The Latest from Devoney
Book Cover Reveal Day for Sister Novelists: Jane and Anna Maria Porter in the Age of Austen!
I hope you’re doing okay as we head out of this strange January. I neglected to write weeks ago with “Happy New Year.” Oof. What even just happened during this past month? Please tell me there’s going to be a month sometime soon that we won’t be saying that about. Please just let February be regular somehow. I’m so eager for a regular old month.
As we wait for that, here are a few completely fun and frivolous things to take your mind off of other things that aren’t fun or frivolous. If you missed the Masterpiece Podcast’s Sanditon preview episodes in December, they’re worth a listen. I had the pleasure of saying a few words on the episode about the new Austen-inspired men of Sanditon. Jace Lacob, the super-smart podcast host, even gave me a few pieces of insider information off-mic about the upcoming Sanditon season two plot twists! I’m sworn to secrecy, but I can tell you that I’m excited to check it out in March on PBS. But if you need an immediate fix of Janeite fun, then check out these amazing Jane-inspired cookies in the Washington Post. OMG. Here’s what it looked like the last time I tried to bake Jane Austen cookies. I’d better stick to writing and teaching.
Now I know that when I call us “Jane-friends,” you think I mean Jane Austen, and often you’d be right. But today I actually mean to try to turn you into Jane Porter friends. Who is Jane Porter, you ask? She was born in the north of England just two weeks before Austen, in December 1775, and she was actually the more famous novelist named Jane during Austen’s lifetime. But as Austen’s fame gradually rose, Porter’s gradually fell.
Literary history may have ultimately gotten things right with Jane Austen’s deserved reputation for genius, but Jane Porter got robbed. She was celebrated for her bestselling historical fiction during her lifetime, then eventually forgotten by posterity. To add insult to injury, her brilliant sister—her best friend and another novelist of genius, Anna Maria Porter—was ripped off, too. These sister novelists, the most famous literary sisters before the Brontës, deserve to be known once again. I hope to do something about that in 2022, with my forthcoming biography.
It’s my pleasure to reveal the cover for Sister Novelists: Jane and Anna Maria Porter in the Age of Austen this week! The cover is absolutely stunning, isn’t it? It was designed by Patti Ratchford at Bloomsbury Publishing, and I just love the look of it, with the sisters’ gorgeous but fractured faces, the eyes peeping out from the spines of books, and the pastel color palette. (That’s Jane on the left and Maria on the right.) Sister Novelists’s release date is set for September 6, 2022, and it’s now available for pre-order. I can’t wait to share this book with you.
I’d love for as many people as possible to see this beautiful book cover this week. Might you help me out? If you’re on Twitter and would be willing to retweet it, or on Facebook and would be willing to share it there, I’d be so grateful.
Or if you’re on Goodreads, friend me and then add the book to your “Want to Read” list? I’ll be honest. I’m still trying to figure out Goodreads. How do people have fun on there? Is it fun? Send me your tips for having fun on Goodreads.
I’ll have more to say in future newsletters about the Porter sisters’ fascinating literary careers—and dramatic love lives! What’s wild is that their real lives often read like a novel, and sometimes, just like a fun-house mirror version of a Jane Austen novel. Yet it all happened to them before Austen published her first book. There’s no proof the Porter sisters’ lives inspired Austen’s fiction, but the sisters’ resemblances to Austen’s heroines, especially Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, are sometimes a little uncanny.
These days, when I’m not getting ready for the launch of Sister Novelists, I’m back in the classroom, teaching Jane Austen and Her Contemporaries at Arizona State University. My students and I are on volume three of Sense and Sensibility right now. It’s such a perfect time to be reading that novel, about happy recovery from illness. May you and yours continue healthy and happy! I look forward to being in touch again soon about great books, lost history, strong women, and all the Janes. Let me know in the meantime if you run across something you want to share with me. I’d welcome the chance to hear from you.
Your humble and obedient servant,
P. S. DO YOU LIKE TO RATE/REVIEW THINGS?
If you like to follow and review things, the links below include places where you could weigh in. And in return, let me know how I might help you get the word out for something you’re passionate about?
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