I just realized that I might be one of "those" women... ummm... the ones who get just a little lost in Jane Austen books. I've read most of them (a few times), and seen various versions of the movies, but my favorite is Pride and Prejudice. It's nice to know that I'm part of club.
It's not just the romance of Mr. Darcy (and Colin Firth), but the female leads are about as "kick-butt princess" as you can get in these kinds of books. I really love a character I can relate to who suddenly realizes - Prince Charming is NOT coming - and she needs to rescue herself from the tower. And THEN she finds true love. Feminism is all well and good, but I still want a happy ending.
My love of Austen has been spreading to other books and movies that are based on Austen or the characters' love of Austen. Just as Clueless did such a wonderful job of updating Emma, Bride and Prejudice is like a bizarre, Bollywood marriage between Grease and Pride and Prejudice. If you need a dose of "life-affirming-goodness" watch that movie.
One of my favorites is Lost in Austen. Modern girl Amanda is so disillusioned with her current life and obsessed with Mr. Darcy, that she hides in her apartment and rereads Austen, rather than accept a proposal from her boyfriend. One night, hearing noises coming from her bathroom, she discovers the character Lizzy has stepped through a door from her world to Amanda's. When Amanda steps through to Lizzy's world, Lizzy slams the door, trapping her there. Amanda makes a real mess of the "story"... it is hysterically funny and also rather painful to watch. But the best part is seeing the story from behind-the-scenes. Not all the characters are really the way Austen wrote them!
I've always appreciated the movie versions of the books because I find it really hard to picture the time periods and understand the social customs and dress without the visuals. These modern interpretations are even better since characters like Amanda, are just as confused as we are. When they are actually IN the story, they have to help us understand as they learn too.
I recently read Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale and, yesterday, I finished the sequel, Midnight in Austenland. These books were a lot of fun to read - again, the modern character has screwed up her life (or so she believes) and gets to time travel to Austen's world. In this case, it is actually a mostly-authentic resort in England with actors playing the male characters and love interests. Just as Austen's women start with all kinds of misconceptions about their own worth and family value, these modern women discover their true characters through their fantasy personas. (It sounds more complicated than it is...)
I had seen reviews of the second book that were not very favorable - saying it was annoying to have the character talking and arguing with herself. I actually enjoyed that as I find I do that too. (blush) Although this is the same resort - Austenland - the main character is different and there is a really good mystery too. The main character, Charlotte, doesn't come to Austen's world looking for love, she's looking for life. She's gone through a messy divorce and her ex and his girlfriend-now-wife are watching the teenage kids while Charlotte is on vacation. She has learned to shut down her emotions and can't feel anything anymore. I could really relate to a lot of the mental struggles that Charlotte goes through! And near the end, even more satisfying than any love outcome is a scene where she confronts her ex on the phone. She lets him know exactly how she feels about him, his girlfriend, and the way he is treating the kids. Kind of made me want to write down the script, if you know what I mean...
While looking up links for this post on Amazon, I just discovered that there is a movie version of the first book, Austenland! Now I have incentive to get up in the studio and get some work done... if I can finish some of my list, tonight, I will pop some popcorn and watch Austenland
with Emmett (the cat)!