Welcome to Donwell: The Befores

I named our new house.  I named it in my mind, anyway.  You probably think it’s pretentious, but I find it charming when people name their homes.  
“Donwell” is a Jane Austen reference; Donwell Abbey is the home of Mr. Knightley in Emma.  If you haven’t read it, you should go back and read our love story to find out why it’s so much like Emma and Mr. Knightley.  Donwell is an obvious allusion to Knightley’s doing things well in many aspects of his life.  
Anyway, when we finally found this place and bought it, I named it Donwell because if there’s one thing we want in our home, it’s to do things well for God’s glory.  But it’s Donwell in my head.  I don’t say things like, “Do pop in for a spot of tea at Donwell this afternoon,” or “You must come walk the gardens at Donwell.”
For that matter, I don’t say, “Possums drown at Donwell, poor saps.
So I’m going to introduce you to the new place this week.  You can see some before photos of the downstairs in my moving day post.  The dark wood trim was mostly primed before we moved in, and I’ve been painting it in fits and spurts since then.  
Upstairs, we have…
“tomato soup.”  That’s what I like to call this color. It morphs from pink to brown depending on the light.  Above we have the master bathroom, with original vanity, which cries out to me for replacement or at least a coat of paint.

See?  It kinda looks brown here, doesn’t it?  This is the master bedroom.  But it’s really just the BRIGHT cranberry carpet that makes the paint look brown — it’s the same color.

This is the hall bath.  I love that the kids have two sinks.  I also don’t dislike the color in here.  It’s nice.  The bathroom also has a separate area with toilet and shower with a door.  It feels appropriate when you think that five people are sharing it.

This room is on the third floor, which is really the attic.  The previous owners finished off a portion of the attic into a craft room.  We now have an extra bed in here.  I also just unpacked all my sewing stuff into this room this past Sunday.  I can’t wait to use it.

Here’s the room above the garage.  It’s our schoolroom now.  I’m so glad they put a skylight in…it really brightens the place up.  If you can’t tell, the paint is dark blue.  It makes me a little jumpy.  I need something brighter and calmer.

Down the hall from there is Maddie’s room.  This room feels HUGE right now because Maddie is sleeping in a toddler bed again since the move.  We really need to get her a twin bed.

And here’s where we’ve been eating most of our meals lately.

David thinks looking pensive is funny.

Look for more Welcome to Donwell posts this week!

What I’m Wearing…and What I Think.

Purchased here.

It Is a Truth Universally Acknowledged

“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

On this day in 1813 Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was first published.

I found this character map appealing on an altogether nerdy level.

You Will Excuse Me while I Live-blog Masterpiece Theatre

Oh, I do love Emma. And I am just a tad excited that The Complete Jane Austen has returned to Sunday nights.

So if you find this boring, just come back tomorrow. Those of you who are mildly obsessed like me — and I know you’re out there — read on, and comment as needed.

Starting with the chicken theft was a little weird (am I watching the right movie??!!), but I like the connection to the departure of Miss Taylor.

“Marriage is very upsetting to one’s social circle.” Not there. I missed it a little.

*sigh* Mr. Knightley is not Jeremy Northam. Trying to get over this.

Kate Beckinsale makes a pretty, youthful Emma to the more mature Mr. Knightley (truer to the book than the Hollywood version).

They’re singing a hymn!! Fun!!!

The older set (Miss Bates, Mrs. Bates, and Mr. Woodhouse) is wonderful so far. You really get the feeling that they’re mildly crazy and entertaining to the younger set.

I like how Harriet is slightly disheveled in contrast to the polished Emma. Harriet is cute and wide-eyed in a very believable way.

Emma and Mr. Knightley arguing about Harriet’s refusal of Robert Martin: he seems a little too angry…he’s actually raising his voice…that seems a bit over-the-top…. Oh, but a good make-up scene, with the baby and the warmness.

Am I the only one that thinks that this actor portraying Mr. Elton looks a little like Colin Firth in P&P?

I like Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley talking about Emma behind her back. “You know she is an excellent creature.” 🙂

ACK! The picture’s talking!! At this point I have a flashback to Colin Firth talking out of Jennifer Ehle’s mirror: “You must allow me to declare how ardently I admire and love you.” Apparently Andrew Davies is a fan of the extra-terrestrial disembodied-head suitor.

HA! She’s so freaked out by Mr. Elton’s declaration!!! Great job, Kate!!

I don’t think Jane is pretty enough to be a threat to Emma. They have her hair so plainly done.

Wow, this Miss Bates is really good at the prattling on. I didn’t think anyone could do it as well as the other lady, but wow. I was completely bored.

The explanation of the tenant farmer system with Mr. Knightley’s estate was a helpful addition. I didn’t really grasp that the first time I read the book.

Wow, Frank Churchill. He’s so pretty, he must be bad news. Never trust a man with better hair than you, that’s what I say.

OK…phone call…so I have no comment on the ball-planning scene. Or the two scenes following. Or the one after that.

OK…party scene with all the pianoforte playing. Mr. Knightley is portrayed as more blunt in this version; he minces no words with Emma or anyone else. He also intervenes directly on behalf of Jane Fairfax’s poor voice instead of cuing Miss Bates to do so.

Is Mrs. Elton the same lady as Mrs. Hurst in P&P? (yes) Well done with all the gaudy jewelry.

I miss the scenes from the other movie showing Emma being benevolent to their poorer neighbors.

Ball scene…well done all around. No comment there, really, except it’s nice to see Mr. Knightley smile. Sadly, smiling did not turn him into Jeremy Northam.

The romantic fantasies are cute. They’re getting a little tiresome though.

Strawberry picking at Donwell Abbey…Sweet that Mr. Knightley talks about his future wife inviting people to his home. And I’m always up for seeing Mrs. Elton put in her place.

Box Hill…goodness, what a production with all the tents and tables. And the pivotal Emma blunder in humiliating Miss Bates. Great exchange with the bawling out of Emma by Knightley.

Anything that Knightley can bring to John and Isabella? “…besides the laugh which no one carries.” Darling. Sweet.

Oh, I do love the scene with him leaving. He’s so happy that she went to the Bates’ to apologize, and she’s so sad that he’s leaving with things so awkward between them.

Kate Beckinsale is a good cryer. She also cries a lot in “Much Ado About Nothing.” I wonder if she cries in that vampire flick.

Knightley’s back…his anger at Frank is excellent. Her puzzled expression at his declaration is perfect. A bit creepy with the “I held you in my arms when you were six weeks old…” thing. That’s cradle robbing for ya.

Cute scene with them telling Mr. Woodhouse.

I like the harvest dinner scene. It shows that Knightley does not think of himself as above his tenants…and what an honor to be toasted by an entire room of your fiance’s friends!

Happy Ending.

And…we’re back to the chickens. Another woman stolen away.

And a teaser for the new S&S…oh my!!! SWORDFIGHTING!! That’s quite exciting!!

My Review of Mansfield Park

I’ve been lax in posting this review, mostly because I slept through…I’d say…80% of this movie.

Here is my experience:

Yeah, yeah, yeah…Gillian Anderson’s introduction. She impresses me as being extraordinarily bored with the intros.

The “growing up sequence” was almost exactly the same as in “Northanger Abbey.” I don’t know which movie was written/shot first, but BOOOOOO for lack of creativity.

Wow, this movie sure is moving fast. Again.


Hmm, I think is the story that has probably suffered the most at the hands of Andrew Davies. Everyone seems angry and repressed. I don’t like the actress in the role of Fanny…she seems like she might be better suited for a role like….


Wow, this movie is moving fast.

Oh, it’s over?

My Review of Northanger Abbey

I feel unjust grading this adaptation since I haven’t read the book. It is the only remaining Austen work I have yet to tackle.

Suffice it to say that I thought it was very well done, the actors gave a free and natural feel to their roles, and the setting where it was shot was lovely, perfect for the Gothic homage that haunts the story.

AND suffice it to say that it was interesting enough to keep us from flipping back to the Giants/Packers game. That didn’t happen even once.

“Perhaps after all it is possible to read too many novels.”
— Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey

My Review of Persuasion

Sunday night’s presentation of “Persuasion” was a good one, though I still prefer the 1995 one starring Ciaran Hinds.

What I liked about Masterpiece’s version:

  • The opening scene! It really made you feel the urgency of Anne’s duties in preparing her family home to be taken over
  • Captain Wentworth was handsome
  • I liked the actors for the Musgroves…all of them, sisters included
  • I had mixed feelings about the way the filmmakers had Anne breach the “fourth wall” by staring at the camera at certain times. It made me uncomfortable, which I think was the intent, but it also endeared the audience to her because we saw the difficulty of her situation.
  • I thought the actress who played Anne was very, very good

What I prefer about the 1995 one:

  • It’s a bit longer, so there is more time to see the subtleties of the supporting characters (Sir Elliot’s vanity, Lady Russell’s manipulation, the camaraderie of the Naval officers, the uniqueness of Mrs. Croft)
  • Captain Wentworth is handsomer
  • They get the climax right, playing out within those four walls of that little room with the ladies prattling on about wedding clothes in the background. You FEEL what’s happening! In the Masterpiece version, they moved the conversation between Anne and Bennick to the dinner scene at the Musgroves. This necessitates BRUTALLY ALTERING one of the GREATEST LOVE LETTERS EVER PENNED (albeit fictional!).