Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for August 2010

The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in August, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.

Audio

The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer, read by Richard Armitage

In honor of historical romance novelist Georgette Heyer’s birthday this month, I am sure that Jane Austen will not mind if I place one of Heyer’s Regency romance novels first among the great selection of books available this month. If you hadn’t noticed, we are celebrating Heyer in a big way all month here on Austenprose, but this novel in particular of the 34 we will be discussing stands head and shoulders over the rest. Yes, the story is one of Heyer’s best with a strong hero and an endearingly flawed young heroine, but this audio edition really chases away any fit of the blue devils with its velvet-voiced reader, Richard Armitage. This is his third foray into reading Heyer for Naxos Audiobooks, and I cannot think of one actor more qualified to make half of the population of the world swoon. (Publishers description) Horatia Winwood is the youngest and the least attractive of the three Winwood sisters. She also has a stammer. But when the enigmatic and eminently eligible Earl of Rule offers for her oldest sister’s hand – a match that makes financial and social sense, but would break her heart – it is Horatia who takes matters into her own impetuous hands. Can she save her family’s fortune? Or is she courting disaster? Witty, charming, elegant and always delightful, Georgette Heyer – the undisputed Queen of Regency Romance – brings the whole period to life with deft precision and glorious characters. Naxos AudioBooks (2010), Abridged Audio CD, ISBN: 978-1843794417. Listen to a preview.

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired)

Emma and the Vampires, by Wayne Josephson

More vampires in our Austen coming our way. This time, its Austen’s handsome, clever, and rich Emma Woodhouse, with a comfortable home and happy disposition with very little to distress or vex her except her vampire neighbors. (Publishers description) In this hilarious retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, screenwriter Wayne Josephson casts Mr. Knightley as one of the most handsome and noble of the gentlemen village vampires. Blithely unaware of their presence, Emma, who imagines she has a special gift for matchmaking, attempts to arrange the affairs of her social circle with delightfully disastrous results. But when her dear friend Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightley, Emma realizes she’s the one who wants to stay up all night with him. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley has been hiding a secret deep within his unbeating heart-his (literal) undying love for her… A brilliant mash-up of Jane Austen and the undead. Sourcebooks Landmark (2010), Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1402241345. Read the first chapter.

To Conquer Mr. Darcy, Abigail Reynolds

Originally published as Impulse and Initiative by Sourcebooks in 2008, this Pride and Prejudice variation asks “what if” after Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet he didn’t give up, but pursued her from Kent back to Longbourn? I reviewed the original edition if you would like to peruse my humble opinion. (Publishers description) What if…Instead of disappearing from Elizabeth Bennet’s life after she refused his offer of marriage, Mr. Darcy had stayed and tried to change her mind? What if…Lizzy, as she gets to know Darcy, finds him undeniably attractive and her impulses win out over her sense of propriety? What if…Madly in love and mutually on fire, their passion anticipates their wedding? In To Conquer Mr. Darcy, instead of avoiding Elizabeth after his ill-fated marriage proposal, Mr. Darcy follows her back to Hertfordshire to prove to her he is a changed man and worthy of her love. And little by little, Elizabeth begins to find the man she thought she despised, irresistible… Sourcebooks Casablanca (2010), Mass market paperback, ISBN: 978-1402237300. Read the first chapter.

Murder on the Bride’s Side: A Mystery, by Tracy Kiely

 

Last year debut author Tracy Kiely blew my bonnet off with her clever Pride and Prejudice inspired whodunit, Murder at Longbourn. Now her clever, but endearingly insecure sleuth Elizabeth Parker is back with a new mystery to solve that is inspired by Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. (Publishers description) Drawing from the classic Sense and Sensibility, Tracy Kiely continues the adventures of Elizabeth Parker, the likable Austen-quoting sleuth, in this witty and charming series. Elizabeth Parker suspected that fulfilling her duties as maid-of-honor for her best friend, Bridget, was going to be murder. And no sooner is the last grain of rice thrown than she finds herself staring into the dead eyes of Bridget’s Aunt Roni, a woman whose death is almost as universally celebrated as Bridget’s nuptials. The horror only increases when Harry, Bridget’s cousin, becomes the chief suspect. The idea is ludicrous to the family because Harry is one of the kindest, most compassionate people imaginable. To complicate matters, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Peter, appears to be falling for an old flame, a gorgeous wedding planner. Determined to clear Harry of the crime, reign in Bridget’s impulsive brand of sleuthing, and figure out where Peter’s heart lies, Elizabeth sets her mind to work. Minotaur Books (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0312537579.  Read my preview and an excerpt here.

Austen’s Oeuvre

Emma (Blackstone Audio Classic), by Jane Austen, read by Nadia May

Since one can never have too many audio editions of Emma to break the monotony of the work commute,  pop this one into your car CD player and enjoy an unabridged recording of  Austen’s nonsensical girl. (Publishers description) Often considered Jane Austen’s finest work, Emma is the story of a charmingly self-deluded heroine whose injudicious matchmaking schemes often lead to substantial mortification. Emma, ”handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” Her own great fortune has blinded Emma to the true feelings and motivations of others and leads her to some hilarious misjudgments. But it is through her mistakes that Emma finds humility, wisdom, and true love. Told with the shrewd wit and delicate irony which has made Jane Austen a master of the English novel, Emma is a comic masterpiece whose fanciful heroine has gained the affection of generations of readers. Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2010), Unabridged CD, ISBN: 978-1441755360

Nonfiction

The Jane Austen Pocket Bible: The Perfect Gift for a Literary Lover, by Holly Ivins

From the publisher’s description, this appears to be the be-all, end-all of Austen enlightenment. That is a lot of Austenology for this slim 192-page volume. (Publishers description) The perfect gift for a literary lover. Have you ever dreamt of Darcy? Wished for Wentworth? Or even envied the womanly wiles of Emma? Perhaps you want to know a bit more about the author who so accurately describes the ins and outs of courtship, and whose novels have never been out of print since they were first published nearly 200 years ago? If you’re nodding in excitement reading this then the Jane Austen Pocket Bible is one for you. This handy little book guides you through Austen’s beloved novels, explaining Regency manners, the class system, the importance of inheritance, and the delicate matter of landing a husband. Full of fascinating trivia about the world of Austen’s novels this book also contains details of Austen’s life, the writers who inspired her, the country estates which make up the settings for her romantic adventures, and details on the countless film and television adaptations which have been made. With facts on genteel dancing, a plan for an Austen dinner party and words of wisdom from the lady herself, it’s a must-have for every self-confessed Jane fan or those making their first foray into Austen’s carefully crafted world. Pocket Bibles (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1907087097

Austen’s Contemporaries & Beyond

Becoming Queen Victoria: The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain’s Greatest Monarch, by Kate Williams

There are a ton of Victoria biographies on the market, so why do we need another one? Kate Williams is why. If any of you missed her 2006 bio of Emma Hamilton, England’s Mistress, it is well worth a trip to the library or that gift card you have been hoarding from last Christmas. Her next venture into fascinating women from the nineteenth-century is with Queen V. Her slant is the Princess Charlotte tragedy and how it made the Royal family scamper to conceive the next heir to the throne. (Publishers description) In her lauded biography England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, Kate Williams painted a vivid and intimate portrait of Emma Hamilton, the lover of English national hero Lord Horatio Nelson. Now, with the same keen insight and gift for telling detail, Williams provides a gripping account of Queen Victoria’s rise to the throne and her early years in power—as well as the tragic, little-known story of the princess whose demise made it all possible. Writing with a combination of novelistic flair and historical precision, Williams reveals an energetic and vibrant woman in the prime of her life, while chronicling the byzantine machinations behind Victoria’s struggle to occupy the throne—scheming that continued even after the crown was placed on her head. Ballantine Books (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0345461957. Read the first chapter.

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester

Not just your average compendium of Regency-era historical facts and figures, this volume uses Georgette Heyer’s novels as a springboard and ties in social, cultural and political customs and events, explaining it all for you, clearly and concisely. Read my review for full details and insights. (Publishers description) The definitive guide for all fans of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, and the glittering Regency period. Immerse yourself in the resplendent glow of Regency England and the world of Georgette Heyer…From the fascinating slang, the elegant fashions, the precise ways the bon ton ate, drank, danced, and flirted, to the shocking real-life scandals of the day, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World takes you behind the scenes of Heyer’s captivating novels. As much fun to read as Heyer’s own novels, beautifully illustrated, and meticulously researched, Jennifer Kloester’s essential guide brings the world of the Regency to life for Heyer fans and Jane Austen fans alike. Sourcebooks (2010), Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1402241369. Read the first chapter.

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Robinette Kowal

More fun with Jane. (sort of) This Regency-era novel has some similar Austenesque themes: two sisters with divergent personality seek love and happiness, but with Harry Potter magic thrown in the mix. It looks intriguing. Let’s hope the prose is light, bright and sparkly. (Publishers description) The fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written. Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attention of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own. Tor Books, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0765325563. Read the first chapter.

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

Announcing: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Rude Awakening of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler (2009)GREAT NEWS FOR JANEITES EVERYWHERE!

While snooping about on Amazon.com tonight, I had a wonderful surprise when I discovered that the title of Laurie Viera Rigler’s sequel/parallel story to her popular Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict would be Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. I immediately wrote to Laurie who is traveling in Tennessee and confimred my discovery sharing my excitement and enthusiasm for her new novel. Imagine my delight when I found the cover posted on her agent’s web site. Hurrah! Isn’t it beautiful? Here is the blurb from Laurie’s literary agent, Marly Rusoff & Associates, Inc.

RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT by Laurie Viera Rigler
Publisher Dutton, June 2009. The eagerly anticipated sequel/parallel story to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Laurie Viera Rigler’s debut novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, was a hit with fans and critics, and a BookSense and Los Angeles Times bestseller. Its open-to-interpretation ending left readers begging for more-and RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT delivers. While Confessions took twenty-first-century free spirit Courtney Stone into the social confines of Jane Austen’s era, Rude Awakenings tells the parallel story of Jane Mansfield, a gentleman’s daughter from Regency England who inexplicably awakens in Courtney’s overly wired and morally confused L.A. life.

For Jane, the modern world is not wholly disagreeable. Her apartment may be smaller than a dressing closet, but it is fitted up with lights that burn without candles, machines that wash bodies and clothes, and a glossy rectangle in which tiny people perform scenes from her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. Granted, if she wants to travel she may have to drive a formidable metal carriage, but she may do so without a chaperone. And oh, what places she goes! Public assemblies that pulsate with pounding music. Unbound hair and unrestricted clothing. The freedom to say what she wants when she wants-even to men without a proper introduction.

Privacy, independence, even the power to earn her own money. But how is she to fathom her employer’s incomprehensible dictates about “syncing a BlackBerry” and “rolling a call”? How can she navigate a world in which entire publications are devoted to brides but flirting and kissing and even the sexual act itself raise no matrimonial expectations? Even more bewildering are the memories that are not her own. And the friend named Wes, who is as attractive and confusing to Jane as the man who broke her heart back home. It’s enough to make her wonder if she would be better off in her own time, where at least the rules are clear-that is, if returning is even an option.

You can also read a preview of the storyline on Laurie’s web site. I am so excited about this book and can’t wait to read it. Check out Laurie’s first novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.

Congratulations Laurie and best wishes!

Cover image courtesy of Dutton Books © 2009; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2009, Austenprose.com

Austenesque Author Rebecca Ann Collins asks – Why revisit Netherfield Park?

The third book in the Pemberley Chronicles series, Netherfield Park Revisted  by Rebecca Ann Collins has just been released by Soucebooks this month. In this continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the story starts in 1859, Queen Victoria has reigned for twenty-two years, England has undergone an industrial revolution and is one of the most powerful and influential nations to rule the sea and colonize the globe. Once again we are introduced to many of the characters central in the novel Pride and Prejudice, the Darcy’s and Bingley’s and their children. Handsome Jonathan Bingley, son of Charles and Jane Bingley, takes center stage, returning to Netherfield Park whose traditions and history runs strong in his family. In this ongoing historical saga, Ms. Collins continues to delve into themes that Jane Austen never approached in her secluded early 19th-century world of three or four families in a country village, but these expansions of plot and characters seem only natural as they parallel the progress of England’s social, economical and industrial growth.

Ms. Rebecca Ann Collins joins us today to share her thought on her inspiration for Netherfield Park Revisited, her affinity to Jonathan Bingley and her favorite book in the ten novel series.

When, on page one of Pride and Prejudice – Mrs Bennet announces, “My dear Mr Bennet, have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”, we are in no doubt that the story has begun, for it is with her machinations to catch the amiable and eligible tenant – Mr Bingley for her loveliest daughter Jane, that Mrs Bennet is obsessed from that point on.

It affects quite dramatically the lives of the Bennet family at Longbourn and especially those of Jane and her sister Elizabeth. In the end, after an agonising period of indecision on his part, Jane does marry her beloved Bingley and Elizabeth – after even more agony, compounded by both pride and prejudice – is claimed by his enigmatic friend Mr Darcy. At the end of the novel – we are assured that the two couples lived happily ever after; but of course they have moved – far from small town Hertfordshire society – Lizzie to Pemberley  and the Bingley’s to a “a neighbouring county”.

Having followed their progress through the first years of their married lives in the dynamic world of 19th-century England,  and observed their children growing up, I was intrigued by the prospect of a return to Netherfield Park by another, younger Mr Bingley – Jonathan the handsome, likeable son of Jane and Charles. Of course, Jonathan is already married to young Amelia-Jane Collins – as a result of a somewhat hasty romance, which even if he hasn’t yet come to regret, appears likely to cause him some grief in the future – which is what opened up the possibility of a return to Netherfield Park for Jonathan and his family, with consequences for most if not all of them.

Most authors have their favourite characters – Miss Austen’s was Elizabeth Bennet and mine is Cassy Darcy. But Jonathan Bingley always hung around me, prompting me to do more – like a good actor in a minor role, pleading for more lines, or something more exciting to do. So even before The Women of Pemberley was finished, I had started drafting Netherfield Park Revisited, to give Jonathan his run and his very own niche in the Pemberley story.

Having decided that Amelia – Jane was going to be a problem – how then was Jonathan to be unshackled? The story developed its own momentum, almost from page one and as I do not wish to spoil it for future readers – I shall reveal no more of the plot except to say, it took a bit of careful working out. But, once the cast of characters is set, in an authentic environment, where the basic standards of behaviour (and misbehaviour) are well known and they are allowed to act only according to their own disposition, the stories evolve almost organically, without the need for manipulation or contrivance.

Just occasionally, one needs to give the characters a little push, with an unexpected arrival or an accident – to get them moving in a new direction, but that is really all. A good story with a few interesting characters tells itself; which is what happened with Jonathan Bingley and Netherfield Park Revisited. It has turned into one of my favourite episodes in the series.

RAC

September 28, 2008

Further reading

  • Read Austen-esque Author Rebecca Ann Collins Decidedly Discusses Sequels
  • Read Austen-esque Author Rebecca Ann Collins Continued Thoughts on Sequels
  • Review of Netherfield Park Revisited  by My Reading Spot
  • Reviews of Netherfield Park Revisted at Amazon.com