What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
Jane Austen in Pakistan Goes From Strength to Strength
We hear that the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan is going from strength to strength. Good news indeed!
You may well have heard of Jane Austen societies in America, England and Australia, but one that’s less well known is the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP for short). The society was founded in Islamabad but now also has chapters in Karachi and Lahore and its members number over 800.
The society began in 2014 when Laaleen Khan, an ardent Austen fan since her childhood, decided to establish the society. JASP enjoys Jane Austen quizzes, dressing up in Regency costume, discussing her books, and playing cards. Khan recently explained online why she thinks Jane Austen is popular in Pakistan.
There are so many parallels between Austen’s Regency-era society and South Asian society today. The obsession with the marriage market, for one thing, complete with concern for reputation, eligibility, decorum, propriety and ancestry juxtaposed with elements of snobbery, misogyny and hypocrisy. We have our share of disapproving Lady Catherine de Bourgh-esque society aunties, rakish Wickhams and Willoughbys, pretentious Mrs Eltons and holier-than-thou Mr Collins types!
The society continues to grow and hopes to raise funds for literacy programmes in Pakistan through the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, founded by Caroline Jane Knight, Austen’s fifth great niece.
Austen School Room to Open in Reading
A plan is underway to create a schoolroom in the place where Jane Austen went to school in Reading (she attended Mrs. La Tournelle’s boarding school between 1785 and 1786), as the Abbey Gate in The Forbury is to be restored thanks to a successful Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid.
A report to Reading Borough Council’s policy committee said that “Abbey Gate was where Jane Austen went to school and it is considered that this additional historical and literary association would be attractive to schools and could add depth and interest to the educational programme.”
We at the Jane Austen News are looking forward to seeing what the end result is!
A Holiday Let for Jane Austen Fans
Goodnestone House in Kent has recently undergone a £2.5 million restoration that has turned the 1704 Queen Anne mansion into a smart holiday bolt-hole that sleeps 24. The reason Jane Austen fans might be interested in staying at Goodnestone is that it was the home of Sir Brook Bridges, the 3rd Baronet of Goodnestone, whose daughter Elizabeth Bridges married Jane’s brother Edward, and Jane would often walk to Goodnestone with the couple from their marital home in Rowley. It was also the double wedding at the nearby church of Edward and Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s sister Sophia with William Deedes, that is said to have inspired the double wedding scene in Pride and Prejudice, which Jane started to write after a six-week visit to her brother in 1796.
But even putting the direct Austen connection aside, Goodnestone would make a wonderful location for an Austen adaptation. The house has handsome Georgian features on one side and a grand Victorian Palladian-style portico on the other. Inside the house can boast of 11 bathrooms and 12 bedrooms, named after family members, a library filled with leather-bound books, and grand living spaces. Outside there is rolling parkland, a vast walled garden, a cricket pitch, a croquet lawn and an arboretum.
Books About Book Clubs
While browsing we came across an article linked to Karen Joy Fowler’s book, The Jane Austen Book Club. In the article was a great list of novels which also have plots that centre around the great institution of the book club.
- The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley – Huntley journals her experiences teaching English in Kosovo Albanians in Prishtina and the book club her students form.
- The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe – the inspiring story of a son and his dying mother, who form a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close.
- Dinner with Anna Karenina by Gloria Goldreich – six women drawn together by their love of literature rally around each other when painful truths and dark betrayals are revealed.
- The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Pattillo – two things unite the ladies at Sweetgum Christian Church: their love of knitting and their passion for books.
We thought you, as fellow fans of reading, might be interested in checking a few out. Our thanks to Stacy Delano of the Stillwater News Press for the list.
From Reading Book Clubs to Colouring Book Clubs
In other book club news, the latest craze in South Florida is adult colouring book clubs, such as “Cool Colors Adult Coloring Group” and “Color of Calm: Adult Coloring and Relaxation”. The Delray Beach book club is the latest club to be established.
Erin Broemel, the Delray Beach library’s educational programs and volunteer manager says that, “you are in the moment when you are coloring. You are able to connect that way. It’s very mindful.”
And her favourite book to colour? Pride and Prejudice: A Colouring Classic. “In the coloring book, they highlight specific quotes or scenes that are memorable, and really showcase Austen’s style of writing. Coloring that book helps me relax after a long day, and be transported into the worlds of Jane Austen, if only for a little while.”
Hailed as a great way to relax and socialise, at the Jane Austen News we can see why the clubs are so popular. Especially when you add Jane to the mix!
UK = Fanny Price?
Jane popped up in the news this week as two newspapers decided to compare the U.S. and the UK to Austen characters.
“In the Jane Austen novel of international life, we were supposed to be Marianne, the one with all the feelings. You were supposed to be Elinor, the sensible one … We read all these books of yours about people in the countryside drinking tea for hours on end because we thought you knew better than we did!” – The Washington Post
“We’re no longer Elinor, the sensible one. In the Jane Austen novel of international life, we are Fanny Price: the throwback no one respects.” – The Guardian
We’re really not quite sure what to make of the Washington Post’s and The Guardian’s Jane Austen metaphor.
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