Today I review a book which is raising money on Kickstarter. The book is written by Karin Quint and it’s called Het Engeland van Jane Austen or Jane Austen’s England if the fund raising will be successful. It was written in Dutch and I’m lucky enough to speak Dutch. Haha. Something I have never in a million years thought I would say. If you don’t speak this ‘beautiful’ language, than let’s help to translate it into English, as it can be a book which would fill the gap. There are booklets out there which are sort of travel guides, for example filming location for specific adaptations, Jane Austen walk or town guides, but there is no other book, which can be a ‘travel guide Bible’ to Austen Fans.
The fact that it is written by a true Janeite reflected on every page. It is very well researched, confirmed with quotes from letters, diaries, primary sources. A travel guide wrapped into history and interesting facts. It describes houses, places, roads, villages, towns, and somehow everything is connected with Jane, I wouldn’t say it’s a biography.
The book starts with Jane Austen’s life and time, which is luckily not a silly Wikipedia cliché, but a well written story. My favourite from this part is when Ms Quint writes about George III. and the Prince Regent. After this part we move onto Hampshire. The first time when I have visited Steventon, this book wasn’t available. It would have made my trip more colourful with all the things she says about the surroundings as I was only focusing on the church. But the author doesn’t only stop at the church; she walks along and looks around, providing useful information about Steventon Manor/Rectory/walks, lanes, houses nearby. It’s true for the whole book, that the author also explaines what would Jane have seen in her time. It is especially enjoyable in the Chawton part where Ms Quint talks about houses, which were mentioned in Austen’s letters. (By the way, during the Regency Week-in June- there are organized walks and talks in Alton and Chawton, worth to take if you have a chance.) The writer suggests walking routes, like Chawton-Upper Farringdon-Chawton and also gives road trip ideas, like Austen’s Hampshire in 7 days, Pride and Prejudice (1995) in 4 days or Pride and Prejudice (2005) in 5 days.
Big part of the book is about visiting filming locations. It’s very nice to realize that she includes places which are not mentioned on IMDB’s filming locations section, such as Stratfield Saye as interior of Hartfield in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma. When she describes places featured in films, she also lists all the rooms which were used as a set. This makes your journey more efficient, as you only need to make a list and watch out for those rooms. If the location was used in multiple films, she mentions all of them, like in Syon Park. She also writes about locations which have only fictional refernce, like Gracechurch Street in London which is mentioned in Pride and Prejudice. I have enjoyed the paragraphs where she went behind the scenes and quoted Ang Lee or Emma Thompson for example. It was entertaining to read about how Chilham ended up as Highbury in 2009’s Emma, or Mapperton as Randalls. In Burghley House Ms Quint quotes one of the room guides, Peter Cochrane, who was an extra in the 2005 Pride and Prejuice production. Funny enough when i have visited the place, i’ve met the same guy along with another room guide, a lady who was also an extra. They were amazing. When they found out that I was visiting because of the film, they were telling me so many things about being an extra and shooting.
I can only hope that the English translation will do justice to the book. Obsessed with Mr Darcy has 2500 followers on Facebook. If everyone would give €5 (which is like a starbucks coffee), we could make it happen, and the project would be successful. There are many options to help, you can donate from €5 up to €150.