The Secret Betrothal: A Pride and Prejudice Alternate Path, by Jan Hahn – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd:   The Secret Betrothal by Jan Hahn (2014)

Marriage in Regency times was the rock that built Society’s foundation. Not only was it the most important step in a young woman’s life, but the union could also advance her family’s social standing and wealth. Throughout Jane Austen’s novels, we are shown the maneuverings of families to obtain advantageous alliances for their children, so when we see the secret engagements in Emma and Sense and Sensibility, and their outcome, we know the risk and scandal that can ensue. With this in mind, I am both curious and uneasy by author Jan Hahn’s choice of The Secret Betrothal as a title of her new novel. Furthermore, in this reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, she has boldly chosen to explore what would happen if Elizabeth Bennet entered into one herself! Whatever would possess our favorite Austen heroine to take this risk—and what would Mr. Darcy do to save her from such a folly?

For reasons I shan’t give away here, Elizabeth must keep this betrothal a secret and when she was told she could tell no one, not even her beloved sister, Jane:

“…she felt a chill crawl up her back….Although he lacked fortune, it was due to no failing on his part, and he had the promise of an adequate future awaiting him. But the possibility of waiting two years provoked a sigh from deep within her. He had warned Elizabeth that they must avoid paying close attention to each other when in public so as not to raise talk among the gossips of Meryton. Being a sensible woman, Elizabeth knew that was necessary as talk of matches and mating was primary among Hertfordshire society. Still, it did not set well with her.”  (63)

Continue reading

Jane Austen and Food, by Maggie Lane – A Review

Jane Austen and Food by Maggie Lane 2013 x 200From the desk of Sarah Emsley:

Is it easier or harder to write if you’re also responsible for feeding and looking after your family? “Composition seems to be impossible, with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb,” Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra in September 1816, after a period in which she managed the household at Chawton Cottage in Cassandra’s absence. Fortunately for Jane – and for us, as readers of her fiction – most of the time it was Cassandra who filled this role, freeing Jane to write. In her writing, she doesn’t mention food very often, yet Maggie Lane’s book Jane Austen and Food shows her references to it are significant because “she uses it to define the character and illustrate moral worth.” Jane Austen and Food was first published in 1995 by The Hambledon Press, and it’s newly available as an inexpensive e-book from Endeavour Press. It isn’t a cookbook, but a discussion of food in Austen’s letters and fiction.

I’ve always loved that line from her letters about composition and reading Jane Austen and Food helped me understand it better. I learned that “mutton” isn’t always just mutton, and that “rhubarb” isn’t what I think of like rhubarb. Mutton, says Lane, “seems to have become the generic word for meat – or for dinner itself.” She cites the example from Mansfield Park of Dr. Grant inviting Edmund Bertram “‘to eat his mutton with him the next day,’ without supposing, for a moment, that ‘the bill of fare’ as he calls it is actually mutton (in fact it’s turkey).” The rhubarb Austen refers to is “not the plant we think of, the stalks of which are eaten as fruit,” but “the medicinal rootstock of the species of rheum grown in China and Tibet,” imported in powdered form to be “used as a purgative by the overfed part of the population.” Lane points out that in Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland eventually realizes poisons are not as readily available as doses of rhubarb. Continue reading

Jane Austen’s England, by Roy and Lesley Adkins – A Review

Jane Austens England, by Lesley and Roy Adkins (2013)From the desk of Shelley DeWees:

“In her novels Jane Austen brilliantly portrayed the lives of the middle and upper classes, but barely mentioned the cast of characters who constituted the bulk of the population. It would be left to the genius of the next generation, Charles Dickens, to write novels about the poor, the workers and the lower middle classes. His novel A Tale of Two Cities starts with celebrated words: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’ This is a succinct summary of Jane Austen’s England, on which we are about to eavesdrop.” p. xxvi

You’ve been warned. Should you wish to maintain the sanctity of your internal imagery of Jane Austen, turn back now, before you step into the not-so-forgiving light of real history. Do thoughts of frocks and frolicking and tea cakes and rainbows seen through the thin gauze of parasols really blow your skirt up? Wishing you could be amongst the ladies and gents of an Austen ball? Hoping against hope that somehow, magically, you could be transported into Jane’s idyllic agrarian life? Jane Austen’s England, in all its cool clarity and detail, is probably not where you should look for inspiration, and may, in fact, leave you reeling; your perfect imaginary life forever ruined! The humanity of it! Continue reading

The Truth About Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Susan Adriani & a Giveaway!

The Truth About Mr. Darcy, by Susan Adriani (2011)Please join us today in welcoming Austenesque author Susan Adriani for the official launch of her blog tour of The Truth About Mr. Darcy, a new Pride and Prejudice variation that was released on May 1, 2011, by Sourcebooks.

If someone had told me I would end up writing a novel someday (never mind that it would actually be published) I would have laughed at them. As a matter of fact, I’m laughing right now. I can’t help it—the entire experience has been completely surreal.

I never set out to be an author. I was a freelance illustrator turned stir-crazy stay-at-home mom; and I’d discovered early on it was nearly impossible to lay down a watercolor wash and work on a commission when there was a very determined little person clinging to my arm, trying to “help” me all the time. As much as I appreciated my daughter’s assistance (she meant well and was ridiculously cute), it soon became apparent that I needed to find an alternative outlet for my creativity, or completely sacrifice my sanity.

The quick fix was to submerse myself in Jane Austen’s world. During that time, I read Pride and Prejudice repeatedly, all the while wondering what happened to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet after the story ended. To my very great pleasure, I found Helen Halstead and Pamela Aiden in my local Borders, and later, Abigail Reynolds online. I quickly fell in love with Abigail’s writing, but even more than that, I was awed by her ability to ask “what if…” and captivated by her talented storytelling. It didn’t take long for my head to become flooded with ideas and possibilities of my own.

The end result was my first book, The Truth About Mr. Darcy (formerly titled Affinity and Affection). Based on the premise of Mr. Darcy actually getting off his high horse (both figuratively and literally) to warn Elizabeth Bennet about George Wickham’s dissolute character. It is the story of a very different journey for our couple. With Darcy’s honesty, Elizabeth is able to see him with a new perspective, and Darcy, because he recognizes Elizabeth’s value earlier in their acquaintance, is far more willing to swallow his pride and attempt to win her good opinion. And of course, there is passion!

I’ve included an excerpt from the first chapter, and hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed being here today. Continue reading

Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Laura Gerold of Laura’s Reviews

Sprig Muslin is a light and funny Regency novel that showcases Georgette Heyer’s wit. I really enjoyed it and it made me laugh out loud several times!  Sprig Muslin was first published in 1956, but the novel is set in 1813.  The main action of the novel takes place in London, Chatteris (in the Fenland District of Cambridgeshire, England) and the roads in between.

This novel tells the tale of Sir Gareth Ludlow. His high spirited fiancée died in an accident many years previous to the start of the novel. Gary has decided he will never find love again and to just marry a friend, Lady Hester Theale, for convenience. Lady Hester is 29 and labeled an old maid – she also has ideas of her own about getting married!

On the way to propose to Lady Hester, Gary meets up with a young girl, Miss Amanda “Smith.” Miss Smith is in a local inn scandalously without a chaperone. Gary decides to chaperone her until he can find out her true identity and family. Hilarity ensues, especially with all of Amanda’s tales and adventures. The scrapes and misunderstandings were fantastic!

The version of Sprig Muslin that I read contained a forward from bestselling author Linda Lael Miller. I’d recommend skipping the foreword until you’ve read the novel. Miller basically tells the entire plot before you start the novel without giving any insight. Continue reading

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for August 2010

The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in August, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.

Audio

The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer, read by Richard Armitage

In honor of historical romance novelist Georgette Heyer’s birthday this month, I am sure that Jane Austen will not mind if I place one of Heyer’s Regency romance novels first among the great selection of books available this month. If you hadn’t noticed, we are celebrating Heyer in a big way all month here on Austenprose, but this novel in particular of the 34 we will be discussing stands head and shoulders over the rest. Yes, the story is one of Heyer’s best with a strong hero and an endearingly flawed young heroine, but this audio edition really chases away any fit of the blue devils with its velvet-voiced reader, Richard Armitage. This is his third foray into reading Heyer for Naxos Audiobooks, and I cannot think of one actor more qualified to make half of the population of the world swoon. (Publishers description) Horatia Winwood is the youngest and the least attractive of the three Winwood sisters. She also has a stammer. But when the enigmatic and eminently eligible Earl of Rule offers for her oldest sister’s hand – a match that makes financial and social sense, but would break her heart – it is Horatia who takes matters into her own impetuous hands. Can she save her family’s fortune? Or is she courting disaster? Witty, charming, elegant and always delightful, Georgette Heyer – the undisputed Queen of Regency Romance – brings the whole period to life with deft precision and glorious characters. Naxos AudioBooks (2010), Abridged Audio CD, ISBN: 978-1843794417. Listen to a preview.

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired)

Emma and the Vampires, by Wayne Josephson

More vampires in our Austen coming our way. This time, its Austen’s handsome, clever, and rich Emma Woodhouse, with a comfortable home and happy disposition with very little to distress or vex her except her vampire neighbors. (Publishers description) In this hilarious retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, screenwriter Wayne Josephson casts Mr. Knightley as one of the most handsome and noble of the gentlemen village vampires. Blithely unaware of their presence, Emma, who imagines she has a special gift for matchmaking, attempts to arrange the affairs of her social circle with delightfully disastrous results. But when her dear friend Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightley, Emma realizes she’s the one who wants to stay up all night with him. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley has been hiding a secret deep within his unbeating heart-his (literal) undying love for her… A brilliant mash-up of Jane Austen and the undead. Sourcebooks Landmark (2010), Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1402241345. Read the first chapter.

To Conquer Mr. Darcy, Abigail Reynolds

Originally published as Impulse and Initiative by Sourcebooks in 2008, this Pride and Prejudice variation asks “what if” after Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet he didn’t give up, but pursued her from Kent back to Longbourn? I reviewed the original edition if you would like to peruse my humble opinion. (Publishers description) What if…Instead of disappearing from Elizabeth Bennet’s life after she refused his offer of marriage, Mr. Darcy had stayed and tried to change her mind? What if…Lizzy, as she gets to know Darcy, finds him undeniably attractive and her impulses win out over her sense of propriety? What if…Madly in love and mutually on fire, their passion anticipates their wedding? In To Conquer Mr. Darcy, instead of avoiding Elizabeth after his ill-fated marriage proposal, Mr. Darcy follows her back to Hertfordshire to prove to her he is a changed man and worthy of her love. And little by little, Elizabeth begins to find the man she thought she despised, irresistible… Sourcebooks Casablanca (2010), Mass market paperback, ISBN: 978-1402237300. Read the first chapter.

Murder on the Bride’s Side: A Mystery, by Tracy Kiely

 

Last year debut author Tracy Kiely blew my bonnet off with her clever Pride and Prejudice inspired whodunit, Murder at Longbourn. Now her clever, but endearingly insecure sleuth Elizabeth Parker is back with a new mystery to solve that is inspired by Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. (Publishers description) Drawing from the classic Sense and Sensibility, Tracy Kiely continues the adventures of Elizabeth Parker, the likable Austen-quoting sleuth, in this witty and charming series. Elizabeth Parker suspected that fulfilling her duties as maid-of-honor for her best friend, Bridget, was going to be murder. And no sooner is the last grain of rice thrown than she finds herself staring into the dead eyes of Bridget’s Aunt Roni, a woman whose death is almost as universally celebrated as Bridget’s nuptials. The horror only increases when Harry, Bridget’s cousin, becomes the chief suspect. The idea is ludicrous to the family because Harry is one of the kindest, most compassionate people imaginable. To complicate matters, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Peter, appears to be falling for an old flame, a gorgeous wedding planner. Determined to clear Harry of the crime, reign in Bridget’s impulsive brand of sleuthing, and figure out where Peter’s heart lies, Elizabeth sets her mind to work. Minotaur Books (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0312537579.  Read my preview and an excerpt here.

Austen’s Oeuvre

Emma (Blackstone Audio Classic), by Jane Austen, read by Nadia May

Since one can never have too many audio editions of Emma to break the monotony of the work commute,  pop this one into your car CD player and enjoy an unabridged recording of  Austen’s nonsensical girl. (Publishers description) Often considered Jane Austen’s finest work, Emma is the story of a charmingly self-deluded heroine whose injudicious matchmaking schemes often lead to substantial mortification. Emma, ”handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” Her own great fortune has blinded Emma to the true feelings and motivations of others and leads her to some hilarious misjudgments. But it is through her mistakes that Emma finds humility, wisdom, and true love. Told with the shrewd wit and delicate irony which has made Jane Austen a master of the English novel, Emma is a comic masterpiece whose fanciful heroine has gained the affection of generations of readers. Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2010), Unabridged CD, ISBN: 978-1441755360

Nonfiction

The Jane Austen Pocket Bible: The Perfect Gift for a Literary Lover, by Holly Ivins

From the publisher’s description, this appears to be the be-all, end-all of Austen enlightenment. That is a lot of Austenology for this slim 192-page volume. (Publishers description) The perfect gift for a literary lover. Have you ever dreamt of Darcy? Wished for Wentworth? Or even envied the womanly wiles of Emma? Perhaps you want to know a bit more about the author who so accurately describes the ins and outs of courtship, and whose novels have never been out of print since they were first published nearly 200 years ago? If you’re nodding in excitement reading this then the Jane Austen Pocket Bible is one for you. This handy little book guides you through Austen’s beloved novels, explaining Regency manners, the class system, the importance of inheritance, and the delicate matter of landing a husband. Full of fascinating trivia about the world of Austen’s novels this book also contains details of Austen’s life, the writers who inspired her, the country estates which make up the settings for her romantic adventures, and details on the countless film and television adaptations which have been made. With facts on genteel dancing, a plan for an Austen dinner party and words of wisdom from the lady herself, it’s a must-have for every self-confessed Jane fan or those making their first foray into Austen’s carefully crafted world. Pocket Bibles (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1907087097

Austen’s Contemporaries & Beyond

Becoming Queen Victoria: The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain’s Greatest Monarch, by Kate Williams

There are a ton of Victoria biographies on the market, so why do we need another one? Kate Williams is why. If any of you missed her 2006 bio of Emma Hamilton, England’s Mistress, it is well worth a trip to the library or that gift card you have been hoarding from last Christmas. Her next venture into fascinating women from the nineteenth-century is with Queen V. Her slant is the Princess Charlotte tragedy and how it made the Royal family scamper to conceive the next heir to the throne. (Publishers description) In her lauded biography England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, Kate Williams painted a vivid and intimate portrait of Emma Hamilton, the lover of English national hero Lord Horatio Nelson. Now, with the same keen insight and gift for telling detail, Williams provides a gripping account of Queen Victoria’s rise to the throne and her early years in power—as well as the tragic, little-known story of the princess whose demise made it all possible. Writing with a combination of novelistic flair and historical precision, Williams reveals an energetic and vibrant woman in the prime of her life, while chronicling the byzantine machinations behind Victoria’s struggle to occupy the throne—scheming that continued even after the crown was placed on her head. Ballantine Books (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0345461957. Read the first chapter.

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester

Not just your average compendium of Regency-era historical facts and figures, this volume uses Georgette Heyer’s novels as a springboard and ties in social, cultural and political customs and events, explaining it all for you, clearly and concisely. Read my review for full details and insights. (Publishers description) The definitive guide for all fans of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, and the glittering Regency period. Immerse yourself in the resplendent glow of Regency England and the world of Georgette Heyer…From the fascinating slang, the elegant fashions, the precise ways the bon ton ate, drank, danced, and flirted, to the shocking real-life scandals of the day, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World takes you behind the scenes of Heyer’s captivating novels. As much fun to read as Heyer’s own novels, beautifully illustrated, and meticulously researched, Jennifer Kloester’s essential guide brings the world of the Regency to life for Heyer fans and Jane Austen fans alike. Sourcebooks (2010), Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1402241369. Read the first chapter.

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Robinette Kowal

More fun with Jane. (sort of) This Regency-era novel has some similar Austenesque themes: two sisters with divergent personality seek love and happiness, but with Harry Potter magic thrown in the mix. It looks intriguing. Let’s hope the prose is light, bright and sparkly. (Publishers description) The fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written. Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attention of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own. Tor Books, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0765325563. Read the first chapter.

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester (new edition) – A Review

During her prolific fifty-three year writing career, British author Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) wrote fifty-six historical fiction, Regency romance and detective fiction novels. She was a pioneer in Regency romance, and is generally attributed by many for establishing the sub-genre that is flourishing today. Stylish, witty and historically accurate, her humorous plots and memorable characters continue to be the benchmark for new Regency romance writers today.

In her lifetime Heyer publisher twenty-six Regency-era novels, many of which are again available in new editions by Sourcebooks and Harlequin Books. Renowned for her historical detail, to read a Heyer Regency romance is to be truly entrenched in the bon ton lifestyle in England from 1811 to 1820. Even though readers can enjoy her novels without understanding the entire historical context or nuanced meanings behind social customs and colloquialisms of the time, it is even more entertaining if you do. Georgette Heyer’s Regency World: The definitive guide for all fans of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, and the glittering Regency period, by Jennifer Kloester offers an incredible resource for historical fiction enthusiasts and Regency-era novelists.

Readers will find detailed cultural information on the society and customs of the early nineteenth-century aristocrats and gentry that populate Heyer’s drawing room comedies. Learn the importance of social strata and the right connections, where to live in Town and the country, how to dress, eat and conduct yourself properly in polite society, where to shop for a fashionable frock, what type of carriage to tool down St. James Street in, which pleasure haunts to frequent in London, and, most importantly, who to be seen with and who to avoid socially. Also included are appendixes on de rigueur Regency era cant and common phrases that Heyer’s characters frequently use, a very helpful historical time-line and other pertinent information on the English Regency period and its colorful characters.

What elevates this book beyond a collection of historical facts is its organization and that the author places many of Heyer’s novels and characters in context to the categories and descriptions within the text. For example, Hero the young and naïve bride in Friday’s Child soon learns the importance of proper language when she asks her husband Lord Sheringham about his ‘opera dancer’ and is quickly’ put right’ on the ways of the world by a brotherly friend. Unbeknownst to Hero who had received a negligent upbringing, young ladies vocabulary was strictly regulated and a slip such as asking her husband about his mistress could ruin her reputation if the conversation had been overheard outside the family. If you do not know what an ‘opera dancer’ is, or their reputation for becoming the mistresses of the bon ton, then you missed an important aspect of Hero’s personality and Lord Sheringham’s position in society. The book is full of similarly helpful insights and I found myself learning more about Regency culture and developing a greater appreciation for Georgette Heyer’s skill as an historian and writer as the book progressed. What a treasure!

Originally published in the United Kingdom in 2005 by William Heinemann, this new edition is being re-issued on August 1st, 2010 by Sourcebooks and available in North America for the first time. Gentle Readers, since Sourcebooks is publishing it, we know it is ‘bang up to the mark’ and the definitive guide to all things in Heyer’s world.

4 out 5 Regency Stars

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester
Sourcebooks (2010)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-1402241369

‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’: Day 01 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of five copies available of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about reading a Heyer novel or who your favorite hero or heroine is by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming posts

Day 02    Aug 02 – Review: The Black Moth
Day 02    Aug 02 – Review: Powder and Patch
Day 03    Aug 04 – Review: These Old Shades
Day 03    Aug 04 – Review: The Masqueraders

Celebrating Georgette Heyer   •   August 1st – 31st, 2010

‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ at Austenprose – August 1st – 31st, 2010

Stylish, witty and historically accurate, novelist Georgette Heyer has been delighting readers with her romantic comedies for eighty-nine years. In honor of her birthday on August 16th, Austenprose.com will feature a month long event ‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ featuring thirty-four book reviews of her romance novels, guest blogs, interviews of Heyer enthusiast from the blog-o-sphere, academia and publishing and tons of great giveaways.

Our very special guests will be Heyer expert Vic Sanborn of Jane Austen’s World and Deb Werksman, acquiring editor of Sourcebook Casablanca and the catalyst in re-introducing Heyer to a new generation of readers.

Thirty fellow Heyer enthusiasts will be joining in the festivities graciously contributing book reviews of all her romance novels.

Georgette Heyer Event Schedule

Sun      Aug 01

Event intro

Deb Werksman Interview

Review of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, Laurel Ann – Austenprose

Mon    Aug 02

The Black Moth, Aarti – Book Lust

Powder and Patch, Lucy – Enchanted by Josephine

Wed    Aug 04

These Old Shades, Keira – Love Romance Passion

The Masqueraders, Helen – She Reads Novels

Fri       Aug 06

Devil’s Cub, Meredith – Austenesque Reviews

The Convenient Marriage – Austenprose

Sun      Aug 08

Regency Buck, Susan Holloway Scott – Two Nerdy History Girls

The Talisman Ring, Ana – An Evening at Almack’s

Mon    Aug 09

An Infamous Army, Elaine Simpson Long – Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover

The Spanish Bride, Kelly – Jane Austen Sequel Examiner

Wed    Aug 11

The Corinthian, Danielle – A Work in Progress

Faro’s Daughter, Joanna – Regency Romantic

Fri       Aug 13

The Reluctant Widow, Jane Greensmith – Reading, Writing, Working, Playing

The Foundling, Claire – The Captive Reader

Sun      Aug 15

Arabella, Kara Louise – Delightful Diversions

The Grand Sophy, Meg – Write Meg

Mon    Aug 16

Interview with Vic – Jane Austen’s World

Friday’s Child, Vic – Jane Austen’s World

Wed    Aug 18

The Quiet Gentleman – Jane Austen in Vermont

Cotillion – First Impressions

Fri       Aug 20

The Toll-Gate – Laura’s Reviews

Bath Tangle – Jane Austen in Vermont

Sun      Aug 22

Sprig Muslin – Laura’s Reviews

April Lady – Becky’s Book Reviews

Mon    Aug 23

Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle – Austenprose

Venetia – Austenprose

Wed    Aug 25

The Unknown Ajax – The Bluestocking Guide

A Civil Contract – Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover

Fri       Aug 27

The Nonesuch – Burton Review

False Colours – Austenprose

Sun      Aug 29

Frederica – Linus’ Blanket

Black Sheep – November’s Autumn

Mon    Aug 30

Cousin Kate – Book-A-Rama

Charity Girl – Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Tues    Aug 31

Lady of Quality – Elizabeth Hanbury Blog

Event wrap-up

Sat       Sep 07

Giveaway winners announced

The festivities start August first with a review of the newly re-issued Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester. Don’t be a wet goose. Chase away that fit of the blue-devils by attending this bon ton affair.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

Graphic’s by Katherine of November’s Autumn & Kali of Strangegirl Designs!

Celebrating Georgette Heyer   •   August 1st – 31st, 2010

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester – A Review

During her prolific fifty-three year writing career, British author Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) wrote fifty-six historical fiction, historical Regency romance and detective fiction novels.  She was a pioneer in Regency romance, and is generally attributed by many for establishing the sub genre that is flourishing today. Stylish, witty and historically accurate, her humorous plots and memorable characters serve as the benchmark for new Regency romance writers.

In her lifetime Heyer publisher twenty-six Regency-era novels, many of which are again available in new editions by Sourcebooks and Harlequin Books. Renowned for her historical detail, to read a Heyer Regency romance is to be truly entrenched in the bon ton lifestyle in England from 1811 to 1820. Even though readers can enjoy her novels without understanding the entire historical context or nuanced meanings behind social customs and colloquialisms of the time, it is even more entertaining if you do. Georgette Heyer’s Regency World: The definitive guide to the people, places and society in Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels , by Jennifer Kloester offers an incredible resource for Jane Austen fans, Georgette Heyer enthusiasts and Regency-era novelists. Here you will find detailed cultural information on the aristocrats and gentry that populate her drawing room comedies. Learn the importance of social strata and the right connections, where to live in Town and the country, how to dress, eat and conduct yourself properly in polite society, where to shop for a fashionable frock, what type of carriage to tool down St. James Street in, which pleasure haunts to frequent in London, and, most importantly, who to be seen with and who to avoid socially. Also included are appendixes on de rigueur Regency era cant and common phrases that Heyer’s characters frequently use, a very helpful historical timeline and other pertinent information.

What elevates this book beyond a collection of historical facts is its organization and that the author places many of Heyer’s novels and characters in context to the categories and descriptions within the text. For example, Hero the young and naïve bride in Friday’s Child soon learns the importance of proper language when she asks her husband Lord Sheringham about his ‘opera dancer’ and is quickly informed on the ways of the world by a brotherly friend. Unbeknownst to Hero who had received a negligent upbringing, young ladies vocabulary was strictly regulated and a slip such as asking her husband about his mistress could ruin her reputation if the conversation had been overheard outside the family. If you do not know what an ‘opera dancer’ is or their reputation for becoming the mistresses of the bon ton, then you missed an important aspect of Hero’s personality and Lord Sheringham’s position in society. The book is full of similarly helpful insights and I found myself learning more about Regency culture and developing a greater appreciation for Georgette Heyer’s skill as a writer as the book progressed. What a treasure!

Originally published in the UK in 2005 and reissued in 2008 by Arrow Books (Random House UK), Georgette Heyer’s Regency World is an import and not readily available in North American bookstores. I purchased my edition from Paperbackshop-US via Advanced Book Exchange, but I was happy to discover that Sourcebooks will be printing a new edition that will be available this August. Gentle Readers, since Sourcebooks is re-issuing it, we know it is more than worthy and the definitive guide to all things in Heyer’s world.

4 out 5 Regency Stars

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester
Arrow Books, London (2008)
Trade paperback (382) pages
ISBN: 978-0099478720

Addtional Reviews:

This is my contribution to The Classics Ciruit: Georgette Heyer on Tour March 2010. Join in the celebration as bloggers participate in a month long tour in March featuring reviews of novels by the Queen of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer. Here is the tour:

March 01, 2010 One Librarian’s Book Reviews Review: Frederica
March 01, 2010 Austenprose Review: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester
March 02, 2010 Enchanted by Josephine Review: Beauvallet
March 03, 2010 Books and Chocolate Review: Behold, Here’s Poison
March 03, 2010 Michelle’s Masterful Musings Review: Devil’s Cub
March 04, 2010 Sparks’ Notes Review: Friday’s Girl
March 05, 2010 Tales from the Reading Room Review: The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge
March 06, 2010 BookNAround Review: The Grand Sophy
March 07, 2010 Windy Ridge Books Review: Why Shoot a Butler?
March 8, 2010 A Striped Armchair Review: The Unknown Ajax
March 8, 2010 A Book Lover Review: The Convenient Marriage
March 9, 2010 First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice Review: The Black Sheep
March 10, 2010 Bibliosue Review: The Unfinished Clue
March 11, 2010 Fleur Fisher Reads Review: No Wind of Blame
March 12, 2010 Reviews by Lola Review: Frederica
March 12, 2010 Reading, Writing, Working, Playing Review: Envious Casca
March 13, 2010 Life Is a Patchwork Quilt Review: My Lord John
March 14, 2010 Jenny’s Books Review: The Grand Sophy
March 15, 2010 Booklust Review: Penhallow
March 16, 2010 Carol’s Notebook Review: Cotillion
March 16, 2010 Musings Review: These Old Shades
March 17, 2010 Reading Adventures Review: Devil’s Cub
March 18, 2010 Blog Jar Review: Royal Escape
March 19, 2010 Reading, Writing and Retirement Review: Friday’s Child
March 20, 2010 Staircase Wit Review: The Grand Sophy
March 21, 2010 Medieval Bookworm Review: Corinthian
March 22, 2010 Bibliolatry Review: Footsteps in the Dark
March 22, 2010 Linus’s Blanket Review: Frederica
March 24, 2010 Kay’s Bookshelf Review The Grand Sophy
March 26, 2010 A Few More Pages Review: The Nonesuch
March 27, 2010 A Reader’s Respite Review: The Conquerer
March 28, 2010 Tell Me a Story Review: Faro’s Daughter
March 29, 2010 Sasha & the Silverfish Review: Arabella
March 30, 2010 Becky’s Book Reviews Review: Sprig Muslin
March 30, 2010 Shelf Love Review: A Civil Contract
March 31, 2010 book-a-rama Review: A Lady of Quality

Share

End of Month Austenesque Mini-Review Roundup – September

Waiting for Mr. Darcy, by Chamein Canton (2009)Waiting for Mr. Darcy, by Chamein Canton

A contemporary mid-lit novel inspired by every woman’s dream of finding her Mr. Darcy no matter what age. Lauren, Gabby, and Alicia are three forty-something full-figured friends who met in adolescence, loved, worked, married, divorced, and everything in-between but are not quite ready to give up on their eternal quest for a Jane Austen hero. Packed with endearing friendships, romance, and tons of food, this novel is as full-figured as its heroines in its social commentary on midlife dating and as generous as its 405 pages in pure fun. Be prepared for sexual situations, inter-racial relationships and plenty of laughs.  Genesis Press, ISBN: 978-1585713516

3 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The English Pleasure Garden, by Sarah Jane Downing (2009)The English Pleasure Garden 1660-1860, by Sarah Jane Downing

This slim volume is brimming with historical information on the creation and evolution of the popular Pleasure Gardens in England. Originally designed as a diversion for the rich, Pleasure Gardens such as Vauxhall Garden in London and Sydney Gardens in Bath not only featured beautifully landscaped walks and vistas but halls for music and dancing. Given the size limitations of this book, it is a nice introduction to a topic that will appeal to historical fiction readers and history students. My one disappointment is that the lovely vintage images are not credited. Otherwise, the author’s research is impressive, taking the reader back to a time when the social scene meant putting on your best frock and leaving the house instead of poking your friends on Facebook. Shire Publications, ISBN: 978-0747806998

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. WintersSense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

Trolling for a fresh catch after the runaway bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the new craze of literary mash-ups rears its irreverent head from the briny deep and takes a big bite out of Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility, rewriting a masterpiece and inserting sea monsters and very little humor. Served up are sixty percent original Austen and forty percent cioppino, swimming with man-eating jellyfish, giant lobsters, and rampaging octopi. What results is a Jules Verne nightmare that belongs 20,000 leagues under the sea. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a clever parody of Jane Austen’s original, laughing with her tongue-in-cheek. This time out, only the bald-headed, gibberish chanting little sister Margaret Dashwood makes any sense, and all the ironic sensibility of Austen’s classic ends up as soggy fish and chips. Quirk Books, ISBN: 978-1594744426

1 out of 5 Regency Stars