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Posts Tagged ‘Sense and Sensibility’

IMG_4191Jane Austen mentions gardens many times in her novels-too many to mention all of them here, but I love this exchange between Mrs Elton and Mr Knightley in Emma who both have very different views about nature and simplicity.

We are to walk about your gardens, and gather the strawberries ourselves, and sit under trees; and whatever else you may like to provide, it is to be all out of doors; a table spread in the shade, you know. Every thing as natural and simple as possible. Is not that your idea?”

    “Not quite. My idea of the simple and the natural will be to have the table spread in the dining-room. The nature and the simplicity of gentlemen and ladies, with their servants and furniture, I think is best observed by meals within doors. When you are tired of eating strawberries in the garden, there shall be cold meat in the house.”

In Sense and Sensibility, gardens are used to help illustrate character traits, both of Elinor Dashwood’s half-brother and her sister Marianne. John Dashwood shows his disregard for the ancient trees that have been a part of the Norland estate, and Elinor knows their removal to satisfy her sister-in-law’s desire for a greenhouse will upset her sister Marianne’s sensibilities deeply.

 “Another year or two may do much towards it,” he gravely replied; “but however there is still a great deal to be done. There is not a stone laid of Fanny’s greenhouse, and nothing but the plan of the flower-garden marked out.”

   “Where is the greenhouse to be?”

   IMG_4425“Upon the knoll behind the house. The old walnut trees are all come down to make room for it. It will be a very fine object from many parts of the park, and the flower-garden will slope down just before it, and be exceedingly pretty. We have cleared away all the old thorns that grew in patches over the brow.”

 Elinor kept her concern and her censure to herself; and was very thankful that Marianne was not present, to share the provocation.

In Northanger Abbey General Tilney offers to escort Catherine round the gardens.

The number of acres contained in this garden was such as Catherine could not listen to without dismay, being more than double the extent of all Mr. Allen’s, as well her father’s, including church–yard and orchard. The walls seemed countless in number, endless in length; a village of hot–houses seemed to arise among them, and a whole parish to be at work within the enclosure. The general was flattered by her looks of surprise, which told him almost as plainly, as he soon forced her to tell him in words, that she had never seen any gardens at all equal to them before; and he then modestly owned that, “without any ambition of that sort himself — without any solicitude about it — he did believe them to be unrivalled in the kingdom. If he had a hobby–horse, it was that. He loved a garden. Though careless enough in most matters of eating, he loved good fruit — or if he did not, his friends and children did. There were great vexations, however, attending such a garden as his. The utmost care could not always secure the most valuable fruits. The pinery had yielded only one hundred in the last year.

IMG_4343Later on, when Catherine Morland is forced to come home early by General Tilney, the garden is a place of refuge for our heroine.

Catherine’s disposition was not naturally sedentary, nor had her habits been ever very industrious; but whatever might hitherto have been her defects of that sort, her mother could not but perceive them now to be greatly increased. She could neither sit still nor employ herself for ten minutes together, walking round the garden and orchard again and again, as if nothing but motion was voluntary; and it seemed as if she could even walk about the house rather than remain fixed for any time in the parlour. Her loss of spirits was a yet greater alteration. In her rambling and her idleness she might only be a caricature of herself; but in her silence and sadness she was the very reverse of all that she had been before.

From Pride and Prejudice we have the obsequious Mr Collins.

“The garden in which stands my humble abode, is separated only by a lane from Rosings Park, her ladyship’s residence.”

And I’ll give the last word to Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park.mansfieldpark

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The poet Shelley described London’s shops in a letter to Thomas Manning:

Wedgwood

Wedgwood

‘Oh, the lamps of a night! her rich goldsmiths, print-shops, toy-shops, mercers, hardware men, pastry-cooks, St Paul’s churchyard, the Strand, Exeter Change, Charing Cross, with a man upon a black horse! These are thy gods, O London!’

Most shopkeepers lived with their families above or behind their premises. They were usually specialists in the goods they sold, and very often the craftsman who made them – whether a shoemaker, tailor, hatter, fan-maker, umbrella-maker or jeweller – often there was no distinction between retailer and wholesaler. There were no regular shopping hours – the shopkeeper opened his shop before breakfast and closed it before he retired for the night.

Sophie von la Roche, a German novelist, wrote about Oxford Street to her daughters in 1785:

We strolled up and down lovely Oxford Street this evening, for some goods look more attractive by artificial light. Just imagine, dear children, a street taking half an hour to cover from end to end, with double rows of brightly shining lamps, in the middle of which stands an equally long row of beautifully lacquered coaches, …

Regent Street

Regent Street

First one passes a watchmaker’s, then a silk or fan store, now a silversmith’s, a china or glass shop. The spirit booths are particularly tempting, for the English are in any case fond of strong drink. Here crystal flasks of every shape and form are exhibited: each one has a light behind it which makes all the different coloured spirits sparkle. … Just as alluring are the confectioners and fruiterers, where, behind the handsome glass windows, pyramids of pineapples, figs, grapes, oranges and all manner of fruits are on show … Most of all, we admired a stall with Argand and other lamps … forming a really dazzling spectacle …

shopA few weeks later she wrote again: I found another shop here like the one in Paris, containing every possible make of woman’s shoe; there was a woman buying shoes for herself and her small daughter: the latter was searching amongst the doll’s shoes in one case for some to fit the doll she had with her. But the linen shops are the loveliest; every kind of whitewear, from swaddling clothes to shrouds, and any species of linen can be had. Night-caps for ladies and children, trimmed with muslin and various kinds of Brussels lace, more exquisitely stitched than I ever saw before … People, I noticed, like to have their children with them and take them out into the air, and they wrap them up well, though their feet are always bare and sockless … I was glad to strike some of the streets in which the butchers are housed, and interested to find the meat so fine and shops so deliciously clean; all the goods were spread on snow-white cloths, and cloths of similar whiteness were stretched out behind the large hunks of meat hanging up; no blood anywhere, no dirt, the shop walls and doors were all spruce, balance and weights brightly polished.

Whether they are silks, chintzes or muslins, they hang down in folds behind the fine high windows so that the effect of this or that material, as it would be in the ordinary folds of a woman’s dress can be studied. Amongst the muslins all colours are on view, and so one can judge how the frock would look in company with its fellows. Now large shoe and slipper shops for anything from adults down to dolls can be seen – now fashion articles of silver or brass … absolutely everything one can think of is neatly, attractively displayed, and in such abundance of choice as almost to make one greedy …

IMG_0748Writing from her brother Henry’s house in Sloane Street, on May 2 1813, Jane wrote: Your letter came just in time to save my going to Remnant’s, and fit me for Christian’s, where I bought Fanny’s dimity. I went the day before (Friday) to Layton’s, as I proposed, and got my mother’s gown – seven yards at 6s. 6d. I then walked into No. 10, which is all dirt and confusion, but in a very promising way…I gave 2s. 6d. for the dimity. I do not boast of any bargains, but think both the sarsenet and dimity good of their sort. I have bought your locket, but was obliged to give 18s. for it, which must be rather more than you intended. It is neat and plain, set in gold.

In September she was staying in Henrietta Street where her brother Henry had recently moved. Instead of saving my superfluous wealth for you to spend, I am going to treat myself with spending it myself. I hope, at least, that I shall find some poplin at Layton and Shear’s that will tempt me to buy it. If I do, it shall be sent to Chawton, as half will be for you; for I depend upon your being so kind as to accept it, being the main point. It will be a great pleasure to me. Don’t say a word. I only wish you could choose too. I shall send twenty yards.

burlIn Sense and Sensibility the Dashwood sisters go shopping in Bond Street, though Marianne is distracted, her thoughts are full of Mr Willoughby who she is hoping to see.

   After an hour or two spent in what her mother called comfortable chat, or in other words, in every variety of inquiry concerning all their acquaintance on Mrs. Jennings’s side, and in laughter without cause on Mrs. Palmer’s, it was proposed by the latter that they should all accompany her to some shops where she had business that morning, to which Mrs. Jennings and Elinor readily consented, as having likewise some purchases to make themselves; and Marianne, though declining it at first, was induced to go likewise. 

   Wherever they went, she was evidently always on the watch. In Bond Street especially, where much of their business lay, her eyes were in constant inquiry; and in whatever shop the party were engaged, her mind was equally abstracted from everything actually before them, from all that interested and occupied the others. Restless and dissatisfied every where, her sister could never obtain her opinion of any article of purchase, however it might equally concern them both; she received no pleasure from anything; was only impatient to be at home again, and could with difficulty govern her vexation at the tediousness of Mrs. Palmer, whose eye was caught by everything pretty, expensive, or new; who was wild to buy all, could determine on none, and dawdled away her time in rapture and indecision.

Sackville Street

Sackville Street

 

Later on they visit Gray’s in Sackville Street:

On ascending the stairs, the Miss Dashwoods found so many people before them in the room, that there was not a person at liberty to attend to their orders; and they were obliged to wait. All that could be done was, to sit down at the end of the counter which seemed to promise the quickest succession; one gentleman only was standing there, and it is probable that Elinor was not without hopes of exciting his politeness to a quicker dispatch. But the correctness of his eye, and the delicacy of his taste, proved to be beyond his politeness. He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself, and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined, – all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop, were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, – he had no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies, than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares; a kind of notice which served to imprint on Elinor the remembrance of a person and face of strong, natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in the first style of fashion.

I love reading about descriptions of shopping experiences like those above, especially now the High Streets of Britain seem to be losing their shopping streets bit by bit. It’s wonderful to be able to shop on the internet, but shops here are finding it hard to compete.

However,  Fortnum and MasonHatchard’s Bookshop, and Floris the perfumers, amongst others, are still going strong – perhaps because they’ve embraced online shopping too. Jane would have known these shops and I hope they’ll still be here in London for another 200 years or so!

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Spring has finally sprung here in England! I was beginning to think winter would never end; we’ve been experiencing very cold weather and lots of snow.
Jane Austen refers often to the seasons in her writing and with spring, it seems, the season often heralds a change or action of some sort. In this first example, Mrs Dashwood is thinking about Barton Cottage and the changes she might make to the building when the weather improves.


From Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility:

With the size and furniture of the house Mrs. Dashwood was upon the whole well satisfied; for though her former style of life rendered many additions to the latter indispensable, yet to add and improve was a delight to her; and she had at this time ready money enough to supply all that was wanted of greater elegance to the apartments. “As for the house itself, to be sure,” said she, “it is too small for our family, but we will make ourselves tolerably comfortable for the present, as it is too late in the year for improvements. Perhaps in the spring, if I have plenty of money, as I dare say I shall, we may think about building. These parlours are both too small for such parties of our friends as I hope to see often collected here; and I have some thoughts of throwing the passage into one of them with perhaps a part of the other, and so leave the remainder of that other for an entrance; this, with a new drawing-room which may be easily added, and a bed-chamber and garret above, will make it a very snug little cottage. I could wish the stairs were handsome. But one must not expect everything; though I suppose it would be no difficult matter to widen them. I shall see how much I am before-hand with the world in the spring, and we will plan our improvements accordingly.”

The next extract is from Northanger Abbey. Isabella Thorpe writes to Catherine Morland from Bath. Jane Austen uses the season to illustrate Isabella’s silly and shallow character. Although she professes one minute to be missing Catherine and expressing her love for Catherine’s brother, in the next second she is talking about fashion and hats. 

Bath, April
My dearest Catherine, I received your two kind letters with the greatest delight, and have a thousand apologies to make for not answering them sooner. I really am quite ashamed of my idleness; but in this horrid place one can find time for nothing. I have had my pen in my hand to begin a letter to you almost every day since you left Bath, but have always been prevented by some silly trifler or other. Pray write to me soon, and direct to my own home. Thank God, we leave this vile place tomorrow. Since you went away, I have had no pleasure in it — the dust is beyond anything; and everybody one cares for is gone. I believe if I could see you I should not mind the rest, for you are dearer to me than anybody can conceive. I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of some misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right: he is the only man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it. The spring fashions are partly down; and the hats the most frightful you can imagine. I hope you spend your time pleasantly, but am afraid you never think of me.
 
Lastly, from Pride and Prejudice, Jane has become engaged to Mr Bingley and finds out that his sister Caroline had done everything to keep them apart last spring:


Mr Bingley and Jane Bennet

“He has made me so happy,” said she one evening, “by telling me, that he was totally ignorant of my being in town last spring! I had not believed it possible.”


   “I suspected as much,” replied Elizabeth. “But how did he account for it?”
   “It must have been his sister’s doing. They were certainly no friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many respects. But when they see, as I trust they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented, and we shall be on good terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each other.”
   “That is the most unforgiving speech,” said Elizabeth, “that I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It would vex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley’s pretended regard.”
   “Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November, he really loved me, and nothing but a persuasion of my being indifferent would have prevented his coming down again?”
   “He made a little mistake, to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty.”
   This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities.
   Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him.
   “I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!” cried Jane. “Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!”
   “If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for myself; and perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time.”

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An unlikely trio, I hear you say, but here they all are in my post today. I found these pictures of my cats, Denzel and Marley, who love to listen to me talking about Jane Austen – yes, really. I’m not certain if Jane Austen liked cats, I suspect if the Austens had a cat, its use was probably functional. On a working farm a cat would be very useful for keeping numbers of rats and mice down.

I could only find one reference to cats in the novels in Sense and Sensibility and though Mrs Jennings voices her opinion, I can’t help wondering if Jane shared her point of view. “Ah! Colonel, I do not know what you and I shall do without the Miss Dashwoods;” – was Mrs. Jennings’s address to him when he first called on her, after their leaving her was settled – “for they are quite resolved upon going home from the Palmers; – and how forlorn we shall be, when I come back! – Lord! we shall sit and gape at one another as dull as two cats.”

A google search led me to this fun website!
Austencats

I do love my cats. They don’t have a favourite book but love to hear Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion, read aloud on a continuous loop!
Dear Friends and Passers-by, I’d love to hear about your pets. Do you love cats or are you partial to some other four-legged, or even two-legged friends?

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Please join me today for a guest blog on Jane Austen’s World. It was lovely to be interviewed by Vic again – thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about my book, Willoughby’s Return.

Today’s question is for fun! Which hero from Sense and Sensibility do you like best – would you fall for an Edward Ferrars or a Colonel Brandon? Are you influenced by the actors who play these roles? The top photo shows Alan Rickman and David Morrissey as two very gorgeous Colonel Brandons and the equally dashing Hugh Grant and Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars below. I have to admit I loved them all!
Please leave a comment below if you are brave enough to join in.

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I am having a lovely time on my blog tour. Thanks so much to everyone who has given me such a warm welcome. Follow the links for more guest posts and giveaways from The Bookworm and here is a review from Books Like Breathing

I have been yearning for a Sense and Sensibility sequel. Colonel Brandon is my second favorite Austen hero (sometimes he even beats Darcy). Sometimes I get a bit tired of Darcy (just bought two more P&P sequels) and yearn for some Brandon, Wentworth, Tilney and Knightley (never Edmund Bertram).
Odiwe’s portrayal of all of the characters was perfect. Marianne was exactly as she was in S&S albeit a bit more mature. I also could understand why she was upset with Brandon. He completely neglected her to take care of his “other” family. I would have been upset too. Colonel Brandon was broody yet sweet—just as I imagine him. He did make a few mistakes throughout the book but redeemed himself. Marianne and Colonel Brandon’s marriage was a huge highlight for me. There was so much tension yet so much love.

I was so pleased to find that Margaret was a main character in Willoughby’s Return. She was sorely neglected by Jane Austen in S&S. She deserved a happy ending too. Henry was the perfect match for her and I enjoyed the twists and turns her story took. Willoughby was really not a huge portion of the book. Well, he is there but he is kind of like a storm cloud…you worry about what he will do but he passes through without any major problems.
I am going to sound like a huge nimrod say this but…I had no idea that Colonel Brandon had no first name. I always thought his first name was Christopher. Pollution from the 1995 movie, I guess. I think that it may make me a bad Jane Austen fan but I had no idea.

I think this may be put on my favorite Jane Austen sequels list. I wish there were more Sense and Sensibility sequels (psst…sequel authors, drop Darcy for a minute and write about Colonel Brandon and Marianne). Willoughby’s Return is definitely worth a read if you love Jane Austen sequels but are looking for something new.
Grade: A+
Grace

When I was researching Willoughby’s Return I travelled into London city centre to see if I could find anything of Regency London. One of the places I wanted to track down was Gunter’s Teashop in Berkeley Square where Margaret Dashwood is taken by her friend Henry Lawrence on her arrival in the capital. Unfortunately, much of the original square is lost and the cafe now occupying the spot where the sign of the pineapple proclaimed Gunter’s position is a modern affair behind plate glass. However, on the opposite side you can still see splendid buildings and catch a glimpse of an Adam ceiling through a window. A couple of liveried gentlemen were standing outside one of the grand houses and I stopped to have a chat with them. They were fascinated by my 1803 map and told me that the house they were guarding had some wonderful Georgian interiors.

Gunter’s Teashop was famous for its ice creams and sorbets. In summer the carriages would gather in the square to be served outside – more information and lovely pictures on the Georgian Index

The top print shows a Gillray print of Bond Street. Marianne takes Margaret shopping in and around Bond Street and they also visit Hookham’s circulating library. The second print shows Berkeley Square looking very different from today!

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OK – so that’s just the dream scenario and one surely every writer thinks about! In my absolute fantasy, of course, I have Emma Thompson phoning me begging to let her produce the film (she tells me she has already written the screenplay based on my book, which she couldn’t wait to buy!) In the next breath she is saying that Greg would make a perfect Colonel Brandon now his temples are greying so deliciously – I hesitate, only because on the other line my husband’s mouthing at me that Sony want Richard Armitage. Oh, the dilemma – what to do?!!!

Emma’s sister Sophie would make a wonderful Mrs Dashwood or even Mrs Jennings – she’s a fabulous character actress. But, maybe in the dream scenario I could get to play Mrs Jennings! And could Emma resist being in a new Austen adaptation especially if we could get Ang Lee on board. I’d definitely want Patrick Doyle or Mario Darianelli for the music and the same fab designers who did the original S&S – the list goes on.

So, if you could put on your dream version of Sense and Sensibility or Willoughby’s Return, who would you cast? I think Carey Mulligan would make a good Marianne and perhaps Johnny Lee Miller for Willoughby. What do you think? And who would you cast for the roles of Elinor and Edward, and for my book – Margaret Dashwood and Henry Lawrence?

Please leave a comment below – just for fun, this one!

I’ve had a couple more reviews I’d like to share:

4.0 out of 5 stars Willoughby’s Return, November 5, 2009
By S. Agusto-Cox “Savvy Verse & Wit”

Willoughby’s Return: A tale of almost irresistible temptation by Jane Odiwe reunites readers with Mr. and Mrs. Brandon and Marianne’s sisters Margaret and Elinor from Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen.

“But three years of married life had done little to really change her. Marianne still had an impetuous nature, she still retained a desire for impulse and enterprises undertaken on the spur of the moment.” (Page 3)

Truer words were never spoken about Marianne. She is the same impetuous girl from Austen’s book, even though she is married to Colonel Brandon and has a son, James. Her husband, however, has obligations to his ward, the daughter of his deceased first love, and her child–a child she had with Marianne’s first love, Mr. Willoughby. Drama, drama, drama fills these pages, just as they filled Marianne’s life in Ausen’s work, but Odiwe adds her own flare to these characters.

Marianne continues to hide things from her husband no matter how innocent the situations may be and her jealousies drive her to make nearly scandalous decisions and snap judgments. However, while this book is titled Willoughby’s Return, he is more of a minor character and his storyline with Marianne looms from the sidelines as her younger sister Margaret and her beau Henry Lawrence take center stage.

Margaret is very like Marianne in that she is passionate, romantic, and impetuous. She’s opposed to marriage and Marianne’s matchmaking until Margaret sets eyes on Henry Lawrence. She falls head-over-heels for him, but Odiwe throws a number obstacles in their way.

Readers may soon notice some similarities between Henry Lawrence and Frank Churchill from Emma by Jane Austen, but the romance unravels differently for Henry and Margaret than it does from Frank and Emma. Readers that enjoy Jane Austen’s books and the recent spin-offs will enjoy Willoughby’s Return: A tale of almost irresistible temptation – a fast-paced, regency novel with a modern flair.

5.0 out of 5 stars Sense and Sensibility Continues Brilliantly, November 4, 2009
By Lori Hedgpeth “Psychotic State” –

I adore Jane Austen and I have a serious obsession with Austen fan fic. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this book not only due to my love of all things Jane Austen but also because I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Odiwe’s previous effort, opportunity to review this book not only due to my love of all things Jane Austen but also because I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Odiwe’s previous effort, Lydia Bennet’s Story.

Ms. Odiwe again took a secondary character from an Austen story – this time Margaret Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility – and shared with her readers a continuation of what happened after Austen’s novel ended. She also took what could have been an unfinished story – Willoughby’s leaving and Marianne marrying Colonel Brandon – and wove it intricately into the tale of a now of-age Margaret finding love.

Willoughby’s Return works so well because, as she did with Lydia Bennet’s Story, Ms. Odiwe stayed faithful to the characters Jane Austen originally created and by doing so, Willoughby’s Return reads virtually as a Sense and Sensibility sequel written by Austen herself. Marianne, while more mature due to Colonel Brandon’s love and the events that transpired in Sense and Sensibility, still has a romantic, and even flighty, streak. Colonel Brandon, while deeply enamored of his wife, is still serious about his responsibilities to his wards. Elinor is still mindful of appearances and decorum and Lucy Steele Ferrars and Anne Steele are still very much the busybodies they were. Even Mrs. Jennings still remains ever the fanciful matchmaker.

I could not wish for a more fluid, yet entertaining, story, nor a more satisfying ending. I raced through the book as I was anxious to find out what would happen, while at the same time dreading for the story to end because I was enjoying myself so much. In my opinion, Ms. Odiwe surpassed herself with this effort and I enjoyed it even more so than I did Lydia Bennet’s Story.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen, of Regency romps and/or historical fiction, I cannot recommend Willoughby’s Return enough. A definite must-read!

Don’t forget the competitions are still running – click on the links in the side-bar!

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