JASNA Vermont on the radio


Vermont Public Radio interviewed Kelly McDonald & Deb Barnum, co-regional coordinators of JASNA’s Vermont Region. You can listen to a recording of the interview online or download it as a podcast.

Jane inspires another author


Alert Janeite Mary sent us a link to an interview with Gina Fattore, staff writer for the television show Californication, on Studio 360 in which Ms. Fattore talks about how she was inspired by Jane Austen, via Clueless, to become a screenwriter. She talks about the universality of Jane Austen’s novels and how seeing Clueless made her realize that they are not just about “horses and carriages and corsets.” Nicely said!

Friday Bookblogging: For Da Yoof Edition


All kinds of book news this week! (Actually we’ve been saving it up.)

Alert Janeite Carol let us know that romance author Mary Balogh is working on an Austen-related anthology project with several other authors.

And I have just agreed to participate in another anthology, this one the brainchild of Susan Krinard, who thought it would be fun to write paranormal novellas based on various Jane Austen novels. She had already recruited Colleen Gleason and Janet Mullany by the time she asked me. I was hesitant as I have never written anything paranormal, but I always find it difficult to resist a challenge, especially when it involves nothing more arduous than using the imagination. And so I have my sights set upon making something paranormal of the basic plot idea of Persuasion. The tentative title for the anthology is Bespelling Jane, and it will contain two historical and two contemporary novellas. You may watch for it some time in the future–if we can catch the interest of a publisher, that is!

Keep your tongues in your cheeks, ladies, and we suspect it will work a lot better.

Hot on our discussion the other day about Austen first editions and memorabilia, we have the results of an auction of a collection of first editions at Bloomsbury Auctions, which went for a lot less than you might expect.

Other highlights included a group of privately owned first edition Jane Austen books. Austen’s first book, Sense and Sensibility , 1811, had a contemporary author attribution of “Miss Austen,” and it sold for $24,200. Pride and Prejudice, also in three volumes, made $33,300; Mansfield Park fetched $6,460, Emma made $11,400, and Northanger Abbey sold for just above its higher estimate at $7,250.

Again, unclear if the listing of NA included Persuasion; most likely, as that book is not otherwise mentioned in the collection.

EADT has an article about the influence of playwright Elizabeth Inchbald (author of the infamous “Lovers’ Vows”) on Jane Austen’s work.

The latest edition of the Jane Austen Podnovel is now available.

Alert Janeite Amo sent us an article about a spoof rewrite of Shakespeare in “yoof-speak.” The author of the piece takes it to the logical conclusion and rewrites a certain opening sentence.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” could become “You’re loaded, but got no bird. You some sort of bender?”

On that note, Gentle Readers, that’s it for Friday Bookblogging. Until next time, always remember: Books Are Nice!

Spanish-language commentary on P&P available on Peru radio


Alert Janeite Mari Carmen let us know that Spanish-language commentaries on Pride and Prejudice are available on Radio Programas del Perú (scroll down to “Orgullo Y Prejudicio”).

Mari Carmen also let us know that an abridged version of the novel was broadcast over the weekend, but we missed it and will be more alert next time. *blush*

Live from Jane Austen's House


Norm Geras has linked to a broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour with a visit to Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire.

Friday Bookblogging: Pleasure in a Good Novel Edition


Alert Janeite Lisa sent us an editorial from the Sydney Morning Herald about the importance–and pleasure–of reading, wisely quoting the Rev. Mr. Tilney, which is always a smart thing to do in our educated opinion.

The novel Northanger Abbey, one of Jane Austen’s less read works, has a gentle dig at the contorted plotlines and melodramatic expression of the gothic novels popular in the author’s day.

But still Austen offers a defence of the novel, having her hero Henry Tilney say, “the person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid”.

Today’s students need Jane Austen (and other authors who have stood the test of time) as much as ever. Good fiction is not a waste of time.

Preach it!

As well as helping us understand the world, fiction helps us understand ourselves. Jane Austen’s heroines are appealing (except, perhaps, the insipid Fanny Price)

Uh-oh….*runs as enraged Fannyfans burn down Sydney Morning Herald building*

Lisa also sent us a really funny article in the New Statesman by Sophie Gee, who has found a great new way to choose Christmas gift books: apply the Sir Walter Elliot test!

This new approach was suggested by the opening sentences of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which give the best description of reading I know:

Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed.

Even as we laugh at Sir Walter for his snobbishly trivial turn of mind, we admire Austen for putting her finger so exactly on what gives reading its delight: “occupation for an idle hour and consolation in a distressed one”. Which of us doesn’t have an equivalent of the Baronetage to take down in hours of need, hoping that nobody is looking?

Well, that would probably be Jane Austen’s books for us! And a few select titles by Georgette Heyer. Do read the whole article, it’s really fun.

The audio version of Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict got a great review in Publishers’ Weekly:

Orlagh Cassidy is delightfully fun as Courtney Stone, a modern Los Angeles girl nursing a heartbreak who wakes up to find herself inhabiting the body and life of a Jane Austenesque Regency girl. Cassidy is spot-on with Courtney’s California accent, modern-day moaning about men, self-analysis and doubt, and sarcasm—and then, without missing a beat, flips easily into the proper, upper-class English tones of Jane (the Regency girl Courtney has replaced, whose accent came with the body), her pompous, controlling mother, her desperate suitor and her sympathetic best friend.

We are pleased to report that the U.S. release of Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange is available for preorder and will be released on May 6, 2008. Check out the cover on Amanda Grange’s website.

Lastly, we heard from Professor Janet Todd, who gave a great plenary talk at the JASNA AGM in Vancouver this past October. She has written a book called Death and the Maidens about the Wollstonecraft-Godwin-Shelley-Byron circle of Jane Austen’s lifetime–authors, poets, and amazing and sad lives. Prof. Todd found some kinship between Fanny Wollstonecraft, who committed suicide at 22, and Fanny Price. It sounds like a really interesting book, and insight into a very different kind of lifestyle than that which Jane Austen and her family–and even her characters–led.

That’s it for Friday Bookblogging this week, Gentle Readers, and always remember: Books Are Nice!

Austen on Audio


Alert Janeite Lisa sent us an article in the Guardian that describes Audiobooks Online, a Netflix-like service for audiobooks (what a great idea!), including unabridged audiobooks of Jane Austen’s novels. The article also suggests giving audiobook sets as holiday gifts, including the unabridged Austen library from Naxos.