Sunday, 26 April 2009

Quote of the Week - Week 53 by Rachel

As you all know, I have been away but I have come back to some amazing quotes posted by the other ladies. The quote I have chosen for this week may not have the same depth but it is from our dear Emma and I love it nevertheless.

It is taken from chapter 12, Emma, and it appears after Frank Churchill promises Emma two dances at the next ball. Emma then receives a letter from Mrs Weston warning her that Mrs Churchill is ill and that Frank had been called home by his uncle. Prior to departure, Frank pays a visit upon Emma:

"But you will come again," said Emma. "This will not be your only visit to Randalls."

"Ah!- (shaking his head)- the uncertainty of when I may be able to return!- I shall try for it with a zeal!- It will be the object of all my thoughts and cares!- and if my uncle and aunt go to town this spring- bit I am afraid- they did not stir last spring- I am afraid it is a custom gone for ever."

"Our poor ball must be quite given up."

"Ah! that ball!- why did we wait for any thing?-why not seize the pleasure at once?-How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!- You told us it would be so.- Oh! Miss Woodhouse, why are you always so right?"

"Indeed, I am very sorry to be right in this instance. I would much rather have been merry than wise."

The highlighted line is sooooooo Emma! So passionate, so forthright and so wise. I only wish that we would all take heed of her wisdom. Especially in the world where we live now; everything is revolved around our schedules and our limited time! Why prepare to be happy? Everyday should be filled with pleasures as life is too short to plan happiness in our diaries!! This quote just leaped out at me as I know for sure that I want to be one of those people who "seize pleasure at once."

Pic 1: Jane Austen Today
Pic 2: Emma by C.E. Brock (1908),

Monday, 20 April 2009

Jane Austen’s forgiveness

I’ve been thinking about forgiveness as of late, particularly of forgiving myself and also others that have hurt me. I realise that forgiveness is not easy to achieve, and I often wonder how Jane fared on the subject. I also remembered that I had a very dusty file about Jane’s forgiveness towards Tom Lefroy. Still a theory of course, but Linda’s question in the last week’s quote made me realise that it was time for me to dust off the file, sit nicely, and finish it. Hence, this article, very belatedly.

So the theory is simple: that prior to her death, Jane Austen has forgiven Thomas Langlois Lefroy for leaving her to marry Mary Paul. True, after reading her novels and letters, I cannot deny that Jane felt very bitter about Tom leaving her, and it was rather inevitable. But I firmly believe that she gradually understood why Tom left her, and the process was reflected in her novels. Please be mindful that I believe that Miss Austen was not only inspired by Tom Lefroy; no… she was too smart just to obtain her inspiration from a single person. But I firmly believe that Tom Lefroy was still Jane’s major influence in her novels, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Therefore, it is important for me to chronologically visit Jane Austen’s novels one by one and extract supporting hints. Looking back and forth to our own JA/TL timeline and having a better understanding of another main character, i.e. Anthony Lefroy (Tom Lefroy’s younger brother) will also help first readers here. I also have to stress out how subjective this article is, and that I analyse Jane Austen’s perceptions on Tom Lefroy and Anthony Lefroy that influenced her characters in her own novels. My gratitude in advance for various people that have contributed to the thinking and sleuthing processes of Team Jane during the last two years.

Northanger Abbey

In this context and in a nutshell, Northanger Abbey was Jane's memory of Tom Lefroy when they were still young, when hope still lingered in the air. Yes, yes, I hear you… NA was written circa 1797, and the general knowledge is that Jane and Tom were never in contact anymore after January 1796. So…?

Well, several Austen investigators, e.g. Jon Spence (‘Becoming Jane Austen’) and Claire Tomalin (‘Jane Austen’s Life’), paired with various research in this blog have strongly indicated that JA and TL still resumed their contact well beyond 1797. See JA/TL timeline for details. So, as I said earlier, NA was the fresh scent of JA/TL romance if I may say so. By the first time she wrote NA, Jane Austen was still full of love and hope for TL, and thus TL was effused in the personification of Henry Tilney (clergyman, gardening, clever conversation...). November 1798 brought the nightmare for Jane Austen, for Tom left to Ireland (not to see Mary, but to see his family) – and I believe that it was in strong association with Anthony Lefroy’s elopement (might never been proven, but I strongly believe it was an elopement instead of a sweet and nice marriage). Hence the beautiful drama in Jane Austen’s life ended.

Bottom-line of NA: Henry Tilney = Tom Lefroy. Catherine Morland was of course Jane Austen. Happy thoughts. No young black goat here... only the scary old General Tilney. He might be the great uncle Langlois...

Sense & Sensibility

Written circa 1811, well beyond her final separation with Tom Lefroy circa November 1798, Sense & Sensibility was the first novel which clearly indicated Jane Austen’s mixed opinion of Tom Lefroy. Here, Jane saw Tom as BOTH John Willoughby and Edward Ferrars. Our dissections on Mansfield Park led me to believe that Tom finally disclosed the true nature of Anthony Lefroy’s elopement. I am still uncertain of the approximate time, but most definitely I believe that Tom finally confided in Jane about his brother (see this post). We will eventually arrive in MP, but before that I just want to know that by the time SS was written, Jane still had troubles in grasping the fact that Tom had to leave her to save his family.

Yes, deep inside, Jane believed that Tom would not leave her for money like that. But Tom did not give her enough information (eh, typical man… thinking that all women are from Venus, hence possessing the ability to read minds); hence Jane also saw him as Willoughby (how come Willoughby and Wickham all start with W? As in Wicked?). This John Willoughby of Allenham was a coward who left Marianne for a very rich Miss Grey and thus still deserves age-old spankings.

Nonetheless, Jane Austen still had soft spot for Willoughby, for then she made him calling on Marianne... well, Elinor, and confessed to the elder Miss Dashwood that he still loved Marianne despite everything. Jane still believed that Willoughby had a good side…that Tom Lefroy had a good side. Her believe was magnified by Edward Ferrars' character; a character that fell in love with a good, smart woman (Elinor) after engaging with a silly girl (Lucy Steele). From an observer’s viewpoint, I see that Mary Paul was so NOT Lucy Steele; Miss Paul was too good a woman to be the model of Miss Steele. I am more inclined to see Mary Paul as the inspiration of Miss Grey. But again, that was Jane's perspective at that time, and I do not judge her at all (she could just create Lucy Steele ‘just for fun’... not referring to Mary Paul directly).

Bottom-line of SS: John Willoughby + Edward Ferrars = Tom Lefroy

Pride & Prejudice

Before I resume with PP, I have to thank Arnie Perlstein for his discussions with me more than a year ago. In relation to my article here that Anthony Lefroy was the main reason for Tom Lefroy to return to Ireland in November 1798, Arnie’s theory was simply put as: George Wickham = Anthony Lefroy. Both conducted elopement and both had forced two gentlemen (Fitzwilliam Darcy/Tom Lefroy) to clean up their messes. Makes no sense? Read on…

Somehow, between 1811 -1813, Jane came to terms with the role of Anthony Lefroy in changing the entire course of her life with Tom Lefroy. Hence, as she revised First Impression into Pride & Prejudice, she added the character Wickham - who to me was worse than Willoughby, for at least Willoughby loved Marianne, though he loved Sophia Grey's money better. I’m not sure if the first drafts of First Impression had Wickham (or someone akin to him) in it… worth checking…

In 1812/1813, Jane saw Anthony as Wickham - a bastard who ran away with an immature girl and disturbed the growing interactions between Darcy and Lizzy. In the real world, Anthony Lefroy was this young man who ran away with a girl (Elizabeth Wilkin) and hence disturbing the budding romance between JA and TL. In Wickham’s case, Darcy (who shared a bit of Lefroy in his seriousness) had to go down the streets of London for damage controls (did Tom do the same thing? Only in the streets of York instead of London?).

But Jane did not know back then that Tom did that NOT only because he had to, but also because he wanted to. Tom loved Anthony, I believe, hence his action was a brotherly love action, and not only out of responsibility. The evidence of Tom's affection towards Anthony was not only him helping little brother Anthony to gain the title of Barrack Master (see Fay’s ‘Jane Austen’s Letters’), but also Tom's closeness with Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy (TEPL). For why would he share such a bond with his nephew if he was not in good terms with Anthony? That would be awkward. Had Tom Lefroy been in a bad speaking term with Anthony Lefroy, Tom would not commission TEPL for the Cadell letter, and hence there would be no MOTIVE for TEPL to obtain the Cadell paper.

And who was Tom Lefroy in PP? Well, I tend to see Tom not only as Darcy/Lizzy combo (see Jon Spence for more info), but also as Charles Bingley (and hence Jane Austen herself as Jane Bennet). See this old post as another reference.

Bottom-line of PP: Tom Lefroy was NOT George Wickham. Lefroy was more of Bingley instead. Now the case went directly to Anthony Lefroy, who was more or less portrayed as Wickham here. That brings us to Mansfield Park.

Mansfield Park

Written in 1814, MP is indeed Jane's tribute to Tom Lefroy; hence the weird, unmatched feeling with other novels (thanks to Nadia Radovici for her amazing, out-of-print book!). I sense that before writing MP, Jane truly came to terms with the true nature of Tom's leaving to Ireland in Nov 1798 (and hence, also Anthony Lefroy's marrying Elizabeth Wilkin).

I see Tom's characters were split into both Fanny Price (shy and reserved but smart) and Edmund Bertram (kind, serious, an excellent clergyman-to-be). Michelle and I had dissected MP in a rather lengthy fashion here; hence I am not to repeat it again. And what of Tom Bertram? Ah…Wikipedia says:

Tom Bertram: The elder son of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram; he is seven years older than Fanny. Tom is principally interested in carousing in London society and enjoying the pleasures of the theatre with his friend Mr Yates. Tom incurs large debts, forcing Sir Thomas to sell the church position that was to have gone to Edmund, Tom's younger brother. One celebratory journey leaves Tom with a fever.

Tom Bertram had a bit of Anthony Lefroy, again to me in Jane's perspective. I don't know how well Jane knew Anthony's character, hence I keep saying 'perspective'. Because marrying to an undesirable woman does not equal to a bad guy. Anthony might be bored with all the society pretence and scruples, and he wanted to break all the rules by marrying Elizabeth Wilkin. But Jane would not know this. Jane started to see Anthony as not the 100% wicked guy… he was just a lost case here. A poor, lost soul. She also reduced his importance in the story, unlike Wickham's role in PP.

Bottom-line of MP: Fanny Price + Edmund Bertram = Tom Lefroy. The black goat Anthony Lefroy was now Thomas Bertram instead.


In 1815, after the strange, rather out of place MP, came Emma. Now, Emma was very cheerful compared to MP, and to me, she's on par with PP in the brilliance. More, perhaps. And Emma, correct me if I'm wrong, has NO direct reference to a character akin to Willougby, and no Wickham or Tom Bertram either. All good and happy, despite the hidden mocks, puns, and jokes. Emma has Frank Churchill, who to me was Tom Lefroy himself. In Emma, Jane Austen had come to understand Tom in almost perfection. By now, she might have seen Anthony in different light, hence her understanding towards Tom's difficulty and her forgiving him for leaving her. See this post for more reference of Tom Lefroy (and Ireland) in Emma. Oh, and Frank Churchill was about three and twenty when he was introduced in Emma (Tom Lefroy was twenty years old when he met Jane Austen), and he (like Tom Lefroy) had a good singing voice as well!

Bottom-line Emma: Tom Lefroy = Frank Churchill + Charles Dixon. Anthony Lefroy? Uh, I couldn’t find him. Perhaps some of you could…


The last punch and evidence of Jane's understanding and forgiving Tom was Persuasion. There, we find no Willoughby and no Wickham/Tom Bertram, not even Frank Churchill (who despite him lying to everybody, everybody still loved him. Like Jane to Tom). In Persuasion, we find only Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. Back to the first dot of the cycle: Northanger Abbey. Back to Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland.

In Persuasion, Jane came to terms with Anthony's marriage and Tom's actions towards it. She had forgiven Tom (and also Anthony for that). There was William Elliot, who according to Wikipedia, was 'a relation and the heir presumptive of Sir Walter, who became estranged from the family when he wed a woman of much lower social rank, for her fortune.' Sounds like Anthony Lefroy to me… but I don't think William Elliot was even 25% Anthony now. But Miss Austen still had to have an antagonist in her story, and hence poor William Elliot’s role.

By the way, I think dear Charles Musgrove is Harris Bigg-Wither. You know Charles… a nice guy, husband of Mary Musgrove (nee Elliot) and heir to the Musgrove estate. He originally wanted to marry Anne but had to settle with Mary (much to the disappointment of the Musgrove family, and to his misfortune) when Anne refused him due to her eternal love for Wentworth.

Bottom-line Persuasion: Tom Lefroy = Captain Wentworth. Jane Austen = Anne Elliot. Here, Jane had finally forgiven Tom Lefroy for leaving her. She had finally come to terms with the past. Tom Lefroy left Jane Austen for family honour, and Miss Austen respected and forgave Tom for that.

Bottom-line for me: Forgiveness can be extremely hard to do. But if it brings peace to us… like I believe it did Jane… why can’t we forgive others? And most importantly, ourselves… for our stupid past?

Pic 1: Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) and Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) in 'Becoming Jane'

Pic 2: Northanger Abbey 2007, from

Pic 3: Sense & Sensibility 2008 cast, from BBC UK

Pic 4: Pride & Prejudice 2005 wallpaper, from

Pic 5: Mansfield Park 2007, from

Pic 6: Emma 1995, from

Pic 7: Persuasion 2007
, from

Saturday, 18 April 2009

JA-inspired Sci-fi movies

Okay Janeites, don't kill the messenger. It's a few months old news anyway, but it might worth knowing, in case some of you (like myself) are avid fans of both Jane Austen and sci-fi. So the story from sci-fi site io9 goes... that we are to have three JA-inspired sci-fi movies. Claps or collapse, your choice my dear friends.

First is the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, a movie based on the recently published (ahm, rather twisted) novel of the same title. informed me about this book yesterday, and the first few pages of the novel caught my attention to the point of me laughing honestly, I'm tempted to read more (just don't shoot me...). I am uncertain of my degree of affinity to the book, so I might tell you much later on...

Second is the Pride & Predators, to be produced by Elton John (yeah, that Elton John the song writer and singer). It's about alien attack in the Regency world... etc etc etc... ahem, and shooting is to begin in London later this year. Again, don't shoot the messenger.

Third is the movie version of Lost in Austen by Columbia Pictures, as we have reported earlier. Well, since LIA incorporates time warp journeys elegantly, I am very much looking forward to this one... perhaps by the end of the year? Not sure. I know for sure I love the ITV series version tho!

I guess, in spite of everything, I'm still happy that Jane Austen's works reach far into the 21st century, and even to the stars and the alien world!

Pic 1: Keira Knightley now must face the Predator! Pic from io9

Jane Austen Quote - Week 52 by Linda

A lesson in Love from Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 26.

Elizabeth is responding to her aunt’s request for information about Wickham which she detailed and then continues:


All this was acknowledged to Mrs. Gardiner; and after relating the circumstances, she thus went on: -- "I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. But my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find out that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl. There can be no love in all this. My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I should certainly be a more interesting object to all my acquaintance were I distractedly in love with him, I cannot say that I regret my comparative insignificance. Importance may sometimes be purchased too dearly. Kitty and Lydia take his defection much more to heart than I do. They are young in the ways of the world, and not yet open to the mortifying conviction that handsome young men must have something to live on as well as the plain."

End of Quote

Let’s see what Jane has to say about “Love”. First, it is a “pure and elevating passion”. I would equate that phrase with our modern day saying about the experience of “falling in love”. Okay, I know about that. It happened to me, and it is a bit different from a crush, puppy love, admiration of Darcy's wet shirt scene, etc.

Next, Elizabeth says her “watchfulness has been effectual”. Well, I didn’t know about that part. Nobody in my experience talked about being ‘watchful’, nor what to ‘watch out’ for. Only recently have I run across the idea of first knowing a potential ‘boyfriend’, and then you proceed to ‘date’ him. The point being that you really get to know a person before any manner of intimacy is begun. By that I mean to say the opportunity for intimacy or putting yourself in danger of being ‘used’.

This brings us to being ‘distractedly in love’. It seems that there is the possibility of suddenly finding oneself in an undesirable situation due to not paying close attention, e.g. being distracted by all that ‘love’ stuff. You may find out that the other person is not honorable, truthful, etc as you first thought. So, we need to proceed very carefully, especially if you are ‘young in the ways of the world’. Believe me, I am old, and the ‘world has many ugly ways’ to beware of. Do you need a list?

Lastly, if things are not correctly done, we can find ourselves with ‘mortifying convictions’ and I have a few. My daughters keep telling me to write a book. Fortunately, there are some already out there.

I am sure Jane has lots of advice for us strewn throughout her works on the subject of ‘love’, and all we have to do is pay attention. End of Lesson.

Linda the Librarian

Pic 1: The beautiful Jennifer Ehle as Lizzy Bennet in Pride & Prejudice 1995, from

Pic 2: Tom Riley as (the dashing!) George Wickham in 'Lost in Austen'.
(Icha's note: Forgive me dearest Linda, but you did not specify which Wickham pix I should put here, and since Lizzy was talking about Wickham, and the only dashing Wickham for me is the LIA version, so here he is!). Pic taken from

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Jane Austen Quote - Week 51

My quote this week is about selflessness, from Sense & Sensibility. It ties in well with Icha's post about selfishness. :)

Sense & Sensibility Book II, Chapter 37

Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distresses ...

It's very short, but I think that's all I need quote. The context is that Elinor is finally telling Marianne of Edward's past history ...

I love it. It speaks to me of an abundance of character - of a heart that gives, and continues to give, even when it's not 'receiving' in return. The more I read of Elinor, the more I love, admire and respect her. Don't you think it's beautiful? I think this quote shows human nature at its finest ...

Have a wonderful Easter!

Pic: Elinor & Marianne from: Pecuniarities

Easter Wishes from Team Jane

Since Easter is upon us, I couldn’t help but wonder if Jane Austen had referred to it somewhere in her novels. So I went ‘hunting’ and found the following. From P&P, in Mr. Collins letter in Chapter 13:

My mind, however is now made up on the subject, for having received ordination at Easter, I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, whose bounty and beneficence has preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be my earnest endeavour to demean myself with grateful respect towards her Ladyship, and be ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies which are instituted by the Church of England.

Elizabeth visits Charlotte in Chapter 30:

In this quiet way the first fortnight of her visit soon passed away. Easter was approaching, and the week preceding it was to bring an addition to the family at Rosings, which in so small a circle must be important. Colonel Fitzwilliam visits in Chapter 31: Colonel Fitzwilliam's manners were very much admired at the Parsonage, and the ladies all felt that he must add considerably to the pleasure of their engagements at Rosings. It was some days, however, before they received any invitation thither -- for while there were visitors in the house they could not be necessary; and it was not till Easter-day, almost a week after the gentlemen's arrival, that they were honoured by such an attention, and then they were merely asked on leaving church to come there in the evening.

There are two mentions of Easter in Emma, twelve in Mansfield Park, one in Sense and Sensibility, none in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. What is so strange is that upon first readings, I never noticed “Easter” at all.

So Happy Easter to one and all from Team Jane!

Linda the Librarian
Pic 1: Jane Austen from: Express Night Out
Pic 2: Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett from: BBC

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The 2009 Regency World Awards!

Thanks to Linda, here we have the 2009 Regency World Awards by Jane Austen Centre in Bath, UK!

Voting will continue up to the 30th of June after which time the link will be closed. There are seven awards and the winners will be announced and awards presented at a black tie dinner event at the Hilton Hotel in Bath on Wednesday July 8th 2009.

The interesting thing is, in addition to picking up the best (or favourite) actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, best adaptation, best JA-inspired book, etc, this year's Award also picks The Best Mr. Darcy EVER!

Well, am not really a fan of Mr. Darcy (I'm more of a Knightley/Brandon combo), but I was also happy to click one of the options, and keen to know who comes up the best! Though, perhaps the tally is a bit predictable anyway...

So, what are you waiting for Ladies and Gents? Click away!

Oh, and Happy Easter, everyone! May love, peace and harmony reign the Earth!

Pic: Lizzy playing piano, Darcy staring at her, poor C.E. Brook from

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Jane Austen Quote - Week 50

Our apologies my dear friends, seemingly Team Jane is a bit mixed up with our schedule this weekend... hence the lateness of the Quote of the Week installment. Anyway, pulling up from the various cyber sites again, I found an intriguing one:

"Every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies"

Northanger Abbey, chapter 24, my dear friends. How vigilant Jane Austen was! Thanks to Wikipedia for the direct quote.

And for the commentary: Well, it has been happening to me these last few days. I've been escaping to my mother's house in a traditional community... and have set a habit of taking a morning walk since a few days ago. But since it's not a cold place, I deliberately put a pair of shorts for walking. Not really short... but is still grouped as shorts. And it seemed that I've made some people around the house upset because... it wasn't usual for them to see a woman of thirty plus plus taking her morning walk alone... with a pair of (not so short) shorts. I did not really care about it... but it reminded me of how Jane Austen's own defiance in her own time...

Perhaps I might attempt to walk with a long Georgian dress and a lacy parasol tomorrow... I think I have some in my luggage. Might they think that I am polite enough, or still too strange? ^_^

Pic: Just for a giggle... from this site