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You may recall that last year I raved about Jack and Holman Wang’s board book for children based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. They promised to introduce more Austen titles and they have been true to their word. Their new title, the second in their Austen series, is Emma, my favourite Austen novel. I have fallen in love with the so very expressive felt characters in this book and their simple way of re-telling Austen’s classic tale in only ten words. Screenwriters please take note.
Here is the synopsis of the tale from the Cozy Classics website:
Convinced of her own talent for matchmaking, Emma Woodhouse tries to make a match for her young protégé, Harriet Smith. Harriet’s past is sketchy, but Emma believes she deserves to marry a gentleman and sets her sights on Mr. Elton, the village vicar. Harriet receives an offer of marriage from Robert Martin, a prosperous farmer, but Emma persuades Harriet to turn him down and pursue Mr. Elton instead.
Mr. Knightley,(above) the wealthy owner of Donwell Abbey and a trusted family friend, believes Robert and Harriet would have made a fine match and is furious at Emma for her meddling. He’s proven right when Mr. Elton professes his love for—Emma! Later, Harriet is saved from a swarm of gypsy beggars by Frank Churchill, a new face in the village of Highbury. Emma now sets her sights on setting up Harriet and Frank.
One day at a picnic on Box Hill, Emma makes fun of Miss Bates, a poor spinster, for being long-winded.
Mr. Knightley is angry at Emma for being so unkind. Emma not only feels sorry but also realizes she has always loved Mr. Knightley—and Mr. Knightley feels the same! Once it’s discovered that Frank is engaged to someone else, Harriet is free to pursue the feelings she’s always had for Robert, and everyone is happy!
The illustrations are so cleverly and intricately created from a tableau of felt characters, it is entirely possible ( for I have done it! )to recreate, by reading the book to a child, a simple version of Austen’s clever novels, and to then discuss, in detail, what is happening to the characters. The illustration of Miss Bates being mocked by Emma and Frank Churchill is heartrending. It illuminates the word “laugh”, and will give a child a very different perspective form that he /she usually experiences.( or so open hopes).These books present a perfect introduction to understanding books and the process of reading, in my very humble opinion. The illustrations are very cleverly executed, with much character in the faces and expression in their attitudes. I loved this book, and yes, it is going to be given to the small people in my life this Christmas ( and to some not-so-small people too!)
Slightly off the Austen track, there is now available a Cozy Classic version of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
This is quite as successful, in my opinion, as the Austen titles tackled thus far,for it really does manage to condense the main elements of that epic tale in ten words. Which is some achievement. They are perfect stocking fillers for fans of literature and of children’s illustrated books. Here is a short time lapse video of the Making of the Miniature Mr. Rochester:
I’d not object to him being found in my Christmas Stocking either;)
As we discovered in this post here, Belton House in Lincolnshire was used for the setting of Rosings in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The interiors were also used for the interior scenes of Rosings, and they are the subject of today’s post.
I’m going to show you the interior as they appear in a tour of the house, and put them into context with stills from the series, because some of the interiors were in a slightly confusing manner, especially if you are aware of the layout of the house. Shall we proceed? On we go, then….
The first room we encounter on the house tour is the Marble Hall, the most important room on the south side of this floor of the house. We see this room in the series of shots when Darcy angrily returns to the house having been rejected by Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford Rectory, which is of course, in its turn, supposed to be near the church in the park (which we learnt about in this post, here)
This would have been the route that Darcy would have taken after coming in from the Dutch Garden via the Saloon. Here is a plan of the ground floor of Belton House
and here it is again, this time annotated with Darcy’s route.( Do click on these images to enlarge them. All will become clear soon,I promise!)
Darcy then pauses in the open doorway that connects the Marble Hall and the Staircase Hall.
Darcy begins to run up the staircase….clearly seeking the refuge of his own room…
but then pauses to talk to Colonel Fitzwilliam, who has been wondering where he has been…as has Lady Catherine
But the door by which they enter the Staircase Hall leads from the Tyrconnel Room, not the Hondecoeter Room, which is where Lady Catherine normally resides in this adaptation.
And matters begin to get even more confusing. He is next shown entering the Blue Bedroom, a room which has a marvellous example of a complex 18th century bed of amazing proportions,being over 16 feet high
This bed has only recently been re-covered and reassembled as it sadly suffered water damage a few years ago. It was most probably made by Francis Lapiere, a Huguenot craftsman who worked in England in the early 18th century,and originally may have been upholstered in crimson damask.
The burr walnut bureau cabinet, upon which Darcy wrote The Letter, is spectacular, and dates from 1715.
But despite the evidence of Darcy running upstairs…this magnificent bedroom is not on the first floor, but the ground floor.
As we can see when Darcy stops to look out of his window…..
The Blue Bedroom windows are shown above- and are clearly on the ground floor (also see the floor plan of Belton House, above)
And as the floor plan of the first floor reveals, there is no Blue Bedroom, but a Yellow Bedroom in that position on the First Floor
(Plan © National Trust)
Back to Pride and Prejudice.…..The next room used in the adaptation is back on the ground floor, the Ante Room, where Elizabeth Bennet plays the piano, to the derision of Lady Catherine
…who can be seen sitting in state, with the other guests in the Hondecoeter Room
So called because it is the setting for three vast canvases painted by Melchior d’Hondecoeter, all dominated by depictions of birds,dead and alive…something the costume designers picked up on and used as a theme for lady Catherine’s clothes,as is explained below by Barbara Leigh Hunt,who played Lady Catherine in the adaptation, as quoted in The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin:
“There were these huge paintings of birds on the wall, some live and others after they had been slaughtered in various attitudes of death. …in the later scene where I confront Elizabeth and forbid her engagement to Darcy, there in my hat is a small dead bird.
It’s a delightful witticism, I think, as well as a visual comment on the predatory mature of Lady Catherine’s world.
Sadly I couldn’t take my own photographs of the Hondecoeter Room, now set as a dining room, because of a loan exhibit there this year. So I have an excuse to go back next year….which, of course, I will ;-)
And that ends the Pride and Prejudice tour…but there is much more to be seen at Belton House.
The Chinese Bedroom was used in the BBC’s recent adaptation of Jane Eyre, as the Parisian hotel where Celine Varens betrays Rochester, and the Queen’s Bedroom, a room where one of my favourite Queen Consorts,Queen Adelaide stayed during her widowhood,
was used as the Red Room,scene of Jane’s terrifying ghostly visitation from her dead uncle.
And a wonderful kitchen
and scullery both dating from 1810,
and which excitingly are both going to be renovated very soon.
So there you have it, a tour of the interiors of Belton House as seen in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and I do hope you have enjoyed it.