There are two kinds of tea in this world. There is the ordinary bland, factory made tea that can be purchased at any deli or grocery store. Then there is the tea that from the moment you open the bag to the last drop going down your throat wraps you in tea heaven.
This is Bingley’s Teas.
Named for Charles Bingley from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this delicious, loose tea made with a variety of ingredients offers a delectable range of teas to choose from. Opening a bag of Bingley’s Teas is akin to being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold winter day. Whether it is a black tea to help you get up in the morning or a green tea to sooth the nerves after a long day of work, this tea is far and away one the best tea brands I’ve ever had.
And of course, their Jane Austen tea line is sheer perfection. My personal favorite is Lizzie Bennet’s Wit.
If you must buy tea, I absolutely recommend Bingley’s Teas. It will forever change the way you drink and appreciate tea.
There are more than enough books, both fiction and non fiction about Jane Austen and her work to fill up multiple libraries. The question is, which book stands out from the pack and which book remain on the shelves?
Devoney Looser recently published her newest book, The Making Of Jane Austen.
When Jane Austen died in 1817, her genius as a writer, satirist and observer of the human experience had yet to be fully appreciated. Writing about the artists, dramatists, activists and academics who spread the word of Jane Austen over the years, Dr. Looser expands upon the legend of her subject and explains how Austen has become this giant of literature and pop culture that we know her to be today.
I loved this book. Dr. Looser was also one of the keynote speaker at this past weekend’s 2017 JASNA AGM, but to me, that is the cherry on top. She writes in a way that speaks to both the newbie Janeite and the Janeite who is thoroughly entangled in everything that is Jane Austen.
I absolutely recommend it.
Imagine if you will, an academic conference, but with a twist. Add in a dedicated fandom with lots of goodies to bring home (and a good amount of attendees playing dress up) and you have the 2017 JASNA AGM.
Held in Huntington Beach, California, the title of this year’s conference was Intimations of Immortality. We remembered Jane on the 200th anniversary of her passing as we celebrated her life, her books and her legacy.
The AGM is more than my vacation. This year it was a chance to visit California, spend time with my friends and celebrate anything and everything relating to Jane Austen. It is a chance to thoroughly geek out and know that the people you are with understand why you geek out. It was a chance to dress up, dance and spend three days thoroughly immersed in Jane.
While I enjoyed the AGM (as I do everytime), it was the company (and the heavenly beach in Southern California) that always makes an AGM worth it.
Next year, Janeites (as we are commonly known) will congregate for our next AGM in Kansas City where we will be celebrating Persuasion and hopefully not fangirling over Amanda Root (Anne Elliot in the 1995 Persuasion).
I hope to see you all there.
Proposing to one’s (hopeful) future spouse is never easy. The question is, how does one frame the proposal? Does one try to convey the unending love and respect that one has for their beloved or does one use their income and societal status as temptation while basically insulting the one they love? In Pride And Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet is unfortunately the latter.
Writer and Janeite Susan Mason-Milks imagines a different narrative for the second half of Pride and Prejudice in Mr. Darcy’s Proposal. Just before Mr. Darcy is to propose to Elizabeth while she is staying with Mr. and Mrs. Collins in Huntsford, she receives a letter from home. Her father is extremely ill and may not be long for this world. Knowing full well that her cousin and her father’s heir, Mr. Collins may turn her, her mother and her sisters out of Longbourn as soon as her father is cold in his grave, Elizabeth accepts Mr. Darcy’s proposal.
While Mr. Darcy is thoroughly in love with his bride to be, Elizabeth initially sees this marriage as a marriage of convenience. She respects him and acknowledges that he is an honorable man, but she is not in love with him. Will this marriage become one for the ages or will it be in name only?
I wanted to like this book, I truly did. The initial chapters were fine. But then, the editor in me started to speak up. When I am reading a book, I don’t want to be thinking about the writing and editing choices that I would have made. I want to just enjoy what I am reading. That in a nutshell, is the problem with this book.
Do I recommend it? Maybe not.
Among literary heroes, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice stands out. For over 200 years, he has been the literary boyfriend of many a female reader.
The Darcy Monologues, edited by Christina Boyd, is a series of short fan fictions with Fitzwilliam Darcy as the main character. Set in a variety of time periods, all of the stories are told from his point of view.
I wasn’t sure about this book initially, but I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it because not only did all of the writers know the ins and outs of the character, but they were able to tell Darcy’s story in new and different ways.
I recommend it.
Sometimes, when life throws us a curve-ball, we can only think quickly and hope for the best.
In Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008) Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is a middle-aged governess who has just lost another job. The agency who has found her work in the past is not so quick to find her a new position. With no other way out, she steals the information of a new client and presents herself as the new social secretary for Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams), an actress and nightclub performer. Delysia is juggling three men: Nick (Mark Strong), the owner of a night club, Michael (Lee Pace), who plays piano for Delysia and is ready to marry her at a moments notice and Phil (Tom Payne), a young theater producer who is eager to cast her in his newest production.
While juggling all of that, Guinevere has caught the eye of Joe (Ciarán Hinds), a fashion designer. Will Delysia choose from one of her three boyfriends and will Miss Pettigrew be unmasked for whom she truly is?
Set during World War II, this film is the perfect modern screwball comedy that was a staple of the movie going experience in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Amy Adams channels Marilyn Monroe as a goodhearted, but not all there actress who does not know what she wants. And of course, there a couple of 1990’s Austen leading men, which always makes a film that much better.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The womb to tomb narrative is the standard format for a biography. While it’s fine for a standard format, it can, depending on the person writing the biography, be as dull as a college text-book or as alive as if the reader was watching a film of the biography’s subject.
Earlier this year, historian Lucy Worsley released Jane Austen at Home: A Biography. While Ms. Worsley goes over the basic facts of Austen’s life that any Janeite would be familiar with, she focuses on the places that the Ms. Austen lived throughout her 41 years and the possessions in those houses colored her world.
I’ve been fan of the author for a short time, and I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because there is life, color and vibrancy to what could be a very dull narrative. There are also Easter eggs, connections between Austen’s life and her novels that a newbie Janeite might miss, but a Janeite who is well steeped in Austen lore would understand.
I recommend it.
One of the recent trends in publishing is the merger of a classic novel with the supernatural. While some of these narratives succeed, others don’t quite reach the mark.
In Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by respected Austen author Amanda Grange, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzilliam Darcy are newlyweds. Instead of traveling to the usual honeymoon spot, Mr. Darcy takes Elizabeth on a strange tour through the continent. While they appear to be as happy as passionate as any pair of newlyweds, the marriage has not been consummated and Darcy appears to have a secret. Will Darcy’s secret be reveled and will he and Elizabeth have that happy ever after?
I have been a fan of Amanda Grange for a few years, her novels of the diaries of the Austen heroes are well written and engaging. The problem is that this book is not one of my favorite Amanda Grange books. I found myself fighting to finish the book.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
On the surface, Jane Austen seems to write typical romances. It had the same overall narrative as every story in the genre: the meet cute, the ups and downs, the will they or won’t they and finally, the happily ever after. But Jane Austen was writing far more than fluffy, predictable romances. She was writing about human folly and the injustices of the world around us.
Published last year, Jane Austen, The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly dives into the subtle and subversive that only a seasoned reader of Austen will understand and appreciate. Using her pen and her imagination, Austen deftly and quietly writes about the injustices of slavery, the treatment of women in her era, the anxieties of going to war, the power of the Church, etc.
This book is not for the newbie Austen fan or someone who has simply read one of her books because they’ve heard of it. This book is for the hardcore Janeite who has read her books many times and finds joy in discovering something new with every read. I really enjoyed this book because it points out things that even I didn’t know of. That above all, made this book a joy to read.
I absolutely recommend it.
Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing
When Jane Austen died in 1817, she ascended to the status of legend. While we talk about her in terms of her as a giant of literature, she was also a human being.
Published in 2013, The Real Jane Austen, by Paula Byrne, extend’s Austen’s legend while at the same time speaking of ordinary things that made her human. Ms. Byrne writes about the ordinary aspects of Austen’s life: a gold chain, a hat, a notebook, etc. Interweaving aspect of her life with her novels and her characters, the book speaks to Austen fans whom have cravings to learn about the minutiae of her life and only come to appreciate her more once they have read the book.
I’ve read a lot about Jane Austen (as anyone who knows me and/or follows this blog). She is one of my writing heroes and never fails to inspire me. What I truly appreciated about this book is that not only is the mostly non-linear narrative, but there is a life to this biography. By writing not just about the large accomplishments, but about the tiny details of Austen’s life, Ms. Byrne has only increased my appreciation for Jane Austen.
I absolutely recommend it.