Hello readers! You are about to witness the virtual Jane Austen Oscars awards ceremony. The winners have been selected by a well-qualified committee, which consists of the owner of this blog and her friend Molly. The committee does not have the funds to support the cash prizes, so they are forcing the losers to pay […]Jane Austen Oscars
Category: Northanger Abbey
Rebecca is Like Northanger Abbey’s Great Grandchild
This review has been a long time coming, Rebecca is on my list for Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, Catherine Morland’s Reading List, and Book Club Picks. I just haven’t had a chance, but that changes today!
Rebecca is one of my favorite gothic fiction books. Like Frankenstein, I watched the movie first and absolutely adored it. It’s one of my favorite films and one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films.
I like to kid that Rebecca is Northanger Abbey’s great grandchild as it takes place roughly four generations after Northanger Abbey and has similarities to Austen’s work.
The book starts in the present (1938) with one of the best opening lines: “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly”. And has our main character, who’s name is unknown, eating with her husband Maxim de Winter.
The fact that we never know the name of our narrator…
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Happy Birthday, Jane Austen
Anyone who knows me (or has read this blog regularly), knows that I am Janeite. In layman’s terms, I am a Jane Austen fangirl. Her books are a huge part of my world.
Today is Austen’s birthday. One of the many things I admire her for is her writing. She had the unique ability to blend satire, romance, and societal criticism in such a way that it takes multiple reads to recognize how perfectly these elements are intertwined.
The focus of yesterday’s episode of The Thing About Austen podcast (which I highly recommend) is Robert Ferrars, the younger brother of Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility). I won’t give the conversation away (which is why I recommend that you listen to it). But what I will say is that her ability to give the reader just enough detail about the character without under or overexplaining is a skill that many writers are unable to accomplish.
Wherever you are Jane, thank you for everything. Our world would not be the same without you.
Kicking Ass in a Corset: Jane Austen’s 6 Principles for Living and Leading from the Inside Out Book Review
By nature, the corset is a garment meant to constrict the body of the person who is wearing it. It can also be a metaphor for the lack of opportunity and the second-class treatment that has been the norm for women for generations.
Andrea Kayne‘s 2021 book, Kicking Ass in a Corset: Jane Austen’s 6 Principles for Living and Leading from the Inside Out, is half self-help book and half wisdom via Jane Austen. Using six of Austen’s beloved leading ladies (Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, Anne Elliot, Elinor Dashwood, Fanny Price, and Catherine Moreland) as an example, Kayne explains how readers and women readers, in particular, can learn from these beloved characters. Combining real-world advice with exercises and examples from the novels, she inspires us to go for what we want while learning from the women whose stories we adore.
I loved this book. Kayne brings both worlds together in a way that increases my love of Austen while lighting the proverbial fire under the behind. It makes me want to re-read all six books and be open to the lessons that can be gleaned from the genius that is Jane Austen.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Celebrating Jane Austen on the 204 Anniversary of her Passing
Today is the 204 anniversary of the passing of Jane Austen. To say that she was extraordinary in her time and ours is and will always be an understatement. Though her physical remains are long gone, her name and her work will last forever.
New Podcast Reviews: The Experiment and Anxiously
Discovering a favorite podcast is akin to discovering a new television show.
When the United States was founded more than two centuries ago, real democracy was a pipe dream. Most of what was considered to be the known world (aka Europe) was ruled by Kings and Queens. The Founding Fathers were akin to political scientists, trying different experiments until one worked. The latest podcast from WNYC is called The Experiment. The premise is to explore what has worked within our country and what needs to be improved upon.
Jane Austen once wrote the following about friendship:
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”- Northanger Abbey
Friendship is so important. When it comes to mental health issues, it can be the one thing that keeps the emotional wolves at bay. Especially when we are locked in our homes due to the pandemic. Anxiously is the latest podcast from Tablet Magazine. Hosted by two friends, Aimee and Lisa, their conversations revolve around what makes them well, anxious.
So far, I have enjoyed both The Experiment and Anxiously. I like the way both explore their respective subjects in a way that the audience can connect to without being talked down to or over.
Do I recommend both? Absolutely.
Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!
Nathaniel Hawthorne once said the following:
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
Reading Jane Austen is deliciously easy. Her books are full of characters that seem as real as you or I.
As any writer will tell you, writing is not as easy as it seems. The work and effort that is required feels nearly impossible to accomplish sometimes.
Jane came from an era in which women pursuing any career was frowned on. Her primary responsibility was that of a wife and mother. Initially publishing her books under the pseudonym of “A Lady”, public recognition of her as an author came later on.
One of the things I have learned as a writer is that sometimes you sometimes need to put your work away for a while. Recently, I have been going back to pieces that have been sitting on my hard drive. Delving back into those particular pieces (with the help of a handful of keen eyed fellow writers), I have been working on them with a level of excitement and energy I have not felt in a long time.
Her first three completed novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice were initially written when Austen was still a young woman. Like any budding author, she eagerly sent out her manuscripts to publishers, hoping for an eventual publication. The response was a decided no.
The next few years were an emotional roller coaster for Austen. After her father’s retirement and subsequent passing, Jane, her sister, and her mother moved frequently. It was only after finding a permanent home in Chawton House did she had the space and comfort that she needed to write again.
Rewriting the books of her youth and writing three new ones (Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion), she finally became the writer she had always wanted to be.
She didn’t know it, but she is one of the writers who paved the way for so many of us. As both the mother of the modern novel and a female novelist, she continues to delight readers and inspire fellow writers who want to follow in her giant footsteps.
Happy Birthday Jane, wherever you are.
Happy Birthday, Jane Austen
On December 16th, 1775, a remarkable woman was born. Her name was Jane Austen.
In her time (and to a certain degree, still in ours), a woman’s path in life was clear. She was to receive an education that was considered to be appropriate for a woman. Upon reaching adulthood, she would marry, bear children (i.e. sons) and live the rest of her life in the quiet dignity that was expected for a woman.
Jane could have married. His name was Harris Bigg-Wither. He was the younger brother of her friends. By the accounts of the day and family members, he was not the most attractive of men. But he had one thing going for him: he was the heir of a wealthy and respected family. At that time, those facts were all that was needed to determine if someone was a good match.
He proposed when Jane and Cassandra were visitors to the Bigg-Wither home. On paper, they were a good match. She was in her late 20’s, nearly impoverished and without a marriage proposal in sight. Upon his father’s death, Harris would inherit a stately home and a comfortable fortune. He proposed in the evening. Jane said yes, but something was not right. In the morning, she took back her yes and changed the course of her life forever.
As a single and childless woman of a certain age, I look to Austen as a role model. She could have easily folded into the preordained path that was expected for a woman. But she didn’t. She chose her own path and in doing so, pave the way for future generations of women to do the same.
Wherever you are Jane, Happy Birthday.
Jane Austen: Ordinary in Her Time and Extraordinary in Our Time
Most of us are ordinary in our day to day lives. We go about our business until the day when we shuffle off this mortal coil.
During her lifetime, Jane Austen was an ordinary woman. But in our lifetimes, she is considered to be extraordinary. She is of the creators of the modern novel, a proto-feminist, a woman who was not afraid to speak her mind and an all around bad-ass.
Tomorrow is the 202th anniversary of her passing. She died at the young age of 41, with only four published books to her name and a modest success as a writer. Every time I read one of her books, I find myself asking what if she had lived a little longer or even into old age? What books and characters might she have introduced to the world?
Wherever she is, I hope that she is looking down on us and smiling, knowing that her name will live on for eternity.
The Monk Book Review
Love (or lust, couched as love), can change us in unexpected ways. Add in religion to the mix and trouble is likely to be on the horizon.
In the 1796 novel, The Monk, by Matthew Lewis, is set in Madrid. Ambrosio, the Abbot of a Capuchin monastery is known his community as a pious, respectable and chaste man. That is, until he meets a teenage girl who gets the snake out the cage. Lust and desire for this girl takes over, which leads to rape, murder and a whole host of unsavory activities.
Jane Austen fans, especially those who have read Northanger Abbey, will surely be familiar with this book as Austen satirizes The Monk and other Gothic fiction that was popular in her day.
I will say that The Monk is not an easy read for modern readers. It was published in the style that was standard for the genre and the period. However, I found myself lost in the story and I almost put it down. That being said, there are underlying themes and narratives which still resonate today, which I suppose is one of the reasons why we keep reading this book.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
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