Author(s): Margaret Sullivan
The Jane Austen Handbook is an elegant, literary extension of Quirk's very successful handbook series. This charmingly illustrated book not only provides step-by-step instructions for navigating the travails of Regency manners, it also acts as a companion to present-day readers and filmgoers, explaining the ins and outs of the class system, currency, dress, and nuances of graceful living.
"What Would Jane Do?" No need to guess if teens have this handbook at their side. They will easily navigate the ins and outs of how genteel folk were expected to act in Regency society. Sullivan explains Austen's world and the everyday activities of its inhabitants with a gentle humor that makes their actions clear and, sometimes, even fun. Some of the activities described are outrageous for today's sensibilities, such as the idea of recruiting an actual hermit to live in your estate's hermitage "for full realism." On the other hand, "Country hospitality allows travelers to drop in and request a tour of any grand estate" is one some readers may wish was still allowed. Not all of the social hints are outdated; most of the rules on "How to Be a Good Correspondent" and those on planning a menu--"Consider what is available in the current season and what kind of food can be obtained locally, and choose your dishes accordingly"--are good contemporary advice. A valuable companion to Austen's novels. --School Library Journal