Audiobooks, Blog Events, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, read by Emilia Fox (Naxos Audiobooks) – A Review & Giveaway

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)Today marks the official opening of The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. *throws confetti* Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013.

Considering the origins of this celebration how could I possibly not start with the inspiration of it all, Pride and Prejudice? It is really no burden considering that it is one of my favorite novels. No, I correct myself.  It is my favorite novel, bar none.

I first read Pride and Prejudice over thirty years ago and have re-read it every year since. For years I worshiped in silence, but now thanks to the Internet I can sing its praises to the skies by openly admitting that it far surpasses any other novel of my acquaintance in wit, vivacity, and romance. As Kathleen Kelly states in the movie You’ve Got Mail, “I get lost in the language.” And so I do…every time.

I will tell you another secret. I own over fifty different editions of Pride and Prejudice! Hardcover, softcover, audio, illustrated, collectible, vintage, movies, mini-series, graphic novels, quote books, greeting cards, board games—you name it. I have a whole section in my library devoted to it—my shrine of homage. There. It’s now out in the open. I am truly a Pride and Prejudice addict.

One is humbled to review a book considered a classic of world literature. What could I possibly say about Pride and Prejudice that has not been scrutinized by scholars, exalted by enthusiasts, or bemoaned by students who have been forced to read it and just don’t get what all the fuss is about? Plenty—and that is one of its enduring charms. It is so many things to different people. After repeated readings I still laugh out loud at Austen’s dry wit, wily social commentary and satisfying love story. It often tops international polls as the “the most loved” or “favorite book” of all time; numerous stage and screen adaptations continue to remind us of its incredible draw to the modern audience; and its hero and heroine, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, may be the most famous romantic couple short of Romeo and Juliet. High praise, indeed, for a novel written almost two hundred years ago by a country clergyman’s daughter, home schooled by her father, and un-exalted in her lifetime.

Set in the early nineteenth-century country village of Longbourn in Hertfordshire, the story revolves around the Bennet family and their five unmarried daughters. They are the first family of consequence in the village. Unfortunately, the Bennet estate is entailed to a male heir, a cousin, Mr. William Collins. This is distressful to Mrs. Bennet who knows that she must find husbands for her daughters or they shall all be destitute if her husband should die. Mr. Bennet is not as concerned and spends his time in his library away from his wife’s idle chatter and social maneuvering. Elizabeth, the spirited and confident second daughter is determined to only to marry for love. She teases her beautiful and kind elder sister Jane that she must be the one to catch a wealthy husband to support them all. The three younger sisters: Mary, Catherine and Lydia, hinder their elder sisters chance for a good match by inappropriate and unguarded behavior.

When Mr. Bingley, a single man of large fortune, moves into the neighborhood with his fashionable sisters he attends the local assembly ball and is immediately taken with the angelic Jane Bennet. His friend Mr. Darcy is even richer with a great estate in Derbyshire, but he is proud and arrogant giving offense to all, including Elizabeth when he refuses to dance with her. She overhears him tell Bingley that she was only tolerable and not handsome enough to tempt him. This amuses and annoys her enough to repeat it to her friends and family. The whole community declares him the most disagreeable man, eaten up with pride.

And thus the famous love story begins. How Mr. Darcy’s pride will be humbled and Elizabeth’s prejudices dissolved is one of the greatest stories of all time. Austen’s astute characterizations and clever plotting never cease to amaze. Society has changed in two hundred years, but human nature—foibles and all—remain constant, much to our amusement and delight.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, read by Emilia Fox (Naxos Audiobooks) 2005Naxos Audiobooks presents us with a professionally produced and finely crafted jewel in this audio recording of Pride and Prejudice. Narrated by British actress Emilia Fox, viewers of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle will remember her fine performance as shy Georgiana Darcy and be pleasantly surprised by her vocal range and emotional depth in characterization. I particularly appreciated her interpretation of Mrs. Bennet’s frazzled anxiety and Lady Catherine de Bourgh imperious resolve. Listeners will enjoy all thirteen hours of this unabridged recording honoring one of the greatest novels ever written and want to seek out the other six Austen novels that they have also recorded in audio format.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, read by Emilia Fox
Naxos Audiobooks USA, (2005)
Unabridged, 11 CD’s (13 h 02 m)
ISBN: 978-9626343562

A GRAND GIVEAWAY

Enter a chance to win one CD or digital copy of Pride and Prejudice (Naxos Audiobooks) by leaving a comment by 11:59 pm, Wednesday, January 16, 2013 stating which character in the novel is your favorite, and which is NOT. The winner will be announced on Thursday, January 17, 2013.  Shipment of CD to US addresses only please and digital download internationally. Good luck!

© 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Book Previews, Critiques & Analysis, Giveaways, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

Preview of Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece, by Susannah Fullerton & Giveaway!

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, by Susannah Fullerton (2013)On January 28, 1813, Jane Austen’s most popular novel Pride and Prejudice was published in three volumes by T. Egerton, Whitehall, London. 2013 will mark the Bicentenary anniversary—200 years of the classic story of Mr. Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth Bennet’s prejudice—and all of her other very memorable characters. Few will dispute the novel’s lasting impact on writers and readers.

There will be much to celebrate next year, including many new books honoring Austen’s classic tome. The first up on my reading list will be Susannah Fullerton’s Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece, published on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2013. And—what a great way to ring in the New Year it shall be. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

Jane Austen’s brilliant work Pride and Prejudice is incomparable for its wit, humor, and insights into how we think and act—and how our “first impressions” (the book’s initial title) can often be remarkably off-base. On the two-hundredth anniversary of the book’s publication, Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, written by preeminent Austen scholar Susannah Fullerton, delves into what makes Pride and Prejudice such a groundbreaking masterpiece. Fullerton explores the story behind the book’s creation, its initial reception, and its tremendous legacy, from the many films inspired by the book (such as the 1995 BBC miniseries starring Colin Firth) to the even more numerous “sequels,” adaptations, and mash-ups.

Pride and Prejudice MGM (1940) five Bennet sisters

Interspersed throughout are fascinating stories about Austen’s brief engagement, the “Darcin” pheromone, the ways in which Pride and Prejudice served as bibliotherapy in the World War I trenches, and much more. Celebrating Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful celebration of a book that has had an immeasurable influence on literature and on anyone who has had the good fortune to discover it.

About the Author

Susannah Fullerton is President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia (the largest literary society in the country), a post she has held for the past fifteen years. She is a popular literary lecturer, the author of Jane Austen and Crime and many articles about Austen, and the co-editor of Jane Austen: Antipodean Views.

Continue reading “Preview of Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece, by Susannah Fullerton & Giveaway!”

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

The West Yet Glimmers: The Lord & Lady Baugham Stories Blog Tour with Authors Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton & Giveaway!

The West Yet Glimmers, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2012)Please help us welcome today authors Gail McEwen and Tina Moncton during their blog tour of their new novel, The West Yet Glimmers, the third book in their Lord & Lady Baugham series.

Originally inspired by Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, the series started as a “what if” variation of the classic and then developed into a new story with its own unique plot and characters. I read the first book in the series, Twixt Two Equal Armies, and enjoyed it immensely.

Writing three books is an incredible accomplishment, but I was even more in awe of how two writers who lived on two different continents could collaborate and write together. I asked the ladies to share their story and a bit about their latest novel, The West Yet Glimmers. Enter a chance to win signed set of the trilogy to one lucky winner and three individual Kindle Copies to three winners. Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post.

Welcome Gail & Tina!  

The Art of Ping Pong

Hi, Gail and Tina here! Laurel Ann has graciously invited us to contribute a blog article to talk about what we do, and why and how we do it.

The ‘what we do’ part is easy. We are the writing team responsible for the Lord and Lady Baugham Stories – Twixt Two Equal Armies, Love Then Begins, and the recently-reviewed-on-Austenprose, The West Yet Glimmers.

The ‘why we do it’ is equally simple—we have fallen in love with our characters and their story and we can’t help ourselves.

And then when people ask us, ‘how is it to write as you do, together?’ the answer is really also very simple, it’s the best thing in the world! Sure there are plenty of other things to do with our time, and the truth is, we often get caught up in those other, urgent matters—family, school, work, life. This can go on for a while, but if too much time passes, the itch to write goes painfully unscratched and we find ourselves looking around and wondering why we’re feeling so cranky.

Twixt Two Equal Armies, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2010)We previously blogged about how we met through the wonders of the internet and a mutual love of Jane Austen: To Begin our Posting with the Beginning of our Posting… but the simple most important thing is that, in finding each other, we were both blessed with just the perfect writing partner. And by perfect we mean someone who shares a passion for the same things— interesting and well-crafted side characters, finding out who and what the Baughams are through writing about them, attention to research and getting to know your subject, whether it’s Regency time policing, seaside holidaying or the geography of London—as well as each of us bringing our own special traits to this common experience: Tina has a muse that lives on a commuter train, Gail’s muse hides in the shower. Tina is relentless in her insistence on historical accuracy, while Gail is like a dog when it comes to meticulous read-through. On top of everything, we are both quite hopeless when it comes to incessant editing, re-writing and second guessing of a draft. It’s a wonder we ever manage to finish anything!

Some things, however, we don’t want to put “The End” to. Case in point: our latest book, The West Yet Glimmers. Originally, the story of Holly Tournier and Lord Baugham was not supposed to go beyond the meeting, the courtship (if you can call it that) and the inevitable risky plunge into married life together—the story of Twixt Two Equal Armies. But when we got that far, we realised it was not enough. “We should be careful never to imagine, that the wedding-day is the burial of love, but that in reality Love Then Begins…” It was true! We weren’t finished with them by a long shot! We wanted to know more, write more and follow them as a married couple on their road together, because by that time, we knew them well enough to understand that their road would by no means be smooth or perfect, but would be terrific fun to explore.

Love then Begins: The Lord and Lady Baugham Stories, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton (2012)And that is where the art of Ping Pong comes in to play! Actually, that’s how we’ve done most of the dialogues we’ve written and much of our writing and plotting, as well as this blog post. We send the text back and forth, adding and perfecting, playing around and, best of all, surprising the receiving party with a new twist or turn that takes the characters and story onwards and upwards and beyond what we could possibly achieve on our own. As with all games, there are a few rules. Okay, one rule: There’s no room for ego in tandem writing. If your partner in the game changes something you wrote, moves it around or even removes it completely, don’t let yourself feel injured or put upon. Because 99% of the time, she’s improved upon it. And, in the case of that 1%, don’t be afraid to speak up and say “I really liked that bit. Can’t we keep it?” She will usually see the error of her ways and comply. (Does that count as another rule? Or maybe it’s a promise?)

We keep each other accountable, give slack when life gets in the way of progress, or a kick in the pants when it’s just laziness or complacency holding one or the other of us down. We inspire one another. We are great friends. And we think we make a pretty good team.

That’s the art – and the fun! – of Ping Pong.

Many thanks to Gail & Tina for joining us today. I hope you are inspired to continue the adventures of Lord & Lady Baughham.

Author Bios

It was a shared love for Jane Austen and a fascination with the world she so vividly portrayed in her novels that brought the international writing team of Gail McEwen and Tina Moncton together. Meeting on an internet chat board devoted to Miss Austen, they soon discovered, despite living on opposite ends of the globe, they had quite a bit in common—not the least of which was a mutual frustrated passion for writing—and what began as a virtual acquaintance quickly blossomed into a true friendship.

When they began to experiment with writing together, they chose a path somewhat different than might be expected from such ardent fans. Rather than explore the what-if’s and variations possible within Austen’s existing works and much loved characters, Moncton and McEwen introduced two new players to navigate the Regency world of Pride and Prejudice alongside Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. This experiment was so successful and satisfying that it led to an entire series of P&P companion books.

Gail is a married mother of four and grandmother of two. In real life she lives in a small mountain community in California, works in accounting and still wonders how an English major ended up in the unexciting world of numbers and calculations. Tina is a married mother of three. Her real life is in the metropolitan area of Helsinki, Finland and though she would rather make her living out of writing about Lord and Lady Baugham, she works in the equally idealistic world of non-profit NGO’s. You can find Gail and Tina at their blog: Two Perfect Scheming Wenches; or contact them on the Meryton Press Facebook page.

A GRAND GIVEAWAY!

Enter a chance to win one of three digital Kindle copies available of The West Yet Glimmers or a signed set of Lord & Lady Baugham trilogy to one lucky winner by leaving a comment asking the authors a question about their books or writing experience, or what intrigues you about reading an Austenesque “what if” story, or Regency-era historical romances by 11:59 PT December 26, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, December 27, 2012. Print book set mailed to US addresses only. Digital copies available internationally. Good luck to all!

The West Yet Glimmers: Lord and Lady Baugham Stories, by Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton
Meryton Press (2012)
Trade paperback (312) pages
ISBN: 978-1936009121

© 2012 Gail McEwen & Tina Moncton, Austenprose

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Book Previews, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen Blog Tour with Sally Smith O’Rourke & Giveaway

Yours Affectionatley, Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O'Rourke (2012)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.

Author Sally Smith O'Rourke (2012)Author Bio:

“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.

Visit Sally at her blog Sally Smith O’Rourke Author; websites Austenticity and Austen Authors; on Facebook as Sally Smith O’Rourke; and on Twitter as @Chawton1810.

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
ISBN: 978-1891437052

© Sally Smith O’Rourke, Austenprose

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge Blog Tour with Author Abigail Reynolds & Giveaway

Mr/ Darcy's Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds (2012)Please help us welcome Austenesque author Abigail Reynolds today during her blog tour in celebration of the release of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, the ninth novel in her popular Pemberley Variations series.

Whenever I read one of her creative and romantic takes on roads not taken in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I feel a bit like I am in an Austen Twilight Zone. Readers familiar with Austen’s classic story will recognize characters and settings, but Reynolds always mixes it up, placing new impediments and challenges to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s romance. There are always surprises, and, this new novel is no exception. The first few chapters had me laughing out loud as the story unfolds from Darcy’s point of view. He is even more arrogant and assuming then we ever realized. Ha!

Abigail has kindly shared her thoughts on her writing career and her new book. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win a copy of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge. Enjoy!

I’ve just spent the weekend at the Decatur Book Festival enjoying the company of readers and authors of Austen-inspired books, both fiction and non-fiction. One topic that arose repeatedly was how the world of publishing has changed in the last two years, and even in the last two weeks – yes, really, we discussed some significant changes that have taken place in the last fortnight!  It made me think about how my personal writing process has changed as well.

Mr. Darcy's Letter, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)It took me 25 months to write and edit Mr. Darcy’s Letter, which was released in December 2011. In contrast, I started writing my latest release, Mr. Darcy’s Refuge in mid-January of this year, completing it in 7 months.  Why so much faster?  The easy answer is that I started cutting back on my day job early this year, giving me more free time to write, but that doesn’t completely account for it, since I probably spent one-third the hours on it overall as I did on the last book.

The biggest difference was that I could write every day.  When I have to take a break from writing for a week or more, I lose track of the flow of the narrative, and if I want to have good pacing, I have to go back and rework already written text before I start again. Even with detailed notes, I have trouble keeping scenes on track when there’s a large gap in time. It’s much harder to keep characters consistent and I have to do more revisions in order to keep the tone consistent through the book.  Interestingly, when I look back at my books, the ones that are most popular with readers are the ones that I wrote the fastest.

Certainly a book can be written too quickly, without enough care being taken to make it into a quality product, but can it also be written too slowly?  Obviously, in my case, it can be.  But what about Jane Austen?  We have a reasonable amount of information about how long it took her to write her books.  What does it show us?

The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austenm edited by David M. Shapard (2011)Let’s look at Sense & Sensibility, which Jane Austen referred to as her ‘suckling child’ – an interesting metaphor since it implies that she both loved it and felt drained by it.  She had finished the first draft, then entitled Elinor and Marianne, quite quickly, since she read it aloud to her family before she was 20 years old.  She returned to it two years later to do a full revision, changing it from an epistolary novel to a traditional narrative.  Twelve years later she took it out again for yet another full revision, this time changing the name to Sense & Sensibility.  It was published in 1810, fifteen years after she read the first draft to her family.  She had been working on it for her entire adult life.

The Annontated Persuasion, by Jane Austen and David Shapard (2010In contrast, she started Persuasion when she was 39 years old, and wrote it from start to finish, including revisions, in just under a year.  Naturally, she was a more experienced writer at that point, but I also wonder how the speed of her writing affected the book.  I think of Persuasion as a delight – the tone, the themes, the characters, the background, all seem to flow seamlessly together as I read it.  Sense & Sensibility, on the other hand, reminds me in some ways of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’ where there are gaps of style, consistency, or just basic characterization.  I think of it as Jane Austen’s problem novel.  While more polished than Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays,’ the flow of Sense & Sensibility isn’t as smooth as Persuasion, nor are the characters as consistent, and it’s sometimes hard to follow why certain characters care about other characters.  It makes me wonder if Jane Austen also had to struggle with changing vision and loss of flow when the writing of a book spanned so many years.  After all, a character created at age 19 would have to go through a major metamorphosis before meeting the standards of an author at age 34, and it would be almost impossible to erase all the traces of the earlier characterizations.

My writing will never come close to equaling Jane Austen’s, or even make it into the same order of magnitude.  I write light fiction for my own pleasure and that of my readers, and I’m very content producing the literary equivalent of comfort food rather than haute cuisine.  Still, given how much I adore Austen’s writing, it’s very nice to be able to find some potential similarities in our experience as writers!

Thank you for sharing your insights on your writing Abigail. Jane Austen also wrote for her own amusement and that of her family, so you share more than a few similarities.  Best wishes for a great success with Mr. Darcy’s Refuge.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

Author bio:

Abigail Reynolds is a great believer in taking detours. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.

A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, A Pemberley Medley, and Morning Light, and she is currently working on a new Pemberley Variation and the next novel in her Cape Cod series. A lifetime member of JASNA and a founder of the popular AUSTEN AUTHORS group blog, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two teenaged children, and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house. Website: Pemberley Variations; Blog: Austen Authors; Facebook: Abigail Reynolds and at Twitter: @AbigailReynolds

GIVEAWAY OF MR. DARCY’S REFUGE

Enter a chance to win one of two digital copies available of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds by leaving a comment either asking Abigail about writing her Pemberley Variations series, her new novel, or a remark about Jane Austen’s writing style by 11:59 pm PT, Wednesday, September 12, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, September 13, 2012. Digital copies are available to download Internationally. Good luck to all.

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
White Soup Press (2012)
Trade paperback (238) pages
ISBN: 978-0615669755
Kindle: ASIN: B00919X9CW
NOOK: BN ID: 2940015170801

© Abigail Reynolds, Austenprose

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

Dear Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Amanda Grange & Giveaway!

Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange (2012)Please join us today in welcoming author Amanda Grange on the launch of her blog tour of Dear Mr. Darcy, a new retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.

Wait! Didn’t Amanda already write Mr. Darcy’s Diary? Yep, she did, but this novel has a new slant that readers will find enchanting. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available from Amanda’s publisher Berkley Trade.

Welcome Amanda

Hi, Laurel Ann, thanks for inviting me to guest blog. I’m very excited to be here to talk about my latest book, Dear Mr Darcy.

I’m sure people are wondering why I have written another retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and why I have used the epistolary form. The reason is very simple. As some of you will already know, Jane Austen rewrote Pride and Prejudice considerably between 1797, when it was begun, and 1813, when it was published. It was originally called First Impressions and it was probably written in the epistolary style.

I’ve often thought about the early version of Pride and Prejudice and wished we still had it to read. Over the years an urge started growing inside me to recreate it. Of course, my version is only my idea of how it might have been, and I’m not Jane Austen, but the idea gripped me. I thought it would be a fantastic way of providing another way into the story, and another way into Mr Darcy. I decided to start with the death of his father, because his relationship with his father was obviously very influential in turning him into the proud, haughty man of Pride and Prejudice.

Almost the first letter in Dear Mr Darcy is written by Mr Darcy’s father, when he is on his deathbed. He wants to give our Mr Darcy some advice for the future, including these words, which have a lasting effect:

Remember that the woman you favour with your hand will not only be a wife to you, she will also be a sister to Georgiana and the mistress of Pemberley. She will need to command the respect of the servants and the love of your family; she must reflect the greatness of the Darcys; she must be a gracious hostess and a model of feminine virtue; she must be a modest lady and she must be possessed of a refined taste and true decorum. And she must be a woman you can admire, respect and esteem, as well as love.

For advice on matters of this nature I refer you to my brother’s son, your cousin Philip.

Darcy’s cousin, Philip, is my own invention. He proves very useful throughout the book as his character is similar to Darcy’s, he is of the same social level and therefore Darcy feels he can confide in him.

The following extract is from one of Mr Darcy’s letters to Philip later in the book, written from Rosings, when he is tempted, against his will, to propose to Elizabeth – who is definitely not the sort of woman his father advised him to marry!

It would degrade me to marry her. I would be laughed at by all my friends, jeered at by my enemies and pitied by all. I could never possibly marry her. And yet – and yet I cannot keep away from her. The lightness of her spirits, her humour, her arch smile, her teasing, her eyes – oh! Philip, her eyes! which sparkle when she teases me and show she knows her power over me – all these things drive me to distraction.

I can tell no one but you. You know my character, you know how proud and disdainful I am, but against my better judgement I have been enraptured by her. It is out of the question for me to marry her; out of the question to make her my mistress.

I would leave if I could, but if I go now it will look particular and that is something I very much want to avoid. I do not know what to do.

Your beleaguered cousin,

Darcy

*******

Mr Philip Darcy to Mr Darcy

London, April 22

Darcy, leave at once. Make some excuse and go today, this minute, never mind if it looks particular, it will soon be forgotten. Do not linger another moment. This kind of fever is virulent and the only thing that can control it is a prolonged absence from its source. Have your valet pack your things and meet me in London straight away. If you stay you will regret it.

Philip

 *******

Mr Darcy to Mr Philip Darcy

Rosings Park, April 23

Dear Philip, you are too late. I have proposed.

This is just a sample of the letters, but Dear Mr Darcy is full of them! Letters from Elizabeth to her friend Susan (my own invention) as she talks about Mr Darcy’s arrival at Netherfield and her subsequent frustrating yet stimulating meetings with him; Caroline Bingley’s scheming as she persuades Charles to introduce her to his eligible friend Mr Darcy; Mary’s moralising and more. But at the heart of the book are the letters to and from Mr Darcy as he manages his estate, cares for his sister and fights a losing battle against his love for Elizabeth Bennet.

I love all my books, but every once in a while, I feel that one of them is extra special. I felt it when writing Mr Darcy’s Diary and I felt it when writing Dear Mr Darcy. I hope readers agree.

Author Bio:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst  the Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Grand Giveaway of Dear Mr. Darcy

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange by leaving a comment revealing what intrigues you about reading Mr. Darcy’s personal correspondence by 11:59 pm Pacific time, Wednesday, August 15th, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, August 16th, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Amanda Grange
Berkley Trade (2012)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0425247815

© 2012 Amanda Grange, Austenprose

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

Pride and Pyramids Blog Tour with Authors Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb & Giveaway

Pride and Pyramids, by Amnada Grange and Jacqueline Webb (2012)Please join us today in welcoming authors Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb on their blog tour of Pride and Pyramids, a new Austenesque sequel to Pride and Prejudice that takes Elizabeth, Darcy and their family to Egypt. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available.

Welcome Amanda and Jacqueline…

Amanda: I’d long wanted to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but there were already a lot of sequels available and I didn’t want to repeat the usual story of Elizabeth and Darcy settling down at Pemberley. I didn’t want to write about the Darcys having marital problems either, since I firmly believe they live happily ever after, but a book needs incident in order to make it interesting, which created a dilemma. Then one day I was emailing Jackie, whose first book was set in Egypt, and something clicked, because it reminded me that Egyptology was a huge craze in the Regency era. The wealthy young men of the eighteenth century often extended their Grand Tour of Europe to include Greece, Turkey and Egypt, and interest was heightened in 1799 – when Jane Austen was writing Pride and Prejudice – because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. The Stone was brought to England and it was displayed in the British Museum from 1802 onwards. Interest continued to grow and Belzoni’s account of his adventures in Egypt, in 1815, (which was very useful for our research!) added more fuel to the fire. So it seemed a perfect setting for a sequel which would be new and fresh, but at the same time accurate for the period. I was very excited by the idea and suggested we write it together because Jackie had researched Egypt intensively for her previous book and had all the relevant research books at her fingertips.

Jacqueline: When Amanda suggested we collaborate on a Jane Austen sequel I was delighted. My first book The Scarlet Queen is based in Egypt about a young woman searching for an elusive cache of treasure in the Valley of the Kings, so I had already done a lot of research around this topic. My novel was set in the Edwardian era, about a hundred after Pride and Prejudice, but Egypt had been popular with the Europeans since Georgian times. Elizabeth, Darcy and their growing family were well-off and had enough leisure time to make the journey seem plausible and it was the kind of thing wealthy Europeans would do, although it would have been adventurous. However that aspect fit in well with the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy and allowed us to imagine them in a whole new environment, as well as meeting up with some old faces.

Amanda: Yes, we wanted to include some of the minor characters from Pride and Prejudice in Pride and Pyramids, as well as introducing some new ones.  As the book starts in London, then moves to Pemberley, before heading off to Egypt, we get a chance to catch up with Jane and Bingley. Then Lizzy and Darcy find they see rather more of Mrs Bennet than they intended! They have six lively children by this time, as the book is set fifteen years after their marriage. They’re still recognisably the characters from Pride and Prejudice, but we see them in their role of parents as well as in their interludes as a couple. And, of course, there are tombs and pyramids and an eerie little doll, which causes quite a bit of trouble! It was a lot of fun to write and I hope Pride and Pyramids will be just as much fun to read. It’s Elizabeth and Darcy as you’ve never seen them before!

Author Bios:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst The Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Jacqueline Webb lives on the Wirral, which is near to Liverpool, England, with her husband, two sons, two cats and one dog. She is a teacher of French and English and she has had two historical romances published by Robert Hale – The Scarlet Queen  and Dragonsheart. She has also just had a paranormal romance e-book published by Lyrical Press Sophronia and the Vampire, under the name Jacqueline Farrell. She has always enjoyed writing but didn’t get really serious about it until she was in her early forties. Her sons were very small and she was working part-time and feeling as though she was just rushing from work to babies without any time doing something she enjoyed. So she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and submitted a novel to their New Writers Scheme. Although she didn’t get anywhere with that submission she was given some great advice and wrote another novel which did get published.

Giveaway chance for Pride and Pyramids

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Pride and Pyramids by asking either author about their research and writing experience, or, which of Jane Austen’s original characters from Pride and Prejudice you would like to fall victim to the mummy’s curse by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, July 12, 2012. Print edition shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Ebook edition internationally. Good luck!

Pride and Pyramids, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-1402265358

© 2012 Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb, Austenprose

Austenesque, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

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

Critiques & Analysis, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!

The Jane Austen Guide to Life, by Lori Smith (2012)Happy May Day everyone! Please join us today in welcoming author Lori Smith on the launch of her blog tour in celebration of the publication of The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, released today by Globe Pequot Press. Lori has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second Jane Austen-inspired book and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

I’m thrilled I was able to write The Jane Austen Guide to Life, but I can’t fully take credit for the idea.  A while back, an email unexpectedly popped up from an editor I hadn’t heard from in a while, one I’d always wanted to work with.  She’d been thinking, she said, about a book that would combine a light biography of Jane Austen with practical “life lessons” for the modern reader, drawn from Austen’s life as well as her books.  I thought for about fifteen seconds and concluded, “Yes!  That book should be written!”  And that was the beginning.

As normal as it seems to me to take advice from Austen—I’ve loved her writing for years, even followed her life through England for my last project, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith (2007), —I thought it might seem strange to some.  After all, Austen was a 19th-century spinster.  She wasn’t terribly concerned about fashion, knew nothing about platform heels, and, if she’d had the chance, she very well might have married a first cousin (as was common practice back then).  So what could she possibly teach our modern selves?

In some ways, Austen was more modern than we might think.  She embraced the 21st-century idea of making your dreams a reality.  After all, in her day, a lady should not have written fiction.  Not only was writing un-ladylike, but novels were frivolous and of questionable value.  But Austen had to tell her stories—she had to write—so, acceptable or not, that’s what she did.

In other ways, Austen challenges us, her own good sense in contrast to current cultural extremes.  Many of us strive for our fifteen minutes of fame, while Austen didn’t even want her name to appear on her books.  As a nation, we’re saddled with pervasive credit card debt; Austen lived within a tight and carefully kept budget.  She would encourage us to cherish our true friends rather than focusing on building extensive and ephemeral social networks.  And Jane Austen never had sex—so what would she say about a culture that has a word specifically to describe meaningless sexual encounters.  (Hookup, anyone?) Continue reading “The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!”