It is no secret that I absolutely adore Jane Austen. She is easily my favorite classic author, and Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite book. I even planned on finishing reading her entire works last year in what I dubbed “My Year of Jane Austen” … sadly I fell a few books short of my goal.
So, 2023 is my NEW Year of Jane. I plan to read the works I have yet to finish (Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey, as well as her unfinished works and poems), as well as re-read the ones I already know. Because with each reading I gain something new, and I will never be tired of reading Jane Austen. I would also like to read more fan fiction, and some of the books that were Jane Austen’s favorites in her life. So, If you would like to join me for a Year of Jane, this book club is for you!
This Jane Austen Book Club idea is something I have been playing around with for a long time, and I thought I would just go for it! And what better time than during my Year of Jane? In the club, I hope to suggest Austen-esque book recommendations, plan group reads and discussions, and hopefully connect with other Austenites and Janeites! If this is something you would be interested in, come join the club and suggest our next book!
This is a collection of some of the most magical, moving, chilling and surprising Christmas stories from around the world. These short stories take readers on a Christmas journey, from the frozen Nordic woods to the glittering streets of Paris, a New York speakeasy to a quaint English country house, the bustling city of Lagos to midnight mass in Rio, and even deep into outer space. Featuring Santa, ghosts, trolls, unexpected guests, curmudgeons, and miracles, here is Christmas as imagined by some of the greatest short story writers of all time.
Collected works by writers big and small make this an essential companion for any Christmas reader. Classic Christmas storytellers such as Hans Christian Anderson and O. Henry have features in this compendium, as well as some unexpected names like Truman Capote, Shirley Jackson, and Chekhov, in addition to little-known treasures such as Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Italo Calvino and Irène Nemerovsky (and more!).
Some of my favorites include:
The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen
The Legend of the Christmas Rose by Selma Lagerlof
A Chaparral Christmas Gift by O. Henry
The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L. Sayers
One Christmas Eve by Langston Hughes
The Gift by Ray Bradbury
I was a little disappointed that the O. Henry story included wasn’t The Gift of the Magi, but I did enjoy A Chaparral Christmas Gift (which I hadn’t read before), so actually, it was probably a good thing that I got to read a new O. Henry story instead of one I already knew.
This book of short classic Christmas stories is the perfect book to cozy up with this holiday. I am in love with this collection and can see that myself and my family will cherish reading these Christmas stories for years to come.
These are some of the oldest stories, collected and told here in an effort to revive stories of the past. Some are old favorites and some are new to me, but I am looking forward to reading all of them! There are classics like The Three Little Pigs and Snow-White, and even more new stories like The Old Witch and The Gypsy Woman that I am so excited to read. And it is such a gorgeous copy, I am so proud to add this to my shelves!
There have been countless adaptations of these stories in literature, film, music, and performances across the ages. Even the ‘original’ stories that were written were adapted from stories that were passed down through oral tradition. Authors are drawn to revisiting literature and reworking stories in an effort to create a conversation between themselves and the great works of the past. This illustrates how literature adapts to a new age and its new media, making universal age-old ideas modern and relevant. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants here meaning major texts, “canonical texts”; texts that have withstood time; ancient texts that are still studied today; texts that offer ancient pearls of wisdom; texts that are referenced and made new by modern authors. These folk tales are those great texts.
Thank you to @watkinsbooks and @penguinrandomhouse for sending me this beautiful ARC of The Watkins Book Of English Folktales by Neil Philip. All opinions are my own.
Generally, I appreciate all page-to-screen adaptations: all press is good press, and whether you love or hate the new film, it is doing a lot for reigniting interest in the book.
When I found out that this adaptation would be inspired by the book rather than a faithful adaptation of Persuasion (a la Bridgerton) I had high hopes for it. HOWEVER. My personal opinion of this movie is that it is absolute trash.
“I am all agony, no hope”
I saw a lot of criticism around the film, and it kind of influenced my opinion before I could even watch for myself. TBH I was skeptical of the criticism. I wanted to believe that it couldn’t be as bad as people were saying. But after watching for myself, I wholeheartedly agree with the critics.
I think the most disappointing thing is that this adaptation was passed over for the Sarah Snook version, which seemed to lean more towards a faithful adaptation, whereas this version is clearly only based on the book and takes MANY creative liberties.
Fans of this version found the variety refreshing and funny, and seem to appreciate the deliberate changes. And if you found this version relatable and enjoyable, I am happy for you, and I am not here to change your mind. But I, personally, did not find this version relatable or enjoyable.
To be clear, I am a Janeite, but not a purist. I have no possession over Anne Elliot. I had never even read Persuasion until just before the release of this movie. So it’s not like I was set on hating this movie from the start. My personal favorite of Jane Austen’s is Pride and Prejudice. I bring it up to make this point about adaptations: I find value in the 1995 P&P for it’s gold-standard accuracy. I love the dreamy Hollywood 2005 version for its nostalgic soundtrack and cinematic scenes. I appreciate silly spin-offs like Lost in Austen and Austenland. Because, at the heart of them, they are able to take my favorite story and re-tell it, in different ways, but it is still the same story I love told over and over. Unfortunately, this ‘adaptation’ of Persuasion attempts to rewrite the story itself rather than retelling it, making it unrecognizable for those who do love the original story of Persuasion.
The point of an adaptation is found in the name—it is meant translate, modify, and adapt the text. At their worst, adaptations can lack real understanding of the source material, which seems to be exactly what happened here with Carrie Cracknell’s ‘adaptation’ of Persuasion.
I definitely agree that it seems like no one on the team at any point read Persuasion. It’s like they read the wiki summary and then wrote a play inspired by that bad summary. The script itself doesn’t seem to take much from the text. It seems that the actual story of Persuasion merely inspired the script. Which is weird. Fans understand the need to modernize the dialogue of Austen’s works, but here it was taken so far that it completely changes the story. It’s not at all how it goes in the book, and that is why fans are so upset. So many liberties are taken to make a new story, that at this point, they should have just written a new story. It’s irritating. Like, if they wanted to do a new modern movie set in the Regency Era, why not just do that? Don’t ruin a favorite classic and then claim to be reinventing the period drama.
So let’s begin with how they ruined Anne Elliot. Anne’s emotional intensity is a huge driving force of her character. Austen writes of Anne’s “elegance of mind and sweetness of character,” sensibilities, and compassion. In the book, her feelings are super intense inwardly, but she is still classy and has manners. Controlled passion! But this Anne is just a crybaby! In contrast to the book, the movie shows her pining from the start, and that just didn’t seem like Anne to me. The movie made her a damsel in distress, and completely misses the nuances that make Anne endearing. Which becomes an issue later in the film when we see Louisa’s declaration that “she won’t hear any ill talk of Anne”. Because as far as the film goes, it doesn’t make sense that Louisa would defend Anne like that. The film did a terrible job of showing Anne’s merits, making her snarky and dislikeable instead of the compassionate Anne we love.
I am seriously displeased that Anne’s ‘thing’ is breaking the fourth wall. It takes away from her character. If revolutionary was what they were going for, I hate to break it to them, but the rupturing of the fourth wall has already been done (see Patricia Rozema’s charming take on Mansfield Park from 1999). And it’s pointless if there’s no purpose behind any of it. Though Cracknell comes with a hefty portfolio, her work on Persuasion comes off as a gimmick capitalizing on current trends. How exactly does the line, “it is said if you’re a five in London, you’re a 10 in Bath”, improve on Austen’s work or make it any more palatable to modern audiences? Or what about the comments on being “an empath” and focusing on “self-care”? These are all just marketing buzzwords.
These memes really highlight the language barrier, for me:
And whyyyyy did they have to make her an alcoholic? What is the point of that? It was supposed to be funny and plucky, but it’s just painful. I really loved the cinematography during the hangover scene, with the ASMR toast-scratching… and then it was shattered with the bad acting. They didn’t have to make her an alcoholic to make that a powerful scene, she could have just been hungover one day, and it would have hit even harder.
I can’t even talk about the octopus. Please don’t ask.
Sir Walter, Mary and Elizabeth were all well cast. Mary is my favorite kind of Jane Austen character, and thankfully she seems to be a fan-favorite. I love the complain-y blabbering ones, and the humor that makes Mary worked really well with the tone of the film. She is the silver lining in a dark raincloud of horror.
I also liked Wentworth, but it didn’t seem like he had much chemistry with Anne unfortunately, It’s unique though because I don’t usually see a romance that only has chemistry on one side. His acting is really good, but Anne is ruining the illusion for me. I think she would’ve made a pretty good Jane Austen, like if they remade Becoming Jane she probably would’ve been good in that role. I don’t think she did bad in this role–I’m just upset that they made her break that fourth wall and do all of that like Jim-from-the-office eyebrow work. I admit that I liked what they did with the cinematography and the set design and the costumes I think the only thing I didn’t really like was the script. But it is so bad that it makes everything else unforgiveable. I really loved Mary’s Musgrove‘s character, but I think they really disrespected Anne and Wentworth, specifically.
The cinematography and set design were the standout early-on in the film. With lavish and bold sets, this show really could have done so much more as a satire of wealth, and unfortunately, misses so many points. The director was still able to do some great things with the camera though—take a look at this shot of Lyme, for example. Here we see everyone walking along the sea-wall, but the last lady (Mary) skips off on her own, oblivious, as-always marching to the beat of her own drum, while everyone else keeps in formation. This is a great play on the Regency rules of society, and gives us a small glimpse at women who break away from that mold (if only for a moment).
They should have done more with Sir Elliot, IMO. To me, his fall from grace was a huge point. The tone of the film could have done a lot as a parody of privilege, but instead they focus on modernizing Anne’s character, which just butchers the story. The vanity of Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall is highlighted really spectacularly with grand shots like this one:
And I really liked that last line about “dont let anyone tell you how to live, or who to love. “(But even then she was more narrating, she wasn’t talking at us through the screen, so maybe that’s why I liked that little scene). I like how they redeem it and they come back to the sextant thing, that’s cute too. But nowhere near enough to redeem the film, for me. This is an adaptation I will not be able to watch over and over, sadly, this is going to bottom of my list.
It was 2013 and I was browsing old paperbacks in a local bookshop that sadly no longer exists. I remember the shop well, it was one of those cozy narrow stores that was crammed full of leaning stacks and overflowing shelves. I liked it because they had low prices on classics, and bought used books for store credit. So I shopped there a lot, always looking to add something to my collection that I didn’t already have. I had never seen or heard of this book before, but when I saw it and had to have it.
I honestly couldn’t place what drew me to Lost Horizon. Perhaps the stunning vintage paperback art style and the striking sprayed pages? Maybe it was the smell of old book that greeted me every time I flipped a page? Or simply that the short tale captured my imagination and took me on an adventure. At the time I was really into hiking and maybe I was drawn to the mountainous cover art, or maybe my wandering soul craved the isolated utopia I found within the book. I guess it was all of it, the experience as a whole.
Lost Horizon is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopianlamasery located high in the mountains of Tibet. Though I had heard of Shangri-La before, I never really thought about what it symbolized or where it came from. Until I found Lost Horizion.
Tarot cards have been used throughout the ages for gaming and fortune-telling, but their symbolism suggests their deeper purpose may be to gain insight into the human mind and enhance personal development. Some read fortunes to gain insight into the future, but I believe tarot provides much more insight into the reader. The cards provide us with excellent advice at any juncture and, if taken to heart, can help us to understand ourselves better and plan how to live better in the future.
“Tarot cards … can serve as an advisor and help in widening the users’ vision. Tarot cards are deemed as a map of life, or a signpost, to tell you how to lead a good and correct life.” –Royal Thai Tarot, Sungkom Horharin
I thought it would be fun to compare tarot cards to book covers, and I found some really great similarities! I tried to find titles that match in content and cover, and for some cards I found multiple books that would work. Leave a comment with the books you would choose for these cards!
The Fool represents a youth setting out on a path of discovery. Like the Fool, Alice strides towards a precipice and skips into the unknown. Alice begins her adventures when she follows the frantically delayed White Rabbit down a hole into the magical world of Wonderland, where she meets a variety of wonderful creatures. Throughout her fantastic journeys, Alice retains her reason, humor, and sense of justice. She has become one of the great characters of imaginative literature, but the story and the card offer some advice: look before you leap.
I – The Magician
Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling
I mean, obviously. Traditionally, The Magician is one who can demonstrate hands-on magic — as in healing, transformative rituals, alchemical transmutations, bringing the magical to every aspect of life. A modern Magician is any person who completes the circuit between heaven and Earth; one who seeks to reveal hidden knowledge and bring forth the divine light within themselves. With all of the drama that happens in the course of seven novels, The Harry Potter Saga is a perfect representation of the Magician’s confidence, action, and ability to change.
II – The High Priestess
Emma by Jane Austen
The High Priestess is a card of insight, wisdom, and integrity, all of the characteristics which Emma strives to embody. The open book in her lap is a symbol of learning while the pillars surrounding her stand for duality. The Empress herself is a wise counselor, much like Emma who seeks to guide with her matchmaking: people flock to her for guidance in making major decisions.
Marmee (or Margaret March) is the core of her family, managing the household by herself while her husband is away, helping war efforts, and teaching her daughters — by example — how to grow into smart, strong, and kind women. Even though Little Women rejects traditional feminine roles, Marmee is a perfect representation of The Empress, the maternal card of domestic comfort and security.
The epic Game of Thrones books bring together adventure and fantasy as we follow the fight to be the King of the Seven Kingdoms. The Kingdoms need a strong, logical ruler like the Emperor card depicts. But this story is like getting a reversed reading of this card, and instead of strong leadership we see complete chaos. The show suggests that by the end we will see a strong leader in Bran, but until Winds of Winter, who knows!
Astrology is one of my long-time hobbies: I have been studying it for years and have countless books, workbooks and notebooks on the topic. It is the study of the influence of the planets and stars on our lives. You probably know your sun sign if you like to read your daily horoscope, but natal charts can be much more in-depth. Anyway, I was watching more Jane Austen movies the other day and started wondering which sign some of my favorite characters might be. There is little written evidence of characters birthday months, so here is what I imagine based on personalities!
LYdia Bennet ♈ Aries
Sweet and flirty Lydia might not seem like a headstrong Aries upon first acquaintance, but do not be fooled by her childlike innocence. Though confident and eager, she can be reckless, impatient, and irresponsible. Aries is a fire sign—red-hot, impulsive, and ready to go. What her sisters see as carelessness appears to suitors as fearlessness, and her desire for independence gets her into trouble.
Elizabeth Bennet ♉Taurus
Earthy, practical and down-to-earth are perfect descriptors of Eliza Bennet. Although easy-going and respectful, the Taurus can be unbelievably stubborn and reluctant to compromise (as proved by her prejudice of Mr. Darcy). Like any Taurus she loves the beauty of nature but can be self-indulgent in reading and walking, sometimes to a fault. She is also incredibly determined, patient, and enduring—once she knows what she wants!
Emma Woodhouse ♊ Gemini
Gemini’s are witty, bright, and talkative, very much like the social butterfly Emma Woodhouse. Studious and clever, Emma is a great example of this airy sign. She is a thoughtful neighbor and is quick to help her friends. However, she can be gossipy and shallow. Thankfully, Mr. Knightly consistently keeps her in-check with his honesty.
The Great American Read is an eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). All of the books that made the list are truly great, but only one can be named The Great American Read.
The 1984 book explores the issues of womens rights, religion, and individual liberties. Atwood conceived the novel as ‘speculative fiction,’ (similar to Louis Lowry’s The Giver), works that imagine a future that could conceivably happen without any advances in technology from the present. In other words, she said, “Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.” Every aspect of the book was inspired by social and political events of the early 1980s, but remains poignant because we can imagine this happening today.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is a classic choice for The Great American Read because it is an archetypal representation of The American Dream: if you work hard enough, you can succeed. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his passionate obsession with a married Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
People should read The Help because it is real. Though it is a work of fiction, it is based on true events. The story is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. Kathryn was born in 1969 in Jackson and grew up in a household with a black housekeeper. The story was based on her experiences growing up and it was just adjusted to occur in the 1960s in the midst of the civil rights movement. A beautifully written but painful story steeped in American history. It tells the story of black household workers in the South in the early 1960s—domestic helpers who take great risks by sharing stories about what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes. Their tales not only reveal the great sense of empowerment that comes from sharing and having your voice heard, but also remind us of the greatness of the real women who do this work today under sometimes terrible conditions. It is a novel about empowered, heroic women taking a stand for human rights during the civil rights era. It was also adapted into a movie in 2011.