Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Yesterday, my friend Polly and I spent an entire day and part of an evening immersing ourselves entirely in three of the best Austen adaptations ever made (in our humble opinions).

I arrived at Polly's house, a beautiful country home outside Canberra, around 10am and we promptly declared our Austen-fest for two had begun.

(Polly had the truly awful 1999 version of Mansefield Park playing in the background when I arrived. Just so that we could sneer at it and bemoan the atrocity that is the attempt at re-telling the story of Fanny Price. We turned it off fairly quickly and got on with the quality viewing.)

There aren't many photos. I took a few, but mostly I settled in with Polly for a day of keeping warm and trying not to sneeze and wheeze through the best scenes.

This was my view from the couch in the TV room. It's a gorgeous fountain, isn't it?


The universe gave us the ideal day for our little Austen-fest. It was grey, cold and ever so slightly drizzly. A day when you are very happy to look outside at the beautiful landscape, rather than step into it.

Mostly the day looked like this. Watching Austen over the February Lady Sweater on my lap.


I did step outside for a few minutes in the afternoon, in search of some fresh air to clear my head. I caught this rose on Polly's front porch.


And snapped myself breathing in the cool afternoon air.


So for the Austenites among you, here's a run down of what we watched.

We started with the best Austen adaptation of all. 1995's perfect adaptation of Persuasion.

This really is Austen done well. It's gentle. It's quiet. It's subtle. You believe these people are Austen characters. The lighting strives to be authentic. It's not glammed up. It's my ultimate repeat-viewing Austen. I will never, ever grow tired of this perfect depiction of a sublime novel.

Next we watched Emma, the BBC version which is, we agreed, far superior to Gwyneth Paltrow's Emma. This one stars Kate Beckinsale before she ran away to America and became a Hollywood starlet. I liked her better then, especially in Cold Comfort Farm. But that's just me.

Finally, we laughed and laughed, delighting in Emma Thompson's fabulous and fun adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Kate Winslet as a 19 year old, pre-Titanic.

It's funny, it's touching and it's impossible not to watch it and remember that in the middle filming, Hugh Grant met Divine Brown and, well, that was not his finest hour. Ah the mid 90s. Seems like a long time ago now.

The day concluded with the viewing of a partial episode of Pride And Prejudice. We had to, really. We needed to look at Mr Darcy's britches. No, really. We did. It was for research purposes. Honest.