Join me on a tour of my book closet … erm … library. Every week – or other week, or whenever I remember to write one of these posts – we’ll take a look at another whack of books I may (or may not) have read.
I haven’t done one of these in a while, but before you get too excited (?), know that this week’s post is a cheat. It’s only book-adjacent. Hey, it’s not too late to “x” your way out of here, especially if you hate Jane Austen and/or cute guys. Consider that your trigger warning.
This is one of two (or three? I forget) classic English lit shelves in my library, and houses my Jane Austen collection. Before we get to that, a few side notes.
- Yes, I have two copies of Vanity Fair. I love it a lot, but more importantly, I love matching book covers, so I couldn’t resist buying a second copy when I found it, along with Jane Eyre and Middlemarch, in the $2 discount bin.
- I am not a fan of Charles Dickens. The only Dickens novel I actually like is Martin Chuzzlewit, and only because it has a happy ending and because the BBC made a good adaptation of it, starring, inter alia, Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous. The Beeb can make me like almost anything. (In case you are wondering, the other two Dickens books were discount bin buys, and my feeble attempt at a “well-rounded” library. I have my favourites, and I totally discriminate.)
- I love P.G. Wodehouse, but I can only read his stories in short spurts. They make my brain tired. Too much funny, I guess.
Ok, with that useless prelude out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the Austens:
[Yes, I have two Sense & Sensibilities. Matching covers obsession strikes again … I just forgot that I already had the same book. Sigh. (Anyone need a copy?)]
Y’all have read the books – you have, haven’t you? – so I’m not going to waste your time giving you my thoughts on the plot, characters, endings, etc. No, today I want to talk about something more pressing.
Who is the hottest Jane Austen leading man?
The orthodox party line is, of course, that Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy is IT, forever and ever, amen sisters. And, listen, I see the appeal. Oh, I see the appeal.
[Although, can I be perfectly frank for a moment? BFF to BFF? These days, I kinda dig Colin Firth as the-other-Darcy more. I know – sacrilege! Which is not to say that I don’t still think that Austen’s Darcy is the bee’s knees … wait, don’t pelt me with rotten cabbages!]
The thing is … I’m a contrarian at heart. I can’t help it. (See above.) So Mr. Darcy (and Mr. Firth) is not my choice for hottest Austen leading man. Who is? Without further ado, my top 3 Austen leading men (in reverse order):
3) Paul Rudd as Josh Lucas (Clueless)
Yeah, I went there: best adaptation of Emma, hands down. If you’re a hetero woman in your 30s and don’t have a forever crush on Paul Rudd because of this movie … are we sure that you’re not an alien? Or perhaps suffer from retrograde amnesia that wiped out all of your teenage memories? I spent a good portion of my early college years convinced that my parents were to blame for my non-existent dating life, because they didn’t make it possible for me to have a sardonic-but-sensitive older ex-stepbrother whom to seduce with my knowledge of
Shakespeare Hermann Hesse. Ridiculous? What-ever!
2) Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility)
Older ex-stepbrother fantasies aside, I totally don’t have a thing for older men – slightly creepy, young-girl obsessed older men at that. Except for Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon. First of all, that voice, you guys. I know Alan Rickman’s Voice is the most predictable of clichés, but … eh, don’t care. But beyond the Voice, Alan Rickman is kind of a fox. Like, you totally can’t help but be curious about what would happen if you two were alone somewhere behind closed doors. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.
1) Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth (Persuasion)
Let me say, right off the bat, that I don’t really dig blond guys, and haven’t since Brad Pitt’s
Legends of the Fall Se7en days. But I swooned so effing hard at the end of the Beeb’s 2007 Persuasion adaptation, I damn nearly slid right off the sofa. So I will make ALL of the exceptions for RPJ, and then a few more. Maybe it’s an age thing, because the older I get, the more I appreciate Persuasion‘s story of second-time-around love; it’s kind of slow-moving, and sort of unassuming, and not much happens (in the way of wild plot twists) along the way, but the pay-off is sublime. Every time I get to part when Anne reads The Letter, I’m basically a puddle of water. “You pierce my soul … Tell me not that I am too late.”
Also, The Kiss. I’m not generally a fan of movie kissing, especially when it involves a really drawn-out build-up. The Kiss in Persuasion is guilty of the longest build-up in the history of ridiculous movie kisses, but it still manages to be the g-damn sexiest thing ever. (I would have totally jumped RPJ’s bones about 10 seconds into that scene, and been done with it, so I give Sally Hawkins props for restraint in that particular case. That’s why she’s the professional actress and not me.)
(Side note and true story: I actually met my husband about 10 years before we started dating. We were not star-crossed lovers during the intervening period – in fact, we rarely saw each other at all – but we sometimes joke about what life would have been like if we had started dating when we first met. The consensus: we would have broken up after 3 months, and never spoken again. Thank goodness for a decade’s worth of growing up. But, yeah, maybe this also explains my soft spot for Persuasion.)
Honourable Mention: Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility)
I mean, I would have preferred James McAvoy in this role, but Dan Stevens is infinitely preferable to wet-blanket Hugh Grant. But, really, I’d pick Colonel Brandon every time.
OK, so that’s my top 3. Your turn: tell me, am I right or am I
right wrong? And if I’m not right, who’s in your top 3?