Jan. 27, 2022

Mod Classic: Jane Austen

Mod Classic: Jane Austen

This former literary snob confesses that — at least right now — I prefer watching Austen to reading Austen. I need streamlined, quick banter, a snappy pace. Luckily, there are a ton of adaptations, retellings and inspired by Austen books and films to last quite a while. Vanessa King, author of A Certain Appeal, the Pride and Prejudice-inspired story set at a New York burlesque club, stops by to talk about why she decided to modernize Austen. And listener Mariah joins me to explore the 2005 Pride and Prejudice with its subtle updates to the classic story. Grab a cozy throw and pull up a chair. How do you take your tea?


The performance of the audiobook of A Certain Appeal by Julia Whelan brings this bright, modern Pride and Prejudice reset to life. Darcy is the hottest, sexiest thing ever here--as good a lover as we'd always hoped he'd be.

The final sequence of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice is pitch perfect in every way: the pacing, the dialogue, the editing, the performances, the music. Darcy striding toward Elizabeth, frock coat flapping, across that misty field at dawn! How close they stand in this modern adaptation! And the casual, young-love intimacy of that final shot, with them in various stages of undress, is exactly what a modern audience wants to see for this favorite Austen couple.

I realize I say this about nearly every kiss or proposal in an Austen adaptation, but the proposal in the 1996 Emma performed by Jeremy Northam and Gwyneth Paltrow is just about the most beautiful ever filmed. The whole movie is a delight, modern, fun and fresh, but in this sequence, writer/director Douglas McGrath constructed the ultimate culmination of their friends to lovers journey. The gorgeous score by Rachel Portman doesn't hurt, either.

That final kiss sequence in the 2007 Persuasion just thrills me to my bones. It's such a perfect metaphor for their second chance/last chance relationship. Sally Hawkins' performance in this movie was a revelation, and she is now one of my most favorite Anne Elliots ever. You can watch the whole movie, broken into two parts, here.

Clueless, based on Emma, may have been made in 1995 but it still feels fresh and modern today — fully capturing the spirit of that centuries-old story.

And for some bonkers, post-modern fun, you can't beat the delightful time-travel story Lost in Austen or the immersive amusement park that is Austenland.