Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Pairing up some Austen inspired media treats for Valentine's Day

With Valentine's Day not too far off, the rush to get gifts can be hectic and in some cases, not always applicable to those who can't enjoy the traditional candy and flowers standard.

To that end, I say, why not do a book and a movie instead? Both are gifts that keep on giving and usually in good supply this time of year. Whether you're thinking of a special someone or just looking to treat yourself, pairing up a nice novel with a fun film can be great shopping.

Since Jane Austen tends to be extra popular for this holiday, I have matched up a trio of Austen inspired books and movies to provide a nice example of where your Valentine's present picks can lead to.

 First up is Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible, her modern day take on Pride & Prejudice, set in Cincinnati,Ohio with a Lizzy Bennet that's in her early forties, a Bingley who was once the lead on a reality dating show and Mr. Darcy as a top surgeon whose personality appears to be as cold as his scalpel.

I happen to be rereading this book at the moment(just had to buy myself a paperback copy after enjoying the library loan hardcover) and it is fast paced,witty and rather realistically romantic.

My match for Eligible would be the film adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club, which may sound strange yet please do hear me out on this choice.

Both books are fine plays on the Jane Austen mystique and do share a lot in common. Each one has heroines who are ladies of a mature age dealing with real world as well as emotional issues, with leading men that may or may not be good for them at first. Also, The Jane Austen Book Club has it's own version of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, in the form of stubborn dog breeder Jocelyn and sweet natured science fiction fan Grigg and unless we get a movie version of Eligible, will make for very fine stand-ins in this regard:

Next up is The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn, in which a pair of unlikely time travelers journey to the Regency period in order to make the acquaintance of the legendary writer herself.

Their mission goal is to find those lost letters of Jane's(before her sister Cassandra burns them after her sibling's demise),along with the completed manuscript of The Watsons and bring them back to the future.

However, for Rachel and Liam(posing as brother and sister), things become more complicated than either of them expected. On top of that, romance pops up in a most inconvenient manner for themselves and their mission.

The best movie match-up for this story is the British miniseries Lost In Austen, where modern day Londoner Amanda Price finds herself literally transported to the bookish realm of P&P.

Reluctantly standing in for Lizzy Bennet, Amanda does her best to keep the central story line on track yet plot points do start to go off course in spite of her efforts. Yes, romance with Darcy does happen but that's not the only love affair that takes a very different direction from what was written:

For our last hook-up, we begin with The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay. Two good friends, Mary and Isabel, decide to take a well earned break from their lives by visiting a Jane Austen themed English estate in the city of Bath.

While their trip proves to be fun, Mary becomes concerned when Isabel seems to be blurring the line between play acting and reality. To add more confusion to the mix, Mary's boss Nathan stops in to offer his assistance both personally and professionally to the situation.

Such a story brings to mind Austenland(based on the Shannon Hale novel) and while the movie is a bit more adult natured than Reay's book is, both do deal with the notion that it is possible to enjoy too much of a good thing and that includes Jane Austen:

If you do go the Austen route this Valentine's Day, I wish you much joy and if your preference is for original recipe than a remix version, that's a grand book and movie combo in and of itself. Romance and Jane Austen do go hand in hand, especially for those willing to take a chance there:

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