Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ring out the bells upon this day of days!

Les Miserables fans, the beating of your hearts is now going to echo the beating of the drums.

Because the first teaser for the upcoming Les Miz movie has just been released.

Let that sink in for a minute--no, don't bother.  Just do what I did: watch the video, burst into tears, leap up and do a happy dance around the room (YES I DID) and then watch the video over and over again.  Lather, rinse and repeat.

Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!

Following Elise's example over at Ribbons of Light, here's a shot-by-shot breakdown of the trailer. Hopefully this will be helpful to those of you who aren't too familiar with the musical.  Yes, Millicent, I'm looking at you.

0:12- Countryside with some snow, a lone figure walking in the background.  I'm guessing this is "What Have I Done?" aka "Valjean's Soliloquy," right after the bishop gives Valjean the candlesticks.
0:13- She might not be Lea Salonga, but Anne Hathaway's voice is far more promising than I'd hoped for--she sounds broken and defeated, which is what Fantine is supposed to be.
0:17- Definitely "Valjean's Soliloquy".  Another story must begiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!
0:19- First glimpse of Russell Crowe as Javert! YES! Excellent, excellent.
0:21- Anne Hathaway as Fantine... eep, that dress could rival Marguerite's as far as the whole you-forgot-your-lace thing... but she looks so sad and pathetic.  I sound morbid, but it's perfect.
0:25- I'm guessing this is "Look Down".  Is Gavroche in that crowd of kids?
0:26- This looks like a jail door opening. I'm not sure what it might be.
0:28- Little Cosette! Awww, I just want to pick her up and hug her.
0:31- The factory in Montfermeil, "At the End of the Day."
0:32- Ooh, Little Blue Riding Hood.
0:36- "Valjean's Soliloquy" again, I'm guessing.  The church reminds me of the one in Sound of Music.
0:39- "Prologue/Work Song."  WOWWWWWWW.  This was where I really started bawling.
0:43- Jean Valjean as mayor of Montfermeil, probably.
0:45- JAVERT, peoples.  If Russell Crowe can do justice to "Stars", Philip Quast will have to move down from the Top Javert Spot on my list.
0:46- "Fantine's Arrest", in all likelihood.  I'm not one for dark, depressing movies, but I must say that the setting looks great for this kind of story.  Stage scenery can't fully capture the look of Paris' poorest districts the way a movie set can.
0: 50- The wedding--and Amanda Seyfried's Cosette is looking so promising! If only she can handle "A Heart Full of Love"...
0:52- THE BARRICADE.  Just WOW.  Again, so much better than any stage could ever do.  Red, the blood of angry men... Where is Enjolras, where is Enjolras?
0:56- Eddie Redmayne as Marius! Calm yourselves, ladies, at least it's not Nick Jonas.  We can be grateful for this at least.  (Actually, his voice is pretty good, all things considered.)
0:57- Valjean coming to rescue Cosette from the Thenardiers? Yep, definitely.  Awww, she's so precious!
1:00- Hmmm, this is unmistakably "Lovely Ladies."  This will be the exit-the-theater-for-a-bathroom-break scene. :P
1:03- Fantine sells her hair for her little girl and Amy completely loses it.
1:05- I'm LOVING this version of IDAD!  Sure, it's not as lovely as Lea Salonga's, but the pathos, the heartbreak... yep, I'm hooked.
1:07- Ooh, Javert and his men are on the prowl.  Could this be "The Robbery/Javert's Intervention"?
1:08- Valjean and Little Cosette again.  I'm thinking this is "Suddenly," the new song Claude-Michel Schonberg wrote for the film.
1:09- Marius and Cosette do the whole love-at-first-eye-contact thing.  Ooh, her dress is like the one in the musical! At least they're preserving SOME of the original costumes... *wipes away tears at the loss of Enjo's Red Vest of Power and Awesomeness*
1:12- Let's hear it for Samantha Barks!  Could this be "On My Own?"  No, she's not dressed as a boy, so perhaps it's the part where she goes to find Cosette for Marius ("Eponine's Errand").  I might add that that's not a little fall of rain--that's a downpour.
1:14- "Stars," maybe? Oh, for a tiny snippet of the song itself...
1:16- Jean Valjean again, looking a bit more respectable than in the opening shots, but not quite well-to-do.  Maybe this is "Who Am I?"
1:18- Fantine again.
1:31- Yes.  Yes it does.  All I want for Christmas...

Are you sobbing yet?
More importantly, do you plan to see the movie when it comes out? December 14th in the U.S... am I the only one counting down the days?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nine Days More...

...another [week-and-a-half], another destiny...

Recognize the quote?  No? That's probably because I tweaked it too much.  Ahem.

My extremely corny title (and subtitle) is (are) a convoluted paraphrase of the lyrics to One Day More, the finale to Act One in Les Miserables and one of my favorite Les Miz songs ever.  You might ask why I'm quoting that song today, but you probably won't, because I quote (and sing) Les Miserables all the time.  Ask my family. :)

But just in case you ARE asking, I'm quite pleased to tell you that for the past couple of months, Miss Payton (Petie) Wilson and I have been scheming and plotting and putting together a positively diabolical plot. And finally, after about a gazillion emails, some serious fangirling, and way too much fun, we are ready to spring our plot upon you. I am here to announce...

Will You Join In Our Crusade: A Les Miserables Concert Comparison

a blog series by Petie and Amy
June 4-9, 2012

It's going to be an entire week devoted to celebrating Les Miserables, the musical that swept the world.  We'll be discussing our favorite characters, actors and songs from both versions of the concerts(and hopefully getting into juicy debates with our readers, heh heh), and having an altogether delightful time.  The fun begins on June 4th! All Les Miz posts will be published on Petie's blog, Dirt and Dickens, AND right here on Yet Another Period Drama Blog.  (I encourage you to check out both so you don't miss out on any of the fun!)

And now the big question: will you be joining in our crusade? If so, post one of these buttons on your blog and link back to us!

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

See you then!
~Miss Dashwood (and Petie :D)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blog Awards and Ramblings

Life has been super, super busy over here lately... so it took me a while to respond to these awards!  Over the past few days (and weeks... ahem, yes, I'm a bit tardy) Yet Another Period Drama Blog has been honored by six lovely bloggers with...

Somersaulting Through Life and Petie awarded me with this one! Muchas gracias! 

Lizzy and Sarah awarded me with this one! Thank you, ladies!

Kiri Liz and Miss Woodhouse awarded me with this one!  Merci, mes amis!

So for each award, I need to nominate several other bloggers and pass it on... and to save space, I'm choosing two bloggers I haven't nominated in the past for each award (six bloggers in all). So without further ado, I award the "Your Blog Is Great!" award to...
~Miss Molly at Each and Every Hour (this is my twelve-year-old sister's private blog--if you'd like to be able to read it, just contact me for an invitation! Molly's only begun blogging recently, but I love her writing already.)
~Mel at But when a young lady is to be a heroine... (I recently discovered Mel's blog through a friend and I've been delighted with her period-drama-themed posts!)

I award the Creative Kreativ Blogger Award (okay, am I the only one who's bugged by that misspelling?) to...
~Marie at Moment by Moment (my dear "real-life" friend who writes a lovely--private--blog about period dramas and other stuff)
~Rachel and Sarah at Our Family View from Us Two (they blog about a delightful mix of life events and never fail to interest me!)

I award the Versatile Blogger award to...
~Lily at The Grey Havens (another dear friend who writes a private blog)
~Rachel at A Butcher, A Baker, A Candlestick Maker (no, I'm not really awarding her twice-- the first one went to Sarah, mostly. :D)

The Creative Kreativ Blogger and Versatile Blogger awards both call for me to share a myriad of random facts about myself, but I'm not good at sharing random facts, so I'm going to cheat and utilize a different medium that's been going around the blogosphere lately: Jemimah C's "I am...".  

Today I am...

Heeheehee... if you only knew how big this answer's going to be.  Let's see...  a final World Literature essay, for starters.  Only a Novel, my current WIP.  (By the way, if you're interested in reading more about that, hop over to my writing blog, because that's where I write about That Sort Of Thing these days.)  Lots and lots and LOTS of stuff related to That Top Secret Endeavor that I hinted about last week.  A book review on Northanger Abbey (coming soon!).  Lots and lots of e-mails to kindred spirits. :D

Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie, and hopefully I'll have some time today to start An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott (from my Classics Club list).

Songs from Les Miserables (cough, cough), West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera and Fiddler on the Roof on, along with a healthy dose of The High Kings and Alfie Boe.  (If you don't have a free Pandora account yet, get one now.  Seriously.  Free music, peoples. All day long.  Whatever genre you like.  What could be better?)

Cranford (2007) with the sisters... review coming eventually.  After I do North and South.  Heh.

At the world! Just like the Scarlet Pimpernel! :D I've been trying my hand at some screencapping this week (maybe THAT'S where all my time has gone...) and it's been going surprisingly well.

Not to over-commit myself.  :P  I have a tendency to race through life trying to do everything in my own strength, and the Lord has been teaching me daily to stop relying on myself and start relying on Him.  He holds every aspect of my life in the palm of His hand--so why am I trying to run things?

A wee bit stressed, tremendously excited (friends are coming over for the weekend and I have a surprise up my sleeve for this blog in another week or so--okay, okay, I'll stop tantalizing you) but overall pretty happy and contented right now. :D

The Big and Exciting Thing That I Can't Resist Teasing You About Just A Little Bit More.  Also my SAT exam next week.

That I could instantly teleport to different states so I could meet all of my dear blogging friends!

Heehee.  This is how I feel after doing chemistry some days...
The fact that school will be over so very, very soon... if I get off the computer and get to work studying my chemistry notes.  Ahem.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Family Tag!

Rachel and Sarah are hosting a delightfully fun blog event over at Our Family View from Us Two.

1. What are some of your family's favorite phrases, exclamations, or sayings?

We have a LOT of these.  Movie lines predominate, of course, and some of our favorites include...

"Why do I not have a surprised feeling?'
"Nobody told ME..."
"I'm packing you your angry eyes. JUST IN CASE."
"But it's a TALKING DOG!"
"Eh, at precisely 8:32 AM... ish..."
" esteemed patroness, Lady.  Catherine.  de Bourgh."
"Somebody pinched it, and what *I* say is, them as pinched it done her in."
"Just a little too... ah... pink."
"Uncle Ned.  Is dead."
"Sparkler? BE quiet."
"Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die."
"Fly! Fly! We must fly! -No, no, DON'T fly!"
"You know what that means! -Yes, it means I'm free... -NO."
"AND there's a DOOR PRIZE."
"I may be mean, but I make up for it by bein' real healthy."
"Hold my fin, HOLD MY FIN... -Amy, you're not going to freak out like you did at the petting zoo, are you? -Hey, that snail was about to CHARGE."
"Have fun stormin' da castle! -Think it'll work? -It would take a miracle.  -Bye-byyyyyeeee..."

(Now, can you identify all those quotes? :D Family members of Miss Dashwood aren't allowed to play.)

2. What's the number of boys to girls in your family?

One boy, four girls.  He holds his own quite nicely, thankyouverymuch.  Or perhaps I should say we hold our own...

3. What is your favorite tradition your family has?

We like going for long bike rides in the summer--we have a bike rack that we attach to the back of our 12-passenger van and put four bikes on that and three in the back of the van.  We also have a habit of singing (loudly) on long (or short) car trips.  "Shall we dance? (ONE TWO THREE AND!) On a bright cloud of music shall we fly?"

4. What do you call the midday meal at your house?


5. Is the majority of your family morning people or night owls?

Heehee.  Depends on who you're asking.  I sometimes think I would rather be a night owl, but in general we are a set of early birds.

6. What is your favorite vacation location?

We like Disney World. :P  As far as realistic goes, we often take day trips to a lake an hour away in the summer (I'm not being too specific here because I don't think the Internet needs to know where I live).

7. Are your family's weekends usually full of activities such as sports, parties, and outings, or are they more of around the house, fix-it-uppers?

It really depends on the weekend.  I'd say it's an even distribution of both.  We do a lot of cleaning on Saturdays, plus cooking and preparing for the Lord's Day, but we often do have other stuff going on.

8. What is the nationality/ies your family comes from? (i.e. Scotch, Russian, etc)

Irish and German predominantly, with some English, possibly Scotch and Lithuanian thrown in the mix.

9. Do you go away for holidays, or celebrate at home?

We traditionally go to my paternal grandmother's for Thanksgiving and my maternal grandmother's for Christmas, and frequently have a New Year's get-together at our house for my mom's side of the family.

10. How did your parents meet?

In high school-- they had mutual friends, and sang in the choir together and participated in the school's theater group.  They dated all through college and graduate school, got married in 1991, and as they say the rest is history.  Today happens to be their 21st wedding anniversary, so it's quite fitting for me to answer this question.  :D Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Post and a Teeny-Weeny Hint

Today I'm guest posting over at Abby's lovely blog, Newly Impassioned Soul. If you're interested in reading a movie review about sword fights, pirates, escapes, true love, death and miracles, go here.

Oh, and stay tuned for something exciting that will be appearing here and on another kindred spirit's blog in the beginning of June-- I won't give any details, but if you're curious, think barricades, stolen bread, red flags and puppies.  Guesses may be left in the comments... but I'm not promising answers.  :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Miss Potter (2007) Review

"There's something delicious about writing those first few words of a story.  You can never quite tell where they'll take you."
~Beatrix Potter, Miss Potter 

Sometimes I'm in the mood for a movie that will sweep me out of the here-and-now and transport me to another time and place with vivid characters in a powerful story that will leave me breathless, at the edge of my seat, wishing it wouldn't end.  Movies like Pride and Prejudice, Little Dorrit, The Scarlet Pimpernel and North and South all fit into that category.  But then there are times when I want to watch something quieter and more peaceful, something charming and sweet yet not at all trite.  That's when I watch Anne of Green Gables or Wives and Daughters... or Miss Potter.

If you haven't seen this movie, back off from this review right now, because I spoil things.  Badly.  In fact, when I watched Miss Potter a few weeks ago with my sisters Molly and Laura, who had never seen it before, they were hardly surprised by the Big Bad Thing that happened in the second half of the film, "because of the way Amy was acting in the entire first part."  Hee, hee.  My face is an open book, I see.

 Miss Potter is a biopic (read: a movie about a Real Person and Real Events, with some stuff made up) about the life of Beatrix Potter, beloved children's author.  Obviously, some of the scenes in the movie were invented by the screenwriters (see definition of "biopic") but the majority of the story is true to life--so be prepared, folks, it's not necessarily a fairy-tale ending (well, okay, depends on how you look at it. Ahem).

Okay, let's get down to business (no, not to defeat the Huns.  Stop singing that.  Please.  I can't think when people are singing in my ear).  Renee Zellweger (no, of course I did not have to Google the correct spelling of her name) plays Beatrix Potter, and in my humble opinion she completely nails the role.  (Okay, so she's not British--completely immaterial.)

Love the suit.  The hat, not so much.
One of the things I really loved about Miss Potter was the large number of recognizable actors.  I haven't seen Renee Zellweger in anything else, but I am familiar with Ewan MacGregor (Norman Warne), as many of you probably are too (yep, it's Frank Churchill from Emma 96!).  I liked him a hundred times better in this movie than in Emma--mostly because he's just such a nice guy, but also because he wasn't wearing that dreadful wig that resembled Arby's curly fries.  The mustache, however.... eh, we won't go there.  Let's just say that I like Mr. Warne's character so much that I am willing to forgive the bathtub scrubby brush on his upper lip.

Now this hat is more to my liking.
Norman Warne's sister Amelia (nicknamed Millie, hence the nickname given to me by a dear friend) is probably my favorite character in the entire movie.  At first, I wasn't inclined to like her, thinking "oh, brother, here's another of those women who's all I'm-single-and-I-don't-need-a-man-and-let-me-spout-my-rabid-feminism-to-all-these-stuffy-Victorians."   Ahem.  But I was quickly proved wrong (and was quite happy to be so).  Millie is simply hilarious--and quite quotable.  "You have something to confide?  How delicious!"

Beatrix's coat: cuuuuuute.

Also, her relationship with her brother was so adorable.  You could see how well they got along together and wanted what was best for each other.  I love seeing great sibling relationships like these in movies... I certainly don't blame Jane and Elizabeth Bennet for their dreadful younger sisters, but they aren't all exactly the best of friends.  And you can't say John Thornton and Fanny get along as swimmingly as they might.  And Sir Thomas Bertram's kids... okay, rabbit trail.  Back on track.

If all messy buns looked like that one, I would be prepared to like
messy buns, but nobody seems to do pompadours anymore.
Lucy Boynton, whom you might recognize from her role as Margaret Dashwood in S&S 2008, plays Young Beatrix (Beatrix Jr.? Nah, that sounds odd).  I don't think she looks (or sounds) much like Renee Zellweger, but she's cute and the flashback scenes to Beatrix's childhood are fun.  Especially the old nurse who frightens Beatrix's brother (whose name escapes me--somebody help!) with stories about the wee folk.  "I want one of BEATRIX'S stories! Hers are FUNNY!"

Matching hats.  How... um... sweet.
Barbara Flynn (Mrs. Jamieson in Cranford, Miss Browning in Wives and Daughters) plays Helen Potter, while Bill Paterson (Mr. Meagles in Little Dorrit, Dr. Gibson in Wives and Daughters) plays Mr. Potter, who must have a first name somewhere, but I'm not good with guys' names.  Have you noticed?  I liked Mr. Potter very much, despite his rather frightening mutton chops.  Mrs. Potter was a different story--okay, I know she only wanted what was best for her daughter, but there were times when I was inclined to agree with Millie and say that Beatrix's mothah is a monstah.

Speaking of monstahs, was anyone else severely annoyed by Norman's overbearing older brothers?  Maybe it was just because we all know who this guy is...

Anyways.  Fruing Warne was a meanie.  I did not like him.  (Though I can hardly blame him for being just a little bit of a sourpuss--the poor chap is doomed to go through life with a name like that!)
Moving randomly along...

"When You Taught Me How To Dance" was permanently stuck in my head for about two weeks after seeing that scene.  (Okay, so maybe it wasn't permanently stuck in my head if it only lasted two weeks, but... I didn't ask you.)  I feel as if I'm overusing the words "cute" and "adorable", but they really do fit that part.  The music box playing, the romantic little waltz, Beatrix's awkwardness (awww) and even the watchfulness of Miss Wiggin ("how festive!") all combined to make one of the sweetest scenes in the movie.  I said "one of", not "the" because...

The scene in the train station--oh, my melodramatically romantic heart went into ecstasies.  It was just so sweet--the first time I watched it, I teared up.  The second time, I bawled outright because I knew what was coming.  I believe this may have been what clued my sisters in, but one can never be sure.

Despite the SPOILERS! SPOILERS! sad thing that happened in the second half of the film END SPOILERS! this movie does end happily (well, okay, depends on how you look at it, as previously stated) and I felt warm and fuzzy inside after watching it.  Which is a very nice feeling indeed.  Would I recommend this movie? Indeed.  Is it a tearjerker? Indubitably.  Will you laugh your head off at certain points?  "Ashton's a crack shot!" (No further explanation necessary.)  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Caroline Ingalls and My Mom

I have a habit of referring to my family members (on this blog, at least) by literary or movie nicknames.  The sister next to me in age goes by Anne-girl, as many of you know, and I've tagged my three other younger siblings with the names of Molly (from Wives and Daughters), Laura (from Little House on the Prairie) and Jerry (from So Dear to my Heart).   I do this because I want to be able to refer to my family members on my blog, but when I first started blogging, I didn't want to use anyone's real names.  Since then, I've started using my own first name on this blog, but I kept the other pseudonyms because they're fun to use.  But I never gave my parents any alternate names, simply because it's easy enough for me to refer to them as Mom and Dad without worrying about privacy. :D

If I were to give my mom a name from a period drama/historical movie, however, I'd most likely refer to her as Caroline Ingalls, because personality-wise, that's who my mom reminds me of...not to mention the fact that Mom bears a startling resemblance to Karen Grassle on the TV series.  :) Now, before I get into my explanation of all the reasons why Mom is like Ma Ingalls, I'd like to just point out that I'm referring to the Ma of the books and not of the TV show.  Because Ma in the TV show is, to put it bluntly, a  bit of a wimp.  (Apologies to all fans of The Michael Landon Show--er, Little House on the Prairie.)  And my mom, peoples, is not a wimp.

The real Caroline Ingalls (it's CaroLINE Ingalls, Michael Landon, not CaroLYN Ingalls) was an incredibly strong woman.  She moved practically all over the mid-and-north-western United States with her family, raised four daughters on the frontier, lost a baby son, held her family together through malaria and scarlet fever, survived prairie fires, river crossings and blizzards, scrimped and saved to send her eldest daughter to a college for the blind and did I mention that she moved about a dozen times?  In a covered wagon? I told you she was amazing.  

My mom has also moved many times in her life (though not in a covered wagon) and is currently raising four daughters and a son, gave up a career in malaria research to homeschool her children, is active in nursing home ministry, supports her husband (my amazing dad) in everything he does, is halfway through a rather arduous teaching career (anyone else who has attempted to explain math concepts to yours truly will understand), is one of my two constant examples of how to lead a Christlike life, and has been there for me, listening, understanding, hugging, advising, correcting, disciplining, teaching, encouraging, inspiring and loving for seventeen years.  

Maybe she's not fighting prairie fires or building a log cabin in Wisconsin, but my mom has that kind of inner strength exemplified in women like The Real Caroline Ingalls.  My mom has the kind of ladylike grace that I want to have someday.  My mom is not afraid to get her hands dirty, to do the unpleasant tasks in life.  My mom has taught me more things than I could possibly count, starting with "how to eat with a spoon", continuing through "how to do long division" and is currently working on "how to plan a meal and give yourself enough time to plan it so you're not rushing around to serve a very late dinner to your family."  (Ahem.)  My mom has been there for me during the happy times and the sad ones, encouraged me through thick and thin, devoted countless hours to Extra Tutoring Time (she knows what I'm talking about) when I was in middle school, listened to my hopes and dreams and aspirations (yep, there she is the expert), showed me by example what it is to dedicate one's life to Christ and what it means to truly give of yourself to your family.

Also, she introduced me to Jane Austen.  (I had to stick that in there, you KNOW I did.)

Happy Mother's Day, Mommy.  I love you so much.

From my first moment you gave me wings
Helped me fly and believed in my dreams
From my first moment you changed me so
The journey through life would be hard without you.
You gave me all I have and all I know.
From my first moment you were there
In your arms lay the strength I now bear
From that first moment each day I have you
The seasons, they change, but the heart stays the same
You gave me all I have and all I know.
~S. Babenia


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tale As Old As Time

Anne-girl and I are in the middle of watching North and South (2004) and though Anne-girl keeps reiterating, "This is Pride and Prejudice all over again," the story that keeps coming to my mind is Beauty and the Beast.  (N&S is amazing, by the way.  Highly, highly recommend it.  Review coming... eventually.  When I get around to it. :P)

Anyway, I kept mentally comparing Margaret and Mr. Thornton's relationship to that of Belle and the Beast in the Disney movie.  Stop giggling.  The theme song fits, it really does! See for yourself. (I searched on YouTube but couldn't find a good quality music video combining the song with clips from N&S, unfortunately.)

Tale as old as time, true as it can be
Barely even friends, then somebody bends

Just a little change--small, to say the least.
Both a little scared, neither one prepared
Beauty and the Beast.

Ever just the same, ever a surprise
Ever as before, ever just as sure as the sun will rise
Tale as old as time, tune as old as song...

Bittersweet and strange, finding you can change
Learning you were wrong...

Certain as the sun, rising in the east
Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme...


and the Beast
(um, apologies to all Mr. Thornton fans out there *ducks*)

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast.

Cue all those "awwwww"s...

Apologies again.  I really do like Mr. Thornton.  No, really! I do!  In fact, I was utterly thrilled when I found this video combining one of my favorite Beauty and the Beast songs with clips from N&S (unfortunately, however, it DOES contain That Scene in the mill at the beginning, so exercise caution).  Does the song fit perfectly or what?  (Don't say what.)

I know posting has been rather spotty lately and I haven't been putting up much of substance... life's been ridiculously busy, but things are slowing down this week (sort of ) and I hope to have a more interesting post up soon!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Random Characters: Fanny Price

{Introducing the Random Characters Series. It's about random literary characters, by moi, posted whenever, and it has no rhyme and no reason except for the fact that I like people in books--and movie adaptations of said books--and I like writing about them.  I've also discovered that I like defending characters that are sometimes misunderstood--so you may see a lot of that.  Like today, when I tackle Fanny Price, a sadly overlooked Austen heroine.  The end.}

"I am sorry for Miss Crawford; but I am more sorry to see you drawn in to do what you had resolved against." ~Fanny Price, Mansfield Park

Fanny Price makes me think of Amy Dorrit. Sweet, quiet, and sensible, she cares deeply about her family and friends, and she has high ideals and principles. The best word to describe her would probably be "retiring". Or maybe "timid". Or perhaps even "painfully shy". (Yes, I know that's two words, but sometimes I need a modifying adverb.)

Fanny has been harshly criticized by many Austen readers, and that's a real shame. She's timid and mouselike, and at first glance she doesn't appear to have much backbone. She lets her pretentious relations walk all over her. The Bertram family was kind to take her in and lighten the load on her mother--and yes, she should be grateful--but that doesn't give them any reason to treat her like a servant and constantly remind her that she is not of the same station as they. And Fanny puts up with it without a complaint. Her meekness is admirable, but at the same time I can see why some people think she's a doormat.

However, Fanny is most certainly not a doormat. A doormat would be someone who has no opinions, no spine, no convictions or beliefs, and no ability to speak up. Fanny lacks none of those things: she's just shy about showing them. She has strength of character, and that's what keeps her from being "insipid", as one cynical critic called her.

When the Tom Bertram and his sisters, along with the Crawfords and Mr. Rushworth, decide to put on a play and invite the neighbors to watch, Fanny steadfastly refuses to take part, because she knows that Sir Thomas Bertram wouldn't approve. (In those days, playacting was frowned upon, as many plays were bawdy and inappropriate, especially for high-class society.) They tease and pester her, but she sticks to her guns. Edmund Bertram at first protests too, but then he finally gives in and plays the part of Anhalt; if he didn't, his sisters would invite other friends to join in and he couldn't bear to have the whole neighborhood drawn into the brouhaha. Fanny is disappointed that Edmund didn't remain firm, yet she is understanding and forgiving.

Fanny also displays strength when she refuses Henry Crawford's proposal. Most girls of her station in life would have been thrilled by a proposal from a young man of large fortune (I wonder if he has FIVE THOUSAND a year?), but Fanny didn't let that sweep her off her feet. She knew that Henry Crawford wasn't her ideal husband--in fact, that he wasn't anybody's ideal husband. He didn't measure up to her standards of morality and character, and therefore she took a deep breath and refused him. And she held her ground when Sir Thomas tried to convince her of the folly of her decision. She knew that Henry wasn't to be trusted... and she was right. Plus, she was already in love with Edmund (even if he didn't know it) so why would she want to marry Henry?

This brings me to something which I do not admire in Fanny. She fell in love with her cousin Edmund. Um, hello? Yes, yes, I know that the Anglican Church permitted marriage between cousins in those days (look at the match planned between Mr. Darcy and Anne de Bourgh) but still. I mean, they grew up together. He was practically like an older brother--he even paid for her stamps! And they were closely blood related. Nope, sorry, Fanny, I can't endorse that. Edmund may be nice and kind and stupid enough to fall for Mary Crawford eager to see the best in everyone, but he's still her COUSIN.

And... he doesn't realize that he's in love with Fanny until the second-to-last page in the book. Although that was Jane Austen's fault. (Don't kill me, Miss Laurie and Melody."... And not a week later, Edmund did cease to care about Mary Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny, as Fanny herself could desire." Talk about hastily tying up loose ends! That sentence was quite a let-down for me. I wasn't expecting a mushy-gushy proposal (this is Jane Austen, after all) but I was at least expecting something along the lines of, "Fanny, will you marry me?"  You know, simple question, no frills about it, but actually getting the point across.

However, there is a redeeming quality in the whole Fanny-and-Edmund thing: they are, in short, Fanny and Edmund. Just like another couple "of which I know of".. except, of course, that these two are not at all like the illustrious Mr. and Mrs. Sparkler (who have no nonsense about them).  [I'll take this opportunity to point out that Anne-girl and I read/saw Little Dorrit before we discovered Mansfield Park, and were most excessively diverted by the coincidence of names.]

In conclusion, I like Fanny Price because I respect her. She's not quite perfect, but, then again, if she were, I probably wouldn't like her anyway.  Perfect people are... well, boring.  (Apologies to any and all perfect people out there.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Entries for Miss Laurie's Contest

Miss Laurie over at Old-Fashioned Charm is hosting a lovely period-drama themed Keep Calm contest, and I had a great deal of fun making up two entries!  (The downside to hosting your own contests is that you don't get to enter them... so I was quite thrilled to hear that Miss Laurie was going to be hosting one similar to my Jane Austen themed contest.)

Entry #1 (from Anne of Green Gables):

That scene where Matthew goes to buy the dress for Anne is my mom's favorite in the entire movie, and I love it too--it's so sweet and funny!

Entry #2 (from Pride and Prejudice 1995):

This one, as I'm sure you can tell, comes from the infamous Lake Scene-- I always get such a kick out of Mr. Darcy's nervous stuttering.  "And your family is--is in good health?"  You said that already...

Thanks for hosting this, Miss Laurie!

Keep Calm, We Have A Winner

Congratulations to Jessica of Safirewriter on winning the Jane Austen Keep Calm contest! The public has voted, and Jessica's hilarious poster has been proclaimed the winner.

Congratulations, Jessica-- and thank you to everyone else for entering!