Book descriptions

12 Jane Austen-Themed Activity Books: Crafting, Cooking, Coloring, & More

What would Jane Austen (1775–1817), who had challenge enough finding publishers and readers in her lifetime, think of the fierce devotion to her exquisite body of work ever after? There’s even a name for those with an enduring passion for the author — Janeites — and Jane Austen Societies all over the world. Here’s a selection of Jane Austen-themed activity books for the most devoted Janeites on your list — or for yourself!

Here you’ll find gift books featuring activities inspired by Jane Austen’s world and her novels, including sewing, embroidery, crochet, coloring, cooking. You’ll even find an Austen-themed cocktail book, and the ultimate activity — a travel guide to Jane’s places in England. Read More→

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Charlotte & Arthur by Pauline Clooney: Imagining Charlotte Brontë’s Honeymoon

Charlotte & Arthur by Pauline Clooney (2021) is a richly imagined novel about the wedding and subsequent Irish honeymoon of Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Bell Nichols, the curate who worked with her father at Haworth parsonage. 

This illuminating narrative is based on meticulous research by Ms. Clooney, an award-winning short story writer and the founding director of Kildare Writing Centre in Ireland. This is her first full-length novel.

The novel focuses on a little-known time in Charlotte’s life. Though she’s a celebrated author at home and abroad, the siblings she grew up with (Emily, Anne, and Branwell Brontë) all died several years earlier, leaving only Charlotte and her father, the Reverend Patrick Brontë, from a family that once numbered eight members.  Read More→

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Jan Morris, Travel Writer and Historian — an Introduction

Jan Morris (October 2, 1926 – November 20, 2020), the historian and travel writer, was born and mostly raised in England, but identified as Welsh. Renowned for the Pax Britannica trilogy, a history of the British Empire, she was also esteemed for her intimate and insightful portraits of several great cities of the world. 

Jan published under her birth name, James, before completing her transition to female in 1972. She was one of the first public figures to come out openly as transgender, making her a pioneer to the generations of trans writers (and others) who came after her. 

This introduction to the ideas and accomplishments of Jan Morris is excerpted from Mightier Than the Sword; Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World Through Writing by Rochelle Melander, illustrated by Melina Ontiveros. Copyright © 2021 Beaming Books. Reproduced by permission. Read More→

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Remembering the What Katy Did Series by Susan Coolidge

There are some books from one’s schoolgirl years that stay with you, and the What Katy Did series by Susan Coolidge (1835–1905) certainly falls into that category for me. I read and re-read those books through many vacations. Before realizing it, the actions of favorite characters begin to have an effect on me, as the reader. 

The American author of the What Katy Did series (five books in all) was born Sarah Chauncey Woolsey but gained fame with her pen name, Susan Coolidge. The first book of her Katy Did series was published in 1872. 

What Katy Did deals with the adventures of twelve-year-old Katy Carr, who lives with her Aunt Izzie (after having lost her mother at the age of five), her father, Dr. Carr (a hardworking doctor, who is away from home for long spells), three sisters, and two brothers. Her friend, Cecy, also plays an important role in the first novel.  Read More→

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To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927)

Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) is recognized as one of the most groundbreaking modernist authors of the twentieth century. She is perhaps most widely known for iconic novels like Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and her semi-autobiographical novel, To the Lighthouse (1927).

To the Lighthouse was Woolf’s fifth novel, and has remained one of her most highly regarded works. Inspired by recollections of her childhood summers spent on the Cornwall coast, To the Lighthouse depicts the fictional Ramsey family and their assorted house guests spending a vacation in the Hebrides, on the island of Skye.

The first part of the novel, “The Window,” finds six-year-old James Ramsey eagerly awaiting a promised trip to the nearby lighthouse, a promise not to be fulfilled until ten years later when, in the third section, “The Lighthouse,” James is nearing adulthood and many of the other characters have disappeared. 

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