Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sense and Sensibility again

Jane Austen fan though I am, I tuned in to the latest BBC offering last night with some hesitation. Their last offering of Oliver Twist had made me very wary and, after all, there have been so many film and television versions of Sense and Sensibility in recent years.
Five minutes in to the new Andrew Davies adaptation, though, I was captivated. Hattie Morahan was superb as Elinor Dashwood, much closer to the Jane Austen character than Emma Thompson was in the 1995 film. Dan Stevens is far more convincing as Edward Ferrars than Hugh Grant was, but then, who wouldn't be?
I suppose I could be a little prejudiced by the fact that the programme was filmed here in North Devon. The stunning coast and countryside at Hartland have featured in RD posts on coastal walks already. The Dashwoods cottage is on the Hartland Abbey estate and last night we saw this cove. I am looking forward to seeing more of our local scenery in future episodes.

It looks like an excellent production, so why am I not feeling more enthusiastic? Perhaps it is the fact that we keep seeing the same stories re-worked. Did we need another version of Sense and Sensibility at this time? Why not tackle some other authors? Suggestions welcomed.


  1. Agree with everything you say and also feel the same lack of enthusiasm good though this is. Again I agree that we really do not need another Austen adaptation but could try others. This question was mentioned in the Radio Times a few weeks ago and they asked what viewers would like to see: answers ranged from Herries Chronicle - Hugh Walpole; Georgette Heyer (dare not let Andrew Davies loose on all these heaving bosoms); Arnold Bennett, Julian Barnes, George McDonald Fraser and more Mrs Gaskell, Mary Barton being suggested. So we shall see what we shall see.

  2. Some good suggestions there, Elaine. I'd like some Trollope, it seems an age since the Barsetshire Chronicles was screened. I've only read 'Arthur and George' from Julian Barnes, I thought it was excellent so would like to see something of his. I'm not sure about Arnold Bennett, perhaps because I was forced to read him as a student and found him so boring. Does he deserve another read?

  3. You're right about the setting, M, absolutely stunning. North Devon always looks much more interesting than mid-Devon, but we don't get so many tourists and we have peace and tranquility by the bucket load, so I guess it has its advantages!

    Today's Telegraph ran fascinating article on the cottage at:;jsessionid=RC1DMCNFCN5HZQFIQMGCFF4AVCBQUIV0?xml=/travel/2008/01/03/et-sense103.xml

    On the subject of serialisations, I'd love to see the Herries Chronicles on TV. BBC R4 did an excellent adaptation a good many years ago (and it pops up on BBC R7 every so often) but no-one seems to read Hugh Walpole these days, so not much chance, I imagine. And, as the chronicles run to four volumes and span four generations of the Herries family, it might stretch production budgets a bit. But worth every penny I reckon. Breathtaking Lake District locations too!

  4. Meant to say . . . I had exactly the same reservations about Sense and Sensibility but, like you, watched it and am glad that I did.

  5. Thanks for that link, D. Perhaps when the weather improves we might go over and see the cottage, or at least the Abbey, which is open to the public after Easter, I think.

    I must say that, after my initial misgivings, I am finding this adaptation to be more authentic than the Ang Lee film.

  6. Yes please, put me down for that post-Easter visit, M!

  7. Hi, I wandered in here via Elaine's 'Random Jottings' blog and hope it's okay to comment. I was wondering which part of Devon had been used for the filming of S&S and my money was on the north coast up around Hartland, so it's good to have it confirmed. (We used to live up that way in Barnstaple but now live in mid-Devon.) I think they used 'south' Devon for the movie, which I have to admit is my favourite version. It's hard not to make comparisons...

  8. Welcome, Cath, I'm very pleased that you wandered over. I thought the Ang Lee film was really true to the book but I think the actors in this TV version are closer in age and therefore more convincing. There is a simplicity in this production which I find very appealing.


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