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Feel Like a Jane Austen Movie Marathon?

Last month was the 20th anniversary of the movie, Clueless. I was not old enough to watch it in theaters when it came out and watched it in the early 2000s. While the clothes were no longer in style by then, the movie still felt fresh and modern.   I watched it again a few months ago and was glad to find that it still held up (and is Paul Rudd immortal?).  That is because it was an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and Jane Austen is always in style.  Adaptations and spinoffs of her novels are still going two centuries after her novels were published. The appearance of Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in my Netflix recommendations inspired me to hold you hostage to my some of my thoughts about lesser known Austen on-screen adaptations.
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Aisha (2010).  A Bollywood modern-day adaptation of Emma . It has a slick and upbeat sensibility and continues the tradition of making the character of Emma and her antics frustrating but winsome, which I find difficult to do for a modern remake.

brideandprejudiceBride and Prejudice (2004). Some of the best scenes in Pride and Prejudice take place at dance parties, so a musical Bollywood film is a natural medium for the story. The misunderstanding between Lalita (Elizabeth) and Will (Darcy) has the added dimension of a culture clash between the Lalita, who is Indian, and Will, who is Caucasian American.

clueless Clueless (1995).   I just find some of Emma’s personality traits much more acceptable and realistic in a historical context rather than a modern one.  That is probably why the screenwriter aged her down from 20 to 16 and placed the entire story in high school.  When Emma (or Cher as she is known in the film) is a teenager, her single-mindedness, naivety, and unintended selfishness make more sense to me.  The movie has an interesting atmosphere of both innocence and biting commentary, which is partly why it is being celebrated 20 years later.

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From Prada to Nada (2011). A loose, modern-day adaptation of Sense of Sensibility. Nora and Mary are the counterparts to Elinor and Marianne. What’s interesting about the movie is that the two young women are Mexican-American and part of their growth in the film involves exploring their cultural identity.

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The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013). This is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in the form of video blog –featuring a graduate student, named Lizzie. This works incredibly well since the novel is primarily told in Elizabeth’s point of the view. I like the twists and updates to the characters and their situations. Mr.Collins’s proposal wasn’t a proposal of marriage but a proposal for Lizzie to join him as a business partner.  You can watch the series on youtube.

mansfieldparkMansfield Park (2007). Another Mansfield Park adaptation starring Rose Tyler Billie Piper.  As an adaptation, it was a failure. It was historically inaccurate and some of the characters portrayals were completely different from their novel counterparts.  So why is this on this list?  Because as a Mansfield Park alternate universe fake-history fanfiction, I found it a funny and entertaining watch.  I don’t think there has been a Mansfield Park adaptation made yet that has done its source material justice.

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Persuasion (1995): 1995 was a great year for Jane Austen adaptations! Persuasion is faithful to the novel and its characters. Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds were quite a bit older than the novel’s characters, but they portrayed Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot and their suppressed emotions beautifully.

 

persuasion2Persuasion (2007): Another great adaptation of the novel, though I think it’s a touch more romanticized (especially the ending!) than the 1995 version and lacks some of the tension from the 1995.

 

 

You may notice that Northanger Abbey adaptations are not mentioned.  That’s because I haven’t watched any of them yet!  On-screen adaptations may be wonderful and very satisfying, but nothing beats the books.  Amidst all the romance are the social commentaries, the satirical notes, and the comedic beats that don’t always shine through in the adaptations.

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The Boston Summer Bucket List

As many of you may know, this past winter, Boston had an unrelenting series of epic snowstorms and many days of bitter temperatures (it’s July now and there is still a snowpile left over).  It felt as if spring was never going to get here. Even in April, we were bracing for Mother Nature to have one last hurrah (see April Fool’s Day Blizzard of 1997). So it’s hard not to enjoy and make the most of the warm, summer months in Boston! Here is a list of fun things to do in Boston that you may have forgotten to add to your Boston Summer Bucket List. Many of these were actually suggestions from Library staff.

1. mos  Visit the Museum of Science (and its new The Science Behind Pixar special exhibit!).  The Wheelock College Library has museum passes for reduced admission for students, faculty, and staff. Each pass is good for $7 general admission for up to 4 people and only covers the main exhibit halls. If you would like to check out The Science Behind Pixar, it will be $12 in addition to the $7. That’s $19 (savings of $10 from the general public’s price). After you’re done visiting the MoS, you can walk on over to the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall where you can shop or pick up a riverboat tour.

2. Visit the SOWA market on a Sunday. Pick up some farm-fresh fruits and vegetables and discover all sorts of unique items from our local artisans.

cannoli3.  Have dinner in the North End and eat cannolis while sitting on the benches along the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

4.  Visit the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. What I’d like to do beforehand is grab some takeout from a nearby restaurant and eat it in the BPL courtyard. Be sure to check out their recently renovated their Children’s Library and Teen Areas! I’ve been visiting the BPL since I was a kid and am envious of the new generations of kids enjoying it.

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5. Take a walk through the Arnold Arboretum. Their collection includes nearly 160 different kinds of lilacs.

6. Eat an ice cream sundae from J.P. Licks. J.P. Licks is a local Boston ice cream chain with several locations. Fellow WildCat-alog blogger, Youngmi An, recommends their coconut almond chip with hot fudge and mini-M&Ms.

7. Take a ferry out to the Boston Harbor Islands for a day trip.

ica8.  If you happen to be swinging by the Waterfront, as many people do during the summer, be sure to visit the Institute of Contemporary Art. Admission is free every Thursday from 5-9 pm!

9. Attend Shakespeare on the Common. This year, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is doing King Lear from from July 22 -August 9. Bring a towel from home, pick up some takeout from one of the many restaurants nearby, park yourself on the grass, and enjoy the show.

swanboat10. Walk through the Boston Common and Public Garden and then ride a swan boat.

11.  Attend a free concert at the Hatch Shell. There is a free classical music concert there almost every Wednesday during the summer.

12. Kayak on the Charles River. You can rent a kayak by the Boston Location near Harvard Stadium or a few miles away by Kendall Square in Cambridge. You can also pick up a rental from Boston and drop it off at Kendall Square location.

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Between Bookcases

I want to let you in on a little secret.Bookstacks

There is a tradition that has been practiced on the grounds of colleges and universities across the country since long before webpages, Wikipedia, and apps existed.

If done right it can lead to new discoveries, stimulating ideas, diverse perspectives, groundbreaking realizations, and a newfound appreciation for how the past influences the present.

In fact, there is almost a guarantee that practitioners will be different at the end of their undertaking the tradition than they were at the beginning, for the opportunities to broaden one’s worldview, sensibilities, and knowledge are nearly endless.

Here at Wheelock, the secret tradition is practiced between the bookcases at the Library and it involves nothing more than taking the time to browse the treasures that have been collected over the years and continue to be collected today to capture and make available the intellectual output of the scholars, authors, and visionaries in the various disciplines taught here at the College.

This simple act of walking through the stacks and interacting with the contents not only provides a welcome escape from the various screens constantly demanding our attention, but it lets one engage in the joyful discovery of information without distraction, defined purpose, or specific need. Indeed, it trains one to embrace one of the most worthwhile activities possible, which is to pursue knowledge for its own sake.

To help facilitate and encourage this tradition, we here at the Library are in the midst of changing the labels on the end of the stacks throughout the collection by replacing the simple call number designations with descriptions of the disciplines each call number range represents. Soon, everyone will be free to identify and roam the ranges of their favorite discipline or a discipline that has piqued their curiosity.

I leave it to you, the reader, to take advantage of these new labels and this tradition and explore our collections. With any luck, you will come to how enriching this simple activity can be for the mind and soul. Lastly, don’t forget to share your experiences in the comments!

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Eat Your Books

I love books. I love food. I love books about food. Food isn’t just a vehicle for the nutrition we require to survive as living organisms. It can do anything. Salt just about wrote the history of mankind. Nothing brings back my childhood memories more vividly than a bowl of rice cake soup and a handful of cherries. And there’s a reason why when you throw a party, everyone ends up in the kitchen no matter how comfortable your couches are. Here are a few of my favorite books in which food plays a starring role. They all include recipes so that you can recreate the food in the story and relive your favorite moments in a whole new way.

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A Tangle of Knots – Cady is an eleven year old orphan living in a world where everyone has a Talent. Cady’s Talent is that she can determine and bake a person’s favorite cake even if they themselves don’t know it. This is a sweet story told from various viewpoints and each chapter brings you one step closer to unraveling the mystery of how all these different characters are connected. Recommended recipe – Cady’s Chocolate-Almond-Cherry Cake

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The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious and Perplexing City – David Lebovitz is a professional cook/baker with a wildly successful blog and several cookbooks on his resume. He moved to Paris to start a new life and The Sweet Life in Paris is a hysterical ode to The City of Light and its inhabitants. If you ever take a trip to Paris, this book should be in your suitcase. All the recipes he shares are made with easy to find ingredients and have been tested in a kitchen so small that dishes must be cleaned in the bathtub. Recommended recipe – Hot Chocolate and Lemon Madeleines.

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The Girl Who Chased the Moon – I’m a huge fan of Sarah Addison Allen. In my opinion, she writes the best beach reads and food plays a major role in most of her books. There are two main characters that drive this story. Emily is a teenager adjusting to life in Mullaby, North Carolina after the death of her mother. She hopes that coming to her mother’s hometown will answer some of the riddles in her life but all she uncovers are more mysteries. Emily’s neighbor Julia can’t stop baking cakes. Her cakes contain all her dreams and, she hopes, the ability to bring back lost loves. Recommended recipe: Hummingbird Cake

relish

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen – Lucy Knisley is one of my favorite cartoonists and Relish is her food-themed graphic novel memoir. Her life lessons are learned through food and cooking and she shares how food has played a key role in shaping who she is today. You’ll envy her delicious life and then think back and recall your own food memories. It may also inspire you to start writing your recipes in illustration form. Recommended recipe: Huevos Rancheros

twinkie

The Truth About Twinkie Pie – GiGi (short for Galileo Galilei) is a brainy twelve year old being raised by her sister DiDi (short for Delta Dawn). DiDi wins a national cooking contest with their mother’s recipe for Twinkie Pie and uses the prize money to move themselves from a trailer park in South Carolina to New York City. Armed with her Recipe for Success, GiGi tackles a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, and a sparkling new identity. It’s a smart, warm and fuzzy feeling story about family and friendship. The recipes help set the mood and express characters’ emotions while satisfying your craving for comfort food. Recommended recipe: Mama’s Famous Twinkie Pie of course!

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Play with your Food!

91df2c88d25db8ce28e57367eb545918 Saxton Freeman and Joost Elffers are masters at playing with food. In their hands oranges get frustrated, strawberries give kisses, and kiwi’s mug for the camera. In their many books, including Food Play, How are you Peeling?, and Food for Thought, the pair use the natural shapes of fruits and veggies to create dynamic characters and clever scenes.GR-130_6_2_3

 

The images in the books tell their own stories without words, making them work for kids of all ages–even adults will get a kick out of the creative ways fruits and veggies are turned in to recognizable faces and transformed into other objects.

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Using the creativity demonstrated by Freeman and Elffers, teachers, parents, and other caregivers and fun-thusiasts can encourage kids to make their own fun and silly faces from fruits and vegetables. Finding inspiration in the foods that are best for young people can make them both fun to play with and fun to eat. What characters are hiding in your fruit bowl? Get creative and find out!

 

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