Posts Tagged With: Guide

A Brief Guide to Jane Austen: The Life and Times of the World’s Favourite Author by Charles Jennings

Title: A Brief Guide to Jane Austen: The Life and Times of the World’s Favourite Author
Author: Charles Jennings
ISBN: 978-1780330464
Publisher: Robinson
First Published: 5 February 2013 (paperback) / 15 November 2012 (Kindle)
No .of pages: 288

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Jane Austen is a mystery. The first incontrovertibly great woman novelist, she is, among other things, one of the finest prose stylists in literature; the first truly modern writer, the Godmother of chick lit. She is also the greatest enigma (next to Shakespeare) in English literature. Soldiers in the First World War sat in the trenches and read them for the civilising comforts they provided. Hard-nut literary critics such as F. R. Leavis lauded their austere complexity. World Book Day, 2007, found that Pride and Prejudice was the one book ‘The nation can’t live without’. In this witty, accessible guide, Charles Jennings goes in search of this enigma through her words as well as her times, including a short biography, an overview of the novels, as well as the world that she inhabited. Finally, the book contains Jane’s very own words of advice for the modern life.

Review:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader with a complete lack of shelf space must still be in want of yet more books! It is also universally acknowledged that Jane Austen, after 200 years, still features on the top ten favourites lists of readers all around the world. She is an enduring icon, a woman whose writing has stood the test of time despite being very much of its time, and this brief guide examines some of the reasons behind that.

Set out in four distinct sections, the guide covers Jane’s life, her novels (in order of publication), the Regency period that her novels have come to so beautifully represent, and the after effects of her work on the world of literature.

Never before have I had so many people interested in the book I am reading – I read this in various public places and could barely finish a page without someone asking which Austen novel I was reading or if I was enjoying the book – even those who professed not to like her novels asked what it was I so loved.

I’ll confess, I’m only partially a Janeite – I find Persuasion slow, Sense and Sensibility dull and Emma infuriating. However, I grew to love Mansfield Park, delight in Pride and Prejudice, and hold Northanger Abbey among my all time favourites. Her Juvenilia, I find, is hit and miss, underdeveloped and very much a product of a writer still trying to develop her craft, but all this is beside the point. The fact remains that people couldn’t resist quizzing me the moment they saw me holding a book bearing the name of Jane Austen – she truly is the world’s favourite author.

This brief guide to Austen and the world around her is absolutely fascinating. Janeites will devour it, but even those of us who have mixed reactions to her work will find themselves pulled into the genteel world of the lady who left us six of the best-loved books the world has ever known.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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How to Do Just About Everything (eHow)

Synopsis (from Amazon):
This text claims to have the answers to (just about) every question you might have. Whether you need to unclog a sink or wash your cat, you’ll find clear, step-by-step instructions on how to do it. There are also checklists, calendars, charts and tools that will help you get the job done quickly and easily. For every task, there are concise step-by-step instructions, helpful tips and warnings, as well as useful lists of everything you’ll need. Browse through these pages to discover how to: tie a tie; plant a lawn; carve a turkey; write a business plan; ask for a raise; unclog a sink; juggle; change your motor oil; lose weight; write a love letter; train a dog; prevent jet lag; burp a baby; and much more. Whatever you need to do, you’ll know where to look for complete, authoritative instructions. A thorough keyword index will guide you to the exact solution you need. And with 1001 how-to-solutions, you’ll not only find what you’re looking for, but also a few things you hadn’t considered.

Review:
This might just be the most useful book on the planet! It’s packed with 1001 useful guides to doing, as the title says, just about everything; from helping your child prepare for the first day of school, to repairing your credit history; from planning a wedding to delivering puppies or kittens; and everything in between!

It’s also very usefully split into sections like Computers and Home Electronics; Food; Family; Health and Fitness; and Sports and Recreation. Each guide is in easy-to-understand language (you’ll find no jargon here!) and is simple to follow, also giving tips and warnings where appropriate.

If you’re looking for a book that you can dip into and find out how to do pretty much anything, then this is the book for you. It even gives you the web address of the eHow website, where you can get your hands on even more useful guides. Seriously, this is a book you’ll keep hold of and refer to time and time again, whenever life throws a curve-ball at you and you’re not sure what to you – like an old and very knowledgeable friend, it will be there, waiting to tell you how to deal with it all!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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