Eccentric Fran wants a second chance. Thanks to her intimacy with Jane Austen, and the poet Shelley, she finds one.
Jane Austen is such a presence in Fran’s life that she seems to share her cottage and garden, becoming an imaginary friend.
Fran’s conversations with Jane Austen guide and chide her – but Fran is ready for change after years of teaching, reading and gardening.
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The Second World War is over. England is losing its empire, world status and old elite values. The Empire strikes back with mass immigration, while the government soothes its people with welfare, the NHS, televisions and refrigerators.
At the centre of the novel is the contemptuous Joan Kite, at odds with all the changes imposed on the country in the post war period. Shut up in a house with her only daughter, she refuses to compromise and adapt, pouring vitriol on anyone who seeks to enter their lives…
Sanditon is Jane Austen’s last novel, unfinished when she died in 1817. A comedy, it continues the strain of burlesque and caricature she wrote as a teenager and in private throughout her life. In her introductory essay, Todd contextualizes Austen’s life and work, Sanditon’s connection with Northanger Abbey (1819) and Emma (1816), Jane Austen’s insecurity of income and home, and the Austen family’s financial speculations. She examines the work’s discussion of the moral and social problems of capitalism, entrepreneurship, and growing tourism, and their effect on traditional values and rural communities.
After a life of reading and writing, what does it feel like to be deprived of both, to be thrown back only on what’s in your head? The literary snippets that emerge into Todd’s consciousness during a month of radiation are sometimes apt, often ludicrous. They draw her back into childhood in Wales, Bermuda, Ceylon when literature functioned as friend and escape, to her unquiet past in sixties Ghana, then America at the dawn of the rights movements.
Her father, nearing 100, is caught in the same ‘hospital-land’: both learn the selfishness of sickness and both respond by telling stories. Janet Todd’s new publication now available in the UK from all good bookshops in the USA from October 2018.
The life, work and history of Aphra Behn: seventeenth century dramatist, poet of the erotic and bisexual, novelist, political propagandist and spy. Praise for the first hardback edition: ‘Fascinating scholarship. Todd conveys Behn’s vivacious character and the mores of the time.’ The New York Times ‘Ground-breaking it reads quickly and lightly. Even Todd’s throwaway lines are steeped in learning.’ Women’s Review of Books.
Now available in the UK from all good bookshops (June 2017 by Fentum Press).
A Man of Genius portrays a psychological journey from safety into obsession and secrecy. It mirrors a physical journey from flamboyant Regency England through a defeated Europe struggling to create a new order after the upheavals of the Napoleonic conquests.
Ann, an author of cheap Gothic novels, becomes obsessed with Robert James, regarded by many, including himself, as a genius; she is captivated by his Romantic ideas, his talk, and his band of male followers. The pair leaves London for occupied Venice, where Ann tries to cope with the monstrous ego of her lover. The relationship grows tortuous as Robert descends into violence and near madness. Forced to flee with a stranger, she delves into her past, to be jolted by a series of revelations— about her lover, her parentage, the stranger and herself.