Music-Less Historical Romances

Having recently gone on a bit of a period drama-rewatching spree, something has occurred to me: there’s almost never any music in historical romance books.

In fact, the new fad is for female characters in historical romances to reject ALL things that might be considered even slightly feminine. (ALL the cool kids hate sewing – and can’t sew. ALL the cool kids hate dancing – and can’t dance.). Of course they’re crap musicians – ALL the cool kids are!

What I consider to be the most emotionally powerful scene in the 1995 adapatation of Pride and Prejudice is the one that begins with Elizabeth Bennet playing and singing for the Bingleys and Darcys. Then Mr Darcy’s sister takes over, while the clueless Miss Bingley makes a cruel comment and upsets everyone.

The whole scene, while telling you a bunch of other things about the characters and the plot, is about the music. Imagine what a dull – and quiet – evening it would have been without any women with some musical ability!

Watch it below:

In both Pride and Prejudice the book, and every television and film adaptation, Elizabeth and Miss Darcy bond over music, and the snobs use music as a chance to show off.

Then there’s Anne Elliot from another Jane Austen book: Persuasion. There’s that scene where she sheds a quiet tear while playing the piano so the others can dance. There’s no crying in the 1995 movie version, but the scene below at 37:20 shows you exactly how crucial music was for an evening in the Regency era:

Also, in Poldark, Demelza’s triumph over the society ladies comes when she sings at the Christmas party. (As an aside, TV Demelza, Eleanor Tomlinson, did such a good job with her singing in the show that she’s releasing an album!).

Sure, there are some book heroines who enjoy their music. Faith Merridew and Helen Ravenel come to mind. However, we are very much in an era of publishing (and life in general, actually) where authors think that it’s somehow antifeminist for women to anything remotely artistic or creative.

Music isn’t just an art form; it’s to people of two-hundred years ago what television and the internet and evenings out are to us today. It was an essential part of a person’s social life, as it was one of the only ways to break the silence over long, pre-electricity evenings, and to entertain in an era before today’s technology existed.

I do think some authors avoid heroines who play and sing because they – ridiculously – think it’s demeaning to their gender.

However, I also think it simply never occurs to some authors that this was a major aspect of a Georgian/Regency/Victorian person’s day-to-day experience. It’s a little odd.

 

New Pride and Prejudice

It was only yesterday I was thinking that it was time for a new, less “pop culture” version of Pride and Prejudice to be made – I’ve been on a re-watch spree of the 1980 and 1995 versions. So it was pretty funny to see this news about a new adaptation only a few hours later. However, this upcoming version is is not what I wanted.

That the producers are bragging it will be “less bonnet-y”, and that it will be “dark” seems patronising. No silly historical stuff for you. That’s SO 1995!

Why do we need another hair-down, pigs-and-mud version? I’m assuming “less bonnet-y” means something along the lines of Keira Knightley’s 2005 movie. As for “dark”? The last version was about zombies!

Pride_and_Prejudice_2005 Keira Knightley Pigs Mud Barefoot Anachronistic

Georgian lady barefoot and covered in mud where visitors to the house can see her? No.

Pride_and_Prejudice_2005 Keira Knightley Hair Down Anachronistic Elizabeth Bennet

Georgian lady goes visiting her “betters” with her hair down and dressed like she just rolled out of bed? NO!!

Revisiting Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley Mr Darcy Elizabeth Chatsworth House SOnya Heaney

The ABC has been showing the adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley again, and I’ve been watching late at night.

Essentially a fancy fanfiction of Pride and Prejudice, it is more a murder mystery than anything resembling Jane Austen.

I wrote about the show in 2014.

Since I last watched it I’ve changed my mind about a few things, and think I enjoyed it more this time round. It’s FAR from perfect, but still worth watching.

Set a few years after Pride and Prejudice ends, the Darcys are now happily married with a son (the scene of him running through the property at the start is like a tourism advertisement for Chatsworth House!).

deathcomestopemberley Sonya Heaney Chatsworth House

And then someone is murdered.

As before, I have issues with the producers making Chatsworth – one of the greatest estates in all of the British Isles – the home of plain old “Mister” Darcy, but it makes for gorgeous scenery from start to finish.

uktv-death-comes-to-pemberley-8 Mr Darcy Elizabeth Matthew Rhys Anna Maxwell Martin Chatsworth House

There was a lot of outrage of the (many think) bad miscasting of Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennet. Apart from being too old for the role, her posture bothers me throughout. She slouches, walks around with her wrists propped on her hips, never wears gloves or anything on her head. I loved her in North & South, and she is a great actress, but mistress of Chatsworth House/Pemberley she certainly is not.

uktv-death-comes-to-pemberley-9 Matthew Rhys Mr Darcy

I still love Matthew Rhys as Mr Darcy, even though he was an unlikely candidate for the role. It says everything about his talent as an actor that he can pull off Darcy as well as he does his other roles, such as a Russian agent.

Eleanor Tomlinson Death Comes to Pemberley Georgiana Darcy.

Eleanor Tomlinson Death Comes to Pemberley Georgiana Darcy

Eleanor Tomlinson is a wonderful Georgiana Darcy. Since then she has gone on to find considerable fame as Demelza in Poldark – another role I love her in (but then I’ve thought she was great since she played Young Sophie in The Illusionist).

death-comes-to-pemberley-mrs-bennet-lydia-pride-and-prejudice-sonya-heaney

And I still think current British actress-of-the-moment Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham overacts to the point she’d over-the-top in a pantomime! She is much a caricature as the shrieking Mrs Bennet of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

Those are the actors who – for better or for worse – stand out for me.

This is an imperfect but GORGEOUS production that is worth a watch if it’s on repeat where you are.

The Week: 17th – 23rd July

Gorgeous Sunny Winter Afternoon Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th July 2017 Garden Nature Gum Tree

Gorgeous Sunny Winter Afternoon Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th July 2017 Garden Nature

Winter sunshine in Canberra on Monday afternoon.

This week marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death.

Three years since MH17 was shot down.

There was another major service at the Ukrainian Orthodox church in Canberra on Saturday, with more ambassadors attending than three years ago (now more countries are worried about the threat from Moscow).

Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014

Congratulations to Canberra cyclist Michael Matthews for continuing to win stages in the Tour de France. He is not only from this city, but also from my high school, as was Michael Rogers, former Tour star of my generation, as well as a world champion in the sport. Despite almost zero funding for our public high school from the Federal Government, Melrose High kids achieve things! I doubt there’s any other school in the world that has produced TWO Tour stars. Forgive me for my pride. 🙂 🙂

Devastating news about John McCain’s cancer diagnosis this week. US politics has become so polarised that both the far-left and the far-right are losing their minds, and in the midst of it all you had a decent man who stood up for a lot of things I believe in, even though I’m not on his side of politics. He is one of the ONLY Republicans to have ever stood up against Russian aggression and meddling, and for this alone he’d have had my respect. He stood up for Ukraine from the beginning of this horrific, current war the rest of his party no longer cares about, and has even gone to the frontlines to visit the troops. However, even before then he had my respect on most things, and had a decency to his politics that is sorely missing in the 2010s.

My review of The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

Jane Austen around the world.

TV Adaptation for Sylvia Day

Beverly Jenkins Launches GoFundMe to Bring Novel to the Big Screen

Jane Austen around the world.

Over the weekend the BBC had an article about Jane Austen societies around the world. I was pleasantly surprised to see the group here in Canberra featured first. I’ve included the Canberra part below, but you can read the whole piece HERE.

Australia may still have been a penal colony when Jane Austen was writing her novels, but two centuries on, Austen fans Down Under get together each year to recreate Regency England in C

Australia may still have been a penal colony when Jane Austen was writing her novels, but two centuries on, Austen fans Down Under get together each year to recreate Regency England in Canberra.

Aylwen Gardiner-Garden and her husband John have run the annual Jane Austen Festival for 10 years.

The event grew out of their love of Regency dancing and now more than 300 people come from all over Australia and New Zealand for promenades, grand balls, talks and dance workshops.

“Jane Austen is very popular in Australia – especially after the BBC series aired here in the 1990s – Colin Firth just did it for everyone. And it’s generational – there was another whole new set of fans after the Keira Knightley film,” she explained.

“I don’t think it’s harking back to the old country – it’s more the sense of romance and escaping from reality. It’s not the seedy side of England, like Dickens.

“At the festival, the women can dress up, feel feminine and elegant, and the guys are gentlemen. Teenagers grow up overnight on the dance floor – their manners are fantastic.

“It’s people coming together to learn about the costumes, the books, the dancing. It’s become part of people’s lives, so I keep doing it for the love of it.”

JRR Tolkien family settle $80m merchandise row

Today, the 21st of September, is the 78th anniversary of the publication of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.1937. FIRST EDITION

I can only imagine that when you sell film rights in 1969, and then actually make the movies decades later, you’re going to run into some legal issues with the changing face of merchandise!

JRR Tolkien family settle $80m merchandise row

JRR Tolkien’s family have settled an $80m case against Warner Bros over the merchandise rights of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

The famous author’s daughter, Priscilla Tolkien, and his estate, joined up with publisher HarperCollins to sue Warner.

The estate sold the rights to the films in 1969 along with some merchandising.

But they said the studio had overstepped the mark with video games, apps and gambling games. Warner said the matter was “amicably resolved”.

It ends a legal wrangling which first began in 2012, when the family sued the studio for $80m in damages plus legal costs for copyright infringement.

 

Warner then counter-sued, claiming the estate had made an “about face” and had previously consented to merchandise rights.

However, the estate had argued the rights only allowed Warner Bros to create “tangible” goods such as figurines, clothing and stationery.

They claimed the studio had gone beyond the deal by using Tolkien’s characters in digital form – including in online gambling games and casino slot machines – which the family said caused irreparable harm to the author’s legacy and reputation.

After settling the case, Warner Bros says: “The parties are pleased that they have amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future.”

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films were released between 2001 and 2003. The trilogy won 17 Academy awards, a record for a movie trilogy.

His Hobbit series was released between 2012 and 2014.