Although a little down time in Jane Austen's time sounds glorious, romantic, and even glamorous, I know enough about that time period to know that it would be grating on this 2011 gal. If wealthy or at least of means, a woman had serious restrictions on what she could or couldn't do, and who she could or couldn't see. Much of this information is highlighted, but in a very fun, proper sort of way in The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan.
For any serious Janeite, I would highly recommend having a copy of this cute little handbook. The information and details are a nice reference point to the period, and to Jane Austen's novels in particular. As set up, it is separated into four sections:
- Jane Austen's World and Welcome to It
- A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings; or, Everyday Activities
- Making Love
- The Best Company; or, Social Gatherings
"Some experts suggest simply multiplying the amount by fifty; thus, Mr. Darcy's ten thousand a year becomes a half million pounds, or close to a million dollars...Economist J. Bradford DeLong suggests that straight multiplication does not give the whole story...Dr. DeLong's calculations place the modern equivalent of Mr. Darcy's income at $6 million per year." (27)Regardless of the sum, that's a whole lot of money! It's easy to see how setting Mr. Wickham back on the straight and narrow with Lydia might have been a big wad of cash, but nothing in the overall picture of his income and worth.
|Regency Letter (via Jane Austen's World)|
There are lots of other details shared in this cute handbook that made it an easy read. I highly recommend this as a fun gift for any Jane Austen fan on your gift list. It is well organized, with a nice Table of Contents, Index, and list of terms defined in the back. The language is informative, without being stuffy and boring. And the pictures included in the book are well done and fit with the information of the book. On my edition the hardback cover is well made, and the size is smaller than even a paperback book. Honestly, I really would recommend this Regency England guidebook for anyone who reads and loves Jane Austen's time period.
The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England comes out today! Thank you to Quirk Books for the opportunity to read and review this great little handbook.