Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What I've Read Recently

What I've Read Recently . . .

A Dance With Jane Austen: How a Novelist and her Characters went to the Ball by Susannah Fullerton -- Austenesque non-fiction

This short, full-color book uses anecdotes from Jane Austen's novels, letters and other period resources to explain everything about going to a ball from the dance steps to the clothing, the etiquette, and music and much more. This is a very nice book and I learned a few things about dance in the Regency era. I especially liked the use of period images contemporary to Jane Austen's lifetime. There's an extensive bibliography in the back that leads to more resources including blogs and websites. This is a nice little book for a beginning Janeite who wants to know more about the history behind the dances in her novels.

A Rambling Fancy : In the Footsteps of Jane Austen by Caroline Sanderson

This unusual travel narrative does not provide directions to Jane Austen's homes and haunts, but rather chronicles one woman's thoughts as she travels in the footsteps of Jane Austen. The author claims her purpose is to portray Jane Austen as a contemporary- someone who is still relevant in the modern world. I'm not sure she quite achieves her purpose. She rambles a lot, as the title suggests, about Jane Austen's life, sometimes making controversial statements and provoking purposely. This is largely a biography with a lot of suppositions about how Jane Austen felt while at that particular location. It's more biography than travel. The author visits some interesting obscure places as well as metropolitan London, Chawton, and the usual places in search of Jane Austen. This is an interesting concept for a book but it reads more like a series of blog posts rather than a book. It might be useful for someone living in England who wants to find Jane Austen but for everyone else, it's largely useful for the biographical material. I wouldn't buy this book but if your local library carries it, it's worth a perusal.

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