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Jane Austen News - Issue 158

What's the Jane Austen News this week?


'Such Fun' With Colin Firth 
The popular British comedian Miranda Hart did something many of us can only dream of doing; she got to cuddle up with a copy of Pride and Prejudice, by a roaring fire, alongside Mr Darcy himself - Colin Firth! The video below in which Miranda gets very cosy with Mr Firth, appeared in a Red Nose Day charity segment, which saw her take on a different challenge every day for the last month. [embed]https://youtu.be/ggycQkpO_N4[/embed] The idea was spawned from her book Miranda’s Daily Dose of Such Fun!, which offers 365 ideas of small activities that can help brighten up each day, while also helping to spread joy to others.

If Persuasion Is Your Favourite Novel... 
As self-confessed book worms, we love finding new book recommendations, especially those which are based upon above of Jane Austen. This means that we were delighted to come across a novel in the online magazine Bustle which recommended readers to their next must-read based on which of Jane Austen's novels is the one they love most. The following three recommendations from Kristian Wilson were our favourites: If Your Favourite Jane Austen Novel Is 'Sense & Sensibility,' Read 'Grace After Henry' by Eithne Shortall

Sense & Sensibility is a novel about second loves and the power of sisterhood. If it's your favorite Jane Austen novel, you've got to read Eithne Shortall's Grace After Henry. This much-lauded Irish novel tells the story of a widow who, several months after the death of her partner, Henry, meets a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to him. Readers who loved Sense & Sensibility's inquiries into the possibility of loving twice will fall head over heels for this book.

If Your Favourite Jane Austen Novel Is 'Pride & Prejudice,' Read 'The Bride Test' by Helen Hoang We read Pride & Prejudice for the angst of Elizabeth and Darcy's romance, which includes love, loathing, and a lot of meddling. Helen Hoang's The Bride Test, out on May 7, centers on Khai, an unmarried, autistic man, is mortified that his mother, Cô Nga, has become so desperate to find him a wife that she would pay for Esme, a young, single mother, to travel to America from Vietnam just to meet him. Readers who appreciate Darcy's awkwardness will find much to love in this follow-up to The Kiss Quotient. If Your Favourite Jane Austen Novel Is 'Persuasion,' Read 'Bowlaway' by Elizabeth McCracken Persuasion centers on a family, the Elliots of Kellynch Hall, who have fallen on hard times and must let out their country home in order to make ends meet. Similarly, Elizabeth McCracken's Bowlaway tracks the quirks of a family whose lives and livelihoods become defined by a candlepin bowling alley, which itself lies at the center of an inheritance dispute. If you love the family saga-like structure of Persuasion, you're going to hold this novel just as dear.

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These were our three favourite recommendations, but if you wanted to read more about the book recommended for Northanger Abbey fans (The Lost Night), for Mansfield Park fans (The Dragonfly Sea), or for Emma fans (The Matchmaker's List), they can be found in Wilson's article here.

Writers' Innermost Thoughts Revealed In Secret Notebook 

Ten prominent English writers answered a 39-question survey detailing their opinions of literary predecessors and peers. In 1923, an anonymous individual created a 39-question survey of provocative questions ranging from most overrated living English writer to the greatest literary genius to ever live. Over the next several years, a journal detailing these questions circulated amongst some of 20th-century England’s most prominent literary figures, including Virginia Woolf, Margaret Kennedy, Rebecca West, Stella Benson, Hilaire Belloc and Rose Macaulay. These writers' confessions, shielded from prying eyes with sellotape and wax, remained unseen for nearly a century. But the yellowing notebook in which the ten responses were recorded and recently resurfaced thanks to Literary executor William Mackesy, who discovered the revealing book while sorting the works of his grandmother, the novelist Margaret Kennedy. The journal, fittingly titled Really and Truly: A Book of Literary Confessions, and, aside from almost unanimously declaring Shakespeare the greatest literary genius of all time (Belloc opted for Homer, while Macaulay failed to respond), the 10 sets of answers offer little critical consensus. Frequently cited writers include James Boswell, a Scotsman whose biography of Samuel Johnson topped respondents’ choice of best biography; Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure author Thomas Hardy; Max Beerbohm, a humorist who was also singled out as best prose writer, essayist and critic; Plato; and (most pleasingly to us!) Jane Austen. What a find! You can read more about the notebook and it's revelations here.

This Week's Recommended Read  We may have already had some book recommendations in the Jane Austen News this week already, but nevertheless, we have another for you. After all, you can never have too many books! Our recommendation this week is Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley. Hadley writes about the middle classes, and turns out, as the description on the back words it - ‘the quintessential domestic novel’. As one reviewer rightly said, "Those who are put off by this description miss out on a vast range of female authors, from Jane Austen to Anne Tyler." As such, this description only recommended the book to us more! Late in the Day, is about a couple, Alexandr and Christine, who have had 30 years of marriage. This long marriage needs to encompass change: "Since that beginning, they had both changed their skins so often. Marriage simply meant that you hung on to each other through the succession of metamorphoses. Or failed to."
The Synopsis: Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been close friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia. Zach is dead. In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach was the sanest and kindest of them all, the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose. Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine. But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.
Late in the Day explores the tangled webs at the centre of our most intimate relationships, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jane Austen Day with Charlotte Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine. Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and Jane Austen news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop

1 comment

Why isn’t there a link to the JA quiz in every issue? It is nigh impossible to find without the link.

harriet.simons July 26, 2020

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