The Jane Austen Handbook
A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World
(More recently published as: The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England)
Author: Margaret C. Sullivan
Genre: Non-fiction (presented in a witty way)
My rating on a 1-10 scale: 10
Number of pages: 224
Summary: Learning about life in the past couldn't be more enjoyable. Delightfully mixing information with entertainment, this illustrated book tells you what every Regency young woman should know – from becoming an accomplished lady to declining an offer of marriage. It’s divided into four sections, and has a very useful appendix in the back – including a list of all Jane Austen’s novels with a summary, and when they were written and published. It also includes a list of all the movies with year it was made, actors, etc. Then there is a helpful glossary that defines tricky words of the time, and a good index to help you find what you’re looking for. This book is essential to any young woman who has ever imagined herself to be a Jane Austen heroine!
My overall opinion: I have nothing but praise to say about this book. It’s one of the few non-fiction books that is great to read all the way through. I recommend it very highly to all Janeites – or anyone who likes Jane Austen, the time period, or old-fashioned things in general. More enjoyment can be drawn from it, however, if you do know something of Jane Austen’s stories. The authoress is constantly making indirect references to the books and characters – which you only catch if you know – and it’s very funny. I can’t say how many times I’ve started laughing out loud while reading it. I really love how at the beginning of each section of one of the ‘How To’s, there is a Jane Austen quote. The way everything is written is superb – I love the interesting choice of words and sentences, quite the opposite of boring.
I was exceedingly glad to receive the book for my birthday – I had been borrowing a friend’s copy, and it’s so nice to have my own on hand. (By the way, the girls at my birthday party were having fun flipping through the book, laughing, and saying they needed to get one for themselves.)
I know so much more now than I did before I read it (which wasn’t too small an amount.) I love knowing about things like the proper dress for first mournings and second mournings, what sort of meals were served at what times, paying calls…there’s so much in there!