Bits and Bobs

Summer in New York is drawing to a close; I have been having a lot of fun, such as messing about in a boat, as seen above, but with less than four weeks left things are starting to get busy and time to read is limited. I may be posting less frequently for the time being, but do bear with me! I have a couple of reviews forthcoming and I hope to give you some more glimpses of New York before I am back permanently on British soil. But for now, some bits and bobs:

Firstly, thank you all for your lovely comments on my London post. Thankfully things appear to have died down, and communities are fighting back against those who were intent on destroying them. I don’t know what the ultimate consequences of these riots will be, but I’m thankful for one thing, at least; it has brought communities closer together, and given people a greater appreciation of and pride in their own neighbourhoods. That’s definitely something worth holding on to.

Secondly, my return to London just got even more exciting as I am no longer a failure at adult life and am thrilled to announce that I will be gainfully employed come September! I will be working as a Senior Trusts and Foundations Manager for a fantastic charity that works with disadvantaged young people, and I am so excited to be a part of the amazing work they do!

Thirdly, I am seriously considering pursuing a part time MA degree, now that I have a job with a decent salary. I’ve found the one I want to do, here. Has anyone got any advice they can give me about studying at this level while also working full time? I’d really appreciate any thoughts anyone might have.

Fourthly, does anyone fancy doing a Persuasion read-along with me in September? I am hankering for a reread and I have never really had the opportunity to discuss this beautiful novel, which is my favourite Austen, in detail with other book lovers. I’m thinking of reading it slowly, probably over a month, and really exploring what makes it such a different novel from the others in terms of its maturity and its depth of emotion. I think it could inspire some truly wonderful discussions and I’d love to be able to engage in a conversation rather than have it all swirling around inside my own head!

Fifthly, I am very excited about Vintage’s reissues of Stella Gibbons’ extensive oeuvre. Here is a tantalising review of the most promising of these new releases, Westwood, and here is an interesting article about Stella Gibbons that has made me desperate to get reading! I will be purchasing these as much for the covers as the content; aren’t they beautiful? Vintage never disappoints me with their cover art, unlike some other publishers I could mention!

Lastly: prizes! Frances of Nonsuch Books and Claire of Paperback Reader, I now have a galley and a finished copy of An Accident in August, so you both get copies! Please give me an email with your addresses and I’ll get those out to you asap.

Liz with no blog, you win The Heat of the Day – please give me an email with your address and I’ll send it on!


  1. Congratulations on your new job! It sounds wonderful and very rewarding. I would love to do read Persuasion with you. I’ve never read it but I loved the BBC production. I wouldn’t mind reading Westwood either.

    1. Thanks, Mrs B! I am so excited to start! Great – it seems like there’s going to be quite a crowd of us! Persuasion is such a fantastic novel and I know you’ll love it!

  2. Dear Rachel,
    Congrats on the new job! I also will be going back for a master’s degree come September! Though thankfully I was able to drop back to part time at work. And yes, definitely would love a read along. I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice and Emma before and have all the other Austen’s before me to read. Don’t want to do it alone! Almost thought of starting a Jane Austen bookclub, but that would be too cliche now.

    1. Thank you so much Heather! How exciting for you! That’s wonderful news! I will be waiting until next year to start, though – I need a rest after my hectic year here! Brilliant – Persuasion is miles above her other novels if you ask me, so you’re in for a treat!

  3. Congratulations on the job! That’s wonderful news and must certainly make it that much more exciting to be heading home, knowing you have interesting work ahead of you and not the stress of a job search! The Victorian Studied MA program looks really interesting. My mom went back and did her master’s degree after I headed off to university. She got bored when I left home and, to fill her extra time when my dad was busy (and my brother, in typical teenager fashion, absent or uncommunicative), took up golf, her master’s degree program, and chairing several national boards in addition to her full-time job. I’m not sure she’s a good example of how normal people can manage the workload!

    I am really excited about the Stella Gibbons reissues too and also love your idea of a Persuasion read-along. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to participate as I’ll be travelling in Europe for most of September (7-25)!

    1. Thanks so much Claire! it does – it’s a huge weight off my mind and gives me a challenge to look forward to! Wow your mum is quite the woman! I’m not sure I can compete with such energy!! Oh brilliant – touring Europe is better than reading! I bet you will have the most fantastic time -where are you stopping off on your trip?

  4. Rachel,
    What an exciting month you have in store. Best wishes on your relocation with a new rewarding job and maybe school as well. (Best wishes to Heather too on school.)
    I’ve sent an email with my address and expressions of thanks for The Heat of The Day. Perhaps, if you don’t mind explaining the mechanics of a read-along, I could join you, Mrs. B, and Heather in reading Persuasion.

    1. Thank you so much Liz! I am super excited! School won’t be starting until next year – I couldn’t take on an MA this year with a big new job to tackle, but once I’m settled in my job and where I’m living, it will be much easier to find the time. A read along is easy – I will post a schedule of what to read by when and then on the same day we discuss – either on our own blogs or in the comments of blog posts. Does that make sense? I’d love to have you join in!

      1. Rachel,
        Sounds simple enough. I would need to do comments, but I think I’ve got that down. But where do lost comments go (she wonders)?

  5. Congratulations on your job. After recent events an important & interesting role. Ooh yes to a Persuasion re read. I read it when that ‘Which JA heroine are you?’ was all the rage & came out as Anne. So promptly read it tofind out more. Enjoy your final times in NY.

    1. Thank you Rachel! Yes their actual work is very pertinent to recent events and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to really make a difference to society in what I do for a job! Great – you’ll love it, I’m sure! Thank you – I am doing my best to! Can’t believe how quickly the time is slipping away!

  6. Congratulations on the new job and the MA.

    I should love to read Persuasion along with you.

    I love the boat picture – you look terrific.


    1. Thanks so much Sue! I am so excited to get back to London and get started! Fantastic – I’m thrilled with how many people want to read Persuasion with me! Thanks very much – it was quite a strenuous/sweaty experience but the picture doesn’t show that side of it!

  7. Congrats on the job ! And I’d definitely be up for a Persuasion readalong. I haven’t looked at in a while – I did a dissertatation on the language of friendship in Austen’s novels for my MA and after so much close reading I couldn’t pick up an Austen for a loooong time. And yes, re, the Victorian Studies MA, go for it, studying while working leaves little time for anything else, but it sure can be done and is well worth the struggle, living proof right here 😉

    1. Thanks so much Annie! I didn’t spot any typos!! A dissertation on Austen? I am jealous! How fascinating that must have been! I totally understand you not being able to pick her up for a while and I’m glad Persuasion has tempted you back in! That’s so good to know Annie – I think it’s about time I bit the bullet and went back to study, I’ve wanted to for so long, but it’s a big financial commitment and a leap of faith….one I’m ready for now!

  8. Congratulations from me too on your new job! I hope you are very happy in it.

    I did study an MA part-time while working full-time. I found it very hard work but utterly worthwhile – I loved it so much so that I planned to continue and study for a PhD but then moved to Belgium and had a baby so that hasn’t worked out. Yet.

    The reason for the hard work was the course’s rather bizarre structure: I ended up doing an enormous amount of work in the first term and then much less for the rest of the course until the writing of the dissertation. I only coped with the first term because I was working freelance. I did have to take time off for the dissertation writing too but that might just be because of the sort of person I am and the way I work. This was a few years ago and the course wasn’t really that well geared up to part-timers; I would imagine that it’s very different at Birkbeck but it might be worth checking out.

    Other than that, it looks a great course and I am extremely envious of you!

    1. Thanks so much Helen!

      It’s really good to hear from people who have done an MA while working – it gives me hope that I could handle the workload and still have a life! I like to be busy which will help!

      Yes – that’s why I would choose Birkbeck because it is geared up for people who work full time and they have a lot of support structures in place if you start to struggle to keep up. I’d probably need to take time off as well to finish the dissertation but I wouldn’t mind that – I’d just really have to learn to be disciplined!

  9. Thats wonderful news about your job. The universe is working for you. Well done. I too would love to read Persuasion with you. Will go in search of a copy. My family are all big Jane fans. Looking forward to that immensely.

  10. Wonderful news! Congratulations on gaining a career path that seems very meritorious! MA while working full-time will be just fine…better to do this before marriage and children:) And, finally, I would love to join along with reading Persuasion…echoing Dawn above, “Count me in!”

    1. Thank you very much, Tina! Oh absolutely – I definitely want to get my education done with before children come along…my sister had to abandon her MA when she had her first baby and I don’t want that to happen to me!

      Fantastic! This readalong is going to be brilliant!

  11. Congratulations on the job! I’d definitely be up for a Persuasion read along – its one of my favourite books, but I can never find anyone to discuss it in the detail I’d like.

  12. Yea! Congratulations on your new job, Rachel. I’m glad that you have that to look forward to along with your return home. I know you’ll do great and will eagerly await posts about it. I’m sure we will all understand a bit of a hiatus (as long as it is just a bit, being a selfish granny I’ll want to keep reading you). Bright days ahead.

    1. Thank you so much Penny – your belief in me is much appreciated! I can’t wait to get started! Bright days ahead indeed – it’s such a weight off my mind.

  13. Well done you! The new job sounds very exciting. As for studying at master’s level whilst working fulltime, I managed to do just that and, until last week, have been teaching postgrad/master’s students studying part time. More than happy to pass on advice. Just e-mail if it would be helpful.

    1. Thank you very much! That is good to know, thank you – I will take you up on that offer! I am so worried about spreading myself too thin and I don’t want to end up dropping out or achieving a mediocre grade so all the advice I can get will be much appreciated!

  14. Over the twenty-two years I have been at this university, perhaps a dozen students have worked full-time for me as they pursued their advanced degrees. Based on what I have observed, the very best advice I can give you is this: stay single until you have achieved your academic goals.

  15. Normally a lurker on you blog. But I thought I would post to say congratulations for the job and the impending move back to the UK.

    I would love to do my masters but I am always afraid of spreading myself too thin. I have done some vocational courses outside of work and then felt I did not have enough time for me. One of the reasons I started my blog, that became my vocational course/education which was not directly work related.

    I may well join in for the Persuasion read-a-long not too fast paced is something I could manage I think.

    1. Hi Jo! I’m so glad you came to say hello! Thank you very much.

      It’s a difficult balance, isn’t it? I am going to start by taking some classes when I get back and then if I find it manageable I shall sign up to do my masters in 2012.

      Great! I’ll be delighted to have you!

  16. That Stella Gibbons news *is* fantastic! I had no idea there was even a sequel to Cold Comfort Farm! Can’t wait to check out the rest of her oeuvre!

    And congrats on finding a job that excites you so much! It’s not an easy time to be out job hunting, so it’s wonderful to hear you finally had some success!

    1. I know, me either! Her books are so hard to find second hand so I’m thrilled to have the new pretty editions available!

      Thank you very much – I know, I feel very fortunate!

  17. Also, I am delighted to see by your photograph that while in this country you did not contract the American disease: morbid obesity.

  18. You must be so excited to be heading home soon. But come on back some day. We’ll leave a light on for ya.
    That’s fantastic about the job. It’s always such a relief to have an income coming in. Whew.
    Persuassion is also my favorite Austen. I reread it quite a bit. And that Amanda Root movie? Fantastic.

    1. I really am excited, Nancy – but I’m already planning my next trip back so don’t you worry about that!
      Thank you – I know, it’s been a real weight off my mind, I have to say.
      I know! The ultimate comfort watch and read!

  19. I’ve been subscribing to your posts for a good while now and this is my first comment… no more lurking for me.

    Well done (& huge sighs of relief I’m sure) on your new job! It’s great that you’re coming back with something exciting to look forward to. I’m sure whatever you decide to do regarding the MA would be the right decision. It will be hard, hard work on top of a job but I’m sure that if you set your mind to doing it you’ll reap the rewards – and like most things which seem daunting – if you wait to do it in the future, you’ll wish you’d done it earlier!

    I’d like to do the Persuasion read along – not sure how enlightening my comments would be but I’m sure I’d gain a lot from reading it with others.

    Enjoy the rest of your time over the sea before your journey home.

    1. Hi Glynis! How lovely to meet you, thanks for reading and coming to say hello!

      Thank you very much – I really appreciate that! I am sure you are right – if you want something badly enough you always manage to make it work out alright in the end, I find.

      Fantastic! I’m sure your comments will be very enlightening so I’ll be delighted to have you along for the ride!

  20. I read your blog regularly and enjoy it immensely. Many of the reviews you have posted have sent me off to the library in search of the books you have written so thoughtfully about and which I have subsequently enjoyed; many, many thanks for that. I undertook a part-time MA in Victorian Studies whilst bringing-up two young children and enjoyed it very much. It was something that enriched my life although I cannot deny that at times I was also rather run-ragged. It encouraged an interdisciplinary interest in the humanities that has stayed with me and has given me enormous pleasure. I wish you all the very best. I’d very much enjoy being part of a ‘Persuasion’ read-a-long :o)

    1. Hello Donna! That is so lovely to hear, thank you – I’m glad I have given some good recommendations! Thank you so much for your thoughts on the MA – if you could manage it with children then I am sure I could! I really think I’d love doing it and if I didn’t try then I would regret it. Fantastic about Persuasion! There is going to be quite a crowd I think!

  21. I’d love to do Persuasion with you – what fun me here in South Africa and you in London . Let me know details.

  22. Heey – You got a job!! Way to go and hip hip hooray! Congrats – that must be a load off your mind.

    Very happy to hear that news. Just remember that you are lovely with or without a job. 🙂


  23. Forgot to mention the M.A. idea: I say that you take baby steps at first to find out how it will work. I wouldn’t recommend starting a class this autumn/fall since you are starting a new job as well. If it was me, I would concentrate on the new job for the fall – find out how hard is the work, how many hours a week, if there is a seasonal variation in your work load…

    Perhaps look at taking a basic grad class in the spring. When I did my MA, I worked full-time, but it was made up of 3-4 little min wage jobs and teaching freshmen English at the same time. Someone above recommends doing grad work whilst you are single – prob good advice. However, just to confuse things, I had just married when I started graduate school, and Dave really supported me whilst I was doing it – he cooked, cleaned, worked his job, and did all the stuff (and extra) so I could really concentrate on school 100%.

    Grad school, at least in my experience, is not conceptually hard – what you are expected to learn is not hard per se; it’s the quantity that gets you (or me, at any rate). There was a huge leap between undergrad and grad in terms of how much work you are expected to do. (Not that hard to learn – but there was a definite increase in time of how long HW would take, etc.) For example, I was taking two lit classes one semester – had to read five novels a week!! (And work and work out and have a life.) My time in grad school was some of the best time I have had – I realized that I was really was smart after years of thinking (and being told) different.

    However, you will be doing in UK and I went to a TX uni and so things may well be different.

    However, definitely rec you getting situated in your job before you start school again. I think it would be a formula for a nervous breakdown to take on both at once. :-}

    1. Thanks for that advice Liz! It’s good to know that it’s possible – I know it will be hard but I really want to give it a go. I am not even going to contemplate starting until I’ve been in my job for a year first though, don’t worry about that!

  24. Please do that MA program, Rachel! I’ve just looked at the course structure and the only problem I can think of is choosing which topics to study! And congratulations on landing your new position…they’re lucky to have you.

    If the timing in September works out I would love to join in with everyone for the Persuasion read-along! There’s something about the promise of woodsmoke in the air that screams out for an Austen novel.

    1. I am pretty sure that I am going to apply, Darlene! It looks brilliant doesn’t it?!

      Thank you very much!

      It won’t be until the end of Sept as the beginning of Sept is going to be very busy for me so hopefully you will be able to join in! I’d love to have you!

  25. Congratulations on the new job! It sounds very rewarding (and a relief to be gainfully employed, to which I can completely relate). I finished my Master’s in Library Science two years ago, and though I wasn’t working full time, I worked part-time for most of it, and I’m married with school-age children. It wasn’t too bad though I never took more than two classes at a time. Victorian studies sounds fascinating!

    I’d love to participate in the Persuasion discussion, as it’s probably my favorite JA novel, though I don’t know if I’ll actually be able to do a full reread. I’m actually gearing up for the Jane Austen Society of North America general meeting, which will be held here in Texas in October. This year they’re celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility so I know I want to reread that also.

    But good luck on the new job! I know you must be sad to leave NY but also happy to return to the UK.

    1. Thanks Karen! It really is a relief! Good to know that about your Masters degree – it seems that it is possible to juggle a full time life with study!

      Oh wow how exciting! I hope you’ll be able to join us, at least to talk about it if not reread it.

      Thanks so much! I am so excited to get back home but I will miss New York, absolutely!

  26. Congrats on the job! It’s great to work in something that you’re really passionate about, so hopefully you will find the job as rewarding as you are anticipating.
    Re studying/working: I’ve been working full-time as an auditor in the City (admittedly my hours are fairly 9-5ish), studying for the professional accountancy qualification (which after uni, seemed like a walk in the park until the final exams!), and am doing a second BA with the Open Uni, in Modern Languages. I have to admit that my coursework is often a bit rushed, i.e. done the weekend before it’s due, but I really enjoy studying something that is separate from work and that challenges me in a totally different way. I’m doing the BA over 4 years rather than 3, and the OU is geared towards part-time study anyway, and I wasn’t starting from scratch on the languages, but I would say that it is definitely possible to combine working full-time and studying part-time.
    Persuasion – a few of us (Sleepless Reader, Iris on Books and I) are thinking of doing Austen in Advent, so I’m afraid I won’t be joining you in September, but I’ll be very interested to hear what you have to say about one of my favourite Austens (second only to Mansfield Park), and if you don’t mind, I’ll be linking back to your read-a-long a bit?
    Enjoy your last few weeks in New York!!

    1. Thanks so much for the good wishes and the advice – you are quite the inspiration!! Good for you – how wonderful to be doing another degree! I bet you are very organised though – that’s definitely something I could improve upon!
      That’s absolutely fine – enjoy your own Austen event and I hope you enjoy reading along with our thoughts on Persuasion!
      Thank you, I will!

  27. Congratulations on the job, sounds realy interesting. I’d be happy to read Persuasion again any time, it’s my favourite Austen & I read it almost every year. Good luck with the study plans. I often thought I would like to do further study after my degree but I just don’t know when I would have found the time.

    1. Thanks so much Lyn! Great news – it will be lovely to have you! Yes – it’s going to be a bit of a leap of faith as time will be my problem too but if I never try I’ll never know I suppose!

  28. Sorry I’m a bit late with this (my PC has been misbehaving, and I’ve not been feeling the best). I’m so over-the-moon delighted for you, Rachel. This is wonderful, brilliant, fantabulous news! Everything is really working out just as I reckon it was and is meant to. I wish you all the very best, both back home, as well as your last bit of remaining time in my beloved NYC.

    ps – I promise you that I will be reading Ms. May as soon as I’m feeling a bit better.

  29. Looks like a fantastic day in a fantastic city! Congratulations on the job 🙂 Things do have a way of sorting themselves out.

    And count me in for the Persuasion read along. I will have to find myself a copy, but I reckon that should be easy.

    Enjoy the rest of the summer!

    1. Thank you very much! They do indeed. Great news! Such a crowd of Persuasion lovers are coming out of the woodwork!

      Thank you – and the same to you!

  30. Congratulations on the job! I’m up for the Persuasion re-read and it’s perfect for autumn. I started an MA in Children’s Literature, but I’m afraid I abandoned it after one module for the usual reasons – too expensive, wrong choice of course, clashed with work and family – and if I’m really honest that level of academic writing is a little beyond me. An MA in Victorian Studies sounds wonderful though, do let us know what you decide to do.

    1. Thanks Nicola! Brilliant about Persuasion – perfect for Autumn indeed and I would love to have you involved. What a shame about your MA – but you do have to really have your heart in it for it to work which is why I am waiting a year to be certain I can make the commitment. It does sound fantastic though doesn’t it? I will of course keep you all updated!

  31. Everything’s looking up in every way. I’m so pleased for you, Rachel.
    Please count me in for the autumn read.
    That’s a lovely summery picture!

  32. Oh gosh, Rachel, I go on holiday and when I come back you’re all employed and important! Fantastic news. Oh, and while I was away I read Westwood, beguiled by that very piece by Truss (which is the new intro in the book) – it’s very good, although not quite how Truss made it seem to me.
    Re:Persuasion, it was my least favourite Austen, and I am keen to re-read to make me like it more, but I’ve decided not to do so until I’m Anne’s age: 27. Two more years to go!

    1. Thanks Simon! Hope you had a lovely holiday. Oh that’s interesting about Westwood – I am definitely going to pick it up soon.

      Sure I can’t convince (or bully?!) you into reading along? I’d love for you to discover the joy of Persuasion!!

  33. I’m so late to this but CONGRATULATIONS BIG TIME on the new job!! Waves flagss and banner and shakes things full of glitter 🙂

    PS Totally would be up for Persuasion in September depending on your time scales (so Iove that book – Anne!)

    1. Thanks so much Jodie! I really appreciate that! 🙂

      Great – I have made a little button on the side of my blog – I’m going to start reading on 18th September! Hope that works for you!

  34. Congrats on the new job! I’ve been thinking about heading back to uni too to do either an MA or a PhD in LIt. I think you should go for it if it’s something you would really like to do.

    I hope you like Persuasion. I picked it up in a bargain bin and thinking as a lesser known Austen, it wouldn’t be as good. Loved it more than Pride and Prejudice!

    1. Thanks Mae! I have been thinking about doing further study for a while, but the expense and stress involved put me off. I think I’m ready now, though. It feels like the right time.

      Oh Persuasion is my favourite Austen! Miles above her others if you ask me! It makes me sad that it’s one of the lesser read ones, as it’s so rich and so wise. I love, love, love it.

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