Austenesque · mini-review · stuff I read

The Jane Austen Writers’ Club: Inspiration and Advice from the World’s Best-loved Novelist by Rebecca Smith

28260537Summary from Goodreads:
Jane Austen is one of the most beloved writers in the English literary canon. Her novels changed the landscape of fiction forever, and her writing remains as fresh, entertaining and witty as the day her books were first published. Now, with this illuminating and entertaining new book, you can learn Jane Austen’s methods, tips and tricks – and how to live well as a writer. Filled with useful exercises, beautiful illustrations and illuminating quotations from the great author’s novels and letters, The Jane Austen Writers’ Club explores the techniques of plotting and characterisation, through to dialogue and suspense. Whether you’re a creative writing enthusiast looking to publish your first novel, a teacher searching for further inspiration for students, or an Austen fan looking for insight into her daily rituals, this is an essential companion, guaranteed to satisfy, inform and delight all.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the Jane Austen Writers’ Club (I acquired it in a book exchange at Book Riot Live in 2016 and it had “Jane Austen” in the title, ok? Lol forever) but I was on a Jane Austen tear so I just went with it. This is a nice little book about writing and craft that takes its cues from Austen’s work and written by an Austen descendant who is herself a published author. It was fun to revisit key scenes (or minor ones, in some cases) using a writer’s eye for analysis. I didn’t try any of the writing exercises but there are MANY to attempt later.

Dear FTC: I read My Own Damn copy of this book.

Advertisements
Austenesque · mini-review · stuff I read

The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She Works in Hollywood by Paula Byrne

32497929Summary from Goodreads:
Perfect for fans of Jane Austen, this updated edition of Paula Byrne’s debut book includes new material that explores the history of Austen stage adaptations, why her books work so well on screen, and what that reveals about one of the world’s most beloved authors.

Originally published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2003 as Jane Austen and the Theatre, Paula Byrne’s first book was never made widely available in the US and is out of print today. An exploration of Austen’s passion for the stage—she acted in amateur productions, frequently attended the theatre, and even scripted several early works in play form—it took a nuanced look at how powerfully her stories were influenced by theatrical comedy.

This updated edition features an introduction and a brand new chapter that delves into the long and lucrative history of Austen adaptations. The film world’s love affair with Austen spans decades, from A.A. Milne’s “Elizabeth Bennet,” performed over the radio in 1944 to raise morale, to this year’s Love and Friendship. Austen’s work has proven so abidingly popular that these movies are more easily identifiable by lead actor than by title: the Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility, the Carey Mulligan Northanger Abbey, the Laurence Olivier Pride and Prejudice. Byrne even takes a captivating detour into a multitude of successful spin-offs, including the phenomenally brilliant Clueless. And along the way, she overturns the notion of Jane Austen as a genteel, prim country mouse, demonstrating that Jane’s enduring popularity in film, TV, and theater points to a woman of wild comedy and outrageous behavior.

For lovers of everything Jane Austen, as well as for a new generation discovering her for the first time, The Genius of Jane Austen demonstrates why this beloved author still resonates with readers and movie audiences today.

Oooh, a book about Jane Austen and theatre and adaptations?  Yes, please!

The first two-thirds of Byrne’s new edition, retitled The Genius of Jane Austen, are excellent overviews of the Georgian theatre and playwriting during Austen’s lifetime and her opinion of play-going as reflected in her letters (tl;dr: she liked the theatre and had decided opinions on actors).  Even plays that Austen read as a child were reflected in the juvenilia and the plays she wrote to be performed by the family as entertainments. Byrne starts to fall off in examining the influence of theatre on the novels – two chapters examine Mansfield Park (which with it’s home theatre scenes shows the heaviest theatre influence), one each for Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma, and none for Persuasion or Northanger Abbey. There is a nice chapter about Austen adaptations on the big screen (and small) that was added for the new edition but there wasn’t a good conclusion or final chapter to the book.

Dear FTC: I bought my own copy.