I'd been thinking about what I should do for my first topic when Emma's new Regency dress arrived. Then it hit me. Emma and I had been meaning to sit down and have our in-depth Jane Austen discussion that Maggie had teased about when Emma first got here. Here was a perfect opportunity.
I talked it over with Emma, and she thought it was a great idea. So, here we are. Emma and I are both dressed in our Regency dresses to go along with the topic...and, I'll admit, just because it's fun to have an excuse to dress up!
T: (laughing) Okay, obviously we need to work on our accents. We're here to discuss our favorite author of all time: Jane Austen. Oh, before we start, though, would you care for some tea?
E: That would be lovely, thank you.
T: One lump or two?
E: None, please. But if you have any honey, I'll take that.
T: Um...sorry, I just have cream and sugar.
E: That's okay. How about a little cream?
T: That I can do. Hmm, I'd better have a little more variety on hand for the next post. So, before we start our topic today, would you mind sharing your favorite type of tea?
E: Not at all! I love Lady Grey.
T: (excited) That's my favorite too!
E: (grinning) What are the odds?
T: (handing Emma her teacup and saucer) Here's your tea.
E: Thank you.
T: So, first question. What is your favorite Jane Austen novel?
E: "Emma", of course! (laughing) But "Northanger Abbey" is great too, and "Persuasion". Really, I like all of her stories! It's too hard to choose.
T: I have to admit I'm not too surprised by your first choice. (smiling) As we've discussed before, my absolute favorite is "Pride and Prejudice", followed closely by "Northanger Abbey" and "Sense and Sensibility".
T: (laughing) Great answer! Although, I must confess, I prefer my Mr. Darcy to your Mr. Knightley.
E: (laughing too) So I assume you'd choose to be Elizabeth Bennett?
E: He's just a little too snobby for me. I know he ends up being really sweet and caring, but I much prefer a George Knightley or Henry Tilney for their warmth and directness.
Okay, we've got to get to the next question. What is your favorite movie adaptation of "Emma"?
E: Well, the simple answer to that is the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam.
T: What do you mean by "the simple answer"?
E: I love that version because I think that of all of them that I've seen, Jeremy Northam is the ultimate Mr. Knightley. I prefer his version of the scene where he has to scold Emma about Miss Bates to every other version. But I have a more complicated answer, too, because there are things I like about the other versions as well. I really like the newer "Emma" with Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller. Especially since it's so long...they had the opportunity to add a lot of detail that the other versions had to leave out.
T: So, which "Emma" movies have you seen?
E: The main movie versions of Emma I'm familiar with are the 1996 one with Jeremy and Gwyneth, the 2009 with Romola and Johnny, and the 1996 with Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong (I'll call it 1996#2). It's fascinating to me seeing how each screenwriter focused on a different part of the story.
T: Can you tell us a little bit about each one, and what you like and don't like?
E: Sure! I'll try to keep it short, but I do tend to ramble when it comes to Jane Austen. Just stop me if I talk too much, okay?
T: (grinning) It's a deal.
E: The 1996 film, as I've mentioned before, is my overall favorite. Mr. Knightley is wonderful and I love Gwyneth as Emma, too. I was also impressed with how the screenplay kept the feel of the original wording of the book. Even though it's not word for word the book (what movie adaptation is?), it doesn't sound nearly as modernized as some of the lines in the other two versions. It's so sad when they do this...Austen's wording is so beautiful!
T: That's okay. I think it's interesting! Just be glad Maggie's not here. She'd be going completely nuts by now.
T: If you make it quick! This post is going to be really long!
E: I'll try! I've always thought it would be cool to make my own dream version of an Emma film. I'd use Mr. Knightley and Robert Martin from 1996, Frank and Jane from 1996#2, and Emma and Harriet from 2009, although I do like Gwyneth's portrayal of Emma, too. I'm undecided about the other characters. I'd make it the same length as the 2009 film and incorporate the detail of the screenplay from 2009 but make it more flowery like the 1996 version. I've even watched the different movies, wondering how easy it would be to edit them and piece them together with my favorite characters.
T: I don't think that would really work.
E: I know. But I can dream, can't I? For now, I'll just have to be content with watching all three versions. You get a more complete picture of the story that way anyway. Each screenwriter brings something unique to each film.
Wow, I've hogged all of this time going off on my rabbit trails. So how about you? I'm pretty sure I know the answer, but which version of Pride and Prejudice do you prefer?
T: Without question, the 1995 miniseries with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I was not as impressed with the newer version with Keira Knightley. It was so toned down and modernized from the book. And, like any regular-length movie adapted from a book, they had to cut out a lot of material to make it fit the time frame. I love the miniseries so much more because of all of the details they were able to add. Jennifer Ehle is the ultimate Lizzy...and Colin Firth is pretty amazing, too! :)
T: Glad you liked it. Join us next time for more "Tea with Tess". Bye!!
Some Photos of Our Tea :)
Miss Elizabeth Bennett and Miss Emma Woodhouse
(aka Tess and Emma) :)
My favorite book!
The elegant table :)
Even one of Papa's childhood teddy bears and Shahrukh bear had a tea party!
Emma's book (she still doesn't have her own copy of "Emma"). This is a great book, too!
My special guest. Isn't her gown lovely?
Good books and fresh brewed tea...what could be more perfect. Hmm...maybe some chocolate!!