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On Our Bookshelves – The Daily Jane Austen – A Year of Quotes

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BOOK: The Daily Jane Austen – A Year of Quotes

EDITOR: Devoney Looser

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2019

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Is it too early to be thinking about Christmas presents yet?  Because this slim volume is the perfect stocking stuffer for the Janeite in your life.  The Daily Jane Austen has a quote for every day of the year, plus a longer passage at the beginning of each month.  If you are extraordinarily patient, you can wait until the new year and read this book gradually through the coming year.  If you are impatient like me, you’ll tear right through it…at under 200 pages, it packs a lot of pleasure in a fast read.

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The introduction by Devoney Looser is quite nice, and responsibly points out the pitfalls of Austen quotes: with the author’s humor, irony, and wit, taking a snippet out of context can easily disguise her meaning.  It’s often not straightforward at all–it is important to know who is doing the talking and what the character is like. This ambiguity is quite pleasurable in itself, however, and if it brings the reader of this text to Austen’s novels (or her few remaining letters, or her unfinished novels, or the writing of her youth), that’s all to the good.

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I’ll leave you with a sampling of quotes for your reading pleasure:

January 1: 

If adventures will not befal a  young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.

February 14: 

Though a very few hours spent in the hard labour of incessant talking will dispatch more subjects than can really be in common between any two rational creatures, yet with lovers it is different.  Between them no subject is finished, no communication is even made, till it has been made at least twenty times over.

March 17: 

I am not a woman of parade, as all the world knows.

October 31: 

“Ah mother! how do you do?” said he, giving a hearty shake of the hand: “where did you get that quiz of a hat, it makes you look like an old witch?”

December 24: 

“‘Christmas weather,” observed Mr. Elton.  “Quite seasonable; and extremely fortunate we may think ourselves that it did not begin yesterday, and prevent this day’s party, which it might very possibly have done, for Mr. Woodhouse would hardly have ventured had there been much snow on the ground; but now it is of no consequence.  This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas every body invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather. I was snowed up at a friend’s house once for a week. Nothing could be pleasanter. I went for only one night, and could not get away till that very day se’nnight.”

Mr. John Knightley looked as if he did not comprehend the pleasure, but said only, coolly,

“I cannot wish to be snowed up a week at Randalls.”

December 31

“Of all horrid things, leave-taking is the worst.”

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3 1/2 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Book Cover Courtesy of the University of Chicago Press

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