“Eligible” Pilot at ABC/Disney

Photo credit: BBC/UK Telegraph

Source: Deadline Hollywood via LitHub(dot)com:  Curtis Sittenfeld’s modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice, “Eligible” is getting a pilot at ABC/Disney.  So timely, just last week a couple of Austen loving colleagues mentioned this book to me.  Link to the story below–









Geoff Nunberg on Austen’s First Line via NPR’s Fresh Air.

This year as previously noted, there have been a lot of articles and essays about Austen and her work coinciding with several anniversaries.  There were so many that I did a quick read and often put a few aside to go back and do a more closer reading later.

Just reread an article called: “The Enduring Legacy of Jane Austen’s ‘Truth Universally Acknowledged” by Geoff Nunberg which was featured on “Fresh Air” on National Public Radio (NPR).

Nunberg per the NPR blurb is a linguist who teaches at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley.  He starts off his article/essay stating Amazon as part of their kick off launching the Kindle,  put up a page with a frequent list of famous lines for books noting it is no longer online but: “when I first looked at the list in 2013, the opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice was in third place.  That was all the more impressive because eight of the other top 10 finishers were passages from the Hunger Games series, which was the hit of the season that year, as Austen’s novel had been exactly 200 years earlier.”

So was interesting to note, as Nunberg does, that Pride and Prejudice was in fact, during its contemporary time, popular reading, and a hit novel.

Nunberg goes on to muse whether or not Austen’s first line is the most famous in literature put up again Melville or Dickens, “But there’s no other opening sentence that lends itself so well to sampling, mash-ups and adaptation.”

Linguistically he seems to favor the following interpretation, “‘It is a truth universally acknowledged’ is always available as an elegant replacement for ‘As everybody knows’ when you want to introduce some banal truism.”

Personally, I’m not in agreement with the choice of the word “banal.”

Nunberg that alludes to something he calls, “the age of Jane-o-mania.” Which as he notes is very true, the popularity of Pride and Prejudice and other/related Austen fan fiction, remakes, prequels and sequels seem never-ending.  He also notes the importance though of Austen’s selection of words, “Here’s the puzzling thing.  Those adaptations of Austen’s sentence are almost never ironic or facetious.  They only underscore the prevailing wisdom, rather than throwing it into question.”

He continues: “Yet my guess is that a large portion of the people who adapt that sentence know perfectly well that the original version is anything but straightforward . . . The sentence may look like a truism, but the first part actually undermines the second.”

Not sure if I agree with his choice of the word “undermines” here.

Nunberg then quotes another author, Rachel Brownstein — “In her book Why Jane Austen, Rachel Browstein points out that if the novel had begun simply with ‘A single man possessed of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,’ we’d snuggle in for a stock romantic story.”

Not sure I agree with either Nunberg or Brownstein here, and perhaps bit more with Katherine Mansfield (she is also quoted), because I think Austen was both a realist and a romantic.  A realist in the idea of women having to marry for security within circumstances of the society in which they lived, but also per her letters the idea of marrying for love — at that time a much more romantic belief.

Nunberg also makes a case for too much love and romance and the removal of irony via the many adaptions of Pride and Prejudice and their mark on popular culture, “We get a beguiling story of romance and courtship. But we don’t see it at Austen’s skeptical remove. We miss the arched eyebrow, the sly and confiding voice.”

Here is a URL/link to his article that was featured on “Fresh Air” NPR:  http://www.npr.org/2017/07/25/538609475/the-enduring-legacy-of-jane-austens-truth-universally-acknowledged?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=books













Digression: Places I’ve been to Tea & tea parties I’ve held.

Some of the places I’ve been to tea — although generally I am a fan of caffeine in all forms: coffee, tea, chai, and hot chocolate. My mum and I though share a love of taking tea, because after I graduated high school and before I went to university we went on a tour of London and the countryside together.

Harrod’s in London.  My travel journal from 1988 notes, we took the bus to get to Harrod’s and people nearby heard us talking, and they were nice and helpful directing us to the correct stop.  We had tea in the formal restaurant on a upper floor — dimly remember long, draped tables and it was very quiet.

Wren Coffee House.  Per my journal I noted Piccadilly at St. James’s Church.  Remember it was attached to a pretty church. We had been walking around and saw they had an outdoor craft market so we popped in and bought a very cute little Mrs. Hedgehog pincushion made out of dried brambles.  Then we went into the cafe, my accounts noted I paid f1.50 for tea both my mum and I. Remember we were just ahead of the rush, and we were sitting a table, but then folks all came in and queued up.  Per online searching not sure if I made an error on the address or if the location has changed — church adjacent still remains. Although via JSTOR(dot) org, I found a reference to the cafe and the Friday and Saturday outdoor market in a book published about the history of the Episcopalian Church back in 1993.

The Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, Massachusetts.  Moving forward, over the years, I’ve attended several “Pink Teas” at the Hawthorne Hotel.  This historic hotel was built in 1925, by George Poor, the original founder of the Sylvania Lighting Company, and is located near Salem Common.  We attended the pink teas and often brought other friends, via an acquaintance  who organized the tea to raise money for a local hospice and outreach services — held in the pleasant, sunny, large function room on the main floor. For many years, this woman always volunteered for the tea, dressed in a lovely gown, would come and play the harp, so beautifully almost made you want to cry. Sadly, she passed away, and sometimes there was other entertainment such as Irish step dancing or a demonstration on scarfing tying.  The dress code isn’t mandatory but mostly pink, everyone breaks out their fancy hats, gloves and even a few cheeky boas.  Few times over the years, I’ve walked around selling raffle ticket for the donated gift baskets — my mum and I also contributed a few themed baskets as well.  Sometimes at the Hawthorne, the staff have put the pastry and mini sandwiches on the table on one of those pretty tier dishes, other years because of the size of the crowd and a good year for fundraising, it was more of a buffet — switching between the savory and dessert courses.

Tea and Sympathy, Greenwich Village, New York.  This tea shop was founded in 1991.  Had tea here with two college friends, somewhere in the mid to late 1990’s.  Think we went for one of their birthdays. Remember the tables were small and they did give us a one of those tiered serving dishes of little sandwiches and pastries and I remember thinking we were sort of relieved of how they served, because we weren’t sure how everything was going to fit on the tiny table!  They also have a small shop and online store where they sell jam, curds and other imported goods. The same owners have a fish and chips shop a few doors down on Greenwich Ave., and an authentic black British cab they rent out (actually didn’t know about the cab just learned that from their website).

The former Ritz Carlton Hotel on Arlington and Newbury Streets, Boston MA. The former Ritz is now a Taj — to note, for several years now the Ritz Carlton has a new location on Tremont Street in Boston.  On one of my mum’s special birthdays I took my mum and one of my mum’s dearest friends (one of my “auntie’s”), out for the day.  We rode on the Swan Boats and then went to the Ritz for tea.  The room was very old world elegant with pretty chintz couches and formal service, there was also a harpist playing. Was very relaxing and pleasant and we enjoyed it.  Haven’t been the to the Taj for tea yet, but only for lunch. Had invited several of my “aunties” to attend a Women’s Equality Day event sponsored by the Women’s Suffrage Celebration Commission at the Swan Boats (a long time woman owned business), and we went afterwards to the Taj, and I treated them for lunch, which was lovely.

The Four Seasons Hotel, Boston.  For another one of my mum’s special birthdays a few years back, with two of her dearest friends or my “aunties.”  Was a little different we sat at a table, a little bit more modern type of tea and service. The room was very elegant and there was a nice view of the Garden across the way.

George H. Wightman House, Wheelock College, Brookline, MA, and catered by Vintage Tea and Cake Company, Belmont, MA.  Have attended a couple of teas hosted by JASNA Massachusetts.  The Wightman House was built was a private residence from 1902-1930, when it was sold to Gordon College, Hebrew College and finally to Wheelock College in 1999.  JASNA MA chapter was meeting there regularly in a comfortable, lecture room since I joined, but the teas were held in a special formal room, with a fireplace which I suspect was their original parlor or drawing room.  The teas were catered by Vintage Tea and Cake Company with lovely tables set up for us to select our own vintage tea cup and saucer. Different teas also clearly marked in vintage teapots and a nice selection of scones, pastries and treats. Sadly, Wheelock is merging with Boston University, but they have generously offered JASNA MA a new meeting place on their Boston Campus. To note, the Wightman House is in Brookline, and is on the national register of historic places, which has me quite relieved it won’t be torn down to make more awful luxury condo towers.

As for the Vintage Tea and Cake Co., I really wish this catering company existed back when I threw a tea party for a very special birthday at my auntie’s for my mum. The local caterer I used back in 1998, skimped on the sandwiches so my auntie and I whipped up tuna salad sandwiches to fill in.  The mini-tarts I got though from a local french bakery (Peaches and Cream, in East Boston–now located 2017 in Chelsea, MA), were a big hit.  They were beautiful mini-works of art like stained glass, and I had ordered larger fruit tart for my mum to blow out her candles — which my grandmother thought was just awful.  She did not understand why I did not have a cake but everyone had fun dressing up, and I took along extra hats for those who did not have them or forgot — which we hung on the vanity in my aunt’s front hall entry.  The Vintage Tea and Cake Company also has a small store front shop too, in Belmont, MA.

Gore Mansion (Gore Place), Waltham, MA.  This was a special event I attended with a friend and fellow Janeite via JASNA MA.  We had our lecturer/special speaker in the carriage house and then attended a lovely tea in the mansion.  Christopher Gore was a Harvard educated revolutionary who served as a MA governor and senator, and he married Rebecca Amory Payne in 1785, and they were quite a large part of society.  JASNA members were treated to a tour of the mansion after the tea.  Gore Place is a museum open to the public as well as a working farm.

The Cozy Tea Cart, Brookline, NH.  My latest tea outing, was also a recent JASNA MA event, held a little further north in Brookline, NH.  This was a small tearoom with long tables with an extensive menu including a lot of gluten free items.  There was a full tea available, and also a lovely shop were they sell their own tea blends, as well as honey and other locally made items, and other tea-related merchandise.

And I’ve also thrown exactly two (2) parties at work in both our old and new conference rooms.  The first was for a friend when she left to work out the Mass. Supreme Court — causing me to have to tape together multiple tablecloths from underneath — tricky business although I hid the seam with a “faux runner” made out of colored paper. And this past summer was my second attempt which was a bit more casual, for a volunteer attorney leaving us for a new job — with mango chutney from my aunt in Hawaii and pepper water crackers as our savory and my Alice in Wonderland teapot — which was part of my gift from the Division when I briefly transferred out to another part of the office.













Digression: One Indie Bookstore’s four (4) most stolen authors.

Yesterday, I visited Porter Square Books in Cambridge.  It is a wonderful independent, local, bookstore and whenever I’m in the area I try to pay a visit.  Was a beautiful day so the bookstore was as quiet as I’ve ever seen it, even post-Boston marathon bombing in 2013.*

Started to browse in the front of the store, in the fiction section. My cousin’s 16th birthday is coming up so was thinking about a book for him.  And I see this sign: “If you are looking for F. Scott Fitzgerald ask at the counter.”  Which I thought was weird, like did I miss something?  Did Fitzgerald get banned in Boston and just totally missed it?

This sort of bothered me, while I continued taking a look around the store, found a few gifts in their lovely children’s section which has a nice selection of multi-cultural books and authors, before I checked my watch and I realized I’d lost track of time.  So I went to the counter to check out.  The clerk rang up my books and I said, “Can I ask you a quick question? Why is F. Scott Fitzgerald behind the counter?”  And he was very sweet and explained to me that F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of their top four (4) most stolen authors.

This sort of blew me away and I went to meet my Bookcrossing friends at a Panera Bread Cafe a few doors down. Everyone unpacked the books we swap and trade and got some lunch and started to catch up.  And told them my little adventure over a few doors down and before I could recite the rest of the authors — everyone wanted to guess.  So that was fun — everyone was contributing names and they got two of them, but the remaining slot was unknown so when they were done guessing I told them.

Here goes:

S. Scott Fitzgerald —



And this was the stumper:


While Bukowski and Vonnegut make sense to me, I don’t really understand Fitzgerald or Hemingway because I think of them as required, high school reading.  When our teachers used to just hand out the copies for required reading, but maybe they don’t do this any longer.

Figuring each indie bookstore has their own list–and I should ask and every time I visit one and see what they say.

*In April 2013, the U.S. was still participating in World Book Night.  My friend lives in North Cambridge, so she and I signed up to pick up our books at Porter Square Books, and there was to be a sort of party.  My friend and I arranged to meet earlier in the day, a sort of belated birthday celebration for me, we saw an independent movie based on a true story about Australian/Aboriginal girls that formed a Motown group and sang for the U.S. troops in Vietnam.  During the film, they showed them performing in Vietnam, when there was an attack and they had to run for cover as bombs exploded.  Hadn’t been to the movies in awhile and commented to my friend in a whisper — my god this sound system — feels like the building is shaking.  Which of course, it was from the bombs going off across the Charles River at the marathon. But we had no idea until we left and went to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner and found out what happened. We went back to her apartment to see the news and call the bookstore to see if we could still pick up the books. Which we did — the party was off but the clerk gave us some cookies they had set up earlier that day.  Think she was relieved to see us.  My friend actually drove me and the books back home which was very generous of her, because at that point no one knew really what was going on and/or if the attacks were over. Days later, my friend called Porter Square Books and ended up picking up several boxes of books never claimed.  She and I managed to give them out/away about a month after.