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The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England

by Margaret C. Sullivan

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4061450,710 (3.89)15
A Jane Austen companion, offering a guide to living, love among the social classes, dress, and the practicalities of life in Regency England

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From my Cannonball Read 6 review...

So I’ve never read anything written by Jane Austen. I’m not sure how that happened, but it did. I hadn’t even seen one of the many films / series based on her books (other than Clueless) until about two years ago, when I watched the Pride and Prejudice series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I still haven’t read any of her work, but I now feel a bit more prepared to do so.

The Jane Austen Handbook is a 200-page book that reads as a guide to living in Regency England. It assumes the reader is actually living in that time period (as opposed to reading about a history of it), and assumed the reader is in the same class as most of the main characters in Ms. Austen’s novels. It’s a clever convention, and for the most part I enjoyed it. I think it does a decent job of explaining the period without judging it, although of course as usual the margins of my version are filled with “ack” and “hell no,” especially when discussing what unmarried women were allowed to do.

This was a pretty quick read, but I’m glad I picked it up for a couple of reasons. First, I do plan to start reading Ms. Austen’s novels when I’m traveling this summer (ah, the beauty of the e-reader – I was able to load all of her works onto it in a matter of seconds), so it’s nice to have a bit of an understanding of the time period in which her works reside. And second, when I do inevitably get confused by a term or something a character did, I can refer back to this book and have a better sense of what I’m reading. ( )
  ASKelmore | Jul 9, 2017 |
I had hoped that this handbook would provide context for interpreting Jane Austen's novels. Instead, the novels themselves seem to be the reference point for describing the social life and customs of the Regency era. For example, the list of “Things to do in the country” includes “produce home theatricals” and “improve your estate”, both of which were themes in Mansfield Park. The appendices proved to be the most useful section for me, particularly the bibliographies and filmography. My wallet is a few dollars lighter as a result! ( )
  cbl_tn | Sep 9, 2015 |
I'm doing research on everyday life in Regency England for a writing project. This book was an excellent beginning resource -- it touched on many subjects, offering a good overview of the time and place as well as a bibliography of more in-depth works. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
This is an adorable little guide of how to lead life in the Regency era. The tips were cute and informational. It just made me think of all the wonderful moments in Austen's books. I think if you're an Austen fan it's definitely worth reading, if not owning. What lady doesn't want to know how to catch and keep the man of her dreams according to Recency England's standards? ( )
  MillieHennessy | Nov 7, 2013 |
I love Sullivan's fanfiction P&P/Northanger Abbey crossover, The Firstborn, so this purchase is my royalty payment. Handbook is fun and has an entertaining arch tone, but I didn’t find it terribly educational; many of her lists are simply examples drawn from Austen’s books, rather than supporting material showing that these really are the customs of Austen’s time. It’s cute, but honestly, if I’d read it at the library, that would’ve sufficed. ( )
1 vote castiron | May 10, 2013 |
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For my mother

who let me read everything
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"What is it about Jane Austen anyway?" (Introduction)
Well-bred young ladies must acquire a store of accomplishments that are of no practical use and are, therefore, quite attractive to gentlemen.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A Jane Austen companion, offering a guide to living, love among the social classes, dress, and the practicalities of life in Regency England

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