Not So Grand

The Grand Sophy Sourcebooks 2016Sourcebooks is in the process of rebranding its editions of Georgette Heyer’s novels. I want to say up front that Sourcebooks performs a real public service in keeping Heyer in print here in the U.S. It wasn’t that long ago that, if we Yanks wished to read Heyer’s books and our public library was not well-stocked, we had to comb used-book stores and websites, sometimes paying outrageous prices due to their rarity–Heyer fans tend to hang on to their copies–or import them from the UK at considerable expense. I know that because I did it.

Sourcebooks recently posted on their “Georgette Heyer” Facebook page the first redesigned cover they are launching, for The Grand Sophy, which can be seen at left (you can see it at a larger size by clicking on it). While the illustration is fresh and appealing, it has about as much to do with The Grand Sophy as I do with nuclear geophysics.

One is tempted to respond, in the language of Austen and Heyer, that some great misapprehension has occurred. Is that supposed to be Sophy Stanton-Lacy? Whose clothes are all from Paris, who drives a high-perch phaeton and rides a spirited Mameluke-trained stallion, and who carries a pistol and knows how to use it (though it throws a little right)? This simpering miss with her ribbons and flounces and sweet cotton gown that she ran up from the Simplicity Basic Regency Gown pattern using quilting fabric from JoAnn? With a really weird handbag? And evening gloves with a day dress and bonnet? THAT’S supposed to be The Grand Sophy? Continue reading

It’s good to be a nerd sometimes

open_pkg_frontOne of those times was today. I went into the mailroom today to get my mail and someone had propped a package up on the mailbox where everyone leaves misdelivered stuff. It had my name on it, but someone had written on it, “Delivered to wrong apt.” The sender had not included the apartment number, so I guess it was randomly delivered to someone in the complex.
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Emma in America Exhibition and Website at Goucher College Library

emma_in_americaI was thrilled to take a drive down to Baltimore recently for the opening reception for Goucher College Library’s Emma in America exhibit, celebrating 200 years of Jane Austen’s novel (which actually was published in late 1815, though the title page says 1816) as well as the 200th anniversary of the first publication of one of Austen’s novels in the U.S., also Emma, by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia. 
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His Grace

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A gentleman was strolling down a side street in Paris, on his way back from the house of one Madame de Verchoureux. He walked mincingly, for the red heels of his shoes were very high. A long purple cloak, rose-lined, hung from his shoulders and was allowed to fall carelessly back from his dress, revealing a full-skirted coat of purple satin, heavily laced with gold; a waistcoat of flowered silk; faultless small clothes; and a lavish sprinkling of jewels on his cravat and breast. A three-cornered hat, point-edged, was set upon his powdered wig, and in his hand he carried a long beribboned cane. It was a little enough protection against footpads, and although a light dress sword hung at the gentleman’s side its hilt was lost in the folds of his cloak, not quickly to be found. At this late hour, and in this deserted street, it was the height of foolhardiness to walk unattended and flaunting jewels, but the gentleman seemed unaware of his recklessness. He proceeded languidly on his way, glancing neither to left nor to right, apparently heedless of possible danger.

I do so love the Duke of Avon. He’s so fabulous.

All the Pretty Emmas

Emma 200th Anniversary Penguin Classics Edition

“Oh! you would rather talk of her person than her mind, would you? Very well; I shall not attempt to deny Emma’s being pretty.”

“Pretty! say beautiful rather. Can you imagine any thing nearer perfect beauty than Emma altogether— face and figure?”

“I do not know what I could imagine, but I confess that I have seldom seen a face or figure more pleasing to me than hers. But I am a partial old friend.” – Emma, Volume I, Chapter V (5)

I recently received a copy of the new 200th Anniversary Penguin Classics edition of Emma, and thought, “Why didn’t they send this to me two years ago!” Because two years ago, I was in the initial stages of putting together Jane Austen Cover to Cover, and I certainly would have loved to include this beautiful cover design by Dadu Shin.

But this is way more than just a pretty cover; this new edition was edited by Juliette Wells of Goucher College (who will be one of the plenary speakers at the 2016 JASNA AGM in Washington, D.C.). From the publisher:

This new edition was prepared with both Austen enthusiasts and first-time readers in mind by Goucher professor and Austen scholar Juliette Wells, and includes an introduction that focuses on the importance of EMMA to Austen’s career and the reception of the novel by its first readers, as well as original contextual essays, a glossary of eighteenth-century usage, maps of Austen’s England, suggestions for further reading, and illustrations from early editions of EMMA (drawn from the Jane Austen Collection at Goucher).

My JASNA book group will be reading Emma together soon, and I’ll be using this lovely new edition to enhance my reading experience, and maybe learn some stuff.

We’re giving away a copy of the book over on AustenBlog. Head over there and leave a comment to enter. (Sorry, this is just for readers in the U.S.)

While I was putting together the books for JAC2C, I noticed how many really lovely editions of Emma were out there (and so many of them from Penguin!). Perhaps the publishers are inspired by the beautiful Miss Woodhouse, Miss Smith, and Miss Fairfax? I thought it would be fun to put together a gallery of some of the really beautiful editions for my Gentle Readers. Enjoy!

Click on any image for a gallery with information about the covers.

Will Jane Austen’s Real Inspiration Please Stand Up?

Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire

Castle Ashby

When I saw this article in the Telegraph linked on Twitter, I rolled my eyes a bit and prepared myself for silliness. We’ve had so much of this sort of thing: the Real Mr. Darcy, the Real Pemberley, etc., and it’s becoming tiresome, because so often it’s a bunch of hooey. Continue reading