Jane, Actually: or Jane Austen’s Book Tour, by Jennifer Petkus – A Review

Jane, Actually, by Jennifer Petkus © 2013 Mallard Sci-FiFrom the desk of Jeffrey Ward:

What would YOU say to Jane Austen if it became possible to communicate with her personally after two centuries? Jennifer Petkus’ third novel, Jane, Actually explores that possibility with an endless array of “what-if’s:” Is there an afterlife? If so, in what form? If departed souls are immortal, will the living be able to communicate with them? Will one departed soul be able to contact another departed soul? How will departed souls legally verify their identities? Can a disembodied soul fall in love with another disembodied soul?

A little background is necessary. In her debut novel, Good Cop Dead Cop, the author establishes a discovery that enables departed souls to contact the living via a technological marvel known as the “afternet.” In her second novel My Particular Friend, Petkus mashes together Sherlock Holmes with Jane Austen’s Bath for a Regency romp that is impossible to pin a label on. With great warmth and humor, the author ingeniously mashes together the “afternet” with the very-alive but the disembodied soul of Jane Austen and you actually get Jane, Actually.

Jane’s identity has been legally verified by the afternet authentication committee and she has finished her incomplete novel Sanditon, she has acquired an agent and staunch promoter in Melody Kramer and a grand book tour is planned. Although Jane communicates easily over the afternet, she is invisible, so the search begins for a suitable avatar to be her visual embodiment. A young acting student coincidently named Mary Crawford is one of the finalists. She knows next to nothing about Jane Austen, not even the literary significance of her own name. However, Jane takes a liking to her and she is chosen over more qualified candidates. Getting Jane and Mary to “sync-up” using the afternet proves difficult and frustrating but they warm to each other nevertheless. Continue reading “Jane, Actually: or Jane Austen’s Book Tour, by Jennifer Petkus – A Review”

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

Searching For Captain Wentworth Blog Tour with Author Jane Odiwe

Searching for Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe (2012)Huzzah! We have a treat for you today. Jane Odiwe, author of Willoughby’s Return and Mr. Darcy’s Secret has just released her new novel, Searching For Captain Wentworth and is sharing an audio extract and insights into its creation.

We have had the pleasure of reading this new Regency-era time-travel novel and are so pumped up to tell all, but shan’t, until we review it next week. Until then, enjoy Jane’s lovely guest blog and audio excerpt.

Please help me welcome Jane by asking her a question about her new characters or historic locations she used in the book.

I’m really thrilled to be a guest on Laurel Ann’s blog today and I thought it would be a little different to do a reading! I’m celebrating the release of my new book, Searching For Captain Wentworth this week.

I’ve absolutely loved writing this book – it’s been a total self-indulgence because I’ve been able to write about the things I love most in the world! Jane Austen, my favourite places, painting, portraits, gorgeous men and the novel Persuasion are just some of the inspirations behind my book. I’ve always loved time travel books and it’s been fun to write one of my own – especially when you can break any scientific rule. That’s what’s so fantastic about being a novelist – you can mix and match facts with fiction and make it all up!

The city of Bath is a favourite place of mine and some of the experiences Sophie has in the book are based on dreams I’ve had or on real (or what I thought were real) events. I’m not usually someone who believes in ghosts but I’m pretty sure I have a friendly, teasing one who visits me occasionally when I’m in Bath. It opens doors in the night that I know I have firmly shut and it will occasionally pull my hair – so slightly that I wonder if it’s just got caught in a clasp of a necklace – before I realize I’m not wearing one! But, you’ve only got to walk around Bath for an hour or so especially on a winter’s day, when it’s shrouded in mist and decorated with cobwebs sprinkled with sparkles of raindrops, to ‘feel’ and ‘see’ its Georgian inhabitants walking along the cobbled streets. There is such an atmosphere! Blink – and I think you could pass through a layer of time to the one of your choice.

Jane Austen's home at 4 Sydney Place, Bath, todayNo 4 Sydney Place, Bath

Everyone has their own ideas about what Jane Austen was like and I’ve loved having my own encounter with Jane in this book. My heroine, Sophie, gets to meet Jane and her family as she finds herself living next door to the Austens in Sydney Place. From my window in Bath I’m very lucky to be able to see Jane Austen’s house and her garden – every now and again I get a glimpse of a rosy-cheeked girl with chestnut curls looking out of a window – but perhaps it’s just my imagination! I’ve always felt that Bath must have been a special place for Jane despite the argument that because Anne Elliot disliked it, so must she. I want to know why she set two of her most romantic novels here if she didn’t like the town. We have so little information about that time in her life that I feel we may have dwelt on the negatives and not examined the positives enough. There isn’t a happier scene than the one where Anne and her Captain stroll along the Gravel Walk – and the youthful exuberance from Catherine Morland must surely be a young Jane talking of her own experiences.

Front entrance of Sydney Hotel & Gardens, Bath, England circa 1800Front entrance to the Sydney Hotel and Gardens in Bath circa 1800

I’ve walked with Charles Austen in Sydney Gardens – he is even more handsome in reality and exactly befitting an Austen hero in his naval uniform. He, of course, helped me with the research for my book and I’m very grateful to him and to Jane and Cassandra for taking me up to Beechen Cliff where I enjoyed the wonderful views and a picnic.

Holidays in Lyme are always an inspiration – I’m sure Jane walks along the Cobb wall every now and again – it’s such a lovely, unspoiled seaside town. The houses and streets I’ve described can still be seen and the countryside about is as beautiful as when Jane wrote about it!

Jane Austen Rice portrait

Lastly, I wanted to mention the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen that is pictured on the cover. Mrs Henry Rice very kindly granted me permission to use it in my design. It’s a wonderful painting! Having seen the portrait myself was just fantastic and the many interesting discussions we had inspired my writing.

Searching For Captain Wentworth is an affectionate tribute to Jane Austen, Bath and Lyme – I hope you enjoy it!

Author Bio:

Jane Odiwe is the author of Effusions of Fancy, Lydia Bennet’s Story, Willoughby’s Return, Mr Darcy’s Secret and Searching For Captain Wentworth – all Austen-inspired books. She a member of the Jane Austen Society, the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelist’s Association. In addition to her many writing talents, Jane is an accomplished artist. She lives with her family in North London and Bath, England. You can visit Jane at her website Austen Effusions; her blog Jane Austen Sequels; on Facebook as Jane Odiwe and follow her on Twitter as @JaneOdiwe

Searching For Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe
Paintbox Publishing (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0954572228

Further reading

© 2012, Jane Odiwe, Austenprose

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