Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Jane Austen Inspired Film Festival: Unleashing Mr. Darcy

An Austen Inspired Film Festival

By Barbara Tiller Cole

Unleashing Mr. Darcy

I have missed the Austen community over the past year. I was ill for quite awhile and got away from my blog, but it is time to reinvigorate.  Over the next couple months I will be presenting an Austen Inspired Film Festival.
The first offering is from Hallmark Channel:  Unleashing Mr. Darcy. 
I was giddy to watch a modern Pride and Prejudice inspired film and had no preconceived notions of what this film would be.  I even convinced my Mr. Darcy to watch it with me (he hated it by the way). 
In the opening scenes of the film, English teacher, Miss Elizabeth Scott is bribed to give her lacrosse playing student a passing grade so he can stay on the team.  Instead Mr. Marcum, who proves to be the true villain of the story, makes sure that she is suspended from the school. 
Liz and her spaniel Bliss are on the dog show circuit and Donovan Darcy is the judge of their dog category.  Liz is very quick to judge Donovan and his supposed arrogance when he says of her dog ‘fine eyes, shame about the freckles’. 
Events transpire in which Liz becomes the handler for a friend’s dog in an upcoming dog show who just happens to live across the street from Donovan Darcy.  Sparks fly between the two.
I enjoyed this modern Jane Austen inspired movie.  While it was not a canon retell, it had enough of Pride and Prejudice within the telling that those that love fan fiction will enjoy seeing it.
I loved Donovan Darcy from the beginning, as he seemed to have less of a prideful presence than a typical canon Darcy.  However, Elizabeth Scott has even more prejudice and an almost arrogant determination to hate Donovan that I found a bit irritating.   For those of you who will want to see it, I won’t add any more spoilers. 
I can tell you, however, after years of reading so many good modern Pride and Prejudice variations I have read many that deserve a film in their honor. I would love to know the story of how this particular one was chosen.  It was nice and pleasant, but not what I would call exceptional. I will give the film 3.5 out of 5 stars. 
I will however, give a disclaimer. I have not read the book, nor even know about the book of the same title until I searched Google for pictures for this article.  Should Teri Wilson read this review and be interested in being a guest here at Darcyholic Diversions, I would welcome that.
If you have the Hallmark Channel keep a look out if you missed it.  I am sure they will be airing it again!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Edie Adams Shares A Letter To Jane Austen

Edie Adams Shares A Letter To Jane Austen

 (I am happy to welcome Edie to DarcyholicDiversions!  She will be giving away an eBook of 'The Houseguest' to one lucky commenter.)

A letter to Jane Austen

Dear Jane,

You don’t mind if I call you Jane, do you? Good. Feel free to call me Elizabeth. Or Liz if you prefer. Now, we need to talk.
Are you aware of the craze you incited when you wrote a certain character by the name of Mr. Darcy? Do you know how many women spend their free time dreaming of him, imagining meeting him, and reading about him? No? Well, I should tell you that it’s gotten a little out of hand.
Mr. Darcy has become the one romantic hero almost all women can agree on. He is the ideal other men are compared to and the fantasy no one can live up to. What were you thinking? Sure, he’s smart and cultured. Everybody loves a smart guy. But then you had to go and make him loyal and strong and steadfast. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also incredibly handsome and he’s tall. Did you know I’ve always had a thing for tall guys?
Add to all of that his fancy house in town and a gorgeous, magical, un-mortgaged estate in the country. Were you trying to drive everyone crazy? To taunt us with the perfect guy that will never really exist?
Just to show he’s not too perfect, you make him rude and insulting when we first meet him, Really?
but still loyal and brave. While this may seem like a flaw, it is actually an ingenious plot designed to show us just how great he is. Because as soon as the woman he loves points out his faults, he gets mad (proving he’s hot blooded – which just makes him more attractive) and then he gets reasonable. He learns from the past and from her and becomes worthy of her. Did you hear that, Jane? A man, who has everything going for him and women falling all over him, changes his behavior to make himself worthy of a woman. A woman who, by the way, is considered undeserving of him by society at large and who has rejected him vehemently. He has no guarantee he’ll ever even see her again. Really?
Then, this great catch turned all-around great guy, delivers the grandest of grand gestures and we go from serious like to all out love. What were you trying to accomplish here? Was there a ‘create the perfect man’ contest? (You win, by the way.) Were you playing out your own fantasy? Or was it all just a big cosmic accident and you had no idea how he’d catch on – and still be going strong 200 years later?
Listen, Jane, I don’t want to be rude, I’d like to think we’re friends of a sort, but you really ought to lighten up a bit on the ‘perfect man’ thing. (“There’s something pleasant about his mouth when he speaks.” Seriously? We all know what that’s code for.) You couldn’t make him shorter, or a little chubby, maybe with a bald spot and a missing tooth? Or maybe he could be terrified of spiders and snore like Daffy Duck. Something! Give me something to make him just a little less perfect and a little more resistible. I’m begging you!
I hope you’ll take this under advisement.

Elizabeth Adams

How Elizabeth Adams Found JAFF

I found JAFF completely by accident. It was late summer 2010, and I had a hair appointment where I knew I would be sitting in a chair with foil on my head for an hour. I needed something to read, I was at Target and I saw Sharon Lathan’s first book. I loved the original P&P (who doesn’t?) so I thought I’d give it a try.
I ended up not reading it that day, which turned out to be a good thing because when I finally did read it, I couldn’t stop blushing! I ordered two more online and the next thing I knew, I was scouring the local library for any Darcy-related books. I had never even heard of fan fiction before that, but once I found variations, I was hooked.

Would You Call It an Obsession?

I don’t know if I would go so far as to say “obsession”. He’s definitely my favorite romantic hero, and I do read more JAFF than anything else, but I do enjoy characters that aren’t Darcy. I’ve certainly never almost said the name ‘Darcy’ in an intimate moment and covered it up with the word ‘darling’.
So no, not an obsession. Just a healthy interest. That’s all. Definitely not obsessed.

About “The Houseguest”

The Houseguest is a P&P variation with a completely different plotline. Georgiana comes to visit Darcy at Netherfield for a week and becomes friends with Elizabeth Bennet. They correspond after she goes back to London and Miss Darcy invites Elizabeth to come for a visit while Darcy is away. He comes back unexpectedly and ends up being trapped under the same roof with Elizabeth for three weeks.
I had a ridiculously good time writing it and torturing poor Darcy. It began in autumn of 2010. I had yet to find any JAFF sites, but I had read several published JAFF books, both traditionally and self-published, and while I really enjoyed most of them, I found myself wishing another option was explored or something happened this or that way. My husband kept saying I should write my own and I had always been a decent writer, so I decided to give it a shot.
The characters took on lives of their own and it was out of my control before I knew what was happening. I originally intended the second half to be quite different from what it is, but the characters just wouldn’t cooperate.

The Houseguest” Excerpt

This is from Chapter 7. Elizabeth and Darcy are in the library and she is telling him a story from her childhood. This is the tail end of that story.

“…I told them we would race to the top. If I got to the doll first, they could not take any more of our toys and must behave like gentlemen the rest of their trip. If they got to the top first, we couldn’t tell their mother about any of this. We shook on the deal and they decided horrid Thomas would be the one to race me, since he was taller and had longer limbs.

“I tied my skirts up around my waist and Jane counted us down. When she said go, we both began to climb furiously, but I knew the way better.” She couldn’t hide the air of pride she felt in her accomplishment. “I had climbed that tree hundreds of times and knew exactly where to step. I had made it to the top and was reaching for the doll long before Thomas. He was so angry with me, he reached out to grab the doll from my arms, but I hit him with my elbow.”

She released a sigh.

“Unfortunately, he lost his balance and fell all the way to the ground. His arm was twisted terribly behind his back and he was screaming in pain, and cursing me with words I had never heard. Michael ran for Mr. Hill and the doctor came and declared he had a broken arm.

“They couldn’t set it until our parents returned several hours later, so he was given laudanum and laid in the kitchen crying and writhing in pain. Eventually all was set right, but he ended up having to stay with us another six weeks until the doctor declared he was ready to travel.”

She slumped back into the chair and exhaled loudly. “It was horrible! My mother went on and on about how unladylike my behavior was and said that if I wasn’t so wild, none of this would have happened. As my punishment, whether for climbing or pushing, I don’t know, she made me act as Thomas’s nurse while he stayed with us. I had to bring him tea and give him his medicine. Mother said it would teach me how to take care of a man, which was what I should be doing, instead of keeping my nose in books all day.” She rolled her eyes.

“And did you?”

“Did I what?”

“Learn to take care of a man?” he asked with a smirk and a glint in his eye.

“I hardly think a twelve-year-old boy can be called a man, Mr. Darcy,” she replied with an impish smile.

He let out a deep, rumbling laugh. “No, he cannot, Miss Bennet. He certainly cannot.”

You can see outtakes for The Houseguest and more at 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cassandra Grafton: In Vain I Have Struggled

Cassandra Grafton: In Vain I Have Struggled
Cassandra's title is very appropo to my absence from this blog for too long of a period of time.  Surgery, a job loss, a job search and a new job that has been a bit like jumping on the Bullet Train even though it did not stop for me has keep me absent from Jane Austen Inspired literature for entirely too long.  I am VERY grateful to be back and welcome the very very very patient Cassandra Graton to Darcyholic Diversions today.  Cassandra is offer a set of all 3 volumes of A Fair Prospect, ebook or paperback, open internationally to a lucky commenter!  So don't forget to take the time to comment below her post!  Thanks for all of your notes, calls and emails!  Barbara

Barbara, thank you so much for allowing me to come along and do a post on your website. It is much appreciated. In preparation for my visit, I had a very enjoyable time thinking about Mr Darcy (who wouldn’t?!) and how he has impacted on my life, and I thought I would share some of that with your readers who are, after all, the experts on the matter!
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
I can still remember hearing those words read aloud in a classroom in Shropshire back in the 1970s. It was the moment when I first sat up and took proper notice of Fitzwilliam Darcy, for I think I was almost as shocked as Elizabeth Bennet when I realised he was proposing!
For Jane Austen – and this was my first venture into reading any of her works – had mislead me as surely as she had her heroine into believing Mr Darcy to be a proud and disagreeable man, his behaviour as unlike a suitor as I could ever imagine (this from the lofty experience of fifteen years of age!)
Back in the classroom, the story continued (we each in turn had to read a few pages aloud before we would stop for some teacher-led discussion on what had just transpired), and how thankful was I that it was not my turn during that challenging scene! I listened enraptured as my eyes devoured the corresponding words in the book on my desk, completely bewitched.
I spent the remainder of that day’s classes with my attention in splinters, and as soon as I got home I raced upstairs, threw myself on my bed and continued to read, completing the rest of the story without a pause.  Afterwards, I lay on my bed, the book grasped in my hand in probably a greater state of shock than Lizzy may have felt after reading Darcy’s letter, except I knew one thing that she did not at that moment: I was in love with Mr Darcy.
At the time of my discovery, the only visual interpretation was the 1940 MGM production starring Laurence Olivier as the hero.  I happened across it by chance one Sunday afternoon many years ago, and once I had recovered from the sight of the crinoline-skirted Bennet sisters, I found myself drawn in by the actor’s portrayal. Was it a faithful retelling? It is so long since I saw it, I truly cannot remember – the only thing I do recall with clarity is Mr Darcy himself.
Imagine, therefore, my delight in 1980 when the BBC began to air a new adaptation of Pride & Prejudice! The lead actors were unknown to me – David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie – but the production, despite the stiffness that characterised the studio-based filming in those days, was charming and a pretty faithful adaptation.  I enjoyed it immensely, but I wasn’t overly drawn to Rintoul in the role. He portrayed the stiff and correct Darcy very well, and when he bumped into Elizabeth at Pemberley he was adorable, but somehow he did not have the ability to make me swoon. However, it was a long way from the 1940 film, and I happily purchased the boxed video set and re-watched it over and over.
There was a long gap between productions then; fifteen long years before the BBC delivered what turned out to be the definitive adaptation.
Who will ever forget the first moment they watched the 1995 series of Pride & Prejudice?  I can still perfectly recall the anticipation every Sunday evening as each episode aired, and what a delight it was from the moment the opening credits began. The earlier 1980 production faded from my mind, obliterated by a tidal wave as a half-dressed Mr Darcy plunged into Pemberley’s lake! It ran from the September through to the October of that year, which dovetailed perfectly with the seasons for the book’s opening and closing scenes, and has been enthralling viewers ever since.
It was ten years before another Darcy came along to tug at my heartstrings – and, oh my, did he tug! The 2005 film has its critics, for a variety of reasons. However, I still absolutely love that film, not only for the story, but also the stunning cinematography, beautiful score and the sheer romance of it all.  (It was the official forum for this film that led me to discover Jane Austen on the Internet, through which I have met some wonderful people, many of whom are now personal friends, and this led me to Jane Austen inspired fan fiction and ultimately to writing my first book.)
As a child I was introverted by nature and shy around those I did not know well. Even in adulthood, I often lack the confidence to do anything ‘different’ being uncomfortable doing anything that makes me feel out of my comfort zone – I even hate just the simple act of having my photo taken, especially in front of other people. Therefore, when reflecting on how Mr Darcy had impacted my life, I began to realise that I had, in recent years, done some things that I would never have dreamed I would do back in that classroom in 1978, and I thought I would share three of them with you.
1.  I never in my life saw anything more elegant than their dresses
In 2008, one very dear, and talented, friend made some beautiful Regency dresses for a group of us, and when
we all got together for a few days of Darcy-led indulgence, the time came for everyone to put on their new attire and have photos taken. Thanks to another dear friend making me a rather effective Cosmopolitan, I buried my nerves over this ‘dressing up’ and then posing for photos pretty well, aided by the knowledge I was amongst people I loved and trusted, all of whom were also wearing Regency clothing!

2. Mr Darcy is all politeness
I have never been someone who would even think about going to a Stage Door and speaking to someone famous, no matter how much I admired them.  However, Mr Darcy, as we all know, is a powerful attraction, and in February 2010 I happened to be in Bath celebrating my birthday with my husband when Matthew Macfadyen was on stage at the Theatre Royal in Private Lives. I did manage to pluck up the courage to speak to him, and he signed a drawing of him as Darcy, done by a friend, for me. Furthermore, he responded to a letter I left him at the theatre by signing a picture I had enclosed (drawn by another talented friend), representing we ladies in our Regency dresses.
3.  But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not
If you saw the 2005 film of Pride & Prejudice you will recall that, instead of looking at a portrait of Mr Darcy when she tours Pemberley, Elizabeth actually comes face to face with a marble bust of him in the sculpture gallery (filmed at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire).  For a few years after the film’s release, the Estate kept the bust on display, initially in the sculpture gallery itself, then later as part of various film location exhibitions. When the house opened for the 2010 season, however, it was discovered that the bust had been removed, was at that time stored in one of Chatsworth’s many basements and was unlikely to see the light of day again unless, to quote a member of staff when questioned, “there is enough demand for it”.
What is a Darcyholic to do? Well, for the love of my many friends who had yet to travel to England and have the chance to see this piece of art (yes, I know it’s just a film prop, but this is Mr Darcy!), I leapt – figuratively speaking – into action and set up an online petition to have it reinstated (something else I have never done before, or since). I wrote a long letter to the Chatsworth Estate asking them to reconsider along with the petition, which had gathered 300 signatures from around the world within a week. Radio silence greeted this, but about a month later, when I was least expecting it, a phone call came from Chatsworth. They wanted to reassure me that they had taken the letter and the petition seriously and the delay was merely over making a decision on where to place the bust. It now sits proudly in the Orangery, the gift shop that is adjacent to the sculpture gallery and, several years on, I am delighted to say that it is still there (I know because I check every time the house opens for the new season!)
Pride & Prejudice continues to draw me in. Whenever I am in a second-hand bookshop (which is often!), I seek out and purchase old copies of the book. I even have one that was released to coincide with that first film with Laurence Olivier in!
At home, I still have the old exam paper with the questions on Pride & Prejudice hidden away in a box in the loft, along with my class books containing all my essays and notes. Sometimes, if I am up there looking for something, I will drift towards that dimly-lit corner of the attic and take them out, dusting off the papers and book covers and remembering that first time – the moment when I fell in love with Mr Darcy.
The Regency dresses were all made by a good friend who offers beautifully made items for sale at Pemberley Dreams on Etsy.
Cassandra’s story, A Fair Prospect, a re-telling of Pride & Prejudice, is told across three volumes. Volume I (Disappointed Hopes), Volume II (Darcy’s Dilemma) and Volume III (Desperate Measures) are all available now at the usual online bookstores in paperback and in all eBook formats in the Kindle store or at