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Darcy on any number of occasions, and Murphy includes several examples from Pride and Prejudice. While a conduct book or dating guide might say otherwise, all women are not required to act in a particular way.Murphy offers the example of a very different Austen heroine: Consider Persuasion’s Anne Elliot: though perfectly good humoured, she is, on the whole, a serious person, even a grave person, for whom the sparkling repartee of an Elizabeth Bennet would be utterly out of character.Witty feminist and academic Sinéad Murphy responds by asking: Who has more time-tested secrets than Jane Austen, whose novels continue to captivate us—read after read—almost two hundred years later? If you look closely at Jane Austen’s books, as Murphy has, you’ll discover Austen’s countless tips for women on finding the right leading man, navigating the ups and downs of courtship, and building a happy, independent life for yourself.
• When to ignore advice from your girlfriends and listen to your mother. “What are we to learn from Austen’s brand of feminism?In the mid-1990s, a dating guide titled The Rules became famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for imparting to women “a myriad of tricks and schemes” (p.14) for finding Mr. Does Murphy seek to replace one set of arbitrary opinions with another, using Jane Austen’s name as a marketing ploy? As such this is not really a dating guide at all; its scope is much wider.In the introduction titled “The Real Thing” Murphy proposes that modern dating guides have a Regency ancestor in the conduct book, full of dos and don’ts for women wishing to succeed in society:…the Regency conduct book tended to judge a woman by how she conducts herself–that is, by how she acts, by how she seems.Festival Ball Tickets for September 27, 2008 are now on sale at The Jane Austen Centre, Bath. What’s a strong, independent-minded woman supposed to do in a world of insipid dating guides?