North Carolina

A Novel Adventure: Jane Austen's World & Writings

Learn about life in Georgian Society as you study Jane Austen’s world and writings and experience garden walks, a game of whist, British Cream tea and more.
Rating (4)
Program No. 23448RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Discover the timeless written words of celebrated romance author, Jane Austen. During the week, we see how Georgian village life, morality, and sentiments are reflected in Austen’s six novels. We will examine primary themes in these stories in the context of Austen as a writer incorporating major elements in fictional romances, gothic noir tales, matchmaking couples, and sibling love. As a rather obscure writer during her lifetime, Austen’s claim to fame, her public literary life, and contemporary critiques/praise of her published works offer insights into the world of publishing for women authors. Her unique views of heart issues renders her work able to now cross the boundaries of time, as impacting for women today as those readers of the 1800s.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Easy stroll through level gardens in addition to classroom meetings.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn fascinating facts about Austen’s life along with close examination of all six novels.
  • Take a stroll through the sculptured floral beds of the North Carolina Arboretum.
  • Enjoy the sophisticated and elegant leisure pursuit of British Cream Tea at the Montreat Inn, complete with scones and Devonshire cream.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Featured Expert
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Barbara Pell
Bobbie, the moonstone minstrel, has been telling stories and writing fiction/poetry for over 30 years. She is a lifelong lover of story who incorporates folklore, myth and faerie lore into her writing, workshops/courses, and storytelling performances. She holds master's degrees in library science/technology and English literature/composition, and an MFA in creative writing. This modern-day minstrel unites song and story in delightful images and universal themes. She lives on Avalon Ridge with her husband Ron and their many golden retrievers.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Tracy Bailey
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Barbara Pell
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Bob Thompson
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Jane Austen Book Club
by Karen Joy Fowler
A book club discuss the works of Jane Austen and experience their own affairs of the heart in this charming “tribute to Austen that manages to capture her spirit” (The Boston Globe). In California’s central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships. Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.
by Jane Austen
EMMA, by Jane Austen, is a novel about youthful hubris and the perils of misconstrued romance. The novel was first published in December 1815. As in her other novels, Austen explores the concerns and difficulties of genteel women living in Georgian-Regency England; she also creates a lively comedy of manners among her characters. Before she began the novel, Austen wrote, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” In the first sentence she introduces the title character as “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich.” Emma is spoiled, headstrong, and self-satisfied; she greatly overestimates her own matchmaking abilities; she is blind to the dangers of meddling in other people's lives; and her imagination and perceptions often lead her astray. The novel has been adapted for several films, many television programs, and a long list of stage plays.
Mansfield Park
by Jane Austen
At the age of ten, Fanny Price leaves the poverty of her Portsmouth home to be brought up among the family of her wealthy uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, in the chilly grandeur of Mansfield Park. She gradually falls in love with her cousin Edmund, but when the dazzling and sophisticated Crawfords arrive, and amateur theatricals unleash rivalry and sexual jealousy, Fanny has to fight to retain her independence.
by Jane Austen
Persuasion is the last novel fully completed by Jane Austen. It was published at the end of 1817, six months after her death. The story concerns Anne Elliot, a young Englishwoman of 27 years, whose family is moving to lower their expenses and get out of debt, at the same time as the wars come to an end, putting sailors on shore. They rent their home to an Admiral and his wife. The wife’s brother, Navy Captain Frederick Wentworth, had been engaged to Anne in 1806, and now they meet again, both single and unattached, after no contact in more than seven years. This sets the scene for many humorous encounters as well as a second, well-considered chance at love and marriage for Anne Elliot in her second "bloom".
anything you'd like to read by
by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Jane Austen is one of the founders of classic novels for women. Her most famous novel Pride and Prejudice is rightfully considered to be the masterpiece of the world literature. Walter Scott, Somerset Maugham, Virginia Woolf and Richard Aldington admired the talented “first Lady” of the English literature. Wittily and directly described actions of the novel happen in provincial England in the end of eighteenth century. For about two hundred years readers have been mesmerised by the love story of Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth who managed to correct the mistake of pride and prejudice
The Mysteries of Udolpho
by Ann Radcliffe
With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine's inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt's new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.
here's a great weblink on the english country dances
by various
Northanger Abbey
by Jane Austen
First published posthumously in 1817, “Northanger Abbey” was actually the first finished novel that Jane Austen wrote. It is the story of seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland, one of ten children of a country clergyman, who imagines life as living in one of the Gothic novels with which she is excessively fond of reading. When she is invited by her wealthy neighbors, the Fullertons, to accompany them to the spa town of Bath she experiences her first taste of the fashionable upper class society of England. While there she meets the clever young gentleman, Henry Tilney, his sister Eleanor, and their father, the imposing General Tilney. The Tilneys invite Catherine to come stay with them at their estate, the titular Northanger Abbey. Catherine’s naïve over-active imagination quickly leads to embarrassment when she infers some sinister circumstances regarding the lack of emotion that General Tilney shows for the loss of his deceased wife. Eventually she realizes that real life is not at all like that of a Gothic novel. Noted for the insight it gives to Austen’s one opinions of the literature of her day, “Northanger Abbey” is both a satirical parody of the gothic romance novel and the story of a young girl’s maturation into womanhood.
Sense and Sensibility
by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility is a novel by Jane Austen, and was her first published work when it appeared in 1811 under the pseudonym "A Lady". A work of romantic fiction, better known as a comedy of manners, Sense and Sensibility is set in southwest England, London and Kent between 1792 and 1797, and portrays the life and loves of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. The novel follows the young ladies to their new home, a meagre cottage on a distant relative's property, where they experience love, romance and heartbreak. The philosophical resolution of the novel is ambiguous: the reader must decide whether sense and sensibility have truly merged.

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