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Tag Archives: Jane Austen ring

It is a fact universally acknowledged that when discussing the works of Jane Austen, the topic of who is her successor comes around. Who do you think has filled her unfillable shoes? I propose Stella Gibbons, author of Cold Comfort Farm, a classic that has this quote from Mansfield Park in its frontispiece: Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.

It’s the story of Flora Poste, a young woman who likes to have order and sense in her world. When she is orphaned, she goes to live with her distant relatives, the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. There, Flora, whose mission in life is to collect material for a book she will write three decades later in the style of Jane Austen, finds the Starkadders in dire need of not only sense and sensibility but persuasion too. She sets to work reforming her relatives, channeling their peculiar energies into rewarding occupations. Even though Gibbons is satirizing the earthy, elemental novels of Mary Webb, wildly popular in the 1920s and 1930s, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read them–the book is still as funny as a rubber crutch. Particularly purple passages are marked with asterisks like a travel guide.

There’s Amos, the preacher who leads the Quivering Brethren; Seth, who goes a-mollocking when the sukebind hangs heavy in the hedgerows, but whose real passion is the movies; Mad Aunt Ada Doom who saw something nasty in the woodshed when she was little; Elphine, who likes to flit around the countryside wearing artsy clothes and reciting poetry; and a rich cast of non-Starkadders like Mr. Mybug, the sex-obsessed intellectual who’s writing a book proving Branwell Bronte wrote all of his sisters’ novels.

The BBC made a film of Cold Comfort Farm (1996) directed by John Schlesinger with a wonderful cast, including the lovely and talented Rufus Sewell as Seth, Kate Beckinsale as Flora Poste, and Ian McKellen as Amos.

Any other contenders for the title of the 21st (or 20th) century Jane Austen?

I was going to write today about how, according to, on this day in 1820 tomatoes were proved to not be poisonous! A breakthrough even though ketchup had been on Regency tables for some time, Thomas Jefferson had cultivated them (surely not for the flowers?), and in South America people had been chowing down on them for centuries. However I’ve not found any supporting evidence for today being the day, so forget about that…

I expect you’ve read about Jane Austen’s ring coming up for auction. It’s been in the family for almost two centuries, going to her sister Cassandra on Jane’s death. Cassandra then gave it to her sister in law Eleanor (who married brother Henry), who childless, gave it to her niece Caroline  who was the daughter of brother James. It makes me sad that this may be the one and only glimpse of her ring we’ll get unless (please, please) someone buys it and donates it to the Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton. Because otherwise what do you do with it? Wear it on special occasions and hope you don’t absentmindedly leave it somewhere (like in a public restroom over the sink)? Keep it in a safe and have dates with it where you open the door and gaze upon it? I just don’t get it.

The big news of the day is that I have three well-muscled young men in the house doing things for me. If you follow me on FB, which is generally very unrewarding, you’ll know that I’m undergoing a massive and exciting kitchen/downstairs of the house remodel (it’s a very small house). Today is granite day! Pics will come later. I’m keeping out of the way. It will be very spiffy.

And that’s about all that’s going on with me at the moment. Conspicuously short on writing news, you may notice although I’m reading–latest great read was The Private Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan, one of my very favorite writers. What have you read recently and what do you think of the Austen ring auction? If you bought it, what would you do with it?

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