Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Simple Questions Tag + New Blog Look

     Rachel at A Girl's Place has kindly tagged me with this list of questions she created.  So thank you, Rachel. :-)  Let's get to it!

 1. How does your morning start?
     The first hour of my morning is pretty typical.  You know, after I wake up I make my bed, brush my teeth, put on some soft, cheery music, and have my devotional time with a cup of tea.

2. What's your favourite colour?
     Pink!  Of course.  

3. What book are you reading right now?
     Among a few others, Crazy Love by Francis Chan -- and loving it! 

4. What is your opinion about having a mobile phone?
   That's an interesting question... Well, before I had a phone, it was all I wanted.  I constantly complained that all my other ten-year-old friends had one and it wasn't fair and I begged and begged for one.  Yeah.  Then when I did get one a few years later, it was really no big deal.  I like my phone, and I'm content with it.  But I wish I could go back and convince my younger self that I didn't need a phone as much as I thought I did.  Haha :-)  Aaannyway.

5. Your favourite actress? (Pick at least two)
     Lily James and...either Daisy Ridley or Anne Hathaway.  

6. What's your favourite movie right now?
     My top favourite movies are always the same: The Lord of the Rings and Emma (2009).  It's a draw between those 'two'.  (And, ha, I just noticed that you made me spell 'favorite' the British way!  And I'm not going to change it, because I actually like it better.)

7. Snow or rain?
    Mmm...depends on my mood.  Snow is so beautiful, but that means it's freezing outside.  I love a nice summer shower, though.  I don't know!  I guess I'll say...snow.

8. What's your favourite ice cream flavour?
     Ooh!  There are so many good flavors and my favorites constantly change.  Currently, it would have to be black raspberry chocolate chip.  De-lish!

9. To which countries have you been?
     Sadly, just Puerto Rico and the US.  But I have been to so many states in the US, so...

10. What are you doing mostly in the evening?
     It depends on the evening.  I read, watch movies/TV, or write (blog post, journal entry, etc.).

11. How old are you?

12. Which countries do you really want to visit?
     Oh, dear.  There's quite a long list.  I'll try to name just a few: the UK & Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Brazil, New Zealand, Prince Edward Island...and many, many others.
13. What's your dream career?
     Doing something that I love and accomplishing God's will.
14. If you were cast in a movie, which character would you love to play?
     Mmm...wow.  I don't know.  There are too many options...  Sorry! I don't have an answer for this one.

     Those are all of my answers.  Thanks again for the tag, Rachel! :-)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Jane Fairfax | An Appreciation Post | I ❤️ Austen Week

     For my final contribution to I Love Austen Week, I have a post dedicated to a somewhat overlooked character in a certain Jane Austen novel. 
     Throughout the story of Emma Woodhouse and the few people with whom she associates, the titular character is constantly in the spotlight.  But today, I would like to shine that light on the minor heroine of Emma: Jane Fairfax.

     She may be shy and reserved, but Jane is overall a gentle, sweet, and sincerely caring young lady.  That's why I think she deserves a bit more credit than she gets.  (If you haven't read this book or seen the movies, don't worry; there are no major spoilers ahead.)

     Emma is obviously the more dominant person of the two, which makes it hard for them to relate.  At first, she is rather jealous of Jane.  In fact, she is "sick of the very name Jane Fairfax".  Why?  Because Jane "seems to gain ten new accomplishments between one [letter] and the next" and she "has friends in Ireland and Weymouth" -- or, simply put, Jane has been educated as a fine young lady and has traveled to interesting places, seen new things, and made new acquaintances.  Emma, by contrast, is not studious and has never traveled outside her hometown.  

     But no matter.  That is Emma's original impression of a person she barely knows.  After getting to know the real person behind the letters, she begins to warm up to Jane.  Jane who is not at all as fortunate as herself.  Jane who is patient and forgiving.  Jane who must put up with the obnoxious attentions of Augusta Elton.  That poor, dear Jane.

     Think about all the trials Jane endures before she can finally have a love story moment of her own.  Just think about it for a minute.

      First, she comes to live with her spinster aunt and her old, widowed grandmother in a tiny little flat with little to no money.  She has no friends, and the one person who should be her friend (ahem, Emma) does not give a care.  The man she is in love with is not allowed to marry her because she is from a poor, unimportant family.

     If you go back even further, Jane's parents die and she is sent to live with strangers because her aunt and grandmother cannot afford to care for a child. 

     So now that Jane is living in Highbury, she is trying to fit in.  Mr. Knightley is kind to her, but so is the mysterious admirer who anonymously sends her a grand surprise: a beautiful, new pianoforte.  Jane is a talented musician and is more than pleased with it.  However, this unexpected gift brings on suspicion and teasing from Emma and Frank, who conclude that it is from her best friend's wealthy husband.  Jane is upset at the implication that she might be in love with someone else's husband, and who wouldn't be?  Especially when it isn't true at all and Frank knows it.

     Not only that, but she must endure watching the man she loves flirt and fool around with none other than Miss Emma Woodhouse.

     Oh, yes, and don't forget that all this time Jane is keeping a deep secret, Mrs. Elton won't leave her alone, and she must resign herself to becoming a governess in order to make some small income.  Finally, Jane is so fatigued sick of it all, she just gives up and decides to leave.  She is at last forced to take Mrs. Elton's reference for a position as a governess.

     Poor Jane, indeed.

     And then...it all changes.  (*Here come a few spoilers for Jane's story*)  Her lover's guardian dies, and they are free to be together.  Jane does not have to be a governess any longer.  Her family will not be destitute.  She can have the true love she deserves.  To top it all off, she and Emma finally understand one another and can be friends.

     So, you see, Jane has shown herself to be good, forbearing, and faithful, kind and generous, a true friend.  And she definitely earned her happily ever after.

(Forget what Frank says; I think her hair is pretty.)

   What other minor characters in books/movies do you think deserve appreciation?  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Becoming Jane | A Review | I ❤️ Austen Week

     In the history of English literature, there have been many admirable female writers from Ann Radcliffe to Charlotte Brontë to Agatha Christie.  But perhaps none have been so well-loved as Jane Austen, the writer of realistic and happily concluded novels.  Every one of her admirers wonders about the author herself.  What inspired her beloved stories and characters?  Was she ever in love herself?  

     Well, today, as part of Hamlette's I Love Austen Week, I am going to be reviewing Becoming Jane, the movie which does its best to answer those questions in a (somewhat embellished) version of Jane Austen's life story.

      Becoming Jane, directed by Julian Jarrold, tells the story of a young Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway), an aspiring authoress who is interested in everything except a loveless marriageBelieving she will be able to live by her pen someday, Jane is not looking for love.  However, "when the dashing Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), a reckless and penniless lawyer-to-be, enters Jane's life, he offends the emerging writer's sense and sensibility.  Soon their clashing egos set off sparks that ignite a passionate romance and fuel Jane's dream of doing the unthinkable: marrying for love."

      This movie, inspired by the true story of Jane Austen's romance, weaves a bittersweet tale of love gained and love lost.  While, as I said, it is quite dramatized, the film still remains true to the author's life and feelings (as derived from her novels).  Jane clearly expresses that novels should reflect real life (as she shows us in Northanger Abbey) and that sometimes good characters have less-than-ideal endings (poor Charlotte Collins) and bad characters get along better than they deserve (ahem, Mr. Wickham).  In the end, however, she decides that her novels will indeed reflect real life, but her heroines will have happy endings.

     One thing I love about this movie is how there are several characters that are direct parallels to characters in Ms. Austen's novels.  Jane writes down several lines spoken by some of them for later use in her writings and it is implied that her novels each are a bit of her true life story.  Perhaps we'll never know how true this is or not, but either way, this is still quite an enjoyable movie.

     The costumes are lovely, as are all the sets from the houses to the woods to the ocean.  The acting is wonderful, especially from the two leads and the one and only Dame Maggie Smith.  And let's not forget the beautiful music which accompanies it.

     There are a few mildly inappropriate scenes and few choice words, but it is not enough to garner a PG-13 rating.  Overall, though, this is a well-made, beautiful period drama that every Jane Austen fan will have a different opinion of.  You'll either love it or you'll hate it.  I, for my part, like it very much and give it 4/5 stars.

     So what do you think of this movie?  What do you like and dislike about it?  Tell me in the comments below.  Also, make sure you check back to the master post for other reviews, posts, and games all about Jane Austen as a part of I Love Austen Week

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I ❤️ Austen Week Tag


     It's finally here!  I Love Austen Week is a 7-day celebration of all things Austen hosted by Hamlette over at Hamlette's Soliloquy.  Be sure to click the image above to view other posts all about Jane Austen.  And, now, without further ado, here are my answers to the fun tag she created for the week.

   1. Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one?

     I read Sense and Sensibility, first.  The only movie I watched before I read its book was Persuasion.

   2. What is your favorite Austen book?

     That's a hard one because they are all so good... I have to say Emma though. 

   3. Favorite heroine?  Why do you like her best?

     That's even harder!  I love Elizabeth Bennet; she is such a witty, likable gal.  I feel like I relate most to Elinor Dashwood, honestly.  But I totally could be best friends with Emma Woodhouse!  I really have a reason to pick any of the 7 main heroines, but if I have to pick a favorite...I'll go with Emma Woodhouse.

   4. Favorite hero?  Why do you like him best?

     Mr. Knightley.  Hands down.  No question.  He is my absolute favorite ever.  Ever.  I love his gentlemanly sweetness, his unconditional love and loyalty to his lady, and his way of conversing with his own sense of humor.  He is just such a charming gentleman in his own way.  Perhaps he is not so dashing and proud as Mr. Darcy, but it's his genuine down-to-earth-ness that I like.  (I could probably write a whole book about Mr. Knightley and all his greatness.)

   5. Do you have a favorite film adaptation of Austen's work?

     Emma (2009) followed closely by Pride & Prejudice (1995).  For my complete ranking, check out this post here.

   6. Have your Austen tastes changed over the years?  (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better?  Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind?  Etc.)

     Never thought she was boring.  No, I loved Jane Austen from the start.  However, some of my tastes have changed.  I actually used to like Mr. Darcy best of her heroes, but now, while I still love Darcy, Mr. Knightley has clearly won my heart.  I have also come to appreciate some of the minor characters, which will be seen in a few posts I have upcoming. 

    7. Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc.)?

     Um...where do I begin?  First, my purple t-shirt, which I am actually wearing today (shown above).  It is awesome!  If you can't read it, it has the words of Mr. Darcy's famous proposal on it and a silhouette of Jane Austen's cameo.  I have two pins, which are pinned to the front of my purse: one is Pride and Prejudice and the other is I 💗 Darcy.  I have a Jane Austen coloring book.  I have a necklace which is a pink Emma book on a chain (which I also put on for the sake of this as shown above).  And one of my new favorite things is this Miss Bennet's Brew exclusive Jane Austen tea.  It is a-maze-ing!  I think that is it, though.

   8. If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her?

     It's too hard!  I have a year's worth of questions I'd like to ask her!  How can I narrow it down to just one???  Let me think about it.

   9. Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?

Jenna Coleman, Juno Temple, &  Hayley Atwell
     About a year and a half, maybe two years ago, I began to write my own conclusion to Jane Austen's incomplete short story The Watsons.  I would love to see my own work paired with hers in a film adaptation of it.  (Still editing and revising that novella, but perhaps one day it will be good enough.)  Anyway, as for the cast... I think it would be fun to have Emma Watson play the heroine who is also named Emma Watson, but I wouldn't really do that.  I actually would imagine a cast like this: Jenna Coleman as Emma Watson, Juno Temple as Penelope, and Hayley Atwell as Elizabeth.  (For the male leads, I am having a harder time thinking of actors that match up with my imagination's version of the characters. My imagination is just too good! :-)

   10. Share up to five favorite Jane Austen quotations.

     And, now, I have thought of my answer to number 8.  I would ask Jane Austen this: "Why do you write?"  I want to know her feelings, not a biographer's speculations.  What was the feeling she got when she wrote, what drove her to come up with new stories, and etc.  I want to know what inspired her and encouraged her in her own words.

      So that's that.  Thanks for the fun tag, Hamlette!  You had some great questions.  :-)

     Most of the other bloggers I know have already signed up to participate, so I only have one person to tag here, and that would be Kelly-Anne @ The Diary of a Country Girl

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Romantic Moments of Period Dramas

   In the spirit of Valentine's Day, which is coming up this month, I would like to focus on some of the sweetest and most romantic moments of some of my favorite period dramas.  I know you all love couples who are in love every bit as much as I do, so enjoy! :-)
~ The First "I Love You" ~

Downton Abbey
     This isn't really a 'romantic' moment, but it's so sweet and tugs at my heartstrings. 

Anna:  I love you, Mr. Bates.  I know it's not ladylike to say it, but I'm not a lady, and I don't pretend to be.

Bates:  You are a lady to me.  And I never knew a better one. 

     *dreamy sigh*

 ~ The Second Proposal ~

Pride & Prejudice (1995)
     Alright, after Mr. Darcy's rude, condescending -- albeit, famous -- first proposal, Elizabeth is quite offended and rightfully so.  But her feelings change as Darcy himself changes and as he helps her family and makes things right.  Doing it all for her, as he himself freely admits.  So when he proposes again...

Darcy: If your feelings are what they were last April, tell me so at once.  My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on the subject forever.

Elizabeth: ... My feelings are so different.  In fact, they are quite the opposite.

~ On the Bridge ~
Anne of Green Gables - The Sequel

      The ending scene of Anne of Green Gables is so beautiful.  It's the point where Anne has finally come to her senses and realizes what she really wants for her life.  

Gilbert: I hope you keep on dreaming. It will be three years before I finish medical school, and even then, there won’t be any diamond sunbursts or marble halls.

Anne: I don’t want any sunbursts or marble halls. I just want you. 
~ Can This Be True? ~
Emma (2009)

      Who can forget Mr. Knightley's shy yet sweet proposal?  Oh, yes.  And Emma's reaction, too!  After she thought he was going to tell her that he was in love with someone else.  I would type up the dialogue for the whole scene because it is just perfect.

 Knightley: ...my most beloved Emma.  I cannot make speeches.  If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. ...

Emma: Can this be true?

Knightley: You'll get nothing but the truth from me.  So what do you think?

Emma: ... I find I do not know what to think.

~ Under the Umbrella ~ 
Little Women

      Jo's happy ending in the rain is one of the most adorable moments ever.  I can't keep from smiling whenever it gets to this part.  (And for all those who ship Jo and Laurie...no.  Just no.)

Friedrich: Will you have me?

Jo: With all of my heart!

Friedrich: But I have nothing to give you.  My hands are empty.

Jo:  *slips her hand into his* Not empty now.

     Of course, there are many, many more romantic and sweet moments in historical dramas.  These are just a few of the ones that particularly make me smile.

     What's your favorite romantic moment from any period drama?