Giveaway Winners Announced for The Dashwood Sisters Tell All

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo (2011)26 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three signed copies of The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo. The winners drawn at random are:

  • jennythelibrarian, who left a comment on April 7
  • Jennifer W., who left a comment on April 7
  • Marcie, who left a comment on April 9

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by April 20th, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and to author Beth Pattillo for her great replies to my interview questions!

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Chatting with Beth Pattillo: Author of The Dashwood Sisters Tell All

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo (2011)Please welcome Austenesque author Beth Pattillo today to chat about her new novel.

LAN: Welcome Beth. Congratulations on the launch of The Dashwood Sisters Tell All on April 1st. Following Jane Austen Ruined My Life (2009) and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart (2010), this is the third novel in your “Formidables Series,” inspired by the fictitious secret society of guardians of Jane Austen’s lost letters, manuscripts and diaries. I love this concept, especially since your heroines get to go on an adventure of Austen history and self-discovery. How were inspired to write this new novel, and what did you learn while writing it?

BP: For a long time, I have wanted to write about Jane’s sister, Cassandra, who in my fictional world founded the Formidables. I knew that the book would need to be about sisters.  In my first book, I used the imagined existence of Jane Austen’s lost letters.  In the second book, it was a fictional early version of Pride and Prejudice.  For this book, I decided the next logical step would be diaries, and The Dashwood Sisters Tell All focuses on Cassandra’s diary.  I don’t have a sister, but I’ve heard enough tales of sisters reading each other’s diaries to know that the premise had a lot of potential!

LAN: Many elements in The Dashwood Sisters Tell All parallel Jane Austen’s own novel, Sense and Sensibility. Could you share some of your research into the characters and how they are similar and different from your own?

BP: I used some basic elements of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood to bring my own characters to life. In my novel, Ellen and Mimi’s mother is a huge fan of S&S, so it’s a bit hard to say how much of the similarity between the pairs of sisters is nature and how much is nurture! The idea of the bond – and the struggle – between sisters also carried over into thinking about Jane and Cassandra themselves.  In part, I wanted to show that whether sisters were fictional or real, modern or historical, their relationships carried some common themes.

The differences came in the distance between my characters. Jane and Cassandra Austen were always very close, as were Elinor and Marianne in the novel.  My sisters are estranged at the beginning of the book and have a much further emotional distance to travel before they can come to appreciate one another and their relationship.

LAN: Your two heroines Ellen and Mimi Dodge travel to England and embark on a walking tour of Hampshire. To write about their adventure accurately, I understand that you had to do some hands on research by walking in Jane Austen’s footsteps yourself! Having not had that pleasure, I am very curious about your experience. Were your expectations met, and what was your favorite place that you visited?

BP: I spent a wonderful week in Hampshire on a walking tour of Jane Austen Country with a marvelous company called The Wayfarers.  We had a group of ten participants, a fabulous tour leader, and a whirlwind of a tour manager.  Walking in Jane Austen’s footsteps (sometimes literally!) helped give me a wonderful sense of place, which I hope comes across in the book. We visited the usual sites – the church at Steventon, the Jane Austen House Museum, Chawton House Library, Winchester Cathedral – but we also spent long hours tramping across the fields and through the woods where Jane herself would have walked.  In my book, Ellen and Mimi take almost exactly the same journey that I did. It’s hard to pick a favorite place, but staying at Oakley Hall was a highlight. This beautiful country home is now a hotel and conference center and is said to be the model for Mansfield Park.

LAN: John Willoughby is one of Austen’s bad boys. Many have different opinions as to what degree he is a creature of his times: driven by his family expectations or by his own greed. Your parallel character Ethan Blakemore is a hunk and a half that Mimi is immediately attracted to, but the reader is wary of. What message do you think Austen was trying to reveal in her characterization of Willoughby, and how did you make his dilemma relevant to 21st century readers?

BP: I love the contrast between Willoughby and Colonel Brandon, and I tried to mirror that with Mimi’s dilemma in choosing between Ethan and Tom. The romantic appeal of the bad boy is universal, but I think Austen was telling us that time will eventually show the true nature of a man. That was certainly true in Sense and Sensibility and it’s true in my book as well.

LAN: It is no surprise from my previous reviews of your Formidables novels that you are one of my favorite Austenesque authors writing contemporary fiction today. After enjoying three engaging stories, I am of course very curious about what is next in your writing career. Will we see more in the Formidables Series, and can you share any news about other projects you have in the queue?

BP: My editor would like to know the answer to that question, too! Seriously, after writing so many books in the last few years, I’m taking a little breather to rejuvenate and fill my creative well.  I don’t think I’m done with the Formidables, because readers are asking for a sequel to Jane Austen Ruined My Life, but that’s still in the brewing stage. I’m also ready for a little change of pace, so I’m working on something new that’s not Austen-inspired but I think it’s something that Austen fans will love.  My devotion to Jane, I have to say, remains constant and abiding!

LAN: Now for a bit of fun. If you could be introduced to any of Jane Austen’s colorful heroes or villains, who would it be, and what penetrating question would you ask them?

BP: Oh, dear.  That’s a difficult one. I’d probably want to meet Willoughby because I’d like to know more about how he came to be such a rake and a rogue.  I also think he has the potential for redemption because unlike a hardened scoundrel, he did come to acknowledge his wrongdoing and feel true remorse.  Hm. Maybe I have another Austen-inspired book in me somewhere after all…..

Thanks for joining us Beth, Best of luck on your next book.

Author Beth PattilloAuthor Bio:

Beth Pattillo is the author of ten novels, including The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart and Jane Austen Ruined My Life. She is also known for her popular Sweetgum series about a knitting book club in small-town Tennessee. In 2006, Beth was awarded the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance from the Romance Writers of America for her novel Heavens to Betsy.

A graduate of Trinity University, San Antonio and the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University, Beth is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She served churches in Tennessee and Missouri before founding FAITH LEADER, a nonprofit spiritual leadership development program.

Beth makes her home in Tennessee with her husband and two children. She enjoys reading, knitting, travel, college basketball, and her DVR.

Giveaway of The Dashwood Sisters Tell All

Enter a chance to win one of three personally inscribed copies by the author of The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about the “Formidables,”  the secret Jane Austen society in Beth’s novels, or which of Austen’s novels you would like to see Beth be inspired by next, by midnight PT, Wednesday, April 13, 2011. Winners announced on Thursday, April 14, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway Winner Announced for The Dashwood Sisters Tell All

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo (2011)37 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one copy of The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo.

The winner drawn at random is Danae who left a comment on March 28th. Congratulations Danae! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and watch for an interview with author Beth Pattillo and another giveaway of her great new book The Dashwood Sisters Tell All.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo – A Review

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo (2011)This is my third selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

Following Jane Austen Ruined My Life (2009) and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart (2010), Austenesque author Beth Pattillo presents the third book in the “Formidables Series,” The Dashwood Sisters Tell All. If you are wondering what “Formidables” are, besides being the thread that binds all three of these modern Jane Austen themed novels together, it is a clever play on Jane’s own stern moniker for herself and her sister Cassandra in their later years, and, the appropriately named secret society of devoted Janeites safekeeping Austen manuscripts and letters thought to have been destroyed ages ago. Each of the novels involves an American heroine (or in this case heroines) thrown into the investigation of Austen documents held (or wanted) by the society while she is visiting England. They are Jane Austen meets the Da Vinci Code; light-hearted mysteries/Austenalia/romances that have become one of my favorite light, bright and sparkly indulgences to loose myself in with a cup of tea and a little fantasy.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the plot of The Dashwood Sisters Tell All parallels many elements in Austen original story. Any Janeite worthy of their set of The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen will recognize siblings Ellen and Mimi Dodge as Austen’s divergent protagonists Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. These two modern thirty-something Dashwood’s don’t have much in common personality wise, nor do they like each other very much, but to honor their mother’s dying wish they travel to England for a walking tour of Hampshire. Taking the Jane Austen pilgrimage to Steventon Rectory, Chawton Cottage, and the Chawton Great House, their journey concludes at her final resting place, Winchester Cathedral. Along the way they must decide where they want to scatter their mother’s ashes and what to do with a diary she gave them that may have been written by Jane’s sister Cassandra. Each of the sisters reacts differently to the realization that the diary may be authentic and valuable. Shallow and vain Mimi smells money to fund her desire to open a fashion boutique in New York City, and practical and stoic Ellen wants to read, understand and discover if the diary is indeed authentic and if they want to sell it.

Mysteriously, others in the tour group, especially the Jane Austen expert Mrs. Gwendolyn Parrot, seem to know who the sisters are and why they are there, even though they have not shared any of the details with her. Also popping back into Ellen’s life after fifteen years, and into the tour group is Daniel, her college heartthrob and the only man she has ever loved, even though he never knew it. He is now an antiques dealer and Ellen assumes that her mother also sent him on the tour to help her daughters with the diary, and rekindle the unrequited love that Ellen never pursued. On the other hand, Mimi who fails in and out of love as quickly as the changing fashion season immediately hooks up with another enigmatic gentleman on the tour, the hunky Ethan Blakemore, a descendant of Jane Austen who has recently inherited a local estate. Ellen secretly questions why a local would take a walking tour in his own backyard? Mimi doesn’t wonder anything about Ethan, except when he will propose.

As the sisters travel through the countryside following in Austen’s path, they also read the diary revealing secrets in Jane and her sister Cassandra’s relationship that so tested their love and friendship for each other that it nearly tore them apart forever. While Ellen and Mimi have their own Elinor and Marianne Dashwood romantic entanglements and disappointments, they are drawn together when they question if the plot in Sense and Sensibility is based on the author’s real life experiences, and others in their group who are part of the “Formidables” go to great lengths to prevent them from discovering the truth.

Anyone eager for a vacation from the usual Austenesque fare inspired by Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy will appreciate the creative, unique, and intriguing contemporary theme and snap this novel up without a second thought. Pattillo has the clever knack of combining a romantic contemporary tale with historical connections centered around Austen lore. The Dashwood Sisters Tell All nourishes Jane Austen fans senses, and romance readers sensibilities! Come for the Austen travelogue and get lost in the romance and adventure.

P.S. – we are still patiently awaiting the invitation to become a Formidable.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

A Grand Giveaway

Win one copy of The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo by leaving a comment by midnight PT Wednesday, March 30, 2011 stating what intrigues you about this Sense and Sensibility inspired novel or who your favorite character was in Beth’s previous two novels in the series. Winners will be announced on Thursday, March 31, 2011. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only.

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen, by Beth Pattillo
Guideposts (2011)
Trade paperback (288) pages
ISBN: 978-0824948740

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

New Jane Austen Short Story Anthology Announced Today

Hot off the presses is an announcement today in Publishers Weekly of a new Jane Austen short story anthology to be published by Random House in 2011. The collection will include approximately twenty stories inspired by Jane Austen, literature’s witty muse of the modern novel and astute observer of human nature and the heart.

Readers familiar with Austen inspired paraliterature will recognize many popular authors among the list of those contributing and a few surprises from best selling authors who greatly admire Austen’s works. Contributing to the line-up are best selling authors Karen Joy Fowler (Jane Austen Book Club), Stephanie Barron (A Jane Austen Mystery Series), Adriana Trigiani (Brava, Valentine), Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation Series) and the husband and wife writing team of Frank Delaney (Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show) and Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances). Approximately twenty Austenesque authors and others from related genres have already committed to the project including:

Pamela Aidan (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy)

Elizabeth Aston (Mr. Darcy’s Daughters, & Writing Jane Austen)

Stephanie Barron (A Jane Austen Mystery Series, & The White Garden)

Carrie Bebris (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Series)

Diana Birchall (Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, & Mrs. Elton in America)

Frank Delaney (Shannon, Tipperary, & Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show)

Monica Fairview (The Darcy Cousins, & The Other Mr. Darcy)

Karen Joy Fowler (Jane Austen Book Club, & Wits End)

Amanda Grange (Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, & Mr. Darcy’s Diary)

Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, & The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte)

Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances)

Janet Mullany (Bespelling Jane Austen, & Rules of Gentility)

Jane Odiwe (Lydia Bennet’s Story, & Willoughby’s Return)

Beth Pattillo (Jane Austen Ruined My Life, & Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart)

Alexandra Potter (Me & Mr. Darcy, & The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather: A Novel)

Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino Bradway (Lady Vernon & Her Daughter)

Myretta Robens (Pemberley.com , Just Say Yes, & Once Upon a Sofa)

Maya Slater (The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy)

Margaret C. Sullivan (AustenBlog.com, & The Jane Austen Handbook)

Adriana Trigiani (Brava Valentine, Very Valentine, & Lucia, Lucia)

Laurie Viera Rigler (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, & Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict)

Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation Series)

In addition, a short story contest hosted by the venerable The Republic of Pemberley website will be held to fill one slot in the anthology for a new voice in Austenesque fiction. Further details on submission and manuscript deadlines will be posted here and at Pemberley.com.

And if you were wondering how I know so much about the project, I have been secretly working on it for months and will be the editor. I’m the luckiest Janeite in the world!

Cheers, Laurel Ann

© 2007-2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Net: Issue No 10

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.” Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

April 19-25, 2010

Hot News of the Week:

Austenesque author Laurie Viera Rigler’s addiction to Jane Austen has inspired two best selling books: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. Now she can add an original comedy web series on Babelgum.com to her Janeite accolades. Read all about  Sex and the Austen Girl on her blog and tune in next month for the first episode! Congrats Laurie. Brava!

Noteworthy:

Brooding Brontës replace Jane Austen as the bonnet drama remakes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights return to the BBC and Film4 in the UK next season. Jane considered too tame and the Brontës are right for the times!

Interview of Austenesque author Amanda Grange (Mr. Darcy’s Diary, et all) at Dark Angel Review & Writing Blog about her experience getting published for the first time.

The Republic of Pemberley continues its group read of Pride and Prejudice through May 23rd, 2010

Great deal on bargain priced editions of Amanda Grange’s Austen Heroes Series at Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com

Get local with Jane — news from AustenBlog on local Austen events

Julie at Austenonly discusses the new quilt exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and ties in Jane Austen and her famous quilt that reside at Chawton Cottage.

Interview of Skylar Hamilton Burris, Austenesque author of Conviction at Austenesque Reviews

Jane Austen’s World discusses activitist Caroline Norton and a Woman’s Legal Rights in the 19th-century

JASNA members watch for the spring issue of JASNA News in your mailbox this week. News on the Annual General Meeting in Portland in October, a great book review by Diana Birchall of The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet and part three of Jane Goes Digital by Mags of AustenBlog

Entertainment:

Just for fun: video mashup of Iron Man vs. Bridget Jones!

Inside news on the new indie movie Pride and Prejudice (2010) currently being filmed in Colorado at Pride and Prejudice 2005 Blog

Anil Kapoor’s Aisha the new Bollywood modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma starring his daughter Sonam Kapoor in the title role is set for an August 6th, 2010 release in India

Announcements:

Preview of Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine’s May/June 2010 issue

Austenesque author Beth Pattillo’s new book The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Novel with Sense and Sensibility

GirleBooks announces a new print edition of The Sylph, by Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire with foreword by Heather Carrol of  The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Gude to the 18th-century. Join the group read of The Sylph that begins on May 1st.

The paperback edition of Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler goes on sale on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 just in time for summer beach reading.

The restored & remastered DVD edition of Pride and Prejudice 1995 goes on sale on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010. Huzzah! Now we can see the dripping Darcy emerging from the pond with more clarity and finer detail then every before!

Check out the new cover of Bespelling Jane Austen a new Austen inspired paranormal novel featuring four novellas from authors Mary Balogh, Janet Mullany, Susan Krinard, and Colleen Gleason. Very classy!

Book/Movie Reviews:

Until next week, happy Jane sighting

Laurel Ann

Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Net: Issue No 9

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.” Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

April 12th – 18th, 2010

Hot News of the Week:

New author Jenni James of Northanger Alibi, a modern retelling of Northanger Abbey influenced by Twilight, lands the Austenesque book publicity coup of the decade! Wow. This might be a first for Austen on TV.

Noteworthy:

Author and Janeite Catherine Delors features Jane Austen’s juvenilia The History of England and directs us to the original manuscript viewable online at The British Museum website.

The beautiful new hardback editions of Penguin Classics are featured in a Elle Decor article including Jane Austen’s Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Interview of Monica Fairview, author of The Darcy Cousins at Austenprose. Swag contest ends 23 April 2010.

Author Jane Odiwe of Austen Sequels Blog features a preview of the new debut novel First Impressions, by Alexa Adams.

Regency Mourning Fashions in England by Vic Sanborn of Jane Austen’s World is featured in the Suite 101.com online repository of insightful writers and informed readers.

Catherine Morland and Isabella Thorpe’s favorite Gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho that they read together in Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey is highlighted on Jane Greensmith’s blog Reading, Writing, Playing in a great post on The Gothic Novel.

Shameless self promotion here, but Maria Grazia has interviewed moi for her lovely blog Fly High. Leave a comment and enter a chance to win your choice of selected Austenesque books. Ends 25 April, 2010.

Another interview of note is of Vera Nazarian, author of Mansfield Park and Mummies at Jane Austen’s World.

Vote for your favorite Pride and Prejudice book cover from my top ten favorites. As of today, there is a dead tie between White’s Publishings lovely new release showing a graphic rep of Regency dancers from the waist down and the classic cover design by Hugh Thomson for the 1894 peacock edition of P&P.

Deb at Jane Austen in Vermont blog posts info on Soethby’s The English Country House auction results. Oh my. Beautiful Regency-era items, but the prices Lousia!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane invented baseball since she mentioned it in her novel Northanger Abbey. Doubtful? Read further proof in the third installment of posts by Mags at AustenBlog.

Entertainment:

British actor Elliot Cowan (Mr. Darcy in Lost in Austen 2009) opens in The Scottish Play in London next week. Read about the lore and superstition behind the Shakespeare play that we dare not mention.

The Jane Austen Story opened at Winchester Cathedral on 10 April, 2010. Read more about this new exhibit spotlighting Jane Austen’s burial place and life in Hampshire that will run until 20 September 2010.

The Los Angeles Times Book Festival has always been a lively affair and this year one of the guest speakers is author/editor Susannah Carson of the Austen anthology A Truth Universally Acknowledged that we reviewed and enjoyed. Jane Austen Today has a featured article on the the LA  festival which makes me homesick for outdoor book fairs that I frequented while I lived in California. *sigh*

New Austenesque Book Announcements:

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly — 16 Sep 2010

Book Reviews:

Until next week, happy Jane sighting.

Laurel Ann

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Winners announced in the Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart giveaway

The response to this giveaway was quite amazing. 110 of you obviously can’t wait to read Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart and Jane Austen Ruined My Life. What a compliment to author Beth Pattillo. Here are the winners drawn at random: 

Winners of one copy of Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, by Beth Pattillo: 

Dizzy Girl, Melanie, Bella, Katie H., Bloggin BB, SeaStar 

Winners of the two book set of Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart and Jane Austen Ruined my Life: 

Shelly & Lori (Psychotic State) 

Congratulations to all of the winners. To claim your prize, please e-mail me at austenprose at verizon dot net by midnight PST on February 14th, 2010. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only. 

Happy reading!

*The I Love Mr. Darcy Tote Bag is by Create Your Own I Heart Shirts at CafePress.

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Chatting with Beth Pattillo, author of Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart – and a Giveaway

Jane Austen is known for her finely drawn and memorable characterizations. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice is undoubtedly her most famous hero, easily filling the literary romantic icon mantle. Our fascination with his haughty, arrogant noble mien has inspired many authors, screenwriters and even composers to try recreate that magic combination of enigmatic characteristics that Austen so skillfully introduced. The latest Austen inspired novel to feature a Mr. Darcy-like doppelganger is Beth Pattillo’s Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart. It follows a similar format to her previous novel Jane Austen Ruined My Life (2009) which was one of my Top 20 Favorite Austenesque Books of 2009. Set in contemporary times, young heroine Claire Prescott is at a crossroads in her life, travels to England, meets a handsome, haughty and wealthy young man and is thrown into the path of the ‘Formidables’, a secret sect of Janeites harboring Jane Austen letters, manuscripts and her reputation. Beth has kindly offered to chat with us today about her new book and her affinity to one of her favorite authors. 

Welcome Beth, thanks for joining us: 

When did you first discover Jane Austen and did she influence your reading choices and writing career? 

I first discovered Jane Austen my junior year in college.  I was lucky enough to do a semester abroad at Westfield College, University of London.  It was a bitterly cold winter and I spent a lot of hours curled up beneath my down duvet, radiator blazing, reading those inexpensive Penguin Classic paperbacks.  I started with Pride and Prejudice and worked my way through the rest by the time spring arrived. 

I love the Regency period and have read lots and lots of research books, so I feel as if it’s a time period I know well.  I started out writing Regency romance, spent some time with Southern women’s fiction and mystery, and then, after a trip to London, started to wonder about Austen’s lost letters.  That’s when the idea for Jane Austen Ruined My Life was born.  The new book, Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, seemed the logical next step.  If I could fantasize about Austen’s lost letters, how much more fun would it be to play a game of “What If” with regards to the original draft of Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen is known for her astute observations of human nature and lively characterizations. Which heroes, heroines, rogues and flirts do you admire and or abhor in Austen’s novels and what do you think makes them so memorable? 

I love all her heroines, with the possible exception of Fanny in Mansfield Park.  I think Elizabeth Bennet is memorable for her wit and complexity.  The Dashwood sisters in Sense and Sensibility set up a great ‘debate’ about just how much romanticism is too much romanticism.  I have to say, I’m much more an Elinor than a Marianne.  Anne Elliot may be my favorite heroine because she takes all the indignities her family foists upon her with good grace – plus, she triumphs magnificently in the end.  I also love Emma.  I know she rubs some people the wrong way, but I think her heart is in the right place.

 As to the heroes, I’m particularly fond of Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, and Captain Wentworth.  The first has to tame his own ego, the second has to persevere to gain his heart’s desire, and the third one has to learn how to forgive.  They all win our hearts because they prove themselves worthy of their heroines. 

As to the rogues and flirts, I have to say I enjoy them all.  Austen has such a keen eye for describing human nature.  All her characters remind me of people whom I’ve met in my life. 

In Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, one of the main characters is James Beaufort, a wealthy and arrogant young man whose personality and social position are similar to Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy. Could you share your research process for the character and elaborate on the dynamics between him and your heroine Claire Prescott.  

I wanted to explore what would happen if Claire did indeed meet her own version of Mr. Darcy.  I think that’s a pretty common fantasy among women today!  I tried to give James enough of the Darcy elements to make him intriguing without making him a carbon copy.  And he had to be tied in to the mystery of the manuscript Claire finds, so I set him up as part of an old publishing family.  I think the central Darcy question is whether, in real life, the average woman could trust him, whether his wealth and privilege would keep him from engaging in a relationship of equals.  That’s the journey Claire has to take. 

The novel is set at Oxford University and your descriptions of the campus and town are vivid and intriguing. Jane Austen’s father, two brothers and uncle attended Oxford and I loved how you tided the family connection into the novel. Did you travel to Oxford for research or are you an armchair admirer of some of the most beautiful eighteenth-century architecture in the world? 

I was lucky enough to spend a week at Christ Church, Oxford several years ago as part of a program called The Oxford Experience.  (I highly recommend it.)  I very much enjoyed reliving in my mind the wonderful places that I experienced firsthand.  I do worry that I didn’t get all the details just right, since it’s been several years since I was there.  I spent the week I was there doing a writing course with a wonderful instructor, meeting some fascinating people, sweltering in the heat (just as Claire does in the book), and sitting for hours in the Masters Garden.  The character of Harriet Dalrymple was inspired (but not based on) a woman that I actually met along the Kings Walk on my first day. 

After your success with Jane Austen Ruined My Life, you could have gone in any writing direction but chose another Austen inspired theme. I loved how you tie the two novels together with the ‘Formidables’ a group of Janeites protecting Jane Austen’s long, and thought to be lost letters and manuscripts. Where did the inspiration of this theme come from and do you plan to continue it in your next novel? 

I’m not sure where the idea for the Formidables came from, other than that I’m always playing the “What If” game in my mind.  What if Cassandra Austen didn’t destroy her sister’s letters, as instructed?  Where would they be?  Who would have them?  And why wouldn’t they have been made public?  

I chose the name “Formidables” because that’s how Jane and Cassandra Austen referred to themselves as the strong-but-loving maiden aunts in the family.  I hope to write someday about how the group was formed and more about their function. 

My next novel from Guideposts will be The Truth About Jane Eyre (Winter 2011).  I’m switching to the Brontes for this one and it’s a nice change of pace.  I don’t think I’m done with Jane Austen quite yet, though, but it’s too soon to spill any beans. 

If you could plan a tea with Jane Austen, who else would you include in your soiree? 

If I could have tea with Jane Austen, I wouldn’t invite anyone else, because I wouldn’t want to share her!  I’d be terrified and ecstatic all at once.  I’d love to know what she would make of our fascination with/adoration of her work.  And I wouldn’t mind finding out a little more about how some of her famous couples spent the rest of their lives! 

Thanks for chatting with us today Beth. I too would want Jane Austen all to myself if she came to tea. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart will be released on February 1st, 2010. I highly recommend it.

GIVEAWAY CONTEST

UPDATE Feb 08: The giveaway contest has now concluded and the winners will be announced today.

UPDATE Feb 04: Because the outstanding response by readers to this giveaway, the publisher has kindly offered to double the number of books being offered to 6 copies of Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart and two sets of MDBMH and Jane Austen Ruined My Life. Huzzah!

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart and one set combined with Jane Austen Ruined My Life by leaving a comment before midnight PT Sunday February 7th, 2010 stating who is your favorite Mr. Darcy in an Austen inspired book or movie. Winners will be announced on Monday, February 8th, 2010. Shipping to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

UPDATE 02/08/10: The contest has concluded. The winner was announced. Follow this link to discover if it was YOU!

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart: A Novel, by Beth Pattillo
Guideposts Books (2010)
Trade paperback (272) pages
ISBN: 978-0824947934

Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo – A Review

Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo (2009)American college professor Emma Grant always does the right thing and expects the same from others. She acquired her expectations from her minister father and her favorite author Jane Austen, who both taught her to believe in the happily-ever-after. Life was turning out as planned until she unexpectedly discovers her husband’s affair with her teaching assistant who in turn falsely accuses her of plagiarizing another author’s work. An academic scandal ensues prompting an investigation and removal from her prestigious teaching position, denunciation by academia, and an ugly divorce leaving poor Emma at a turning point in her life. She had always believed in the possibility of finding her Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley and settling down to martial bliss. How could Jane Austen have ruined her life?

Without a job, husband, reputation or money, she packs up and off to London on the invitation of an elderly woman Mrs. Parrot who claims to have a stash of undocumented letters written by Jane Austen. If this woman’s claims are true, they might be the famous missing letters that Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra inherited after her death in 1817 and supposedly burned deeming them to personal for public view. If authenticated, they represented the ultimate Holy Grail of Austenalia and the ticket to Emma’s academic and personal happiness. The enigmatic Mrs. Parrot is not quite ready to just hand them over to anyone, even if they have been summoned to her house. Emma must prove her worthiness to Mrs. Parrot, one of the ‘Formidables’, a secret society of devoted Janeites named after Jane’s own moniker of herself and sister Cassandra in their later years. Mrs. Parrot sends Emma on a series of Austen related tasks/tests to prove she’s up to snuff visiting Steventon, Chawton, Bath and other Austen haunts. Along the way she encounters many coincidences including a reappearance  after ten years of a former boyfriend Adam and a new man Barry who just happens to pop up unexpectedly along her journey all adding to the mystery surrounding the letters and their importance.

Jane Austen Ruined My Life is an intriguing and quick read that succeeds on so many levels by blending accurate biographical and historical information about Jane Austen’s life and works (major kudos to Pattillo) with a contemporary adventure romance that at times is reminiscent of The Last Templar where the heroine is thrown into a quest to discover ancient information that will change our current perceptions. Austen enthusiast will appreciate discovering all the Jane Austen lore and references, and romance readers will identify with the modern heroine and her adventure. Anglophiles will enjoy the added benefit of Ms. Pattillo’s past residence and many trips to England as she describes familiar haunts in London and Jane Austen travel destinations with aplomb. My one quibble is that Emma’s romantic decision could have ended differently. Obliviously, I am not as evolved as the heroine yet, and expect my Jane Austen happily-ever-after!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo
Guideposts, New York (2009)
Trade paperback (264) pages
ISBN: 978-0824947712

© 2009 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for February 2009

A Novel, by Elizabeth Ashton (2009)The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Austen inspired books are heading our way in February, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. 

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

Mr. Darcy’s Dream: A Novel. Elizabeth Aston continues with her sixth novel of the entertaining exploits of the Darcy family post Pride and Prejudice. (publishers description) This time out Mr. Darcy’s young niece Phoebe is shattered by an unhappy romance, and retreats to Pemberley and is joined by kind-hearted cousin Louisa Bingley, unmarried after three London seasons. Once the young ladies are situated in the house, several handsome strangers also arrive — all hopeful of winning the girls’ hearts. As preparations for the ball which Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are to give at Pemberley gain momentum, mischief and love triangles abound, making life as difficult as possible for anyone connected with the Darcy family. Touchstone. ISBN: 978-1416547266. Early review by Christina Boyd  at Amazon

Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Patillo (2009)Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo. Not a sequel, but a contemporary adventure comedy inspired by Jane Austen’s life. (publishers description) English professor Emma Grant is denied tenure in the wake of a personal scandal and left penniless by the ensuing divorce. Emma packs up what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England on a quest to find the missing letters of Jane Austen. Locating the elusive letters, however, isn’t as straightforward as Emma hoped. The owner of the letters proves coy about her prize possessions, sending Emma on a series of Austen-related tasks that bring her closer and closer to the truth, but the sudden reappearance of Emma’s first love makes everything more complicated. Guideposts Books. ISBN: 978-0824947712. Early review by Vic (Ms. Place) at Jane Austen’s World

Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes, by Regina Jeffers (2009)Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes, by Regina Jeffers. A retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the hero Fitzwilliam Darcy. If you’re thinking that this angle does not sound new, of course you are correct. A quick count at Amazon reveals five books based on the same premise (and I’m sure there are more). It’s intriguing that authors keep trying to top the last effort, so we shall see if she succeeded. (publishers description) Witty and amusing, this novel captures the original style, themes and sardonic humor of Jane Austen’s novel while turning the entire story on its head in a most engaging and entertaining fashion. Darcy’s Passions tells the story of Fitzwilliam Darcy and his obsession with the most impossible woman-Elizabeth Bennet. Ulysses Press. ISBN: 978-1569756997. Reviews of the self published edition from 2008 at Amazon.  

Love, Lies and Lizzie, by Rosie Rushton (2009)Love, Lies and Lizzie (Jane Austen in the 21st Century), by Rosie Rushton. In her fourth in the series of young adult Austen novels, author Rosie Rushton continues retelling Jane Austen’s stories as she takes the famous Pride and Prejudice and reimagines what might have happened if Lizzie Bennet and her sisters had been teenagers in the 21st century. If you enjoyed her previous Austen inspired novels Summer of Secrets, Secrets of Love, Secret Schemes, Daring Dreams, and The Dashwood Sisters Secrets of Love then you should check this one out too. (author quote)  “Find out what the devious George Wickham, the lush Darcy and the ghastly Drew Collins do to wreck the lives of the Bennet sisters – and let me know what you think about my new ending!” Piccadilly Press Ltd, ISBN: 978-1853409790  

The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer (2009)The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer. Not Jane Austen, but darn close. Even thirty five years after her death, no one has come close to matching Heyer’s unique and engaging style at the Regency era comedy/romance. Sourcebooks continues in their quest to republish this worthy author and introduce her to a whole new generation of readers. (publishers description) Horatia Winwood is a plain girl with a stutter. When she rescues her sister from an undesired marriage to the Earl of Rule by proposing to him herself, he is thoroughly impressed by her spirit and enjoys watching her take the ton by storm. When Rule’s archenemy, Sir Robert, tries to kiss Horatia, she spurns his advances, and in the ensuing scuffle loses an heirloom brooch. Horatia’s brother’s hare-brained scheme to recover the brooch fails, and then the Earl himself must step in, challenging Sir Robert in a swordfight that is Heyer at her most stirring. Sourcebooks, Casablanca. ISBN: 978-1402217722. Review by  Geranium Cat’s Bookshelf.

Nonfiction 

Bloom's Modern Critical Views (2009)Bloom’s Jane Austen: Bloom’s Modern Critical Views, by Harold Bloom. The Bloom’s literary volumes have turned into a major resource on author lives and critical reception. I own the sister volume to this second edition, Bloom’s Jane Austen: Bloom’s Classical Critical Views and can attest that they are wonderful resources on opinions of Jane Austen. (publishers description) Putting her in elite company, Harold Bloom suggests Jane Austen will survive with the likes of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. Critical essays offer insight into Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. A part of our Bloom’s Major Novelists series, this volume is designed to present biographical, critical, and bibliographical information on the playwright’s best-known works. This series is edited by Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities, Yale University; Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Professor of English, New York University Graduate School; preeminent literary critic of our time. Titles include detailed plot summaries of the novel, extracts from scholarly critical essays on the novels, a complete bibliography of the writer’s novels, and more. Chelsea House Publications; New edition. ISBN 978-1604133974 

Austen’s Oeuvre 

Northanger Abbey Tantor Unabridged Classics (2009)Northanger Abbey Tantor Unabridged Classics. This unabridged audio book is read by Donada Peters, one of AudioFile magazine’s Golden Voices who has won over a dozen AudioFile Earphones Awards. Also included is a PDF eBook containing the full text.  (publisher’s description) When Catherine is invited to Northanger Abbey, the grand though forbidding ancestral seat of her suitor, Henry Tilney, she finds herself embroiled in a real drama of misapprehension, mistreatment, and mortification, until common sense and humor—and a crucial clarification of Catherine’s financial status—puts all to right. Written in 1798 but not published until after Austen’s death in 1817, Northanger Abbey is characteristically clearheaded and strong, and infinitely subtle in its comedy. Tantor Unabridged Classics. ISBN:  978-1400110780 

Austen’s contemporaries  

Belinda (Oxford World's Classics), Maria Edgeworth (2009)Belinda (Oxford World’s Classics), by Maria Edgeworth. Even though Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth were never formally introduced, Austen admired the author so much that she sent a presentation copy of Emma to her in advance of its publication. Edgeworth did not return the complement saying “there is no story in it.” Belinda was originally published in 1801 and is offered in this nicely introduced and supplemented re-issue by OWP. (publishers description) The lively comedy of this novel in which a young woman comes of age amid the distractions and temptations of London high society belies the challenges it poses to the conventions of courtship, the dependence of women, and the limitations of domesticity. Contending with the perils and the varied cast of characters of the marriage market, Belinda strides resolutely toward independence. Admired by her contemporary, Jane Austen, and later by Thackeray and Turgenev, Edgeworth tackles issues of gender and race in a manner at once comic and thought-provoking. The 1802 text used in this edition also confronts the difficult and fascinating issues of racism and mixed marriage, which Edgeworth toned down in later editions. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0199554683

  • Catch up on previous months of  the Austen book sleuth in the archive. 

Until next month, happy reading! 

Laurel Ann