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If you’ve ever wanted to life the life of a Regency lady but weren’t sure how, then this is most definitely the book for you.

Consult the Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England and you won’t put a foot wrong in any social occasion. Divided into short, easily digestible chapters, there is a how-to guide for practically any situation you stand to encounter; from choosing the right company, writing letters and planning a dinner party to how you might spend your leisure time, attending a ball and even carrying on a secret engagement, there are tips and hints aplenty so you can pass yourself off with a very respectable degree of credit.

Read it as a companion to Jane Austen’s novels and you’ll not only get even greater enjoyment from them but also useful insight to help make those all important decisions. For example, if you can’t wait another minute longer to become Mrs … and make haste to Gretna Green, then heed this warning:

“Do not annoy your fiancé during the trip. If you ask him stupid questions such as “Darling, would you still love me if I did not have a fortune of fifty thousand pounds? you may not like the answer you receive.”

No doubt the biggest decision you will make is who you choose to marry. There are strict rules governing your behaviour towards the opposite sex but if the right gentleman comes along, then you’ll want to secure him before another young lady has the audacity to put up a challenge.

Turn to page 111, Indicate Interest in a Gentleman Without Seeming Forward, for some interesting ideas. Remember when reading this chapter however that the author may be challenging you, and that not all gentleman respond to flattery, having their pens mended or having their actions mirrored, such as reading a book because he once said it made ladies more accomplished.

With such inducement, it won’t be long before he asks you that all important question, and once he does, you’ll want to start planning the wedding straight away! As luck would have it, the handbook contains a chapter on ‘How to Be a Bride’ so the big day really can be perfect.

Whilst you’re waiting for Mr Darcy, Captain Wentworth or Mr Knightley to come along, there is plenty to entertain in this wonderfully crafted guide to the Regency era; you can learn to play cards, dance and how to wear your hair – you might even  be inspired to arrange some flowers, picked whilst out walking the Peaks.

There is also a short biography about Jane Austen and information about her books, film adaptations and other useful resources to while away those long afternoons.

This Way to Pemberley is hooked and would give the handbook a 5 out of 5.

You can purchase the book from an Aspire Style store, as I did, or online here.

If you could live like a Regency lady just for a day, what would you most like to do? Attend a ball, go for a carriage ride or have a battle of wits with a handsome stranger maybe?

All quotes courtesy of:

The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England, by Margaret C. Sullivan, Quirk Books, 2007