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A Dance with Jane Austen: How a Novelist and Her Characters Went to the Ball Hardcover – October 9, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'Susannah Fullerton has done her research and written a book that will give much pleasure to anyone interested in the kind of dancing which Jane Austen and her contemporaries enjoyed. Lavishly illustrated, (and the piccies are seriously pretty), the book will tell you all sorts of thngs you didn't realise you wnated to know, while introducing you to a world of swirling, twirling silk and satin designed to advertise the beautiful people on the hunt for a mate.' Jane Austen Society Newsletter 'Drawing upon contemporary accounts, Austen's own correspondence, and a detailed reading of the novels, Fullerton presents the reader with a charming insider's guide to a Regency ball.' Good Book Guide 'readers wishing for more details about Austen's ball scenes, for a clearer sense of what would be worn at a ball, what kind of music would be played, and what sort of manners were typical, will want to consult A Dance with Jane Austen.' Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

SUSANNAH FULLERTON is President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia and has lectured extensively around the world on Jane Austen's life and novels. She is the author of Jane Austen and Crime, a book described by Claire Tomalin as 'essential reading for every Janeite'. She lives in Sydney, Australia. Her other title for Frances Lincoln is A Dance with Jane Austen.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln; First Edition edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0711232458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711232457
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Ah", I said, when I saw Susannah Fullerton's book in my mail box. "Here's just the book I need." Some of the biggest gaps in my Austen reference library concern dance and music. Whenever I wanted to find out more about the social customs of balls and dancing, how ladies and gentleman conducted themselves, the food served at supper balls, the etiquette of a gentleman's introduction to a lady before he could dance with her, precisely when the waltz became acceptable not only among the racy upper crust but with villagers in the hinterlands as well, and the difference between private balls and public balls, I had to consult a variety of books. This was time-consuming, and a bit frustrating, for there were variations in details that each source offered.

And now Susannah Fullerton has come to my rescue! Readers who have visited the Jane Austen Society of Australia (an excellent site) know that Ms. Fullerton is its president, and that she has written a previous book, "Jane Austen and Crime:. "A Dance With Jane Austen" is a compact illustrated book crammed with information, but written in a relaxed and accessible style. Topics include: Learning to dance, Dressing for the dance, Getting to and from a ball, Assembly balls, Private balls, Etiquette of the ballroom, Men in the ballroom, Dancing and music, 'They sat down to supper', Conversation and courtship, The shade of a departed ball, and Dance in Jane Austen films.

Ms. Fullerton culls information from Austen's letters, novels, and historic texts, such as "The Complete System of English Country Dancing", by Mr. Wilson, a dancing master of some renown and decided opinions. She also describes how Beau Nash, the influential master of ceremonies and taste maker in Bath, laid down a set of rules for Society to follow.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jane Austen and dancing. What's not to like? Unfortunately this slim volume has some issues.

First, as noted by some of the other reviewers, the illustrations have no captions. Sometimes it's very clear what the picture is and why it is used based on its placement in the text. But not always. Also I would have appreciated knowing when the paintings and drawings were actually done. Some of them are clearly late Victorian and even Edwardian.

Second, there were some editorial issues. The most glaring appears on page 54: "George and Cassandra Austen, Jane Austen's parents, married in Bath in 1864." When basic facts aren't double checked, or even if it was simply a typesetting error, one has to wonder about the accuracy of other information in the book.

Finally, I would have appreciated a bit more historical context to balance out the analysis of the characters' interactions on the dance floor, especially in the Conversation and Courtship chapter.

That being said, I did enjoy the descriptions of the types of dances that were done during the Regency period and the food that would have been served at the various types of balls. I also enjoyed reading the excerpts from Austen's letters about balls that she attended.
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Format: Hardcover
Fine white muslin, warm negus, dainty slippers, dancing masters - oh how I wished I lived in a time where towns had assembly balls, couples danced in figures, and young men considered "a country dance as an emblem of marriage!" Jane Austen was so fortunate to live during this age of dancing, elegance, and assemblies; and we know from her novels and letters that she was extremely fond of dancing and balls.

Similar to Tea with Jane Austen and In the Garden with Jane Austen, which are both by Kim Wilson, publisher Frances Lincoln release another exquisite, entertaining, and educational illustrated hardcover book about Jane Austen. Just like the previous two books, A Dance with Jane Austen is well-researched, organized, and visually appealing. With twelve divided chapters, this book covers topics such as: learning to dance, getting ready for a ball, ballroom etiquette, suppers, musicians, and ballroom conversation. There is even a slim chapter titled, "Dance in Jane Austen films," which I greatly appreciated since Jane Austen films provide brilliant and oftentimes very accurate visuals of Regency balls. I wish this chapter was extended a little bit more though, it was only three pages.

I loved all the valuable nuggets of information I gleaned from this novel! Jane Austen wrote novels for people who understood and lived through her time period. She does not heavily describe events or explain traditions that were commonplace and customary during her life. I had no idea the many responsibilities and great importance placed upon the master of ceremonies before reading this book. In addition, I was amazed and sadden to learn about the poor treatment and harsh lifestyle of hired musicians.
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Format: Hardcover
For those who have seen a ball room dance scene in a Jane Austen movie adaptation, or witnessed a group of ladies and gentlemen dressed in Regency finery engaged in a country dance, you know the awe and energy that it generates can be quite thrilling. Then imagine what it would be like in Jane Austen's day and you have a good notion what to expect in Susannah Fullerton's new book A DANCE WITH JANE AUSTEN. Everything from frocks, carriages, music, dancing and flirting, and so much more are included in this tidy volume. Ready your fans ladies and take a stiff bracer of brandy gentlemen; we have entered the ball room.

Did you know that Austen featured dance scenes in all six of her major novels and that PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has no less than three? (The Meryton Assembly, an impromptu dance at Lucas Lodge, and the private ball at Netherfield Park.) Our heroine Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters meet, spark, fuel, or flee from romance illustrating how dance was not only the pinnacle of social activity - but key to attracting a mate. Yes. I may be pointing my inelegant finger, but there it is. Balls and dances where the primary stage to attract the opposite sex and snag a partner. Jane Austen knew this fact very well and used it to her advantage in each of her novels. Here is a foreshadowing of its importance from the Bennet household:

"The prospect of the Netherfield ball was extremely agreeable to every female of the family. Mrs. Bennet chose to consider it as given in compliment to her eldest daughter, and was particularly flattered by receiving the invitation from Mr. Bingley himself, instead of a ceremonious card.
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