"First and foremost, for many people it is non-negotiable that a best friend be dependable, reliable, always there when you need them and someone you can count on to never let you down (well, almost never). This sentiment comes closely coupled with a sense of loyalty to one another; a best friend will stand by you and have your back".
Janeites of the world, rejoice! There's a captivating new book, which gives us a fascinating glimpse into the world of Jane Austen.
Jane Austen's Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd by Zoe Wheddon is a charming, engrossing story told by a gifted author.
This is the story of Martha Lloyd, a close friend of Jane. "Other than Cassandra no one knew Jane Austen as well as Marta Lloyd. She was a companion to Jane, a confidante and a supporter. Martha knew Jane's secrets, including perhaps her greatest secret of all - her writing".
Their close friendship started in childhood, and continued for the rest of their lives. Discovering Martha's life and a special bond with Jane, helps us understand Austen's personality better.
Zoe Wheddon muses on what makes a friend a best friend. Looking for evidence in Jane and Martha's personal histories, letters, family documents and memorabilia, she uncovers a friendship "that was truly special and unique". According to the author, best of all about female BFF is they are soul sisters.
The book offers a unique insight into Jane and Martha's "shared interests, including the hits and misses of their romantic love lives, their passion for shopping and fashion, their connection to their community and the female biography of the period, their family histories, their lucky breaks, their epic fails and their girly chats".
The Regency romance is going through a renaissance stage at the moment. While Jane Austen's Best Friend is not a fictional account, it opens a window into the Austen's world. I particularly enjoyed reading the chapter Fashion Fun. Both Martha and Jane were very much concerened with all things fashion. They regulalry relied on each other for shopping, for swapping patterns and ideas, and even clothes.
"Jane had her finger on the fashion pulse and noticed even the slightest changes in trends... The winds of fashion change were foremost in her young mind".
Getting dressed up and heading on out to a ball was one of the great joys which both friends shared. They planned their outfits in meticulous detail. Jane "really enjoyed dancing and Martha was so good at it that she was proud to be seen with her, knowing that she would keep her card of dances full for the entirety of the evening".
Their attachment to each other is shown as growing with each passing year. Each chapter covers a shared interest among the friends. There are little things that make the friendship even more special, like Martha preparing the ink for Jane's work.
Zoe Wheddon's enthusiasm for her subject is obvious. She is clearly very fond of both friends, and sometimes her style of writing is over-effusive. We all have different sense of humour, and what the author finds hilarious in Austen's teasing of her friend, I found slightly mean and ungenerous.
Lovers of Jane Austen will relish this uplifting insight into her life, close circle and times, her works and society in which she lived. A delightful treat for all Austen fans!
Author Bio – 'A native of Jane Austen's beloved county of Hampshire, Zoe Wheddon, lives in a village on the outskirts of the touwn that she and her husband Matt grew up in, with three grown up children and a cat called Leia.
She co-presents the popular podcast What Would Jane Do and writes articles and book reviews on matters relating to friendship, self-compassion and personal development on her blog. When not researching or writing her next book, Zoe can be found in the classroom teaching Spanish and French or singing ABBA songs loudly in her kitchen.'
Social Media Links – Twitter: @ZoeWheddon
Facebook: Zoe Wheddon Author page.
This post is part of the blog tour.
Many thanks to Zoe Wheddon and Rachel's Random Resources for the PDF of the book!