The Jane Austen Book Club

Thursday, 30 May 2013
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” --- Pride and Prejudice (1813)

The Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club
Design by Stephen Fraser
If you have taken an English class in the last century it is likely you will recognise the above as the famous opening line of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Jane Austen's novels set amongst the landed gentry has earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. "Her realism, biting irony and social commentary have gained her historical importance among scholars and critics." [1]

Today her work has garnered her a legion of fans, more commonly known as 'Janeites', and is a staple of required reading lists. It is hard to believe that although she achieved success as a writer during her lifetime, she received very few positive reviews. Lady Catherine would not approve!

So where does Jane Austen figure in my story? I, like so many of us, read Pride and Prejudice in high school. From the first sentence I was hooked and I joined legions of fans hoping that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet would end up together. Not to mention I was obsessed with BBC's 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Come on, how sexy is Colin Firth in that?!

This past December while in Vegas, I purchased a special leather-bound edition of Jane Austen's novels (including her seventh uncompleted novel). It was then that I decided to start Quintessentially English's Jane Austen Book Club. What could be more quintessentially English than Jane Austen?

Jane Austen: Seven Novels Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Edition
Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Edition

Starting in June I will be reading a Jane Austen novel every month and I encourage you to join me! At the end of each novel I will write a blog post about it with my thoughts. We'll be starting with Sense and Sensibility (1811), Jane Austen's first published novel and following on chronologically from there so the schedule is as follows;

  • June - Sense and Sensibility (1811)
  • July - Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  • August - Mansfield Park (1814)
  • September - Emma (1815)
  • October - Northanger Abbey (1818)
  • November - Persuasion (1818)
Being part of The Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club is really easy, just follow these simple steps;

  1. Let me know you're interested by leaving a comment below and/or on Quintessentially English's Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  2. Pick up your copy of Sense and Sensibility on June 1st and start reading! (Don't fret if you don't have one of the novels, all of them can be purchased from Quintessentially English's Amazon Associates Store!)
  3. Join the conversation on Twitter by following me (@essentialerin) and using #JaneAustenBookClub. Or 'like' Quintessentially English on Facebook.
  4. Grab you Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club button from below and add it to your blog or website!
  5. Link up your Jane Austen Book Club blog post to mine at the end of the month.
  6. Get lost in Austen!

 Erin x


The Visa Application Saga

Thursday, 16 May 2013
For those of you who read my post Another Two Years, you know that on 4 April I sent off my application for an extension of stay in the UK. Then on the second of May I went down to the Post Office to give my biometric data (fingerprints and photo). On 9 May, I was delighted to find a thick parcel from the UK Border Agency sitting in my post box. Could this actually be my passport and biometric residence permit back?!  

American Passport
Well I did receive my passport back but for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately my application had been deemed invalid because I, like a complete and utter moron, didn't tick a box saying that I hadn't committed any war crimes. This meant that my application was incomplete and could not be approved. Not only that, but the application forms and fees had changed on 6 April meaning I needed a completely new application and to pay an additional higher fee than the one I had already paid.

While researching the new forms, my husband and I discovered that instead of applying for "an extension of stay in the UK as the partner of a person present and settled in the UK" what I should have been applying for is "indefinite leave to remain the the UK as the partner of a person present and settled in the UK". In other words instead of using FLR(M) as I did previously, I should be applying with SET(M).

Monday night was a bad night indeed. I was angry at myself for making such a stupid mistake, especially since my husband and I had double- and triple-checked the document. I was frustrated at the process for being so confusing. I was saddened by the fact that now the likelihood of my passport coming back in time for me to go to a friend's wedding in Pau, France this July seems unlikely. Overall I was just numb, all I could really do was print the document out and eat Cadbury's chocolate.

Thankfully, my work was understanding and allowed me to take the day off Tuesday to stay home and complete the application. I had almost completely finished the new SET(M) application when another road block was thrown my way. I have not taken something called a "Life in the UK" test which is required from every person applying for indefinite leave to remain.

This is something I had previously never heard of, but discovered it is a test on your knowledge of the historical and political life in the UK. First you must order the book, which you can do from here. Then you must book your test (the earliest test you can take is 7 days from when you try to book your test). This was when I called the UK Border Agency.

I spoke to a lovely woman who listened to my plight patiently and really seemed to feel for me. She asked when my previous visa had run out, which it did on 3 May (I'll never fully understand why you can't apply for your visa more than 28 days before it expires). She then told me because I hadn't taken my "Life in the UK" test my application for SET(M) would not be complete, I also had a deadline of 28 days since the date written on the letter from the Border Agency (9 May) to reapply. If I passed this deadline without reapplying, I would have to go back to the US before I could reapply and would not be allowed to return to England until my settlement had been decided.

Getting the book, taking the test, hoping I passed the test, and waiting for my certification confirming I passed the test, and then applying for SET(M) could very likely take me past that 28 day window she said. Therefore, instead of applying for indefinite leave to remain I should once again apply for an extension of stay in the UK.

It is now Thursday and I have completed my FLR(M) application and it has been checked multiple times by multiple people, not just my husband and I. Along with our passports and passport photographs the application also includes;

  • Our marriage certificate
  • My husband's birth certificate and 2 change of name deeds
  • 5 bank statements
  • 6 pay slips for myself
  • 6 pay slips and 1 P60 for my husband
  • 1 letter from my work confirming my employment
  • 1 letter from my husband's work confirming his employment
  • 6 items of correspondence ranging from council tax bills to tenancy agreement

Visa Application Documents

I am hopeful that at least this time I won't screw up. I tell you all this in detail because I want my readers to learn from my mistakes and take away two lessons that I learned the hard way.

  1. Have someone that you trust other than your partner look over the application.
  2. Do extensive research on the process many months before you are due to apply, and don't be afraid to call the UK Border Agency.

Erin x

For more information on applying for an extension of stay in the UK visit

For more information on applying for indefinite leave to remain visit

For more information about the Life in the UK Test visit
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