Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice

Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief JusticeBelle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice by Paula Byrne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where the film based on Dido Elizabeth Belle's life takes certain, ahem, liberties with her story, Paula Byrne's book is firmly planted in historical fact and therefore thin on material about Dido. However, the book does an excellent job of bringing to life Georgian England and the struggle to abolish the slave trade. Byrne's research is excellently done and she breathes fresh air into the people and the events. I thought the chapter detailing the boycott of sugar and rum by ordinary English middle-class housewives in protest of the horrific conditions on the Caribbean plantations was well done. This is the best kind of history: factual and highly readable.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

In Her Own Hand

In Her Own Hand series boxed setIn Her Own Hand series boxed set by Jane Austen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To read my review of "In Her Own Hand: Volume the First, Volume the Second, Volume the Third" please head over to Austenprose. This boxed set of three hardcover volumes is beautifully designed and presented: the jewel in the crown of a Janeite’s book collection.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas is Coming

The goose is getting fat. Probably because it ate too many cinnamon rolls.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bad Patient

At Home with Jane Austen

At Home with Jane AustenAt Home with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Head over to Austenprose for my review of At Home with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. This gorgeous coffee table book should be at the top of the wishlist for many Austen fans.

Though Jane changed her residence many times, family and home remained the emotional center of her life. She expressed her love of home in her work, creating heroes and heroines who also cherish the idea of home, even when, like Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, they are uprooted and must learn to love a new one: “When [Fanny] had been coming to Portsmouth, she had loved to call it her home, had been fond of saying that she was going home; the word had been very dear to her; and so it still was, but it must be applied to Mansfield. That was now the home. Portsmouth was Portsmouth; Mansfield was home.”

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Map or the Journey?

I read this in a review of the film "Wild" on Salon.com this morning. I thought it was right on.

On a broader level, there’s nothing wrong with the personal search for transcendence and reinvention; it’s one of humanity’s more admirable tendencies. There’s certainly nothing wrong with writing about one’s own quest, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing an account that connects with millions of other people and gets you paid. But the problem with all self-help or inspirational literature, beginning with the doctrines handed down to Moses on the mountain (and probably quite a bit before that) is always the same: People want to take it literally, and we have a tendency to mistake the map for the journey.