Becoming which Jane?

I went to see “Becoming Jane” last night at the 9:40 show. I’m one of those people that can no longer go to the show because, even if there is no one in the place except me and one other person, that single soul will sit next to ME and TALK! I am the most docile of people but make me pay to see a movie…and I want QUIET!!!

Anyway, most artsy or Indie movies tend to have pretty cool audiences. I can usually get thru it without throwing my water bottle across the room. This one was playing at the old Lido. I hate Newport Beach (I never knowing if I’m speaking to someone’s real nose) but I love this old theater. They have dancing fish painted on the walls and blue twinkle runner lights. They have a balcony for the romantics and they even serve tea! I got there at 9:25, paid my 9 bucks, found my seat at the back of the room and waited.

About 15 people (apparently either lost or as hip as I) came in. What was so amusing was that they all sat in the middle of the theater, within 2 seats of each other. I began thinking there was something special about those seats. Maybe they reclined more. Maybe they got free popcorn… But, I had my oasis…and I wasn’t sharing my personal space…unless Colin Firth showed up. With him, I would have shared my own lap 😉

Now I’m no Janeite freako but I do appreciate her writing style. Her books fall between wit, wisdom and tongue in cheek humor for me and I’ve owned and re-re-re-read them for years. As I look at them now, they are quite bent and worn but still very cherished. I also have every movie or mini series that has ever been made in honor of those books, both English and American. I even own some of the more modern “inspired by her” movies… Clueless, Bridget Jones Diaries and even the Indian one that slips my memory…”Bride and something or other”. Ya know, I’m starting to sound like I really am a Janeite freako…

Watching this movie…I will admit to being a blubbering fool through most of it… and actually leaped up to evacuate before the other 15 saw me. But driving back home, I kept thinking…I don’t remember reading that about her, so naturally at 1:00 am I started looking for clues.

What I know is that she was born December 16th (ah, December…that’s why I like her) in the year 1775, the seventh of eight children, in Steventon, England… and lived an almost impoverished life with various members of her family. She was engaged once and changed her mind the next day. Probably a good thing because back then a woman could own no property, earn no living and belonged (much like a goat) to her husband. If she had married, it would have taken a rare thinking man to let her continue her literary career. Why did she have a period of 10 years where nothing appears to have been written and no letters detail the reasons? Well, this is where the mystery begins, Hollywood romances and where all speculation happens.

She died in her sister’s arms with her head upon her lap in July 18th, 1817 and was buried in Winchester Cathedral…in which I was fortunate enough to visit and pay my respects, about 10 years ago. She wrote 6 major novels that have been translated into over 35 languages…none ever having been out of print. That says quite alot for a 232 year old spinster.

Jane wrote alot of correspondence with her family and friends…the majority to her sister Cassandra. Upon Jane’s death, Cassie destroyed almost everything…so no one knows the real truth in her personal and professional life…only what was passed down from memory with a few scattered letters thrown in. She died virtually unknown (without ever seeing any wealth and success) because she was born into gentry and well, a lady…even a poor one, did not earn a living and keep her “Lady” reputation. She could not even allow her own name to be published. It wasn’t until after her death, through her obituaries, that Austen was officially “outed”.

I’ve seen 4 of the places that she lived….trying to get a handle on what inspired her. I’ve even visited the famous Pump Room and tasted the waters…Gawd! (One hint…Stick to the high tea). I’ve seen all the homes from my favorite mini series (Pride and Prejudice) …even the old towns and the costumes. Ok, Ok, I guess I am a true Janeite. I don’t make a cake on her birthday or anything…I just appreciate her insight that still rings true after all these long years.

And I guess I don’t mind the movie trying to make some sort of happy ending for her…even if it’s just make believe… cause I really wish she’d had one.

a small token of the surviving…from Jane to her sister Cassandra

“expect a most agreeable letter, for not being over burdened with subject (having nothing to say at all), I shall have no check to my genius from beginning to end…”

“you deserve a longer letter than this, but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve”

“you express so little anxiety about my being murdered under Ash Park Copse by Mrs. Hulbert’s servant, that I have a great mind not to tell you whether I was or not…”

“we have been exceedingly busy ever since you went away. In the first place we have had to rejoice two or three times every day at your having very delightful weather for the whole of your journey…”

“Sir Tho: Miller is dead. I treat you with a dead Baronet in almost every letter…”

“By the bye, as I must leave off being young, I find many Douceurs (French for sweetnesses) in being a sort of chaperone for I am put on a sofa near the fire and can drink as much wine as I like…”


2 Responses to “Becoming which Jane?”

  1. Nicole was just talking about her last night. Sounds like a wonderful woman, way ahead of her time..kinda like you. Love N. M. J.

  2. Yes, the truth is out. You are, indeed, a Janeite. Thanks for doing the research and pulling out those quotes. I will definitely go see the movie (although I don’t think it’s come to Albuquerque yet, land of the naturally big and not terribly altered noses)…

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