Deborah Yaffe

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Have another one

By Deborah Yaffe, Jan 16 2020 02:00PM

Just when you thought it was safe to put some cookies in the oven, toss a few snowballs, and top your hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped cream . . .


. . . it looks like another Jane Austen-themed Christmas movie will be coming to the Hallmark Channel later this year.


Yes, the folks who brought us the remarkably mediocre Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe in 2018 and the equally tedious Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen less than two months ago have noticed that Jane Austen wrote other books. (I don’t think there was any way we could have kept that a secret, but perhaps we should have tried harder.)


And thus it is that Deadline reported earlier this week that Melissa de la Cruz, who was involved with both previous films, will be writing and producing Christmas at Mansfield Park, slated to air in 2020.


The details are barebones, but those of us who have already seen two of Austen’s masterworks transformed into identical – dare I say cookie-cutter? – Hallmark Christmas cliché-fests bearing little relationship to their supposed prototypes know more or less what to expect.


Probably Christmas at Mansfield Park will be about a free-spirited young woman named Frances with a do-gooder job (social worker? Pediatrician?) who has grown up with rich relatives – mom and stepfather, maybe? -- but returns to her quaint New England hometown at Christmastime to care for her ailing father.


There she meets a hunky local minister named Ed who needs help throwing a holiday party for cute but underprivileged children, not to mention extricating himself from a problematic relationship with a materialistic fiancée named Mary who wants him to get a job with a more prestigious church in The Big City.


Ed will walk in on Mary’s brother Henry kissing Frances under the mistletoe but will turn away right before Frances pushes Henry away and slaps his face. Snowballs will be thrown. A tree will be decorated. Small children will sing “Silent Night” while doting adults sip hot chocolate. And I will watch, because I am a Jane Austen completist with a masochistic streak.


It’s too bad, actually, because Mansfield Park fanfic is in short supply, and were the project in better hands, we might hope for something clever and witty. Alas, I think the odds are poor.


2 comments
Jan 21 2020 02:22AM by Kirk

Jane Austen Completist...love it!! I joked that Persuasion would be next.

Jan 21 2020 06:05PM by dyaffe

Seems inevitable, doesn't it? I never thought I'd be relieved she only wrote six books. . .

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