Wednesday, 18 April 2012


Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton in North and South
When Maria Grazia asked me to write a guest post for her blog My Jane Austen Book Club, I knew which photo I would lead off with. For any of you who don't know Maria Grazia too well, she has another blog Fly High which often features items about Richard Armitage, to the delight of those of us who share her taste in men.

Anyhow...I have a blog called The Jane Austen Film Club (I know, eerily similar) which I have been writing for about 2 years now. I am an optometrist during the day, so this is a part time gig for me. How, I hear you ask, does a Canadian optometrist decide to start blogging about period drama? Well, it all started with these two people:

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice 1995
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth were in a photo similar to the one above which was plastered on the front of our weekly TV guide in 1995. As someone who had grown up avidly reading and watching Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie, my interest was piqued. I was also the mother of two young boys aged 4 and 1 at the time, so I needed a bit of television which didn't involve Winnie the Pooh.

And the rest, as they say is history. I taped the series on our old VCR, and subsequently wore out the video tapes. Thankfully, there were more films and mini-series on the way!

Sense and Sensibility 1995
By the time I heard that Sense and Sensibility was coming out, I had already devoured Jane Austen's wonderful book Pride and Prejudice, which is what many of you did after being captivated by Jennifer and Colin. For Sense and Sensibility, I had time to read the book first before seeing the film. With the book fresh in my head, I remember thinking what a genius Emma Thompson was to transform such a wonderful book into such a wonderful film. I was thrilled when she won the Oscar for her screenplay.

Persuasion 1995
Well, you can see where this is leading can't you? Again, like many other females in the 1990s, I was delighted that Hollywood and the BBC were anticipating the needs of an emotionally frazzled working mother by pumping out film after film that seemed like they were made just for me! Sigh!

Emma 1996

Even the big Hollywood movie makers were getting in on this phenomenon. Jane Austen was the new "It Girl" 200 years after she had written her books!

But, back to the story of my blog. As my children grew, so did my book and video (then DVD) collection. My two weaknesses are books and films and Amazon and IMDb were just enabling me! When the internet came along, I noticed that there were a lot of Jane Austen related blogs, but not many on the film adaptations of her books and other 19th century novels. And then I got a laptop!!!!

Wives and Daughters 1999
So finally, I stopped writing in my head (usually in the shower) and started writing on my new laptop. And then my sister suggested a blog instead of a book or a website which were my first ideas. So this blogging thing has been a journey for a woman with no writing experience, but just a lifetime of reading and enjoying film adaptations of my favourite books. I will admit that I prefer to see a film version first before I read the book. The book is always richer and often easier to follow after seeing a film version (especially with Dickens' many characters).

The Buccaneers 1995
Along the way, I have discovered other brilliant authors like Mrs. Gaskell and Edith Wharton and George Eliot and the Brontës. Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope have become my friends along with Thackeray and Hardy and P.G. Wodehouse. So many great books and so many great films! I get teased by my readers sometimes that I love ALL period drama and am not critical enough. I guess I am just so happy that they are making these films and mini-series AT ALL and I think even the worst period drama is better than the best reality TV. But I do have my faves of course, as do you I am sure.

I love the fact that my readers are always making suggestions of films I have yet to see. If only there was more time in the day!

Anne of Green Gables 1985
So if you would like to join the fun at The Jane Austen Film Club, come on by and add to the conversation. There are so many of us period drama junkies living all over this amazing planet and as far as I can tell, they are all really great people!

Thanks again to Maria Grazia for this opportunity to blather on about my favourite topic. It keeps me sane. And if you haven't read her hilarious account of going to see the village where the Vicar of Dibley was filmed, go take a look here
Jenny Allworthy


Georgie Lee said...

Great post. Looking at all the pictures, I kept nodding at how wonderful those movies are and how much I enjoy them. Loved the post and I love these movies!

mommbsta said...

"the worst period drama is better than the best reality TV" - that so
misleads from the true meaning of reality...Maria's trip was an envied one i'm sure but she looked like she had a great time...
loved your post - so gracious ..and big up your choice/s of picture/s.
period movies are special but even more phenomenal are the kindred spirits we share them with.

Jan Hahn said...

Jenny, you are an optometrist after my own heart! I loved your blog and must check out your website, for I, too, had rather watch the worst period film than reality TV. A channel devoted to period film would be my wish come true.

Jenny Allworthy said...

Hi all! Thanks for the lovely comments and thanks Maria Grazia for the opportunity to reach more period drama lovers. Lots of new friends for me to discuss my favourite topic with!