Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard – A Review

Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard (2011)As 2011 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, we are offered another annotated edition to help us understand the social and historical context of the world that Jane Austen places us into in late eighteenth century England.

The Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library) is the first Jane Austen novel, in what I hope will be the bookend of Jane Austen’s six major works, to be offered in eBook format from Girlebooks. Yes, the format is digital gentle readers – and I think it quite appropriate that Margaret Sullivan is leading the way for us as its annotator. Many know Margaret as the editrix of AustenBlog.com, but she is also a strong advocate of digital books, and has for many years been waving their flag in attempt to prepare us for the inevitable. That time has come. This is the first book I am reviewing for Austenprose that is being produced solely for the digital market.

Sense and Sensibility is the tale of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, each cut from the same cloth, yet facing financial, social and romantic trials together from totally different perspectives, and – with varying degrees of hardship and success. Level headed and practical Elinor is the older of the two and often the only one in the family to keep her widowed mother and impetuous younger sister on a straight path. Marianne is wildly romantic and hell-bent to stretch the limits of proper decorum into the next county. Three men will change their life paths: Edward Ferrars, a reserved and stoic eldest son whose family aspires to greatest, yet he craves the simple life a country parson; Colonel Brandon, retired from the army and from love because of the loss of his first love many years hence; and Mr. Willoughby, handsome, charming and impassioned, but at a price. As the young ladies search for love, honor and financial security, Austen weaves in a rich social tapestry of minor characters, social commentary and the dry humor that she is renowned for.

While Sense and Sensibility offers some recognizable themes of the era of financially challenged young women searching for love and security in a society whose constraints sharply narrow their possibility of success, Austen has infused deep social context as well. Of all of Austen’s six major novels, S&S is driven by legal inheritance laws of primogeniture in England and how women were affected by them. These can be very puzzling to the contemporary reader and Sullivan’s notes throughout the text can help smooth a few furrowed brows. For example, in Volume One, Chapter two “Mrs. John Dashwood now installed herself mistress of Norland; and her mother and sister-in-law were degraded to the condition of visitors.” This one sentence is the lynchpin of the novel. If you understand why the widow Dashwood and her three daughters are be to displaced, downsized in social standing, the rest of the narrative will all fit into place. If you don’t you’re in trouble and will miss much of the inside story that Austen wants you to experience. If you tap on the numbered endnotes within the text, it will take you to the explanation. Tapping on the number again will take you back to the text. It is that simple.

With only 97 endnotes, this edition is not as extensively annotated as this year’s The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, Edited and Annotated by David M. Shapard, Anchor Books (2011), however, it does contain: A biography of the authoress; A bibliography and further reading; Information and Jane Austen’s life and culture; Author’s having fun with Jane Austen’; Fiction inspired by Sense and Sensibility; Films adapted from and inspired by Sense and Sensibility; and a buoyant forward and an unerring eye by the annotator. The illustrations by Cassandra Chouinard add levity, but are not expandable, so it was difficult to appreciate any detail. One must also take a leap of faith and assume that this is an unabridged text, but what version used, is not stated.

The eBook is available in Adobe Reader PDF, Kindle/Mobipocket PRC, ePub & Microsoft Reader LIT for the modest price of $2.99. Yes, there are a lot of “free” editions of S&S out there to be had for digital readers. Don’t be fooled by “free” gentle readers. Not all eBooks are created equal. The expert formatting and craftsmanship exhibited by this Girlebook edition is well worth the value.  For a middlin’ annotated edition, this Bicentenary Library presentation is “everything that is worthy and amiable.”

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my eleventh selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

Sense and Sensibility (The Jane Austen Bicentenary Library), by Jane Austen, annotated by Margaret C. Sullivan, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard
Girlebooks (2011)
Available at Girlebooks, Kindle US, Kindle UK, Nookbook Store & Smashwords

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Guest Blog with the Amiable Margaret C. Sullivan, Author of The Jane Austen Handbook, & a Giveaway!

The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan (2011)Please welcome the author and editrix of AustenBlog Margaret Sullivan today. She has graciously consented to share some thoughts on her newly re-issued The Jane Austen Handbook, a lighthearted how-to book for every Regency Miss in the making.

Thanks to Laurel Ann for the opportunity to do a guest post on Austenprose about The Jane Austen Handbook. The book is part of Quirk Books’ handbooks line, which includes a Batman Handbook, a Spiderman Handbook, and some other subjects tied into popular culture–so on that level it’s pretty cool that Quirk chose Jane Austen as the subject of their first literary handbook. The idea behind the Handbook is a straight-faced presentation of a rather silly and fun premise: that should one find oneself sucked through a time warp into one of Jane Austen’s novels, and fortunate enough to be a genteel lady of the gentry rather than a scullery maid, one would be able to use the (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) advice in the Handbook to handle any situation that might arise. Sort of like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Janeite Edition. Don’t Panic!

There have been some great new reviews for the Handbook which I’ve enjoyed reading, but a question came up back when the book was first released in 2007 which has come up again with the re-release: would an average 21st-century woman really want to live in Regency England?

Well, sure! you cry. Men in breeches! Pretty gowns and bonnets! Dances every night! Polite manners! Tea! Did we mention men in breeches, and if not, Men in breeches!

And this, say the critics, is precisely the problem. We’ve read these lighthearted novels that never mention the hard lives of servants, or the fact that Napoleon’s army was rampaging across the European continent, or that a lot of the great fortunes and big houses were purchased with money acquired from the sale and labor of human beings, or that there were a lot of really poor people in England who had really horrible lives. To encourage young women to fantasize about being Mrs. Darcy in some sanitized Disneyesque Regencyland is doing them a disservice, as women in Regency England weren’t educated except for showy “accomplishments,” and they had no freedom and no way to achieve self-determination. She went from her father’s house to her husband’s house and probably died in childbed as she produced her fifteenth baby.

Well, gee, I don’t know about you, Gentle Readers, but my mellow is harshed.

Breeches?

Nope, didn’t work.

The thing is, to an extent I have to agree with all that. I really wouldn’t want to live in those days. No penicillin. No microwave ovens. No birth control. No control at all, really, for women.

But Jane Austen really didn’t ignore that stuff. Among her characters were soldiers and sailors, engaged in protecting the country from invasion or actively fighting Boney; men who ensured that the families and workers under their protection did not starve or freeze; happily married women and mothers; women who took advantage of their fathers’ libraries to fill in the gaps on their limited education. Austen did not explain every detail, because she didn’t have to. She was writing for an audience of her own contemporaries, who would have understood that Elizabeth Bennet, seeing Pemberley for the first time as a well-run house and village, not showy or pretentious, and hearing Mr. Darcy praised by “an intelligent servant” as someone who does good for the poor, did not change her opinion only because she could imagine herself living there among wealth and luxury (well, maybe a little; Lizzy was human, after all) but because it was evidence of Mr. Darcy’s true quality. The contemporary reader would have understood that Fanny Price’s first dance was a big occasion, and why she was panicky about “being looked at” as she opened the ball, and that a gentleman engaging a lady for the first dance of a ball is a sign that he is interested in her romantically. She would have understood the implications of Marianne Dashwood writing letters to Willoughby and Jane Fairfax receiving them from Frank Churchill. Because Jane Austen wrote about these everyday things with intelligence and humor, with a knowledge of her fellow men and women and a willingness to plainly show that sometimes people are awful to one another, we recognize an internal truth of the novels that have kept us reading them for two centuries. She gave us tremendous, complex characters with whom we still fall in love as we fall in love with the novels. The everyday details don’t really make a bit of difference.

So why read The Jane Austen Handbook? Well, it’s a lighthearted look at the life and times of Jane Austen’s characters, and even if they’re not vital, it still can be fun to learn about them. I tried to keep in mind the questions I had when I first read Jane Austen. What did their clothes look like? Did they do anything but go to dances, and who taught them all the dances anyway? Why are letters only one page long? Why was it such an operation to travel, and why did it take so long, and did they really stay at someone’s house for months and months? Why is it such a big deal to run away to Scotland? Why not run away to Bath or York? And for pity’s sake why didn’t they just TALK to each other? I tried to make it informative for newbies and still fun for the long-time Janeites, with lots of inside jokes and familiar comments.

And of course with the help of The Jane Austen Handbook, you’ll be a hoopy frood of a Janeite who really knows where her towel is.*

*R.I.P. Douglas Adams.

Thanks for your insights Margaret. I know that I am a wiser Janeite for having read your lovely handbook, and refer to it quite often when one of those nagging questing arise on the era.

About the author:

Margaret C. Sullivan is the Editrix of AustenBlog.com, a compendium of news and commentary about Jane Austen and her work in popular culture. She is the author of The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England (Quirk Books, 2007 and 2011) and There Must Be Murder (Girlebooks/Librifiles 2010). Her favorite Jane Austen novel is Persuasion, which led her to a continuing enthusiasm for Age of Sail fiction. Visit Margaret at her website Tilney and Trap Doors & blog AustenBlog.

Giveaway of The Jane Austen Handbook:

Proper Life Skills from Regency England

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of The Jane Austen Handbook, by leaving a comment answering which proper Regency life skills you think one of Jane Austen’s erring characters might have benefited from, or offer your best guess of what the C. in Margaret’s name is an abbreviation of (extra points for the most creative answer) by midnight PT, Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Winner announced on Thursday, March 31, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

© 2007 – 2011 Margaret C. Sullivan, Austenprose

Austenprose Celebrates Second Anniversary – What Would Dear Jane Say?

Austen Pop Banner

“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours,

and laugh at them in our turn?”

Another year in the Austen blogosphere has passed and I’m still here musing and muddling about on my favorite author and other related Regency folly and nonsense! Milestones are a great time to look back and reflect on what I really have been blabbering about, who was hot, and not, and what you all enjoyed the most. So here goes. 

Top 10 most popular posts 

  1. Pride and Prejudice: Which Mr. Darcy Has the Noble Mien for You? 
  2. Masterpiece’s Wuthering Heights Succumbs to a Case of Bad Parenting 
  3. Zombies and Vampires and Jane Austen, Oh My! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is Haute! 
  4. Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange – Preview 
  5. Preview: BBC One’s Emma staring Romola Garai Begins on Sunday 
  6. Lost in Austen: Review of Episode Four: Amanda Fixes Things at Warp Speed! 
  7. Lost in Austen: Review of Episode Three: Droolgate as Darcy Does the Dip 
  8. Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, by Sharon Lathan: The Sunday Salon Review 
  9. Jane Austen Short Story Award 2009 Winners Announced 
  10. Little Dorrit Recap & Review of Episode Two on Masterpiece Classic

This is a diverse mix of posts indeed as interest is all over the Austen hill and dale, and some not even in her neighborhood. It represents what was in the news, on our minds and haute in the media and culture for the past year. Some I expected, others are a complete surprise.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that many, many people are still fascinated by top hottie Mr. Darcy. He eclipsed all other posts four times over. In my mind, this proves that he is indeed a literary and pop culture icon.

The balance of posts were topical items. Controversary is still King. The review of Wuthering Heights proved that if you express your opinion decidedly and make a fool out of yourself, people will flock to watch you squirm in embarrassment. I hope that the Brontë community will forgive me for trying to apply Austen logic to a Victorian tale of craziness.

Vampires and zombies arrived at our local bookstores this year stretching Austen in totally new directions. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the breakout surprise. Who ‘da thought a zombie and Austen mash-up would make an international best selling novel and launch a new book genre – literary rip offs – opening  the flood gates for, yes, Austen and vampires?  We were all aflutter to read Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and snapped that one up too. Hope the author made a ton of money since that appeared to be the prime objective. Another book that caused bus accident gawking was Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One. I will let other pens dwell on the “why,” but I have sneaking suspicion that the author is dancing all the way to the bank too.

Two new Austen inspired mini-series hit the airwaves in the UK and US. Lost in Austen was the biggest surprise hit and the new Sandy Welch adaptation of Emma that premiered in the UK last month had tongues wagging.

Last and pleasingly last, the Jane Austen Short Story Award garnered more interest than anticipated. It is gratifying to think that new short stories inspired by Jane Austen piqued Googling and readers landed on my blog. 

The rest of data is just icing, but of interest in an Austen cultural enlightening kind of way. It is a small example of who Janeites are, and why we love Jane Austen.

Top 5 most popular book reviews

  1. Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, by Sharon Lathan: The Sunday Salon Review 
  2. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Jane Austen Ate Our Brain Long Ago: The Sunday Salon Review
  3. Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes: A Novel, by Regina Jeffers: The Sunday Salon Review
  4. The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, A Novel by Maya Slater – A Review
  5. Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange – A Review

I reviewed 59 books in the last year! Gulp – that’s a lot of Jane and her scions.

Top 5 most popular search terms

  1. Elliot Cowan
  2. Matthew Macfadyen
  3. David Rintoul
  4. Northanger Abbey
  5. Mr Darcy Vampyre

What? No Colin Firth? Abomniable.

Top 10 clicks to other sites

  1. Jane Austen Today
  2. BBC official Emma page
  3. Which Austen Heroine are You Quiz?
  4. Everything Austen Challenge at Stephanie’s Written Word 
  5. PBS Masterpiece website
  6. Jane Austen’s World
  7. Republic of Pemberley
  8. AustenBlog
  9. Naxos AudioBooks
  10. Enchanted Serenity of Period Films

Who you all want to visit – says a lot about me too!

Top 10 referrers

  1. Jane Austen Today
  2. Jane Austen’s World
  3. Molland’s Circulating Library
  4. The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide
  5. AustenBlog
  6. Elegant Extracts
  7. Becky’s Book Reviews
  8. Reading, Working, Writing, Playing
  9. Emma Adaptations
  10. Marie Antoinete’s Gossip Guide

A big thank you to fellow Janeite’s Vic (Ms Place) of Jane Austen’s World and my co-blogger at Jane Austen Today and Mags at AustenBlog. Two clever and witty ladies who keep me on my toes. Last, but first in my book – your 1,975 comments – all read and greatly enjoyed. Thanks to all for visiting my little corner of Austenland…

 where There is a monsterous deal of stupid quizzing, & common-place nonsense talked, but scarcely any wit.”

Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, 21 April 1805

Austen Tattler: News and Gossip around the Blogosphere

Austen Tattler Banner
“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.” Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Jane Austen around the blogosphere for the week of February 1st

Hot News of the week

Definitely the upcoming release of the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which was taken the Internet by deathly storm prompting the publisher Quirk Books to move up the release date. You can read my first thoughts about it at Jane Austen Today, this week on the reaction, and the controversy regarding the author’s attitude toward Janeites at AustenBlog.

Noteworthy

Jane Austen in the City of Bath, England is a lovely article with beautiful photos at Quillcards Blog

Get ready for Valentine’s Day with snarky Austen themed valentines at Elegant Extracts Blog.

Sense and Sensibility (2008) is being rebroadcast on Masterpiece Classic on Sundays Feb 1st & 8th. You can catch up on the first episode by reading the synopsis of episode one at the Masterpiece offical site and read reviews at Jane Austen’s World and here at Austenprose. Tune in to PBS this Sunday for the conclusion.

The Excessively Diverting Blog Award recognizes seven writers of note on the Internet presented by the Jane Austen Today blogging team.

Over at Risky Regencies indulge in a little escapsism with Highwayman of the High Seas: The Romance of the Smugler by Julia Justiss. Everyone loves a naughty pirate, yo ho!

Of Books and Bicycles is reading Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A Life and has some interesting thoughts on her insights.

Arti at Ripple Effects asks which Austen Heroine was Jane herself most like?

Entertainment

The Black Moth is available from GirleBooks for free. Ms Place (Vic) at Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen’s World is an ardent Heyer fan and tells us that this is one of Heyer’s first novels, and now ready for you to download and read for free from GirleBooks.

The roundup of upcoming Austen inspired books for February is available for your persual here at Austenprose

The DVD of Lost in Austen will be available for purchase in North America on April 14th.

British actress Ruby Bentall is truly an up and commer. I have recieved more hits on her name in the past month than any other Austen actress. More than Gwenyth or Kiera or Kate. No lie! You can read about her at my post Ruby Bentall – A Most Memorable Mary Bennet at Jane Austen Today.

Book Reviews

Until next week, happy Jane sighting.

Laurel Ann

Get Ready to Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey Starting October 1st

 

A Great Austen Novel Event Begins Next Wednesday!

Hold on to your bonnets Janeites and Gothic literature fans, cuz Austenprose will be hosting another Austen novel event during the month of October, 2008 in honour of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Please join the 31 day blog event and ‘Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey’ including a group read and discussion of Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey , book and movie reviews, guest bloggers, and tons of free giveaways! 

Here is a partial schedule of the upcoming fun 

Group Read 

OCTOBER 2:  Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen group read begins with chapters 1-3. 

The complete reading schedule can be found here 

Guest Bloggers 

OCTOBER 6: Amanda Grange, author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary and the four other retellings of Jane Austen’s novels from the hero’s perspective is currently writing the last novel in the series, Henry Tilney’s Diary. Read up on all the scoop on the progress on her writing about hero Henry Tilney, inarguably Austen’s most charming and daring wit! Amanda will share her insights on the current novel and include some highlights on scenes and dialogue in this preview of her fabulous new novel! 

OCTOBER 13: Margaret C. Sullivan, author of The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to her World, Editrix of AustenBlog, Tilneys and Trap-doors and Molland’s web sites will be discussing her admittedly partial, and totally prejudiced preference for Northanger Abbey’s hero Henry Tilney, and what makes him Jane Austen’s most dashing and quotable hunk. 

OCTOBER 15: Kali Pappas, Austen fashion authority, web designer and web mistress of The Emma Adaptations Pages will be chatting with us about her favorite subject, fashion, in the two movie adaptations of Northanger Abbey. Find out what this Austenista has to say about all the elegant ball gowns and wild feathered bonnets in these two movie adaptations. 

OCTOBER 20: James D. Jenkins, Gothic fiction authority and publisher of Valancourt Books will be discussing the history of Gothic fiction, renown authors of the genre and the seven novels included in the famous Northanger Cannon that character Isabella Thorpe recommends to heroine Catherine Morland in the novel Northanger Abbey, and the two books that they read, The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. Find out for yourself if they are all as horrid as Isabella Thorpe claims them to be! 

OCTOBER 27: Writer Trina Robbins, and illustrator Anne Timmons of Graphic Classics Volume 14: Gothic Classics, the graphic novel version of Northanger Abbey and The Mysteries of Udolpho will be talking about their experience adapting and illustrating Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey. Learn all about this wonderful media for young adults and big adults too! 

Giveaways 

Tons of fun stuff! Northanger Abbey editions in print by publishers Barnes & Noble, Penguin, Norton Critical, Broadview, and Oxford University Press, Naxos Audio Books version of Northanger Abbey, Movies, Jane Austen ephemera and gifts, and so much more! 

Don’t miss out on all the great reading, discussion

and fun giveaways, starting October 1st.

 Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey! You won’t regret it!

 

The Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Around the blogosphere for the week of September 7th

The great Darcy debate continues! Is Colin Firth or Matthew Macfayden more accurate to Austen’s vision in their film portrayal of Mr. Darcy from the novel Pride and Prejudice? Read about romance author Michele Ann Young’s view on the Casablanca Authors Blog.

Speaking of Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth celebrated his 48th birthday on September 10th, and talks to reporter Benjamin Secher of the Telegram about his continuing romantic roles in films. Secher surmises that “surely the time is approaching for the secretary of the international heart-throb club to inform him that his membership has expired, freeing him from frivolous romantic roles for good“. Obviously not so, as offers keep pouring in eighteen years after he thought he would be too old to play them! Hmm. One suspects that Firth is a bit modest, wouldn’t you say?

Oxford Professor and Austen Scholar Kathryn Sutherland weighs in on her impressions of the first episode of Lost in Austen, the new ITV Pride and Prejudice inspired time travel twister.  Not quite sure if she has an opinion yet. That’s a first for an academic.

Do you remember the first time you read Pride and Prejudice? I do. So when I happened upon this post of a novice reader’s first pages into the book, it made me smile. Austenprose recommends Adopt-an-Austen-Newbie this week, so please head on over and offer a word of encouragement or share your first time reading stories. How I envy them the adventure that is ahead.

Is Pride and Prejudice (1995) screenwriter Andrew Davies a channel of Dickens and Austen for the contemporary world? English professor Laura Carroll of La Trobe University reports in from his recent session at the Melbourne Writers Festival where screenwriter Jane Sardi interviewed him last week. Is this former English professor on an educational mission on behalf of classic literature?

LearnOutLoud.com is offering a free download or streaming audio of a literary summary of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudiceas their free Audiobook of September Podcast. This is part of their Literary Summaries series that outlines classic novels in a abridged format.

Is Jane Austen a sizeist? Sparsely Kate has a few words of contention about a passage in Persusaion that may imply how Austen interpreted people of a “comfortable substantial size” were more suited to be jolly. She may have a good point. Sparsely Kate, that is!

Episode two of Lost in Austen, the new ITV television mini-series aired in the UK this week and is garnering quite a bit of discussion at AustenBlog. Episode one was fun and frolicky, with more than a few improbable surprises. Catch my review of Episode two on Monday, September 15th.

Austen-esque book reviews for the week, Pemberley Shades one & two, Old Friends and New Fancies, The Pemberley Chronicles, and Essential Austen, keep us reading and reading.

Jane Odiwe author of the soon to be released Lydia Bennet’s Story is also a talented artist. Check out her recent portrait of Jane Austen at her blog, Jane Austen Sequels.

J. K. Rowling & Warner Bros, Entertainment won their lawsuit against Michigan-based publisher RDR Books on Monday, blocking the publication of The Harry Potter Lexiconby Steven VanderArk. This is great news for authors everywhere, and I commend Rowling (one of the most financially successful authors in print) for fighting for herself, and the little guys out there. What does this have to do with Jane Austen you ask? Hmm, she is everywhere you know – influencing honor, justice and the Austen-way across the globe – but actually, we have Austen-esque author Diana Birchall to thank for being such an excellent star witness on behalf of Rowling and Warner Bros where she is employed as a story analyst. She wrote about her involvement in the case here last March, so be grateful Janeites that Austen’s is everywhere – cuz she makes all the difference to many, even after 200 years.

Cheers to all, Laurel Ann

*Watercolour engraving by Thomas Rowlandson, Jealousy, The Rival (1787)

The Austen Tattler: News & Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Around the blogosphere for the week of September 1st

The first reviews for Jane Odiwe’s Lydia Bennet’s Story are in, and honestly not a suprise!

Austen-esque author Marsha Altman is featured at Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen in Vermont discussing her new book The Darcys and the Bingleys published by Sourcebooks, and now available at bookstores.

If you are as excited as I am about the premiere of the movie Duchess, staring Austen actress Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice 2005), check out The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th-century. This informative and slightly sardonic blog is like a gossip rag from the 18th-century but with a modern twist. I particularly enjoy the Tart of the Week posts, and the recent Hunk alert on Richard Brimsley Sheridan written as a hip singles ad. Jane Austen would have been amused!

Some people understand what makes a Jane Austen heroine tick, they just don’t want to be one! And then, a few days later they change their mind!

Austen-esque author Diana Birchall is interviewed about her two books currently in print, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma and Mrs. Elton in America by Vic (Ms. Place) at Jane Austen’s World. Discover what makes Diana one of the most admired sequel authors in print, and where she got her wicked sense of humor from.

Join the Jane Austen Book Club Online as they read a novel a month. September is Emma month, so break out your copies and delve in to Highbury again!

Lost in Austen, the new time travel inspired slant on Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice was televised in the UK on September 3rd. The advance reviews have been mixed, to put it kindly. AustenBlog has all the scoop and updates, so check it out.

Do you know the 7 key elements to Jane Austen’s writing success? Romance writer Tina M. Russo does and explains it all for us in her clever an insightful post, What Would Jane Do?, at The Seekers blog. Enter a comment for a chance to win a copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict or The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.

The Becoming Jane Fansite chose one of my favorite quotes from Emma for their quote of the week.

Austenprose is happy to announce a new weekly column entitled ‘An Austen Intern Reports In’ running on Saturdays until December from Virginia Claire Tharrington, the newly appointed intern for The Jane Austen Centre in Bath. This very lucky young Janeite will be sharing with us her weekly news and insights from Bath, England, the heart of Jane Austen’s world and the home of The Jane Austen Centre. Please return on Staurday, September 6th for her first installment as she shares with us how she turned her passion for Jane Austen into a once in a life time opportunity. Stay tuned for this very exciting Austen adventure. Woundn’t Catherine Morland be jealous?

Cheers to all, Laurel Ann

*Watercolour engraving by Thomas Rowlandson, Jealousy, The Rival (1787)

Buying Austen Books a Disagreeable Duty? Never!

Illustration of Jane Austen by J. BoneSince I wrote last, my 2nd edition (Sense and Sensibility) has stared me in the face. Mary tells me that Eliza means to buy it. I wish she may. It can hardly depend upon any more Fyfield Estates. I cannot help hoping that many will feel themselves obliged to buy it. I shall not mind imagining it a disagreeable duty to them, so as they do it. Mary heard before she left home that it was very much admired at Cheltenham, and that it was given to Miss Hamilton. It is pleasant to have such a respectable writer named. I cannot tire you, I am sure, on this subject, or I would apologise. Letter to Cassandra Austen, 6 November 1813, Jane Austen’s Letters 

Jane Austen jokes to her sister Cassandra that it is a disagreeable duty for her public to buy her books. If so, then we should all be so unhappy to bear such a burden. 

Being the attentive Austen book buyer, I felt compelled to fulfill my duty to Miss Austen and purchase a few volumes with a Barnes & Noble gift card that happened my way. I could not be happier with my recent selections. Here is a peek at my choices.  Continue reading

2007 JARWA Nominee: The Jane Austen Handbook

Image of The Jane Austen Handbook, by Margaret C. Sullivan, (2007)CONGRATULATIONS to AustenBlog’s Editrix Margaret C. Sullivan, author of

The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensibile yet Elegant Guide to Her World

for the nomination of her book in the category of best new Regency ‘Know-How’ book of 2007, by The Jane Austen’s Regency World Awards. Good luck Mags.

VOTE for your favorite nominees online by May 10th, 2008. Purchase your very own copy of The Jane Austen Handbook here

An Evening with Jane: Felicity Indeed!

Image of gust speaker Laurel Ann, “An Evening with Jane”, (2008)FELICITY

It was a union of the highest promise of felicity in itself, and without one real, rational difficulty to oppose or delay it. The Narrator Emma, Chapter 53

Jane Austen enthusiast were summoned to celebrate the delights of their favorite authoress at, “An Evening with Jane”, at the Alderwood Barnes & Noble in Washington on Thursday evening. I was honored to be asked to begin the festivities with an introductory speech about Jane Austen, touching upon her life, works, and the recent adaptations included in the Masterpiece Classic, The Complete Jane Austen on PBS.

 Image of Jane Austen display at event “An Evening with Jane” (2008)

Questions were entertained from the attendees and a lively discussion ensued. Everyone was very positive about the new adaptations, and of the three that have aired; Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, it appeared that Persuasion was the most popular because of the touching story, sincerity of the heroine Anne Elliot and the resolve of the hero Captain Wentworth. When I queried them about the rushed ending, and the madcap marathon dash through the streets of Bath by Anne Elliot, the response was non-pulsed. It appears that if you had not read the book prior to the viewing, the ending seemed odd, but not as comical as it was to those familiar with Jane Austen’s original ending.

Seven Novels, Barnes & Nobel, (2007)As we enjoyed English Breakfast tea (with milk of course) and cinnamon scones, I introduced a recommended reading list that I had compiled of my favorite Jane Austen editions, books that were inspired by her and biographies of her life. I know that you all will recognize some of these great titles. You can read the entire list here, but here are some of the favorite titles discussed.

  • Jane Austen: Seven Novels, by Barnes & Noble Classics: ISBN 9781435103191
  • Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler: ISBN 9780525950400
  • The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, by Syrie James: ISBN 9780061341427
  • Jane Austen: A Life, by Claire Tomalin: ISBN 9780679766766
  • A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love and Faith, by Lori Smith: ISBN 9781400073702
  • The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, by Margaret C. Sullivan: ISBN 9781594741715

Image of attendees for “An Evening with Jane” event, (2008)

jahandbookw.jpgAn interesting aside to the nights events was a popular discussion of a certain other Austen inspired blog managed by a snarky Editrix who also has a popular Jane Austen inspired book in print! Serendipitously, two of the attendees selected copies of The Jane Austen Handbook, by Margaret C. Sullivan for their personal Jane Austen collections. I was delighted that they had chosen Mags’ book, and even more charmed when one of the attendees humorously mentioned that she had recently had to decline the marriage proposal of a Mr. Collins-like suitor, and was inspired to purchase a copy after reading that the contents included a section on how to decline an unwanted proposal of marriage! Well Mags, how does it feel to see you book in action? Congratulations!

Image of Vintage Jane Austen items             

We were honored by the attendance of Erin Whitcomb, a Special Projects & Events Manager with our local PBS station KCTS. She and her co-worker Daphne Adair make much of the Jane Austen magic happen for us mere Austen mortals through their real jobs at KCTS, and the fun Complete Jane Austen blog.  Erin announced a fabulous Austen inspired high tea in the works for KCTS donors that is being planned for April 12th, that will be held at the  Daughters of the American Revolution Rainier Chapter House on Capitol Hill. Further details are available at their blog.

Image of Jane Austen Action Figure

The evenings celebration would not have been complete without the arrival of Miss Austen herself, or the action figure of herself, placed among the many vintage books that I brought for display with a very special silver framed portrait of the authoress, who after nearly 200 years, can still pull a crowd. A special thank you to store manager Stephanie Hare and the accomplished Community Relations Manager Kari Yadro for her excellent promotional skills.

PBS to Connect Jane Austen Community

Illustration by Miroot Puttapipat, “Boxhill Picnic”, Emma, Chapter 44CONNECTION 

I congratulate you, my dear Harriet, with all my heart. This is an attachment which a woman may well feel pride in creating. This is a connection which offers nothing but good. It will give you every thing that you want — consideration, independence, a proper home — it will fix you in the centre of all your real friends, close to Hartfield and to me, and confirm our intimacy for ever. This, Harriet, is an alliance which can never raise a blush in either of us.” Emma Woodhouse, Emma, Chapter 9 

In Jane Austen’s 18th-century society, personal alliances fueled the social strata, connecting families in marriage, and in business. And so it continues today, as PBS reaches out to the Jane Austen community to promote its upcoming series The Complete Jane Austen, through its online guest blogger project Remotely Connected.

Eight Austen enthusiasts and authorities from the online community have been invited to write about each of the upcoming Jane Austen adaptations and a new biography being presented by Masterpiece Classic, beginning Sunday, January 13th with Persuasion, and concluding in April with Sense & Sensibility.

Uniting these eight unique Austen resources brings together a talented and diverse group of Janeites, who have created the most informative and lively web sites and blogs on the internet to honor and discuss their favorite author. Here is a list of the accomplished writers in order of their contribution to Remotely Connected, and their online entities.

Image of Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot, PBS presentation of Persuasion (2008)Victoire Sanborn (Ms. Place) of Jane Austen’s World: This blog brings Jane Austen and the Regency Period alive through food, dress, social customs, and other 19th-century historical details. Enjoy thoroughly researched and enlightening posts about everything from netting a reticule to Jane Austen’s timeless insights. Her other blog Jane Austen Today explores how we see Jane Austen today through movies, print, sequels, web sites and modern day media. The talented and knowledgeable Ms. Place will be writing about Persuasion, which airs on Sunday, January 13, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Felicity Jones s Catherine Morland, Persuasion (2007)Heather Laurence of Solitary Elegance: This web site is a collection of educational and research resources relating to Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s often overlooked and underrated work. It also prominently features a beautiful collection of watercolor illustrations from all of Jane Austen’s novels by the renowned artist, C.E. Brock. Heather also shares her unique sense of humor, Jane Austen passions, and family exploits on her clever Gimletblog, (more fun than a poke in the eye with a stick). The accomplished and elegant Heather will be writing about her favorite novel, Northanger Abbey, which airs on Sunday, January 20, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Billie Pier as Fanny Price, Mansfield Park (2007)Lori Smith of Jane Austen Quote of the Day: This blog features daily wit and inspiration from Austen through quotes from her novels and letters, with such gems as “I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible” and “Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.”. Lori is a freelance writer and recent author of the lovely and favorably reviewed book, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love and Faith. You can read the latest news about its release on her other blog, Following Austen. Lori’s sensitive and patience nature will serve her well when she writes about Mansfield Park, which airs on Sunday, January 27, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Olivia Williams as Jane Austen, in Miss Austen Regrets, (2008)Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose: My blog is a daily celebration of the brilliance of Jane Austen’s writing, including passages and quotes from her novels and letters, and focusing on her ability to write of the society in 19th-century rural England with keen observation, irony and wit. Also featured are vintage and contemporary illustrations from her novels. I am a life-long Austen devotee who now augments my passion by introducing others to the delights of Miss Austen as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. I also co-blog with Ms. Place at Jane Austen Today. I will be writing about the new biopic, Miss Austen Regrets, which airs on Sunday, February 3, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride & Prejudice, (1995)Myretta Robens of The Republic of Pemberley: As the co-creator of the pre-eminent Jane Austen site on the web, Myretta has an acclaimed and established history as an authority of our authoress, and  online communities. Author of two Regency era novels, Just Say Yes, and Once Upon A Sofa, you can read further about her accomplishments at her web site: Myretta Robens, Regency Romance. Myretta will be writing about her favorite novel Pride & Prejudice (1995), staring Jennifer Ehle & Colin Firth, which airs on three consecutive Sundays, February 10, 17 & 24, at 9:00 pm

Image of Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse, in Emma, (1996)Jessica Emerson (Janefan) of Austen-tatious: A Jane Austen fan blog, “marked by, or fond of, conspicuous or vainglorious and sometimes pretentious display of all things related to Jane Austen“, that is always light, entertaining and filled with news and personal insights about movies, books, print media and news around the web concerning Jane Austen. Jessica is a professional writer in the communications industry and an avid reader. Visit her other blog, The Bookworms Hideout, for her perspective on current book publications and the classics. Jessica will be writing about the adaptation of Emma (1996), staring Kate Beckinsale & Mark Strong, which airs on Sunday, March 23, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Charity Wakefield as Marianne Dashwood, in Sense & Sensibility, (2008)Laurie Vera Rigler of A Great Deal of Conversation: The Blog & Forum: Calling all Austen addicts, be prepared to (almost) satisfy your obsession at Laurie’s beautiful web site and blog, featuring conversation (blog & forum), passions (links), many charming views (videos) and information about her latest book, The Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Laurie is a freelance book editor who teaches writing workshops, and is a popular guest blogger. Her vibrant comedic style and high energy will serve her well when she writes about Sense & Sensibility, one of Austen’s most moving and humorous novels, airing on two consecutive Sundays, March 30 & April 6, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Hattie Morhan as Elinor Dashwood, in Sense & Sensibility, (2008)Margaret Sullivan (Mags) of AustenBlog: A compendium of news about Jane Austen in popular culture, because (as she should be) …”She’s everywhere.” Mags’ unique wit and waggish voice will keep you laughing and shaking your head at the foibles of the news media, writers and movie makers who attempt to interpret Austen in their ‘own’ light. Her recent book, The Jane Austen Handbook: A Simple Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, received high praise within the industry and Austen community. Her other online accomplishments include web sites Mollands and Tilneys and Trap-doors. Mags will be writing about Sense & Sensibility, airing on two consecutive Sundays, March 30 & April 6, at 9:00 pm.

I am sure that you will join me in congratulating each of these talented and devoted Janeites, visit their sites and blogs, and bookmark the PBS blog Remotely Connected to have your share of the conversation after each adaptation airs.

(Post Script) Did you notice that each of the ladies personalities match the heroine of the novel/adaptation that they are writing about? Hah! I did. Present writer excluded since saying I was like Jane Austen would, – – like be so totally fer sure not true babe,  – – as if!

*Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, “Pardon me – but will you be limited as to number – only three at once”, page 336, Folio Society, London, (2007)

Are they all horrid?

Image of the book cover to The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction (2002)HORRID

“Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocketbook. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”

“Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?” Isabella Thorpe & Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 6

Image of the cover of The Mysteries of Udolpho (1830)This list of Gothic novels that Isabella Thorpe has so expertly compiled and presented to our heroine Catherine Morland is the so called ‘Northanger Canon’. It consists of the the 7 novels on Isabella’s list, and two that are previously read by Catherine and Isabella during the novel; – – The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. These late 18th-century Gothic novels represent the most popularly sensational and ‘horrid’ of the genre, in Isabella’s influential opinion, and worthy of her young protege’s perusal. The complete list is as follows…

Image of the book cover of The Necromancer (2007)This renown Gothic ‘classics’ list is quite famous in the Jane Austen community. It is believed to represent Austen’s own choice of the best and darkest of the genre, her support of novel reading in general, and an ironic warning of their influence by parodying them in her novel Northanger Abbey. In the post Sublime Anxiety: The Northanger Canon, at Old Grey Pony, you will be interested to learn further about the Gothic canon, and Jane Austen’s interest in them.

Austen herself enjoyed Gothic fiction, especially the work of Ann Radcliffe, but she feared that the excessive romanticism and melodrama of the books incited impressionable girls to ape the manners, coquetry and faux sentimentality of a Gothic heroine, in search of the exciting adventures they found on the page. Seeking the danger and intrigue of a novel in their everyday lives could not but breed insincerity and vanity, and in Northanger, she gives us the portrait of just such a girl in Isabella Thorpe.

Image of the book cover of Clermont, a Tale (2005)This is so insightful. I have often felt that Isabella Thorpe and her brother John are portrayed a bit out of step with proper social behaviour of the time in Northanger Abbey. Isabella is so animated in her dialogue, with her endearments and euphemisms such as “psha nonsense“, “my sweet love“, and “my dear creature“. This was Jane Austen’s way by example of showing gentle readers the affects of what ‘too’ much horrid Gothic can be on a young girl’s impressionable mind! Hah!

Image of the book cover of The Midnight Bell (2007)If you are curious as I am about how these Gothic novels influenced Jane Austen’s writing of Northanger Abbey, you will be interested to know that the good people at Mollands will be having  group read of The Midnight Bell, by Francis Lathom, starting in mid January. You can read about the book and the group read at this post on Austenblog. Check back there for an update on the start date. It is surely to be a lively and horrid discussion, so please join it!

 

*Image of the front cover of the Cambridge Campanion to Gothic Fiction, edited by Jerrold E. Hogle, published by Cambridge Univeristy Press, (2002)