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The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World



Margaret C. Sullivan
Quirk Books

For "Janeites" avoiding Austen Anonymous intervention, 17 bucks for this clever piece from Quirk Books couldn't be better spent.

Charmingly designed, the pale-blue guide is thick, its text attractively interspersed with quotations and drawings. Whirling through daily and social life of Jane Austen's Regency England, the how-to offers advice on proper behavior for readers tapping their inner Elizabeth Bennet or Elinor Dashwood.

From "making love" (not what it means today, you dirty-minded!) to declining unwanted proposals, marrying off your daughters and surviving medical attention, Sullivan delivers. She even includes such pertinent instructions as how to make a filigree basket, and how to fit a long letter onto one sheet of paper (just don't send such a thing to your boyfriend or girlfriend "? scandalous!).

A bibliography of film adaptations encourages fans to keep feeding their fancy, and a brief Austen bio and intriguing interspersed tidbits about her tease the reader to find out more. (Ahem: Austen probably went commando.)

While you're chewing on that, sure, this how-to might be unnecessary, even silly, but it charms, anyway, as it cheerfully explains middle- and upper-crust life in Austen's works, pretension-free. Dull history books, take that.

"?Emily Jerman

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