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

Format: Paperback

Pages: 176 pages

Published: March 6, 2018

Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux

Genre: Nonfiction, Writing, Biographies & Memoirs

Synopsis:

The son of a devoted Jane Austen scholar, Ted Scheinman spent his childhood eating Yorkshire pudding, singing in an Anglican choir, and watching Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. Determined to leave his mother’s world behind, he nonetheless found himself in grad school organizing the first ever UNC-Chapel Hill Jane Austen Summer Camp, a weekend-long event that sits somewhere between an academic conference and superfan extravaganza.

While the long tradition of Austen devotees includes the likes of Henry James and E. M. Forster, it is at the conferences and reenactments where Janeism truly lives. In Camp Austen, Scheinman tells the story of his indoctrination into this enthusiastic world and his struggle to shake his mother’s influence while navigating hasty theatrical adaptations, undaunted scholars in cravats, and unseemly petticoat fittings.

In a haze of morning crumpets and restrictive tights, Scheinman delivers a hilarious and poignant survey of one of the most enduring and passionate literary coteries in history. Combining clandestine journalism with frank memoir, academic savvy with insider knowledge, Camp Austen is perhaps the most comprehensive study of Austen that can also be read in a single sitting. Brimming with stockings, culinary etiquette, and scandalous dance partners, this is summer camp like you’ve never seen it before.


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Ever wanted to attend a Jane Austen camp? Now here is your chance!

Well, not really. But this latest book about Jane Austen and the world she created transports you to a place that would be in most Janeites’ wildest dreams. Ted Scheinman takes readers, both book and Austen lovers alike, into a place that he couldn’t help himself being amazed and fascinated about a world that not even him knew euphoric it could be.

When I read a variety of books about Jane Austen, they are usually written by women. So when a man writes his perspective and insights on Austen, I always find it doubly fascinating. Scheinman applies the same wit and humor of Austen that makes this survey one enjoyable memoir. Scheinman gave readers an inside look into what happens when the academic world and fandom collide. When he helped formulate the Jane Austen Summer Camp at the UNC-Chapel Hill, his initial thought that these two ideals could not even be in the same room. But the impact of the Jane Austen allows for ideas to be pleasantly exchanged and create a joyful experience for all.

If you are devoted Janeite or trying to understand the world behind this passionate fandom, Camp Austen will give you inside look into the world I have been fascinated and fell in love with ever since I read my first Austen novel. After reading this, not only did I want to visit an Austen camp or a convention, but I never felt more enamoured and enthralled of the Austen world. I was left with a warm and comforting feeling, like I always feel when I read something about Jane Austen, and frankly if you are an Austen lover like myself, this is definitely one book you should not pass up.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository| Your local library

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan

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