Thursday, September 11, 2014

An Escape

Lately I've been really into movies based on books written in 18th and 19th century England. Ok that's way too broad, let's be specific. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Even more specifically:

-Pride and Prejudice (think Colin Firth).
-Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow you Make this movie! And Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley, even though I had to look up your name, you make the movie too).
-Sense and Sensibility. (Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and the one and only Hugh Laurie aka Dr. House!? Whaaaaat?? You make such a great indifferent, annoyed, yet good hearted gentleman husband. Great cast).
-Jane Eyre. (Oh, Love).
-Pride and Prejudice again (a different one)(think Keira Knightley)(and Matthew Macfadyen, as Keira described you in an interview I saw, you really are irresistable).
-Mansfield Park.
-And Jane Eyre a second time. (I get sucked into this story and its dark and haunting undertones.)

Does that list make you want to go watch them all right now? Cause that's what it does to me. And then I'll want to go re-read the book so as not to miss one detail or nuance of the story. Which will then make me want to watch the movie to get the full experience. Sights, sounds, words, total immersion. It's a cycle.

Seriously. I cannot get enough. I love being swept up into this world and time long passed. I feel like Kathleen Kelly in the movie You've Got Mail,

"Confession. I have read Pride and Prejudice two hundred times. I get lost in the language, words like 'Thither, Mischance, Felicity.' I'm always in agony whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are going to get together."

I do, I get lost in that elegant language they used. Such fancy words and phrases, so intelligent and eloquent sounding. I have always adored the dresses, hats, gloves and finery the women used to wear. The men too! The gentlemen of these novels and films dressed so well in their coats, cravats, high waisted pants and riding boots. I love the propriety, fine manners and etiquette displayed by everyone. I love the social aspect of these stories - balls and dancing (Oh how I've wished to have a dancing culture like they did, where we all knew the same dance steps and songs, such fun it looks), house calls and visits, grand dinners, happy outings, rides in horse drawn carriages and horseback riding, etc.

I think another appeal for me is the perceived neatness of their lives. Of course all the characters in these stories have their heartaches and heartbreaks and trials of life. But these stories all have a plan for their characters. We know things end well and so endure with pleasure any bumps in the story and then enjoy even more the resolution at the end. It's all neat and planned, everything has a purpose and structure. And these old English people are so prim and proper, neat and trim, put together and organized. There are specific roles and duties and responsibilities for everyone. Jane Eyre is a governess - she is fully in charge of the education of young Adele. The housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax has her duties, keeping up the great Thornfield Hall. Mr. Darcy is the owner of a great estate, doing business of upkeep and seeking out gentlemanly sport and pleasures. Elizabeth is a gentleman's daughter, she refines her accomplishments and finds pleasure socializing with friends and acquaintances.

It all seems so boxed up and tidy in these stories.

Maybe that's why I like them so much.

If their lives are wrapped in paper and neatly tied with a satin bow, mine is all strewn about the living room, kitchen, and laundry room in the shape of children's toys, dirty dishes, unwanted bits of food tossed out the highchair and littering the floor, laundry to be washed, laundry to be folded, beds to be made and on. And on. And on. Compared to theirs mine is like the aftermath of a hurricane.

I think my life would fill the roles of about 5 Jane Austen characters. A nanny, a cook, a housekeeper, a governess, and of course the great lady of the house. Just thinking about it exhausts me. Yet I live it every day. Not sure how I do it all - - - I don't do it all, really. That's why I get complaints from the husband when he has to dig through clean laundry that's been sitting in the basket for a week waiting to be folded.

And that's why I love escaping into these great stories. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking about all the tasks I could be completing instead of sitting down and watching a movie. Maybe tomorrow I'll try harder to check another thing or two of my list.

I should probably start by writing a list first. I'm sure that would get me a step further away from hurricane zone.


Regardless, here's to Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte (my current authors of choice) for their timeless genius in creating worlds that women can enjoy escaping to for relief and refreshment, and of course a little romance.

Totally had this piano book growing up. 
Loved it.