Tag Archives: Sanditon

Some More Thoughts on Sanditon

Well, PBS Masterpiece officially aired the last episode of Sanditon tonight. What a journey it has been. If you’ve kept watching, you’ve probably found a way to divorce the story from your beloved Jane Austen’s works. Or perhaps you think she’d like this adaption. 

I am not sure how I feel about it. 

I knew going in how it ended so I was braced for the less than Austen-like ending. I was pleasantly surprised with how it worked out for a few side characters. And no spoilers but…Bethany in particular was invested in the Lord Babington story line. (She says he ranks just below Mr. Tilney for best Austen guy. Mr. Tilney!) 

I will say the Babington story line did redeem a lot of the more unlikable characters. I’m still not sold on Sidney Parker–the supposed hero. He is still something of an ass. 

I’m curious enough that I would watch another season if they made it. But much to Bethany’s chagrin, I’m still refusing to sign the petition for one. 


Snowed In

A snow storm has Bethany and I stranded at our parents house this weekend. Which actually works well because otherwise we would be driving home during our usual Sunday night programming! At least, that was what we thought. 

Turns out, my folks don’t get PBS Wisconsin. They get PBS Milwaukee. And PBS Milwaukee does not have all our programs! (Besides Sanditon.) 

Good thing we finished Howards End last week. But really! Who knew there was a difference!


BBC’s Sanditon

With three episodes now on PBS, BBC’s new mini-series finishing Jane Austen’s Sanditon has officially made its debut in the United States and the result has been…explosive. 

For those of you who do not belong to half a dozen Facebook pages devoted to Jane Austen, the story goes something like this: Jane Austen began working on the novel in 1817, wrote 11 chapters, and then died. Though family members hinted at its existence, the actual text wasn’t released to the general public till 1925. If Wikipedia is to be believed, at least 9 different authors have since “finished” the story, including the creators of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (SO THAT IS WHAT THAT YOUTUBE SERIES WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT.)

Enter BBC. Not only do they decide to make a mini-series finishing Sanditon, they hire screenwriter Andrew Davies who is most famous (at least in the Austen world) for the BBC Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth. (Aka, lake-jumping-wet-shirt Mr. Darcy.)

Fans are ecstatic. We’re getting more Jane Austen, we’re getting new Jane Austen, we’re getting a beloved Jane Austen adapter. What could go wrong? Well…

Rumors begin circulating about certain liberties being taken with the plot. Andrew Davies says he wants to connect with modern viewers and tackle social issues. The appearance of a black heiress (actually in Austen’s original manuscript) got people excited about more representation. But then there is also hints of nudity and sex and the Austen community went….wait, what?! 

It airs in England in 2019. And England revolts. I’m sure some fans enjoyed it but those of us on the other side of the pond were told not to get our hopes up. And then there was the ending after 8 episodes which (no spoilers) did not thrill people. Andrew Davies says a second season will likely depend on how America reacts to it. 

It released in the United States via PBS roughly two weeks ago. Yesterday we got episode 3. 

I don’t know what official pollsters are finding but here is what the posts on the Jane Austen groups I belong to look like:

View 1: BBC’s Sanditon is the BEST THING EVER MADE. Jane would love it. There has never been anything so glorious since Collin Firth’s lake scene in Pride and Prejudice. Lovely to get some new stories.

View 2: BBC’s Sanditon is the WORST THING EVER MADE. Jane Austen is turning in her grave. How DARE they add nudity to Austen? THE SHADES OF PEMBERLY HAVE BEEN POLLUTED. 

View 3: Who cares?! We get more hot Austen men!

And then there are all the poor moderators begging people to keep the noise down and agree to disagree because up until this point the greatest controversy facing Janeites has been whether Collin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen makes a better Mr. Darcy and so the moderators are just not equipped for this level mass hysteria. 

MY VIEWS

I’ve tried to keep an open mind and keep my expectations low going into Sanditon. Obviously, there are still 5 episodes to go so I will post “final thoughts” once I’ve seen them all. I was unimpressed with the first two episodes. I do think the third one was better. 

While I lean toward the negative views about the series, I do understand why some people enjoy it. Jane Austen would probably roll in her grave with all the nudity, politics, and implied incest now permeating her story. At the same time, I love anything to do with the Regency era and even a bad rendition is in some ways better than no rendition. 

The only view I entirely do not agree with is the third one lauding the new Austen hero, because the tall, dark, and brooding Mr. Parker is a complete ass. Bethany and I have spent most of the show so far baffled by his horrible behavior and calling him rude names. Nothing about him charms. He is the anti-Mr. Tilney. If his character doesn’t shape up soon, I don’t know how this story redeems itself. 

 

So, have you seen Sanditon? What are your thoughts? The first few episodes are available on PBS for 6 more days so do check them out: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/shows/sanditon/episodes/

While there, check out Howard’s End. It stars Matthew Macfadyen and Bethany and I are enjoying it way more than Sanditon. We suspect his character might prove villainous, but since we love him as Mr. Darcy, we’re hardcore shipping him with one of the heroines. (And I know it came out in 2017 so NO SPOILERS if you have already seen it or read the book.) 


2019 Reading Challenge: My Favorite Books

With 76 5-star reads this year, you better believe it was hard to choose favorites. I narrowed it down to 46 by dropping all my re-reads. Then I removed any Mary Stewart novels and Greek/Roman classics because–per my scheduling post–those will get separate posts later. But still. This was hard!

However, without much ado, I give you my favoritest favorite books of 2019 (in no particular order.) 

Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Last Novel by Jane Austen & Anne Telscombe (aka Marie Dobbs)

Jane Austen wrote the first 11 chapters of Sanditon before dying at age 41. And they are brilliant. Chapter 3 begins, “Every neighborhood should have a great lady.” Genius. But alas, never completed. Instead, in 1975, Anne Telscombe finished the story. And her conclusion feels way more like Georgette Heyer than Jane Austen. It is a completely different tone and suffers horrendously from hindsight, with characters enthusing about gaslights and other inventions just about to make it big. But you know what? It does not matter. This was still one of my favorite reads from 2019 because it was genuinely entertaining. Unfortunately, or perhaps fittingly, the mini-series based on the story and released this past year did not take well and will not be completed with a second season. 

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer 

Beauty and the Beast…with an epic twist. You know the story. An enchantress curses a prince to live as a beast until he finds true love. But did you know the first girl failed to break the curse? And the second. And the third. And so on. Each time he fails, Beast goes crazy and destroys all he loves. But it resets. New girl. New chance. All the memories. Except now he has only one reset left. Meet Harper. She lives in the bad part of town and has cerebral palsy. Then she saves an unconscious girl from a sword-swinging weirdo and gets dragged to a fantasy kingdom to break a curse. But she’s not sticking around.
I’ve read loads of Beauty and the Beast retellings and this is hands-down my favorite. It is dark, gritty, and hopeful with very memorable characters. That said, I have no interest in reading the rest of the series. YA authors really need to quit it with the cliff-hangers.

The Trial by Franz Kafka

It took me several tries to get into The Trial but once I did, I devoured it. It tells the story Josef K., a respectable bank officer suddenly and inexplicably arrested and tried but never told what for. It illustrates the falseness of a “justice” system without the rule of law and the character’s own false optimism that it will all get cleared up. I loved it. But then again, I also loved The Metamorphosis which some people do not so consider yourself warned. 

Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose

Speaking of courtrooms…Twelve Angry Men is a classic American play (and movie, actually) about the meaning of “innocent until proven guilty” and how one man’s conviction can change the hearts of a whole group. Some plays you need to see performed to really feel the pathos. This is not  one. The words jump off the pages even with just a casual read. It is a rallying cry for the American justice system. I found it moving and inspiring. Definitely an instant favorite and as relevant for 2020 as 1954 when first written. 

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

Do you ever hear so much about a book that you feel like you’ve read it already? That’d be me with The Weight of Glory. I’ve heard so much about the sermons and essays inside this volume that a part of me was surprised to discover it still unread. It was marvelous. I read through the titular piece three times before moving on. I highly recommend this collection of sermons and essays as thought-provoking reading you can take all at once or slowly and one at a time. (And if you understand the essay on Transposition, do tell me, because I did not.)

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Speaking of books to take slowly…it took me 2 years to complete The Cost of Discipleship. I could not rush it. Everything I read needed to be chewed over and sifted. I found it thought-provoking. Challenging. Encouraging. Motivating. Most of all, I relished reading doctrine. The book was a breath of fresh air. The downside of taking such a long time to read it, however, is that I’m not sure I can pin-point what all impacted me or which quotes I liked best. It impacted me gradually and I fell in love with all the quotes. Guess I need to add it to my to re-read list for 2020. 

Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine by Dorothy L Sayers

I love C.S. Lewis and appreciate the emphasis on his writings displayed by many Christian writers and academics today. But if I may be so bold, Christians really need to start paying more attention to Dorothy L. Sayers. Letters to a Diminished Church is a collection of essays on what it means to be made in the image of God the Creator. And it is so good. Sayers writes with biting wit and clear truths and reveals profound ideas. She touches on ancient history, Medieval allegory, and modern psychology. She unhesitatingly jumps from author to author in fleshing out her ideas, including references to Lewis’s Space Trilogy. While I love her book The Mind of the Maker, I strongly recommend starting with Letters to a Diminished Church. Like with The Weight of Glory, the essay format means you can take it as slow or fast as you want without losing the ‘thread’ of the thought. 

Edge of His Ways by Amy Carmichael 

“Thank God courage is as ‘infectious’ as discouragement.” Edge of His Ways is a daily devotional with a different writing of Amy Carmichael–usually a letter or journal entry–highlighted each day. Amy is one of my personal heroines and if you are not familiar with her story, I recommend checking her out. This devotional is encouraging, inspiring, and challenging. The copy I read had a very feminine, floral cover which is a pity because I think it is an equally excellent devotional for men and women. If looking for a short, encouraging daily read, I highly recommend. 

Thailand: The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide by Alexa West

Last, but never least, Alexa West’s amazing Thailand: The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide. If you are traveling to Thailand, you should get this book. If you are traveling anywhere in Southeast Asia, you should see if she has a book about that country. (She probably does.) This goes double if you are a solo traveler and triple if you are a solo girl traveler. Reading Alexa’s book feels like getting advice from a trusted friend and it never once steered me wrong. Some of my favorite experiences last year while living in Thailand came from her suggestions. 


2019 Reading Challenge

I read a lot of books last year! 319, to be exact. Over the next two weeks, this blog is going to be all books all the time as I review the best–and worst–reads of 2019. I have posted my favorite and least favorite reads for six years now, but this year broke a lot of records. So, to help make it more manageable, tomorrow I will post a schedule with what to expect over the next few days. 

Until then, here is a recap of my year!

My 2019 Reading Stats

319 books spanning 91,483 pages. Of the 319, 58 were re-reads

Average rating: 3.3 stars.

Average Book Length: 286 pages.

To Read List: Jumped from 901 to 979. Whoops.

My Favorite Book This Year: Probably Sanditon by Jane Austen and Anne Telscombe but I will have an entire post listing my favorites. 

Most disappointing book: The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich 

Best Re-Read: Either Bargain Bride by Evelyn Sibley Lampman or The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis 

Most Read Author: Georgette Heyer (27 different books!)

Best New-To-Me Author: Mary Stewart   

Best Middle School Read: The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Longest Read: Understanding Immigration Law and Practice by Ayodele Gansallo at 736 pages (and yes, it is a textbook, but I read it!)

Shortest Read: On Fairy-Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien at a whopping 27 pages

Most Popular Read: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (a re-read) 

Least Popular Read: Mae Om Ki: The Life of the Forest and Ideals of the Justice System by Laofang Bundidterdsakul (I will never again complain when people misspell my last name.)