The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo

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Based on Sense and Sensibility, The Dashwood Sisters Tell All is the third modern adaptation of Jane Austen novels produced by Beth Pattillo and I think the best so far. Ellen and Mimi Dodge have been sent on a tour of Hampshire to find the best place to scatter their mother’s ashes. Neither of them ever shared their mother’s obsession with Jane Austen, nor are they especially thrilled with each other, but they put a good face on it and forge ahead, each for their own reasons. The tour brings more than information about Austen, however as layers of their mother’s life are peeled away for them, revealing secrets and treasures that others would prefer kept quiet. Exploring Austen’s work and life also brings them a greater appreciation of each other. The Dashwood Sisters Tell All is a delightful story about family and love with a bit of intrigue thrown in for spice.

Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister by C. Allyn Pierson

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Fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will be pleased to immerse themselves into the continuing story of the Darcy family in Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister. C. Allyn Pierson has taken us into their world to tell the story of Georgiana, Darcy’s ward and younger sister. After her heart is broken and she is humiliated by her involvement with Wickham, Georgiana has become a shy and quiet young woman, lacking confidence in herself and in her judgment. She is preparing for her debut into society and her presentation before court, and is nervous and anxious about the upcoming event. Her sister-in-law Elizabeth comes to the rescue, offering Georgiana love and support, practicing the art of conversation, offering her advice on her wardrobe and serving as her confidante in matters of the heart. Their relationship unfolds throughout the story, as does Georgiana’s growth in confidence and maturity. She wants to be seen as an adult by her brother and by Colonel Fitzwilliam, and although her first season in society has placed her in the marriage market, she desires a love match like that of her brother and Elizabeth. After a kidnapping, lessons on deportment from her aunt, friendships with Kitty, Jane and Bingley, Georgiana finds the courage to seek out love . Although the plot revolves around Georgiana, this is a charming story and a wonderful opportunity to continue reading about the lives of some of our favorite characters in literature.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

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I’ve written about this series before, but this book was so sweet I just couldn’t resist revisiting. I also want to note that this book would be perfectly understandable even if you haven’t read any of the others. In the Pink Carnation series Willig has continued to provide hilarious, suspenseful, and romantic fare that will leave you clammoring for the next in the series.

In The Mischief of the Mistletoe we finally get to hear the story of Turnip Fitzhugh, the bumbling and lovable character that has accidently thwarted many an evil plot throughout the series. When visiting his mischevious sister at school to deliver her Christmas basket, he literally stumbles into Miss Arabella Dempsey, drawing the two of them into an intriguing plot involving suspicious Christmas puddings. Miss Dempsey was merely making starting a teaching position in an attempt to support herself after her aunt suddenly dashed her expectations. She wasn’t expecting to stumble into an evil plot or the man who guilelessly babbles his way into her heart.

With a cameo appearance by Jane Austen, this delightful romance will have you cheering for justice, true love, and the quest for a quality Christmas pudding.

The The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

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After fifty years of marriage, Betty Weissmann’s husband wants a divorce. Blindsided by the betrayal and banned from the apartment she lovingly decorated, Betty retreats with her two daughters to a friend’s rundown beach cottage in Westport. Betty, Annie, and Miranda work together through a painful time for all of them.

I’ll admit this book sounds depressing, and there are parts that will make you cringe with the humiliation that each of them faces, but Schine is able to see the humor in the most painful of situations. “There was an awful, endless, complicated lawsuit that had frozen all of Mirand’s assets. As if they were so many lamb chops, Betty thought, imagining the assets wrapped in aluminum foil and coated with a white film of ice.” Schine uses irony and compassion to walk us through the story of three women facing devastation together. Loosely based on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, The Three Weissmans of Westport is a story you won’t soon forget.

Murder at Longbourn: A Mystery

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Need a seasonal murder mystery to bring in the new year? Try Murder at Longbourn: A Mystery the debut novel of Tracy Kiely. The charming setting is a quaint bed and breakfast inn on Cape Cod. Elizabeth Parker’s best invitation for New Year’s eve fun is offered by her Aunt Winnie to join her mystery dinner party at her beautiful B & B. As the guests finish dinner and the acting troup arrives to create the murder plot, something goes awry and a guest lies murdered. This cozy mystery has ties-ins to Jane Austen characters and weaves quotes throughout to add to the fun. The characters are colorful and the mystery is convoluted and intriguing.

Confessions of a Hasty Librarian

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Just like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, I also have been too quick to judge. Two years ago when Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler first came out, I read it eagerly and loved it until the end. The only problem with this book is that only half of the story is presented, leaving too many questions unanswered. Recently, I decided to forgive Rigler and try to struggle through the sequel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. It was so delightful, I had to go back and read Confessions again, which was much more enjoyable on the second reading.
Both stories are about a young woman who is unhappy with the current conditions of her life. They each suffer a head injury and wake up in a different life in a different time. Courtney is an assistant in 21st century Los Angeles. Having just suffered a humiliating end to her engagement, she suffers a diving accident and wakes up in the body of Miss Mansfield in 1813. Jane is 30 and unmarried in in Regency era England. She has just seen something that may mean the end to her only prospect for marriage. She races off on her horse, hits her head and wakes up in Courtney’s apartment and life.

As each of them adjust to new surroundings, we get to see how many things concerning love and life have not changed very much, as well as how the resposibility of living someone else’s life causes them to make better decisions than they might have on their own behalf. An overall fun read.

A New Perspective on Austen’s Life

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Those of us who love Jane Austen’s works have long been disappointed about the lack of detail we have about her life. Her sister Cassandra destroyed many of her letters and her other siblings may have been selective about the details from her life, wanting to present her in the best possible light. Cassandra and Jane is Jill Pitkeathley’s attempt to fill in the gaps for us. She tells the story of Jane’s life from Cassandra’s perspective, creating the story of what might have been, including the sisters’ close relationship, the conflicts between Jane and her mother and a romance. A truly delightful read.

Two Guys Read Jane Austen

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Terrence Hill and Steve Chandler had finished their books discussing Moby Dick and obituaries and were deciding what to do next when their wives stepped in and offered them the challenge of Jane Austen. They expected to have a good time making fun of her work, so they took it on, reading Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. Of course, they loved the books.

Two Guys Read Jane Austen is not serious scholarship, just pure fun. It is two friends writing back and forth chatting about a book they are reading together. They discuss the parts they love and argue over details. They tend to wander off topic, which just makes it more fun. I didn’t agree with everything they said, but it is impossible to resist the feeling of joining in a light-hearted discussion about my favorite author.

Austen scholar or interested novice alike will find this a delightful read.

Take Note, Janeites!

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I found another delightful Jane Austen spinoff, Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo. Emma Grant is recovering from a nasty divorce and the apparent end of her career as a professor of Jane Austen studies. She jets off to London to find out more about the mysterious letters she has been receiving concerning her hero, only to find herself sharing a house with someone she thought long gone from her life and chasing around all over the English countryside. She’s running out of money and patience, but she comes to a better understanding of Jane Austen and herself.

"Mr. Darcy’s Diary"

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Many of our blog entries lately have listed books relating to “Pride and Prejudice” since we just completed our Jane Austen Festival. Another entry in this area of interest is “Mr. Darcy’s Diary” by Amanda Grange. I’ve read one or two other books from Darcy’s point of view but I liked this one the best. Since it is written as diary entries, we are shown Darcy’s thoughts, emotions and viewpoint. I found this to be an engaging format that ties in well with Austen’s book. A fun read if you enjoyed “Pride and Prejudice”.

Jane Austen Festival

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The tea cups are washed. The linens are folded away. We had so much fun at our Jane Austen Festival! We had great turnout for all three events. If you didn’t get the opportunity to grace us with your presence, you can still join in the fun. Both movies from the film festival, Pride and Prejudice and Bride and Prejudice are available for checkout here at the library. I’ve also made lists of my favorite Jane Austen related books. It includes commentary and biography, movies, contemporary adaptations, adaptations set in Austen’s time, and read alikes. My favorite commentary is The Friendly Jane Austen: a well-mannered introduction to a lady of sense and sensibility by Natalie Tyler. This mix of fun information includes explanations of the novels, quotes, and information about the times. It’s informative for those who want to know more but light enough for the casual reader. Manhattan Public Library is your source for all things Austen!

It’s Finally Here

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Don’t miss the Masterpiece Classic version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion on PBS this Sunday. It will be airing at 8:00 on KTWU channel 11. This is the beginning of their series The Complete Jane Austen, including a film interepretation of all six of Austen’s novels. All of them are newly filmed, except for the 1995 Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and the 1996 Emma with Kate Beckinsale. I’m quite overcome with anticipation.

I absolutely love the combination of good books and films. Watching the Austen interpretations previously made has encouraged me to read and reread all of the novels. I enjoy comparing and contrasting, deciding which actor best portrays each character. Join us later this month for our own Jane Austen Festival and you can voice your opinions right along with us. We’ll be enjoying a book discussion, a lecture/discussion about exploring Austen from different cultural perspectives, and a film fest, with tea, of course. Go to the main page for more details. Hope to see you there!

Maidens Tough as Nails

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I’ve been reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have a difficult time recommending it, since it is among the least liked of Austen’s novels. I’m reading it for the 3rd or 4th time and really enjoying it. It is the story of Fanny Price, a poor niece growing up with a wealthy family. She is quiet, moral, and sensitive. Many people hate her.

At the same time, I’m watching the Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre, which I got for Christmas. I couldn’t help but compare Fanny and Jane, both in degraded positions in a wealthy household, both strong in their morals, and careful to make their way as best they can. But everyone loves Jane Eyre and belittles poor Fanny.

I am seeing with this reading that Fanny has a quiet strength that pulls her through all the difficulties of her life. She has a meekness that serves her well in everyday situations, but doesn’t succumb to the will of those who are stronger when she knows her position is correct. Besides, Aunt Norris is a deliciously horrid character, providing many laughs along the way.

Give Mansfield Park a try and see if you agree.

Never Enough Austen

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The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James is a fictional story of Jane Austen’s one great love. We all know that Austen never married and her letters that we have do not show any record of a serious attachment. James works within the actual information we do have and creates a tale of love that was hidden from us all.

The criticism has often been levelled at our dearest author. How could she possibly presume to write of love and romance when she had none in her own life? James creates the story that we wish for Jane Austen and one of which I think Austen would have approved. She shows her behaving with perfect decorum and dignity, but we also see the passions of her heart.
P.S. If you love Austen, you must join us for the Jane Austen Festival in January. Go to our main page for more details.