The Jane Austen Handbook

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The Jane Austen Handbook
by Margaret Sullivan
★★★★

I am an unabashed Janeite. I’ve read all of her novels and most of her smaller/unfinished books. I love her writing; the social observations, the wonderful characters, the love stories, the relationships between sisters, everything.

So when Margaret Sullivan, (creator of the blog Austenblog.com), re-released her book The Jane Austen Handbook, I knew I needed to read it. This is a book that someone like me just soaks up. It’s wonderful to learn more about the time period Jane wrote about. It provides an added depth and context to her work because it gives a better understanding to how livings were made and kept and why women wanted to find husbands so badly.

The book offers information on the etiquette of the time. You learn about how to dress, where to vacation, how to pay a call, how to court, etc. If you’ve ever wondered what it meant to “take the waters” you’ll learn that to.

It’s the perfect companion book to Austen’s novels. I always wondered exactly what kind of card game whist was and what all was involved in becoming “accomplished.” The handbook has step-by-step instructions and illustrations on anything you could possible relate to Austen.

If you love Austen, or even that time period, definitely pick it up. If you couldn’t care less, this one’s probably not for you, but then the title tells you that from the get go.

**My copy was provided by Quirk Books

14 comments:

Kristi said...

I'm a huge Austen fan too. I have read all of her completed novels and several more than once. This book sounds like something I would love. I know I'll continue to read them, so it would be great to have additional insight.

Anne said...

I love Jane Austen too and this book looks great. I also have always wondered about the card game whist.

Kate said...

I'm an Austen fan too - this sounds great! It's on the list, thanks to your review!

Jeanne said...

There are so many books about Austen out now that sometimes I feel overloaded looking at yet another title. You've put this one in context for me, though. Thanks!

Avid Reader said...

Kristi - It's perfect as a reference point.

Anne - Seriously, I never knew what whist was and they were always playing it!

Jeanne - You know it's funny. As much as I love Austen, I tend to hate Austen inspired fiction. It always just makes me wish I was reading the real thing. This one worked for me because it's nonfiction and just expanded my knowledge of that time period.

Monica said...

This sounds really lovely to on, and also as a gift to any fellow Austenite. This would have been great back in highschool!

Avid Reader said...

Monica - It would make a great gift!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Oh, this sounds so cool. I haven't read all of her work, but I've read some, plus a biography. And if you ever thought you might be one of these girls that goes back in time to become one of her characters (ha!) this would be the perfect way to prepare.

Becky (Page Turners) said...

I really really want this book now!

Avid Reader said...

Sandy - I watched a show called Lost in Austen that has that very premise. I couldn't help thinking how helpful it would have been for that girl to have this book!

Becky - I know I'll reference it the next time I re-read some of her work.

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

As an Austen fan, I'm really interested in this book. I've wanted to read Mansfield Park and her shorter novels for years, but I keep hesitating because then I wouldn't have any "new" Austen novels to read...

Avid Reader said...

Darlyn - I did the same thing. After P&P and S&S I started to ration them because I knew I'd run out. I read one a year after that and now all I have left are a few unfinished works. I always have re-reads though!

Kate said...

Hey - just wanted to let you know I linked this post in my "Friday Five" over at Kate's Library.

Have a great weekend!

Avid Reader said...

Thanks Kate!