Austenesque, Book Previews, Dual Time Frame Fiction, Regency Era

In Celebration of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen Book Launch GraphicPlease join us on December 30th & 31st, 2012 for a book launch party honoring the release of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, a new Austen-inspired novel by best-selling author Syrie James.

Hailed as the queen of nineteenth-century re-imaginings, Ms. James is renowned for her best-selling The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and the intriguing The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. She will be our very special guest for a two-day soiree contributing a blog on her inspiration to write her new book and participating in our reader discussion.

Based on Jane Austen’s comical short essay “A Plan of a Novel”, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is a novel within a novel; a contemporary story framing a previously unknown Jane Austen manuscript discovered by heroine Samantha McDonough at an English grand manor house in Devon. I have had the pleasure of reading The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen and I would like to briefly share my first impressions:

“For two hundred years Jane Austen fans have bemoaned the fact that six novels from their favorite author is just not enough. Syrie James rectifies this dilemma in The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, offering the ultimate Janeite fantasy: a novel within a novel honoring what we love most about Austen: her engaging stories, her rapier wit, and her swoon worthy romance. This pitch perfect novel might not truly be Austen’s undiscovered seventh book, but who cares? James’s brilliantly crafted prose will have you enchanted and in awe of her mastery until the very last page. 5 out of 5 Regency Stars!”

And, to add to the festivities there will be chances for great giveaways too!

I hope you can join us. We look forward to a very merry party.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Book Previews, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen Blog Tour with Sally Smith O’Rourke & Giveaway

Yours Affectionatley, Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O'Rourke (2012)Please help me welcome today Austenesque author Sally Smith O’Rourke during her blog tour for her new novel, Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, a sequel to her popular The Man Who Loved Jane Austen (2009). A time-travel novel from present day Virginia to 1813 Chawton, England, Sally broaches the eternal question: was Mr. Darcy based on a real character in Jane Austen’s life or from her fertile imagination?

An English friend told me after reading The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, that it was the first time he had ever thought of Austen as a real person. To him she was an icon who was not particularly interesting. I think Jane’s sister Cassandra’s attempts to create a perfect personification by editing and destroying her personal correspondence really did her sister a disservice when she was such a wonderful, inventive and interesting individual.

I’ve often wondered if Cassandra’s zeal in protecting Jane’s memory included the destruction of journals. Here was a woman who wrote regularly, thousands of letters (although only 160 remain), a history, poems, prayers; she even wrote sermons for James, her eldest brother. How was it possible that she kept no diary or journal of any kind? A question, I’m afraid, that will never be answered.

At one time I thought it would be fun to create a journal, ostensibly written by Austen. A chronicle of the five days Fitzwilliam Darcy spent in Hampshire the spring of 1810. After several false starts and an overwhelming feeling of pretention (who was I pretending to be Jane Austen?) I opted instead to write the sequel to The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. Here is the backstory:

Researching a letter she found from Jane Austen to Fitzwilliam Darcy takes Manhattan artist Eliza Knight to a centuries old Virginia estate, Pemberley Farms. There she meets Fitz Darcy, his tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that he is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen takes place for Jane during the summer of 1813 after the successful publication of Pride and Prejudice. For Darcy it is the week following his heritage Rose Ball in present day Virginia.

While Eliza and Fitz’s relationship starts to blossom things begin to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Eliza and Fitz or the tie that binds them?

For your enjoyment, here is an excerpt from chapter 5 of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen.

Author Sally Smith O'Rourke (2012)Author Bio:

“Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?” (J.A. June 15, 1808)

That I reside in a Victorian village; a mere two miles from my place of employment. A local hospital where I spend most daylight hours in the operating room as a scrub nurse.

That I am a native Californian, and spent most of my life in and around Southern California with a relatively short span of years in Nevada where I attended school.

That I was widowed some time ago. That I have very domestic hobbies like sewing, cooking, baking, candy making and cake decorating. Oh, yeah I write, too. Mike, my late husband and teacher, taught me that writing has to be treated like a job so every day no matter how tired I am I edit, research one or more projects and write.

That I am working on a new book; a story of reincarnation that takes place in Pasadena, CA and am making notes for a ghost story set in San Francisco. Two stories running around in my head and often colliding but I untangle the debris and continue on.

There you have a few of my nothings.

Visit Sally at her blog Sally Smith O’Rourke Author; websites Austenticity and Austen Authors; on Facebook as Sally Smith O’Rourke; and on Twitter as @Chawton1810.

Thank you for visiting with us today Sally and sharing a bit about your new novel. I look forward to reading it. Best wishes on its success.

Giveaway of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen

Enter a chance to win one of three e-book copies available of Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke. Just leave a comment answering if you believe if Austen’s character Fitzwilliam Darcy was based on a real person she knew or from her imagination. The contest is open until 11:59 pm Pacific time, Wednesday, October 10, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Digital shipment internationally. Good luck!

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Victorian Essence Press (2012)
Digital e-book (261) pages
ISBN: 978-1891437052

© Sally Smith O’Rourke, Austenprose

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

Dear Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Amanda Grange & Giveaway!

Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange (2012)Please join us today in welcoming author Amanda Grange on the launch of her blog tour of Dear Mr. Darcy, a new retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.

Wait! Didn’t Amanda already write Mr. Darcy’s Diary? Yep, she did, but this novel has a new slant that readers will find enchanting. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available from Amanda’s publisher Berkley Trade.

Welcome Amanda

Hi, Laurel Ann, thanks for inviting me to guest blog. I’m very excited to be here to talk about my latest book, Dear Mr Darcy.

I’m sure people are wondering why I have written another retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and why I have used the epistolary form. The reason is very simple. As some of you will already know, Jane Austen rewrote Pride and Prejudice considerably between 1797, when it was begun, and 1813, when it was published. It was originally called First Impressions and it was probably written in the epistolary style.

I’ve often thought about the early version of Pride and Prejudice and wished we still had it to read. Over the years an urge started growing inside me to recreate it. Of course, my version is only my idea of how it might have been, and I’m not Jane Austen, but the idea gripped me. I thought it would be a fantastic way of providing another way into the story, and another way into Mr Darcy. I decided to start with the death of his father, because his relationship with his father was obviously very influential in turning him into the proud, haughty man of Pride and Prejudice.

Almost the first letter in Dear Mr Darcy is written by Mr Darcy’s father, when he is on his deathbed. He wants to give our Mr Darcy some advice for the future, including these words, which have a lasting effect:

Remember that the woman you favour with your hand will not only be a wife to you, she will also be a sister to Georgiana and the mistress of Pemberley. She will need to command the respect of the servants and the love of your family; she must reflect the greatness of the Darcys; she must be a gracious hostess and a model of feminine virtue; she must be a modest lady and she must be possessed of a refined taste and true decorum. And she must be a woman you can admire, respect and esteem, as well as love.

For advice on matters of this nature I refer you to my brother’s son, your cousin Philip.

Darcy’s cousin, Philip, is my own invention. He proves very useful throughout the book as his character is similar to Darcy’s, he is of the same social level and therefore Darcy feels he can confide in him.

The following extract is from one of Mr Darcy’s letters to Philip later in the book, written from Rosings, when he is tempted, against his will, to propose to Elizabeth – who is definitely not the sort of woman his father advised him to marry!

It would degrade me to marry her. I would be laughed at by all my friends, jeered at by my enemies and pitied by all. I could never possibly marry her. And yet – and yet I cannot keep away from her. The lightness of her spirits, her humour, her arch smile, her teasing, her eyes – oh! Philip, her eyes! which sparkle when she teases me and show she knows her power over me – all these things drive me to distraction.

I can tell no one but you. You know my character, you know how proud and disdainful I am, but against my better judgement I have been enraptured by her. It is out of the question for me to marry her; out of the question to make her my mistress.

I would leave if I could, but if I go now it will look particular and that is something I very much want to avoid. I do not know what to do.

Your beleaguered cousin,

Darcy

*******

Mr Philip Darcy to Mr Darcy

London, April 22

Darcy, leave at once. Make some excuse and go today, this minute, never mind if it looks particular, it will soon be forgotten. Do not linger another moment. This kind of fever is virulent and the only thing that can control it is a prolonged absence from its source. Have your valet pack your things and meet me in London straight away. If you stay you will regret it.

Philip

 *******

Mr Darcy to Mr Philip Darcy

Rosings Park, April 23

Dear Philip, you are too late. I have proposed.

This is just a sample of the letters, but Dear Mr Darcy is full of them! Letters from Elizabeth to her friend Susan (my own invention) as she talks about Mr Darcy’s arrival at Netherfield and her subsequent frustrating yet stimulating meetings with him; Caroline Bingley’s scheming as she persuades Charles to introduce her to his eligible friend Mr Darcy; Mary’s moralising and more. But at the heart of the book are the letters to and from Mr Darcy as he manages his estate, cares for his sister and fights a losing battle against his love for Elizabeth Bennet.

I love all my books, but every once in a while, I feel that one of them is extra special. I felt it when writing Mr Darcy’s Diary and I felt it when writing Dear Mr Darcy. I hope readers agree.

Author Bio:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst  the Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Grand Giveaway of Dear Mr. Darcy

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange by leaving a comment revealing what intrigues you about reading Mr. Darcy’s personal correspondence by 11:59 pm Pacific time, Wednesday, August 15th, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, August 16th, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Amanda Grange
Berkley Trade (2012)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0425247815

© 2012 Amanda Grange, Austenprose

Critiques & Analysis, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!

The Jane Austen Guide to Life, by Lori Smith (2012)Happy May Day everyone! Please join us today in welcoming author Lori Smith on the launch of her blog tour in celebration of the publication of The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, released today by Globe Pequot Press. Lori has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second Jane Austen-inspired book and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

I’m thrilled I was able to write The Jane Austen Guide to Life, but I can’t fully take credit for the idea.  A while back, an email unexpectedly popped up from an editor I hadn’t heard from in a while, one I’d always wanted to work with.  She’d been thinking, she said, about a book that would combine a light biography of Jane Austen with practical “life lessons” for the modern reader, drawn from Austen’s life as well as her books.  I thought for about fifteen seconds and concluded, “Yes!  That book should be written!”  And that was the beginning.

As normal as it seems to me to take advice from Austen—I’ve loved her writing for years, even followed her life through England for my last project, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith (2007), —I thought it might seem strange to some.  After all, Austen was a 19th-century spinster.  She wasn’t terribly concerned about fashion, knew nothing about platform heels, and, if she’d had the chance, she very well might have married a first cousin (as was common practice back then).  So what could she possibly teach our modern selves?

In some ways, Austen was more modern than we might think.  She embraced the 21st-century idea of making your dreams a reality.  After all, in her day, a lady should not have written fiction.  Not only was writing un-ladylike, but novels were frivolous and of questionable value.  But Austen had to tell her stories—she had to write—so, acceptable or not, that’s what she did.

In other ways, Austen challenges us, her own good sense in contrast to current cultural extremes.  Many of us strive for our fifteen minutes of fame, while Austen didn’t even want her name to appear on her books.  As a nation, we’re saddled with pervasive credit card debt; Austen lived within a tight and carefully kept budget.  She would encourage us to cherish our true friends rather than focusing on building extensive and ephemeral social networks.  And Jane Austen never had sex—so what would she say about a culture that has a word specifically to describe meaningless sexual encounters.  (Hookup, anyone?) Continue reading “The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!”

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Regency Era

For Myself Alone Blog Tour with Author Shannon Winslow & Giveaway

For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow (2012Please join us today in welcoming author Shannon Winslow on her blog tour in celebration of the publication of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, released last month by Heather Ridge Arts. Shannon has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second novel and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me back for another visit with all your lovely readers at Austenprose. I’m delighted for the opportunity to announce the debut of my second Austen-esque novel, For Myself Alone, and to share my inspiration for writing it.

First, I should say that I might never have authored one word were it not for Jane Austen and my desire to spend more time in her world. I adore her subtle stories of love triumphant, and her witty, elegant prose suits my taste exactly. I longed for more, though, and so decided to write the sequel to Pride and Prejudice that I envisioned. I had the time of my life creating The Darcys of Pemberley, and I was totally hooked on writing after that.

On to the next challenge! Not a sequel or tie-in this time, but a new story – one I imagined Miss Austen might have written next. But what would that have been? Well, she was very progressive for her time and would, I believed, have looked for a new angle or a different way of telling a story. So I didn’t feel forced to confine myself to ground she’d covered before. How about giving the heroine a lot of money for a change? And the problems that come with it? That opened up all kinds of possibilities!

Set in nineteenth century Hampshire and Bath, For Myself Alone is the tale of Josephine Walker, a bright, young woman whose quiet life is turned upside-down by an unexpected inheritance. With a tempting fortune of twenty thousand pounds, she’s suddenly the most popular girl in town. Yet Jo longs to be valued for who she is, not for her bank balance.  She cannot respect the men who pursue her for her money, and the only one she does admire is considered the rightful property of her best friend.

A sojourn in Bath, for treatment of her father’s gout, gives Jo a chance for a fresh start in a place where no one will know about her monetary attractions. But, as you might guess, even there the path to true love and a Jane-Austen-style happy ending does not run smoothly.

When I began For Myself Alone, I didn’t have in mind any direct reference to Jane Austen’s existing work, only a compliment to her style. With her words so deeply entrenched in my mind, however, I often found myself thinking of and alluding to various passages from her books as I went along. Rather than fight the temptation to borrow some of her expertly turned phrases, I decided to go with it, making kind of a game out of tucking these little gems between the pages for Austen aficionados to find. What fun!

Jo parrots Marianne Dashwood’s immortal words, “Will you not shake hands with me?” saying them to boy-next-door Arthur Evensong instead of the attractive but dangerous Willoughby. And in another place she asks her father about his gout, saying, “Is there nothing you can take to give you present relief?”  You get the idea.

This wouldn’t work if my own writing style was too modern or different from the original, making the insertion painfully obvious and interrupting the flow of the story. But I flatter myself (as Mr. Collins would say) that I have enough flare for Austen-style language to allow the borrowed lines to blend fairly seamlessly in with my own. Here’s a sample from the prologue. Be sure to read it with your best British accent!

Mr. Pigeon recapitulated the account to his wife. “They say the mother is to blame. But mark my words, Agatha, it is the money at the heart of the matter,” he concluded with irrefutable sagacity. “By heaven! A woman should never be trusted with money. No doubt it has completely gone to her head. She would have done much better never to have been given it the first place. Bad judgment on the part of the uncle; bad judgment indeed.”

This excerpt features a rather obscure reference from The Watsons fragment, making it more difficult to detect. But could you tell what part was Jane Austen’s and what was mine? Hope not.

All this goes to illustrate my purpose in writing For Myself Alone, which was to give the reader an experience much like reading a brand new – or possibly long lost and just rediscovered? – Jane Austen novel. How close I came to achieving that goal, you will have to be the judge.

Author Shannon Winslow (2011)Author Bio: Shannon Winslow, her two sons now grown, devotes much of her time to her diverse interests in music, literature, and the visual arts – writing claiming the lion’s share of her creative energies in recent years.

In addition to three short stories (one a finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest), Ms. Winslow has published two novels to date. The Darcys of Pemberley, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was her debut. For Myself Alone, a stand-alone Austenesque story, now follows. She is currently working on the next installment of her Pride and Prejudice series entitled Return to Longbourn.

Shannon lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier. Visit Shannon at her website/blog Shannon Winslow’s Jane Austen Says, follow her on Twitter as @JaneAustenSays, and on Facebook as Shannon Winslow.

Giveaway of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel

Enter a chance to win one of three copies (print or eBook) available of For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about reading this new Jane Austen-inspired novel by 11:59 PT, Wednesday, May 02, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, May 03, 2012. Shipment of print copies to US addresses only, eBook internationally. Good luck!

Many thanks to Shannon for her delightful guest blog, and to her publisher Heather Ridge Arts for the generous giveaways. We must chime in and reveal that Shannon is also a talented artist and created the image for her book cover. Brava!

For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow
Heather Ridge Arts (2012)
Trade paperback (262) pages
ISBN: 978-0615619941
Kindle: B007PWINR8
NOOK: 2940014192712

© 2007 – 2012 Shannon Winslow, Austenprose

Book Reviews, Giveaways, Jane Austen, Nonfiction

A Jane Austen Devotional, by Steffany Woolsey – A Review & Giveaway!

A Jane Austen Devotional, by Steffany Woolsey (2012)Guest review by Br. Paul Byrd, OP

This book is crafted with the hope that readers would take the opportunity to get lost in the world of Jane Austen—a place where we can all pause in solitude, as though we’ve just finished a stroll in the garden with Jane and are now sitting down with her to tea, reflecting on important life lessons and taking in the beauty of the countryside. Through excerpts from her work, short devotions, and Scripture, we hope this book will bring you moments of peace while you allow God’s word to shape your own character, (introduction).

Jane Austen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church? One might look forward to the Anglican Communion adding Blessed Jane to its calendar of saints with the publication of Steffany Woolsey’s A Jane Austen Devotional (a measure this Catholic would whole-heartedly support). When Laurel Ann first told me she was sending me this book, I was off-the-charts thrilled. The title alone was enough to evoke in me a childlike eagerness to hold the book in my hands and celebrate that such a thing existed. Why this near-absurd ebullience? Well, my particular area of Austen studies focuses on Jane Austen’s religious context and the religiosity of her novels, thus a book that purposefully examines her stories in a Christian light was sure to interest me. One that does so as a devotional—a book designed as an aid to the reader’s spiritual contemplation—promised to take things to a higher, more personal level.

With over one hundred meditation reflections, paired with favorite snippets from the novels we love so well, along with corresponding scripture passages, this devotional is sure to please Austen fans of faith. Subjects covered vary widely, but may be categorized by Austen’s common religious themes: the rewards of virtuous living, the ugliness of vicious behavior, and the duty owed to one’s family, neighbors, and society. Chapter titles give you further clues into themes: “Being Generous,” “Spiritual Bankruptcy,” “Respecting One Another,” “Flirting with Sin,” and so on. By combining scenes from Austen and scenes from Jewish and Christian scriptures, the author builds the foundation for the little morals she offers or reflection questions she poses at the end of each two-page chapter. In doing so, Woolsey helps readers to do what Austen always intended them to do: to use her characters—the good and the bad—to critically examine their own behavior. Are we more like Mary Crawford or Fanny Price? Mr. Wickham or Mr. Darcy?

One reflection I particularly liked was entitled “Following the Golden Rule.” This chapter held up the example of Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice for the reader’s consideration, reminding him or her of Jane’s propensity to see the good in everyone, and her avoidance of malicious speech. As Woolsey writes, “Jane lives out this truth [the Golden Rule given by Jesus] by employing a simple philosophy: if we want to be loved, we have to give love. Likewise, if we want meaningful relationships, we need to treat others with respect and esteem. Forgiveness, kindness, generosity—in all these areas, we must lead without expectation of reciprocity,” (21). The concluding reflection questions that then follow are deep, in their own way, helping the reader to really sit and delve into the true motivations for his or her behavior and interaction with others.

A Jane Austen Devotional is a spiritual tool, not merely a gimmicky Austen collectable. If used once a day (as devotionals usually are), this book can slowly help a spiritual seeker to develop or strengthen his or her practice of reflection and contemplation, using as a starting point Austen’s very practical Anglican Christianity. In this way, it’s not a book you sit down and read through in a weekend, but one you keep around all year long, on your nightstand with your Bible, at your desk at work, in your glove compartment, or in your purse.

I give this book 5 Stars, and highly recommend it.

A Grand Giveaway of A Jane Austen Devotional

The publisher Thomas Nelson, Inc. has generously offered a giveaway contest of three copies of A Jane Austen Devotional. To enter a chance to win one copy, leave a comment stating which quotes from Jane Austen you think are inspiring, or which of which of Jane Austen’s characters would greatly benefit from this devotional and why by 11:59pm PT, Wednesday, January 18, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, January 19, 2012. Shipment to the US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

A Jane Austen Devotional, by Steffany Woolsey
Thomas Nelson, Inc. (2012)
Hardcover (224) pages
ISBN: 978-1400319534

Br. Paul Byrd, OP is a solemnly professed friar of the Dominican Order of Preachers. Originally from Covington, KY, he earned his bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Thomas More College and his master’s degree in theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology. He is in the writing and publishing graduate program at DePaul University. He is the author of the Dominican Cooperator Blog

© 2007 – 2012 Br. Paul Byrd, OP, Austenprose

Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011, Blog Events, Book Reviews, Jane Austen Sequels Book Reviews, Reading Challenges

Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 8), by Stephanie Barron – A Review

Jane and His Lordships Legacy, by Stephanie Barron (2005)It is 1809, a significant year in the life of our esteemed authoress Jane Austen. After close to five years of being shuffled about England between relatives, the three unattached Austen ladies: widower Mrs. Austen and her two unmarried daughters Jane and Cassandra are given permanent refuge by Jane’s elder brother Edward Austen Knight in the village of Chawton. They will live at Chawton cottage the former residence of the recently deceased steward of Edward’s vast estate there. Still privately grieving the tragic death of her dear friend Lord Harold Trowbridge (The Gentleman Rogue) nine months prior, Jane arrives in the village to find an uneasy welcome to the Squire’s family. It appears that the villagers are unhappy that the widow of Edward’s former steward was asked to vacate the cottage in favor of his family, and more seriously, Edward as an absentee Squire has been remiss in his duties since the death of his wife Elizabeth the previous year.

Within hours of Jane’s arrival at the cottage, she receives an unexpected visit from contemptuous Mr. Bartholomew Chizzlewit, attorney to the family of His Grace the Duke of Wilborough. Performing his duty as the family solicitor, he deposits on Jane’s dining-parlor floor a curiously carved chest announcing that she is listed as a legatee in Lord Harold’s Last Will and Testament. His bequest (should she agree) is that she accepts his personal papers and diaries, “a lifetime of incident, intrigue, and conspiracy; of adventure and scandal; of wagers lost and won,” and write his life story! After the Duke of Wilborough’s family contested the legacy in a London court and lost, they are bitter about the arrangement and hold it against Jane. Not only is this startling news, the thought of reliving the Gentleman Rogues life, far before she met him, and then through his entire life as a spy for the British government, is both curious and painful to her. When the huge chest is removed into the cottage’s cellar, another startling discovery brings Jane’s first day at Chawton to a scandalous close. A body of a man lies rotting and rat eaten on the floor.

Jane’s brother Henry arrives the next day and the inquest into the mysterious death begins by the local authorities with Jane and Henry in assistance. After Lord Harold’s trunk is stolen, Jane is convinced that it contains information that someone did not want her to discover. Could the theft be linked to the Wilborough family trying to cover up their son’s notorious life? Or, could it be the newcomers to the neighborhood, Julian Thrace, a young London Buck who is rumored to be the illegitimate heir apparent to the Earl of Holbrook vast wealth, and his half-sister Lady Imogen, the Earl’s acknowledged heir? Or, is the dead body in the cellar a personal vendetta by the bitter Jack Hinton, eager to make trouble for the Austen family? He claims to be the rightful heir to the Knight family estate of Chawton that Jane’s brother Edward inherited. There are suspects and motives, suppositions and accusations galore for our observant and clever Jane to ponder and detect before she solves the crime.

One chapter into the eighth novel in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery series and I am totally convinced that Jane Austen is channeling the actual events of her life through author Stephanie Barron. She has so convincingly captured her witty, acerbic, and penetrating voice that I am totally mesmerized. Like Jane, I am still grieving the tragic death of her secret crush Lord Harold. Reading his letters and journals was like bringing him back to life. Delightful torture for those Gentleman Rogue fans such as myself. This mystery was very well-plotted and fast-paced, but Barron really shines with her incredible historical details and the fact that in this discriminating Austen-obsessed mind, no one will ever be able to match her unique ability to channel my favorite author’s voice so perfectly.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my eighth selection in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011, as we are reading all eleven mysteries in the series this year. Participants, please leave comments and or place links to your reviews on the official reading challenge page by following this link.

Grand Giveaway

Author Stephanie Barron has generously offered a signed hardcover copy of Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about this novel, or if you have read it, who your favorite character is by midnight PT, Wednesday, August 24, 2011. Winner to be announced on Thursday, August 25, 2011. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy, Being a Jane Austen Mystery (No 8), by Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books, 2005
Mass market paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978-0553584073

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaways, Guest Blog

The BBC Pride and Prejudice: It DOES Get Better Than This (+ a book giveaway)

Please welcome author and admitted Jane Austen addict Laurie Viera Rigler who joins us today to chat about one of her favorite obsessions, P&P 95 and the paperback release of her book, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict.  (Don’t ya just luv the cover?)

How many of us will resist buying the newly remastered BBC Pride and Prejudice DVD from A&E Home Video, with its color-perfect English countryside and the ability to see, as Laurel Ann led us to envision in her post that individual droplets of water running down Colin Firth’s chest as he emerges from his famous dip in the lake?

***pauses to fan self***

I don’t know about you, but I’ve already ordered my copy.

How do I love the BBC P&P? Let me count the ways. I love it for its dearest, loveliest Elizabeth Bennet and her fine eyes. I love it for its faithfulness to Jane Austen’s beloved novel. And I love it for its deviations therefrom in the form of the dishiest Darcy ever to fence and swim and smolder his way into my heart.

Certainly the unprecedented popularity of this BBC miniseries has had a phenomenal effect on popular culture. Many have credited it with contributing greatly to the wave of “Austen euphoria” that, according to the authors of Jane Austen in Hollywood, increased membership in the Jane Austen Society of North America by fifty percent during the single year following its release. Not to mention giving rise to the dozens of Austen-inspired books, films, blogs like this one, and other entertainments that populate the Janeiverse.

For me the BBC P&P has special significance beyond its function as video wallpaper in my home. For it found its way into the very first chapter of my second novel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. There, it served as my heroine’s first close encounter with twenty-first-century technology. She, being a gentleman’s daughter from 1813 England who inexplicably finds herself inhabiting the body and life of a woman in 21st-century Los Angeles, assumes that the tiny figures acting out her favorite novel inside the shiny glass box are real people. And that the box is some sort of window. Strange that the figures inside the box cannot hear her when she talks to them. And that they are so small yet so distinct to the eye…

Imagine my delight when I read, right here on Austenprose that the remastered edition of the BBC P&P is out on April 27th. The very same day that Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict  is out in paperback.

In honor of this serendipity, I am giving away two personally inscribed copies of Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. For a chance to win a copy, all you have to do is post a comment that tells us how you’d include a reference to the BBC P&P in a book or other form of art or entertainment. Let your imagination run wild, “give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford.”

Have fun, good luck, and see you at Pemberley!

Giveaway Contest

To sweeten the deal I will throw in a copy of Laurie’s first novel in the series, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. So, that 2 personally inscribed copies of Rude Awakenings of a JA Addict and one copy of Confessions of a JA Addict to three lucky winners. Contest ends at midnight Pacific time on May 3rd, 2010. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

The perfect pairing: Pride and Prejudice 1995 &

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

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Sanditon Group Read Chapters 9-12: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day Six Giveaway

It was impossible for Charlotte not to suspect a good deal of fancy in such an extraordinary state of health. Disorders and recoveries so very much out of the common way seemed more like the amusement of eager minds in want of employment than of actual afflictions and relief. The Narrator, Ch 9

Quick Synopsis

Charlotte believes the Parkers ailments are imaginary. Diana makes arrangements for Mrs. Griffiths even though not asked to do so. Charlotte meets Susan and Arthur Parker. One is worn by illness and medicine, the other does not look ill at all. Arthur is engrossed in eating buttered toast and cocoa. Mrs. Griffiths arrives in Sanditon bringing only three young ladies. One is a Miss Lambe a sickly heiress that Lady Denham thinks will do for Sir Edward. Charlotte and Mrs. Parker walk to Sanditon House. Charlotte sees Clara Brereton and Sir Edward secretly meeting. Lady Denham seems put out by their arrival. Clara returns and lies about her delay. Sir Edward arrives unaffected. Charlotte realizes that they deceive Lady Denham who would not approve of their match. Sir Edward extols upon the virtues of sea-bathing and encouraging both ladies to try it. Charlotte realizes that her first impression of Sir Edward and Lady Denham were not true. She and Mrs. Parker walk home. Talk of Sidney Parker catches her off guard.

Musings

Charlotte meets the two additional Parker siblings, Susan and Arthur. Visiting there lodgings is like entering a sick ward. The windows are closed and the fire is blazing even though it is a fine summer day. It does not take Charlotte long to conclude that their ailments are imagined fancy since there is a discrepancy with the activity they are about and their hypochondria talk. Diana is running all over town in preparation of Mrs. Griffiths’ arrival and Susan has relocated the three of them from the hotel to lodging moving heavy boxes herself. “It would seem that they must either be very busy for the good of others or else extremely ill themselves.” Arthur appears in good health, though he needs to sit by the fire to ward away damp sea air and his rheumatism. As Charlotte becomes better acquainted with the Parkers medical maladies we begin to really see Austen making fun of people attaching illness as an identity. This family revolves around illness or activity. Such a dichotomy! The bit with Arthur’s speech about toasting bread and sneaking butter behind his sisters was hysterical. This is truly burlesque comedy. Who does not know someone who secretly eats or has done so themselves? Ha!

Miss Lambe was beyond comparison the most important and precious, as she paid in proportion to her fortune. She was about seventeen, half mulatto, chilly and tender, had a maid of her own, was to have the best room in the lodgings, and was always of the first consequence in every plan of Mrs. Griffiths. The Narrator Ch 10

All the wheels of communication behind Diana’s efforts to bring two large families to Sanditon end in embarrassment for her. There is only one Mrs. Griffiths of Camberwell and the West Indians are one Miss Lambe, a sickly heiress that neatly fills Lady Denham’s requirements for a wife for Sir Edward. Her practical nature regrets the long journey from Hampshire, a brother disappointed, an expensive house for a week rented, “and worse than all the rest, the sensation of her knowing that she was not clear-sighted and infallible as she had believed herself.” It did not trouble her for long. Besides Miss Lambe, Mrs. Griffiths brings only two other young ladies with her. Austen describes the two Miss Beauforts as “common as any young ladies in the kingdom with tolerable complexions and showy figures, very accomplish and very ignorant.” This made me laugh out loud. She is mocking what young English ladies are raised to be by showing how shallow they are. Their true ambitions are only the pursuit of admiration by men and the accumulation of fashion in order to captivate some man of better fortune than their own. Ouch! Is Charlotte the only character of virtue in this novel? I do not think I have ever seen Austen dig so deep into human imperfections than in Sanditon!

Among other points of moralising reflection which the sight of this tete-a-tete produced, Charlotte could not but think of the extreme difficulty which secret lovers must have in finding a proper spot for their stolen interviews. The Narrator Ch 11

Charlotte plans to visit Lady Denham at Sanditon House for the first time with Mrs. Parker. Always the salesman, Mr. Parker wants his wife to turn the social call into business opportunity and solicit Lady Denham for a charity cause. His sister Diana, always churning alway at some activity for others has a long list of charities that she would like Mrs. Parker to ask her Ladyship to contribute to also. Now, Mrs. Parker is a very biddable sort of woman, but even she has her limits retorting that she “could no more mention these things to Lady Denham than I could fly.” I did not expect that reaction at all. I love it when Austen has characters react in the opposite of what we are expecting. This point is proved further when Charlotte sees a secret assignation between Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. I expected this from Sir Edward who fancies himself in the “line of a Lovelace,” but not of Clara. What does she have to gain from their relationship? She is an impoverished cousin serving at Lady Denham’s whim. To endanger her relationship with her would be foolish. She seems smart. What does she see in him? Charlotte is puzzled also. “The connection between Clara and Sir Edward was as ambiguous in some respects as it was plain in others.” She seems to abhor their deceit yet sympathize with their plight. “To be continually at the mercy of such an old lady’s whims struck Charlotte as being particularly hard upon a young couple.” Is Austen being purposely ambiguous also?

Still extolling the pleasures of bathing, he sought to entertain them with his longest syllables and most edifying sentences. “To plunge into the refreshing wave and be wrapped round with the liquid element is indeed a most delightful sensation,” he assured them. “But health and pleasure may be equally consulted in these salutary ablutions; and to many a wan countenance can the blush of the rose be restored by an occasional dip in the purifying surge of the ocean.” Now, he hastened to add, trying to bow to them both at the same time, “that either of my fair listeners would need the rose restored to their lovely cheeks.” Sir Edward Denham, Ch 12

Well, there is definitely nothing ambiguous about Sir Edward and his continued foppery and nonsense speeches. His choice of sensual words to two young ladies is most inappropriate, oozing total seduction. How can any woman, no anyone take him seriously? In comparison to Austen’s other bounders, rakes and rattles, he is like a toady Mr. Collins preaching the efficacy of love instead of religion. Our heroine Charlotte sees right through him. The rest of the community, not so much. The only other person who has the potential to set things in balance with his honest opinions, neat equipage and fashionable air is Sidney Parker, who shall sadly remain the mystery hero of Austen’s oeuvre.

Favorite words

superfluity, circuitous, hitherto, efficacy, dross, perturbation, solicitude, importunate, assignation and assiduously.

Further reading

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 6 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Masterpiece Completed, by Jane Austen and Juliette Shapiro by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by midnight PDT Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winner to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.

Upcoming event posts

Day 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose