Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress – A Review

Jane Austen Made Me Do It , edited by Laurel Ann Nattress 2011Guest review by Christina Boyd

“It is only a novel… or, in short, some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”  Northanger Abbey, Volume 1, Chapter 5

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, Original Stories Inspired by Literature‘s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart is a collection of twenty-two original Jane Austen-inspired stories including contributions from best-selling authors Pamela Aidan, Stephanie Barron, Carrie Bebris, Laurie Viera Rigler and Lauren Willig.  Editor Laurel Ann Nattress, and blog mistress of Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, has assembled her dream team of authors and for this anthology asking them to “stay within the theme of exploring Austen’s philosophies of life and love by reacquainting readers with characters from her novels or introducing original stories inspired by her ideals.  From historical to contemporary to young-adult fiction to paranormal, five of the major novels and Austen’s life are featured in this anthology,” p. xiv.  In addition, one story by a previously unpublished author, Brenna Aubrey, was picked as Grand Prize winner via a contest hosted by the Austen fan site Pemberley.com.  With such a significant range in this compilation, surely one would agree, “One cannot have too large a party.  A large party secures its own amusement.”  Emma, Volume 3, Chapter 6

On my first reading of this anthology, I must admit that I singled out my favorite authors first.  Yes, yes. I realize out of order was not how the editor intended it to be read, but, “One man’s way may be as good as anothers, but we all like our own best.”  Persuasion, Volume 2, Chapter 1.  So of course, for me, I began with “Jane & the Gentleman Rogue,” by Stephanie Barron. What can I say? You had me with the title. Anything that has more of the Gentleman Rogue must be 5 stars. This was a terrific “fragment of a Jane Austen Mystery” chocked full of treason and breathless intrigue, that Barron surely knocked out of the park!

Another stand out was “Letters to Lydia” by Maya Slater.  In the spirit of Jane Austen’s much studied remaining correspondence, these are letters from Pride and Prejudice’s minor character Maria Lucas, the younger sister of Mrs. William Collins, nee Miss Charlotte Lucas to Elizabeth Bennet’s youngest and wildest sister, Lydia Bennet. Loved, loved, loved how I could truly hear Maria’s voice as she recounts a supposed secret Love Affair and tryst between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet– and how she unwittingly “helped them along.” (Bonus points for Mr. Collins’ lisp!)

“Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss,” by Jo Beverley was a definite favorite. Flowing with Austen-like brilliance, this tale about a genteel, but impoverished, widow and her three daughters who have an amiable, rich neighbor who often meet was CHARMING from beginning to end.  Anytime there is a clear, happy ending, preferably resulting marriage, I am bound to be enchanted!

I was totally caught unawares by the cleverness in “What Would Austen Do?,” by Jane Rubino & Caitlen Rubino-Bradway.  A contemporary story about a teenage boy who inadvertently signs up for a Country Dance for Beginners class (and not the “Boot, Scoot, Boogie” kind of country dance!) and must learn how to make the most of this summer experience.  Fortunately, his keen wit and willingness to read Austen’s novels helps him  befriend the new girl in town.  Just loved! ALL OF IT! Fantastic– a teenage hero quoting Austen appropriately and with a terrific moral ending?  Even better, the authors biography states that they are currently developing “What Would Austen Do?” into a full length novel!

But, “All Merit you know is comparative,” Catharine.  In such a large collection of works there is bound to be a slight disappointment or two. While reading “Me and Mr. Darcy, Again,” a short extension of the novel, “Me and Mr. Darcy,” by Alexander Potter, I suffered not just a little discomfort with the idea that a now married Mr. Darcy is wandering outside heroine Emily’s hotel at night, staring up at her room, still carrying some sort of torch for her. In the end, Mr. Darcy does act honorably, and even charitably, in bringing about a happy resolution, but its conclusion was rather “vague.” But I liked the story, despite myself.  “A fondness for reading… must be an education in itself.” Mansfield Park, Volume 1, Chapter 2

I was somewhat under-whelmed by Pamela Aidan’s “The Riding Habit” as the now married Mr. Darcy seems to steam roll wife Elizabeth into riding, an activity she somewhat fears and takes no joy in. I also found it strangely odd that the pinnacle riding accident would bring about such a comparison to an upcoming ball and how she can surely expect the support of her loved ones around her.  Indeed?  Don’t get me wrong: Aiden’s writing style, language and cadence is pitch-perfect as ever.  Beautiful even. I simply found the story disjointed from the Darcy and Elizabeth she wrote so well of in her awe-inspiring, tremendously popular trilogy, Fitzwilliam Darcy, GentlemanHowever, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”  Emma, Volume 1, Chapter 9

Still, there are a surfeit of solidly entertaining, easy to love stories.  Syrie James’ highly amusing “Jane Austen’s Nightmare” is just that!  While sleeping, our dear Jane is beset with characters from her novels, all with complaints on how she has represented their person. I particularly delighted in how the dream inspires her to write Persuasion.

One of the stories inspired by Persuasion is Margaret C. Sullivan‘s “Heard of You.”  I found this smart telling of how Admiral Croft and the former Miss Sophia Wentworth met as exciting at sea, as it was in the ballroom; making me sigh in all the right places!

“The Chase” by Carrie Bebris did not disappoint! Her depiction of a riveting and historic sea battle had me on the edge of my seat; truly captivated by this insight of how Jane Austen’s brother Frank became post-captain.

Laurie Viera Rigler offers the wickedly satirical and campy “Intolerable Stupidity” that imagines a courtroom drama where Mr. Darcy sues authors of Pride and Prejudice spin-offs for how they have sketched his character.  Of course, the honorable Lady Catherine de Bourgh presides!

The anthology opens with an introduction by the editor, Laurel Ann Nattress, as she pays deference to Jane Austen as well as the many novels, sub-genre and films Austen has inspired.  Nattress shares how she came to love Austen’s work in the ‘80s and how Austen has since catapulted to “megastar status” by means of “her strongest catalyst: the Internet and a wet shirt.” p. xii.  Also, I took particular delight in the Readers Guide where the 22 contributing authors selected their favorite Austen quote. It was as if taking a stroll down memory lane with a dear friend. Reading groups and book clubs will find the Questions and Topics for Discussion pages beneficial.

The Austen Legacy continues to grow and this collection of wonderful short stories is a brilliant tribute.  Janeites and historical fiction readers alike will inhale this book!  But with a dream team of Austen inspired writers under the deft editing skills of Laurel Ann Nattress, how could this be anything but a grand slam!  “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”  Northanger Abbey, Volume 1, Chapter 14

Authors included: Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books (2011)
Trade paperback (446) pages
ISBN: 978-0345524966

Christina Boyd lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two youngish children and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Bibi.  She studied Fine Art at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Salisbury University in Maryland. Although life has taken her on a merry adventure through a myriad of careers including modeling, flight attending, marketing & sales, owning a paint-it-yourself ceramic studio… she has for the last nine years created and sold her own pottery line from her working studio. Albeit she read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice that sparked her interest in all things Austen.  A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina has read and owns well over 200 Austen inspired novels… and cannot comprehend the neglect of the collection in such days as these.  Visiting Jane Austen’s England remains on her bucket list.

© 2007 – 2011 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for Persuade Me

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer (2011)53 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of Persuade Me, by Juliet Archer. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Luthien who left a comment on September 16, 2011
  • Jenny the Librarian who left a comment on September 16, 2011
  • Stella (Ex Libris) who left a comment on September 16, 2011

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by October 5th, 2011. Shipment worldwide.

Many thanks to Juliet Archer for her great blog on her new novel Persuade Me and to all who left comments. I for one am very curious to meet a modern-day Captain Wentworth.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer – A Review

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer (2011)Guest review by Jeffrey Ward

Author Juliet Archer has undertaken the daunting task of re-writing Jane Austen’s classic novels with a modern and contemporary twist. Her first novel in the series, The Importance of Being Emma (2008), was warmly embraced. Now, Persuade Me is the second offering in her Darcy & Friends series.  Reading Persuade Me was like gazing with admiration at any one of my six grandchildren.  There before me are reminders of some of the best-loved features of my own children but lovingly arranged fresh and new. As I began the 341 page odyssey I thought to myself “What can possibly be so entertaining and compelling about a story that you already know the outcome of?”

First, Archer has wisely chosen to drape her updated story on the framework of what this reviewer considers Miss Austen’s greatest love story.  The faithfulness and accuracy to which she closely marks her contemporary story line to Jane Austen’s original is quite astonishing.

Second, it is my conviction that a reader who perchance has never read any of Jane Austen’s works would consider Persuade Me as a stand-alone story of remarkable strength, humor, emotion, suspense, and depth-of-feeling. It is also a testament to the author’s writing skill that we read greater insights into the character and feelings of the hero which are somewhat absent in the original.

The Author sets the stage with Dr. Rick Wentworth, (Capt Frederick Wentworth) an eminent marine biologist who has been working in Australia for the past ten years and still struggling to forget his first love: Anna Elliot.  He has published a best-selling book on his research and is returning to England for a book-signing tour.  It is inevitable that he once again encounters Anna Elliot who is a lecturer in Russian studies at Bath & Western University. She treats her noble heritage with more contempt than pride because it was the threatened reputation of her titled family that forcibly separated the lovers a decade ago. They finally meet again at Uppercross, the home of Rick’s sister, Sophie Croft.  Rick tries not to remember but cannot help himself….

Her voice – and the years crumbled away … He was jumping over the rocks to be with her and she was saying ‘Careful, Rick.’  She never shouted, never had to; he always heard her, as if his brain was tuned to a special frequency … Other memories intruded.  On the boat, just the two of them.  His voice, strangely hesitant: ‘My grandmother used to say – if you can’t be good, be careful.’  And her laugh, soft and seductive, like her skin against his: ‘Well then, we’d better careful, hadn’t we?’ page 89

Anna Elliot (Anne Elliot) is the middle daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, the eighth Baronet of Kellynch, and her deceased mother, Princess Irina Grigoryevna Petrova, a descendent of the Russian aristocracy.  Her present situation parallels Rick’s in that she is also living in the past with what might have been…

“Somewhere deep down was another Anna, the one she’d been at eighteen during that summer in France.  The one Rick Wentworth had coaxed into being, then left to shrivel and die.  And she hadn’t really looked at another man since.  Oh she’d tried; at Oxford there’d been a few boyfriends, but they simply couldn’t compare.  It was like warming yourself on a radiator when you were used to basking in the sun.  She’d grown accustomed to it now, this quiet longing for another life.” page 34

Juliet Archer honors the legacy of the original novel by respectfully maintaining what I believe to be the original artistic intent of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. ALL the unforgettable content is gloriously revisited in Persuade Me:  The story line with its melancholy mood, sense of longing, and anticipation, the characters, the anecdotes, the locations….EVERYTHING is in there down to the minutest detail!  Revisit Kellynch and its environs, Bath, Uppercross, Lyme Regis and the Cobb.  Relive the situations: the party at the Musgrove’s, the walk in the country, the nephew firmly attached to Anna’s neck, the accident on the  Cobb, the encounter at the theater in Bath, the emotional dialogue between Anna and Ben (Capt Harville) and finally the letter….yes, that wonderfully soul piercing LETTER!  Every single one of the people in Persuasion lovingly reappear in Persuade Me: Sir Walter Elliot and his daughter Elizabeth in all of their excessive vanity, Lady Russell, the Crofts, Mrs. Clay, the Musgroves, Mrs. Smith, Benwick, Harville, Lady Dalrymple, the adorable Musgrove nephews, William Elliot, and best of all – Anna & Rick.

Is Persuade Me a “new old story” or an “old new story?”  Whatever you consider it, I hope I have “persuaded” you to add this impressive offering to your stack of must-reads.

 5 out of 5 Stars

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer
Choc Lit (2011)
Trade paperback (416) pages
ISBN: 978-1906931216

Jeffrey Ward, 65, native San Franciscan living near Atlanta, married 40 years, two adult children, six grandchildren, Vietnam Veteran, degree in Communications from the University of Washington, and presently a Facilitator/designer for the world’s largest regional airline.  His love affair with Miss Austen began about 3 years ago when, out of boredom, he picked up his daughter’s dusty college copy of Emma and he was “off to the races.”

© 2007 – 2011 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2) blog tour with author Juliet Archer

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Juliet Archer on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Persuade Me, the second book in her Darcy & Friends contemporary series published today in the UK by Choc Lit.

I’m thrilled to be here at Austenprose – thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me and ‘hi’ to everyone out there!

By the time you read this, I’ll be at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath. My burning question is – will it rain, so that Captain Frederick Wentworth can offer me his umbrella? Because, weather permitting, I’m doing two guided walking tours of central Bath, visiting the places that Austen made famous in the original Persuasion and some additional ones that I’ve used in my contemporary version, Persuade Me. We’ll be going to Milsom Street (where the fictional Molland’s is located), the Pump Room, the Theatre Royal (I’ve substituted a play there for Austen’s concert at the Assembly Rooms), the Royal Crescent Hotel, and so on.

Which leads to another question: what inspired me to modernise Persuasion? I can give you the answer in two words – Captain Wentworth. Man of action, man in uniform, striding about the English countryside with a pierced soul and an almost broken heart – what more could we wish for, especially when he’s brought to life on the small screen by Ciarán Hinds or Rupert Penry Jones?

You see, although I have every intention of updating Pride & Prejudice, for the moment my focus is on Austen’s other novels. And I know there are plenty of readers who are looking for occasional distractions from Mr Darcy. I’ve already updated Emma (The Importance of Being Emma (2008)) and PersuasionNorthanger Abbey‘s next.

However, I reserve the right to ‘darcify’ a hero if I think he needs it. Take Mr Knightley – the man on the page, rather than the portrayals on film. Old enough (technically) to be the heroine’s father, lurking around for twenty-one years without any sign of interest in the opposite sex, then winning Emma over with the immortal line, ‘God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover’!

I wanted to keep Knightley’s essential character, of course; but he needed to have more obvious attractions for the modern reader – who may or may not know Austen’s original. So I gave my Knightley a makeover: cut the age difference between him and Emma; boosted his sex appeal by introducing a glamorous girlfriend; and, to justify Emma’s apparent inability to fancy him for most of the novel, fabricated an episode in their past, where he unthinkingly humiliated her in a big-brotherly fashion.

With Wentworth, on the other hand, it was simply a case of bringing him bang up to date. I suppose the modern equivalent of the Napoleonic Wars would have been Iraq or Afghanistan, but I gave my Dr Rick Wentworth a different career completely. Still sea-related – he’s a marine biologist – and one that takes him to the other side of the world from England: Australia, the only place where he can study those tiny, beautiful sea dragons in the wild. In Persuade Me, it’s his passion for marine conservation that’s brought him fame and fortune, thanks to the media’s fascination with hunky scientists.

After many years, Rick’s back in England – but only to promote his book and open his sister Sophie’s new garden centre. He has no plans to look up Anna Elliot, the girl who ditched him at the insistence of her disapproving family.

And then, unexpectedly, their paths cross …

Well, you know the rest! But this is Jane Austen for the 21stcentury, with fresh insights into the hearts and minds of her heroes. The same characters now have to cope with mobile phones, the Internet and far more liberated attitudes to social and sexual interaction. Yet some things never change: the vanity of Sir Walter Elliot, 8th Baronet; the wilfulness of Louisa Musgrove; Anna’s quiet longing for another life.

My publisher Choc Lit – ‘where the heroes are like chocolate – irresistible!’ – has 3 copies of Persuade Me to give away worldwide. To have a chance of winning, please leave a comment saying what you like, or dislike, most about Persuasion.

And I’d love to hear what you think of Persuade Me. Just drop me an email – juliet@julietarcher.com – or post a review on Amazon.

Thank you for listening – it’s been lovely ‘chatting’ with you!

Juliet Archer

Author Juliet Archer (2011)Author Bio:

Juliet Archer is a 19th-century mind in a 21st-century body. Actually, some days it’s the other way round. She’s on a mission to modernise all six of Jane Austen’s completed novels, in a series called ‘Darcy & Friends’.

Her debut novel was The Importance of Being Emma, inspired by Austen’s Emma and a desire to give Mr. Knightley a makeover. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. The second novel in the series, Persuade Me, will be published on 15th September, 2011, and she is currently writing the next retelling in the series, Northanger Nights.

Juliet was born and bred in North-East England and now lives in Hertfordshire, Pride & Prejudice country. Unlike Anne Elliot in Persuasion, she resisted well-meant advice and married young, before graduating from the University of Nottingham with a First in French and Russian. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Jane Austen Society, her non-writing career has spanned IT, acquisitions analysist, copy editing, marketing and project management, providing plenty of background for her novels.

Visit Juliet at her website Juliet Archer, on Twitter as @JulietArcher and on Facebook as Juliet Archer.

Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Persuade Me by leaving a comment stating what you like or dislike most about Jane Austen’s original novel Persuasion by midnight PT, Wednesday, September 28th, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, September 29th, 2010. International shipment. Good luck!

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer
Choc Lit (2011)
Trade paperback (416) pages
ISBN: 978-1906931216

© 2007 – 2011 Juliet Archer, Austenprose

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud – A Review

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

When you think of Rock ’N’ Roll, two things besides music come to mind: sex and drugs.  Now think of Rock ‘N’ Roll and throw in the characters of our beloved Pride and Prejudice.  Yes, you read that right, Pride and Prejudice plus sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.  Such is the premise for Fitzwilliam Darcy: Rock Star, the innovative, contemporary retelling of P&P by author Heather Lynn Rigaud.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is the guitar god of Slurry, a rock band that also includes singer Charles Bingley and drummer Richard Fitzwilliam.  The three have a reputation of being hard partiers that enjoy a steady rotation of women, as well as being extremely difficult to work with.  A week before the next leg of their tour they are scrambling to find a new opening act when they come across Long Borne Suffering, a girl rock group consisting of sisters Elizabeth and Jane Bingley, as well as drummer Charlotte Lucas.  The girls sign on to be the new opening act and begin touring with Slurry.  Charlotte and Richard begin a very casual sexual relationship while Charles and Jane fall head over heels in love.  Elizabeth and Darcy are on the outs, as they don’t get along due to Elizabeth overhearing some nasty remarks Darcy made about the three girls.  Friendship happily ensues amongst both groups (with the exception of Darcy and Elizabeth), and creates an enjoyable touring experience for the groups.  All is well until the girls find success and begin recording videos with director George Wickham.  Wickham starts to show attention to Elizabeth, which makes Darcy realize that he has to tell her his true feelings, as well as the truth about what Wickham really is.  He fears that the missteps from the beginning of their relationship are already strikes against him, and he’s nervous that Elizabeth won’t reciprocate how he feels.  Will Elizabeth ever know Darcy’s true feelings?  Will the relationship between the two destroy the camaraderie that has formed between the bands?  Will there be any happy endings for Charles, Jane, Charlotte, and Richard?

Reader, take note: there is a LOT of sex in this book.  If you’re able to go into reading the book knowing that it’s going to be a super steamy novel, then I’m sure you can find pleasure in the storyline.  I think the plot of the novel was strong enough to have stood on its own, but I guess sex is part of rock ‘n’ roll, and was included accordingly.  Sex aside, the plot of the book is actually quite enjoyable.  It really did take the story Austen wrote and make it modern and contemporary.  The idea of making both Elizabeth and Darcy guitar virtuosos, and having them connect on a musical level before they could connect on a personal level was very intriguing.  It added a dimension to their characterizations that was really believable as many musicians find their passion for music to be a catalyst in their personal lives.

I have to be honest and say that I disliked some of the character changes that went on in the book. (spoilers ahead)  Richard Fitzwilliam is a legitimate sex addict and Charlotte Lucas is an S&M freakazoid.  Those two things were a little bit hard to swallow, and skewed the previous views I had of both these characters in my mind.  The decision to make George Wickham a pedophile really creeped me out.  All of the changes that Rigaud made were made on such an extreme level that the storyline became way too over the top for me.

While the concept and plot behind Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star was incredibly innovative, as a veteran Austenesque reader I found the changes were too drastic and unbelievable from the original and took away from the pleasure I expected in reading this novel.

3 out of 5 Stars

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402257810

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star Blog Tour with Author Heather Lynn Rigaud

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Heather Lynn Rigaud on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, a new contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice published today by Sourcebooks.

It’s so nice to be here on Austenprose today. It’s the first stop on my very first every blog tour, so I’m very, very excited.

So many people have asked me “Why a modern Pride and Prejudice and WHY a Rock Band???” Well, as always, it’s Jane’s fault. I came to Jane Austen, as many people have, through the movies. It started with Bridget Jones’ Diary the movie, then the book, then the 1995 Pride and Prejudice movie, and then the book. And then Persuasion, and then Northanger Abbey, and then Emma, and then Sense and Sensibility and then… Well, your readers know how that goes.

Like many hungry JA fans, I found JAFF fan fiction on the web, and soon was writing and posting my own. That’s when I met Abigail Reynolds. I was writing a modern P&P adaptation called Longbourn & Pemberley Go to War and she was writing Impulse & Initiative when she asked if I’d be willing to look at her love scene. Of course it was fantastic, but it started us beta-reading for each other.

It was Abigail who got me thinking about how would Darcy live in this modern time. It’s given that he would be wealthy and successful, but he also needed a modicum of fame. I was puzzling on how to make him a celebrity, but still Darcy- proud and aloof. He would never be glad-handing fans on TV Guide, or pushing his next big thing on Letterman.

He would be Darcy, at heart always true to his integrity, and yes, his pride. It came to me that he could be some kind of artist. They could easily maintain a quiet and aloof persona. A musician maybe? At the same time I was thinking about this, I heard a new song from a new band called “Puddle of Mudd”. The song was ‘She Hates Me’ and it occurred to me that this was so much like Darcy right after Elizabeth rejects him at Hunsford (I freely admit to having Jane Austen on the brain, and I strongly believe I’m not the only one) The chorus of the song goes like this:

I tried too hard

and she tore my feelings like I had none

and ripped them away

It was perfect. It expressed so clearly Darcy’s bitter anger at Elizabeth after she rejects him, as well as his underlying anger at himself. It was something I had to incorporate into my story. So then I thought about well known guitarists: Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Eddie Van Halen from Van Halen, The Edge of U2, even Slash from Guns & Roses. Men who were perfectly content to let someone else do the front man stuff. Men who let their instruments express what they felt. Then in a flash I had it:

Fitzwilliam Darcy is the enigmatic virtuoso guitarist of the world famous rock band Slurry.

I knew right there I had my story, and my Darcy. It was remarkable how quickly the pieces fell into place after that: Of course Bingley and Col. Fitzwilliam would be in his band. Of course, Wickham would have previously been part of the band until the ‘incident’ at Ramsgate. Of course Lady Catherine would own the record company. And of course Lizzy would be part of an ‘up & coming’ band. A new band seeking success and fame by playing with a world famous group is an excellent parallel to poorer women in the regency seeking to improve their lives by finding and marrying richer men. And of course Darcy would try and protect his friends from these opportunistic women.

In short, it was all there and I just had to write it down. I took the blueprint for my Mr. Darcy from JA – tall, handsome, dark eyes and hair. From there, I made him very talented, so there would be a basis of his pride. I made him independently wealthy, so he would be jaded by the whole music industry. And because he’s so good, and so rich, and so proud, I also made him very responsible. For him, everything connected to his band is his concern, especially his tour. So when something comes along to upset it, he’s going to be very defensive.

Into that already messy pile of emotions comes Elizabeth Bennet, who is as talented as Darcy, but is not rich and is not famous, and who has a big chip on her shoulder about being ‘good enough’. Is it any wonder that when these two fiery, driven, brilliant souls come together it’s explosive?

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star is their story. There are also the stories of their companions to keep things rolling, but it’s always Darcy and Elizabeth.

I hope your readers will try this crazy premise out and read it, and let me know what they think.

Thank you for having me, Laurel Ann, I’ve enjoyed being here.

Author Heather Rigaud (2011)Author Bio:

Heather Lynn Rigaud can usually be found trying to juggle too many things. A wife and mother of two, she suffers from excessive interest in almost everything that comes her way. She cooks, she sews, she writes, she knits, she Geo-Caches, she makes soaps, she collects perfume, she paints silk-and she overthinks every single one of them. But she’s lively and has a good (if bawdy) sense of humor.

Born and raised in world famous Woodstock NY by Republican parents, Heather Lynn has a lot of experience feeling like you just don’t fit in. This used to bother her greatly, but she’s mostly managed to overcome it, and even learned to enjoy walking ‘to the beat of a different drummer’. She enjoys reading, fine food and wine, and art. She is a professional writer with degrees in music therapy and teaching who lives with her husband and two sons in Kingston, New York. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star is her debut novel.

Visit Heather Lynn at her blog Austen Nights, on Twitter as @hlrigaud and on Facebook as Heather Lynn Rigaud.

Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you most about reading a contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice, or which character from the original novel will, in your estimation, translate easily into a modern rock band setting, by midnight PT, Wednesday, September 14th, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, September 15th, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, by Heather Lynn Rigaud
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402257810

© 2007 – 2011 Heather Lynn Rigaud, Austenprose

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly – A Review

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly (2011)I am amazed at how many Austenesque novels continue to have “Mr. Darcy” worked into the title. Recently there has been: A Wife for Mr. Darcy, by Mary Lydon Simonsen, The Trouble with Mr. Darcy, by Sharon Lathan, The Truth about Mr. Darcy, by Susan Adriani, Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, by Maria Hamilton, Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, by Kara Louise, What Would Mr. Darcy Do?, by Abigail Reynolds and ironically Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard, by Belinda Roberts – and that is only in the last four months!!! Gentle readers, have we indeed gone overboard over Mr. Darcy? *shudder* Can there ever be too much Mr. Darcy?

As I opened A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, yet another new novel featuring Jane Austen’s romantic icon of Nonpareil in its title, it was difficult not to feel a rush of astonishment. What could Victoria Connelly possibly offer that has not already been said several times in historical, contemporary or paranormal versions? The back blurb looked promising: “Surrounded by appalling exes and fawning students, the only think keeping professor Katherine Roberts sane is Jane Austen, and her secret love for racy Regency romance novels. She thinks the Jane Austen Addicts weekend will be the perfect getaway. Maybe she’ll even meet her own personal Mr. Darcy… Breezy and beautifully witty, internationally bestselling author Victoria Connelly’s charming modern love story will appeal to all Jane Austen fanatics… and anyone who loves a good romance.” OK. So I’m an admitted Jane Austen fanatic and also love a good romance… this was a good start.

Set in contemporary England, we are introduced to the two main characters, singletons Katherine Roberts, a young and beautiful Oxford professor, and Robyn Love, a romantic idealist North Yorkshire receptionist. They are both bound for an idyllic Jane Austen weekend retreat at Purley Hall in the countryside of Hampshire, not far from Janeite Mecca – Steventon, where she was born and raised, and Chawton Cottage, where she wrote many of her novels. Also secretly headed to the retreat is famous Regency romance novelist Lorna Warwick who has been privately corresponding with Katherine for months, building a strong friendship but remaining an enigma to her. Even though she is an international bestselling author, she has never given a personal interview, nor allowed pictures to be published of herself. Lorna is captivated by Katherine and arrives at the retreat incognito – as Warwick Lawton. (Spoiler) Yes, Lorna Warwick is a man.

Both ladies have their complicated romantic past following them to the retreat. Katherine can’t seem to connect with the right man and prefers to fall in love with Jane Austen’s fictional world of Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth and Henry Tilney, easily finding solace in her obsession of heroes because there are so few real ones. Robyn on the other hand is a pure romantic. “Life for her was never as good as it was in fiction.” She is in a longstanding (but unfulfilling) relationship with Jason Collins. Unfortunately she does not know why she stays with Jace. They have nothing in common and the thought of being Mrs. Collins (the same last name as Jane Austen’s odious Reverend Collins in Pride and Prejudice) is unbearable. When he insists upon tagging along on her Jane Austen weekend, staying in a nearby Inn, she is both annoyed and suspicious.

The perfect summer fantasy Austenesque novel, A Weekend with Mr. Darcy supplies all the elements on this scrutinizing Janeite’s checklist: stunning early eighteenth-century country manor house, cast of colorful & humorous secondary characters, emotional roadblocks and misunderstandings, and two heroines in need of some personal growth before they can fall in love. Connelly’s enthusiastic knowledge of Jane Austen is solid and her writing style is fresh and funny.

Will A Weekend with Mr. Darcy get lost in the sea of “Mr. Darcy” inspired novels flooding the market? Nope. It is the leader of the pack! Brava Ms. Connelly! Since this is the first in a trilogy, we are all anticipation from this very talented author.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (352) pages
ISBN: 978-1402251320

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose