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Saturday, December 31

Countdown to 2012: The Five Jane Austen Related Books I Most Enjoyed Reading in 2011. #'s 3, 4 - Tea With Jane Austen and In the Garden With Jane Austen

I had the pleasure of reading In the Garden with Jane Austen and Tea with Jane Austen, both written by Kim Wilson. The books have been out for quite a few years, but the publisher has reissued new copies. Both books contain fine color photographs, contemporary illustrations, historical information that flesh out the Regency era, and personal information about Jane Austen that make them more than what they seem on the surface.

Had these books been newly published this past year, I would have rated them #1 and #2 respectively. You can visit to read the first few pages of both books. After you do so, I am positive you will quickly purchase them and read them right away

See my giveaway of In the Garden With Jane Austen here.

Happy New Year all! Have a safe and wonderful evening!

Friday, December 30

Countdown to 2012: The Five Jane Austen Related Books I Most Enjoyed Reading in 2011. #2 - Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

My second choice of an Austenesque book in 2011 is Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Jane Austen inspired short stories edited by Laurel Ann Nattress. The stories are written by 21 authors, some better known than others - Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley.

While I found some better than others, I found several so unique and intriguing that I felt I had discovered a small but unique treasure trove of tales. Click here to read my review of Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Click here to purchase the book.
Click here to see my number one choice for 2011

Thursday, December 29

Countdown to 2012: The Five Jane Austen Related Books I Most Enjoyed Reading in 2011. #1 - Persuasion, an Annotated Edition

I'll say it right up front, my favorite book related to Jane Austen in 2011 was Persuasion, An Annotated Edition, edited by Robert Morrison. Designed along the same lines as last year's superb Pride and Prejudice, an Annotated Edition, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks. Robert Morrison not only explains some of the more esoteric details of Persuasion, but also includes beautiful images that explain the era more clearly for the reader. This book is a coffee table edition of an annotation, although I would not recommend leaving it out unattended. A zealous Janeite guest might just squirrel it away unnoticed!

Watch for my four other choices in the next 3 days. What are some of yours?

Click here to read my review.
Click here to order the book

Wednesday, December 21

Shopping Jane Austen: 4 days before Christmas - Jane Austen's Letters, edited by Deirdre Le Faye

Oh, what's a Jane Austen fan to do when she's purchasing something for another Janeite who possesses every possible book and item about her favorite author? Why give her the 4th edition of Deirdre Le Faye's Jane Austen's Letters of course.

Two inches thick - yes 2 inches! -this book, printed by Oxford University Press, should sit on every Janeite's book shelf. While I own both a Nook and a Kindle, may I suggest a printed, hard copy version in this instance.
"These are the letters of our greatest novelist. They give glances and hints at her life from the age of 20 to her death at 41, the years in which she wrote her six imperishable books." -Claire Tomalin, Independent on Sunday
The book's features include:
  • An unparalleled and irresistible insight into the life of Jane Austen
  • A complete and accurate transcript of all Austen's letters as known to date
  • Integrates the discoveries of recent Austen scholarship to reveal more about her life and family
About the book's editor:
Deirdre Le Faye, now retired, worked for many years in the Department of Medieval & Later Antiquities at the British Museum. She started researching the life and times of Jane Austen and her family in the 1970s, and since then has written several books about them, the latest being A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family 1600-2000, as well as numerous articles in literary journals.
Purchase the book at Oxford University Press

Monday, December 19

Matthew MacFadyen's Plumb Prawns

I can listen to Matthew MacFadyen (Mr. Darcy, 2005) talking about food all day long. This Marks & Spencer commercial has me salivating - and it isn't just because of the scrumptious food that is displayed. Matthew's voice is irresistible. 

Listening to him is a wonderful way to start the holiday season!
Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy (r) at the breakfast table at Netherfield Park

Submitted by Raquel Sallaberry, Jane Austen em Portugues

Locating London's Past: A Gem of a Website

Locating London's Past is a new website that lets users find information from a vast array of  historical sources that cover crime and punishment, the distribution of wealth, poverty and occupations, mortality, and the ownership of consumer goods.

Partial view of the website

Alastair Dunning, programme manager at JISC, said: “Researchers in the humanities and social sciences are turning increasingly to geographical analysis as a way of bringing the facts and figures to life. What’s exciting about this resource is that the existing data you can explore today is just the start – the interface could be expanded to include new data sets and new maps, making it potentially useful to scholars in dozens of different disciplines. JISC’s commitment to funding open source projects means that other universities are already looking at how they might reuse the programmes that the Sheffield team has developed.” 
Trial accounts from the Old Bailey, tax and population data, and even archaeological records can all be uploaded onto John Rocque’s famous 1746 map of London, now fully referenced to modern geographical coordinates by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). 
Locating London’s Past is the result of a collaborative project between the University of Sheffield, the University of Hertfordshire, and the University of London. - JISC

Thursday, December 15

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen! Free Fan Kit App on December 16th Only

“Why not start the day with a new Jane Austen quote, read her books everywhere, 
or choose a new romantic movie for the night?”

Software Adventures is making its best selling app – "Jane Austen – Fan Kit" – available free of charge during Friday, December 16th to celebrate 236 years since the birth of Jane Austen!

"Jane Austen – Fan Kit" has everything that a Jane Austen fan will need: quotes, books, movie suggestions and trivia.

Quotes, eBooks, Movie Suggestions, Trivia… everything for a Jane Austen’s Fan!
Start the day with a new Jane Austen's quote.
Read almost every published work from Jane Austen (everywhere).
Need help choosing the movie for next movie night?
Test your knowledge regarding Jane Austen's life, books and movie adaptations.
Have no fear if you missed this special offer. "Jane Austen – Fan Kit" App, which works on iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, has a regular price of $0.99.

Click here to download the APP at Software Adventures. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANE!

Wednesday, December 14

John Mullan's 10 of the Best Governesses includes Miss Taylor in Emma

Love John Mullan's choices of ten best governesses, since Miss Taylor made first choice. And correctly so. Do you agree?
Johdi May as Anne Taylor, Emma, 2009

Emma by Jane Austen Miss Taylor, governess for many years to the headstrong Miss Woodhouse, is contemplating her future as a paid companion when, well into her 30s, she gets a lucky break. An affluent local widower runs to fetch her an umbrella when he meets her in the rain, and soon she becomes Mrs Weston.

Sunday, December 11

17th Century Scientific History in the Headlines

A century before Jane Austen's birth a statistician named John Gaunt recorded the deaths of London's citizens. showcases some details from his “Natural and Political Observations Made Upon the Bills of Mortality.” Gaunt noted:
“The old Streets are unfit for the present frequency of Coaches.” He speculated that overpopulation and squalid conditions accounted for Londoners’ mediocre health and frequent bouts with plague, foreshadowing the work of early epidemiologists. “London, the Metropolis of England, is perhaps a Head too big for the Body, and possibly too strong,” 

The highest number of recorded deaths were from the plague, but he also recorded a malady of teeth and worms, excessive drinking, lethargy, itch, and fainting in the bath. Nine people perished after being frightened. The treatise will go on display at London’s Royal Society on Monday as part of an exhibition celebrating 350 years of scientific book collecting. It will be shown through June.

Itch, Fear, And Grief Listed Among The Causes Of Death For 17th Century Londoners, Daily Mail

Friday, December 9

Friday Find: Downton Abbey on Facebook!

Gentle Readers,

You must be salivating by now knowing that the count down to Downton Abbey Season 2 is less than a month away for U.S. viewers. Meanwhile, you can join Masterpiece's Facebook page to learn the news about the series. Click her to view the page. Today, Masterpiece announced that The World of Downtown Abbey goes on sale today. This would be your opportunity to learn what goes on behind the scenes of this great series.

For the few viewers who missed the first Season, Netflix is streaming it. While you're at it, Netflix is streaming Gosford Park as well. 

Wednesday, December 7

Regent Street Christmas Lights 2011

At the turn of the 21st century my then husband and I enjoyed the Christmas lights over Regent Street in London. An unforgettable sight! Here is a video of the 2011 lights being turned on in November. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 6

Penguin Clothbound Classics: Jane Austen Collection

The six novels of Jane Austen from the Clothbound Penguin Classics with Coralie Bickford-Smith's covers are now available at this site. It would be great if Penguin Classics also published Lady Susan, the juvenilia, and Jane's incomplete books, such as Sanditon and The Watsons!

The patterns used by Coralie intrigued me. Some of them represent an analogy, but I cannot quite understand the meaning of the chairs on the Emma cover!

Does someone have an idea? What do you think that might be the meaning of the illustrations on each cover?
Contributed by Raquel Sallaberry, Jane Austen em Portugues

Monday, December 5

Georgian Head Feathers, Chris March, and Brastrocity!

One of my favorite not so secret vices is watching Project Runway. In season 4 I fell head over heels in love with Chris March, the outrageously flamboyant designer of over the top outfits. He and Christian Siriano made a to-die for outfit in a team challenge.
Chris contemplating the headdress with feathers
Chris is finishing up his own show on Bravo, Mad Fashion, Season 1. I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed that show. He and his team create tailor-made outfits for fashionistas, most of whom want to make a splash for an opening or a fashion show. Those of us who have followed Chris know that he often takes his inspiration from historical sources. Take the 'brastrocity' gown featured on Bravo.
Jene's brastrocity gown is made with bra cups
Jené Luciani's The Bra Book was recently published, and she wanted a special gown for the launch of her book. And did Chris give her one! It reminded me forcibly of the court gowns of the late 18th century and the long trailing headdress feathers that teased the candelabras overhead. Chris designs with a sense of humor, for if you look closely you can see that Jene's skirt is composed of bedazzled bra cups. Yet, as you can see from the illustration below, his design echoed fashions from the past.

1794-5 Court gown with feathers
What do you think of Chris's creation in relation to historical fashion?
1796 court dress, Heideloff Gallery
Chris March's last Season 1 Bravo show will air this coming Wednesday.

Jené's Bra Book asserts that the majority of women
are wearing the wrong bra size. Food for thought.

Sunday, December 4

Jane Austen Jewelry Throwdown

Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra received beautiful amber crosses from their brother Charles, a scene she repeated with Fanny and William Price in Mansfield Park. During her era, coral necklaces were also wildly popular. This week's question asks you: Which would you prefer to receive as a gift from a loved one? An amber cross necklace or a coral necklace?

Amber crosses for Jane and Cassandra from Charles
Jane Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford
Jane Austen Jewelry Throwdown: I prefer
 An amber cross necklace
 A coral necklace free polls 
Read about Coral Necklaces, Regency Style at this link.

Thursday, December 1

Friday Follow: Death Comes to Pemberley Comes to the U.S.

Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James has ARRIVED in the U.S. Amazon is selling it on its site. The book will be released December 6th. I have preordered a copy for my Kindle.
This year, British mystery lovers in particular have a glorious plum pudding of a whodunit awaiting them. P.D. James has taken up the challenge of feeding readers' holiday hunger for homicide. What's even more tantalizing is the fact that James' latest mystery is also a tribute, of sorts, to one of her most cherished authors, Jane Austen. James' new novel is called Death Comes to Pemberley: Think Pride and Prejudice meets "Clue."
NPR not only reviewed the book, but provides an excerpt of the novel on its site. I have pasted a portion of the excerpt here. You can find the rest of it on NPRs site.

Excerpt: Death Comes To Pemberley
PROLOGUE — The Bennets of Longbourn

It was generally agreed by the female residents of Meryton that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn had been fortunate in the disposal in marriage of four of their five daughters. Meryton, a small market town in Hertfordshire, is not on the route of any tours of pleasure, having neither beauty of setting nor a distinguished history, while its only great house, Netherfield Park, although impressive, is not mentioned in books about the county's notable architecture. The town has an assembly room where dances are regularly held but no theatre, and the chief entertainment takes place in private houses where the boredom of dinner parties and whist tables, always with the same company, is relieved by gossip.

A family of five unmarried daughters is sure of attracting the sympathetic concern of all their neighbours, particularly where other diversions are few, and the situation of the Bennets was especially unfortunate. In the absence of a male heir, Mr. Bennet's estate was entailed on his nephew, the Reverend William Collins, who, as Mrs. Bennet was fond of loudly lamenting, could turn her and her daughters out of the house before her husband was cold in his grave. Admittedly, Mr. Collins had attempted to make such redress as lay in his power. At some inconvenience to himself, but with the approval of his formidable patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh, he had left his parish at Hunsford in Kent to visit the Bennets with the charitable intention of selecting a bride from the five daughters. This intention was received by Mrs. Bennet with enthusiastic approval but she warned him that Miss Bennet, the eldest, was likely to be shortly engaged. His choice of Elizabeth, the second in seniority and beauty, had met with a resolute rejection and he had been obliged to seek a more sympathetic response to his pleading from Elizabeth's friend Miss Charlotte Lucas. Miss Lucas had accepted his proposal with gratifying alacrity and the future which Mrs. Bennet and her daughters could expect was settled, not altogether to the general regret of their neighbours. On Mr. Bennet's death, Mr. Collins would install them in one of the larger cottages on the estate where they would receive spiritual comfort from his administrations and bodily sustenance from the leftovers from Mrs. Collins's kitchen augmented by the occasional gift of game or a side of bacon.... Click here to continue