BOOK REVIEW: A Jane Austen Miscellany edited by Kristen Maree Cleary & Robin Langley Sommer

“The strength of the relationships between some of the sisters in Jane Austen’s works mirrors the close relationship Austen enjoys with her own sister.” – Page 8

This little hardback book of Jane Austen quotes is a quaint collection of her words around “Sisters, Suitors, Families and Friends” that does itself the disservice of looking unattractive. I found the 1999 Grange Books, DoveTail imprint, published A Jane Austen Miscellany at City Basement Books in Melbourne for the cheap price of $5, and snapped it up happily. I also bought a couple of poetry books (Keats) and a children’s book – all very well priced. Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEW: Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight

“[Jane Austen] nuanced her way into every aspect of the book, and I just went along for the ride. Austentatious is, in part, a (loosely interpreted) modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and part homage to the wit and timelessness of Ms. Jane Austen.” – Author’s note

Austentatious by Alyssa Goodnight was another book I found at the Melton Library when browsing the shelves. IBN: 978-0-7582-6743-6 the quick read kept me company on the train back from work each day for the past week, as I stumbled through it. The initial impression I had was that the tone of writing is strange and takes a while to get used to, perhaps very conversational, very hurried – jumping to conclusions that not everyone would make. With the story located primarily in Austin, Texas, for an English girl like me, and an Australian resident, it was hard to understand some of the concepts of the much-discussed ‘Weird’ t-shirt and other, perhaps cultural, differences. Overall, however, it was a good romance novel for young adults that spans from the realm of magic to sex, Jane Austen and good old fashioned journaling.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke

“Jane tucked the letter into the folds of her cloak and looked at him, realizing that in the groom she had found an ally who would not betray her indiscretion.” – Prologue

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I firstly must admit to liking this book against my better judgement. I found a paperback version of Sally Smith O’Rourke’s The Man Who Loved Jane Austen ISBN: 978-0758210371, along with six other Jane Austen-related reads, at my local library (Melton). The small paperback was the second I began reading out of the stack, and I was quickly hooked. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Longbourn by Jo Baker, Pride and Prejudice retold from the servants’ perspective

“She slid a finger over the mantel, laid a hand on the snowy freshness of the linen… She sniffed: beeswax, the tang of vinegar, soft woodsmoke from the crackling fire. ‘Well done. Good girls. You should be proud of that.’”- Longbourn, Jo Baker, page 131

Jo Baker’s Longbourn is everything that a Pride and Prejudice retelling should be – true to Austen, romantic, sensitive, thoughtful and, importantly, original. Bringing a new spin to our beloved Jane Austen’s creation, Baker has spun a story that is so separate and new from the Darcy/Lizzy love story, but that provides you glimpses of the original from a removed viewpoint. Think about this: Who has to wash Elizabeth’s petticoats after she has trudged through the mud?

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REVIEW, Q&A and GIVEAWAY: How to Speak Like Jane Austen and Live Like Elizabeth Bennet

“Charlotte was frequently ‘all astonishment’, while I ‘could hardly keep my countenance’.” – Kaelyn Caldwell, Author’s Preface

All of our lives would be benefitted extraordinarily from learning a little bit more from Jane Austen. If we all acted with as much propriety, gentility and with as many manners as some of our favourite heroines (who, even in their most awful moments, are really not that bad), then we wouldn’t go far wrong. This new book is certainly going to be a huge help in providing us some life instructions to speak, and live, more like our beloved Regency characters.

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In fact, the concept of behaving in a more Regency way, of acting like Elizabeth Bennet, was the topic of an eBook that I was provided a review copy of. How to Speak Like Jane Austen and Live Like Elizabeth Bennet by Kaelyn Caldwell graced the Kindle app on my iPad mini over the Christmas break and since, and has provided me some fantastic amusement – and, one would hope, some personal character improvement. Continue reading

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An unexpected delight: Regency dance

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I left work dot on time yesterday to get on a train to Thomastown, Melbourne for a bout of Regency dancing at 6.30pm. I’m not a keen athlete in any way and while I adore dance, I am truly hopeless, with two left feet and two left hands to match. Admittedly, I was a little nervous – an unusual emotion for me to feel – and I had a large coffee while I waited to go in. Before I went in, I knew very little about Regency dancing. Most of us have seen at least one Pride and Prejudice adaptation, where Mr Darcy can use his refusal to dance to belittle, Mr Collins can use his inability to dance well to belittle himself and the women mostly stand around dying to dance with anyone other than Mr Collins. Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEW: Dinner with Mr Darcy by Pen Vogler

“Recipes inspired by the novels and letters of Jane Austen” – Front Cover

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Visiting Newtown, one of my regular book hunting spots, and having already bought secondhand copies of Victorian Entertaining by John Crosby Freeman, Women and Marriage in Victorian Fiction by Jenni Calder and Jane and the Stillroom Maid by Stephanie Barron (at Gould’s Book Arcade further up King Street), I was thrilled to walk down the road and find Dinner with Mr Darcy at Art on King/Modern Times. It was in plastic, for $39.95. It was marked on the back for £16.99 or (US)$24.95 with Canadian prices higher. Continue reading

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Jane Austen in my Christmas and New Year’s celebrations

It’s a brand new year, and Christmas was especially kind to me – with gifts coming from my girlfriend in the shape of a number of Jane Austen goodies. But the real treat was coming home for two weeks to Sydney, where my family, friends and partner live, and spending time with them. If there’s anything Jane Austen would want us to take from Pride and Prejudice (and you may have heard me harp on about it enough) it’s that family you have, and the family you also choose to make for yourself, is incredibly important.

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I got a number of gifts for Christmas from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath and I’m very much in love with them. The one I want to talk about now is the 365 days of Jane diary, seen in the picture below. Before we go any further… let me SQUEE over this wrapping – how beautiful is it! The whole thing was in the blue Jane Austen Centre bag, but it was carefully wrapped in ‘Jane Austen’ wrapping paper (you can just see it peeking out there from underneath the beautiful matching silk ribbon – with her handwriting name and the floral pattern and cameo). And then I opened it to reveal a number of beautiful gifts. Continue reading

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APP REVIEW: Stride and Prejudice by No Crusts Interactive

Now I’m back in Sydney and making the most of the wifi, I thought I’d take a look at some of the games cropping up to play. I found this one. It’s called ‘Stride and Prejudice’ and it’s the simplest, but most addictive, thing in the world – and just $0.99(US) from No Crusts Interactive. Described as an ‘endless runner based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen’ it’s essentially a mix between your typical ‘jump onto each platform as the screen moves’ and enforced reading of classics. It works on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

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You are a pixellated, gowned-up Regency female with gold heels and gloves and a shock of brown curled hair (perhaps Lizzy), and you have to run across the screen jumping from sentence to partial sentence in the book by tapping the screen. Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEW: Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter

“[Mr Darcy]’s not actually real – you are” – Emily Albright to Spike

I took a trip back to Sydney and, in Elizabeth’s secondhand Bookstore in Newtown, found an $8.80 secondhand paperback copy of the 2007 romance-fiction style Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter. Of course, I bought it. Unfortunately, having now read it, I think Ms Potter does herself a disservice with this novel. ISBN: 978-0345502544
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