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Book review: Jane Austen-inspired books provide fun reads for fans

This pair of books provide fun reads for Jane Austen fans who can't get enough of Regency Era fashion and Mr. Darcy's tongue-in-cheek commentary on women, marriage and love.

"FASHION IN THE TIME OF JANE AUSTEN," by Sarah Jane Downing, Shire Library, $12.95, 64 pages (nf)

"Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen," by Sarah Jane Downing, presents an intriguing look into the fashions of England during Jane Austen's life.

Austen lived during the Regency period, otherwise known as the Age of Elegance, at a time when men's dress adopted the casualness of the English country gentleman and women's dresses lost the corset, raised the waist to just under the bust and became slimmer.

The book covers this transitional period of fashion, providing insightful perspectives on Austen's use of fashion in her books, including "Pride and Prejudice" and "Mansfield Park," among others.

Complete with images on nearly every page, the book gives readers the opportunity to see the fashions of this age depicted in sketches, portraits and photographs of clothing surviving to this day, including some of Austen's own belongings.

The book's frequent references to Austen's novels are crowned with excerpts from her letters, detailing an attention to the fashion of the time.

The type of the book is relatively small, but the images are of a medium to large size. The complex wording and the non-fiction nature of the book, complete with large paragraphs of text, make the book suitable for readers ages 16 and older.

"MR. DARCY'S GUIDE TO COURTSHIP," by Fitzwilliam Darcy, Old House, $14.95, 224 pages (f)

"Mr. Darcy's Guide to Courtship: The Secrets of Seduction from Jane Austen's Most Eligible Bachelor," by Fitzwilliam Darcy, reveals the secrets to success with the opposite sex of Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice."

Satirically worded and complete with hints to both ladies and gentlemen on the rules of courtship, sections are included detailing tricks to making oneself agreeable, identifying an appropriate partner and even a set of beauty tips from Miss Caroline Bingley.

Written in Mr. Darcy's characteristic blunt, tongue-in-cheek style from before Miss Elizabeth Bennet tempered his opinions, the book takes a lighthearted perspective on courtship and marriage, the practice of which Darcy considers perfectly abominable.

The book catches Darcy's characteristic pride for himself and disdain for all things related to love and marriage, all in his usually offensive manner. The commentary is complete with the inclusion of several humorous caricatures and charts regarding the content.

The book has frequent sexual innuendoes, including a section on identifying rogues and harlots and a caricature with an exposed bosom, and would be for mature audiences.