Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for July

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer (2009)The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in July, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.  

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

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer 

July is The Grand Sophy month at Jane Austen Today in celebration of this very special Georgette Heyer Regency era novel. Its publisher Sourcebooks has made a serious commitment to reissue many of her beloved novels and we could not be happier. Like Jane Austen, Heyer’s style is often emulated but rarely matched. There is no subsitute for the original. The Grand Sophy is one of her most popular stories. Heroine Sophy Stanton-Lacy has the self assurance of Austen’s character Emma Woodhouse and the spirit of Eliza Bennet – a dynamic combo – leading to trouble and hilarity. (Publisher’s description) Sophy sets everything right for her desperate family in one of Georgette Heyer’s most popular Regency romances. When Lady Ombersley agrees to take in her young niece, no one expects Sophy, who sweeps in and immediately takes the ton by storm. Sophy discovers that her aunt’s family is in desperate need of her talent for setting everything right: Ceclia is in love with a poet, Charles has tyrannical tendencies that are being aggravated by his grim fiancee, her uncle is of no use at all, and the younger children are in desperate need of some fun and freedom. By the time she’s done, Sophy has commandeered Charles’s horses, his household, and finally, his heart. Sourcebooks, ISBN: 978-1402218941 

Colonel Brandon's Diary, by Amanda Grange (2009)Colonel Brandon’s Diary, by Amanda Grange 

In her fifth novel in the Austen Hero’s Series, Amanda Grange has actually succeeded in improving upon Austen’s character Colonel Brandon; — at least for me! He is not one of my favorite characters in Sense and Sensibility, though he certainly has his fangirls. I appreciated learning more about his back story – his days in India and his failed romance with his first love Eliza Williams. As always, Grange is one of the most gifted writers in the Austen subgenre, giving us a touching inside story that is hard to put down. (Publisher’s description) At the age of eighteen, James Brandon’s world is shattered when the girl he loves, Eliza, is forced to marry his brother. In despair, he joins the army and leaves England for the East Indies for the next several years. Upon his return, he finds Eliza in a debtor’s prison. He rescues her from her terrible situation, but she is dying of consumption and he can do nothing but watch and wait. Heartbroken at her death, he takes some consolation in her illegitimate daughter, who he raises as his ward. But at the age of fifteen, his ward goes missing. Devastated by the thought of what could have happened to her, he is surprised to find himself falling in love with Marianne Dashwood. But Marianne is falling in love with the charismatic Willoughby. Berkley Trade, ISBN: ISBN: 978-0425227794 

Ransome's Honor, by Kaye Dacus (2009)Ransome’s Honor (The Ransome Trilogy ),  by Kaye Dacus 

I love supporting emerging authors, and am happy to feature this new release with Austen undertones. Just think of the themes of lost opportunity and renewed romance from Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, and throw in a dashing Naval hero like Horatio Hornblower, and you’ll understand Dacus’ inspiration for her first book in the trilogy. I am such a sucker for a man in a blue uniform. (Publisher’s description) The war with France has ended, and Captain William Ransome, known for never letting women aboard his ship, has returned to Portsmouth, England. Julia Witherington, considered an old-maid at 29, discovers that she must marry immediately to receive a large dowry. Julia knows that the only man she doesn’t want to marry is William Ransome. And the only man her father will approve of is…William Ransome. When the couple strikes a financial deal to feign marriage for one year, the adventure begins. These stubborn people face humorous and hard situations that reveal what else they have in common—a growing affection for one another. This intriguing tale of faith and loyalty is a wonderful new offering for readers of all genres. Harvest House Publishers, ISBN: 978-0736927536 

Nonfiction 

Jane Austen and Marriage, by Hazel Jones (2009)Jane Austen and Marriage, by Hazel Jones 

A well connected Marriage. What every Regency Miss dreamed of, and every parent schemed for. An advantageous alliance could elevate social position, increase wealth and expand property; all critical elements in Regency society. Jane Austen was keenly aware of the importance of marriage through family, friends and her own life. Her novels are driven by it. Author Hazel Jones presents this important topic with aplomb and energy. (Publisher’s description) With original research, this book offers a new insight into Jane Austen’s life and writing. The question of marriage lies at the centre of Jane Austen’s novels. The issues bound up in the pursuit of love, happiness, money and status were those of her day and informed the plots and morals of her work. In this fascinating book, Hazel Jones explores the ways in which these themes manifest themselves in Jane Austen’s life and fiction, against the backdrop of contemporary conduct manuals, letters, diaries, journals and newspapers. Drawing on original research, this entertaining and detailed study provides a charming and profound insight into the world of Jane Austen. Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN: 978-1847252180 

Jane Austen's Sewing Box, by Jennifer Forest (2009)Jane Austen’s Sewing Box: Craft Projects and Stories from Jane Austen’s Novels, by Jennifer Forest 

All well-bred Regency ladies aspired to be highly accomplished. What is that you ask? Well, they painted tables, covered screens, and netted purses as Austen’s character Charles Bingley matter-of-factly describes in Pride and Prejudice (among other talents), all to allure and secure husband. Women of this era were great at handiwork – sewing, drawing and trimming bonnets. Author Jennifer Forest has researched Regency crafts compiling this lovely volume of projects to turn you into the accomplished woman that even Mr. Darcy might admire. (Publisher’s description) Jane Austen’s Sewing Box opens a window into the lives of Regency women during a beautiful period in arts, crafts and design. Jennifer Forest examines Jane Austen’s novels and letters to reveal a world where women are gripped by crazes for painting on glass and netting purses, economise by trimming an old bonnet, or eagerly turn to their sewing to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Based on Jane Austen’s novels and with illustrated step-by-step instructions for eighteen craft projects, this beautifully presented book will delight Jane Austen fans, lovers of history and literature and craft enthusiasts alike. Murdoch Books, ISBN: 978-1741963748 

Austen’s Contemporaries & Regency era 

Camilla (Oxford World's Classics), by Fanny Burney (2009)Camilla (Oxford World’s Classics), by, Fanny Burney 

“I was thinking of that other stupid book, written by that woman they make such a fuss about, she who married the French emigrant.” “I suppose you mean Camilla?” “Yes, that’s the book; such unnatural stuff! An old man playing at see–saw, I took up the first volume once and looked it over, but I soon found it would not do; indeed I guessed what sort of stuff it must be before I saw it: as soon as I heard she had married an emigrant, I was sure I should never be able to get through it.” John Thorpe and Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey 

Only one of Jane Austen’s horridly uncouth characters like John Thorpe would have the audacity to call Camilla a stupid book. Austen uses one of the most famous novels of her time as an example to defend novel writing. ‘”It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language.’ No doubt that she valued its merits highly. (Publisher’s description) First published in 1796, Camilla deals with the matrimonial concerns of a group of young people – Camilla Tyrold and her sisters, the daughters of a country parson, and their cousin Indiana Lynmere – and, in particular, with the love affair between Camilla herself and her eligible suitor, Edgar Mandlebert. The path of true love, however, is strewn with intrigue, contretemps and misunderstanding. An enormously popular eighteenth-century novel, Camilla is touched at many points by the advancing spirit of romanticism. As in Evelina, Fanny Burney weaves into her novel strands of light and dark, comic episodes and gothic shudders, and creates a pattern of social and moral dilemmas which emphasize and illuminate the gap between generations. Oxford University Press, USA, ISBN: 978-0199555741 

Vanity Fair (Oxford World's Classics), by W. M. Thacheray (2009)Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero (Oxford World’s Classics), by W. M. Thackeray (Author), John Sutherland (Editor) 

Weighing in at a hefty one and a half pounds and numbering 1008 pages, this literary classic is a shining jewel, and well worth the patience to read its winding plot and numerous pages. From the title, you know right off the bat that Thackeray has a wry sense of humor. Of course the novel has heroes! the main one Rawdon Crawley is a charming wastrel, and the second, William Dobbin, is a bit of a namby pamby, taking his time to show his colors. Adapted unsuccessfully into numerous movies since the 1930’s, I am still waiting for the ultimate Rawdon and Becky on screen, though Miriam Hopkins’ interpretation of Becky Sharp is quite slipery and snarky in the 1935 film of the same name. (Publisher’s description) Set during the Napoleonic wars, Vanity Fair (1847-8) famously satirizes worldly society. The novel revolves around the exploits of the impoverished but beautiful and devious Becky Sharp, and Amelia Sedley, pampered child of a rich City merchant. Despite the differences in their fortunes and characters, they find their lives entangled from childhood. As Becky’s maneuvering ingratiates her with high society, the financial ruin of Amelia’s father forces Amelia into poverty. Destiny, of course, has further adventures in store for both women, whose lives Thackeray (1811-63) uses as theatres for the whims and foibles of their contemporaries. — This edition of one of the greatest social satires of the English language reproduces the text of the Oxford Thackeray and includes all of Thackeray’s own illustrations. Oxford University Press, USA; Reissue edition, ISBN: 978-0199537624 

Austen Ephemera 

British Library Jane Austen Desk Diary 2010British Library Jane Austen Desk Diary 2010, edited by by Freydis Welland, James Edward Austen-Leigh (Illustrator), Jane Austen (Contributor) 

Keep your journaling going in style with this beautiful desk diary from the British Library filled with images of silhouettes created by Jane Austen’s nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh and compiled by his descendant Freydis Welland. These images were also included in the recently published book, Life in the Country with Quotations by Jane Austen, which I reviewed last December. Lovely book, so no doubt this diary will not disappoint. (Publisher’s description) Jane Austen wrote of her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh: “We were happy to see Edward, it was an unexpected pleasure, and he makes himself as agreeable as ever, sitting in such a quiet comfortable way making his delightful sketches.” Edward brought the fine art of silhouettes to perfection, creating evocative images of landscapes and the creatures that lived in them. This appealing diary lets readers organize their thoughts and express their own artistry with the inspiration of Austen and her artist nephew. Frances Lincoln; Desk edition, ISBN: 978-0711230071 

British Library Jane Austen Pocket Diary 2010British Library Jane Austen Pocket Diary 2010, Edited by Freydis Welland, James Edward Austen-Leigh (Illustrator), Jane Austen (Contributor) 

Another variation of the before mentioned desk diary, this version is of a compact pocket diary. For every writer in the making, you can pop this in your purse, briefcase or backpack and scribble your thoughts and inspirations as they hit you on the go. (Publisher’s description) Like the desk diary, this pocket diary is based on the popular book Life in the Country, a celebration of Regency England published by the British Library in 2008. This book has the added advantage of being portable, allowing would-be writers and artists to take it anywhere to record their thoughts, compile a to-do list, sketch their surroundings, or any of a number of other activities — all in the stimulating presence of the brilliant English writer and her talented nephew. Frances Lincoln, ISBN: 978-0711230088 

Jane Austen Jigsaw Puzzle, by Potter Style (2009)Jane Austen Puzzle: 500-Piece Puzzle, by Potter Style 

The good people at Potter Style, who have brought us other great Jane Austen inspired ephemera such as note cards, address books and journals, now enter into the Jane Austen entertainment/games arena with this 500 piece jigsaw puzzle in a boxed shaped like a book, ready to sit right next to your collection of Jane Austen novels and reference books in your library. The main image is from Hugh Thomson’s 1894 illustration of Pride and Prejudice and depicts a scene of Mr. Darcy’s first failed marriage proposal. Good choice designers! Also included are quotes from Austen’s novels, images of a Regency era estates and a cameo of the Bardess of Basingstoke herself, Jane Austen. This looks like great fun, but what next? Jane Austen Game Boy?  Potter Style; Puzzle edition, ISBN: 978-0307453839 

Until next month, happy reading! 

Laurel Ann

Life in the Country: with Quotations by Jane Austen and Silhouettes by Her Nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh – A Review

Life in the Country, by Jane Austen & Edward Austen-Leigh (2008)“We are happy to see Edward, it was an unexpected pleasure, & he makes himself as agreeable as ever, sitting in such a quiet comfortable way making his delightful little sketches.” Jane Austen to Caroline Austen, 23 January 1817 

What ‘CAN’ a loyal Janeite begin to say about a book whose creation involved so much Austen Royalty that I was obliged to curtsey when I opened the parcel from the post. Every hand engaged in Life in the Country is an Austen blueblood from editors Freydis Welland (great, great, great grandniece of Jane Austen) and Eileen Sutherland (Austen scholar and former President of the Jane Austen Society of North America), to contributors Maggie Lane, (author, Austen scholar and former Secretary of the Jane Austen Society), to Joan Klingle Ray, (author and first academic President of the Jane Austen Society of North America), to Joan Austen-Leigh (Austen descendent and co-founder of the Jane Austen Society of North America) all heightening my anticipation with a sense of awe and wonder. And to that a stunningly beautiful presentation of Victorian era silhouette art created by Jane Austen’s nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh enhanced by eloquent Jane Austen quotations and you have a masterpiece of Austenalia. 

Silhouette, James Edward Austen-Leigh, Barton Cottage

As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable and compact; but as a cottage it was defective, for the building was regular, the roof tiled, the window shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered with honeysuckles.

Sense and Sensibility, Volume I, Chapter 6

Not wishing to diminish their wonderful achievement in any way, I must point out that editors Freydis Welland and Eileen Sutherland had great material to start with. The beautiful silhouettes created by James Edward Austen-Leigh for the enjoyment of his family in the 1830’s are quite lovely. Exhibiting great style and skill in execution, the scenes that he chose reflect the English countryside through hunting, fishing, harvesting, animals and people engaged in activities that would have encompassed their country lives. It seems a perfect pairing to add Jane Austen’s quotes from her letters and novels which she admittedly preferred involving “three or four families in a country village.” Here is one of my favorites images from the book coupled with a quote by Elizabeth Bennet when she comes upon Mr. Darcy and his two sisters walking through the shrubberies in Netherfield Park.

Silhouette by James Edward Austen-Leigh, deer in parkland

But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly answered, “No, no; stay where you are. You are charmingly group’d, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth.”   

Pride and Prejudice, Volume I, Chapter 10 

The text includes a preface by the editors, a biography of the Austen family by Maggie Lane, an essay on silhouette art by Joan Klingle Ray and an afterward on James Edward Austen-Leigh by Joan Austen-Leigh adding just the right amount of information to support the images and the interesting history behind them. Any Jane Austen enthusiast or collector of silhouette art will be thrilled and honored to include this lovely volume in their library. Happily, it continues the tradition in the Austen-Leigh family to publish a book based on their unique family heritage. 

Life in the Country
with quotations by Jane Austen & silhouettes by James Edward Austen-Leigh
Edited by Freydis Welland and Eileen Sutherland
The British Library, London (2008)
ISBN 978-0712349857

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Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for November 2008

Mr. Darcy's Daughter, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2008)The Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Austen inspired books are heading our way in November, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. Next month’s edition of upcoming releases of Austen-esque books will include my selections of Jane Austen inspired holiday gift giving suggestions, so please check back on December 1st.

Mr. Darcy’s Daughter: The Pemberley Chronicles Book 5, by Rebecca Ann Collins. The Pemberley Chronicles continue as author Rebecca Ann Collins carries on the saga of the children of the Darcy’s and the Bingley’s as she focuses on the daughter of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, the charming, beautiful and intelligent Cassandra. It is now 1864 and Cassandra Darcy must step forward and assist her family in the running of Pemberley after her willful brother Julian fails in his responsibilities as heir. “Mr. Darcy’s Daughter is the remarkable story of a strong-minded woman in a man’s world, struggling to balance the competing demands of love and duty as a daughter, wife, mother, and sister.” Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402212208 

The Lost Years of Jane Austen: A Novel, by Barbara Ker Wilson. Even though every reasonable attempt to discover information about the content of this book has been conducted, the Austen book sleuth is still stumped. So we shall call it the mystery Austen book of the month and make a wild guess that it is a reprint of Barbara Ker Wilson’s 1984 novel, Jane in Australia in which Jane travels to Australia in 1803 with her aunt and uncle the Leigh Perrot’s. Sorry if my hunch is off, but if publisher’s wont’ give a description on their web site or answer polite inquires, we are left to the mercy of a good surmise. Ulysses Press, ISBN: 978-1569756928 

Eliza’s Daughter: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, by Joan Aiken. Did anyone catch that steamy opening scene in the Andrew Davies adaptation of Sense and Sensibility last spring on Masterpiece? If so, you might guess the parentage of the heroine Eliza Williams, but since she could not, she has no notion of who her father is or how she is connectioned to the kindly man who is her guardian, Colonel Brandon. Intelligent, creative and free-spirited, Eliza makes her way to London and into some of the fine intellectual and artistic circles with poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge eventually traveling the world, all the while seeking to solve the mystery of her parentage. My only hope is that she takes cousin Margaret Dashwood along on the adventure! Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402212888 

Issues of Class in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: (Social Issues in Literature), edited by Claudia L. Johnson. Jane Austen’s heroine Elizabeth Bennet was a middle class gentleman’s daughter and hero Fitzwilliam Darcy was from the upper-class landed gentry. Ever wonder why only the rumor of their engagement provoked Lady Catherine to say “Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”, and what it all meant? This book will definitely fill in the blanks with its numerous essays from prominent Austen and 18th-century scholars such as John Lauber, Marilyn Butler, Juliet McMaster, Emily Auerbach and Claudia Johnson. Written for high school level students, I am quite certain that older Janeites will find these insightful essays worthy of further study also. Greenhaven Press, ISBN: 978-0737742589 

Bloom’s How to Write about Jane Austen, by Catherine J. Kordich. The title of this one says it all, but here is my flip rhetorical question of the day. Since Jane Austen’s writing style is revered and worshiped by thousands (if not millions) including this blog mistress, who the heck would not want to know why her writing is so brilliant and be able to write about it??? Who indeed? I must confess that I could benefit from this book and hope to have a copy in hand shortly. Designed to help students (and blog mistresses) develop their analytical writing skills and critical comprehension, I know a few Austen friends who will smile at the title and snap it up in a heartbeat. Chelsea House (Facts on File, Inc.), 978-0791097434 

Life in the Country:  with quotations by Jane Austen and silhouettes by her Nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. Edited by Freydis Jane Welland and Eileen Sutherland, contributions by Maggie Lane and Joan Klingel Ray, afterword by Joan Austen-Leigh, designed by Robert R. Reid. Wow! The contributors to this book play out like the royal pedigree of Janedom! If you didn’t catch the connections, then I advise you to read the dust jacket flap. Suffice it to say, this is Jane Austen royalty rolling out the red carpet for our edification and enjoyment. The silhouettes are stunning, add to that well chosen Jane Austen quotes, a foreword from the editor, a family biography and an afterword by one of the creators of JASNA, and it does not get any better! Seek this one out and buy it. It is a gem. British Library, ISBN: 978-0712349857 

Until next month, happy reading to all! 

Laurel Ann