Monday, October 27, 2014

Emma Party Wrap Up ~ Links, Give-Away Winners, and Party Favors!

So here we are actually at the end of the Emma Week!!!

And first and foremost a most enormous thank you to all you lovely, wonderful ladies who participated in the party with your delightful posts and comments!! (And also to all of you who took the time to read and follow the party via email and so forth as well... ;)) Due to all your enthusiastic participation, I think it’s been a most entirely splendid success!! :)


Following are all the marvelous bloggers who joined in the party. Be sure to check out all their posts and leave plenty of comments around to keep spreading the fun and cordiality. :) Here are the links:

Aibhilin (Evelyn)'s tag answers at Me, Myself and I
Elizabeth Anne's tag answers at Incidents of a Literary Nature
Emma Jane's tag answers at A Lantern in Her Hand
Éowyn's Emma Personalities at Captured by the Word
Éowyn's tag answers at Captured by the Word
Hamlette's review of Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange at The Edge of the Precipice
Hamlette's review of the '96 (GP) Emma at Hamlette's Soliloquy
Hamlette's tag answers at Hamlette's Soliloquy
Joanna's tag answers at The Squirrel's Diary
Miss Jane Bennet's tag answers at Classic Ramblings
My littlest sister's guest post (tag answers, etc) at Along the Brandywine
Naomi's Emma Games and Character Quiz at Wonderland Creek
Naomi's guest post on favorite Emma '09 dresses at Along the Brandywine
Naomi's post on Why Mr. Knightley is my favorite literary hero at Wonderland Creek
Naomi's tag answers at Wonderland Creek
Natalie's review of the '96 (GP) Emma at Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens
Natalie's tag answers at Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens
Rose P's review of the '09 Emma at Best of Classics
Rose P's tag answers at The Best of Classics

My posts here Along the Brandywine:
~ Reviews ~ 

~ And Also ~

(And important note: if you didn’t get your link in yet—or I somehow missed it—do leave it here in a comment and I’ll most happily add it! :))


And…the give-away! I’ll be contacting the winners directly (keeping all information strictly confidential, of course) and after I do, I’ll need to hear back from you by November 3rd (or I will need to draw another winner). And now without more ado, our winners for each item are…

The Emma print (with couple) from Antique Fashionista ~ Elizabeth Anne D.
The Emma print (portrait) from Audrey Eclectic ~ Patricia
Lilla Rose hairpiece ~ Naomi
Cameo satin necklace and hair clip set from Sew Many Treasures ~ Natalie
Set of 12 floral photographic note cards ~ Joanna

Congratulations to all the winners! (And here’s a link back to the give-away if you wanted to see a picture again for each item.)


But wait…there’s more! Thanks to our own dear, charming and talented Naomi, I have some party favors for you all! They’re desktop backgrounds and (coming up as large pictures when downloaded) work quite beautifully. Do enjoy and feel free to save as many as you like! 

And thank you all again so much!!! Your involvement and encouragement made the party such a truly magnificent occasion!! :)

with hugs...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Emma Link-Up (reminder!!!)

This is just a quick reminder to submit your links (if you haven’t already) so I can get them all up on Monday. Alsobe sure you’ve entered the give-away!!!

I hope you all have a lovely Lord’s Day tomorrow! :)

My Emma Tag Answers!

~ Discovering Emma Week Tag ~

1. Have you ever read Emma? ~ Yes—twice recently in fact while preparing for this party!

2. If so, is that how you first made her acquaintance? (If not, feel free to elaborate!) ~ Yes, though that in itself is rather a long story. (At first, indeed, I’m afraid it was quite the least read on my Austen shelf.) And then…well, yes…you all know about this. :)

3. Do you have a favorite film adaptation? ~ Hem! I shall have to say the ’09 here (for tremendous reasons that shall remain nameless and unstated—though you can see a little here ;)), but the ’96 runs a very close second.

4. Favorite dress(es) from that film? ~ Rather than doing a separate costume post, I decided to make collages here for all the four versions I reviewed during the party. So here goes!

The ’72 – Aren’t Harriet’s dresses (pink and blue and floral) just so pretty? And I love the flowered ribbon on Miss Fairfax’s bonnet! Also, the gold embossing effect on Emma’s party dress is quite intriguing. I’m not big on her ruff (ahem!) lace that is, in the last one, but the floral print is so pretty, and the dress actually has neat, triangular dagger-type points on the sleeves.

The ’96 (GP) – I love, love, LOVE just about every single dress in this movie! (And hence, this is all highly representative. ;)) But oh, yes—I must mention Emma’s blue dress! This dress is probably my favorite “Emma” dress of all (indeed, one of my favorite period drama dresses entirely). It’s a pinstripe…and simple and lovely…and so freshly, gorgeously blue!!

The ’96 (KB) – There are some positively lovely dresses in this adaptation. I love all the lacy films and sheers—and the green dress on the bottom here is just gorgeous! (Additionally—and I put this on one of the post signatures—but I really like the Grecian/classical-style headdress Emma wears in several scenes.)

The ’09 – As you can see—quite beautiful. I think my absolute favorites are Emma’s yellow dress shown twice on the bottom, the natural-cotton looking Spencer in the middle right, and the small sprigged floral on the top left.

5. Share a line you love from either the book or movie/s—several if you like! There are soooo many! Well, leaving out the ones I already quoted in my ’96 review, there are all of Mr. Knightley's there’s Mr. Knightley’s in the ’09: “I thought gentlemen always rode in carriages.” And then (book and films) there’s Mr. Knightley to Mrs. Elton: “No,”—he calmly replied,—“there is but one married woman in the world whom I can allow to invite what guests she pleases to Donwell, and that one is—” “—Mrs. Weston, I suppose,” interrupted Mrs. Elton, rather mortified. “No—Mrs. Knightley;—and, till she is in being, I will manage such matters myself.” Love it!

6. Is Emma one of your favorite heroines? Why or why not? ~ She’s definitely among my top fifteen (which topic by the way, would be fun to discuss in a blog post sometime). As to why… I’m afraid—quite certain—that by now you probably all have a most excellent idea. ;)

7. What is one of Emma’s strengths (good qualities)? ~ Here are several… :) She’s truly caring, she’s really always dutiful, and she’s not too proud to admit her errors and quickly change.

8. Describe in one (or two…or three) sentences, why Mr. Knightley is so wonderful. ~ His genuine care and concern for others is such a concrete, tangible, integral part of his character. And—a champion of truth and clarity—loving Emma—his love isn’t self-absorbed, setting out to gratify itself. First and foremost he cares about who she is and who she is becoming—her character and actions in time and space—and he polishes and refines to make her truly beautiful.

9. Why do you think Mr. Knightley and Emma are so well suited to each other? ~ This is hard, as so much of who she is must have been shaped by him going back even before the story begins (though a great deal obviously transpires over the course of it), but—for both—honesty and openness are paramount.

10. Would you rather spend a week in Highbury with the Westons—on Abbey-Mill Farm with the Martins—or in London with the John Knightleys? ~ Hmmmm! How was I planning to answer this question?? In London with the John Knightleys. It would be fun to taste both the delights of town and the pleasant coziness of home in their company. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wit, Truth Telling & Virtue in Austen

For a writer justly considered one of the wittiest in the English language—well known for her stunning narrative style and sparkling character portrayals—Jane Austen really spent quite an astonishing amount of time stressing very opposite characteristics. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more remarkable I’ve found it.

In fact—in the midst of all her creation of witty, exciting characters—I would submit she’s always, always emphasizing underlying qualities of discernment and solidity. Discernment and judgment is definitely the theme with Catherine Morland (her first major heroine). Later she goes on to hold up Fanny Price and Anne Elliot as near perfection while some of her ‘lighter’ characters (Lizzy, Emma, etc.) are not considered as ‘arrived’ until they learn it!

Also, some of her more apparently ‘dull’, prosy characters seemingly have a deeper part of life figured out: both Miss Bates and Mr. Wodehouse in Emma are generally beloved in Highbury, their popularity due—not to wit (or even any deep perception)—but to a general readiness and warmth of heart. Even of her heroes, Mr. Knightley along with Edmund (and Mr. Darcy) are not witty per se. And there are those characters who definitely are: the Crawfords, Frank Churchill, Willoughby, etc.

And yet Austen delights in a healthy sense of humor. At least half her heroes have an excellent balance in that regard: Mr. Knightley, Captain Wentworth, Henry Tilney…even Edward Ferrars! It’s in knowing the appropriateness—when and how and with whom to tease (as Lizzy realizes near the end of P&P).

It’s all in using it with due thought and humility. Mr. Knightley says at one point, “Cole does not want to be wiser or wittier than his neighbors.” To which Emma replies, “In that respect, how unlike dear Mrs. Elton, who wants to be wiser and wittier than all the world!” It’s about using wit while maintaining general benevolence and charity.

Though this thread of general discernment and benevolence runs throughout all Austen’s writing, her skill certainly reached a masterful depth in her three later books: Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. Interestingly enough, the order sandwiches our heroine of the week (Emma) between two strongly quieter heroines—both strikingly perceptive with a tremendous clarity of thought and vision—Fanny Price in Mansfield Park and Anne Elliot in Persuasion. Emma certainly seems puzzling in that regard as, at first glance, it might seem Austen was flip-flopping between types of heroines. But what if, instead, she’s really exploring that same long running idea—switching the lens to come at it from a different angle?

Edmund Bertram (in Mansfield Park) and Mr. Knightley being Austen’s personal favorites out of all her characters merits strong consideration. Upright and honorable, a defining characteristic of both is that they are outspoken truth-tellers (though, of course, Edmund comes in for his own share of blindness and need for discernment).

Yet when it comes to blindness, Austen regularly points out that (though others bear their own responsibility for leading astray) our greatest vulnerability to their attack comes from first blinding ourselves. There’s Catherine Morland (with her dramatic reading selections), Marianne (whose troubles stem from “imprudence” toward herself and “want of kindness to others”), Lizzy (offended and determined to think ill of Mr. Darcy), Edmund (reasoning away his own just scruples), Emma (blinded by her vanity and fanciful pride), and Captain Wentworth (in his resentment determined to think ill of Anne). All fall prey to further troubles and blindness.

Truth is underlined as the antidote to all of them. Marianne is restored in the discovery of Willoughby’s full character, Edmund of Mr. and Miss Crawford’s, and Captain Wentworth when the truth of Anne’s rectitude and steadfast love finally reach him. For the other three—unrighteous anger leads to death and destruction, but righteous anger to repentance and life—and three of Austen’s heroes are confrontational in such a direction. Henry Tilney confronts the over-imaginative Catherine like a true forerunner of Mr. Knightley—ending with, “Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?” upon which she weeps tears of shame. Mr. Darcy’s letter provides a hearty cure to Lizzy (though she provides him about an equal dose during the proposal itself). (Darcy’s truth-speaking, indeed, is not particularly out of love at the time, so much as a sense of justice—though Lizzy later refers to the ending of his letter as being “charity itself”.) But either way, it has the same effect. Lizzy, confronted with the truth from him, soon cries to herself, “How despicably have I acted! …I, who have prided myself on my discernment!—I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable distrust.—How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! …Till this moment, I never knew myself.”

And then there’s Emma. Emma and Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley whose course of truth-speaking culminates at Box Hill in (what Peter Leithart describes as) “one of the most forceful and deeply right speeches in English literature.” The false lover flatters, but the true lover speaks hard words and they bring repentance and beauty.

Though I’d read and listened to Emma, I would never have listed it as one of my favorite stories until about two years ago—thanks to first seeing the '96 film. Somehow that particular film always makes me start seeing ways I personally need to improve, making me want to change, to press on, to—by the grace of God—be better than I currently am. And then Emma landed firmly on my favorites list! I saw the ’09—where wisdom, discernment, and generosity (shown as solidly attractive and emotionally compelling) are highlighted as positive goods—well worth the striving for.

Jane Austen’s heroines learn to subdue themselves, but they’re never suppressed. Rather they’re pruned—fitted and made ready—for further, wider places and greater authority—Barton Park, Pemberly, Donwell…

The first step is humility. Marianne has to learn this—as do Lizzy and Emma. But, it’s not self-centered ostentatious self-humiliation. (To quote) C.S. Lewis said, “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

Humility is first of all a recognition of our God-given place—who He has made us to be and just what we have been called to. It’s seeing our own faults and shortcomings, and it’s a recognition that all we have is a gift of grace. And from there, humility can turn outward—turning toward others—in active, self-giving love.

Movie Review: Emma ‘09 with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller – BBC

Where, oh where to begin??? I actually heard about this movie shortly after it first came out (and read some subsequent reviews), but it wasn’t until this year that I allowed myself to be persuaded to watch it. The first time I viewed it (notice I said first) I wasn’t too struck during the opening episodes—but now (after something like three complete viewings and numerous excerpts!) I feel in a much better position to give my settled opinion.

Which is? That in short, I love it! The music, the handling of the story… It’s alive.

The casting is brilliant. Miss Bates (pictured above),

Mr. Weston… the entire neighborhood is very well done.

My one (of two) exceptions here was probably Mrs. Weston… (It took me two viewings to start “getting” her expressions, but the more I’ve watched it the more I’ve truly come to like her.)

The Eltons are arrogant and underhandedly cutting—very anti-charitable.

And the John Knightley’s are absolutely perfect!

They seem to fit so well together, and it’s simply fun and delightful to see so much of them! 

Frank is very good—with high spirits and puzzlingly moody swings.

And... Jane Fairfax is my other “exception” (she doesn’t exactly have the tall elegance or mystery of the book)—but she is sweet and quiet, and I think overall fits well with everyone else.

I particularly liked how they developed Mr. Woodhouse—why he might have been so nervous and fearful.

Harriet is about exactly as described in the book—both in looks and manners—and as she grows in conceit, I completely identify with Emma’s shocked reactions.

Robert Martin is very good:

an honest, upstanding, wholehearted, serious-minded young man—thoroughly looking up to Mr. Knightley!

And Mr. Knightley. Oh my… Mr. Knightley is… absolutely… positively… (and in all other ways) a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!!

His mannerisms, his wry twists of humor, his wonderful, down-to-earth forthrightness! (Did I already use the word amazing??? :)) Ahem! I know I’ve said this before… ;), but words really do quite fail me.

One thing I noticed (and thoroughly enjoyed) is that we get a bit more of his side throughout the story (particularly as he’s figuring out and deducing the various games and complexities going on).

About Emma herself, I initially had very mixed feelings. Again (as I started my first viewing), I wasn’t at all sure about her, but I was firmly floored by the end. She does carry on a bit (regarding the Bates, Eltons, etc.), but I think it comes across as immaturity.

She simply is not ready at the beginning. Mature in stature, she’s yet a growing young woman—and she has to be softened. And I think Romola Garai does a quite literally incredible job showing Emma’s growth in maturity and womanly tenderness.

Running through the entire story as filmed, is also the challenge of what it means to be rooted in a place—in one locality—while at the same time there is an emphasis on moving and motion, tying in with Emma’s growth. Sharp-tongued (she says some sharper things than Lizzy ever did)—set in her own opinions—often scrambling for rational arguments—Emma’s need for a guide is very apparent. And thankfully, he’s right there the entire time!

This version particularly highlights the brother-sister aspect of their relationship, and through it all Mr. Knightley’s concern for her (for her character development and protection) shines out radiantly. There’s a wonderful, wonderful emphasis on her coming to a fullness and ripeness of womanhood as their relationship subtly changes (or as each becomes aware of what it really is). He wins her to gentleness: through it all underlining what a man really is and should be.

(This part is amazing....)

And also, as my brother says, “Emma’s great because it’s all about ordinary people screwing up.” Ordinary, everyday people messing up in ways we often like to deem trivial in our own case, but which are in fact hugely important—such as uncharitable thoughts and slips of the tongue. In this particular version, there is an emphasis on truth—and also on the charity necessary among family members: brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters and sons (in-law)—and charity between multiple families.

All in all, I’m very impressed by their careful accuracy to the book—with often an attention to even the minutest of details (where someone was sitting, gestures, etc.) while yet worlds away from approaching it woodenly! Also, I particularly liked how they brought together the three threads of Emma, Frank Churchill, and Jane Fairfax right near the beginning as it really helped cement all the connections.

As a note, I’m generally pretty careful about what “extras” I watch, but the ones on here are well worth viewing (I didn’t find they took you out of the story at all). It was delightful to see how thoughtfully oriented the entire production was (on everyone’s part!) and what a community effort it was—very much in keeping with the spirit of Emma!

So—with a perfectly marvelous casting, thrilling musical score, and beautiful locations and filming—this is an absolutely gorgeous production I’m now utterly thrilled to number among my particular favorites!!

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