Shamela (Naxos AudioBooks) , by Henry Fielding, read by Clare Corbett  – A Review

Shamela, by Henry Fielding Naxos AudioBooks (2013)From the desk of Br. Paul Byrd, OP:

“In my last [letter] I left off at our sitting down to Supper on our Wedding Night, where I behaved with as much Bashfulness as the purest Virgin in the World could have done. The most difficult Task for me was to blush; however, by holding my Breath, and squeezing my Cheeks with my Handkerchief, I did pretty well” (297).

Reading Samuel Richardson’s novel Pamela, Or, Virtue Rewarded, as I recounted in my previous review of it, is not for the faint of heart; but I am happy to say that it was all made worthwhile just this past week as I listened to a Naxos AudioBooks recording of Henry Fielding’s masterful parody fittingly entitled Shamela. Many know Fielding for Tom Jones, but his satirical powers are at full and outrageous height in Shamela. In a quarter of the number of pages found in the original story, Fielding highlights and lampoons all of Richardson’s characteristic tropes, transforming Miss Pamela Andrews from a paragon of female virtue into an archetypical scheming hussy. The great irony is that, as shamefully vicious as Shamela maybe, she is a great deal more fun to listen to than her saintly prototype. Continue reading

Happy 201st Birthday Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice Brock illustrationYou must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Ch 34

Today we celebrate another anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice on 28 January 1813 in London. It’s hard to top last year’s incredible, world-wide, over the top festivities, elevating Jane Austen and her most popular novel to mega-media darlings of 2013. Who will ever forget the giant statue of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy rising dripping wet from The Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, or the announcement that Jane Austen would be featured on the UK £10.00 pound note in 2017?

I will always remember this anniversary as the year that I visited Jane Austen’s England for the first time and walked in her footsteps through gardens, stately homes, and her last residence, Chawton Cottage in Hampshire.  It was quite a year for this Janeite.

I was also very happy to see an increased interest in reading Pride and Prejudice and the many spinoffs that it has generated. Over 400 fans signed up for our own year-long Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge here on Austenprose and over of a quarter of a million visitors landed on our Pride and Prejudice Archives, detailing the novel’s characters, plot summary and significant quotes. If you have not visited our archives yet, the links to each page are listed below. Continue reading

The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman – A Review

As a Janeite, it is impossible ignore the siren call when an author announces to the book buying world that her new novel The Cookbook Collector is “a Sense and Sensibility for the digital age. Whoa! My first reaction was “this is literary suicide.” Why would anyone want to equate themselves to a beacon of world literature such as JANE AUSTEN?

It is impossible to know her personal motivations, but after a bit of online research, I can’t entirely blame Allegra Goodman for starting this avalanche. She seems to be the darling of the literary world ready to be embraced as “a modern day Jane Austen.” Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus all gave her starred reviews, and even those highbrow literary bluestockings The Washington Post and the New York Times beamed. Swept up in the momentum of online praise I succumbed to the unthinkable. I imagined, no, dare I say I hoped, “as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before” that my favorite author could be reincarnated in the modern day world and I could continue to read new works infused with Austen’s style, deft observations and biting wit.

I will attempt to disarm reproof right up front. I read a lot of “popular” fiction written by women. Yep, that stuff that is sadly overlooked by the good folks at The New York Times. This book is technically classified as literature which is really out of my depth as a book reviewer, so I will review it through the prism of a Janeite. Set in northern California between 1999-2002 Goodman has mirrored elements in Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility including two sisters, Emily and Jessamine Bach, polar opposites in temperament and interests struggling with love, money and fulfillment in different ways.

Twenty-eight year old Emily is the sensible, pragmatic older sister who graduated from M.I.T. and is the co-founder and CEO of Veritech, a start-up computer data-storage company in the Silicon Valley on the brink of going public (obviously the Elinor Dashwood character). Jess is a twenty-three year old idealistic Berkeley graduate student in philosophy committed to saving the environment and rushing heart first into life and romance (yep, Marianne Dashwood). She works part-time at an antiquarian bookstore named Yorick’s owned by George Freidman (Colonel Brandon without the flannel waistcoat), a first generation Microsoft millionaire who retired early and now passionately collects, filling his life with beautiful objects instead of people. Pushing forty, George is handsome, haughty and cynical, “hard to please, and difficult to surprise.” He and Jess do not see eye-to-eye on much of anything and their conversations turn to sparing matches over books, her tree-hugging philosophies and looser boyfriends (Leon, the Willoughby character). She cherishes books for what they can teach you. He values books because others want them and they are his. “[H]ow sad, he thought, that desire found new objects but did not abate, that when it came to longing there was no end.

Emily has her own set of values and desires. She loves her high-tech job, money and power, and is continually postponing her wedding date to accommodate their consuming needs. She is in a bi-coastal relationship with Jonathan Tilghman fellow dot-com genius who is also in the start-up phase of his computer company in Cambridge, MA. She works long hours, dreams of marriage and children while her ambitions push her need to succeed over love. Emily has looked after her little sister Jess since their mother’s death from breast cancer thirteen years ago. Concerned over her finances Emily presses Jess to purchase her company’s family and friends stock offering for $1,800 telling her she must find the cash herself. Hesitant to tap her father for the funds, Jess connects with a local Bialystock rabbi she meets through a neighbor and secures a loan. He is altruistic, not expecting repayment claiming he is investing in her future and not to make money. On the first day of trading her sister becomes a multi-millionaire, but any of you who remember the roller-coaster stock market of the new millennium know where this story is going.

The narrative moseys along through chapters of dot-com start-up details veering off on tangents with characters we don’t really need to know and do not care about until about half way through when George happens upon the rare book dealers Holy Grail. A large and incredible unique collection of old cookbooks stashed in the kitchen cupboards of a deceased Berkeley professor of Lichenology whose heir promised him never to sell, but is hard up for cash. Jess assists in wooing the quirky owner with a bit of intuition and psychology which pleases George, who has a new collection to add to his collection, but what he really wants to possess is Jess!

Full of dot-com detail and an interesting juxtaposition of analytical verses intuitive personalities, my expectations for The Cookbook Collector were so high that half way through the book I needed to take stock and reassess. Like Austen, Goodman’s characters are genuine, quirky and endearingly flawed but she spent too many pages wavering away from the ones I wanted to know more about: Jessamine, Emily and the two men in their lives that I questioned where she was going and why this was important far too often. The most intriguing character hands down was Jessamine, and like Austen’s Marianne Dashwood she is whimsical, openhearted and trusting. You know that she is heading for a fall, but love her all the more for it. How Jess the tree-huger and George the dishy curmudgeon will eventually come together, and we do know from the start that they will, is as satisfying as a seven course meal at Auberge du Soleil.

The Cookbook Collector is a romantic comedy with some social reproof stirred in for spice. It is rewarding if you have the patience for a bit of sideways adventure in the shallow high-tech dot-com world of ambitious risk-takers with mega-millionaire dreams. Goodman’s prose can be lyrical, alluring and very seductive. Interwoven are great moments of tantalizing descriptions of food and wine. I will never think about eating a peach again without remembering Jess and George. There are some unexpected twists and far-fetched coincidences that added surprise and whimsy, but crowning Ms Goodman the next Jane Austen? “[E]very impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.”

3 out of 5 Stars

The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman
Random House (2010)
Hardcover (394) pages
ISBN: 978-0385340854

© 2007 – 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Season of Second Chances for The Season of Second Chances, by Diane Meier – A Review & Rant

I recently finished The Season of Second Chances, by Diane Meier and liked it so much that I didn’t want to write about it!

I do that sometimes after experiencing a great movie, opera, musical or book. When something touches me profoundly, I want it all to myself. Talking or writing about it somehow takes the shine off my new found treasure. And then there is that Bridget Jones insecurity tapping me on the shoulder telling me that my review could never give it due justice, or I would gush about it so much that people will think I am nuts. Well, more nuts.

So, I have been holding it in savoring my selfish indulgence until this week when I read Ms. Meier’s poignant commentary on publishing, media and buyers perceptions of literature vs. chick-lit in the Huffington Post. I was miffed. Not only had her charming book received positive reviews from all sectors, it also garnered some not so complementary criticisms from those who wanted to classify it as chick-lit because its forty-something female protagonist renovates her home, and the cover has flowers on it. Flowers? Flowers now disqualify books from being literature and earmark them as chick-lit? Conversely, one reader review on Amazon hated it because it wasn’t chick-lit! Go Figure! Like her sharp, funny and insightful book Diane had the perfect come-back to this dilemma.

Okay, I wanted to respond, I’m sorry that you’re disappointed, but it’s like trying to blame a hot dog for not being ice cream.

Exactly!

What I didn’t see was that the chick-lit argument had landed squarely on my doorstep.

Was “The Season of Second Chances” Chick Lit or not? That, in itself, became the general theme of most reviews, professional and consumer.

“Five stars because it is NOT Chick Lit.”

“Zero stars because it is NOT Chick Lit.”

What? Who asked for this as a mark of critical analysis?

I will let you make your own decision, but first, you must read the book to understand the debate. Here’s a teaser and some thoughts…

Forty-eight year old English literature professor Joy Harkness has been avoiding relationships all her life. After fifteen years in the cold, competitive confines of Columbia University she accepts an exciting new position at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Eager to leave the spurious glamour of the New York lifestyle behind, she packs up her small cluttered apartment and purchases a once majestic Victorian house sorely in need of a major renovation. (not quite as disastrous as Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, but close). Everyone insists that she contact local home restoration magician Teddy Hennessy. The man who shows up does not look very promising and their first few meetings are discouraging, but Joy soon discovers that this thirty-five year old laid back mama’s boy is a genius with plumbing, carpentry, vintage detailing and paint chips.

Joy’s anonymous lifestyle from New York soon changes as she makes connections in the community of supportive female co-workers on campus and a romance with an eligible professor. But it is simple, unassuming Teddy who makes the biggest impact on her life, transforming her house and her heart. In turn, she thinks that he needs a make-over and encourages him to return to college for his degree so he can teach (like her). However, his sad past and his domineering mommy-dearest have a strong hold on him that Joy may not be able to fix with her academic acumen.

Meier has crafted a story resplendent with memorable characters ready to make you laugh out loud and nod your head in recognition of the foibles and follies in us all. Joy is a literature professor who has formed her thinking, and her life around critical analysis of classics books. She treats people the same way. As we follow the narrative she throws in all sorts of literary and cultural references as antecedents peppering the plot with descriptors at the most important moments: “His eyes narrowing like a small-town spinster at the suggestion of living in sin.”, “She was a strange bird, almost attractive in a hard and urban way that “seemed to have flown too close to the scalpel.“”,  or my personal favorite, “Like a stripper, I knew my routine, how much to reveal and when to cover up again.” I read this book during my lunch breaks at work and laughed so hard that my co-workers (fellow booksellers) looked at me in amazement quizzing me on what I was reading. I was happy to let them in on the secret. “The Season of Second Chances was a witty coming of age at any age story filled with astute observations and characters so real and outrageously funny that Jane Austen would smile.” There is more… but I promised I would not gush.

I loved the ending, but I can’t tell you about it. Nope. Won’t go there. I feel a personal affinity to Joy Harkness, being a single woman of a certain age who is having her own season of second chances. I wrote to Ms. Meier and told her so. She kindly replied that she wrote the book just for me! *purr*

Back to the literature vs. chick-lit kerfuffle. If Jane Austen is credited as being the grandmother of chick-lit and she is considered one of the finest writers EVAH – those good folks in book award land should take heed. The Season of Second Chances deserves its own second chance. Let’s call it literature. No chick-lit. Even better, chick-ature. Any thing you call it, it’s a darn good book.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Season of Second Chances, by Diane Meier
Henry Holt & Company, Inc. (2010)
Hardcover (304) pages
ISBN: 978-0805090819

© 2007 – 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Austen at Large: The Flaws & Perfections of Miss Eliza Bennet

Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1979)

As many people who read this blog each week may know, Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite heroine. She is witty, caring, intelligent, honest, and bold. All characteristics which though I myself may not possess, I respect them in characters, as well as in people. In Elizabeth Bennet I do not see an idealized woman, yet I find her perfect. She has flaws, real ones, which I think makes her such a power and realistic character. Elizabeth Bennet would be the type of girl that I think many people would want to be their best friend. (Though we would not want the same fate as Charlotte) Elizabeth’s true beauty comes though in her dialogue and through her witty conversations with Charlotte, her father and Mr. Darcy and her ability to laugh at herself, a trait Mr. Darcy has not picked up yet. Elizabeth remembers “that he had yet to learn to be laughed at, and it was rather too early to begin” (Chapter 58). I feel like Eliza Bennet is one of those rare great characters who everyone can feel some connect to and who everyone likes. I dont think I have ever meet anyone who dislikes Elizabeth (though I would love to meet someone to argue it). I have seen her described as too critical and such, but I do not see that as a fault. I think it makes her more realistic and therefor more satisfactory that she has faults like being a little to judgmental. It only makes me love her more for them.

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

In thinking about Elizabeth Bennet this week I was trying to think of characteristics and instances in the book where we see these being personified. Her cynicism is one of my favorite aspects of her personality. She says things that I wish I either had the guts to say or the wit to think up. Perhaps my favorite quote of Elizabeth is,

The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense” (Chapter 24).

I don’t know about everyone else, but I think this statement works as well in the 21st-century as it did in her own. In fact this might be one of my favorite Jane Austen sayings because I quote it so much.

Grear Garson as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Elizabeth’s strength of character is another reason why I respect her. She stands up to Darcy and defends her sister Jane and Wickham. Yet she still can admit when she has been wrong. When Mr. Darcy proposes and Elizabeth’s rejects him the first time, she doesn’t just say no, (in today’s world she might say “HELL NO“) but she stands up to him about wrongs he has done. It takes and great strength of character and confidence to confront such a power man as Mr. Darcy. She later also stand up for herself against Lady Catherine. Both times Elizabeth is encountering someone more powerful than herself, yet as Elizabeth puts it, “My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me” (Chapter 31).

Though Elizabeth has the courage to stand up for herself, she also has the strength to know when she has been wrong, though it might take her a little while to figure it out. The fact that Eliza can disclose her faults makes her a real woman to the reader. Eliza admits,

but vanity, not love, has been my folly. — Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, I never knew myself” (Chapter 31).

This is perhaps one of my favorite moments in the book because I feel like we really get to see into Eliza. She has the realization of her misjudgment and accepts it acknowledging her faults along the way. I see this moment as one of the most powerful for Elizabeth as a character and in Jane Austen with writing this. The intuition is astounding in this passage because Jane Austen seems to have the innate ability to look into Elizabeth’s soul and understand its workings even concerning things like her vanity.

Aishwarya Rai as Lalita Bakshi, Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Though Elizabeth has the courage to stand up for herself, she also has the strength to know when she has been wrong, though it might take her a little while to figure it out. The fact that Eliza can disclose her faults makes her a real woman to the reader. Eliza admits,

but vanity, not love, has been my folly. — Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment, never knew myself” (Chapter 31).

This is perhaps one of my favorite moments in the book because I feel like we really get to see into Eliza. She has the realization of her misjudgment and accepts it acknowledging her faults along the way. I see this moment as one of the most powerful for Elizabeth as a character and in Jane Austen with writing this. The intuition is astounding in this passage because Jane Austen seems to have the innate ability to look into Elizabeth’s soul and understand its workings even concerning things like her vanity.

Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice (2005)

With Eliza Bennet I see a character that though not perfect by any means she is some form of an ideal. But perhaps this “ideal woman” has shifted through time from the Jane Bennet, “angel in the house” type woman to the Eliza Bennet. Eliza is feisty, clever, smart and honest yet she is also critical, cynical and judgmental at times. These “bad” qualities, I will not count as such. I don’t think they are necessarily an evil I think they are her insight. But perhaps this is yet again my prejudice for Eliza Bennet coming through. I just find her to be so extraordinary. I told one of my friends last year that she was “such an Elizabeth Bennet“, then to only say “and you dont know what a big complement that is coming from me“. She remarked “oh yes I do” : ). I just loved that she picked up on how much I admire Elizabeth and that she understood the comment for what it meant, that I saw her acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses of herself and still being able to laugh at herself. Eliza might not be everyone’s ideal heroine or woman but I agree with what Jane Austen wrote about her when she said, “I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know“.

Until next week,

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Austen at Large: Some of my own prejudices when it come to Pride and Prejudice

Matthew Macfayden, Pride and Prejudice 2005

This week, as I began to reread Pride and Prejudice with my Jane Austen class, I have discovered some prejudices that I have. In reading a book that I know and love so well, I have almost found it hard to understand some people’s opinions of it. I will say that most girls in my class are very thoughtful and make wonderful remarks but there are some that I completely disagree with. I don’t know if it is because of my own prejudices against these views or what, but at times I feel that people are letting the adaptations influence their readings of the novel. Though I try to be a very thoughtful reader, and believe that students individually take away different things from a text, I find it difficult to understand where some of these girls are coming from. Sometimes I think that adaptations have limited or influenced their point of view, and yet when I think about it perhaps another adaptation has influenced or limited me as well. Yet I do try to look at the text for the text, and not how it is adapted in a movie.

I will give an example of this situation: We were reading aloud Darcy’s 1st proposal and Elizabeth’s refusal when one of the girls said “I think that Elizabeth really wanted to say yes somewhere deep down inside of her.” I could not let this observation go by without commenting on it because I did not see that in the text. If anyone wants to make an argument for it I would be more than willing to listen to it, but all this student could back it up with was that she just had a feeling that Elizabeth really wanted to say yes. When I read the text I see Elizabeth being completely driven by her dislike, irritation and misunderstanding of Darcy. She has just been pouring over her beloved sister Jane’s letters examining how much pain Jane is in because of Darcy. She notices that,

They contained no actual complaint, nor was there any revival of past occurrences, or any communication of present suffering. But in all, and in almost every line of each, there was a want of that cheerfulness which had been used to characterize her style, and which, proceeding from the serenity of a mind at ease with itself, and kindly disposed towards every one, had been scarcely ever clouded. (Chapter 34)

I think that for Elizabeth the knowledge of Mr. Darcy’s evolvement with the separation of Jane and Mr. Bingley would have driven away any feelings that she ever had (and which I think she NEVER had) for him.

Keira Knightley, Pride and Prejudice 2005

What I see in comments like this in class is the problem of Austen adaptations. I am not blaming any movie particularly, but rather the viewer. Every adaption brings something to the table that is interesting, and it is good to see many different points of view and such. What I have a HUGE problem with is when the adaptations start to taint the books; when readers start seeing the book as the movie and trying to make them fit together. No adaptation is ever going to be completely faithful to a book, (though the Fay Weldon 1980 Pride and Prejudice is pretty close), yet it is the job of the viewer to know the difference, and see through the movie. I think my friend was allowing the 2005 movie to influence her reading of the novel. I see that movie as trying to portray that Lizzy and Darcy are meant for each other from the first time they meet and that in the proposal scene, though Lizzy is very mad, there is some part of her that is still attracted to and interested in Darcy. As if they were soul mates and their souls were drawn together and yet their minds were keeping them apart.

I think this is making too much of the romance of the novel and ignoring Elizabeth’s real thoughts and feelings on the matter. The novel says,

In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man’s affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger (Chapter 34).

I think this shows Elizabeth’s feeling on the matter perfectly. “Her intentions did not vary for a second“. It is hard for me to see the argument of Lizzy really wanted to say “yes” to Mr. Darcy in this scene. I just don’t buy it. I don’t buy it as an argument in the text and I certainly don’t buy it in the adaptation when they almost kiss at the end of the scene.

Matthew Macfayden, Pride and Prejudice 2005

I would be interested to know anyone else’s opinion on the subject because I think the use and power of adaptations is very interesting especially with Austen. A movie will never out do the book for me, I just wish that we would become better readers so that the novel will be speaking rather than an adaptation of it. Perhaps these are just my prejudices against those who perhaps like the movies better than the books, but as a lover of Austen’s novels it is hard for me to see how anything could surpass them.

Till next week!

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Persuasion: “I am so ill I can hardly speak.”

Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, Persuasion, The Folio Society (2007)

“So, you are come at last! I began to think I should never see you. I am so ill I can hardly speak. I have not seen a creature the whole morning!”  

“I am sorry to find you unwell,” replied Anne. “You sent me such a good account of yourself on Thursday!”  

“Yes, I made the best of it; I always do: but I was very far from well at the time; and I do not think I ever was so ill in my life as I have been all this morning: very unfit to be left alone, I am sure. Suppose I were to be seized of a sudden in some dreadful way, and not able to ring the bell! So Lady Russell would not get out. I do not think she has been in this house three times this summer.”  

Anne said what was proper, and enquired after her husband. “Oh! Charles is out shooting. I have not seen him since seven o’clock. He would go, though I told him how ill I was. He said he should not stay out long; but he has never come back, and now it is almost one. I assure you, I have not seen a soul this whole long morning.”  

“You have had your little boys with you?”  

“Yes, as long as I could bear their noise; but they are so unmanageable that they do me more harm than good. Little Charles does not mind a word I say, and Walter is growing quite as bad.”  

“Well, you will soon be better now,” replied Anne cheerfully. “You know I always cure you when I come. Anne Elliot & Mary Musgrove, Persuasion, Chapter 5 

I would like Anne Elliot to come to my house today and cure me of this retched flu bug that has taken over my life for the last five days. I can’t seem to shake it, and am beginning to feel like Mary Musgrove spread out on her divan bemoaning her ailments to her kind and loving sister Anne. 

Jane Austen treats illness and death in her novels almost like another character. She seems to plant a sick one or death in each of her novels causing reaction in the community: Mr. John Dashwood Senior dies in Sense and Sensibility causing the whole plot to begin, Mrs. Bennet and her nerves in Pride and Prejudice, Lady Bertram and her mysterious languor in Mansfield Park, Mr. Woodhouse the valetudinarian who fusses over drafts and gruel in Emma, Mrs. Tilney whose mysterious illness and death in Northanger Abbey ignites heroine Catherine Morland’s Gothic imagination, and so many sickies and deaths in Persuasion, (Mary Musgrove, Mrs. Smith, Captain Harville, Captain James Benwick, Louisa Musgrove, Fanny Harville, and Mrs. Elizabeth Elliot) that you can not turn a page and not be reminded of it. 

There is a book devoted to interpreting Jane Austen’s view on health that I have not read, but could shed some light for interested readers entitled Jane Austen and the Body: ‘The Picture of Health’, by John Wiltshire which Austen scholar Juliet McMaster recommended as “…a fine book, informed and sensitive, and it throws a spotlight on an aspect of Austen’s work all too rarely noticed.” in the literary journal Eighteenth-Century Fiction. With that clout behind it, it is well worth a peek. 

Image of Anne Elliot and Mary Musgrove by illustrator Niroot Puttapipat, Persuasion, The Folio Society, London, (2007)