Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan

Pages: 224
Pub. Date: March 8, 2011
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Long before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Quirk published this guide to life in Regency England to the delight of Austen fans everywhere. Newly published with a revised cover, The Jane Austen Handbook offers step-by-step instructions for proper comportment in the early 19th century. Full of practical directions for navigating the travails of Regency life, this charming illustrated book also serves as a companion for present-day readers, explaining the English class system, currency, dress, and the nuances of graceful living."

Have you ever wanted to know the rules of proper life during Regency England? If you are like me, you've read Jane Austen's novels, you watched all the movies, but some things left you perplexed and wanting to know more about the time period.  The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan is the perfect companion to Jane Austen's novels as it is full of interesting information and to top it off, it had me laughing out loud as well.   

There are four sections to the book, which are broken up by topic and each topic asks some questions that all Austen fans I'm sure are dying to know.  For example, "How to become an accomplished lady, how to plan a dinner party, how a lady might earn a living (if necessary), how to get him back if you have quarreled and how to avoid dancing with an undesirable partner."  Sullivan gives the readers answers as if we are ladies of Regency England and some of the answers were filled with witty humor.  The topics even include Austen tie-ins, like the section on money also explains how Darcy got his riches and how much that would be today and when discussing how to treat the sick, Sullivan includes my favorite tie-in on Austen's hypochondriacs.  

This book is the perfect coffee table book for fans of Austen.  It includes beautiful illustrations as well.  As I was reading this handbook, I thought that it would be an ideal fit for a Jane Austen book club as this answers many of the questions that I am sure would arise if Austen virgins were exposed to Regency England for the first time.

This handbook also includes a short biography on Ms. Austen as well as a write up of her novels, contemporary Austen, film adaptions as well as retellings.  I found this part of the handbook to be especially interesting as I am always looking for a film adaption that I may have missed. 

For fans of Jane Austen, I highly recommend The Jane Austen Handbook when it comes out this March.  It would be the perfect gift for any Janeite's collection.  

*Check out the author's blog, Austenblog

*Thank you to Eric at Quirk Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Ohhh fun! This sounds like it would have all sorts of interesting tidbits in it and I'm glad to hear they're presented in a humorous way so as to be entertaining in addition to being informative:) Thanks for this review Christina, I had no idea this was out there!

  2. Oh how fun! I want it! It sounds deliciously clever ;)

  3. This sounds like a perfect gift for me and for my best friend. We are huge fans of Austen and this sounds so good. Great review. :)

  4. Jenny- It definitely had some funny and interesting tidbits. It had my laughing out loud!

    Juju- I love that....deliciously are so right!

    Nina- This book would be the perfect gift! I hope you get your hands on a copy.

    Thanks for the comments, guys!

  5. How cool is that! This book sounds great! A perfect companion for Jane's fans! Thanks for the review, I haven't heard of it!


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