Giveaway Winners Announced for The Jane Austen Handbook

The Jane Austen Handbook, by Margaret Sullivan (2011)43 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of The Jane Austen Handbook, by Margaret C. Sullivan. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Barbara Kidder, who left a comment on March 22
  • Joy Andrea, who left a comment on March 22
  • Amanda, who left a comment on March 28

Congratulations ladies. To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, but especially to those who attempted to guess Margaret’s middle name. Here are some of the best names offered:

Camille, Constance, Charity, Clarissa, Clementine, Collins, Cecelia, Cordelia, Calliope, Camilla, Cressida, Candace, Cerulean, Clairvoyant, Cleopatra, Cassiopeia and Cathleen.

Some of you guessed it right off the bat. Margaret’s middle name is appropriately, Catherine – just like Jane Austen’s impressionable heroine in Northanger Abbey.

I now stand corrected. I always thought the C. was for Cluebat!

Many thanks again to all and especially Margaret. Winners, enjoy your books.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Guest Blog with the Amiable Margaret C. Sullivan, Author of The Jane Austen Handbook, & a Giveaway!

The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan (2011)Please welcome the author and editrix of AustenBlog Margaret Sullivan today. She has graciously consented to share some thoughts on her newly re-issued The Jane Austen Handbook, a lighthearted how-to book for every Regency Miss in the making.

Thanks to Laurel Ann for the opportunity to do a guest post on Austenprose about The Jane Austen Handbook. The book is part of Quirk Books’ handbooks line, which includes a Batman Handbook, a Spiderman Handbook, and some other subjects tied into popular culture–so on that level it’s pretty cool that Quirk chose Jane Austen as the subject of their first literary handbook. The idea behind the Handbook is a straight-faced presentation of a rather silly and fun premise: that should one find oneself sucked through a time warp into one of Jane Austen’s novels, and fortunate enough to be a genteel lady of the gentry rather than a scullery maid, one would be able to use the (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) advice in the Handbook to handle any situation that might arise. Sort of like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Janeite Edition. Don’t Panic!

There have been some great new reviews for the Handbook which I’ve enjoyed reading, but a question came up back when the book was first released in 2007 which has come up again with the re-release: would an average 21st-century woman really want to live in Regency England?

Well, sure! you cry. Men in breeches! Pretty gowns and bonnets! Dances every night! Polite manners! Tea! Did we mention men in breeches, and if not, Men in breeches!

And this, say the critics, is precisely the problem. We’ve read these lighthearted novels that never mention the hard lives of servants, or the fact that Napoleon’s army was rampaging across the European continent, or that a lot of the great fortunes and big houses were purchased with money acquired from the sale and labor of human beings, or that there were a lot of really poor people in England who had really horrible lives. To encourage young women to fantasize about being Mrs. Darcy in some sanitized Disneyesque Regencyland is doing them a disservice, as women in Regency England weren’t educated except for showy “accomplishments,” and they had no freedom and no way to achieve self-determination. She went from her father’s house to her husband’s house and probably died in childbed as she produced her fifteenth baby.

Well, gee, I don’t know about you, Gentle Readers, but my mellow is harshed.

Breeches?

Nope, didn’t work.

The thing is, to an extent I have to agree with all that. I really wouldn’t want to live in those days. No penicillin. No microwave ovens. No birth control. No control at all, really, for women.

But Jane Austen really didn’t ignore that stuff. Among her characters were soldiers and sailors, engaged in protecting the country from invasion or actively fighting Boney; men who ensured that the families and workers under their protection did not starve or freeze; happily married women and mothers; women who took advantage of their fathers’ libraries to fill in the gaps on their limited education. Austen did not explain every detail, because she didn’t have to. She was writing for an audience of her own contemporaries, who would have understood that Elizabeth Bennet, seeing Pemberley for the first time as a well-run house and village, not showy or pretentious, and hearing Mr. Darcy praised by “an intelligent servant” as someone who does good for the poor, did not change her opinion only because she could imagine herself living there among wealth and luxury (well, maybe a little; Lizzy was human, after all) but because it was evidence of Mr. Darcy’s true quality. The contemporary reader would have understood that Fanny Price’s first dance was a big occasion, and why she was panicky about “being looked at” as she opened the ball, and that a gentleman engaging a lady for the first dance of a ball is a sign that he is interested in her romantically. She would have understood the implications of Marianne Dashwood writing letters to Willoughby and Jane Fairfax receiving them from Frank Churchill. Because Jane Austen wrote about these everyday things with intelligence and humor, with a knowledge of her fellow men and women and a willingness to plainly show that sometimes people are awful to one another, we recognize an internal truth of the novels that have kept us reading them for two centuries. She gave us tremendous, complex characters with whom we still fall in love as we fall in love with the novels. The everyday details don’t really make a bit of difference.

So why read The Jane Austen Handbook? Well, it’s a lighthearted look at the life and times of Jane Austen’s characters, and even if they’re not vital, it still can be fun to learn about them. I tried to keep in mind the questions I had when I first read Jane Austen. What did their clothes look like? Did they do anything but go to dances, and who taught them all the dances anyway? Why are letters only one page long? Why was it such an operation to travel, and why did it take so long, and did they really stay at someone’s house for months and months? Why is it such a big deal to run away to Scotland? Why not run away to Bath or York? And for pity’s sake why didn’t they just TALK to each other? I tried to make it informative for newbies and still fun for the long-time Janeites, with lots of inside jokes and familiar comments.

And of course with the help of The Jane Austen Handbook, you’ll be a hoopy frood of a Janeite who really knows where her towel is.*

*R.I.P. Douglas Adams.

Thanks for your insights Margaret. I know that I am a wiser Janeite for having read your lovely handbook, and refer to it quite often when one of those nagging questing arise on the era.

About the author:

Margaret C. Sullivan is the Editrix of AustenBlog.com, a compendium of news and commentary about Jane Austen and her work in popular culture. She is the author of The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England (Quirk Books, 2007 and 2011) and There Must Be Murder (Girlebooks/Librifiles 2010). Her favorite Jane Austen novel is Persuasion, which led her to a continuing enthusiasm for Age of Sail fiction. Visit Margaret at her website Tilney and Trap Doors & blog AustenBlog.

Giveaway of The Jane Austen Handbook:

Proper Life Skills from Regency England

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of The Jane Austen Handbook, by leaving a comment answering which proper Regency life skills you think one of Jane Austen’s erring characters might have benefited from, or offer your best guess of what the C. in Margaret’s name is an abbreviation of (extra points for the most creative answer) by midnight PT, Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Winner announced on Thursday, March 31, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

© 2007 – 2011 Margaret C. Sullivan, Austenprose

The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan – A Review

The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan (2011)Everyone loves a new frock to brighten their day, and authors are as equally excitable when it comes to re-issues of their works. We were very happy for Margaret C. Sullivan of AustenBlog fame when we learned that her excellent The Jane Austen Handbook (2007) hardcover edition was getting a second go round from its publisher Quirk Books in a new and more accessible paperback format. Not only does the pretty new cover catch the eye, the price leaves a bit more pewter in ones pocket without any changes to the original text and illustrations.

Filled with pertinent facts that every Regency Miss should be aware of to become truly accomplished, it is easy for us to recommend this great little how-to book to our readers because we have used it personally over the past four years whenever we had a question regarding deportment, dancing, playing an instrument, frock shopping and making love (in the Regency context mind you) – the top five most critical social aspects to any young Regency ladies life. One can also throw in letter writing, entertaining house guests and managing a household and just about anything else our dear Austen heroines Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse or Anne Elliot already know that might qualify them as a truly accomplished young lady in Mr. Darcy’s eyes. We shall not add Catherine Morland and Fanny Price into the mix. They are exceptions to the rule and shall be forgiven their lack of education, and might well benefit from this slim volume.

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke from The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan (2011) pg 17

Besides being wise, this volume is also very witty, and that is where we take full enjoyment of its tongue-in-cheek manner. Who would not want to know how to choose a prospective husband (What? They do not choose us? Is that not the unspoken belief among all beaux?), how to decline an unwanted marriage proposal (Lizzy Bennet might offer some advice to Fanny Price on this too!), carry off a secret engagement (Lucy Steele and Jane Fairfax would benefit from modern Prozac no doubt), or elope to Gretna Green (Lydia Bennet FAIL). There are also other tidbits that really made us laugh too. Each page turn brought more delightful and humorous illustrations by Kathryn Rathke and informative vignettes of examples from Jane Austen’s novels like: Who Died and Made Mr. Collins the Heir of Longbourn? or the  Worst (and Funniest) Proposals in Jane Austen’s Novels. *snort*

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke from The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan (2011) pg 165

Informative, impertinent and indispensable, The Jane Austen Handbook is a must have for anyone eager to understand anything from the obvious to the nuanced differences of society in Regency England. Lest we think this frivolous fare, it also contains a brief, but well-written bio of Jane Austen, summaries of the major novels and minor works, a glossary, a list of modern film adaptions through 2007, resources online: websites and blogs (we are forgotten, *sniff*), Austen societies, Austen places to visit, libraries and archives, and a select bibliography. Lastly, we know that Mary Bennet would happily offer her pedantic stamp of approval of this volume because it contains a full index for ease of access to Janeites on the fast track to becoming truly accomplished.

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke from The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan (2011) pg 120

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan
Quirk Publishing (2011)
Trade paperback (224) pages
ISBN: 978-1594745058

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Countdown to My Top 10 Jane Austen Inspired Holiday Gifts 2008: Number 4

Santa Darcy IconGIFT
NUMBER
4

 

Jane Austen Gift Set: Handbook & Action Figure

 Jane Austen Gift Set - WGBH Shop

This clever combination will inspire the ‘young Regency Miss’ in every Janeite. Who does not want her very own Jane Austen action figure and the ultimate handbook on how to become a Regency Miss?  

In The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, author Margaret C. Sullivan enlightens readers on all the aspects of a young Regency ladies upbringing in polite society with step-by-step instructions for proper comportment in the early nineteenth century. You’ll discover: 

  • How to Become an Accomplished Lady
  • How to Run a Great House
  • How to Indicate Interest in a Gentleman Without Seeming Forward
  • How to Throw a Dinner Party
  • How to Choose and Buy Clothing 

Full of practical directions for navigating the travails of  Regency life, this charming illustrated book also serves as a companion for present-day readers, explaining the English class system, currency, dress, and the nuances of graceful living. 

Jane Austen was one of the greatest English novelists in history. Despite a rather sheltered life, she was able to capture the subtleties of human interaction so perfectly that her novels continue to be immensely popular to this day. This 5-1/4″ tall, hard vinyl action figure comes with a book (Pride & Prejudice) and a writing desk with removable quill pen! 

This exclusive combo is offered on sale by the WGBH Shop online, the PBS affiliate who produces Masterpiece Classic and brought us The Complete Jane Austen season this year. $24.95 $21.21

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 6th

Actress Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility 1995) has reached national treasure status according to  interviewer Karen Price of the Western Mail who spoke with her before the opening of Brideshead Revisited in the UK this week. She is always a surprising and amusing in life, and on the screen. I saw this version when it opened in the US in July and enjoyed her performance, though the adaptation by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice 1995, Emma, Northanger Abbey 2007, and Sense and Sensibility 2008) had to be so condensed for the two hour movie that it seemed like an entirely different story than the BBC miniseries of the 1980’s or the Evelyn Waugh novel. Her co-stars Hayley Atwell (Mansfield Park 2007) and Joseph Beatie (Mansfield Park 2007) were also excellent, and the movie is well worth renting the DVD of just for the locations and fabulous costumes.

Even though Matthew Macfayden went all Byronic on us as Mr. Darcy in the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, he can also do comedy and drama with equal aplomb. Pride and Prejudice (2005) Blog was updates on all his latest projects including Frost/Nixon and Incendiary.

Have lunch with Andrew Davies (well almost) and interviewer John Lloyd who thinks that Davies has shaped the literary imagination of millions (that may be true, but it is a daunting thought for this writer). His latest project airing this month on the BBC is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit staring a formidable cast of classic actors including Austen connects with Matthew Macfayden (Pride and Prejudice 2005), Robert Hardy (Northanger Abbey 1986), and Judy Parfitt (Pride and Prejudice 1979). Mabe it will make it acrosss the pond to PBS next season? Hope so.

Did Jane Austen like children? Old Fogey blog takes a shot at his interpretation of Jane Austen’s view of children in her books and letters with his post on More Cake than is Good for Them. I always enjoy reading his insights on Austen, even though I may not always agree with him!

Classic Reader a website of e-texts of many classic novels offers a nice brief biography of Jane Austen and includes the six major novels and novella Lady Susan for reading online. Also included are is an extensive library of classic titles such as The Castle of Orantano by Horace Warpole, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, poetry and nonfiction works, so check it out!

Austen and Austen-esque book reviews for the week: Just Jane, Persuasion, A Cure for All Diseases, Mansfield Park, Jane and the Man of the Cloth, Lydia Bennet’s Story, Pride and Prejudice, Bride and Prejudice Movie, The Jane Austen Handbook, Persuasion, The Jane Austen Book Club, The Darcys and the Bingleys, Me and Mr. Darcy, and The Independence of Mary Bennet.

Australian author Colleen McCoullough’s new Austen-esque book The Independence of Mary Bennet is getting a bit of press in Australia since its release there on October 1st. The interviews of the author are bristly as she is quite outspoken, ahem. The reaction by Austen enthusiasts is not surprising, since we do defend our Jane, and are unguarded and outspoken about others those who use her name or characters to make money. Here are few reactions from Austenblog and Barbwired.

Austen-esque author Sharon Lathan asks, Another ‘Pride and Prejudice’ sequel…Really? on the Casablanca Authors blog, then proceeds to explain her reasons which I can not argue with but some may. Jill Pitkeathley of newly released Cassandra and Jane chats with A Circle of Books,  Jane Odiwe of Lydia Bennet’s Story is interviewed by Ms. Place (Vic) of Jane Austen’s World,

The  beautiful color 2009 A Year with Jane Austen wall calendars produced by JASNA Wisconsin are available and a very worthy addition including great daily events through the calendar year from the novels and significant events in Jane Austen’s life. Be informed every day of what happened in Jane Austen’s world. What Janeite could need more, well maybe a book and a movie or two.

The AGM of JASNA concluded in Chicago and now we get to read about all of the wonderful experiences had by many there. Janeite Deb of Jane Austen in Vermont blog does Day 1, shops (bless her), and tells us all about the great books she found, and now on to Day 2. Mags of AustenBlog gives us a daily breakdown of, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. Now that is dedication!

Emma the musical officially opens tonight in St. Louis, Missouri at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Penned, scored and lyrics by Paul Gordon, the Toni nominated composer of Jane Eyre, the reviews have been mixed, so we shall see how Miss Woodhouse charms the audience.

The Cleveland Heights Janeites had an Austen celebration last week, and it was all things Jane all around. Read this charming article by reporter Laura Johnston of the The Plain Dealer, who must be a Janeite herself to be so knowledgeable (or good at her research).

Find out why Elizabeth Bennet never got fat! Enuf said!!! and all about miniature portraitist George Englheart who has more Austen connections than Jane Austen’s boy toy Tom Lefroy.

Reporter Judith Egerton gushes about the new Jon Jory production of Pride and Prejudice on stage in Lousiville, Kentucky through November 2nd. I wonder if her love of Jane Austen is genetic? Could she be a descendant of Thomas Egerton who first published Pride and Prejudice in 1813?  ;)

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey continues here at Austenprose until October 31st. The group read is progressing and we are up to chapter 10 as heronine in the making Catherine Morland was just danced with Mr. Tilney (lucky girl). It’s not too late to join in the group read and all the guest bloggers and giveaways. You can read the progress to date at my co-blog, Jane Austen Today. Thanks to the many bloggers and readers who went Gothic with us and are joining in; Kimberly’s Cup, Blue Archipelago, Tea, Toast and a Book, This is so Silly, KimPossible, and Kindred Spirits. It has been great fun to read your opinions. Keep them comming!

Until next week, happy Jane sighting,

Laurel Ann

Get Ready to Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey Starting October 1st

 

A Great Austen Novel Event Begins Next Wednesday!

Hold on to your bonnets Janeites and Gothic literature fans, cuz Austenprose will be hosting another Austen novel event during the month of October, 2008 in honour of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Please join the 31 day blog event and ‘Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey’ including a group read and discussion of Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey , book and movie reviews, guest bloggers, and tons of free giveaways! 

Here is a partial schedule of the upcoming fun 

Group Read 

OCTOBER 2:  Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen group read begins with chapters 1-3. 

The complete reading schedule can be found here 

Guest Bloggers 

OCTOBER 6: Amanda Grange, author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary and the four other retellings of Jane Austen’s novels from the hero’s perspective is currently writing the last novel in the series, Henry Tilney’s Diary. Read up on all the scoop on the progress on her writing about hero Henry Tilney, inarguably Austen’s most charming and daring wit! Amanda will share her insights on the current novel and include some highlights on scenes and dialogue in this preview of her fabulous new novel! 

OCTOBER 13: Margaret C. Sullivan, author of The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to her World, Editrix of AustenBlog, Tilneys and Trap-doors and Molland’s web sites will be discussing her admittedly partial, and totally prejudiced preference for Northanger Abbey’s hero Henry Tilney, and what makes him Jane Austen’s most dashing and quotable hunk. 

OCTOBER 15: Kali Pappas, Austen fashion authority, web designer and web mistress of The Emma Adaptations Pages will be chatting with us about her favorite subject, fashion, in the two movie adaptations of Northanger Abbey. Find out what this Austenista has to say about all the elegant ball gowns and wild feathered bonnets in these two movie adaptations. 

OCTOBER 20: James D. Jenkins, Gothic fiction authority and publisher of Valancourt Books will be discussing the history of Gothic fiction, renown authors of the genre and the seven novels included in the famous Northanger Cannon that character Isabella Thorpe recommends to heroine Catherine Morland in the novel Northanger Abbey, and the two books that they read, The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. Find out for yourself if they are all as horrid as Isabella Thorpe claims them to be! 

OCTOBER 27: Writer Trina Robbins, and illustrator Anne Timmons of Graphic Classics Volume 14: Gothic Classics, the graphic novel version of Northanger Abbey and The Mysteries of Udolpho will be talking about their experience adapting and illustrating Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey. Learn all about this wonderful media for young adults and big adults too! 

Giveaways 

Tons of fun stuff! Northanger Abbey editions in print by publishers Barnes & Noble, Penguin, Norton Critical, Broadview, and Oxford University Press, Naxos Audio Books version of Northanger Abbey, Movies, Jane Austen ephemera and gifts, and so much more! 

Don’t miss out on all the great reading, discussion

and fun giveaways, starting October 1st.

 Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey! You won’t regret it!

 

Jane Austen Book Sleuth: Little Gems to Treasure and Gift

Illustration of a Morning & Evening Dress from Ladies Magazine (1811)It was the choicest gift of Heaven; and Anne viewed her friend as one of those instances in which, by a merciful appointment, it seems designed to counterbalance almost every other want. The Narrator on Anne Elliot, Persuasion, Chapter 17 

Looking for a gift book for a special Janeite, or as an introduction of Jane Austen to an un-indoctrinated friend? Recently, I was faced with both challenges, and researched a good many gift titles to find the prefect match to personality and purpose. 

It can be a challenge to buy for others, but I find books are the finest gift, and heck, if by some chance you mess up and they hate it, they can always exchange it!

In my mind, to qualify as a gift book, the edition must be

  1. A book that I would buy for myself
  2. A positive subject, that is informative and uplifting
  3. Beautifully designed, illustrated, or colorful images
  4. Hardcover
  5. Nonfiction
  6. Under $20.00 

Here are a few of the finalists in the Jane Austen gift book roundup.  Continue reading