Monday, October 27, 2014

Charlie Lovett's "First Impressions"

Charlie Lovett is a writer, teacher, and playwright, whose plays for children have been seen in more than 3,000 productions. He is a former antiquarian bookseller and an avid book collector. He and his wife split their time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Kingham, Oxfordshire, in England.

Lovett's novels include The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession and the newly released First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of First Impressions:
OK, I have to be honest here. My wife, Janice, and I have been casting this movie ever since she read an early draft of my new novel First Impressions. The book is subtitled A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, so it’s pretty clear where one of the casting challenges lies, but we first attacked the modern story, and I think we came up with some pretty exciting casting.

The book has two story lines, one involving a friendship between Jane Austen and an aging cleric in 1796 and the other set in the present day featuring young Sophie Collingwood. Sophie is freshly out of Oxford, dislikes her father, and loves her uncle Bertram, who has been her mentor in the world of old books. When he turns up dead, her world is turned upside down. What will excite moviegoers about the casting of Sophie’s family is that it will reunite three British actors who worked together as university students as Cambridge. Hugh Laurie will play the crotchety Mr. Collingwood, Emma Thompson will feature as Sophie’s empathetic mother, and the multi-talented Stephen Fry will star as kindly Uncle Bertram. Are you getting tingles? I am.

At the center of the modern story is Sophie, played by Emma Watson. Emma has the perfect combination of intelligence, kindness, and youth to pull off Sophie, and in the role she’ll be torn between two suitors, the rough-around-the-edges American Eric Hall, played by Chris Evans of Captain America fame, and the dashing but dangerous Winston Godfrey, who could only be played by Tom Hiddleston. We had tea with Tom’s mother one time, and she was delightful. I look forward to renewing the acquaintance at the premiere!

The center of the 1796 story is a deep friendship between Jane Austen, who was twenty years old at the time, and Richard Mansfield, a semi-retired (fictional) priest sixty years her elder. Jane is smart, funny, bold, and just slightly irreverent and Carey Mulligan will bring all that to the role. Her wise mentor will be played by Bill Nighy, and I can’t wait to see what he does when he gets hold of Richard Mansfield.

So there it is. The Academy Award nominations for supporting actor and actress will be flooded with performances from this film, but don’t be surprised to see leading actress nods for Mulligan and Watson. Casting this movie was easy; deciding which one of these brilliant performances to vote for—that’s the hard part.
Learn more about the book and author at Charlie Lovett's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Bookman's Tale.

My Book, The Movie: The Bookman's Tale.

Writers Read: Charlie Lovett.

The Page 69 Test: First Impressions.

--Marshal Zeringue