Today I share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader
and The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.
My book beginning this week is from “Jane Austen’s Town and Country Style” by Susan Watkins.
Here is the beginning:
“In these pages, from the vantage point of a particular English country gentlewoman, a journey is made through the society and surroundings of a group of people of unsurpassed elegance and refinement, in the later decades of the eighteenth century and at the beginning of an era of profound change that followed it. Jane Austen’s Town and Country Style offers an opportunity to wonder, to gaze and to gain an almost tactile understanding of this world – the world of Jane Austen.”
Here is a review by Cheryl Bolen:
“Watkins uses words from Austen’s books and correspondence to authenticate her text. In describing the era, she explains how and in what skills a genteel girl was educated. When detailing a young man’s education, she does not neglect the sporting pursuits and adds a snippet from an Austen letter in which she says her brothers are “mad” for cricket.
To give the reader a sense of the times, she discusses the postal service, marriage, nurseries, and how a genteel woman would spend her day.
The chapter on country houses is rich with photos and even speculates on which houses Austen’s fictional manses were modeled.
Descriptions of furnishings, libraries, and table adornments fill the chapter on interiors.
One of the most richly detailed chapters is the one on fashion, which discusses and illustrates women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing. Accessories, servants’ dress, and cosmetics are also addressed here.”
“Decorative elements were limited to whitewash; beams were exposed – even before this feature was thought to evoke rustic charm – and the joins between walls and ceilings lacked cornices. Although the interior of the house tended toward practicality, the Austens owned some good pieces of furniture, of which they were proud – this was the age of supreme craftsmanship in furniture-making.”