Today I’m sharing a snippet from a book that any Austen fans will be interested in.
All fans of Jane Austen everywhere believe themselves to be best friends with the beloved author and this book shines a light on what it meant to be exactly that. Jane Austen’s Best Friend; The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd offers a unique insight into Jane’s private inner circle. Through this heart-warming examination of an important and often overlooked person in Jane’s world, we uncover the life changing force of their friendship. Each chapter details the fascinating facts and friendship forming qualities that tied Jane and Martha together. Within these pages we will relive their shared interests, the hits and misses of their romantic love lives, their passion for shopping and fashion, their family histories, their lucky breaks and their girly chats. This book offers a behind the scenes tour of the shared lives of a fascinating pair and the chance to deepen our own bonds in ‘love and friendship’ with them both.
Friends the world over love nothing better than to wile away an afternoon trying on clothes and matching accessories to outfits. We love to personalise something or style an outfit for ourselves and our friend and imagine what a knockout we will both look as we step out together. Jane and Martha really did enjoy doing this, they revelled in it and in this extract, we see just how mutual the admiration and affection was. There is something so rare and precious on viewing Jane Austen in this light, it is such an everyday, ordinary area of influence of one friend upon another, and yet it has such importance and impact for us now as it reveals Jane Austen as a real person, one we can relate to even more. Which is just delightful for any Jane Austen fan.
Jane admired Martha’s taste and style and considered her friend not ‘blowsey’ as some have described her, but graceful (we know that she received all of that regular instruction in walking and dancing), slim and above all, elegant. She enjoyed styling her hair similar to Martha’s all fastened up in a particular way, stating that it made her ‘very happy’ to do so. Her clothes, too, she fashioned after Martha’s, which we know is the highest compliment between friends. To copy and imitate someone’s style and design of dress, coat or hat is a wonderful form of flattery. It shows an understanding of the distinct flavour of, and a correlation with, that person’s taste. To adopt the same trend of a close pal is one of the core signs of friendship. Even in the modern era, you can often identify groups of friends by the way they dress, with each new ‘look’ seemingly a type of shared uniform.
‘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.’