Weekend Bookblogging: The Much-Anticipated End of Summer Book Roundup Extravaganza-type-thing Edition


At last, the much-anticipated, much-procrastinated (by the Editrix) massive end-of-summer 2008 Jane Austen book roundup! Gird your loins and wade in, Gentle Readers; there’s something here for everyone, we think.

First we would like to direct your attention once again to the AustenBlog library at LibraryThing. We’ve catalogued just about all the books in our personal library and all those that have been reviewed on this blog. We still need to work our way through old Friday Bookblogging posts, but it’s coming along. Do send in anything you don’t see to our attention, and if you’re a LibraryThing member, friend us! (We’ll be adding Austen-related books we don’t have from your libraries as well…thanks for that!) We understand that at some future time, social networking features will be added to LibraryThing that we hope will allow readers to rate each book for the information of their fellow Janeites. We’ll be using LibraryThing as our link for books, as it gives a selection of ways to find books online and in brick and mortar stores. Also, don’t forget to join the Friends of AustenBlog Group; the message forum will be a convenient way to let us know about any books we have missed. Now on to the books!

We’ll start out with the more academic titles that either have come out recently or are coming out in future. An Austen scholar who is a favorite of many Janeites is Claudia Johnson, and she has two books coming out in the next few months. Issues of Class in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will be out in November, and A Companion to Jane Austen will be published in January 2009.

Harold Bloom adds another Austen-related title to his How To Write About Jane Austen, simply titled Jane Austen, part of Professor Bloom’s “Bloom’s Modern Critical Views” series.

A couple more, er, esoteric titles to be published in the next couple of months include Family Likeness: Sex, Marriage, and Incest from Jane Austen to Virginia Woolf by Mary Jean Corbett (yikes!) and Gossip, Letters, Phones: The Scandal of Female Networks in Film and Literature by Ned Schantz (Emma is among the novels examined in the latter).

Less scholarly but still in the realm of nonfiction are two “little” books, The Little Book of Jane Austen by Emily Wollaston and Jane Austen’s Little Instruction Book by Sophia Bedford Pierce. Another companion title, The Bedside, Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Jane Austen, will be out next month. Another title that we thought sounded like fun is Two Guys Read Jane Austen by Steve Chandler and Terrence R. Hill, authors of Two Guys Read Moby-Dick. Steve has written a little bit about the book at his blog, but there’s no preordering information on the web yet. (Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for that link.)

Kim Wilson, author of Tea with Jane Austen, has written another companion book, In the Garden with Jane Austen, that looks just lovely and will be out in time for gardeners to make their plans for next year.

We’re very excited to see that Life in the Country will be available in an affordable edition from the British Library. Originally published in a (rather spendy!) limited edition, this is a book of silhouettes depicting English country life cut by Jane Austen’s nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, and passed down through his family. His several-times-great-granddaughter, Freydis Welland, has added quotations from Jane Austen’s novels to go with the silhouettes. With an afterword by Ms. Welland’s late mother, Joan Austen-Leigh, and contributions from Joan Klingel Ray and Maggie Lane, this book will be a lovely and whimsical addition to any Janeite’s library. It will be published in October.

Moving on to new editions of Jane Austen’s novels, we’ve blogged about this before, but Alert Janeite Emily sent in the link and we thought it worth mentioning again. Penguin published editions of several classic novels called “My Penguin” that have blank covers, ready for the owner to design a cover all his or her own. One of the books published is Emma, and you can read more about it at Penguin’s website.

Last week Cub Reporter Heather L. reviewed the refreshed Oxford’s World Classics editions of Jane Austen’s novels, and it looks like they’ll be adding a few titles beyond “the big six:” Catherine and Other Writings and Selected Letters. Cambridge is adding an edition of “Later Manuscripts to its excellent scholarly edition of the novels.

Don’t think that all these nonfiction titles mean the publication of paraliterature is slowing down–because it isn’t! Just ask our reviewers, who have or will shortly receive nearly a dozen titles to review through the autumn. We’re noticing an upswing in books not based on Jane Austen’s novels but on Jane’s own life, for instance, The Lost Years of Jane Austen by Barbara Ker Wilson; not sure what that one’s about! Another title is Jane Austen: Her Golden Years by Muriel Keller Evans, a biographical novel about Jane Austen’s life. Yet another is Cassandra and Jane: A Jane Austen Novel by Jill Pitkeathley, a novel about Jane Austen’s life from Cassandra Austen’s point of view.

Not that there’s any lack of retellings, sequels, and other paraliterature based upon Jane Austen’s novels. Amanda Grange’s latest novel, Colonel Brandon’s Diary, has just been released in the UK, and a paperback edition of Edmund Bertram’s Diary was recently published in the U.S.

Upcoming titles include Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe; Marsha Altman’s The Darcys & the Bingleys; Mr. Darcy’s Decision: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Juliette Shapiro; Netherfield Park Revisited and The Ladies of Longbourn, the latest two books in Rebecca Ann Collins’ series of Pride and Prejudice sequels; C. Allyn Pierson is beginning a similar series, Chronicles of the Darcy Family, with And This Our Life; two titles from the late Joan Aiken are being republished, Eliza’s Daughter (meaning Eliza Williams from S&S, not Eliza Bennet Darcy) and Mansfield Park Revisited; two titles from Abigail Reynolds, one a modern-set retelling of P&P (Pemberley by the Sea) and one a “what-if” rewrite of P&P (Impulse and Initiative); and the republication of a title that we and we’re sure many of our Gentle Readers will be excited about, Pemberley Shades by D.A. Bonavia-Hunt, a well-regarded sequel to P&P, long available only through usurious rare book sellers or badly OCRed online PDFs. Another title that we found fascinating (and thanks to Alert Janeite Victoria for pointing it out to us!) is The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough; yes, the same Colleen McCullough who made all Catholic schoolgirls sigh over their personal Father What-a-Waste with The Thorn Birds.

Keep in mind that several of the paraliterature titles above are republications of older books or self-published titles, so check your personal library before pre-ordering. We’ll have reviews of several of these books in the upcoming months.

Some more news about an upcoming title, from Publisher’s Marketplace:

“Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway’s LADY SUSAN AND HER DAUGHTER, a full-fledged reconstruction of Jane Austen’s early epistolary novella Lady Susan offering a new view of this clever worldly widow with her sixteen-year-old daughter, to Heather Proulx at Crown, in a good deal, at auction, by Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates (NA).”

We also heard from one of the authors, who said it is “a rewrite in narrative form, with Lady Susan and Frederica as dual protagonists. We tried to imagine what Austen would have done if she revised and expanded Lady Susan, as she did with Elinor and Marianne.” Thanks also to Alert Janeites Barbara and Laurie, who sent in the blurb from Publishers Marketplace.

Lastly, with all these books and all the popularity of Jane Austen, we must prepare, fellow Janeites, to hear a Certain Opening Sentence at upcoming weddings. You can blame this book for that.

That’s it for Weekend (almost…it was still weekend when we started, really!) Bookblogging, so until next time, Gentle Readers, never forget: Books Are Nice!