I have a fellow bibliophile for a neighbour and we regularly have a girls' "Date Night", when we watch the kind of movies the husbands roll their eyes at. Last night it was Mansfield Park, the 1999 version with Frances O'Connor (we don't think we can face Billie Piper just yet).
The current teenager-in-residence
(let's call her Hepzibah) was about ready to go to bed, but watched the first five minutes. Then ten, then thirty... she kept saying she had to go to bed, but we knew she was hooked.
Hepzibah has never read any Jane Austen, and till last night hadn't seen any of the adaptations either. In fact, I don't think she'd ever heard of her. (A travesty! What are schools teaching these days??! - I'm a teacher...) It was hugely entertaining hearing how she responded to the story and the language, and showed me that even though Austen was writing at a time very different from our own, it's clearly not as different as we might think.
At first the language was a bit strange for Hepzibah, but she soon got over that, and by the end didn't need any interpreting.
Here are a few of my favourite of Hepzibah's responses:
"Sister, you've been friend-zoned!"
Then, a little more sadly, "I so know how that feels..."
"Is she really called Fanny?!"
"Are they... COUSINS?"
"Oh, he did NOT just say that!"
This last one was to Edmund's statement in a letter when he broke Fanny's heart to tell her Miss Crawford seemed to be coming round to his charms.
Ah, young love. It looks the same in any era. And whether you use the words, "Oh that that sigh were for me" or "Dude, I wish you'd look at me like that" it's pretty much a timeless story. Girl; boy; misunderstanding; a tempting bad boy; love triangle; happy ending. Boom!
Next we're going to try her on Pride and Prejudice.
Elizabeth Bennett with the face of Keira Knightley. That should be fun.
Watch this space!