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Autumn 2005

“Pride and Prejudice” opened, and there it is, playing in cinemas all over the country. I keep thinking of Jane Austen, two hundred years ago, writing away in a drawing room and hiding her paper when the door creaked and somebody came in. What would she make of all this – of all that has happened since then, in fact? Movies and TV adaptations and thousands of spin-offs and millions of people all over the world reading about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy? The most thrilling moment for me was going into a multiplex to watch the film “Red Eye” and creeping into Screen One where “Pride and Prejudice” was halfway through. I stood at the back for five minutes and watched the shadowy audience watching it, the place was packed and a ripple of laughter went through them when Mr Collins arrived at the Bennet household. That was more thrilling than all the reviews because when you write something you never believe it’s quite real – that people will actually make their way to a cinema to watch it. I’ve never, for instance, seen anybody reading one of my books.


The Pemberley scenes were filmed at Chatsworth, and I’m going there on 26 October to give a talk, with clips of various scenes from the film. One of the most mysterious and moving moments in the movie is when Elizabeth Bennet wanders around the sculpture gallery there, and comes face to face with a marble bust of a veiled woman (Niobe?). At this stage she knows the truth about Darcy – that Wickham, not he, is a villain; she also believes she has lost him for good, and the funeral of her hopes is all there in that moment.


Other events: I’m appearing at the Arts in Morocco Festival of Literature and Art, which is taking place in Marrakesh from 30 Sept – 3 October, if anyone happens to be there. Well, someone might…both Arab and European painters and writers will be showing their work, and then there’s that magical souk to explore. Even more exotically, I’ll be giving at talk at Nottingham Central Library on 2 November, at 2pm. And appearing at the Ilkley Literary Festival on 16 October, to talk about “These Foolish Things” with Michelle Roberts. In the meantime, I might just sneak into a cinema again…


Do email me if you fancy,