It’s been an extremely varied 12 months here at the Jane Austen Gift Shop as far as reading matter goes…
Our biggest sellers have been the Jane Austen Classic Colouring Book and the Pride and Prejudice Colouring Classic. Whether young or old, it’s hard to resist getting out the pencils, paints or crayons to add a splash of colour to these enchanting illustrations. Some said the colouring craze was just a passing fancy, but if the popularity of these titles is anything to go by, there’s plenty of life in it yet, especially among Jane Austen fans!
Of the official releases, you certainly enjoyed The Annotated Emma. This ingenious and illuminating book book pairs the full original text with explanations of historical context, maps and illustrations, definitions of historical terms and concepts, comments and analysis and cross-referencing to Jane’s other novels, letters and writings. The result is almost like reading the novel for the first time, and it’s full of information on everything from English attitudes towards gypsies to the social status of spinsters and illegitimate children, to the shopping habits of fashionable ladies. A gourmet feast for Janeites, it’s one of those books that is sure to drive your friends mad, as you constantly stop and them and say: “Did you know this?”
The big movie news of the year was the release of Love and Friendship, based on Jane’s early work Lady Susan. If that’s inspired you to catch up (or re-acquaint yourself) with the juvenilia, we have a lovely collector’s hardback of the complete early writings: Love and Freindship, with Lady Susan included of course. More controversial was the release, after years of announcements, of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It sharply divided opinion among Janeites here, and doubtless everyone will have a strong opinion about it one way or another. But there’s no question that the original book deftly converts the source material into the idiom of zombie horror – if you are brave and curious, you can give it a try here!
On a completely different note, it was hard to ignore the fact that Mr. Darcy has found himself up against a serious rival for the hearts of the nation in the form of Winston Graham’s Captain Poldark, in the BBC’s smash hit adapatation of the best-selling Georgian and Regency romantic novels. Our primary loyalty will always be to Jane’s characters of course, but we couldn’t ignore this phenomenon entirely! As such, we beg Darcy’s indulgence and discreetly bring to your notice the superb World of Poldark, a lavish, beautifully illustrated companion to the novels, the series and the times, with features on everything that makes the series so memorable: the characters, the plots, the locations, the costumes and the landscape. If all of that whets your appetite for the originals, don’t miss our lovely collector’s edition of the first novel Ross Poldark, or, if you just want to gaze at the images and wish you were there, there’s always the Official 2017 Poldark Calendar!
If graphic novels are to your fancy, there’s still time to snap up the highly acclaimed Marvel adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, now out of print and highly collectable. The superb artwork and clever adaptation of the material works surprisingly well – it’s a great way of introducing the book to teenagers who think they don’t like ‘that sort of thing’, as well as a treat for confirmed fans with modern tastes.
For the very young there’s a beautiful board book edition of Emma, the latest in the wonderful Little Miss Austen series. And the jury is still out as to whether you have to be very young to want a copy of A Guinea Pig Pride and Prejudice on your shelves… Don’t worry: we won’t tell anyone if you don’t…