My Top 5 Austen Adaptations

I’ve been in a really romance-y mood lately… which has led me down an Austen adaptation rabbithole. Watching and rewatching a crazy amount of these has got me thinking about which ones are my favourites and I thought it would be fun to share them with you lovely people. Quick note: it’ll be glaringly obvious to fans that Mansfield Park is missing- that’s not cos there aren’t any good versions, it’s cos (as is no secret) I’ve never liked the story. Now that’s out of the way, onto the list!

 

BBC Pride and Prejudice- to my mind, this is THE BEST adaptation of anything, ever! Yes, this is my completely biased view 😉 I tend to rewatch this every. year. (thank you Beebs for including this in your boxsets!) This is, in every sense of the word, PERFECTION. The acting, the first class writing lifted from the book, the wonderful choice of locations… this is always going to be my favourite.

BBC Sense and Sensibility- so, confession time: I’m not hugely fond of the movie version- though it has some sensational performances from the likes of Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant, I feel like the story could’ve done with a bit more space to breathe. Which is why I was so excited to check out the new(ish) BBC adaptation- and I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed! I watched this for the first time recently and almost felt the need to rewind and watch it all again. The acting and writing was brilliantly done- but most importantly this hit me right in the *feels*!

Emma 1996- this might be an unpopular opinion, because I think most people prefer the TV version (which is understandable, because that’s a great version too). In truth, I don’t know why I love this version so much- especially since I often prefer the TV serials for Austen, given they allow the stories to develop over a greater time span. That said, I simply LOVE the performances in this- particularly Jeremy Northam who is my definitive Mr Knightley (who, yes, just happens to be my favourite Austen love interest).

Northanger Abbey– even if this wasn’t the only Northanger Abbey version that I’ve seen, it’d make the list, because it’s a lot of fun! It’s completely different to a lot of other Austen adaptations, playing on some of the themes in quite a hilariously modern way, upping the imaginative gothic levels and heroines’ fantasies… and for some reason this rather tickled my fancy.

Persuasion 1995- I watched this most recently and I was delighted with it. I’d seen a more recent version and wasn’t quite blown away (especially disappointing because at the time I watched it I probably would’ve classed this as my favourite Austen). I was so happy with this version however and would definitely recommend it for those looking for an Austen fix! 

Have you seen any of these? Which are your favourite Austen adaptations? Let me know in the comments!

Quote Challenges – Favourite First Lines: Day 5

Hello all! Back again for my favourite first line post 😀 As usual, here are the rules I’m breaking:

Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post a quote for 3 consecutive days (1 quote for each day)
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

Thank you so much to the fantastic Flora the Sweaterist for tagging me to do this! She’s a marvellous bi-lingual blogger, doing book and movie reviews in both English and Hungarian! So worth checking her out!

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There is so much characterisation in this first line!! Although Pride and Prejudice might technically have one of the best lines ever written, I actually prefer this because it was this line that made me understand Austen’s humour and become addicted to her beautiful books.

I tag:

Zoie @Whisked Away By Words, Katie @Never Not Reading and Thinking Moon

Do any of you love Austen? If so, when did you fall for her writing style? Let me know in the comments!

My Austen Rankings – Inspired by Never Not Reading

So in case you don’t know, I’ve pressed pause on the favourite classics list for now, but the whole process of doing that has got me thinking. Especially since there were a ton of books I put on the list and then took off the list- it was a bit of a hokey pokey process 😉 I kept trying to select the absolute best ones by any given author, otherwise it’d just be a never ending list. One of the more difficult ones for me to decide over was Austen because I actually adore 5/6 of her books… so how did I choose between them?! Well, that’s why I thought it might be fun to talk about them all (and yes, I know I’ve talked about the top two recently, but you can never talk about Austen too much!)

This post was inspired by the absolutely lovely Katie @Never Not Reading, who came up with this awesome idea a few months ago and who has the most *incredible*, interesting, thought provoking content. She’s currently on maternity leave (MASSIVE CONGRATS to her and her whole family 😀 ) but that is *no excuse* not to check out her blog- I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! Her blog is one of my favourites!!

And of course I loved her post on this! The thing that excites me about everyone’s preferences when it comes to Austen is that no matter who you talk to, no one seems to have the exact same order- which makes it such a fun thing to do! Let’s get to my ranking:

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_cover

Emma– ahh it can hardly surprise anyone, given the number of times I’ve cited this as the perfect book 😉 I’m gonna be brief, I’m into everything about this book: the wit, the character growth, the romance- it all makes me swoon 😀 Plus, it’s kinda fitting for this to be my number one since it’s the book that made me fall for Austen in the first place. Although in fairness, depending on my mood, you could switch it out for…

persuasion

Persuasion– yup, there’s loads of times this has been my number one Austen- the romance is so intense in this one! As I’ve mentioned before, the love in this gets me all sappy, because dammit they’re still in love after all this time and ISN’T THAT JUST THE SWEETEST! *Ahem, regains cool*- I also have a great respect for the heroine- she’s kind, without being a total pushover (*cough* like some other characters I will mention… *cough cough*) But yeah, I’ll summarise my feelings about this book thusly: squeeeeeeee!!!

pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice– *confession*- the first time I read this, I wasn’t especially taken with it (I was a bit young and I don’t think I picked up on the irony) then I got set it as one of my AS texts and just *groans all round*. At least, that was my initial reaction- before I reread it, I picked up Emma and fell in love with that… so much to my surprise, when I reread this I fell in love with it too! Now I adore everything about this book and will happily reread it any time 😀 So moral of the story, I can change my mind about books 😉 (although I can’t think of anything else I’ve drastically changed my mind about since then 😉 )

northanger abbey

Northanger Abbey– it feels so wrong putting this fourth on the list given how much I love it. I do hover about whether I put this ahead of Pride and Prejudice *all the time*. It’s such a romantic book- and hilarious at the same time! I also think the parodic elements get funnier with every gothic book I read.

sense and sensibility

Sense and Sensibility– again, I really enjoyed this one, so don’t assume I’m putting it at number 5 on the list for any other reason than I like the other ones slightly more. Like Pride and Prejudice, it has strong sisterhood themes and I was definitely into the relationship drama.

mansfield park

Mansfield Park– okay, I’m not going to make any excuses about putting this last- quite simply, it’s the only one I dislike. Fanny’s a drip and the relationship’s incestuous- I actually was rooting for her to end up with the Mr-Wickham-stand-in (is it obvious I’ve not read this in a while?) I am actually tempted to reread it and see if I still hate Fanny just as much (plus I did just go on about giving Pride and Prejudice another chance)… but also really can’t be bothered because there really wasn’t anything I enjoyed about this one- sorry!

What I learnt just then was that ranking Austen is HARD! Honestly the first four often end up in different positions, so this doesn’t even feel definitive. Anyhoo, do you like Austen? What’s your ranking? Let me know in the comments!

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

Well hello! After my post the other day, where I showed off my bookshelves, and just generally talking a lot about books I love a lot recently, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favourite classics. Now of course, I quickly realised that there was no way I could do this in a single post, so decided to turn this into a mini-series. I’ve arbitrarily decided these posts will go out on Tuesdays for four weeks (basically because I wrote four posts before deciding to put a lid on it) so that’s what you’re getting… for now 😉

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Obviously, this list is not the “best” classics- just books that hit me on a deeply personal level. Nor is it a “finished” article: a) because I’ll be adding to it as I read more and b) because there were books that are hovering just outside the list and I’m always careful about saying whether a book is something I love vs a favourite. To my mind, it takes a significant amount of time and emotional connection for a book to be established as a favourite.

In the interest of keeping this list to a reasonable length, I also won’t be including: fantasy, sci fi, non-epic poetry, literary fiction or basically any other genre fiction. This is not a comment on whether they are/could be classics- only that I would prefer to talk about them in other lists- in fact I have a favourite fantasy list which I *definitely* plan on adding to with new favourites at some point cos they’ve been mounting up.

Lastly, before we get into this week’s selection, I’ve split these vaguely based on theme and don’t be alarmed by the fact there’s an uneven number each week (even after everything I’ve just said, I didn’t want to be stuck with silly, self-imposed rules)

Okay, rather long winded preamble- let’s get started with my rather romantic first set of favourites:

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_coverEmma– what could I actually say about Emma that hasn’t already been said? There’s a reason why this has been dubbed the perfect novel: the character growth, the plot structure, the romance, the friendship and the lessons that are so subtly woven into the story. I could go on, but the reason why this hits a personal note for me is that this was the book that made me appreciate Austen’s humour (though it was not the first Austen I read) and it’s because of this that I came to love all her work. I also happen to think Mr Knightley is the most appealing of all Austen’s love interests- sorry Mr Darcy fans 😉

 

little womenLittle Women– oh gosh, this book gives me the warm fuzzies whenever I think about it. There’s so much to love about it- the romance, the heartbreaking ups and downs of the story, the characters- however one of the biggest elements which always strikes me with this story *has to be* the family dynamic- the March sisters really capture that feeling of sisterhood.

 

i capture the castleI Capture the Castle– speaking of families and relationships, this one is slightly more dysfunction. Still, this quirky coming of age story is set in a crumbling castle and will always have a place in my heart (and inspires me to one day live in my own derelict castle… even though I hate the cold… whatever it’s a nice dream 😉 )

 

rebeccaRebecca– so, spoiler alert, next week I’ll be doing more gothic-y themed books and this book could certainly compete there. However one of the best things about this book is the romance- no not the romance between the unnamed protagonist and her new husband- but the ongoing romance with his dearly departed wife. I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t read it, but this book illustrates what it feels like to be a third wheel… even though the third person in the relationship is in fact already dead.

 

wuthering heights bookWuthering Heights – speaking of more gothic-type books, this certainly has that feel some of the time. Yet it also is one of the most intense romances I’ve ever read. Now, I will admit that there are some faults on a structural level- however the heart of this book is one of the most sublime, passionate affairs I’ve ever read. And yes, Heathcliff and Cathy are horrible people- that’s half the point- their sole redeeming quality is there love for each other (well, it’s also their doom, so there’s that)

 

jane eyreJane Eyre– we can’t speak of one Bronte sister without mentioning another, and this book is wonderful in a different way. Of course, the main characters are flawed, but they’re not totally unlikeable; there are elements of destructive love, but it’s not the end of the world (mostly); and I can safely say the structure is tidier. And, above all, the romance still captures my imagination (that and the mad woman in the attic)

 

tess of the d'urbervillesTess of the D’Urbervilles– however if you’re looking for something slightly more on the tragic side- look no further. It’s such a sob-worthy story, from beginning to end. Poor Tess can’t catch a break. This is the book that made me fall in love with Hardy’s bleak, fatalistic outlook and visualistic world. Yes, I admit it, I’m somewhat pessimistic and this appeals to my dark side.

 

romeo-and-juliet-one-sheetRomeo and Juliet– speaking of star crossed lovers- where would we be without the ultimate ill-fated duo? (still referring to Tristan and Isolde no doubt, but I digress) I have two reasons for adoring this play: 1) the language and 2) the play with genre (yes I’m a dork)- it’s a fairly straightforward ploy of tricking the viewer into thinking it’s a comedy and then *BAM* Mercutio gets it and we’re into tragic territory. Simple, yet genius.

 

persuasionPersuasion– a slightly more romantic Austen, I read this one last in my Austen journey, and it’s always competing in my mind with Emma for the position of favourite Austen (incidentally most Austen books could have ended up on this list). Unrequited or long lost love really gets to me, so I found myself crying when they kept being frustrated in their romance (yes, I know it’s not a sad book, only the heightened romantic feel gets to me, cos I’m a sap)

 

midsummer night's dreamMidsummer Night’s Dream– this was my first ever Shakespeare play and can always put me in a good mood. Lighthearted and fun, there’s a spirit of mischief in the air. One of my absolute favourite things about it though, is how Helena’s story in particular captures that feeling of being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. It’s still just as poignant as ever.

 

Importance_earnest_dvdImportance of Being Earnest– and let’s round this off with the play that is the most fun of all! Why do I love it? Because this is Wilde at his wittiest and honestly this can still make me laugh, no matter how many times I hear the jokes (I also highly recommend the 1952 movie version)

 

 

Hope you enjoyed that- I loved making it. Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! And I’ll have another one of these next week…

My Top Ten Books Featuring Sisterhood

*Warning there will be lots of pink and gushing girliness in this post*

Phew it is hot today- I don’t know how anyone gets anything done when it’s so hot! Resisting the urge to just lounge around all day, I thought I’d follow on from yesterday’s post and talk about sisters in books!

I don’t think sisterly love gets nearly enough attention in books- so today I want to celebrate some of my favourite books that feature sisters (both real and metaphorical) in a big way!  And just a heads up, I won’t be including any creepy long lost identical long lost twins or back or backstabbing biatches here- this one’s all about the positivity (mostly 😉 ):

pride and prejudice

  1. Pride and Prejudice– how could I not include Austen? The queen of the sisterhood?! That would be madness! In fact, I was actually super tempted to put Sense and Sensibility on here as well, but let’s face it, nothing beats Lizzy and Jane’s relationship!

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  1. I Capture the Castle– so mostly I just want an excuse to mention a childhood favourite. But there is a strong sister relationship in this book- only trouble is, even after all these years I can’t quite put my finger on where that relationship ends up at the end of the book. Ah well, it still deserves to be on this list, partly because I have always wanted to be part of this wacky family, but mostly because I secretly want to live in a derelict castle with no heating… (says the girl that couldn’t stand the Scottish winters)

little women

  1. Little Women– apart from this book giving me the warm fuzzies every time I think about it, this book hands down has one of my favourite family dynamics in literature- and guess what? They’re all girls! Yay- girl power! The March sisters are adorable, quirky and love fiercely- but my goodness you don’t want to get in the middle when that goes awry- there are ups and downs in this book that still make me cry (and not just the obvious *ahem* unmentionable parts- seriously don’t mention it, or you will reduce me to a fluffy orange mess again…)

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  1. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– you knew it was coming- after my review yesterday it can’t come as a surprise. What’s especially wonderful about this series is that it has every type of sisterly relationship- it deals with the figurative, the blood relations and the “oh goodness what category are you in” type of sister. And even more importantly, it doesn’t shy away from conflict between sisters (really just an occupational hazard)- instead directly addressing the issues they have and letting the characters grow as a result.

to all the boys

  1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– I’ve mentioned it before- but one of the best things about this series is the *lovely* sister relationships in it. Like my previous choice, it doesn’t make them buddy-buddy all the time- but that’s a-okay with me! Because complex dynamics are so important when portraying any relationship- and especially in something as nuanced and complicated as sisters!

court of thorns and roses

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy– okay so I wasn’t actually sure whether to include this one, because initially *avert your eyes superfans* I wasn’t totally sold on the sister relationships. It just seemed to be based on the protagonist’s older sisters letting her do all the work for them. But, while I’m still not convinced of this series’ perfection- review of ACOWAR to come *very* soon– I did find the sister relationships grew on me.

red sister

  1. Red Sister– okay, so no one in this book was technically a biological sister- BUT they were all Sisters- you know, nuns. Killer nuns in fact. And let’s face it, when am I gonna pass up an opportunity to mention killer nuns? (Plus they also had developed really great bonds with each other- but to be honest my brain is still on the *deadly nuns* thing to go into detail 😉 )

the young elites

  1. Young Elites– This one is another really unusual one, because this series is so out there. And I can’t talk too much about why I love this sister relationship, because of *spoilers*. But what I can say is this relationship ends up being super integral to the plot and the story’s conclusion- and how many non-romantic relationships can you say that about really? Let alone sister relationships?

hunger games

  1. Hunger Games– and speaking of another sister relationship that is integral to a book’s plot, what about Katniss Everdeen and her sister Prim. There would have been no story if Katniss hadn’t offered herself as tribute to save her sister. And as for where this relationship ends up going… well let’s not go there shall we (seriously, it’s like I designed this post to get all teary or something!)

how i live now

  1. How I Live Now– okay, so another cheerless book about the end of the world. But there was one thing I always took heart from and that was Daisy holding Piper’s hand and leading her through the literal end of the world- they’re not technically sisters, yet this image of sisterly devotion is burned into my mind whenever I think of a moment of sisterhood in books. I just want to point to it and say *that right there* (there’s also a lot of weird shit in this book, but at least there’s family at the centre of it all)

Okay that post ended up going in a darker direction than I intended. Do you agree or disagree with my choices? What book do you think is a great representation of sisterhood? Let me know in the comments below!

And naturally, I dedicate this post to my sister the monkey baby (yes that is her real nickname and no I am not making that up)

New Lessons I’ve Learnt From Rereading Emma

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_coverHi all! Hope you enjoyed my post yesterday, though I have to say that since I did not have the chance to change it after midday, according to the sacred rules of April Fools I became the fool- whoopsie.

Anyhoo I’m back to my old Librarian self now, so time to discuss this wonderful book! Before Emma I’d read Pride and Prejudice, but somehow hadn’t connected with the story in the same way. But the second I read the first sentence of Emma, Austen’s humour just clicked and I fell in love right away. After that I found I was finally able to connect with Pride and Prejudice in a way I hadn’t before. So I have this book to thank for introducing me to my love of Austen.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reread this book. And there’s a reason I keep going back to it time and time again: it’s the perfect novel. What makes it perfect? Well that there are so many lessons to learn from it no matter how many times I read it. Here are just some of the things I noticed this time round:

(Be prepared, cos this might get a little spoilery)

  1. It’s okay not to be perfect. One of the best things about Emma is how imperfect Emma is because we can see ourselves in her imperfections. Besides perfect characters are boring.
  2. Even if she’s not perfect, Emma is the perfectly constructed character. She is a list of contradictions: ungenerous and charitable, kind and selfish, empathetic and yet blind to other people’s true feelings. This is the best sort of character because it feels realistic.
  3. It is one thing for the main character to grow; it is another for the reader to grow too. The book provokes you to dislike Emma at the start, grow to understand her in the middle and fall in love with her by the end. That is no easy feat and a sign of Austen’s true artistry.
  4. This is a common theme in lots of other books and somehow I had not noticed it in this book- but central to this story is that sometimes by doing kindness one can do the greatest harm. Emma really is just trying to help Harriet by discouraging her from being with Martin and inflating her own self-worth. Emma really believes she is helping her- but it almost costs her friend her happiness in the short term and destroys what little is good in Harriet’s character by giving her a bit of a superiority complex. Which is especially bad as she is just the natural daughter of tradesman- and never had any hope beyond being with Mr Martin.
  5. The Eltons are arses. Not just to Emma and Harriet, but to Jane as well. In the guise of being nice to Jane, they humiliate and belittle her. I don’t know why I didn’t notice that before.
  6. I finally understood what Mr Knightley meant by saying she should not have insulted Miss Bates because she is rich- it’s not that she is automatically superior, but that she has certain advantages and it is not nice to flaunt what she has. It is because of her position of privilege that she was in a position to say such things in the first place and she should not have abused that position.
  7. Frank is a fascinating character. I never paid as much attention to him before- but he’s actually a lot more complex than I ever gave him credit for before. Don’t believe me- think of the scene where he makes himself appear foppish and ridiculous by going all the way to London just to get his hair cut, just so that he can have a cover story for getting Jane a gift. Because I only ever saw the story from Emma and Knightley’s perspective, I never really thought about how sweet that is!!
  8. And speaking of Frank, I never noticed before, but the story within the story is actually far more complex than the story itself! That is incredibly intricate plotting- bravo Austen!
  9. Though it still has a flighty, romantic air to it, it is one of the more realistic of Austen’s novels. The scenes of misunderstanding, friendship and love could easily play out in a modern novel. It is the perfect social satire because it is so enduring.
  10. This isn’t really new, but it’s always lovely to be reminded that love is there all along. I adore the moment when Emma realises her feelings for Knightley at the end of the book. In a way, it reminds me of the line in The Wizard of Oz: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

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Who would have thought I could have found similarities between Emma and The Wizard of Oz?! Clearly my brain works in mysterious ways….

Anyhoo- have you read any Austen? Are you a fan? Let me know in the comments below!