Remember the Past…only as it gives you pleasure, by Maria Grace – A Review

Remember the Past by Maria Grace 2014 x 200From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:

Complete re-imaginings of Jane Austen’s novels are always interesting fan-fiction works to read. There are essentially no rules or paths that the characters must follow. One of my favorites has been Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise. I enjoy how creative some authors get in the trials and tribulations they make their characters endure. With that being said, I was excited to read a new re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice entitled Remember the Past by Maria Grace. With how much I enjoyed Grace’s Given Good Principles series, I knew I was in for a treat.

The Bennet family thought they had everything one would need for a successful season in London. Elizabeth’s father, Admiral Thomas Bennet, has just retired from the navy with a sizable income, and his friends in high places should provide them with enough social standing to make the challenges of entry into London’s high society a non-event. Not all goes as planned, however, when a disaster forces them to flee from the riches of London to the mundane existence of Derbyshire. How can they ever survive such an abysmal area with no one of interest around?

Enter Fitzwilliam Darcy, a widower who finds all of his time devoted to taking care of his two sons. He despises the intrusion that the Bennet family has forced upon his life, and his sons’ insistence on going to meet the Bennet twins makes his aggravation rise to new heights. That is,  until he meets Elizabeth, who seems to hold a certain spell on his consciousness. His efforts to help and assist the Bennet family go horribly awry at first, and Darcy finds himself in a deeper hole than when he began to make their acquaintance. Will he be able to see himself out of this mess? Continue reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Elizabeth & Darcy: The Iconic Romantic Couple

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Jane Odiwe from Jane Austen Sequels blog and author of Lydia Bennet’s Story and Willoughby’s Return who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Austen’s memorable characterizations of her hero and heroine, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Watch for Jane’s new Pride and Prejudice sequel Mr. Darcy’s Secret* to be released in February 2011 by Sourcebooks.

Thank you Laurel Ann for asking me to guest blog today!

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are perhaps Jane Austen’s most beloved characters. Pride and Prejudice was written more than two hundred years ago, yet these characters remain as fresh and irresistibly fascinating to us as they were for the first generations that read their tale, and remain the standard by which all other characters in a love story are judged.

So, why do we love them so much? Jane Austen tells their story through Elizabeth’s eyes so it’s easy to identify with this heroine who is lively, witty, and loveable as much for her faults as for her charms. We identify with her because we feel she is like us. She is capable of making mistakes, but having realised her errors, she changes and grows as a result. We see her character develop as the story enfolds.

The first time we really meet Elizabeth it is at the Meryton Assembly where the proud Mr Darcy is also in attendance with his affable friend Mr Bingley. There is a lack of gentlemen at the ball, and Lizzy has to sit out for two dances. Mr Darcy is seen to be behaving in a particularly disagreeable manner. He only dances with Mr Bingley’s sisters and ignores everyone else in the room. Everyone has heard that he is a rich landowner, but his wealth and power coupled with his anti-social manners only serve to make him appear arrogant. He doesn’t seem to care that his words may be overheard or that his speech is insulting. In fact, he is almost goading Elizabeth whom he has heard described as a pretty girl. He actually makes sure that Lizzy is looking at him before he speaks. It’s almost as if he wants her to hear, and make her aware that he can attract, and have any woman in the room.

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”

It’s a real put down, and as an unsurprising consequence, she dislikes him instantly!

Continue reading at Jane Austen Sequels

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 22   July 24   Swag winners announced

*Mr. Darcy’s Secret, by Jane Odiwe: After capturing the heart of one of the richest man in England, Elizabeth Darcy believes her happiness is complete until mysterious affairs involving Mr Darcy’s past, and concerns over his sister Georgiana’s own troubled path to happiness present Elizabeth with fresh challenges to test her integrity, honour, and sweet nature as she fights her old fears and feelings of pride and prejudice. However, nothing can daunt our sparkling and witty heroine or dim her sense of fun as Elizabeth and the powerful, compelling figure of Mr Darcy take centre stage in this romantic tale set against the dramatic backdrops of Regency Derbyshire and the Lakes amongst the characters we love so well. (beautiful watercolor illustration of Darcy and Lizzy above is by ©Jane Odiwe as well!)

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

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

Austen’s Oeuvre

Pride and Prejudice (Fine Edition), Jane Austen

How many editions of Pride and Prejudice do YOU own? I won’t even begin to give you a hint as to how many are in my library. I’d be embarrassed to tell you. A dear friend recently gifted me another new hardcover edition by White’s Books out of London released in the UK exactly a year ago sporting an incredibly intriguing cover design by Kazuko Nomoto. It is even more stunning in person as the design actually wraps around the spine and continues on the back. I was so impressed I listed as one of my top ten favorite Pride and Prejudice covers to date. But what’s inside you ask? More decorative end papers, colored page tops, marker ribbon, elegant typeface, a text based on the first edition with minor emendations (R.W. Chapman or Kathryn Sutherland?) and thick, acid-free paper. Unique to the fine editions series is an “unusual text setting method rarely seen in the last hundred years. Each right-hand page sports what is known as a ‘catchword’: a hanging word that provides the opening of the following page. This aids the flow of reading, especially when using a larger, heavy page with a slow turning rate.” (Hmm? Not sure I buy into that last bit.) Weighing in at a hefty one pound nine ounces, this is not the edition you want to buy if you have carpal-tunnel syndrome, but it is the most distinctive edition available to enjoy prominently displayed on your bookshelf.  White’s Books, London. Hardcover, (416) pages. ISBN: 978-0955881862

Emma (Fine Edition), by Jane Austen, foreword by Andrew Lycett

Also in White’s Fine Editions series is this new hardcover edition of Emma with a foreword by Andrew Lycett and cover illustration by Amy Gibson. This cover does not give me goose bumps like the P&P edition does, mostly because it is too generic and offers no visual connection to the novel that I can think of. If anyone can help me out here, please have your say. I guess I am a book cover traditionalist. It should relate and enhance its content. Anyway, it is part of the set and will sit nicely with P&P and the other classics by the Bronte’s, Stevenson and Dickens offered by White’s Books. Publisher’s description: Emma, the comic and sharply observed story of young Emma Woodhouse’s education in life, is regarded by many as Jane Austen’s most perfect novel. Introduced to the reader as “handsome, clever, and rich,” Emma Woodhouse is also a spoiled, meddling matchmaker—Austen’s most flawed, and possibly most endearing heroine. Her fourth published novel, and the last to appear before her death, this lively comedy of manners is the work of an incisive writer at the height of her powers. Jane Austen is a renowned Regency novelist. Her other works include Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Andrew Lycett is the author of Dylan Thomas: A New Life, Ian Fleming, and The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes. White’s Books, London. Hardcover, (384) pages. ISBN: 978-0955881886

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

Northanger Alibi: The Austen Diaries, by Jenni James

A new author on the Austen sequelsphere is Jenni James, whose debut novel to be published in her new Austen Diaries series will be Northanger Alibi. Combining Austen’s early nineteenth-century Gothic parody Northanger Abbey with a modern vampire twist a la Stephenie Myers’ Twilight series, it  should raise a few eyebrows and our spirits just in time for summer light reading fare. The premise sounds like great fun, but as a professional bookseller I wish the cover was more appealing to the young adult (and young adult at heart) crowd that it is targeting. Publisher’s description: This modern Gothic remake of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, with a nod to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, will leave you in stitches. Seattle Washington, and the Russo family, are no match for Claire Hart and her savvy knowledge of all things vampire-related. Thanks to her obsession with the Twilight series – if there is anyone who would know a vampire when she saw one, it’s Claire. She’s positive that the totally hot Tony Russo is a vampire, and she just has to prove it! Follow Claire’s hilarious journey on her first summer adventure away from home, where she learns that everything isn’t what it seems, and in some instances, reality is way better than anything she’d ever find in a book. Valor Publishing Group. Hardcover, (310) pages. ISBN: 978-1935546153

A Woman of Influence: The acclaimed Pride and Prejudice sequel series, by Rebecca Collins

The ninth book in Ms. Collins’ Pemberley Chronicles series takes us well into Victorian-era England of 1868 continuing the story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice characters with Collins’ new tribe of children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins filling out the bill-o-fare. The further that Collins has progressed into the nineteenth-century, her writing style and the logic of this series has grown on me. Like a cherry on top of the cake, the cover design is one of the most stunning of the season. Publisher’s description: Acclaimed author Rebecca Ann Collins once again turns to the rich tapestry of Pride and Prejudice, moving the beloved characters forward and introducing new characters into a complex social history of an evolving period in English history. Contrary, opinionated, and headstrong, Becky Collins – daughter of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins – has always defied her staid upbringing with a determination not to submit to the pressures of Victorian domesticity and class distinction. She marries Anthony Tate, a man of wealth and power, believing it will enhance her opportunities to make something significant of a hitherto ordinary life, but quickly discovers that it brings her neither happiness nor contentment. Becky’s story is a glimpse behind the scenes of the complicated struggles that often lay behind the seemingly calm exterior of Victorian womanhood. Sourcebooks Landmark. Trade paperback, (336) pages. ISBN: 978-1402224515

Ransome’s Crossing (Ransome Trilogy), by Kaye Dacus

Last summer I read Ransome’s Honor, the first book in this series and was smitten. I am such a sucker for a Royal Navy man in a blue uniform a la Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen’s Persuasion or C.S. Forester’s Captain Horatio Hornblower that I am totally ready to nail my colours to the mast for this one. Publisher’s description: Set in the early 1800s, this captivating, romantic second book of the Ransome Trilogy from author Kaye Dacus unfolds with the grace, power, and excitement of an ocean storm. Charlotte Ransome, desperate to reach Jamaica to see her secret fiancé, disguises herself as a midshipman for a convoy led by her brother, Captain William Ransome. Meanwhile, William and his new bride, Julia, face the rough swells of the sea and of marriage as they try to adjust to life together. When yellow fever befalls Charlotte and her identity is discovered, she begs first officer, Ned Cochran, and Julia to keep her presence and illness from her brother. But could this secret create insurmountable waves between Julia and William? And will Ned’s tender care of Charlotte change the tide of her affections forever? This smart, engaging tale is about holding on to faith during the journey to love and be loved. Harvest House Publishers. Trade paperback, (336) pages. ISBN: 978-0736927543

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

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

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

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

Writing Jane Austen: A Novel, by Elizabeth Aston 

After five popular Pride and Prejudice sequels set in Regency times, Elizabeth Aston is branching out with a new Austenesque theme by placing her heroine in contemporary times penning a completion to one of Jane Austen’s unfinished novels. Smart move. Let’s hope she can satisfy her legion of fans with this break from tradition. Publisher’s description: Georgina Jackson’s first novel was a “searingly grim read”–critically acclaimed and award-winning, though it was hardly a bestseller. Struggling to get past the first chapter of her second book which is almost past its deadline, Georgina panics when she gets a vague but urgent-sounding email from her agent: “RING ME.” She’s certain it’s bad news. So when Livia tells her about a potentially profitable commission, Georgina is shocked. Even more surprising, however, the commission isn’t for her next book, but rather for the completion of a newly discovered unfinished manuscript of a major nineteenth century author! Skeptical at first about her ability to do the job, she is horrified to learn that the major author is in fact Jane Austen. Torn between pushing through somehow and fleeing back to America, Georgina relies on the support of her financier-turned-scientist roommate, Henry, and his quirky teenage sister, Maud, a serious Janeite who has just escaped the rigidity and enforced structure of boarding school. When she suddenly finds herself in a financial crisis, the only way for Georgina to get by is to sign the contracts and finish the book. But how can she overcome her big secret–that she has actually never read Jane Austen! Filled with the humor, misunderstandings, rich characterizations and romance of Aston’s previous novels, Writing Jane Austen is destined to rocket Aston right into the 21st century! 

Trade paperback, Touchstone, ISBN: 978-1416587873, ISBN: 978-1441859907 (audio) 

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview 

In her first Pride and Prejudice sequel The Other Mr. Darcy, Monica Fairview introduced American Robert Darcy who accomplished the impossible and won Caroline Bingley’s heart. Now his two younger siblings Frederick and Clarissa join him in England for a family gathering at Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s grand estate. Not only do they manage to ruffle the decorum of British propriety, but influence their complacent cousins Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy to think beyond the confines of their staid lives and strive for their own happiness.  Will the Shades of Rosings be thus polluted? Publishers description: A young lady in disgrace should at least strive to behave with decorum…Dispatched from America to England under a cloud of scandal, Mr. Darcy’s incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning! And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin, to the delight of a neighboring gentleman. Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her “keeper” Mrs. Jenkinson, simply…vanishes. But the trouble really starts when Clarissa and Georgiana both set out to win the heart of the same young man…  Austenprose’s review 

Trade paperback, Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402237003 

Murder at Mansfield Park, by Lynn Shepherd 

Get ready for another retelling of an Austen novel. This time it is Mansfield Park with a creative slant.

Everyone says Austen’s heroine Fanny Price was a goody-two-shoes and Mary Crawford an unprincipled schemer, well, Lynn Shepherd has cleverly turned the tables on both of Austen’s protagonist and antagonist in this Mansfield Park pastiche laced with intrigue and murder. All those Fanny bashers will like the outcome of her character in this new novel that appears not to be a mash-up (thank goodness), but an Austen inspired murder mystery. Publisher’s description: In this ingenious new twist on Mansfield Park, the famously meek Fanny Price–whom Jane Austen’s own mother called “insipid”–has been utterly transformed; she is now a rich heiress who is spoiled, condescending, and generally hated throughout the county. Mary Crawford, on the other hand, is now as good as Fanny is bad, and suffers great indignities at the hands of her vindictive neighbor. It’s only after Fanny is murdered on the grounds of Mansfield Park that Mary comes into her own, teaming-up with a thief-taker from London to solve the crime. Featuring genuine Austen characters–the same characters, and the same episodes, but each with a new twist—Murder at Mansfield Park is a brilliantly entertaining novel that offers Jane Austen fans an engaging new heroine and story to read again and again. 

Trade paperback, Beautiful Books, ISBN: 978-1905636792 (UK edition) 

Longbourn’s Unexpected Matchmaker, by Emma Hox 

This new novel by self published author Emma Hox is a ‘what if’ retelling of Pride and Prejudice extricating Mr. Bennet out of his library and away from his books and transforming him into a matchmaker for couples in Austen’s original novel. Emma is a local author here in Washington, and I wish her success. Publisher’s description: Longbourn’s Unexpected Matchmaker puts a spin on Pride and Prejudice that no one would ever expect as Colonel Fitzwilliam attends Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy to Netherfield, Elizabeth Bennet is witty enough to detect the motives of Mr. Darcy’s long time enemy Lieutenant Wickham and Georgiana Darcy is bold enough to defy her brother and cousin and comes to Meryton in the midst of a storm. Not to mention Caroline Bingley, Lieutenant Wickham and Lady Catherine are all working against our hero and heroine ever finding their own happily ever after. 

Trade paperback, Rhemalda Publishing, ISBN: 978-0615328850 

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler 

Now in paperback – and just in time for that spring break reading fling is a laugh-out-loud story that was my number one choice of Austenesque novels of 2009. Publisher’s description: In Laurie Viera Rigler’s first novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, twenty­first-century Austen fan Courtney Stone found herself in Regency England occupying the body of one Jane Mansfield- with comic and romantic consequences. Now, in Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, Jane Mansfield awakens in the urban madness of twenty-first-century L.A.-in Courtney’s body. With no knowledge of Courtney’s life, let alone her world-with its horseless carriages and shiny glass box in which tiny figures act out her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice, Jane is over her head. Especially when she falls for a handsome young gentleman. Can a girl from Regency England make sense of a world in which kissing and flirting and even the sexual act raise no matrimonial expectations? Austenprose’s review

Trade paperback, Plume, ISBN: 978-0452296169 

Venetia, by Georgette Heyer, read by Richard Armitage 

Last August when Naxos AudioBooks released a new recording of Georgette Heyer’s novel Sylvester read by British heartthrob Richard Armitage half of the world swooned. Now the fangirls will need to pick themselves up off the floor and do it again. Nuff said! Publisher’s description: The 2009 Naxos AudioBooks recording of Sylvester met with resounding approval and clamours for more Georgette Heyer audiobooks. Here is Venetia, a clear favourite from among Heyer’s novels. In her trademark buoyant and exuberant style, Heyer tells the story of an unconventional romance, which is full of riveting dialogue and loveable, very human characters. Quick-witted, self-assured, funny and beautiful, Venetia is one of Georgette Heyer’s most popular heroines. When the dashing Lord Demerel intrudes upon a quiet provincial community in the North of England, news of his scandalous past soon sets tongues wagging. In spite her of sheltered upbringing, though, Venetia is singularly unfazed by the rakish Demerel, and proves to be more than a match for him. Austenprose’ review

Audio CD, Abridged, Naxos AudioBooks, ISBN: 978-1843793793 

Austen’s Oeuvre 

Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, read by Frances Barber 

The dark horse of Austen’s oeuvre, critics of Mansfield Park claim that the heroine Fanny Price is an unappealing prig and the hero Edmund Bertram weak and dull. Ack! Being a contrarian I personally love Mansfield Park, not because some do not, but because Austen gave us an intricate tale revealing the depths of human strengths and weaknesses:  prudence vs. dissipation, virtue vs. vice, and good vs. evil and filled it with the most amazing array of characters of all of her novels. Fanny Price might be the antithesis of Elizabeth Bennet and Edmund Bertram no dishy Mr. Darcy, but Henry and Mary Crawford are Beelzebub’s evil spawn and that is fascinating reading. The debate may continue on the merits and imperfections of Austen’s third published novel, but one thing is certain, an audiobook recording adds levity and theatrics to even the dullest fare. Publisher’s description: Mansfield Park, the idyllic Bertram family estate, becomes home to a poor young relative, Fanny. In this wealthy world of social accomplishments and flirtations, the sensible Fanny finds herself out of place, yet secretly in love with her cousin, Edmund. Jane Austen employs her unerring wit to brilliantly capture the social and moral values of an English society at a time of great upheaval. 

Audio CD, Unabridged, BBC Audiobooks America, ISBN: 978-1602838017 

Nonfiction 

Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, by Claire Harman, read by Wanda McCaddon 

This is an audio recording of Claire Harman’s popular take on Jane Austen’s rise from eighteenth-century clergyman’s daughter to twenty-first-century pop icon. Publisher’s description: Mention Jane Austen and you’ll likely incite a slew of fervent opinions from anyone within earshot. Regarded as a brilliant social satirist by scholars, Austen also enjoys the sort of popular affection usually reserved for girl-next-door movie stars, leading to the paradox of an academically revered author who has served as the inspiration for chick lit (The Jane Austen Book Club) and modern blockbusters (Becoming Jane). Almost two hundred years after her death, Austen remains a hot topic, and the current flare in the cultural zeitgeist echoes the continuous revival of her works, from the time of original publication through the twentieth century. In Jane’s Fame, Claire Harman gives us the complete biography—of both the author and her lasting cultural influence—making this essential reading for anyone interested in Austen’s life, works, and remarkably potent fame. Austenprose’s review

Audio CD, Unabridged, Tantor, ISBN: 978-1400116935

Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770-1840: Virtue and Virtuosity (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism), by Gillen D’Arcy Wood 

Jane Austen’s love of music fills her novels through her characters; Mary Crawford with her harp and Anne Elliot, Marianne Dashwood and Jane Fairfax with their pianofortes. Music is an essential part of a young ladies education in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and one of the major sources of entertaiment for all ages. This new book from the Cambridge Studies in Romanticism is a scholarly look at the effect that music had on Romantic authors writing about their time. Publisher’s description: Music was central to everyday life and expression in late Georgian Britain, and this is the first interdisciplinary study of its impact on Romantic literature. Focusing on the public fascination with virtuoso performance, Gillen D’Arcy Wood documents a struggle between sober ‘literary’ virtue and luxurious, effeminate virtuosity that staged deep anxieties over class, cosmopolitanism, machine technology, and the professionalization of culture. A remarkable synthesis of cultural history and literary criticism, this book opens new perspectives on key Romantic authors – including Burney, Wordsworth, Austen and Byron – and their relationship to definitive debates in late Georgian culture. 

Hardcover, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521117333 

Austen’s Contemporaries & Beyond 

Cousin Phillis and Other Stories (Oxford World’s Classics), by Elizabeth Gaskell, introduction by Heather Glen 

Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell’s detailed characterizations and witty style can be deemed part of Austen’s literary legacy; the next generation taking up the reigns and developing the novel in a new direction with a larger canvas and grittier social fare. This compilation of her novella’s and short stories is intriguing to me because I have enjoyed her longer novels North and South and Wives and Daughters and would like to read more of her works. Publisher’s description: Elizabeth Gaskell has long been one of the most popular of Victorian novelists, yet in her lifetime her shorter fictions were equally well loved, and they are among the most accomplished examples of the genre. The heart of this collection is Gaskell’s novella Cousin Phillis, a lyrical masterpiece that depicts a vanishing way of life and a girl’s disappointment in love: deceptively simple, its undercurrent of feeling leaves an indelible impression. The other five stories in this selection range from a quietly original tale of urban poverty and a fallen woman to an historical tale in which echoes of the French Revolution, the bleakness of winter in Westmorland, and a tragic secret are brought vividly to life. Heather Glen’s illuminating introduction is the first to offer extended consideration of Gaskell as a writer of short stories, discussing Gaskell’s pre-eminent role in developing the genre and setting each story in the context of their original periodical publication. The volume includes a chronology, bibliography, and invaluable notes. 

Trade paperback, Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0199239498

Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry’s Greatest Generation, by Daisy Hay 

Those mad, bad and dangerous to know British poets from the early nineteenth-century make for great reading. What is it about debauchery, depravity and decadence that we can not look away from? This book sounds like a corker. Included is a fragment of a recently rediscovered scathing memoir by Claire Clairmont who had a front row seat to the dissipation and vice in Percy Shelley and Lord Byron’s scandalous lives. Publisher’s description: Young Romantics tells the story of the interlinked lives of the young English Romantic poets from an entirely fresh perspective—celebrating their extreme youth and outsize yearning for friendship as well as their individuality and political radicalism.  The book focuses on the network of writers and readers who gathered around Percy Bysshe Shelley and the campaigning journalist Leigh Hunt. They included Lord Byron, John Keats, and Mary Shelley, as well as a host of fascinating lesser-known figures: Mary Shelley’s stepsister and Byron’s mistress, Claire Clairmont; Hunt’s botanist sister-in-law, Elizabeth Kent; the musician Vincent Novello; the painters Benjamin Haydon and Joseph Severn; and writers such as Charles and Mary Lamb, Thomas Love Peacock, and William Hazlitt. They were characterized by talent, idealism, and youthful ardor, and these qualities shaped and informed their politically oppositional stances—as did their chaotic family arrangements, which often left the young women, despite their talents, facing the consequences of the men’s philosophies. In Young Romantics, Daisy Hay follows the group’s exploits, from its inception in Hunt’s prison cell in 1813 to its disintegration after Shelley’s premature death in 1822. It is an enthralling tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and friendship, all of which were played out against a background of political turbulence and intense literary creativity. 

Hardcover, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN: 978-0374123758

DVD 

Pride & Prejudice 1995 (Restored Edition) 

Yep. Just when you thought that you would have to buy a Blu-ray video player to get better picture quality than previous editions of Pride and Prejudice 1995 on DVD, the good folks at A&E have gone a done it. They have digitally remastered the pinnacle of perfection in Jane Austen adaptations, Pride and Prejudice 1995. Now you can really see the drops of water run down Darcy chest after he takes his plunge into the Pemberley pond. ;-) Distributor’s description: Pride and Prejudice has taken its place as one of the greatest television productions of all time. The landmark adaptation from A&E and the BBC captured the hearts of millions by seamlessly translating the wit, romance, and intelligence of Jane Austen’s classic novel to the screen. With a masterful script, deft direction, and star-making performances from Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, Pride and Prejudice transports viewers to Georgian England, where affairs of the heart are an exquisite game, and marriage the ultimate prize. But Elizabeth Bennet – spirited, independent, and one of five unmarried sisters – is determined to play by her own rules and wed for love, not money or privilege. Will her romantic sparring with the mysterious and arrogant Darcy end in misfortune–or will love’s true nature prevail? Now beautifully remastered for the ultimate in picture and sound quality, relive the timeless classic Pride and Prejudice on 2 DVD’s. 

DVD, A&E Home Video, UPC: 733961206739

Until next month, happy reading! 

Laurel Ann

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By the Seaside with Sanditon: Sanditon Completions

Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel Sanditon ended after 22,000 words and midway into what may have been chapter twelve. Her draft manuscript was a bright beginning introducing us to the seaside town in development as a health resort and a list of over 20 characters. For anyone who has turned to the last page and reached her last lines “Mr. Hollis. poor Mr. Hollis! It was impossible not to feel him hardly used: to obliged to stand back in his own house and see the best place by the fire constantly occupied by Sir Henry Denham.” and not felt a pang of regret that you have read the last of her creative ouput, you are advised to read no further. For those who did, it is sad to reflect that no more would we be delighted by Jane’s Austen’s witty pen. 

I readily admit after finishing the fragment that I was hooked into the story and characters and craved further development and a dénouement. The next best thing to Jane Austen’s actual words are a continuation by another author’s pen. Sanditon, even though it is not as well known as one of her six major novels, has its far share of completions and retellings to choose from. It has the august distinction of being the first sequel or continuation attempted after Jane Austen’s death by her niece, Anna Lefroy. Unfortunately, she did not finish her novel either, but there are others who have. Here is a partial list of novels that are currently available in print with publisher’s descriptions. 

Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Masterpiece Completed, by Jane Austen and Juliette Shapiro 

Had Jane Austen lived to complete Sanditon, it would undoubtedly be as famous and treasured as her other novels. But unfinished at her death, the masterpiece has remained mysterious and overlooked. Now, author Juliette Shapiro has completed Sanditon in a vivid style recognizable to any Austen fan. Here is the story of Charlotte Heywood, who has recently arrived in the town of Sanditon to enjoy the benefits of the ocean air. At first, Charlotte finds amusement enough standing at her ample Venetian window looking over its placid seafront and salubrious ocean, wind-blown linens and sparkling sea. But there is much more to this promising little coastal resort. Before long, Charlotte discovers that scandals abound. To the delight of her eccentric host Mr. Parker, she becomes captivated by the romance of the seaside lifestyle. But is the town of Sanditon truly the haven that Mr. Parker likes to think it is, and will Charlotte Parker find happiness here? 

Ulysses Press, Berkeley, CA (2009)
Trade Paperback (236) pages
ISBN: 978-1569756218 

The Brothers, by Jane Austen and Another Lady (Helen Baker) 

Miss Austen wrote ten chapters of a novel she called The Brothers before illness stilled her pen for ever. Now, her entire draft has been incorporated into the complete story. It is hoped that the resulting romance may satisfy her myriad admirers who have long regretted that such vivid characters were left in suspense. 

Lulu.com (2009)
Trade paperback (272) pages
ASIN: B002AD1WJS 

Cure for All Diseases (Dalziel and Pascoe Series #23), by Reginald Hill 

Some say that Andy Dalziel wasn’t ready for God, others that God wasn’t ready for Dalziel. Either way, despite his recent proximity to a terrorist blast in Death Comes for the Fat Man, the Superintendent remains firmly of this world. And, while Death may be the cure for all diseases, Dalziel is happy to settle for a few weeks’ care under a tender nurse. 

Convalescing in Sandytown, a quiet seaside resort devoted to healing, Dalziel befriends Charlotte Heywood, a fellow newcomer and psychologist, who is researching the benefits of alternative therapy. With much in common, the two soon find themselves in partnership when trouble comes to town. 

Sandytown’s principal landowners have grandiose plans for the resort–none of which they can agree on. One of them has to go, and when one of them does, in spectacularly gruesome fashion, DCI Peter Pascoe is called in to investigate–with Dalziel and Charlotte providing unwelcome support. But Pascoe finds dark forces at work in a place where medicine and holistic remedies are no match for the oldest cure of all. Aka The Price of Butchers Meat (UK edition) 

Harper Collins, New York (2008)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0007252688 

Jane Austen’s Charlotte: Her Fragment of a Last Novel, Completed, by Julia Barrett

Julia Barrett, author of  the Austen continuations The Third Sister and Presumption, has emerged with a literary treasure, holding true to the characters and theme designed by Ms. Austen. Set in the developing seaside town of Sandition, it portrays a young woman from the countryside who is exposed to the sophistication and cynicism of resort life. Her name is Charlotte. With disarming charm and wit, she observes for us the array of quirky characters who reside in the booming resort-to-be. 

Freshly removed from her familiar, provincial environment and exposed to England at the cusp of the nineteenth century, Charlotte encounters the wondrous Parker family, a genteel clan of dreamers and idlers. Others include the feuding Denham siblings; the ailing, yet unconscionably busy Parker sisters; and the wryly observant Emmeline Turner, a lady of literary distinction, who is astonished to fin herself solicited there by those who regard her as a representative of the “better circle of society.” 

The innocent but keen-witted Charlotte quickly finds herself rather deeply involved in this uproarious little town. She can’t help but get swept up in the antics of the Parkers and Denham’s, even while she is vexed and perplexed by the droll young Sidney Parker. But even the best efforts of this charming young lady may not be enough to save the budding resort town. 

Originally named The Brothers by Austen and dubbed Sanditon by her family, this “new” novel promises to bring to life another Austen heroine worthy of keeping company with the likes of Elizabeth, Emma, and Anne. 

M. Evans & Co, New York (2000)
Trade paperback (300) pages
ISBN: 978-0871319715 

Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Last Novel Completed, by Jane Austen and Another Lady (Marie Dobbs aka Anne Telscombe)

Sanditon – an eleven-chapter fragment left at Jane Austen’s death completed with seamless artistry by an Austen aficionado and novelist – is a delightful addition to Austen’s beloved books about England’s upper-crust world and the deception, snobbery, and unexpected romances that animate it. 

When Charlotte Heywood accepts an invitation to visit the newly fashionable seaside resort of Sanditon, she is introduced to a full range of polite society, from the reigning local dowager Lady Denham to her impoverished ward Clara, and from the handsome, feckless Sidney Parker to the amusing, if hypochondrical, sisters. 

A heroine whose clearly-sighted common sense in often at war with romance, Charlotte cannot help observing around her both folly and passion in many guises. But can the levelheaded Charlotte herself resist the attractions of the heart? 

Scribner, New York (Simon & Schuster) (1998)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0684843421 

Not to add undue influence over which continuation you read, but I shall be reading and reviewing Sanditon, by Jane Austen and Another Lady next week. I hope others who participated in this week’s group read of Sanditon will join me. If you do not have a copy on hand you can read the transcribed text at the University of Virginia Library website. 

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 7 Giveaway 

Enter a chance to win one copy of Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Last Novel Completed , by Jane Austen and Another Lady (1998) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by midnight PDT Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winners to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.  

Upcoming event posts 

Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up
Finis

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My Top 20 Favorite Austenesque Books of 2009

Another year – another plethora of Austen inspired sequels, re-tellings, mash-ups and nonfiction fare devoured!

In 2009 we saw zombies invade Pride and Prejudice hungry for more brains and ascending the best seller lists for months, Mr. Darcy go paranormal in a way we could never have imagined before with Mr. Darcy Vampyre, and Jane Austen get some payback for everyone else making money off her name for close to 200 years in Jane Bites Back.

In retrospect, here are my top 20 favorite Austenesque books that I read in 2009, a year so diverse in Austen inspired reading adventures that Catherine Morland and Isabella Thorpe would have been delighted. 

Prequel, sequel, re-telling or contemporary inspired: 

  1. Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler
  2. Willoughby’s Return, by Jane Odiwe
  3. The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, by Maya Slater
  4. Jane Austen Ruined my Life, by Beth Pattillo
  5. Mr. Darcy’s Dream, by Elizabeth Aston 

Regency inspired: 

  1. The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer
  2. The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, by Lauren Willig
  3. Ransome’s Honor, by Kaye Dacus

Nonfiction:

  1. Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury, by Rebecca Dickson 
  2. A Truth Universally Acknowledged, edited by Susannah Carson
  3. Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Adams
  4. All Things Austen, by Kristin Olsen 

Paranormal: 

  1. Jane Bites Back, by Michael Thomas Ford
  2. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  3. Mr. Darcy Vampyre, by Amanda Grange 

Debut authors: 

  1. Monica Fairview – The Other Mr. Darcy
  2. Tracy Kiely – Murder at Longbourn
  3. Marilyn Brant – According to Jane
  4. Kathryn L. Nelson – Pemberley Manor
  5. Mandy Hubbard – Prada and Prejudice 

Congrats to all of the author’s for a most entertaining and enjoyable year of reading, and I look forward to more great Austen inpired books in 2010 .

Gentle Readers, I would love to hear which Austenesque books you enjoyed in 2009 and which new author really blew YOUR bonnet off, so please cast your vote. (multiple selections and write in nominations accepted)

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Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for November 2008

Mr. Darcy's Daughter, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2008)The Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Austen inspired books are heading our way in November, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. Next month’s edition of upcoming releases of Austen-esque books will include my selections of Jane Austen inspired holiday gift giving suggestions, so please check back on December 1st.

Mr. Darcy’s Daughter: The Pemberley Chronicles Book 5, by Rebecca Ann Collins. The Pemberley Chronicles continue as author Rebecca Ann Collins carries on the saga of the children of the Darcy’s and the Bingley’s as she focuses on the daughter of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, the charming, beautiful and intelligent Cassandra. It is now 1864 and Cassandra Darcy must step forward and assist her family in the running of Pemberley after her willful brother Julian fails in his responsibilities as heir. “Mr. Darcy’s Daughter is the remarkable story of a strong-minded woman in a man’s world, struggling to balance the competing demands of love and duty as a daughter, wife, mother, and sister.” Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402212208 

The Lost Years of Jane Austen: A Novel, by Barbara Ker Wilson. Even though every reasonable attempt to discover information about the content of this book has been conducted, the Austen book sleuth is still stumped. So we shall call it the mystery Austen book of the month and make a wild guess that it is a reprint of Barbara Ker Wilson’s 1984 novel, Jane in Australia in which Jane travels to Australia in 1803 with her aunt and uncle the Leigh Perrot’s. Sorry if my hunch is off, but if publisher’s wont’ give a description on their web site or answer polite inquires, we are left to the mercy of a good surmise. Ulysses Press, ISBN: 978-1569756928 

Eliza’s Daughter: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, by Joan Aiken. Did anyone catch that steamy opening scene in the Andrew Davies adaptation of Sense and Sensibility last spring on Masterpiece? If so, you might guess the parentage of the heroine Eliza Williams, but since she could not, she has no notion of who her father is or how she is connectioned to the kindly man who is her guardian, Colonel Brandon. Intelligent, creative and free-spirited, Eliza makes her way to London and into some of the fine intellectual and artistic circles with poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge eventually traveling the world, all the while seeking to solve the mystery of her parentage. My only hope is that she takes cousin Margaret Dashwood along on the adventure! Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402212888 

Issues of Class in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: (Social Issues in Literature), edited by Claudia L. Johnson. Jane Austen’s heroine Elizabeth Bennet was a middle class gentleman’s daughter and hero Fitzwilliam Darcy was from the upper-class landed gentry. Ever wonder why only the rumor of their engagement provoked Lady Catherine to say “Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”, and what it all meant? This book will definitely fill in the blanks with its numerous essays from prominent Austen and 18th-century scholars such as John Lauber, Marilyn Butler, Juliet McMaster, Emily Auerbach and Claudia Johnson. Written for high school level students, I am quite certain that older Janeites will find these insightful essays worthy of further study also. Greenhaven Press, ISBN: 978-0737742589 

Bloom’s How to Write about Jane Austen, by Catherine J. Kordich. The title of this one says it all, but here is my flip rhetorical question of the day. Since Jane Austen’s writing style is revered and worshiped by thousands (if not millions) including this blog mistress, who the heck would not want to know why her writing is so brilliant and be able to write about it??? Who indeed? I must confess that I could benefit from this book and hope to have a copy in hand shortly. Designed to help students (and blog mistresses) develop their analytical writing skills and critical comprehension, I know a few Austen friends who will smile at the title and snap it up in a heartbeat. Chelsea House (Facts on File, Inc.), 978-0791097434 

Life in the Country:  with quotations by Jane Austen and silhouettes by her Nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. Edited by Freydis Jane Welland and Eileen Sutherland, contributions by Maggie Lane and Joan Klingel Ray, afterword by Joan Austen-Leigh, designed by Robert R. Reid. Wow! The contributors to this book play out like the royal pedigree of Janedom! If you didn’t catch the connections, then I advise you to read the dust jacket flap. Suffice it to say, this is Jane Austen royalty rolling out the red carpet for our edification and enjoyment. The silhouettes are stunning, add to that well chosen Jane Austen quotes, a foreword from the editor, a family biography and an afterword by one of the creators of JASNA, and it does not get any better! Seek this one out and buy it. It is a gem. British Library, ISBN: 978-0712349857 

Until next month, happy reading to all! 

Laurel Ann

Austen-esque Books in the Queue for October

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

Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury, Rebecca Dickson If any readers are familiar with the popular Dragonolgy or Wizardology children’s books that feature an illustrated and inter-active insider’s guide, then you will understand the concept of Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury, by Rebecca Dickson. Truly a treasure trove of Austenanina, this new illustrated edition takes you inside the author’s world with an insightful narrative of her life, – and a plethora of Regency-era art work containing removable reproductions of many important documents, including a handwritten letter from Jane to her sister Cassandra, pages from the rough draft of Persuasion, and a quirky “History of England ” written by Jane as a schoolgirl and illustrated by her sister. A great gift item for a special Janeite, or yourself! Metro Books  

Jane Austen in the Garden, by Kim Wilson and Celia Simpson. In this highly anticipated garden and photo essay, the reader will be awed and amazed by the beautiful gardens that touched Jane Austen’s world and how nature influenced her writing. Jones Books 

Pemberley by the Sea: A Modern Love Story, Pride and Prejudice Style is another offering from prolific Austen-esque author Abigail Reynolds. In this modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice a modern day Elizabeth Bennet, Cassie Boulton a marine biologist meets her Mr. Darcy, Calder Westing an heir to political dynasty and sparks fly. Sourcebooks Landmark 

Lydia Bennet’s Story: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Odiwe. First published last year in the UK to much acclaim, and I am happy that it is being given a wider audience through international publication by Sourcebooks. Author Jane Odiwe’s charming tale from the untamed and vulnerable little sister of Pride and Prejudice should be an eye popper, if Lydia is true to form. 

Mansfield Park Revisited: A Jane Austen Entertainment, by Joan Aiken. Author and Austen scholar Joan Aiken’s legacy continues in this re-issue of her 1985 novel centered around Jane Austen’s most complex and intriguing novel Mansfield Park. In this sequel, Edmund and Fanny Bertram travel to his father’s estate in Antigua and it’s Fanny’s sister Susan’s turn to attend to their aunt Lady Bertram, and romance. Sourcebooks Landmark 

The Ladies of Longbourn: The Pemberley Chronicles Book 4, by Rebecca Ann Collins. The historical saga continues for the children and grandchildren of the Darcy’s and the Bingley’s as the Victorian era advances through the 19th-century. This continuation of the story revolves around Anne-Marie Bradshaw, a young widow and the granddaughter of Jane and Charles Bingley who is residing at Longbourn, the original home of the Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice. Rounding out the ladies of Longbourn are her step-mother Anna and Charlotte Collins, the widow of the odious Rev. Mr. Collins who together find strength, companionship and friendship through adversity. Sourcebooks Landmark 

The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen: Quotes From Her Novels, Letters, and Diaries, by Jane Austen & Dominique Enright (Compiler) A reissue of a very worthy edition first published in the UK in 2002 by Michael O’Mara Books, and in 2005 by Barnes & Noble. This book is so good that everybody wants to publish it! Kudos to complior/editior Dominique Enright for selecting great quotes and being published, again! (Or should I be complementing Jane Austen?) Ulysses Press 

Two Guys Read Jane Austen, Steve Chandler & Terrence Hill. This I gotta see! I just love the concept of two guys explaining Jane Austen to us. I am sure it will be insightful and a rib tickler to boot. Watch for my review in November. Robert Reed Publishers 

Until next month, happy reading to all! 

Laurel Ann

Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for September 2008

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

First up is the third book in the Pemberley Chronicles series by Rebecca Ann Collins, entitled Netherfield Park Revisited. 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. Check out my previous posts on Book 1 & Book 2 of the Pemberley Chronicles, and hold on to your bonnets, cuz there are still seven more books in this series to go! 

Speaking of the Bingley’s, how often is the best friend of the hero in a novel given a promotion to co-star in the sequel? Scratches head! Not sure if there is an example except in Marsha Altman’s new book, The Darcys & the Bingleys: Pride and Prejudice Continues. Ms. Altman recently shared with me that she adored Charles Bingley when she originally read Pride and Prejudice in high school, thinking that he was the main character for quite some time until Darcy gave Elizabeth the Huntsford letter. Now Altman has her chance to give Bingley his due as the story continues with his friendship with Darcy and the two special sisters that they married, Jane and Elizabeth. You can read two recent contributions by Marsha Altman on Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen in Vermont blogs. She has a wonderful way of telling a story, and I know that you are really going to enjoy watching Caroline Bingley evolve, er well, try to evolve into a sympathetic character! 

Next up, and one I have been dying to get my mits on for ages is the re-print of Pemberley Shades: A Lightly Gothic Tale of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, by Dorothy A. Bonavia-Hunt. Originally published in 1949, it is the second sequel to Pride and Prejudice ever written and has a surprising Gothic subtext that intrigued me from early descriptions of the book. Original editions of this novel command exorbitant prices from antique books dealers, so I am very happy that Sourcebooks has re-issued this novel for us non-millionaire types who can now experience a story that was the precursor to a genre. 

If you like sexy re-tellings of Austen novels with a twist, Impulse and Initiative: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds might be your cup of tea. It asks the compelling question, “What if Mr. Darcy…instead of disappearing from Elizabeth Bennet’s life after she refuses his offer of marriage, follows her back to her home at Longbourn and endeavors to change her mind. What if…their passion anticipates their wedding? I’ll let that simmer for a while until I write my review, but Reynold’s is a prolific and incredibly popular Austen-esque writer whose Pemberley Variations series has a very loyal and devoted fan base, so it is well worth a try. 

Cassandra and Jane, A Jane Austen Novel, by Jill Pitkeathley has an intriguing premise. Why was it necessary for Cassandra Austen to burn her sisters letters after Jane Austen tragically died at age 41? Well, older sister Cassandra explains it all for us as she shares many of their stories and remembrances of their life together as beloved sisters and BFFL. As Cassandra reminisces, we see Jane Austen as only Cassandra would know, share in their romantic aspirations and disappointments, understand their frustrations on the financial dependence of their relations, and rejoice in her early success as a writer. Author Jill Pitkeathley skillfully interweaves fact and fiction into an interesting and believable story that Austen purists might balk at, but Janeites will adore. 

Happy reading to all.

Further reading