Austen’s “insufferable woman” storms the American Colonies!
In Jane Austen’s novel Emma, her over confident heroine Emma Woodhouse may make all manner...moreAusten’s “insufferable woman” storms the American Colonies!
In Jane Austen’s novel Emma, her over confident heroine Emma Woodhouse may make all manner of misapplyments in her assessment of character, but in her appraisal of Mrs. Elton as an “insufferable woman”, she need not be corrected. Austen’s characterization of the social climbing, vulgar and officious Augusta Elton may be one of her most monumentally satiric achievements. Of all the supporting characters in Emma, Mrs. Elton never failed to make me laugh out loud or roll my eyes in exasperation, so I was delighted to learn that I could visit with Mrs. Elton yet again in this compilation of three stories written by Diana Birchall; In Defense of Mrs. Elton, The Courtship of Mrs. Elton, and Mrs. Elton in America, all presented as The Compleat Mrs. Elton.
In this Austen-esque sequel, Mrs. Elton is given her due as a lady of consequence (in her own mind), and her story continues with her caro sposo and family in tow as she ventures yet farther to the distant shores of the American colonies in an adventure as ambitious as her social climbing schemes and ego can take her. Boston and New York society may never quite be the same, nor a southern slave plantation or the Comanche Indians, but rest assured that even though her path leaves a wake sardonic remarks and biting social observations as affective as General Cornwallis, she does not change the course of American history.
I was completely charmed by author Diana Birchall’s clever use of Austen-esque language and style. I have read quite a few of the recent onslaught of Jane Austen prequels, sequels, spinoffs, retellings and pastiches and Birchall’s skill and voice have yet to be matched by any other writer endeavouring to emulate or honour Jane Austen or her characters. I am astounded by her complete channeling of the character of Mrs. Elton, and captivated by the entertaining and adventurous story of one of literatures most famous egos. Mrs. Elton may be an “insufferable woman” in Emma Woodhouse’s view, but she will please Jane Austen ‘purists’ and ‘lightist’ alike.
Most biographies of Jane Austen will reveal the quiet life of maiden Aunt Jane, who scribbled in secret, loved to dance, and lived her entire life in...moreMost biographies of Jane Austen will reveal the quiet life of maiden Aunt Jane, who scribbled in secret, loved to dance, and lived her entire life in the country removed from the chaos of the world. Did you also know that she was also romantic, tragic and mysterious?
Patrice Hannon's 101 Things You Didn't Know About Jane Austen: The Truth About The World's Most Intriguing Literary Heroine,is a gem of little Austenisms quite suitable for gift giving. Despite having one of the longest and most misleading titles of any book about Jane Austen of recent memory, the content is as appealing as the easy to read format.
In Jane Austen's 18th-century world, acquired knowledge was considered one of the most powerful and important skills of a polished society. Today we recognize the same benefits, but want our education to be forthright and expeditious. For anyone interested in the knowledge of Jane Austen's life and works in a compact and fact driven format, this book can serve as a great resource and quick reference. Categorized into seven parts Birth of a Heroine, Brilliant Beginnings, Silence and Disappointed Love, The Glorious Years, Heroes and Heroines, Untimely Death, and Austen and Popular Culture: From Eighteenth Century to the Twenty-First, this illuminating guide takes you through all aspects of Jane Austen's life journey and writing experience, revealing common facts, new insights, and minutia.
If you are interested, as I was, to know which heroine most resembles the author herself, who were the real Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy and why Jane never married, you will not be disappointed in this bright little book that is well researched, engaging, and incredibly practical.
What young lady would not want romantic advise from Jane Austen?
Here's a new novel that tugged at my heart strings and validated my belief that if the...moreWhat young lady would not want romantic advise from Jane Austen?
Here's a new novel that tugged at my heart strings and validated my belief that if the world was run according to Jane Austen, we would be much smarter and happier. Enuff said!
Fifteen-year old Ellie Barnett is a bookish geek. She excels at academics, but according to her caustic older sister, she is digging herself into a hole of permanent unpopularity with her scraggly hair, lack of make-up, and inattention to fashion. There is however, one boy who since kindergarten has paid her a bit more attention than she is comfortable with. Sam Blaine may be good-looking, athletic, brainy, and popular - but he is trouble - and just happens to sit behind her in English class taunting her with pokes in the back with his pencil and sexual innuendo. When she cracks open her next reading assignment, a copy of Pride and Prejudice, she begins to hear voices. Jane Austen's British voice to be exact, interjecting observations and advice, specifically warning Ellie to beware of Sam Blaine. He is her Wickham, that charming scoundrel that wooed Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and then eloped with her younger sister Lydia. Ellie does not doubt the advice, just the whole hearing voices thing really freaks her out her out. Jane Austen's spirit has somehow inhabited her mind, commenting in her acerbic early ninteenth-century sensibility on Ellie's 1980's life and romances and she does not know why.
Over the course of twenty years, we follow Ellie through her life challenges as a single women looking for love and happiness in what Jane Austen deems to be a morally confusing world. Who of us could ever forget their own first love, the painful realization that you are being used, or the first time you were dumped? As Jane offers Ellie witty and wise advice on family conflicts, career choices, and a barrage of bad boyfriends that come and go, Ellie slowly realizes that she must learn some life lesson before she can move on. For Ellie, one painful lesson was bad-boy Sam who Jane advises to stay clear of yet she is still drawn too. As their lives keep crossing paths over the course of the years, they never seem to be at the right place at the right time to work it out. Ellie trusts and values Jane's opinion. Who better to advise her than an author who is valued for her keen judgment of human nature and romantic insights? But with Sam, she holds strong prejudices. Could she be wrong? Is he really her Wickham, or could he be her Mr. Darcy?
What an unexpected, uplifting, and urbane debut novel! To paraphrase Jane Austen's character Lady Catherine, Marilyn Brant has given us a treasure. Granted that there are hundreds of Jane Austen inspired novels written over the years, this totally unique and original concept of Austen's ghost inhabiting and advising a modern young woman is brilliant. The play of early nineteenth-century social mores against twentieth-century culture is so droll that I laughed-out-loud several times in total recognition. Like Austen, Brant excels at characterization offering a heroine in Ellie Barnett that I could totally identify with, and a hero in Sam Blaine that is so endearingly flawed that any woman worthy of her worn out VHS copy of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries will be happy to swoon over. Subtly powerful and amusingly acerbic, you will be gently reproved into agreeing in the power of love to transform us all.
Did you know that a phaeton was one of the most dangerous carriages used in the Georgian and Regency period? Its tall design and overall lightness mad...moreDid you know that a phaeton was one of the most dangerous carriages used in the Georgian and Regency period? Its tall design and overall lightness made it vulnerable to tipping, and may be one of the reasons why Jane Austen chose to use it in the carriage accident scene in her early novel Love and Friendship. Knowing this fact sheds a whole new light when we see one used again in Pride and Prejudice by the heiress Anne de Bourgh. Is Austen sending us another message by her selection of carriage? Unless the reader knows the difference between a phaeton, barouche or gig and their safety, they are missing out on important character analysis.
All Things Austen: A Concise Encyclopedia of Austen’s World can clarify the puzzling bits about the Georgian and Regency world. Offering modern readers a great resource into Austen’s cultural, political and physical environments, this concise volume is arranged alphabetically by topic and cross referenced to actual passages in the third edition of the Oxford Illustrated Novels of Jane Austen. Readers can identify items or subjects mentioned in her text and discover their use or meanings in context to the times. With well over 70 topics ranging from social titles and rank, life in the military or taking the waters in Bath, each well researched and expertly described entry will give Jane Austen students and devotees a wealth of historical and cultural information.
This new volume is actually a condensed version of All Things Austen: An Encyclopedia of Austen’s World, an extensive two volume set published in 2005. Author Kirstin Olsen has paired down her full encyclopedia by selecting key topics still supplying more than enough information to keep you well informed and reading for hours. Her meticulous research is written in a style accessible to the average reader, yet offering enough detail to intrigue the serious student. A perfect reference for Austen students, enthusiasts or Regency era writers, my only disappointment was in the quality and quantity of illustrations. She does offer reference call numbers to images viewable online at the Lewis Walpole Library to explore them in color and greater detail. Considering that this is a condensed edition, this is an excellent additional resource to readers with Internet access. Please do not be put off by the blatant error in the first line of the liner notes associating Willoughby with the novel Pride and Prejudice. Ms. Olsen obviously did not write them, and considering her monumental effort, this editing oversight should not disqualify this book’s greater benefits.(less)
A sweet story that will delight most Austen purist
Everyone has their own thoughts on how the happily ever after continued at the conclusion of Pride a...moreA sweet story that will delight most Austen purist
Everyone has their own thoughts on how the happily ever after continued at the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice. As of late, we have seen many creative sequels with Lizzy and Darcy taking another turn about the shrubberies. What they do in those shrubberies can be quite surprising. Rest assured, you will see none of that in And This Our Life, by C. Allyn Pierson.
This sequel takes the straight and narrow path from page one with few detours in Austen’s tone, reverently recreating her characters and bathing them an idealistic light. The story immediately picks up as the Bennet sisters, Jane and Elizabeth prepare for their marriages to Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is still miffed over her nephew Darcy’s choice of a ‘no name bride’ and Bingley’s sister Caroline is as acrimonious as ever. However, the ceremony proceeds and the couples depart for their London townhouses and wedded bliss. The narrative is primarily from Elizabeth’s perspective and we experience her anxieties at being accepted by London society and the Darcy family quickly resolved, and her concerns over being Mistress of Pemberley not really materialize. One delight in Elizabeth’s new life is Mr. Darcy’s shy young sister Georgiana who she eagerly assists in her preparation for her society debut. Darcy gets his bit of storyline too as he aids the Prince Regent in the recovery of stolen letters in a James Bondish escapade in Paris. In addition to other familiar characters such as Mr. Bennet and daughter Kitty, we are introduced to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s parents Lord and Lady Whitwell, a new amiable neighbor Sir Robert Blake, and a few villains thrown in for good measure: ner’ do well Jonathan Walker, dissolute George Lewis Winslow Fitzwilliam, Viscount St. George, and the gold digging Comte de Tourney.
Overall this debut novel is a sweet story that will delight most Austen purist. The plot would have benefitted from more tension and drama as life with the Darcy’s was a bit too perfect. One of the things that I appreciate about Austen’s characterizations is that even her hero and heroine have their faults, and the process to overcome them is one of the most enjoyable aspects of her storyline. We do see Georgiana develop from a shy retreating girl into a confident young woman, but that was not quite enough for me. Furthermore, the pacing was slow until about 100 pages in, and then improved greatly. Ms. Pierson’s understanding of literature, Regency history and social customs was the highlight of this novel. We are in no doubt of Lizzy and Darcy’s happy ever after. I just wish that it could have been harder wrought.
What is the most tragic and disappointing thing you know about author Jane Austen’s life? My immediate choice would be that she died too young and wro...moreWhat is the most tragic and disappointing thing you know about author Jane Austen’s life? My immediate choice would be that she died too young and wrote too few novels, and at a close second would be that after her death in 1817, her sister Cassandra destroyed many of her personal letters to protect her privacy. This act of sisterly devotion is greatly lamented by historians, biographers, scholars, and Austen enthusiasts, limiting what information that we do know to her edited letters and family recollections. The complete reason why they were destroyed will always be a mystery, but one can imagine from Austen’s surviving letters and novels that her keen sense of social observation and biting irony played a key factor in her sister’s decision to remove them forever from family and public scrutiny.
In author Jill Pitkeathley’s recently re-issued 2004 novel Cassandra & Jane, we are offered a chance to explore that chasm left by Cassandra Austen’s bonfire of humanity as Pitkeathley imagines the back story of two beloved sisters who were the best of friends, honorable confidants and devoted to each other through all the ups and downs of their heartbreaking life in rural 18th-century England. This bio fic is told from the viewpoint of Cassandra’s experience of their life together, as only she would know, and is a creative blending of historical fact with a fictional narrative that is both believable and compelling.
The story begins with a prologue to their story. It is 1843, and Cassandra Austen now seventy years old is still residing at Chawton cottage in Hampshire, the house where she and her sister Jane lived together until her untimely death at age forty-one in 1817. She has kept everyone of the letters that her sister ever wrote to her safely stored in her sister’s rosewood trunk after her death. Her family has known of their existence, but she has safeguarded them for twenty-six years from their perusal. She fears that when she is gone, that they will pour over them examine and discuss every detail and then publish them for posterity, and profit. She has now re-read them and sorted them into two piles. She must not forget her responsibility to her sister, and to her memory, as Jane had previously warned her “No private correspondence could bear the eye of others.”
As we are transported into Jane Austen’s world, Cassandra shares their story together in an honest and open manner, dropping her protective older sister mantle for glimpses of the influences that shaped Jane’s personality through her family, social sphere, environment and 18th-century social stricture that bound her financially and emotionally. Their remarkable friendship is the highlight of this novel as they suffer and survive together through romantic aspirations and disappointments, frustration on their financial dependence on their relations, and rejoice in Jane Austen’s early success as a writer.
Austen enthusiasts will recognize many historical facts known of their lives that permeate through the novel, and in turn revel in the allusions from their real lives that are transported into Austen’s novel’s. Life imitating art, or art imitating life? Without overt sentimentality, author Jill Pitkeathley has skillfully blended the tragic and joyful lives of two remarkable 18th-century women who chose different avenues to leave their footprint on posterity; - one who would become a literary legend by remarkably revealing social foibles through wit and guile in her novels, and the other renowned for what extreme measures she took not to reveal them in her own sister. This moving and enjoyable rendering of biography and fiction tops my list of favorite Austen inspired novels for this year, and I highly recommend it.(less)
Splendid nonsense! A youthful writer in the making
"Beware of swoons, Dear Laura ... A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise t...moreSplendid nonsense! A youthful writer in the making
"Beware of swoons, Dear Laura ... A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences -- Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint -" Letter 14, Laura to Marianne, Love and Freindship
Jane Austen grew up in the perfect fertile environment for a writer. Her family was highly educated and passionate readers, including novels which were considered by some in the late 18th-century as unworthy. Educated predominately at home, her father had an extensive library of classics and contemporary editions at her disposal. In her early teens, she began writing comical and imaginative stories for her family and close friends as entertainments and transcribing them into three volumes that would later be known as her Juvenilia. The plots and characters of these short stories are filled with unguarded satire, comical burlesque and "splendid nonsense"; -- shrewd parodies of contemporary novels, historical figures and even her own family engaged in unprincipled deeds: lying, cheating and occasionally murder. Described by her father as "Effusions of Fancy by a very Young Lady Consisting of Tales in a Style entirely new" they represent the creative beginnings of a clever and perceptive mind whose skill at keen observation of social maneuverings and the importance of wealth, so valued in her mature works, are apparent from the early beginnings.
If you have consumed all of Austen's major and minor novels, this reissue by Oxford University Press of their 1998 edition is an enticing treasure. In Catharine and Other Writings, we are introduced not only to a writer in the making, but a collection of prayers, poems and unfinished fragments of novels written in maturity and rarely reprinted. As with the other Oxford editions of Jane Austen's works reissued in the past year, this edition contains excellent supplemental material: a short biography of Austen, notes on the text, a select bibliography, a chronology of Austen's life, textural notes, insightful explanatory notes and a superb introduction by prominent Austen scholar Margaret Anne Doody that details the inspiration from her family and her environment that influenced and formed Austen's creative mind.
"Jane Austen was not a child as a writer when she wrote these early pieces. She possessed a sophistication rarely matched in viewing and using her own medium. She not only understood the Novel, she took the Novel apart, as one might take apart a clock, to see how it works - and put it back together, but it was no longer the same clock. Her genius at an early age is as awe-inspiring as Mozart's." pp xxxv
What I found so engaging in this collection was the lightness and comical devil-may-care freeness in Austen's youthful approach. It was like a rush of endorphin to a dour mood, taking you outside of your troubles and elevating you into a magical world of a youthful imaginings and farcical fancy. I have several favorites that I will re-read when I need a laugh, especially Love and Freindship, The Beautiful Cassandra and The History of England. Not all of the works are comical. When Winchester races is a verse written when Austen was mortally ill and dictated from her deathbed to her sister Cassandra three days before her death. It is her final work. A moralistic piece, it resurrects the ghost of St. Swinthin who curses the race goers for their sins of pleasure.
"When once we were buried you think we are gone
But behold me immortal!"
An interesting choice of subject for the last days of her life, and ironic in relation to what acclaim she has garnered since she has gone. Like St. Swinthin, Jane Austen is indeed immortal!