Nov 272015
 

A Jane Austen ChristmasVisiting Jane Austen During the Holiday Season

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Publisher

When it comes to Jane Austen and Christmas, Janeites and Austen-lovers long to know how their beloved authoress celebrated the holiday season. Many of the holiday traditions we celebrate and recognize come from the Victorian Era and later, but what about the Georgian Era? What are the differences and similarities between the Austens’ holiday festivities and our own modern-day celebrations?

In A Jane Austen Christmas, Carlo DeVito illustrates six different and significant Christmas seasons in Jane Austen’s life. Each chapter is devoted to a different year and expounds upon not only the special event that occurred that year but also the traditions and festivities the Austens would take part in and practice during that time. The six years and a breakdown of each chapter is below.

  1. 1786 – Jane meets cousin Eliza de Feuillide for the first time.
  2. 1794 – Jane receives her writing desk for her birthday.
  3. 1795 – Jane encounters and flirts with Tom Lefroy.
  4. 1802 – Jane receives a proposal from Harris Bigg-Wither.
  5. 1809 – Jane’s first Christmas at Chawton.
  6. 1815 – Jane publishes Emma.

I loved how this book was segmented and highlighted specific Christmas seasons in Jane Austen’s life.  The traditions and pastimes of the Austen family were easily brought to life with the vivid descriptions and details provided in these chapters. In addition, I greatly appreciated the informative context of traditions and customs practiced during the Georgian Christmas season. I loved learning about the games and amusements, the making and drinking of homemade wine, beer, and other libations, and the household customs and family celebrations that dear Jane and her family would have enjoyed. I found the background information fascinating and wonderfully edifying. It is exactly what I wanted to know about Jane Austen and the Georgian Christmas season!

I thought the concept and premise for A Jane Austen Christmas was brilliant and well-executed, I was such a fan of how the information was presented, the years and traditions highlighted, and the book’s overall attractive and elegant design. However, much to my disappointment, there were a surprising amount of uncaught errors. I’m not talking about typos and missing commas – more along the lines of embarrassing blunders that were too frequent and too big for me to ignore. Such errors included:

  • Misspelling the names of two Austen bloggers that were cited
  • Mixing up family relations (Thomas Knight, who adopted Edward Austen and made him his heir, was not George Austen’s brother!)
  • Citing the unpublished Northanger Abbey (Susan) manuscript sold to Crosby as both Catherine and Lady Susan.
  • Referring to Mr. Bingley as a character in Sense and Sensibility.
  • Misspelling Austen (Austin) and Charlotte Lucas (Luca) to name a few.

I’m not one to bring up editing often in my reviews as I know that to “err is human” and because a couple misspelled words or grammar mistakes are forgivable and not very distracting. But I’m afraid the numerous amount of errors and misrepresented facts I found in this book is not as forgivable. These mistakes present inaccurate information that misinforms the reader and puts into question the research, attention, and time put in by the author and editors. It’s both disappointing and frustrating as I loved everything else about this book and would have been happy to give it 5 stars! But I’m afraid due to the many unacceptable errors that I found to be disruptive to my overall enjoyment, my rating will have to be 3.5 stars. Which is a shame because this could have been a perfect gift to give to Janeites and Austen-lovers this year!

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  9 Responses to “A Jane Austen Christmas – Carlo DeVito”

  1.  

    This was an extremely honest and reflective review. Thank you for highlighting both the positive and negative so well. It would have made me scream had I started to read this without forewarning that Bingley was referred to as a character in S&S.

  2.  

    I received the copy I won in your giveaway a few days ago—thank you again! And thank you for the heads-up about the errors!! As a career copy editor, I would have completely freaked out had I opened the book without warning. Now I can focus on the good, as you always try to do, and not simply shriek and dive for my red pencil.

    •  

      How lovely that your copy arrived in time to enjoy throughout the holiday season! I’m hoping you don’t find many more errors than I did. The ones I did find, surprised me and left me wondering what other mistakes I wasn’t catching. Hope you are able to focus on the good, as there is plenty of it! 🙂

  3.  

    Haha! You caught a few more errors than I did. I noticed a couple.
    Loved the book and presentation and arrangement, too.

  4.  

    Great review. I’ve read most of this too and found it lacking in some interest because it felt a bit ” text- bookish” in its tone. I did enjoy the focus on six significant Christmas seasons for Jane.

  5.  

    this is a wonderful review – perhaps the author will take time to make a new edition correcting these errors. I will still plan to read this book and am happy to have the warnings.

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