Literary Digression: Stumbling upon a friend’s book @ my town’s lovely bookstore and cafe.

So was out and about this morning, doing the usual errands, bank, dry cleaners and post office.  Thought I pop round the Winthrop Book Depot & Cafe, our local bookstore/cafe for a little gift shopping.  It’s a cozy little oasis with a nice selection of multicultural children’s books and other offerings, Y/A, fiction, nonfiction, and bestsellers, as well as local authors and what do I see on the shelf? My friend and indie author, Farha’s most recent book — Beauty Sleeping — a modern twist/mystical re-telling of the traditional story.  Which is a a fun and fascinating read, especially during the gray days we are dealing with in the middle of winter.  And if you are ever lost between East Boston and the airport, or severely delayed out of Boston’s Logan Airport, with some time to spare set your GPS  and please venture out and pay the Winthrop Book Depot a visit at 11 Somerset Ave. Winthrop, MA 02152.  The Winthrop Book Depot & Cafe is family run, with a menu of coffees, teas, baked goods and treats to enjoy, along with exhibits featuring the work of local artists, as well as special events including author readings and performances.



Jane Austen and quoting–all gone wrong?

Quoting is something I like to do.  Actually I send friends, family and colleagues quotes over email, for their birthdays, and also on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Another little tradition have started up and kept going.

It’s quite well known, that Austen with her wicked wit, has her fair share of quotable quips.  They grace stationary and all manner of accessories but this morning my mum was a little upset.  It seems Bill Belichick, coach of the U.S. football team the New England Patriots and his companion Linda Halliday, celebrated Valentine’s Day with a tropical vacation — lovely for them.

Per CBS Sports, Halliday noted the occasion by tweeting a photo of them on the beach and: “Her caption included the following quote: ‘You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love … I love … I love you!'”

Our local CBS affiliate here in Boston, WBZ* cited the quote as belonging to Jane Austen.

Thus upsetting my mum on several levels.

Because the words just did set right with her.

She could not quite remember what they said on the air — to tell me.

Kept saying it included over and over, “I love you.”  Which didn’t ring true to me.

So I promised to search online when I had a moment at work today, which I did.

First I found the article  about their vacation and the tweet, then realized the quote was probably from the most recent Pride and Prejudice movie (2005) adaptation with Keira Knightley in the role of Elizabeth Bennet.

“Bewitched” is kind of a deal breaker here.  Right now I’m without free access to the Oxford English Dictionary, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the kind of word that would have been used during the Regency by any author in a positive context.

With a little more searching I was able to confirm it —  “You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you.  I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”  These were Mr. Darcy’s lines spoken by actor Matthew Macfadyn, and written by screenwriter Deborah Moggach.  Sources are writer and Janeite, Deborah Yaffe’s blog/website and also the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)/Amazon.

Most Janeites are familiar with Austen’s original scene and dialogue, where Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth: ‘You are too generous to trifle with me.  If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once.  My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.’

Austen continues the scene but only with description and not specific dialogue: “Elizabeth feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not very fluently gave him to understand, that her sentiments had undergone so material a change, since the period to which he had alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances.  The happiness which this reply produced, was such as he had never felt before and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.”

Austen excerpts from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, Penguin Classics 1985.

To be clear, I’m not slighting Ms. Moggach’s work, I enjoyed her script, and personally the only part of the 2005 film, that I disliked was the reworking/reimagining of the scene at Pemberley.

Moggach’s interpretation of Austen are expanded and quite romantic but I still prefer the original dialogue.

*Full disclosure, I was an assignment desk intern at WBZ-TV in Boston during the summer of 1991, but at that time it was an NBC not a CBS affiliate.



Emerson College, Boston–Theater Production of Pride and Prejudice December 1-9, 2017

Via Opus Affair Boston — Emerson College is putting on a stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice during the week of December 1-9, 2017.  This is the first I heard of it, or perhaps would have tried to get to get tickets (well you never know there is still time).  Tickets are $12.00 US.  For more info. on this production link/url is below


“And what is fifty miles of good road?”

Taking a little time here to follow up, examining the scene in Pride and Prejudice, where Mr. Darcy, quite unexpectedly visits Elizabeth in the parsonage.   Austen describes that Elizabeth happened to be alone and the conversation did not exactly flow.  Elizabeth first tries to make polite inquiries about Mr. Bingley and Netherfield — but sort of hits a wall with Mr. Darcy: “Elizabeth made no answer.  She was afraid of talking longer of his friend; and having, nothing else to say, was now determined to leave the trouble of finding a subject to him.”

Darcy though does pick up his end of the conversation, choosing to the discuss the parsonage and her cousin Mr. Collins.  “He took the hint, and soon began with, ‘This seems a very comfortable house.  Lady Catherine, I believe, did a great deal to it when Mr. Collins first came to Hunsford.'”

And Elizabeth’s response — another line often tweaked for film or adaptations: “I believe she did — and I am sure she could not have bestowed her kindness on a more grateful object.”  Bit of Austen’s wicked wit here, as she is poking fund not just of her hapless and often sniveling cousin Mr. Collins but also of Lady Catherine to an extent with the choice of the word “kindness” owing again to Austen’s descriptions of Lady Catherine’s domineering personality.

Their talk then turns into the Collins marriage and the distance that Charlotte resides from her family, with Darcy commenting: “It must be very agreeable to her to be settled within so easy a distance of her own family and friends.”

Elizabeth shoots back: “An easy distance do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles.”

So Darcy sort of mansplains here: “And what is fifty miles of good road?  Little more than half a day’s journey.  Yes I call it a very easy distance.”  (Emphasis is Austen’s own.)

This exchange is interesting on a number of levels.  First, it shows perhaps the differences of opinion between a member of the social classes of the time nobility (Darcy) and the gentry (Elizabeth). As well as a marked difference between the genders, Darcy a man who sees little more than a half day of travel being no big deal, and Elizabeth as woman of the time period, who like her author, considers 50 miles to be a much longer distance because she  must take into account: scheduling, being escorted, time, and money — issues and concerns that don’t apply to Mr. Darcy.  As a gentleman he has the money, resources and male freedom to come and go as he pleases.

Interesting as the discussion continues because Darcy doesn’t back off from Elizabeth pushing back, rather he continues to fish for information, “It is proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire.  Anything beyond the very neighbourhood of Longbourn, I suppose, would appear far.”  (Austen’s own spelling.)

Darcy is trying to find out, in the wake of his interest for her and I presume in trying to form his upcoming proposal, how Elizabeth feels about the distance from the family home.  And, again that I will comment here that Mr. Firth, did a very fine and subtle portrayal in the BBC adaption, of Mr. Darcy in this particular scene: “As he spoke there was a sort of smile, which Elizabeth fancied she understood; he must be supposing her to be thinking of Jane and Netherfield, and she blushed as she answered, ‘I do not mean to say that a woman may not be settled too hear her family. The far and the near must be relative, and depend on many varying circumstances.'”

Per Austen, Elizabeth felt the smile was a reference back to her earlier questions about Mr. Bingley and in her sister Jane.  I’m not sure if Austen intended for the reader to really feel that Elizabeth missed this line of questioning by Darcy and/or his interest in her, and his trying to gauge perhaps worried that his Pemberley estate — would be too far and some sort of a deal breaker.

Sort of Shakespearian in nature, two people having a conversation and taking away different meanings as a result. Austen sort of sets it up, Elizabeth got a smile which was it seems a rarity for Darcy, and he turned his chair and gave her this directive — a little chiding in tone it seems was directed squarely at Elizabeth — she cannot have mistake it for a Jane/Bingley reference. “Mr. Darcy drew his chair a little towards her, and said, ‘You cannot have a right to such a very strong local attachment. You cannot always have been at Longhorn.”

Jane Austen lets the reader fill in the blank or not.  She simply writes: “Elizabeth looked surprised.”

And I’m left to wonder — okay, how was she surprised? In the mind of Elizabeth Bennett was she asking herself: “why does he care?”  Or did it go completely over her head, which seems to be the latter.  Elizabeth seems to unintentionally to be missing all of Darcy’s clues of his apparent interest in her.

Austen then details how Elizabeth’s reaction impacts Darcy: “The gentleman experienced some change of feeling; he drew back his chair, took a newspaper form the table, and, glancing over it, said in a colder voice, ‘Are you pleased with Kent?'”  To sum up, there is something going on here, because Darcy turns his chair again, goes for a prop, the newspaper — and/or item of distraction/protection, and Austen notes his tone changes, specifically Austen writes he now has a “colder voice.”

Darcy is either frustrated, scared or both and he retreats into his usual short, clipped and disinterested stance.  He pretty much clams up.  The whole fishing for information, the intimacy or Darcy’s attempt at it was over, “A short dialogue on the subject of the country ensured, on either side calm and concise — and soon put to an end by the entrance of Charlotte and her sister, just returned from their walk.”   Because immediately Darcy takes the opportunity to just get himself out of there.

Charlotte, for the rest of the visit seems more aware of Mr. Darcy’s possible interest in Elizabeth.  “She had once or twice suggested to Elizabeth the possibility of his being partial to her, but Elizabeth always laughed at the idea.”   From here it’s clear that Austen perhaps either intended for their to be a sort of mix up and misunderstanding from Darcy’s parsonage visit, or that Elizabeth just dismissed Darcy because of his personality.

And Charlotte, per Austen, did not want to raise Elizabeth’s hopes of marrying someone in nobility, “from the danger of raising expectations which might only end in disappointment; for in her opinion it admitted not of a doubt, that all her friend’s dislike would vanish, if she could suppose him to be in her power.”  Austen seems to be giving readers a little bit a preview or a clue — if Charlotte her dear friend could see it, then we all should right?

Austen continues really with a practical notation on women trying to plan for other women, for Charlotte is savvy enough to realize Colonel Fitzwilliam does not have as much money or connections, but Charlotte it seems, prefers Darcy’s cousin as a choice via the Regency marriage market, “In her kind schemes for Elizabeth, she sometimes planned her marrying Colonel Fitzwilliam.  He was beyond comparison the pleasantest man; he certainly admired her, and his situation in life was most eligible.”

Colonel Fitzwilliam certainly may have had some polite or overt interest in Elizabeth, that motivated his cousin to realize his attachment for Elizabeth was not fleeting, and perhaps that is what spurred Darcy’s visit to the parsonage but Austen does not detail that, she leaves it again to us, her readers to decide.

However, I do think this parsonage/visit scene was Austen’s way of showing another, softer side of Darcy that he was trying to convey, as well as his interest in Elizabeth. The very practical discussion of distance and settling near/far from your family, as well the details about his tone, smile, and moving his chair closer and then away.  Austen conveys through all of this — how Darcy was definitely interested in Elizabeth.  Austen also notes to her readers, that Elizabeth could not see it or understand it, but as an author she plants the idea for us by using the Charlotte character, Elizabeth’s friend, a married woman who sort of settled in her own life, and is a little more neutral and perceptible in these observations and interactions.

All cites to Penguin Classics, Jane Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice, reprinted/ed. 1985.

















“I have good news.”

In Ang Lee’s film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, Emma Thompson portrays Elinor (and Thompson also wrote the screenplay for which she received an Oscar), says this line to Edward (portrayed by Hugh Grant).  The scene drawn on reams of awkwardness as in the original novel. Colonel Brandon has generously offered Edward the living at his estate at Delaford, so that Edward can realistically have a living after being cast off by his family and marry Lucy.  And the Colonel asks Elinor to deliver the news, completely unaware of course, that Elinor herself is in love with Edward.

Austen’s original lines in her book are not as succinct as in the film version: “I have something of consequence to inform you of, which I was on the pointing of communicating by paper.  I am charged with a most agreeable office, (breathing rather faster than usual as she spoke).”  Here I find Austen’s insertion of Elinor’s description of fast breathing rather telling.

Austen is setting a scene of frayed nerves, with compressed emotions, and continues to convey a very precarious scene unfolding, “What Edward felt, as he could not say it himself, it cannot be expected that anyone else should say for him  He looked all the astonishment which such unexpected, such unthought-of information could not fail of exciting; but he said only these two words:  Colonel Brandon!”

“Yes,” continued Elinor, gathering more resolution as some of the worst was over, “Colonel Brandon means it as a testimony of his concern for what has lately passed–”

And I’m going to leave off on quoting the passage there.  Returning to the the film version, the scene was awkward with Elinor (Thompson) and Edward (Grant) sort of shifting around, avoid eye contact, until Elinor (Thompson) sort of opens her arms, and gestures for Edward (Grant) to sit, while saying, “I have good news.”

Often I think of the line and it’s origins.  The idea that is a composite or a riff off one of my favorite author’s pivotal scenes often recalls me to sort of say it was a good long pause. Rather like the delivery of actor Emma Thompson, when I have the rare occasion to say it, often at work.  “I have good news,” is not something I say with any regularity and I try to keep (unlike Austen’s Elinor), a good even breath and tone.

These days as we enter the month of October, and are in reminders of the color pink and breast cancer awareness — it’s all we can hope for really.  My maternal grandmother was diagnosed in 1975, but lived until 1999.  My mom was diagnosed in 2014 right before my dad passed away, her surgery was just a small one, but the timing was terrible, she had to have it during my dad’s last days in ICU — and so I was left to run between buildings in Mass. General Hospital in Boston.  The realization of an only child’s worst nightmare.

Before my mum was diagnosed I was not considered high risk but that all changed.  And in February of 2016 my mammogram lit up.  After ultrasounds and biopsies — it wasn’t cancer but my surgeon, who like most surgeons I’ve met is not a big talker — told me simply it was a polyp in my duct and they were going to take it.  To note, he also does genetic profiling which is why I think I was assigned to him chiefly due to family history and my age, etc.  And learned about the high rate of change of cells, and read about the high incidence of cancer often beginning in the duct afterwards.  My surgery was minor, so I was back to work after a few days. Had a follow up mammogram a few months later.  As recommended my mother went in for the genetic testing and it turns out she doesn’t have any of the genes that are a pre-cursor to breast cancer — so I don’t have them either.  That was good news.

The close watch also requires an MRI every 6 months as well, which are difficult because: 1) MRI’s are very expensive and they must be pre-approved by my insurance company as medically necessary at least one week before, 2) the MRI must be done during a certain physical time of the month and Mother Nature often does not cooperate with the scheduling. The MRI is to keep an eye on a group of cysts–they are not cancerous yet (I had an MRI biopsy in the summer of 2016 they came back clear no high change of cells or anything yet) and it seems some people have a lot of cysts, just like acne or moles, but still they are just part of the whole close watch.

The last MRI was in May 2017 — after several attempts and rescheduling  it was done not at MGH Boston but outside the city, I had to go to work, leave, catch a shuttle  bus that did not take me right there, but luckily a nice lady on the bus helped me find it a few blocks away it via the GPS on her phone.  The tech was nice enough but they were short handed and one point he thought he may have perforated my vein hooking up the IV, finally it was all sorted out I just wanted to get it over with and we did. Ending up climbing out of the MRI machine myself because they were so understaffed and took a regular bus back to the train and the city.

By the time I got back to work there was only enough time left in the day to check email and mail and sort things out, and then my cell phone rang. It was the nurse practitioner (NP) covering for the NP from my surgeon/doctor’s office.  And I sort of freaked out but she said, “I have good news.”  The MRI results were back, and the cysts everything was the same, etc. She told me they would schedule me again, and the date awaits on the calendar. I’m hoping that Mother Nature and everything will comply, and again I just hope for that line, “I have good news.”