Austenesque Author of the Month – Laura Hile: Guest Blog & Giveaway!

Laura Hile Featured Austenesque Author May (2012)We are very happy to introduce Austenesque author Laura Hile as our featured author in May on Austenprose.

Laura has written a trilogy to Jane Austen’s last novel Persuasion which continues the story of Elizabeth, Sir Walter Elliot’s eldest, unmarried daughter. Those of you who have read Persuasion or seen the great movie adaptations of it will remember that Elizabeth is quite condescending and spiteful to her younger sister Anne, and one wonders out loud why would we would want to read three novels inspired by such a unappealing character? Her faults are truly onerous, which, makes her story all the more intriguing. How will she be transformed, or will she?

Every Saturday this month we will offer a guest blog, book reviews & giveaways, elaborating on why this series is so popular with Jane Austen fan fiction lovers. Here is the schedule:

  • May 05 – Introduction and Guest blog by Laura Hile
  • May 12 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course
  • May 19 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase
  • May 26 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide    

Mercy's Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot's Story, by Laura Hile

Without further ado, welcome Laura:

Meet Jane Austen’s “Other Elizabeth”

Such a heroine I’ve chosen for my Austen novels! What can I say? I simply could not resist her.

Her name is Elizabeth, but she’s not from Pride and Prejudice. I’ve taken on none other than Anne Elliot’s awful elder sister from Persuasion. Yes, that Elizabeth. The woman most Austen readers frankly love to hate.

Now don’t go by what you’ve seen in the movie adaptations. Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Elliot is poised and graceful, and at twenty-nine is more beautiful than ever. She has exquisite taste, is sure of herself, and is fond of having her own way. She is also the eldest daughter of a very fine woman, which means she behaves badly but knows better.

In other words, she is me.

Well, except for the beautiful part. And the graceful part. And the always being able to get her way part. Thank the Lord I have never been pretty enough to get away with airing all of my fine opinions!

At the end of Persuasion Elizabeth Elliot is left in dismal straits, though she is too proud—and too stubborn! —to admit that. One way or another she must marry well, and so she begins to scheme. However, Miss Elliot is not as smart as she thinks, and that’s where the fun begins. She’s a scornful damsel in distress. What a delicious premise for a story!

And now I’ll share another sorry truth about myself. As a book-lover, I am a hopeless snoop. Oh, I’m too polite to listen at keyholes or peer through windows. But with a novel I don’t need to do those things! Everything’s laid out for my inquiring mind to devour: private conversations, innermost thoughts, and daring undertakings! All of the excitement of real life with none of the risks!

So perhaps the best way to introduce the “Other Elizabeth” is to allow you, my fellow book-lover, to snoop a bit. I present for your inspection a letter of Elizabeth’s. Can you discover what she’s about?

* * *

My Dear Mrs Darcy,

I wonder if I might solicit your advice regarding a mutual acquaintance, Miss Caroline Bingley. Having suffered disappointment in your novel, she must wander into mine!

And let me tell you, in Mercy’s Embrace Miss Bingley is making a thorough nuisance of herself. You viewed her as a rival (and I am heartily glad she was bested!) but I am seen as a social asset. Honestly, I do not know which is worse! What some people will do to advertise a connection with my family! Simply because my father is a baronet of ancient lineage, she must twitter and simper and hover round!

And when my odious cousin, William Elliot, returned to Bath, what must she do but set her sights on him! I know what she’s after—my late mother’s title as Lady Elliot! And she mistakenly assumes that intimacy with me will further her cause. Not only does she cling like a leech at public functions, but she insists on mauling my name, calling me Eliza, or worse, Lizzy. As if anyone but a fishwife would wish for that!

Miss Bingley must have rocks for brains, for she will not listen! I have told her, for example, that William Elliot has not yet inherited. It is most unwise to gamble on that, for so often the proper person does not die! And may I congratulate you, Mrs Darcy, for so wisely refusing Rev. Collins’ offer of marriage? I know all about marital desperation, but Longbourn was not his! It would have been madness to accept him!

As to my own affairs, you may have heard various tales. I would like to point out that though newly divorced, Mr Rushworth is in full possession of both the Sotherton Estate and its princely income. As to remarks about his person, why, I have confidence that he will improve. Besides, I am accustomed to managing a foolish gentleman. Have I not put up with my father for years? As to rumors that I have been meeting a clerk in a Bath tea shop, kindly disregard them. My father’s business affairs are again in a sad tangle, and this time I am handling things. I refuse to discuss business in a counting house! I suppose there are women who find Mr Gill attractive. I am not one of them.

But enough about me. If you would kindly reply, Mrs Darcy, listing any little thing that will irk Miss Bingley, I would be most grateful.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Elliot

Author Laura Hile (2012)Author Bio:  

As a girl Laura Hile pored over Victorian novels on her grandmother’s shelves, smitten with stories from a bygone era.  The wonder of Gothic Romance and Jane Austen’s Regency came next.  But it was not until serialized Austen fiction became popular that Laura summoned her courage and began to post stories of her own.  To keep readers interested, she developed what has become her signature style:  intertwined plots, cliffhangers, and laugh-out-loud humor.  The comedy she comes by naturally in her job as a middle school teacher—there’s never a dull moment at school!  Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, the eldest and youngest of her three college-age sons, and a collection of antique clocks. Visit Laura at her website Mercy’s Embrace; at her blog Jane Started It; on Facebook as Laura Hile Author and Mercy’s Embrace; and follow her on Twitter as @LauraHile.

Grand Giveaway of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story

Enter a chance to win one of three (3) copies of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course, by Laura Hile, or one (1) full set of the trilogy which also includes Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase and Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide, by asking Laura a question about her series or by sharing your reaction to any of the three reviews posted during our month-long author event each Saturday in May.  Entrants will qualify for a chance at the drawing of one (1) copy of book one, or one (1) each of the entire set. Both print editions and ebooks are available. Contest ends at 11:59 Wednesday May 30th, 2012. Winners announced on Thursday, May 31st, 2012. Shipment internationally. Good luck!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Wytherngate Press is offering the full series of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story at a discount through May.  You can receive a 25% off the print edition at their online shop, or $2.00 off the ebook editions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other etailers.

Many thanks to author Laura Hile for her wonderful guest blog introducing us to her heroine Elizabeth Elliot and for generous giveaways! Enjoy!

© 2007 – 2012 Laura Hile, Austenprose

87 thoughts on “Austenesque Author of the Month – Laura Hile: Guest Blog & Giveaway!

    • Thank you, Mary. I’ve been told that my books are a perfect summer read: cheerful, entertaining, and,,,unpredictable! Because with Elizabeth Elliot at the helm, anything can happen. Who knows what she’ll do next?

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  1. Laura Hile: You are brave indeed to test the deep and dangerouos waters in writing a Jane Austen Mash-up! After watching Downton Abbey, I am fascinated by how rumors and gossip were disseminated by only two means back in Miss Austen’s day: Word of mouth and letters. Also, how much fun must it have been to work as servants in the estates of the titled and privileged, privy to the juciest and most intimate parts of their lives. Talk about snooping!

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    • Ah, gossip. I teach middle school, Jeffrey, and not much has changed, sadly. Whispered half-truths have lost none of their appeal…or their sting. Only today we use social media …

      As to servants, as much as I complain about housework, I cherish the privacy of appliances! But you must never mention a windfall, such as a tax refund, in their presence. (That’s right, even your car has ears!) Because the appliances will conspire together and will begin breaking down. Bye-bye windfall! :)

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  2. I do love a good snoop. Thank you, Laura! This series sounds even more interesting now! :) I am curious nor about Mr. Rushworth’s divorce. Hmm. Oh and I do love how Elizabeth asks Mrs. Darcy to list “any little thing that will irk Miss Bingley, I would be most grateful.” ha!
    On a side note, I think your bio picture is great! :)
    No need to enter me into the giveaway. I have my own copy I am looking forward to starting!

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    • A huge stigma, divorce. The remarriage required an act of Parliament! But Elizabeth’s willing to risk it, given the whopping income of the Sotherton estate. As to Rushworth, why, twelve-thousand-a-year can guild a sow’s ear!

      Or can it?

      Thanks for the kind words, Jakki!

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  3. I have often wondered what happened to Anne Elliot and Caroline Bingley to turn them into the unhappy, waspish ladies that they are. Now my interest is definitely piqued. Thank you for the opportunity to find out more.

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    • I see Elizabeth Elliot as a Regency Lucy Ricardo — hatching plenty of schemes that go sadly awry!

      To say that Mercy’s Embrace is all about Miss Elliot isn’t quite right. You’ll find many of the secondary characters from Persuasion trotting to the front of the stage: Mary and Charles Musgrove, Lady Russell and Sir Walter, and even Anne and her new husband, Captain Wentworth. (Do he and the fine Elizabeth get along? Ha, not on your life!)

      Thanks for entering the giveaway! :)

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  4. So happy to see Laura being highlighted here! She very much deserves this honor! Reading your post has made me want to go reread your lovely series again, it has been too long since I witnessed Elizabeth’s matrimonial schemes!

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    • Meredith, bless you. You have been a champion for this series — the Sleeping Beauty of Austen romance fiction — from the beginning! Or wait … is it McGillvary who has captured your heart?

      Yes, McGillvary. How we loves that man!

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  5. Pingback: Pride and Prejudice « Meet Cute

  6. Oh, I’m intrigued already! Looks like a fabulous series!
    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!

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    • Yes, Elizabeth Elliot is intriguing, Nini. One never quite knows what she’ll say—or do—next! Here’s hoping that one of these prizes will come to you!

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  7. What a delightful post. Loved the letter! As my daughter-in-law is a middle school principal, I hear lots of humorous stories so I know that MS teachers have to have a good sense of humor.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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    • I have to wonder about myself, Linda, because writing the snooty Elizabeth is too much fun. All those snide observations that I dare not say in real life — especially on my job! —come flying from my pen with scary ease.

      Over the top of her glasses, Ms Hile delivers the death ray glare to her student, the one who never listens. Or reads instructions. “Really,” she says. “You’ve been adding fractions since you were nine. And now you have a calculator. What, do you have rocks for brains?”

      Ouch! I’d be the one heading for the principal’s office! So I’ll save the snark for my fiction …

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  8. Pingback: International Mercy’s Embrace Giveaway at Austenprose! | Jane Started It!

  9. Persuasion has always been my favourite Austen novel. It would be very interesting to fine out more about Elizabeth Elliot. I look forward to reading the series.

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    • Thanks, Lina, for the kind words.

      I probably should point out that Captain Wentworth and Anne are not the leads in Mercy’s Embrace. For them, I recommend Susan Kaye’s wonderful Frederick Wentworth, Captain novels. She retells Persuasion from his perspective. I marvel at how well she writes a man.

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  10. i have to say i’m a ‘covergirl’ ;) and yours are lovely, Laura! having read this taster, the cover appreciation obviously is worthy of the content! TY for sharing this fun intro :)
    now looking fwd to upcoming saturdays in May !

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    • The covers are even prettier in person, on a real live book (or should I say a non-live book?) Which is what you could win!

      To be honest, I was hoping for a more conventional Romance design. You know, with the heroine pictured? (With all her clothes on, thank you!) But the Mercy’s covers offer instant “brand” recognition, which is what one wants for a series.

      Thanks so much for the kind words.

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    • Oh, you are in for a treat with Jane Austen, Heather! Her characters are timeless. Seriously, you’ll begin recognizing them at your workplace, among your neighbors, seated at the next table at Starbucks … And your companions will wonder what you’re smiling about.

      The challenge in writing Austen fiction isn’t in mimicking her style of prose—I can’t! I don’t write that well! The challenge is keeping the people I borrow from Jane “in character.” Instead of, you know, just using the names.

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  11. I have many good things about Mercy’s Embrace series and I look forward to reading your books, Laura. I think it is rare to focus on the secondary characters especially those who are nasty towards the heroine, like your Elizabeth. So I look forward to reading how her heart is soften by the admiral.

    Did I mention that Persuasion is one of my favourite novels of all time (besides P&P)?

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    • My dear Lúthien, you have been very patient, sitting on your hands as all the USA-only giveaways went by. I’m so happy to see you here!

      The swoon-worthy Admiral is far from perfect himself, but he’s more than a match for our so-opinionated Elizabeth. They spar with one another all through the series—such fun! Sparkling conversational battles are my favorite part of any romance novel.

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      • Well, Laura, thank you for still remembering that I live outside USA. I’m pretty excited that you have made this an international giveaway. I can’t wait to read what Austenprose thinks about your 3 books.

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  12. woo-hoo! winners announced May 31 – my birthday! And I would LOVE to get the set for my birthday! or even a book – no, think positive Jan – the set! Taking a lesson from Elizabeth – believe in miracles!

    The idea of CB and EE in the same room is a hoot – single men head for the hills!

    Your blog writing always blesses me so I’m sure the books would too. I’m not sure why I haven’t read them yet – so in love with Anne and disdainful of Elizabeth I thought I wouldn’t be interested I guess. But now I am definitely intrigued! I would love to read how Elizabeth becomes desirable enough to get a proposal….

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    • Part of the fun of writing Elizabeth lies in justifying her viewpoint. It’s a twisted logic that makes me question, sometimes, whether I am sane!

      Perhaps it would be easier for our modern sensibilities if we pictured Elizabeth as a businesswoman…with her “business” being herself! Her objectives, of course, are to marry well and move in the first circles.. Elizabeth would quote this business proverb: “To make money, one must spend money”—on clothes, carriages, and entertainment. How else is she to meet a proper gentleman unless she mingles in their world?

      Anne, with her strict economy, years-old bonnets, quiet reserve, and preference for an old fogey like Lady Russell, is seen as a sore trial. She won’t gossip, she won’t shop, she cares nothing for social networking. She’s just so…unsisterly!

      See what I mean? Twisted …

      Elizabeth learns a few things in Mercy’s Embrace, oh yes.

      And she gets more than a proposal, Jan. She gets a proposition!

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    • “Fifth time’s the charm,” dear Gayle. (How many times have you entered to win this series? :) )

      Sounds like most of these friends have yet to meet our McGillvary. They’re in for a treat, oh yes!

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  13. I am really looking forward to reading your book. It is really excellent and judging from this intro I am sure I will enjoy reading your book.

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  14. I always enjoy your humor. Persuasion is my favorite and I’ve enjoyed your trilogy immensely. Like Meredith makes me want to read them over again. I loved the letter above. such fun. What does Elizabeth not think of as her right to ask or mention? ouch Lizzy and fishmonger – ouch again. I’m sure your humor comes from a wide variety of sources but especially having 3 sons, your teaching, and living in the Pacific Northwest (we have to be optimistic about the weather). I’m so glad to see you this blog.

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    • Suzan, rereading is the highest compliment one can give an author. Thank you.

      And by the way, even though you own these books, you’re IN for the giveaway. Because surely you have a friend who would enjoy the prize … !

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      • You’re absolutely right Laura I would have a friend that would love to read these. I lend mine out now and then but I’m pretty particular. I only keep what I enjoy the most and I frown on lost books. I’m so glad you considered rereading a compliment. Wish I could think of more without trying too hard.

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  15. This would be a wonderful mother’s day gift! I love the covers actually. Simplistic and divine!

    Margaret
    singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  16. Somehow I have missed that these books existed. I’d love to be entered for the set, but would happily receive the one if I won. I never thought about how things might have turned out for Elizabeth. She was nasty, stuck closely by her nasty and prideful father, and only valued people for what they could do for her, instead of who they were. So what you’ll do with that I’m really curious to read! My question is: did you write this to explore Elizabeth’s character or to redeem her, or was it both?

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    • The trouble with writing a continuation is finding that new angle, that part of the story readers haven’t encountered before. Persuasion’s, secondary characters gave me freedom to do this. Plus, you know, the reader has no idea how the story might end!

      So Elizabeth presented a challenge, and that’s why I took her on. If she was brought to experience hardships, for instance, would she grow and change? And then there is the lovely fun of a proud woman tumbling into love with a man she considers beneath her …

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  17. LOVED the “snoop”!! I really enjoyed that, and your post is witty & fun! Looks like a wonderful series and I’m looking forward to reading it :)

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  18. Thank you for the amazing reviews. I have to be honest when I first read the subject of these I was very skeptical. I hated Miss Elliot. She was so supercilious and just grated on my nerves. But after reading the descriptions I’m curious and now I want to know more.

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    • Oh, I agree with you Robyn, especially given Elizabeth’s portrayal in the movie adaptations.

      Not that I blame the directors, exactly. In a movie there isn’t time for subtlety in how the secondary characters are presented. Plus, it would have been too hard on the audience to see an Elizabeth who was so much more beautiful than Anne! So she’s unattractive and whiny…and even easier to hate!

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  19. I am very eager to read your books as I am most curious to know how you are going to make Miss Elliot a sympathetic character. You are brave indeed to take her on! ;)

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    • I guess I’m brave, Lynn, in that this Elizabeth’s story doesn’t have the instant appeal of Miss Bennet’s. In fact, quite the contrary! OH well … :)

      And I’ve changed a few things. For one thing, I’ve made Elizabeth more intelligent than Jane Austen wrote her. Also, I believe that Sir Walter is the bad guy. He has much to answer for in how he treated all of his daughters, including Elizabeth. Imagine her dismay at being trotted out during the London season, year after year. No doubt he thought to better the family line by using her beauty to snare a titled husband. The poor girl was about to turn thirty—the timestamp of confirmed spinsterhood! —and the man didn’t seem to notice. Or even care.

      Sir Walter is one of those smiling villains … along with William Elliot.

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  20. Persuasion is tied with Pride and Prejudice as my favorite Austen novels . . . I love the tie in between the two in my letter above. Miss Elliot has never been a favorite character of mine, but I am interested to see how you will redeam her. I also love that you incorporate humor into your works, since Austen’s original novels were very humorous themselves. This sounds very original and like something I would really enjoy . . . how have I missed hearing about it??

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    • The two books you mention, Laura, along with Bronte’s Jane Eyre, are my favorites as well!

      And I’m not surprised that you haven’t heard of this series. In fact, I smilingly refer to Mercy’s Embrace as the Sleeping Beauty of Austen romance fiction! Published by a very small house, and with no budget for advertising, sales have come though word-of-mouth recommendations from readers. I have, hands-down, the most loyal fans in all the world of fiction!

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    • Mystica, thank you. If you’re intrigued it means I’m doing my job!

      Because, honestly, do we want every Austen continuation to be predictable? And always about the same people? So I set out to present something different. And, I hope, entertaining.

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  21. Persuasion is in my top 3 Austen novels…I love Anne and Fredrick, but to choose to continue Elizabeth Elliots story is a unique idea…Would love to read about her life after Anne has married..would like some insight in to her character…been on my to do list for awhile…would love to win a copy

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  22. You’ll see Anne and Frederick in Mercy’s Embrace, but only as secondary characters. Although, Captain Wentworth and Elizabeth lock horns on several occasions. He’s nobody’s fool! And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  23. What a marvelous idea you had, to spotlight Elizabeth Elliot! Do you have another Austen-esque project in the works?

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    • Jamie, thanks for asking!

      This summer I’m set to produce the follow-up book to this series, because, “I didn’t want the last book to end!” is a frequent comment.

      I also have a Regency / mystery in the works. Sadly, teaching middle / high school seems to sap most of my functioning brain cells for most of the year …

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  24. Laura,

    I’m so excited to read the reviews this week, and I look forward to reading your books soon. I, too, am a teacher (high school English) and so I probably won’t have time to dive into your books until the summer, but it’s always nice to have something to look forward to!

    I love that you wrote Elizabeth, and I wonder whether there’s a special place in your heart for the “bad girls” of Austen lit? They certainly have back stories with plenty of wiggle room for exploration. Would you ever consider writing another series or even just a single book about another Austen “baddie”? And if so… who??

    ~Jordan

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    • Jordan, what a great question! And you will wonder at my denseness, because I’d not thought of an Austen bad girl series before. Ah, but since it’s during the school year, I can claim brain malfunction, right?

      Elizabeth Elliot was intriguing because she’s arrogant (like me!), has had a reduction in income / lifestyle (and so have I!), and (also like me) is the eldest daughter of a quality woman. In other words, she has a conscience that troubles her—Jane says so! Here was something—a tiny kernel—I could work with! Plus, as I mentioned to Lynn (above), she’s just as much a victim of Sir Walter’s neglect as Anne and Mary.

      So who to consider next? Pride and Prejudice, while a ticket to immediate sales due (to popularity), has had no stone left unturned. Harriet Smith of Emma offers little scope for the imagination. But Mrs Elton, perhaps? Is there a buried seed of conscience there? Or how about Mansfield Park’s Mary Crawford?

      Shudder-worthy heroines, all!

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  25. While Elizabeth Elliot is not my favorite she has always been more a lady than Caroline Bingley. I hope that CB gets her comuppance. I know she made Jane Bingley’s life very difficult.

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    • Caroline Bingley is all about … Caroline Bingley. And so is Elizabeth! You’re so right, Maggie. Between the two of them they’ve caused a lot of grief!

      So it was a romp to place the two together at a house party. I took liberties with the timeline and made them acquaintances from prior London seasons. But the tables are turned with this Elizabeth. She’ having none of Miss Bingley’s supercilious condescension!

      But in Mercy’s Embrace Elizabeth is financially desperate. And while the ill-bred Caroline has plenty of money, she has been foiled in love, a thing for which Elizabeth Elliot has no use. Interesting contrasts!

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  26. Persuasion is my favorite Austen book. The story is just beautiful and to me it seems to give you a better sense of the suffering the Anne goes through so when she finally gets to be with Capt Wentworth you are touched by it so much more.

    I have 2 questions, what was the biggest challenge you had writing about what happened to Elizabeth after the original story ends? Did you find that she just wasn’t going to do what you wanted her to and end up needing to adjust the story?

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    • There are always adjustments to continuations, aren’t there, Danielle? My main worry was to keep Jane’s people “in character” … no drastic changes, just new situations to respond to and, hopefully, grow from.

      Or not. Mary Musgrove simply will not learn! (Readers of the series have begged me to kill her off! Tell you what, it’s been tempting!)

      Part of the fun of writing Elizabeth Elliot is employing twisted logic—she truly thinks she’s right in her opinions! When taken from a certain angle, one can see her reasoning. I like to think that readers will also notice as her thinking begins to change …

      In answer to your second question, the character I had the most trouble with was Lady Russell’s staid and crusty butler, Longwell. In the second Mercy’s book, he literally came off the page and voiced a surprising opinion. Readers of the series will smile to know that he took me absolutely by surprise! I allowed him to have his way, and Lady Russell’s slice of the story changed.

      Some are disappointed that Anne and Captain Wentworth are not a focal point in Mercy’s Embrace. Sadly, I have learned that Anne shows best in times of crisis. But Persuasion lovers forgive me for the things her family makes her suffer because of several gratifying scenes. Such as when Elizabeth boldly demands that Captain Wentworth pay off her father’s debts.

      Yeah, right. He’ll see that!

      Thanks for the questions, Danielle. Have I covered what you wished to know?

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      • I find it to fascinating how the characters in an author’s book have such a mind of their own. They really do evolve and change as the story comes together. Thanks for answering my questions.

        And don’t kill Mary off, she shows us how great Anne is by comparison. Maybe you can just have her fall down a well or something as punishment. :-)

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        • It’s that mind-of-their-own thing that keeps most of us in the writing game, Danielle. Entertaining for me to see how a story takes on a life of its own!

          Well … Mary’s awfully annoying in Mercy’s Embrace. Charles Musgrove, who steps to center stage upon occasion, has a lot to put up with. Poor Charles thought Mary might be similar to Anne, I’m thinking. Big mistake to court Mary!

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  27. I’ve greatly enjoyed the letter (and the comments!) I am (re!)reading The Annotated Persuasion, and not ready to give up the Elliots et al. Of course, I’m never ready to give any of Austen’s characters-that’s why I love fan fiction. Caroline Bingley & William Elliot sound like a perfect match..is it cheating to ask if you thought so too?

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    • Caroline has only begun her pursuit at the end of the third Mercy’s Embrace book. This summer I’m working on a follow-up book—like you, I find Persuasion characters hard to give up! —and so far Miss Bingley is terribly gung-ho. (Since she can’t have love, why not have a title?) Elizabeth is not happy and, as expected, has alternative matrimonial schemes in mind.

      Odd how the future Sir William’s under-hung jaw is not as off-putting as it would be, say, in an untitled, less-wealthy gentleman?

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  28. So I’m sure someone has asked this question, but how did you decide to write about Persuasion’s villain? And was it hard to write from her point of view?

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  29. The choice to write Elizabeth Elliot sure wasn’t based on marketing, Joy Andrea! Too many Austen lovers hate her! And they miss out on what I think is an entertaining read! :)

    My choice had more to do with the challenge of writing someone no other Austen writer has touched. And also because I felt rather sorry for this Elizabeth. (I see Sir Walter as the villain of Persuasion, along with William Elliot.) Sure, she’s arrogant, but she’s also isolated, betrayed by someone she thought was a friend (Penelope Clay), and is heading for a lonely future.

    Then too, I wanted to showcase the down side of being very, very beautiful. A young woman from church came to work in a small business with me as a temp. We were close in age and struck up a friendship. A natural blonde, she had done modeling work—a thing I will never do! —and had a perfect figure. In a sad attempt to teach her to make cookies, I totally failed. And, without thinking, I made the usual self deprecating comic remarks about my “culinary skills.” Shelly laughed and laughed with me.

    “I can’t believe how you’re dissing yourself,” she confessed. “You’re so much fun!” Then there was this long pause. “None of my other friends would do that,” she added, rather wistfully. “They would never say they did something wrong.”

    This was my first clue that very, very lovely women compete with one another, even in private. And they know nothing about how to have deep friendships. I brought this knowledge with me into Mercy’s Embrace. Because who would think of proud Elizabeth as lonely? But she is.

    Until she meets the clerk, Mr Gill, who takes the time to converse with her as an equal …

    Thanks for the questions!

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    • My daughters are both beautiful, and they have never understood the competition among females. There are women who dislike them based totally on their looks without ever getting to know them. No wonder beautiful women surround themselves with men. The men are better friends to them than catty women. Fortunately, both daughters found women friends as they got older. I’m glad that things aren’t as bad for pretty girls after high school. As women gain confidence, they are more willing to accept other women.

      I avoided the entire deal in high school by always having a boyfriend. It’s sad that I distrusted other girls so much that I protected myself from them in such a way. I made sure that I always had someone with whom to eat lunch, and I always had plans for the weekend. I would not leave myself at the mercy of the girls.

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  30. It’s not that unusual for an author to rehabilitate an unpleasant male character but I can’t recall someone doing it for a female character, so I am very intrigued. What inspired you to do this?

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  31. Con, I part of it was the challenge.

    In the world of Austen fiction, nobody had touched this Elizabeth, so she was all mine. Then too, life as she knew it was falling to pieces (or was about to). She would soon be desperate, forced to defy her father and take matters into her own hands. In other words, things could become very interesting for her!

    And then there was this question: What would this stiff, isolated, lonely young woman do when she encountered friendship and, dare I say, love? Found not in the titled gentleman of her dreams, but in a pair of smiling Irish eyes?

    Like you, I was intrigued …

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  32. Thanks for making it international, I love your books. Have you a new book in the future. Maybe about an other Austen character who is not so popular?

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    • I have a follow-up book in production this summer, nikel (working title Mercy’s Hard Bargain) … with a wedding. And because it looks like I have too much plot for one book, another will come after. William Elliot and Ronan McGillvary have schemes in mind …

      After that, I’ll be looking around for another heroine!

      Even if you have these books, you’re IN for the giveaway. I’m sure you have friends who would enjoy them.

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  33. I need some summer read after all the university books ^___^.
    I really hope I will get the opportunity to win :)
    I love the way you have introduce the girl that all austen fans like to hate ! when you wrote “don’t go” It made me smile (good way). I’m really curious about her, I want to what will happen to her !
    thank you for teh giveaway!!

    e-mail: jandia4junpyo@yahoo.fr

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    • Raina, I know what you mean. I need to do something other than teaching!

      Muttering to self: “Three-and-a-half more weeks! Three-and-a-half more weeks!”

      Thanks for the kind words, raina. Mercy’s Embrace is perfect for summer reading. Ahhhh, summer …

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  34. Pingback: Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story, Book 1: So Rough a Course, by Laura Hile – A Review & Giveaway! « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  35. Pingback: Mercy’s Embrace Review and International Giveaway at Austenprose | Jane Started It!

  36. I have to say, I’m on the fence about spending more time with my least favorite characters, but you’ve done a good job explaining the “why”. I’m intrigued and want to read more!

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    • Hi Andrea! Mercy’s Embrace is an ensemble piece, with simultaneous stories running throughout. I’m thinking you’ll find someone to like! Charles Musgrove emerges as a favorite. His wife Mary … doesn’t. :)

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  37. Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. Though I am the eldest like Elizabeth, I identify more with Anne. Do you think some of Elizabeth’s sense of entitlement comes because she is the eldest? I’m hoping that if I read your books I’ll sympathize and identify with Elizabeth better. I find Mary rather annoying much like my little sister but I wouldn’t want her to die. Just leave me out of her drama and discipline her kids! Do we find out the fate of her friend Mrs. Clay? I’d love to read your books but alas the library does not have them and I am a poor grad student with a long wish list of books to read.

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    • I used to think I identified the most with Anne! But as I began to write these characters, I discovered that I am a hopeless snob like Elizabeth, and a world-class whiner like Mary! (How else could I write them so easily?)

      I am a poor teacher, so I understand your reading wish list woes! Here’s hoping you win! :)

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  38. I’ve always been intrigued by Elizabeth. She isn’t given much other than a haughty voice and a will to get her way in Persuasion, and I’ve always wondered what else might be going on in her head. Like how she really feels about the need to “retrench”. Does it not bother her or embarass her at all? And to have two younger sister’s marry before you, especially at a time when marriage was a woman’s business and employment, this must have done a number on her opinion of herself. Or perhaps her opinion of other people? I can’t wait to find out how she copes!

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    • You have wondered about Elizabeth, Amanda? Oh happy day, to find another who is like-minded! :) I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve done with her. She isn’t quite able to abandon her natural arrogance, which keeps things fun…

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  39. Pingback: Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story, Book 2: So Lively A Chase, by Laura Hile – A Review & Giveaway « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  40. Pingback: Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story, Book 3: The Lady Must Decide, by Laura Hile – A Review and Giveaway « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  41. Pingback: Giveaway Winners Announced for the Mercy’s Embrace Series « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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