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Jane Austen News – Issue 117

Jane Austen News listens to Audible

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Jane Austen Meets Midsomer Murders

We’re not sure how big the crossover is between Jane Austen fans and Midsomer Murders fans, but if you (like me) enjoy a nice bit of escapism with DCI John Barnaby as he investigates yet another murder in the deadliest county in England (luckily fictional) then good news: he’s back and this time he’s in the middle of a Jane Austen fan event!

Episode five, titled Death by Persuasion, will take us back in time. When the body of a woman dressed in Georgian costume is found, a couple who run Jane Austen-themed weekends, James and Kitty Oswood (Samuel West and Claire Skinner, who you might recognise as Fanny Dashwood from the 2008 BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility) are questioned. DCI Barnaby and DS Winter discover there is more to the story: the victim was a journalist, interested in the village’s healthcare drone delivery programme.

The episode is due to air in the UK on Sunday the 13th of May at 8pm on ITV.

 


Why We Need Stories

On the BBC website’s culture section there’s a highly informative article about the origin of stories and why they are so important to us. In the article, as well as plenty of background on the Epic of Gilgamesh (thought to be the oldest surviving work of great literature at over 4,000 years old), and the exploration of other very early works, there are some excellent analytical points on Pride and Prejudice and why so many people love a bad boy:

Evolutionary theory can also shed light on the staples of romantic fiction, including the heroines’ preferences for stable ‘dad’ figures (like Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice or Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility) or flighty ‘cads’ (such as the dastardly womanisers Mr Wickham or Willoughby). The ‘dads’ might be the better choice for the long-term security and protection of your children, but according to an evolutionary theory known as the ‘sexy son hypothesis’, falling for an unfaithful cad can have his own advantages since they can pass on their good looks, cunning and charm to his own children, who may then also enjoy greater sexual success.

 

The result is a greater chance that your genes will be passed on to a greater number of grandchildren – even if your partner’s philandering brought you heartbreak along the way. It is for this reason that literature’s bad boys may still get our pulses racing, even if we know their wicked ways.

 

In these ways, writers like Austen are intuitive evolutionary psychologists with a “stunningly accurate” understanding of sexual dynamics that would pre-empt our recent theories. [The University of Michigan’s Daniel] Kruger said. “I think that’s part of the key for these stories’ longevity. [It’s why] Jane Austen wrote these novels 200 years ago and there are still movies being made today.”

The full article can be found here.


“Single Women” Fiction – A Label, But Not One We Love

Genres are funny things. For every copy of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake that gets shelved under fiction, there’s someone who’ll argue that it is really sci-fi. Technically, The Moonstone is one of the first detective novels, but it always finds itself categorised as classic literature.

This week the Jane Austen News read an excellent opinion piece in The Guardian written by Kaite Welsh, which did a great job of highlighting why classifying books into certain genres can be a literary minefield…

If you disliked the genre title “Chick-Lit” as much as we did, and were glad to see it go, then you’ll probably be with us, and Kaite Walsh, in taking against Amazon.com’s recent “Single Women” book sub-genre. It might seem like objecting to this as a genre title is just being pedantic, but the problem, as Kaite Welsh points out, is that “it’s code for “not-as-good”, “commercial” and “probably about feelings and kissing and maybe chocolate” […] As ever, men’s experience is the norm and women’s is the subgenre. It’s why people think Pride and Prejudice is a love story, rather than a biting social satire about the precarious economic status of women during the Napoleonic war.”

“A rose by another other name would smell as sweet” some may say, or “don’t judge a book by its cover” (or genre classification in this case), but nevertheless, the implied value of the piece of literature depending on its classification is an idea worth considering.

The full article by Kaite Welsh can be found here.


Emma on Audible

Good Jane Austen news for fans of Emma: in the list of the best-selling audiobooks on Audible.com for the week ending on April 27th, Emma was sitting pretty at the number two slot!

Jane Austen’s Emma (narrated by Nadia May, produced by Blackstone Audio Inc.) was just beaten to the top spot by Moby Dick by Herman MelIville, and just below Emma in the rankings was Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. Clearly the classics are as popular as ever!


This Week’s Recommendation

If you’re one of those readers who finds themselves practically yelling at characters in books when they’re clearly on the verge of doing the wrong thing, this new interactive novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris might be just your kind of read.

My Lady’s Choosing is an interactive Regency romance novel with four main plots to choose from and many different paths to explore. At regular intervals you are given the option of what ought to happen next in the book and, depending on your answer, you then turn to the corresponding page and continue reading the story. Only unlike with most books, you’ve decided what ought to happen next. (Although if you’re like me you’ll probably end up reading all of the different storylines one after the other…)

You are the plucky but penniless heroine in the center of eighteenth-century society, courtship season has begun, and your future is at hand. Will you flip forward fetchingly to find love with the bantering baronet Sir Benedict Granville? Or turn the page to true love with the hardworking, horse-loving highlander Captain Angus McTaggart? Or perhaps race through the chapters chasing a good (and arousing) man gone mad, bad, and scandalous to know, Lord Garraway Craven? Or read on recklessly and take to the Continent as the “traveling companion” of the spirited and adventuresome Lady Evangeline? Or yet some other intriguing fate? Make choices, turn pages, and discover all the daring delights of the multiple (and intertwining!) storylines. And in every path you pick, beguiling illustrations bring all the lust and love to life.

The book is aimed at preteens and young adults and is an entertaining read. There are some Regency romance cliches present in the storylines, but it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of this quirky interactive novel.


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Jane Austen Online Magazine.

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