Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters links for June 10, 2018

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Here are your Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters related links for the week:

Book Review: The Madwoman Upstairs

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Title: The Madwoman Upstairs
Author: Catherine Lowell
Pub date: 2016
ISBN: 978-1501126307


First impressions: A wholly unique tale of the last remaining fictional survivor of the Bronte family, their legacy, as well as her grief of loss, a tiny bit of romance, and a mystery to bring closure to very important things(tm). I was captivated by the story and found myself falling in love with Samantha Whipple within the first few pages. An engaging and clever read that I was ultimately disappointed it had to end.

Whenever I read a book review on an upcoming or new published book, “unique,” “original,” or “clever” get thrown around a lot which makes me pucker my lips. I’m a firm believer there is rarely any “unique,” “original,” or “clever” works.

Reader, I was wrong. (I was so wrong, the next book I review also is unique, original, and clever.)

Samantha Whipple is a first year at Old College, Oxford University. Her mother left their family when she was a teen, her beloved father had recently died, and she was the last inheritor to the Bronte legacy only there isn’t a legacy to be inherited and if there is, no one in the Whipple family have any idea what it is despite the insistance of Bronte scholars and academics.  Even with the romance as one of the subjects, this book is not chick lit or a romance but it is a woman’s story of how she works through grief, romantic love, academia, redemption, and finally forgiveness.

The Madwoman Upstairs was published a few years ago but it’s only recently I’ve seen it pop up in my internet reads as comparisons to new Bronte related fiction. I had a blase attitude towards it—the summary does the book no favors but once I got into the story, I became obsessed with finishing the book ASAP. Samantha is feisty, snarky, and in emotional pain—all the things I, and perhaps many, can relate to. Her relationship with her mother is fraught as she reconciles her mother’s relationship with not only her own but with Samantha’s father. Samantha is academically gifted and is often compared to her father who was a brilliant novelist and academic but gives two nothings about her place in academia.

Then there is the Bronte legacy.

The Madwoman Upstairs is many things and surprisingly does not get lost in its many things, but its heart is a mystery of Samantha reconciling and understanding her father more after his death and the dogged pursuit of Bronte scholars absolutely intent on the Whipple family to cough up an imaginary legacy. Samantha is on the hunt for the last remaining pieces of her father’s life, set up as a treasure hunt reminiscent of her childhood, and as she digs deeper into the mystery, Samantha not only learns much about her father and family but also about herself.

It’s rare for a debut to come out of the gate so strong with a finely tuned plot, the writing is sharp and clever (I tell you, I live for Samantha’s dialogue), and there is not a word wasted. At times the story is heart-breaking and uproarious and if you enjoy Bronte related fiction it’s a book not to be missed.

Reminder: Jane Austen Summer Program 2018 is Next Week

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A recent introduction in the Janeite calendar is the Jane Austen Summer Program held every year in June at UNC Chapel Hill in June. I recently became aware of the program via Ted Scheinman’s Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan, which I reviewed favorably a few weeks back, as this is the festival that figures prominently in his book. While I’ve been interested in going to the AGMs for years, it’s always been a matter of time and money. Anyone in fandoms knows being a superfan is expensive and time consuming but JASP seems to be more up my alley.

Anywho! Yes, Jane Austen Summer Program! The program is inspired by the Dickens Universe at UC Santa Cruz which has been happening for over 30 years! For JASP, “Austen as a lingua franca: that commonality between the academics and fans where scholarship can expand (and yes fun can be had)” (note: I just quoted myself from my book review).

Perhaps JASP can put it a bit more directly,

Our 4-day symposium focuses on one of Austen’s works each summer. The Jane Austen Summer Program is designed to appeal to established scholars, high school teachers, graduate students, undergraduate students, and anyone with a passion for all things Austen.

The event takes place at Carrboro and Chapel Hill, North Carolina on June 14 – 17 (a solid month before JASNA Louisville yearly festival). This year the theme is Northanger Abbey & Frankenstein: 200 Years of Horror. Registration is already open and they are packing a lot into a four-day schedule!

Please check JASP’s website for information on travel, lodgings, events, and more.


Don’t forget! The Jane Austen Louisville Festival is July 13-15

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It’s that time of year again for the Jane Austen Louisville 2018 festival!

The festival, put on by the JASNA Louisville region, is one of the top Jane Austen festivals in the country, nay the world, after the JASNA AGM. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Persuasion, this year’s theme is “Piercing Souls.” (Note: Our monthly meetings have catered to this theme and the lectures have been wonderful!)

The festival will be held July 13 – 15 at the historic Locust Grove which is located about five or so minutes from downtown Louisville.

Tickets, available online, will go on sale June 6 and you better act fast! Tickets for the events such as the Grand Ball do sell out. (The organizers wuld like to note that tickets for the festival itself do not sell out.) Tickets for the grand tea ($25), children’s tea ($20), as well as tickets for workshops (price TBD) will also be available for purchase.

The organizers would also like to note that as Forecastle will be happening the same weekend, advanced booking for lodgings is advised. If I recall correctly, some hotels and B&Bs are already selling out.

For more information on tickets, directions, events, and more, visit the festival’s website. Contact information for the organizers is available if you have any questions. (Please do not contact me as while I am a member of this JASNA region, I am not an organizer so my information is limited.)



Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters links for June 3, 2018

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Here are your Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters related links for the week: