Sitting in Palmer and Co., a prohibition-style bar in Sydney’s Merivale area that blares 1920s music in sepia-toned mood lighting, we began discussing Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier as our latest book club read. Around us are shelves filled with strange objects – grey top hats, cage-looking iron implements, and walls covered with black and white photographs and mug shots of convicts. It’s strangely fitting for the book, and while the cocktail ‘Fire and Brimstone’ (which would have been perfect for Manderley, and actually had earl grey in the mix) was sold out, we drank and watched as patrons donned fascinators and crept in and out.
Somewhere in-between updating each other with our lives in the month past and trying to hear each other over the music, the question “Manderley or Pemberley?” came up.
It has been far too long since I have blogged, and there’s probably an apology in this somewhere. Similarly, it has been over eight months since book club. Potentially the worst, and the best, book club this side of the world I’m willing to admit that my own new job (raise your teacups to getting paid to write!) combined with juggling other commitments has not made me the most easy person to organise around for a book club with four other busy ladies. As this has been the case, Persuasion, the book of so much emotion, has been kept very much overdue. Which almost seems fitting considering the long estrangement of our heroine and hero.
It’s difficult for us kiddos to find Pride and Prejudice (or Jane Austen, or Regency) related places to visit in Sydney, or anywhere in Australia really. So when one does find a place that is utterly perfect for (in this case) a book club, or a fan, it is one’s duty to share the discovery. Now, I can’t claim that this was created to fit Pride and Prejudice (because, um, it wasn’t) nor can I claim that the links were as obvious as some might like (they aren’t). But it was so charming, and delightful, a day and so steeped in Pride and Prejudice fun that I can’t help myself in sharing it.
Vaucluse House, from the Historic Houses Trust, in (fittingly) the wealthy suburb of Vaucluse, was built by William Charles Wentworth between 1805 and 1860. While a lot of scandal exists behind the Wentworth name, the house is a stunning example of architecture and decor of the time, plus the history is incredible (The Australian newspaper, the first independent paper, was created by Wentworth). Costing us a mere $4 concession (got to love being a student) which included a fantastic tour by a lovely guide it’s a fantastic glimpse into the lives of people at the time. We were even allowed to go past the barriers and walk around some of the rooms and gaze longingly at various grandfather clocks, pianos, fireplaces, statuettes and chandeliers on display.
The girls came to mine for our Mansfield Park meet. Which, due to a mutual hatred of Fanny Price, turned into an eating, laughing, Lost In Austen re-watching, Mr.Darcy ogling session. As is the rest of my life. The entire night had me coming back to that discussion in The Jane Austen Book Club (film) where it is said that if it was 21st Century highschool politics- Fanny Price would be the unpopular one, while Elizabeth Bennet would be homecoming Queen. Too Damn Right.
Luckily enough, we had a lot of tea on hand to make these sorts of discussions less crude and more of the sipping, 18th Century observational style. (And yes, that would happen to be my hand pointing). Continue reading
If you’re a regular reader of The Bennet Sisters, you’ll know that once a month I go to a Jane Austen Book Group with four other girls from all over Sydney (to a backdrop of my slightly younger brother calling me a ‘nerd’. Nice). We have met three times and covered two books (Sense and Sensibility and now Pride and Prejudice), attempting to read them in order of publication. On Friday, it was the Pride and Prejudice meet up- and so, armed with my Vintage Austen copy of P&P, I spent the entire month re-reading and re-analysing the book. It has been quite an experience. Also, luckily, this book meet just about coincided with Austenprose’s ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies- Reclaiming the Classic’ event (a re-reading of the original novel), which I have been following with a lot of interest (and has some excellent giveaways you should keep your eyes peeled for on the Austenprose site!).
The Jane Austen Book Club- Robin Swicord (Based on the book of the same name by Karen Joy Fowler)