Katie’s News and Reviews
January 16, 2024
Welcome to Katie's News and Reviews. This monthly newsletter will include book recommendations, Jane Austen news and highlights, what I'm teaching and learning from my students, updates on my novel launch and signings, and other 'musings.' Thanks for signing up and I hope you will find something useful and encouraging every month.
Books: I read 39 books (officially) in 2023, from serious books like Pedagogy of the Oppressed to fun books like Debating Mr. Darcy, and lots in between. I wrote lengthy reviews for two of my favorite books of the year: Sister Novelists, by Devoney Looser, and The Covenant of Water, by Abe Verghese. I know Devoney through Jane Austen events, and I have read some of her other work. I looked forward to Sister Novelists and was not disappointed. It's non-fiction but reads like historical fiction - fascinating from beginning to end. Read my full review here.
Abe Verghese's first novel, Cutting for Stone, is one of my favorite books so I was also really looking forward to reading The Covenant of Water, especially as it's set in Kerala, India. Wow! Even though the book is 775 pages long, I didn't want it to end. Read my review of it here and then go out and get it! You can follow me on Goodreads to see what I'm currently reading (at Katie Sweeting).
What has been especially encouraging and stimulating is meeting authors and reading their books. I am discovering a community of writers that is very supportive and helpful. I met Sayantani DasGupta and Noreen Mughees at a Jane Austen event in Manhattan, and promptly bought and read their Jane Austen retellings, Debating Mr. Darcy and The Mis-Arrangement of Sana Saeed. Both books were very enjoyable - I also read The Bride of Northanger, by friend Diana Birchall, and am finishing up Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, by Stephanie Barron.
Jane Austen: That brings me back to Jane Austen. I have always admired Austen and enjoyed her books, but it was only after my mom died in 2016 that I joined the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). My mom was one of the founding members back in the early 1980s and I had attended a few annual meetings with her over the years. After she died and we were cleaning out our home, I found a lot of Austen books, JASNA information, and Austen memorabilia. I decided to continue my mom's legacy and join JASNA. Since then I, and my sweet husband, have attended several Annual General Meetings of JASNA, and this past November I had the joy and honor to lead a breakout session at the AGM in Denver on The Bennet Female Agency. My friend Stacy joined me at the recent JASNA meeting in Manhattan where we learned all about Jane Austen's Wardrobe, by Hilary Davidson, and enjoyed afternoon tea
Is there an interest, hobby, obsession, or membership someone in your family enjoyed and you always wanted to try? Go for it! Develop your own passions and hobbies, but sometimes following in your parents' footsteps is both an honor and a joy.
Remnant: Before Christmas, I submitted final proofs of my historical novel Remnant to Wipf and Stock Publishers. My historical novel is a BIPOC bildungsroman about two resilient young women of color who despite being separated from their families by slavery managed to carve out meaningful lives in the late 18th and early 19th century.
Reaching out to authors to endorse my novel was daunting, but I so appreciated them taking the time to read Remnant and provide laudatory reviews - thank you Devoney Looser, Arthur Torrington, and Vincent Carretta. Here is an excerpt of one endorsement, to whet your appetite for the novel!
"Sweeting's vivid, moving work of historical fiction is a gift to readers in its conjuring up of the Equiano family's remarkable, long-forgotten women."
Devoney Looser, Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University, Author of The Making of Jane Austen, and Sister Novelists
In closing, I'd like to share my bible verse for 2024. Many of my friends and acquaintances are from diverse faiths--Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Jain--and I'm aware that many of you reading this are of different faiths, or agnostic or atheist. But I would like to share this verse and I hope it will encourage you.
Acts 17:28 King James Version
"For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring."
Look for the next issue in early February. Cover reveal in February!
In the meantime, let me know if you have any suggestions or requests - reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support!