Travel Tuesday: Lunch at La Co(o)rniche

Tuesday, 27 August 2013
This summer Luke and I returned to Pau in the southwest of France after a nearly four-year absence. We flew in to Bordeaux, as direct connections to Pau from England aren't as frequent as they once were. We were happy for the detour to Bordeaux as it gave us the opportunity to catch up with Guillaume, a former colleague of Luke's.

Guillaume insisted we were his guests for the day and as the weather was so lovely Guillaume decided to take us to one of his favourite restaurants. Our destination was about an hour away from Bordeux in the seaside resort of Pyla sur Mer.  La Co(o)rniche is a Michelin-starred restaurant famous for its seafood and views of the Dune du Pilat, the highest sand dune in Europe.

Q: Just how high is the highest sand dune in Europe?

A: 105 metres high, 2700 metres long, 500 metres wide, 
and 60 million cubic metres of sand!

I didn't know what to expect but the ambiance was amazing and the meal was spectacular! Luke and I split the Assiette de la Mer (oysters, prawns, langoustines, clams, mussels, winkles, and whelks) which we washed down with a lovely Bordeaux rosé. The moral of the story, if you're in the Arcachon area, you need to visit this restaurant!

La Corniche - La Co(o)rniche, Pyla-sur-Mer
Guillaume and Luke
La Corniche - La Co(o)rniche, Pyla-sur-Mer
Dune du Pilat at La Corniche - La Co(o)rniche, Pyla-sur-Mer
Dune du Pilat
La Corniche - La Co(o)rniche, Pyla-sur-Mer
La Corniche - La Co(o)rniche, Pyla-sur-Mer
 Erin x

Linking up with Found Love, Now What  and A Compass Rose for Travel Tuesday

Catching Up With The White Queen

Friday, 16 August 2013
Thanks to the BBC's adaptation of Philippa Gregory's The White Queen, this summer England has been thrown into Tudor madness! I myself was turned into a Max Irons fan girl in episode 1, rejoiced at the return of Princess Leia hair in episode 2, and marveled at the power of blowing into a bowl of water in episode 3. Since then my weekly reviews have stopped as I had visitors from France and then went to France myself, both of which kept me from my Sunday night viewing pleasure and I've been playing catch-up ever since.

The Cast of BBC's The White Queen

Last night I caught up with episode 6, Love and Death, on BBC's iPlayer and I'm hoping to catch up with with the remaining 3 episodes prior to the series finale this Sunday. For those who missed my White Queen reviews, here are 6 things I missed from episodes 4-6;

6. Warwick goes out with a bang! In episode 3, The Storm, we saw Warwick (James Frain) and his trusty lapdog, also known as George (David Oakes), fleeing to France after one of their many revolts failed. In episode 4, The Bad Queen, Warwick has only one choice left, he must unite with Margaret of Anjou (Veerle Baetens), the Lancastrian Queen. This alliance gives Warwick immense power, he's practically running the country with mad King Henry VI (David Shelley). Unfortunately this is short lived and the mighty Earl of Warwick falls in battle by episode 5, War at First Hand, after killing off his own horse to prove to his men he would not run away. Truth be told I mourned the death of the horse far more than Warwick.

Lord Warwick (James Frain) in The White Queen

5. Isabel and Anne have some serious daddy issues. Who could blame them? In episode 3, Isabel Neville (Eleanor Tomlinson) lost her baby while en route to France. In The Bad Queen, Warwick marries off Anne Neville (Faye Marsay) to Edward of Lancaster, in order to cement his deal with Margaret of Anjou. One must remember this was the 1400s and a daughter's purpose was to be married off in order to improve her father's position. Still I don't think all 15th century fathers were as ruthless as Lord Warwick. Alas with Warwick dead and gone I don't see these girls' daddy issues resolving any time soon, no matter how much therapy they were to go through.

Episode 4 of The White Queen - The Bad Queen

4. It's a Boy! Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson) finally gives birth to the son her and Edward IV (Max Irons) have been longing for! Everybody celebrate for there is now an heir to the Yorkist throne! The problem is the birth takes place while Elizabeth and her family are seeking sanctuary at Westminster Abbey, not exactly the most royal of births. This baby boy was in fact Edward V, one of the two princes in the Tower (of London).. but more on that later.

The White Queen - The Princes In the Tower
BBC History

3. Lady Margaret, a York? War at First Hand begins with King Henry VI on the throne and Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale) brings her son, Henry Tudor, to receive his blessing. The Yorks aren't willing to go down without a fight and both sides begin assembly armies with Margaret's husband joining the Yorks! He is seriously wounded in battle and dies shortly after but not before telling Margaret to make peace with York. Instead, Margaret writes to Jasper Tudor, a man whom she has long harboured romantic feelings for. However she is rejected and only then does she see the need to make peace with York by re-marrying to one of Edward IV's closest advisers, Thomas Stanley (Rupert Graves).

Rupert Graves is Lord Thomas Stanley in The White Queen

2. Richard + Anne Forever. Throughout the whole of The White Queen there has been sexual tension between the two. Who could forget the excited look on Anne's face when she thought her father was arranging for her to marry Richard (Aneurin Barnard)? Or the dismayed look when Richard discovered Anne had been married off to Edward of Lancaster? With Edward VI back in power, poor Anne is considered a traitor by some and is locked away by George, who seeks to control her and her inheritance. Even Isabel sides with George and helps to keep Anne imprisoned. Enter Anne's knight-in-shining-armour, Richard, who whisks her away under cover of darkness and marries her. In yo' face George!

Faye Marsay is Anne Neville and Aneurin Barnard is Richard Duke of Gloucester

1. Edward - how could you?! My first disappointment with Edward IV (Max Irons) occurred at the end of War at First Hand, when Edward and his brothers smothered King Henry VI with a pillow. In episode 6, Love and Death, I was even further disappointed by his actions after he takes up with a new mistress, Jane Shore. Now I realise in reality Edward IV was not a faithful husband to Elizabeth Woodville. He is known to have had numerous mistresses but I'm not hoping for reality in The White Queen. Elizabeth is left heartbroken after finding Edward and Jane Shore in bed together and remains hurt, especially after learning that the evening before her confinement he is off canoodling the other woman. It takes the death of their baby son and Elizabeth's mother, Jacquetta (Janet McTeer) to bring the two together. Still, if I were Elizabeth I wouldn't take Edward's excuse of "you know I wouldn't be a faithful husband but I love you so much" very well.

Max Irons is King Edward and Rebecca Ferguson is Queen Elizabeth in The White Queen
Q: What have you thought of The White Queen? Are you still watching?
 Erin x

Order your copy of The White Queen from
Quintessentially English's Amazon Associates Store.

Jane Austen Book Club: Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, 7 August 2013
Welcome friends to the second installment of The Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club! We started in June by reading Jane Austen's first novel, Sense and Sensibility, and will be reading another Jane Austen novel each month until November when we finish with Persuasion.

Thanks to Bonnie Rose, Gina, Holly, and Lindsay for linking up their Sense and Sensibility blog posts last month. I enjoyed reading every single one of them! General consensus of Sense and Sensibility is that while everyone enjoyed the novel, it wasn't anyone's favourite.

For July, we read Jane Austen's second and probably most beloved novel - Pride and Prejudice. Published in 1813, this novel was one of the few that received recognition in Jane Austen's lifetime and continues to be a favourite in modern times. In 2003 when the BBC conducted a poll for the UK's Best-Loved Book, Pride and Prejudice came second, only losing out on the top spot to The Lord of the Rings.

Modern interest in Pride and Prejudice has resulted in a number of adaptations, most notably the 1995 BBC television miniseries starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and 2005 feature film starring Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet. Besides adaptations, Pride and Prejudice has also inspired other works which borrow characters and/or themes from the story.

When I sat down to write this month's Jane Austen post I decided rather than giving my thoughts on the story, characters, and themes, I would do something I bit different. I decided instead to explore the lasting impact of Pride and Prejudice in the stories it has inspired. There are hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from but these are my top 5 based on popularity or ingenuity.

5. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in a series of 2-8 minute videos on YouTube. The story enfolds in vlog (or video blog) told from the perspective of Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements) with appearances from most of the main characters.

It makes my list of top Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories because of its brilliant portrayal of a classic story in a modern format. Prior to beginning research for this post, I had not heard of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but have since watched a couple of episodes and absolutely love it. It's cute and mindless, good for some lunch break viewing!

 4. Lost in Austen

Lost in Austen (Gemma Arterton, Jemima Rooper, Elliot Cowan)
Lost in Austen is the story of Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), a devoted Janeite, who finds herself transported to the world of Pride and Prejudice thanks to a portal in her bathroom. Elizabeth Bennet and Amanda switch lives, and it is up to Amanda to ensure the events of Pride and Prejudice unfold as they should.

Like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Lost in Austen takes a classic tale and adds modern insights to it with the added fun of a magical portal in a bathroom that will take you to the world of your favourite book. Could you imagine? My portal would definitely lead me to Wonderland, but I wouldn't mind spending some time lost in Austen!

3. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a 2009 parody novel that combines Pride and Prejudice with elements of the modern zombie genre as popularised in films such as Shaun of the Dead. The plot is pretty similar to the original, the Bennet family live in a rural English village where their primary concerns are marrying off their five daughters and “defending themselves against wave after wave of the remorseless, relentless walking dead,” says author Seth Grahame-Smith.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Well Seth Grahame-Smith you have my attention! Who wouldn’t want to read this literary mashup of 19th century manners and zombie horror? I’ve already added this, its sequel (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After) and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters have all been added to my GoodReads want-to-read shelf. Perhaps next year we’ll continue The Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club but instead of the traditional Jane Austen, we’ll read the parody novels. Is anyone up for it?

2. Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
Death Comes to Pemberley is a murder mystery novel based on Pride and Prejudice by P.D. James. The story begins six years after the plot of Jane Austen’s original novel. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are still married and living in Pemberley when, you guessed it, a murder occurs.

I debated between Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Death Comes to Pemberley for the second spot in my list and, as you can see, Death Comes to Pemberley won - the reason being that Death Comes to Pemberley does not simply add to the original plot but is a completely separate story borrowing only the characters. Death Comes to Pemberley has also been added to my alternative Jane Austen Book Club reading list.  

1. Bridget Jones's Diary


Bridget Jones’s Diary is a 2001 film based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name and by far the most renowned interpretation of Pride and Prejudice.  Helen Fielding based her novel on Jane Austen’s original story and 1995 adaptation. There are several allusions to the original Pride and Prejudice in Bridget Jones’s Diary; 

  1. The Darcy in both stories comes across as pompous in the beginning and almost loses the girl as a result. 
  2. Mark insults Bridget to his mother within earshot of Bridget. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy insults Elizabeth to Mr. Bingley within earshot of Elizabeth.  
  3. Daniel Cleaver lies to Bridget about a dispute between him and Mark, claiming that Mark stole his fiancée when, in fact, it was the other way around. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Wickham attempts to run away with Georgina Darcy and then lies about Mr. Darcy and the whole affair to Elizabeth. 
  4. Bridget works at Pemberley Press, an obvious allusion to Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley. 
  5. In the film Bridget says "It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as one part of your life starts looking up, another part falls to pieces." This is homage to the famous opening lines of Pride and Prejudice.

When it came to cast the updated Darcy, Helen Fielding only had one man in her mind – Colin Firth, who played Mr. Darcy in the 1995 adaptation. In fact, one of the screenwriters of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Andrew Davies, also wrote the BBC adaptation.

The Pride and Prejudice veterans in the film and the multiple parallels with the original novel make this the undisputed winner of top Pride and Prejudice inspired works.

Switching gears from Pride and Prejudice, it is now August and we are currently reading Mansfield Park. You can still join in on the fun so go and pick up a copy from your local library or Quintessentially English’s Amazon Associates Store! Be sure to join the #JaneAustenBookClub  conversation on Twitter (@essentialerin) and Facebook!

 Q: What did you think of Pride and Prejudice? Can you think of any other Pride and Prejudice inspired stories that should have made the list?

Erin x

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