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The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,913 ratings  ·  181 reviews
Jane Austen published her first novel in 1811, but today she's more popular than ever. Film adaptations of her books are nominated for Academy Awards. Chick lit bestsellers are based on her plots. And a new biopic of Austen herself Becoming Jane arrives in theaters this spring.
For all those readers who dream about living in Regency England, The Jane Austen Handbook offers
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Quirk Books
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Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This thin book certainly fleshes out the Regency period and codifies much of what goes on beneath the plots of Austen’s novels.

What also aids the reader is how Sullivan has divided up her observations on manners, tasks, and responsibilities. It could also have been titled: “How the Gentry can Achieve Success in Regency England” Perhaps, it would be helpful to define Jane Austen’s “gentry.” The best working definition that I have come across notes that the gentry straddled the “aristocracy and t
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I came across this rather cute little hardback entirely accidentally. The cover is gorgeous, it's a handy size, and it's all about Jane Austen and her world. What more do I need?
If you think that you are going to be sent to sleep with lots of information regarding the regency period, then you are mistaken. This book contains interesting information about the period, much of it, I admit to not knowing about. There are tasty snippets of fun facts, if you like, about Jane Austen novels. I was rathe
This is a must read for every Janeite and JAFF reader. The author takes us on a delightful visit to Jane Austen's England and gives us the tools to survive the visit. You won't need your mosquito netting, but you will need a netting needle and a your dancing slippers.

By using excepts and examples from JA's books she makes the trip fun and fancy free.

If reading on the Kindle the content seems to end at 77% but close the rating page and read on in the excellent and well researched appendix.
I liked about 40% of this book. Because 40% of it is interesting content about the world and social mores that Jane Austen's characters inhabited. 60% of it pretends to be that, but is actually slightly sarcastic lists that are essentially cribbed from Austen's book plots, rather than being factual serious content about the Regency period.

If you are looking for that kind of content, don't read this. Instead, get the Annotated Pride and Prejudice by David Shaphard - much better.
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
Imagine that you were Amanda Price from Lost in Austen or Courtney Stone from Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and you found yourself inexplicably transported to the time period of Jane Austen's novels. Would you be able to pass yourself off as a Regency heroine? Or would your ignorance of Regency manners and mores leave you to be a scorned and shunned outcast? Would you know the proper way to decline an unwanted marriage proposal or how to indicate interest in a gentleman without seeming for ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regency, jane-austen
The biggest problem with this book is that it adds very little original research and depends very heavily on Jane Austen's works. Advice such as, "offer to mend his pen" or "read the second volume of whatever book he is reading" might do very well for Miss Bingley, but I was hoping for examples outside of Austen's own characters. (Plus, it seems very weird to me that you would give advice more suited to Miss Bingley or Mrs. Bennett than an actual Regency miss but...whatever.)
Some interesting ti
Anita Pomerantz
The sole reason I picked this up was for a challenge where I needed to read a "regency" related book. I tried a pure history book, and while I finish almost every book I start, I just couldn't make myself.

This light, short book seemed like just the ticket. The frame is that the reader is an aspiring social climber during the Regency times, and this book advises her on attire, etiquette, love, etc. It's cute and sometimes witty. But often, the author breaks the premise and references modern times
Maria Grazia
If you plan to time travel to Regency as it happens to Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) in Lost in Austen or to Courtney Stone in Laurie Viera Rigler's Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict , you'd better read this highly informative THE JANE AUSTEN HANDBOOK by Margaret C. Sullivan before leaving. Especially the "How to Become an Accomplished Lady" section, in which you are suggested a store of accomplishments of no practical use, therefore, quite attractive to gentlemen. Then, you can't miss the "How ...more
Aug 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-own
I love Sullivan's fanfiction P&P/Northanger Abbey crossover, The Firstborn, so this purchase is my royalty payment. Handbook is fun and has an entertaining arch tone, but I didn’t find it terribly educational; many of her lists are simply examples drawn from Austen’s books, rather than supporting material showing that these really are the customs of Austen’s time. It’s cute, but honestly, if I’d read it at the library, that would’ve sufficed. ...more
Mrs. Elaine
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this age of information most of us Janeits have probably googled fortnight, pheaton, Pump Room, and many other Regency "things" at one time or another. As such, we aren't going to learn much nee information in this book but it hardly matters. The author is as witty as Jane herself and takes pains to make direct correlations to Jane Austen's novels making this a truly enjoyable read even if the information is old hat. I particularly enjoyed the authors dry sense of humor. She pokes as much fun ...more
fun quick read!
Very entertaining if you are a Jane Austen fan!
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Informative, impertinent and indispensable - a fun how-to book for any unaccomplished young lady

Filled with pertinent facts that every Regency Miss should be aware of to become truly accomplished, it is easy for us to recommend this great little how-to book to our readers because we have used it personally over the past four years whenever we had a question regarding deportment, dancing, playing an instrument, frock shopping and making love (in the Regency context mind you) – the top five most c
Margaret C. Sullivan, editrix of, has created the perfect book for fans of Jane Austen who would like to know more about life in Regency England. The Jane Austen Handbook is a wonderful companion to Austen’s novels, especially given that Austen’s works feature terms and societal rules/norms that are no longer in vogue. I admit that this book would have come in handy when I read Sanditon and was curious about bathing machines; thankfully, there are a lot of great online resources f ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Very much a "lite" social history. It was not until I read the whole thing that I realised this is probably a collection of the author's blogposts, which explains quite a lot. It's mental popcorn for Austen fans, but it's all very superficial--not a single footnote. If you want depth, look into one of the more scholarly tomes. Sullivan gleans most of her Regency knowledge from Austen's books themselves (and occasionally the film/TV directors' versions).

I get very tired of the "women didn't wear
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans
Shelves: jane-austen
This is a delightful, charming, humorous and informative book, packed with information on Regency England. As the publisher said, this book is "for all those readers who dream about living in Regency England, The Jane Austen Handbook offers step-by-step instructions for proper comportment in the early nineteenth century. You'll discover:

How to Become an Accomplished Lady

How to Run a Great House

How to Indicate Interest in a Gentleman Without Seeming Forward

How to Throw a Dinner Party

How to C
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans
Physically, this book is compact. But it holds a wealth of information that any Jane Austen fan would benefit from. If you've ever wondered how you should behave at a country ball, what kinds of activities to take part in during a holiday in Bath, or how to play a game of Whist, go to this book for the answers. The author did a lot of research by reading various biographies of Jane Austen, as well as histories of the Regency period. It explains a lot of the little details you'd be curious about ...more
Jodi Ralston
Enjoyable book. I learned some new facts about this time period, and I also had fun guessing what advice alluded to which Jane Austen novel. I would have liked a little more of the former, but the latter was fun. Overall, I would reread it for reference and eventually reread it for pleasure.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Jane Austen or readers wanting an introduction to her.
A great little book full of tongue-in-cheek guidance to life in the early 19th century as described in Jane Austen's books. A fun sidelight on the manners and customs that we have lost track of in these less formal times. The book doesn't try to be more than it is, but it does include succinct reviews of all the works of Jane Austen. It also has a listing of movies, TV series and books written to continue her unfinished works as well as stories inspired by her characters. But since this book was ...more
Ciyang Wang
Jun 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book for either Jane Austen fan or Regency Era fan. Absolutely cheerful and detailed and humorous. I especially love the way the author say things in historical term, it just makes everything so cool and fancy. It's easy to judge characters sometimes when reading the books or films, and this particular handbook helps resolved so many mystery and misunderstanding I had about them.

Definitely a marvelous book! Although it's borrowed from the library, I may collect one someday. Also, th
Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this from my local library on a whim after recently getting into the Bridgerton series (books & TV) and some fun chatting with a friend about the regency era, an era which I wanted to know more about. It's a casual, light-hearted guide that was fun to read and I learned things I hadn't known about the regency era so it certainly fits the bill of what I was looking for. I would recommend it for anyone who wanted a light introduction to the social customs of the upper class of the era. ...more
Emily Dybdahl
This is a fun little collection of facts about culture and life in the days of Jane Austen, written like a how-to for a young woman searching for her Mr. Darcy.
Jul 25, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This was a fun look at etiquette from the Regency era.
Chancellor Fangirl
Some really helpful info on the Regency Era, but too sprinkled with Austen inside jokes that wink at the reader to be as useful as it could have been.
Stacey Graham
Apr 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: jane austen fans, Regency romance fans
Fellow Persuasion lover, Margaret C. Sullivan's new release THE JANE AUSTEN HANDBOOK (Quirk) is a charming dip into Regency manners and the proper way to secure a husband of good fortune. The Handbook delivers bites of information including the areas of How to Get Rid of Unwanted Guests and How to Carry Off a Secret Engagement. Sullivan's research into the Regency period and Jane Austen's novels is first rate. Her tone is quick and light-hearted, making the short volume a pleasure to read.

I foun
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the practicalities of the Regency Life
An easy and enjoyable book to read. I picked this up from the library as I am a fan of Regency Historical romance; not necessarily Jane Austen. Actually, I've never read any of Ms. Austen's work. But I found this handy book helped me to understand the lifestyle of the Regency that I do read. It makes for interesting reading. You can read straight through or skip around to the sections that interest you most.

The short chapters are arranged in a logical order with the contents of each chapter divi
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
"The Jane Austen Handbook" described manners and aspects of daily life in Regency England, which is the time period of Jane Austen's novels. Some of it is information that you pick up just from reading her novels or watching the movies. However, there was a fair amount of other information that helps to fill out what life was like for the landed folk in England.

It included information like what the different servants do, correct behavior at a ball, how children were educated, how much someone's
Oksana the Bookaholic
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans, people who want to learn how to behave at their first ball etc.
Aww what a cute book! <3

I thought it was awesome how Sullivan gave a little sarcastic twist on things sometimes. For example: In Sense and Sensibility, (whoever is familiar with it), Lucy Steele was secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars. In a chapter in her book titled "How to Carry On a Secret Engagement", the author writes from Lucy's point of view on how to do things. So, it was very amusing when "Lucy" was narrating about how to chase off "poachers" or "fix his little red wagon" because we knew
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a fun little book. I liked the quotes from Austen's novels strewn throughout and I learned a couple of things about the period. I particularly enjoyed learning how the gentlemen and women spent the Christmas season. My only complaint is that it was often unclear whether the instruction was actually accurate (according to the customs of the time) or just going off of how characters from the novels behaved. I could tell in some cases but I would have appreciated clarification in others. ...more
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Does your modern life need a little zest? Perhaps Jane Austen can help. Watch our very first video review for Margaret C. Sullivan's The Jane Austen Handbook and perhaps you'll find yourself yearning for a different kind of life, too.

Watch the review -
Buy the book -

Nov 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Janeites more than Austen fans (yes, they're different)
Fun, silly and not very illuminating. I only bought this because I love Austen. Yes, I'm one of those people.

I think I read this in 2010 or 2011; I ran into it while reorganizing my bookshelves the other day.
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