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Wednesday, March 23

Book Giveaway and Review of The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, Margaret C. Sullivan

The Contest is Now Closed: The first book I ever reviewed for this blog in 2007 was Margaret C. Sullivan's The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, which has been reissued with a new byline: Proper Life Skills from Regency England. The book's cover is different in color, as is the cover illustration, but the information and charming illustrations contained within this new edition remain the same.
The Pump Room
In the middle of her introduction, Margaret includes the phrase: “Have you ever wondered …?” Without further ado, I shall appropriate her question for this review.

Have you ever wondered which skills a well bred young lady should develop? On pages 16-19, Margaret details the particulars of how a Regency miss became well versed in languages, history and geography, playing a musical instrument, painting and drawing, sewing and needlework, and dancing. Better yet, she includes a full description of a gentleman's education.
A walk in the country


Have you ever wondered how Regency folk spend the season in London, Bath, the country, and seaside? Lovers of the Regency era will adore the clear way in which Margaret outlines the best times to go and which activities are best suited for each place.In London one attends balls and evenings parties, museums, the theatre, and shops. Similar activities are available in Bath, but one also promenades in the Pump Room or can take country walks to Beechen Cliff, for example, for a fine view. The seaside offers a walk on the beach or a promenade along the Cobb.

Bathing, Regency style
Have you ever wondered what gentlemen needed to do to improve their estates? How ladies spent their leisure time? And what about the marriage mart and choosing one's mate? How did one go about proposing? Flirting? Eloping?

These topics and more are covered in this handy reference book, compact enough to carry in one's carry on luggage or purse as one embarks on a lifetime trip to Jane Austen country in England. The book's organization is clear and the information easy to find. As a reference it is accurate, but it is written with gentle humor and with an easy style that makes it a joy to read. The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England is equally helpful to the Jane Austen neophyte as to the seasoned Janeite. I highly recommend it.

Book Giveaway! Do you have a question about the Regency era or Jane Austen's life? Leave your comment for an opportunity to win a copy of the new edition of this reference guide, now available at Amazon.com. Contest ends March 31st. Congratulations Treasa!

Read my interview with Margaret C. Sullivan on Jane Austen's World at this link.

54 comments:

stilettostorytime said...

I love it...what a great resource. I am always most curious about the most mundane, everyday routines, habits...etc. The things that weren't really written about but just assumed. Thanks for the giveaway and the recommendation.

Courtney
Stiletto Storytime
stilettostorytime at gmail dot com

cintaenglish said...

I have always wondered about the food and the protocols at dinners and parties. I am an enthusiastic of food, and I collect recipes from all over the world. I wonder if there is any recipe book from Jane Austen's period... :D Thanks a lot for the giveaway.

Patricia k. F. said...

This seems to be a good reaad and a good soource to use when dddoing a paper assignment ! Thia is an indept inside look into regency life, both the well known and unknown areas of life.

Karen of Bethany said...

This book would be perfect for a little "assignment" I am working on right now: the further development of beloved "peripheral" characters like Charlotte Lucas-Collins and her seemingly-superficial (but possibly complex) husband, the Rev. Subjects like upbringing and education, daily responsibilities in the household, social graces at country dances and etc., give so much more flesh to the characters. One can always re-visit Jane's stories and enjoy them from different perspectives. Good luck to everyone on the give-a-way!

Jennifer said...

I've always wondered about the dancing. In movies set in that time period everyone just knows how to dance. I'm assuming both boys and girls take lessons? I don't know, but it would be interesting to find out.

Karen of Bethany said...

To: cintaenglish
If you google "Regency Era Recipes" or similar words, you can find lots of food information on the internet. There are also interesting things on YouTube such as "Regency House Party" and etc., although some of them are not strictly authentic, but entertaining. Best of luck.

susied said...

What a fun book! And the illustrations are wonderful, too.

What I'd like to know is how long it took a woman in Regency times to get dressed. I know Victorian ladies had layer upon layer plus hair to dress. I'm wondering if it was as time-consuming.

Trish said...

Sounds like a great book. I've always been interested in how many different areas young women were expected to 'master'-a la Mr. Darcy's comment in the Netherfield library..

Margay said...

I'm very interested in all things Regency as it's one of my favorite time periods. I've always wondered why fathers didn't - or couldn't - provide better for their daughters. Why did they always rely on a good match? What if the daughter never received a proposal?

overgrownhobbit said...

This is definitely on my to read list. I wouldn't mind learning more about balls and the dresses.

jen said...

Oooh, always love to know more about this era. I'm really curious about how much day-to-day practical skills the young women were taught. Like, if they're gentleman's daughters, would they have had much exposure to cooking?

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

I'm always interested in the accomplishments of well-bred young ladies, and I don't believe I've ever heard the actual dates of "the season."

Jill said...

I'm always interested in dresses and dressmaking, for those who made their own, it must have consumed most of their time. And to do all of it by hand, the mind boggles!

LeslieG said...

These are exactly the types of things I always wonder about. The hairdressing is always especially fascinating. I've seen lots of images of Regency hairstyles, of course, but what went into creating them? How long did it take? What special tools created what effects? Love these sorts of things!

Anonymous said...

I love to get away from the tumult and chaos of my life and job to the "proper way of doing things". It's got to be a place where everyone seems to know their place and what their jobs are and even how to do them. I'm sure there are drawbacks and life was not a bed of roses but from the outside looking in, it looks grand.
However, it's just to visit, not to sojourn.

Lieder Madchen said...

This book looks like it is both funny and interesting! What I would like to kno is, who came up with all of the ways to tie a cravat? Thanks for the giveaway!
liedermadchen@hotmail.com

Julie and Becky said...

Lovely giveaway! I'm so excited, being so very sure I'll be the winner, hahaha. I always wonder how people who are considered "poor" in the stories nevertheless have cooks and usually at least a parlor-maid... exactly how little were these servants paid?

Julie

Shelly said...

This is a very interesting book! I'd like to know, how did women deal with their periods back then? Ever wonder how they dealt without Midol?

Giulia said...

Thank you for this chance to win a book. Much desired.

I have questions about daily food & shopping for those w/out cooks. And also about dancing lessons. Who gave them, etc.

Cheers!

Jennie said...

My dad once told me that if I ever got a doctorates degree it should be in "toiletry habits of Jane Austen's times." It is facinating to learn about that era but I don't think that I would get a doctorates in that.

Gail said...

Interesting -- but I dare to ask: are the illustrations original to the book? or from the time period? It would be a wonderful resource if they were from late 18th early 19th c. sources.

Chandni said...

Besides managing their estates and marriage, what did "gentleman" do to maintain their wealth? Did they invest in properties, railroads etc? What would someone like Mr. Darcy be involved in?

Kristin said...

I'm interested in learning more about the clothing. I'd love to be entered! :)

~Kristin
anticonformity_chick (at) yahoo (dot) com

Vic said...

Gail, many of the illustrations are based on classic paintings and drawings of the era. They greatly enhance this wonderfully designed book.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like such an interesting book! I'd love to win a copy, but barring that, Ye Olde Amazon Bookshop...
Barbara

Luthien84 said...

Just the other day, I browse through the book in the book store and love reading every bit of it. I would very much like to own a copy of this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

Fatima said...

This sounds like a great read. I too have always wondered about the beautiful dances at the balls, etc.

Claudia said...

I'd love to make a time travel into the Regency Era, though I must confess I often do it as a daydream or while reading JA novels making real movies in my mind! Some friends don't understand me :(

Breanne said...

I would love to add this book to the growing collection of Jane Austen related volumes on my shelf!!

breanne.reinhard(at)gmail(dot)com

Katy said...

I love The Jane Austen Handbook. I have checked out the previous edition from the library, but I'd love to own it! I have an unusual question: When did the English pronunciation of the name Maria change (since the "ri" part is now "REE" instead of "RYE")?

Karen Lee said...

My question is when and under what circumstances were ladies of Austen's class permitted to imbibe of spirits, and of which sort, in order to be considered a member of festivities, but not indelicate or unladylike?

lyon de clarasvals said...

I put it on my list. There isn't much out there about a gentleman's education and occupations, responsibilities, besides carousing,sporting,etc. I want to understand buying a place in the military.

Annalynn said...

Looking forward to in depth knowledge on the process of cravat tying ... and cravat removal. ;)

Pat said...

A couple days ago I was taking a look at the preview of this book on Amazon, it seemed very accurate and so girlish (pardon me, my frivolous side has overwhelmed me!). Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

Patrizia
pat.giorgi@alice.it

krishnakalro said...

Ooh. I WANT this book! Just another JA fanatic here. =)
The thing that intrigues me the most is the dancing. They're all just so perfect and proper all the time.
*fingers crossed*

Larkrise garden girl said...

The book looks so interesting!Please enter me in the give away.I always wonder about did many women wear glasses?

Dana Huff said...

I have had this book on my wishlist for ages! I have always found it striking that Austen was a contemporary of writers like Byron and Shelley. Folks in the nobility causes scandals left and right (Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and her niece Lady Caroline Lamb, for instance). Austen touches on scandals, too, in her books. I have often wondered what she really thought about Byron or other contemporary writers.

Helena said...

I would love to learn more about what exercise Jane Austen Ladies did - from the reading it seemed to be horse riding, walks and dancing...

helena.guggenbichler@gmx.at

CJ said...

What a terrific little book. I love everything Jane. Thanks for doing the give away.

JennyS said...

Food and shoes. Really. Were shoe sizes the same as they are now? How many pairs would a woman usually have? How long would they last? And... how much did food trends affect cooking in Regency time? Thanks!

Mekaela said...

Ooh, I'd love this book! I'm pretty much curious about everything :)

faithfulcynic@gmail.com

Moa said...

Oh, this book seems like the perfect read for us Austen-fans. (As tomorrow is my 30th birthday it would make a great birthday gift to myself :) )

I'm curious about the everyday life back then, also things like did they wear any makeup at all and how did they go to the bathroom while attending a ball? :)

Hannah said...

I saw this book on Amazon when searching for Northanger Abbey. I downloaded the free sample on my Kindle, but it ended up being only 3 pages, which made me really sad. I just love the subtle "everyday" things about historical periods. No one ever goes into detail about them, but they're the most beautiful things. Thanks for the giveaway!

LG said...

I would love to know what contributions the lady of the house made to the daily routine inthe kitchec...ie menu, etc

Virginia said...

It would be interesting to know how mothers helped their daughters to care for their personal hygiene, especially during "that time of the month" and if mothers discussed childbearing and what they understood about birth control to their engaged daughters. Also would like to know how they kept their hair clean and fresh.

Jill said...

I wonder... did the culture and refinement only belong to the upper class?

Philippa said...

My question is this: 21st century girls have 'essential handbag stuff;' lipstick, keys, breath mints etc. I wonder what essential items went into a regency lady's Reticule, what things could she not be without? Thanks for heads up on the book, can't wait to read it!

Philippa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jocelyn said...

I've been curious for a long time about the lives of the "common people". Not just the tradespeople, but the servants as well. Maybe a book along the lines of "Upstairs, Downstairs".
Jocelyn

pamela said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I would love to see modern education embrace some Regency guidelines for accomplished young women and men. Budding scholars in all disciplines would benefit from a modicum of civility and grace.

jeps said...

Jane would be ambitious and enter a contest on the last possible day. She was a hopeless romantic that way.... keeping us in suspense of a happy ending 'til the end.

Lauren said...

I love the idea of this book, there should be one for all eras! I want to know more about how ladies spent their free time!

Treasa said...

Sounds like an awesome book. Always interested in learning more about the time period. I definitely want to learn more regarding dances and music and such.

Teresa
Read All Over Reviews
raoreviews (at)gmail (dot) com

janice k. said...

i have wondered how people of different social levels got along. how people dealt with medical disabilities?