At age 10, Fanny Price is sent by her destitute mother to live with her aunt and uncle, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. As a child she was often made to feel that she was the poor relation but... See full summary »
Eight years earlier, Anne Elliot, the daughter of a financially troubled aristocratic family, was persuaded to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a young seaman, who, though ... See full summary »
Emma Woodhouse seems to be perfectly content, a loving father whom she cares for, friends, and a home. But Emma has a terrible habit - matchmaking. She cannot resist finding suitors for her... See full summary »
Jonny Lee Miller
At 10, Fanny Price, a poor relation, goes to live at Mansfield Park, the estate of her aunt's husband, Sir Thomas. Clever, studious, and a writer with an ironic imagination and fine moral ... See full summary »
Jonny Lee Miller,
Royal Navy captain Wentworth was haughtily turned down eight years ago as suitor of pompous baronet Sir Walter Elliot's daughter Anne, despite true love. Now he visits their former seaside ... See full summary »
Emma Woodhouse has a rigid sense of propriety as regards matrimonial alliances. Unfortunately she insists on matchmaking for her less forceful friend, Harriet, and so causes her to come to ... See full summary »
The series tells the story of Amy Dorrit, who spends her days earning money for the family and looking after her proud father, who is a long term inmate of Marshalsea debtors' prison in ... See full summary »
Widow Dashwood and her three unmarried daughters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, inherit only a tiny allowance. So they move out of their grand Sussex home to a more modest cottage in ... See full summary »
When Catherine Morland is given the opportunity to stay with the childless Allen family in Bath, she is hoping for an adventure of the type she has been reading in novels. Soon introduced to society, she meets Isabella Thorpe and her brother John, a good friend of her own brother, James. She also meets Henry Tilney, a handsome young man from a good family and his sister, Eleanor. Invited to visit the Tilney estate, Northanger Abbey, she has thoughts of romance but soon learns that status, class and money are all equally important when it comes to matters of the heart. Written by
Huzzah! - another adaptation: for Austen fans there can never be enough. Still I gulped a little when I heard that ITV were doing a Jane Austen season. ITV tend to drastically abridge their period dramas, and they can end up slightly cheap-looking, losing integrity when contrasted with the more solid and sober (and timeless?) productions of the BBC.
Northanger Abbey was Austen's first proper novel, but her last to be published; very much a turn of the (19th) century novel, showing some of the roughness of that time, before ladies became entirely encased in the strict rules society saw fit to impose. It's fitting that a cheeky, confident and funny writer (Andrew Davies) gets to have a bit of fun with this one some 200 years later. In it, Catherine Morland, a young, naïve girl from a quiet village, gets her first taste of many things on a trip to Bath, and learns both life lessons and something about love through her contact with two very different families she meets there; the grasping, manipulative Thorpes and the thoughtful and sophisticated Tilneys.
The two leads, Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland, and J J Field as Henry Tilney, are beautifully cast. Felicity Jones' youth, pretty looks and inexperience served her character very well. Her 'modern' tone has been criticised, but whilst an older actress might have delivered the lines with greater accuracy, we'd have lost Jones' juvenile wonder and humour. She delivered (almost all) her lines nicely, and although at moments she looked almost simple, staring up blankly with her mouth open, in a way this was appropriate. Nothing in Catherine Morland's previous limited experience prepared her for the life of Bath or for a family like the Tilneys she may well gape. I loved the dream sequences where her constant absorption in Gothic horrors spills over into her imagination: her reading was teaching her to look for horror everywhere.
J J Field was wonderful in the BBC's recent adaptation of Philip Pullman's excellent "The Ruby in the Smoke", and shows again that he can play the leading man with great charm and naturalistic ease - a long career in the making I think. Re-reading the book I'm struck by the affectionate details with which Austen made Henry Tilney lovable, such as his messy rooms and his keen sense of humour. I think Field goes a long way towards putting this on screen, despite shockingly ill-fitting clothes and a script very constrained for time, missing dialogue which would have drawn out his growing attachment to Catherine. Austen has Henry tell Catherine that she "is superior in good nature to all the world". In this version her youth and looks alone seem to be the reason for her appeal.
The minor characters were mostly well-played and well drawn; especially Eleanor Tilney, who brought great dignity to her role. Some concessions have certainly been made to an audience deemed incapable of reading subtlety or of tolerating lengthy or literary dialogue. But certain additions were really funny and delightful: Catherine rolling her eyes and curling her lip at Captain Tilney's rudeness; her little sister announcing, hand on hips and with a nice swing of her little head; "CATHY. Mama says will you bring Mr Tilney to the DRAWING room." Her withering glare at Henry when they are all seated, in awkward silence, is genius: go girl.
Adaptations don't need to be slavish. The BBC's rather lurid 1986 version took just as many liberties, and more than warranted a revisit. Overall I found this a delightful adaptation, delivered with verve and spirit, so well done ITV, please, more of this, less of the abridged and dumbed-down rubbish!
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