Monday, January 21, 2008

Is It Really Possible to Read Too Many Novels?

A friend came over last night for tea, and we all watched Masterpiece Theatre's new adaptation of Northanger Abbey. Unlike last Sunday night's new offering of Persuasion (which Ickie and I thought rather poor), Northanger Abbey was lively and hilarious. I had high hopes for the adaptation of that novel, as it's a relatively simple plot to fit into 1.5 hours, and the heroine's imagination, as a result of reading too many gothic novels, leads to a spot of amusing trouble. Felicity Jones, who played Catherine Moreland, was extremely likable with her comic facial expressions. We also quite liked J.J. Field, who was cast as Mr. Tilney, and reminded us a bit of Lee Pace from Pushing Daisies.

I thought this was an especially successful Austen adaptation, as it focused appropriately on the satire and treated the romance very lightly. We were particularly entertained by the depiction of Bath as a huge singles bar, with young men ogling young ladies in every shop and on every street corner.

If you missed the 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey, it's now available on Netflix. Next Sunday night PBS is showing a new version of Mansfield Park.

This past week we also watched Masterpiece Theatre's 2006 version of Jane Eyre, and I have to say, although imperfect, it is by far the best adaptation of that novel I've seen. This is partly because all the other actors cast as Jane and Rochester have been DREADFUL. Finally they found a plain and reserved yet stubborn and sharp-witted woman to play Jane, and Toby Stephens was brooding yet endearing as Rochester. No adaptation of this book will ever improve upon the novel, and although they made up some dialog, left out some of the important religious themes, and rushed through Jane's childhood, overall the miniseries was true to the feel of the novel and beautiful to watch, and Jane and Rochester had a rather thrilling chemistry.

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