Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper

Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper by Manuela Santoni

So we added this at the library and I was jazzed for it-Jane Austen biography? In graphic novel?

It seems like a win win to me!

But it wasn’t-I did not like it.

I’ve read several Jane Austen biographies, books and online, and I really enjoyed read Just Jane last year. I do not know everything about Jane, but I feel enough to know that this had quite a bit of historical inaccuracies it.

Hmmm

It also felt like they wanted to make her “ahead of her times” but it just feels like something we have seen before and not as if the author really was trying to show Jane, who this book is supposed to be about. Like how Nostalgia Critic words it in the Alice in Wonderland review.

It starts off with Jane sick at the end of her life writing a letter and thinking back on her life.

Hmm…

We go back to them as girls and Jane hates the piano playing:

But in reality, she enjoyed piano playing. From The Jane Austen Centre:

“Jane, studied with the respected composer and organist, William Chard well into her twenties, long after most girls would have given up their lessons. After that point, it was up to the student to progress if she wished, on her own. Jane owned a small piano at various times during her life and, when this was not an option, rented one. She played for her own enjoyment and would rise an hour before the rest of the family in order to get her practicing done.”

And Santoni has her hate doing embroidery:

But she was extremely talented at it, most likely loved it. From Jane Austen’s House Museum:

“Like all women of her time and class, Jane Austen learnt to sew in childhood and gained a life-long skill. Sewing was something she was particularly good at. In 1796 Austen wrote in a letter that she was “the neatest worker” of a group making shirts for one of her brothers. Edward Austen-Knight remembered of his aunt that “Her needlework both plain and ornamental was excellent, and might almost have put a sewing machine to shame. She was considered especially great in satin stitch.”

And I am currently reading Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge and she shares this in Day 5:

“From this description, we see that while Jane sat and worked (needlework) quietly, lines, descriptions, and plot ideas for her novels came to her in delightful bursts.”

“She [Jane Austen] could have declared needlework a boring, repetitive task and herself too intelligent for such menial jobs. Instead she appears to have spent the time in happy reflection.”

I am so sick and tired of authors being like, oh I want my historical character to be modern and powerful so she will hate embroidery. Why? Why is music revered, painting treated as a superpower, sewing something to be proud of-but embroidery is treated like dirt. Embroidery is a lot of hard work, amazing art, and takes blood, sweat, and sometimes tears to create.

Santoni gives Jane unruly curled hair that just seems to show again that she is “modern” eschewing society’s idea of how women should be.

So the story has Jane proposed to twice and she turns them both down, but in real life she only officially ever received one formal proposal, when she was 27, from Harris Bigg-Wither-but the next day refuses him.

Santoni also has Jane fall in love with Tom Lefoy, he propose, she accepts, and then turn him down as she can’t be a wife and mother but has decided to be a writer. Now there is a bit of leeway here as Cassandra Austen destroyed a lot of Jane’s letters, but she seems to ignore what history we do know.

Thats not right!

It even says at the end of the book “many suitors asked for my hand…” I found this hard to believe as there is no historical proof to confirm this, along with the fact that she had no dowry and very little to entice someone to marriage. I felt like did Santoni do any research? She says she is a Jane Austen fan, but it seems she was making up her own story and characters.

Yeah, not as good as Just Jane

For more Jane Austen biographies, go to Just Jane

For more Jane Austen inspired books, go to Rational Creatures: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney, & Lady Susan

For more Jane Austen inspired work, go to Northanger Soapworks Review

Just Jane

So you all know that I love Jane Austen, she’s the best.

So whenever I find anything that has to do with Austen I snag it.

So one day I was perusing the local bookstore on my day off. The day before had been an extremely hard day so I wanted something to help me feel better.

You know nothing makes me happier than reading.

As I was perusing the shelves, I spotted a book about Jane Austen and just had to purchase it and read it.

I then put it on my to-read pile and forgot all about it.

But as I was moving, I went through my to-read pile and had to read it.

Just Jane (Ladies of History #2) by Nancy Moser

So the book begins with Jane Austen as a young lady at a ball and her infatuation with Tom Lefroy, the man she based Mr. Darcy and Captain Fredrick Wentworth, going all the way to her death, following the completion of Persuasion. 

The book is an intense delight and I recommend it for any Austen fan. Moser is able to blend the historical context, the quotes from her letters, and out it all together in a fun and intriguing narrative that I couldn’t stop reading.

We get to see inside Austen’s head, and view her process and take the path of her life and creation of her amazing books.

We get to experience her heartache, sadness, grief, etc. I love how Moser captures her essence as a girl trying to figure out her future, try to find love, find her place in her family, and worry about what she can do to help her household along with her as an author-the creative struggles, the pains and long journey of bringing an idea into a real novel, and the sorrows and joy of printing process.

We also get a great view of her family, the research done well and bringing certain things I had not known to my attention, and blogging of course.

Moser never claims that one fictional character is solely based on Austen or those she knows-instead she leaves it open to the reader as there is a delight in spotting what real life situations or people could be different characters or events that occur in the book.

It beautifully shows the Regency period, the things we see in films that makes us want to go back, along with detailing the realities that we are happy we no longer have to face.

There will be many posts that have come or will be coming in the future that have to do with something that caught my eye in the reading.

So once again, let me say-if you love Jane Austen and you want something that has life over just the facts, this book is for you. It was a great read and kept you wanting to see what happened next and read more about Jane’s real life and her family.

“Four, five people have been so honoured?’ She shook her head. ‘Tis deplorable, Jane. Hundred, yea even thousands, must enjoy your work.” pg 117

For more on Jane Austen’s life, go to Jane, Jane, Jane: A Jane Austen Biography

For something interesting from Just Jane, go to By the Sea

For more Regency Era, go to Desire & Decorum: Chapter 2, The Ties That Bind

By the Sea

So I was reading Just Jane by Nancy Moser and at one point in Jane Austen’s life she traveled to sea. Later she, her mother, sister, and friend actually moved by the sea and lived there for a while.

They talk about sea-bathing and the sea-bathing machines they would use.

Sea-bathing machines? What?

So sea-bathing started in the later 18th century, prescribed by two eminent doctors, Dr. Russell and Dr. Crane. By Regency times it was super popular.

So like in today’s world, when people go swimming, or sea-bathing, we just jump right in, or tread a little in the water. But not back in Regency times.

wow

Instead they would go into a bathing machine, a large carriage like structure. There the bathers would change into their bathing suits and a horse would pull the carriage into the water.

When the reached the desired depth, the horse would be unhitched and go back to land, or take a carriageful of bathers that had finished back to land.

As the women and men would change in the machines, they were not shared by the sexes but divided between the two. Most often men and women bathed on completely different beaches as women wore muslin shifts, and men wore drawers or were naked.

By 1815 there were 40 bathing carriages and were busy nonstop between 6am-12pm every day.

Doctors prescribed being dipped into the water for one’s health. Often sturdy women were the dippers, traveling with the bathers in the carriage and dipping them so many times under the water. Kind of like being baptized, but more than three times.

For more information, go here

For more on Jane Austen’s life, go to The Curious Case and Crime of Jane Leigh-Perrot

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to Blueberry Earl Grey Tea Smoothie

The Curious Case and Crime of Jane Leigh-Perrot

In 1799, Jane Leigh-Perrot went on trial for theft, a serious crime that could result in death. Stealing lace, believe it or not, was a capital crime that at worst-ended in hanging, and at best sent to Australia.

She managed to escape this fate, but really laid the defense on thick. Was she always innocent and won justice? Or a guilty woman using wealth as her golden ticket to freedom?

Hmm…

Why do we care about this woman?

I don’t know…

She is Jane Austen’s aunt.

Yes, so I’ve been reading the book Just Jane by Nancy Moser, and when it got to this part I was blown away and had to do more research.

So Jane’s first visit to Bath, an experience she later used in Northanger Abbey, was all because of her aunt of uncle. Like the characters in her novels, Jane had a wealthy family member that brought her along on a trip.

Jane visited in 1797 and while it was a fruitful trip, for us readers, she wasn’t too into it. Two years later the Austens received the news that the very aunt who took Jane on the trip, Aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot, was arrested, living in jail, and on trial for thievery.

So what caused a wealthy woman to ever be in a situation like this?

Huh?

Well, she had stopped at a shop to pick up a length of black lace. When she was leaving, she was asked by the shopkeeper to see her bag and inside was the black lace and a seam of white lace worth 20 shillings (£1)

What?

Jane Leigh-Perrot said it was a mistake by the shopkeeper, while the shopkeeper said it was shoplifting. Jane Leigh-Perrot was arrested the next day and had to be in jail for 8 months!

Wait a sec, let’s be real. Jane Leigh-Perrot was a wealthy woman, because of her husband and family influence she didn’t have to stay in the jail but stayed with the jailer’s family.

While that was better than the jail, it still wasn’t the standards she was used to. Not only did Jane Leigh-Perrot stay, but her husband stayed with her.

“Vulgarity, Dirt, Noise from morning till night…Cleanliness has ever been his greatest delight, and yet he sees the greasy toast laid by the dirty children on his knees, and feels the small Beer trickle down his Sleeves on its way across the table unmoved.”

When Mrs. Austen found out about her sister-in-law she wanted to send both her girls to comfort her.

Luckily, Mrs. Austen’s brother declined the offer and Jane didn’t have to spends months in “jail”. We might have had a much different novel if she did.

Catherine Morland in prison

The trial came and went, justice was served swiftly and Jane Leigh-Perrot was declared “not guilty” and the whole thing hushed up.

So did she do it?

Hmm…

Well let’s take a look. What goes against her ever being a thief? What is for the idea of her being a thief?

AGAINST: She’s a wealthy woman? Why would she bother stealing when she could afford as much ribbon as she wanted.

FOR: Being wealthy is no excuse. How many times have we read stories about wealthy people and stars doing things like this. Sometimes their ego gets in the way of their good choices.

AGAINST: Mr. Filby, the man who accused Jane Leigh-Perrot, later tried to blackmail the Leigh-Perrots. What honest man would resort to blackmail?

FOR: Mr. Filby and Miss Gregory (the shop owner) went several days in a row to the magistrates to try and have them arrest Jane Leigh-Perrot, with what seemed like no avail. Could it be they were tired of never getting justice and went after their own kind of justice?

AGAINST:The detail drawing of the shop that was used in the trial show that the places the lace was hanging there was no way the clerk could ever have “mistakenly” grabbed the wrong color. Did he purposely put it in?

FOR: The detail drawing of the shop that was used in the trial show that the places the lace was hanging there was no way the clerk could ever have “mistakenly” grabbed the wrong color. It was purposely taken. By Jane Leigh-Perrot?

AGAINST: The Leigh-Perrots were respectable citizens with philanthropic tendencies, while Mr. Filby and Miss Gregory were having an extra-marital affair.

FOR: The Leigh-Perrots hired four lawyers to defend them and paid £2000 for character witnesses. Why would they spend so much?

AGAINST; Others came forward and said that the same clerk, Mr. Filby, put things in their bags.

FOR: Another shopclerk said he saw Jane Leigh-Perrot take the lace.

So did she or didn’t she? We may never know.

Oh, well

To read more, click here.

For more on Jane Austen, go to Jane Austen Eyes

For more Jane Austen on trial, go to Brought Shame and Scandal to Pemberley: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Two (2013)

For more posts, go to No One Would Have Ever Guessed