Monday, May 23, 2016

Austen Obsession

I had a nice weekend that was actually sort of relaxing. My house seems to have crossed some kind of tipping point where it's clean enough that additional mess bothers me, so I'm motivated to clean even more. Since I got home from my trip, I've cleaned the kitchen after the day's cooking and eating every night before bed, and I've made my bed every morning. Now the real problem to tackle is the upstairs. I spent Saturday morning cleaning, so I got to spend the rest of the weekend hanging out and relaxing. I've started researching the concept for the next book I want to write and got through a whole research book on Saturday. Plus, I did some other leisure reading. It was nice to have a couple of days in which I had no plans or obligations, and even the house stuff was mostly done so I could enjoy myself without any sense of what I should be doing.

I got through the copyedits on Friday, so today I start a thorough proofread. I may try having the computer read out loud so I can make sure I'm seeing what's on the page rather than what's in my head. We'll see how long that lasts. I may find it very irritating.

While I was hanging out and relaxing on Saturday, I caught the movie Austenland on cable (actually, DVRd it and then watched it that evening). I'd wanted to see this when it came out, since I read the book, but it was at a theater I don't usually go to, didn't run very long, and had terrible reviews. It ended up being a rather cute movie. I might have been annoyed if I'd paid full price at a theater to see it, but it was just right for a cable movie, and if I find the DVD at a cheap price I might be tempted because it was fun and would make good companion viewing for either a conventional Austen adaptation or Bridget Jones Diary. (I may have to have a Jane Austen-themed girls' night in party someday.)

The plot follows a young woman who's been utterly obsessed with Jane Austen her whole life on a splurge vacation to what's essentially a Jane Austen immersion experience in England. Guests assume an identity appropriate to the period, wear period clothes, and live in a grand mansion. There are actors filling out the group (mostly men, since the guests tend to be women), playing out all the little flirtations toward a somewhat scripted storyline that the guests aren't aware of. The trick is that when so much is scripted, it's hard to tell what's real, so our heroine finds herself suspicious when she encounters the perfect Darcy type. Meanwhile, there's that stablehand/coachman who's willing to break character and show her what goes on behind the scenes.

It's been a long time since I read the book, so I didn't remember how it worked out and only remembered a few odd details. I think it could have been better, but it was mostly played for farce, and that proved to be rather entertaining. I just wish there had been more of the scenes of the actors hanging out in their free time because the contrast between them in Austen mode and their real selves was fun. I was never really sure what the movie was trying to say about the heroine's Austen obsession because it kept waffling on whether she was right about her ideals or foolishly deluded. She was so obsessed that it wasn't healthy (her home was a shrine to Austen), but at the same time she seemed to be one of the sanest people in the movie and I couldn't blame her for the way she reacted to things. You wouldn't have to be obsessed with Mr. Darcy to be turned off by the men she encountered before her trip.

It was just nice to have a fun romantic comedy without gross-out stuff added to attract men and with male love interests who were actually adults rather than overgrown fratboys who needed to be tamed by a shrew who forced them to grow up.

Speaking of movie romance, they've released a teaser trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast, and it looks lovely:

I'm so there. It might work as brain bleach to purge the atrocity Once Upon a Time has created of that story.

1 comment:

Angie said...

One of the aspects of the Tuesday Next books by Jasper Fforde that I enjoyed was seeing the book characters when they were "off-stage".