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Breaking news! According to the Irish edition of The Sunday Times, the upcoming Northanger Abbey television adaptation (scripted by Andrew Davies, the screenwriter of the beloved Firth/Ehle Pride and Prejudice) will be filmed entirely in Ireland. Apparently, Ireland gives much better tax breaks for television productions than Britain does, which led to the decision. So next year, when Northanger Abbey airs on ITV, all the backgrounds and buildings and assembly rooms will be Irish.

I must admit, this decision disturbs me greatly!

I do adore Bath, but that’s not the only reason I’m upset that the new Northanger Abbey will not be filmed at all there. It’s that I cannot imagine the story of naive Catherine Morland, sprightly Isabella Thorpe, boorish John Thorpe, satirical Mr. Tilney, and all the rest taking place anywhere else! (I refer, of course, to the first [and better] half of the novel. The last bit can be filmed anywhere at all, for all I’m concerned.)

Jane Austen gives our heroine the true Bath experience! She attends the Pump Room, the Upper Rooms (pictured here), the Lower Rooms, she shops on Milsom Street, she stays on Pulteney Street, she “breathes the fresh air of better company” up at the Royal Crescent. The first half of the book is truly about Bath. And Bath is immediately recognizable. How can they possibly film it anywhere else?

So, in honor of Bath, so cruelly slighted, I am sharing with you some of the photos I took of Bath during my recent trip there. In fact, I have so many pictures I want to share, that I’ve put them in two different blog posts. (Blogger gets touchy about a post with too many pictures!)

My question for today: what do you think of the decision to film Northanger Abbey entirely in Ireland? Do you think Ireland’s Georgian buildings can pass for Bath with some clever photography? Do you think it doesn’t much matter where the story is set? Do you think the previous Northanger Abbey adaptation was so dreadful that anything will be an improvement?

All opinions welcome!

MY LADY GAMESTER — Booksellers’ Best Finalist for Best Regency of 2005!

Here are some more of my photos of Bath taken during my recent trip. I love just wandering around Bath, looking at everything, and taking pictures.

Of course, as Jane Austen pointed out, it does rain a lot in Bath. (Then again, it rains a lot everywhere in England. I have always thought it a bit odd that Austen seemed to believe it rained more in Bath than anywhere else. I suppose her general unhappiness in Bath may have something to do with it. Or perhaps it just happened to rain more when she was there? Or perhaps when she was indoors at Bath, she could hear the rain on the pavements much more than she could hear the rain in the countryside.)

As I was going to say, I just walk around Bath, wait for a break in the rain if it’s rainy, and wait for a break in the cars. Then I wait longer, hoping for a break in both at the same time. Or for blue sky. But in spite of all these difficulties, I’ve gotten a lot of lovely Bath pictures over the years! Here’s a “chair” — carriages weren’t very suitable for Bath’s hilly roads, so you would take a chair (carried by chairmen) up and down the hills, to the Baths, to the Pump Room, to the Assembly Rooms, etc. The fares were set and published, so the chairmen couldn’t cheat you!

Here we have the interior of the Pump Room. Just lovely. Here Catherine Morland strolled arm in arm with Isabella Thorpe. And of course, to be truly healthy, one would drink the mineral water here. (Nowadays one can have a cream tea instead. Much less healthful, I fear, but much more enjoyable.)

Here’s the outside of the Pump Room — the area here was known as the Pump Room Yard. It’s bordered by the Abbey Church (quite lovely, and much restored since the Regency, when it wasn’t nearly as nice as it is now) and right in the middle of everything — now nearly as much as it was two hundred years ago — at least for visitors to Bath!

And how could I forget a picture of Pulteney Bridge, surely one of the prettiest sights in Bath? A bird happened to fly through the picture as I was taking it — you may be able to make him out if you look closely.

Ah, Bath. What would Mr. Tilney ever do without you? You supply him such a variety of people to make witty remarks about. And you supply Mrs. Allen with a wonderful choice of fabrics. And Catherine Morland with more books than she could imagine.

Ah, Bath!


Posted in Jane Austen, Research | Tagged , | 1 Reply

As some of you know, I’ve never thought that Marianne Dashwood of “Sense and Sensibility” deserved Colonel Brandon, or was a good match for him. Now, after years of complaining, I’m finally going to do something about it! (With your help, of course.)

We are going to find a new woman for Colonel Brandon! Who gets your vote?

How about Anne Elliot? She’s smart, she’s kind, and she isn’t a teenager. She doesn’t fall in love with cads. On the other hand, both she and Brandon are a bit brooding. Are they too much alike? Would their marriage be a depression made in heaven?

Jane Bennet is much more mature than Marianne, but just as blonde and pretty. And she doesn’t fall in love with cads either. She might not be up to his intellectual weight, though. Would Brandon soon tire of Jane’s sweet nothings? (Pretty much anything she says is a sweet nothing, after all.)

Elizabeth Bennet is smart, and she and Brandon could have invigorating discussions. Or is she too sharp for him? Does he fall in love with teenagers because he’s secretly insecure? Elizabeth might not have the flattering tongue he needs… Or is he confident in himself, and man enough for our Lizzy?

The Fanny Dashwood in the dreadful movie of “Mansfield Park” (which doesn’t deserve to be called a Jane Austen movie, but that rant’s for another time) definitely deserved a better fellow than Edmund! He’s a wimp, and falls in love with female cads! But is this Fanny too contaminated by Patricia Rozema’s movie to truly satisfy Brandon? How about the Fanny of Austen’s book? Would Brandon bring her out of her shell? She’s very young, but perhaps she needs a better defender than indecisive Edmund! And we know Brandon likes teenagers… 🙂 Then again, wouldn’t he be a much better grandfather to Jane Austen’s Fanny?

How about Jane Fairfax? Surely she can do better than that semi-cad, Frank Churchill! She’s quiet, just like Brandon — but is that a good thing or a bad thing? Would they both just sit around all day like lumps? Is she too perfect for him? Surely any woman who’s too perfect for Mr. Knightley would be too perfect for our Colonel Brandon! After all, anyone who falls for Marianne is clearly not looking for a flawless woman. (It could be argued he’s not looking for a woman at all, but that’s another rant for another time.)

Some of you seem to think that Duck-face Miss Bingley can be saved. Who better to do it than Colonel Brandon! Would true love transform her shallow desperation into warm maturity? Or would he end up a grump behind his newspaper like Hugh Laurie’s character?

Or, of course, you may choose to match Brandon up with Marianne if you wish, or with someone not listed here!

Who do you think Colonel Brandon should marry?

MY LADY GAMESTER — Holt Medallion Finalist!

Last week we tried to marry off poor Colonel Brandon, who clearly deserves a good wife. (If you missed that discussion, you can still take part if you click here.)

This week — Elinor Dashwood!

(And for those of you who are wondering, yes — I do have a little problem with Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.”) 🙂

So. Elinor Dashwood. Who should she marry? Who will make her truly happy? YOU decide!

How about Colonel Brandon? He’s intelligent, sensitive, and well bred. Plus, he has more money than Edward! Were Elinor and Brandon fated to fall in love? Was Jane Austen blind to their true destinies? (I will admit, the first time I ever read S&S, I thought Elinor and Colonel Brandon would get together. I felt they had a real connection! They certainly seemed to have better conversations than Elinor and Edward, or Marianne and anybody! Was Jane Austen mistaken? Or did she perhaps know the truth, but have to hide it in clues due to some secret cabal that would murder anyone who — um, okay, wrong book.)

Does Elinor Dashwood secretly have a thing for that rascal Willoughby? The cad is certainly more manly than the easily-manipulated Edward. (And Emma Thompson fell for Greg Wise, which must mean something!) But would he just break her heart? And is he too young, too immature for her anyway? Or would she steady him, while he brought some spontaneity into her life? (Am I sounding like Oprah yet?)

As long as we’re giving her young cads, how about the youngest and newest on the block? Blond Wickham here is certainly nice to look at. Would Elinor have a great time reforming him? Of course, he’s very very young. But Elinor’s only nineteen herself, right?

While we’re on the subject of blonds, how about Sharpe? (I know, I know, bizarre choice. I just like the picture. Nice picture. Yummy Sharpe. Umm….what was I saying?) If Elinor could reform Willoughby, could she reform Sharpe? He’s a different sort of womanizer…less calculated, more impulsive. Would the class thing keep them apart? (Okay, yes, he’s a ridiculous suggestion, but he looks so nice in his uniform!)

How would Elinor and Captain Wentworth do together? She’s good, I suspect, at supporting male egos — and he’s got one that needs to be supported. He’s better off than Edward (but then, who isn’t???), and has friendlier relatives. So if Anne Elliot weren’t around, would Wentworth be Elinor’s true love, and vice versa?

Or how about Mr. Darcy? Sure, he’s perfect for Elizabeth Bennet, but if she didn’t have him, how would he do for Elinor Dashwood? Would her stodginess and his stodginess breed until they were dull and insufferable? Or would her gentle ways and his good breeding create a peaceful, beautiful home? (And don’t forget that money! I do want to give Elinor a lot of money. She deserves it.)

Wait, I already did Mr. Darcy, right? Well, I know some of you like Colin Firth (and some of you really like Colin Firth) and some of you like Matthew McFadyen (and some of you really like Matthew McFadyen) so I figured I’d put both pictures here to keep the fighting down to a minimum!

So, would anyone else do better for Elinor? Mr. Tilney? (Too flippant?) Edmund Bertram? (Too serious?) Edward Ferrars? (Too wimpy? Too poor?) Mr. Knightley?

Mr. Knightley! Oh, I can’t pass up an excuse to put Mr. Knightley’s picture up here. My Jeremy is so handsome! Besides, Mr. Knightley may be the perfect match for Elinor. Mature, well-bred, and very very rich. 🙂

So — who gets your vote? Who do you think Elinor Dashwood should marry?

MY LADY GAMESTER — Holt Medallion Finalist!

How much does historical accuracy matter to you?

I ranted a bit on the subject yesterday…but now I’m calmer, and I’d like to know what everyone else thinks.

At the Austen movie exhibition at the Museum of Costume in Bath, they argued about the EMMA costume shown here, “Gwyneth Paltrow’s green and white dress, with its large, chocolate bow on the bodice, has none of the subtlety of the fabrics that other designers have used… In a way, the pattern looks more like a textile design from the 1970’s… This is just what Hollywood requires: simple dresses, simple messages.” So: does this dress bother you? Is it too anachronistic, or do you like the way it captures Emma’s “princess” role in her community? How accurate do you think fabric and cut need to be? Is having an accurate outline enough?

Or how about hair, and bonnets? Does it bother you that Emma goes outside throughout the movie with the hairstyle shown above, and no hat or bonnet? Or how about Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet, who skips a bonnet, and also has her hair down? Is that too ahistorical for you?

How about Greer Garson, in the 1940 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE movie? It is commonly said that in this film, they gave the men Regency styles, and the women the styles of a decade or two later….but doesn’t this dress also look very 20th century? Does it bother you that the women aren’t wearing dresses that are remotely Regency? And does Garson’s non-period hair bother you?

Here we have two shots of Embeth Davidtz playing Mary Crawford in the recent movie of MANSFIELD PARK. This, in my opinion, is the most anachronistic dress of all, but it does convey Mary Crawford’s slinkiness, and sophistication. Does this dress drive you bats? (I wish I could also find a photo of Miss Bingley’s sleeveless dress — I don’t believe one exists on the internet! But here’s her other dress, which is less wrong, but still odd.)

How about accuracy in books? When Heyer talks about the Little Season during the Regency, though it didn’t yet exist, does that annoy you? When another author’s hero runs away at eighteen and purchases a commission in the navy, do you shout at the book? When Sir William is also Sir Barton, and Lord Brighton is also Lord George, do you throw the book against the wall? Or are all of these annoyances minor to you (if indeed you notice them at all)?

What kind of inaccuracies bother you most? Easily checked facts, such as title, distances between towns, how fast a carriage could go? Or the mindset of the times? Or the rules of society?

Please share!

Cara King,
MY LADY GAMESTER — Signet Regency, out now!!!

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