Jane Austen Runs My Life Holiday Gift Guide: Jane Austen Books, PART II

I don’t usually write these, but last year I decided to make up a holiday guide of my favorite Jane Austen products. I enjoyed doing that so much that I wanted to make a list on some Jane Austen books that would also make the perfect gift for the holidays.

That was much harder than products as there are so many great books out there.

Just as difficult as choosing 10

So this list will be a Part II, with books that didn’t make it onto last year’s list; along with some books I read this year (and last December). I do not receive any money from promoting these books, I am just honestly sharing ones I have enjoyed and I think you, or your loved ones will also. I have attached links to all the items if any of you are interested in purchasing any of these products (of which I do not receive any money from as I no longer a part of the Amazon affiliate program.)

So enough business, it’s time for Christmas!

This list of books are the perfect gift for Janeites or people you might be trying to convert to becoming a Janiete. The books are all listed in alphabetical order.

What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen

This book is a cute addition to any Janeite’s bookshelf as it is a collection of Jane Austen quotes from her letters, books, and Austen films. It’s fun to look through and use when you want the perfect Jane Austen quote for a card, note, etc.

To purchase, click here

Jane Austen Children’s Stories by Jane Austen and adapted by Gemma Barder

I’ve only read two of the seven books in the series, Northanger Abbey and Emma, and have enjoyed them a lot. All are Jane Austen’s classic stories, but written in a way kids 6-10 can easily understand and comprehend. This is the perfect gift for a child of a Janiete or to give to a child in your life that you want to encourage the love of classics and Jane Austen.

I personally have purchased these books for my nieces, cousins, and children of friends. You can buy them in a box set or individually as I have.

To order, click here

A Visit to Highbury:
Another View of Emma

by Joan Austen-Leigh

This is an older book, but I really, really enjoyed this adaptation of Emma. It tells the story from Mrs. Goddard’s, (the woman who owned the home/school that Harriet Smith stayed in), point of view as she writes to her sister. We not only get “another interpretation” of the classic story but we also get to know one of Austen’s older characters on a deeper level. Besides Emma, this novel is also a tale of sister’s love and care for each other, along with the revitalizing love as Mrs. Goddard sister and her husband, the Pinkeys, are brought back together as they discuss the goings on of Emma, Frank Churchill, the Elton’s, etc. I thought it was adorable and had difficulty putting it down.

To order, click here

Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) [Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries #1] by Carrie Bebris

I have mixed feelings about this series as I only really enjoyed book one and three, but even though I feel the series has some issues I thought the first one was extremely well written and do recommend it for Austen fans. In this mystery, newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Darcy experience some strange phenomenons when Caroline Bingley marries and starts acting strange, almost possessed. Could Caroline be acting strange for attention? Is someone be tormenting her? Is it regular maleficence…or is there something supernatural going on? Great for fans of Austen and mystery lovers.

To order, click here

An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll

Are you or the person on your shopping list someone who enjoys books that make you laugh, cry, and feel a whole range of emotions? Then this is the book for you. Both Darcy and Elizabeth are in the depths of despair, agreeing to marry for their own self interests. But as the two spend more time together, they discover that there might be more to this charade than comfort, they might actually be falling in love. However, Elizabeth believes she’s not long our world, should she pursue love? Or continue pretending she doesn’t really care for Darcy? You’ll have to read to find out.

To order, click here

The Dashwoods Tell All by Beth Patillo

There are very few Sense and Sensibility adaptations that I enjoy, and very few Beth Patillo books I like to read; this is one of those rare exceptions. The book begins with two estranged sisters, being forced to take a Jane Austen walking tour in order to honor their mother’s dying wish. They also find themselves becoming owners of a long lost Austen diary, and have to decide what to do with it. The girls encounter grief, love, familial connection, are introduced to Jane Austen, and above all the learn the importance of family.

To order, click here

Pride and Prejudice Paper Dolls by Brenda Sneathen Mattox

A different gift than a usual book, this book of paper dolls is perfect for any fan of Jane Austen. Adults and children can enjoy looking at the clothes and illustrations; along with it bringing back the fun memories of having paper dolls. You can gift it as something to add to a Janiete’s collection; or to someone who might want to use them to relive their childhood memories, or create memories with their children. Either way it is a fun gift to put under the tree for paper doll fans of all ages.

To purchase, click here

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

I know there are quite a few Jane Austen children’s books on this list and it’s because I’m always trying to brainwash influence my nieces into loving Jane Austen as much as I do. This cute Jane Austen picture book has beautiful illustrations and gives a full biographical view of Jane Austen’s life in a way that kids can easily understand. Perfect for the child (6-10) in your life.

To purchase, click here

Jane Austen (Little People. BIG DREAMS) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Another cute Jane Austen bigography that is geared toward kids 4-7 and available in English or Spanish. The book has a great balance of pictures to text and I really like how it highlights all the heroines of Austen’s novels. Both I and my niece loved it.

To purchase, 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

Persuasion (2022) or MadsenCreations and I Watched the New Persuasion So You Don’t Have To

I have to be honest, when I heard Netflix was making a new Persuasion I immediately had a bad feeling about it. I decided to reserve judgement and hope that it wouldn’t be terrible, but I didn’t really believe we would get a miracle.

Then I saw the trailer and I knew it was going to be bad. I could see in those few clips they has completely misunderstood the character of Anne and that this was going to be another Mansfield Park (1999).

It was worse.

MadsenCreations and I watched it together, she did Instagram live while I live tweeted. You can read my tweets but more terrible and horrible moments happened that I actually couldn’t tweet as fast as the film went. It was a hot mess.

But before I go into what I didn’t like, let’s start off with what I did like

Set & Costume Design

The set was beautiful and the director knew how to utilize the home, forest, seaside, country and city. Unlike some other Austen novels these characters do spend a fair amount of time indoors and outdoors, the weather and scenery tying into the story and the emotions of the characters. This was probably the best thing about the film was how well the director understood to use the set.

The costumes are also well done, as MadsenCreations pointed out there are no large glaring zippers (Netflix has learned since Bridgerton). Although, I am sad that there weren’t any ones from previous Austen adaptions, or if there were any I didn’t catch it. I really love seeing the same gown pop up in adaption after adaption.

Visually the film was good, it was the other choices that were terrible.

Diversity

As with Bridgerton they chose to do a rainbow cast (for those who have never heard the term before rainbow cast means that you cast people for characters regardless of the color of their skin, hence having a “rainbow” cast). While other productions that have done this have either made the character’s skin tone their only character trait (I hate when they do that), this production didn’t go that route. In fact it reminded me a lot of Cinderella (1997), the one that stars Brandy, where they had a family unit that contains a white father, African-American mother, and Filipino son; but nothing is made to explain it and being those races are not the characters only personality; instead they are just people. I really enjoyed it, and feel that of other films and TV shows want to that they should definitely go this route. Although I have noticed that like in Bridgerton, Persuasion has no one of Latin descent. As someone who is Latina. I do find that offensive that they promote how inclusive they are yet there is no one of Latino descent. And if someone wants to say that perhaps they couldn’t find a British-Latino person, while I find that to false. First of all Dakota Johnson isn’t even British and they gave her the main character, and secondly I googled it and found 24 right away. Netflix I’m expecting the next adaption to have someone!

Dialogue

The dialogue in this was horrendous. I’m not sure who was paid for this because it was beyond terrible. If I was Netflix, I’d demand that money back. First we have all these modern sayings, phrases, and slang that just do not fit right with the atmosphere. I think if that’s the route they wanted to take they should have just made a modern Persuasion. Or if they wanted to make this a cross between modern + Regency they should have done it Romeo + Juliet (1996) style with her in the Regency clothes and all modern language; or modern clothes and regency language. But this mishmash, some Regency and some Modern did not work out well at all.

There is a lot of truly terrible dialogue but the biggest offenders to be was when Henrietta tells Anne that to win a guy she should pretend she didn’t know how to use cutlery. Not only is that the dumbest thing I have ever heard, but now a whole generation are going to think that Jane Austen wrote that.

I asked a friend if that would be attractive to him and this was his response was “no” and that he would wonder about her mental capacities. The reason I find this particular scene so offensive is first of all Jane Austen wrote very strong and intelligent characters, there are silly ones but these women were not. And not only are we perpetuating this idea that women need to be dumb and have a man help them in order to be attractive, they are making it sound as if Jane Austen herself agrees with that and promoted it as well!

But that was just the beginning. So much of it is terrible that even the good dialogue is lost in the cesspool of words. And let’s not even begin on the octopus line.

The other truly terrible parts of this dialogue is that there is no subtlety or secrets. Everything is out in the open. In the book no one besides Lady Russell knew that Anne and Captain Wentworth had been engaged; in this everyone knows. In the book, no one is certain of Mr. Eliot’s intentions-he saying that he just wants to fix the rift; but Anne suspecting more. However, in this Mr. Eliot tells Anne right away he wants to keep her father from having a male heir. It’s like did anyone read this book?!!

Where are the Austen things and characters I love??!!

They completely destroyed my two favorite parts: 1) when they discuss the loyalty of women and Anne points out that all the “proof” of men loving more are written by men; 2) the letter scene. It really felt like someone took the bare, bare, almost nonexistent bones of the story to write this production.

Mary Musgrove (Mia McKenna-Bruce), Sir Walter Elliot (Richard E. Grant), Charles Musgrove (Ben Bailey Smith), Elizabeth Elliot (Yolanda Kettle), & the Musgrove Children (Jake Siame and Hardy Yusuf)

So some of the characters and the decisions made about the characters were not good, but I’ll save my complaints for a little later. The ones I did enjoy were the above few. Sir Walter and Elizabeth were so horrible and rude, just as they should be, although I think it would have been better to include a bit more of them as they are hardly in there, but they did good.

Charles Musgrove although he too wasn’t in the film that much. The little Musgrove boys were adorable and they stole the scene every time they were on screen.

The one they blew me away though was Mia McKenna-Bruce as Mary Musgrove. You liked her and hated her, she was extremely awful but at the same time she also said a lot of things I agreed with when it came to Anne. Anne was such a mess that Mary (yes Mary), seemed to be the only adjusted character. She was a narcissist, that didn’t change, but she was more together than Anne (which is not how it should be). Out of everyone, I think she did the best.

Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot

Henry Golding was charming but too charming. He’s supposed to be somewhat suspect from Anne’s pov as he hasn’t done anything outwardly wrong, but she is questioning his interest and sudden appearance with her family. When Anne’s friend warns her against him and tells her she spotted Mrs. Clay and Mr. Elliot together, Anne immediately believes her and thinks something is up (which of course we later discover later that he ran off with Mrs. Clay to keep Sir Walter from siring a male heir [although he should be more afraid that Sir Walter will lose all his inheritance]).

However, someone in their great wisdom (read that sarcastically please) decides to reveal Mr. Elliot’s intentions in the first meeting. That’s supposed to be a big plot point! That’d be like if in Great Expectations when Pip goes to school if Magwitch sent him a letter saying that hey I’m your benefactor! By the way I also have a little girl that was adopted named Estella, do you know anyone by that name?

In this adaption Mr. Elliot also asks Anne to marry him (something not in the book), is messing around with Mrs Clay (which Anne catches instead of everyone finding out later), and they also change his character when he marries Mrs. Clay instead of just putting her up as his mistress. They completely changed the character and while it fit for Henry Golding; I this role was not the right one for him. He would have been better as a Frank Churchill, Mr. Tilney, or as Captain Wentworth as as Golding and a lot more chemistry with Dakota Johnson/Anne than Cosmo Jarvis.

Captain Harville (Edward Bluemel) and Captain Benwick (Afolabi Alli)

These actors did well in their parts but the problem was that there wasn’t a lot of them in the film. Benwick and Anne are supposed to spend quite a bit of time together, that’s why when he is engaged to Louisa all are surprised. In this he and Anne have one conversation and didn’t even use the amazing dialogue that Jane Austen wrote. Harville was also just used as a piece of the scenery.

Louisa (Nia Towle) and Henrietta Musgrove (Izuka Hoyle)

Most adaptions hardly use Henrietta but this one does it the least, blink, and you’ll miss her.

Louisa was not very well done in this either. She is made to be so silly, such as that line about how to get a guy. She also doesn’t make sense as a character. In the original book, she and Anne are close but she doesn’t know about their previous engagement, so when she meets Captain Wentworth it makes sense that she goes after this nice, rich, single man. However, in this production they show Louisa and Anne as best friends; Louisa knowing about the engagement and encouraging Anne to go after him. However, after dinner she then reverses that and tells Anne she is making a play for him. Seriously, what a jerk move to do.

The other thing that didn’t make any sense was that there was hardly any flirting and time spent between her and Captain Wentworth for us to even believe they were interested in each othe. In the book the two flirt a lot as Louisa is interested and Captain Wentworth appreciates having her attention in front of the woman who rejected him. The two do several jump and catch me little scenes, that later caused the accident as Louisa does it in an unsafe area. In this they cut out the previous scenes so when she does the jump it doesn’t make any sense and looks like she just decided to yeet herself.

Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Wentworth

I really didn’t care for Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Wentworth. I felt this version of the character was pretty boring and seemed to have no substance or relation to what was going on in the scenes. He never seemed upset or at all like the book character. And of course a big chunk is off because there are no secrets in this adaption like in the book.

I also didn’t feel as if Jarvis really fit in the regnecy times. He seemed out of place to me, as if he was not really apart of his surroundings.

Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot

I haven’t really seen Dakota Johnson in that many things so I can’t really attest to her acting but in this it was deplorable. A major portion of it has to do with her being the main character and pushing the film forward, but the script was terrible. Like Jarvis, I feel the bigger problem was that she never seemed to really inhabit the scenery as well.

Also her character is terrible. She’s trying so hard to be the “quirky” girl but it feels so out of place. They also made a majority of her character like little wine memes; basically this was her in a nutshell “It’s always wine o’clock”, “don’t give a carafe”, “wine not”, etc. She drank way too much, that is basically all she does-drink and fall down. She looks and acts like she needs to get help as she can barely function and cannot without alcohol.

In conclusion, I don’t care how much Netflix is trying to convince me this movie was “good”, I feel this is one of the worst Austen adaptations I have ever seen.

For more Austen adaptations, go to I Watched Austenland (2013) With My 14 Year Old Niece

For more on Persuasion, go to Recipe for Persuasion Audiobook Narrated by Soneela Nankani

For more Jane Austen retellings, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Emma

Emma (Jane Austen Children’s Stories #4) by Jane Austen, adapted by Gemma Barder

I did not originally plan to purchase both the Northanger Abbey and Emma adaptations in this series so close together. If I had I would have done a dual post like I did for the Babylit series. I was just going to purchase the Northanger Abbey one, but a couple weeks after my cousin’s birthday party I discovered that my friend moved her daughter’s birthday party up to the first weekend in June. I needed a present stat and I always buy her a book and toy for her birthday.

So when I was trying to find a book for a 7 year old, the first thing that popped in my head was to get another one book from the Jane Austen Children’s Stories.

As I mentioned in my previous review, any time I spot a children’s book that has to do with Jane Austen, I try and purchase it to gift to them and hopefully influence spark a love of Jane Austen in them.

The Jane Austen Children’s Stories series takes the text of Jane Austen and adapts it for children who are reading on their own and want something longer than a beginning reader, but not quite ready for thick chapter books. Each novel has easy to read text, illustrations, but at the same time still retains the plot of the original novels.

The recommended age for this series is 7-10 years old. The series has adapted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Love and Friendship. You can buy them individually at ~$7 a paperback (hardcover is ~$12 per book) or in a set of all seven in paperback form (plus a journal) for ~$27.

Emma is the story of a girl who has been mistress of her house and doted on by her father. After her governess marries (a match she believes she put together) she becomes bored and intends on trying her hand at matchmaking. She pygmalions her new acquaintance, Harriet Smith, and plans to set her up with the new minister. Things do not go according to plan as her matches do not take hold and her “creation” takes a life of her own.

While I enjoyed the Northanger Abbey review, I loved this adaption of Emma. It was done a little different with it starting off with a breakdown of the characters, a who’s who of everyone.

The book easily captures the attention of the reader as it leans in to the already comedic tones of Emma. The illustrations were also well done, no complaints of the men’s outfits here.

I really enjoyed it, and I think the 7 year old who I purchased it for will love it as well. If you are looking for Jane Austen books for elementary schooled children in your life, then I definitely recommend giving this series a read.

For more Jane Austen Children’s Stories, go to Northanger Abbey

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to Jane Austen (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

For more on Emma book adaptations, go to Emma Manga

For more on Emma, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

Recipe for Persuasion Audiobook Narrated by Soneela Nankani

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I love audiobooks. They are so handy to play when driving to work, cleaning, getting ready in the morning, cooking, etc.

And of course when I see a Jane Austen audiobook, I have to give it a listen.

I was scrolling through MeetLibby when I spotted the audiobook Recipe for Persuasion. I reviewed the actual book a while back and had mixed feelings about it as I liked some aspects of the novel, while I felt other parts of the novel were a bit under developed or rushed. It wasn’t a horrible adaption, far from it, but unlike the first book in the series, to me this one felt like something was missing. However, those feelings didn’t deter me from giving this a listen.

Hmm…?

With audiobooks, one of the most important things to me is to have is a good narrator. Even if it is a book I love and have read over and over again; the narrator will determine whether I will listen to the full audiobook or if I will stop after a few chapters.

In this Soneela Nankani was a great narrator, as she was very clear and gave distinct voices for all the different characters; an impressive feat as she had many accented characters to voice .

Wow!

My only real complaint is that to me, Nankani was actually a little too clear as when she is speaking her American accent she hits every syllable of each word. For some it might not bother them, but once I heard it-I couldn’t unhear it and started counting the syllables of each word.

As mentioned before, Nankani chose to do the character’s accents; for instance Ashna and Trisha have an American accent, Shobi an Indian one, DJ British, etc. The one accent I didn’t agree with was Rico’s as she gave him a British accent instead of a Brazilian one. Now I understand that making a Brazilian-British accent (as he is described having in the book) is more difficult than a British accent, so if this was a choice made because it would be easier on the author, I think she should have at least given him a Brazilian accent when he spoke Portuguese. Even if Rico adopted a British accent after living in England, he definitely would have slipped into a sort of Brasileño accent when talking about home or speaking in Portuguese.

Most of the time when listening to an audiobook something new is brought to your attention or hearing the words instead of seeing them causes you to rethink a scene. I didn’t really have anything new come to my attention other than I had forgotten that Rico’s least favorite food is macaroni and cheese. I mean it’s not the strangest choice, there are people who don’t like it; but after listening to the audiobook all I could think was, out of all the food to dislike, it’s going to be noodles with cheese on top? No fideo con queso? Whoops, Rico is Brazilian, I mean macarronada com queijo? The first time I read this part I passed right over it, but this time listening to it-all I could do was think about was how much I wanted homemade Mac and cheese, or sopa de conchas con queso, with very little broth

If you enjoyed the book, and my two points about the accents and syllables aren’t something to really bother you, be sure to check this audiobook out.

For more on Persuasion, go to Recipe for Persuasion

For more on Sonali Dev, go to Jane Austen Runs My Life Holiday Gift Guide: Jane Austen Books

For more audiobooks, go to Pride and Prejudice Audiobook Narrated by Kate Kellgren

Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen Children’s Stories #5) by Jane Austen, adapted by Gemma Barder

If you’ve been following me, you know that I love to brainwash share my love of Jane Austen with my nieces and my friends’ children.

So any time I spot a children’s book that has to do with Jane Austen, I try and purchase it to gift to them and hopefully influence spark a love of Jane Austen in them.

One day I was on Amazon when this Jane Austen Children’s Stories series came across my book recommendations. This series takes the text of Jane Austen and adapts it for children who are reading on their own and want something longer than a beginning reader, but not quite ready for a thick chapter books. Each novel has easy to read text, illustrations, but at the same time still retain the plot of the original novels.

The recommended age for this series is 7-10 years old. The series has adapted Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Love and Friendship. You can buy them individually at ~$7 a paperback (hardcover is ~$12 per book) or in a set of all seven in paperback form (plus a journal) for ~$27.

Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s books to be written and is a parody of gothic novels and a satire on society. In the story Catherine Morland is a minister’s daughter who loves to read and has an overactive imagination. She is asked to accompany family friends to Bath and while there her life becomes a bit like a novel as she meets the mysterious Tilney family, and the. delightful and handsome Mr. Tilney. She also has another less moral man vying for her affections, Mr. Thorpe. She is later given an opportunity to stay with the Tilneys in their home, Northanger Abbey, and while there wonders if there is a dark secret on the premises. Catherine begins investigating but is there really a mystery or has her overactive imagination just struck again?

I thought the adaption was very well done as it reminded me a lot of the Great Illustrated Classics series I used to read when I was a child, but geared for a slightly younger age. They kept the plot of the book, but removed some of the language or plot points that would sail over a elementary aged child’s head.

I also enjoyed the illustrations, well…except for the men’s outfits, they were not accurate.

I love the way they drew General Tilney. Look how sour he is, there is no doubt that General Tilney is an unpleasant man. Just look at his face.

I really enjoyed it, and I’m hoping my 10 year old cousin, who I purchased it for, will love it as well (fingers crossed). If you are looking for Jane Austen for an elementary schooled child in your life, then I definitely recommend giving this series a read.

For more Jane Austen children’s books, go to Jane Austen (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

For more on Northanger Abbey book adaptations, go to Jane in Love

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to What’s a Girl To Do When Your Parents Won’t Allow You to Live Your Gothic Dreams?