The Mystery of Emma #AustenInAugustRBR

Please welcome Chris from WildmooBooks!

I’ve been reading Emma as a mystery novel. I’m trying not to be open minded about what a mystery novel “should be.” (I hope you never “should on yourself” when it comes to reading, Dear Reader.)

For a few years now, I’ve committed to reading one Jane Austen novel a year. Thus far I’ve read Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense & Sensibility.

Last year a member in my mystery book club mentioned that Emma could be read as a mystery novel. I was intrigued.

I was also a bit worried. I’ve heard that people either love or loathe Emma. And that some consider Emma to be not only Austen’s best novel but a perfect novel. The P word made me even more apprehensive because if I didn’t like perfection in Jane Austen, what kind of reader would that make me?

All fears aside, Emma had been firmly lodged in my mind as the Austen novel I would read this summer.

Halfway into this first reading, I must admit that considering Emma as mystery novel seems a bit of a stretch. I can see how it could be dissected as a mystery story, perhaps of the detective ilk with the reader in the role of detective. I see clues being dropped about what’s “really” going on, yet perhaps I’m also being misled as a reader. Maybe I’m being just like Emma and seeing only want I want to see.

And what about the hero and villain who usually form the backbone of a mystery novel? The hero typically tries to put the world back into order after a crime and the villain wants to deceive people to get away with that crime. Is there a crime in Emma?

I suppose we could look at Emma as an antihero, the sort of do-gooder who wants to help people but ends up causing harm. And then there are all the other characters to consider, people who are making assumptions, making up motives, and misreading the intentions of others in their social circle. There are prejudices, half-truths, secrets. This is all certainly the stuff of mystery novels.

Hmm, so much to ponder! I shall read on and see what conclusions I come to at the end.

Have you read Emma? If not, please enter the international giveaway I’m offering. If you have read it, what do you think of Emma as a mystery novel?

p.s. It was P.D. James who first talked about Emma as a mystery novel and she certainly knew what she was talking about when it comes to the genre. I’m holding off reading her argument until I finish the novel.

Edition winner receives may be different.


Chris has generously offered to giveaway one copy of Jane Austen’s Emma, to be shipped from The Book Depository (please make sure they ship to your location). 

To be entered: You must have signed-up for the event (on the master post) by August 7th. Please also leave a comment on this post, addressing Chris’s question above and/or your thoughts on Jane Austen as a possible mystery writer. Have you felt any of her other works had hints of mystery in them?  

Giveaway opens August 29th and will close at 10pm CST on September 5th.


That Librarian Lady Shares It All! #AustenInAugustRBR

Please welcome, Laura from That Librarian Lady!

Laura is a high school librarian and book nerd who blogs about her reading life at That Librarian Lady.

I’ve always loved reading, but I got out of it a bit when I started college. My last year of college, I picked up Pride and Prejudice for the first time and fell in love. I promptly read all of her other novels before moving on to similar classics. Suddenly, I had rediscovered the joy of reading again. I have no doubt that Jane Austen’s books relit that fire. I probably wouldn’t be a librarian had I never picked up Pride and Prejudice.

Since then, I’ve started collecting different editions of her novels, particularly editions with gorgeous covers. I really love the illustrations on the Penguin Deluxe Editions so I’ve decided to give away a set of those for Austen in August.

The set includes Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion. Good luck!

To Be entered to Win:

1. You must have signed-up by August 7th (on the master post) to be a participant in the Austen in August event.

2. Leave a comment (which includes a way to contact you, such as an e-mail address).

3. In that comment, share one favorite scene, moment, quote, or memory from a Jane Austen book! 

Note: Images for book covers were found on the web. Items may be slightly different than they appear. Neither the event host nor the giveaway host are responsible for items that do not arrive, whether due to incorrect address information, mail theft, product being lost/stolen, etc. Giveaway opens on August 20th and ends at 10pm PST on August 27th.

Themes of Persuasion #AustenInAugustRBR

Please welcome Brianna from The Book Bug Reviews, with a guest post about the major themes in Persuasion. Be sure to read through to the end for a special giveaway (open only to Austen in August participants)!

Austen in August: The Top 3 Themes of Persuasion


Brianna Gunnarson

I am so excited to be doing a guest post for Austen in August! Jane Austen was the first classical author I ever read and she happens to be one of my favorite authors ever! So when the opportunity to read Persuasion presented itself I couldn’t refuse.  

There are so many amazing themes to Persuasion that I could discuss, but I have decided to highlight three of them that really stuck out to me.

First: A character’s reaction to loss reveals their true self.

Jane Austen uses loss as a way to build her characters. She reveals who they really are by putting them through painful situations. I happen to love this approach to writing. My philosophy when creating characters is if you want to see what a character is really like, break them and put them back together. But don’t take my word for it. Let me show you how the expert does it.

  1. Anne loses her mother and the love of her life. Her grief silences her voice. Rather than voice her pain she seeks to serve the needs of everyone else and to alleviate the pain of everyone around her, often to her own disadvantage. At her core Anne is a self-sacrificing character.
  2. Musgrove loses her wayward son. She ignores the fact that her son died and simply moves on with life. When forced to confront the reality, she lies to herself and everyone else about how he was a good boy. She changes her reality in order to make it bearable. She is a weak minded character.
  3. Captain Benwick loses his wife. He becomes shy and seeks to drown his emotions in extensive amounts of poetry. The pain that Captain Benwick experiences is not something that he is able to face directly and so he seeks the words of someone else to express it.
  4. Sir Walter Elliot loses his wife. He becomes vain and foolish. Sir Walter seems not to care at all for the loss of his wife as he ignores all the things she contributed to keep the family safe and he proceeds to put them into debt.
  5. Elliot loses his wife. He immediately starts trying to court his cousin Anne as a means of securing his future. He cares little for her loss as he cares for no one but himself.
  6. Smith loses her husband, her wealth, and her health. She seeks to find joy in the small blessings of life and despite her intense pain and poverty she experiences great joy in her life.

Loss reveals the true underlying aspect of someone’s character. Are they considerate, selfish, vain, tender, foolish, or kind? Austen expertly builds a diverse cast through the repeated experiences of loss.

Second: Is it better to be easily persuaded or to stand firm in one’s opinion?
The title of the novel is Persuasion and thus it is one of the major themes of the book. Austen doesn’t come out and say exactly what she thinks about this but gently provides examples of the benefits and limitations of being persuaded or standing firm.

Easily Persuaded
Pro: Mary is easily persuaded out of her negative assertions about herself. This means that when she has talked herself into a miserable state Anne can help her see happiness in her life and to be thankful for all of life’s blessings.

Con: Anne is persuaded by her family and by her dear friend Lady Russel to give up her engagement to Captain Wentworth, who she deeply loves. The result is seven years of regret and misery.

Not Easily Persuaded
Pro: Anne is not able to be duped by Mr. Elliot when he tries to pressure her into marrying him. She is able to stand firm in her decision, despite there being some strong enticements such as taking her mother’s place as Lady Elliot, saving her ancestral home, and gaining a large fortune.

Con: Louisa refuses to be persuaded by anyone so when she foolishly jumps off a ledge she nearly dies. The extent of her injuries change her life forever. She no longer has the vibrant energy she once had and as such much relinquish much of her active life-style.

Perhaps Austen’s point is not that one should be firmly camped on either side, but that one should use good judgement for all circumstances. Take wise counsel but do what you believe to be best.

Third: Class mobility.
In Austen’s day, class hierarchy was clearly defined. There was royalty, nobility, the middle class, and the lower class. Each individual knew where they belonged in the social organization and in general a person didn’t move up or down on the ladder. If you were born in the lower class that is where you stayed.

Despite these clearly defined categories, Austen’s society was changing. If an individual worked hard they could change their social status. And thus we have arrived at one of the major themes of Persuasion. Austen uses navy men as a way to explore whether or not someone really could change their social position.

Sir Walter Elliot, Anne’s father, firmly believes that one cannot change his social standing, and uses this reasoning as a firm rejection of Anne’s betrothed. If you are in the elite social class then you must stay with your own people or risk tarnishing yourself, family, fortune ect. But despite Sir Walter having the highest rank in his county, he is also the most foolish man. He spends beyond his means, driving his family into debt and out of their ancestral home.

Enter Admiral Croft. The Admiral embodies Sir Walter’s worst fear. He is a man who has earned his own fortune rather than inherit it and Sir Walter believes that he is a man of barbaric taste and appearance, because that’s how all sailors are supposed to be. But when Anne finally meets the Admiral she is shocked to find that he is in fact, in possession of better manners than her vain father. Furthermore, he is responsible with his finances and seeks to improve the Elliot’s estate while he is their tenant. Admiral Croft is in every respect a better man than Sir Walter Elliot, and lacks only the official title to be able to lay claim to the social status of gentry.

Austen’s ideas about social class, may at first seem to have no relevance to today, but that would be an oversight. Today’s social classes may not be as clearly defined, but if there is still a hierarchy. Depending on your race, economic standing, education, and sex you may have more or less mobility and access to resources in today’s society. Austen reveals that those who believe they are entitled to a certain status in society often do not deserve it at all, and even though someone may not at first appear to fit the mold, if you have the skills you can move through any hierarchy and should be allowed to do so. 

Jane Austen was a brilliant woman who used the guise of a romance to explore ideas of loss, persuasion, and class mobility. Thank you to Adam at Roof Bean Reader for allowing me to guest post. I am honored to have gotten to share my ideas about Austen’s work.

What other themes stood out to you? Post it in the comments! We would love to hear from you!

Austen, J. (2007). Persuasion. New York, NY: Barns and Noble Inc.

Giveaway: One copy of What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen  

To be considered: Winner must have commented on the master post for the event by August 7th, stating their intention to participate in Austen in August. To be entered in this giveaway, leave a comment on this post, sharing something about your love/appreciation/whatever for Jane Austen. Why are you here?? 🙂

Giveaway opens August 8th and closes at 10pm CST on August 13th.

The Folio Society Loves Jane! #AustenInAugustRBR

Please welcome back to Roof Beam Reader, THE FOLIO SOCIETY!

The Folio Society’s collector’s edition of Jane Austen’s Persuasion features stunning images by artist Deanna Staffo.  Her illustrations are perfectly suited to the book’s tone, particularly that which shows Captain Wentworth dropping his pen while writing his letter to Anne – one of the most significant, highly charged scenes in literature, and one of the most beautiful of love letters.

This hardcover title features a stunning cover design; the slipcase reproduces one of the novel’s most famous lines.  Prize winning author Siri Hustvedt contributes a new introduction that examines the notion of ‘persuasion’ as part of the 18th-century New Rhetoric philosophy that would have been familiar to Austen readers.  She also charts the social changes revealed by the story, particularly the conflict between the long-established but moribund Elliot family and Captain Wentworth, who made his fortune in the Napoleonic Wars.

The Folio Society’s Persuasion is published in series with Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma and A Memoir of Jane Austen.  Retail value: $59.95 Only available on


The Folio Society has generously offered to giveaway a copy of their beautiful edition of Persuasion to one lucky Austen in August participant!

To be considered, you must have signed-up for this event on the master post. Please also leave a comment below expressing why you’d like this edition of Persuasion. Good luck! 

Giveaway opens on August 5th and will close at 10pm CST on August 11th. 

Giveaway from JMill Wanders! #TheLiteraryOthers

Hi all! Jenna here. I blog over at JMill Wanders. I hope everyone has been enjoying The Literary Others Reading Event. I’m excited to be hosting the final giveaway for what I consider to be an essential event.

 The Prize
I am giving away one Literary Others book of choice to a randomly selected winner. The book can cost up to $20, and the giveaway is international. The book will be ordered from either Amazon or The Book Depository, so please verify prices on one/both of those sites.

How to Sign Up

It’s simple! Just leave a comment on this post. Please include your favorite Literary Others read, the book you’d like to win, and your email address so I can contact you if you win. You can earn up to two (options) bonus entries for following me on Twitter and Instagram. Let me know in the comment if you’ve done this.

The giveaway will end on Monday, October 31st at 11:59 PM Central Time.

 Best of luck to everyone! Enjoy the rest of the reading event.

My Characters Knew Who They Were #TheLiteraryOthers

My characters knew who they were before I did.

by Robert Hill for Roof Beam Reader

remnants-front-cover-web-sizedWhen I started to write my novel, The Remnants, I had only the vaguest idea about whom the people in it would truly be. All I knew was that I wanted to write a story that would capture life among the last members of a small, isolated town, a group of very senior citizens at the end of the town’s days and at the end of their own. Yet, while fleshing out their individual and collective pasts, traits began to emerge as randomly and organically as if my fictional creations were born of the womb. Eccentricities and genetic oddities made their way onto the page and marked every family line. Dark deeds found their way into every family’s home. Humor arose from the most unlikely moments. But what surprised me the most, were the relationships that took shape without my planning for them.

In creating backstories for the three protagonists (two men, one woman, all of whom are in their 90’s) and other townsfolk as well whose stories are woven throughout, I found myself dredging up a rite of passage from my own youth that suited the small town story well – the rite of passage known as the circle jerk – and used it to exemplify a kind of freedom of exploration that growing up in a small town sometimes makes possible (more often than not, in fiction only).

I’m a gay man and I’m a writer, but I don’t self-identify as a gay writer. Yet, as I delved into the childhoods of the two main male characters, and had each of them furiously gripping themselves during this “innocent” rite, over and over and over and over and over and over again, the two boys loosened my grip on their creation and decided for themselves that their youthful curiosity about each other was more than a curiosity.

Fictional characters, like real people, are born. And like people as real as Cole Porter, or Michael Sam, or too-numerous-to-count Republican Congressmen, or myself, fictional characters are sometimes born gay. I love my characters for having had the (fictional) balls to tell me who they were and make me honor them.

At the core of the novel is the evolutionary desire to find love, and although I may have been coy at first about writing a relationship arc between two men, my characters would not let me cheat them out of their truth. Nor, for that matter, would other characters in the novel whose relationships also took unanticipated turns – some of them surprising, others disturbing, and one downright weird. (But who am I to judge?) All were born from the womb of my imagination, and I love and respect them all equally for their defiance against all odds and conventions to find love in a doomed world. I hope readers find these characters as surprising as I did.


Robert has generously offered one paperback copy of his book, THE REMNANTS, to a lucky winner! Please comment on this post with your email address if you’d like to be entered to win! Good luck!

Brothers by Ted van Lieshout #TheLiteraryOthers

Please welcome Carola from Brilliant Years who is here to provide a guest review of BROTHERS by Ted Van Lieshout. This is a book I read many years ago, and I agree with Carola that it is definitely worth reading.

Carola has also generously offered to provide one giveaway copy to a lucky participant of THE LITERARY OTHERS event! Read to the end for details. 


Half a year after Luke’s brother Marius passed away, their mother intends to burn all Marius’ possessions on his first birthday after his death as a grand goodbye. In an attempt to save Marius’ diary, Luke starts writing in it to make it as much his own as it was his brother’s. At first Luke simply writes on the empty pages and avoids reading Marius’ entries, but eventually he gives in and reads his brother’s words.

This book is quite special to me. I’d like to put this book in the spotlight because it’s a gorgeous young adult book, and because it’s from my home country: The Netherlands. It has been translated to multiple languages, including English, and received a Dutch award and even a German youth literature award. It’s  a fairly popular book for high school reading lists in the Netherlands, which is fantastic.

The story is written from Luke’s point of view in the form of diary entries. In an attempt to save Marius’ diary from being burned by his mother, Luke starts writing in it. At first he only writes in the diary without peaking at his brother’s entries. He writes about himself and his family. He wonders, among other things, if he is still a brother when his only brother is death. When his mother threatens to tear out Luke’s pages and burn the diary after all, Luke is forced to start using Marius’ pages as well and to write between his lines. This is how the dialogue with (or rather monologue to) his brother begins. Not only do we find out more about what happened to his brother, but the diary also helps Luke come to terms with his sexuality. Luke’s words are down to earth, often witty, sometimes heartbreaking. The diary format is incredibly intimate and it works perfectly for this story.

Brothers is a fairly short book at just 160 pages, but even so the author manages to make the reader care deeply about his characters. I finished the book in no time, not just because it’s so short but also because I simply couldn’t put it down. Brothers is a story about family, loss, and sexuality. The book touches sensitive topics, but is written in an almost light-hearted way.

I can’t stop recommending this book!


One lucky winner will receive a copy of BROTHERS.

  • The giveaway is open to anyone living in an area where The Book Depository ships.
  • Please leave a comment on this post indicating that you would like to win and give your recommendation for a book you think everyone should read.
  • Please leave your email so we can contact the winner!
  • Giveaway will close October 31st at 11:59PM CT