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The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,830 ratings  ·  168 reviews

Long before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Quirk published this guide to life in Regency England to the delight of Austen fans everywhere. Newly published with a revised cover, The Jane Austen Handbook offers step-by-step instructions for proper comportment in the early 19th century. Readers will discover:

• How to Indicate Interest in a Gentleman Without Seeming

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Quirk Books (first published February 25th 2011)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  1,830 ratings  ·  168 reviews

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Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jane-austen
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 ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
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!
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
Feb 28, 2011 added it
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 ...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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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  ·  review of another edition
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.

May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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  *Bookaholic*
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Selah Pike
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
This charming little book is delightful for an inveterate Janeite, full of sly inside jokes. I think it would also be useful for new Austen readers, as it explains many details of Regency life that are foreign and confusing to modern readers. I plan to have it at the ready when my kids start reading Austen.
Sarah Christie
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very sweet & would make a perfect present for someone who enjoys Jane Austen’s writing. I would recommend reading after you have finished all of her work, as it does give synopsis’ of each of her novels & reading it with the insight of the characters adds volumes to the reading experience.
D.C. Gold
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice and light book that sums up the main social rules of the times of Jane Austen. Quick read but not for you if you’re looking for in depth research. Still definitely a classic every Jane Austen fan ought to have.
Panic Prince
Was a fun and cute little book.
While not extremely informative on the general time period, it is still a lovely hard cover that talks about societal norms and traditions of the time period and class in which Austen and her work's existed, with excepts or examples from her texts.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Informative, but probably only entertaining if you are a huge Jane Austen fan.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great fun

This book tells you all the ins and outs of living in Regency England, from what the clothes were like to how to refuse an offer of marriage.
Fallon Willoughby
Every person who loves Jane Austen should read this. Cute and quick to read, it is a fun look into the Regency and Jane Austen.
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ModCloth's Shelf ...: August's Very Sensible Book of the Month Giveaway 1 25 Aug 26, 2011 12:42PM  

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I'm an author, but I'm a reader, too, and my reviews here are from a reader's perspective. I love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and don't really consider genre when I'm choosing a book, so my list will be eclectic!
“...we may indeed assume, with a high degree of probability, that Jane Austen went commando.” 5 likes
“How to explain the sheer tingling joy one experiences when two interesting, complex, and occasionally aggravating characters have at last settled their misunderstandings and will live happily ever after, no matter what travails life might throw in their path, because Jane Austen said they will, and that's that? How to describe the exhilaration of being caught up in an unknown but glamorous world of balls and gowns and rides in open carriages with handsome young men? How to explain that the best part of Jane Austen's world is that sudden recognition that the characters are just like you?” 4 likes
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