Monday, February 25, 2013

Darcy and Elizabeth - Class Differences

In 1814, Patrick Colquhoun, a Scottish merchant, statistician, magistrate, and founder of the first Thames River Police, wrote a report entitled A Treatise on the Wealth, Power, and Resources of the British Empire in which he constructed a table of Britain’s many classes:

Highest orders (first class): Royal family, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, great officers of state, and all above the degree of baronet with their families (576 heads of family/2,880 persons comprising their families.

Second class: Baronets, knights, country gentlemen, and others having large incomes with their families (46,861/234,305)

Third Class: Dignified clergy, persons holding considerable employments in the State, elevated situations in the law, eminent practitioners in physic (doctors), considerable merchants, manufacturers upon a large scale, and bankers of the first order with their families (12,200/61,000)

Fourth Class: Persons holding inferior situations in Church and State, respectable clergymen of different persuasions, practitioners in law and physic, teachers of youth of the superior order, respectable freeholders, ship owners, merchants, and manufactures of the second class, warehousemen and respectable shopkeepers, artists, respectable builders, mechanics, and persons living on moderate incomes with their families (233,650/1,168,250)

Fifth Class: Lesser freeholders, shopkeepers of the second order, innkeepers, publicans, and persons engaged in miscellaneous occupations or living on moderate income with their families (564,799/2,798,475)

Sixth Class: Working mechanics, artisans, handicrafts, agricultural laborers, and others who subsist by labor in various employements with their families (2,126,095/8,792,800) and menial servants (1,279,923)

Seventh or lowest class: Paupers, vagrants, gypsies, rogues, vagabonds, and idle and disorderly persons supported by criminal delinquency (387,100/1,828,170)

Excluding the approximately 1,000,000 men serving in the Army and Navy, the total is 16,402,988. Of that number, only 2,880 belonged to the highest order. That rank would have included Darcy’s grandfather, an earl, and his children, Darcy’s mother, the father of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lady Catherine.

The next group, or second class, includes Fitzwilliam Darcy. Although not a member of the aristocracy, he belongs to an elite group of only 46,861 heads of household.

Mr. Collins, as a rector, is in the third class.

According to the annotated Jane Austen edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks (p. 47), the Bennets are in the fourth class as persons of moderate income and, I assume, property owners.

When Elizabeth tells Lady Catherine that “Mr. Darcy is a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal," it is a stretch. According to the laws of the United States, all men are equal under the law, but we know that some people are more equal than others. This was the case with the Darcys and the Bennets. 

The English were extremely class conscious, and so it is understandable why Mr. Darcy thought he needed to point out to Elizabeth at the time of his proposal how inferior her connections were. In his own clumsy way, he was providing her with a demonstration of the depth of his love, i.e., he was descending to her level. I think when Elizabeth sees Pemberley, she realizes just how much Darcy was willing to put at risk by making her an offer.

What do you think?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Downton Abbey: My Take

If I could sum up Downton Abbey’s third season in one word, it would be whiplash. From week to week, one never knew which Mary Crawley would show up: the loving wife or the woman who picks Edith apart. During this season, Lord Grantham went from caring husband and concerned father to the embodiment of I’m a Little Teapot, "short and stout, when he gets all steamed up, then he shouts…" And he shouted a lot. Thomas, our bad boy, became a weepy girl lying in bed hoping to get some attention from the man he loves. Daisy,  the clueless, but sweet scullery maid, became the nasty assistant cook. And O’Brien? Good grief! She wasn’t happy just getting even with Thomas; she wanted him utterly destroyed! So much for a spiritual renewal following the “soap” incident.

Good points: 
Stellar acting. Considering the scripts they had to work with, the cast did everything they could to pull it off. Kudos to Maggie Smith (Dowager Grantham), Hugh Bonneville for making us not hate Lord Grantham, Jessica Findlay Brown (Sybil) for making the most of an undeveloped character, ditto for Allen Leech (Tom Branson). When Elizabeth McGovern was allowed to act, she was an excellent Lady Grantham.

The below-stairs cast is really fantastic, especially Carson, Mrs. Hughes, and Mrs. Patmore. Although I do not think Thomas would have behaved the way he did when James visited him in his room, the acting was first rate.

High production values, beautiful settings, and exquisite costumes.

Bad points:
Weak scripts: The imprisoned Bates; Thomas, who could go to prison for being a homosexual, kisses a man who has given him no encouragement; Isobel and the reformed prostitute whose first attempt at cooking was a souffle; Edith falling for a man with a wife in an asylum. (Ugh! The crazy wife has already been done. Thank you Charlotte Bronte.) 

Dropping characters into the plot: An example from last year was the supposed Downton heir showing up in bandages; this year we got Rose. Why should we care about her embarrassing herself and the family when we don’t even know her? It’s a lot to ask of an audience. Don’t care about her parents either. Ditto on the maid flirting with Branson.

The Shrimpy and Susan Show. Why make Susan so evil? At any minute, I expected her to turn into the evil queen from Snow White.

The finale: Yes, Dan Stevens wanted out, and so he had to go. But blood running down his cheek! Did we really need to see that? Was it necessary to couple that scene with the blessed arrival of his son?

In my opinion, there are too many story lines. Julian Fellowes thinks he must have something for everyone to do, and so he writes ridiculous tangents. For example, must Edith’s happiness depend on a man? She is quite capable of turning into a stellar newspaperwoman. Let her do that. But, no, she’s in love with a man who cannot, by law, divorce his insane wife. Another was Branson's shenanigans in Ireland. One week of the rebel firebrand, and then he's off to running Downton.

I know that if I lived in England at that time, I would have been a maid, trudging up the stairs to bring the married women their breakfasts. Although the ladies of the house had little to do, and I would have had a great deal of work and a long day ahead of me, it was the way things were. However, I would have loved to see Lady Grantham and Mary actually get up out of bed and have breakfast with their husbands! That would have been something.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Keepsake P&P Calendar by Janet B. Taylor

Welcome, Janet B. Taylor, a talented artist who has turned her love of Pride and Prejudice into a keepsake calendar.

Thank you, Mary, for having me as a guest today to help me get the word out about my calendars and drawings.  A special thanks to you for the lovely review of my calendar.  

Now where to begin? I hardly know. Like many fans of Jane Austen and Austenesque novels, I have been quite literally obsessed for the past 18 months, at least. I wanted to read anything I could get my hands on.  I relied on all you wonderful authors to supply my Darcy and Lizzy fix. When I couldn’t get a new book, I would re-read one I already had. I repeatedly watched the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

A Walk in the Woods
The first thought of drawing Darcy and Lizzy came from a suggestion of my friend and author, Jan Hahn. She wanted me to try a drawing that might be used for a book cover. I felt unsure of this idea since, unlike many artists, I cannot just start drawing. I must have a picture to look at while I draw. I gave the idea some serious thought and finally decided to give it a try. My first attempt at Darcy was put aside rather quickly. He looked like Billy Bob Thornton—definitely not my idea of Mr. Darcy. My second attempt was more successful; then I moved on to Lizzy. Lastly, using a photograph I had taken of the woods at Belton House, i.e, Rosings Park in the miniseries, I made a computerized drawing. That became the background for ‘A Walk in the Woods’.  I have hand drawn the other eleven backgrounds myself. 

Now my desire to read about Darcy and Lizzy had a new dimension. I wanted to draw them too. I knew I had to try Darcy and Lizzy in the music room, i.e., ‘The Look’.  My fourth drawing and most popular according to comments received is ‘The Kiss’. Being my favorite too, it was, without a doubt, one scene I had to do, and it seemed to flow onto the paper.

With each drawing, my goal was to capture the emotion and sense of the scene. I hoped the viewer could feel what was happening. I spent much time studying the eyes, the nose and the mouth.  I think the eyes are the most important feature but the other two follow close behind.

While on a tour of England, I visited Lacock, which was used for Meryton in the 1995 BBC miniseries. It was such a lovely little village, and I literally felt I had stepped back in time.  In one of the gift shops, I saw the work of an artist named David White. One of our guides was Hazel Jones who is a Jane Austen scholar. I decided to ask her about selling drawings and if one had to have a license. As it turned out, she knew quite a bit about it as David White is a personal friend.  On the last day of the P n P Tour, Hazel informed me that she had contacted David. Much to my delight I found that I could sell my work! When I visited The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, I was given the exact same information: the drawings were ‘my artistic interpretations’ of scenes from the miniseries.

Before I left for England in August, I had three drawings finished.  By the time I returned, I was inspired to draw again. Then there was the idea of a calendar in honor of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. That meant I had to do nine drawings in less than four months if I was to get a calendar out before the first of the year. Well, as you see, that did not happen.  The drawings were done, but I had to get the calendar setup. By the time the printer got them done, it was later than I would have liked, but I had a calendar that I was proud to offer.  I do hope that, as a keepsake or commemorative item, it will still be desired.  Each and every picture was drawn with love as a tribute to Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, and the miniseries.

I also use my drawings to make note cards. Each one has a short quote, pertinent to the scene, on the front, and more of the quote on the back.  The cards are printed on 100% recycled card stock and have square flap envelopes.

Future plans:  The 2005 P&P movie, as well as something from Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.

Thanks again, Mary, for having me. I enjoyed being your guest and talking about my drawings.

To see more of Janet's work, please visit her website.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fantastic Jane Austen App - Makes Everything Easier

Hi, Everyone!  My name is Angie Kroll.  You may have noticed me commenting on blogs, making goofy games for Austenesque Reviews, or stalking JAFF authors.  

David and Angie Kroll
I can still remember sending my first fan email to Abigail Reynolds via Facebook.  I just about fell over when she wrote me back. Me? Friends with a REAL author!?!  How could that ever happen to someone like me?  Then, through Austen Authors, I found, A Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy. Emboldened by my previous response, I sent Mary a fan letter. Now, three years later, I refer to Mary as my “on-line mom.”

But what does networking have to do with Jane Austen? Wikipedia defines business networking as “a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded business people recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities.” Authors and bloggers provide like-minded Janeites a place to share ideas, argue Firth vs. MacFayden (and now Gordh), and discover new stories. Thanks to networking, I have almost 80 JAFF titles on my kindle app, a dozen on my shelf, and have checked out many titles from my local library.

Unfortunately, as much as I would like to keep up on the dozens of daily blog posts, I just can't carry my laptop with me everywhere. There were many times where I have been sitting in the car or at the doctor's office scrambling on my phone trying to read posts. I am not talented and disciplined enough to write, but I can stumble my way around photoshop. So I asked myself - what skills do I have to contribute to the Jane Austen Network?

Enter the idea of Austen Admirers, an RSS Smartphone app for iTunes, Google Play and Windows.  What Austen Admirers does is take feeds from all of your favorite blogs and aggregates them into one easy-to-use smartphone app. Each morning instead of waking up and going to 50 different websites, you can open one app and see all of the latest posts from your favorite blogs - right in one place! You can also find a list of authors, and with a push of a button, go directly to their Amazon page!

What does it cost to be a part of the app? Nothing. Zero. Zip. It will be free for authors and bloggers to join, and free for users to download. Most apps cost between 10K and 15K to build, butI want this to be a thank you to the community for giving me an online home these past five years. All graphic design and cost for building the apps are donated by me. Is it completely free? No - which is why I'm having a kickstarter campaign to help fund the hosting charges. If the campaign succeeds, there will be advertising opportunities for authors, but for now, I need your help getting the word out. Tweet, Share, Email - send the news by post! There are amazing gifts for different levels, including Amazon gift cards, Bingley Teas, Social Media Calling Cards, and even membership to JASNA!

Would you like to help the Jane Austen Network grow? Please check out the Kickstarter Campaign site, Like us on Facebook,, Follow on Twitter @AustenAdmirers or @AngieKroll, or contact me directly at adkroll95 (at) gmail(dot)com.

Thanks to Mary for allowing me free reign today on her blog. There's another Youtube video in your near future!

Click on this link for the Youtube video.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pride and Prejudice 200 Calendar

I have never reviewed a calendar before, but Janet Taylor’s beautiful 200th Anniversary Celebration of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice certainly deserves one. Each watercolor is absolutely lovely. The calendar also provides a chronology of Jane Austen’s life, and each picture displays a quote from the novel. These are not random quotes, but reveal the story in chronological order.

If you love Pride and Prejudice, you will want this calendar. If your favorite P&P adaptation is the 1995 A&E presentation with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, then you MUST  have this calendar. It is definitely a keepsake. Check it out at Janet’s website. If you want a closer look, Jane has a youtube video where you can get a peek at every month. This would be a wonderful Valentine's gift for a P&P fan or for yourself.

Janet Taylor will be guest hosting a blog sometime this month. I’ll let you know when her post is up.