01 January 2011

Everything Austen II - Wrap Up

Once again, I bit off more than I could chew - astonish me! I did complete reading/watching everything I set out to do for Everything Austen II (Stephanie - If you're listening... I'm hoping there will be an Everything Austen III), but I have to finish my writing today - the final day - just like me in graduate school -- ugh. 
So let's get to it, shall we?
Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price
Lost in Austen - Synopsis: Amanda Price is sick of the modern world. She yearns for the romance and elegance found in the books by her favorite author, Jane Austen. But she's about to get a rude awakening as one fateful evening, she is propelled into the scheming 19th century world of Pride and Prejudice while that book's Elizabeth Bennet is hurled into hers. As the book's familiar plot unfolds, Amanda triggers new romantic twists and turns within the Bennet family circle as she clumsily tries to help the sisters nab husbands and even captivates the tantalizing Mr. Darcy herself. But what about Elizabeth...and what will become of one of the world's greatest love stories? (via Amazon)
Ummm. Let's say, I watched it. I really enjoyed several characters, Alex Kingston (River Song in Dr. Who) as Mrs. Bennet, Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Bennet, but I'm not sure I cared for Elliot Cowan as Mr. Darcy. Is that the end of the world, hardly, but I do think I need to watch this again to give it a fair shake.
Murder at Longbourn - Synopsis: Jane Austen fans will welcome Kiely's spirited debut, a contemporary cozy that introduces Elizabeth Parker, a fact-checker for a D.C.-area newspaper who's struggling to lead a healthier lifestyle. Elizabeth resolves to give up fatty foods, along with her two-timing lobbyist beau, before leaving northern Virginia for a restorative New Year's Eve at her great-aunt Winnie's bed-and-breakfast on Cape Cod. In tribute to Jane Austen, Winnie has named the property the Inn at Longbourn . There Elizabeth encounters dashing, Darcyesque Peter McGowan, her childhood antagonist; a Clue-worthy clutch of guests gathered for Winnie's gala murder mystery fete; and then—you guessed it—an actual murder. That, and an abundance of clam chowder, are among the few predictable elements of an engaging adventure that will hopefully be but the first of many. (via Amazon via Publishers Weekly)
While a modern novel, there are plenty of references to Miss Austen and a lovely murder as well. The plot twists were great and not very predictiable, though I had a thought it might go the way it did, it was still a fun read. The romance was lively and believable. Totally worth reading and I plan to re-read again just for the fun of it. Very recommended!
Searching for Pemberley - Synopsis: Desperate to escape her life in a small Pennsylvania mining town, Maggie Joyce accepts a job in post-World War II London, hoping to find adventure. While touring Derbyshire, she stumbles upon the stately Montclair, rumored by locals to be the inspiration for Pemberley, the centerpiece of Jane Austen's beloved Pride and Prejudice. Determined to discover the truth behind the rumors, Maggie embarks on a journey through the letters and journals of Montclairs's former owners, the Lacey family, searching for signs of Darcy and Elizabeth. (via book)
This is a great story, but it does take a bit to keep up with all the characters and who they might be in Pride and Prejudice. This may be because of the way I read, it short bits and bites - just a few minutes at a time, so I had a difficult time at first keeping up with things. I then changed my way of reading and read this book in larger blocks of time and really enjoyed it. I would like to meet people like Beth and Jack Crowell, the wonderful couple that provide Maggie with all sorts of information to work on and true friendship as well. 
Mr. Darcy Broke my Heart - Synopsis: Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister’s behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn’t looking for Mr. Anyone. She’s been dating Neil — a nice if a bit negligent — sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy — leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author’s own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn’t logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places. (Publisher's Description)
As with Ms. Pattillo's other book (see review here), in general, I enjoyed the book. Again, pieces of Miss Austen's drafts appear and the Formidables, in the form of Harriet Dalrymple, also appear again. There are a few things I would like to see different, but they are along the same line as my thoughts on Jane Austen ruined my Life. It's worth reading, but having lived in England, some things are missing for me.  I do love the cover art for Ms. Pattillo's books - so amazing beautiful.
The Darcy Cousins - Synopsis: A young lady in disgrace should at least strive to behave with decorum…
Dispatched from America to England under a cloud of scandal, Mr. Darcy’s incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning!
And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin, to the delight of a neighboring gentleman. Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her “keeper” Mrs. Jenkinson, simply…vanishes. But the trouble really starts when Clarissa and Georgiana both set out to win the heart of the same young man… (Publisher's Description)
I read this book without having read The Other Mr. Darcy first. I really enjoyed it. The character of Clarissa is just utterly charming and trouble, which is a great combination. I had a hard time putting this book down. What an excellent read. It would be so easy to give away spoilers, but I won't - you just need to read it. 

First, First of the Month Photos - January edition

Oak - 1 January 2011
I'm starting to document the changes in the garden at the beginning of each month, thanks to a lovely (I do think I over use that word), idea from MotH. So here are our lovely (there it is again) back yard plants, all replacements, excepting the oak and wisteria, from after Hurricane Ivan (2004). It's a typical Gulf Coast winter day. Currently 66 degrees with rain and a good bit of humidity all day today, but at least it is not freezing. So, now -- on with the wet 1st of January 2011 pictures.
Bald Cypress - 1 January 2011

River Birch #1 - 1 January 2011

River Birch #2 - 1 January 2011

Wisteria - 1 January 2011

New Year's Sangria

Sangria Ingredients
The MotH and I had lunch yesterday at our favorite Cali-Mex Restaurant, Cactus Flower, and since it was New Year's Eve and we had no rush, we had Sangria. It was lovely. Not too sweet, but fruity, so I decided in my infinite wisdom to make some to take to lovely Mother-in-Laws for New Year's Day Evening. So I read a few recipes - too much brandy and Cointreau for me. So I created my own version.

Recipe (if you can call making something up a recipe)
1 bottle of Australian Shiraz
1 naval orange, sliced thin
1 lemon, sliced thin
1 lime, sliced thin
1/4 c. granulated sugar
club soda, add a splash when serving

Happy 2011!

30 December 2010

Everything Austen II - The Jane Austen Handbook - Margaret C. Sullivan

Nothing like getting right down to the wire with Everything Austen II, is there? But sometimes you save some of the best for last. 
You just have to love Margaret Sullivan (Mags) from the blog AustenBlog and her book The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible yet Elegant Guide to Her World, is one of my favorite Austen-related books. It really tells you everything you need to know about Austen's world in a witty way and if you know Austen well, you will certainly read some things that make you laugh out loud. 
Some of my favorite parts are incidentals to the sections, such as "The Smell of the Shop" which Caroline Bingley most certainly tried to avoid - but we all know she's tainted. Additional sections include a variety of thing from how to have Christmas in the Country House to How to Dress (which taught me quite a bit). 
To my mind, it is always more easy to learn and remember things when you are having fun and Mags does just that.

Abita: Save our Shore

From the (very cool looking) bottle: This Abita brew is a message in a bottle: a distress signal for the troubled waters of our Gulf Coast. For every bottle sold Abita will donate 75 cents to the rescue and restoration of the environment, industry, and individuals fighting to survive this disastrous oil spill. Want to do more? Visit Abita.com

This unfiltered Weizen Pils is made with Pilsner and Wheat malts. It is hopped and dry hopped with sterling and German Perle hops. It has a brilliant gold color, a sweet malt flavor, and a pleasant bitterness
and aroma.

Let's hope people don't forget. We're still in trouble down here and it's a damn shame. Thanks Abita!*

* We purchased our own Abita.