Pass It On

Tidbits and treats from the Sunnyvale Public Library Reference Division

Living On — Jane Austen Remakes September 24, 2009

There comes a time when you have devoured every novel that Jane Austen wrote —  and even the ones,  like The Watsons, which she only started to write and left unfinished.  After the unsettling epiphany that you will never again encounter a new Jane Austen novel, you may enter a period of obsessive re-reading, which can last a lifetime. The corners of your personal copies of Austen’s books become dog-eared and worn. You pick favorites from her romantic heroes (Darcy or Captain Wentworth?), and from her deliciously irritating secondary characters. You approach with suspicion every new film adaptation, noting to long-suffering friends which details stray from the original — but singing the praises of BBC’s much-beloved Pride and Prejudice.  (Whether we love this particular adaptation because it is so true to the spirit of the novel, or because it provides a generous four hours of Austen escapism, is an open question.) Eventually, you  feel like an Austen expert, and begin to wonder — would it have been so bad for Mansfield Park‘s Fanny to have accepted Henry’s proposal? Why didn’t pompous Mr. Collins make a play for the bookish Bennet sister, Mary? But at this point, you are second guessing the master, and are in dangerous territory.  Better to just pick up whichever Austen novel you haven’t yet memorized (Northanger Abbey, probably) and begin it again.

Unless…  a few kind publishers take pity on you, and provide some variety in a seemingly endless series of Jane Austen knock-offs. Which is exactly what has happened, with a flood, over the past several years, of Austen continuations and revisitations. Many novels have borrowed the framework of an Austen classic (think about Bridget Jones’ Diary, for instance, and its similarities to Pride and Prejudice). But this new breed of Austen knockoffs wear their origins proudly in their titles  — from Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Luckily, many of these books are available from the Sunnyvale Public Library. So you’ll have something to keep you busy while your battered copy of Mansfield Park is at the bindery.

xx Austen continuations:  And then what happened?

Authors pick up the threads of Pride and Prejudice.

MrandMrs Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy : : two shall become one : Pride and prejudice continues /  by Sharon Lathan

Publishers Weekly described this sequel to Pride and Prejudice as “surprisingly steamy.” The story picks up directly after the marriage  of Elizabeth and Darcy.

See also Mr. Darcy takes a wife : pride and prejudice continues / by Linda Berdoll.


DarcyConnectionThe Darcy connection : a novel / by Elizabeth Aston

Aston has written six Pride and Prejudice continuations, following up with secondary characters and exploring branches and twigs on the Darcy family tree. In The Darcy Connection, one of her latest, readers are treated to a plot that may sound familiar: two sisters, one more pretty and one more clever,  are seeking husbands. No surprise that our clever heroine is named Eliza, and is Elizabeth’s god daughter. Their mother is Charlotte, who made a practical  match with Elizabeth’s cousin, Mr. Collins.


SuspenseSuspense and sensibility, or, First impressions, revisited : a Mr. & Mrs. Darcy mystery / by Carrie Bebris

Bebris has written a series of mysteries that bring Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy into contact with other Austen characters. In one book, for instance, Mansfield Park’s Henry Crawford has been murdered, and it’s up to the Darcys to find his killer. In Suspense and Sensibility, a cousin of the Dashwood family (from Sense and Sensibility) is in trouble.


Independence.pgThe independence of Miss Mary Bennet / by Colleen McCullough

McCullough, best known as the author of the romantic drama The Thorn Birds, brings a darker touch to the world of Jane Austen knock-offs. In her continuation of the Bennets’ story, pious and pedantic sister Mary is grown-up, a budding feminist, and off on an adventure where Mr. Darcy is one of the bad guys.



xx Re-imaginings: a Man’s Eye View

Many of the titles in this vein purport to give us diaries from Austen’s leading men.

WentworthDiaryCaptain Wentworth’s diary / Amanda Grange

Readers spend much of Persuasion wondering, along with the heroine, what Captain Wentworth was thinking.  Now, we can find out.

See also The private diary of Mr. Darcy : a novel / by Maya Slater, and Mr. Knightley‘s diary / by Amanda Grange.


FitzwilliamFitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, Bks 1-3 / by Pamela Aidan

This series, originally self-published, essentially retells Pride and Prejudice through Darcy’s eyes.  Book two, Duty and Desire,  imagines Darcy during the months when he is absent from Elizabeth Bennet’s narrative.


xx The Lady Herself: Jane Austen as Character

Forget her characters — some readers want to spend time with Jane herself.


MemoirsThe lost memoirs of Jane Austen / Syrie James

Jane Austen meets a man she finds inspiring.



Jane and the barque of frailty / by Stephanie Barron

The ninth and most recent in Barron’s series of mysteries with Jane Austen for a sleuth. The series begins with Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor. In addition to giving us Jane as a character, Publishers Weekly says that Barron ” artfully replicates Austen’s voice.”



xx Modern Times and Strange Times

Time travel, zombies, book clubs, and other oddities that would alarm Mrs. Norris.

ConfessionsConfessions of a Jane Austen addict : a novel / Laurie Viera Rigler.

In Rigler’s debut novel, modern-day woman Courtney Stone finds herself transported back to Jane Austen’s England, where she must navigate social customs, suitors, and what passed for plumbing. Rigler follows this tale with a sequel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, in which the woman Courtney displaced pops up in modern Los Angeles.


BookClub The Jane Austen book club / Karen Joy Fowler.

Fowler’s story is less about Jane Austen and more about the pleasure of reading her. Austen herself might have approved of this witty and wise story, which follows six people as they discuss and debate her works.



Pride and prejudice and zombies : the classic Regency romance — now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem! / by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

This mash-up infuses the original Pride and Prejudice text with a plot about brain-eating zombies, known as “unmentionables.” Both Elizabeth and Darcy are accomplished zombie slayers, while Lady Catherine de Bourgh, of course, has her own army of zombie-killing ninjas.  As School Library Journal puts it, “There is the constant physical peril that echoes the menace underlying the original. In addition to a life of homeless spinsterhood, the sisters fear having their brains eaten.”

And of course, there are many more Austen-themed works out there to enjoy. Did I miss your favorite? Tell us in the comments.


What is an Upside Down Jellyfish? September 21, 2009

Who invented the sandwich?  sandwich2When was “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance?  Where can I donate used eyeglasses?  What is an upside down jellyfish? Can you tell me about a genealogy center on the Isle of Harris in the Hebrides in Scotland? How do legal systems differ in different countries?  What is the name of Michael Jackson’s skin disease?  What are the pieces that make up a mancala game?  These questions are just a few of the inquiries that recently came to the Reference Desk. 

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America discusses the history of the sandwich, which is probably named for the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who helped to popularize it in the 1700’s in England.  Sandwich recipes were first published in American cookbooks in 1816. 

The expression, “under God” was added in 1954 by an act of Congress (Urban Legends Reference Web Pages.)

eyeglassesA list of places where eyeglasses can be recycled is linked from the City of Sunnyvale Home Page > Main Index >City Services > City Departments > Public Works > Solid Waste and Recycling > Recycling A-Z > Eyeglasses.  

An upside down jellyfish spends its time lying on its back on the bottom of a shallow lagoon, intertidal sandbank or mudflat around the Caribbean and the Indo-Pacific.  With its mouth lobes exposed to sunlight, it lives on the products of photosynthesis in its tissues instead of trapping prey in its tentacles. (Richard Ellis:  Encyclopedia of the Sea.) 

The Web site for the Seallam! Visitor Centre on the Isle of Harris in the Hebrides in Scotland describes the its genealogy and other services.

World Book Encyclopedia has basic information on different legal systems.

Vitiligo is the skin disease (a Library database, Newspaper Source Plus.)mancala5

Twelve small cups, 2 large cups, and 48 stones are the usual pieces of a mancala game. (Family Fun and Games and eHow.)

Reference Librarians enjoy helping you find the resources to investigate both large and small mysteries and to answer your questions.  If you would like help with your quest, stop by the Reference Desk today!


Getting Started with Digital Photography September 15, 2009

Filed under: photography,Programs — svref @ 6:00 am
Tags: ,

Camera3Please join us Monday, September 21, from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. for Getting Started with Digital Photography. If you know nothing about digital photography and just want to get started, or if  you are a beginner and just want to know what you can do with your digital photographs, please come and join us for an informal workshop on taking pictures for fun.

The instructor will be Chris Willis, a photographer for more than twenty years who has worked at and is currently at HP Labs in their Media Understanding Laboratory where he works on creating new ways of sharing photographs. He has been teaching photography at local libraries for the last five years.


Monthly Book Group: Tales of a Female Nomad September 14, 2009

Filed under: Books,Monthly Book Group,Programs — svref @ 11:40 am
Tags: , ,

Jacket.aspxThis coming Thursday, September 17, the Library’s Monthly Book Group will be discussing Rita Golden Gelman’s Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World.  In 1986, the author left her failed marriage and upscale life, sold all of her possessions except what she could carry, and began a remarkable journey to live her dream that still continues – as a nomad who actively participates in the lives of the people she visits. Please join us Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in the Library Program Room.


Genealogy Resources September 10, 2009

Filed under: Databases — svref @ 8:45 am

treeThursday, September 17, 2009, 3-4:30 p.m.

Learn about the Library’s genealogy database, Ancestry Library Edition and other online resources.  The course will cover content, basic searching, viewing, saving, and printing techniques. The class will be held in the Program Room and no registration is required.


Getting Started with PubWEST September 8, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 2-4 p.m.  patent5

Discover unique features that can speed up your patent search as you learn the basics of searching on databases available only at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and at Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries. Find out about keyword and U.S. patent classification searching on PubWEST. There will be limited hands-on experience. Free. No registration.


Library Closed for Labor Day September 4, 2009

Filed under: Holidays — svref @ 9:46 am

The Sunnyvale Public Library will be closed on Monday, September 7, in observance of Labor Day. The Library will be open during normal hours on Saturday and Sunday and will reopen on Tuesday.

Did you know that the first Labor Day parade was held in New York City on September 5, 1882? Read more about the origins of Labor Day from the Library of Congress or the U.S. Department of Labor.