Saturday, August 31, 2013

Top Twenty Austen Adaptations

Austen adaptations abound! I read this blog post which ranks 21 of them with clever explanations then thought to myself that my own list would look somewhat different. And then someone (yes, you, Austenacious!) asked me HOW my list would shuffle the films. So here I am in the wee hours of the morning, ranking Austen movies instead of sleeping. 

Go read that blog post before reading mine because her comments are far more comical than mine could ever dream of being. Plus mine will make more sense if you look at hers first. 

Two of the movies on her list I haven't seen - Austenland, 2013 since it has yet to open in Michigan and Bride & Prejudice since Bollywood films make my skin crawl. Then I added one that she left out, which is at the bottom of my list.

So, without further ado, I present to you my top twenty Austen film adaptations in reverse order of preference! Ta-dah!

20. Northanger Abbey 1980 - one of THE worst movies I have ever seen. And I even like Peter Firth in MI-5. But this is just wrong wrong wrong.
19. Pride and Prejudice, 1940 - P&P Gone with the Wind-style, complete with 1940's over-acting and a sweet kind Catherine deBourgh
18.  Becoming Jane, 2007 - It was ok. Just remember, it's fiction.
17. Mansfield Park, 2007 (ITV miniseries) - on the plus side - Hayley Atwell and Blake Ritson. Heavily outweighing those advantages would be the bleached blond Fanny Price/Billie Piper. Nope.
16. Emma, 1996 (BBC miniseries) - Mark Strong cannot be a good guy. And that's what's wrong with this.
15. Clueless, 1995 - Dated. Too many drugs. Otherwise fine.
14. Miss Austen Regrets, 2008 (BBC film) - I liked it. Plus Tom Hiddleston. 
13.  The Jane Austen Book Club, 2007 - Grigg.... And it's cool how the Austen stories are mirrored in the plot. The book is better.
Mansfield Park, 1999 - Well, it has Jonny Lee Miller. I don't actually think a modern Mansfield Park film can be successful. Too much of the "action," if you can call it that, is in Fanny's head. And she's just too passive to be a modern heroine.
11. Persuasion, 1995 (BBC adaptation) - This one has the letter scene which I like. But I saw the other one first and I just can't relate to the actors in this version - too stiff and cold.

10. Sense and Sensibility, 1995 - I know I am in the minority but I don't like S&S as much as most of the other Austens. I don't like Emma Thompson at all as Elinor - unpopular opinion, I know. Not a Hugh Grant fan either. But Alan Rickman makes up for it.
9.  Emma, 1996 (feature film) - I think Jeremy Northam is a much better Knightley. Gwyneth is just fine as Emma. 
8. Sense and Sensibility, 2008 (BBC miniseries) - I like how fresh this version appears, but it's still not my favorite Austen. And I miss Rickman.... But it does have the deliciously villainous Dominic Cooper as Willoughby.
Lost in Austen, 2008 (ITV miniseries) - Sets P&P on its ear. Jemima Rooper's hair drives me nuts, but Elliot Cowan's Darcy is very nice and then there's Wickham!!
6.  Pride and Prejudice, 2005 - Speaking of Wickham, here he is Rupert Friend - very tempting. I, like one of the commenters on that other blog, was determined to hate this Darcy, but Matthew Macfadyen's portrayal grew on me gradually and now I can watch it and enjoy.
5. Emma, 2009 (BBC miniseries) - Oh look, it's Jonny Lee again; this time he shines as Mr. Knightley. I love the bright colors of this version and I do think Romola Garai was brilliant in the title role.
4. Persuasion, 2007 (ITV adaptation) - If it weren't for the Bath marathon and the guppy kiss, Rupert Penry-Jones would bring this one into my #2 spot. I don't even mind that they don't go to sea. 
3.  Bridget Jones’s Diary, 2001 - Discovered this just after discovering the 1995 P&P and have watched it countless times. 
2. Northanger Abbey, 2007 (ITV movies) - Tilney is my favorite Austen hero and I find JJ Feild just adorable here. I could watch this over and over. Wait! I have! lol And it's short enough to watch in an evening after work.
1. Pride and Prejudice, 1995 (BBC miniseries) - The grand-daddy of them all. Do I even need to comment?

So, there you go. Which ones have you watched? Which are your favorites? And which ones will you never bother with again?

Now, I need to go to bed. Or should I slide in the Northanger Abbey DVD? It's so watchable!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

July Reads

The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth 7/6/2013
Good - Non-fiction 564 pages Print Large print version
Memoirs of Jennifer Worth who was a National Health nurse-midwife in 1950's East End London. Basis for the PBS series Call the Midwife.
I loved loved loved the TV show although it wrung me out emotionally every week. When I realized the midwife had written her memoirs, I wanted to read them! The writing style was a bit awkward, but the stories were entertaining and emotional. Good read!

The Love Affair of an English Lord by Jillian Hunter 7/7/2013
Fair Romance 361 pages Print
Chloe Boscastle has been sent to her uncle's country house to learn some decorum, but finding an injured man hiding in her boudoir doesn't help her goal at all. Turns out it's the recently deceased (but not quite dead) neighboring lord, Viscount Stratfield, who has survived a murder attempt and wishes everyone to think him dead until he can bring his attacker to justice.
Needed something light and fluffy and this fit the bill. Fairly interesting and rather smutty. :-)

How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp by Maile Smucker and Shawn Smucker 7/16/2013
Excellent Non-fiction 268 pages Kindle
Adapted from the Smuckers' blogs, this book tells the story of their 4 month RV odyssey around the United States with their 4 children ages 2-9. Structured in short, inspirational chapters, we meet the people the Smuckers met and follow as they learn spiritual truths.
I learned about the Smuckers' blogs from a writer friend and I am always interested in people who have taken their lives on the road. The book follows their itinerary and points out life truths that Maile and Shawn learned through their travels and parenting their four children.

Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates 7/16/2013
Poor Fiction 279 pages Print
One of the most depressing books I have ever read. 5yo Robbie is abucted from a mall parking lot and his mother is gravely injured during the abuction. Robbie is held prisoner for years by a sexual deviant/serial murderer.
I don't often wish a book unread, but this one I do. There was nothing redemptive at all about this story. Don't read it.

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon 7/24/2013
Excellent Historical Fiction 979 pages Audio
Re-read - #5 in Outlander series. Jamie and Claire live on Fraser's Ridge, with Brianna and Roger. The American Revolution is brewing, a secret is uncovered at River Run, and Stephen Bonnet turns up again.
On my third trip "through the Stones," so to speak. I adore the Outlander series and am re-reading in preparation for Book 8 which should be published in Spring 2014.

The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare 7/25/2013
Good Classic 108 pages  Audio
Two upstanding faithful wives decide to teach Falstaff a lesson.
This is our book club selection and we will go see it performed in the park! Short, light Shakespeare comedy.

One Night with a Rock Star by Chana Keefer 7/25/2013
Good Inspirational 412 pages Kindle
Esther meets her idol, rock star Sky, and falls for him. Seems like he fell for her too, but then he leaves and Esther is left to wonder.
Kindle freebie. Fairly predictable Christian romance, but not pedantic. Enjoyable read, if only for the "Mary-Sue" value.

Family Pictures by Jane Green 7/29/2013
Excellent Fiction 344 Print
Two women living on opposite coasts of US find they have a shocking connection.
One of the most suspenseful and heart-wrenching books I've read recently. Read it in less than a day. Can't even hint at the plot though or it will give away the secret.

Titanic Affair by Amanda Grange 7/31/2013
Fair Romance 253 pages Kindle
Emilia is given a ticket on the Titanic and uses it to escape from an unwanted suitor, but finds more danger on board than she anticipated.
I love Amanda Grange's Austen hero diaries; they are some of my favorite books! This is a reprint of one of her older romances. Since I am a fan of anything Titanic-related, I enjoyed it. The story itself was predictable and in many ways it seemed almost a rip-off of the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, except their roles were somewhat reversed. The ending was different though, thankfully! Romance novels are not allowed to end tragically.

9 books this month!