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Jane Austen's Christmas by Maria Hubert

Jane Austen's Christmas

by Maria Hubert

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A good collection of various bits and pieces from the Regency period, very helpful for my research. There are a few quotes from Austen's novels, but mostly it's things that the common reader won't come across: letters from various Austen relations, newspaper clippings, poems, diary entries, and so on. I loved especially all the clergymen complaining in their diaries about how many of the congregation were bound to be drunk, seeing as how it was Christmas. I also gained a more innocent enjoyment from the letters from Austen nieces telling their friends all about the games they played on Christmas.

I think my favorite part of the book was devoted to the Austen niece who kept a list every year of the gifts she'd been given. No big Christmas-tree spread or filled stockings -- just tokens from family and close friends. Some were quite interesting -- a mariner's compass from Mamma, a parallel ruler from "Aunt," "a splendid hair bracelet and clasp, their own hair," from "Belinda and Harriot." This one struck me as funny: on the list of what "Charles brought me from abroad" appears "Biscuit figure of a good girl from Dresden." (Charles also gave her a "Quantity of Petis Gris, or squirrel furs." !) Can someone explain this one to me? "Fanny -- A silk box. The winders made by her."

This is my JA nerd flag flying high and proud: It drove me *nuts* to see the editor referring to being "candid" in the modern sense -- that is, saying exactly what you think. A main point of _Pride and Prejudice_ is that Elizabeth's older sister is very candid. Candid in the eighteenth century meant giving benefit of a doubt even under trying circumstances. It *is* confusing when words shift meaning while retaining the same spelling, but anyone writing professionally about Austen's work had better have a grip on Regency vocabulary -- at least when it figures so prominently in her most famous work!

However, that's just me nerding out. If you're doing research on the time and place, or just enjoy learning more about Austen's world, this is a swift and enjoyable read. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
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Writings by Jane Austen and others of the period, researched and compiled by Maria Hubert
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 075091307X, Paperback)

From the almost dismissive references in Jane Austen's novels, one could be forgiven for thinking that Christmas in Georgian England was a somewhat dismal affair. To the contrary, Miss Austen would have known elaborate house parties and fancy dress balls. The Mummers would surely have attended her home in Hampshire, as would the Waits, encouraging "good Christians" to "awake" on Christmas morning. She is also known to have enjoyed Christmas pudding, still then a fairly new dish, loved by the Georgian monarchy and copied by many families at the time. Readers will discover the little-known story of how "Emma" came to be dedicated to the Prince Regent, and how the Austen family entertainment was almost ruined one year because of the prudishness of a country cousin. The elaborate Christmas seasons enjoyed by Jane's sisters at brother Edward's home in Kent contrast with those of the Georgian parson, Rev William Holland, among whose parishioners Christmas was but a poor affair. In this text, readers can experience Christmas in the later Georgian period, as described by many of Austen's contemporaries, including Robert Southey, John Clare and Sir Walter Scott; and play the very games and charades that the Austens themselves enjoyed and wrote. Or try some of the authentic recipes from her own kitchen - perhaps the festive rice pudding, a gloriously rich dessert. And read poems and songs of the festive season, and learn of parlour theatricals in the Christmas holidays. The observations of an Englishman's Christmas as seen through the eyes of a contemporary American writer, Washington Irving, provide an eye-witness account of how an outsider viewed a Georgian Christmas. Contemporary engravings and sketches illustrate the customs and traditions of the day, alongside portraits of the Austen family.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:51 -0400)

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