February 13th, 2008


The Jane Austen Book Industry

Is it the Colin Firth factor which has made any book with ‘Jane Austen’ in the title a sure seller? I picked up these two together and got stuck straight in to Being Elizabeth Bennet. Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure, by Emma Campbell Webster. This book is a page turner, literally, as the reader is constantly being redirected to a new page according to how well or badly he/she is competing in the marriage stakes. I can’t be bothered with keeping my score (‘Add 10 points for intelligence’/’Lose 10 points for wilful prejudice’) but I am finding it very entertaining (‘Stop Trying to be clever and deduct 20 Intelligence Points for your impertinence.’ ‘Strumpet!’). Do I really want to marry Mr Darcy, though? Perhaps there will be an alternative ending for me…

The surprising thing about the other book, Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson, is that it really is a guide to dating. The premise is that the author, while single in America, was given bad advice by American friends who followed strict dating rules. She turned instead to the common sense of Jane Austen and got her man. Now she instructs the rest of us, with examples from the behaviour of Austen’s heroines. I thought it was going to be a funny book, so this is disappointing. You might explain my grump by saying that I am far from being the target audience for such a book but the same is true of Bridget Jones’ Diary which, au contraire, I love and have read several times.

Webster wins but reading the two has made me want to read Pride and Prejudice yet again, which can never be a bad thing.