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Monday, September 29

The Darcys and the Bingleys: A Review of a Jane Austen Sequel

I am always in a quandary when I write an Austen sequel book review. How much should I reveal of the plot before spoiling it? Should I write for the Jane Austen fan who enjoys reading sequels regardless of the quality of the research or should I keep a larger reading audience in mind?

I make these statements before reviewing The Darcys and the Bingleys because my sense is that if you cannot get enough of these two Pride and Prejudice couples, then you will love this sequel. But if you have only read that classic novel once and you are looking for a stand-alone book, this one might not quite fit the bill, for there is an assumption by author Marsha Altman that the reader already knows a great deal about the characters and the history of the era.

Let me go on the record as stating that Jane Austen’s novels are inimitable. Those who dare to write sequels to her classics are brave souls. They must run the gamut of Janeites, many of whom can quote reams of Jane’s words forwards and backwards without pausing to take breath. Marsha Altman, the author of The Darcys and The Bingleys is one of the brave.

In her first novel she closely follows Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy as they prepare to wed the Bennet sisters. Readers are treated to the preparations before the nuptials and the arrival of familiar guests, such as Lydia Wickham and her husband. She is welcome but he is not, and his cheekiness in accompanying his wife to Netherfield is met with funny but deserving results. Readers of my reviews know that I am no great fan of Jane Austen sequels, so it took me a few moments to warm up to this book. But with the arrival of the wedding guests, I found myself chuckling and getting into the fun spirit of things. We are treated to a cameo of Mr. Hurst which I found hilarious and re-meet familiar characters like Caroline Bingley and Mr. Collins. I rather like the description of the relationship between Miss Anne de Bourgh and Mr. Darcy, who are great friends but who are not attracted to each other romantically. Anne comes off as a smart woman with a mind of her own who chooses not to countermand her strong-minded mother, Lady Catherine. This puts a different and interesting spin on her character, and I will never quite view Anne as an insipid spinster again.

We are also made privy to the easy banter that exists between Lizzy and Darcy, and of the innocent but heated yearning between Bingley and Jane, who must wait until her wedding night to have her passion awakened fully. Darcy, a man of the world, has his own concerns, such as finding private time with Elizabeth, but he has no qualms about their first intimate moments, for he possesses a secret weapon – a book from Bombay that he inherited in great secrecy from his father.

Before Bingley consults Darcy at length about this book, Ms. Altman (in the above photo) introduces their back story and how they met during their student days at Cambridge. I found the novel’s emphasis on Bingley’s thoughts and actions refreshing. In Pride and Prejudice he remains a cheery enigma, but Marsha fleshes him out from the moment he meets Darcy to their joint suspicions of the Irish earl who wishes to marry Caroline.

Marsha in no way tries to imitate Jane Austen’s style, and her tone is modern and breezy. However, once in a while her characters words and actions seem spot on, as in this instance when Mr. Bennet visits his beloved Lizzy at Pemberley a few months after her marriage:

“Your mother and sisters are in Brighton admiring all the officers from a very respectable distance. At least a foot, I told them, though I have no idea if they will abide by it. I would have said at least thirty feet and bought your mother a pair of looking glasses, but she would not have it. They will arrive closer to the holiday, though I challenge even Mrs. Bennet and Kitty to fill these immense hallways with their squalling.”

We also learn more about Bingley’s relationship to his sisters, which I found touching and believable:

They were not an affectionate family. At least, they had not been in years, since Bingley’s sisters had entered society. He had vague recollections of being depressed at the prospect, because suddenly Louisa and then Caroline were all grown up, and he was left to be the only child in the family for a few more years, perhaps the loneliest in his life. And then he went to Cambridge, and when he came home for his father’s funeral, he was the man of the house, not the little brother, and one of his sisters was married and the other quite expecting to marry as soon as she found someone suitable. They still had their moments of treating him as their baby brother – three years Caroline’s junior and five to Louisa – but he, Charles Bingley, master of Netherfield and their London townhouse, controlled their fortunes, however graciously and unwittingly.

As the much anticipated wedding night approaches, Darcy shares passages of the book - the Kama Sutra - with his good friend. If you have a bawdy sense of humor like me you will enjoy these rather funny scenes. One must suspend disbelief, however, and simply enjoy the ride that this book provides, for as my wise counselor Lady Anne remarked dryly: “The Kama Sutra had not yet been translated into English during this era and I doubt that a sophisticated man like Fitzwilliam Darcy would need salacious illustrations to show him how to please a virgin in bed.”

Try as I might I could find no earlier reference to an English translation of the Kama Sutra before the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton made the attempt in 1883 with his colleague, Forster F. Arbuthnot. Earlier versions of these sacred texts were written in Sanscrit and came without illustrations. The original intent of these ancient compilations was not eroticism per se, but a combination of pleasure, spirituality, and virtue in the hope of a attaining a secure and rounded life. Critics of Burton’s translation felt that it skirted pornography. His translation held sway for nearly a century, influencing our thoughts about the book. Knowing these details, I kept asking myself as I read Ms. Altman’s scenes: “How would Darcy and Bingley gain any useful wedding night information from a book written in a foreign tongue that might or might not be illustrated?” And here lies the crux of the matter. If you are a stickler for historical accuracy, this plot device will fall absolutely flat. But if you love pop culture in all its manifestations like I do, then you will find this passage amusing:

[Bingley] was flummoxed by the illustration and read the description several times before finally saying, “This cannot be very gentlemanly.”

"But it does work - quite well.” Darcy was so at ease. Was he basking in the glory of watching Bingley squirm and blush so hard he might pop out of his skin at any moment? Or was he recalling fond memories of the past?

The Bingleys and Darcys embark on several months of honeymoon bliss aided by a book that had yet to be translated or illustrated. :) They then settle into their respective homes. (The Bingleys move from Netherfield within months of their marriage, since Charles can only stand Mrs. Bennet’s interference for so long.) We wait along with the two happy couples for the arrival of their first-born children in the second part of the book, and in the third section we become privy to a mystery: Is the Irish nobleman who wishes to marry Caroline Bingley a suitable candidate for a husband? And what role does Dr. Maddox, who is called upon to take care of Mr. Hurst, play in Caroline’s life?

On the surface Lord Kincaid seems like a perfect suitor for Miss Bingley, but her brother Charles cannot bring himself to approve of the match and he solicits Darcy’s help in uncovering the truth about the Irishman. Darcy sets out to learn more about the mysterious earl and challenges him to a friendly fencing match at his club. Regency gentlemen elected to gamble, hunt, or fence when taking each others' measure, and while Marsha chose the right battleground for Mr. Darcy and the earl, I found her fencing passage strangely devoid of sweat-inducing action.

Kincaid could remain aggressive himself, but he had not yet seen Darcy aggressive, and he did not know the ferocity with which he would be attacked.

The ferocity never really came, for Marsha did not use the sport's militaristic language to its full advantage. Fencing’s robust verbs and descriptive terms like “en garde, froissement, glise, assault, attack, riposte, lunge, feint, and the blade movements of thrusting, cutting and slashing” were missing, and thus Darcy’s and Sinclair’s fencing match lacked the heart-stopping, can’t-wait-to-read-what-will-happen-next suspense that I expected.

But I quibble, for Marsha’s plot keeps twisting, and she still had a few surprises in store for Fitzers and his brave Lizzy and Bingley and Jane that kept me turning the pages. This book was written to fulfill a desire in P&P fans to learn more about Jane Austen’s characters. While Marsha is spare in her physical descriptions of time, place, and character, I kept reading the book wanting to find out how the plot would develop. If you simply cannot get enough of Pride and Prejudice’s characters, then this book will more than satisfy you. (And it is a good first effort. Keep writing, Marsha.) If you want great writing that will transform your world, well, then turn to the incomparable novels of Jane Austen. No one does it better.

Read this fascinating account of the translation of the Kama Sutra, Chapter 25, The Life of Sir Richard Burton (image at left) by Thomas Wright, 1905.

Read Laurel Ann's review of the book on Austenprose here.

Read my interview with Marsha Altman at this link.

And don't forget to leave your comment here to win a copy of The Darcys and the Bingleys from SourceBooks. Contest ends October 1st.

Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World

Sunday, September 28

Jane Austen Character Throwdown

My, oh, my. Last week's voters were decidedly for Darcy's sweet young sister, Georgianna, even though Ms. Harriet Smith was equally deserving of the title. Let's face it: You've been waiting for Miss Jane Bennet to appear. I have been wracking my brains all week to come up with a character who is worthy of standing up against Jane's popularity. It is my fervent hope that sweet, agreeable Miss Fanny Price will give Jane a run for the money. Let's see, shall we? Again, please vote for the character most deserving of the title, not your favorite one.

Sweetest Lady #3

Miss Jane Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

Was ever a more compliant and loving character devised by an author than Lizzy Bennet's older sister? I'd like to confess that I find Jane's sweetness almost treacly. Her saving graces are her intelligence and steadfast loyalty. No one seems jealous of her beauty precisely because she is so agreeable. How could she possibly have stomached Miss Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst for as long as she did? She also shows her mother great forbearance during a time of emotional distress. One imagines that Jane's marriage to Mr. Bingley will proceed placidly without a single kerfuffle to mar their relationship, even with his sisters as in-laws. For Jane to have found her male counterpart in sweetness was a lucky and fortuitous stroke of Miss Austen's pen.

Miss Fanny Price, Mansfield Park

Shall I have to make a case for Fanny as the sweetest character or are there enough of us rooting for her to make this a close contest? She had a tougher row to hoe than Jane, living among a group of people who considered her more a lackey than a cherished relative. Except for Edmund, no one truly cared for her emotional well being. Fanny manages to retain her sweet disposition despite Mrs. Norris's spiteful bullying and Lady Bertram's dependence on her for every little thing. She remains loving towards Sir Thomas Bertram, even when he sends her packing to Portsmouth to mull over her decision to resist Henry Crawford's proposal, and manages to keep her misgivings about Mary Crawford under such tight control that neither Edmund nor Mary ever suspect her of anything but devoted friendship. Fanny has been tested time and again. That she remains sweet, forgiving, and generous-hearted despite her emotionally deprived background seems miraculous to me. free polls
Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Sweetest Lady #3
Miss Jane Bennet Miss Fanny Price

Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World

Sunday Morning Puzzler

Click here to play a hard game of Jane Austen anagrams at fun trivia. Each one represents the name of a character.

Saturday, September 27

Austen Shopaholic: Gifts and Bargains Galore!

Looking for that special Austen inspired gift for a friend, family or yourself? This "Hello My Name is Mr. Darcy" mouse pad really sends the message that you have your priorities straight! It comes in a Mrs. Darcy version also. Who would not want their mouse skimming over Mr. Darcy whilst searching the Internet for all things Austen at work (oops) or home? From Poor Richard's Customs available at Cafe Press.

Hot Austen book deals (more like steals) of the week are from my favourite bookseller, Barnes & Noble who is offering a buy two get one free on selected bargain books until October 6th, 2008.

Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, by Pamela Aidan. Hardcover, 320 pages, ISBN: 9870641916106. List price $24.95, bargain price $4.98

Jane Austen's Guide to Dating, by Laurie Henderson. Trade paperback, 309 pages, ISBN: 9780641037354. List price $12.95, bargain price $4.98

The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler. Trade paperback, 288 pages, ISBN: 9780641901904. List price 14.00, bargain price $4.98

Mr. Darcy's Daughters, by Elizabeth Aston. Trade paperback, 368 pages, ISBN: 978064196779. List price $14.95, bargain price $4.98

Not only are these great titles on sale, if you buy two, you get one for free! Quantaties on the bargain books are limited, so don't hesitate if you are interested.

Happy shopping to all!

Laurel Ann, Austenprose

Friday, September 26

Unseen Austen on BBC4: Pride and Prejudice Rewritten by Lydia Bennet?

Unseen Austen on BBC4

If you are in need of a roaring good laugh to start off your weekend, listen to a Podcast of Unseen Austen on BBC4. Written by Judith French, here is their description.

Impertinent young Lydia Bennet discovers that it is her sister Elizabeth who is the heroine of Pride and Prejudice and that her own love life is all offstage. She sets about putting matters right.
Just imagine Monty Python rewriting Pride and Prejudice from Lydia Bennet's 'let's party and throw decorum out the window perspective' and you only have an inkling of how campy and clever this play is. The actress who portrays Lydia Bennet (Jodi Whittaker) sounds amazingly like Julia Sawalha who played the part in the 1995 BBC/A&E mini-series Pride and Prejudice.

With the conclusion of the ITV's mini-series of Lost in Austen this week, this play will perpetuate the Austen parody parade. Enjoy!

posted by Laurel Ann, Austenprose

Reminder: Book Contest Open Until October 1

If you want a chance of winning a free copy of The Darcys and The Bingleys by Marsha Altman, please leave your comment about your favorite Darcy and Bingley movie couple at this post. So far we've received some great insights. Click here.

The book is now available from Sourcebooks.

Thursday, September 25

Lost in Austen Icons

Find eight Lost in Austen icons from Episode Two here.

This site includes icons as well as discussions (and spoilers). Click on these words to find the icons.

Click here to find a few screen caps.

Look for animated Gif icons here.

There are a host of fabulous icons at this link. Just scroll down a little.

Find great screen caps and quotes at The Enchanted Serenity of Period Films. Click here.

Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey Begins October 1st at Austenprose

Austenprose is happy to announce another great Austen novel event for the month of October, 2008 with ‘Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey’. Starting October 1st thru the 31st, Janeites, classic book and Gothic fiction enthusiasts can join in the group reads of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, discussions of the novels and characters, book editions, movies, guest bloggers and ton of free giveaways.

Check out the group reading schedule, list of guest bloggers and giveaways here.

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey! You won’t regret it!

Posted by Laurel Ann, Austenprose

Lost in Austen, Episode Four

So how was the last part of Lost in Austen? Not long enough to tie up all the loose ends in a satisfactory way. Amanda gets her man, and Lizzy receives her wish with Mr. Bennet's blessing, but we don't spend enough time with her even in this last episode, which seemed rushed. Those who hated this mini-series will find the ending just as dissatisfying, and those who liked it will wonder what exactly happened to Caroline Bingley, Lydia Bennet and George Wickham at the end. Lizzy loves her life as a nanny in our age, but we only spend a few minutes seeing her maneuver around in a modern London household.

Recap of Episode Four on Pop Sugar
Recap of Episode Four on Times Online

Look for our more detailed reviews later this week on Jane Austen's World and Austenprose. Meanwhile, I leave you with this fuzzy screen shot of Amanda kissing Mr. Darcy.

Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World

Tuesday, September 23

Mrs. Elton Sez: Dancing Demon Wants to Ditch Sisters!

Dear Mrs. Elton,

I am fifteen years old and am appealing to you to intercede on my behalf. My two older sisters, Emily, who is eighteen, and Octavia, who is seventeen, have come OUT and are attending balls, soirees, and parties. In a few months they will be traveling to Town for the season, while my parents have decreed that I must remain in the nursery with my younger sister, who is ten, and my twin brothers, who are two years old. This situation is unfair! I would be forever grateful if you would consider writing to my father and advising him that I am mature enough to join my older sisters. He has a high regard for Mr. Elton's sermons, so I am certain your thoughts would be most welcome.

Sincerely yours,

Miss Cordelia Compton

My dear Miss Cordelia,

You write like a young lady who has the insatiable taste for dancing that comes to us all at fifteen. But it will never do for a younger sister to be married before her two elder ones, and judging by the liveliness and eagerness of your letter, you will be snatched up for marriage in your first season, very likely ahead of Miss Emily and Octavia. Imagine their fury! They will be your sisters for the rest of your lives; do you wish to disappoint and alienate them so that a positive hatred for you stirs in their breasts? Surely not. I know it would be a very fine thing to walk before them into all the drawing-rooms of the country, as Mrs. So-and-So, or better yet, Lady So-and-So, which will happen if you are the first to marry; but I appeal to your sense of fairness. You are young enough to wait a little, and to give your elders a chance. Only think, if they have a season themselves, they will be all the better placed to introduce you to all manner of beaux when you come out. Whereas if you all entered society at the same time, you would be in danger of being thought as elderly as they! No, no, depend upon it, you will come out with far more eclat if you wait, if only for a twelvemonth. I give you my word, if your papa and mamma do not consent to your being presented at sixteen,
I will mention the matter to them myself, or perhaps beg Mr. Elton to intercede on your behalf. In the meanwhile, practice your music and drawing assiduously; make good use of the back-board, and be most careful of your Complexion. Grow older and prettier, my dear Cordelia, and you will, with certitude, have your reward.

Faithfully, if a bit wearily,

Mrs. Elton

Mrs. Elton Sez is written/channeled by Austen-esque author Diana Birchall, whose latest book, Mrs. Elton In America, is now available. Please join her once a week for her sage and sometimes sardonic voice, as she graciously condescends to advise on a variety of subjects. Laurel Ann and Vic admit to channeling their Regency doppelgängers as they take turns writing the letters. They are usually surprised by Mrs. Elton's responses, whose mind is as unpredictable and lively as her tongue.

Curious to read more of Mrs. Elton's advice? Click here to enter the archives.

Monday, September 22

Want a Jane Austen Stamp? Then Make One

Create your own customized stamps at just like this one. A sheet of 20 costs around $18 and, according to the site, the U.S. Post Office will honor them.

The Hunks of Lost in Austen

Elliot Cowan as Mr. Darcy

Elliot Cowan (left) as Ptolemy with Colin Farrell as Alexander. In a wet shirt or a leather skirt, Elliot cuts a fine figure of a man. Here's an interview with him and a professional listing.

Tom Riley as George Wickham practically steals the show, especially in Episode Three.

He is rather new to the business, having acted relatively a few years. Here's an interview he did in 2007 and an article about him from 2005.

Tom Mison as Mr. Bingley.

Mr. Mison in modern garb. Yum. Find out more about him on his web site.

Er, well, three out of four isn't bad. Guy Henry as Mr. Collins is creepy. But he looks kinda cool and suauve with Anna Maxwell Martin at the opening of Betrayal, 2007. Here's his biography.

Oh, ok. You asked for it: one more pix of Mr. Darcy wet.

Jane Austen's World reviews of Lost in Austen:
Austen Prose reviews:
Guardian UK Blog: Lost in Austen: Click here
Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World

Sunday, September 21

Jane Austen Character Throwdown

In our previous Jane Austen Character Throwdown, Miss Eleanor Tilney won your hearts as the sweetest lady in the first round of this category. Miss Bates, although she is as sweet as they come, makes a decided impression with her incessant chatter. For my part, I can imagine conducting a pleasant conversation with Miss Tilney, but not with Miss Bates. Our next two ladies are equally worthy of the title. I wonder who you will vote for this week? I wait with bated breath.

Sweetest Lady, #2

Miss Harriet Smith, Emma

"She was a very pretty girl, and her beauty happened to be of a sort which Emma particularly admired. She was short, plump, and fair, with a fine bloom, blue eyes, light hair, regular features, and a look of great sweetness."Emma’s young protégé is as sweet and gullible as they come. In fact, she is so kind and pliable that her handsome yeoman farmer, Mr. Robert Martin, though hurt when she rejected his suit, was not at all turned off by her. As soon as he saw a second opportunity, he asked for her hand again. Even Mr. Knightley, that most discerning and exacting man, was won over by Miss Smith's artlessness and sweetness.

Miss Georgianna Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

Could there be a kinder, sweeter sister than Georgianna Darcy? This pretty, painfully shy sixteen-year-old trusts her brother's choice in a woman implicitly, and immediately accepts Elizabeth Bennet into her heart. Darcy's devotion to his sweet sister opens Lizzy’s eyes further to his character. Here is how Jane Austen describes her: “There was sense and good humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle.” free polls
Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Sweetest Lady, #2
Miss Harriet Smith Miss Georgianna Darcy

Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World

Friday, September 19

Blogs We Love

Writer Jeannie Perkins from Natural/Artificial gave us an I Love Your Blog award several days ago. Laurel Ann and I needed several moments to collect our breaths and think straight. When we did, we realized we were to pass the torch on. Because there are two of us, we nominated more than the usual seven. In addition, we (modestly) nominated each other's blogs. There are so many other fun blogs to visit besides these. Just click away on our sidebar and you'll see them.

So, here are the blogs we love in no particular order or preference:

The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide

Centered on the life and friends of Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire, you will find “scandalous tid-bits from England's finest socialite of the Georgian age”. My favorite regular topic is ‘Tart of the Week’ which highlights an eighteenth century female celebrity, warts and all!

Ellen and Jim Have a Blog, too

English Lit professor and Jane Austen scholar Ellen Moody continually keeps me challenged and improving myself with her thoughtful and in depth essays of 18th and 19th century literature, poetry and movies. This academic is a rare bird who has flown the coop of the proverbial ivory tower to explain it all for us, and keep us thinking along the way.

A Work in Progress

A book lover’s journey through reading and needlework. I can always depend on finding great reading recommendations and reviews offered with a bit of wit.


Because, she is everywhere, right? I am constantly amazed how Jane Austen has permeated our cultural lives in a million different ways as evidenced in the Medias fascination with our favorite authoress. If I want the latest news, deconstruction or an immediate laugh, I always head to Austen news headquarters, AustenBlog.

Austen Addict

Author Laurie Viera Rigler’s book Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict might have spawned this blog, but it has grown as an outlet for an author whose wit and sharp satire might just match Jane Austen’s. Check out her latest video creation, Obama or McCain? I say vote for Jane. Darn right.

Book Club Girl

Books, books and more books, and great author interviews!

Historical Romance UK

A consortium of British romance authors chat about their books, other books in the news, historical stuff about England and themselves. Wheee … I could stay there forever.

Versailles and More

Author Catherine Delors chats about Maries Antoinette’s unsung legacy and other tidbits on the Frogs across the pond in 18th-century France. Great book reviews, author interviews and gobs of history and pics. Wow!

Paris Breakfasts

This blog’s author and painter provides a rich and lush visual tapestry of food, Parisian objects, and watercolors. Absolutely fabulous!!

The Sartorialist

This photographer haunts the streets of New York and sometimes Paris or Milan and photographs people who are au courant. His eye is uncanny and his subjects are beautifully clad. I seldom disagree with his unerring taste.

A Dress a Day

Love, luv, looooove this site. ‘Nuff said.

Edwardian Promenade

The Belle Epoque comes alive in this fascinating, well-written historical blog. I love the posts, which cover all things and matters Edwardian.


Good writing, and great reviews and insights about Jane Austen 24/7. What more could a devoted Janeite want? Why, simply more of the same. Visiting Austenprose is like landing in the middle of the best Jane Austen book club you ever hoped to join. (Vic)

Jane Austen’s World

Everyday I discover incredible Regency life tidbits and important facts to help me understand what it was like to live in Jane Austen’s world giving me a greater appreciation for her writings, life and the culture that the books were written in. (Laurel Ann)

Last but not least, we'd like to say thank you to Jane Fan of Austen-tatious for paving the way for all of us Jane-y come lately bloggers. Her blog, which she recently retired, has been in existence since 2003, an eon for the blogosphere. Thank you, Lady Jane. We will miss your insights.

Thursday, September 18

Mrs. Elton Sez: Modesty? Ladyhood? As if!

Gentle readers, last week Mrs. Elton received a letter from a young lady who is clueless in Beverley Hills entreating her for advice with a young man named Elton. Suffice it to say, Mrs. Elton's advice was not quite what she was expecting.

Hey Mrs. E.

Modesty? Ladyhood? Anglican? As if! Are you from Pasadena Mrs. Elton? Cuz my best Dione has a cousin Sally from Pasadena. She’s totally a dweeb and full of cake. Thinks she’s Sandra Dee or somethin’. Sits at home on Saturday nights watchin’ Stone Age flicks with her mom like Gidget Goes Hawaiian or Beach Blanket Bongo. Gag. Don’t they know dancing on the beach is so yesterday? Oh I could just ralph. Modesty? Oh yeah. Wasn’t that a fashion craze from London in the 60’s? I think that’s when my Gramma wore her stylin’ white go-go boots. Those were way cool. Anyway, why would you want me to be in that gross street gang Ladyhood? Ew! Their clothes are like so growdy and they need like better colors in their tattoos. Fur sure.

So I give one snap for effort Mrs. E., but give me somethin’ to work with here. That boy Elton is a total Bladwin, but he doesn’t even notice me.

Even more clueless in Beverly Hills

Cher Horowitz

My dear Miss Horowitz,

Your letter concerns me greatly. It is so badly written, with such poor mode of expression, appalling use of gutter patois, and no attention to stops. When first I had the honour of hearing from you, you will recollect that I even thought you were Irish. I have been disabused on that point; but how extraordinary it is that the daughter of a rich man should express herself like the merest guttersnipe, so as to give rise to the impression that she is, at best, of the servant class, and newly arrived in a situation. It is the mingling of classes that does this sort of mischief, I am convinced. The divisions of society ought always to be respected; every one should know his place. Do not you remember the verse, "The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly, and ordered their estate"? Surely you have heard that in Church on innumerable Sundays...unless, can it be? Mr. Horowitz has not done his duty and made you acquainted with the precepts and duties of your Religion. But that can scarcely be possible. I would not believe it, even of him.

You are a Christian, are you not, Miss Horowitz? Yet I cannot account for your writing like the merest Cockney, like a girl who has not been gently bred. I do perceive from your letter, however little I comprehend its language, that you have a value for Fashion. That being the case, do you imagine that any of the most fashionable ladies in the kingdom speak or comport themselves as you do? Surely you know better. I conclude, however, that you are deaf to appeals to your better nature, to your Religion, and even to the trammels of Fashion. To what then can I speak? Only to your love of the young Mr. Elton, which would be perfectly apparent, even if you were writing in Greek.

A young lady who loves a young man (though no girl should fall in love until actually assured of the affection of the object in question) must study to see what will please him, and practice allurements and blandishments that will inevitably win him. Miss Horowitz, your money may be some inducement; your appearance is altogether well and even handsome, and may be another attraction. But young Mr. Elton is a gentleman, and none but a lady will ever succeed with him. You must rid your vocabulary of its coarseness, and learn to comport yourself as a modest young woman, as to be sure I have told you before, but you do not seem to have heard.

Miss Horowitz, I am patient beyond all reason, and will try to make myself clear once again. You are in the most urgent need of tuition. Your father has been so much occupied making money, it is very evident that he has neglected his duty by his daughter, and your manners have been formed in a very bad school. Who, then, is to teach you? Upon whom are you to model yourself as a lady? Out of respect to your family, I will venture to make a suggestion. If you would like to come to the Vicarage at Highbury for an extended visit of two or three months, I will do what I can in the way of tutelage. It is not to be expected, in the midst of my multifarous activities, that I will have much time for instruction; but by watching a clergyman's lady wife in her round of activities, you will have before you a Living Rule of Ladyhood, and the result should be that your manners and speech will be very much improved. Let me know if you wish to take up this invitation; Mr. E's coach can meet you halfway. I am sure I should find you of very valuable use with the younger children, and it may be that young Mr. Elton may even pay a visit to his old home. I make no doubt he will, if informed of your presence; but you must be thoroughly prepared for such a circumstance, and cease your foolish talk about white boots. They would be most extravagant and unsuitable in our muddy lanes.

Your sincere friend and well-wisher,

Mrs. Elton

Mrs. Elton Sez is written/channeled by Austen-esque author Diana Birchall, whose latest book, Mrs. Elton In America, is now available. Please join her once a week for her sage and sometimes sardonic voice, as she graciously condescends to advise on a variety of subjects. Laurel Ann and Vic admit to channeling their Regency doppelgängers as they take turns writing the letters. They are usually surprised by Mrs. Elton's responses, whose mind is as unpredictable and lively as her tongue.

Curious to read more of Mrs. Elton's advice? Click here to enter the archives.

Monday, September 15

Book Giveaway of The Darcys and the Bingleys

SourceBooks is giving away copies of Marsha Altman's The Darcys and the Bingleys to two lucky winners. All you need to do is leave a comment and tell us who your favorite movie Darcy and Bingley couples are and why. The contest is open until October 1. To tweak your memory, we've posted their photos (and actual names) below.

The Darcys

2005, Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley

1995, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle

1980, Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul

1940, Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier
The Bingleys

2005, Simon Woods and Rosamund Pike

1995, Susannah Harker and Crispin Bonham-Carter

1980, Sabina Franklyn and Osmund Bolluck

1940, Maureen O'Sullivan and Bruce Lester

Look What We Received... "I Love Your Blog Award".

Thank you Stephanie Perkins. We love your other choices (and your blog) as well.

Stay tuned to see who we pick as our favorite blogs.

Vic and Laurel Ann

Sense and Sensibility Church Bells Silent

Oh, dear, the bells of St. Mary's, Berry Pomeroy, have been condemned and the church will remain silent until Christmas, when repairs are set to be completed. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Sunday, September 14

Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Sweetest Lady

Our readers voted and the verdict is in: General Tilney is the Worst Father, beating Sir Walter Elliot by a 6:4 margin. Our next throwdown takes us in the opposite direction - to sweetest lady. We will visit two secondary characters for the first vote in this category, and then will move up to the main characters in later contests. For your consideration, please vote for the character who best fits this category:
Sweetest Lady

Miss Bates, Emma:
Yes Miss Bates' runaway mouth can be infuriatingly irritating, but this endearing spinster has not a mean bone in her body. Sweet without fault, she finds the good in people and enjoys their companionship. She is grateful for the slightest bit of attention, and though she is materially poor, she feels blessed and contented. When Emma petulantly makes fun of her at Box Hill, Miss Bates' reaction is one of hurt, not blame: - "but, when it burst on her, it could not anger, though a slight blush shewed that it could pain her. 'Ah!—well—to be sure. Yes, I see what she means, (turning to Mr. Knightley,) and I will try to hold my tongue. I must make myself very disagreeable, or she would not have said such a thing to an old friend.' "

Miss Eleanor Tilney, Northanger Abbey:
A true lady, gentle and sweet, she is a loving sister, obedient daughter, and devoted friend. Eleanor exudes an older sister's influence over Catherine Morland, genuinely liking the naive and inexperienced girl, and taking her under her wing. When General Tilney banishes Catherine from Northanger Abbey, Eleanor gives her money to get home. Jane Austen's description of Eleanor is telling: Miss Tilney had a good figure, a pretty face, and a very agreeable countenance; and her air, though it had not all the decided pretension, the resolute stylishness of Miss Thorpe's, had more real elegance. Her manners showed good sense and good breeding; they were neither shy nor affectedly open..." free polls

Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Sweetest Lady

Miss Bates Miss Eleanor Tilney

Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World

Saturday, September 13

Seen on the Blogosphere

As I looked up information for P&P, I came across Snide and Prejudice (1997) on IMbD. The tag line? He couldn't tell reich from wrong. With Mick Fleetwood playing Picasso, and a cast that includes Mena Suvari, Joseph and Sam Bottoms, Angus Macfadyen and Remy and Rene Auberjonois, this comedy-drama directed by Phillipe Mora is as far from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as a film can get.

At an asylum called the Temporal Displacement Foundation, the rise of Hitler is played out by the inmates. The resident physician, Dr Cohen encourages his patients who believe they are important Nazi figures to act out their fantasies. The therapy sessions show Hitler consolidating his power by assembling his gang of supporters yet they are interrupted at times, once because Davidson's uniform is at the dry cleaners and another time because a patient who believes he is Picasso interrupts a session.
Posted by Vic, Ms. Place