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The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England

by Margaret C. Sullivan

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4341654,625 (3.85)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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» See also 15 mentions

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The sole reason I picked this up was for a challenge where I needed to read a "regency" related book. I tried a pure history book, and while I finish almost every book I start, I just couldn't make myself.

This light, short book seemed like just the ticket. The frame is that the reader is an aspiring social climber during the Regency times, and this book advises her on attire, etiquette, love, etc. It's cute and sometimes witty. But often, the author breaks the premise and references modern times. At the end of the book is a mini bio of Jane Austen as well as a bibliography of her books with descriptions.

I am sure Jane Austen fans might like this one, though it is a bit superficial. I liked learning some of the period aspects that I didn't know, but I feel like someone who is really immersed in the regency era would find it trite.

( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
Jane Austen published her first novel in 1811, but today she's more popular than ever. Film adaptations of her books are nominated for Academy Awards. Chick lit bestsellers are based on her plots. And a new biopic of Austen herself Becoming Jane arrives in theaters this spring.
For all those readers who dream about living in Regency England, The Jane Austen Handbook offers step-by-step instructions for proper comportment in the early nineteenth century. You'll discover:
How to Become an Accomplished Lady
How to Run a Great House
How to Indicate Interest in a Gentleman Without Seeming Forward
How to Throw a Dinner Party
How to Choose and Buy Clothing

Full of practical directions for navigating the travails of Regency life, this charming illustrated book also serves as a companion for present-day readers, explaining the English class system, currency, dress, and the nuances of graceful living. ( )
  Karen74Leigh | Feb 17, 2023 |
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 |
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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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