Tag Archives: books

Austen, Attenborough, Corona and Wine

Austen, in her Austen Six, reveals that in times of turbulence nature can give solace. So too Attenborough, 93 years old and a life dedicated to celebrating the natural wonders has stated:

“In times of crisis, the natural world is a source of both joy and solace.”

Appreciating the seasons is one of the joys of life that has been with humans since time immemorial.

a local landscape

Clifton Hill

Today the weather has distinctly changed, the rain has arrived and it appears the previous day’s sun has gone to warm another clime. Autumn has a bitter-sweetness: the intermittent sun reminds us of what we are losing and the rain gives us a sense of what is to come.

I am obviously not on the front line working in the coalface of this disease, nor cleaning so others do not suffer the contagion. Neither am I fighting for a business desperately trying to stay open nor do I live in a nation where social distancing is well nigh impossible for most of its people. I realise I have the luxury of slowing down and appreciating the small moments. Continue reading


Filed under Living the Simple Life, Resilience

Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love

It centers on one couple: Rabih  and Kirsten. It is very modern in that the nuclear couple reign supreme; the friends and family only get a passing glance. But it is a very poignant look at the couple in modern life. It feels like  an everyman couple; a couple we can all relate to. And its premise, that the proof of love begins when the romance fades is so apt. Rabih and Kirsten are like  minor characters in an Austen novel, they are Mr and Ms Bennett, Mr and Mrs Palmer or Mr and Mrs Musgrove in the Austen Six. Only in a post modern novel can they take their place centre-stage. But that is the beauty
of the modern; the ordinary Continue reading

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Filed under Romance and Marriage, Uncategorized

What about the kitchen garden?

The promise of the fruit to come

The promise of the fruit to come

The Austen household (Jane, Cassanandra, her mother and her friend Martha Lloyd) relied heavily on what was in season and the kitchen garden was crucial to a healthy life. Like many of the middling people of the time who were neither rich, nor the working poor, they were able to live comfortably on very good home produced food with only the staples of tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, spices and citrus fruits that had to be bought. Cassandra kept bees while Mrs Austen kept a poultry yard. Often presents of game would be sent from their brothers, Edward and James.

Growing and cooking your own food was like breathing and is so different from the world of today where many of us have lost the art of cooking let alone growing and catching our own food. Continue reading

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Filed under Living the Simple Life

Jane: in need of a ‘competence’

A money box, probably from last century. Without money and without the the means to make money, women were in a very precarious position.

A money box, probably from last century. Without money and without the the means to make money, women were in a very precarious position.

Dear reader, as you may have noticed I find it annoying when I read in some sources that Jane Austen lived a sheltered life. It is as if we believe that women somehow were immune to the troubles that were going on around them. Surely it is more accurate to say that as women had no economic or political power they were in a much more precarious position; they had to learn to suffer in silence as their needs and wants were mostly unconsidered when the important decisions were being made. When we acquiesce and label women like Jane Austen as “sheltered”,  it is as if we are buying into the propaganda of the times that by treating them as inconsequential we are really protecting and sheltering them. Continue reading

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Filed under Money

Was Austen’s life sheltered?

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often when reading excerpts about Austen’s life, there is a sense that Austen lived a sheltered life; that somehow she was immune to the difficulties of life. In reading about her life it is insightful to learn just how tricky Continue reading


Filed under Resilience

Managing the ordinary

If one could wave an Austenian wand and have  a skill for life granted, it would be resilience. As Jane Austen described it in Persuasion, “It was the choicest gift from heaven”. Perhaps more than anything else, resilience is the ability that predicts a happy life. To be able to get back up after a fall, to be able to overcome a failure, to be able to move on after a disappointment – resilience is the value to covet.

Most of Austen’s heroines and heroes are just ordinary everyday people: they don’t think  themselves Continue reading

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Madame Lefroy – Jane’s early mentor and friend

Signature of Jane Austen. Taken from her 1817 ...

Signature of Jane Austen. Taken from her 1817 will. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Throughout Jane Austen’s life she developed close friendships with a number of women that survived her moving from Steventon in Hampshire, to Bath, Southampton and its surrounds, and then back to Hampshire to the little village of Chawton. These friendships endured despite quite an unsettled period in the middle of Jane’s life where she was in quite straightened circumstances. These friendships endured despite the fact that she held a very humble place in the society of her time; she was unmarried and poor. Both of these factors meant that no one would befriend her for an ulterior motive. Her friendships endured obviously because they must have embodied the principles that she so often wrote about.

It seems that Jane’s first significant friendship outside of her family was Continue reading


Filed under Friendship