Labor Day weekend means the bins come up from the basement and my house gets a decorative uptick to the next season. In September that means FALL!
I deep clean the furnishings and pack away all the red, white, and blue Americana decor for the switch-out to faux fall leaves, bowls of cinnamon smells, pumpkin gourds, and scarecrows.
Then, the baking begins. A banana cinnamon and jelly cake as the foundation for the back-to-school tea I’m hosting for Haley Richardson–my musician collaborator on the audio books for the Fable Springs picture book series.
She’s also a homeschooled high school freshman, now. As her literature and composition mentor, we have a year’s worth of literature studies and writing workshops to plan.
Her mom joined us to kick off the school year and finalize our course of study. So, of course, there must be tea!
Fall colors and my grandmother’s vintage candlewick glass luncheon plates set the table for sweets and stuffed caprese salad roma tomatoes with basil and balsamic dressing.
Lingering over tea and goodies easily morphs into literary discussion and final decisions–involving the birthday present I received that morning. You see, it was my birthday on our tea date and the first thing I woke to, wrapped and waiting for me on the dining room table, was this little gift from my husband: The Jane Austen Writer’s Club.
It’s chock full of writing advice culled from Jane’s personal letters and journals, speaking to aspects of the writing technique. A unique spin on Austen books. Author, Rebecca Smith, is the great-great-great-great-great-grand-niece of Jane, descended from her brother Francis. She has researched Jane’s writing prowess in drafting her settings, character development, themes, and plot details, in addition to her use of language. Using this entertaining, informative, and instructional book to study one of Jane’s books is our plan for the next three months.
But, which Austen masterpiece should we break down for study?
Sanditon is Jane’s final work–at least eleven chapters of it. She was suffering with what modern doctors believe was Addison’s disease, leaving the work unfinished when she died at the age of forty-two.
In eleven chapters, drafted from her sick-bed just months before her death, Jane laid out the groundwork of setting, characters, theme, and plot. The story was eventually completed by the anonymous “Another Lady.”
And, another. And, another.
In fact, there are quite a number of Austen aficiandos who fancied themselves up to the task of seamlessly finishing off Jane’s work in her voice. Most never really hit the mark. But, there is one, written under the penname of “Another Lady” which rises to the top with staying power as an acceptable attempt. I read it with great interest a number of years ago and agree that it is relatively seamless, and remains largely true to the original diecast of the chapter fragments and Jane’s world.
I think this selection will be fun to pick apart and learn from. We’ll note where Jane’s writing advice in Ms. Smith’s The Jane Austen’s Writer’s Club book, is followed throughout Sanditon’s story construction. Then, Haley will be applying what she learns to craft her own short story, inspired by one of the most fascinating publishing mysteries ever!
Curious to know more?
CLICK HERE to learn more on this and our further curriculum study plans for the year at Pageant Wagon Publishing!
Sharing Back-to-School with a Jane Austen Book Review this week with: