Anniversary Celebration: Revisiting the Eltons by Diana Birchall — 26 Comments

  1. Excellent! Mrs Elton would not have her marriage be anything except happy… just like a train hurtling along the railroad tracks. The only sign of trouble is that she doesn’t call him caro sposo any more. I suspect the Eltons’ method of birth control is abstinence.

    Yay for Knightley, keeping his Emma away from a party at the Eltons’! Thank you for the visit, Diana.

  2. This was so funny. The Eltons, oh my, what a pair! She is so flighty and self-centered. I like how you included Harriett into the story. I agree with June…glad Knightly is keeping his wife away. Thank you for a chuckle this morning, Diana.

  3. What a delight this was, and the contrast between the two couples was very nicely done. It is so pleasing to see some beloved characters living happily ever after, and it is even nicer to see others getting what they deserve: a lifetime of each other. Marriage has not changed either of the Eltons at all. They are still selfish and thinking only of themselves. I do believe they would be thrilled to meet Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot. But they had better buy some Gowland’s skin cream first. It wouldn’t do to meet those exalted personages if they were not looking their best, lest Sir Walter mistake them for sailors!

  4. That was splendid and seemed true to form for the Eltons. Mr. Knightley will make an excellent father, but it looks like a he’ll be a worrywort leading up to it. Nice little peak into the lives of the village folk too.

    Thanks so much for the fun vignette, Diana!

    • Glad you liked it, Sophia, I always love a visit to the Eltons! Shouldn’t admit it, but I identify with her particularly…

  5. Oh, I was looking forward to this one and knew it would be excellently handled by you, and was not disappointed! I too loved that you brought in both the Knightleys and Harriet… it made such a satisfying contrast. The paper-reading glimpse into the Elton’s relationship also contrasted with the warm conversation between Emma and Mr. Knightley, too. Loved it!

    • I’m so happy you liked it, Carol. There’s nothing more fun than revisiting the Highbury set. Jane Austen gave us such fabulous materials to work with!

  6. Love this little slice of life! One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about these kinds of posts is that, in such a short story, you can have people “living happily ever after” without it getting boring, haha. I also liked very much the little hints of tension in the Elton household. Perfect!

  7. Oh dear! How are Emma and Mr. Knightley going to break the news to Mr. Woodhouse? Will he want to wrap her up in cotton wool (or the Regency equivalent), even more than her husband, for the next seven months? I foresee a regime of complete avoidance of draughts and lots of gruel!

    But Mr. and Mrs. Elton! What a well-matched pair they are. I can even hear Mrs. E. using a phrase of Mr. Collins “We seem to have been designed for each other.”

    To very much misquote Mr. Knightley: “Nicely done, Diana, nicely done indeed”

    • I hadn’t gotten that far, Anji, to think about poor Mr. Woodhouse – but he did survive his older daughter having several children, as well as Mrs. Weston. Emma’s in the same house with him though, so I daresay he will be pretty tiresome! That Mr. Collins quote is perfect, indeed! It’s a piece of Jane Austen’s mischievous genius, though, to make not only good people ideally matched, but some pretty ill-assorted ones (like Collins and Charlotte), and then two obnoxous characters like the Eltons. An “ideal match” can be a pretty ugly thing, in her book! Thanks for commenting, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  8. I enjoyed the vignette into the lives of the Elton’s and Knightley’s. A party so close to Lent for their wedding anniversary. You would think they would have other news. But no, yea for the Knightley’s news. I liked Harriet’s thought of babies together. Happiness is in the village. Nice contrast on the marriages.

    • Patty, I’m glad you enjoyed it, and Jane Austen knew what she was doing when she created these two couples – I’m sure she envisioned to herself what their lives would have been like, trying to get along with each other in Highbury!

  9. So fun to read! Thank you. I find that the Eltons are strangely compatible, despite not really talking about anything of importance, or even really listening to each other! Mrs. Elton is so determined in all of her opinions, nothing slows her down. And I’m glad to see the Knightleys being so happy together, and the rest of the village happy for them.

  10. Thanks, Kathy! Well, Mr. and Mrs. Knightleys have a similar outook and goals, making them compatible – and the same is true of the Eltons, really. Their goals may be odious, but they are on the same page with each other in their obnoxiousness!

  11. Dear, dear Diana, I laughed so heartily over my own breakfast as I read the foolish Eltons’ conversation that I quite spilled coffee over my freshly butter croissant!!

    I don’t know whether you were intentionally suggesting that both the Eltons had sins to confess on Shrove Tuesday or the day just fit the rest of your storyline; nevertheless, the irony of Shrove Tuesday being a marker of their wedding anniversary is quite amusing.

    Also amusing is the irony of Mr. Elton being so taken with and Mrs. Elton shying away in horror from the topic of *murder most foul* but of her then expressing an intense desire to see “Mr. Kemble doing Macbeth” in London as an anniversary treat — Kemble, whose near female relation, his sister, played the murderous Lady Macbeth opposite him on stage….


  12. Lovely to see you comment here, Elissa, and I’m so glad it gave you a breakfast laugh. You are the best kind of reader, finding learned allusions and extending them for me, I’m very grateful! Seriously, I picked Shrove Tuesday only because the novel’s timeline suggested it – but of course your knowledge of what the reference might mean makes it much better! And yes, I did mean it to be funny that references to horrible crimes and gory Macbeth were placed in the incredibly tame world of Highbury. It does make things interesting, doesn’t it? Thanks so much for your comment!

  13. Knightly already feels that Emma is indisposed? I wonder what he’ll do when she’s in her confinement! I enjoyed this! Thanks, Diana!

  14. I imagine Mr. Knightley was using Emma’s delicate condition as an excuse to avoid having to go to the Eltons’ party, Leslie – I don’t really think he’s such an worrywart about health as Mr. Woodhouse! Hm, maybe we need a confinement scene, it would be nice to see Mr. Knightley agitated, wouldn’t it? Glad you enjoyed this, thanks for commenting!

    • I’d love to see a confinement scene. I expect Mr. Woodhouse would be in seventh heaven, having Emma join him in his invalidism. He could order bowls of gruel and he could sit with her and they could read to each other. He’ll wonder why he ever worried about Emma getting married and having babies, hahaha.

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