Monday, 26 May 2014

Book Review~ Just Jane by Nancy Moser

This cover is gorgeous...sadly I was reading it on the Kindle, not an actual paperback, so it was far less aesthetically pleasing. Oh well.

My mum discovered a Kindle copy of this delightful novel about Jane Austen's life. It's written in the present tense, from Jane's point of view, which makes the story flow nicely and adds a bit of suspense and emotion rather than just a biography. (I've read a biography of Jane by David Cecil. Read it. It's amazing.)
Something wonderful about this book was that it was written by a Christian author, Nancy Moser, and she did justice to Jane's faith, which has always inspired me. I've always loved Jane Austen, but this book has made her much more real. I see so much of myself in her. It's scary.
Anyway, so the book begins when Jane is quite young, in the middle of her fleeting romance with Tom Lefroy. She has also just started writing Pride and Prejudice, or First Impressions, as it was then called.
There are detailed descriptions of the characters of Cassandra Austen, Jane's older sister, Mr. and Mrs. Austen and many of their numerous relations. There were a few deviations from fact, some things added and some left out, but it doesn't make the book less enjoyable. Jane's thoughts are constantly before the reader, and you can see the changes in herself as she goes through times of doubt and difficulty. She finds it hard to fit in a society all about rank and money, and draws many of her characters from real life. When Cassandra's fiance dies and Tom Lefroy goes off to Ireland, Jane contrasts her own grief to Cassandra's.
Two sisters, very different... and Sense and Sensibility is born! I don't know if Jane Austen did in actual fact use herself and Cassandra as a model for Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, but it's nice to think she did.
I found that Mrs. Austen's character was pretty similar to Mrs. Dashwood's; however, she went through a supposed illness, similar to Mrs. Bennet. Most of Jane's brothers, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces and nephews' stories are also told.
Another transition was the move to Bath, which Jane found very constricting to her talent. Her mother and aunt try to get her married off, but she decides she will not marry. I loved that the author introduced the mysterious seaside gentleman that historians have puzzled over who fell in love with Jane, but died shortly after meeting her. The book gets quite sad, especially when Jane's father dies, but she finds strength in the Lord and overcomes her grief. The title of the book comes from her decision to be "just Jane"--she will not marry for money or rank, but will do what she loves to do--write, and not try to be someone other than  herself. She refuses a few proposals during the course of the book, for the simple reason that she did not love the men who proposed to her. For these opinions she received ridicule from her more worldly relations, but she stuck to what she believed to be right. Finally settled at Chawton Cottage, Jane finally becomes content and spends the rest of her life writing and seeing some of her novels published with pride. I really, really loved this book. I couldn't put it down. There were so many delightful quotes from her books and letters in the narrative. Jane Austen's life was not boring!! Do read it, it will inspire you as it has me. And for all you TSP fans out there, I'm reading The Scarlet Pimpernel now, so brace yourselves for a review in the near future! 

There's a scene in the book where Cassandra takes a portrait of Jane.. but apparently it wasn't a very good likeness.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Defending Cynthia Kirkpatrick

I know this is a bit of a controversial topic, as many Wives and Daughters fans classify Cynthia, Molly Gibson's charming stepsister, as a villain. Which is why I wanted to write a post defending her. She's a very likable character but quite complex. 

Cynthia is a fatherless girl with a troubled past. Her mother was a governess to Lady Harriet after her husband died and Cynthia was sent to school in Europe. She and her mother are not on very good terms, and while Cynthia is disrespectful of her mother, Hyacinth isn't exactly a good mother. She barely knows her own daughter. Cynthia needed her guidance while she was growing up, but living apart from her mother, she didn't get it. When she comes to live with her mother, newly-married to Molly's father, Molly feels sorry for her and the two girls quickly become friends.
Outwardly Cynthia is talkative and charming, but Molly soon realizes that Cynthia is troubled. Molly tries to suppress her own jealousy when her friend Roger Hamley becomes interested in Cynthia and eventually proposes to her. Cynthia accepts him rather lightly and remains rather unaffected when Roger sails for an expedition to Africa. Molly is worried that Cynthia doesn't love him as much as he loves her and tries to warn her, but Cynthia laughs her off.
Eventually, after Molly comes across Cynthia and the squire's land manager Mr. Preston in the middle of a distressing argument, Cynthia breaks down and tells her stepsister the truth: that she had promised to marry Mr. Preston when she was very young in return for his kindness to her, but she soon learned that he was by no means a gentleman and had tried to back out of it. Mr. Preston, who loved her to some degree at least, was determined to hold her to her foolish promise, and when she became engaged to Roger, threatened to disclose her secret to Molly's father. Cynthia was very foolish to make that promise, but Mr. Preston did not act like a gentleman in refusing to free her. Molly become's Cynthia's 'cat's paw' to resolve the matter, paying back Mr. Preston the money he had lent Cynthia and obtaining Cynthia's letters from him. In so doing, Molly becomes the victim of spiteful gossip among the townspeople but bears it willingly for her stepsister's sake.

Cynthia writes to Roger to dissolve their engagement. Despite the fact that she greatly pained Roger by doing that, it was probably best that she did. Eventually she married another gentleman, Mr. Henderson, whom she met in London. Cynthia made some very wrong choices in her life, but I don't consider her as a villain. We all make mistakes and she didn't intend to hurt anybody by her actions. Molly, of course, is the true heroine, but she and Cynthia are good friends and I'm sure remained so after their marriages.
Cynthia with Mr. Henderson. She has some lovely dresses:-)
Hope you enjoyed this post. Please comment and tell me what you think!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Movie Review~ Les Miserables 1998

It's a wee while since I've seen this, but I'll try to write a review of it:-) We all know the story, don't we? But if you don't, look it up. It's kind of complicated. I will take this character by character.
Beginning of course with Jean Valjean, played by Liam Neeson.

I will point out now that I am completely and utterly biased when it comes to Les Mis, and this version cannot compare to my beloved Les Mis 2012. I do think, though, that Liam Neeson was a very good Valjean. He is kind of violent at first, more so than in the musical, but this provides a greater contrast to his change of heart. I was sympathizing for him through the whole movie. Some of his exchanges with Javert were hilarious. "I order you to forgive yourself." Although his almost-romantic relationship with Fantine was not at all book-accurate, it was sweet. I could see them getting married and living happily ever after with little Cosette.

Geoffrey Rush as Javert did a pretty good job. That is to say, he made me hate him, which is what's supposed to happen. He's pretty horrible. Pretty accurate to the book. I have to say though that when he tied Marius up and then held Cosette at gunpoint--after spying on both of them for weeks--I was writhing in a that-didn't-happen-how-dare-they-how-dare-he sort of way.
And his suicide was, well, disappointing. He kind of steps backward into a still river with Jean Valjean standing right there.
I really liked Uma Thurman's Fantine. She was pretty, and she looked a lot like the older Cosette. We skipped a few scenes with her, but the scene of her arrest is so pitiful. It was really well done, and so was her illness. She was as good as Anne Hathaway in my opinion.

The Bishop was quite funny and a little severe at first. Not as kindly as in the musical. Overall he was good.

Cosette. I definitely didn't like her. She was pretty and a little vain like in the book, but she was nowhere near as sweet as Cosette is in the book and the musical. This one was positively disrespectful to her father. I also don't see how she fell in love with Marius. The guy gives me the creeps. See below.
I mean, he really needs a haircut. At least it's black. But since when is Marius the leader of the Friends of the ABC? And where was Enjolras? And Courf? And Combeferre? 
At least they had Gavroche and his two 'brats.' His death was heartbreaking.

This movie, especially the ending, was rather disappointing. There was no wedding. Marius was lying half dead and Javert committed suicide. Then, um, Jean Valjean walked home.
The End.
Sorry, couldn't resist:-) Vive Les Mis 2012!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Hey everyone! I've been tagged by my new blogging friend Evie Scott from A Period Drama Fangirl. Thanks Evie!

Here are the questions.
1. What do you think is one of the most undervalued professions right now?
Wow, this is a hard question. I really don't know. Probably the jobs people do that aren't all that exciting or fun but that help the world go round. Like rubbish collectors. The world needs rubbish collectors. I'd hardly call that a profession, though.
2. How would you explain your basic life philosophy?
My basic life philosophy is to follow the Lord and glorify Him in all that I do. :-)
3. Would you rather be hated or forgotten?
Ooh. Another hard one. It would depend what I would be hated for. I don't want to be forgotten though:-(
I'll go with hated, though I'd rather not be hated.
4. If you knew you would die tomorrow, would you feel cheated today?
No, because I would be with God in heaven.

Here are my questions:

1. What is your most favourite movie of all time?
2. What is your favourite eye colour?
3. Summer, winter, autumn/fall or spring?
4. Frozen or Tangled?
5. Raspberries or strawberries?
6. Favourite villain?
7. Favourite hero?
8. Favourite animal?
I tag:


And anyone else who reads this post can do this tag if they want:-)