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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REVIEW: iPhone/iPad app game Regency Love from Tea for Three Studios

There’s a brand new iPad and iPhone app game out today (to coincide with Jane Austen’s birthday), that I’m pretty much convinced all Pride and Prejudice fans will adore. It’s called Regency Love by Tea for Three Studios. I downloaded it on Saturday using a promo code for a preview, and have already got my first Regency lady to the end of the game (marriage, and 100 points for all of the accomplishments).

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Artist profile Q&A: Pride and Prejudice illustrator Elizabeth Monahan

When I was looking for more covers to show you in my latest Top Five Pride and Prejudice covers, I stumbled across a self-published beautifully illustrated eBook version by artist Elizabeth Monahan. The gorgeous cover, below, has a slightly quirky style to it with Lizzy and Darcy obviously at odds. I was completely struck by it, and decided to contact her to ask more about where her ideas come from, and if we are to expect some more of her art sometime soon.

Monahan happily agreed to answer some questions for The Bennet Sisters, and also provided a few other illustrations for readers to see. They’re so lovely, I’m squeeing! This is something I’d love to give to a friend or relative at Christmas, and that has a rich, strong style to it but also manages to be lovely and whimsical. Certainly not an easy thing to do. Continue reading

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The Pride and Prejudice role-playing game

We have just seven days to help this project, and I’m thinking it’s worth it! With 1,219 Janeites currently behind it, the Kickstarter project ‘Ever, Jane’ also quickly becoming known as “that Jane Austen game” will not see the light of day without you.

Unfortunately, wordpress won’t let me embed the Kickstarter video (you can see that on their fundraising page), so I’ll show you what you can do via this hilarious youtube video instead.

Currently, $64,903 has been pledged, and there’s a minimum $100,000 goal. So why should you care? Here’s why. It’s an online Jane Austen role playing game, where”it is not about kill or be killed, but invite and be invited with gossip our weapon of choice.” Continue reading

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