Tag Archives: Northanger Abbey

Thoughts On Jane Austen’s Birthday

Tomorrow is Jane Austen‘s birthday.

She was a pioneer in so many arenas. She unknowingly developed the modern novel as we know it to be today. She was a feminist without overtly wearing the label of feminism. Unlike other women who quietly followed the rules of the period without question, Jane asked the questions, both in her fiction and in her own life.

For my birthday a few weeks ago, I received a magnet that states “nasty women make history”. Jane Austen was a nasty woman.  She had a sharp tongue, a quick mind, loved to laugh, loved to have a good time and most of all, never went along with the crowd just because everyone else was doing it.  It would have been easy for her to follow the path in life that according to her society was pre-ordained (i.e. marriage and children), but she didn’t.  Jane Austen knew that marriage for marriage’s sake was not what she wanted. Marriage, in her eyes, was for love, not to fulfill an obligation that she was told to fulfill.

Instead, she chose to remain single. While her ring finger was never covered in gold, she had children: her books. Referring to them as her own darling children, Austen published six of the greatest books in English literature: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

Jane Austen will always be one of my heroes. As a writer and a woman, she paved the way for future generations of women to not only break from the expected roles of wife and mother, but she also paved the way for women to be themselves without having to put on a mask to be liked.

Happy Birthday Jane.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Thoughts On The 2017 JASNA AGM

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.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen at Home: A Biography Book Review

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.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Jane Austen, The Secret Radical Book Review

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.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

National Book Lovers Day

Today is National Book Lovers Day.

I could state the multiple reasons why books are special and important, but I think Jane Austen via Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Catherine Or-The-Bower says it best.

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”
― Jane Austen

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice

History Bombs-Jane Austen

Despite the fact that Jane Austen died 200 years ago, she is still as relevant, fresh and funny as she was during her lifetime. My only issue with the video (which for the most I enjoyed) above is that say that she died at age 42. She died at age 41, in 1817.

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July 22, 2017 · 9:03 am

RIP Jane

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200 years ago today, Jane Austen breathed her last breath. No one could have predicted that her immortal afterlife has long outlasted her short 41 years on Earth.

Jane Austen is and will forever be a genius. Her writing is full of human characters who still resonate with readers and audiences 200 years after they were introduced to the Regency era reading public.

Sense And Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are adored the world over. Reading her books is like visiting an old friend, the experience never gets old or dull.

As a woman, a writer and a feminist, I look to Jane for comfort, for solace and for strength. She lived in an era when a woman’s only choice was marriage. Marriage in her time was more about income and status than love, companionship and mutual interests. She could have easily given into the pressure and married to keep a roof over her head and food on her plate. But she chose to not marry and instead, she created her own path. 200 years later, we still walk on the path that she created and we still admire her for being strong enough to create that path.

Thank you, Jane, for your strength, your courage, your wit, your intelligence and your amazing ability to craft a story. My world would not be the same without you.

 

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mrs. Bennet

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Anyone who reads Jane Austen can quickly determine that she is hard on the mothers in her fiction. With the exception of Mrs. Morland in Northanger Abbey, the mothers are either dead, emotionally absent or physically absent from their children’s lives. But her greatest mother character among the six novels is Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.

Mrs. Bennet is one of the most cringe worthy mothers in all of literature. She prattles on about nothing, openly boasts about pushing her daughters toward wealthy men, embarrasses her children on a frequent basis and seems to always have a case of the nerves.

 

While the reader is laughing at Mrs. Bennet, we don’t realize that she is actually not only the more engaged parent, but she is more realistic about her daughter’s future. She knows that she has no sons and that upon her husband’s future passing, Longbourn (the Bennet family estate), will automatically pass to her husband’s cousin and heir, Mr. Collins.  She also knows that her husband is not the best money manager and has only left his daughters with a small inheritance. It is therefore incumbent on the girls to marry well.

The best comedy makes us think while we are laughing. In making Mrs. Bennet an over the top comedic character whose anxieties are based on real issues, Jane Austen is making the reader think. Female based inheritance was not common up until recently. Most inheritance went from father to son or father to nearest male relative. Jane Austen, in a way that only she can, is making a statement about the injustice of passing over daughters when it came to matters of inheritance, whether it be inheritance of a title, a property, family income or all three.

To sum it up: One of Jane Austen’s best qualities as a writer was to subversively make her audience think. After we stop laughing at Mrs. Bennet, we realize that in her own way, she knows what she is doing. She knows that her girls have to marry men of financial consequence. The lesson I take from this character as a writer is that there has to be to more to a comedic character than making the reader laugh.  Funny is well and good, but in the end the clown has to take off their makeup at some point. That is the lesson to learn from Mrs. Bennet.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Feminism, Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Writing

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

I think it is a fair statement to say that the buzz surrounding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is palpable.

Filling in the gap between Revenge Of The Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977), Rogue One takes place just as the empire is tightening its grip on the universe. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of a scientist, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who has appeared to turn his back on rebels. She is raised by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) after her mother’s death and her father’s abdication to the dark side. We meet Jyn when she in imprisoned by the Empire. After being rescued by rebel forces, she joins the fight against the empire. Joining a team of rebels that includes Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), Jyn is not only fighting to free the universe from the empire’s grasp, but is also seeking to find her father.

I’ve heard this movie being compared to The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. While both films are the best of the best of within the Star Wars series, this film certainly comes close. The two qualities of the film that I especially appreciated and loved was not only how badass Jyn was, but also the film talks about the true cost of freedom and the cost of rebelling against tyranny to attain that freedom. And for me, as a Janeite, the cherry on the top of the cake was knowing that I first was introduced to Felicity Jones when she played Catherine Moreland in the 2007 Northanger Abbey.

This film is a must see and one of the best of 2016 for me.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Northanger Abbey, Star Wars

Happy Birthday, Dearest Jane

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241 years ago today, George Austen, an Anglican Rector from Steventon, Hampshire and his wife, Cassandra welcomed into the world their 7th child and second daughter, Jane to the world. They had no idea that their daughter would become immortal.

Jane Austen was one of the most extraordinary writers in the history of the English language. Only William Shakespeare stands beside her as an icon of literature and language.

Her novels are full of unforgettable characters. No matter who you are you or where you come from, there is always a character to love, a character a hate and the character you relate it. Some may call her books romance novels, but they are so much more. They are coming of age stories, stories of love, both romantic and familial and stories of what it is to be a human being.

I have been a Janeite for nearly 10 years. It has been a pleasure to be fan.

Happy Birthday dearest Jane, wherever you are. I raise my glass to you.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, William Shakespeare