The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!

The Jane Austen Guide to Life, by Lori Smith (2012)Happy May Day everyone! Please join us today in welcoming author Lori Smith on the launch of her blog tour in celebration of the publication of The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, released today by Globe Pequot Press. Lori has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second Jane Austen-inspired book and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

I’m thrilled I was able to write The Jane Austen Guide to Life, but I can’t fully take credit for the idea.  A while back, an email unexpectedly popped up from an editor I hadn’t heard from in a while, one I’d always wanted to work with.  She’d been thinking, she said, about a book that would combine a light biography of Jane Austen with practical “life lessons” for the modern reader, drawn from Austen’s life as well as her books.  I thought for about fifteen seconds and concluded, “Yes!  That book should be written!”  And that was the beginning.

As normal as it seems to me to take advice from Austen—I’ve loved her writing for years, even followed her life through England for my last project, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith (2007), —I thought it might seem strange to some.  After all, Austen was an 19th-century spinster.  She wasn’t terribly concerned about fashion, knew nothing about platform heels, and, if she’d had the chance, she very well might have married a first cousin (as was common practice back then).  So what could she possibly teach our modern selves?

In some ways, Austen was more modern than we might think.  She embraced the 21st-century idea of making your dreams a reality.  After all, in her day, a lady should not have written fiction.  Not only was writing un-ladylike, but novels were frivolous and of questionable value.  But Austen had to tell her stories—she had to write—so, acceptable or not, that’s what she did.

In other ways, Austen challenges us, her own good sense in contrast to current cultural extremes.  Many of us strive for our fifteen minutes of fame, while Austen didn’t even want her name to appear on her books.  As a nation, we’re saddled with pervasive credit card debt; Austen lived within a tight and carefully kept budget.  She would encourage us to cherish our true friends rather than focusing on building extensive and ephemeral social networks.  And Jane Austen never had sex—so what would she say about a culture that has a word specifically to describe meaningless sexual encounters.  (Hookup, anyone?)

Strangely enough, Austen—whom we associate with happily-ever-after—never married, and can teach us something about being contentedly, joyfully single.  She would be glad that singleness has become a more viable option for women.  At a deeper level, Austen worked from a strong moral foundation, and believed that virtue could lead to happiness.  We may be tempted to reverse that equation, to believe that whatever makes us happy is by definition virtuous.  Would that horrify her?  I think so.

This project was a gift to me in many ways.  It landed in my lap when I was largely unable to work because of chronic Lyme disease—a battle I’ve been fighting for years.  It gave me the chance, on my good days, to escape my world of sickness and re-enter Austen’s world. (Austen herself was familiar with chronic illness, and can teach us about enduring difficult things.)  Of all of Austen’s lessons, I most needed to be reminded that love isn’t something to fall into thoughtlessly—that it involves the mind as much as the heart.  That was a gift, too.  Then there was just the sheer joy of re-reading Austen again, remembering her genius.

I hope the book will give you insights into Austen’s personal story, and that you’ll find it both fun and sensible. I hope it’s a light read that will also be thought-provoking, prompting the kind of self-knowledge and self-examination Austen would champion.

Whenever I study Austen’s life, I come away thinking that I’d like to be more like her—her spirit, her zest for the world, the laughter and joy that imbued her life, her sharp perception and strong moral awareness.  Her love of family and her love for God.  I think this 19th-century spinster still has so much to teach us.

Author Lori Smith (2012)Author Bio:

As a child, Lori Smith’s mother had to pay her to read books.  So it’s a bit ironic that she now gets paid to write them.  Lori feels connections to Austen on many levels—as a writer, a single woman, an Anglican, and as someone struggling with a mysterious chronic illness. For her last book, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith, Lori spent a month in England tracing Austen’s life and works. Readers voted to give that book the Jane Austen Regency World Award for best nonfiction.

Her writing has also appeared in Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly, Beliefnet.com, Skirt!, and Today’s Christian Woman.  Lori lives in Northern Virginia with her sweet but stubborn English lab, Bess. Visit Lori at her blogs: Writer Lori Smith and Austen Quotes; on Facebook: as Writer Lori Smith; and follow her on Twitter as @writerlorismith.

Grand Giveaway of The Jane Austen Guide to Life

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of The Jane Austen Guide to Life, by Lori Smith by leaving a comment stating which of Austen’s characters made a good life coach, or what intrigues you about reading this new Jane Austen-inspired self-help guide by 11:59 PT, Wednesday, May 09, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, May 10, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Many thanks to author Lori Smith for her delightful guest blog and to her publisher Globe Pequot Press for the generous giveaways. We must wag our own flag a bit here and reveal that we had the opportunity to be one of the first to read The Jane Austen Guide to Life and contributed a blurb on the back cover in its praise:

Jane Austen has been my life coach since I first discovered Pride and Prejudice thirty years ago. After reading Lori Smith’s lovely The Jane Austen Guide to Life, I now understand why. Part Austen biography, how-to-guide, and all heart, this engaging book will sensibly explain the mysteries of relationships, life and love that Jane Austen so excelled in on the page and in her own life. – Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com

The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, by Lori Smith
Globe Pequot Press (2012)
Hardcover (224) pages
ISBN: 978-0762773817

© 2007 – 2012 Lori Smith, Austenprose

42 thoughts on “The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!

  1. Who wouldn’t want some sensible, sensitive, and funny advice form Miss Austen ?
    She’s never failed me yet

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  2. As a society women need more Jane Austen. We really do! I don’t know if I could say one character in particular that would be a good life coach as I think there is something in all of the Jane Austen novels that we could learn from here and now today. We have gotten so side-tracked as to what is truly important in life. Whenever I am feeling I need more civility in life or feeling blue or feeling stressed or feeling I need something, anything… I always know I need to read a Jane Austen novel. I relate most to Miss Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility for her reserve and responsibility. I am always putting that ahead of everything which is really okay and probably best in most cases except in relationships and friendships as I tend to push people away when I need them most! Although putting this out there for all to read in blogland is a quite the contrast in character but there it is. I love Jane Austen and would love a copy of this book. What a wonderful Idea to have a Jane Austen self-help book! Really I think the only one we will ever need indeed! Thank you!

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  3. I always felt that Mrs. Gardiner from P&P was the wisest and best influence a girl could have. She’s one of the few role models that an Austen heroine can look up to for guidance on what both a true lady and a happy marriage look like.

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  4. I think that today we seem to need these advice even more in our hectic society. Her advice and guidance is valuable and always welcome.

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  5. How wonderful that Lori got to travel to England for a month. Her book sounds delightful and definitely will be on my wish list.

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  6. Oooo! My birthday is May 10th! :D (I’m turning 30 this year, and I’m pretty excited about it!)
    I think each of Austen’s heroines have some important lessons they learn. One of my favorites is Fanny Price. She is so steady and patient, and won’t allow her head to be turned even when everyone else does. But she is so very human, too, she feels jealousy and broken heart and is even able to fall for the wrong guy (if her heart were not already engaged elsewhere), but she doesn’t act (very much at any rate) on these feelings. She thinks carefully about her situation and always tries to act with virtue.

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  7. As a male lover of all things Austen, I look at the manly role models throughout all of Miss Austen’s stories and can learn from them how to truly treat women with respect, sensitivity, and admiration. I look no further than one Colonel Branden as a role model for young men to emulate. Believe it or not, I would enjoy reading this book and I know my wife, daughter and granddaughter might also be interested. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I’m looking forward to reading this book! I would like to say Anne Elliott would be my perfect life coach — I’m so much like her, I wouldn’t have to change a thing! But I think I need a little of Elizabeth Bennett’s feisty attitude!

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  9. I can’t wait to read this to see the author’s concept of how Jane Austen can apply to real life.

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  10. Jane herself in her novels has guided me through parts of my adult life. She is always there to lend ideas, emotional support, laughter and love depending on what one needs. She is truly an inspiration with her characters and writing.

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  11. Thanks for all these lovely comments! Julie – I agree, we have gotten side-tracked about what’s really important. Courtney – what a great idea to seek advice from Mrs. Gardiner. Wish I had thought of that! Happy 30th, welltrainedmom! Enjoy! (Fanny needs a champion.) Jeffrey – lovely to see a male voice here. Jennifer – wouldn’t Anne make a great friend?

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  12. I agree with the poster above about Mrs Gardiner–she’s the best of the older women, married or not, in any of the novels in terms of guiding her younger female relations. This book sounds interesting. :)

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  13. It seems that our society does a lot of swinging back and forth,
    one step forward, two steps backwards on issues like choosing
    to be a single woman! Lori Smith’s book sounds very interesting
    and amusing… Many thanks, Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  14. I think that Elinor Dashwood would make a great life coach…careful, gentle and cautious, she would certainly give advice that would help slow me down! I’d love to win a copy of this book. Jane Austen is a lifeline for me in this crazy world!

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  15. As the true sense in “Sense and Sensibility”, I whole-heartedly believe Ms. Elinor Dashwood would lead young women of today down the right path! Her sister, however, is a cautionary tale about flying by the seat of your emotions:-)

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  16. I think Anne Elliot would make a great life coach because she sets an example of patience and learning to listen to her own heart.

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  17. I really enjoyed your interview with Lori. I appreciated how Lori shared why it intrigued her to write this book and how she also has a challenging illness. I don’t know who would make the greater life coach since most of the main characters are younger than myself it’s hard to think of them in that role personally. I’d have to go with what several others wrote Mrs. Gardiner because she sounds like someone I could respect. I’d love to read this book.

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  18. As others have said, I think Elinor Dashwood is someone to strive to emulate for her ability to govern her emotions and her thoughtfulness to others.

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  19. This book sounds interesting. I think that Fanny Price, strangely enough, could be a good person to go to, as if you could get her talk she has a lot of experience in dealing with tricky people and knowing that sometimes things aren’t that important to argue. If I were her I know I’d have a lot more trouble dealing with Mrs. Norris.

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  20. I think the thing about Jane was that she wrote about people and made them ordinary, people that we can still see around us today. She focused on their personality traits and flaws. That made them timeless because even though time changes people are basically the same.

    This book sounds like it will be really interesting.

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  21. All — thanks again. I’m really enjoying reading your comments. And if you’re able to read the book, I’d love to hear what you think when you’re done. Else – I think you speak for so many people – “Jane Austen is a lifeline for me in this crazy world!” Amen! Drea – I can’t imagine having to deal with Mrs. Norris. Ugh.

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  22. I would agree with either Elinor Dashwood or Fanny Price, but to be different, I think Jane Bennet would also be a good one. I love how she focuses on the good in people. I would like to be able to do that better.

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  23. I read Lori’s first book as soon as it came out and met her at a book signing. She is an awesome gal and an awesome writer. Do you know that her first book is sold in Jane Austen’s House Museum Giftshop as well as The Jane Austen Centre in Bath? I’ve seen it several places when in the UK and was so pleased that it was not only well thought of here in the US but in Jane’s home country. It was a superb book and I’m really looking forward to reading this one. I’ve already ordered it and believe it will it will arrive tomorrow.Yippee! I also struggle with Lyme Disease as does Lori. Most importantly, we share the same joy with Jane Austen in loving our God. Buy this Book!

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  24. Oh, and please sign me up for the book give away anyway so I can share it with my daughter! My character I look up to is Elizabeth Bennet as she is a good daughter even though she has to put up with 3 younger sisters that are a trial and a mother that sounds like a nightmare that she has to constantly try to keep from humiliating her family in public. She makes her mistakes and takes her comeuppances with grace. In the end, because of her willingness to be taught from her mistakes, she ends up a better woman and so does her Mr. Darcy.

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  25. Mr. Knightly would be an excellent life coach. As we all know he loves to dispense advice, and his position in society gave he the ability to become highly education on many topics so his advice was usually sound.

    I am very excited to read this new book because I am newly engaged and graduating college so I would like to be inspired by Jane Austen’s life lessons into my now more grown-up life. I also sincerely enjoyed “A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith” and read it three times. I am sure Lori’s new book will be just as wonderful!

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  26. I loved “A Walk with Jane Austen”! A friend from church gifted me with the book and it’s been one of my favorites :)

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  27. I’m happy to see Ms. Smith has written another book, I really enjoyed A Walk with Jane Austen and I’m looking forward to this one.

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  28. I can think of two women who would be good life coaches. Jane Bennett and Anne Elliot. Both very level headed and calm, not ready to spring to a conclusion. Extremely steadfast.

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  29. Catherine Morland.

    Kidding! I just love Catherine. Elinor advises her sister well, I think.

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  30. what intrigues me about reading this one is the faith perspective that i feel is accurate to JA writing.. i really look fwd to Lori’s take and thank you Lori for sharing your writing gift with us !

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  31. What makes Jane Austen a good life coach? I’d rather say “what DOESN’T make Jane Austen a good life coach,” but you guys write the questions, so I’ll roll with it. I know that what draws me to her and makes me fashion my worldview around so much of what she writes is that she’s not afraid to admire the world and criticize it at the same time. Her wit and her snark abound in her literature, but she has such a way of celebrating life and love as well that you just know she wasn’t one of those embittered female writers living out their days in crass (unproductive) indignation at having never been accepted by their male counterparts.

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  32. We need all of them together.
    there is no perfect role model…she would be fierce. the imperfections of each character are what make them endearing, relate able and give us hope in surviving/succeeding our own lives.

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  33. Thanks for all the love here! Good for this writer’s soul! Amy – I’m not sure I could ever be so good as Jane. Karen – I appreciate the way you look up to Lizzy. Jillian – I agree, I think Mr. Knightley would make a very good life coach! bendhighdesert – Ha! Catherine. Got to love her. extermiteach – yes, the way Austen celebrated life. I put a chapter in the book about her joy, and of all the things I could take from her, I think that’s my favorite. Thank you all again!

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  34. Lovely post! I was so excited when I saw that Lori had written another Austenesque book! I just loved A Walk With Jane Austen! I think that Elinor Dashwood and Mr. Knightley would be wonderful life coaches. They both know how to think rationally and not be moved by their emotions. I think they have a lot to teach us. Thanks for the giveaway!!=)

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  35. I agree with Mrs. Gardiner and would add Charlotte Lucas, who was one of the truest friends/advisors/confidants in the novels, and Anne’s friend Mrs. Smith from Persuasion, who knew what was going on despite (or perhaps because of) not being accepted society.

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  36. Not sure if my comment posted; sorry if I’m repeating myself.

    Miss Jane Austen herself has been an excellent life coach to me through her novels; which is why I’m thirsting for my own copy of Lori’s book!

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  37. Pingback: Giveaway winners announced for The Jane Austen Guide to Life « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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