The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, by Lori Smith – A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

If you could be swept back in time two hundred years ago to have a cup of tea with Jane Austen, what would you ask her? Any question. No bars held. If I had the courage, I might ask her how did she become so wise in the ways of human nature and love? Or, did she intend to craft stories to entertain, or to enlighten?

Since time-travel has yet to be invented, we can only surmise how Austen would have replied. Yet, for centuries she has been speaking to readers in an intimate way without many of us realizing it. In The Jane Austen Guide to Life, author Lori Smith decodes Austen’s philosophy on life and love by combing through Continue reading “The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, by Lori Smith – A Review”

The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!

The Jane Austen Guide to Life, by Lori Smith (2012)Happy May Day everyone! Please join us today in welcoming author Lori Smith on the launch of her blog tour in celebration of the publication of The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, released today by Globe Pequot Press. Lori has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second Jane Austen-inspired book and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

I’m thrilled I was able to write The Jane Austen Guide to Life, but I can’t fully take credit for the idea.  A while back, an email unexpectedly popped up from an editor I hadn’t heard from in a while, one I’d always wanted to work with.  She’d been thinking, she said, about a book that would combine a light biography of Jane Austen with practical “life lessons” for the modern reader, drawn from Austen’s life as well as her books.  I thought for about fifteen seconds and concluded, “Yes!  That book should be written!”  And that was the beginning.

As normal as it seems to me to take advice from Austen—I’ve loved her writing for years, even followed her life through England for my last project, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith (2007), —I thought it might seem strange to some.  After all, Austen was a 19th-century spinster.  She wasn’t terribly concerned about fashion, knew nothing about platform heels, and, if she’d had the chance, she very well might have married a first cousin (as was common practice back then).  So what could she possibly teach our modern selves?

In some ways, Austen was more modern than we might think.  She embraced the 21st-century idea of making your dreams a reality.  After all, in her day, a lady should not have written fiction.  Not only was writing un-ladylike, but novels were frivolous and of questionable value.  But Austen had to tell her stories—she had to write—so, acceptable or not, that’s what she did.

In other ways, Austen challenges us, her own good sense in contrast to current cultural extremes.  Many of us strive for our fifteen minutes of fame, while Austen didn’t even want her name to appear on her books.  As a nation, we’re saddled with pervasive credit card debt; Austen lived within a tight and carefully kept budget.  She would encourage us to cherish our true friends rather than focusing on building extensive and ephemeral social networks.  And Jane Austen never had sex—so what would she say about a culture that has a word specifically to describe meaningless sexual encounters.  (Hookup, anyone?) Continue reading “The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!”

A Preview of 5 Jane Austen-inspired Books about Life, Love, and Marriage

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

We have long believed that everything we ever needed to know about life and love, we learned (and are learning) from Jane Austen. She has been our life coach for over thirty years and has not failed us yet!

It appears that other authors think so too. We are happy to reveal five new titles in the queue to be published starting April to June of this year that all share in our belief: Jane Austen is a master of life skills and relationships if you are paying attention. And if you missed a few important insights, then they will happily explain it all in detail for you.
Continue reading “A Preview of 5 Jane Austen-inspired Books about Life, Love, and Marriage”

My Number 1 Top 10 Jane Austen Inspired Holiday Gift for 2008 is..

Santa Darcy IconGIFT


Jane Austen’s England 2009 Calendar

 Jane Austen's England 2009 Calendar - AustenPress

Featuring more than 80 beautiful and inspiring photographs of Jane Austen’s England taken by author Lori Smith during her journey while she researched her book A Walk with Jane Austen. She covered every significant place that touched Jane Austen’s life including… 

  • St. Nicholas Church in Steventon
  • Chawton Cottage where Jane wrote or edited all the books
  • Chawton House, her brother Edward’s estate
  • Mrs. Austen & Cassandra’s graves
  • Stoneleigh Abbey, Mrs. Austen’s family’s ancestral home, which resembles Northanger Abbey
  • Views from the top of Box Hill, where Emma’s picnic takes place
  • No. 8 College Street in Winchester, where Jane died
  • Jane’s grave in Winchester Cathedral
  • Godmersham Park, Edward’s estate in Kent
  • Roman Baths and the Royal Circus in Bath
  • Assembly Rooms building in Bath
  • Bath Abbey
  • St. John’s College in Oxford where George, James and Henry studied
  • Granny’s Teeth steps from Persuasion, the Cobb and beach at Lyme Regis
  • Lyme Park, which served as Pemberley in the 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice
  • Chatsworth House, which served as Pemberley in the 2005 Focus Features version of Pride & Prejudice

Also included are significant dates in Jane Austen’s, her families and characters lives for you to follow along and remember during the year. The calendar is printed on lovely cover stock in a stunning 10.4 x 13 inch size (20.8 x 26 when open) and available online through AustenPress at $21.99. Quantites are limited, so do not hesitate to order today to guarantee that you will be well informed and in touch with Jane Austen’s England in 2009.

Extant pleasure

Illustration by Warren Chappell, Persuasion, 1950EXTANT   

Her pleasure (Anne Elliot) in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness, that season which has drawn from every poet, worthy of being read, some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling. The Narrator on Anne Elliot, Persuasion, Chapter 10

Jane Austen’s poetic description of the waining season parallels Anne Elliot’s own reflections of her extant hope of a renewed romance with Captain Wentworth. After eight years he has returned into her life, but his interests are for a younger lady. This realization leaves her numb and introspective, acutely aware of her surroundings as she walks out into the country.

In many of Jane Austen’s novels we find that a walk by characters reveals through intimate conversation, or silent reflection a transition in the characters lives. A new detail is disclosed that takes the plot in a new direction. And so it is with Anne Elliot. She has begun an inner journey of reflection and discovery. We travel with her, patiently following.

Take the first step of self discovery with fellow Janeite and author Lori Smith with her fresh and enlightening new book A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love & Faith, available at

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