A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice by Jasmine A. Stirling

I have been meaning to write this review since July, when I purchased this book for my niece, but it just seems like every time I try to sit down and write it something gets in the way. Don’t you hate when that happens?

But no longer, I am happy to finally post my review of this book.

Back in August of 2020, Jasmine Stirling reached out to me regarding her new children’s book on Jane Austen. As part of a lead up to the release of her book, she was reaching out to various Jane Austen bloggers, writers, etc.; and creating a resource center for parents and children wanting to learn more about Jane Austen.

She asked if she could interview me, and I agreed. It was the first time I have ever been interviewed and I found it to be such an honor, especially as she included me alongside some powerful Austen players. I have copied the interview below:

What Jane Austen film adaptation do you think would most appeal to kids?

Me: For a modern adaption, I believe Clueless is probably one of the best gateways into Jane Austen. It is funny, has great lines, and is something that teens will immediately love. Another great modern adaption of Jane Austen for kids is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as it is a series of short videos (something they are more used to watching with tiktok, Snapchat, etc.) and with it being told in the format of a Youtuber, kids can easily connect to it and the story. For a Regency adaption I would suggest Sense and Sensibility (1995) to start with. While Sense and Sensibility (1995) is an older adaptation it has really good pacing with comedy and drama. Kids can sometimes find it hard to connect to period drama but this has romance, drama, grief, mean girls, etc.

What’s a kid-friendly Regency or Jane Austen-related activity, craft or other entertainment you might suggest for families to try?

Me: I love crafts so I have a few suggestions. One easy and fun craft to do is make silhouettes of each other as kids will love tracing each other and having themselves traced. Another cute craft is to make paper fans or paper boats. Or if your children enjoy playing with dolls making paper dolls, felt dolls, or clothespin dolls is also something they will always find fun.

If you know how to to embroider or sew, working on a group project together-such as making a quilt, pillows, hand towels, tea towels, pillowcases, etc.-is also something you can do.

What’s one thing you love about Jane Austen? Why?

Me: There are two things I absolutely love about Jane Austen. The first is that I love the pacing and plotting of her books and the balance between drama and comedy. All her novels have extremely somber or heart wrenching moments; along with comedic lines or hilarious scenes. She also always knew how to end a chapter leaving you wanting more.

The other thing I love about her books is how the stories and characters transcend Regency England so that the motifs, personalities, and points raised in her books are still relevant today. Who hasn’t meet a social climber like Caroline Bingley? A schemer like Lucy Steele? Manipulators like Isabella and John Thorpe? Had a regret like Anne Elliot? Met a flirt like Henry Crawford? Known a person who wanted so badly to have a friend they did whatever someone asked of them like Harriet Smith? Haven’t we all been accused of being an ice queen like Elinor Dashwood? Let our heart rule our actions like Marianne Dashwood? Misjudged someone and actively disliked a person when they insulted you like Elizabeth Bennet? Had to make a choice whether to stick to what we believe in, even if it meant losing something you hold dear like Fanny Price? Disliked someone because they were better than you at some things like Emma Woodhouse? Let our imaginations run away with us like Catherine Morland? I think one of the reasons we still read Jane Austen 200 years later is that it is so easy to connect to her work.

How do you share your love of Austen with children?

Me: I do not have kids but that hasn’t stopped me from sharing Jane Austen. For little ones I like to gift the Babylit Jane Austen books by Jennifer Adams. They are on different subjects like numbers and emotions, but each book features characters or items from the novels. I first read Jane Austen when I turned 16 and it has now become a tradition for me to gift one of her novels when someone I know turns 16. I am also always trying to encourage my nieces to read or watch Jane Austen, and there are a lot of adaptions out there that make great gifts. With so many fans of Jane Austen you have a lot to choose from, both from modern adaptions and her works.

The picture book was released in March, but I decided to wait to purchase it until my niece’s birthday in July. The age range recommended for this book is 5-9, but as my niece was turning 10 and still enjoyed reading picture books from time to time, I thought she might enjoy this too.

When the book arrived, I of course had to read it first and I really liked it. First of all it had beautiful illustrations, I really enjoyed Vesper Stamper’s style.:

I also liked that this book had a lot of information on the Jane Austen and her family, yet it wasn’t overpowering or too much for children to understand, and it did have additional information in the back of the book for anyone wanting to know a bit more. I felt it was a beautiful and great beginning biography to brainwash share with the children in your life.

One thing I have noticed in recent Jane Austen children’s biographies is that many authors go overboard trying to make Jane “ahead of her time” or that she was so “progressive” she “rebelled” against society disliking needlepoint or other feminine things, etc. I definitely didn’t feel that with this picture book was trying to paint her in any particular way, it felt like an honest portrayal of Jane Austen, written by someone who is a fan of her works.

My niece doesn’t typically read nonfiction books, but when she opened her gift she was immediately drawn to the illustrations, and read through it quickly, reading it again later, much slower.

I definitely recommend this book for the child in your life. I think it would be a perfect addition for any child’s bookshelf.

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

For more Jane Austen biographies, go to Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper

For more picture books, go to How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea

Tea Party Tea Terms Word Scramble

Party time!

Are you ready for another Tea Party game?

So for my 29th Birthday Jane Austen Tea Party, I shared a few tea themed games we played. Yesterday we had our tea advent swap with friends and had to come up with a game. I was trying to decide between the Tea Tray Memory Game and a Tea Trivia game, when I decided to do a Tea Terms Word Scramble.

I love doing word scrambles, and thought this would be so much easier as I wouldn’t have to bring any items or worry about it being too hard for anyone (I struggle with making my trivia too hard or too easy).

I also thought this would be a lot of fun, and it did turn out to be. I have the game below if you would like to use it and I have included the answers after the image. Enjoy!

Clotted Cream, kettle, cloth napkins, tea pot, scones, sugar cubes, tea tray, cream pitcher, earl grey, tea infuser, sandwiches, honey dipper, sugar tongs, teapot cozy, and sugar bowl.

For more tea party themed games, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: Guess How Many Sugar Cubes

For more game ideas, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: What’s in Your Purse Game

You Ever Notice That Harry Potter is Kind of Like Elizabeth Bennet in the Way He Treats Snape and She Treats Mr. Darcy?

So I was rewatching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and I noticed something I had never seen before- Harry Potter is a lot like Elizabeth Bennet in the way he treats Snape in the first movie.

Hmm…

Rewatching this film I noticed that the only reason Harry hates Snape and is convinced he is the one killing unicorns, trying to bring back the dark lord, and after the philosopher’s stone is only because Snape embarrassed Harry in front of the whole class.

Yes, in the film Harry has had very few interactions with Snape. Prior to class he was very neutral about Snape, noticing Snape in the Great Hall but nothing thinking much on him. When looking at Snape, Harry gets a headache (from Professor Quirell/Voldemort), but he never attributes that to Professor Snape. He only starts disliking Snape and believing Snape is the behind all the terrible things at Hogwarts after Snape calls him out in front of the whole class and embarrasses him for his lack of magical knowledge.

Professor Severus Snape: Who possess, the predisposition… I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death. [notices Harry scribbling on his paper] Then again, maybe some of you have come to Hogwarts in possession of abilities so formidable that you feel confident enough to not pay attention! [steps over to Harry] Mister Potter. Our new celebrity. Tell me, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood? [Harry doesn’t answer] You don’t know? Well, let’s try again. Where, Mr. Potter, would you look if I asked you to find me a bezoar?

Harry: I don’t know, sir.

Professor Severus Snape: And what is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?

Harry: I don’t know, sir.

Professor Severus Snape: Pity. Clearly, fame isn’t everything, is it, Mr. Potter?

What Snape did was rude, I mean as a teacher he has a new student who has never been to class before and grew up in the muggle world, so he shouldn’t be so harsh with him, Harry really doesn’t garner that kind of derision-but at the same time while rude, Snape isn’t cruel or evil. But after this it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, Harry continues to believe Snape is the evil one, even when Quirell is in the the dungeon. AND even after Harry finds out that Snape was protecting him in the Quidditch match and had been trying to keep him alive all along, does his opinion of Snape change at all? Nope, he still constantly believes Snape is working with Voldemort and against him, all because Snape wounded his pride.

I was sharing that with my sister when it hit me, Harry is just like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. The only reason Elizabeth was so hard on Darcy and believed Wickham’s lies was that he embarrassed her when he called her tolerable and not handsome enough to tempt her.

If you think about it, her belief of Wickham is completely against her normal behavior as she is always prudent when judging someone’s character. Yet she finds nothing odd about a total stranger who decides to offload a lot of emotionally charged information (emotionally manipulating her and the community) about how Darcy mistreated him. Even the hypocrisy of him “not wanting to speak bad about the son because he wants to honor the father”, while speaking bad about the son doesn’t even register with her. Elizabeth chooses to ignore that warning of something is not right as she is so angry at what Darcy said and so eager to have another reason that isn’t so vain, a “real reason”, to dislike him.

I always thought it was interesting how Mr. Darcy’s very close friendship with Mr. Bingley refutes some of the things Wickham is saying about Darcy’s character, and the fact that Mr. Bingley and Miss Bingley are wary of Wickham doesn’t push Elizabeth to be more cautious in her trust of him. After all, she has known the Bingley’s much longer and would Mr. Bingley really be such close friends with someone who was so cruel? People can pretend for so only so long before their real character comes out. Not to mention you only met Wickham a few days ago and knows nothing about him other than what he told her, while she has spent time with the Bingleys and know them and where they come from.

But it is completely relatable as her anger blinds her to the troubling behavior of Wickham.

Both characters let one rude incident color all other interactions with the person, letting their personal feelings overshadow logic. At both points of the story, neither Snape nor Darcy have done anything truly villainous, yet not only do Harry and Elizabeth believe this without a shadow of a doubt, they also try to convince others that it is true.

Although, Elizabeth has an advantage over Harry, as she is older, when she realizes her mistakes she changes her actions and point of view; while Harry, being a child, doesn’t realize how wrong he was until the very end of the series.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to L.A. Theatre Works Pride and Prejudice Audio Adaption

For more Harry Potter, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen

For more comparisons, go to You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

Spill the Tea: Tea List’s High Tea Review

So I have been wanting to do this for a while, a looong time! It’s been on my to-do list to incorporate tea shops and tea places reviews, but I just haven’t had the time. It seems I have a thousand different things I want to write and review and just no time to do them all.

So I ended up telling myself that when my tea photos popped up on my “on this day” part of Instagram or Facebook timeline it would be time to actually start reviewing them.

A few years ago some friends and I decided to meet up for tea. We tried to pick a place that we could equally meet up at, and settled on the Tea List in Davis, CA

The Tea List is located in Davis, CA right next to an antique shop and other cute little buildings. It opened in 2003, and except for closing in 2020, it has been available for a full tea service.

We had the High Tea Service which consists of your choice of Tea, a scone with fresh Devonshire cream & berry preserves, an assortment of small tea sandwiches (cucumber mint, veggie garden, turkey pesto and chicken salad), French deserts and fresh fruits.

They had us sit outside as it was a warm November. (We either have warm ones or rainy ones.)

Everything was delicious, although it was too much food for me. I ended up having to give the rest of my share to my friends. Next time I go, I will definitely choose a smaller meal option.

This place was a quite a win. If you are in the Davis area, I highly recommend that you drop by.

For more tea house reviews, go to Spill the Tea: Tea Elle C Garden Cafè Review

For more tea posts, go to Marmalade Rolls

Jane Austen Runs My Life Holiday Gift Guide: Jane Austen Books

So I don’t usually write one of these, but thought why not do a holiday guide this year? A few days ago I posted on Jane Austen products, but I thought I would I also share some books that would make the perfect gift for the holidays.

I do not receive any money from any of these books for promoting them, I am just honestly sharing books I have enjoyed and I think you, or your loved ones will. I have attached links to all the items if any of you are interested in purchasing any of these products. If you do choose to purchase an item from Amazon, by going through these links, I will receive a small percentage through the affiliate program.

So enough business:

It’s time for Christmas!

This list of books are the perfect gift for Janeites in your life OR you could always share this list with your loved one that may be struggling to find you the perfect gift.

The books are all listed in alphabetical order and it was SO HARD to choose just 10 books. I really tried to create a variety of books and genre types in order to ensure I have something for everyone.

Just as difficult as choosing 10

Babylit Jane Austen by Jennifer Adams and Allison Oliver

Do you have a little one on your Christmas list? Why not start their love of Jane Austen early with these Babylit board books? Babylit has taken three Jane Austen novels and turned them into board books that cover topics important in children’s development from birth to 5 years old. Each one has lovely illustrations and are the perfect addition to the young child in your life’s bookcase. Sense and Sensibility covers opposites, Pride and Prejudice is on numbers, and Emma is on emotions.

I absolutely LOVE these books and they are always a constant on my gift list. Every time I gain a new niece, cousin, or a friend has a baby, these three becomes a birthday or Christmas gift.

To order, click here

Quill Ink Anthologies edited by Christina Boyd

The Quill Ink had published several anthologies on Jane Austen variations: some are set in different time periods, some answer “what if” questions, are told from secondary characters’ points of view, etc. There are so many great stories in these anthologies that I just couldn’t pick one, I had to include them all. If interested in more detailed reviews, just click on the titles.

Does the person you love, LOVE Mr. Darcy? Buy The Darcy Monologues. Is Elizabeth their favorite character? Buy Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl! Are they a fan of Jane Austen’s bad boys? Get Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues! Are you searching for a Jane Austen Christmas combo? Then Yuletide is perfect for you. Do they like all the Jane Austen main characters? Rational Creatures is the book to fulfill your shopping list.

These books are available in print, as ebooks, and in audiobook format; so however they like to read, there is an option for them! I personally don’t feel like Christmas is coming until I listen to my audiobook of Yuletide (over and over and over again).

To order, click here

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (The Rajes #1) by Sonali Dev

Is the person on your shopping list looking for a more contemporary Jane Austen novel? Maybe they would like to see diverse characters? Then Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors is a great choice for them. In this Darcy is Trish Raje, Indian royalty and a doctor; with Elizabeth having become D.J. Caine, multiracial chef (Anglo-Indian and Rwandan). After a series of misunderstanding in their first meeting, Trish and DJ end up being thrown together when Trish has to take over the planning of an event for her sister. There are a series of missteps and mistakes, but in the end romance will always triumph.

As a biracial person I really enjoyed seeing that represented, along with this not only be a story of falling in love, but the love and comfort food and family can bring to us.

To order, click here

Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge

Do you have a friend that loves Jane Austen and devotionals? Then this is the one that you need to get them. There are 31 chapters to read, for every day of an average month, that take you section by section through Jane Austen’s prayers. This is a great way to refocus your life, learn about Jane Austen, and increase your prayer time.

I really enjoy this devotional and read it at least once a year (typically in the days that lead up to Christmas). Plus Rachel Dodge has great customer service. I ordered autographed bookplates for her books for Christmas last year and they never arrived. I contacted her about it and she sent new ones immediately.

To order from her website, click here

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

This is an older book, as it was published in 2011, but it is such a wonderful and funny book and perfect for fans of dating shows (and a great way to pass the time while we wait to see if Peacock will really make their Pride and Prejudice/Regency inspired dating show.) in this Chloe Parker is a single mom in need of money to keep her business afloat so she applies to be on a Jane Austen TV show. However, when she gets there she finds out that the network felt they needed a change and now it has become a “The Bachleor-esque”competition. Chloe is convinced to stay and try to win her own “Mr. Darcy”…but what if she doesn’t fall for the “Mr. Darcy” but for another man on the show? Will Chloe get her Jane Austen ending? Or go home with no money and no man?

A hilarious book that any Janite will love.

To order, click here

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

I LOVE THIS BOOK! This is the sequel to Austenland, although both books are independent stories and do not have to be read in order. This book has romance, mystery, comedy, and more. It’s the perfect book for anyone who loves Agatha Christie and Jane Austen.

After Charlotte’s husband cheats on her, leaves her, and remarries she finds herself at a loss of what to do. She ends up finding a teenage list of things she wanted to do before 30, one of which is to read all the Jane Austen novels. She does and of course becomes a fan, deciding to take a vacation to Austenland in England. While the Regency activities are fun, something mysterious is going on. Will Charlotte be able to figure out this whodunnit, or will she become the next victim?

This is a fantastic book and I strongly recommend it.

To order, click here

Emma: Manga Classics adapted by Stacy King and illustrated by Tse

Do you have a teenager you want to introduce to Jane Austen? Do you know someone who loves Manga and Jane Austen? Then this reimagined classic is perfect for your holiday shopping list! This Emma manga has beautiful illustrations that bring the classic tale to life.

I bought this for my teenage niece, of course had to read it first, and loved it! It is definitely a great addition to a Janeite’s shelf.

To order, click here

Just Jane by Nancy Moser

Are you looking for a biographical fiction book on Jane Austen for someone on your list? This is a wonderful book and fits that slot! This book is part of a series on famous women, but do not have to be read in order and all the books are independent of each other.

This book is on Jane Austen’s life and was extremely well done. Not only was it a fun story, but brought up little real life anecdotes that I just had to learn more about, and would often fall down a research rabbit hole. As there are parts of Austen’s life that we know little about, the author does take some liberties in telling the story. However, I felt the author tried to tell a story that does its best to represent Jane Austen.

I really enjoyed it and I think that if you have a friend who loves Jane Austen and wants to know more about her, but doesn’t care for typical biographies, this is a great route to take.

To order, click here

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfruend

Do you know someone who loves Jane Austen but is also into science fiction? Then this is the perfect book as this adaption of Persuasion has a SciFi twist. Set in the not too distant future, the author has welded Austen’s classic take of love lost, love returned, and misunderstandings with cyborg-like accruements. Elliot’s (Anne) old love has returned with a new name and new enhancements. But can the bitterness and hurt be laid to rest, or will this couple face even more odds at romance.

I enjoyed this book a lot and felt that the fusion of genres was extremely well done.

To order, click here

The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson

Do you have a friend/family member that loves Jane Austen and their favorite film is Sense and Sensibility (1995)? Then this would be perfect for them. The book has an intro by producer Lindsay Doran, the screenplay to the film, and the notes Emma Thompson made while filming. It is a great behind the scenes look that is perfect for the Janiete on your list.

I personally loved reading about how they had to work together to overcome cultural and at times language barriers-being an American producer, British screenwriter/actress, and a Taiwanese filmmaker.

To order, click here

So of course this is just a small sampling of all the Jane Austen adaptations out there, but I hope that this has helped some of you who might be searching for that perfect Jane Austen gift for your friend or loved one! If none of these strike your fancy, I will post links to my posts that list all the Jane Austen adaptions I have reviewed.

I wish you all a happy holiday and happy holiday shopping!

Sense and Sensibility Adaption Reviews

Pride and Prejudice Adaption Reviews: Part I

Pride and Prejudice Adaption Reviews: Part II

Pride and Prejudice Adaption Reviews: Part III

Mansfield Park Adaption Reviews

Emma Adaption Reviews

Northanger Abbey Adaption Reviews

Persuasion Adaption Reviews