Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Jane Austen Book Club meets The Jane Austen Film Club

Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton in North and South
When Maria Grazia asked me to write a guest post for her blog My Jane Austen Book Club, I knew which photo I would lead off with. For any of you who don't know Maria Grazia too well, she has another blog Fly High which often features items about Richard Armitage, to the delight of those of us who share her taste in men.

Anyhow...I have a blog called The Jane Austen Film Club (I know, eerily similar) which I have been writing for about 2 years now. I am an optometrist during the day, so this is a part time gig for me. How, I hear you ask, does a Canadian optometrist decide to start blogging about period drama? Well, it all started with these two people:

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice 1995
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth were in a photo similar to the one above which was plastered on the front of our weekly TV guide in 1995. As someone who had grown up avidly reading and watching Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie, my interest was piqued. I was also the mother of two young boys aged 4 and 1 at the time, so I needed a bit of television which didn't involve Winnie the Pooh.

And the rest, as they say is history. I taped the series on our old VCR, and subsequently wore out the video tapes. Thankfully, there were more films and mini-series on the way!

Sense and Sensibility 1995
By the time I heard that Sense and Sensibility was coming out, I had already devoured Jane Austen's wonderful book Pride and Prejudice, which is what many of you did after being captivated by Jennifer and Colin. For Sense and Sensibility, I had time to read the book first before seeing the film. With the book fresh in my head, I remember thinking what a genius Emma Thompson was to transform such a wonderful book into such a wonderful film. I was thrilled when she won the Oscar for her screenplay.

Persuasion 1995

Well, you can see where this is leading can't you? Again, like many other females in the 1990s, I was delighted that Hollywood and the BBC were anticipating the needs of an emotionally frazzled working mother by pumping out film after film that seemed like they were made just for me! Sigh!

Emma 1996

Even the big Hollywood movie makers were getting in on this phenomenon. Jane Austen was the new "It Girl" 200 years after she had written her books!

But, back to the story of my blog. As my children grew, so did my book and video (then DVD) collection. My two weaknesses are books and films and Amazon and IMDb were just enabling me! When the internet came along, I noticed that there were a lot of Jane Austen related blogs, but not many on the film adaptations of her books and other 19th century novels. And then I got a laptop!!!!

Wives and Daughters 1999
So finally, I stopped writing in my head (usually in the shower) and started writing on my new laptop. And then my sister suggested a blog instead of a book or a website which were my first ideas. So this blogging thing has been a journey for a woman with no writing experience, but just a lifetime of reading and enjoying film adaptations of my favourite books. I will admit that I prefer to see a film version first before I read the book. The book is always richer and often easier to follow after seeing a film version (especially with Dickens' many characters).

The Buccaneers 1995
Along the way, I have discovered other brilliant authors like Mrs. Gaskell and Edith Wharton and George Eliot and the Brontës. Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope have become my friends along with Thackeray and Hardy and P.G. Wodehouse. So many great books and so many great films! I get teased by my readers sometimes that I love ALL period drama and am not critical enough. I guess I am just so happy that they are making these films and mini-series AT ALL and I think even the worst period drama is better than the best reality TV. But I do have my faves of course, as do you I am sure.

I love the fact that my readers are always making suggestions of films I have yet to see. If only there was more time in the day!

Anne of Green Gables 1985
So if you would like to join the fun at The Jane Austen Film Club, come on by and add to the conversation. There are so many of us period drama junkies living all over this amazing planet and as far as I can tell, they are all really great people!

Thanks again to Maria Grazia for this opportunity to blather on about my favourite topic. It keeps me sane. And if you haven't read her hilarious account of going to see the village where the Vicar of Dibley was filmed, go take a look here.

Jenny Allworthy

P.S. Don't forget to visit Maria Grazia's My Jane Austen Book Club to see all of her other wonderful Austen related posts. Cheers!
P.P.S. Many thanks to my big sister for her encouragement and occasional editing and guest blogging. It has been a lovely way to spend time together.


  1. I love Maria's site. I actually found her way before I found this site. I think richard Armitage is amazing also. Great combo here.

  2. I lıke jane uasten novels and adaptaion films too :) mr. gasskel , dickens and others too ofcourse :) I m a fan of bbc mini dramas . I read ana watch then write my blog . it is very exciting thing . one day I found your blog it is very good blog. ı like it very much . ı hope you write all the time :)

  3. I LOVE this site. We are kindred spirits, Jenny! As you know I love period dramas and they are pure escapism from real life for a few hours! Bliss! Any distraction from my disability is most welcome. As you know, I love Jane Austen and The Brontes.

    Thank you for this site!

    (Leeds) x

  4. an ideal way of getting our 'period'ic dose of supplements with a full glass of drama
    thank you Jenny

  5. Hi Suzan, Winpohu, Kate and Mommbsta- You are all kindred spirits. Thanks for being part of the club!

  6. Hi Jenny:

    That is so interesting. Your exposure and subsequent fascination with period drama mirrors mine almost exactly. From Anne of Green Gables onward... Thanks for the great post!

    And since you mention that you're an optometrist. I have a question that has been on my mind for some time. Is there any association between early reading in children and far sightedness? Someone told me this once and I was wondering if it's true. Cheers.

    1. Cheers Olga! Yes we are kindred spirits (in Anne speak).

      Far sightedness (hyperopia) is typically genetic and so will not be affected by reading at any age. Near sightedness (myopia-which often appears in late childhood or adolescence) can be exacerbated by concentrated near work without taking breaks.

      So, early reading should always be encouraged, but parents should also encourage taking frequent breaks from reading or screen time by looking in the distance. Outdoor time is always best, but looking out a window will help. I hope that helps answer your question, Olga!

  7. ps...I just heard there's a new adaptation of Treasure Island on SKY TV. It will be broadcast here in May. The cast looks interesting.

  8. Hi Jenny! Thank you for this lovely post. I was curious about the genesis of your blog and also to know a bit more about the wonderful, witty woman who writes it! I know this is a labor of love for you and I appreciate all the time you put into it - you've certainly widened my world of period drama and I have found so many films because of you - Thank you!!




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