I would have been such a loser in 1790.
This I discovered by going to the Criterion to see "Love & Friendship" tonight along with other single women and a few older couples. The early Jane Austen book I'd never even heard of follows the diabolically clever machinations of a beautiful widow with two enormous strikes against her.
No husband and no money.
Unlike those of us in that position these days, Lady Susan (beguilingly played by Kate Beckinsale) knows she's got to correct the first in order to secure the second. Fortunately, she's considered the most accomplished flirt in England.
The beauty of it - and the appeal of the non-stop witty dialog - is that she's not only charismatic but so much smarter than almost everyone around her that she really is quite irresistible. So assured is she in her powers of attraction that she can predict not only how men will react to her manipulations but when.
Needless to say, women aren't terribly fond of her, including her 16-year old daughter. Homes might even call her a femme fatale.
Everything about the film shone, from the gorgeous Irish country locations subbing for England (so much intense conversation whilst walking the extensive lawns) to the widow's wardrobe morphing from proper darks to brilliant pinks and purple with black lace.
But even if I'd been blindfolded, I'd still be raving about a near perfect film where our heroine has such a brilliant command of language and such sharp powers of observation ("If she was going to be jealous, she should not have married such a charming man") that her American BFF risks the wrath of her gouty husband ("Too old to be governable, too young to die") to aid and abet her friend's shenanigans.
Because when it comes right down to it, few things in life matter as much as love and friendship (and the discussion of the two).
Tonight was proof it took all kinds of effort to catch a husband in Jane Austen's time, even for Class A flirts.
Whew, I'm thanking my lucky stars it's a whole lot easier to be poor, unmarried and too old to be governable now.