Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Jane Austen: An Illustrated Biography


Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford collaborated on a cute illustrated biography of Jane Austen. The text consists of the basic information on Jane’s life, but there’s nothing that you probably couldn’t get from Wikipedia.

The water color illustrations are charming and fit with Jane Austen’s tone and era.



It’s a quick, enjoyable read, but Austen fans won’t learn much that’s new. I realize that not that much is known about Austen, but this book doesn’t do much than offer some highlights. For more details, I suggest Carol Shield’s Jane Austen: A Life. 

I think Alkayat and Cosford’s Jane Austen: An Illustrated Biography is a good book to check out from your library rather than something you need to purchase.

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Posted by on March 28, 2018 in book review, British literature


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I found Shannon Hale‘s novel Austenland on the new books shelf at the library. Since I’m an unabashed Jane Austen fan, though one who’s never read any fan fiction or other spin offs, I thought Austenland would be a fun, summer read.

Premise: Jane Haynes, a single 30-something graphic artist living in New York has is obsessed with Jane Austen novels. An elderly aunt dies and bequeaths Jane a three week stay at Pemberley Park, where everyone lives in the style of Regency England.

Hmmm, could be fun.

Well, Jane first can’t decide if she should go. Her fretting about this non-problem annoyed me. Of course, readers know she’s going or there’s no story.

Jane arrives in the house and meets the other characters, moderns who adopt early 19th century personas and clothes. As you’d expect they resemble Austen’s characters: the uptight Darcy, the cads, the matchmaking middle aged women. Here though we’re also given some pathetic characters like Miss Charming, a 50-ish heavy guest who adopts the personal of a 20 year old. Many come to Pemberley Park for a three week dose of wish fulfillment.

Throughout the story Jane questions her Austen-complex. Mentally, she complains of the boredom of the lifestyle. She bugged me as she was just a four star White Whiner. It’s hard to push through a story when the heroine is bored or questioning why she’s on a vacation. It’s easy enough to extricate oneself from a resort. Pemberley Park is not Alcatraz.

The plot was predictable; the prose, almost witty. The only non-Austen touch was that Jane has a dalliance with a gardener, who would have been invisible in an Austen novel, where the bad men weren’t servants.

Hale’s writing style is chatty and banal. I think she must read chic lit novels exclusively. While it’s hard to be as good as Austen, I think the best route is to avoid emulation and shoot for originality.

I see that the film opens August 16th. I’d wait for Netflix, rather than buying a ticket, though there’s plenty of better good versions of Austen’s oeuvre with dashing actors like Colin Firth, Matthew Macfayden, Rupert Penry-Jones, and Richard Armitage, that it’s hard to imagine that Austenland offers a better experience.

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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in chick lit


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Pride and Prejudice

In April my book club read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice again. Rereading it is like reliving a delightful vacation. The characters and events become more vivid this time ’round.

This time when I read it, I was more aware of Lydia’s selfishness and cluelessness. (I’ve gotten that before, but this time it rang louder.) I think watching so many current movies, set in any era, I’ve subconsiously bought into our era’s feeling that “oh, it’s okay to impetuous.” Though Austen’s writings aren’t overtly religious, her message is clear that Lydia’s going to have a rough life and that foolish decisions don’t just turn out okay. Our society seems to have lost that notion. (Yep, I guess that observation shows why I’m so at home in Austen’s world.)

I also read with a keen view to seeing when Darcy falls for Lizzy and vice versa as that was a question I’d read in a list of discussion questions. I do wonder how it was that Darcy’s love wasn’t crushed after Lizzy refused him and wounded his pride so. Yes, he changed her view of him with his letter, but he didn’t know that.

I’ve seen the series with Colin Firth and the film with Matthew MacFayden and like them both. The BBC production with Firth is longer and can cover every scene in the book, while the film left things out. I am fine with any traditional adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Just spare me anything with zombies.

My heart always goes out to Charlotte. I just could not have made that choice. I don’t have or even want to have the patience to marry for security. She was practical and no one made her marry Collins.

After reading about book club member Cortney’s footnotes in her annotated version, I went over to my library’s website and did some research. I found an interesting short article that hypothesized that Lady Catherine’s social standing wasn’t what she presented or that at least at one point in life her ideas about class weren’t what they are during the novel.

Rosings, as Austen says, is a modern—that is, Georgian—building, and its
glazing came at Sir Lewis de Bourgh’s expense. It was not uncommon for the
daughters of nobility, like Lady Catherine, the daughter of an earl, to marry
wealthier men of lower social rank but higher economic standing. In fact, her
late sister, Lady Anne Darcy, did just this: she married Darcy’s father, who
came from the “honorable [. . .] though untitled” (394) family that owned
Pemberley, which is obviously not a “modern” building, as its library holdings
are “the work of many generations” (41). The wealthy commoner husband
certainly gained prestige by marrying a wife who retained her paternal courtesy
title, as Ladies Catherine and Anne did.

When Lady Catherine visits Elizabeth to command her not to marry
Darcy, she states that both the Darcys and the de Bourghs are “ancient”
families (394).4 But is Lady Catherine’s veracity to be trusted? In her
angry hysteria at this moment, she also insists that her nephew, Darcy,
and her daughter, Anne, “are destined for each other by the voice of every
member of their respective houses” (394). Yet Darcy himself neither
believes this promise nor chooses his life’s mate with regard for any such
promise. Moreover, the convivially chatty, even gossipy, Colonel Fitzwilliam
never mentions any intention of his cousins to marry. Indeed, when
the Colonel tells Elizabeth that Darcy is procrastinating on their departure
from Rosings, he has no idea why and never surmises that it has anything
to do with a potential de Bourgh–Darcy marriage.

Even if the de Bourghs are an “ancient,” extremely wealthy family, as Lady
Catherine insists, Austen suggests that they did not have a great country house
until Sir Lewis de Bourgh built Rosings. Not only does the narrator undercut
Lady Catherine’s pride by giving her a “modern-built house,” rather than a
distinguished older house, but the man who paid for the house’s original glazing
and the man who brags about its costs do, too.

RAY, JOAN KLINGEL.Pride and Prejudice: The Tale Told by Lady Catherine’s House.” Explicator 2008: 66. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 2 May 2012.

I do wonder what happens to these characters after the story’s end. I haven’t read any of the modern sequels expecting that none would meet my expectations.

Has anyone else read any of them? Any recommendations?

C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition ...

C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in British Lit, chick lit, classic


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Theme Thursday: No

Theme Thursdays is a fun weekly event that will be open from one Thursday to the next. Anyone can participate in it. The rules are simple:

  • A theme will be posted each week (on Thursday’s)
  • Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading
  • Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post
  • It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word)
    Ex: If the theme is KISS; your sentence can have “They kissed so gently” or “Their lips touched each other” or “The smooch was so passionate”

This will give us a wonderful opportunity to explore and understand different writing styles and descriptive approaches adopted by authors.

NO! don’t, not, negative etc

My THURSDAY THEME for NO is here.

“No, my dear, I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the reverse. There is a mixture of servility and self-importance in his letter, which promises well. I am impatient to see him.”

p. 79 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in British Lit, classic


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