Monday, July 21, 2008

36. Jane Austen's Guide to Dating

The title: Jane Austen's Guide to Dating
The author: Lauren Henderson
Publication: Hyperion, 2005
Got it from: Bath, England, 2006

Ah, Jane Austen. Is there anything she can't do? According to the author of this book, we must turn to Jane for her timeless dating advice. Obviously, I didn't read this book as an instruction manual. It's been many, many years since I was ever involved in anything like dating, and even then I tended to jump directly into the relationship stage. No wonder. Dating seems like a pretty terrifying prospect, especially these days.

There are some things the book does right. Most of the advice is pretty solid, based as it is 'n all on High Priestess Jane's sensible morals. It's a lot of common sense here. And by "common sense" I mean stuff-that-I-figured-out-a-long-time-ago-but-other-people-haven't. You know, "have faith in your own instincts" and "don't fall for superficial qualities." The author gives many examples of what to do and what not to do based on Jane Austen's characters. I did enjoy the analysis of their personalities and motivations. I felt like these descriptions helped me more clearly understand the books. I also like the "which Jane Austen heroine archetype are you?" quiz at the back (Elizabeth Bennet) along with the "which Jane Austen hero are you most compatible with?" counterpart.

What didn't work so well, I felt, were the "real-life" stories to supplement the character stories. For example, in the "why you should tell your lover when he pisses you off" section, they illustrate this with Elizabeth's put-down of Mr. Darcy and a similar story of a man who gets angry with his girlfriend for always being late and lets her have it. The problem is, we're never sure how many of these "real-life" stories are actually real. Some of them appear to be based on the life of the author and her friends, but we're not sure which is which. Either way, they're far less interesting than the Austen gang. B

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