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Jane Austen News – Issue 78

The Jane Austen News is Tilney is top!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

 Jane Austen Money Worth A Mint?

The £10 notes are nearly ready for release to the general public, and given what happened with the £5 notes, it seems likely the The Jane Austen News is that Jane will be on the new £2 coinsame could happen with the new £10 note when it comes to low serial numbers being worth more than their face value.

If you find a note with the serial code beginning ‘AA01’ you may be holding a couple of hundred pounds in your hand – as these numbers are popular with collectors. Another code to hold onto is the ‘AK47’ code notes; some of these on the £5 note have sold for as much as £1,000.

It’s not just notes though.

A new limited edition £2 coin featuring Jane Austen is also being put into circulation. The coin will only be available in a very limited number of places but it can be purchased from the Royal Mint website already. These will be uncirculated coins and can cost between £10 and £825. The bottom line is, if you find a Jane £2 coin, it could be worth a mint!


Mr Tilney – Top Austen Hero

At last, Bustle has given the woefully underrated Mr Henry Tilney his day in the sun. Usually he’s overshadowed by Mr Darcy, but one Austen fan and writer for the online magazine has explained why Henry Tilney deserves far more recognition than he gets as a hero, and is, in her (and some at the Jane Austen News’) opinion, the best of all of Austen’s heroes.

  1. He’s Good-Looking — But Not Too Good-Looking
  2. He’s The Funniest Of Jane Austen’s Heroes
  3. He’s Very Sarcastic
  4. He’s Forgiving
  5. He’s A Good Brother

The list goes on! If you like Mr Tilney, you’ll like Emma’s article which you can read in full here.

“That gentleman would have put me out of patience, had he stayed with you half a minute longer. He has no business to withdraw the attention of my partner from me. We have entered into a contract of mutual agreeableness for the space of an evening, and all our agreeableness belongs solely to each other for that time. Nobody can fasten themselves on the notice of one, without injuring the rights of the other. I consider a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not choose to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours.”

Henry Tilney (talking with tongue firmly in his cheek) on the social etiquette of dancing.


Gyles Brandreth Drowns Mr Darcy

Gyles Brandreth spoke to Foyles booksellers recently about his book loves and book loathes, and it appears that he’s also not the biggest Darcy fan! His reason was not quite we were expecting though…
I loved Mr Darcy. He was devilishly handsome, absurdly arrogant and my idea (everybody’s idea!) of an English romantic hero.
In fact, I realise I must have been fourteen at the time and the reason I loved the novel so much was that I convinced myself that I was Mr Darcy!
And then, at school, we put on a stage version of Pride and Prejudice and I went to the auditions with high hopes and great expectations and – yes, you’ve guessed it – I was cast, not as Mr Darcy, but as the ridiculous, pompous, po-faced, vain and vain-glorious clergyman, Mr Collins. I couldn’t believe it. Half a century on, I still can’t believe it. But from that moment, I turned on Mr Darcy. I had loved him. Now I loathed him. And I’ve loathed him ever since.
He may not like it, but we could imagine Gyles doing rather a good job of Mr Collins! His full Foyles chat can be read here.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 78

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Jane Austen’s ‘Forgotten’ Characters by Priyanka Chavda

By Priyanka Chavda

Jane Austen has many beloved characters – Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse and Marianne Dashwood.

There are a few, however, who are lesser known and often less appreciated, whether it be due to the continued growing admiration of her more popular characters or simply the story and characters themselves. For many Jane Austen fans some of these characters may not be under-appreciated- for them there could be others that need to be added to the list. Nevertheless, here are few who aren’t as recognised as perhaps they could be.

Frances O'Connor as Fanny Price.
Frances O’Connor as Fanny Price, 1999.

Fanny Price is one of the most underrated Austen characters. Even more, Mansfield Park is underrated as a novel in comparison to Austen’s other publications. For many, Fanny comes across as “insipid” (s quoted by Austen’s own mother.) For others, Fanny comes as a demure heroine. Unlike previous heroines such as Elizabeth Bennet, Fanny is not strongly spoken or particularly daring. She is placed in a household where her value is undermined, where she is floating in the middle; forced between what she knew and what she’s forced to learn. Yet Austen has cleverly created her character, suggest literary authors who examined Mansfield Park and Fanny Price for the novel’s anniversary–and pushes us to follow through. She has created someone who stands in full opposition to many characters within Mansfield Park and someone who comes in on her own as the novel progresses.

In fact much could be said about Mansfield Park and the characters within. Continue reading Jane Austen’s ‘Forgotten’ Characters by Priyanka Chavda

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Northanger Abbey: The Austen Project, by Val McDermid

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

northanger-abbey-austen-project-val-mcdermid-2014-x-200Northanger Abbey: The Austen Project, by Val McDermid

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

In the second installment of The Austen Project, bestselling Scottish crime writer Val McDermid takes a stab at a contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s most under-appreciated novel, Northanger Abbey. Written in the late 1790’s when Austen was a fledgling writer, this Gothic parody about young heroine Catherine Morland’s first experiences in Bath society and her romance with the dishy hero Henry Tilney is one of my favorite Austen novels. Fresh and funny, the writing style is not as accomplished as her later works but no one can dismiss the quality of Austen’s witty dialogue nor her gentle joke at the melodramatic Gothic fiction so popular in her day. I was encouraged by the choice of McDermid as author and intrigued to see how she would transport the story into the 21st century.

Our modern heroine, sixteen-year-old Cat Morland, is a vicar’s daughter living a rather disappointing life in the Piddle Valley of Dorset. Her mother and father seldom argued and never fought, and her siblings were so average she despaired of ever discovering any dark family secrets to add excitement to her life. Homeschooled, she can’t comprehend history or French or algebra, but delights in reading to fuel her vivid imagination, favoring ghost stories, zombie and vampire tales. After years of exploring the narrow confines of her home turf she craves adventure abroad. Rich neighbors Susie and Andrew Allen come to her rescue by inviting her to travel with them and attend the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland where Cat “is in her element, seeing potential for terror and adventure around every twist and turn of the narrow streets.”

Introduced to theater, art and books, and thanks to fashionista Mrs. Allen, Cat soon acquires a new wardrobe and dancing lessons where she partners with a charming and witty young attorney, Henry Tilney. After researching Henry on Facebook and Google she discovers that his father is the much-decorated general who made his name in the Falkland’s war before she was born. Even more interesting to Cat’s Gothic infused imagination, he owns Northanger Abbey, a medieval Borders abbey in Scotland. Cat also meets Mrs. Allen’s long-lost school friend Martha Thorpe and her three daughters, one of which is just Cat’s age. Bella, who recognizes the Morland last name, knows Cat’s elder brother Jamie who is attending Oxford with her brother Johnny. Before long they were “gossiping about the things that entertain young women of a certain age and type,” and becoming bff’s.

Blowhard Johnny Thorpe arrives in his racy red sports car with friend James Morland in tow. He attempts to court Cat but all she can think of is Henry and his sister Ellie. When Cat attends a céilidh, she anticipates dancing the Highland fling and hopes to encounter Henry Tilney again, who will surely save her from the unwanted attentions of crude Johnny Thorpe. As she and Bella scout the room they notice a beautiful, pale young woman dressed all in white:

“Who on earth was that?” Bella asked, “She acts like she’s in Pride and Prejudice.”
“That’s Henry Tilney’s sister Ellie.” Cat stared after the disappearing figure. There was something about Ellie, something out of time and out of style, like there would be if you were a two-hundred-year old vampire, she thought with a mixture of dread and delight.”

The story continues, mirroring the text of Northanger Abbey page for page, and scene for scene. Cat travels to Northanger Abbey as guest of the Tilney’s and the story turns Gothic and mysterious – just as Austen had devised.

McDermid made clever, creative and sensible choices in modernizing Northanger Abbey by moving the action from England to Scotland. The Edinburgh Festival easily replaces eighteenth century Georgian Bath allowing for a social hub similar in context: theater, shopping and country dancing. Later, we are treated to a really creepy medieval setting for a Scottish castle/Northanger Abbey. Cat is appropriately addicted to modern Gothic novels rivaling the famous Northanger Canon: Herbridean Harpies, Ghasts of Ghia and even Pride a Prejudice and Zombies! McDermid builds the vampire theme slowly, allowing Henry and Ellie to be pale in complexion, anachronistic in demeanor and just mysterious enough to trigger Cat’s imagination. Her characterizations are spot on: Henry is droll and swoon-worthy as ever, Cat a bit air-headed and impressionable, Bella a slick piece of work, and General Tilney deceptive and tyrannical.

The plot plays out as one would expect, and if you had not read Northanger Abbey before you would not notice that the author has really created a complete translation, scene for scene, and sometimes word for word—a No Fear Shakespeare version of Northanger Abbey. While I admired McDermid’s creative choices to bring the story into the modern world (cell phones, Facebook, language and culture), I was immediately puzzled by her choice of narrative style. This novel is really a retelling instead of the reimagining that it was advertised as. The downside of a translation is in its creative limitations, resulting in McDermid’s sentences being affected and unnatural. I just wanted her to break out of the stranglehold she had placed on herself and use the plot and characterization as a spring board, and not a noose. Limiting herself in this manner may have been her way of honoring Austen, but I think she has done a great disservice to her own writing. Having not read any of her acclaimed crime novels I have no idea of her real talent. I believe that Austen herself, who honed her craft so precisely, would be baffled at one author lessening their gifts at the expense of another.

Like the reaction to Joanna Trollope’s contemporary reimaging of Sense and Sensibility published last year, whenever you fiddle with the classics there are bound to be those who are open to the concept and those completely closed off. I read this novel in anticipation of enjoying it. In hindsight, I do not think that it was written for an Austen fan familiar with the original, but for the uninitiated who may view it in a completely different light.

RRP: £18.99
Grove Press (2014)
Hardcover (368) pages
ISBN: 978-0802123015


A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the editor of the short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, and Austenprose.com, a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

This review of Val McDermind’s Northanger Abbey originally appeared on Austenprose.com and is used here with permission.

Cover image courtesy of Grove Press © 2014; text Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com