pick a t-shirt from this wonderful site: Out of Print Clothing.

Which one did I pick? Well, of course: Pride and Prejudice:


I love it! (And no: this is not me.)

What’s your favourite Jane Austen? And why?