Carrie has four daughters and runs Write On! Workshops--a summer writing camp for children.

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Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice

In honor of Pride and Prejudice’s 200th birthday, I thought I would contribute to Jane Austen fandom with a post.

As a mother to four daughters, I recognize the truth behind the famed first line to Pride and Prejudice that I somehow know as well as I should know certain scriptures.

And I quote (from memory):  “It is truth, universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Classic stuff.

My husband, who is a very good sport about things like this, has a hard time with Pride and Prejudice.  I can almost imagine him spouting like Mr. Bennett, “Would he have sprained his ankle in the first dance!” (also from memory.) But he holds his tongue and sometimes falls asleep next to me while I watch the Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy version at least once or twice a year. Sometimes you just need a good dose of P and P and nothing else will do.

I also like the 2005  Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen. My husband sticks through a little more of this version with me because we are both Matthew Macfadyen fans from the time we spent watching him as Tom Quinn in our favorite British spy TV series MI-5. (I can be a good sport too.)

My daughters are growing Pride and Prejudice fans and were excited when I suggested we try to see Austenland at the Sundance Film Festival last week. It is a film adaptation of Shannon Hale’s novel about an obsessed Jane Austen fan who spends a her life savings for a week at an English resort catering to her Pride and Prejudice craze. The film was produced by Stephanie Meyer, stars Keri Russell, and has been getting rave reviews.

Unfortunately, the movie was sold out. Apparently,to see a Sundance movie, you need to have a pass or be in line at least two hours before the movie starts.  Darn it.  After driving around Park City looking for Daniel Radcliffe (or any other star) we went home completely disappointed–just like Jane when she came back from London.

But also like Jane, we have another chance.Sony bought the rights to Austenland and it should be opening in theaters nationwide.  My husband is going to be thrilled.

Another favorite in the Jane Austen cannon is Emma. I love the Gwyenth Paltrow movie version from 1996, but really fell in love with a hilarious PBS adapation from 2010 starring Ramola Garai. I know–who is that? She is a darling Emma and writing about this makes me wonder why I don’t own this movie.

If you are reading this post, mostly likely you are a Downton Abbey devotee too. I have recently heard (like gossip at a country ball) that Dan Stevens, ala Matthew Crawley, starred as Edward Ferras in another great BBC version of Sense and Sensibility. If only it were Net-Flixable, I would do more research right now and let you know how it is.

To learn more about the real life of Jane Austen, there is Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway.  To be honest, though, this story is not my favorite.  While Jane Austen’s novels are a collection of happy endings, her real life wasn’t. Even though the movie is highly fictionalized, one part of the story is true: she never found her Mr. Darcy or her Mr. Ferras and died a single woman.

Well, actually, she died a single woman of fortune, surrounded by novels that would live hundreds of years beyond her lifetime.  Perhaps not so completely sad, right?

In a time when women had little opportunity for careers and success outside of marriage, maybe Jane Austen chose not to marry and became the antithesis of all the strong–but still trapped– heroines in her novels.  Hmmm.  This thought makes Jane herself worthy of admiration.  I can’t help but stay a Mrs. Bennett and hope for ideal matches for my daughters, but maybe they can be both like the author and her heroines–finding great love in their own pursuits AND great love in marriage.  Yes?

To read more cool things about Jane and celebrate 200 years of  Pride and Prejudice, check out this Sunday’s Parade Magazine.

More on Today’s Mama:

January Movie Suggestions

Mother Daughter Bookclub

Downton Abbey Cast

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