A tourist in Bath
By Deborah Yaffe, Jan 10 2019 02:00PM
Last Thursday, James McAvoy, the excellent Scottish actor who played Jane Austen’s crush Tom Lefroy in the 2007 film Becoming Jane, paid a visit to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England, where he Instagrammed a semi-incognito selfie from the gift shop.
You know it’s a slow Jane Austen news week when you’re reduced to discussing an actor from a bad Austen biopic visiting a faux Austen tourist attraction.
I know, I know: Many, many Janeites love this movie and this museum. I am a killjoy. Toss a blanket over my head and ignore me.
New Year’s Resolution: Stop being a killjoy.
I will try to do better. Here goes:
If you’re a fan of Becoming Jane – which, based on exactly zero evidence, posits Lefroy as the Big Romance Who Inspired Pride and Prejudice Because Jane Austen Couldn’t Have Just Imagined It – then curl up with a bowl of popcorn and enjoy another viewing! If you love the Jane Austen Centre -- which houses artifacts Austen did not own in a building where she did not live -- please buy another ticket and wallow to your heart’s content! I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours! As Tom Lefroy probably didn't say!
Well, it’s only January. I still have time to get this no-killjoy thing right.
For Jane's sake (and for those of us out there who share your snarkiness), put that New Year's resolution in the bin pronto. The Becoming Jane movie stinks. The JA Centre in Bath stinks. Let 'em have it with both barrels.
And for what it's worth--as I may have said on an earlier occasion in this space--I believe that if Tom Lefroy had really mattered to JA, Cassandra would have destroyed those letters along with all the rest with sensitive material. Almost everyone forgets that the surviving letters represent only the tip of a very large iceberg.
Ha! Thanks for the support, Marie!
I'm not sure about Tom: I think it's possible that Cassandra could have missed a letter or two here and there, and we don't really know what principle she employed in her culling. But I certainly think the evidence that he was the love of JA's life is thin on the ground. I've often wondered if the relationship gets so much attention in part because it happens to occur in the first few letters of JA's that we have: unconsciously, people may read all the later letters through that prism.