Walking Jane Austen’s London #BookReview #BriFri
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Last week, I reviewed the television mini-series Collateral. Tina reviewed Ireland the Best, a travel guide. Gaele reviewed two novels, one set in WWI London (The Foyles Bookshop Girls) and the other in a modern English village (Sweetshop of Dreams). Sim reported casting news about The King, a retelling of the story of Henry V based on Shakespeare’s plays. Jean reviewed two “Miss Read” novels set in an English village and an English market town.
Book: Walking Jane Austen’s London:A Tour Guide for the Modern Traveller by Louise Allen
Genre: tour guide
Publisher: Shire Publications
Publication date: 2017
Source: purchased print copy from AmazonSummary: This slim volume leads the reader on eight walks through London, highlighting the sites that would have been familiar to Jane Austen during her visits in the early 19th century. With maps and period pictures, we accompany Miss Austen as she window-shops for caps, visits the Wedgwood showroom, and attends a play at the Lyceum Theatre. Along the way, we learn about the 18th century more broadly, including the lounging beaux, the actions of the Royal Navy, and the workings of the courts.
Thoughts: My favorite thing to learn about Austen, while Walking Jane Austen’s London, is that she spent a fair amount of time in London attending art exhibitions to search for her characters in portraits. Here’s what Jane Austen found when she visited The Society of Painters in Water Colours on May 24, 1813:
…a small portrait of Mrs Bingley…exactly herself, size, shaped face, features & sweetness; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I had always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her. (pp. 76-77)
A favorite October activity of participants in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November) is to find models or actors to play the roles of the characters in our novels. Of course, that’s a much quicker process when you get to use the internet to find your characters. Here’s the album of cast members that I made on Facebook last fall for my NaNoWriMo project.
Of course, it would be delightful to carry Walking Jane Austen’s London through London, following the maps and reading the context for each marked site. If you’re not going to London any time soon, I highly recommend this book to use for armchair travel, like I did.
Challenges: This is my 6th nonfiction book of the year — I’m right on track for 12 nonfiction books. I’ll link this review with Nonfiction Friday at the Doing Dewey blog. This is my 5th book for the British Books Challenge. There doesn’t seem to be a link for that this month, but I want credit for being almost on track for 12 British books in 2018.
That sounds like a book I would want to take along when I go to London. Can’t wait to plan another trip.
My sister and I are going to London this summer. She is a big Jane Austin Fan and I am not, but I may pick up this book for her to read on the flight. While we are walking about we may run into something from Jane!
I’ve been thinking about how to make this work when my husband couldn’t care less about Jane Austen. Fortunately, although you wouldn’t know it from her books, Austen lived at the height of the Industrial Revolution, which he’s very interested in. So, I think we’ll both appreciate seeing London with the lens of “what was here in the early 19th century?”
The last trip – we did a mix of ‘literary’ sort of wanders and utter touristy bits – with plenty of input from cabbies who had some ‘histories’ and information about places that I’d never thought to see – and that I didn’t know about. There’s a Thames walking tour and a bookshop tour (along with a couple of cafe’s ) that are more my sort of thing – and then, of course, the pass for the Library with a pass into the reading room – I could spend all day there.
Brit(ish) Impressive book in which Afua Hirsch is brutally honest explaining what it feels like to be ‘other’ in her own country! Ms Hirsch was an eloquent commentator on BBC during the Royal Wedding on 19th of May….which we all followed!
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That is a fun fact about Austen! This sounds so specific, I’m not sure I’d have picked it up, but I’m much more interested after reading your review.