Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard Blog Tour with Author Belinda Roberts, and a Giveaway

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Tide and Prejudice, by Belinda Roberts (2011)Please join us today in welcoming Austenesque author Belinda Roberts for the official launch of her book blog tour of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Tide & Prejudice, a new Pride and Prejudice contemporary retelling that was released on June 1, 2011 by Sourcebooks.

Salcombe is a lively, fashionable seaside town on the south west coast of England – the sort of busy place where you turn a corner and whoops!  Excuse me!  Sorry!  After you!  You have had an encounter with a young Mr. Darcy.  They are everywhere, mixed in with young Mr. Bingleys, anxious Mrs. Bennets and shrieking Kittys and Lydias making themselves heard from one end of Fore Street to the other.  So, having spent many happy family holidays ourselves in Salcombe, I suppose it wasn’t so much an inspiration rather, as Mr. Gradgrind in Hard Times would say ‘FACT’ that drew me to write a modern day version of Pride and Prejudice.  Jane Austen’s characters are there, in Salcombe, alive and kicking – or splashing about at any rate!  In my mind the ball gowns of Pride and Prejudice started to be replaced by bikinis, ‘Pemberley’ became a magnificent sixty-two foot yacht, the militia took on the role of lifeguards – it was a book waiting to be written!

What is more, Salcombe has a wonderful Town Regatta each year – a week of events that bring the whole of Salcombe society together.  Assemblies, balls, dances are all there still – but in a slightly different guise.  The famous Netherfield Ball, for instance, could become the equally famous Salcombe Estuary Swim.  At both, society comes together: there is the chance to mingle, to avoid certain people and to search out others – Darcy and Elizabeth could hold their conversation whilst swimming the choppy waters.  The Greasy Pole and Sandcastle Competition, along with the beautiful cliff walks, golden beaches and plenty of opportunities for frolicking about in the sparkling seas offered further wonderful opportunities.  The links seemed perfect and I couldn’t wait to start.

My opportunity came when I went down to Salcombe to accompany my eldest daughter, Sophie, who needed some peace and quiet to write her dissertation on Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.  This was a serious endeavour.  We both sat at the little kitchen table of our terraced house in Island Street Salcombe, set up our beloved MacBooks and started to write.  I was keen that my book should follow Jane Austen’s original chapter for chapter in plot and characterization as best I could.  The combination of reading Pride and Prejudice, translating it into a modern seaside setting and trying to keep quiet was too much and I kept bursting out laughing – which was not helpful to poor Sophie!  The hardest part was ‘modernizing’ Lydia’s disgraceful behavior, which of course, would hardly be noticed these days. I hope I came up with a suitably sensational solution!

Book done, we decided to make a film … you can see a trailer at www.beetleheart.co.uk. which hopefully will give you a taste of the delights of Salcombe and Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard!

About the author:

Belinda Roberts has written twelve plays for children’s theatre which have been performed by groups throughout the world. Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard (previously self-published as Prawn & Prejudice) is her debut novel. She has also worked as a graphic designer and she lives in Cotswold’s in England.

Giveaway of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Tide & Prejudice by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about reading a Pride and Prejudice retelling, or which of Austen’s novels or characters you would like to see Belinda write about next, by midnight PT, Wednesday, June 15, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, June 16, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of  Tide & Prejudice, by Belinda Roberts
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (224) pages
ISBN: 978-1402246937

© 2007 – 2011 Belinda Roberts, Austenprose

Polly Shulman’s ‘Enthusiasm’ for Jane Austen is Infectious!

I had a blast reading Polly Shulman’s novel Enthusiasm, her hommage to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice! It had been released in 2006 and was on my ‘to be read’ list for quite some time until I felt the need for something summerish and light to read. Since it is classified as a young adult novel for grades 7-10, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by a less than sparkling plot and characterizations. My assumptions were so wrong! Totally!

It is quite amazing to think that this is Shulman’s first novel! If you check out her picture on her web site she looks barley old enough to be ‘out’ in society!. Educated at Yale Univeristy as a mathematician, she obviously possesses both left and right brain skills! This writer is pea green with envy and is in total awe of this level of talent in one so young. Like Jane Austen, Shulman is all about language, social observation and characterization. It is easy to see why Austen is one of her favorite authors and how she inspired her writing.

The book’s auspicious opening quote, “There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast” sets the tone of Austen-esque language throughout the novel that is respectful but not mimicy to Austen’s prose. The narrative is told from the perspective of fifteen-year old Julie, whose best friend since grade school is Ashleigh, an ‘enthusiast’. From Harriet the Spy to candy-making to military strategy, Julie never knows what or when the next craze will over-take her friend, but she is certain to be pulled into it. Now, her latest inspiration is also Julie’s passion, Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. However, Ashleigh’s new possession of Regency manners and decorum mortify her conservative friend. Not only do they include speaking in Austenese, but wearing Regency attire to school, learning to country dance like her idols Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, and ultimately, the ardent pursuit of her own true love. Ashleigh’s latest hair-brain scheme is to find their Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley by crashing a boy’s prep school dance!

Knowing Austen’s world through her novels and movie adaptations was helpful, but not a prerequisite to enjoying this delightful novel. By following Julie’s 21st-century hardships, anxieties, mix-ups, and social blunderings we see that they are interchangeable with any 19th-century Regency Miss’ life; — for what young lady of any era does not wish, hope, and dream that a young gentleman will notice her, and return her affections?

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Regency Stars

Enthusiasm, by Polly Shulman
Puffin, New York (2007)
Trade paperback (208) pages
ISBN:  978-0142409350

Additional Reviews

© Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Diary: Interview with Author Maya Slater

Check out this interesting interview with Austen-esque author Maya Slater about her recently released first novel Mr. Darcy’s Diary. 

If you think that the title seems familiar, you are quite right. It is one-in-the-same as author Amanda Grange’s recent release. The difference between the two being that Slater’s version has not yet been published internationally, but is available from Powell Books online and Amazon.uk. My copy arrived about a week ago, and I am about half way through it. I can say, before I give my official review, that Maya Slater has explored the ‘Regency’ man’s perspective, cavorting and all, and my hair is quite a bit curlier because of Mr. Darcy’s escapades. 

Icon of Mr. Darcy\'s DiaryMr. Darcy’s Diary, by Maya Slater
Phoenix, Orion Books, Ltd., London, (2007)
Trade paperback (248) pages
ISBN: 978-0753822661

Me and Mr. Darcy, (not the book …)

Illustration of Mr. Darcy, by Chris Duke, (1980)“And that,” said Mrs. Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures, “is my master — and very like him. It was drawn at the same time as the other — about eight years ago.”  

“I have heard much of your master’s fine person,” said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; “it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.”  

Mrs. Reynolds’s respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master. 

“Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?”  

Elizabeth coloured, and said — “A little.”  

“And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, ma’am?”  

“Yes, very handsome.”

Mrs. Reynolds, Mrs. Gardiner & Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 43 

Darcy Sightings

The sun is shining today in the Pacific Northwest, and consequently I am quite distracted and have bloggers malaise! The temperatures are in low 80’s! I am in raptures to say the least, enjoying one of the 10 – 20 days of clear skies and warm weather that we will receive in a year. If any of you use Google Earth and have looked up your homes from a satellite view, this is a day that those geeks who take the photos jump around like monkeys to get clear pictures to update the database! Real Estate types are also busy today, snapping photos of all of their home listings to plaster on their web sites to trick out-of-towners into thinking this is usual weather in the Pacific Northwest!  I know, I know; —  I am as cynical as Jane Austen’s character Mr. Palmer to be sure! 

Image of Lake Stevens with Mt. Pilchuck in the distance (2008)

My neighborhood in the country turns into another world when the sun shines. Imagine, I actually need my sun glasses to see outside. As I walked to my car to run errands, a swallowtail butterfly fluttered across my path and almost collided with me. He was drunk on the sunshine too! I live quite close to a lake, and the road that I travel to the market skirts the shore past a public beach (so to speak) where boaters can launch their jet skis (argh) and swimmers can brave the cold water. The view to the distant Mt. Pilchuck with its patches of lingering snow is quite lovely, when we can see it. Being the eternal optimist, I bought fudge cicles to stock up for the weekend, and stopped by the beach on my way back and enjoyed one while looking at the view. There were scads of teenagers on the rocky beach sitting on towels and chairs trying to get a one day tan, hip-hop music blasting from a boom box and the roar of jet skis from the water. 

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Jane Austen’s Lydia Bennet: Her Life Credo

Image of a bonnet from Ackermann\'s Repository, (1817)“Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.” Lydia Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 39 

Lydia Bennet is the youngest of the five Bennet sisters being but fifteen, but by her impulsive and unguarded manner she is the most commanding of the lot, and she knows it! Jane Austen gently gives clues to the reader to the impending peril she imposes on her family through her willful actions. My first impression of Lydia was that she was a time bomb of misery and dissipation just ticking away. 

As the novel progresses, her actions become more outrageous to the detriment of the family reputation when she elopes, and then does not marry. After her patched up marriage to George Wickham, she returns to her family home at Longborne and receives mixed reactions from her family. Totally oblivious to what all the fuss is about, she saw no fault in her behavior. This passage from chapter 51 is a great clue to the nature of her feelings on her actions. 

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Austenesque Author Rebecca Ann Collins Continued Thoughts on Sequels

Image of the cove of The Women of Pemberley, by Rebbeca Ann Collins, Sourcebooks, (2008)Sourcebooks has recently released the second novel in The Pemberley Chronicles series entitled The Women of Pemberley  by author Rebecca Ann Collins. This is the first North American printing of this novel which had been previously released in Australia in 1998, and is part of a ten book sequel series of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice

The Women of Pemberley  continues the story of Pride and Prejudice’s children of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy and Jane and Charles Bingley and other familiar characters. The narrative is told in five chapters, each focused on five young women; Emma, Emily, Cassandra, Isabella and Josie and progresses through several years of their lives. Many of the same themes favored by Jane Austen such as courtship and marriage are present, but Ms. Collins’ pen is much broader, taking the characters and plots outside the realm of “three or four families in a country village” and introduces social, political and historical context to the plot. With The Women of Pemberley, we have entered the Victorian era, and witness the great change and industrial progress in England through the lives of her characters. 

Recently, Austenprose received correspondence from author Rebecca Ann Collins in response to our post in April regarding her comments on Austen sequels in the book Jane Austen: Antipodean Views.  She was both amused and intrigued by our comments and the strong reaction by readers, and wanted to elaborate and clarify her views further. 

In the spirit of fair game, and the fact that most true Janeites want their share of the conversation, we are including her comments for the edification and enjoyment of our readers. 

Rebecca Ann Collins writes – 

Having read your exceedingly diverting comments and the variety of opinions of your correspondents on the subject of Jane Austen sequels- I was wondering if you will permit me to contribute to the conversation. 

I would like to make a few points.  Continue reading

Apple Blossoms in June? Austen’s Literary Mystery

Image of Jane Austen commanding the apples to bloom

It was a sweet view — sweet to the eye and the mind. English verdure, English culture, English comfort, seen under a sun bright, without being oppressive…It might be safely viewed with all its appendages of prosperity and beauty, its rich pastures, spreading flocks, orchard in blossom, and light column of smoke ascending. Emma, Chapter 42 

An orchard in bloom in June? Did Jane Austen get her seasonal timing wrong? Most fruit trees bloom in May, as my apple-trees in the Pacific Northwest will confirm. This anomaly is unusual, since Austen is so correct with other facts throughout her novels according to scholar R. W. Chapman. Many have questioned this slip-up, including Jane Austen’s brother Edward, who pointed out the discrepancy to her, ‘Jane, I wish you would tell me where you get those apple-trees of yours that come into bloom in July?‘ Well, Edward, it was June but we’re splitting hairs here. 

Image of the cover of Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennet, by John SutherlandThere are two possible explanations; one by a scholar and the other by a meteorologist. In the book Is Heathcliff a Murderer: Great Puzzles in Nineteenth-Century Fiction  (new edition 2002), author John Sutherland questions Austen’s timing in chapter two, Apple blossoms in June?  His creative theory prompted a few polite objections from leading authorities; Dr. Claire Lamont and Deirdre le Faye, which are included in the next volume in the series, Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennet?: Further Puzzles in Classic Fiction (1999). They pretty much shoot holes in his theory. You can read the discussion here and draw your own conclusions, but honestly, I was so relieved to discover that a meteorologist Euan Nisbet of the Royal Holloway College in London was a Janeite, and has closely studied Jane Austen’s astute observance of accurate weather in her novels and wrote this enlightening articleContinue reading