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Loveuary and Jane Austen: Love & Jane

Welcome to the second post of JASP's blog series, Loveuary and Jane Austen. This month, we are reviewing Hallmark's four Austen-inspired releases.

Kendra Anderson (Jane Austen) and Alison Sweeney in Love & Jane.


Greetings, Janeites!

Firstly, I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day! If you are finding yourself in need of some last minute valentines– it's never too late– see these lovely Brontë & Austen themed cards, created by Sarah Hurley.

We are officially halfway through the month of February, and I for one, cannot believe it. This past weekend I settled down with my trusty journal, a pen, and an open mind, once again ready to foray into the world of creative reimagining with Love & Jane. From the first, I was pleasantly surprised to see a font based upon Jane Austen's own handwriting grace the screen during the opening credits. To me, that seemed a promising start. For readers who haven't yet viewed the film, let's start with a bit of a synopsis, shall we?


Hallmark writes,"Lilly, a hopeless romantic and literary enthusiast, is surprised when her wish to talk to her favorite author comes true and Jane Austen herself appears in her life." That, I would say, is the short answer. Beyond an Austen that Lilly (played by Days of Our Lives star, Alison Sweeney) compares to Mary Poppins, we are privy to a confusing love-life, consuming work life, and all manner of interactions that don't go as planned. Namely with Mr. Trevor Fitzsimmons... a "most disagreeable man." (Thanks, Pride and Prejudice! Early on in the film, Lilly avows that "[Jane] has the perfect quote for every occasion." And of that, my friends, we have bountiful proof.)

First Impressions & Overall Thoughts

There is a lot going on in this film. Emergent themes include realizing self-worth, accepting change, the technology vs. print argument, following dreams, and second chances, (among others). In short, Love & Jane has it all!

And they reach for the same book at exactly the same time...

While Lilly Thorpe wears many hats, her most becoming is that of President of the "Jane Society", an inclusive, literary fan club of sorts that holds weekly discussion meetings. Jane Austen is Lilly's passion, and the Jane Society is something that distracts her from a disappointing relationship and time-consuming job. Members include seasoned readers, as well as those new to Austen, like Lilly's coworker, Alisha, and Barry, a long haul truck driver. Far from subtle, the film positively asserts that anyone and everyone can love Jane Austen.

After quite the day, Lilly finds herself at the end of her rope. She pulls out a copy of one of her beloved Austen novels and wishes that she could talk to Jane about her struggles. Little does she know that the wish will turn out to become a reality, (which prompts the million-dollar question)... What would you do if Jane Austen suddenly appeared to you?

Hallmark's Austen is graceful and witty, complete with a mischievous grin and large reserve of clever remarks. She appears and disappears at whim, offering a variety of pithy and all-together wise commentary on a variety of subjects. And in the end, she leads Lilly toward a deeper understanding of others, and herself. A few of my favorite lines include, but are not limited to: "Let us always begin with a cup of tea", "nothing good comes from exhaustion", and "ideas must come of their own accord."

“Is it healthy to be so obsessed with one author?” one character remarks. I would answer in the affirmative, arguing that yes, it is, and forever will be, when that author is Jane Austen.

Alisha (Aadila Dosani) and Lilly prepare for a Jane Society meeting.

Lilly's closest friend, confidant, and co-worker, Alisha, adds somewhat of a Charlotte Lucas dynamic to the film. She is twenty-seven– and in her own words "getting older"– and her parents want her to settle down. This provides viewers with an intriguing subplot that is not without its tears, misunderstandings, and some tough love between the friends.

Toward the end of the film, a member of the Jane Society brings up the idea that the main plot of Persuasion might have been crafted as such due to the fact that “[Austen] may have regretted her own choice in turning down her suitor, Mr. Bridges.” Lilly is quick to point out that historians do not know that fact for sure. During my first viewing of the film I made a quick note, wondering if screenwriters had mistaken Reverend Bridges for Mr. Harris Bigg-Withers, the brother of friends whose proposal Austen did turn down in 1802. (More on that story here.)

Thankfully, this was not the case. According to Laura Boyle of The Jane Austen Centre, "Screenwriters are often tempted to embellish known facts in order to add entertainment value and progress their plot... [the film] Miss Austen Regrets provides us with a portrait of Austen's relationship with Edward Bridges as a refused but regretted suitor... as Catherine Morland once learned, conjecture can be entertaining, but the truth is often much more mundane." After reading this article and pursuing further research on the subject, I was still left wondering why– out of all of Jane Austen's supposed suitors or flirtations included in the surviving letters– it was Mr. Bridges who was mentioned in the film. Perhaps we will never know.


As always, I couldn't end the post without a few honorable mentions.

First on the list: "Prinny", or the Prince Regent. He is disdainfully mentioned in Love & Jane– rightfully so by Hallmark's Austen, I might add– but the brief reference could have easily been missed. Taking a look at the history, after King George III was deemed unfit to rule England, his son, also named George, was appointed as regent. The time that is known today simply as The Regency spanned for nearly a decade, from 1811-1820. It was during this time that all of Austen's novels were published. From the very first, the Prince Regent was an avid reader of her work. As stated in the film, Jane Austen did indeed dedicate her 1815 novel, Emma, to the Prince Regent, though she found no pleasure in doing so. The flowery, unenthusiastic dedication reads:

Next up: rings! Some of you astute, sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed the dainty gold and turquoise ring Lilly wears in a few scenes. The significance? Jane Austen had a turquoise ring herself, one of the three significant pieces of jewelry historians are able to trace directly. (Read about the fascinating history of Austen's turquoise ring here.) Additionally, The Jane Austen Centre has an absolutely beautiful facsimile, which can be found at the following link.

I am sure many of you have fantasized about meeting Jane Austen at one point or another. (I know I have!) But in reading her novels, we nearly get a glimpse of their author. I can just picture Austen bent over her writing desk at Chawton Cottage, working away at her "little bit (two inches wide) of Ivory."

On that note, I'll give the last word to Love & Jane's Trevor Fitzsimmons, who reminds us:

“...that’s the thing about being a reader; you kind of get lost in the imaginary life. And that’s what helps you discover what you love about the real world."


And that's a wrap! If this blog piqued your interest in the film but you missed its premier, never fear. The Hallmark Channel will be showing Love & Jane again tonight (Thursday) at 8/7c. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments, and we'll return next week with a review of the third film in the set, An American in Austen.

Again, here is a helpful graphic with all the film release dates.


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