Book Previews, Jane Austen, Jane Austen's Life & Times, Nonfiction, Travel Guides

A Preview & Giveaway of Jane Was Here: An Illustrated Guide to Jane Austen’s England, by Nicole Jacobsen, Devynn Dayton, & Lexi K. Nilson

Jane Was Here 2020Hello readers! Do you have plans for the weekend? While international and local travel is restricted during the pandemic, would you like to visit Jane Austen’s England from the safety of your armchair?

It is great to know that we can still visit Jane Austen country via Jane Was Here. This copiously illustrated travel guide takes us to all of the hot spots in Austenland: London, Chawton, Bath, Lyme Regis, and the Peak District. Authors Nicole Jacobsen and Devynn Dayton have planned out a delightful itinerary illustrated by Lexi K. Nilson. Continue reading “A Preview & Giveaway of Jane Was Here: An Illustrated Guide to Jane Austen’s England, by Nicole Jacobsen, Devynn Dayton, & Lexi K. Nilson”

Book Reviews, Critiques & Analysis, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, by Helena Kelly—A Review

Jane Austen Secret Radical 2018From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

Was Jane Austen a radical? Was she sympathetic to the “radical reforms” of Charles James Fox and others that included universal male suffrage, the abolition of slavery, and women’s rights? Few would readily place her in the company of Thomas Paine, William Godwin, or Mary Wollstonecraft, but perhaps that is because she kept her dangerous views so well hidden that most of her contemporaries, as well as later generations, have missed them. While I began reading Jane Austen, The Secret Radical with an open but somewhat skeptical mind, I was curious to see what evidence Helena Kelly would provide. In Chapter 1, she throws down the gauntlet: 

We’re perfectly willing to accept that writers like [William] Wordsworth were fully engaged with everything that was happening and to find the references in their work, even when they’re veiled or allusive. But we haven’t been willing to do it with Jane’s work. We know Jane; we know that however delicate her touch she’s essentially writing variations of the same plot, a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in any romantic comedy of the last two centuries.   Continue reading “Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, by Helena Kelly—A Review”

Book Reviews, Cultural Studies, Holiday Reading, Jane Austen's Life & Times, Nonfiction

A Jane Austen Christmas: Celebrating the Season of Romance, Ribbons & Mistletoe, by Carlo DeVito – A Review

A Jane Austen Christmas by Carlo DeVito 2015 x 200From the desk of Lisa Galek:

If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite author celebrated Christmas in the 18th century—or just know someone who has—A Jane Austen Christmas: Celebrating the Season of Romance, Ribbons, and Mistletoe by Carlo DeVito is the perfect package to place under the tree this holiday.

A Jane Austen Christmas takes us through Jane’s life story but focuses only on events that happened around Christmastime. We begin with the holiday season of 1786, when Jane is only 11-years-old and spends time with her visiting cousin, Eliza, and ends with the Christmas of 1815 when Emma is published for the first time. On the way, we get to know more about Jane Austen and her family, read about holiday traditions in 18th-century England, and learn to make some delicious, Regency-era Christmas treats. Yum! Continue reading “A Jane Austen Christmas: Celebrating the Season of Romance, Ribbons & Mistletoe, by Carlo DeVito – A Review”

Book Reviews, Downton Abbey, Editor's Picks, Masterpiece Classic, Nonfiction, Period Drama

Downton Abbey – A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Seasons, by Jessica Fellowes – A Review

Downton Abbey a Celebration 2015 x 300“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love” … with Downton Abbey all over again. The final season starts in less than one month on Masterpiece Classic PBS on January 3, 2016. My anticipation of another season of great drama, romance, and witty retorts runs high.

I am, of course, paraphrasing The Christmas Waltz; the famous 1954 holiday song written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne for Frank Sinatra. There is nothing like listening to Christmas carols to make me sentimental. Coupled with the fact that this will be the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey, one of my favorite period dramas on television, and I am ready for a double shot of brandy in my eggnog.

Despite my melodramatic angst over the conclusion of the Crawley family and their servants’ story, fellow Downtonites can revisit the fabulous plots, locations, and characters by reading the final companion volume Continue reading “Downton Abbey – A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Seasons, by Jessica Fellowes – A Review”

Book Previews, Holiday Reading, Jane Austen's Life & Times, Nonfiction

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions, by Maria Grace

A Jane Austen Christmas by Maria Grace 2014Christmastide holiday celebrations were much different during the Regency-era than the Victorian traditions that many people celebrate today. If you are curious about how Jane Austen, her family, and friends decked the halls, what food they ate, games they played, and gifts they exchanged, then A Jane Austen Christmas by Austenesque author Maria Grace will be of great interest to writers and readers of the era.

Maria has written five Regency-era novels inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, notably the Given Good Principles series and Remember the Past: …only as it gives you pleasure. Writing period-accurate novels requires extensive research, so it seems only logical that Maria should turn her hand to nonfiction. If this new release focusing on Regency-era holiday traditions is as delightful as her novels, we are in for a treat. Here are a preview and exclusive excerpt for your enjoyment. Continue reading “A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions, by Maria Grace”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Jane Austen's Life & Times, Nonfiction

Jane Austen: In Her Own Words & The Words of Those Who Knew Her, by Helen Amy – A Review

Jane Austen In Her Own Words, by Helen Amy (2014)From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

We are spoiled for choice when it comes to biographies of Jane Austen these days, but that was not always the case. As Helen Amy notes, it was not until fifty years after Austen’s death that a growing number of readers wanted to know more about her life. At that time, the only outlet for this increasing public interest was Austen’s grave in Winchester Cathedral. Flocks of people began visiting the site, causing a puzzled verger to inquire, “Is there anything particular about that lady?” (172)

This interest coincided with the death of Jane’s last surviving sibling and prompted her nephew Edward Austen-Leigh to write his biography of her in 1869. Other family biographies were subsequently published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and by this time Austen was regarded as an important literary figure. Later scholarly works have uncovered a somewhat different Jane than the quiet homebody her family described. Since Helen Amy’s work references Continue reading “Jane Austen: In Her Own Words & The Words of Those Who Knew Her, by Helen Amy – A Review”

Book Reviews, Jane Austen's Life & Times, Nonfiction

Jane Austen’s Worthing: The Real Sanditon, by Antony Edmonds – A Review

Jane Austen's Worthing, by Antony Edmonds 2014From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

Jane Austen sequels thrive on what ifs. What if Darcy’s first proposal had been delivered in a more gentlemanly manner? What if Willoughby had decided to marry for love instead of money? Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon, is a different kind of literary “what if” for her fans. The eleven chapters Austen penned in early 1817 introduce readers to a fictional seaside resort with as promising a set of characters as any of her other novels. As Antony Edmonds notes in the introduction to Jane Austen’s Worthing: The Real Sanditon:

“In spite of the fact that during its composition she was suffering from the painful and debilitating illness that killed her, there is little evidence of any diminution of her powers, and had the book been finished it is likely that it would have been the equal of her six famous novels.” (10)

Continue reading “Jane Austen’s Worthing: The Real Sanditon, by Antony Edmonds – A Review”

Book Reviews, Critiques & Analysis, Editor's Picks, Jane Austen's Life & Times, Nonfiction

Jane Austen and Names, by Maggie Lane – A Review

Jane Austen and Names, by Maggie Lane (2014 )From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

It seems only natural that an author would be interested in names. My writer friends collect interesting names for future characters and are constantly putting together different combinations. A young Jane Austen playfully tried out a selection of husband names for herself in her father’s parish register of marriages. Expectant parents pour over lists of baby names and struggle to find just the right one. As Maggie Lane points out in the introduction, “The pleasure of choosing names for progeny is one that maiden aunts normally forfeit. But not Jane Austen.” Jane Austen and Names explores her choice of character names and what these choices reveal about the culture she lived in. We also learn about Austen’s personal likes and dislikes through excerpts from her letters.

Ms. Lane begins with a chapter titled, “A Brief History of Names” in which she outlines the changing “common stock” of English Christian names. Names are drawn from a variety of sources and each name has Continue reading “Jane Austen and Names, by Maggie Lane – A Review”

Book Previews, Critiques & Analysis, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

A Preview & Cover Reveal of Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Book Covers, by Margaret C. Sullivan

Jane Austen Cover to Cover, by Margaret Sullivan 2014

I am very pleased to have the ironic honor of officially revealing the cover of a new book about Austen-inspired book covers, Jane Austen: Cover to Cover, by Margaret Sullivan. I think it rather handsome myself. My background in design gives it two big thumbs up to the artist commissioned by Quirk Books and to the author for having the good taste of approving it.

Cover design is a tricky thing that I am quite opinionated about. Over the years there have been many good, bad and down-right ugly Jane Austen book covers and I am so excited to see what Margaret has selected illustrating our favorite author’s novels, nonfiction and more. Here is a brief preview of the book from the publisher and the author.

Congratulations to Margaret.  Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Book Covers releases on 11 November 2014. Pre-orders are available through Quirk Books and many online and brick and mortar booksellers.

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER 

Jane Austen’s six novels are true classics, still immensely popular some 200 years after their first publication.

But although the celebrated stories never change, the covers are always different. Jane Austen Cover to Cover compiles two centuries of design, from elegant Victorian hardcovers and the famed 1894 “Peacock” edition to 1950s pulp, movie tie-in editions, graphic novels, foreign-language translations, and many, many others. Filled with beautiful artwork and insightful commentary, this fascinating and visually intriguing collection is a must for Janeites, design geeks, and book lovers of every stripe.

GUEST BLOG

In the past few years, I’ve become increasingly interested in the aspect of Jane Austen’s life as a professional author. There is ample evidence that Austen took a very pragmatic and careful approach to the business of being an author. She sounds like any modern author, complaining about the slowness of the printers and the business practices of her publishers. When Quirk Books approached me to write Jane Austen Cover to Cover, it was probably my interest in this subject that made me want to write it.

The other reason I wanted to write it was the splendid opportunity to snark funny book covers! I’ve been doing that for years on my blog and among friends online and off, and even had a modest collection of Austen novels with amusing covers. There is certainly a representation of silly covers in the book, but as it developed I was really thrilled to find out how many truly beautiful covers and designs I found, particularly from recent years. Designers are doing some great work for our favorite author.

I’ve read and written extensively on Jane Austen’s novels and the time in which they occur, and Jane Austen Cover to Cover is a different look at the novels–the actual production of the objects that we read. It’s a two-century journey from handmade paper and handset type through everything digital, and the lodestar is the novels themselves–those gorgeous, wonderful stories that never change, and are always there to delight us.

margaretcsullivan2014x150AUTHOR BIO

Margaret C. Sullivan is the founder of AustenBlog.com and the author of The Jane Austen Handbook and There Must Be Murder, and contributed the story “Heard of You” to the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Her favorite Austen novel is Persuasion. She Tweets as @mcsullivan and hangs out on Facebook. By day she is a web content coordinator for a large international law firm, and by night attempts to convince the world that Henry Tilney really is the best Austen hero.

Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Book Covers, by Margaret C. Sullivan
Quirk Books (11 November 2014), 224 pages
eBook: ASIN: B00KEOF6LU
Hardcover: ISBN: 978-1594747250

Cover image courtesy of Quirk Books © 2014; text Margaret C. Sullivan © 2014, Austenprose.com