Improving Your Cents and Sensibility!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Reference, Guide, Self-Help
RECOMMENDED FOR: Readers looking to stretch their wallets, become savvy spenders, and practice sensible “method, moderation, and economy.”
WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL:
After reading Jane Austen’s remarks about “vulgar economy” and liking “pewter,” I’m curious to learn more about her spending habits and financial practices.
I won’t deny it – I’m a bargain shopper and I’m always looking for ways to save some green! 🙂
- Thoroughness and Organization: With fifteen chapters, Kathleen Anderson and Susan Jones cover an extensive range and give advice on many different aspects of economy and finance proving that there are numerous areas for savvy individuals to reduce their spending! Whether in your kitchen, your closet, your bathroom, or your travels. Dividing the book into chapters pertaining to each separate aspect of economy, whether it be furniture, clothing, beauty products is very useful and accessible for readers in search of specific financial wisdom.
- Clever Character Tie-Ins: I loved how each chapter featured a different Austen character as a positive (or sometimes negative) example of economy. Who better to learn household economy and management from than Charlotte Lucas? Who better than Lydia Bennet to remind readers to use caution when shopping for clothing and apparel? (No, Lydia you do not need another ugly bonnet!)
- Charming Wit: “It’s best not to bluntly critique the home of one’s host and to call him ‘as stupid as the weather’ if he doesn’t own a billiards table. You’ll live. Perhaps you could focusing on endeavoring to be genuinely droll.” (page 179) – in other words, don’t behave like Mr. Palmer if you want to be considered a good houseguest! I greatly enjoyed the playful comments and comical references the authors made throughout this volume. It just goes to show you, even when discussing something as serious and practical as money matters, there is always room for wit and sport.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Resources and Redundancy: This book could have been so much more useful and valuable if it included more recipes, patterns, and step-by-step guides. Instead of telling readers that they can find many “recipes for natural skin treatments in books and online,” (page 115) include some recipe inserts throughout the chapter or at the end. Instead of steering readers in the direction of DIY magazines and blogs to get tips on how to remake their wardrobes, share a couple patterns or step-by-step guides at the end of the chapter. I would have loved to have seen some featured resources like pictorial patterns, diagrams, recipes, and such over in this book rather than repeated recommendations of looking online.
Mrs. Norris: I’m not sure if this was meant to be taken tongue-and-cheek or not, but there was a list called “Aunt Norris’s Top Ten Aggressive Tips for Ferreting Out Free Treasures, (pages 205-215) which advised adopting Mrs. Norris-like habits of sponging and finagling freebies. It felt a little distasteful – I don’t think Jane Austen would ever advocate behaving in any shape or form similar to Mrs. Norris.
While it is easily recognized that Jane Austen’s novels and characters teach readers valuable lessons about love, relationships, moral conduct, many may overlook the fact that they provide sensible counsel in matters of economy and living withing one’s means! I greatly appreciated and enjoyed gaining insightful wisdom from thrifty and financially savvy characters like Charlotte Collins, Anne Elliott, Catherine Morland, Miss Bates, and even Lucy Steele!
The kind people at Berkley Books have donated one lovely copy of Jane Austen’s Guide to Thrift for me to give away to one lucky winner! SQUEE!!!
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