There is nothing like a good romance to keep you warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it isn’t enough to just cuddle up with Jane, sometimes you fall prey to guilty pleasure adaptations. This is why we’re spending this cool, autumn week with Joanna Trollope‘s Sense & Sensibility, a warm and fun adaptation of Jane’s earlier work and the first installment in The Austen Project.
Based in the U.K., The Austen Project pairs six bestselling contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s six complete works. By adapting her classic stories to modern times, these talented authors are helping readers rediscover, fall more in love with, and celebrate Jane Austen.
To celebrate The Austen Project and Jane Austen, we’ve listed our Top 10 favourite Jane Austen adaptations.
1. Number one on our list is the book we’ve been reading this week, Sense and Sensibility. With her trademark insight and wit, Joanna Trollope has brought Austen’s characters and their story into the 21st century. Spend your fall with Jane Austen and Joanna Trollope because, trust us, this book + pumpkin spiced latte = a perfect fall afternoon!
2. There is no denying that Pride and Prejudice is the most popular Austen novel to be adapted, but that doesn’t stop us from melting over Colin Firth in the 1995 miniseries. In the context of Pride and Prejudice‘s publication, Elizabeth Bennet is a charming and refreshing character to root for. She doesn’t care about getting mud on her petticoat, and she certainly doesn’t care about insulting a (wealthy-talk-dark-handsome) man to his face either. For these reasons alone, Lizzy is a heroine.
3. Lizzy Bennet isn’t just a heroine of her time either, as Bridget Jones’s Diary shows us. Bridget Jones is quirky, abrupt, always has her foot in her mouth, and wears the wrong outfit for every occasion. But Bridget is also honest and rejects society’s ideals, and she doesn’t settle for anyone not worth her time. I guess it also helps that Colin Firth is still Mr. Darcy.
4. If you loved one or both of those (and how can you not?!), you definitely need to check out the Sense and Sensibility (2008) miniseries with Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey anyone?)!
Set aside a day off to marathon it, because you will not be able to walk away after just one episode. The dynamic between the sisters helps you through all the hardships they face, and Elinor’s devotion to her family just makes you want to be a better person. This adaptation of Sense and Sensibility tests your patience, but it also rewards you with slow, yearning love.
5. These classic renderings of classic literature are wonderful and hold a very special place in our hearts, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate parodies like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Take the back seat, Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith is telling it like it really is.
6. We’ve talked about how lovely Lizzy is, and how selfless Elinor is, but there is something hugely entertaining about how spoiled and catty Emma is. Emma is not the most popular Austen heroine, but Clueless challenges everything you think you know about her. Cher Horowitz is my favourite portrayal of Emma, hands down.
7. Coming in second as Emma is Romola Garai, who is stunning in the Emma (2009) miniseries. Romola has all the arrogance and energy to make you really dislike her. Fortunately, Johnny Lee Miller is there to cultivate Emma’s personality and help you see past the first impression. You get to fall in love with Emma through Mr. Knightley’s eyes and that makes it all worthwhile.
8. It just makes you want to jump inside an Austen novel, doesn’t it? Amanda Price gets to do just that in Lost in Austen. This four-part fantasy miniseries takes you through a portal in Amanda’s bathroom and into Pride and Prejudice. Amanda is every Austen fan, and it does not take her long to see why she needed Lizzy Bennet’s words of wisdom.
9. Enough about heroines! In between the brutally honest Mr. Darcy and the overly attentive Mr. Knightley, there falls a captain. The 2007 adaptation of Persuasion starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones captures the demeanour of Captain Wentworth so well. Wentworth is one of the most interesting characters to follow because he is the injured party right from the beginning. For once, it’s the guy that is stricken and hurt by love! Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot will win you thrice over and have you rooting for him every step of the way.
10. Austenland. Book, movie, whatever route you take, this is like a dream come true for most Austen fans. A young woman packs her bags for a Jane Austen theme park in the hopes of finding a seemingly perfect suitor. Just the right amount of romance and comedy to offset the angst and unrequited love. Would you go to Austenland, Savvy Readers?
Of course, we will definitely be adding Val McDermid‘s reworking of Northanger Abbey to this list next Spring. What are your favourite Austen adaptations, Savvy Readers? Let us know on twitter @SavvyReader.
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