Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Review: Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan by Ted Scheinman

I am so bummed that this happened in Chapel Hill and I never heard about it before now, even though I lived in Charlotte at the time. I guess that was the year I let my JASNA membership lapse, sigh.

Mr. Scheinman was a grad student at UNC when one of his professors came up with the idea to host what they jokingly refer to as a summer camp for grown ups but what is more of a conference, for academics and laypeople alike, focusing on Jane Austen. It is interesting to mix the two groups. Normally, they don't mix much, aside from the handful of professors who are invited as speakers to JASNA's annual meeting, but they are wildly outnumbered there, and tailoring their topics to a more lay audience, so this did have a different feel. I found one chapter to be too formal in tone, but then Mr. Scheinman settled down and got into the fun of things. Were all the costumes of the people's behavior perfectly accurate to the era? Certainly not. And is he a little full of himself after he's asked to play Mr. Darcy? Yes indeed. But it's easy to forgive these trips as we're all only human, even Austen herself was human, and so at times there are stumbles. However, for a casual Janeite, this was a fun read, and will inspire envy and hope that they'll do it again.

I got this book for free from FSG, the publisher, part of Macmillan, my employer.

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