Happy Birthday Jane Austen: A Celebration with Recommendations of the Best Books in My Personal Library and a Giveaway!

*throws confetti in air* It’s Jane Austen’s 238th birthday today! Let the party begin by entering a chance to win a beautiful collector’s edition of The Complete Novels of Jane Austen, published by Race Point (2013). Details are listed below.

St Nicholas Church, Steventon Jane Austen Tour 2013

The festivities are especially poignant to me this year after visiting Jane Austen’s birthplace and home for twenty-five years on our tour of Jane Austen’s England last fall. Our stop at the former site of Steventon Rectory, and St. Nicholas Church, were my favorite sites along the tour. The original rectory was demolished in 1823, however the site is still viewable as an empty field where cattle now graze. Just up the road is St. Nicholas’ Church where Austen’s father, Rev. George Austen, was rector for forty years (1761-1800). The church is a small, simple, Norman building which was originally constructed around 1200. It has had a series of revisions over the 800 of years that it has been in existence, including the addition of the prominent spire in the mid nineteenth century.

Laurel Ann at St. Nicholas Church, Steventon during Jane Austen Tour 2013

Of all the many Austen related sites that we visited on our 10-day tour, my visit to St. Nicholas Church was the most moving. The neighborhood is very isolated and rural with large oak trees lining the narrow roads and other mature trees, including the huge 900-year-old yew tree, spanning 50 feet, at the front the church property. When we departed the coach, I was immediately struck by the quiet, unassuming, and uncommercial atmosphere we were privileged to enter. The church is surrounded on three sides by a graveyard and many of the local family names Jane mentions in her letters appear on the stones, including the Digweeds and LeFroys. The graves of her elder brother James Austen, who followed her father as rector of the parish, and his two wives are situated there; and inside is a plaque in their memory.

It would not be Jane Austen’s birthday if I did not talk about my favorite Austen books in my personal library. Here is a list of my top-ten favorite biographies, historical bio-ficts and nonfiction books that I have enjoyed over the years. Just click on the links to read a review or to learn more about them.

Image of the book cover of The Real Jane Austen, by Paula Byrne © 2013 HarperCollins

Jane Austen Biographies:

(the life of Jane Austen)

Image of the cover of The Lost memoirs of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

Jane Austen Bio-Fict:

(Jane Austen as a fictional character)

The entire Being a Jane Austen Mystery series by Stephanie Barron

Jane Austen, Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels by Janet Todd (2013)

Jane Austen-inspired:

(non-fiction)

The Complete Novels of Jane Austen by Race Point Publishing 2013

A GRAND GIVEAWAY

Enter a chance to win a hardcover copy of The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Lady Susan) in one volume with a slip case. Just leave a comment with your favorite Jane Austen quote by 11:59 pm, Wednesday, December 25. 2013. Winner to be announced on Thursday, December 26, 2013. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck to all!

Happy Birthday Jane!

Cover image of The Complete Novels of Jane Austen courtesy of Race Point Publishing © 2013; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2013, Austenprose.com

Happy Thanksgiving Janeites

Cornelis van Spaendonck roses and forget me nots

It is Thanksgiving day here at Woodston Cottage and we are very grateful for many things in our life: friends, family and Janeites. I would like to thank the following:

Our fabulous reviewers: Christina Boyd, Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Lisa Galek, Katie P., Sarah Emsely, Br. Paul Byrd, and Virginia Clare Tharrington, who freely contribute their time and passion for Jane Austen.  

Our wonderful authors: I cannot name you all individually, but we are so glad that you write and we can benefit with hours of reading enjoyment.

Masterpiece Classic PBS: for years of incredible television adaptations of our favorite novels including all of Jane Austen’s major works and new series such as The Paradise and Downton Abbey. All we can say is WOW!

Friends: Syrie James, Diana Birchall, Jane Odiwe, Deborah Holloway, Deborah Barnum, Vic Sanborn and many more. You are the best!

Jane Austen: for six masterpieces, minor works and letters which have given us hours of thought, discussion, enjoyment and my season of second chances.

“Arguments are too much like disputes. If you and Miss Bennet will defer yours till I am out of the room I shall be very thankful;” — Pride and Prejudice 

Our amazing readers: who share our passion for Jane Austen and her legacy with devotion and loyalty.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Cheers,
Laurel Ann
© 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com

Pride and Prejudice: A Rose by Any Other Name…

Image of the Pride and Prejudice rose by Harkness @ 2013 Harkness

As an avid gardener and Jane Austen enthusiast, I have been waiting patiently for this…a rose named after one of my favorite novels, Pride and Prejudice!

It was inevitable that some rose breeder would cash in on the Pride and Prejudice bicentenary. I am just surprised it took them so long to name a rose after one of the novels or characters created by my favorite author Jane Austen.

Huzzah! Just announced by Harkness, a specialist rose growers in the UK, Pride and Prejudice, a floribunda rose in pale peach. WOW! Here is the description:

Pride and Prejudice

  • Family: Floribunda
  • Star Rating: 5
  • Scent Rating: 4
  • Flower Diameter: 8cm
  • Petals: 35
  • Flowers Per Cluster: 7-11
  • Plant Size: H90cm x W60cm
  • Colour: Pale Peach

We are delighted to introduce the new Pride and Prejudice rose, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s classic book. The detail and characters are so well constructed in the book, the dialogue so elegant with scenes capturing the essence of the period.

Not sure if they ship to the US, but it is great to know that someone FINALLY named a rose after the most popular classic in literary history.

Image of the Pride and Prejudice paper rose by HBixbyArtworks @ 2013 HBixbyArtworks

For those who want to continue on the P&P rose theme, here is something fascinatingly creative…a paper rose made from the pages of Pride and Prejudice.

Etsy artist HBixbyArtworks has cleverly crafted roses from paper, and in this case from the pages of Pride and Prejudice. Imagine a bouquet of P&P paper roses? Stunning! Artists description:

This listing is for one vintage book paper rose which is about 3- 3.5″ in diameter. This paper rose is fashioned from the pages of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, (which is a very popular book,) and I made several dozen paper flowers from it!

The rose is on a 8″ wire stem, so can be put into a vase, or can be made into a brooch for a small extra charge, or you can buy several and have a whole bouquet!

A complimentary ribbon can be tied around the stem upon request :)

P&P roses and ribbons? How delightful!

Image of book cover of Pride and Prejudice @ 2013 Harper Teen

AND…who could forget the Pride and Prejudice cover resplendent with roses by Harper Teen from 2009? It is eerily familiar to the designs for the Twilight book covers, but I think that was the point…to entice younger readers to read the classic mentioned by Bella and Edward.

Image of the rose garden @ 2013 The Huntington Library and Gardens

For those not lucky enough to be a climate where the roses are already blooming, like the rose garden at my favorite place in the world (so far), The Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, California. This photo of their famous rose garden, where I have spent many happy hours enjoying the sights and scents, is a delight. Hope you can visit there too!

Happy May Day Janeites!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

Images courtesy of © 2013 Harkness, © 2013 HBixbyArtworks and © 2009 Harper Teen; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for Jane Austen Birthday Soirée 2012

Austen Soirée

47 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It and one copy of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen offered during the Jane Austen Birthday Soirée 2012. The winners drawn at random are:

Jane Austen Made Me Do It

  • Sofia Guerra who left a comment on December 16, 2012

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen

  • Bookfool, aka Nancy who left a comment on December 18, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by December 27, 2012.  Shipment to US addresses only.

Many thanks to Maria of My Jane Austen Book Club for organizing the Jane Austen Birthday Soiree, and to author Syrie James and her publisher Berkley Trade for the giveaway copy of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. Happy reading to the winners!

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane Austen Birthday Soirée 2013: Celebrating A Plan of a Novel

Jane Austen Birthday Soirée (2012)Today, December 16th, is Jane Austen’s birthday. 237 years ago she was born at Steventon Rectory in Hampshire, England.

In celebration of my favorite author, I am participating in the Jane Austen Birthday Soiree being hosted by Maria at My Jane Austen Book Club blog. It is basically a blog hop with many great giveaways being offered. Each blog will feature a favorite passage from one of Austen’s works.

For your enjoyment, I have selected a short piece that exemplifies Austen’s humor, one her many talents that I am particularly fond of. A Plan of a Novel was written in 1816, probably in response to Austen’s visit to Carlton House in London with the Prince Regent’s librarian Rev. James Stanier Clarke and their subsequent correspondence in which he offers advice to the author on the subject of her next novel; and her family’s advice on the same subject! It is a parody, similar to her exuberant and fantastical Juvenilia, and her early novel Northanger Abbey, satirizing what was outrageous in the popular literature of her day. Interestingly, she also including notes in the margins indicating which of her family members made the suggestions!

The manuscript of Plan of a Novel now resides at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. You can view an image of the original document of A Plan of a Novel online at their website.

Plan of a Novel, according to hints from various quarters, by Jane Austen

Scene be in the Country, Heroine the Daughter of a Clergyman, one who after having lived much in the World had retired from it and settled in a Curacy, with a very small fortune of his own. — He, the most excellent Man that can be imagined, perfect in Character, Temper, and Manners — without the smallest drawback or peculiarity to prevent his being the most delightful companion to his Daughter from one year’s end to the other. — Heroine a faultless Character herself, — perfectly good, with much tenderness and sentiment, and not the least Wit — very highly accomplished, understanding modern Languages and (generally speaking) everything that the most accomplished young Women learn, but particularly excelling in Music —  her favourite pursuit —  and playing equally well on the PianoForte and Harp — and singing in the first stile. Her Person quite beautiful — dark eyes and plump cheeks. — Book to open with the description of Father and Daughter —  who are to converse in long speeches, elegant Language —  and a tone of high serious sentiment. — The Father to be induced, at his Daughter’s earnest request, to relate to her the past events of his Life. This Narrative will reach through the greatest part of the first volume — as besides all the circumstances of his attachment to her Mother and their Marriage, it will comprehend his going to sea as Chaplain to a distinguished naval character about the Court, his going afterwards to Court himself, which introduced him to a great variety of Characters and involved him in many interesting situations, concluding with his opinions on the Benefits to result from Tithes being done away, and his having buried his own Mother (Heroine’s lamented Grandmother) in consequence of the High Priest of the Parish in which she died refusing to pay her Remains the respect due to them. The Father to be of a very literary turn, an Enthusiast in Literature, nobody’s Enemy but his own — at the same time most zealous in discharge of his Pastoral Duties, the model of an exemplary Parish Priest. — The heroine’s friendship to be sought after by a young woman in the same Neighbourhood, of Talents and Shrewdness, with light eyes and a fair skin, but having a considerable degree of Wit, Heroine shall shrink from the acquaintance.

From this outset, the Story will proceed, and contain a striking variety of adventures. Heroine and her Father never above a fortnight together in one place, he being driven from his Curacy by the vile arts of some totally unprincipled and heart-less young Man, desperately in love with the Heroine, and pursuing her with unrelenting passion. — No sooner settled in one Country of Europe than they are necessitated to quit it and retire to another — always making new acquaintance, and always obliged to leave them. — This will of course exhibit a wide variety of Characters — but there will be no mixture; the scene will be for ever shifting from one Set of People to another — but All the Good will be unexceptionable in every respect — and there will be no foibles or weaknesses but with the Wicked, who will be completely depraved and infamous, hardly a resemblance of humanity left in them. — Early in her career, in the progress of her first removals, Heroine must meet with the Hero — all perfection of course — and only prevented from paying his addresses to her by some excess of refinement. — Wherever she goes, somebody falls in love with her, and she receives repeated offers of Marriage — which she refers wholly to her Father, exceedingly angry that he should not be first applied to. — Often carried away by the anti-hero, but rescued either by her Father or by the Hero — often reduced to support herself and her Father by her Talents and work for her Bread; continually cheated and defrauded of her hire, worn down to a Skeleton, and now and then starved to death. — At last, hunted out of civilized Society, denied the poor Shelter of the humblest Cottage, they are compelled to retreat into Kamschatka where the poor Father, quite worn down, finding his end approaching, throws himself on the Ground, and after 4 or 5 hours of tender advice and parental Admonition to his miserable Child, expires in a fine burst of Literary Enthusiasm, intermingled with Invectives against holders of Tithes. — Heroine inconsolable for some time — but afterwards crawls back towards her former Country — having at least 20 narrow escapes from falling into the hands of the Anti-hero — and at last in the very nick of time, turning a corner to avoid him, runs into the arms of the Hero himself, who having just shaken off the scruples which fetter’d him before, was at the very moment setting off in pursuit of her. — The Tenderest and completest Eclaircissement takes place, and they are happily united. — Throughout the whole work, Heroine to be in the most elegant Society and living in high style. The name of the work not to be Emma, but of the same sort as S. & S. and P. & P.

End

If this bit of joyful burlesque amusement made you smile, you might want to pre-order Syrie James’ new novel The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen to be released on December 31, 2012. This new novel was inspired by Jane Austen’s Plan of a Novel. You can read my preview here. I have read Ms. James’ new work and it is indeed a clever incorporation of Austen humor, romance and biting wit.

A GRAND GIVEAWAY

Now gentle readers, in celebration of our favorite author please leave a comment sharing your favorite Austen novel, novella, or minor work to qualify for a chance to win one copy each of Jane Austen Made Me Do It and The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. The contest is open to US residents and ends on December 18th, 2012 at 11:59 pm Pacific time. Winner to be announced on Thursday, December 20th, 2012. Good luck to all, and Happy Birthday Jane!

Please visit the other participants in The Jane Austen Birthday Soirée 2013 by clicking on the links to their blogs listed below. Have fun!

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose