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

Jane Austen around the blogosphere for the week of October 13th

The movie The Duchess staring Keria Knightley (Pride and Prejudice 2005) opened in national release this last week and I am all anticipation to see. It has received mixed reviews and a lot of press about comparisons of Georgiana Cavendish to Princess Diana, claims that producers asked Knightley to allow a boob job to the movie posters and all sorts of hooey. The movie is based on the 1998 biography entitled Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman and also features other actors with Austen connections; Hayley Atwell (Mansfield Park 2007), Dominic Cooper (Sense and Sensibility 2008), Joseph Beatie (Mansfield Park 2007), Alistair Petrie (Emma 1996) and composer Rachel Portman (Emma 1996). The costumes look sumptuous and it is on the top of my list of must see movies this fall.

My Austen friends in Canada are definetly the favoured nation, again! First they get a new production of Pride and Prejudice in Edmonton, NOW, they get Lost in Austen on TV! Geesh, I am feeling out of the loop here in the States. ; (

Join romance author Stephanie Sloan as she discusses Jane Austen every Friday with An Austen Friday on her blog.

Austen and Austen-esque book reviews for the week; Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Mr. Darcy Present his Bride, Pride and PrejudiceCassandra & Jane, and a second review of Cassandra & Jane, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet.

One of the October Austen-esque books that really intrigued me was Two Guys Read Jane Austen by Steve Chandler and Terence Hill. What a fascinating premise, — well from a feminine perspective that is! Check out author Steve Chandler’s insights on how the book came about and other musing on the experience of writing it with his friend at his blog. No surprised that their wives put them up to it. ; )

Writer Marilyn Brant shares her wonderful experience at the 30th annual AGM of JASN which concluded in Chicago earlier this month. I am pea green over her Jane Austen watch. You can get your very own at Jane Austen Books. Janeite Deb of Jane Austen in Vermont continues her reports from JASNA also with The Adventures Befalling a Janeite in Chicago – Part 3, and Part 4.

Chawton House Library is offering a short story competition to celebrate the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s arrival in the Hampshire village of Chawton. There are cash prizes and trips to a writer’s retreat at Chawton House. The deadline is March 31st, 2009 and the complete details can be found here.

The Becoming Jane Fansite has an uplifting quote of the week from Jane Austen’s letters, The Happiness Project has another great quote from Miss Bates from Emma, and The Rest is Still Unwritten offers a long quote from Persuasion that sets men straight.

Aimee at Saccharine Irony imagines herself as Mrs. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and has tea. Is that Mrs. Dashwood senior or Fanny Dashwood the daughter-in-law? Hope it’s the former.

What was Jane Austen really like? Find out what author Claire Tomalin and Carol Shields have to say and then vote for which heroine that you think Jane Austen was most like on Ripple Effects.

Find out if Jane Austen was a hot surfer chick as Niqel of The Trim of My Sails blog explains it all for us.

Want to check out the shelves in the closet at Hunsford Parsonage, that humble abode on the Rosings estate of The Rev. Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice ? Well, here’s your chance to get about as close to a fictional structure as can be if you rent the house used in the filming of the Pride and Prejudice movie of 2005. The present owners of Almshouse in Weekley near Kettering in Northamptonshire will let you have it for a song, if your like the tune of £2,350.00 a month!  One wonders out loud if perchance the house is misnamed. ; )

I had been ignoring the fact that the holidays are quickly aproaching and then I received my monthly Jane Austen Centre online newsletter in my mail box and read about fruit cake! If you are wondering what the connection to Jane is, then brace yourself gentle readers, Jane does discuss it in her letter to her sister Cassandra in 1808. Well almost fruit cake since she mentions the family being anxious to receive wedding cake, which was similar to today’s fruit cake and prized by the Regency era. I am one of those odd creatures that adores fruit cake. I know, I just heard you all gasp in horror. You all think of fruit cake as that sticky gooey super sweet concoction that grandma used to send to your family during the holidays and was re-gifted to other family members for 20 years as a joke. Granted, fruit cake has gotten a bum rap since it was cherished in the 1800’s (or lately by your granny), but you might be interested to read over the recipes in the Centre’s article and see for yourself that it does not contain any lost mittens or old socks! I have a cherished recipe too, which will go unshared until someone admits they like it! Subscribe to the Centre’s newsletter here.

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey continues here at Austenprose. I am really enjoying the group read of Northanger Abbey, the guest blogs this week by Margaret Sullivan (Mags) on Henry Tilney, Vic (Ms. Place) on dancing in Bath, and fashion in the 2 Northanger movie adpataions by Kali Pappas. Be sure to check out all the free giveaways, and leave a comment to qualify for the drawings before October 30th.

Until next week, happy Jane sighting,

Laurel Ann

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

Austen around the blogosphere for the week of September 28th

A new stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice opened at The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada this week. Austenprose was lucky to snag a review by local Janeite Deborah Jane and you can read all about this stunning adaptation here.

Lost in Austen concluded triumphantly this week with episode four as heroine Amanda Price dashed about from century to century attempting to fix the mixed up plot. Some critics loved it, others did not. You can read about all the deconstruction discussion on AustenBlog, and reviews on Jane Austen’s World, BlogCritics, And Leaves the World, The Journal of the Browncoat Cat, and Austenprose. Now that it is over, I hope that producers out there in TV and movie land will consider another Austen novel re-imagining. It certainly got the media and people discussing and watching our favorite authoresses work, or sort of her work since the plot was not quite what Austen penned.

Inspired by Lost in Austen? One of favorite Austen blogs from down under has some ideas on what producers could do with the plot and characters in Mansfield Park. Too funny!

Austen-esque book reviews for the week, Cassandra & Jane, times two, and three, All Things Austen, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, and The Darcys and the Bingleys. In addition, check out the reports and interviews from Austenesque authors, Rebecca Ann Collins, Jill PitkeathleyJane Odiwe, and the summer 2008 book reviews have been added to JASNA on line.

Author Colleen McCullough (The Thorn Birds) was interviewed about her new Austen inspired book, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, that hit book stores in Australia on October 1st and in the US on December 9th. This highly anticipated sequel is McCullough’s chance to stick it to the literati who dismiss her novels as pulp and write something tongue-in-cheek to tweak a few noses. Oh my! If the book is as outspoken as Ms. McCullough, Miss Mary Bennet might be as grating as her singing.

Who is Sophia Sentiment, and what is her connection to Jane Austen? The Becoming Jane fansite offers some possibilities this week along with some nice physical descriptions of the author by her family.

It looks like major casting is now complete for the Broadway bound musical Pride and Prejudice by the selection of Laura Osnes as literary legend Elizabeth Bennet. Readers might recognize Ms. Osnes as one of the winners in the TV reality show, ‘Your The One That I Want’ which aired last summer and selected the two starring roles of Sandy and Danny in the Broadway revival of Grease in a round robin type audition-off. Miss Bennet could not have a more beautiful or talented actress to portray her. Best of luck Laura!

Pride and Prejudice character Lydia Bennet is one fun and naughty young lady, and author Jane Odiwe is her celebrated channel as she continues penning her journal at Jane Austen Sequels blog.

The Annual General Meeting for JASNA opened today in Chicago celebrating Austen’s Legacy. I’m pea green over all my Austen friends having so much Jane fun without me. Be sure to have an Austentini for all of those absent Janeites!

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey kicked off this week here at Austenprose. The Austen novel event will feature a group read of the novel, guest bloggers and free giveaways. Check out the introduction to the event to catch up with the celebration. Here are a few participants; Becky’s Book Reviews, Jane Austen Reviews, Cherishing Darcy, Bookbath, Kimberley’s Cup, A Striped Armchair, Wings of EaglesA Moment Captured, and Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker. The Northanger fun continues until October 31st, so please join us.

Until next week, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

Cassandra & Jane: A Jane Austen Novel, by Jill Pitkeathley – A Review

She knew herself that sometimes she overstepped the proper boundries and could only do so safely with me. In later years, when she wrote something particularly scandalous she would urge me, ‘Take the scissors to this at once.’ She was right to surmise that others might judge her comments more harshly, but with me she knew she could be frank and that I understood her turn of mind. Cassandra Austen on her sister Jane, Chapter Two 

What is the most tragic and disappointing thing you know about author Jane Austen’s life? My immediate choice would be that she died too young and wrote too few novels, and at a close second would be that after her death in 1817, her sister Cassandra destroyed many of her personal letters to protect her privacy. This act of sisterly devotion is greatly lamented by historians, biographers, scholars, and Austen enthusiasts, limiting what information that we do know to her edited letters and family recollections. The complete reason why they were destroyed will always be a mystery, but one can imagine from Austen’s surviving letters and novels that her keen sense of social observation and biting irony played a key factor in her sister’s decision to remove them forever from family and public scrutiny.   

In author Jill Pitkeathley’s recently re-issued 2004 novel Cassandra & Jane, we are offered a chance to explore that chasm left by Cassandra Austen’s bonfire of humanity as Pitkeathley imagines the back story of two beloved sisters who were the best of friends, honorable confidants and devoted to each other through all the ups and downs of their heartbreaking life in rural 18th-century England. This bio fic is told from the viewpoint of Cassandra’s experience of their life together, as only she would know, and is a creative blending of historical fact with a fictional narrative that is both believable and compelling. 

The story begins with a prologue to their story. It is 1843, and Cassandra Austen now seventy years old is still residing at Chawton cottage in Hampshire, the house where she and her sister Jane lived together until her untimely death at age forty-one in 1817. She has kept everyone of the letters that her sister ever wrote to her safely stored in her sister’s rosewood trunk after her death. Her family has known of their existence, but she has safeguarded them for twenty-six years from their perusal. She fears that when she is gone, that they will pour over them examine and discuss every detail and then publish them for posterity, and profit. She has now re-read them and sorted them into two piles. She must not forget her responsibility to her sister, and to her memory, as Jane had previously warned her “No private correspondence could bear the eye of others.” 

As we are transported into Jane Austen’s world, Cassandra shares their story together in an honest and open manner, dropping her protective older sister mantle for glimpses of the influences that shaped Jane’s personality through her family, social sphere, environment and 18th-century social stricture that bound her financially and emotionally. Their remarkable friendship is the highlight of this novel as they suffer and survive together through romantic aspirations and disappointments, frustration on their financial dependence on their relations, and rejoice in Jane Austen’s early success as a writer. 

Austen enthusiasts will recognize many historical facts known of their lives that permeate through the novel, and in turn revel in the allusions from their real lives that are transported into Austen’s novel’s. Life imitating art, or art imitating life? Without overt sentimentality, author Jill Pitkeathley has skillfully blended the tragic and joyful lives of two remarkable 18th-century women who chose different avenues to leave their footprint on posterity; – one who would become a literary legend by remarkably revealing social foibles through wit and guile in her novels, and the other renowned for what extreme measures she took not to reveal them in her own sister. This moving and enjoyable rendering of biography and fiction tops my list of favorite Austen inspired novels for this year, and I highly recommend it. 

Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 Regency Stars

Cassandra & Jane, by Jill Pitkeanthley
Harper Collins, New York (2008)
Trade paperback, 270 pages
ISBN: 978-0061446399 

Giveaway!

 
Leave a comment by October 31st. to qualify in a drawing for a new copy of Cassandra & Jane, by Jill Pitkeanthly. The winner will be announced on November 1st.

Further readings

  • Review of Cassandra & Jane by Medieval Bookworm
  • Read author Jill Pitkeathley guest blog on Reading Group Guides
  • Read an excert from Cassandra & Jane at Book Movement