“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.”

 

 

 

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Longbourn for sale?

Actually the manor house used as the Bennett Family’s home (Longbourn) in the BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries/adaptation is up for sale via JASNA newsletter.

Here is the URL/link to an article in Country Life UK:

http://www.countrylife.co.uk/property/luckington-court-the-cotswolds-manor-house-that-featured-on-the-bbcs-pride-and-prejudice-156102#o7fmzzMxb0DXJCax.01

Literary Digression: Anne with an “E”

Via Lithub I read an interesting essay/editorial at the Atlantic magazine online, which discussed the new Netflix series, adaptation of Anne of Green Gables.  The author talks about how after viewing the adaptation and then re-reading the book, she got more of a sense of the darkness.  In the new adaptation there will be more of a focus on Anne’s past via flashbacks — suggesting perhaps PTSD from her orphan years.  The author also sort of dismisses I think the beloved CBC’s adaption that ran on PBS for many years.

While I realize that Anne came from a dark and unstable background, I think it is her unending optimism that sets her apart — as misguided sometimes as it may be.  Kindred spirit has been part of my vocabulary since I read the first book, and also “getting into scrapes.”  For some reason I had a stretch of strange, little accidents and/or scrapes back in my late 20’s–which resulted in minor injuries and visits to the emergency room–on the last one I said to the nurse doing the intake interview, “I just keep getting into all these scrapes–thinking I’m going through this Anne of Green Gables phase or something.”

And without missing a beat she looked up at me and asked: “Well you didn’t try to climb up on the roof pole did you?”  Yes you know you live in a well-read city, when your ER nurse gets your Anne of Green Gable  reference.

Generally, these days I’m not sure about all these adaptions.  To be clear, I have nothing against book to film, or book to TV adaptions.  If done well they can be a nice companion of sorts to the original book.  But I feel like we are perhaps re-visiting  and recycling things a little too much and in the process to do this revisiting/recycling, putting darker/different shades of meaning on them — really moving away from the original books.  Full disclosure here, I don’t have Netflix or Hulu so I may not see any of these more recent literary adaptations unless they are rebroadcast later on regular cable/television — years later, etc.   Here is a URL if you want to check out the editorial/essay at the Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/05/anne-with-an-e-netflix-review/525987/