Who is your favorite fictional religious figure? I’ll admit that my favorites are all Jane
Austen creations – Mr. Collins, Henry Tilney, Mr. Elton, etc.
Fashionable Goodness by Brenda S. Cox is a fascinating
look into how Christianity influenced Jane Austen’s works. Cox takes a deep dive into researching and
explaining how the Church of England was set up at the time of Austen, Austen’s
history with the church and religion, and how it was reflected in her writings.
As the daughter and sister of clergymen,
Cox estimated that Austen knew 100 clergymen. I thought it was very interesting and enjoyed
reading this book.
I liked that the title “fashionable goodness” refers
to people and characters such as Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park who attend
church to appear fashionable, and not because they have a deep faith. Cox explores that Austen has more than a
fashionable goodness – she had a deep and abiding faith. That did not stop her at poking fun at the foibles
of the clergy, but some of her best characters were also clergymen, such as
Fashionable Goodness will be a resource that I will be using
again in the future. It has extensive
notes to explain the details of research and the meanings behind items. It has great pictures. My favorite were fascinating tables that the
author put together to explain things such as the church of England hierarchy,
the difference between rectors, vicars and curates in Austen’s England, incomes
in Austen’s England, etc. I love data
and tables and I’ve already read these multiple times. Also included in the appendices is George
Austen’s letter to Frank Austen when he went to sea in 1788 at age 14. It is a great letter of fatherly advice, and
he especially tells him, “The first & most important of all considerations
to a human being is religion or a belief of a God & our consequent duty to
him, our Neighbour, & ourselves.” It’s a great letter and also wonderful
that Frank held onto it and passed it down his family tree. Also in the appendices are Jane Austen’s
prayers, a timeline, places to find further information, and more.
I found Fashionable Goodness to be an absorbing book
that gave me a lot of great details to further understand Austen’s novels. I highly recommend it to any fan of Jane
“While we may interpret Austen’s timeless novels according
to our own experiences and values, we can enjoy them more deeply as we get to
know Austen’s world.”
“Jane Austen’s novels reflect her deep religious
faith. Her best characters live
according to religious values and principles, or learn to, while her worst
characters do not.”
Review Copy from author
Brenda S. Cox as part of the Book Tour.
Thank-you! I received a
complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.