Please help me welcome today Austenesque author Sally Smith O’Rourke during her blog tour for her new novel, Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, a sequel to her popular The Man Who Loved Jane Austen (2009). A time-travel novel from present day Virginia to 1813 Chawton, England, Sally broaches the eternal question: was Mr. Darcy based on a real character in Jane Austen’s life or from her fertile imagination?
An English friend told me after reading The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, that it was the first time he had ever thought of Austen as a real person. To him she was an icon who was not particularly interesting. I think Jane’s sister Cassandra’s attempts to create a perfect personification by editing and destroying her personal correspondence really did her sister a disservice when she was such a wonderful, inventive and interesting individual.
I’ve often wondered if Cassandra’s zeal in protecting Jane’s memory included the destruction of journals. Here was a woman who wrote regularly, thousands of letters (although only 160 remain), a history, poems, prayers; she even wrote sermons for James, her eldest brother. How was it possible that she kept no diary or journal of any kind? A question, I’m afraid, that will never be answered.
At one time I thought it would be fun to create a journal, ostensibly written by Austen. A chronicle of the five days Fitzwilliam Darcy spent in Hampshire the spring of 1810. After several false starts and an overwhelming feeling of pretention (who was I pretending to be Jane Austen?) I opted instead to write the sequel to The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. Here is the backstory:
Researching a letter she found from Jane Austen to Fitzwilliam Darcy takes Manhattan artist Eliza Knight to a centuries old Virginia estate, Pemberley Farms. There she meets Fitz Darcy, his tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that he is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen takes place for Jane during the summer of 1813 after the successful publication of Pride and Prejudice. For Darcy it is the week following his heritage Rose Ball in present day Virginia.
While Eliza and Fitz’s relationship starts to blossom things begin to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Eliza and Fitz or the tie that binds them?
For your enjoyment, here is an excerpt from chapter 5 of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen.
“Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?” (J.A. June 15, 1808)
That I reside in a Victorian village; a mere two miles from my place of employment. A local hospital where I spend most daylight hours in the operating room as a scrub nurse.
That I am a native Californian, and spent most of my life in and around Southern California with a relatively short span of years in Nevada where I attended school.
That I was widowed some time ago. That I have very domestic hobbies like sewing, cooking, baking, candy making and cake decorating. Oh, yeah I write, too. Mike, my late husband and teacher, taught me that writing has to be treated like a job so every day no matter how tired I am I edit, research one or more projects and write.
That I am working on a new book; a story of reincarnation that takes place in Pasadena, CA and am making notes for a ghost story set in San Francisco. Two stories running around in my head and often colliding but I untangle the debris and continue on.
There you have a few of my nothings.
Thank you for visiting with us today Sally and sharing a bit about your new novel. I look forward to reading it. Best wishes on its success.
Giveaway of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
Enter a chance to win one of three e-book copies available of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke. Just leave a comment answering if you believe if Austen’s character Fitzwilliam Darcy was based on a real person she knew or from her imagination. The contest is open until 11:59 pm Pacific time, Wednesday, October 10, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Digital shipment internationally. Good luck!
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Victorian Essence Press (2012)
Digital e-book (261) pages
© Sally Smith O’Rourke, Austenprose