The Jane Austen Handbook

Written by Margaret Sullivan
Review by Fenella Miller

The Jane Austen Handbook is a charming little book. The cream cover and pages, and delightful illustrations, are perfect for the subject matter. The book is written with a similar dry wit to that of Jane Austen herself. Within its pages one can discover “Proper Life Skills from Regency England”. Margaret Sullivan certainly knows her Regency and Jane Austen.

Everything you ever wanted to know from what is needed to be an accomplished lady, how to recognise The Quality, and how to ride side-saddle is covered in the first section. In the second, there are chapters on keeping house, planning a dinner party, raising your children, and how to buy clothing. In the third, misleadingly entitled “Making Love”, Margaret Sullivan covers various topics including: the best way to choose a prospective husband, decline unwanted proposals of marriage, and carry on a secret engagement.

The appendix gives a short biography of Jane Austen plus interesting information about her novels including the lesser-known works. There is also an excellent glossary.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in either Jane Austen or Regency England. It’s a must have for anyone considering writing a Regency romance for themselves.