Ask a Jane Austen fan and they’ll soon be able to tell you the many advantages of having the entire works of Jane Austen in your home library. Her novels are a must-have, go-to resource for times of trouble when you are in need of comfort, for times of boredom when you need entertainment, and, we learnt this week thanks to The Spectator, an excellent hiding place!
In an article by Joe Shute, journalist and author of A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven, which explored the role of ravens within the natural and literary world, we this week read the charming tale of Truman Capote and his pet raven:
Truman Capote had a pet raven, Lola, which he suspected of hiding a guest’s false teeth. He placed his gold signet ring on a table and spied developments. When the raven thought the way was clear it grabbed the ring and hid it in the library behind The Complete Jane Austen. Capote listed the cache revealed: among other things, his best cufflinks, long-lost car keys, the first page of a short story, and the teeth.
This was a new story to us, but one which we thought was charming and so well-worth sharing.
A little bit of Bath is in Jersey this week, as well as a little bit of Jane Austen.
Actors from Bath’s famous Natural Theatre Company have traveled over to the largest of the channel islands and are spending the week as Georgians in Residence at St. Helier’s Georgian House, 16 New Street. Last year the company visited the island to perform The Importance of Being Earnest, but this year they’re putting on their walkabout show, Austen Undone (previously seen at Bath’s own Jane Austen Festival).
Austen Undone is described as a ‘who’s who’ and ‘what’s what’ of Austen’s life and works, but as director Andy Burnham explained: ‘It doesn’t matter whether you are an Austen fanatic or you have never picked up one of her novels, what we love about these tours is that they are for anyone and everyone.’
A good show to see if you’re an islander and a Jane Austen fan. Though hopefully we’ll soon see Austen Undone at another Jane Austen Festival in Bath.
The hot new soap opera in Brazil is one which has been based on the novels of Jane Austen.
Pride and Passion, or Orgulho e paixão as it is titled in Portuguese, is set in the early twentieth century in the fictional Vale do Cafe village in Sao Paulo. The protagonist is Elisabeta Benedito. She dreams of being an emancipated woman and she wants to know more of the world, but she ends up in an internal conflict when she falls in love with the aristocrat Darcy.
Pride and Passion also includes characters and story lines from Jane’s other novels. The stories of Lizzy, Jane and Lydia Bennet are all kept, but Mary and Kitty Bennet have been swapped for Mariana (Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility) and Cecilia (Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey). Another character is Elisabeta’s best friend, Ema Cavalcante, who sees herself as the matchmaker of the area, à la Emma Woodhouse from Emma.
Certainly one to watch if you’re an Austen fan who speaks Portuguese!
As well as giving fellow Jane Austen fans the very latest Jane Austen related news, we also aim to let you know about items that might be of interest, even if they are not directly linked to Austen.
On that note, we have two book recommendations which you might not have come across before, which we thought you, as a devotee of the style and themes of Austen, might like to read (in between re-reading Austen’s novels of course).
The first is Belinda by Maria Edgeworth. It is said by some to be one of the inspirations for later Austen works. Belinda is a “society novel” which looks at the difficulty which young ladies had in marrying for love rather than for financial reasons. In it, seventeen-year-old Belinda Portman is sent by her aunt to live with the wealthy and respected Lady Delacour. Lady Delacour, though rich, is vastly unhappy as she has an alcoholic husband whom she fights with, and a daughter who she is estranged from. Belinda and Delacour’s friend Clarence Hervey try to help her find happiness. In doing so Clareance and Belinda find themselves falling for each other.
Our other recommendation for this week is A Lady of Quality by Francis Hodgson Burnett. Although Francis is better known for The Secret Garden or A Little Princess, A Lady of Quality is one of her books for adults, and one which did very well. In 1896 it was the second highest-selling book in the U.S. In A Lady of Quality, Clorinda Wildairs, who used to be a bit of a wild one, turns herself into a charming lady with wit, a fine wardrobe, and a string of admirers (having realised that her father is penniless and in order to support herself she’ll have to marry rich). However, the historical fiction breaks out of its single genre and takes a twist when it also becomes a murder mystery.
If you read either this week (or have already read either) maybe leave us a comment and let us know what you thought?
Finally this week we want to show our support for author Paula Byrne. Paula is the author of some wonderful biographical books, two of which are about Jane Austen and her life and legacy: The Genius of Jane Austen – Her Love of Theatre and Why She Is a Hit in Hollywood, and The Real Jane Austen – A Life in Small Things. Her latest book is not inspired by anything as nice as Jane and her novels though. Paula’s latest book is about the anonymous poison pen letters she and her husband have been receiving.
Since 2015 Sir Jonathon Bate, the Shakespeare scholar and provost of Worcester College, has received 17 letters accusing his wife Paula, among other things, of being ‘barely literate’, ‘pathologically vain’, and of giving the college a bad image.
“They are very hurtful, at times vicious, though also cleverly done,” Paula told the Sunday Times. However, Paula has decided to turn the hurt and bewilderment from these letters into something positive as her latest book is a novel called Look to Your Wife, which mirrors her own experience with hateful letters.
We’re sorry to hear that Paula has been subject to such a horrible stream of intimidation, and we just wanted to say that we admire her for speaking out against it and showing that she won’t let the hate hold her down.
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