Q&A with Patrice Kindl, Author of A School For Brides

A School for Brides, by Patrice Kindl 2015It is a rare delight in reading to discover a new author that you feel could become one of your most cherished favorites. When “every feature works,” I am revved up and ready to share my excitement.

Such is the case with Patrice Kindl, who until a review copy of A School for Brides landed on my doorstep last month was entirely unknown to me. Further research revealed that this new release was a companion novel to her first in the Lesser Hoo series, Keeping the Castle. Set in the Regency period both novels share many of the same characters, paralleling the same time frame, but from a different perspective. Better and better.

Before diving into A School for Brides I decided to power through an audio recording of Keeping the Castle. It knocked my bonnet off. If I could describe Kindl’s writing in one sentence, I would say that it is a skillful blending of Jane Austen’s genius with social satire, Georgette Heyer’s exuberant humor and Dodie Smith’s poignant romance.


The Winthrop Hopkins Female Academy of Lesser Hoo, Yorkshire, has one goal: to train its students in the feminine arts with an eye toward getting them married off. This year, there are five girls of marriageable age. There’s only one problem: the school is in the middle of nowhere, and there are no men. Set in the same English town as Keeping the Castle, and featuring a few of the same characters, here’s the kind of witty tribute to the classic Regency novel that could only come from the pen of Patrice Kindl!

Curious to learn more about Patrice Kindl and the inspiration for her Lesser Hoo novels I asked her if she would be game for a brief interview. Happily, she agreed.

Welcome, Patrice:

LAN: Do you consider Jane Austen to be an influence on your writing?

PK: Ah, the divine Miss Jane Austen!  Was she an influence?  Of course.  I had nearly memorized the six novels by the time I was twenty-one, and in the following years re-read them all, as well as collections of her letters, continuations of the two incomplete manuscripts, re-imaginings of her published works, biographies, books about her life and times … in short, I was and am a devoted admirer.  I doubt that many authors set novels in this brief historical era without being fans.

LAN: Which of Austen’s novels is your favorite?

PK: Asking a reader which of Austen’s novels is their favorite probably amounts to asking which has their favorite protagonist.  Poor Fanny Price, the main character of Mansfield Park!  She must be the least liked of Austen’s heroines today.  But she was possibly more acceptable to the readers of the early 19th century than much-beloved Elizabeth Bennet.  In those days meek and mild women were regarded far more approvingly than they are today.

Reading Mansfield Park myself, my sympathies mostly lay with Mary, the sister of Henry Crawford.  Her worldly nature and disrespect toward the church are often seen as negating her many generous feelings and attractive qualities; by the end of the novel she is considered not much better than her shallow and selfish brother. However, I rather saw her as the dark side of Elizabeth Bennett, a clever and adventurous young woman whose wit and independence of spirit led her to cross a line that made her unforgivable in the early 1800s.

However, my favorite novel, and heroine, is Emma.  Yes, of course, I love Elizabeth – who doesn’t? – but Emma is so self-satisfied to begin with and, in the end, so willing to take her humbling with humor and grace.  Emma is to some extent a sex reversal of Pride and Prejudice.  Emma takes the place of Darcy as the person who is too enamored of their own importance to be capable (at least to begin with) of loving another person with a whole heart.

LAN: What was your inspiration for Keeping the Castle and its companion, A School for Brides? 

Keeping the Castle, by Patrice Kindl 2012 PK: Keeping the Castle and A School for Brides were my response to modern historical novels set in the nineteenth century. Too many of them depict young women who are dismissive of marriage and anxious to pursue a career.  While I understand the urge to thus revise history – I am a feminist myself – it is inaccurate.  The number of women who were self-supporting in any field beyond education or domestic service was vanishingly small. Jane Austen herself could not have lived on her literary earnings.  Marriage was the best ‘career’ a lady could hope for, not only financially, but in social status, security in old age and, for most, personal happiness.  True, your husband could, with legal and moral impunity, beat you black and blue, carouse with other women and rob you blind, but … at least you weren’t an old maid.

Austen’s Emma insists that a “single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else,” but she was in the very rare situation of being independently wealthy, with no interfering male relative to take control of the money. Her friend Harriet shows a proper horror at the idea of going to the grave unmarried.  And as for the scholastic profession, well … the dread that Jane Fairfax felt about taking a governess position should make it clear that being a teacher was only marginally better than starving in the gutter. 

So, with A School for Brides and Keeping the Castle, I wanted to show that yes, of course the young women of that era were interested in marriage.  Being aware of the economics of their age, they couldn’t afford not to be.  Pooh-poohing Regency novels as merely being about romance makes as much sense as looking down on a classic mystery novel for merely being about crime.  The decade of a woman’s life between fifteen and twenty-five was her one shot at happiness – there were almost no second chances – and the route to happiness usually led through matrimony. Romance novels set in the past are only trivial if you consider the lives of women to be unimportant.

Author Patrice Kindl 2015AUTHOR BIO: In addition to A School for Brides and Keeping the Castle, Patrice Kindl is the author of four other novels, the best known of which is the acclaimed Owl in Love. She lives with her husband and a variety of animals in upstate New York. Visit her online at www.patricekindl.com or connect with her on Twitter at @patricekindl.

Thank you for joining us here today at Austenprose, Patrice.

I hope that many of our readers will also discover what a treasure your writing is. We will be reviewing A School for Brides on August 14th, so please check back to discover our thoughts.

A School for Brides: A Story of Maidens, Mystery, and Matrimony, by Patrice Kindl
Viking Books (2015)
Hardcover & eBook (272) pages
ISBN: 978-0670786084

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

Cover image courtesy of Viking Books © 2015; text Patrice Kindl © 2015, Austenprose.com

39 thoughts on “Q&A with Patrice Kindl, Author of A School For Brides

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  1. I like the author’s attitude! The times in the beginning of the 19th century were indeed very different ones for women and good regency romances reflect that. That Mrs. Heyer lets most of her heroines await a proposal eagerly is not a set-down for today’s feminism – it is a description of the times that were. And I really like that Ms. Kindl sees this, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Jane Austen novels, and if yours are true to hers, then I can’t wait to read them. Too many novels today show that time in both a sexier and more liberated setting that would have been impossible in that day.


      1. I have not written a novel, yet … and I may never, as I seem to be better in short stories, anyway. But like you I prefer to read stories that try to max out the liberties people of those times had, and sometimes shockingly crossing them, instead of creating scenarios that would be called risky even today and presenting them as an everyday occurence.


  2. I would love to enter this giveaway! Your remark about Jane Austen combined with Georgette Heyer and Dodie Smith sounds intriguing… all writing styles that I’m sure I would enjoy reading. And as a historical nut myself, I’m pleased to hear that the book doesn’t tamper with the facts of the 19th-century (namely, that there WERE very few career women of that time, and dismissing the ones who simply got married because it was expected of them isn’t right or fair to them).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an interesting theme for a book: a school to teach women how to be wives, yet set in an area where there are no men! How is one to put into practice the lessons of the classroom? Field trips? It just sounds like an interesting and fun beginning to a story. Additionally, I like the author’s outlook on women’s fiction and the role it plays in literature. She had so many points (about Austen’s novels as well) that I hadn’t considered.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful interview. This is my first introduction to this author and I must say I am intrigued by her works which is now added to my TBR list. Thank you for the giveaway.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I live in France so, no entering the giveaway for me. But I’m heading right now to Amazon and read the first novel! The review was very enthusastic and appreciative!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Laurel Ann for once again introducing an exciting new author and fellow JA devotee! Ms. Kindle’s grasp of the situation for women in our favorite historical era, is appreciated and I am eager to read her novels and see how she incorporates it into them… along with the understanding of her take on Mansfield Park, Emma, and P&P. Her expression of the plight of women reminds me of Charlotte Lucas’ description of her situation when she accepted Mr. Collins! Of course, we all hope for a more delightful romantic HEA such as Elizabeth and Darcy or Emma and Mr. Knightly! I look forward to reading her works, very much!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Without your interview, I would probably never have had any interest in this author, nor this genre, and would have dimissed it as a bodice ripper. Thanks for the insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. the idea of a girl looking at marriage as a career in the 19th century sounds eminently plausible and completely intriguing to me! can’t wait to read this book! would love to win a copy!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for this lovely giveaway and informative post which I enjoyed greatly. Your book would be a treasure which I would cherish. Keeping the Castle is charming and special.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m looking forward to both Keeping the Castle and A School for Brides. The characters sounds as if they are entertaining, funny, and intelligent. And who can resist an author who is compared to Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer?


  11. I think that it is an excellent question of how to find a male to marry in the middle Yorkshire – how indeed! I look forward to reading these books, and thank you for the giveaway.


  12. It’s always fantastic to discover a new favorite author!

    I can’t wait to read A School for Brides and see how the characters are transposed into this unique setting. Historical accuracy is always a draw for me, too :) .


  13. Thanks for introducing me to a new author, Laurel Ann! Comparisons to Austen and Heyer mean I have to check her books out. Please don’t enter me into the competition, though, as I’m in the UK.


  14. i immediately requested “Keeping the Castle” from my local library after seeing Ms. Kind compared to Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. Three chapters in and I’m hooked!


  15. Thank you so much for this Giveaway and the wonderful interview with Patrice Kindl. I read Keeping the Castle a few months ago and absolutely loved it! My favorite character was Mr. Fredericks, so reminiscent of Mr. Darcy. I can’t wait to read this next book!!


  16. Anything related to Austen pulls me in. Anyone that can “bend” her genius is brilliant. If I do not win I will be looking these up anyway. I need more books (I do not care that there is a stack as tall as my wall waiting to be read, I need more) along the lines of Austen and her class, elegance, and grace. So hard to come across a well written (new) book set in the regency era. This is a thrilling discovery, I must remember to thank my best friend cousin for introducing me! Simply thrilling!


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