Book Reviews, My Writing

Jane Austen in India!

I had blogged earlier about the inclusion of my essay ‘Jane Austen Lives in India’ in the anthology Cocktails with Miss Austen.

Here’s a tantalizing glimpse of the print books!Jane.jpg

The book is out in the world since November. It had a great launch day and even made it to number one in Amazon UK’s hot new releases in its category. Just above Philip Pullman at no. 2 and Umberto Eco at no. 3 – so we have some famous company!

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What’s more – we’ve even bagged our first 4-star review! I was thrilled to find it mentions my essay specifically, as well as two other brilliant ones!

These “conversations on the world’s most beloved author,” as the book’s subtitle has it, are charmingly informative: Pride and Prejudice serialized on TV in India and a rapt teenager and her mother both, in their own way, musing about the man the teenager — Gargi Mehra, one of the collection’s seventeen contributors — should marry. Another piece with a fine meditation on the subject of complicated lives by the Australian writer Imogen Armstrong Orr, who has learned from Jane Austen that “. . . the quietness of the lives lived in her pages highlights the passion of the women who live them.” When I tired of reminiscence and craved some straight lit crit I found it in several essays, my favorite being one combining the two, mingling criticism with anecdote. Elizabeth Davis’ “Jane on the Brain” is an occasionally hilarious account of the author leading a class of young American students around England as well as around their much loved Jane Austen.

The subject is so close to my heart that the essay was relatively easier to write. The words flowed when I was writing and all I had to do was edit it for clarity and structure in my subsequent drafts.

The book is a treat for Jane Austen fans, and it would make a great Christmas/ New Year gift! It is available for only $0.99 on the Kindle store right now. Do pop over and take a look! Please leave a review if you read the book and like it!

I’ll be sitting curled up with my own copy meanwhile!


My Writing

Cocktails with Miss Austen


As I mentioned earlier, an essay of mine will feature in an anthology about Jane Austen by Ben Bulben Books, which is schedule for release in November this year. 

The book will be titled Cocktails with Miss Austen, and includes essays by several authors. Take a sneak peek at the book below!

Book Reviews, My Writing, Uncategorized, Writing

The Legacy of Jane Austen, and a New Story Publication!

I’m happy to post that my story Perils in the Post has found a wonderful home in The Ilanot Review in their Letters-themed issue. The Ilanot Review is an excellent literary journal from Israel! Do hop over and take a look.

In other exciting news, 18th July this year marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. How fitting that my essay on Jane Austen was accepted just days ago, for an anthology by Ben Bulben Books. The piece, which I drafted over a week, captures my love for this great author and her delightful work. I would love to share a link to the anthology when it comes out.

Though I’ve read all her books, my favourite works of Jane Austen are the usual culprits: Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. My next favourite after these two would be Emma, followed by Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. I haven’t read Lady Susan yet but as it was her first novel she wrote, the general consensus is that it differs from her later work.

As a Jane-ite, I am not enamoured of all the variations on her work that have flooded the marketplace in the past few years. I’ve read only a few of them, but haven’t had the stomach to read any more. Here are a few that I’ve read: 

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Pride and Prejudice strides into the mystery genre courtesy the late great P.D. James and what an entry it is! I loved this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

This was quite successful but I didn’t enjoy it much. It spawned a movie version as well, and I tried watching it in an attempt to help reading the book, but that did not work either. It’s just one of those where my taste apparently doesn’t mesh with the general reading public. 

Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

I read this years ago and though my memory of it is vague, I remember enjoying the read. She incorporates dialogues from the original text as well.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, and others in a similar vein

Pure blasphemy in my humble opinion, but that’s just me. The book was quite popular and well-appreciated, though I am sure it literally left JA turning in her grave.

This is only a sampling and there are many more, but I don’t want to tarnish the image of the original in my mind by reading derivative works. Perhaps at a later stage, I might grow a taste for it, but not now.

What’s your favourite Jane Austen novel?


Book Reviews

The Other Jane

21st April this year marks the 200th birth anniversary of the author Charlotte Bronte. I have read only one of her novels, i.e. the infamous Jane Eyre, but that has made a lasting impression on me.

I first read the book as a teenager in school. I cannot remember if it was an abridged version, though it might have been, but I do recall noting several points that set it apart from a book like, say, Pride and Prejudice.

Jane Eyre is a plain heroine, indeed quite markedly so. This is different from the books of Jane Austen’s that tend more towards classic romance fiction where the main protagonists dazzle society at large with their looks. Elizabeth Bennett is not the prettiest girl in P&P, but she is “second only to her sister Jane”, who is known to be a beauty. Mr. Darcy is widely touted as one of the handsomest men, but Mr. Rochester is neither young nor known for his dashing good looks.

The other central point of difference is of course the life of the heroine. Jane Eyre is downtrodden and underprivileged to begin with, earns her living by the time she’s eighteen, and [SPOILERS FOLLOW] eventually lands an inheritance from a relative. Jane and Elizabeth Bennett aren’t piling on the riches, but they’re not living in abject poverty either. They manage to deck themselves out for ball after ball, where their primary motive is to find en eligible suitor. This does not apply to Elizabeth, of course, but for quite a few women in Jane Austen’s novels.

In my first reading and interpretation I found Jane Eyre a bit strange. I did not understand or appreciate its beauty, and I closely connected most with the protagonist’s years spent in her school. The whole angle about the woman in the attic, Mr. Rochester’s mad wife, puzzled me. I found it almost unreasonable and illogical that a man could conceal a lunatic in his house and not have anyone in polite society know or discover this fact. I could never understand how Mr. Rochester landed himself in such a tragic situation in the first place.

A second reading of Jane Eyre completed over recent months revealed its beauty and understanding of human nature to me. The prose in the book is dramatic, and it’s interesting how many times Jane is described as plain, leaving no doubt in the reader’s mind that the character in question is no beauty. But she is intelligent and fascinating, considering the strength of conviction she displays in her circumstances.

The first time I read Jane Eyre, the book had a preface that offered a brief biography of Charlotte Bronte and her sisters. I found it interesting that Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte published books under their assumed names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Only later when their books became popular did they come to be known by their true names and gender.

If you haven’t read Jane Eyre already, then I suggest you do so straight away. And once you have finished that, you can check out The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, one of my favourite books, that features a literary detective called Thursday Next who allegedly brings about the relatively happy ending of Jane Eyre!

Though I haven’t read Anne Bronte’s novel, I did read and love Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Have you read any of the novels by the Bronte sisters? Which is your favourite?