(Review) Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage Books. 1999.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography.
Pages: 347.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen and women’s stories.
Rating: Very good.

Several black and white illustrations are included.

Amazon link

I have reader friends who’ve told me they are not a Darcy fan. I have reader friends who’ve told me they’ve never read a Jane Austen story. When I hear these things I’m not offended. I believe that books are personal choices; and, my choice is not necessarily another person’s choice.

How do I feel about Jane Austen? I am a fan of Jane Austen. I love reading about Jane Austen. I love Jane Austenesque stories. I have read most of her novels and a few of them are favorites.

Several months ago I began reading Jane Austenesque stories. Add to this, I have read two of Austen’s unfinished novels that were finished by modern authors. These reasons have led me to feel compelled to read and study Jane Austen. I want to learn about her writing style and technique, the Regency period, her family, and the everyday life she lived.

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin is the fourth book I’ve read in this personal study.
I’ve also read:
1. Jane Austen, Bloom’s BioCritiques by Harold Bloom.
2. The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility by Natalie Tyler, with contributions from Jon Winokur and Reid Boates.
3. Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Jane Austen by Carol J. Adams, Douglas Buchanan, Kelly Gesch.

Several others are in a TBR stack:
~The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne
~Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson
~The Cambridge Companion Guide to Jane Austen by Edward Copeland
~Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye
All links take you to Goodreads.

In Jane Austen: A Life, Tomalin examines all the Austen family. None of them are placed under the microscope, but they are explored through their letters, and personal choices in marriages, family, and careers. Chapter two goes back to Jane’s grandparents.
In Jane’s early life, she was sent to a village woman to be cared for and nursed until she was of age to live at home. This seems odd to our modern view, but during this era it was common. However, Tomalin wonders how this might have effected Jane?
Most of Jane’s letters were destroyed by family. We can only speculate why. In addition, the family was discreet about what they shared and passed down through the generations. A brother and a nephew remarked Jane lived an, “ordinary life.” Later in the book it is stated the family were reserved people. As a Jane Austen fan, I want to read at least a morsel of her showing not necessarily imperfections, but at least a realness of her person. It is easy to wonder if the family was reserved or trying to protect Jane’s image. Both are possibilities. After Jane’s father died and she moved to other housing, there is a glimpse she may have been depressed. Tomalin only explains this is a possibility.
Jane Austen: A Life is a little dry. This point didn’t take away from devouring the book.

Final thoughts:
~I love it that Jane read her writings to family.
~I love it that Jane tried different techniques in writing stories.
~In Appendix one, I thought it was interesting to read about the different illnesses that may have caused Jane’s death.
~I love reading about Cassandra’s love and devotion to Jane.
~It is sad how people of this period treated those with disabilities. Each proceeding generation looks back on previous generations with a different perspective. I have often wondered what people 100 years from now will say about us? What will be our legacy?

(Review) The Bedside, Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Jane Austen by Carol Adams, Douglas Buchanan, and Kelly Gesch

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Publisher and Publication Date: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 2008.
Genre: Nonfiction. Jane Austen. Regency Period. Women and Literature. Biography.
Pages: 240.
Source: Library paperback copy.
Audience: Jane Austen readers. Biography and history readers.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link

 

 

Summary:
If you are new to Jane Austen. If you haven’t read Jane Austen stories in a long time. This book is a good companion piece to become reacquainted with her works.

Examples of chapters:
“The Importance of a Good Carriage”
“The Clergy in Austen’s Fiction”
“On Reading Jane Austen”
“Jane Austen at the Movies”

All of Austen’s books have a chapter. The Watsons and Lady Susan share a chapter.

Illustrations are scattered throughout the book. They are all in black and white.

My Thoughts:
Don’t buy the book. If you can find it at the library do so. If you can find the book on discount as an ebook, this too is a great idea.
It’s a quick read.
It’s a book that can be used as a reference.
It’s not necessary to read it cover to cover.
The chapters are short.

What’s notable: An interesting essay on Willoughby (male character in Sense and Sensibility) as a sociopath.

(Review) Sanditon by Jane Austen and Kate Riordan

Riordan_Sanditon(TP)

Publisher and Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing. December 10, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Austenesque.
Pages: 400.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Jane Austen readers.
Rating: Very good.

Based on Andrew Davies’ tv adaption/continuation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel written in 1817.
As seen on Masterpiece PBS, premiered January 12, 2020.

The foreword is written by Andrew Davies. He is a Welsh author of screenplays and books. He has adapted several books to film. For example: Pride and Prejudice (1995), Vanity Fair (1998), and War and Peace (2016), Sanditon (2020).

Link for more information at the publisher

Link at Amazon

Link at Barnes and Noble

Author Info: 
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an
editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor
for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine. There she had
assignments that saw her racing reindeers in Lapland, going undercover in
London’s premier department store and gleaning writing tips (none-too subtly)
during interviews with some of her favorite authors. After becoming a freelancer,
she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her
first novel.

Summary: 
In the vein of Downton Abbey, Jane Austen’s beloved but unfinished
masterpiece-often considered her most modern and exciting novel-gets a
spectacular second act in this tie-in to a major new limited television series.
Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the
joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky
relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker.
When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to
the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the
intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters
whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the
plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London,
exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover
herself… and ultimately find love.

My Thoughts:
I first want to say how excited I am to be apart of the book tour for Sanditon. I enjoyed reading the book, rereading (multiple times) the original chapters Jane Austen wrote, The World of Sanditon by Sara Sheridan, and watching the PBS Masterpiece series Sanditon.
The original writing of Sanditon by Jane Austen is twelve chapters. She began writing in January 1817, and stopped writing March 18, 1817. She died July 18, 1817. The manuscript she wrote was not only unfinished, but had not shown enough material to understand the full direction she intended the story to take. It is a guess. She was sick during the writing. Health is a theme in the original manuscript. The book presents Austen’s first character of another race. She is described in the original writing as a West Indian heiress in poor health. The story shows a modern attitude that previous writings did not. However, Jane Austen did not finish the story, and it’s only a guess about how we think the book would progress and end.
I consider the original writing of Jane Austen’s Sanditon, as an outline for the tv adaption and book. In the book by Kate Riordan, it does not follow the exact manuscript of Austen’s. Austen’s has been used as an outline. And this current book is an adaption. I was constantly aware during the reading of the current book of the differences between what had been written by Austen and the changes in the new book. I had to finally place that developing attitude aside and enjoy the adaption.
The story begins in 1819. The main character is Charlotte Heywood. She is the oldest child in a large family. She is in her late teens. They are country people. Charlotte is a personality that I cherish. She is responsible, kind, quick to help others, observant, and a bit restless for adventure. A chance encounter gives her an opportunity to leave the home and area she’d known, and experience another type of life. Through her eyes, I too experienced the adventure. She has another character trait: speaking her mind. At times, this causes people to be offended. But, I believe this makes her well-rounded, imperfect, and believable. Characters shouldn’t be too perfect!
Other characters have sharp contrasts to the likable Charlotte. They are the wealthy Lady Denham. She also speaks her mind. Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. Both of them are calculating.
Other characters like the Parker family are the benefactor of Charlotte’s travel and lodging during her visit to Sanditon. Sidney Parker is the person who Charlotte either likes or dislikes depending on their conversations. He perplexes her.
Georgiana Lambe is the wealthy West Indian heiress. She is another favorite character.
Primarily because she seems sad and I want her to be happy.
The story is strong in characters that leap off the pages and that is a plus for me.
I especially enjoyed reading the thoughts behind the characters that the tv adaption does not reveal.
I love the developing story that showed me the plight of several characters. Health is not a big plot like in the original Austen manuscript. Money and status is a big theme.
The conflicts in the story are conflicts that people of any era relate. For example, betrayal and ambition.
The book ends with the wish (on my part) for more of the story. 

Feature on The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Volume III by Collins Hemingway

TMOMJA_Blog Tour PosterThe Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume III Cover

Publisher and Publication Date: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. November 4, 2017.
Genre: Fiction. Jane Austen spinoff series.
Pages: 338.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Regency readers. Readers of Jane Austen novels.

My review will be posted at a later date.

Amazon link Kindle Unlimited is free.

Landing page for the book tour at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Summary:
The Stunning Finale to Jane Austen’s Saga
In the moving conclusion to The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Jane and her husband struggle with the serious illness of their son, confront a bitter relationship with the aristocratic family who were once their friends and face the horrific prospect of war when the British Army falters on the continent. The momentous events of the Napoleonic wars and the agonizing trials of their personal lives take Jane and Ashton to a decision that will decide their fate—and her future—once and for all.

Praise for The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Series:
“Hemingway again displays his notable ability to recreate time and place, moving on from the heady days of Jane Austen’s early love to a marriage beset by difficulties and a country at war. Hemingway … vividly and authentically portrays the times. … [T]his is a lively, compelling read, [a] sobering but moving finale to Hemingway’s successful trilogy.”—BlueInk Review
“Immensely satisfying … Marriage is lively, compelling, and fun. … [Her] relationship with her husband Ashton still sparkles. Marriage is a lovely ode to their connection. … Hemingway has combined Austen’s humanity with her fiction and created a Jane that lives and breathes on the page. Audiences will want her to be real… It offers a wonderful, imagined alternate life for the well-loved author.” —Claire Foster, Foreword Review
“Enjoyable … an imaginative, well-researched series.” —Kirkus Reviews

03_Collins Hemingway
About the Author:
Collins’ passion for literature, history, and science enable him to create complete, sharply drawn fictional characters fully engaged in their complex and often dangerous worlds. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding respect for courage in the face of adversity.
As a nonfiction book author, Collins has investigated topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he co-authored with Bill Gates, he tackles challenging topics with clarity and insight, writing for the intelligent but nontechnical reader.
Born and raised in Arkansas, Collins has lived most of his adult life in the American Northwest, with a career that has spanned writing, high tech, and aviation. He has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Arkansas, Phi Beta Kappa; a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Oregon; and numerous technical certifications in computer technology.
For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Giveaway:
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on January 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.
Direct link to the giveaway: https://gleam.io/MBkaq/the-marriage-of-miss-jane-austen-vol-iii

(Review) The Watsons by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen

The Watsons FINAL

Publisher and Publication Date: Wooster Publishing. October 10, 2019.
Genre: Austenesque, Historical Fiction.
Pages: 256.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Jane Austen readers.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon (paperback) link
Amazon (kindle) link

Goodreads link

Rose Servitova headshot
Author Info:
Irish author Rose Servitova is an award-winning humor writer, event manager,
and job coach for people with special needs. Her debut novel, The Longbourn
LettersThe Correspondence between Mr. Collins and Mr. Bennet, described as a
‘literary triumph’, has received international acclaim since its publication in 2017.
Rose enjoys talking at literary events, drinking tea and walking on Irish country
roads. She lives in County Limerick with her husband, two young children and
three indifferent cats. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

EARLY PRAISE:
“A gift for Austen fans everywhere – full of wit, informed imagination and palpable
affection for Austen’s characters.” — Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen
Society
“Very satisfying, sometimes moving and often laugh-out-loud hilarious.” — Jane
Austen Regency World Magazine

The Watsons Blog Tour banner final

Summary:
Can she honour her family and stay true to herself?
Emma Watson returns to her family home after fourteen years with her wealthy
and indulgent aunt. Now more refined than her siblings, Emma is shocked by her
sisters’ flagrant and desperate attempts to ensnare a husband. To the surprise of
the neighbourhood, Emma immediately attracts the attention of eligible suitors –
notably the socially awkward Lord Osborne, heir to Osborne Castle – who could
provide her with a home and high status if she is left with neither after her father’s
death. Soon Emma finds herself navigating a world of unfamiliar social mores,
making missteps that could affect the rest of her life. How can she make amends
for the wrongs she is seen to have committed without betraying her own sense of
what is right?
Jane Austen commenced writing The Watsons over two hundred years ago,
putting it aside unfinished, never to return and complete it. Now, Rose Servitova,
author of acclaimed humour title, The Longbourn Letters: The Correspondence
between Mr. Collins and Mr. Bennet has finished Austen’s manuscript in a manner
true to Austen’s style and wit.

My Thoughts:
I love the character Emma. On her return home, Emma has no idea what her family is really like. She has no idea how they view her, because she’s lived apart from them and is now expected to blend back in with the family. She has a strong personality, yet she is amiable. Her strengths will be utilized throughout the story. Her ability to stand her ground when other people in the family pressure her to act. Emma is a character I admire. Emma is in sharp contrast with other personalities in the story. She shines brilliantly!
Dialogue is a strong element in The Watson’s. Whether the conversation is about gossip or information shared between confidantes.
Judging or forming an opinion is a theme. However, first impressions are not always what can be counted on as truth. People assume something and it’s not correct. Behind the story of The Watson’s is a teaching element based on the judging theme. I love stories that hold something for me to learn.
Other strengths in The Watson’s:
•Solid story portraying the culture and standards of this era.
•The bond of sisters.
•The struggle to make a right decision, yet be true to self.
•People who should be counted on as having a high standard of character fall flat.
•A steady pacing of the story.

Over-all I love The Watson’s. I became swept up in the story from the first page!

THE WATSONS BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:
November 18 My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)
November 18 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)
November 19 The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)
November 20 Austenesque Reviews (Review)
November 20 vvb32 Reads (Review)
November 21 All Things Austen (Review)
November 22 My Love for Jane Austen (Spotlight)
November 25 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
November 25 Diary of an Eccentric (Interview)
November 26 So Little Time… (Excerpt)
November 27 Impressions in Ink (Review)
November 27 Babblings of a Bookworm (Spotlight)
November 28 More Agreeably Engaged (Review)
November 29 My Vices and Weaknesses (Excerpt)
November 29 The Fiction Addiction (Review)