Have you ever recognized Mrs. Elton in an office colleague? Or caught a glimpse of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the neighborhood crank? Have you spotted a young Emma Woodhouse in your teenage daughter's clique? Over two hundred years after their creation, Jane Austen's mean girls are still alive and kicking.
Bitches in Bonnets explores parallels between Austen's world and our own, showing how modern social and behavioral scientists are just beginning to document and quantify what the author knew instinctively. Interweaving modern research and sociological experiments, author and Austen scholar Sarah Makowski looks beyond Austen's texts for the sources of female aggression both during the Regency and today. Despite incredible advances in gender equality, women still face discrimination and bullying from creche to career. The cruelest assaults are those that are least expected – from other women. Hardly a woman alive has not experienced a false friend whose opinions and affection bring both positive and destructive consequences. The very ordinariness of Austen's stories leaves room for us to identify with her flawed heroines and make peace with their enemies.
Bitches in Bonnets examines how six novels of quiet English life, penned by a parochial Regency spinster, still provide insight on female relationships after all these years and how Austen’s writing – and our reading of it – offers solace to millions of fans worldwide.
Sarah Makowski is a learning and development professional supporting individuals and organizations in achieving the right skills and competencies to perform their best. She is frequently invited to speak at universities and business events on women in leadership and digital learning, and has been active in diversity initiatives for global corporations. She completed her Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Aachen. In her private life, she is a dedicated Janeite and a voracious reader. Her writing has appeared in many places familiar to the Jane Austen community, including Persuasions, the Jane Austen Society of North America's peer-reviewed publication. Born in Michigan, Makowski now lives in Germany with her teenage son, husband, and two cats.
NetGalley Review: 4 stars
Last updated on 29 Dec 2022
"A new approach to looking at Jane Austen’s female characters! The author takes the characters and draws parallels to modern day society. A really interesting book that fans of Jane Austen are sure to enjoy."—Christine Piepmeier, educator
Bitches in Bonnets is a cheeky and charming exploration of the complexities of female relationships in Austen’s world and our own. I’d highly recommend this book to those who enjoy Austen or those who don’t quite understand the nuances of female relationships but seek a deeper understanding through treasure of literature.