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Cover of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Story Adaptation by Stacy King. Manga: Classsic Literature. Morpheus Studios (Illustrator), Shane Law (Illustrator), Po Tse (Artist). Udon Entertainment (August 19, 2014). Price: $19.99.

Stacy King has adapted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for a manga-reading audience with illustrations by Shane Law, Po Tse, and Morpheus Studios. Whenever a story is adapted for a different media format, choices must be made in order to use the strengths of the new media to tell the story. Overall this adaptation is beautifully done. The basic storyline is intact and the artwork is beautifully rendered as you can tell from the lovely cover image (though the interior artwork is all in grey scale).

The basic story is a love story that threads its way through horrible first impressions, misunderstandings, pride, and prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters of a country gentleman and his wife, is insulted when she overhears Mr. Darcy’s response to his friend, Mr. Bingley, urging Darcy to dance with her. Mr. Darcy is actually shy and uncomfortable in crowded social situations but she doesn’t know that at the time. Later Mr. Darcy realizes that she’s witty, educated, and not fawning over him; thus, he finds himself falling in love. Meanwhile, she is fed a lot of balderdash about Mr. Darcy from a man who has “all the appearance of goodness” and makes a grand impression on all he meets. There’s also a secondary love story involving Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s older sister, and Mr. Bingley. As with most love stories things work out in the end but the journey is what makes the story a classic and loved by many no matter what format it takes — book, film, and now, manga.

Still, the problem with adaptations is that choices need to be made. This time the story is told and shown to be set close to the period in which Austen originally wrote it. However, the societal mores of the time depicted in this version do not match those that existed during this time period. For example, in the version of Longbourn shown in the artwork, no member of the Bennet family would be answering their own door let alone folding the linens; there would be servants to do such work.

It was a time when the distinctions of class were kept to and there were many rules of behavior that now-a-days we’d find archaic and maybe even silly. Upper class single women could not write to an unrelated male unless she was engaged to him. She’s have to write to his mother or sister and leave it to them to pass on the information. People could not simple talk to another person — they had to be formally introduced first. In fact, public venues such as assemblies usually had a designated person who was responsible for introducing people to one another if they were not yet acquainted and wished to meet. There are many instances where modern social customs are referenced that would, in the original work, be offensive to the characters of that time period. This may bother readers who are familiar with the original Austen work and time period — new readers reading Austen for the first time would most likely not even notice these issues.

However, if you read this version and enjoy it, you may want to read the original Austen novel on which it is based because the actual story is one that transcends the time in which Austen wrote. It’s universal appeal is why her works live on. Not only have her novels been adapted for film, manga, and classic comics, but they have, by other authors, been updated to modern times and still they resonate with readers.

Overall, this is a wonderful adaptation and a great way to interest new readers in classic literature.

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Woman in Black DVD cover image

Woman in Black ( Directed by James Watkins. Starring: Daniel Radcliffe and Ciarán Hinds. Watched the DVD (no special features on the rental disk).

First off, I really like movies and books that are a bit ambiguous as to what is going on especially at the end. Also, I really don’t mind having to work a bit to figure out what’s happened and what’s happening in a film provided I feel entertained by the end of the movie.

I really didn’t have much of a clue about what the Woman in Black was about before seeing it. All I’d heard is that it was similar to Turn of the Screw (book by Henry James) or a type of psychological thriller. After seeing the movie, I’ll agree that it is very much a psychological thriller horror but it is much closer to The Grudge (2005) an American remake of the Japanese film, Ju-on (2004).

Check out this trailer for Woman in Black:


In the movie, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a lawyer who is sent to deal with all the papers at Eel Marsh House outside the village of Cryphin Gifford. The house is located away from the village on a jutting piece of land that is cut off during high tide. The owners are dead and Kipps firm is settling the estate. On the train he meets Mr. Daily (Ciarán Hinds) who lives near the village and offers to drive him to the village in when they arrive at the station.

In the village, Kipps leans that he doesn’t have a room at the inn. The local lawyer is acting strangely and the villagers seem to want him to leave as soon as possible –preferably without going out to the house. Of course, Kipps must do the job he was sent there to do before his son and the nanny arrive in a few days for what he’d hoped would be a holiday. (Kipps is a widower and a single father still mourning the loss of his wife who died giving birth to a son, Joseph.)

With that setup, most viewers would expect that with rich landowners dead and the house empty and a cagey local lawyer, that the entire village is up to something. However, from the first scene of the film, you know that something more sinister is going on. The problem is that no one is talking and since Kipps is the person that the camera is following, viewers can only wonder at what he sees and doesn’t see and try to piece together the backstory from the clues as Kipps discovers them.

There’s also a great deal of little things that happen subtly in the background and if you blink you miss them — such as the eye looking back at Kipps from a moving picture viewer that he finds in the house — only no one is there in the room with him. He comes across documents that hint that the house holds many more secrets than just strange noises and shapes seen in windows or out of the corner of his eye as he works.

There’s not much more I can say without spoiling the movie for you. The house and the surroundings are perfect for such a movie — dark and mysterious with times when it is cut off from the rest of the world. Sullen villagers who don’t want anyone to upset the fragile balance they have achieve with the evil that walks among them.

The setting and direction manage to keep you glued to your seat, hoping against hope that what you fear is going on is wrong and fearful that you’re right. Then there’s the hope that everything will turn out okay at the end after all. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t make any difference at all. That’s where the ambiguity comes in — in the end you make your own decision about what kind of ending the movie has and whether it is optimistic or pessimistic.

As always, I’m interested in the views of others. So if you’ve seen the movie, what did you think about it?

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A while back I somehow managed to stubble over The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on youtube. I’ve now caught up on all the available episodes and must wait for the next one. So, I thought I’d share.

Lizzie Bennet is a graduate student in communications. She has two sister’s. Jane who is older than Lizzie and Lydia who is the youngest. This story line has no Mary of Kitty. They all live at home. Times are tough and the economy being what it is and money being tight, Mrs. Bennet is determined to marry off the girls. She’s targeted their new neighbor Bing Lee for Jane.

So, things are the same but different. The writers have done a great job of updating Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for modern times. If you’ve read the books or even if you haven’t you’ll enjoy Lizzie’s video blog — technical work filming and editing being done by her best friend Charlotte Lu.

Here’s the first episode:

Give it a try and let me know what you think. This show really needs more viewers. How else can I share the excitement.

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Maybe it’s all the rain or the high 50’s temps but I’m finding it difficult to get in the spirit of Christmas. Of course, putting in some longer hours working (husband) and trying to breathe (me) hasn’t made it any easier. No tree this year and just one of my Santa models and some Christmas cards around the door and a holly ball is the limit of my decorations this year.

Anyway, we got the gifts mailed to our mothers and our son. But the holiday spirit just seems to come and go — usually dashed by reading the news. So tonight I thought I’d check and see if there were any specially interesting synchronized Christmas lights this year. Well, I found this video where an entire neighborhood was lit up and synchronized to the same music. This takes dedication and planning and programming.

While searching for these lights, I noticed that Google had a special logo tonight (Dec 23rd) that plays a holiday song when you click on each of the lights. Give it a try.

Maybe you’re in the spirit of the holidays but if not maybe the video and the Google logo will help you get in the spirit.

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Cover of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock StarFizwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud.  Sourcebooks Landmark (September 1, 2011). Pages: 566. ISBN: 978-1402257810.  Trade Paperback. $14.99 (Amazon: $9.77 / Kindle: $9.28).

Okay, I have to admit that it was the title that got to me. Fitzwilliam Darcy as a rock star. Really, how was that going to work? Well, believe it or not, it does work. Rigaud sets up the entire book in the prologue. The prologue is essentially bits of narration and description of the images of a program called Inside the Music focusing on Slurry. Slurry is the rock band that has Fitzwilliam Darcy as the lead guitarist, Charles Bingley as bass guitar, and Richard Fitzwilliam on drums. Anne De Bourgh works for the record company De Bourgh Records which has a contract with Slurry. This gives the reader the background needed for this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

Our story opens with the information that Slurry has just had their most recent opening group quit the tour and they’re auditioning replacements. They’ve stopped into Meryton Public House to listen to Long Bourne Suffering, an all girl group made up of Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Bennet, and Charlotte Lucas. Their manager Mr. Collins is just what you’d expect from the name but Slurry hires Long Borne Suffering to finish out the tour with them.

As for other characters from the original book. Darcy is of course concerned with the education and care of his younger sister, Georgianna. Mr. Bennet is a music professor. Mary studies music intensively, mostly classical, while Jane and Elizabeth play rock, folk, and blues. There is a Mr. Wickham in the mix also. However, it’s all modern and cleverly done. The attitudes and characteristics of the original book by Austen are surprisingly clear even with the update to modern times and occupations.

I was surprised at how well the entire story came together. You’d need to read it to see for yourself but I believe you’d be pleasantly surprised. Though I do have to warn those more traditional readers that there are sex scenes — after all it is a modern romance.

If you caught the reference to the group’s name — Long Borne Suffering — you’ll be enchanted with all the references to phrases, scenes, places, and people woven into the story. This is really a must read for fans of the original story who really are up to something updated and modern but with the same heart as Pride and Prejudice. It’s also different enough to keep you on the edge of your seat as you read because, with all this change, you can’t really expect the author to sort everyone out to a tidy Austen-like happily every after ending. Or can you?

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Cover of Julie & JuliaI noticed that today would have been Julia Child’s birthday. I remember seeing her on TV when her cooking show was new and I was young. I remember her voice and the fact that she made it look like no matter what happened, or what went wrong, it was okay, because who’d know what went on in your kitchen if the guests were all in the living room. I have to wonder what she’d think of the popularity of open floor plans where your guests gather around the kitchen island and watch you get dinner ready. Somehow I doubt that it would bother her.

Last week we finally watched Julie & Julia based on the book by Julie Powell. Powell wrote a blog where she cooked her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, in a period of 365 day making 524 recipes. You can still read the blog online — the Julie / Julia Project. The last post is about when Julie heard that Julia Child died. (Amazon has the book available in paperback with a look inside so you can get a taste of the writing.)

Julia Child was an amazing woman. She did so much at a time when women were so circumscribed in what they should or shouldn’t do with their lives. If you haven’t seen the movie here’s the trailer — maybe you’ll decided it’s a must see too.

I thought the movie was informative and affirming. I like cooking and I’m no great chef — I’m more a plain home cooking type with once in a great while a foray into making something fancy. I admire Julie Powell for working her way through all those recipes — that’s a lot of work, especially when holding down a full-time job. Seems there are lots of daring women in the world we just need to keep our eyes and ears open.

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Sometimes during the bleakness of not being able to come up with the right words, you find yourself wandering the corridors of the internet and you find something that … well, I’ll let you be the judge.

I got to admit that this one has something going for it that many of the vampire, zombie, werewolf mashup don’t — it completely skips trying to fit in with any actual books and goes for the plight of women in 1810 in high society.

Comments? Thoughts? Is violence ever the answer to boredom?

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cover of The Darcy Cousins by Monica FairviewThe Darcy Cousins: Scandal, Mischief, and Mayhem arrive at Pemberley… by Monica Fairview, Sourcebooks, ISBN: 978-1-4022-3700-3, pages 432.

The rift between Darcy and his aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh has been somewhat mended since Elizabeth has given birth to an heir. Of course that doesn’t mean that Lady Catherine actually recognizes Elizabeth’s presence. But the entire family is gathering at Rosings once more for Easter. Joining the family are Robert Darcy (see The Other Mr. Darcy) and his wife and two relatives from America, Frederick Darcy and his sister Clarissa Darcy.

Georgiana is hoping that she and Clarissa will become close friends. Georgiana has been feeling that she’s in the way or not really wanted. Darcy marrying Elizabeth was definitely a good thing but where Georgiana always had her brother for company now he seems always involved with Elizabeth and their son — they don’t purposely exclude her they just don’t seem to notice.

Once Frederick and Clarissa arrive, they seem to get off on the wrong foot with Lady Catherine. While Frederick can be accepted, after all he is American, a business man, and rich. Clarissa must learn to become a lady — of course that’s the type of lady that Lady Catherine approves of, and that’s where all the trouble begins. Clarissa is neither tractable or docile.

Georgiana and Clarissa do become friends. Georgiana learns that one can be a lady and still have strong opinions and interests of her own. When Clarissa is appalled by the way everyone ignores Anne de Bourgh and has Georgiana join her in her campaign to become friends with Anne, Georgiana begins to realize that she’s always just accepted things and never looked at them from the outside. She’s also surprised by what they learn. Her eyes opened, she begins to look at other behaviors she’s always accepted.

As is usual, one things leads to another and before long Lady Catherine is convinced that Clarissa is practically the devil personified, and there to ruin the family. Once again the family finds itself rent by Lady Catherine’s insistence on her point of view. Everyone decamps for London and the season.

Georgiana struggles to find her own way in society with her new insights. She learns that Clarissa is in England for more than this visit and that there are depths to her American cousin. In fact, soon Clarissa and Georgiana find themselves interested in the same man. But is he the right man for either of them? Will their friendship last through the season?

To say any more would spoil the fun of learning all the secrets, intrigues, and adventures to be had in The Darcy Cousins. The book’s advanced press implies that the book is all about Clarissa and her problems but this is really Georgiana’s story. Clarissa is the spur that goads Georgiana to action and change. Georgiana is firmly front and center. She’s always been in the background and this time Monica Fairview gives the reader a chance to get to know her a bit better. Shy? Yes, but also she has the same strong Darcy stubbornness and loyalty. It’s a turbulent story as Georgiana becomes a person most of us would like to know better and have stand at our side in adversity.

Another excellent follow on to Pride and Prejudice that maintains the integrity of the original characters while moving the story of their lives forward.

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