I accidentally came across a video on youtube called “Pride and Prejudice- Lizzie’s Diary, read by Jennifer Ehle”. If you missed the video when it was up here, then I apologise. The video actually had a really good picture of Lizzy and Jane as the platform for the audio. Unfortunately, although the video is still about, I have taken it down as I was contacted by Jane Odiwe (complete Janeite and artist) via Twitter asking me where I found the video as the image is hers and they hadn’t gotten permission. With that being said, if anyone knows where one can get a copy of ‘Lizzy’s diary’- I would be very grateful. I can’t seem to find it anywhere.
It’s marvellous. It is a little excerpt from the life of Lizzy Bennet before the novel (spans about 3 days in 10 minutes) and it really is great at getting her voice across. Jennifer Ehle is also fantastic, and although she is an American she still uses her Lizzy British accent for this piece. This piece comes from what is apparently an educational kit from the BBC (and it also includes interviews with Ehle acting as Lizzy), however I haven’t seen it yet, although I will endeavour to find it. Apparently it also includes supplementary materials about critical reception, interviews with producers and teachers notes etc.
I really love how this piece sheds light on how monotonous Lizzy finds everything, and how she has succinct observations about her family that aren’t always expressed that outwardly by Austen (Lydia’s cheating at cards, and no one else noticing etc). The style of the words is similar to Austen although more simple. The piece also expresses more about Lizzy and her father- and some of their time alone together, and some of the anxiety that her father feels about their situation. They almost seem to rely on each other, as a sort of oasis in the desert of sillyness! Observations like these, when seen from Lizzy’s perspective, are quite endearing.
Lizzy and Jane’s relationship is also indicated further, although there are no new developments here. We are told of how Lizzy is affectionate towards her, and constantly considering her feelings. However the best new part of this audio piece is near the end, when we are shown how exciting gossip is for everyone and how it breaks the boredom. It makes you allow for Mrs. Bennet’s over-excitedness at the news, and shows how easily it is spread about the neighbourhood (and perhaps allows for the later spreading of almost-true rumours about Lizzy and Darcy).
Jennifer Ehle, as one of the Elizabeth’s we all love, is fantastic at reading this. As a stage thespian originally she has a clarity and calmness that isn’t always seen in on-screen performers. Her knowledge of the characters seems to be great, particularly of her own, as she pauses in the right places and speaks very deliberately. She has a fantastic accent as well, that feels authentic and not at all contrived, and she uses her control of vocal inflection to great effect- adding yet-another layer to the character.
The piece is written with some great wit and humour, with Lizzy’s amusing comment about English weather beginning: “It is rain today. It rained yesterday, and will no doubt rain tomorrow”. She is also presented as despairing at little moments of triviality regarding ribbons and so on. It is separated, in true diary format, by the dates as miniature headings, and this gives it a daily-monthly context. Unfortunately, it ends very abruptly (although we all know what happens after the arrival of Bingley) and it also suggests that Lizzy knows about the gossip before the start of the book, which isn’t completely true, although it could definitely be argued.
For 10 minutes it is thoroughly entertaining, and I definitely recommend it for anyone looking to relax or for a quick moment of amusement. It is charming and my biggest criticism is that it is too short, and I wanted it to keep on going.