For Your Reading Pleasure: Susannah Fullerton’s “Literary Reader’s Guides”


JASAs incomparable president Susannah Fullerton has the perfect gift for you or any of your best reading buddies. You can follow her along each month for the twelve months of 2019 with a new book to read, learn about, and discuss via email or in your own book groups. Called her “Literary Reader Guides,” you can sign up for the full year or just buy those Guides individually that interest you. This year Susannah will be doing Jane Austen’s Emma (in February) – Austen is surrounded in great company as you can see:

  • Jan – Evelyn Waugh and Brideshead Revisited 
  • Feb – Jane Austen and Emma 
  • Mar – Jerome K. Jerome and Three Men in a Boat 
  • Apr – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and The Hound of the Baskervilles 
  • May – Theodor Fontane and Effi Briest 
  • Jun – Guy de Maupassant and “The Necklace”
  • Jul – L. P. Hartley and The Go-Between
  • Aug – Samuel Butler and The Way of All Flesh
  • Sep – W. Somerset Maugham and Cakes and Ale 
  • Oct – Henry James and Washington Square 
  • Nov – Jean Rhys and Wide Sargasso Sea 
  • Dec – Wilkie Collins and The Moonstone

What a reading list! Your book group would be most content following this for the year ahead! Each guide features background information about the author, a publishing history of the title, many illustrations, and thoughtful discussion questions.

I signed on for the Guides last year, and found them most interesting and helpful in facilitating in the several book groups I belong to – I haven’t done all the featured books yet, but each of the monographs is downloadable and you can keep them for future use. The cost for 2019 for all 12 Guides is 40$AU (which is about 30$US, paypal accepted). You can also purchase previous Guides here:

You can read all about it here:

And visit Susannah’s blog where you shall find all sorts of literary gems: Notes from a Book Addict



I append this letter direct from Susannah (where she is celebrating a very hot Christmas Down Under…!):

Dear JASNA Member,

I think Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ is the greatest novel ever written. Would you like to find out why I think that, and also learn more about its characters, themes and setting? I’d love to share with you my views on that most gorgeous of heroes, Mr Knightley, and my opinion of Emma herself. Is she really “faultless in spite of all her faults”?

Next year I am offering you not just my thoughts on ‘Emma’, but on 11 other fascinating literary works as well. Please consider joining this exciting literary journey via email. Let me share with you my insights about an author and what drove him or her to create the book. Let me guide you through the novel’s themes and inspirations, tell you about the memorable characters, and provide you with discussion questions to really make you think (or share with your book group).

My 2019 literary series contains an extraordinary short story (you can decide if it is the world’s best?), a book to make you laugh and one to make you cry, some mystery and detection, and some madness and adultery. I have chosen an intriguing mix of works from various parts of the world and from two different centuries. I hope you’ll get the feeling that I’m at your side, sharing my love for a thought-provoking work and discussing it with you and your friends. You can even talk it over directly with me via my website, I always love to hear from JASNA members.

2019 is JASA’s 30th birthday. I hope you will want to celebrate that special anniversary by joining me to discuss ‘Emma’ and other great books. The whole course is done via email, so you do not need to live in Sydney to be a part of it all. Please watch my short film to see just what I’m offering. Find out all about it here:

I hope that Christmas will bring you happy occasions with your family and time to re-read Jane Austen. Don’t forget that if you are planning a visit to Australia next year, JASA would love to welcome you.

Merry Christmas to you all,
Susannah Fullerton
President of JASA

Susannah Fullerton, OAM, FRSN
Literary Lecturer, Author and Literary Tour Leader
President, Jane Austen Society of Australia
Patron, Rudyard Kipling Society of Australia


Brief Encounters: Literary Travellers in Australia
Jane Austen & Crime [one of my all-time favorite books on Austen!]
Happily Ever After: Celebrating Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’
A Dance with Jane Austen
Jane & I: A Tale of Austen Addiction


Sign up today – you will be most pleased!

c2018, Jane Austen in Vermont

A Jane Austen Reading Group Reads Georgette Heyer

Guest post by JASNA-Vermont member Lynne H.

Our JASNA Vermont reading group recently discussed Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.  A skeptical member asked the question: why should we read Heyer?  Georgette Heyer is a prolific 20th century novelist known for writing Historical Fiction, Regency Romances, and Mysteries.  Frederica is one of the Regency Romances. (Think Harlequin not Hawthorne….)   So, why should a thoughtful group of Austen devotees choose a Heyer Romance?    Below are some of the answers from our group’s discussion.

Layout 1

Reason # 7: It’s summer.  Let’s face it, we don’t have to read Tolstoy, Dickens, or even Austen all year.  Go to the beach and relax!

Reason #6: Heyer, as mentioned above, is prolific.  If you like one of her Regency Romances, you have 33 more to choose from.

Reason #5: Heyer researched and included wonderful Regency detail.  She described the carriages, dress, and food, for example, in specific detail.   You can read about phaetons and curricles, neck-cloths and laces, and jellies and sauces.  If you have any interest in the Regency period, it is both fun and informative to have such specifics included in the novels.

Reason #4: Ditto for Regency language, cant, lingo, etc.  Heyer used Regency cant in all of her Romances.  What does it mean if someone is a “nodcock”  or a “ninnyhammer”?  What about if someone is trying to “gammon” another person?  Usually the meanings of the expressions are clear from the context; however, members of our group also mentioned further Regency reading to fill in more information about the period.  Two of the books were Jennifer Kloester’s Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, and Carolly Erickson’s Our Tempestuous Day. 

Reason #3: Heyer’s dialogue.  She used dialogue extensively. Her dialogue is witty, but it is also artfully constructed to expose and develop character.

Reason #2: Heyer’s characterization.  While her main characters are usually from the aristocracy (these are Romances after all!), they are not two dimensional ladies and gentlemen.  Within the structure of the Romance, Heyer adeptly fills in the motivations, foibles, and flaws, of her main characters.  Her writing usually depends on the characters to move the books forward.  In the following excerpt, you can see both the characterization and dialogue at work.  This is from an early episode of Frederica in which Frederica and Lord Alverstoke have their first meeting.  Frederica begins by responding to him:

            “I see. You don’t wish to recognize us, do you?  Then there isn’t the least occasion for me to explain our situation to you.  I beg your pardon for having put you to the trouble of visiting me.”

            At these words, the Marquis, who had every intention of bringing the interview to a summary end, irrationally chose to prolong it.  Whether he relented because Miss Merriville amused him, or because the novelty of having one of his rebuffs accepted without demur intrigued him remained undecided, even in his own mind.  But however it may have been he laughed suddenly, and said, quizzing her: “Oh, so high!  No, no, don’t hold up your nose at me: it don’t become you!”

Reason #1: Her books provide both escape and solace.  One of our members mentioned that she read Heyer while she was undergoing chemotherapy.  She said that during this difficult time in her life, Heyer made her laugh and gave her a place to retreat to for comfort and solace.  For Janeites this is very familiar ground!

So…if your interest has been piqued by our reasons to read Heyer, we’d suggest that you start with Frederica.  Just about all of our group members enjoyed it.    And remember, unlike Austen, there are many, many more novels to choose from for those lazy summer days or for times when you just need to escape.  Don’t be a ninnyhammer, try one.


Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2008
ISBN:  1402214766
[originally published 1965]

Further reading:


book cover-Frederica1st

[Image: 1st edition cover, Bodley Head, 1965 – Wikipedia] – I love this cover!

What is your favorite Georgette Heyer? – i.e, after starting with Frederica, which Heyer would you recommend to our book group to read next?

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

The Great Pride & Prejudice Trivia Quiz Throwdown

Enquiring readers: Today I welcome our own JASNA-Vermont member Michelle Singer with her guest post on our very interesting adventure in the world of Pride and Prejudice trivia…!

Pride & Prejudice Trivia Quiz Throwdown

Guest blog by Michelle A.L. Singer

November 3, 2011

Somewhere in Vermont, we knew, a men’s Jane Austen book group was meeting. You can imagine our regard. Were they based in Montpelier, we wondered, where we were? Or in Burlington, where JASNA Vermont held its quarterly meetings? With delicacy, we inquired after the gentlemen and found that they had been in our own village the whole time! We approached a known member of the group at the next JASNA meeting at Champlain College in Burlington, and what fortune! Two of the group’s members were there and had such pleasing manners! Dropping all pretense of modesty, we immediately challenged them to a Pride & Prejudice trivia quiz throwdown, battle of the sexes style. (I had been exercising great strength of will by not opening the Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Trivia Game by Marina Games that I had bought months before.) They accepted.

And that’s how we found ourselves at the home of Thierry Guerlain on an October Sunday afternoon, laden with hors d’oeurves, mini apple pies, and a recycled team bowling trophy fitted out for the occasion with “Jane Austen Champions” lettering and little gold P & P books for the bowlers, I mean Janeites, to hold in their front hands. [editor’s note: a brilliant concoction! – see below]

After the necessary introductions, we sat across a table covered with food in Mr. Guerlain’s side parlor, four women and four men. Deb Barnum, JASNA Vermont Regional Coordinator, Erica who had read the entire text in preparation, Sarah Madru who made the sweet potato and goat cheese bruschetta, and I, Michelle Singer who brought the game and the trophy.

Sarah, Michelle, Erica, sans Deb

Across from us, four members of the famous [editors’ note: ‘infamous’] men’s Jane Austen book group, our host Thierry Guerlain, George Shumar, John Bollard and Ed Good, gentlemen all.

John, George, Thierry, and Ed

The game instructed us to roll the die and, if we answered the Pride and Prejudice trivia question correctly, to collect the amount of points on the die. Answering correctly allowed the team to roll again and answer another question, until they missed. The turn then passed to the other team. The first team to earn 25 points could then claim victory. Rejecting the handicap of “Ladies first” we rolled to see who would start, and the women won the right to begin the game.

We immediately found ourselves in a good position to answer the very text-specific question, “How far was Lucas Lodge from Meryton?” It was possible to guess since it was obviously not above five miles, but we didn’t need to guess. It was the kind of answer (“About a mile”) that you could only know if you had JUST read it, which some of us (ahem) had.

We were half way to 25 points before the men even had a chance to answer a question (and get it wrong) before we regained control of the game and answered question after question, overcoming the 25 points in just two turns. And so it was that the women won the first game of the night and the men suggested we change the structure of the game. [editor’s emphasis]

In an effort to be lovely and amiable, we agreed. We decided to take turns asking questions. The first team to 11 (ping pong) correct answers would win. The men answered first, creating confusion from there on out about who was “winning” since they were always one point ahead…until we answered and evened the score (every time). We soon both reached 11 without a misstep and then continued without missing a question until we just stopped counting. It was now sudden death; the first team to answer incorrectly would lose.

Warm up counts for a lot. Questions that seemed confusing at first like, “Who warned Elizabeth of Mr. Wickham’s mistreatment of Mr. Darcy?” (Miss. Caroline Bingley) became obvious once our heads were fully focused on P & P for an hour. Soon it felt like they were all as easy as, “Who sometimes arranges such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions?” (Mr. Collins, of course.)

Finally, after at least 30 questions back and forth, the fateful moment came, or rather, the fateful question: “What did Mrs. Bennet think was Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s reason for visiting Longbourn?” Uhhhhhhh. We tried to recreate the scene. I said something about the middle of the night. We were immediately docked one point for giving an answer from a movie version rather than the text (Lady Catherine de Bourgh bangs on the Bennet door in the middle of the night only in the Kiera Knightly version of P & P. As we all know, when Lady Catherine visits and they take the walk in the “prettyish kind of a little wilderness” on one side of the lawn in full daylight). Even after getting our scene straight, we could not account for what Mrs. Bennet thought of the visit. And so, we were sunk. (The answer is very obscure. She expects news from Mr. & Mrs. Collins.)

And so it was that the second game of the evening came to an end with the men’s team as victors. I will say that it seemed like the vast majority of easy multiple choice questions seemed to go to them. Questions like, “What town did Georgiana Darcy go to when Mr. Wickham tried to elope with her?” were good trivia questions until you got to the multiple choices of “Hunsford, Bath, or Ramsgate.” The question, “Which Bennet girl did Mr. Collins pursue for a wife? Lydia, Mary, or Elizabeth” inspired a collective groan. We ended the evening with no team able to claim the trophy, so it was relegated to the office…to await next time.

Jane Austen Champion

The best part of the evening, aside from the good food, good company, and good conversation was that a new co-ed quiz and reading group was formed out of our absolute delight in finding each other and enjoying the same diversions. And so, the quest of the female JASNA members in Montpelier to track down and pit ourselves against our male counterparts, who we had only heard rumor of, was happily answered with the perfect union of a new book group—not unlike an Austen novel itself.

Quick, what was the name of Mr. Darcy’s mother? [scroll down below for answer]

Copyright @2011, Michelle Singer at Jane Austen in Vermont

Our next read? ~ E. M. Forster, A Room with a View 

[ quiz answer:  Lady Anne Darcy ]