Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jane Austen's Guide to Dating

Jane Austen's Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson 

What a fun and delightful book this is.  First, I should mention that I already have my Jane Austen Hero, but picked this book up to see if I could learn a little more about the Regency dating scene.  What I got instead was a wonderful book that I want to put into the hands of any lady, young or old, who might be looking for her Mr. Darcy.  

Ms. Henderson moved to America to follow a boyfriend, and after a few years, she found herself back on the dating scene.  She had a coterie of American friends who all gave her tips on dating, and none of them seemed to work.  In fact, most of the advice seemed to have been opposite of what really would work.  The advice of some of her friends was not even followed by the givers.

Being frustrated with the dating scene and American advice, she turned to her old friend, Jane Austen.  Having already done a dissertation on courtship rituals in Jane Austen novels, she went through Jane’s novels again, and tried to find some truisms.  Ms. Henderson came up with ‘ten principles that Jane Austen lays out in her novels and given examples of how they work with her characters – what they get right, what they get wrong, and how, sometimes, they learn from their mistakes.’ (p 7)  Here is the list of the Ten Rules to Dating, as gleaned from Jane Austen and her novels.

1.  If you like someone, make it clear that you do.
2.  Don't put your feelings on public display, unless they're fully reciprocated.
3.  Don't play games on lead people on
4.  Have faith in you own instincts.
5.  Don't fall for superficial qualities.
6.  Look for someone who can bring out your best qualities
7.  Don't settle -  don't marry for money, convenience, or out of loneliness.
8.  Be witty if you can, but not cynical, indiscreet, or cruel.
9.  Be prepared to wait for the right person to come along.
10.  If your lover needs a reprimand, let him have it.

Each chapter discusses each rule in a delightful manner in which Ms. Henderson will take three instances of the rule from various novels of Jane Austen, and then also modern-day examples of Do’s and Don’ts.  Further icing on the cake, for those of you out there that are impatient, at the end of each chapter is a Summary with Do’s , Don’ts and Tips.   Then, at the end of the book, there are two quizzes: Which JA character are YOU and which is your love interest.  She then makes a Compatibility Chart to see if your character will match up with his, or points out what it will take to make it work.  

This lovely little gem is also a great way to do a little soul searching, as it were, to see what kind of person you are, and to help you NOT be a victim on the dating scene.  My husband was curious about this book, as I wanted to hand it off to our three teenage girls before they hit the dating scene, and had me read some of the rules and summaries to him.  He mentioned that he also thinks the advice in ‘Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating’ is ‘spot-on’ as well.

If you are finding it hard to search for your Capt Wentworth or Mr Tilney, grab this book and enjoy.  If you know anyone who might be starting their own search, or who is completely frustrated, this is the perfect companion.  If you might have a teenage daughter, and you want to spare her some heartache, give her this book as a ‘going off to college’ gift.  Or, if you are like me and already have your Mr. Darcy, or Edmund Bertram, but love anything Jane Austen, this is a great treat.  Ms. Henderson pulls our favourite characters out of the books of Jane Austen and analyzes their actions, in hopes of helping you to live happily ever after.  I am very glad I picked this one up, and will buy copies for anyone I know who is looking for help in the minefield that dating can be!

5 Stars!
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