Book Previews, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

A Preview of Two New Books featuring Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s Second Sister

Have you ever read a book and felt an immediate infinity to the author—like they were your best friend and had written the book just for you? It doesn’t happen very often for me, but it did when I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time many years ago. I had to discover who Jane Austen was and what she was like. When I learned that Martha Lloyd was her best friend, I was immediately jealous. Who was this Martha, and why did my Jane consider her, “…the friend & Sister under every circumstance.”?

Two new books will illuminate  a lot. Martha Lloyd’s Household Book, is a copy of the actual book compiled and written by Martha that she used in the Austen household when she lived with them, and Jane Austen’s Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd, by Zöe Wheddon reveals what it was like to be Austen’s friend and why Martha was a truly a remarkable person worthy of Jane’s friendship.

Okay, after reading these two delightful books I was still jealous of Martha. Who would not be? She was privy to Jane’s life AND her writing. Frederick and Elfrida, one of Austen’s early juvenilia, was dedicated to her.

“As a small testimony of the gratitude I feel for your late generosity to me in finishing my muslin Cloak, I beg leave to offer you this little production of your sincere Friend.”

I still wish I was the one who finished that muslin Cloak!

For those (like me) who enjoy historical recipes that Austen probably consumed and are interested in every known detail of the Austen & Lloyd friendship, these books are a must read. I guess I will have to concede to calling them JaMar and just get over it.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Martha Lloyd’s Household Book: The Original Manuscript from Jane Austen’s Kitchen, by Martha Lloyd with an introduction by Julienne Gehrer

“Lloyd’s handwritten book, in all its blotched and crumbling glory, is to be published in a colour facsimile for the first time, giving readers a new glimpse into Austen’s home life.”― The Guardian


Peek through the kitchen window to experience day-to-day life at Chawton Cottage, the home where Jane Austen wrote and published her famous novels.

Martha Lloyd first befriended a young Jane Austen in 1789 and later lived with Jane, her sister Cassandra, and their mother at the cottage in Chawton, Hampshire, where Jane wrote and revised her novels. Eventually, Martha married Jane’s brother Francis Austen, making her an authority on day-to-day life in the Austen family.

Martha Lloyd’s Household Book is a remarkable artifact, a manuscript cookbook featuring recipes and remedies handwritten over thirty years. Austen fans will spot the many connections between Martha’s book and Jane Austen’s writing, including dishes such as white soup from Pride and Prejudice. Readers will also learn the author’s favorite foods, such as toasted cheese and mead. The family, culinary, and literary connections detailed in the introductory chapters of this work give a fascinating perspective on the time and manner in which both women lived.

Passed down through the Austen family, the Household Book offers unprecedented access into the family home. In this first facsimile publication, Martha’s notebook is reproduced in color, accompanied by a complete transcription and detailed annotations.

  • Martha Lloyd’s Household Book: The Original Manuscript from Jane Austen’s Kitchen, by Martha Lloyd, Julienne Gehrer (Introduction), Deirdre Le Faye (Foreword)
  • Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; Annotated edition (July 22, 2021)
  • Hardcover (312) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1851245604


Jane Austen’s Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd, by Zöe Wheddon

“A unique and impressively informative contribution to our understanding and appreciation of the life and times of Jane Austen, “Jane Austen’s Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd” is an extraordinary accomplishment and must be considered essential reading for all Jane Austen scholars and fans.”— Midwest Book Review


The book will take the form of a “recipe for friendship” as Martha Lloyd is best known for her housekeeping and recipe book.

All fans of Jane Austen everywhere believe themselves to be best friends with the beloved author and this book shines a light on what it meant to be exactly that. Jane Austen’s Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd offers a unique insight into Jane’s private inner circle. Through this heartwarming examination of an important and often overlooked person in Jane’s world, we uncover the life-changing force of their friendship.

Each chapter details the fascinating facts and friendship-forming qualities that tied Jane and Martha together. Within these pages we will relive their shared interests, the hits and misses of their romantic love lives, their passion for shopping and fashion, their family histories, their lucky breaks and their girly chats. This book offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the shared lives of a fascinating pair and the chance to deepen our own bonds in ‘love and friendship’ with them both.

  • Jane Austen’s Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd, by Zöe Wheddon
  • Pen and Sword History (March 26, 2021)
  • Hardcover & eBook (224) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1526763815


Cover images & book descriptions compliments of Bodleian Library © 2021 & Pen and Sword © 2021; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2021,

6 thoughts on “A Preview of Two New Books featuring Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s Second Sister”

  1. Martha’s life was a bit up in the air for my peace of mind, but I do envy her the close association with the Austens. Enjoyed the Zoe Wheddon book.

    Liked by 1 person

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