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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Coming attractions?

Surely the universe owes us a better year than the last. And for Janeites who enjoy screen adaptations of their favorite author, the signs look . . . reasonably promising. A spate of recent news suggests that 2021, or perhaps early 2022, may bring us some goodies:

--The latest feature-film version of Persuasion, already set to star Sarah Snook as Anne Elliot, now has its Captain Wentworth: British actor Joel Fry, who played the second husband of dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Although I watched GoT, I must confess that I have no memory of Fry, but he has a long list of UK TV credits and an impeccable Royal Academy of Dramatic Art pedigree.

Judging from photos, Fry appears to be Black or mixed-race, an unconventional choice for an on-screen Austen hero. It remains to be seen whether the filmmakers intend to foreground this non-traditional casting in their telling of the story – perhaps that’s why Lady Russell disapproved of the match? – or simply ignore it.

--Plans seem to be afoot to film Australian TV writer Rachel Givney’s novel Jane in Love, in which a time-traveling Jane Austen meets her romantic match in twenty-first-century Bath, on the set of a Northanger Abbey film. What to do – return to the past and write those books that, the fictional Austen now knows, will bring her literary immortality? Or forego fame and stay with the man she loves?

The book came out last fall, and I haven’t read it yet, but I confess to a certain fatigue with this formulation of Austen’s life as The Fateful Choice Between Love and Art. The irritating Becoming Jane may have ruined me forever in this regard. Still, if Amazon Studios wants to make a time-traveling Jane Austen romance – and apparently they have acquired the rights and hired a director -- you know I’ll buy a ticket.

--Sanditon! Season 2! Well, maybe!

The passionate #SanditonSisterhood is a-Twitter over the posting last month, on a subscription-only UK casting site, of a casting call that refers to “Sanditon series II” and a shoot starting this summer. Could this be the answer to the Sisterhood’s prayers – a second season of the ITV-PBS adaptation of the novel that Austen left unfinished at her death, and that screenwriter Andrew Davies left with a cliffhanger ending after its eight-episode first season?

Hard to say. The show got less-than-stellar reviews and drew a less-than-huge audience when it aired in the UK in 2019, and the website of Red Planet Pictures, the production company that made the first season, doesn’t mention plans for a sequel. Still, the fans have been lobbying for nearly a year now, and you can’t buy publicity like that.

So happy new year, Janeites! At least we have something to talk about while we wait for our vaccination appointments.

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