What women today can learn from Jane Eyre

jane eyreJane Eyre is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was first published on 16 October 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name “Currer Bell. Here at P&P tours we are serious fans of any Victorian literature and run dedicated Jane Eyre Tours.

For those that don’t know, Jane Eyre is a coming of age type story. Jane isn’t that beautiful, rather plain looking really and basically the underdog.  She overcomes her troubled and impoverished past.  She is the epitome of a strong woman which at that time was quite ground breaking and shocking.  If you are a women and you haven’t read this book, we seriously recommend you do.  Women of today can take a lot from this book and learn a great deal. And when reading it remember it was first published in 1847.

What can we learn from Jane Eyre?

Plenty.  She teaches us that you can overcome your past regardless of how bad it was. Jane was an orphan and had a miserable childhood and was tortured by her nasty relatives. Grab a tissue for the first half of the book as it is quite sad and distressing. The way her family treated her was horrendous.  When she leaves for boarding school she essentially cuts her family out of her life. She soon learns that holding grudges and animosity will not do her any favors.

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” – Charlotte Brontë

The next lesson we learn from Jane is that we can do anything we want in life as long as we remain positive.  She has complete belief in herself despite having no money or family.  She finds a good job and lives quite well.  The key to independence is loving,  respecting and believing in yourself. I have always liked the following quote:

“To accomplish great things, WE must not only ACT, but also DREAM not only plan but also BELIEVE.”

As a young girl Jane had the tendency to feel sorry for herself which you couldn’t blame her for, anyone going through such a miserable upbringing would feel the same.  But she grows up and learns how to be happy and that every cloud has a silver lining.

Another important lesson Jane teaches us is that just because you’re a woman it doesn’t mean you can’t do something and you are much stronger than you think.  They say that you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.  Well that was certainly true for Jane.  Us humans are very resilient, no matter what happens to you we can and will bounce back.

In today’s world of glossy magazine and celebrities, looking good is more important than ever or so we are led to believe.  Thanks to photoshop it is harder than ever to follow the beautiful women in these glossy mags or on the TV.  But we shouldn’t be trying.  Remember it is a not real world, even the most beautiful women in the world will look plain without makeup and photoshop.   Jane teaches us that we would be far happier if we stopped caring about how we look. Jane is an amazing and beautiful person even though her actually physical looks are pretty plain. Everyone on this planet is beautiful.  Life itself is beautiful and we should all try to remember this.

Take risks and never be afraid to speak your mind.  We only live once, so be brave, take risks and say what you want.  If your childhood was horrendous and your family caused you nothing but pain, move forward, be positive, take risks and don’t look back.  This is exactly what Jane did. Jane was not scared to voice her opinions when needed. She even turned down a proposal of marriage because she knew it wasn’t right for her.  Sometimes the key to letting go is to confront the situation. It is far better to talk things through rather than hold resentment.

Below are some inspiring quotes from Jane Eyre:

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”

“I am not an angel,’ I asserted; ‘and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me – for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.”

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”

“Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.”

If you want to learn more about Jane Eyre and the writer Charlotte Brontë why not join us and our experts on a Jane Eyre Tour.

Belle, Another great Period Drama

Belle: another great period drama

Belle is the latest period drama to be laid before us and it has caused something of a furore.

The film is based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, mixed race daughter of the nephew of Lord Mansfield, Britain’s Lord Chief Justice at the time. The film, which has received a very warm critical response, is inspired by a painting of Dido and her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray at Kenwood House, the home of Mansfield.

There’s no doubt that the film is an excellent costume drama with a superb script  and excellent performances by Tom Wilkinson as Lord Mansfield, Emily Watson as his wife, Miranda Richardson as lady Ashford (although you can’t help waiting for her to transform into full Queenie mode) but moist notably Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the title role.

The film depicts Belle’s integration to aristocratic life in London with Lady Elizabeth and the Mansfields, her relationship with a young lawyer John Davinier and the supposed affect of her relationship with Lord Mansfield on his legal career, most notably the famous Zong massacre case. Whilst charting these events the film explores the themes of social class, racial integration, love and social revolution with the move towards the end of the slave trade.

Although the film has been well received by critics and cinema goers the artistic licence shown by the writers has, to one degree or another, annoyed some historians. As very few details of Belle’s life are known the writers were liberated by the lack of facts to the degree that they were able to construct an intelligent, thoughtful but most importantly, entertaining film. A film that is built around accepted historical record, but not one which reflects every last detail.

So what? I hear you cry.

Mansfield may not have been the humanist reformer, positively influenced by his relationship with Belle, as portrayed in the film, but he is still regarded as a great legal moderniser and the cases he oversaw did spell the beginning of end of slavery, particularly his verdict in the Somersett case where he set out that slavery had no legal basis in Britain.

However, let’s not forget this is a movie, a piece of art. It is intended to stimulate thought and conversation and entertain in equal measure. It is a testament to all involved that it does this so well. It’s obviously not as dark as last year’s great success Twelve Years a Slave, but it can be viewed as a lighter companion piece.

The most interesting element of the film as far as I’m concerned is the subtle reflections of how social attitudes were changing. Belle, a mixed race aristocrat could eat with the Mansfield family unless they had company. She was black but Mansfield considered her suitor, the white lawyer Davinier, as beneath her, due to her social status and despite her illegitimacy, something still very much frowned upon at that time.

The painting of Belle and her cousin, the inspiration for the film, is also an important indicator of a time of great change. It is the first painting to depict a white and black woman as near equals. It was the norm at that time for social inferiors to be shown sitting or lying down in the presence of their betters. In the painting and in the film Belle is all but her cousin’s equal and the affection between the two is obvious.

The other star of the film is Kenwood House itself, where large parts of the movie were filmed. The house, which is on the edge of Hampstead Heath, is now owned and operated by English Heritage and is open to the public after being renovated last year. It is well worth a visit.

The film Belle shows once more how much history there is in this great country of ours and how much of it is accessible to the public. I’ve said it many times that I’m really lucky, as the owner of PandP Tours, to be able to visit so many interesting and historically important places. I take great pride that my job is to share this with people.

Here at P and P Tours we offer bespoke, private, luxury tours, tailored to meet your own personal needs. We provide chauffeur driven cars if required and have excellent working relationships with many of the country’s best boutique hotels.

So, if the idea of following in Belle’s footsteps at Kenwood House and other notable London landmarks contact us at P and P Tours. We’re here to make your holiday special.

The Enduring Miss Austen – by Susie Cutts

Could Jane Austen still be popular 200 years from now?

The question of why a writer whose works are around 200 years old is still so popular is often asked. Is it the social commentary that is still so relevant even in today’s society? Most of Jane’s characters are upper class, many with titles and large glamorous estates such as Lyme Park which was featured as Pemberley in the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice. How can this be relevant today when most of us live in modest homes and have more pressing matters than ‘the social calendar’ to worry about? Maybe it’s the ‘rose tinted glasses effect’ of harping back to a bygone age where times seemed better, the rules for all were very clearly defined with few grey areas. Many times past are now viewed with nostalgia and a sense that they were somehow better than the times that we are living in now.

Are bloggers the next generation of pseudonym writers?

In the world of writing it is safe to say that in her generation Jane Austen was definitely disadvantaged. For a woman attempting to break into a field that was very much male dominated, many chose like Jane to write under a pseudonym. Indeed, assumed names were fairly common in both male and female authors well into the nineteenth century. Fortunately today it is a much more level playing field with many different avenues available to budding writers of both genders. The creation of blogging sites has created the opportunity to put your work out into the public domain without having to so much as sidle past the hint of an editor or publishing house. This recent development has allowed many amateur writers to turn into well known ‘semi-celebrities’ whose work is avidly followed by large groups of people. Many sites online offer both amateur and professional writers the chance to gain vital experience and hone their writing in both a technical and creative way. No matter from where you start from there is always the possibility that you could one day reach the heady heights of the great authors such as Jane Austen.

What makes a great writer?

Maybe it is the fact that the stories underneath the setting of time and class are just about people, people meeting and falling in love, people over-coming their circumstances to improve themselves and lead good lives. A Jane Austen novel is like curling up under a blanket and drinking hot cocoa; it warms and soothes and makes all things right in the world. It is the mark of a truly great writer that can evoke such a sense of wellbeing. Similarly it is also the mark of a great writer to invoke other strong emotions too. But where other authors have failed to stay so popular Jane Austen continues to do so. Jane herself is as popular still as her novels and has her own fan clubs. The members of one such club call themselves ‘Janeites’. Jane died at a relatively young age even in Georgian times; she was just 41 years old. The tragedy of such a talented person dying before their time could be why people have taken her to their hearts as they have. What other wonderful works might she have completed as a writer if she had not succumbed to illness whilst still in her prime?

The BBC effect of bringing Austen to the masses

Certainly the BBC’s dramatisations of Jane’s works, and Colin Firth’s brilliant portrayal of Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, could have helped keep the love of the Austen novels in our hearts. Other modernised versions have also achieved mass popularity such as the film and TV series Clueless which was based on the Austen novel Emma. A true testament to how timeless Jane’s stories are is how easily the characters and plots can be lifted into modern day settings and circumstances while still retaining the essence of what makes the story enjoyable. It would be interesting to see if some of today’s modern authors are still enjoyed by as many people in another 200 years time! However, Jane has a long way to go to catch up with another great British author, William Shakespeare who is still being read, adapted and enjoyed some 450 years later.

Jane Austen – the heroine without the happy ending she would have written for herself

One of the most endearing of Jane Austen facts is her bitter sweet romance with student barrister Tom Lefroy, and how perhaps she gave a happy ending to the characters in her novels that she did not manage to achieve herself. Tom’s family did not approve of the blossoming romance and sent Tom away and Jane was never to see him again. Perhaps it is no single thing that has seen Jane Austen and her novels stand the test of time and remain near to our hearts, but a combination of a strong, intelligent, talented woman with a knack of writing wonderful stories to entertain, delight and inspire generations of people.

Guest post – Ali remembers her P&P Tour!

It was raining lightly when I opened the same door that Colin Firth once touched, and stepped out onto the same stones his regency boots once crunched across as he departed in distress. Looking back at what is to me Hunsford Parsonage, I started to cry. I was looking at a place I’d seen a thousand times even though I’d never been there and I just couldn’t believe it, that somehow I’d tumbled down a rabbit hole and ended up in the world of my dreams…

I can’t remember the first time I watched Pride and Prejudice, or how old I was. But what I can remember is trying so hard to learn how to spell ‘prejudice’ so that I could search for the video at the library, and the jokes my siblings made that I would break it from watching it too much.  What I can remember is saving for so long for the $25 needed to go halves in buying the DVD copy with my dad. What I can remember is loving it more than anything else, wishing nothing more than to close my eyes and live in the world created by Jane Austen.

I can remember my mum and my friend Bonnie making me the most beautiful regency dresses; having to explain to my friends and co-workers what Pride and Prejudice was, and what a tour of that involved; reading Pride and Prejudice one last time on the plane as I flew from Australia to England; and meeting all of the amazing people who shared my Pride and Prejudice tour.

I can remember gazing out the window of the coach as the beautiful English countryside went by, taking me from one amazing location to another. I can remember grinning as I walked through service stations to use the toilets, my regency attire drawing attention from contemporary travellers. I can remember being taken care of by everyone because I was the young girl who was travelling alone. I can remember staring at my feet to avoid stepping in sheep poo for what seemed like forever, to reach the pond that Darcy dived into. I can remember acting like Lydia and Kitty with Kerryn as we ran around the gardens of Rosings, danced every dance at Longbourn, and jumped without a thought of propriety in front of Pemberley. I can remember posing like Darcy in every place we visited. I can remember being so excited to sit next to Hazel Jones, who I want to be when I grow up, that I spilt red wine all over my dress (luckily not my regency one). I can remember realising that the top of Darcy’s bed at Rosings is just as garish as it looks on film. I can remember taking selfies (self-potraits) in the same mirror that Wickham used. I can remember the smile the woman at the airport gave me when my bag weighed too much, as though she understood that it was from all the books I had to buy about Jane Austen (and she didn’t make me pay extra).

What I can remember is that for four days I was able to escape reality, to delight in an experience that can only be described as surreal. So surreal, that when I found myself alone in a Manchester hostel room, very much in the 21st century, the tour having just finished, I cried my eyes out.

I’ve been staring at my laptop for a long time now, not knowing what to write. The bright screen glares brightly at me, reminding me that the tour is over and that as nostalgic as I might be, I don’t live in Jane Austen’s world, nor in a BBC miniseries production of her book Pride and Prejudice. But that’s okay. I don’t need to live in her world, or in a book, or in a TV production. And that’s because I have memories. My memories of the Pride and Prejudice tour blur the line between reality and fiction, between the past and now, to create a place of perfect happiness that is mine. And so as Lizzie feels, I must be content to be happier than I deserve.

Thanks for the memories PandP Tours!

Diana conspiracy theories continue to flourish

Over the years there have been numerous conspiracy theories to occupy the febrile mind, such as the Roswell alien affair or the death of JFK, but the most interesting and enduring conspiracy theories had revolved around the death of a beautiful woman, allied to some form of political intrigue, a la Marilyn Monroe and her alleged relationship with JFK himself.

However, the death of the then Princess of Wales, Princess Diana and formerly Diana Spencer, which shocked the world, has proved to be the spring of the most complex and intense conspiracy theories, with the latest surfacing only weeks ago. The death of Diana rivals only perhaps the assassination of JFK in terms of the ‘what I was doing when…..’ factor. Every one of my friends and family can recount in detail where there were and what they were doing when they discovered Diana had died. Such was the impact of the news.

For those who are too young to remember, just prior to her death in August 1997 Diana had been in a relationship with Dodi Fayed, son of the then Harrods owner, Egyptian businessman Mohamed El Fayed. There were together in Paris when both were killed in an apparent car accident, whilst being pursued by paparazzi.

In amongst the national grief however, it didn’t take long for various theories, most of which were suggesting she was murdered, to materialise.

The most persistent theory and most widely believed perhaps is that Diana and Dodi were murdered by the British security services on the orders of the Royal family in order to prevent their future marriage – an event which had the potential to embarrass them, particularly as Diana was the mother Prince William, second-in-line to the throne.

This theory was most strongly put forward by Mohamed El Fayed, who also claimed Diana was pregnant with Dodi’s child at the time of his death, although there has never been any evidence of this being the case. El Fayed, of course, was responsible for the Diana tribute at Harrods, which can be seen as part of P and P Tours’ Princess Diana Tour.

The security services of both France and the US have also been linked in other conspiracy theories, although no logical reason can be found for their possible involvement, other than to assist the UK. Other theories have blamed the paparazzi, enemies of El Fayed and even the Illuminati (mind boggling), although the strangest is that Diana and Dodi faked their death so they could live together away from the glare of the world’s media.

It was the specific details of Diana’s death and the inconsistencies involved that provided the fertile ground required for the growth of a good conspiracy theory. I’m talking here about the change of car, the circuitous route taken by Henry Paul, the lack of bodyguards, the missing white Fiat Uno, the conspicuous lack of CCTV coverage, and the mysterious flash of bright white light.

The latest theories to appear, only weeks ago, suggest the involvement of the SAS, perhaps using a secret weapon designed by a French arms manufacturer.

The Diana conspiracies have it all going for them – a much loved public figure, a member of the British royal family, a love story, a potential marriage and a pregnancy, intrigue, rich, foreign businessmen, the secret services and even a secret society.

Of course the reality is more prosaic – it was either Lord Lucan or Bigfoot.

Whilst Diana’s death still captures the imagination of people whose relationship with reality can best be described as peripheral, there remains a strong interest in her life. P and P Tours celebrates the life of Diana with a four day private, escorted Princess Diana tour encompassing the places where she lived, worked and relaxed. We’ve put together a VIP tour that will whisk you between those locations most strongly associated with the late Diana, telling the story of her life, including those snippets only a private tour guide can provide.

Our Princess Diana Tour includes an exclusive opportunity to meet Paul Burrell, Diana’s former butler and her ‘rock’, as she herself described him.

As a world exclusive P and P Tours also offers completely bespoke private tours for Diana fans – as well as our public Prince William and Kate Tour and the Royal Tour..

Monarchy or republic – what do we think?

Now that P and P Tours has introduced royal tours to our range of bespoke, private escorted tours I’ve found myself wondering why the popularity of the royal family endures, as is indicated by the interest we have received from prospective clients. It’s absolutely clear that many, many people are still hugely interested in the royal family, both contemporary as well as historical.

In an age where even temporary, minor celebrities receive levels of adulation that, centuries ago, were only reserved for monarchs, it is perhaps surprising that we still have such genuine fondness for the Queen and her extended family. Why do we want to read about Wills and Kate when we can obsess about actors, musicians, footballers and even reality TV ‘stars’.

This love of the royal family is equally strong in many Commonwealth countries who still have the Queen as their head of state, and not just within the United Kingdom. Even the Scots, renowned for their vocal dislike of most things English, come out in their thousands to cheer on Her Majesty when she visits.

Canada and Australia are both modern, vibrant, wealthy and confident multi-cultural countries, near the top of the pile when it comes to GDP and the size of their economies. However, both countries have dismissed the concept of republicanism, preferring to retain the Queen as their head of state. In fact the Australian people held a referendum in 1999 in which they rejected the opportunity to replace the Queen with a president. Looking at the calibre of modern politicians perhaps that is not surprising.

Why? Why are we still so interested with what could be described as a dysfunctional family?

I suppose for people of my generation and older (and let’s not forget that section of society is growing) the royal family represents something in our lives that the young just can’t comprehend. Our parents lived through a world war in which King George and Queen Elizabeth provided a highly visible example of stoicism and defiance, refusing to leave Britain despite the threat of invasion and often visiting victims of the Blitz; for that the British people of the time regarded them with a deep respect and affection, feelings that were undoubtedly passed on to our generation.

The younger generations I suspect love the royal family for different reasons. Traditionally little girls grow up dreaming of meeting and marrying a prince, handsome and wealthy, who will sweep them off their feet and take them away to live in a fantasy style castle. Princess Diana, initially at least, allowed millions of women to live out this life vicariously, through her. Women couldn’t get enough of news of her style, where she lived, her pregnancy and then her two boys. It was said that women wanted to be her and men wanted to be with her.

Once she’d captured the nation’s hearts and minds, the public disintegration of her marriage and, eventually her life, were the subject of endless column inches and television dramas and documentaries. Even her death, to those who favour a good conspiracy theory, still obsesses some – see the average UK tabloid front page if you don’t believe me.

Whatever you think of it, the outpouring of genuine grief at Princess Diana’s death was truly incredible in its depth. Very few people were not touched at the news of her demise and her funeral was one of the great TV events of our age – matching and probably surpassing her wedding.

Prince William’s relationship and eventual marriage to Kate has produced a renaissance of sorts in that kind of royal devotion, although it is not as intrusive as that suffered by Diana. The birth and recent christening of Prince George have firmly established this small family in the nation’s hearts and minds.

Of course, the scandal associated with the family over the years has also helped maintain our interest. Adultery, infighting, divorce, financial impropriety and rumours of other kinds are the bread and butter of the tabloids and most people can’t resist gossip, particularly when it concerns a wealthy and glamorous aristocratic family – it shows they’re no different, essentially, than the rest of us. The same desires, the same weaknesses, just with more money and they live in palaces.

For some of us the historical importance of the royal family is also a draw. Britain has a long and complicated past with a dynastical monarchy going back over two millennia and covering several royal houses, much regicide, civil war, the growth of empire and the Act of Union. The history of the British royal family is inextricably linked with the history of the British isles and for that reason they fascinate crusty history buffs as much as followers of the latest trends – yes Prince George is already a fashion icon.

Anyway, for whatever reason nearly all of us have an interest in the royal family. At P and P Tours we know and embrace this. We operate exclusive, private escorted tours which take in all aspects of royal interest, whether that be our Princess Diana Tour, Wills and Kate tour or the family as a whole on our Royal Tours.

Our chauffeured tours will allow you to take a glimpse into the lives of the family who have fascinated us for so long. Their homes, where they have eaten, where they have shopped, got married, been buried – P and P Tours royal tours cover every aspect of royal life.

Take a look at our exclusive private escorted Princess Diana Tour, William and Kate Tour and our more general Royal Family Tour or even let us know if you want us to organise a bespoke royal tour just for you. Here at P and P Tours the client comes first.

Kate’s tributes to Princess Diana

At P&P Tours weare so proud of our new Royal Tours, especially the William and Kate Tour – something I’m thrilled about as I have been a lifelong fan of our royal family. I began a Diana scrapbook in 1980 and maintained it until her tragic death in 1997.

An aspect of Kate’s relationship with William which I have found especially moving is the number of subtle but beautiful tributes the couple have paid to Princess Diana – who tragically missed out on the wedding of her son, and the birth of what would have been her first grandchild.

Here is a pictorial summary of some of the ways in which William and Kate have honoured the memory of Princess Diana…

The engagement – a double tribute

Have a look at the dress worn by both women when their engagements were first announced;

We all know that William asked his fiancée to wear his mother’s stunning sapphire and diamond engagement ring, but Kate took the tribute one step further by choosing an engagement outfit to mirror the one selected by Shy Di in 1981;

The birth of Prince George

Kate asked designer Jenny Packham for a dress in polka dots to mirror the green version worn by Princess Diana when she came out of the Lindo Wing to introduce baby Prince William to the world in 1982. This location is one of the many places we visit on our Wills and Kate Tour as well as our Princess Diana tour.

With her cute post baby bump and beaming smile, Kate echoes Diana in more ways than one!

The official baptism photo

We smiled when we saw this one – and know Diana would have laughed too!

And in 1982 his Dad was in the exact same pose, though not so well behaved….

There is one final tribute that has warmed our hearts – as was reported in the media recently;

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said they  had made the ‘very personal’ decision to have their son, Prince George,  christened in the chapel where Prince William’s mother’s body lay before she was  buried.  In a break with Royal tradition, the couple  have chosen to hold an ‘intimate’ ceremony at the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace – where the  body of Diana, Princess of Wales, lay before the altar for a week before her  burial in 1997 so her family could pay their last respects.”

With so many echoes of Diana it seems certain that baby George will grow up with a strong sense of attachment to his paternal grandmother – and that is just as it should be!

Reworking Jane Austen’s Classics – good or bad?

What is this current trend in the arts for the reworking of the classics?

Isn’t it enough that Hollywood and the world’s TV studios continually produce mindless ‘re-imaginings’ of successful films, often much to the chagrin of critics and fans alike? Are there no new and original stories out there? Of course there are. However, we still have to endure the seemingly endless recycling of certain popular pieces of work – remakes of Spiderman, Batman, The Killing and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, to name just a few.

I think the key to the origins of those works is in the fact that they are referred to as franchises, much like McDonalds and KFC, designed to generate profits, not art.

However, to my consternation this unwelcome trend has now spread to novels, and not just any old novels, but the treasured novels of my heroine, Jane Austen.

The publishers, HarperCollins, have commissioned six authors to write contemporary versions of Austen’s classic works with Joanne Trollope’s version of Sense and Sensibility due to hit the shops any day now.

Val McDermid, known for her psychological thrillers, has been asked to produce a modern version of Northanger Abbey, whilst Alexander McCall Smith will handle Emma and the American novelist Curtis Sittenfeld gets to rework Pride and Prejudice – heaven help us.

Authors for Austen’s other two novels Mansfield Park and Persuasion have yet to be identified by HarperCollins, although they will be named later this year.

I think those that know me will suspect that I’m not fond of this project and perhaps I’ve betrayed that above. Whilst I acknowledge that other classic pieces of work have not suffered too badly at the hands of writers with numerous adaptations and reworkings – Sherlock Holmes is a good example – the particular aspects of Austen’s work that make them so special, will mitigate against the reworkings being anything like as successful.

Austen’s novels, with their sharp social observation and wit, are very much products of their time, a period in which the established social order of the country was evolving relatively rapidly in response to the revolutionary events on the continent. The plots of her novels reflect these changes which are integral to the motivations and desires of the characters. Out of that particular context I think you’ll be left with the bones of six good stories, not outstanding ones.

One example that springs to mind is that in Pride and Prejudice Mr Darcy’s towering pride and sense of superiority is based upon his social standing and the lack of power of women. Does a contemporary setting allow for a Darcy type character to be believable? I’m not sure.

To get a sense of whether other Austen fans are receptive to this project I had a quick look at the message boards of several newspapers. Whilst I have to admit that there are some people out there who appear positive about the prospect of Elinor Dashwood being portrayed as an architecture student, the overall consensus was negative.

My favourite responses and those which echo my own thoughts best were ‘Why?’, ‘Er, why don’t you just read the originals?’ and ‘If it ain’t broke….’. Quite!

New Murder Mystery Dinners inspired by Downton Abbey

downton series 4

To be held at the invitation of  Earl Grantham’s dear friend Lord Fangbury at  Ripley Manor near Downton.

Come to the first event : Albrighton Hall Hotel, Shrewsbury, SY4 3AG

Time: 7.30pm Saturday 23 November 2013

  • Welcome Drink on arrival from 7pm
  • 3 course sit down dinner in panelled dining room
  • Coffee

All tickets £57.50 Only 20 guests can attend.

To book email Helen@pandptours.co.uk or Phone 07809 666309

Lord and Lady Fangbury live at Ripley Manor and are near neighbours of the Grantham family at Downton Abbey. The two families socialise together regularly and know all of each other’s business. A dastardly deed is about to be done… will you be the murderer or a suspect? Will Downton ever be the same..?

When you book please tell us whether you will come in the style of Downton Characters e.g.

Earl Grantham, Dowager Countess Violet, Lady Cora Grantham, Lady Mary, Lady Edith, Branson, Mrs Isabel Crawley, Dr Clarkson, Mrs Hughes, Carson the Butler

Or as a character from Ripley Manor; There are 7 suspicious characters to choose from!

Competition winner joins Downton Abbey Tour

edith wedding  I love a good news story and was privileged to be involved in one during a recent P and P Tours Downton Abbey tour.

One of the people on the tour, a lovely young lady from Chile, turned out to be the winner of a British Embassy competition to write a short Downton Abbey script. Her prize was an all-expenses paid one week trip to the UK, which included the P and P tour to Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey.

Claudia Arenas, from Cocepcion in Chile, is an English pedagogy student and her winning script transposed Downton Abbey to a modern day London pub with a story line concerning anti-discrimination, promoting tolerance and respect. She received high praise for her creativity and the quality of her writing.

Of course it was pleasing for me personally and professionally that PandP Tours were chosen by the British Embassy to be part of the prize for Claudia, but I was more pleased for her that she was able to see ‘Downton’ at first hand for a change, rather than on the television.

This only serves to reinforce what I said in my recent blog about the power of Downton Abbey and its growing popularity around the globe. Who could have imagined that a British TV drama has the ability to inspire a South American student to enter a creative writing competition?

This story also demonstrates how the world as we know it is shrinking. Modern communications now make the other side of the world accessible to us all. The rise of Scandanavian dramas in recent years, such as Borgen and The Killing, shows that there is certainly an appetite for foreign cultures and they are a hit as much for their alien-ness as the quality of the writing and production involved.

P and P Tours sees this desire taken to the next level at first hand. We have travellers from all over the world on our private, bespoke and escorted tours. Folks from China, Australia, the US, Europe, and now South America it seems, have seen the television programmes and now they want to visit the filming locations and experience what it is like to walk around Downton or Longbourn.

Well done Claudia. It was lovely to see you on our tour and I look forward to more people from all four corners of the planet enjoying P and P Tours’ exclusive Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice tours.