A Colonel Brandon by any Other Name?

One of the funnier lines in Emma is when Mr. Knightley asks Emma to call him “George” after he has proposed to her. We of course know he is named George because the narrator tells us so, but while we are introduced to him in Chapter 1, we do not learn his full name until Chapter 12, in this very off-hand remark: 

when John Knightley made his appearance, and “How d’ye do, George?” and “John, how are you?” succeeded in the true English style… [Emma, vol. 1, ch 12.]

We are given an earlier hint in Chapter 6 when one of John Knightley’s children is called “George”, but if you haven’t been paying attention to these very easy to miss throwaway lines, you will be happy to learn his name in vol. 3, ch. 17. 

    ‘Mr. Knightley.’ You always called me, ‘Mr. Knightley;’ and, from habit, it has not so very formal a sound. And yet it is formal. I want you to call me something else, but I do not know what.”

    “I remember once calling you ‘George,’ in one of my amiable fits, about ten years ago. I did it because I thought it would offend you; but, as you made no objection, I never did it again.”

    “And cannot you call me ‘George’ now?”

    “Impossible! I never can call you any thing but ‘Mr. Knightley.’ I will not promise even to equal the elegant terseness of Mrs. Elton, by calling you Mr. K. But I will promise,” she added presently, laughing and blushing, “I will promise to call you once by your Christian name. I do not say when, but perhaps you may guess where; — in the building in which N. takes M. for better, for worse.” [Emma vol. 3, ch. 17]

“My dearest most beloved Emma, tell me at once…” – C. E. Brock, Emma at Molland’s

But what of the other Austen heroes and their given names?:  we have George, and Edward, Edmund, Fitzwilliam, Henry, Charles, Frederick, and even Willoughby is named “John” – but it seems that Colonel Brandon is alone among her men to be first-nameless … though as you will see, no one seems to actually know this!

When I attended several of the Sense and Sensibility weekends at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park , one of the questions on the innkeeper’s very-hard-to-score-well-quiz during the brunch on Sunday, is What is Col. Brandon’s first name?  Every weekend ended with the majority of people saying “Christopher” – but it is of course a trick question:  Austen does not give her Col. Brandon a first name: you can re-read / search the book, but the surest proof is Chapman’s index of characters, where it notes thus:

Colonel BRANDON, of Delaford in Dorsetshire; thirty-five (34, 37); thirty-six (369); 2,000£ a year (196); m. Marianne Dashwood.

Now we trust Chapman because he names some of the most obscure of Austen’s characters that many of us would be at a loss to even say which book they are from …  he must be right, so why then is  “Christopher” so commonly thought of as his first name…?

Enter Popular Culture:

I was surprised a few weeks ago, and the reason I started to write this post, to notice this on Wikipedia:

Colonel Christopher Brandon — a close friend of Sir John Middleton. In his youth, Brandon had fallen in love with his father’s ward, but was prevented by his family from marrying her because his father was determined to marry her to his older brother. He was sent into the military abroad to be away from her, and while gone, the girl suffered numerous misfortunes partly as a consequence of her unhappy marriage, finally dying penniless and disgraced, and with a natural (i.e., illegitimate) daughter, who becomes the ward of the Colonel. He is 35 years old at the beginning of the book. He falls in love with Marianne at first sight as she reminds him of his father’s ward. He is a very honorable friend to the Dashwoods, particularly Elinor, and offers Edward Ferrars a living after Edward is disowned by his mother.

[From Wikipedia on S&S the Book]

Now one knows to read everything on the internet and especially Wikipedia with a wary eye, but this is a glaring error… 

If you go to The Republic of Pemberley, and its Genealogy of Characters in S&S, a very trusted source, it is very clear that his name is only Col. Brandon, as Austen wrote him.

 And what of the Sequels and Fan-Fiction?  I show here only a few, but now we are in a bit of a naming muddle…

Amanda Grange calls him “James” in her Col. Brandon’s Diary

And in the new book The Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell,
we are given a very romantic Brandon complete with a “Christopher.”

 And see this Fan Fiction.net site we find Col and Mrs. Brandon by Drusilla Dax – where he is also named “Christopher.” 

And Jane Odiwe in her Willoughby’s Return? She names her Col. Brandon “William.”

I asked her why?: 

 I named him William in Willoughby’s Return – just because I like the name, and it’s one that Jane used (William Price). I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that she used the same names for completely different characters.

I like this answer from Ms. Odiwe – she has been thoughtful in choosing a name for her Brandon. But I also want to share with you a very nasty review from an irate reader of Odiwe’s sequel – you can read the whole piece on Amazon.co.uk but here is the relevant rant [which makes the whole review seem quite ridiculous]: 

…. and not even well researched. Marianne is married to William Brandon – whoever he may be – Colonel Brandon’s Christian name was Christopher…..

I had to comment on this – I am not a big fan of really nasty reviews – I would rather say nothing at all, so I blanche at such negativity, but here I wonder if the woman has ever actually read Sense & Sensibility The Book by Jane Austen at all – she has perhaps only seen the movie? wherein we find our illusive “Christopher”…. 

… courtesy of Emma Thompson, her Col. Brandon the “Christopher” most of us seem to want!

 IMDB:  Emma Thompson’s S&S

 and her Brandon, a.k.a. Alan Rickman, even has a Facebook presence as Colonel Christopher Brandon !

 So on to Andrew Davies 2008 Sense & Sensibility with David Morrissey in the role – though Davies succeeds in “sexing” up his Brandon, he does get this right – his Brandon has no first name…

At the Masterpiece Theatre S&S site, click on Col. Brandon and “Christopher” is nowhere in sight…

We can ask what were the most used names in late 18th century England?

 Common 18th Century Male Names [from the Official Fanfiction Universityof the Caribbean website ( ! )]

Alexander, Andrew, Benjamin, Bernard, Charles, David, Edmund, Edward, Emmett, Francis, Frederick, George, Harold, Henry, Hugh, James (Jim, Jimmy, Jem), John (Johnny, Jack), Jonathan, Joseph, Julian, Louis, Matthew, Nicholas, Oliver, Paul, Peter, Phillip, Richard, Robert, Rupert, Samuel, Sebastian, Seymour, Simon, Stephen, Stuart, Thaddeus (Tad), Theodore, Thomas, Timothy, Tobias, Walter, Wesley, William

Notice how many of the names are those used by Austen!  but alas! no “Christopher” – though I am perhaps not being fair – the name has been a common one in England since the 15th century. 

So, these are just some thoughts – I am without my research tools as I write this, so wonder if in Emma Thompson’s screenplay and diaries to her Sense & Sensibility, does she mention baptizing her Brandon with the Christian name of Christopher? – does it appear in any earlier sequels, other movies? –  and the most interesting question of all? – why did Jane Austen not give him a name? – and why are we all so compelled to do so?

Please comment if you can add anything to this dilemma – and do tell us if you wanted to give Brandon a first name, what might you name him?? – just  please do not let it be “Richard”!*

“Colonel Brandon was invited to visit her” – a C. E. Brock illus from S&S at  Molland’s


*Note: Austen’s commentary on the name Richard is from Northanger Abbey: Catherine’s father is “a very respectable man, though his name was Richard.” [NA vol. 1, ch. 1]

 Copyright @2012 Jane Austen in Vermont 

A Jane Austen Siting ~ Pride & Prejudice in 16 words or less…

Scrolling through the “guide” on my television the other day, in dire need of pure entertainment, I came upon the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, though barely recognizable by its description – it read:

A convoluted courtship begins between a young woman and
the handsome friend of a wealthy bachelor.

And thus a major classic of the English language reduced to sixteen words, with nary a mention of Jane Austen, not to mention Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy! I was quite sure I had slipped off the guide into the Hallmark Channel!

If you had the assignment to do a write-up on any of Austen’s novels in 16 words or less, what would you write?? [I was asked this once in a radio interview and I had a complete brain-cramp and froze up, not my greatest life moment! – one should always be prepared for such a question, don’t you think?]

So Gentle Readers, please comment with your capsule of Austen! – think Twitter but even shorter…

Copyright @2012 Jane Austen in Vermont 

Why Jane Austen? ~ and the winner is….

Char Brooks! 

Congratulations Char! – Please send me an email with your address and phone number by next Monday August 15, 2011 [or the names shall be put back in the hat for another random drawing!] 

Thank you all for commenting and sharing “why Jane Austen?” in your life.  For those who didn’t win, you can find the book at your local bookstore, or you can order online from the powers that be!  I highly recommend it!

And again, a hearty thank you to Rachel Brownstein for so gracioulsy visiting us here at Jane Austen in Vermont and sharing her knowledge and love of Jane Austen with us all!

And finally, one of the comments from Lev Raphael posed this question:

Where’s your most exotic locale for reading one of her books?
For me it was in a hammock in my uncle orchard outside Tel-Aviv.

A great question! – Please comment if you would like to share!

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum, of Jane Austen in Vermont.

An Austen Family Painting?

I am posting this at the request of Jane Odiwe, author of Lydia Bennet’s Story, Willoughby’s Return, and most recently Mr. Darcy’s Secret.  She has been involved in the interesting detective work of trying to locate the whereabouts of a painting that appears in a Christie’s catalogue from 1983, a “Conversation Piece” pen and watercolor drawing that might be a portrait of Jane Austen’s family.  There are similarities to the silhouette illustration we are familiar with:

I append Jane Odiwe’s post in its entirety  – you can also go to her blog for further information and read her posts on the artist Ozias Humphrey and his possible connection to the Austen family.  [I suggest you print out the family portrait below and then follow along with Jane’s detailed commentary.]


The ‘Conversation Piece’: Is this a painting of the Austen Family in 1781?  [by Jane Odiwe]

Whilst conducting research into the ‘Rice’ portrait, Mr. Robin Roberts discovered a very interesting picture, which seems to have gone unnoticed in a Christie’s catalogue. The sale of the property of Mrs. Robert Tritton took place at Godmersham Park, Kent, between Monday, June 6th and Thursday, June 9th, 1983. Elsie Tritton and her husband had bought the estate in 1936, and the catalogue notes how she and her husband had lovingly rescued the house, and how Elsie, a New Yorker by birth, wished that after her death, their wonderful collection of furniture and clocks, English Conversation Pieces, objets d’art and textiles should be available for others to buy for their own collections. This is a fascinating catalogue to see, and I think the fact that the painting came out of the sale of Godmersham Park is most exciting!

The painting is described in the catalogue as belonging to the English School, circa 1780, pen, and black ink and watercolour, measuring 15½ by 19½ inches. It depicts a family sitting round a table, the adults at opposite ends, with four children beyond.

I think what’s so interesting about the picture is that the more you study it; the more the details become fascinating. It appears to be a wonderful allegorical puzzle, full of the humour and charade that the Austen family loved, reflecting so much of what we know about their family history, finances, with all the literary symbolism they would have enjoyed so much. There are some significant allusions connected with the Austen family, and I am thrilled to share Mr. Roberts’ discoveries with you.

He wonders if it could possibly be by Ozias Humphry painted to commemorate the adoption of Edward Austen by the Knight family who were childless relatives, and there are striking similarities between this painting and the commemorative silhouette drawn up at a similar date. There are what could be the monogram symbols of Ozias Humphry scattered in several places about the painting, on the figures, in a curlicue above the mantelpiece, and a possible signature in the right hand corner, though it is difficult to be certain without seeing the original, and unfortunately, it is impossible to show all the small details on a blog.

If we assume that this is a painting of the Austen family, the central figure shows a young boy who is most likely to be Edward Austen. The family all have their attention turned towards him, and more importantly, their eyes are concentrated on the bunch of grapes, which he holds high up in the air, almost as if being presenting to the viewer. You can almost hear him say, “Look at me, am I not the most fortunate boy in the world? Look what I have!”

Surely the grapes represent the good fortune and wealth that Edward is about to inherit, and the whole family who look as pleased as punch are celebrating with him.

George Herbert makes the connections between grapes, fruit, and inheritance in his poem, The Temple. [see Jane’s blog for the complete poem]

As we observe the painting, the small girl with round cheeks to the left of Edward must be Jane Austen herself! This is also one of the most significant parts to the puzzle, I think. She appears to be clutching what could be a horseshoe nail in her hand, which she points towards Edward, her arm held high in the same way as he holds his grapes aloft. This is where it gets most exciting, and where another connection to Edward Austen is made. On the painting of Edward Austen at Chawton House, there is most distinctly, a horseshoe nail on the ground pointing towards Edward’s feet. This little nail is a symbol, an allusion to the fact that the Knights adopted him. Most interestingly, Jane makes a reference to the horseshoe nail in a letter dated Tuesday, 9th February, 1813. She is talking about Miss Clewes, a new governess that Edward has engaged to look after his children.

shoe detail

Miss Clewes seems the very Governess they have been looking for these ten years; – longer coming than J. Bond’s last Shock of Corn. – If she will but only keep Good and Amiable and Perfect! Clewes & (sic) is better than Clowes. And is it not a name for Edward to pun on? – is not a Clew a nail?

Jane was punning on the word clew (or clue) and the Old French word, clou (de girofle), which in its turn was derived from the Latin, clavus, meaning nail (of the clove tree). The dried flower bud of the clove tree resembles a small nail or tack. Of course, it was a name for Edward to pun on because of his own associations with a small horseshoe nail. This seems to be one of the most significant pieces of the puzzle in the painting!

Now we turn to the gentleman on the left of the painting who is dressed exactly as Mr. Austen in the silhouette attributed to Wellings of Edward’s presentation to the Knight family. He is seated, hands clasped together as though offering up a grateful prayer for their good fortune. Within his grasp it appears he is holding a prayer book, or missal, the silk ribbon of which is draped over his fingers, an indication perhaps of his status as rector, and a man of the cloth. Interestingly, he is the only figure whose eyes are not concentrated on the bunch of grapes, but perhaps this is to indicate he is more concerned with offering grateful thanks in his role of clergyman.

In between Mr. Austen and Jane is Cassandra who rests her hand protectively on her sister’s shoulder, whilst also providing an excellent compositional device leading the eye along through to Jane’s arm to the tip of the Golden Triangle where the bunch of grapes are suspended. The painting follows the traditional composition based on a triangle for optimum placing of the main interest of the work. I also think it interesting to note that the girls’ dresses are of the simple muslin type usually worn by children at this time. Mostly white, they were worn with a ribbon sash, at waist height or higher as in Jane’s case.

On the other side of Edward, it is thought this child most likely to be Francis. James would have been at school at this time, and Henry could also have been away. Charles was too young to be depicted, and would still have been lodged with the family who looked after the infant Austens, as was the custom.

To the far right, as we look at the painting is the formidable figure of Mrs. Austen dressed for the occasion with a string of pearls and a ribbon choker around her neck, complete with more than one ‘feather in her cap’, which must represent her pride and pleasure at the whole event, and by extension, the symbols of nobility and glory. She is further emphasizing Edward’s importance by pointing in his direction, and I think it would be hard to imagine a more pleased mama, in her elegant air, and her smile.

On the table is a further connection with Mrs. Austen. The pineapple, a prized fruit, representing health and prosperity, was first introduced to England in 1772, and the Duke of Chandos, Mrs. Austen’s great uncle, was the first to grow them. The symbolism of the pineapple represents many things, not least the rank of the hostess, but was also associated with hospitality, good cheer, and family affection.

Other dishes of food illustrate further abundance, wealth, and the spiritual associations of Christian values. There is bread and wine on the table; Christian symbols, which represent not only life, and the Communion, but also show there is cause for thankfulness and celebration. The glasses are not yet filled, but there are glasses placed before the adults for a toast. Nearest to us in the foreground, there is another fruitful dish, perhaps plum pudding, representing not only the wealth to come, but also a plentiful future. Placed before Edward, another dish, which also appears to suggest the image of a spaniel dog, may be an allusion to Edward’s love of hunting.

The background to the painting holds its own clues. It’s been suggested that the painting above the mantelpiece could be Zeus abducting Ganymede to the Gods, another reference to the luck of young Edward who has been adopted by the Knight family, and on the opposite wall, could this be a reference to the miniature portrait of George Austen, the handsome proctor, even if this appears to be a larger portrait? In the carpet, the patterns suggest the date may again be replicated, and also an M to symbolize the fact that the couple in the painting are married. Above the looking glass is a crest with what appears to be the date. It would be lovely to have a look at the original to see everything in more detail!

Unfortunately, there appears to be no record of the sale of the painting, and I know that Mr. Roberts, and his sister, Mrs. Henry Rice, would be interested to learn more about the painting. I’d like to make an appeal on their behalf for any information, and if anyone knows of the painting’s whereabouts or can tell us anything about it, please do get in touch with me or with Jane Austen’s House Museum.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog as much as I’ve enjoyed hearing all about this little painting. Don’t you think the Austen family would have enjoyed this allegorical puzzle? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


All very interesting! – and as with any detective work, one has more questions than can be currently answered.  If the original drawing could be located it would certainly help!  There is also more information soon to be released about the controversial Rice ‘Jane Austen’ Portrait.  Stay tuned!  And in the meantime if you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of the “conversation piece” that Jane Odiwe writes about, please contact her via her Jane Austen Sequels Blog.

Copyright @2100, by Deb Barnum, at Jane Austen in Vermont

Query: Are You Reading Jane Austen on your eReader??

This sent from Nili Olay of JASNA-Greater NY Region – the author, Phyllis Fine had attended one of their book discussion gatherings and wrote the following for OMMA [Magazine of Online Media, Marketing & Advertising: http://www.mediapost.com/ – I am appending the whole article here: [and thanks Nili for sharing!]

 “Don’t be Prejudiced: Janeites Aren’t Necessarily Luddites”   by Phyllis Fine

The new member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) looked sheepish. “Um, I know you ladies don’t approve, but I’m thinking of buying a Nook,” she said. Some looked puzzled, and a quick tutorial on ebooks ensued. Then Nili Olay, JASNA’s New York Metro Region cochair, showed she had her heart in both the 19th and 21st centuries. “Why shouldn’t we approve?” she asked. “We want everybody to read as much as they can, any way they can.” 

Olay had a point. If you’re devoted to the classic novels the modern world has arguably messed with the most, why should you scream heresy when you now find them accessible electronically? 

In fact, Austen devotees have already seen her works invaded by the undead (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and the water-logged (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters). Faced with such indignities, some adapted and others complained. 

Not surprisingly, Janeites are also highly sophisticated, knowledgeable readers. They remember the names of minor characters in the Austen oeuvre (Darcy’s cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam in Pride and Prejudice – that’s for amateurs! How about Darcy’s housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds?), and are willing to entertain the theory that the oh-so-reserved Jane Fairfax is secretly pregnant in a shadow version of Emma. So they’re a good test of how the most literate are adapting to the electronic book. 

Polled during a discussion group of roughly 15 JASNA members, only three identified themselves as regular ebook readers. Yet these three were enthusiastic e-cheerleaders, using words like “love” to describe their relationship with the devices. 

Linda Dennery, executive vice president of benefits at Advance Newspaper Group, must keep up with the latest in media professionally, so she has both a Kindle and an iPad. 

Ann Herendeen enjoys her Kindle, “but when I’m reading a book between Austen and escapist trash, it drives me crazy,” she said. If she’s looking for a certain scene that isn’t searchable by an easy keyword, she’d rather flip through physical pages than slowly go through electronic ones. “It’s like reading through a narrow hole, a periscope that illuminates one spot only,” she said. 

Olay is an economical ebook reader: She uses her iPhone rather than a dedicated e-reader, and the volumes she reads are free because they’re in the public domain. She’d just finished reading Daisy’s Aunt by E.F. Benson and was currently in the midst of Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend. 

Others in the group were yet-to-be-convinced that ebooks have value – like Marilyn Goldfried, who gave perhaps the most erudite counterpoint possible to Olay’s testimony on the beauty of packing just one small device to fulfill all your literary vacation needs. Goldfried reported that when Noel Coward was on a cruise, he lightened his book burden by throwing pages into the water as he finished reading them. 

Olay, noting another e-advantage, said, “You don’t need a bookmark; it always keeps your place for you automatically.” 

“But let’s not exaggerate the problem of using bookmarks,” Goldfried quickly retorted. 

“Well, I’m always losing bookmarks,” Olay came back. 

June Shapiro was more of a Luddite than many in the group, noting “I don’t trust a computer at all, and I would probably throw a mobile phone across the room.” And yet she said, “Good for anybody who reads Austen, any way.” 

Dennery, perhaps the most tech-savvy, related a story about how quickly habits can change: “I was reading a ‘real’ book a few weeks ago, and when I closed it, I went to turn it off in the back.” 


So, you know that I am a bookseller of fine collectible books, and we in that bookselling world I live in have been discussing this for a good number of years – and we read the daily notices of book sales down, ebook sales up, bookstores closing, and who is buying used books if no one wants new books, etc. – but I have a kindle and an iphone with ebooks on it [great in traffic jams!] and I have been listening to books on tape and cds and now my ipod / iphone for years – and I still buy books and collect books, and read books – I think that we have here just one other way to disseminate and absorb information, and if people are reading Austen on their kindle or nook, we should celebrate that at least they are reading Austen

 What are your thoughts  about reading Austen on kindles and nooks and iphones and ipads and whatever is the next  rage of the moment?? –  and are you still buying BOOKS?  please weigh in!

 [Image from MacWorld.com]

Today in ‘Pride & Prejudice’ ~ Inquiring Readers Want to Know…

According to Ellen Moody’s calendar for Pride & Prejudice , it is on Friday / Saturday, Sept 4 -5, 1812, that Elizabeth writes to her Aunt Gardiner for an explanation of Lydia’s reference to Mr. Darcy’s attendance at her wedding:  Vol. III, ch. IX, 319-20 (Chapman).

   “Mr. Darcy!” repeated Elizabeth, in utter amazement. 

   “Oh, yes! – he was to come there with Wickham, you know. But gracious me! I quite forgot! I ought not to have said a word about it. I promised them so faithfully! What will Wickham say? It was to be such a secret!”

   “If it was to be secret,” said Jane, “say not another word on the subject. You may depend upon my seeking no further.”    

  “Oh! certainly,” said Elizabeth, though burning with curiosity; “we will ask you no questions.” 

   “Thank you,” said Lydia; “for if you did, I should certainly tell you all, and then Wickham would be angry.” 

   On such encouragement to ask, Elizabeth was forced to put it out of her power by running away. 

   But to live in ignorance on such a point was impossible; or, at least, it was impossible not to try for information. Mr. Darcy had been at her sister’s wedding. It was exactly a scene, and exactly among people, where he had apparently least to do, and least temptation to go. Conjectures as to the meaning of it, rapid and wild, hurried into her brain; but she was satisfied with none. Those that best pleased her, as placing his conduct in the noblest light, seemed most improbable. She could not bear such suspense; and hastily seizing a sheet of paper, wrote a short letter to her aunt, to request an explanation of what Lydia had dropped, if it were compatible with the secrecy which had been intended.

    “You may readily comprehend,” she added, “what my curiosity must be to know how a person so unconnected with any of us, and (comparatively speaking) a stranger to our family, should have been amongst you at such a time. Pray write instantly, and let me understand it – unless it is, for very cogent reasons, to remain in the secrecy which Lydia seems to think necessary; and then I must endeavour to be satisfied with ignorance.”

    “Not that I shall, though,” she added to herself, as she finished the letter; “and, my dear aunt, if you do not tell me in an honourable manner, I shall certainly be reduced to tricks and stratagems to find it out.” 


[Aunt Gardener’s reply is dated Sept. 6 from Gracechurch-street, in Ch. X, 321-325]

So, Inquiring Readers, my question is, as we read this last paragraph – does Elizabeth say that last line to herself, or is it written in the letter to her Aunt?

[Posted by Deb] 

Calling All Janeites & Crafters

Two “pleas” from the Vermont Chapter of JASNA:

  • A request from a member (or members) of our chapter to serve in the capacity of Refreshments Coordinator for the September 27th meeting here in Burlington. Lynne, who has served in that capacity for the past year-plus (thank you Lynne!), is resigning the post.
    Please contact Kelly and Deb.

lizzy not for sale

  • A request to crafters in and around the State of Vermont who may be interested in selling items at an Austen Boutique at the 6 December meetings. We would request that a small portion of your sales proceeds benefit the JASNA-Vermont chapter. English-inspired, Austen-inspired, Regency-inspired… — merchandise project ideas are limitless! Please contact Deb and Kelly with your product ideas, or to request more information.

An Austen Tribute ~

I have just finished reading a book – one you might classify as a Regency Romance, but written today [as so many are!] – looks, feels and tastes like Pride & Prejudice all wrapped up in a Georgette Heyer plot of older woman “chaperoning” a young beauty with all the requisite beaus [the poet, the bore, the rake, etc…] and the gentleman “family friend” who always is on the scene  –

I’ll say no more as I will write more on this fun read in a later post – I just throw this out as a “teaser” – perhaps you can guess to what book I am referring – but I just had to share the following passages –

In  regards to a 3-volume book from the local circulating library:

‘I will thank you – as long as you can assure me of the absence of two things, which I cannot abide in a novel.  There must be nobody who lives in the town of Blank, or belongs to the Blankshire Regiment; and there must not be a couple who are in love with each other all the time without knowing it, and who signal it by constantly quarrelling.’

[alas! are we not talking about P&P here? – as well as the novel we are actually reading!]

and then this lovely tribute to Jane Austen:

‘… you can tell me what I should write my novel about.  It is not a thing I have ever considered, and I am sure I could not do it, but you have whetted my curiosity.  Is it to be Gothic?  We are back to castles again.  I must warn you, I have a healthy disrespect for ghosts, and my only response to a Bleeding Nun would be to offer her a piece of court-plaster.’

‘Oh, no, not that sort of novel.  That would not suit you at all. I was thinking of the way you help me to see things, not by dictating, but by reason.  Persuasion. You could make a very good sort of novel about people simply facing these questions, and about what is best to do in life.  I remember one of my governesses reproving me for indulging in sensibility.  I think she felt I needed sense instead.  But then how to reconcie the two?  That is the sort of thing I mean.’

“Sense and sensibility – well, it has a certain ring.  But I doubt, you know, that is would appeal.  And a mere woman writing about moral questions – surely, that is a man’s field -‘

‘Park,’ cried [she], ‘that was the governess – Miss Park.  Very austere: I was rather frightened of her.  But I remember finding out by chance that her first name was Emma, and thinking how pretty it was, and wondering if there was a different person inside that stern lady I knew.  But then, who can guess at the feelings of others?’  She sighed. ‘It is hard enough to know our own…’


Isn’t this just brilliant?  It certainly made me smile! Any thoughts on the title of this book?  Please share!

Food for Thought: Austen Astrology

Does the following sound familiar? Remind you of anyone??

aqu1Aquarians “basically possess strong and attractive personalities. They fall into two principle types: one shy, sensitive, gentle and patient; the other exuberant, lively and exhibitionist, sometimes hiding their considerable depths of their character under a cloak of frivolity. …. In spite of the often intensely magnetic forthcoming and open personality of the more extrovert kind of Aquarian, and of their desire to help humanity, neither type makes friends easily. They sometimes appear to condescend to others and take too little trouble to cultivate the acquaintance of people who do not particularly appeal to them. They do not give themselves easily – perhaps their judgment of human nature is too good for that – and are sometimes accounted cold. But once they decide that someone is worthy of their friendship or love, they can exert an almost hypnotic and irresistible mental attraction on them and will themselves become tenacious friends or lovers, ready to sacrifice everything for their partners and be faithful to them for life. However, they are sometimes disappointed emotionally because their own high personal ideas cause them to demand more of others than is reasonable. And if they are deceived their anger is terrible. If disillusioned, they do not forgive.”

pp2It does a lot to explain the personality of Mr. Darcy… Wouldn’t you agree?

Was Jane at all interested in astrology?? Born 16 December, she would have been Sagittarius — The Archer. Interesting that the sign is described as the “bow & arrow,” but also as a sign with a burden or struggle. Hmm…

What sign accounts for Lizzy Bennet’s characteristics??


If you have any particulars among the other novels, What about star signs for any of the characters in Austen’s novels??

Weekly Geeks # 6 – What’s in a Name?

Here is a new, thoughtful book-related game to play.  Weekly Geeks offers up each week a theme to muse on and share with other “geeks” – “One week might be ‘catch up on your library books week’  and the next might be ‘redecorate your blog week’ or ‘organize your challenges’ week or ‘catch up on your reviews week’ –  It’ll be fairly bookblogocentric, but not exclusively.” 

Some past “weekly geeks” have been what are your passions other that books, how do you feel about “classic” literature?,  and judging a book by its cover – go to the Weekly Geek website to learn about participating.  This week’s theme is about characters:

For this week’s edition of Weekly Geeks, we’re going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names?

Go to Google or a baby name site like this one or this one, and look up a favorite character’s name. What does their name mean? Do you think the meaning fits the character? Why or why not?

If you’d like, look up your own name as well and share the meaning.


 One of my favorite names from a novel was Eustacia from Hardy’s Return of the Native ~ such a sad, forlorn figure, her name conveying such an ethereal nature, always out of ones reach, aloof, never at rest, haunting. 

I thought as a teenager that I would name my daughter Eustacia, but ended up dating a guy in college who had a sister with this name, so it never felt right after that ~ I do have a daughter, named her Jessica [after my grandmother and my middle name], but she also so loved the book and name she called her pet rabbit Eustacia!…so life comes full circle!

The “Tuttle Dictionary of First Names” [Tuttle 1992] says this:

[Eustace: Eustacia, feminine form; uncommon except for the derivative “Stacy”]  This comes from the Greek meaning “good harvest” and was the name of a saint who was popular in the Middle Ages but who was probably fictional.  His legend had many connections with that of St. Hubert; it involves the loss of possessions, wife and children and their miraculous recovery, in a form found elsewhere in medieval romance.

Other baby name sites refer to its Greek meaning as “bountiful grapes,” “fruitful,” yet another site says it is from the Latin and means “tranquil” [Eustacia Vye is not tranquil!]

Hardy obviously chose this name for its classical and tragic allusions – and how you interpret his meaning depends upon whether you sympathize with Clym or Eustacia in the novel (and that’s a whole other post, maybe a whole other BLOG!]



As for my name, Deborah:

a Hebrew name meaning “bee”.  From the account of the original Deborah in the Old Testament book of Judges, she must have been a formidable woman, for at a time when the role of women was very much that of a subordinate, she was a prophetess, a judge of the people, and even a leader of the army.

[and so alas! that is a hard act to follow…]

I welcome your comments – what is your favorite character name?  and if you have your own blog, check out Weekly Geeks and participate with other online book-lovers…

[for instance, why does Austen name Knightley “George”?  did you know that “George” is derived from the Greek word for “farmer” ~ literally “earth-worker” and is also the name of the patron saint of England?]

Have fun with this…