Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen Blog Tour with Author Rachel Berman

Aerendgast The Lost History Rachel Berman 2015 x 200Please help me welcome debut author Rachel Berman to Austenprose today on the first stop of her blog tour in celebration of the release of Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen published by Meryton Press. Inspired by actual events in Jane Austen’s life, Rachel has generously contributed a guest blog sharing her thoughts about her writing experience.

If you are as curious by the title of this novel as I was, you might want to read this preview and excerpt that we presented last month, and then join the blog tour as it continues through March 18. There will be reviews, interviews and giveaways along the way.  

DESCRIPTION (from the publisher)

Violet Desmond has just learned from her dying grandmother that the life she’s been living is a lie.

Left with only a locket, a newspaper clipping, and a name–Atherton–Violet sets off to discover her hidden personal history.  Simultaneously, the London academic begins to have vivid dreams in which a woman from the past narrates her life story involving the same locket, a secret marriage, and a child. A story intimately connected to Jane Austen.

Violet reluctantly agrees to receive help from cavalier treasure hunter, Peter Knighton. Blacklisted from his profession, Knighton can almost taste the money and accolades he’d receive for digging up something good on Austen; the locket alone is unique enough to be worth plenty to the right collector. It would be enough to get his foot back in the door.

The unlikely pair begins a quest for answers that leads them to Aerendgast Hallows. Knee-deep in hidden crypts, perilous pursuits, and centuries-old riddles, Violet must put her literary expertise to the test as she battles to uncover the secret that her loved ones died trying to reveal, before an unknown enemy silences her as well.

PLEASE HELP ME WELCOME RACHEL BERMAN

Jane Austen, Sidmouth and Inspiration

In my novel, Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen, Austen narrates a version of her life that has remained a secret for two hundred years—a version in which she is married and had a child—and although my book is fiction, it’s based on a true story the Austen family told about Jane and the summer of 1801 in Sidmouth.

The story goes that Jane fell in love with a gentleman while on holiday there and was engaged to him, but the man died suddenly soon afterwards and the rest, as they say, is history. In Aerendgast, I asked the questions: What would have happened if Austen’s mystery fiancée had lived? How would her life have been different? How would her legacy have altered?

For me, one of the most exciting parts of writing is asking those questions and trying to find solutions to them. The words on the page become clues to an alternate history. The main character of my story, Violet Desmond, does exactly what I did when writing the novel, namely, attempting to piece together Austen’s story from the books and letters she left behind. It was a monumental task, but ultimately one that helped me understand why it is that we love Jane Austen so very much.

Austen’s perpetual spinsterhood is almost as famous in itself as are her novels. And I think there are multiple reasons for that; she’s a novelty of her era, a single woman who managed to find some small success and remain respectable while having a career. Her ability to write about love, and her insistence on rewarding the worthy with their happy endings even though she never had one her own, endears her instantly to her readers. Her keen sense of social injustice and her chronicles of the trivialities of Regency life continue to make her parlor-room observations seem distinctly modern. And, of course, her indefatigable wit and unwillingness to settle for anything less than love in a marriage, paint her in much the same light at many of her most famous characters.

Jane Austen straddles the line between real person and romantic character for all of us that are her fans and devoted readers. It would be impossible for us not to make connections between the author and her work, and thus we treat Austen’s novels differently than those of her contemporaries. Austen’s Persuasion and Shelley’s Frankenstein were published in the same year (1818), yet we speak about these two female writers with an entirely different vocabulary. Shelley ran away at the age of sixteen with an already-married man, Percy Bysshe Shelley—and did not marry him until years later after his wife committed suicide. However, when we talk about Shelley we only speak about her work: how Frankenstein was the result of a bet with Lord Byron and a dream she had one night. Her personal life doesn’t matter to the public, even though it was incredibly scandalous (both at the time and at present).  The average reader might not even know about it.

That seems impossible with Austen, doesn’t it? Not knowing that she was never married. It’s part of her story as much as Mr. Darcy, as much as Colin Firth coming out of that lake.  At least in part, this is due to the subject matter of her books: the marriage market, Society, and long, drawn-out days in the countryside. Unlike Shelley, Austen depicted life as it really was for women at the time. There are no monsters in Austen’s stories, (besides those awful, prejudiced people who try keep the heroes and heroines apart), and the stakes are never life or death, (instead happiness and sadness, wisdom and youth, love and loss). As a result, we relate more, not only to Austen’s work, but to the woman herself. We feel as though we know her personally, and are comfortable discussing her like we would a friend. This is her genius.

In Aerendgast, I give Austen the chance to be the heroine of her story, to step out from behind the writing desk and live. Using factual moments from her life, I’ve woven a story about love and loss, happiness and sadness, youth and wisdom: all the small trivialities, which make up an ordinary existence, and celebrate them as she did.

Thanks for joining us in celebration of your new novel Rachel. We wish you all the best with your tour and the release of the book.

AUTHOR BIO: 

Author Rachel Berman (2015)Rachel Berman was born and raised in Los Angeles, which naturally resulted in a deep love of the UK from an early age. Reading and writing have been favorite pastimes for as long as she can remember. Rachel has a BA in English Literature from Scripps College and an MA in London Studies from Queen Mary, University of London. Her focus is 19th century British Literature. She enjoys hiking, musical theatre, fancy water, Pilates, vegan baking, good TV and movies, and researching new book ideas!

Jane Austen has always been an author near and dear to Rachel’s heart for her ability to tell a story so compelling, it remains relevant hundreds of years later. And, for creating Henry Tilney.

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Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen, by Rachel Berman
Meryton Press (2015)
Trade paperback & eBook (298) pages
ISBN: 978-1936009343

Cover image courtesy of Meryton Press © 2015; text Rachel Berman © 2015, Austenprose.com

The Darcy Brothers, by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds – A Review

The Darcy Brothers by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail ReynoldsFrom the desk of Monica Perry:

When I first heard that some of the authors from austenvariations.com were planning a Pride and Prejudice: Readers’ Choice collaborative story wherein Mr. Darcy had a younger brother, I was all excited curiosity–a story with two Mr. Darcys?  Yes, please! Would Mr. Theophilus Darcy be strong and stoic like his elder brother, a model of amiability like Mr. Bingley, or perhaps more of a rakish Mr. Wickham? Participating in the Readers’ Choice voting each week and having so much interaction with the writers was great fun, and I was eager to read this published version of The Darcy Brothers.  Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks, and Abigail Reynolds are authors whose works I’d read and loved in the past, and The Darcy Brothers was no exception.

From the very first page, as Theo and Fitzwilliam Darcy reluctantly make their way to Rosings Park for Easter, we see the way they typically interact (read: Theo pushes Darcy’s buttons and Darcy gets his trousers in a twist). In the wake of childhood tragedy and the more recent near-elopement of their young sister Georgiana with Theo’s friend Mr. Wickham, their relationship is strained and they’ve all but given up on getting along. Darcy is dismissive and distrustful of Theo, and Theo delights in vexing him because he knows he’ll never live up to Darcy’s impeccable standards anyway. When Theo makes the acquaintance of the charming Miss Elizabeth Bennet they form an easy friendship, and Darcy begins to feel that twisting sensation again, a little nearer his chest this time. Each brother’s affection for Elizabeth is noted by the other and although they don’t see eye to eye, each wants the other to be happy. How far would a Darcy go to make it happen, even if it goes against his heart’s desire?  Bargains are struck and along with some meddling assistance from Georgiana, Anne de Bourgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam, and a surprising series of events at Rosings, Darcy and Theo begin to see themselves, and each other, in a different way. Darcy realizes he has underestimated Theo, withheld the praise and affection a younger sibling craves, and used him as an easy scapegoat; likewise, Theo sees he’s had a childish understanding of Darcy’s responsibilities as heir. Can they overcome their pride and start again, and will it last? Continue reading

The Second Chance: A Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility Variation, by Joana Starnes – A Review

The Second Chance by Joana Starnes 2014 x 200From the desk of Christina Boyd:

In this wild, wild west of the new publishing world, we are seeing more books being published and through many different avenues. No longer are traditional publishers the only way to get a book into the hands of readers as there are smaller independent presses, hybrid publishers and many self-publishing resources. In the past, I have been an unabashed on-line Jane Austen fan fiction reader. During the height of my on-line Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) addiction, I might have followed anywhere from 10 to 15 works-in-progress (WIPs) at various on-line sites. Anything from continuations (a story that continues after the original novel ends), alternative universe (a story when the author deviates from the original canon and creates events to effect a different action) and even crossovers (a fan fiction integrating characters and places from another story source). But I must confess, as many of these on-line authors have taken their stories to the next step and even stepped away from posting their new works on-line, I too have transferred my reading of on-line fan fiction to my e-reader by purchasing the published works and even adding the bound books to my collection.

One rainy day in December, I found myself reading in my pajamas all day author Joana Starnes’ newly released “The Falmouth Connection”. I was instantly engaged by the unexpected, surprisingly smart, and innovative handling of “Pride and Prejudice” in a very alternate universe where Elizabeth becomes an heiress to a fine fortune. Therefore, when Laurel Ann, our blogmistress, asked if I would be interested in reading Starnes “The Second Chance: A ‘Pride & Prejudice – ‘Sense & Sensibility Variation’ ” for review, how could I not jump at the chance! Continue reading

Summer Lovin’ – Meryton Press Short Story Contest

Summer Lovin Short Story Contest 2015

My regular readers know that I really enjoy short stories, so much so that I edited an anthology of Jane Austen-inspired original stories, Jane Austen Made Me Do It in 2011. So, I am very pleased to share that Meryton Press, an indie publisher who specializes in Austenesque and romantic fiction is embarking on its first short story anthology called Summer Lovin’. The cherry to the top of the cake is that it will be edited by Austenprose’s long-time contributor Christina Boyd.

The contest runs February 1 – March 15, 2015. Here are the details from the publisher: Continue reading

For Elise, by Sarah M. Eden – A Review

For Elise by Sarah Eden 2014 x 200From the desk of Katie Patchell:

Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot’s romance in Jane Austen’s Persuasion is one of the most captivating in classic literature. Opinion varies as to what it is that makes their romance so satisfying, but something almost all fans of Persuasion can agree with is the complete beauty that is found when a hero and heroine, after long separation and opposition, discover that the time apart has done nothing to lessen the strength of their affection. Sarah M. Eden follows this timeless pattern in her latest Regency romance, For Elise, but unlike in Persuasion, the hero and heroine do not face a father’s disapproval or society’s disappointment—they face a murderer.

It is the spring of 1815, and Miles Linwood, recently returned from the West Indies, cannot pass a day without being haunted by memories of his carefree childhood friend and neighbor, Elise. Four years previously a tragedy had shattered both of their lives, leaving them to cope as they always did: together. A few weeks later and with no explanation Elise left Miles’ estate, vanishing without a trace—until four years later, when Miles catches a glimpse of familiar brown curls and Elise’s peculiar blue eyes in a small town. Miles is overjoyed to discover his best friend, but Elise is drastically altered from who she used to be, and is now hostile and untrusting, particularly towards Miles. Continue reading

The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Jessica Evans – A Review

The Muse by Jessica Evans 2014 x 200From the desk of Lisa Galek:

When most people think of Jane Austen, they probably don’t think of ballet. I know I certainly didn’t. That was until I read The Muse. With her contemporary reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, Jessica Evans proves that the demanding and competitive world of a professional ballet company is exactly the place where you might find a modern Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

Elizabeth Bennet is a young dancer at the Ballet Theater of New York. While Elizabeth might not have her sister Jane’s perfect technique or ideal body, she still dreams of rising up the ranks to one day become a star. That’s why she’s thrilled when she finds out that she’s been cast in an upcoming ballet by former superstar dancer and legendary choreographer, William Darcy.

But, when Elizabeth finally meets Darcy, he’s not what she imagined at all. Sure, Darcy is immensely talented (and incredibly dreamy), but he’s also arrogant, abrasive, and dismissive in rehearsals. When Darcy asks Elizabeth for help as he choreographs, she grows to dislike him even more. What Elizabeth doesn’t realize is how much she’s inspiring Darcy as he creates. He’s finally found his muse. Continue reading

The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour

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Award winning historical romance author Julie Klassen tours the blogosphere February 16 through March 2, 2015 to share her latest release, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. 

Klassen’s eighth novel is a Gothic romance, a “gem for Regency and inspirational readers alike.” — Bookpage, introducing us to Miss Abigail Foster, a heroine in the making who travels to an ancestral manor where she discovers a past tainted by family secrets, rumors of hidden treasure and the surprise of an unexpected romance. Continue reading

Lady Elizabeth: Pride and Prejudice Everything Will Change Book One, by P. O. Dixon – A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Lady Elizabeth by PO Dixon x 200For those readers who devour Pride and Prejudice “what-if” stories made famous by authors like Abigail Reynolds, Monica Fairview and Maria Grace, you have come to expect a storyline that will make a sharp left turn from Jane Austen’s original and send you on a new plot path of misunderstanding, prejudice and pride until Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy find their happily-ever-after. It amazes me how creative authors can be to re-invent the Lizzy and Darcy love story—so imagine my surprise when I read the description of P. O. Dixon’s new Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel Lady Elizabeth?

Ironically the couple’s social standings are reversed and Elizabeth Bennet is now a Lady of even higher rank than the untitled Fitzwilliam Darcy. Ha! Who will be proud and who will be prejudiced in this diverting paradox? One also wonders out loud what Darcy’s cranky Aunt Catherine de Bourgh will have to complain about now that her nephew is courting a daughter of a peer higher than her own family shades? You will just have to find out for yourself in Dixon’s first book in her new series, Pride and Prejudice Everything Will Change. Here is a brief preview and an exclusive excerpt for your amusement.  Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for The Darcy Brothers Book Launch Party

The Darcy Brothers by Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail ReynoldsIt’s time to announce the winners of the giveaway prizes for The Darcy Brothers book launch party. The lucky winners drawn at random are:

One copy of The Darcy Brothers (print or eBook)

  • Darah Gill who left a comment on Feb 10, 2015
  • Rosa Penco who left a comment on Feb 02, 2015
  • Marilee who left a comment on Feb 06, 2015

The Grand Prize winner (Jane Austen-themed ensemble of prizes)

  • Wendy Roberts who left a comment on Feb 02, 2015

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name, address and if you would like a print or digital copy of the book by February 18, 2015 or you will forfeit your prize!

Thanks to all who left comments and to White Soup Press for the giveaways.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Cover image courtesy of White Soup Press © 2015; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2015, Austenprose.com

Life in an Eighteenth Century Country House, by Peter and Carolyn Hammond – A Review

Life in a Eighteenth Century Country House Peter and Carolyn Hammond x 200From the desk of Tracy Hickman:

The Grove was a large country house and estate in Chiswick, England owned by Humphrey Morice, the son a highly successful London merchant and slave trader. Morice was an animal lover, and in contrast to the common practices of his day, did not destroy animals that were unable to work any longer. He kept a number of horses, dogs, and other animals at Grove House, causing many of his contemporaries to consider him an eccentric.

The main attraction of Life in an Eighteenth Century Country House is the series of letters written by head groom Will Bishop to Morice during his stay in Italy from 1782-1785. Bishop wrote regularly to his employer, sending detailed accounts of all the bills for the house and stables for Morice’s approval. This was unusual, as most estate owners employed a “man of business” to handle these matters. As head groom, Bishop was mostly concerned with the welfare of the animals of the estate and wrote extensively about them, especially those that were unwell. He also kept Morice abreast of the personal lives of the staff, recounting their illnesses and conflicts with other workers, as well as general news about local people Morice would have known. One of my favorites was the “he said, she said” battle in the kitchen between the cook and stable lads: Continue reading

Pride, Prejudice and Secrets by C. P. Odom – A Review

Pride Prejudice and Secrets Odom 2014 x 200From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder

Last year I had the pleasure of being introduced to Jane Austen fan fiction author C. P. Odom via his novel Consequences. His writing invoked deep feelings, as he was able to draw me in completely to his story. He had me fully enveloped in his characters and their lives, which resulted in Consequences being one of my favorite reads of 2014. When I heard about his latest “what-if” novel, Pride, Prejudice and Secrets, I immediately began searching for a way to receive a review copy.

Secrets tells the tale of our beloved Lizzie and Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, although it’s Elizabeth now instead of Jane who falls ill in an untimely manner. Darcy has just worked up the courage to deliver an ill-conceived and prideful offer of marriage, and Elizabeth, still in a haze and unsteady from sickness, accepts his offer. When she fully recovers from her ailments, however, she is mortified to learn that she is betrothed to “the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” Not only this, but all of society has become accustomed to the prospect, so for her to break off said engagement would be the equivalent of social banishment, not to mention the effect it would have on her unmarried sisters. How, then, is she to avoid this unfortunate misunderstanding and escape with her and Darcy’s pride unharmed? She has to use every ounce of her sharp wit and captivating personality to pull off this accomplishment. Will she be forced to remain with Darcy or will she be able to extract herself with her reputation intact? Continue reading

Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen, by Rachel Berman – A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Aerendgast The Lost History Rachel Berman 2015 x 200Jane Austen inspired novels now number in the thousands. While many of these stories are sequels, continuations and what-if’s of her popular novels, very few are based her life. This type of Austenesque novel is called a fictional biography—a skillful blending of known facts, family lore and fiction into an original narrative. A few of my favorites in this sub-genre are Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas,  the twelfth in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series by Stephanie Barron, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and Jane Austen’s First Love, by Syrie James and The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, by Shannon Winslow.

A new bio-fic inspired by Jane Austen’s life is in the queue this month from Meryton Press. Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen, by Rachel Berman is a literary mystery spanning contemporary and historical times with a bit of paranormal magic. The author has generously shared an excerpt with us today to give us a teaser. I hope you enjoy it. Continue reading