Welcome to Sanditon, an 1819 Regency seaside community in Sussex England—the fictional site of the new ITV/PBS television adaptation/continuation of Jane Austen’s final unfinished novel.
For those who are watching the eight-part series currently airing in the US on PBS, The World of Sanditon, by Sara Sheridan will be catnip to heighten your addiction. A copiously illustrated behind the scenes look at the making of the new television series, it also is filled with a biography of Jane Austen, historical information on the era, seaside life and health resorts, and Regency life for women.
In addition, there are spotlights on the characters and interviews with the actors who brought them to the screen. Here is a description of the book from the publisher Grand Central Publishing, details on the content, and images from the production for your enjoyment.
Sanditon, the final novel Austen was working on before her death, has been given an exciting conclusion and will be brought to a primetime television audience on PBS/Masterpiece for the very first time by Emmy and BAFTA Award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies (War & Peace, Mr. Selfridge, Les Misérables, Pride and Prejudice).
This, the official companion to the Masterpiece series, contains everything a fan could want to know. It explores the world Austen created, along with fascinating insights about the period and the real-life heartbreak behind her final story. And it offers location guides, behind the scenes details, and interviews with the cast, alongside beautiful illustrations and set photography.
CONTENTS: Continue reading
From 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
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
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
As the month-long Celebrating Georgette Heyer event draws to a close, we can look back through the thirty-four reviews of Heyer’s romance novels and see a common thread through each and every one. Her heroes are epitomes, nonpareils, and nonesuches. In the Regency romance genre, they are a delight to read and an archetype for a new generation of writers. Each is unique but vaguely similar. Why are they so intriguing? So compelling? So swoon-worthy?
Please welcome Heyer scholars Dr. Laura Vivanco and Sarah S. G. Frantz from the Teach Me Tonight blog as they touch upon Heyer’s genius in creating her heroes, paragons of romance perfection.
Georgette Heyer put her heroes into two basic categories: the Mark I hero, who is “The brusque, savage sort with a foul temper” and the Mark II hero, who is “Suave, well-dressed, rich, and a famous whip” (Aiken-Hodge 49).1 The main distinguishing feature is presumably their tempers, since the “brusque, savage sort with a foul temper” may also be “well-dressed, rich, and a famous whip.” Lord Worth, in Regency Buck, is a case in point:
He was the epitome of a man of fashion. His beaver hat was set over black locks carefully brushed into a semblance of disorder; his cravat of starched muslin supported his chin in a series of beautiful folds; his driving-coat of drab cloth bore no less than fifteen capes, and a double row of silver buttons. Miss Taverner had to own him a very handsome creature, but found no difficulty in detesting the whole cast of his countenance. He had a look of self-consequence; his eyes, ironically surveying her from under weary lids, were the hardest she had ever seen, and betrayed no emotion but boredom. His nose was too straight for her taste. His mouth was very well-formed, firm but thin-lipped. She thought it sneered. (15)2
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