Women Who Read Are Dangerous, by Stefan Bollmann — A Review

From the desk of Tracy Hickman: 

If you page through Women Who Read Are Dangerous looking for visual representations that most people associate with danger, you might be confused initially. None of the women are brandishing weapons or committing violent acts. Instead, they sit quietly perusing books, pamphlets, magazines, hymnals, and letters. Some subjects have been caught during a momentary pause in their reading, gazing back at the Continue reading “Women Who Read Are Dangerous, by Stefan Bollmann — A Review”

Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner — A Review

From the desk of Tracy Hickman: 

Natalie Jenner’s debut novel The Jane Austen Society was an international bestseller and one of my favorite books of 2020. Would Ms. Jenner’s latest novel, set in post-war literary London, hold up under the weight of public expectation and comparison with her accomplished first effort? Would the Bloomsbury Girls be up to the task set before them? Continue reading “Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner — A Review”

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Regency Britain: A Handbook for Visitors to 1789–1830, by Ian Mortimer — A Review

From the desk of Tracy Hickman: 

Austenesque fiction like The Jane Austen Project and the BBC TV series Lost in Austen have entertained Janeites with fantastic stories about journeying back in time to Austen’s Regency Britain. While I cannot imagine being tempted myself, unless guaranteed a round-trip ticket, the idea of a virtual visit to Austen’s Britain with an experienced tour guide who is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a writer of Continue reading “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Regency Britain: A Handbook for Visitors to 1789–1830, by Ian Mortimer — A Review”

Jane Austen’s Table: Recipes Inspired by the Works of Jane Austen, by Robert Tuesley Anderson — A Review

From the desk of Tracy Hickman:  

One of my favorite Austen quotes from her letters concerns food: “I shall eat ice and drink French wine and be above vulgar economy.” This was penned in anticipation of a visit to Godmersham, where her brother Edward provided luxuries beyond Jane’s regular fare. From the white soup that Mr. Bingley’s kitchen staff prepare for the ball at Netherfield, to the picnic at Boxhill in Emma, food sustains the Continue reading “Jane Austen’s Table: Recipes Inspired by the Works of Jane Austen, by Robert Tuesley Anderson — A Review”

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire — A Review

From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

If friends are family that we choose, then what do our friendships reveal about us? And what might the literary friendships of women tell us about their lives and their work? Authors and friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney examine the relationships of iconic literary women in A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf to uncover “a treasure-trove of hidden alliances.” (xvi) Continue reading “A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire — A Review”

The London House: A Novel, by Katherine Reay — A Review  

From the desk of Tracy Hickman: 

I have been fascinated with history since I was a child. Learning about people and events from the past has helped me better understand my own life and the world around me. While there can be a temptation to look back at a period of history and think that issues were simpler or clearer, for the people living those events there was no 20/20 hindsight, only uncertainty and struggle. For this reason, I was curious to explore the lives, past and present, touched by Katherine Reay’s The London House. Because I enjoy Continue reading “The London House: A Novel, by Katherine Reay — A Review  “

Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden: A Novel with Pictures, by Janet Todd — A Review

From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

Janet Todd’s latest novel is described as “a (light) meditation on age, mortality, friendship, the tensions and attractions between generations, hope, and the excitement of change” on the back cover. Turning over the attractive green paperback with its decorative motif of foliage and Jane Austen silhouettes, I noticed the subtitle: “A Novel with Pictures.” Thumbing through the pages I glimpsed a sketch of a hedgehog, dozens of nature snapshots, a Welsh flag, a Jane Austen ten-pound note, and the Mona Lisa with sunglasses and a mustache. Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden begins with the famous line from Pride and Prejudice, revealing a streak of irreverence: Continue reading “Jane Austen and Shelley in the Garden: A Novel with Pictures, by Janet Todd — A Review”

Frenchman’s Creek, by Daphne du Maurier — A Review

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du MaurierFrom the desk of Tracy Hickman:

Revisiting a classic novel years after first reading it can yield surprises. Add a hazy recollection of major plot points and you are approaching a fresh canvas rather than a reproduction of a familiar portrait. I was intrigued to revisit Frenchman’s Creek because having last read it in high school, I retained only a faint memory of dissatisfaction with its ending, but found I was unable to recall the specifics of the story. Would rereading the novel confirm my youthful opinion or uncover a different experience of Daphne du Maurier’s adventure? Continue reading “Frenchman’s Creek, by Daphne du Maurier — A Review”

The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner — A Review

Author Chat Graphic with Syrie James and Natalie JennerFrom the desk of Tracy Hickman:

My go-to choice in times of uncertainty is a comfort read. While each person has their own ideas about what qualifies as comfort, I especially enjoy books by authors such as Miss Read (Dora Saint) and D.E. Stevenson. These books are set in a time and place distant enough from my own to divert, but still recognizable and familiar. When I learned that Natalie Jenner’s debut novel, The Jane Austen Society, was set largely in a rural English village in the years immediately following World War II, I hoped it would provide a welcome respite from current personal and collective anxieties. Continue reading “The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner — A Review”

Miss Austen: A Novel, by Gill Hornby — A Review

Miss Austen, by Gill Hornby (2020)From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

Austenesque fiction has produced numerous works told by supporting characters from Austen’s novels, using these fresh viewpoints to breathe life into familiar and beloved stories. Similarly, the title character of Gill Hornby’s Miss Austen is not the famous author, Jane, but her devoted elder sister, Cassandra. In many Austen biographies and surviving family letters, Cassandra figures as an exemplary daughter, sister, Continue reading “Miss Austen: A Novel, by Gill Hornby — A Review”

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, by Helena Kelly—A Review

Jane Austen Secret Radical 2018From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

Was Jane Austen a radical? Was she sympathetic to the “radical reforms” of Charles James Fox and others that included universal male suffrage, the abolition of slavery, and women’s rights? Few would readily place her in the company of Thomas Paine, William Godwin, or Mary Wollstonecraft, but perhaps that is because she kept her dangerous views so well hidden that most of her contemporaries, as well as later generations, have missed them. While I began reading Jane Austen, The Secret Radical with an open but somewhat skeptical mind, I was curious to see what evidence Helena Kelly would provide. In Chapter 1, she throws down the gauntlet: 

We’re perfectly willing to accept that writers like [William] Wordsworth were fully engaged with everything that was happening and to find the references in their work, even when they’re veiled or allusive. But we haven’t been willing to do it with Jane’s work. We know Jane; we know that however delicate her touch she’s essentially writing variations of the same plot, a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in any romantic comedy of the last two centuries.   Continue reading “Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, by Helena Kelly—A Review”

The Clergyman’s Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel, by Molly Greeley — A Review

The Clergyman's Wife, by Molly Greeley (2019)From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

Readers of Pride and Prejudice often compare Charlotte Lucas unfavorably with Elizabeth Bennet who bravely resists financial and familial pressure to accept a proposal from the comically inept Mr. Collins, the man who stands to inherit Longbourn upon her father’s death. While nothing but the deepest love will induce her into matrimony, her closest friend Charlotte decides that she does not have the luxury of waiting for love and quickly catches Mr. Collins on the rebound. Lizzy’s bold refusal stirs our hearts; Continue reading “The Clergyman’s Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel, by Molly Greeley — A Review”

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