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Jane Austen in South Africa

In the first of a series of posts featuring the authors of Cocktails with Miss Austen, we visit Jaime Lilleen Uranovsky to see what she and Jane would get up to in South Africa.

If Jane joined me for a cocktail we'd probably have it in the little bookstore where I work. I have a key, so I’d let us in after closing time (Don’t tell my boss, please). We could sit on the floor, put on some Fall Out Boy, sip on our drinks.

I recently discovered gin and tonic and I know Jane loved wine so we'd have that. I also just read, in Lucy Worsley’s biography of Austen, that they made what she calls an ‘alcoholic porridge’ in those days, which was often used to revive women after they’d given birth. That sounds pretty lethal, so maybe some of that too.

I’d ask her what she thinks of all the trashy thrillers of today and also try not to fan-girl too hard.

I’d love to know whether she ever thought It possible for her books to have achieved the influence and readership that they have. I’d want her insights on where we are with feminism and what she thinks we need to do next. More than that, I’d ask her to write more and if she had any regrets or dreams that weren’t fulfilled. Then I’d introduce her to musical theatre and she’d grow acquainted with Elphaba, after which I’d pitch Pride and Prejudice: The Musical.

I’d also show her around. I'd take her to my favourite nature sights like Chapman’s Peak and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; then we’d look at the penguins at Boulder’s Beach. She’d sign my copies of her novels and I’d take a billion photos of her. Maybe we’d watch the film adaptations of her books to see if she approves.

I imagine her saying ‘Where is all the water?!’ (Cape Town is experiencing the worst drought in over a decade right now.)

If she asked about my favourite character, I wouldn't say Elizabeth Bennet (I wouldn't want to sound too cliché), instead I'd opt for Anne Elliot - she knows what’s up.


Jaime Lilleen Uranovsky hails from Cape Town, South Africa and is passionate about words, languages, feminism, red lipstick and carbohydrates.

Her favourite Austen quote is:

Preserve yourself from a first Love and you need not fear a second

(Well, perhaps not her favourite as she has so many, but she does think this is a gem.)

Jamie is currently 23 years old and received her English honours degree from the University of Cape Town in 2017. She wrote her honours thesis on primary and secondary father figures in Austen novels, and is grateful that the experience hasn’t made her any less of an Austen fan.

In September 2018, Jaime will head to the UK to pursue an MA in Creative Writing. While Jaime loves Austen to the extent that her car’s name is Jane, she can’t quite decide whether she should shun the term ‘Janeite’ or proudly accept it as part of her identity. When Jaime isn’t reading, acting, singing, painting or pretending she’s Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail at the bookstore where she works part-time, she’s writing her blog about failed Tinder dates.

We'll be featuring more of our authors in the coming weeks as the global cocktail party with Jane heads off around the world.


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