More About Jane Austen
by Sheila Kaye-Smith
G.B. Stern

Harper & Brothers Publishers  1949
270 pages

         Review by Linda Waldemar, November 15, 2000
This is a series of essays about different aspects of Jane Austen's novels and characters. I found this book to be very interesting, thought provoking and frequently very amusing.  It is quite old and out of print, but worth reading if you can get it.  And if you should find it for sale, snatch it up;  I am glad that I did.

"What IS It about Jane Austen?" by GBS - A seventeen year old teases her more mature friend to explain the allure of JA because she is interested in an older man (early 20's) who is "batty" about Austen and she wants to impress him.

"The Age in Which We Live" by SKS - How JA's lack of details about the goings on of her time makes her novels timeless.

"Her Fine Eyes . . . Were Brightened by the Exercise" by GBS - Beauty in her novels.  Heroines are always attractive and usually dark. Fair females usually have a flaw.  She also describes health and accidents and illnesses.

"Towards Perfect Felicity" by SKS - Discusses the various marriage proposals and love in the novels.  The author makes the case that Marianne Dashwood and Anne Elliot are autobiographical.

"Always Be Contented, but especially at Home" by GBS - Here she gives awards for the best and worst parents.  The winners:
BEST PARENTS - Mr. and Mrs. Morland; runners up - Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove
WORST FATHER - Sir Walter Elliot      BEST FATHER - Sir Thomas Bertram
WORST MOTHER - Mrs. Bennet          BEST MOTHER (with reservations) - Mrs. Dashwood
She also comments on and makes judgments about several of the other parents.

"Four and Twenty Families" by SKS - "Jane Austen is primarily a family novelist. She writes of family life. Her characters function as members of families. Her heroes and heroines are not solitary figures of mysterious origin, as in so many of the lesser novels of her day - when foundlings were apt to appear on any doorstep, and vast residences housed one single unknown. They have background if they have nothing else, and their stories introduce us into a complete society: It is a society of families."
She goes on to discuss the various families in the novels.

"Seven Years Later" by GBS - This was the most interesting essay for me because she imagines the fate of several of the characters after this period of time has passed.  I will discuss the following vignettes in more detail on the sequel page for the particular novel.

There are also theories of what could have happened to several other characters in the books.

"A Complete Party of Pleasure" by SKS
The social life in the novels; balls, parties, dinners.

"The Envelope Itself Was Likewise Full" by GBS
Letters. Ms Stern analyzes the letters and their writers.  She also speculates on which characters would have made phone calls (had they been possible) and what these calls would have been like.

"The Labours of Her Inferiors" by SKS
Here, Ms. Kaye-Smith examines all the servants that appear in the six novels and judges their contribution to the plot.

"Walking-on Parts" by SKS and GBS
This essay is about all the characters who have little to say but are discussed by the more major characters.  Many are never even seen, like Admiral Crawford and Mr. Wingfield (Mrs. John Knightley's apothecary). An interesting conversation is invented that Isabella mentions to Mr. Wingfield that her father feels that Mr. Perry thinks that little Bella's throat may have been injured by the sea air taken at South End.

"Personal Appearance" by SKS
The author imagines that Jane Austen herself visited with her one evening.  They discussed some of her novels and characters but no new information was gleaned because Miss Austen took offense when Rudyard Kipling's poem about her was read.  She did not appreciate being referred to as "Jane".

        Written by PeggyS (June 29, 2004 )
I'm reading "Speaking of Jane Austen" by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G. B. Stern. It's not actually about our Jane but instead is about her characters. It's a delightful and insightful study.

Both authors are novelists though I read that Kaye-Smith's were the sort of novels that Kaye Gibbons parodied in Cold Comfort Farm. Stab.

After you've read the biographys I highly recommend you seek out this book. It's worth having on your shelf.

Peggy who's enjoying it enormously