Hello, Friends! It's my stop on the Jane Austen Speaks Blog Tour. Please welcome Maria-Emilia de Medeiros as she shares a little about her new book. I found her knowledge of Jane Austen impressive! Be sure to read to the bottom of the page for giveaway details!
Many thanks for inviting me to So Little Time… today, Candy! I am thrilled and honored to be your guest. I am excited to share my newly released book Jane Austen Speaks About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits with your readers today!
This book is my own lighthearted attempt to allow Miss Austen to voice what might have been her “own” opinions on modern day matters, based on a knowledge of her life, work, society, and the prevailing social morés inherent in Western culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In addition to Miss Austen’s wide-ranging reflections upon her life, novels, and the modern world, a section of the book is devoted to food and social visits, featuring a number of heavenly “guests” as well as recipes for your use and enjoyment. You can plan your very own Jane Austen dinner party, too!
Since today is Bastille Day in France, I thought it would be most appropriate to share some thoughts with your readers about Jane Austen and all things French. Jane Austen, like other well-bred English people in her day and age, had a curious “love-hate” relationship with that formidable nation to the east of the British Isles.
During Miss Austen’s lifetime, nearly all educated people studied and mastered French, because French culture was considered stylish and de rigeur. Jane was no exception to this rule. It seems that she was accustomed to reading French from quite an early age. In December of 1783, she was given the book Fables Choisies, which was comprised of 99 French fables including some grammatical rules and vocabulary. Jane’s nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh wrote in his Memoir of “the considerable knowledge of French which the [Austen] sisters possessed.” Jane Austen may have been introduced to the language by her mother, as it was said that Cassandra Leigh Austen possessed an excellent knowledge of spoken and written French. Anyone who has read Jane Austen’s surviving letters to her sister Cassandra knows that they contain numerous French words and phrases which seem quite spontaneous, even though many are misspelled or lacking the correct accents.
As far as French influence in Jane Austen’s life, by far the greatest came from her exotic first cousin, Eliza Comtesse de Feuillide, who first came to Steventon when Jane was only eleven years old. She married the Comte de Feuillide, Jean Capot, and gave birth to his son in England in 1786. By all accounts, this lively and beautiful French countess livened up the Steventon Rectory when she arrived in time for Christmas. Eliza was very beloved by Jane and all of the Austen family; in later years, after she was widowed, she even married Jane’s favorite brother, Henry.
Jane Austen never mentioned the French Revolution in any of her writings. As a matter of fact, she mentioned France only three times in any of her books. Bastille Day, of course, commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, two days after the revolution had begun. The revolution in France was considered something of a threat to the stability of the English social order for a time. There was even some sympathy in England for the revolutionaries, until the violent excesses of the Reign of Terror turned the tide of public opinion against them. As a patriotic Englishwoman, Jane Austen would have felt the same. After all, Cousin Eliza’s own husband became a victim of the hideous guillotine, and Eliza and her child were fortunate to have escaped. England was at war with the French for nearly the entire life of Miss Austen. Her brothers Francis and Charles were officers in the Royal Navy, and as servicemen, they were taught to hate the French. All things considered, it is not a great surprise that Jane Austen was not a big Francophile! However, when the Napoleonic Wars were finally over, travel resumed to France, and English people were once again at liberty to travel and enjoy the French language, food, wine, and other aspects of the culture. Several of Miss Austen’s relations and friends did so, and Jane herself met many French people through her brother Henry and sister-in-law Eliza.
It is true that the French people greatly esteemed Jane Austen’s novels. They were the first non-English speaking people to have her novels translated. Raison et Sensibilité was published in Paris in 1815, and Le Parc du Mansfield ou Les Trois Cousines and La Nouvelle Emma in 1816. By 1824, all six novels had been translated into French! It certainly shows that despite the political hostilities of the previous decades, the French had impeccable taste in literature to appreciate Miss Austen’s work the way they did. That admiration continues to the present day.
Would the wise Jane Austen have been a slave to the excesses of French fashion? Here is an excerpt from Jane Austen Speaks, “Ladies’ Unmentionables.”
A lady I greatly admire is the American women’s health reformer, Mary Gove Nichols, who lived on Earth from 1810 to 1884. Mrs. Nichols had no aspirations for reform until she herself suffered four miscarriages and chronic ill health as a young woman. She suspected that the fashionably tightly-laced corset she habitually wore contributed to her miscarriages as well as her overall poor health. Mrs. Nichols was most determined to relieve the female sex of the physical and mental suffering caused by poor health and hygiene practices. After much time spent secretly studying medical texts (for the study of medicine was considered quite indecent for females) she recommended that women exercise daily, breathe fresh air, shower with cold water, avoid the fashionably tightly-laced corsets of the day, and abstain from coffee and red meat. What sound advice, indeed. In 1851, Mrs. Nichols wrote the cleverly titled document called Declaration of Independence from the Despotism of Parisian Fashion and gathered signatures to it at lectures on women’s dress. While it is true that many wonderful things have come to us from the French, please allow me to express that the corset is certainly not one of them.
Please enter your comments below to be entered in the giveaway for a free eBook! I look forward to hearing from you.
Once again, I would like to thank the lovely Candy Morton for graciously hosting me as her guest today on So Little Time… It has been a very great pleasure for me to share something about Jane Austen Speaks About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits with your readers!
Maria-Emilia de Medeiros
In JANE AUSTEN SPEAKS, author Maria Emilia de Medeiros “channels” the great Jane Austen from her heavenly home and allows her the opportunity to speak her mind about the modern world nearly two centuries after her passing. Readers will gain a healthy dose of wise counsel and witty advice for leading a sensible, well-mannered twenty-first century life. Jane Austen’s heavenly exploits (not to mention her recipes) will both entertain and delight you. At times serious, drily humorous, or even a bit naughty, JANE AUSTEN SPEAKS is a necessary addition to every Janeite’s library. Dear Readers, if you have ever asked yourself, “What would Jane Austen think?” you have indeed come to the right place.
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Maria-Emilia de Medeiros is a teacher, writer, artist, and lifelong Janeite. She read her first Jane Austen novel at the tender age of twelve and has never looked back. In addition to reading, playing the pianoforte, and embroidery, she is fond of dogs, long country walks, and drawing. Jane Austen Speaks is her first published book about Jane Austen.
My Jane Austen Book Club - July 6
Laughing with Lizzie - July 8
Obsessed with Mr. Darcy - July 12
So Little Time... - July 14
More Agreeably Engaged - July 19
Babblings of a Bookworm - July 25
Thank you Maria-Emilia for stopping by today! It was a pleasure to have you here, and so fascinating! I don't think I knew about Eliza's husband being killed by the guillotine!
* * * GIVEAWAY * * *
It's giveaway time! Maria-Emilia is offering one e-copy of her book Jane Austen Speaks to one lucky person who leaves a comment here at So Little Time...!
- One person will win an e-copy of Jane Austen Speaks.
- To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with a way to get in contact with you, i.e. your email or twitter handle. If you leave your email, please put parentheses around (at) and (dot).
- Open Internationally
- A winner will be picked randomly.
- Last day to enter the giveaway is July 21st, 2016, midnight Pacific Time.
- For more chances to win, please visit the other blogs on this tour. Each blog is hosting individual giveaways!
I hope you enjoy Maria-Emilia's visit as much as I did! This sounds like a great book! One that I would love to have sitting on my coffee table to be enjoyed anytime!