Jane Austen's best baddest
You sent us your favorite family nightmares and your favorite family members. Here we go.
Hello, dear friends,
Happy December! It’s the month of firesides, of chocolate, of long reads, and lights, snow, and holly. Hoping this is all in store for you.
Today’s post is all from you, Austen Connection readers. We asked and you answered - with your favorite worst family members from Austen; and you also delighted us with your Austen-themed pets. So today we’ll go from terrible to wonderful!
Meanwhile, for many of you, this is the month of romance. We see you binging P&P 1995, and listening to the Austen podcast episode breakdowns from our friends at Reclaiming Jane, First Impressions Podcast, Manners and Madness, and The Thing About Austen - all amazing podcasts that have been engaging in episode commentary and conversation about Pride and Prejudice 1995. Enjoy!
Also, many of you are probably starting to enjoy the annual parade of romance and holiday films - let us know your favorites. What do you look forward to watching this year, and perhaps every year? During this month of holiday screen romcoms, we’ll be dipping a little bit into Austen-inspired films - so let us know what you’d like to see us talk about here at the Austen Connection. We’ll also share some of your picks!
And now on to the important business of the day: Our last post was a long conversation about the bad families of Austen. Now, for some fun, sponsored by you, Austen Connection readers. Here are your picks, from Twitter and @AustenConnect:
Jane Austen’s Bad Family, Part 2
We asked and you answered: Who is your favorite bad family-member from Jane Austen?
Thanks to the wonderful and terrifying answers from @NovelistJessica, @austenesq, @HMollauthor, and @SoniahKamal whose name many of you will recognize as the author of the popular Jane Austen retelling Unmarriageable. Your picks were spot-on!
Here we go!
Regency ‘goth’ Mary Bennet
Thank you for kicking things off with this top choice, @NovelistJessica.
Mary Bennet manages to come in topping both Best Of and Worst Of lists - a truly complicated character. In this early Austen Connection episode (which is actually about how great sisters are) with The Ripped Bodice bookstore co-owners Bea and Leah Koch, Leah said she loves Mary because she thinks of her as a Regency-era goth who just doesn’t take any BS.
That’s the Austen spirit, Mary!
Fashionably terrifying Elizabeth Elliot
Thank you, @Austenesq for this truly frightening vision: The fashionable, superficial Elizabeth Elliot is an excellent villain and even more so for her subtle refinement. Another complicated Austen minor character, she manages to be sad, scary, and ridiculous all at once. But, ultimately, we fear for our heroine Anne Elliot any time her powerful, well-dressed older sis Elizabeth is anywhere near.
Mean Mrs. Norris
For writer Soniah Kamal, author of the popular Pride and Prejudice retelling Unmarriageable, there’s really only one way to go with this question: The scariest aunt in fiction (let’s hope), Aunt Norris.
To complicate matters check out this Aunt Norris defense, and in the opposite corner there’s the damning interpretation by Professor Helena Kelly from her book Jane Austen, The Secret Radical, which, in a fascinating interpretation of Mansfield Park, connects the name Norris to prominent anti-abolitionists of Austen’s era, and sees pro-abolitionist messages in some of the names, symbols (Fanny Price’s “chain” that goes with her “cross”), and word choices from that novel.
Patriarchal, pamphlet-reading General Tilney
Thanks, @HMollAuthor for the reminder - it’s just not that complicated with General Tilney. He’s got one gear - and that is Baddest of the Bad. But as we said in last week’s post, he comes to the aid of Austen in showing us just how dangerous, threatening, sinister, and also ridiculous the people we rely on can turn out to be. Rude!
Thanks again, @HMollAuthor, @SoniahKamal, @Austenesq, and @NovelistJessica for engaging with us on Austen’s bad family. You picked some terrific terribles!
And now, our Austen-named pets family party!
Let’s end on a positive note - it’s the holidays after all.
My public-radio colleague Rebecca Smith loves to hear about pets with literary names, thanks to her own adorable, Dickensian cat, Pip. So, we asked you on Twitter for your Austen-named pets, and here are the highlights.
Thanks to JulieT, Laurel Ann Nattress, Wokepixiedust, and my producer-pal Rebecca Smith and Pip, for the inspiration.
Classy siblings Georgiana and Fitzwilliam
JulieT shared with us a very impressive pair of siblings that would make Pemberley proud: “Here’s Georgiana Darcy on the left, and her big brother Fitzwilliam, also known as Georgy and Fitz.”
These two appear to be as classy and as reposed as their impressive namesakes.
Handsome Henry, and his muslin
Here’s a lovely feline from author and @Austenprose founder Laurel Ann Nattress. You can check out Austenprose and Laurel Ann Nattress’s books and writing here.
An adorable Izzy who is also Lizzy
Thank you, @bctnz for sharing your lovely Izzy/Lizzy - who definitely has that Bennet vibe, only perhaps a bit more chill.
And here’s Pip - the inspiration for this Austen-named pet segment, because we also love Dickens, and public radio:
Alright, friends, thank you for indulging this brief interlude into adorable pet-familyness and terrible bad-familyness.
It’s the holidays, it’s a complicated time, a mixed bag - let’s help each other, and let the stories of Jane help us, as we navigate the bad and find the good, and cuteness, where we can.
Coming up, friends
We’re very excited to share with you the next podcast episode with Island Queen Author Vanessa Riley - she talked with us about writing historic fiction that illuminates the agency, entrepreneurship, and downright romance and joy found in actual lives of real Regency-era women of color.
It’s an awesome conversation - and it’s next up!
Also, we haven’t talked about films yet! So in this month of romance and binging, we’ll look at films that take Austen’s stories to the contemporary screen, including films like Bride and Prejudice, From Prada to Nada, and Clueless - and holiday classics like Love Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and what they have to do with Jane Austen. That’s going to be fun!
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We’re looking forward to the conversations and spending the holidays with you all. Reach out to us any time by simply replying to this email or leaving a comment. You can find us on Twitter at @AustenConnect, on Insta and Facebook at @austenconnection, and on Spotify or Apple to find the podcast conversations. We’re here!
And meanwhile, thank you for being here and sharing your time with us. Stay well and stay in touch, friends.
Yours most affectionately,