Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen, by Rachel Berman – A Review

Aerendgast The Lost History Rachel Berman 2015 x 200From the desk of Lisa Galek:

There’s so much we don’t know about Jane Austen. Her sister, Cassandra, burned many of Jane’s letters when she died leaving many details of her life lost to time. Is it possible that the author of many of the world’s most memorable stories on love and marriage never married or had children of her own? In Aerendgast, Rachel Berman imagines a new history for our favorite author in a mystery adventure that’s one part Austen biography and one part The Da Vinci Code.

Violet Desmond doesn’t know much about her past. She was raised by her grandmother who never mentioned the truth about Violet’s parents or the tragic accident that left her an orphan. But, when Violet’s grandmother dies and leaves her a beautiful cameo necklace and a trunk filled with papers, Violet finally realizes she’s found the tools she needs to hunt down the truth… which also may have something to do with her favorite author, Jane Austen. Continue reading “Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen, by Rachel Berman – A Review”

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Contemporary Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Guest Blog

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.   Continue reading “Aerendgast: The Lost History of Jane Austen Blog Tour with Author Rachel Berman”

Austenesque, Book Previews, Contemporary Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

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

Austenesque, Contemporary Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Giveaways, Guest Blog

Q & A with Midnight in Austenland Author Shannon Hale, & a Giveaway!

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale (2012)We have a special treat in store for you today. Please help us welcome New York Times best-selling author Shannon Hale. She has graciously fit us into her very busy promotional schedule and answered a few probing questions about her new Austen-inspired novel, Midnight in Austenland, and the new movie in production of her first novel in the series, Austenland.

LAN: Thanks Shannon for joining us today to chat about your new Austen-inspired novel, Midnight in Austenland. This is the second time you have taken readers to that special place, Pembrook Park, the Regency-era theme park in Kent, England designed for Janeites. What tempted you to return?

SH: I was writing a screenplay for Austenland with Jerusha Hess and really enjoying returning to the story and the characters. Then when I wrote up a character sheet for my co-writer, I stumbled upon a new story idea. That story became Midnight in Austenland. I was delighted! I’d never thought to return.

LAN: Do any of the original characters from Austenland make an appearance in Midnight in Austenland? If so, can you share who and why you chose them?

SH: Miss Charming, who was a guest in the first book, is still there. The idea made me laugh, so I had to do it. I love writing her dialog, and I felt like her character had more to explore. Mrs. Wattlesbrook, the proprietress, and her handsy husband are there, and Colonel Andrews, whose parlor mystery game created the story that I couldn’t wait to follow.

LAN: There are many interesting and entertaining new characters in Midnight in Austenland, but the standout for me was Mr. Mallery. Can you give us any insight into your inspiration for his character and a preview of your deliciously moody hero?

SH: Thank you! I was thinking about how Jane Austen was in many ways commenting on the gothic romances of her day in her stories, even with Mr. Darcy. I wanted Mallery to start at that place but mixed in a little more Rochester and Heathcliff–a dark hero with a bit more bite. He was fun. I want to say more, but I’m afraid I’d get spoilery!

LAN: Midnight in Austenland is not only a romantic comedy; it is a mystery, with spirited allusions to Jane Austen’s gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Gothic fiction played an important part in Austen’s creation of Northanger Abbey. Were there any mystery novels or authors that inspired you? Continue reading “Q & A with Midnight in Austenland Author Shannon Hale, & a Giveaway!”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, Contemporary Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale – A Review

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale (2012)Guest review by Christina Boyd

Best-selling author of Austenland, and soon to be motion picture of same, Shannon Hale, takes us on another retreat to England in her latest offering, Midnight in Austenland.

When the nice American Charlotte Kinder married a nice man named James in a nice wedding, later giving birth to and raising two nice children, it surprised everyone when she started her own web-based company and was also discovered to be a clever, successful business woman. Her picture perfect world soon turns topsy-turvy when her husband divorces her for another. One particularly “thin and drab” weekend when the children are away with their father, she finds temporary solace, and even heart pounding sensations long forgotten, while reading Jane Austen’s masterpieces.  Seeking further escape from her non-fiction life, Charlotte flies to England in retreat to a country manor house catering to the total immersion of a Jane Austen experience, “Pembroke Park, Kent England.  Enter our doors as a houseguest come to stay two weeks, enjoying the country manners and hospitality—a visit, a dance or two, a turn in the park, an unexpected meeting with a certain gentleman, all culminating with a ball and perhaps something more…” p.12. No one would suspect that Charlotte Kinder was about to become the heroine of her own life.

After completing a questionnaire declaring Pride and Prejudice her favorite novel, but also a particular enjoyment in Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, Charlotte’s total immersion Austen vacation seems tailored specific to her whims and desires, complete with an affectionate brother, a jovial Colonel and even her own brooding handsome gentleman of mystery. Although she is fully aware that everyone is playing a role, including herself, the lines between reality and fiction quickly become gossamer thin.  But when a spontaneous hide-n-seek like game called Bloody Murder is suggested, Pembroke Park’s promise of a possible flirtation is not what initiates Charlotte’s heart to pound.  “Lightning filled the window, piercing the room with an X-ray flash.  And she saw.  It seemed to be… it couldn’t be but it sure looked like… a hand.” p.91.  Obvious parallels to Northanger Abbey leave Charlotte questioning her own sanity as she attempts to accept the fantasy and play along.  Because what could be wrong with a little, harmless flirtation?  But is all of this intrigue and horror real or just part of the story line?

Shannon Hale does a capital job of weaving an intricate web of Charlotte’s past realities with her current situation (or is it imaginings?) at the Park.  Each new chapter begins with a memory or instance of her former self before stepping into this make-believe Regency England, endearing to Charlotte’s real life anxiety and disappointments from almost the beginning. Charlotte’s journey from sad, cuckolded creature to a strong, vibrant Incomparable is heart warming and enchanting. I was cheering as she finally opened her eyes to all she is and what she had not seen in her marriage.  So was the mystery and romance she experienced at Pembroke Park real?  I would not tell you for the world.  But let’s just say Midnight in Austenland left me with a happy heart and wondering where do I make a reservation?  Perfect escape for the blahs of winter, I totally accepted this blatantly contrived happy ending—because we all know, happy endings were one of Jane Austen’s specialties.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury USA (2012)
Hardcover (288) pages
ISBN: 978-1608196258
NOOK: ISBN: 978-1608196401
Kindle: ASIN: B006WXUK3Q

Christina Boyd lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two youngish children and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Bibi.  She studied Fine Art at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Salisbury University in Maryland. For the last nine years she has created and sold her own pottery line from her working studio. Albeit she read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice that sparked her interest in all things Austen.  A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, visiting Jane Austen’s England remains on her bucket list.

© 2007 – 2012 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Austenesque, Contemporary Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Giveaways

Giveaway Winners Announced for Murder Most Persuasive

Murder Most Persuasive, by Tracy Kiely (2011)30 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of Murder Most Persuasive, by Tracy Kiely. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Jenny the Librarian who left a comment on August 30, 2011.
  • Audra (Unabridged Chick) who left a comment on August 30, 2011
  • Mysterygirl87 who left a comment on September 01, 2011

Congratulations to the lucky winners To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by September 15, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Many thanks to author Tracy Kiely for sharing her early poem writing !!!! and for creating such a fabulous new Austen-inspired murder mystery.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Austenesque, Contemporary Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Giveaways, Guest Blog

Murder Most Persuasive Blog Tour with Author Tracy Kiely

Murder Most Persuasive: A Mystery, by Tracy Kiely (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Tracy Kiely on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Murder Most Persuasive: A Mystery, a new Persuasion-inspired mystery novel published today by Minotaur Books.

Murder, Jane Austen, and Me  

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was little. That’s not to say that I was one of those child prodigies who effortlessly create witty/insightful/touching tomes at a tender age, and land on the couch with Ophra. Far from it. In fact, here’s a little sample of one of my earliest works that proves my point quite nicely. It was my first (and, thankfully, only) attempt at poetry. Ready? Here goes:

The rain comes down

Upon the ground

Will it ever stop?

I’ll get the mop.

See, what I mean? But, despite my rather shaky start, I still loved the idea of being a writer. As the years went by, I narrowed that down to being a mystery writer. Growing up, I spent a great deal of time reading Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, and watching Alfred Hitchcock movies. I loved the twisty, deviously clever plots of Christie, the sublime wit of Austen, and the “average man caught in extraordinary circumstances” themes of Hitchcock.

Anyway, when I began to think of writing my own mystery, I realized it would have to include those elements. As I struggled to come up with something in the way of a viable storyline, the characters of Pride and Prejudice kept swirling around in my head. It dawned on me that while there is no murder in Pride and Prejudice, there are plenty of characters who certainly inspire murderous thoughts. I began to wonder, what, if after years of living with unbearably rude and condescending behavior, old Mrs. Jenkins up and strangled Lady Catherine? Or, if one day Charlotte snapped and poisoned Mr. Collins’ toast and jam? I realized that most likely no one would be surprised had Jane written these plot twists into follow-up versions of her books as these characters were exactly the sort of odious creatures that would be bumped of in a mystery novel.

But, I didn’t want to write a period piece, and I definitely didn’t want to take over existing characters and try and make them my own. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading other authors who do exactly that. It’s just as Dirty Harry once said in one of his movies, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  I know mine, and recreating Elizabeth and Darcy is not one of then.  So, I instead I tried to figure out a way to work in the themes and personality clashes of Pride and Prejudice into a modern-day mystery. Continue reading “Murder Most Persuasive Blog Tour with Author Tracy Kiely”