PBS/BBC’s Masterpiece drama Sanditon just hasn’t grabbed me. Based on an unfinished Jane Austen novel, it actually seems like a phlegmatic version of one of Austen’s masterpieces. The cast features Charlotte, a bright heroine who to me seems like a cross between Lizzy Bennett and her drab sister Mary with a mix of her friend Lydia. There’s an arrogant hero, who I expect will change after learning from the heroine. There’s a strict, rich widow and a fop or two. The only new character is a woman from Antigua who’s Black. There’s a possible injection of orignality, but like the others this character doesn’t do much for me.

The story starts with a couple getting stranded by Charlotte’s house and when this real estate developer invites Charlotte to his seaside development for an unknown period of time, her parents agree even though Charlotte’s father is wary of the wild ways of seaside villages. I couldn’t believe that even if it was the norm to let your young daughter go off with strangers, that this father wouldn’t have. Of course, money’s a big issue and the developer’s out of cash and his business is in peril.

The woman from Antigua, though an heiress, is treated with prejudice by all the social set she encounters. Her family has died and she’s under the supervision on her guardian, but she has a fierce desire to return home.

All in all, I think the story is predictable and I miss Austen’s perfect wit. To me the show doesn’t measure up to Poldark, Victoria, Mr. Selfridge, or The Paradise. I wish they’d add a season to either of those shows than mess around with an unfinished Austen novel.

Persuasion, BBC 2007

I’m not that sure I’ve read Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. I recall Bridget read it, but if I did, it was long ago.

I saw this BBC adaptation on Netflix and thought, “Why not?” and I’m glad I did. Persuasion is simpler than Austen’s other works like Pride and Prejudice or Mansfield Park. There are some minor storylines, but we don’t get invested in them as we do in Austen’s other books.

In Persuasion, Anne Elliot is surprised when her former fiancé Mr. Wentworth re-enters her life eight years after she turned him down. Her father’s squandered his fortune and must lease his grand home. His tenants turn out to be Mr. Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law.

She has not gotten over him and he still feels the sting of rejection. Anne rejected Wentworth due to the persuasion of her relatives who believed he was too poor for her. Now he’s returned after acquiring a fortune for his success in the navy.

This book lacks a confidante for the heroine and doesn’t have as much wit as one finds in say Sense and Sensibility or Emma or P&P. Yet I was drawn into the story wondering how the couple would get together. Austen wrote while suffering with the illness that eventually killed her. (Experts can’t agree on what it was.) Thus this book wasn’t revised as carefully as her other books.

While I did like the story it was hard to understand why Wentworth was so smitten with Anne, why he couldn’t forget her. She wasn’t especially beautiful and because she isn’t shown amongst friends we don’t see her wit or spark. She’s a good, dutiful young woman with a churlish family. It’s a short film at just about 90 minutes so you don’t have much time to wish for more characters or dialog. The film moves along at a clip.