Thursday, 15 August 2013

Pride & Prejudice 2005 at Chatsworth house

After spending the day at Chatsworth House we thought it would be fitting to end the evening watching the Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen Pride & Prejudice, since the Pemberly scenes were filmed there. To celebrate the bicentenary of the Publication of Pride & Prejudice Chatsworth house had a small exhibition. There are two copies of the first edition of Pride and Prejudice in Chatsworth's library, each consisting of three volumes and they had some of them on display. They also had the bust of Mr Darcy (Macfadyen) and the woman with the veil over her face that were in the sculpture gallery. Screen shots and comments from the staff at Chatsworth at the time of filming. Plus many interesting facts including the 6th Duke who had similarities to Darcy.

"The 6th Duke met Eliza Warwick in 1827. Her relations were as unappealing to him as Elizabeth Bennet's to Darcy. Although the duke's sisters, Georgiana and Harriet, were told of her, Clifford is the only sibling known to have met her. Elizabeth remained the Duke's mistress for 10 years until he converted to Evangelicalism and gave her up."

Portrait of a young lady (possibly Elizabeth Warwick) Watercolour by Francois Theodore Rochard (1798-1838)

The Pride and Prejudice movie. This is my least favorite of the three I have seen (1980, 1995 & 2005) as it diverts from the original story!!!!

But there are many things that I do like......

1.  The entrance at the Meryton ball when everyone stops dancing to highlight just how important the Bingleys and Darcy are.
2. When Darcy does a double take when he first sees Elizabeth. 
3. I like the fact that Miss Bingley is sophisticated and classy this makes the fact that Darcy is not interested in her hold more weight.
4. Jane is pretty, whereas in the 1995 I thought Elizabeth was the most pretty out of the two.
5. When Darcy hands Elizabeth into the carriage when leaving Netherfield, he stretches his fingers as he walks away as if he felt some connection, a spark or tingling sensation.
6. The dance at the Netherfield ball, towards the end of the dance it is filmed with just the two of them alone and the intensity is great and when Mr Bingley touches the back of Jane's dress.
7. The proposal! Darcy comes across almost shy (although this is not Austen's Darcy in my opinion) hesitating with his words, which I found most endearing. At the end of the proposal when they come quite close and it looks like they are going to kiss.
8. Elizabeth standing in front of the mirror, it looks like she has stood there all day giving the impression of her being in deep contemplation of all Darcy had said in his proposal.
9. When Darcy runs after Elizabeth after spotting her at Pemberley.
10. Darcy standing up every time Elizabeth walks in to the room at the inn when she is reading her letter from Jane.
11. The US ending with them on the terrace at Pemberley.

And there are many things that I do not like.....

1. In the annotated P&P by D.Shapard, he mentions that in Sense and Sensibility a mother is able to look after her three daughters, kept three servants and live comfortably on £500 a year and the Bennets had £2000. So why the hell Longbourn looked liked they were living in the mud and squalor of a pigs farm I do not know. Unless they were trying to highlight how beneath Elizabeth was to Darcy, then I think they got the point across; I was not sure if she was the daughter of a gentlemen or a farmer!
2. The ball at Meryton was a little crowded to say the least and Elizabeth was a little too forward in trying to make conversation with Darcy.
3. The clothes I did not like apart from the Netherfield ball, in general they looked like they had been flung on, certainly not a tailored fit and does no one do up their buttons!! Elizabeth in those dark colours and Matthew's Breeches at Rosings oh dear! Sorry maybe I am being too picky.
4. Elizabeth appears to walk back to the inn at Lambton after leaving Pemberley, I know she is an excellent walker but come on.
5. When Elizabeth reads her letter from Jane, I like the original because you wonder was he going to propose again, but having the aunt and uncle present spoilt that.
6. The last scene was lovely with the mist and morning dew, but please stick to the book! Matthew turning up like he had not dressed, I know he said he could not sleep but turning up chest exposed not a good look!

I will stop because there as there are many things I like and do not like; in general I suppose my gripe is I prefer it when they stick closely to the book. But how can you not like anything Pride & Prejudice. This version has a lot of funny bits and I do like many of the mannerisms and actors. If you do not have time to watch the 1980 or 1995 versions then this is a short and sweet happy alternative. Lastly I do love Macfadyen as Darcy but he is just not haughty enough!

From this Day Forward by Joana Starnes

If the BBC ever want to do a Pride and Prejudice continuation with the same cast from the 1995 adaptation, then they need look no further as the script is here!!!!!

"He almost did not dare move, unwilling to disturb her peace and the charming picture she presented, but she somehow sensed him and looked up. Breath caught in his throat and then he smiled. That it should still be so! That the familiar flame of distant days of yearning should still course through him – unwarranted, now that they were one – at nothing more than having caught her glance!" J.Starnes

Because I have read Mr Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll, when I read this I thought it paled in comparison to the action packed story Berdoll had done. It certainly does not have the same amount of drama but strangely it was a compelling read and a definite page turner. When I write reviews I go over my Kindle notes, but because I was behind on my reviews It had been a couple of weeks since reading it. So when I was looking at the notes I had to re-read  passages again to reacquaint myself and before I knew it I had read the entire book again. So glad I did, as otherwise I would not have given it the justice it deserves.

This is my favourite P&P continuation. Forget all the excitement of Mr Darcy takes a wife, this book is truly wonderful and stays out of the bedroom! I really do not know where to start, the language is delightful and Joana writes like she is from that era (she must have found a time machine). Such simple and delightful description that expresses so much!

It is the little details that make this book and the realism is amazing. What would it really have been like for Elizabeth, being shunned by some of Darcy's relations, how would it have been for her, the wife of one of the most illustrious men in England! Well look no further, how Elizabeth gradually gains the respect of the house keeper at the London residence is well done, as you can imagine realistically not all the staff would have instantly taken to Elizabeth, they do not know her like we do. Although Elizabeth did not have to go out and work, the demands of running a household, entertaining and socialising within the status she held seemed very taxing mentally and physically. I know all too well how she felt and we women have to work in this day an age on top of that. Elizabeth is kind, wise, gives the best advise and her musings and inner thoughts are expressed so well. I would dearly love to have Elizabeth as a sister.

Moreover, seldom – if ever – does happiness in marriage derive from mere inclination, unalloyed by reason, by reflection, by anything,” she added with a vague and very private smile, and after the briefest pause, resumed: “More often than not, it builds on the little things; the similarities in taste and disposition; a good understanding of the other; on tolerance and patience, and of course on trust – and from those, attachment eventually stems, and lasts a great deal longer than a mere blaze of passion. Georgiana, you must not expect a sudden, unconquerable partiality. It often does not happen and if it does, it can be misleading. The phrase ‘Marry in haste and repent at leisure’ was coined, I believe, precisely for cases such as these. J.Starnes

Darcy is every bit Firth! So kind, caring and patient in his dealings with the BENNETS! I really enjoyed this Mr Darcy such a loving husband without being over the top.

“Nothing takes precedence over spoiling my wife,” he smiled, then added softly, “Elizabeth… I have dreamt for too long to be allowed to do just this, care for you, be with you, aye, spoil you, if you will, to allow anything to take precedence over you. There are other claims of course, we both know it. But you are my first concern, my joy and my purpose, and everything I do these days is with you in mind. I hope you know that.” J.Starnes

Georgiana plays a big part in this book and so she should, she lives with them after all. Georgiana's interactions with her brother and Elizabeth are so wonderful, still the quiet, shy and reserved girl. Joana really kept the characters as close to Austen as possible (although probably more to 1995). Georgiana's search for her own Mr Darcy is such a great story. I found it fascinating to see things from her point of view, how difficult it must be to work people out; especially if you do not get much opportunity to mingle with people before you officially come out (unlike the Bennet girls "what all out at once!"). After her near miss with Wickham how do you judge someone's character and see through false pretences.

She was a Darcy, with a wealth of connections that brought many more into her entourage than most young girls could hope for – and a great deal more than she desired. What would she give to have been born… a Miss Bainbridge – or better still, a Bennet! No Seasons in town, no coming-out balls, no weighty expectations – and no train of suitors, to baffle her with their startling attentions! Just one, if she was in luck. One gentleman of her limited acquaintance, to whom she would become attached in her own good time, and speculate about his sentiments, and wonder if he was to seek her out at the next assembly… What would she give for the peaceable existence of a small country gentleman’s daughter, at liberty to leisurely form an attachment, rather than find herself rushed into the whirlwind of attention which her station in life, her lineage and her dowry entailed! - J,Starnes

The Darcy's marriage is realistic, the arguments are even great! The love they share is awe inspiring. Miss Bingley is as haughty as ever and Mrs Bennet is funny. Mr Bennet 's teasing of his wife, his love for Lizzy and his wit is captured so well. Wow the colonels story! There is a part that involves the Colonel and Darcy that I won't spoil, but what I will say is that I could not stop thinking about it, Joana wrote that scene so well that you could feel it, you were there, really there! That is all I can say apart from please buy this book, I have a Kindle copy and a paperback copy because this is a definite re-read and I believe over time it will improve upon better acquaintance. (I had so many excerpts in mind I nearly printed the whole book!!!)

“Shoulders back, Georgiana, and raise… raise your head! Why do you persist in keeping it down? Have you inherited none of your mother’s poise? This is not to be borne! Again now, if you please! My goodness! You truly are unable to make the same curtsy twice!” Despite her most earnest endeavours to follow her brother’s advice and not allow herself to be distressed, Georgiana winced as she very nearly lost the battle against tears. “If I may say so, Ma’am,” Elizabeth’s welcome voice rang reassuringly in her ears, “I believe Miss Darcy would benefit from some rest. She is uncommonly tired.” “Is that so, Georgiana? Are you in need of rest? In my opinion,” Lady Catherine enunciated, “one should only rest in the knowledge of having done one’s best, and this display is hardly an adequate example! Good gracious, child, exert yourself, or your Season shall be ruined! Are none of Lady Anne’s children intent upon making a suitable match?” J.Starnes

This book is worthy of 5 hearts - Mr Darcy!

It is always a pleasure to hear your thoughts!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Mr Darcy's Noble Connections Abigail Reynolds

Another entertaining read from Abigail Reynolds. I really enjoyed the insight into lords, viscounts, earls and marchionesses. Getting to observe Darcy in the company of people who were richer and higher in rank than himself and holding his own was a pleasure to see. Elizabeth as per usual handled herself very well indeed. Lady Bentham who Elizabeth is staying with is a typical lady of the ton, She lends Elizabeth some gowns and accessories during her stay, as she does not want Elizabeth to look a disgrace in front of her guests. Although a rather condescending gesture, Elizabeth is grateful as she observes that their guest's travelling clothes are better than her best gown, I can imagine how that must feel, I certainly would not want to feel that I stood out. In Pride and Prejudice we know that Elizabeth and her connections are far beneath Darcy, gentleman's daughter or not, but this book really highlighted just how beneath she was, making the honour of Mr Darcy singling her out all the more great.

 I love it when authors explore the idea that Elizabeth was remorseful for the mode of her refusal at Hunsford.

"she had not even thought that a man like him could have vulnerabilities, as if his pride and his fortune would do away with any human frailties" - Abilgail Reynolds

As usual the characters Abigail creates are lovable and even Lord Charles who is a rake, turned out to be my favorite! Anne Dowager Marchioness of Bentham is Darcy's great aunt and could easily be Catherine's twin, but her love for her granddaughter makes her likable. Although superior in her attitude, her demanding nature makes me laugh.  Darcy and Elizabeth are not the only ones to learn lessons in this book as no one is excluded from having Pride and Prejudice.

"Charles, you will come with me below stairs to speak to the remaining servants. Most of them will not know me, and I will need your authority.” “I cannot imagine why,” Charles muttered. The dowager gave him her haughtiest look. “I beg your pardon?” “Madam,” said Paxton with a laugh, “you have just given orders to a Marquess, an Earl, a Viscount, two gentlemen of property, Lord Charles, and the butler, and you are worried about whether the kitchen staff will listen to you?” She favored him with a dark look. “You are supposed to be writing a letter, young man.”- Abigail Reynolds

This book really explored the rules and games within the society of the ton and I find it fascinating when authors give us an insight to what it was like around that era. The art of entrapment, the code of honour among men and mistresses as a result of unhappy marriages all for the sake of connections and wealth are the order of the day.
I appreciated the usual twist and turns in order to facilitate the angst of will they won't they, but I must say as much as I know it will end well Chapter 11 had me in a state of anxiety, it was quite discomforting in a "you've got me hooked kind of way". I really felt Elizabeth and Darcy's pain and as a result literally wanted to cry. The different love stories within the book were endearing, especially as it seems to be the exception in this era.

Darcy and Elizabeth have Austen's essential qualities but with an Abigail stamp on them, I really enjoyed a passionate and jealous Mr Darcy! Seeing how determined Mr Darcy was to have Elizabeth was thoroughly entertaining.

Lastly and if only for this reason alone, Austen spoke of Hackney cabs and that is where I was born and raised until moving to Huntingdon. Austen also mentions Huntingdon in Mansfield park and in Mr Darcy's Noble Connections there is a character by the name of viscount Huntingdon. I truly fell honoured lol!!

I dearly look forward to reading more from Abigail Reynolds and I must insist on one more excerpt as Abigail has a great sense of humour. -

 "Deliberately she turned away to face Sir William. Laying a hand on his arm to gain his attention, she pointed to the ragout and began to loudly praise its merits." - Abilgail Reynolds

When they Fall in Love by Mary Lydon Simonsen

Although I purchased this book for a reasonable price it does end up rather expensive, as once you are finished you will need a flight to Italy! As anyone who reads this will dearly want to go!
This book is a guide to Italy with the added bonus of an Elizabeth and Darcy love story. The description of food, art, scenery, language and history are exquisite. I recently studied Machiavelli  in philosophy but did not have the time to read The Prince, only excerpts; thanks to this book my interest was re-piqued and I have purchased that also (see what I mean about expensive lol). This Darcy was so indirectly romantic and as per usual Elizabeth misunderstands every gesture! The chapters were short, each one leaving me hanging and wanting so much more. This book really shows Darcy and Elizabeth as intelligent, deep and insightful people who have much in common. This will surely lead to a love match that will last as a result of the friendship and common interests they share.

“The model used by Titian was a celebrated Venetian courtesan and companion of the artist. There is speculation that the painting once decorated the bedchamber of the Duchess of Urbino to serve as a tutorial for the young bride of the duke.” A tutorial! Knowing nothing of what went on behind the closed doors of a married couple, Elizabeth would have to find a way to view the painting without Jane knowing of it." - M.L.Simonsen

Astonishing to be seven and twenty and ignorant to what goes on between a man and woman, it is fascinating and yet a refreshing change to the society we now live in. Naive maybe, but innocence is still a value to be treasured.

So many times throughout this book I wanted to know what Darcy was thinking! Although I had a good idea, this book was similar to Austen in that you rarely knew what Darcy was thinking or feeling. What was funny was that there were so many hints from a man of such a taciturn nature, that you were never totally sure what to think and the author always left room for doubt. Elizabeth does not fully comprehend such hints and it was a pleasure to try and work them out on her behalf. Finally when Darcy was given  a chapter all to himself  I was blown away. You will not be disappointed, such love, such anguish and heartbreaking despair and Elizabeth's blind naivety and humble modesty is endearingly frustrating.

“I was not referring to your compliment of me, but to how beautiful you look. I am surprised at how frequently you misunderstand me.” “Any compliment, no matter how excessive, is welcome,” she answered, blushing. “Certainly, you are not suggesting that I am lauding you with false praise. You know me better
than that, so please allow me to say that you look even more beautiful than the night of the Netherfield ball, and at that time, I considered you to be one of the most handsome women of my acquaintance.” After allowing for the full weight of his words to settle, she finally thanked him. “I have my faults, Miss Elizabeth, as you well know, but I always speak the truth.”-M.L.Simonsen

The intimate talks between Elizabeth and Jane are a treat and seeing a maturing Jane was a delight. Wise in her advice to Elizabeth, it was funny to see the tables turn.
I love it when Elizabeth is portrayed as someone who loves to ride, which is rare in many of the novels I have read thus far. Elizabeth loves to walk and strikes me as someone who loves life and would enjoy many outdoor pursuits.
This book is so romantic and being in Italy just makes it the icing on the cake, I did not want it to end. I think Italy at that time must have been more romantic than it is now, as I feel the beauty would have been less spoilt by the consequences of a growing population and capitalism.
I dearly hoped the epilogue was the start of the second part of the book ( A girl can dream!). This book is a little gem!

“I have never danced the waltz,” Mr. Darcy said, a statement that brought Elizabeth back to earth. “Because of the intimacy of the dance, I would have to be in love with my partner.”- M.L.Simonsen

An Arranged Marriage By Jan Hahn

"So, one might say that I married for purely noble reasons, putting the welfare of my family before my own pleasure. Deep within, though, and even hidden at the time from my own acknowledgement, there was another reason for the marriage — a reason I was not yet able to put into words, envision, or admit to myself. Something in me wanted to know Mr. Darcy in his entirety, to put to rest the curiosity excited by his intriguing masculinity. I wanted to understand why my senses quickened in his presence, why I felt every part of life more keenly around him — and what it was that made him want to marry me." -Jan Hahn

Where do I start! Elizabeth and Darcy are meant for one another and in the original Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth's love for Darcy comes on gradually when circumstances allow her to see he is truly the best of men. This delightful story is about Elizabeth being married before she comes to understand that; we all know Darcy is wonderful but watching Elizabeth discover it for herself is a great. To be married to the very best of men and not even know it! For many women of this era, marriage was not born out of love but duty, comfort and connections. So to discover you have married the love of your life must be most wonderful indeed! For Elizabeth there will be no "will he readdress his proposal to me" or " he was the one that got away" No no no he is all yours my dear Elizabeth and he has loved you all this time and you have only to discover it for yourself.

Mr. Darcy announced that I must have new gowns made as soon as possible. “I do not mean to disparage your wardrobe,” he said. “It is perfectly suitable for the sphere in which you were brought up, but you will need more extensive selections as my wife.” - Jan Hahn  

Mr Darcy is so sweet as he is not disparaging her dress but  knows all too well the company they will encounter. Women similar to Miss Bingley, who will look down on her and Darcy does not want her to feel uncomfortable or out of place.

Lady Catherine's set down in this book is a treat and I for one love a man who can stand up for himself and demands his respect..

“And I respectfully insist that you discontinue giving orders in my house, Lady Catherine. I am a man full grown, beholden to no one, and I shall marry whomever I please. I have already married, and I shall not make any provision to end the union. I must beg you, therefore, not to importune me any further on the subject.” He then offered her his arm as though he would escort her from the room. -Jan Hahn

Jan Hahn's style is similar to Austen  in it's simplicity, humour and grace. The directness of speech within this book is simplistic, yet succinct and powerful. For those of you you do not like to go beyond the bedroom then this book is for you. The descriptions of feelings are conveyed as such that you will feel all the passion, longing and intensity of the love that exists between them.

"the haunting look upon his countenance drew me into the room like a siren’s song" - Jan Hahn

Georgiana and Elizabeth's relationship is a slow, endearing and believable one. It comes about naturally and without force. This Mr Darcy is so romantic and he does not even realise it! His declarations of love hold no artifice and express exactly what he feels, What women does not want to be loved and desired! Their first Christmas is everything I imagined if Austen had done one. Elizabeth brings so much joy to Pemberley with her kind, caring and lively personality and Mr Darcy is every inch the caring brother and husband. This book is dearly one of my favorite "what ifs". The beauty of this book is watching Elizabeth's love for Darcy unfold! Elizabeth's unconscious mind is exquisitely betrayed and one of my favorite scenes must be the game of billiards, I will not spoil it so if you get to read it I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I will leave you with some of the lovely humour from the book.

“I see nothing wrong with your plan, other than the fact that Miss Bingley sits next to Fitzwilliam. That may cause offense on his part.” He said these words with a smile, and I joined him with one of my own. I immediately moved Miss Bingley next to Mr. Gardiner, and we both burst out laughing at the thought of her reaction to such a slight. “No, no, you must not inflict her on Mr. Gardiner. I think too highly of the man. Here, move her next to Hurst, for he is far too occupied with his plate and drink to be aware of who sits next to him.” We laughed again at the absurdity of it all, -Jan Hahn

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Pride & Prejudice Theatre production at Chatsworth House

                    Pride & Prejudice at Chatsworth House 

My sister in law and I, along with my two daughters went to watch Chapterhouse Theatre Company perform Pride and Prejudice at Chatsworth House. This is Chapterhouse's 14th year of touring open air theatre at some of the most beautiful houses, castles and heritage sites across the UK and Ireland. With performances such as Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night and Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

When we arrived we had to park in the overflow car park which was overflowing in every sense of the word! We stepped out of the car among sheep and had to tip toe through a minefield of sheep excrement! It was funny but not! Including the fact that we had both left our cameras and had to make do with our phones!
The performance started at 7.30pm and upon entering the garden we were in awe of the beautiful sight before us. The stage backed onto Chatsworth house with the scenic view of the hills in the background. The theatre was at the bottom of the hill, which meant the audience could view the performance from any angle without an unrestricted view. 

The performance was by no means capital but it was still enjoyable and I would not have missed it for the world, hey it's Pride and Prejudice! The actor who played Darcy seemed to be copying David Rintoul (1980), but it was over the top in a theatrical kind of way. Elizabeth imitated and sounded like Jennifer Ehle (1995), which isn't a bad thing. Mr Bennet imitated Moray Watson (1980) and played the part very well. Mrs Bennet was hilarious, with the high toned voice of Priscilla Morgan (1980) and all the exaggeration of Alison Steadman (1995). Mr Collins had us all in stitches with his exaggerated low bow, with one leg extended out front. Besides the fact that the performances were lacking in what I imagine Austen's characterisations to be like, it did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the evening.

With hundreds of people in attendance, everyone stayed silent throughout the performance ( bar a champagne cork that flew 4 foot in the air and showered the people beneath to everyone's amusement). It was great to see so many people showing respect for the actors that were there to entertain us all. Respect and commendation must be given to them for the hard work and dedication required to remember their lines without mistakes.

After the interval the sun started to set and Chatsworth house was lit. It was a spectacular sight to behold, the hills, the greenery and  the stage.  Hundreds of people gathered in one place with a common interest, laughing in unison at the witty humour of Austen! The performance ended at around 11pm and everyone left in high spirits. We were then faced with the daunting task of navigating through the minefield of sheep s**t in the dark! It was truly a magical evening and one that  I will cherish. My sister and I could not help but wonder what Jane would have thought, but we are sure she would have been happy with the Legacy that is Austen!

I will leave you with another clip, if you turn up the volume you will hear part of the proposal, but please excuse the quality (no camera! argh) and also my daughter speaking towards the end!!!( Originally I had not planned to take her as she is only three and the performance was late, but as we got in the car and saw her little face, we could not leave without her!)