The Familiarity of Reality Stars as Jane Austen Characters

Kardash sisters as Austen characters

This Atlantic piece  by Sophie Gilbert was published in May 2016 but it’s new to me. I found the piece provocative — paralleling reality stars with Austen heroines? Are they mad?

Gilbert’s thesis, “Why do reality television’s most popular stars so uncannily resemble the heroines of the 19th-century writer’s work?”, upon further thought which gave way to slow nodding of my head. “Of geeze,” I thought. “Were we always so blind to not think Austen’s characters were sketched from similiar people like the Kardashs?”  And it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to compare them to the Bennet sisters: there is always a good girl (Kourtney), a headstrong girl (Khole), a social climber (Kim), and attention queens (Kylie and Kendall). Even Kris (their mother) has parallel ties with Mrs. Bennet.

From Gilbert,

But what’s clear reading Austen today, or watching one of the countless adaptations of her work, is how much the women in her novels have in common with so many of the women on reality television.

Holy cat’s pyjamas. I’m both amused and a titch recoiled comparing trashy reality stars to the loveliness of Jane’s world. (Work with me here — I know not all of Jane’s heroines lived in splendor and good graces, but for the sake of this argument, they are positively queens.)

Gilbert also ties Blac Chyna, Rob Kardashian’s baby momma, to Lady Susan which is also an uncanny parallel.

Gilbert goes on,

Isn’t it weird? It’s possible to imagine Austen, reincarnated with her bonnet and penchant for millinery, being moderately overwhelmed by the various cuts and colors of synthetic fabric worn by the contestants on The Bachelor. But the show’s premise would strike her as utterly familiar.

I wonder how Austen would feel reading these words — would she agree the roles of women in society and in the home have not changed (much) in over 200+ years since her books were published? Would she smirk, I believe Jane would be a smirker, at the silliness, though entertaining as they may be, of these shows?

This is why Gilbert’s, in my not so humble opinion, comparisons are not that far fetched. And when you think about the piece in that context, no matter how much Jane may have smirked at the idea, in the end she would, unfortunately, agree.

Let us have Jane have the final word:

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn? 

Mediations on Anne Bronte

Bronte Sisters

I haven’t had a chance to watch To Walk Invisible yet, the BBC bio-drama that aired last week on the Brontës, but to satiate viewers for knowledge for more Brontë, The Guardian recently published a piece on Anne Brontë, the younger and lesser known sister of the family, on her body of work. The piece centers mostly on Anges Grey, Anne’s first book, a tale of a woman who is too educated to be a servant and too poor to be a lady which falls to her only option: becoming a governess.

Anges Grey is a sharp-witted observational tale of a governess who speaks directly to the reader and due to its frankness of the reality of the governess jobs these genteel women take, the book was set to cause an outrage when it was published. Except, dear reader, if you may remember, Jane Eyre (by sister Charlotte), does exactly what Anges Grey was supposed to do and Anges Grey has long been considered Jane Eyre’s poorer imitation. Except, Anges Grey was written first and scholars argue it was Anne who should have gotten the accolades first, not Charlotte.

The Guardian piece, which parallels Anne’s life with Anges’, is written by Samantha Ellis whose forthcoming book, Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life, is set to be released internationally this spring with no known US publishing date. 



At Home With Jane Austen by Lucy Worsley

At Home with Jane Austen

Holy cat’s pyjamas! One of my favourite historians is releasing a book on Jane this summer to coincide with the 200th anniversary of her death. (Pour one out for Jane’s death, amen.)

From the publisher,

On the eve of the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, take a trip back to her world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen’s childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses – both grand and small – of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life.


Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but – in the end – a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

The book is set to release in the US on July 11, 2017 with simultaneous publication in the UK. I should have a review up a few days after that.



Jane Austen replica ring now on sale

Jane Austen's ring

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath has a replica of Jane’s ring for sale for a mere $71.67 USD (£58.33 GBP) and it’s currently on sale.

The original ring, you may recall, was in the midst of a controversy when singer Kelly Clarkson bid and won the ring at an auction. There was an export ban on the ring, disallowing Clarkson to take it to the US, and the ring was purchased by Jane Austen’s House Museum in Hampshire, where it now resides on display.

…and sometimes the Brontes?

I know, I know. It’s a truth universally acknowledged the Brontes hated Austen with passion. (It’s also universally acknowledged most articles about Jane have to start with “It’s a truth universally acknowledged…”.)

Charlotte is quoted with,

Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete and rather insensible (not senseless) woman.

And she’s not the only one: Twain, Churchill, Woolf, and others are wont to throw their barbs in as well. (Don’t read the comments as the pro vs con in that piece gets a little heated.)

So why combine Austen and the Brontës in the same blog?

Jane’s a “duh, let’s talk about her” but the Brontës elude me. I’ve read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and attempted Villette but the novels never quite did it for me. Yet there is something extraordinary about the family where three out of the four Brontë children (sorry Branwell!) write novels considered to be classic pieces of literature. This is a nice complement to Austen’s six books that have also stood the test of time.

(Plus the Brontë’s morbid, gothic lifestyles is highly attractive.)

While at the surface all of the author’s books seem so wildly different,  at it’s core all the ladies wrote societal critiques, whether they choose to admit it or not, of their social mores and times. Jane Eyre is the rejection of what is to be expected of a lady while falling for a man on her own terms — sound familiar? Wuthering Heights is a hot mess — what the eff is that book really about? — but the core relationship has Catherine pining for Heathcliff is all of his Byronic ways, which is parallel with Miss Eyre and her swooniness for Rochester as well as Jane with her Darcy.

As there has been a resurgence of interest in the Brontë family, I decided to make it my mission to get to know the Brontës (and their fans as they too tend to be dismissive of our Jane) and see if in my older youthful years I can fall in love with them as much or as close to our Jane.

Plus, I’ll take any more reasons to wear this t-shirt:

Bronte's fangirling


It’s A Truth Universally Acknowledged Jane Austen Money is Coming Soon

Jane Austen bank note

Finally! After three years of waiting, the Jane Austen banknote and coins are here — well, in the summer.

From The Telegraph:

The Royal Mint, in a New Year’s statement, announced that Austen has been chosen as the new image for its commemorative £2 coins.

About five million will be released into mass circulation. The coins, which feature a silhouette of Austen, will be launched in the spring.

At about the same time, the Bank of England is expected to release its new, plastic, unrippable £10 note and in the process will replace Charles Darwin with an Austen portrait.



Banknotes AND coins? Fantabulous. What’s even better is both denominations will be in mass circulation so getting one or both shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve already contacted as many English friends as possible to get the cash not only for myself but also to create sets for friends.

The release of the coins and notes will happen this summer will conicinde with the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death.