Category Archives: Readers Reviews

Pride & Prejudice vs North & South

Good Afternoon dear readers,

Today I would like to share with you a guest post under my readers reviews feature, even if this post is not exactly a review, but more of an analysis of my 2 favourite novels: Pride & Prejudice and North & South.

My guest today is Apala Bhattacharya, a dear friend I’ve met online due to our mutual love for The X-Files. As we started talking, we realized that we had much, much more in common. We both have degrees in the media areas, we love history and we are fascinated by period dramas, namely the North and South BBC adaptation.

We also share our love of Pride and Prejudice, but she didn’t know about the world of JAFF. I introduced her to it, and once she started reading JAFF, she was hooked!

Today she shares with you her view on P&P and N&S, and also a great idea she came up with for readers and writers of JAFF and North and South variations. I know you will love the idea! I’ll explain everything at the end of the post. 🙂

 


Pride and Prejudice and North and South: A Comparative Analysis

by Apala Bhattacharya

Most people will tell you that Darcy and Elizabeth make the most iconic romantic pair in the history of classic literature. Less well-known, but equally loved, is John Thornton and Margaret Hale of North and South. Both novels bind together nuanced perspectives of human nature and human struggles, with love stories that are timeless.

As if the books weren’t enough, the TV adaptations of both these novels cast the most perfect men for the roles. Colin Firth set hearts aflutter with his charming reserve and wet, wet shirt; Richard Armitage set the bar for hot businessmen who redefine enduring passion. (Christian Grey who?) Both characters are one half of an iconic pair; but let us consider who all four of these characters are as individuals, as couples; and what they might have in common.

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth and Darcy, Margaret and Thornton

In each of these romantic pairings, one half of the couple is a perfect foil to the other.  Elizabeth confronts Darcy’s pride, and he is a better man because of it. Darcy makes Elizabeth realize that first impressions are often prejudiced. In the end, Darcy is humbled, Elizabeth’s prejudices are rectified, and they live happily ever after together.

The theme of ‘pride’ and ‘prejudice’ runs through North and South as well. Margaret’s prejudice towards traders and the North, gives way to the realization that there is nobility in honest, hard work. Thornton learns that more can be achieved through understanding and cooperation, than with an Us vs Them attitude. In both stories, one helps the other reach a place of greater understanding.

Our female protagonists are somewhat alike. Elizabeth and Margaret are both sensible, thoughtful, intellectual women – no silly women are they. (Unlike Fanny in North and South, and Lydia in Pride and Prejudice.) Both conduct themselves with grace under pressure. Both are humbled by the events in their lives, and are the better for it.

Darcy and Thornton have some things in common as well. Though one may be part of the landed gentry, and another a self-made man, they are neither of them charmers – both tell it like it is. But it’s not what they say that matters, it’s what they do.  They rise to the occasion when their ladies are in a tight spot. Both passionately propose to the women they love, only to be summarily rejected. In time, both women have a change of heart, but it was rough going for a while. I’d imagine Darcy and Thornton would enjoy commiserating. (Crossover fanfiction idea. Writers, could we?)

 

Austen and Gaskell: their enduring legacy

Like her protagonist Elizabeth, Austen revels in the ridiculous. She holds up a mirror to human flaws, and does it with humour and charm. Whether it is Mr. Collin’s sycophancy, Charlotte’s mercenary approach to love and marriage, or even Elizabeth herself – Austen  parses human motivations and reactions with surgical precision.  And that’s why we love Austen. Her writing epitomzes the saying “It’s funny because it’s true”.

Gaskell is a more sombre writer. At least six characters die in novel. Plus, Thornton’s father killed himself. Cheerful subject. She doesn’t shy away from exploring death, disease, poverty, feudalism, capitalism and class divide. Gaskell explores these subjects with a real earnestness that is reflected in Margaret’s conversations with Thornton, Higgins and her father.  A Victorian woman wasn’t supposed to exhibit intellectual curiosity, so here’s Gaskell breaking gender stereotypes, like Austen does with Elizabeth. They are both quite feminist for a world that had not yet created the term ‘feminist’.

Unlike modern literature, classic literature wasn’t binary – it wasn’t escapist romance vs high art. Pride and Prejudice and North and South aren’t just great love stories; they’re great literature. Literature that will give generations of women unrealistic expectations of men, forever.

 


 

Did you like this post? You can find many more such as this and some others with a more serious and historical component at Apala’s new blog where she shares her love books and films set in historical eras (specially Victorian). She blogs as The Anglophile at https://perioddramamadness.wordpress.com/

Now I would also like to share with you a project that started out with a difficulty Apala found when searching and choosing her next book to read. It’s easy for us JAFF regulars to find the JAFF book to read that’s perfect for us, but for someone who is new to this world and doesn’t follow JAFF blogs, it can be confusing. So Apala asked me if I would help her develop a file that would list all the JAFF books available, and that sounded difficult but a great idea 🙂

We’ve been quietly working on setting up the JAFF google sheet for the past month. Now her blog has a list of what we hope will be the most complete list of all JAFF books, with info on the type of novel, number of pages, formats available,  price, amazon links, etc. Of course we couldn’t stop there, so we also created one for the North and South Fan Fic, which I believe is almost complete. These are crowd-sourced lists (with a moderator), so we hope you will add names of books we’ve missed out on – perhaps your favourites, or the ones you have written and published. As most of you know, there are dozens of JAFF books coming out each month, so it would be completely impossible for us to add them all, that’s why we need your help! With everyone’s input we might actually create a list where we could find hundreds of JAFF books and sort them out by our favourite genre, author etc. We have even added some books published this week 🙂

If you are insterested, go here to find the lists for JAFF, North and South Fan Fic, Historical Fiction, and Period Dramas: https://perioddramamadness.wordpress.com/category/lists/

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Filed under Guest Post, jane austen, North and South, Pride and Prejudice, Readers Reviews

Readers Reviews – The Bridget Jones Diary by Flávia Pais

Hello everyone,

I have been talking for some time of a new feature I would like to have at From Pemberley to Milton, and today I’m finally launching it! It’s called Readers Reviews and its purpose is to give my readers a more active part in my blog by sharing their reviews with everyone else.

Many of my readers are great reviewers but for numerous reasons they don’t have a blog or a particular place to share their reviews with everyone, so why not given them voice to express their thoughts on JAFF books right here at From Pemberley to Milton?

My first guest is a fellow book review blogger called Flávia Pais. She is an intelligent, independent and determined young lady who happens love books and work with me, but she explains a little of our history in her guest post, so I will not repeat that. Let me just tell you she immediately caught my attention when I met her, why? A reader always notices when someone else carries a book with her every single day 🙂

I hope you enjoy her post and her review of The Bridget Jones Diary and The Edge of Reason. The adaptation of the third volume, Mad About the Boy is also coming shortly to the theatres, so you might take this inducement to re-watch the films with our beloved Colin Firth!

 

***About Me***

 

I’m a 26 years old Portuguese girl, with a passion for books, sports and life in general. I have a terrible temper, but I always have a smile on my face. My favourite authors include Portuguese José Saramago, Colombian Gabriel García Márquez, Japanese Haruki Murakami, J.K. Rowling and, most recently, the Swiss author Joël Dicker completely stole my heart. I usually say I don’t have a favourite genre; I enjoy reading good books, with characters that make me fall in love with them and their lives. This passion for literature has made me start my own blog about two years ago. Unfortunately most of you won’t be able to look it up because it’s written in Portuguese, but meeting Rita has made me consider also keeping a blog in English to reach a wider public.

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(Me and Flávia at the office, casual friday, hence the clothing :))

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***Guest Post***

First of all I have to tell you how I met Rita. She’s my Team Leader and, as you can imagine, being an intern in a new company is quite scary and I was a bit afraid of the welcome I’d get. I was particularly worried about my direct bosses as in my old job some distance was always kept between ‘the bosses’ and the workers. I was really surprised how nice everyone was, and Rita made me feel very welcome. During my first week we took some coffee breaks together and, as we both talk a lot, we quickly found out we had a lot in common and discovered we shared a common passion – books and blogging about books. She told me all about her blog and this genre I had never heard of – Jane Austen Fan Fiction, or as I’ve learned, JAFF.

I am a Jane Austen fan (who doesn’t love Mr. Darcy?) and I know there are a lot of fan fictions in the internet about everything, but it was a surprise to find out there were even publishers dedicated only to this literary genre. And this brings us to why Rita asked me to do a guest post in her blog. She saw me reading Bridget Jones and was really surprised, so surprised it was even a little scary, and she said ‘We need to talk’. Turns out Bridget Jones is considered JAFF and she thought it would be interesting to have a review on her blog about a JAFF book from a person who (thought wrongly) had never read any JAFF. I have to apologize in advance since the review will be about the two books as I’ve read them as one, so I’m not entirely capable of distinguish between them.

 

 

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We all know Bridget Jones, everyone has seen the film, and if they haven’t they have heard of it at least. The most well-known singleton on the planet. Just to give you some insight, Bridget is a chubby Londoner, journalist, with a slight drinking problem who smokes way too much. Her love life is a mess, sometimes non-existing, but we get to know her two romantic lovers – her boss Daniel Clever and a lawyer, Mark Darcy. And now I can see you all leaning in towards your screen because finally you see some JAFF here.

So Mark Darcy is clearly our beloved Mr. Darcy (but I only made the connection after talking with Rita), a nice British gentleman, with high moral standards and what is considered by all our mothers (and Bridget’s) as a proper husband. However, just as Elizabeth duels on the goodness of Mr. Darcy so does Bridget with Mark. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but in the film adaptation Colin Firth also plays Mark Darcy. How lovely is this?

There is something very funny in the book that is totally cut-out from the film – Bridget and her friends are absolutely obsessed with Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy and they make a lot of comparisons between them. Actually one of the funniest moments in the books is precisely when Bridget is invited to interview Colin Firth in Rome about his upcoming movie. She’s totally distracted from the main point, which is the upcoming film, and just stares at Colin Firth in awe while asking silly things. They engage in a hilarious dialogue about Mr. Darcy’s dive in the lake in Pride and Prejudice that made me laugh quite a lot, and I’ll give you an excerpt:

Bridget Jones: You know in the BBC Pride and Prejudice?

Colin Firth: I do know, yes.

BJ: When you had to dive into the lake?

CF: Yes.

BJ: When they had to do another take, did you have to take the wet shirt off and then put a dry one on?

CF: Yes, I, I probably did have to, yes.

BJ (Breathing heavily): How many takes diving into the lake did you have to do?

And then it goes on and on, and at some point Colin Firth is already losing his mind because she’s only interested in talking about Mr. Darcy, and he wants to be asked about the new film, and she insists again ‘How many times altogether exactly did you have to take it off and put it on again?’ and I could tell you more, but you’ll find it funnier if you read the all thing!

As a JAFF novel this really takes some things out of Pride and Prejudice, not straight away, but if you’re familiar with the book you can spot the character traits from Mr. Darcy on Mark and some similarities with the love story shared by Darcy and Elizabeth.

To finish this, and to give you a non-JAFF fan opinion, I find these books very good and entertaining. Of course, they are not Russian classics or Victorian relics, with deep and profound analysis of society and the human nature, but they really give you an insight on a singletons life. For me, as a recent singleton, I found Bridget Jones both funny and enlightening, with a lot of what the hell situations that you can totally relate to, and some others that you wish you’ll never have to face. Overall it’s a light story to read with an open mind and an open heart. And, like Bridget, you might just fall in love before you know it!

Curious about these books? You can find them on Amazon.com following the below links:

Bridget Jones’s Diary

The Edge of Reason

 Mad About the Boy

 

What about Flávia’s review? Quite diferente from my own and I absolutly loved that!

She has an interactive way of expressing her opinion and is very funny, so I would recommend to those of you who speak Portuguese to check her blog Reading in Style.

For the readers who do not speak Portuguese, I think we need to do something about Flávia! Bridget Jones Diary cannot be the only JAFF book on her list! We’ll have to get her to read something else! What would you suggest to her?

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Filed under Pride and Prejudice, Readers Reviews