Giveaway Winners Announced for The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen Book Launch Party

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James (2012)152 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of the many prizes available during the book launch party for The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James.

The winners drawn at random are:

One box of Miss Lucy Steele tea from Bingley’s Teas

  • Beth Cohen who left a comment on December 30, 2012

One small box of 10 Lizzy and Darcy notes cards from JT Originals

  • Laura S. who left a comment on December 31, 2012

One Jane Austen charm bracelet by justbedesigns

  • Dana Huff who left a comment on December 30, 2012

Five print copies of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen

  • Amanda M. who left a comment on December 30, 2012
  • Roselle N. who left a comment on December 30, 2012
  • Danielle C. who left a comment on January 09, 2013
  • Maggi G. who left a comment on December 30, 2012
  • Colleen Lane who left  a comment on December 30, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by January 16, 2013.  Shipment is to US addresses only please.

Many thanks to author Syrie James for her fabulous guest blog and all the comments she left for the participants during her book launch. Also, a big round of applause to all of the kind giveaways from: Bingley’s Teas, JT Originals, Justbedesigns and Penguin USA! What a wonderful time we had and I hope everyone is inspired to read this superb new novel. Happy reading to the winners!

© 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen Book Launch Party with Author Syrie James, & Giveaways

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen Book Launch GraphicPlease help us welcome today bestselling author Syrie James. She is joining us for a two-day book launch party in celebration of the debut of her new Austen-inspired novel, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen.

I am so thrilled for the release of this new book. I was given the opportunity to read an early manuscript last winter and I must share that I was so impressed and excited about it that it was very difficult to keep the details a secret. It is structured as a novel within a novel—one of my favorite formats for fiction—revealing a contemporary story framing an historical novel. Samantha McDonough, a young American scholar is set on a quest to an ancient grand manor house in Devonshire to find the missing manuscript and meets the present owner Anthony Whitaker, who is at first reluctant to assist in her search until he realizes the possible financial gain. When they discover the missing manuscript they read it together, and so do we—a charming premise tying an historical novel together with a contemporary plot. The amazing thing about this book is that it was inspired by Jane Austen’s own short outline, A Plan of a Novel, a parody in which she comically describes characters and plot for a possible novel that was never written, or was it?

Our guest of honor today is the author herself, Syrie James, who will share insights with us on The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. Welcome Syrie.

What was your inspiration to write The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen?

Like many of Jane Austen’s fans across the globe, the first time I read all her books, I finished the sixth one and said, “Is that it? Only six?” To continue feeding my Jane addiction, I read her juvenilia, her shorter works, her unfinished works, and all her preserved letters. Then I went back to the beginning and read her novels all over again. It still wasn’t enough. If only, I thought, she’d written a seventh novel!

Five years ago, I was at the JASNA AGM (Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting) in Chicago. It was my first time at a Jane Austen conference—a truly wonderful immersion experience that I like to call “Jane Austen heaven.” My novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austenhad been published the year before. I was nearly finished writing my Brontë book. I had researched both novels like crazy, felt like a walking Austen and Brontë encyclopedia, and was pondering what to write next.

While walking down Michigan Avenue, a title suddenly downloaded into my head: The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. I felt a sudden tingle, a momentous feeling of excitement and impending change. I thought: what a great a title! What if Jane did write a manuscript that somehow went missing? As far as the world knows, she only wrote six full-length novels. Could I write the seventh? I knew it would be a Herculean task, just as surely as I knew that I was supposed to do it.

I pondered the idea for a while, seeking a storyline that would be truly “Jane.” One day, while perusing her minor works, I re-read a little piece Austen wrote a year before she died: Plan of a Novel. It’s a comedic outline for a book about a beautiful, accomplished heroine and her clergyman father, who’s driven from his curacy by a heartless man, forcing them to go forth on all sorts of adventures. Plan of a Novel pokes fun at the overly dramatic books of the time. Jane even added footnotes attributing various story elements to ‘hints’ or suggestions from well-meaning friends and relatives. I’d always thought it was hilarious.

An idea occurred to me: What if Jane’s Plan of a Novel wasn’t just a bit of silliness she dashed off as a parody? What if she wrote it in a mood of wit and wistfulness, making fun of a manuscript she’d written years earlier, but had lost and half-forgotten?

That’s how The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen was born. I was excited. I could write a novel based on an outline for a book that Jane Austen had written herself! Plan of a Novel is, on a cursory reading, very silly indeed; but I envisioned a way to delve beneath the surface and make it work on a serious level—as a story with characters we would care about—a tale with heart and meaning in true Jane Austen style.

I wrote an outline for the book, but was soon distracted by other projects. Several years went by. I wrote other novels. During this time, I continued to steep myself in Austen literature and lore until I felt that I knew her world, her work, and her life inside and out, well enough to attempt to write the Austen book that had been simmering in my brain. By now, I’d come up with a new approach that I thought would be even more interesting: to make it a novel with a novel, wrapping a modern day story around the missing manuscript, so that I could show the impact that find would have on their lives.

I developed the main characters in the Austen manuscript (all of whom remain nameless in Plan of a Novel) as per Austen’s description. My heroine, Rebecca Stanhope, is the daughter of a clergyman; she is beautiful, highly accomplished, plays the piano forte and harp, and sings “in the first stile.” Rebecca’s father, the Reverend William Stanhope, is (as in Austen’s Plan) an excellent man and a model parish priest. I gave him enough flaws to give the story some edge and mystery, and set it in motion.

I kept the best story elements of Jane Austen’s (very short) outline and tweaked others. Austen wrote that wherever the heroine goes, “somebody falls in love with her, and she receives repeated offers of marriage” and she is compelled to “support herself and her father by her talents.” These were fun scenes to write.

I created the rest of the characters and story on my own, following the path I believed Austen would have tread. Since Jane Austen often reused character names from her juvenilia in her mature novels, I did the same. I titled it The Stanhopes since most of her early titles were based on the names of her characters.

After I finished The Stanhopes, I wrote the modern day story around it. It was challenging to write the Austen part of the novel, but equally challenging to write Samantha and Anthony’s story—it took three drafts to get it right. Fortunately, Laurel Ann Nattress read an early draft and suggested ways to give the modern day story more edge and meaning—advice that was so brilliant and invaluable, I created a character based on her and put her into the book! J My editor, Jackie Cantor, also provided very insightful and helpful feedback. The whole book was a labor of love and a tribute to Jane. I hope readers enjoy the result!

Many thanks to author Syrie for her great guest blog and for allowing us to host her online book launch party for The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen here at Austenprose. I look forward to reading the reactions by Janeites and historical fiction fans to your fabulous new novel. I hope they will be as pleased as I was with your delightful fictional creation.

Author Syrie James (2012 )Author Bio:

Syrie James is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, Dracula My Love, Nocturne, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages. In addition to her work as a novelist, Syrie is a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, RWA, and a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Syrie lives with her family in Los Angeles, California. Connect with her on her website, facebook, and Twitter.

A GRAND GIVEAWAY

Enter a chance to win one of these four amazing prizes being offered during our book launch party for The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by leaving a comment either asking author Syrie James a question about her new book or her writing career, or sharing what intrigues you about reading her new Austen-inspired novel, or which is your favorite Syrie James novel, so far? The contest is open to US residents and closes at 11:59 PT Wednesday, January 9, 2013. Winners to be announced on Thursday, January 10, 2013.  Good luck to all participants.

Miss Lucy Steele Tea from Bingley's Teas

Miss Lucy Steele tea from Bingley’s Teas

Country charm but not quite a peach! From the Jane Austen tea line at Bingley’s Tea, this lovely box of Miss Lucy Steele, black tea will win you over with its juicy country apricot, sunshine gold petals of marigold and overtly polite and sweet vanilla. * Tested and loved by fellow Janeites. A festival favorite!

Darcy and Lizzy cards by JT Originals (2012)

Jane Austen-Inspired Cards by JT Originals  

One small packet of 10 cards each of this lovely set of Darcy and Elizabeth greeting cards will go to two lucky winners, generously offered by designer and Janeite Janet Taylor. Printed on 100% recycled card stock, single fold, blank inside with square flap envelopes. A corresponding quote is on the front of each card with more of the quote on the back. All drawings and cards copyright Janet Taylor, JT originals.

Jane Austen Charm bracelet from justbedesigns

Jane Austen Lovely Charm Bracelet by justbedesigns

Designed by the talented Bianca Fleischman, this bracelet is quite unique. There are 5 handmade cameos featuring portraits of pretty Jane herself. In addition to the cameos are charms of a fine tip pen point, a book locket, a clock, a hand, a feather, a brown gem, a Victorian charm, and a silhouette of a head. The bracelet measures 8 inches and can be altered. From the Etsy shop of justbedesigns.

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James (2012)

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

Syrie’s publisher Berkley Trade has generously offered one print copy of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen to five lucky winners.

The party continues until December 31st, but comments left until January 9th, 2013 will qualify you for any of the prizes. (shipped to US addresses)

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James
Berkley Trade (2012)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-0425253366

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress & Syrie James, Austenprose

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James – A Review

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James (2012)From the desk of Christina Boyd:

In such days as this, of on-line Jane Austen fan fiction, self-publishing, and perusing the stacks in traditional brick and mortar bookstores, it is incomprehensible to neglect reading the manifold of Jane Austen spin-offs, what-ifs and other such Austen-inspired musings. Those of us Austen addicts simply cannot get enough of her—and oftentimes inhale all we can in self-indulgent reading binges—in search of that same rush, that wonderful, satisfying moment we experienced upon discovering her for the first time. We all partake in the lamentation that she left this world but a handful of completed novels. And we all share in the unreserved, unrequited, whimsical dream to discover some misplaced work from our dear Jane. However, best-selling authoress, Syrie James has done just that! She has discovered the mythical, undiscovered novel in her soon to be released novel inside her novel, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen.

Samantha McDonough, an American librarian and Austen scholar, is on an English holiday with her cardiologist boyfriend. Well actually, he is at a medical conference and she busies herself with sight seeing and visiting the shops. She purchases a 200-year-old poetry book during her wanderings and later discovers a letter tucked inside—that leads her to believe that it is in fact a letter from Jane Austen… “The minute I saw the letter, I knew it was hers. There was no mistaking it: the salutation, the tiny, precise handwriting, the date, the content itself, all confirmed its ancient status and authorship…” And now for the pudding—in it, this treasure refers to a missing manuscript Austen lost while visiting a country manor in Devonshire! “Even at a distance of fourteen years, I cannot help but think of it with a pang of fondness, sorrow and regret, as one would a lost child. Do you recall my theory as to how it came to be lost? I still maintain that it was all vanity, nonsense, and wounded pride. I should never have read it out loud to you that night during our stay but kept it safe with all the others- although we did have a good laugh!”

What Austen addict could resist such a temptation? Hence Samantha, after a phone call to her dear bookseller friend and fellow Austenite, Laurel Ann (yes! our very own Laurel Ann!!) follows the clues to said estate and meets the handsome yet frosty, Anthony Whitaker, Greenbriar’s present-day owner. After he realizes the monetary windfall such a discovery could bring him, he thaws and the two embark on a search of the mansion.

“’Let me try.’  Anthony wedged himself into the small, confined space beside me, until our faces were inches apart, and his lean muscled arm and the length of his torso were pressed against mine. My heart began pumping loudly in my ears – an effect, I told myself, that had nothing to do with his proximity but was due entirely to the excitement of the search and the anticipation of what we might find.”

It is this very cozy scene in which they discover the 340-page manuscript, a collection of 42 hand-sewn booklets! Lucky girl indeed, on all counts. Almost immediately they commence reading aloud The Stanhopes—the novel about a young woman whose clergyman father has fallen quite low under the specter of gambling parish monies. Cast out from all Rebecca Stanhope has ever known, they survive on wits and the charity of family amidst attempts to redeem her father.  “Mr. Stanhope was the picture of patience and delight through these many introductions, which Rebecca, although grateful, found more overwhelming than anything. While the gentlemen talked over the politics of the day and compared the accounts of the newspapers, the women gossiped about who had said and worn what at which party.” Like Austen’s canon, these Stanhopes are very much the people she would have known (or been), encountering friendemies, scoundrels, and even a handsome hero. Meanwhile, back in her real life, Samantha finds herself in unfamiliar terrain vis-à-vis her attraction to Anthony and what he might actually do with this secret Austen cache.

Ever since I heard the author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Forbidden as well asa short story in Jane Austen Made Me Do It, had another novel in the works, I have been all anticipation. Syrie James luminously weaves an Austen-style plot within a charming contemporary love story. The real genius of this astonishing work is her use of Austen’s “Plan of a Novel,” the authentic notes for a book Jane Austen never wrote (that anyone knows about, of course…  says this ever hopeful fan girl.) By using Austen’s notes, Syrie James brought to life a tale that true Austen romantics and proficients (ie. Austen addicts) can only daydream but might pacify that gnawing want for more Austen—until a real missing manuscript is discovered. As expected, Syrie James’ latest offering, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is nothing short of masterful. This is a must buy—and should catapult to the top of your Must Read List for 2013.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James
Berkley Trade (2012)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-0425253366

Cover image courtesy of Berkley Trade © 2012; text Christina Boyd © 2012, Austenprose.com

In Celebration of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen Book Launch GraphicPlease join us on December 30th & 31st, 2012 for a book launch party honoring the release of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, a new Austen-inspired novel by best-selling author Syrie James.

Hailed as the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings, Ms. James is renowned for her best-selling The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and the intriguing The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. She will be our very special guest for a two-day soiree contributing a blog on her inspiration to write her new book and participating in our reader discussion.

Based on Jane Austen’s comical short essay “A Plan of a Novel”, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is a novel within a novel; a contemporary story framing a previously unknown Jane Austen manuscript discovered by heroine Samantha McDonough at an English grand manor house in Devon. I have had the pleasure of reading The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen and I would like to briefly share my first impressions:

“For two hundred years Jane Austen fans have bemoaned the fact that six novels from their favorite author is just not enough. Syrie James rectifies this dilemma in The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, offering the ultimate Janeite fantasy: a novel within a novel honoring what we love most about Austen: her engaging stories, her rapier wit, and her swoon worthy romance. This pitch perfect novel might not truly be Austen’s undiscovered seventh book, but who cares? James’s brilliantly crafted prose will have you enchanted and in awe of her mastery until the very last page. 5 out of 5 Regency Stars!”

And, to add to the festivities there will be chances for great giveaways too!

I hope you can join us. We look forward to a very merry party.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for Jane Austen Birthday Soirée 2012

Austen Soirée

47 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It and one copy of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen offered during the Jane Austen Birthday Soirée 2012. The winners drawn at random are:

Jane Austen Made Me Do It

  • Sofia Guerra who left a comment on December 16, 2012

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen

  • Bookfool, aka Nancy who left a comment on December 18, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by December 27, 2012.  Shipment to US addresses only.

Many thanks to Maria of My Jane Austen Book Club for organizing the Jane Austen Birthday Soiree, and to author Syrie James and her publisher Berkley Trade for the giveaway copy of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. Happy reading to the winners!

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose