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Monday, August 19, 2019

Karen M. Cox interviews Northanger Abbey's Catherine Morland!

Welcome to today’s event for Austen in August! I’m Karen M Cox, author of novels brushed with history and romance. I love writing Austen-inspired stories and flipping them into different times and places, so today, I have the privilege of introducing you to one of Austen’s charming leading ladies, updated for the 21st Century.
Is it Elizabeth Bennet? No, not THAT famous leading lady.
Is it Emma Woodhouse? No, she isn’t all that charming (just kidding, Emma fans—of which I am one—Emma can be quite charming when she applies herself.)
No, today we’re interviewing a modern version of Northanger Abbey’s young ingenue: the enchanting, romantic, darling, sweet, funny, headstrong—and, let’s face it, sometimes frustrating…

Catherine Morland

Our modern Catherine is U.S. college student, double-majoring in history and English literature. She likes historical romance novels, walks on the beach, and handsome, witty young men with avaricious fathers...

Karen: Welcome, Catherine!

Catherine: Thanks for having me on Austen in August! Wow!

Friday, August 16, 2019

GIVEAWAY: Austen in August Mega Prize Pack #3!!

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We're two full weeks down in Austen in August (how is this month going so fast?!), but we're into the third weekend, which means we've got our third Mega Prize Package up for grabs! This prize pack is, well, packed once again with a slew of books from our Austeneque authors!

In fact, this prize pack is the prize pack prize pack.
I promise I'll stop saying "prize pack," but this one is crammed with duos & trios from this year's amazing group of authors!

Click through to see what's up for grabs, and enter to win!

And don't forget to enter to win our other two mega prize packs, featuring 22 books plus swag, in total!


Assignment Austen #3: Finally.

So far this Austen in August, I've given you two homework assignments and a challenge, because I am a harsh task-mistress. And in keeping with that, below you'll find your third assignment (which, hey, fulfills one of the tasks in the challenge!).

This week, I want you to finally sit down and watch one of the Austen adaptations you've been meaning to, but haven't yet. This might be a hard one for some of you, being such devoted Janeites that you've seen everything. Every BBC version? Been there, done that (twice). Clueless and Bollywood and Scents & Sensibility? Yeah, you've been there. But I'll be there's something out there you haven't seen. (May I suggest youtube?)

For the rest of us, I'm sure there's a whole laundry list of adaptations you've been meaning to spend some time with.
Maybe it's the old black and white versions, because you get stuck in the current times (or current versions, because you're stuck in the past).
Maybe it's a different version of a favorite book, because you keep watching the same version of Sense & Sensibility over and over again, because it's so good (and you don't even know, because you haven't watched it, that there's another one that's even better).
Maybe you don't even know what's out there, and you need to spend some time googling and finding the period piece of your dreams. . .

Whatever it is, find an Austen movie you haven't seen yet, track down a copy, and finally watch it this weekend — and then let us know what you think!

As for me, since I've already gone traditional for two weeks, this week I'm going to watch a modern version I haven't watched yet: Scents & Sensibility. Is it going to be awful? Possibly. Am I going to love it anyway? Most definitely.

If you want to watch it with me, I'll be watching & live-tweeting the experience on Saturday night at 8:30pm EST, and you can join me with the hashtag #AustenInAugust on Twitter!
It's available for free viewing if you have Amazon Prime, and though I haven't checked, I feel fairly certain someone has uploaded it to youtube as well, because that's how these things go...
Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Austenesque Anticipation... | A Janeite Conversation

Before we get into the second of today's posts, I just want to take a moment to say: you guys are killing it this year! The insight I've seen shared in the comments and on Twitter over the last two weeks is seriously blowing my mind — so many of you have made me think of scenes or characters in a new way, or added something to my understanding of Austen!

And I hope to continue that trend with today's Janeite Convo, were we're taking a look at one of my favorite things in all of reading, but especially in all of Austen: scene anticipation.

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I think one of my favorite things about reading (and rereading) Austen is the anticipation of certain scenes and events. Sometimes it's even minor things, a single line, that sets my little heart a-flutterin' pages in advance. What are those scenes for you (especially beyond the classics, like proposals)?

JESSICA: Anne seeing Wentworth the first time. Obviously Wentworth's letter is the best ever but I love how that scene is mostly just Anne's internal monologue. As the reader, we don't even really "see" Wentworth, just Anne's reactions to being in the same room and her pep talks to herself. I don't know why, but I love it so much! And when I did a Persuasion adaptation that's what I started with and it was as fun to write as I'd hoped!
DEBORAH: Sorry to be predictable, but the one that always gets me is The Letter in Persuasion. Every time Captain Wentworth returns to the room in the White Hart and places his letter in front of Anne “with eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her,” I feel my pulse speed up.

If Austen Adaptations Were Diverse... guest post from Kerri

We've had some Austenesque dream-casting discussions here on Austen in August before, but today's guest post from Kerri (aka The Book Belle) takes Austen adaptation casting in a direction it sadly hasn't gone, and desperately needs to. After all, Jane is a writer of the people, beloved the whole world over. You can find Kerri on her blog or booktube channel, but before you jet off to internet-stalk her, click through to see who she would choose for some diverse Austen adaptation casting, and to share your picks in the comments!

The recent casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in the new live action Little Mermaid got me thinking. What if we recast Austen's characters with POC actors? It's no secret that all of her adaptations are very white, so let's bring them into the 21st century and imagine a more diverse casting!
Now, I can't recast every character or we'd be here all day (though I'd love to, tbh), so I decided I'd just recast the main couples in each of Austen's books. So without further ado, let's get this party started!

Pride and Prejudice

Yaya DaCosta attends the 2019  Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards LuncheonFox has cast
Inspired by Pride by Ibi Zoboi, I decided to cast Yaya Dacosta (Afro-Brazilian) as Elizabeth and Jessie T Usher (Black) as Darcy. You can't tell me that the look Yaya is serving isn't 100% Elizabeth.
Danilo Carrera
For everyone's favorite sweet beans that must be protected at all costs, I've cast Tessa Thompson (also Afro-Panamanian) as Jane and Danilo Carrera (Mexican) as Bingley.

[Side note from Misty: I'm here for Tessa Thompson all-the-things, but I especially love the idea of her as Jane, of all the characters! I'd like to see her sweet side.]

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Emma (1996): a Review in a Million Parts

As you probably know, the "homework" for this past weekend was to spend some time getting reacquainted with your first Austen — and though my first Austen is debatable, the one that stands out, that I remember as being most definitely my first knowing brush with Austen, is the Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam -starring Emma of the mid-nineties. (This was not the only Emma of the mid-90s, mind you. Or even the only Emma of 1996. Who was in charge of planning the 90s, because I would like to speak to them?)

ANYWAY, this weekend, I sat down to watch this long-standing favorite that I haven't seen in the better part of two decades, to see if it stood the test of time. What followed was a long, enthusiastic twitter chat, the highlights of which I'm going to share with you below. If you'd like to see the whole thing in all its somewhat snarky glory, you can find that here. Otherwise, click through, see what I had to say, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

"The British Amazons" from Maria Grace

Hello, my fierce, bow-wielding Janeites! Today brings us the second in a series from Maria Grace that takes a closer look at the place of archery, particularly for women, in Regency times. You can find the first part here. And of course, don't forget to check out Maria's answers in this year's Janeite Conversations, and her contributions to this year's giveaways!

The British Amazons

British Amazons? In the Regency? Not possible--or was it?

In 1781 Sir Ashton Lever and Thomas Waring formed the influential Toxophilite Society in London. The organization was dedicated to the sport of archery and to socializing. The society would later gain royal patronage in 1787 with the attention of the Prince Regent (ultimately King George IV), becoming the Royal Toxophilite society, which still exists today.

From the Manchester Art Gallery. Button from the Royal British Bowmen society.
 The success of this society inspired the development of other archery organizations throughout England.  Initially, the societies were male-only clubs.  Some permitted female guests of members to visit to shoot. One thing led to another and soon many had female members. In 1787, the Royal British Bowmen became the first archery society to allow women as full members. Interestingly, the Royal Bowmen had a reputation for being one of the most serious archery clubs of the period. They saw archery was a sport to be mastered, not an excuse to party.

Other societies were a bit less serious and more social. The clubs, like modern leisure organizations, had their own rules, and uniforms, and often used their common interest as an excuse to throw lavish parties and socialize among their peers. (Since club dues, uniforms, and equipment were expensive, the lower orders were effectively barred admission.) “In 1787, ‘several young ladies’ who shot with the Royal British Bowmen were said to have ‘added to their conquests the hearts of young gentlemen of honor and fortune’ and thus the society was responsible for the marriage of ‘not a few happy couples’.” (Johnes, 2004)

(Pride and Prejudice fans may find it interesting to note that in the late 1700’s Hertfordshire had an archery club that did admit women. Derbyshire had a club as well, but it is not clear whether or not it included ladies.)

Real British Amazons

“Female archers in Lewisham even organized a club of their own in 1788, called The British Amazons, the name referring to the mythic female archer-warriors of antiquity, mentioned by Homer in ancient Greece. A news-cutting from 1789 refers to:
The elegant and beauteous assemblage of Ladies Archers established last Summer at Blackheath under the name BRITISH AMAZONS, on Saturday last gave a splendid sup­per and Ball to a Society of Gentlemen who practice the science in the vicinity.
Not much is known about The British Amazons as they have no preserved records or regulations.” The society seems have been connected to The Kentish Bowmen. (Arnstad, 2019) I have to imagine some really fascinating women belonged to this group!

If you want to read more details, on these archery societies, this paper might be interesting.

Find references HERE

Read more about Regency era archery HERE
Discover more about Regency era amusements HERE

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Jane Austen's Best Insults

Is it any surprise that Jane Austen is a master of the insult, the zinger, the perfect one-liner? After all, this is a woman who said of herself:
"I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal."

A post shared by Misty (@bookishmisty) on

A few nights ago, in my twitter chat Emma viewing, I said that one of the things I always tell people who haven't read Austen is that Jane Austen is FUNNY! There are many, many reasons why Jane is hilarious; truly, they are legion. But one of them — one of the best of them — is that she is damn good at an insult. Some of her insults are deliciously subtle (like Mr Collins' statement to Lizzie, "I have the highest opinion in the world of your excellent judgment in all matters within the scope of your understanding," made all the more hilarious because it's Mr Collins), and some are more overt, throwing-a-fit type insults ("Obstinate, headstrong girl!"). And of course, some of the most pivotal scenes in her books are based around insulting and being insulted (Hello, Darcy's entire proposal and also existence).

So collected here are some of my favorites, but before I get into them, this post was inspired by the following tweet, which is such the perfectly subtle Austen insult that I feel like a lot of readers miss it, or (like me, originally), think there's no way that's what she meant, right? Right?
(Hint: she totally did.)

Now, onto some of my faves! (There are truly so many!)

Austen's Best Heroes (for 2019) — guest post from Jennieke Cohen!

Today's post (likely, a controversial one) comes from Jennieke Cohen, whose debut novel, Dangerous Alliance, comes out this December. She's taken on the Herculean task of ranking Austen's men, not by who's the swooniest, or the handsomest, or the best at the quadrille, but by who best suits our modern sensabilities. Take a read through her reasoning below, and then let us know how much you agree or disagree and why, in the comments!

Greetings, Austenites!! I’m delighted to be taking part in Austen In August this year! Thanks, Misty, for having me and for letting me take on the question that Austen fans have debated for two hundred years: Who are Jane Austen’s best male characters??? No doubt EVERYONE has their own personal strong feelings on this subject, but I want to talk about who the best men are if we judge their personalities by 2019 standards. In this challenging, mixed-up, postmodern world of ours, I really think we ought to have some standards for judging the people we swoon over, so let’s pretend Austen’s men are magically transported into our time (and that they understand how everything works so they’re not wandering about staring at our modern conveniences as though they were magical) and see how they measure up. Here goes!

  1. Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey). He’s friendly, good at making conversation, likes to dance, has a sense of humor, and he actually thinks about other people’s feelings! Oh, yeah, and thanks to his sister, he understands how to buy muslin, so he’d be happy to help you on a shopping trip if you think that’d be fun. And best of all, even after realizing you’re naive and flawed, he’ll still defy his father to be with you. Not sure how you top that?!

  2. Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility). Yeah, he’s not flashy, but he’s the kind of upright guy who’ll take care of your kid if something happens to you, fight a jerk for your honor, and do whatever he can in your hour of need (including getting a friend of yours a job even if he’s never met them). And, he’ll even give you space when he thinks you need it. If those aren’t praiseworthy qualities, I’m not sure what are!

  3. Mr. Bingley (Pride and Prejudice). It might seem a bit controversial to put Bingley so high on this list, but he’s another friendly type who isn’t fake and likes to get along with everyone. He’ll throw a party just so he can spend time with you, won’t try to make life complicated, and be generous to your family members (even the annoying ones). Does his good nature mean he’s sometimes too easily influenced by his friends and family? Sure, but that doesn’t mean he won’t eventually learn to listen to his own inner monologue and make decisions for himself.

  4. Captain Wentworth (Persuasion). Can he hold a grudge for a long time? Maaaybe, but he’ll still make sure to get his family to drive you home if he sees you’re tired, talk up your abilities to others, and buy you your own car so you have some freedom. And really folks, he writes the best love letters! “I have loved none but you.” Swoon!

  5. Edmund Bertram (Mansfield Park). You might make the argument that Edmund is a bit boring when the landscape of Austen’s men includes Tilney and Darcy and Wentworth, but he’s kind and compassionate, so he’ll cheer you up when you’re feeling forlorn, find books you’ll like, and come up with some exercises to keep your mind off your sad situation. He’s also generally accepting of others (though sometimes of people you might not approve of). If it turns out he’s a little too ready to accept and/or be influenced by some people, he’ll eventually see them for who they really are, and, hey, nobody’s perfect!

  6. Mr. Knightley (Emma). Knightley’s another stand-up guy who’s generous, kind, will try to get along with everyone, and will treat your friends and family well. Will he take an interest in improving your character? Probably yes, if he’s known you since childhood, and he may seem a bit judgy, but hey, most of his judgements turn out to be pretty accurate (and helpful…if you listen to them).

  7. Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice). Full disclosure: I love Mr. Darcy as much as anyone, but he’s brooding, quiet, and just might think he’s better than you because your social standing doesn’t match his. Are these super desirable traits in 2019? Not so much. Thus, his ranking here. But Darcy is honest (though that might anger you if you’re anything like Elizabeth Bennet), he’ll go to great lengths to fix his mistakes when he realizes he’s made them, and he’ll be really nice and accommodating to your relatives if you show up on his doorstep unannounced. You may have to put up with some mood swings, but he’s honorable and caring—if you have the patience to peel back some of his layers.

  8. Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility). He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s not mercenary or class-conscious. He’s also really honorable, though probably not in a way you’ll understand. He’ll love your family, though he can rarely come to visit, and you may find yourself wondering why he just can’t tell you that thing that’s clearly on the tip of his tongue. Guess that’s why he’s at the bottom of the list. 🤷

So there you have it! My ranking of best Austen male personalities for 2019. Do you agree? Did I leave someone out? I’ve pointedly ignored the male antagonists for what I think are obvious reasons—if they were morally disagreeable two hundred years ago, I think there’s little hope for them today, but you may feel differently. Let the discussion commence! 😉

Jennieke Cohen, Dangerous Alliance, Austentacious Romance, Jane Austen, Jane Austen fanfiction, JAFF, Austen In August, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kuh CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke is the author of the Jane Austen-inspired YA historical novel DANGEROUS ALLIANCE, which will be releasing December 3, 2019 from HarperTeen. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. When not writing or researching little-known corners of history, you'll find her singing opera arias and show tunes, over-analyzing old movies, or discovering the best foodie spots in her native Northern California. Read more on Jennieke’s website www.JenniekeCohen.com or find her on Twitter or Instagram @Jennieke_Cohen

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!

Monday, August 12, 2019

GIVEAWAY + Guest Post: Military influences in Jane Austen, from Debra-Ann Kummoung!

This morning, I took a look at some more unusual Austen retellings I've read recently, two of which center on the Napoleonic Wars, using it to get the characters into place, so to speak, and playing up this everyday fact of life for Austen's characters. Today, Debra-Ann Kummoung has dropped in to do a bit more of a deep dive on the subject, as well as give you a chance to win a copy of her latest book, True Love Never Fails..., as well as her previous book, Falling for Elizabeth Bennet, AND two gift cards, for a total of four winners!
Click through to read the piece and enter to win!

Military Influences in Jane Austen’s Works.

In four of JA's six books, major and minor characters are in the military. What is interesting to me is that of the branches that JA speaks of, she decides to pursue the army over the navy. This is surprising that two of her brothers served in the navy and rose to the rank of Admiral. However, this could have been done on purpose. I’ll explain later.

The military members that JA represents in her books all happen to be officers. This means that in one way or another they were able to purchase their ranks (this was not something cheap to do) and officers were either the sons of peers or younger sons of wealthy men. While JA does not always give us specifics on all her military men, she does give us an array of interesting “gentlemen” to speak of.

UNUSUAL Austen Retellings!

I've been noticing more of a trend to push the envelope in newJane Austen retellings, so I thought I'd take a look at 3 I've read recently, and highlight a few more off the backlist that fit the bill.

Let me know your thoughts if you've read these or any other unusual JAFF, or if there are any on your radar!

All of the books mentioned are listed below (click through!), and just as a heads up: There will be a giveaway of both Mr Darcy's Enchantment and Conceit & Concealment going up soon, and there already is one for Pemberley: Mr Darcy's Dragon!

Both Conceit & Concealment and Unforgettable Mr Darcy should have trigger warnings for violence and possibly implied or overt sexual threats? (I don't remember for certain). UNFORGETTABLE centers around Darcy lying to an amnesiac Lizzie that they are married (which was his only way to protect her, given the place and time period, but it deserves mentioning).

And totally forgot to say that CONCEIT is an alternate history! in which the British are definitely NOT winning the Napoleonic war. So now you know. =D

Friday, August 9, 2019

GIVEAWAY: Austen in August Mega Prize Pack #2

The Austen Authors are back at it again, with the amazing giveaways!

For week 2 of Austen in August, we've got another Mega Prize Package, once again featuring 11 books from our generous crop of Austeneque authors!

Can I say crop? August is garden season, after all, and it is a mighty fine crop of authors. . .

ANYWAY, click through to see what's up for grabs, and enter to win!


GIVEAWAY: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner!

Earlier today, Natalie Jenner stopped by to share with us her absolute favorite "hidden" romantic moments in all of Austen — a list sure to set you to swooning. Now, the awesome folks at St. Martin's are giving you a chance to be one of the first ones to read her debut novel, The Jane Austen Society by winning this super early copy!
Click through to find out more about the book, and enter below!

St Martin's Press have offered up one ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Natalie Jenner's 2020 release, The Jane Austen Society, to one (1) lucky winner!
Open to US/CAN
Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter; full terms and conditions located in the Rafflecopter.
Ends September 5, 2019 at 11:59pm EST
Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Friday Five: My Favourite “Hidden” Romantic Moments, from Natalie Jenner

This morning, 2020 debut author Natalie Jenner is joining us to share her ultimate "hidden" romantic moments in Austen — those little, subtle incidents that lay thr groundwork for the characters' budding romances, and get us seasoned Janeites' butterflies a-flappin'. Click through to see if your favorite made the cut, and let us know your own personal list in the comments!
And make sure to stop back by later today for a chance at an advance copy of her book, The Jane Austen Society!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

MISUNDERSTOOD AUSTEN: A Janeite Conversation

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It's Thursday, so that means it's time for our next Janeite Conversation! This week, I gathered our lovely Austenesque authors round the ol' pianoforte, and we had a little chat about our misunderstandings and misconceptions.

 What are some things, no matter how minor, that you interpreted wrong when you first read Austen, that may have changed your perception of the story/characters/etc? (ie how truly wealthy certain characters are, the significance of things we'd consider minor nowadays, like letters and gifts that Mean Things in the 1800s, the importance of "bloodlines" or the place of trade, etc.)
MISTY: I've realized recently that there are a few images and significances I'd built up in my mind that colored the way I was interpreting things. It was JAFF that made me realize, actually — little elements I may have missed or misunderstood were highlighted in adaptations that made me rethink things. For example, I really underestimated how nice both the Gardiner's house and warehouses were likely to be. Also, that Cheapside was far from cheap! Who'd have guessed. I've had to drastically revise my mental image of that whole quadrant, and of the tasteful, homey slight-shabbiness I'd built up in my head.
ABIGAIL: I've given an entire hour-long lecture about things I originally misinterpreted about Austen over the years! Like most readers, I initially liked Mr. Bennet and thought he was funny, but now I think he was neglectful and verbally abusive.
MISTY: Yeah, you're not the only one.
ABIGAIL: For years I missed the fact that Jane Austen carefully set up the scene of Elizabeth's first meeting with Wickham so that Wickham is in a position to observe Darcy's face when he sees Elizabeth. Before that I'd always thought it was odd he was so interested in Elizabeth who really wasn't his type (he likes them young and stupid), but once I realized he knew from the beginning that Darcy was interested in her, it put a completely different light on his decision to charm her and pour his poison about Darcy into her ear. I'd thought that was pure coincidence until then.
MISTY: OH MY GOD, I never considered that Wickham knew from the beginning that Darcy liked her! I mean, I did figure he had the jump on Darcy as far as noticing him, but that's about as far as my brain went with it. Mind. Blown.

Assignment Austen #2: Firsts

Last week I gave you a mission, an assignment, if you will, to watch an Austen adaptation that was made in the 80s (like me!). This week, we're creeping forward in time (for me, and some of you), or backward in time (for others of you), or maybe stopping RIGHT NOW (for the rest) to finally rewatch (or just plain ol' watch) our first Austen movie.

You may remember it fondly. You may remember it not at all. Chances are, it was the thing that got you into Austen in the first place. But we all have a first time with Austen, or what we count as our first, and this weekend, the goal is to revisit those warm, fuzzy memories, and see if the film lives up to the nostalgia.
(Or, if you're a fledgling Janeite and have yet to dive into the world of  her films, it's time to pick one and finally commit!)

Why Does Mansfield Park End Like THAT? — guest post from Cara at Wilde Book Garden!

I'm seeing a bit of a mini-trend this year in how many people want to talk about — and defend — Mansfield Park, and I have to say: it's fascinating. MP has long been my least-favorite and least-read of Austen's works (which is not to say I dislike it... just that I like it less), but all of the discussions this year, in the posts and in the comments, are really making me reconsider the text and my own reactions to it, as well as making me want to read it again.

In keeping with that, today Cara from Wilde Book Garden is stopping by to talk about that ending, which many consider unsatisfying on one level or another, and how she thinks it was all a very calculated choice to be so.

See what she has to say below, and let us know your thoughts — agreements and disagreements! — in the comments!

You can subscribe to Cara's booktube channel here or follow her on Twitter here!

    And for more Mansfield Park content, may I point you in the direction of these posts:
    (click through for more)

    Wednesday, August 7, 2019

    GIVEAWAY: Maria Grace Audiobook Prize Pack!

    You'll find Maria Grace's books peppered throughout this year's massive Austen in August prize packs — and her words peppered throughout this year's Austen in August posts — but today we're focusing on two in particular — and giving you a chance to win them!

    Unpopular Opinions: Jane Austen Edition

    Earlier in the week, we had a post in AUSTEN IN AUGUST about controversial opinions, and I realized later that I had more to say.
    A lot more.
    Here are my thoughts on some Austen bits that may be fighting words to fellow Janeites. Let me know if you agree or disagree, and your own controversial or unpopular Austen opinions, in the comments!

    "What is a toxophilite?" — guest post from Maria Grace

    Every year for Austen in August, Maria Grace blesses us with a little learnin'; in addition to taking part in our Janeite Convos every year, she's taught us a bit about ice cream in the Regency era, told us just how bad Regency widows had it, and gave us a peek at marriage settlement contracts. She's even broke down the manipulations of Lady Susan, and made us think twice about the much-loved Mr Bennet. And more. So much more
    Today she's back with the first of a 3-part series on women and archery in Regency times. We've all marveled over the archery scenes in nearly every Austen adaptation, and pretended we were crack shots ourselves, right? No? Just me? Well then, anyway — click through to find out more about this fascinating Regency pastime, and make sure to stop back by later today, when you'll get a chance to win a prize pack of Maria's books!

    What is a toxophilite?

    Apparently we're not the only ones obsessed with our medieval past. Check out what it looked like in Jane Austen's day.

    As the Georgian period drew to a close, an increasing fascination with the medieval past led to a revival of the English archery tradition. (Sounds nothing like what we do today, does it? SCA friends, I’m looking at you!) The privileged gentry class, not required to work for their livings, had time to indulge in pastimes like sporting activities. And indulge they did.

    Tuesday, August 6, 2019

    I Watched Northanger Abbey (1986), and it was A TRIP.

    Alright, so you may remember that I gave myself the "homework" of watching an 80s adaptation of Austen over the weekend, and studious little girl that I am, I completed that homework on late Sunday night, just under the wire (of course). The movie I went with was the 1986 version ('87 on the BBC) of Northanger Abbey, which I find to by Austen's most delightful novel, second only to P&P. And lemme tell you, it was a trip. The score. The intense looks. The hair.
    I ended up livetweeting the experience, because I couldn't not, and now I thought I'd share my thoughts with you. Click through to experience it along with me, but be prepared: it was a wild ride. . .

    GIVEAWAY: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins!

    As mentioned earlier, today's Austen in August giveaway is for Jacqueline Firkins' Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, a contemporary YA retelling of Mansfield Park. Read on to learn more about the book, and enter to win! And make sure to check out this morning's post from Jacqueline, about why the world could use a few more Fanny Prices, rather than an excess of Elizabeth Bennets...
    And later this month, Jacqueline will be back to take on Henry Crawford, so keep an eye out for that — comments on both posts will earn you extra chances to win!

    Jacqueline Firkins, Hearts Strings and Other Breakable Things, Mansfield Park, Jane Austen, Austen in August, jane austen adaptations, young adult books, ya books, the book rat, book rat misty,

    Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
    by Jacqueline Firkins
    Contemporary YA adaptation of Mansfield Park, 384 pages
    Expected publication: December 17th 2019 by HMH Books for Young Readers
    In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

    Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

    But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there's Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there's Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

    Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone's heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn't hers.

    Jacqueline has offered up a chance to win a signed ARC of her debut, Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things, to one lucky Austen in August reader!
    Open to residents of US/CAN only
    Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.
    Giveaway runs through September 5th, 2019, at 11:59pm EST.
    Full terms in the Rafflecopter.

    Good luck!!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    about the author
    Jacqueline's a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. She's on the fulltime faculty in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia where she also takes any writing class they’ll let her into. When not obsessing about where to put the buttons or the commas, she can be found running by the ocean, eating excessive amounts of gluten, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending her dog understands every word she says.

    Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
    Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!

    Why The World Needs Another Fanny Price More Than It Needs Another Elizabeth Bennet — guest post from Jacqueline Firkins!

    Jacqueline Firkins, Hearts Strings and Other Breakable Things, Mansfield Park, Jane Austen, Austen in August, jane austen adaptations, young adult books, ya books, the book rat, book rat misty,
    Later today, you'll get a chance to get your hands on an early copy of Jacqueline Firkins' debut retelling of Mansfield Park, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, but this morning, Jacqueline has stopped by to give us a defense of everyone's favorite whipping-girl, Fanny Price.
    Click through to check it out and leave Jacqueline some love. And make sure to stop back later to enter the giveaway! And keep your eyes peeled, because Jacqueline will be back later this month to tackle everyone's favorite Austen bad boy...

    Why The World Needs Another Fanny Price
    More Than It Needs Another Elizabeth Bennet

    By Jacqueline Firkins, author of Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things (HMHTeen 12/17/19)

    I just Googled Pride and Prejudice retellings. Most lists for 2019 have about 12 titles. I’ve read 2 new releases this summer that aren’t on these lists, so I’m guessing the total number of novels currently in the re-P&P canon is in the thousands by now. I love Pride and Prejudice. It’s the ultimate enemies-to-lovers romance. The heroine’s the girl we all want to be. She’s strong-willed and speaks up for what she wants. She’s not afraid of shunning society’s expectations, a battle most women I know are still fighting. She drops perfectly timed one-liners that shut down her harshest critics. She amasses admiration from her friends, her family, the world’s hardest to impress man, and one irresistibly charming rake. She’s slightly less beautiful than her elder sister, a trait that somehow makes her relatable when she’s otherwise kind of perfect. Sure, she leaps to a hasty conclusion here and there, but we need a few obstacles to keep the pages turning. The love interest is a jerk at the beginning but by the end, he’s turning his entire life upside down to help the heroine. He also happens to be the richest man around, which even Lizzie admits, has its allure. It’s a pretty great fantasy, that whole “you’re more important than anything else in my life” idea. We could all use a guy like that. Though frankly I’d be glad to meet one who doesn’t feel the need to critique my dating profile or give me advice on subjects in which I hold advanced degrees.

    Monday, August 5, 2019


    Something I love — and that I haven't done in quite some time — is a picture identification game. So we're doing one! The goal is simple: take a look at the cropped pictures below and see if you can identify them: scene, characters, which book it's from, etc. Because there are Janeites at all levels of obsession in Austen in August, some of these are easier, and some harder, than others — but I'd bet some of you can guess each of these without a problem...

     But don't put your answers in the comments! I want everyone to be able to play, not just the first Janeite or two. You can check your answers here, and then let us know in the comments how many you guessed correctly!

    There's a good chance this will be the first in a series of such "games," so let me know in the comments if you want to see more!

    Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
    Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!

    GIVEAWAY of Rational Creatures + interview with audiobook narrator, Victoria Riley!

    You can catch Christina Boyd, Austenesque Editor Extraordinaire, in this year's Janeite Convos, but today she's stopped by to have a chat with the narrator of the audiobook version of the feminist-Austen short story collection, Rational Creatures — as well as give three of you a chance to win something!
    And keep an eye out, because later in AIA, you'll be hearing some of my thoughts on Rational Creatures!


    by Christina Boyd, Editor, Rational Creatures
    Rational Creatures, feminist stories, jane austen, feminist jane austen, giveaway, austen in august, christina boyd, the book rat, book rat misty

    Friday, August 2, 2019

    Giveaway: Austen in August Mega Prize Pack #1

    giveaway, jane austen, jane austen books, jane austen retellings, free jane austen fanfiction, JAFF, Austen in August, the book rat, book rat misty, maria grace, nancy kelley, jessica grey, monica fairview, eliza shearer, leigh dreyer, riana everlyI've said a time or two, but Austen authors are THE BEST. The literal best. Their passion and generosity and sense of community are seriously unparalleled, and they are a big part of why I'm able to run Austen in August, and why it's been successful for the last decade.

    We always have a lot of giveaways, thanks to these amazing Janeites-turned-author, but this year is on a whole new level. You see, I had the idea of doing something a little more celebratory for our 10th anniversary, and so I floated the idea of having some regular giveaways or 1 or 2 books — the uzh— and a Grand Prize pack of many books... say, 7 or 8? 10, maybe. And what ended up happening was an outpouring, an avalanche, a virtual waterfall of books to give to you lovely readers.

    So this is the first prize pack of four.

    See what I mean about that generosity?

    Click through to see details on what you can win (11 books!) in this first prize pack, and enter to win!

    Assignment Austen #1: Totally 80s

    Yesterday, I posted the AIA challenge, a super chill way to participate in Austen in August while also indulging your Jane Austen needs and wants. One of the "tasks" on the challenge is to watch an Austenesque movie at some point this month, but I'm gonna do one better and go for 1 per weekend. So, um. I'm gonna do four better.*

    This is somewhat to take the place of my usual Austen movie watch-along & twitter chat, which my schedule is just to inconsistent this month to commit to (though you'll probably still find me on Twitter, chatting about these movies as I watch them...), and partly because I've realized that I've really been avoiding certain Austen adaptations.

    . . . I have a thing about 80s hair, okay?

    So, to tie into this year's challenge, and give you — and myself — a boost to watch (or read, or listen to, or partake in...) some Austenish things we may have been putting off, I'm giving us (me) weekly assignments. Since AIA takes place on weekdays, consider this your weekend homework.

    This week:

    Break out the hairspray and the mile high-and-wide shoulder pads, and let's watch a Jane Austen adaptation made in the 80s. Tubular!

    Emma the Matchmaker by Rachel John — guest review from Sophia Rose!

    Sophia Rose is no stranger to The Book Rat or the Austen In August audience, having been a guest poster & featured author in every AIA for the last five years! She's back this year with her take on a 2019 release; click through to check out her thoughts, and share yours in the comments!

    Emma the Matchmaker by Rachel John
    Romantic Comedy
    Publisher: Self/Indie
    Published: 4.23.19
    Pages: 155
    Rating: 4 stars
    Format: ebook
    Source: Kindle Unlimited
    Sellers: Amazon

    GoodReads Blurb:
    Emma Woodhouse is happily single, though that’s never stopped her from making matches for others. Her best friend, George Knightley, thinks it’s a sure way to trouble, but what’s wrong with giving romance a little nudge?

    George has been fighting his feelings for Emma for years, but with families so closely intertwined, rocking the friendship boat would complicate more than just their relationship. He won’t do that to her, or ask why she keeps cuddling up next to him on the couch to watch their favorite show at night.

    When a matchmaking scheme gone wrong drives a wedge between them, the last thing they want is to face each other. But when Emma’s sister goes into labor and they’re the babysitters for the weekend, they’ll have to set aside their pride and undeniable chemistry to tackle diaper duty together.

    A modern take on Jane Austen's Emma with all the characters you know and love.

    A light, romantic comedy can be just the thing on a hot, sultry day and I was eager to pick up this author's latest Austen-inspired modern retelling of Emma. Austen fans will recognize a favorite tale and those new to Austen will have a quick, entertaining story of a woman's (mis)adventures into matchmaking.

    Thursday, August 1, 2019

    Controversial Austen Opinions: a Janeite Conversation

    Jane Austen, Austen in August, Austenesque, JAFF, jane austen fanfiction, Austen variations, jane austen interview
    There are a few things Austen in August wouldn't be complete without, and very near the top of that list is our rather . . . offbeat way of incorporating author interviews every year.
    Most of you probably know the drill by now, but if you don't:
    First of all, who are you ? Where did you come from? Are you really a Janeite? Give us the secret handshake.
    Second, all me to introduce you to the concept of the "Janeite Conversations," which are basically a roundtable discussion with a bunch of Austenesque authors (and me!) on a variety of Jane-adjacent topics.  They're silly, they're irreverant, they're...controversial?

    What are your controversial Austen opinions? Do you secretly hate Darcy? Should Lizzie have done the practical thing and married Collins? Do you find Knightley an overbearing creep? SPILL.

    MISTY: For instance: I do somewhat look on Knightley as an overbearing creep the older I get... and I also think we damn Mary Crawford for very similar things to those for which we praise Elizabeth Bennet. Also:Tilney is better than Darcy.* I said it.
    (*depending entirely on my mood, I think)
    CHRISTINA: I do think Mary Crawford has some of the same characteristics as Elizabeth Bennet (lively, witty, not a “great” beauty, loyal to her sibling).

    The Menfolk Watch Sense & Sensibility — guest post from Leigh Dreyer!

    One of my favorite posts from Austen In Augusts-past is Leigh Dreyer's riotously funny transcription of her making the men in her life sit down and watch Pride & Prejudice. This year, she's putting the dainty Regency screws to 'em again by plonking them down in front of 1995's Sense & Sensibility. Titanic references abound.

    The Menfolk Watch S&S

    In celebration of Austen in August, I made my pilot husband (A) and seventeen-year-old teenage brother (C) watch the 1995 Sense and Sensibility and wrote down the things they said. I am L (for Leigh) and did occasionally clarify some comments for these two so they weren’t too confused. These are the un-edited nuggets of male wit and wisdom. I hope you laugh as much reading them as much as I did listening to and writing them! I edited a bit for clarity, but for the most part, these are written exactly as they were spoken. (Also, I just wanted to point out that the only one who knew Alan Rickman’s character name from Die Hard was me…the sole woman in the room, so Girl Power!)
    Image result for sense and sensibility, sense and sensibility, jane austen, leigh dreyer, austen in august, The Book Rat, Book Rat Misty

    A: I guess we’re going to have to do this thing. C, have you ever seen Sense and Sensibility? Also known as S&S?
    C: I didn’t know it was an acronym
    A: I was tortured growing up by my sisters. If you cry, that’s ok. Ready to start?
    A: Oh, that’s a pretty lady with a flashlight
    C: A torch?
    A: Yeah, a torch. Better. Good music
    C: Yeah. Oooo an Ang Lee film.
    A: I believe it is pronounced Ahng…
    C: Oh Alan Rickman, we do have Snape in the film! We were just talking about him!
    A: Can you type a little quieter? I can barely hear!

    Austen in August CHALLENGE!

    If you're a regular follower of this blog, you'll know I'm a fan of a challenge, especially if it's a little less challenging, and a little more communal and inviting.
    And so, I present to you . . .

    Austen In August, reading challenge, bookstagram, bookstagram challenge, Jane Austen, Jane Austen challenge, JAFF, Jane Austen fan fiction, watercolor florals, watercolor, botanical

    To encourage you to fully embrace your inner Janeite this August, I invite you to join into the official Austen In August challenge! There are 5 tasks designed to engage you on multiple levels — you can make a goal of completing all of them, or knocking off just a few. I'm really more of a choose-your-own-adventure style of challenge-maker. Whatever works for you and makes you happy, makes me happy, too.


    Austen in August, Jane Austen, JAFF, Jane Austen fan fiction, The Book Rat

    Hello, and welcome to a brand new Austen in August — our 10th year!! AIA is a blog event in which a group of Janeites (this includes you!) comes together to discuss, binge on, and gush over all things Austen and Austen-adjacent. This month, you'll find 4 solid weeks worth of reviews, discussions, interviews, giveaways and more — hopefully enough to satisfy the Jane craving inside of you. (But is it ever really satisfied?)

    This year, to celebrate 10 years of Austenmania here on TBR, we're TAKING OVER THE WORLD! Or at least a small corner of the internet. And by this I mean: not all of this year's AIA posts will be located here on The Book Rat! There was just too much Austen love to contain. So in the schedule below, many of the posts will link to a page here on Ye Olde Blogge, but some will take you out into the wider world, to other people's blogs and websites and youtube channels. (It's okay, though. No stranger danger, I promise!)
    And if you find yourself just so inspired this month and you want to join in and pop up a post on your own blog, contact me with a link and I'll add it into the schedule!

    You can find all of that below, with a bit of a sneak peek at what is coming in the first few days; from there, the schedule will be updated daily. Posts will be going up (mostly) evenly-spaced throughout the day every weekday (and by 'day' I mean, what passes for day in the Eastern US timezone, because that is where I live and work and schedule things like this), and each post will include a link at the bottom that links back to this post, and looks like this:

    Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
    Click here to return to the master list of Austen in August posts!

    And I think that's probably all you need to know! Welcome (or welcome back) to Austen in August; I hope you enjoy your stay!

    In this AUSTEN IN AUGUST, you will find:
    please note: posts are updated daily, and may be linked up earlier than they go live, in which case, the link will appear to be "broken"  -- check back often for current and updated posts and links!


    Saturday, the 17th & Sunday, the 18th


                    Thursday, August 1st
                    Friday, August 2nd
                    Saturday, August 3rd & Sunday, August 4th
                    Monday, August 5th
                    Tuesday, August 6th
                    Wednesday, August 7th
                    Thursday, August 8th
                    Friday, August 9th
                    Saturday, the 10th & Sunday, the 11th
                    There are no new posts here on The Book Rat this weekend (yay, self care!), but there are still plenty of goodies to dig into, if you're done playing catch up with AIA so far!
                    Monday, the 12th

                    Tuesday, the 13th
                    Wednesday, the 14th

                    Thursday, the 15th
                    Friday, the 16th

                    Want more? See years onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight, and nine!


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