Tidbits of the week… All Things Austen

The Central New Jersey JASNA Chapter posts about the Christmas celebration: “A Jane Austen Christmas: Vignettes of Customs and Traditions,” which will include “holiday recreations as inspired by the writings of Jane Austen.” On December 10 at 7 p.m., Margaret C. Sullivan [author of AustenBlog] will speak about Christmas traditions in Jane Austen’s time and sign copies of her book, The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World.  [Click on the Chapter link for more information.]

The Dolphin Hotel, home to Jane Austen’s various balls when she lived in Southampton, is on the market.  See this article in The Daily Echo.co.uk

Lady Helga continues her Golden Couple’s Series ,  this week with Emma and Mr. Knightly.

 A new collection of Elizabeth Bowen’s essays includes her words on Jane Austen; read this review of the new book People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen, edited by Alan Hepburn  [Edinburgh, December 2008]


Another Georgette Heyer review at Jane Austen TodayThe Reluctant Widow; and also one for Simon the Coldheart

A few bits of Austen movie trivia at the Becoming Jane Fansite:  Hugh Grant too handsome for Edward Ferrars??  of course he was!

A few blog posts on Regency weddings:  at Historical Romance UK and at Jane Austen’s World

The author of the blog Jane Austen, Here I Come! is sharing all her plans for a trip to England and Austen country in May 2009.  The blog has some great links for planning your own such itinerary as well…

 A graphic design blog has created two Jane Austen book covers, for Emma and Pride & Prejudice

On the blog History Hoydens, Kathrynn Dennis posts on  “Mending the Bodice”  and how the term “bodice ripper” came into common use as a derogatory reference to romance novels.  There is also an excellent post on this same topic at the Teach Me Tonight blog, as well as a good number of thoughtful comments.

Here is an interesting bit of news that restores my faith in all things technical (I think, anyway … I will forever favor a real book to touch!), but Nintendo has announced the release of its 100 Classic Book Collection, available December 26 in the UK, which features an initial 100 classic books to read from, with 10 additional books available for download from Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. A bookmark feature allows you to save your place in a book, and a suitability feature similar to Cooking Guide allows you to select a novel based on time constraints and subject matter.   See this article at N-Europe for information and a listing of the 100 titles:  all of Austen’s works are included, as well as many of Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontes, Hardy, Hugo, Alcott, Stevenson, Trollope, Burnett, Twain, and many more.  If this is the way to reach young readers, I am all for it!

The JASNA site has added a map of Bath to its “Maps of the Novels” page, as well as the full-text online of Persuasions No. 6  (St. Louis, 1984 and largely on Persuasion).  Check the Table of Contents for this early and hard-to-find JASNA journal.

And finally, as Jane Austen’s birthday on December 16th is fast approaching, the Becoming Jane Fansite is requesting anyone who would like to submit birthday wishes or gift ideas for Jane to their site prior to December 16, when they will post all submissions.

Happy Birthday, Jane!

Reserve your spot today!

Our fabulous Annual Jane Austen Birthday Tea is coming up on Sunday, December 7th. If you have not yet sent in your reservation, please call (802) 864-0517. Even if you plan to pay at the door, we request that you reserve beforehand.

country-dance-pic1While Jane won’t be there, we have The Burlington Country Dancers, and “Impropriety” will provide the live music. Join in the dance or just watch the dancers glide around the dancefloor – then enjoy afternoon tea and goodies. Our flyer can be found here.

Students and JASNA members: $5. General public: in advance: $10, $12 at the door.

Book Review ~ “Faro’s Daughter” by Georgette Heyer

 I’ve said it before – I am not an Austen sequel’s reader or a romance reader.  I wrote about the Chicago AGM and my delight in the evening on Romance and have since been a regular reader of the “Teach me Tonight” blog.  As soon as I returned from Chicago,  a quick run to the local used bookstore that stocks romances sent me home with all of the novels of Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses” series.  The first was a quick and enjoyable read – the rest await my time!

 So with this intro, it is easy to confess that Jane Austen lover that I am, as well as all things English and Regency, I have never read ANY Georgette Heyer (is this perhaps slightly worse than my previous admission that I am a NY Yankees fan?…)  and not that I haven’t wanted to…. She has been on my to-be-read list for years, and among some great company, but I’ve never been sure where to start.  So I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Faro’s Daughter, originally published in 1941 now reprinted by Sourcebooks, and have finally begun my Heyer journey, and what a delightful beginning!



Deborah Grantham (called Deb, so perhaps I am taken in immediately!), is an independent, feisty, level-headed, take-no-prisoners, absolutely beautiful heroine – living with her Aunt, Lady Bellingham, who runs a high-society London gaming establishment and is presently in serious financial straits.  Here is Deb as we are first introduced:

 ...a tall young woman with chestnut hair, glowing in the candlelight, and a pair of laughing, dark eyes set under slim, arched brows.  Her luxuriant hair was quite simply dressed, without powder, being piled up on top of her head, and allowed to fall back in thick, smooth curls.  One of these had slipped forward, as she bent over the table, and lay against her white breast… the lady’s eyes were the most expressive and brilliant…. ever seen.  Their effect upon an impressionable youth would…be most destructive.

 Several suitors seek her favor, the young Lord Adrian Mablethorpe and the older, odious Mr. Ormskirks.  The book begins with a Mr. Ravenscar  visiting his Aunt, Lady Mablethorpe, Adrian’s mother, who is in a near apoplectic state over Adrian’s wishes to marry Deb; Lady M wishes her nephew to prevent this at all costs, and from here the plot is in motion and the fun begins – a fast-paced, highly amusing high-jinx comedy of manners – the insults and name-calling and behaviors suiting neither a Regency lady nor a proper gentleman run rampant – and I can tell no more, no spoilers here!

Similarities to Pride & Prejudice abound:  Deb is not unlike Lizzie Bennet – she speaks her mind, she reacts strongly to insults to her character and social standing (though she goes to quite unlady-like lengths to exact her revenge!) and she is a caring niece, sister and employer…. and of course those “dark eyes” !…. ; there are moments of Mrs. Bennet in both Lady Bellingham and Lady Mablethorpe (Oh! my nerves!); Miss Ravenscar as an interesting mix of Georgiana Darcy and Lydia Bennet; young Adrian needing advice much like Mr. Bingley; and Ravenscar who makes his entrance on page one: 

...very tall, with a good pair of legs, encased in buckskins and topboots, fine broad shoulders under a coat of superfine cloth, and a lean, harsh-featured countenance with an uncompromising mouth, and extremely hard grey eyes. His hair, which was black, and slightly curling, was cut into something perilously near a Bedford crop

... so is Max Ravenscar our Darcy, or a Willoughby ? or even a Wickham?

But there are also similarties to Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses (perhaps because it is still fresh in my mind, or likely because they all follow a basic formula) – in both books we see gaming strategies, the tensions, sexual and otherwise, the characters of Ravenscar and the Duke of Villiers both made of the same cloth.  It is clear that you have been to this place before, but that’s fine ~ it’s a great place to visit!

Filled with Regency terminology and slang, card games and some well-described female and male fashions (and fashion faux-pas!) – have your Regency dictionary close at hand [see this online Regency Lexicon for starters.]  Heyer weaves her knowledge of late 18th– early 19th century London:  the streets and squares (St. James, Brunswick Square, Grosvenor, Brook St, Vauxhall Gardens), all manner of carriages; card games; horse-racing and betting; the male clubs Brookes’s and White’s; the world of the “good ton” and the not so good; the vulnerability of females – at the mercy of their parents maneuverings, their need to marry for financial security, the risk of social ostracism for not following the “rules.”

Heyer is brilliant at presenting these regency realities with a plot that though predictable, (you don’t need to be a romance reader to know where this is headed from page one!) is so entertaining and the heroine and her sidekicks so engaging, the plot so outrageous within the social confines of the time, that I am not sure when I last read a book I just had to finish RIGHT NOW.  Just not sure what to pick up next!  Are they all this much fun? …  so I seek any suggestions and recommendations from the greater world out there of seasoned Georgette Heyer readers.  Can I really have gone through my life thus far without having read a single one of her books?  I am shamed!


Further reading:  there is a wealth of information on Heyer, both in print and online… I append a few sources for your perusal ~ it is just a beginning…

Reference books (see the bibliography listed in online resources; I list here just a few must-haves)

  • Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester [2005, already out-of-print; newly published by Arrow 2008 in pb]
  • Georgette Heyer’s Regency England, by Teresa Chris [London, 1989] ~  impossible to find at an affordable price.
  • The Regency Companion,  by Sharon Laudermilk and Teresa L. Hamlin [Garland 1989] – ditto
  • The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken Hodge [1983] ~ the biography, available from used bookshops.
  • Georgette Heyer: A Critical Retrospective, by Mary Fahnestock-Thomas [PrinnyWorld Press, 2001] ~ includes Heyer’s short published pieces, reviews of her books, obituaries and responses, and critical articles and books – an indispensible resource.

 Further Reading: online

Blogs either reviewing or chatting about Heyer are too numerous to list… but here are a few:

A few tidbits…

Lady Helga at the Jane Austen Podnovel has announced that each week shall be dedicated to one of Austen’s “golden couples” with new videos posted everyday.  She starts with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy…

And speaking of Mr. Darcy, the blog on Colin Firth has returned … see Colin Firth – An Appreciation Redux.

And Laurel Ann at Austenprose wants to know which of the film adaptations has captured best the Mr. Darcy of YOUR imagination (as Dear Jane leaves it up to each of her readers to decide!)  See her post and vote!

But enough of Mr. Darcy …. who do YOU see as the next Mr. Knightley?  Mags at Austenblog is rooting for Richard Armitage (and all the comments seem to concur!)…and I must indeed follow suit- I believe he was born for the role!




Which leads me to the PBS schedule for the upcoming Masterpiece Classics…a perfect winter adventure! and Dickens wins by a long shot!  [please note that this is the full schedule from PBS; check your local listings for times] 

  • January 4 and 11th: Tess of the D’Urbervilles [Thomas Hardy]
  • January 18 and 25th: Wuthering Heights [Emily Bronte]
  • Feb 1 and 8th: Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen] – repeat from last season
  • February 15 and 22nd: Oliver Twist [Charles Dickens]
  • March 15 and 22nd: David Copperfield [Charles Dickens]
  • March 29 to April 26: Little Dorrit [Charles Dickens] ~ with Matthew MacFadyen!
  • May 3: The Old Curiosity Shop [Charles Dickens]
  • May 10:  Persuasion [Jane Austen] – repeat from last season
  • May 17:  My Boy Jack [about Kipling]- repeat from last season



Makes one ALMOST look forward to winter!

Quote of the Day

 “Let us read and let us dance … two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.”  

(on Garrison Keiller’s Writer’s Almanac  this morning….)    Jane Austen may have lived it, but Voltaire said it! (his birthday was today, in 1694)

The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen set on sale…

oxford-6volsetOxford University Press has the 6-volume set of the Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen [3rd edition, edited by R.W. Chapman] on sale from $175. to $43.75.  Click here for ordering information…

In My Mailbox Today

A treat today in my mailbox ~ the November-December 2008 issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World, the cover graced with the latest Darcy incarnation, Colin Donnell, from the new Pride & Prejudice, the Musical.

A quick summary of the table of contents:

  • Austen Bank Goes Bust:  the story of Henry Austen’s bank failure, a regency economic crisis
  • P&P-the new Musical: by Tim Bullamore with the story behind the story.
  • One for the Ladies:  by Ian Kelly, author of a new biography of Casanova, on his importance as a chronicler of 18th century London life.
  • Lost in Austen:  a review of the series by Hugo Rifkind and JARW editor Sue Hughes.
  • The Jane Austen Font and the Missing X:  by Pia Frauss (see more below)
  • The English Type: by Philip Jansseune, on the type of William Caslon, chosen for the new design of JARW.
  • Christmas in Regency England: by Tim Bullamore.
  • Putting on the Ballroom Blues:  by Chris Coyle on Bath’s assembly rooms paint makeover (and in my favorite color!)
  • Elizabeth Inchbald’s Lover’s Vows: by Caroline Fitton on the novelist and actress and the play that formed the pivotal scenes in Mansfield Park.
  • Finding Pemberley: by JASNA’s own Iris Lutz on her visit to Chatsworth and other Austen-related houses on the JASNA-sponsored tour “Jane Austen’s Great Houses in Fact and Fiction.”
  • Lichfield Conference – Jane Austen and Dr. Johnson: by Marilyn Joice on the JAS conference in September 2008.
  • Book reviews: by Joceline Bury on Jane Odiwe’s Lydia Bennet’s Story, Carol Shield’s Jane Austen, and Penelope Byrd’s Jane Austen Fashion.

I like this new format and the in-depth articles…there are letters, news, news from Nov-Dec 1800, and of course, fabulous pictures throughout! 

The article by Pia Frauss, the creator of the Jane Austen font (and the one that JASNA uses in its logo), writes that she had to invent the capital letter X, as Jane never penned the letter.  You can read the  article and learn more at her website:  Pia Frauss’ Fonts

I highly recommend that you subscribe…a perfect holiday gift for yourself or your favorite Austen lover!


Jane Austen Society Conference~London

In case any of you are to be in London next week, there are spaces still available at the Jane Austen Society Conference on “The Cult and Commerce of Jane Austen”, November 22, at the University of London.  Click here for information.

ESSENTIAL AUSTEN: Jane Austen Fashion (a review)

In two words, JANE AUSTEN FASHION is . . . a treasure! Concise and informative, its focus on Jane Austen – in comments from her letters as well as her novels – makes this little volume essential to every Austen collector.

fashionNewly republished by Moonrise Press (Ludlow, England), author Penelope Byrde’s book on fashion is now in its second regeneration. Initially published in the 70s as A Frivolous Distinction, it found a new lease on life in an expanded edition put out by Excellent Press in 1999. It has now been rescued from its consignment to used bookstores (if you were lucky enough to find a copy) by this paperback edition. May Moonrise Press profit from its belief in the continuing interest in this subject – fashion not only in Austen’s day but, more precisely, in Austen’s own life. Continue reading

The Very Pricey Jane….

The Novels and The Letters of Jane Austen, Published in 1923, based on the collation of the early editions by R.W. Chapman. The large paper edition limited to 1000 copies, sold in October on Abebooks for $4,862.


austen-novels-letters-bindingThis similar edition pictured is currently for sale on Abebooks by Peter Harrington Antiquarian Bookseller, London for $10,382.22.

Book Description: Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1923-32, 1923. The text based on the collation of the early editions by R.W. Chapman. With notes indexes and illustrations from contemporary sources. Large Paper Edition. Limited to 1,000 sets of which 950 are for sale. 7 volumes, 8vo. Finely bound by The Chelsea Bindery in full dark green morocco, titles and decoration to spines gilt, raised bands, single rule to boards gilt, twin rule to turn-ins gilt, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. With colour and black and white illustrations. A fine set.

There are other various editions for sale as well, any number to add to your holiday wish-list!  Go to Abebooks.com for a selection…