Jane Austen Movie Night

I’m planning what must be one of the most fun “Dining for Dollars” church-fundraisers ever—a Jane Austen movie night, with period foods.

I love working out all the details for events like this. I’m working on a date and figuring out whether it will be best held at my home, where I can use my own kitchen but have a basement decorated in movie posters, or at the church hall, where I’d have to use a gas stove (I’m more used to electric) but which is also more simply decorated, so I could create a little more period ambience.

I plan to poll the guests to figure out which movies they’d like best: whether old favorites or ones they haven’t seen already. We may end up doing a “Pick 2” of the regular length movies. At another movie night, friends and I watched the 2007 Northanger Abbey, with JJ Feild and Felicity Jones, followed by the 1995 Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. That worked well, since both movies are less than two hours, also because of the contrast of a very youthful couple and an older couple’s second chance at love.

We might also do a mini-marathon, like the 2008 Sense and Sensibility, with Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield as the sisters. I doubt this crowd will be up for a 1995 Pride & Prejudice (Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle) marathon, but I would be down for it.

I thought about wearing my Regency gown, but I’ve decided against it.  I don’t want guests to feel they have to come in costume. I’d also rather cook in clothes I don’t mind messing up, since I don’t have the requisite army of servants in the kitchen.

I don’t have enough fine china for this size of crowd and can’t afford to go all out on other props, so I may go with a somewhat kitschy-Regency vibe. These pretty plastic plates might be a good option. I’ve found plates like this can often be washed and reused, so I can be environmentally conscious and not blow the budget.

The most fun part may be figuring out the menu. I’ve spent some time with my Jane Austen Cookbook and also online at the Jane Austen Centre’s recipe page and similar places.

Although I’ve made some period desserts, this will be my first attempt at savory dishes. I’ve found several recipes for “white soup”, which is supposed to be a standard for balls. I’m excited to have found this recipe for lobster patties from Anna Campbell, in an interview by Catherine Hein.

As for desserts, I’m thinking perhaps a proper trifle, made with syllabub and Naples biscuits (recipes from The Jane Austen Cookbook). I’m also thinking about the rout drop cakes from the same book. And then there’s this adorable hedgehog-shaped cake, adapted from a recipe by Hannah Glasse. So cute!

For drinks, I’m thinking of serving lemonade, burgundy, claret, and hock. Should I learn how to make negus, ratafia, or orgeat as well? I’m also intrigued by this recipe for Regent’s Punch which includes green tea and champagne. It sounds like something to try.

What do you think? What movies, food and drink would you have at your dream Jane Austen-themed party? Have you have hosted one, and if so, do you have any suggestions for mine?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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4 Responses to Jane Austen Movie Night

  1. Ooooh, that sounds as if it’s going to be so much fun, Elena!

    I love the — I almost said “new” version of Northanger Abbey, but gosh, that’s already 10 years old, too?!?!? GAH! Anyway, the version with JJ Field and Felicity Jones, who is so cute as the naive heroine. But my dream Jane Austen party would definitely involve a marathon of the 1995 P&P! 🙂

    • Elena Greene says:

      That NA doesn’t seem that old to me either! Such a delightful movie, and so much better than the earlier version I’ve seen. It may not be this time around, but that 1995 P&P marathon probably will probably happen here at some point. What wine goes best with wet-shirted Colin Firth?

  2. Wow, Elena, that sounds like such a fun event!! But what a lot of work on your part. I’m glad you love to cook –as a “non-cook” I am so impressed with your ambitions!! I love those “Regency” style paper plates and would totally go with those just on the looks alone, despite environmental concerns. I think you’re wise to forego the costume when your guests won’t also be doing that. As for choosing menu or movies, I’m not much help there! I love most of the JA movies –but if length becomes a factor, maybe consider moving outside of her own stories and including something like “Becoming Jane”, or even some other “period” movie for contrast? I know, broadening the choice isn’t very helpful either, LOL!!

    • Elena Greene says:

      Thanks for the comment, Gail! I’m really delighted by how many people signed up to attend. I’m glad I found a fun way to help the church budget (we literally just replaced the roof of our sanctuary). Thanks for the additional suggestions! I’m going to check with the attendees to see what they’d most enjoy. It may be a factor of which movies they haven’t already seen, also timing. It may end up being dinner with the main movie, then dessert followed by an optional second movie for those who want to stay.

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