Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners, By Josephine Ross

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The Independent Culture

Few Jane Austen enthusiasts will not have realised what a delicate business it was to be a lady or gentleman of standing in Regency England.

This guide, written as a jokey instruction manual on the golden rules of Mannered Society, takes its readers through the fundamental do's and don'ts (from how to behave at a ball to the thornier task of refusing a marriage proposal) and gives textual examples – from Darcy's first, botched marriage proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice to Mrs Elton's lack of social graces in Emma.

Though not a serious-minded reading of Austen's work, this is a frothy social history, delightfully illustrated by Henrietta Webb, which will evoke a titter or two (behind a lace hanky) along the way.