As the “Welcome, Dear Readers!” part says ‘if you have ever wondered “What would Jane Austen think?” you have indeed come to the right place.’
Maria Emilia de Medeiros’ book called Jane Austen Speaks: about life, the modern world, and heavenly pursuits. Well, Jane Austen speaks from Heaven which is a very clever premise as she can quote and talk about authors, artists and people who lived and events which happened later than her ‘Earthly existence’. To start with, in the second sentence she quotes “the rather cross American writer” Mark Twain about her own death. Later she responded to Twain’s and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s criticism, very cleverly as a matter of fact.
The narrator pretends she is Jane Austen and talks in first person singular about her life, novels, food, the whole Jane Austen phenomena, modern world and much more. She has tea with the Brontes, Shakespeare, Darwin, Kipling, Wilde, Edith Wharton with recipes in the end. The funny thing is despite of the fact that the author hasn’t met Jane Austen, just like the Jane Austen scholars she criticizes (as they haven’t met her basically they cannot have statements about what would have Jane said or thought), I believe everything Ms Medeiros says in the book, but I don’t believe everything the “scholars” come up with. The book is absolutely brilliant because it undermines itself with all the things “Jane Austen says”, but at the same time the author doesn’t take herself too seriously. By the way this ‘scholar’ part is my favourite along with her musings about Jane Austen Fan Fiction, probably because it is provocative, especially the latter -‘The Jane Austen Industry’-.
I was also thinking a lot about what ‘Jane Austen snob’ means, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who was led to the conclusion that Jane Austen’s “admirers certainly should not be faulted for their reminement, good taste, and intelligence…”
Jane Austen Speaks is very well researched. If you haven’t been familiar with some subjects like regency swimming suits; the history of women wearing trousers or the fact that ink didn’t grow on a tree 🙂 – you can learn new things. Comparing twerking to waltz or the regency wages of a governess’ to the teacher’s salary nowadays are also very good examples of the book’s brilliance. It’s interesting to read what the author says about the portraits; she also reflects on the fuss about the ring; and scratches the surfaces of some contemporary political events’.
Austen has a dreamteam guest list which made me think about mine…I’ll start to work on it.
This book should be on every Janeite’s bookshelf! Highly recommended!!!