These fanciful wishes for Austen might explain why the British press was mostly kind to the film: The Daily Mirror called it "delightful and nicely made"; the Times deemed it "giddy as champagne bubbles" despite the "few liberties" taken.
And there are some Austen scholars who welcome the movie.
Leading the pack is Spence, who was tsk-tsked for suggesting in his book a deeper romance between Austen and Lefroy than had previous scholars. (Not nearly, however, as passionate as the film implies; read: Frenching in the courtyard!) "The film captures Jane Austen's spirit and her values," Spence says. "I think she would have rather liked it. Besides, could you really make a movie where Jane flirts with a man and then never sees him again? What kind of a movie is that?"
Recent article from the NY Times speculating on the sources of Austenmania.
She has entered pop culture more thoroughly than other writers because she is almost spookily contemporary. Her ironic take on society is delivered in a reassuring, sisterly voice, as if she were part Jon Stewart, part Oprah Winfrey. Beneath the period details, the typical Austen heroine offers something for almost any woman to identify with: She is not afraid to be the smartest person in the room, yet after a series of misunderstandings gets the man of her dreams anyway. It doesnít take a marketing genius to spot a potential movie audience for that have-it-all fantasy.
And while Austenís era, with its rigid code of social rules, must have been repressive if you lived in it, when prettily depicted on screen it can seem positively peaceful and stable, a respite from todayís fraught, slippery world of quick hook-ups, divorce and family counseling.
The topic of Jane Austen and adaptations of her work has arisen on different forums and threads in the past. What do you think of this project, Janeites?