Finding Happiness, Austen Style, with Emma, our favorite matchmaker

Does the following sound familiar to you?

You’ve found the perfect certain someone for your friend, neighbor, colleague, or other unsuspecting acquaintance. There’s just one small problem: Said friend has told you that no way, no how is he/she interested in that perfect certain someone. And yet, you know better–just as you always do. Just as Emma, the eponymous heroine of Austen’s novel, always did.


Hold on a minute. Did Jane Austen write two versions of Emma? Or could it be that you, like Emma, are turning into the queen of know-it-all? Heaven forbid. After all, look what happened to Emma. She very nearly totally screwed up her life. But never fear. We’ve got a little game for you to play. It’s called “Emma, Reformed Matchmaker.” All you need to do is follow the rules:
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Austen Mania

[by Zoe B. Reprinted here with the kind permission of The Jane Austen Centre, celebrating Bath’s most famous resident]

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an English graduate with absolutely no fortune must be in want of a job.

 
Three weeks later…
And I landed myself with the most perfect role; dressing up in long, elegant dresses, talking about one of the most famous austen maniafemale authors of all time and not to mention the opportunity to see Mr. Darcy as much I want…. in the form of a mannequin. During July of this year I excitingly began working as a Tour Guide at the Jane Austen Centre, Bath and this was just the start of my Austen mania.

Three weeks previously…
I nervously stumbled up the stairs towards the Function Room of the Warminster Athenaeum Theatre, on a quiet Thursday summer evening. The room was filled with many “Janes”, “Lydias”, “Mr Bennets” and unfortunately even the odd “Mr Collins”, all anxiously awaiting their audition. However, Adela and Heather, the directors of the play, made us all feel completely at ease and it was probably one of the most laid back, enjoyable auditions I’ve ever attended.

Aaand three weeks later…
I received a phone call from Heather offering me the part of Miss Elizabeth Bennet – shocked and amazed that I wasn’t going to be playing another tree in chorus 3 again, I took it.

Conversing about Jane Austen, learning about her time in Bath, dressing up in regency costumes AND playing the part of perhaps her most famous protagonist, I really am living the English Grad’s dream and I feel incredibly lucky and excited about this very special opportunity.

Watch this space to follow the mishaps, mayhem and magic of my Austen journey.
Zoe B

Finding Happiness, Austen Style: Party with Bride and Prejudice

The days are getting shorter. Winter is coming. A dragon has been turned. But are we sad? No. Because we have the cure, and now so do you.

It’s called Bride and Prejudice, the life-affirming, Bollywood-meets-Hollywood tribute to Pride and Prejudice. 

Not only is it a clever, spirited, heart-opening adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but there are also two other very important reasons for you to watch:

1. Nathan Riggs from Grey’s Anatomy. That’s right, Martin Henderson plays Darcy. 

2. Naveen Andrews from Lost. He plays the Bingley role. 

Need I say more? I needn’t but I will: There’s the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai in the Elizabeth role; Ellaria Sand, that is, Indira Varma, in the Caroline Bingley role; and the most hilarious portrayal of Mr. Collins (by Nitin Ganatra) since David Bamber’s brilliant work in the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle P&P.

Just watch the trailer and see if you can resist. Come on, grumpypants—I dare you.

Austen: Keeping it real for 200 years

On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, what better way is there to honor this extraordinary author than to give thanks for what she has left us? For me, her work is a timeless guide to living life in the no-BS zone, wrapped in an infinitely re-readable set of six novels. 

If I could assign a motto, a credo to the the Austen canon, I would say it could be summed up in this one line from Pride and Prejudice: “Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence.” The fact that Mr. Darcy delivers this line while in the midst of a serious marriage-proposal fail makes it even more resonant: Darcy may be honest, but the brutality of his honesty indicates that he’s hiding behind his angry pride. He’s yet to unmask that part of his own disguise, but being an Austen hero, we know that he will.

That’s the genius of Austen, who calls out her characters on their disguises and their dishonesty. Which leads them to their moment of revelation, their grand character arc, and their ultimate reward–love and happiness.

via GIPHY

Along the way, Austen makes us laugh, which makes the hard truths easier to bear. And thus we can begin to see ourselves in it all. 

That’s Austen: keeping us real and calling us out. She’s been doing it for 200 years. And that’s no small feat for someone who lived in a society in which polite demurrals, refusals, and denials were a socially mandated matter of form. 

Here are 10 gems of Austen wisdom to help you reach your own character arc.

1. A real friend is the one with the guts to tell you the ugly truth. 

In Emma, Mr. Knightley was the only person with the courage to tell Emma that her treatment of Mrs. Bates was cruel. Emma was shocked and chastened. And set about making amends. Which also put her on the road to realizing that Knightley’s bossiness was maybe just a little bit attractive; no scratch that, super hot.
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