Some Book Reviews of Note ~ All Things Austen

[These are some book notes and other Austen-related tidbits that I have picked up over the past few weeks ~ more book thoughts for holiday gift giving to be posted shortly, but this is a start]

samuel-johnson-coverTwo new books about Samuel Johnson are reviewed by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker in his article “Man of Fetters: Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale” ~ Peter Martin, Samuel Johnson [Harvard, 2008] and Jeffery Meyers, Samuel Johnson: The Struggle [Basic, 2008]



Reginald Hill, The Price of Butcher’s Meat [Harper, 2008] … NYTimes Book Review with Marilyn Stazio; Hill does Jane Austen in this story, a la Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon with a story about Sandytown- in Yorkshire, and with all the usual suspects and detectives.


Mrs. Beeton’s The Art of Cookery, noted on Regency Reader; another Mrs. Beeton read is the biography The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton, the First Domestic Goddess, by Kathryn Hughes [Knopf, 2006] and now available in paperback.  This study of Beeton also reveals much about the homelife of the Victorians.



“Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: an intimate history of domestic life in Bloomsbury”  by Alison Light  [Bloomsbury Press, 2008].  Review at the NY Times by Claire Messud.

“Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners”(Random House; $30), by Laura Claridge, is the first full-length biography of the author to appear. (Post’s son, Ned, published an affectionate, ghostwritten memoir, “Truly Emily Post,” back in 1961.)  Here is a review in The New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert.


madame-de-stael-coverMadame de Stael:  the first Modern Womanby Francine de Plessix Gray [Atlas, 2008].  Reviewed at Slate. by Stacey Schiff.





And this Our Life: Chronicles of the Darcy Family Book 1, by C. Allyn Pierson, and published by iuniverse, another sequel to Pride & Prejudice starting where P&P leaves off with Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s engagement and their first year of marriage.  See this article at the Wall Street Journal online.

A found diary of a Victorian woman has recently been published:  Ellen Tollet of Betley Hall by Mavis Smith.  Tollet was an upper class woman who lived in North Staffordshire in the 1800s, and the diary runs from 1835-1890.  Mavis Smith found the 160-year old manuscript hidden in the Shropshire library archives;  click here for more information and how to obtain a copy [Waterstones, and local museums]

A new book on the cultural history of Reading, England gives a nod to Jane Austen as she went to school there.  See this article in the BBC Berkshire site.

The University of Manchester Library announces the acquisition of the Gaskell – Green letters (link is to Rare Book Review), adding to their already extensive Elizabeth Gaskell collection.  “The Gaskell – Green family (Gaskell’s friend Mary Green and Mary’s daughter Isabella) letters offer fascinating insight into Cheshire town daily life, the place where Gaskell had grown up in the first half of the nineteenth century, and which she later immortalised in her novel Cranford.”

The short story competition sponsored by the Chawton House Library will have Sarah Waters, author of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith(faboulous read by the way!), as the chair of the judging panel. “The competition is aimed at raising the profile of the library, which is home to a collection of books by early English women writers. The library is part of Chawton House, home to Jane Austen’s brother Edward.  The shortlisted stories will be published as an anthology, Dancing with Mr Darcy, by independent publishers Honno in October 2009. First prize is £1000 plus a week’s writer’s retreat at Chawton House.”


Chawton House

 [See this article at as well as the Chawton House Library site for information on the competition.]

 Here are a few blogs of note, lately discovered:

  •  Idolising Jane authored by Old Fogey, asks some telling questions about Austen…see the blogfor some thoughtful posts [and with thanks to Ms. Place at Jane Austen Today]


  • Catherine Delors, historical novelist and author of Mistress of the Revolution, authors a wonderful blog titled Versailles and More, a visual feast of life during the French Revolution and 18th century France.  Today, Ms. Delors offers a post on Saint Nicholas, the True Santa Claus.

4 thoughts on “Some Book Reviews of Note ~ All Things Austen

  1. Thank you Catherine… your site is so lovely!… and I look forward to reading your book (which is on my Christmas list!) [Yes, it is not only snowing on the blog, but here in Vermont as well…]


  2. Thanks, Deb — just what I needed: more books to buy!

    Am most intrigued by the Ellen Tollet diary and just HAVE to track down a copy. Found an additional newspaper article on it at Chester Chronicle’s blog. The diary evidently covers two years in the life of Ellen Tollet in the mid-1830s; Ellen was a friend to Emily Darwin (wife of Charles). Hitherto unpublished letters from Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale included. Read the article at:

    Among the shops listed in the articles for Mavis Smith’s book on Tollet is the Nantwich Bookshop (in Cheshire); find them at this link. Ooooh, the picture of their shopfront brings back such memories! I once stood on that very spot…. (Gorgeous Nantwich has some interesting architecture!)

    And to have TWO books on Samuel Johnson! This must be a good time for that circle, for there is also a new biography of Hester Thrale (later Piozzi): Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr. Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’, by Ian McIntyre.


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