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austen ranking 1

 Well, my friends, the Austen obsession continues, and this week we move on from the tolerable to the amiable. This adaptations are good, but they just missed being included among the best of the best. Here’s why.

7.13 2008 Emma12) EMMA
Directed by Jim O'Hanlan

I found this adaptation enjoyable, but forgettable. Bonus points for Johnny Lee Miller playing his second Austen hero and bonus, extra, super points for casting Ramola Garai, who is a gift to us from the period drama gods.


7.13 Bride and Prejudice11) BRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Directed by Gurinder Chadha

I think the bland male leads and a slightly disjointed storyline are what hold me back from loving BRIDE AND PREJUDICE completely, but the film is still a whole lot of fun. The best known cross-cultural Austen adaptation, it’s frothy and colorful and a little bit whacky, and it’s hard not to enjoy it. And it’s a MUSICAL, which few other Austen film adaptations can claim. Plus, Aishwarya Rai is a delight.


7.13 Persuasion10) PERSUASION
Directed by Roger Michell

We're finally getting to the point where I feel guilty ranking the adaptations, because from here on out, I love them all deeply.

This is a quiet adaptation that doesn’t get as much fanfare as many of the others, but it’s lovely nonetheless. Amanda Root is absolutely perfect as Anne – her subtle performance manages to capture Anne’s pain, her exasperation with her relatives, and her quiet determination as well as her shyness.

I do have to confess something, though. As a teenager watching this movie for the first time, I found myself wondering where all the pretty people were. The cast of this film is surprisingly normal looking, which is a refreshing change from typical Hollywood casting and seems particularly appropriate for the time period.


7.13 Mansfield Park9) MANSFIELD PARK
Directed by Patricia Rozema

A lot of people hate this adaptation (my mother among them), but I’m a fan. Fans of other Austen adaptations are sometimes thrown by just how dark and gritty this version is, and by, well, the brief nakedness (there’s understandably not much nudity in most Austen adaptations). In addition to showing that Fanny was pulled out of serious poverty by her not-always-kind cousins, this version also addresses MANSFIELD PARK’s elephant in the room: the Bertrams earned their money in the West Indies, which means that slaves earned it for them. It’s not always a pretty adaptation as a result, but that honesty adds a depth and context to the adaptation that I really appreciate.

I’ll add that Fanny Price is the only Austen heroine I don’t like very much, so I don’t really mind that the film turned her into a completely different character.


7.13 emma8) EMMA 
Directed by Douglas McGrath

This adaptation of Emma and the adaptation of Mansfield Park I just wrote about are a study in contrasts, and I love them for completely opposite reasons. Emma holds a special place in my heart for simply being so PRETTY. The costumes, the sets, the hairstyles, the script - they're just so fluffy and beautiful and charming, much like Emma herself. Gwyneth Paltrow annoys me as a human being, which is probably why I adore her as Emma.

If you enjoy period dramas, it’s hard to hate this one. And the score by Rachel Portman is delightful. All the fluff, very little of the substance.


7.13 Sense and Sensibility7) SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Directed by John Alexander

This adaptation didn’t get as much attention as I think it deserved, and I hope you’ll watch it if you haven’t already, as it's certainly the best of the 2007 and 2008 ITV/BBC Austen reboots. The opening scenes are surprisingly scandalous for an Austen adaptation, but don’t let them scare you away from the miniseries.

It pains me not to include this as one of the best of the best, since it's a personal favorite. As great as Emma Thompson is, Hattie Morahan is exactly how I pictured Elinor, and Charity Wakefield is lovely as Marianne. It's a full-length miniseries, which allows it time to cover plot points that the 1995 adapation didn't have time for. And it does it so very well.

Note: For fans of the "Darcy emerges from the pond" scene in in the '96 Pride and Prejudice, this Sense and Sensibility gives you Downton Abbey's Matthew revived from the dead and angstily chopping wood in the rain. Enjoy.


Join us soon for the best of the best!


I am an avid audiobook reader. We have a great collection of audiobooks on cd at the library, but with your library card you have access to the Utah’s Online Library that has ebooks and eAudiobooks through the Libby app. Between commuting, working, and life it’s hard for me to sit down and read everything that I want to - enter audiobooks.

But! Not all audiobooks are created equal.

Some books are made to be read and some stories are written to be told. It can actually make a difference on the story and a huge impact is on who is reading that story. There are a few books that I’ve listened to that I wouldn’t be able to tell you if I hated the book because of the book or because the narrator drove me crazy. There are even books I’ve loved that I won’t touch on audio because I don’t trust the narrator to do it justice.

It is sometimes a very fine line.

But in my years of study I have come across some really great narrators that keep popping up. I see their names and trust them.

So here are some of my favorite narrators of books I’ve enjoyed.


7.10 Enders GameENDER'S GAME
By Orson Scott Card

Years ago I listened to the ENDER'S GAME saga by Orson Scott Card. This book is about a boy named Ender who goes to battle school to help defeat a race of aliens to protect the human race. They have an amazing cast for this audiobook but one of the readers I found was Stefan Rudnicki. He is in the cast for the entire Ender Saga. Once I finished the Shadow series and the Enders series, all I wanted to do was listen to them again. Yes, I have to give credit to Orson Scott Card for writing them of course, but the cast was spot on.

Book on CD 


Libby - Digital Audiobook 


7.10 EnchantmentENCHANTMENT
By Orson Scott Card

Stefan Rudnicki also narrates Orson Scott Cards book ENCHANTMENT, a fantastic retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It’s about Ivan who, as a ten year old boy, stumbles across a clearing in the Carpthian forest and finds a pedestal with a beautiful princess on it, as still as death. Terrified, he flees. Years later, Ivan is an American grad student, and is compelled to return to his native land and find this clearing and princess that has haunted him. He awakens her with a kiss and he is transported back in time to the 10th century.  I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings and this  is high on my list of favorites because it incorporates realities of a modern man in 10th century Ukraine and Baba Yaga as the villain. 

Book on CD 


Libby - Digital Audiobook



7.10 Devil in the White CityDEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY
By Erik Larson

While listening to the Ender series I also came across Scott Brick on occasion who also narrated: THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: MURDER, MAGIC, AND MADNESS AT THE FAIR THAT CHANGED AMERICA by Erik Larson.This book is about two men and the Chicago World Fair. One is the architect Daniel Hudson Burnham who is the architect who led the construction of the great Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and the other is the serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes who uses the fair as a lure for his victims.  He built a murder hotel equipped with an acid vat, dissection table and crematorium. This was a fascinating book. I loved learning about the Chicago World Fair and was alarmed and intrigued by H.H. Holmes and what he was willing to do to get away with his crimes.


Libby - Digital Audiobook


7.10 Alexander HamiltonALEXANDER HAMILTON
By Ron Chernow

Scott Brick also narrates ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Ron Chernow, which goes into the life of Alexander Hamilton, the illegitimate and self-taught orphan from the Caribbean who became George Washington’s aide and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. I was excited when I saw Scott Brick’s name as narrator, and purchased it immediately. I had been so pleased with him in Ender’s series and Devil in the White City, that I knew I could get through this history book better with him reading it to me.

Book on CD 


Libby - Digital Audiobook



7.10 AustenlandAUSTENLAND
By Katherine Kellgren

Last but not least is Katherine Kellgren. She narrates AUSTENLAND by Shannon Hale!

Jane is a New York woman who can’t seem to find the right guy because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy (the Colin Firth version). A wealthy relative bequeaths a trip to an English resort catering to the Austen-obsessed woman. I honestly don’t know how many times I’ve read this book. It’s my perfect Sunday afternoon read to get lost in and geek-out with these Austen fans.

Book on CD 


Libby - Digital Audiobook


 Richard Peck

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Peck, the Newbery Award winning author of A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO and A YEAR DOWN YONDER, on May 23rd. He was a great writer for readers of all ages, who brought history to life with humor and was not afraid to tackle current topics. When he came to speak at the Provo City Library back in 2010, I was touched by his humility and graciousness; tears filled his eyes because he couldn’t believe that so many people would come to hear him speak, let alone give him a standing ovation. He will be greatly missed.

Here is one of my favorite quotes by him about the importance of reading:  

"Read to your children

Twenty minutes a day;

You have the time, 

And so do they.

Read while the laundry is in the machine;

Read while the dinner cooks;

Tuck a child in the crook of your arm

And reach for the library books.

Hide the remote,

Let the computer games cool,

For one day your child will be off to school;

Remedial? Gifted? You have the choice;

Let them hear their first tales

In the sound of your voice.

Read in the morning;

Read over noon;

Read by the light of the Goodnight Moon.

Turn the pages together,

Sitting close as you'll fit,

Till a small voice beside you says, 'Hey, don't quit.'"

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