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

A Preview & Giveaway of So This Is Love: An Austen-Inspired Regency, by Laura Hile

So This is Love by Laura Hile 2020I am so happy to welcome author Laura Hile back to Austenprose today. Laura is the writer of several Jane Austen-inspired novels and short stories, notably the Mercy’s Embrace trilogy featuring none other than the peevish Miss Elizabeth Elliot from Persuasion, and her humorous fantasy, Darcy by Any Other Name.

Laura has two new books releasing in quickstep: So This Is Love, and A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3. Today we are featuring So This Is Love, a Pride and Prejudice-inspired variation involving Charlotte Lucas whose re-imagined story many readers will find much more rewarding than what was originally devised by Jane Austen.

Laura has generously offered a guest blog, an exclusive excerpt, and a giveaway chance! That is the trifecta in book promotion! Enjoy! Please return on August 10th for our review of A Very Austen Romance.

“I am not romantic, you know. I never was.”

Newly escaped from a loathsome engagement of convenience, Charlotte Lucas has no interest in romance. More than ever, she is convinced that no man would—or could—love her. As a companion to an aging aunt, Charlotte’s new life is as predictable as it is circumspect.

But then she is rescued from a robbery by her uncle’s heir, a masterful man who is disastrously handsome. Why has he remained as a guest in the house? Why is he so determined to draw Charlotte out and make her talk? And what of his invitation to visit his home by the sea?

Romance is not on the chart for Captain Jack Blunt. Never again will he be played for that kind of fool! He is ashore only to heal from an injury and see to business, nothing more. And yet the pointed disinterest of his cousin’s pert niece is intriguing. She is forthright, refreshingly honest—and altogether lovely.  She will make a fine wife for one of his officers. But not, of course, for him.

So This Is Love is a joyride of a Regency, bringing whirlwind romance and happily-ever-after to Jane Austen’s staid and practical Charlotte Lucas. Continue reading “A Preview & Giveaway of So This Is Love: An Austen-Inspired Regency, by Laura Hile”

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.


Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Blog Tours, Edwardian Era, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Historical Fiction

Wentworth Hall blog tour with author Abby Grahame & Giveaway

Wentworth Hall, by Abby Grahame (2012)Seven months until Downton Abbey season 3 airs on Masterpiece Classic PBS. So, what’s a Downtonite to do in the meantime besides re-watching the first two seasons again? Why – read of course.

Please join us today in welcoming author Abby Grahame on her blog tour in celebration of the publication of Wentworth Hall, released this month by Simon & Schuster. Set in Edwardian England, not only will its title intrigue most Janeites with its reference to a certain romantic Captain from Austen’s novel Persuasion, but its author was inspired by Jane Austen throughout. Abby has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her first young adult novel and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

The “Persuasive” Influence of Jane Austen on Wentworth Hall

A writer’s tool chest is the mind: It is filled with all that the senses have imbibed; the memories and the emotions; the people, the places; the ceremonious days filled with frivolity and the fleeting moments when great truths can be revealed in a subtle nod.  Some things are recalled as if yesterday, others have sunk beneath the forgetful blanket of the unconscious. The profound and entertaining books one has enjoyed are in there too.

All of this comes into play in the act of writing. Sometimes a writer “borrows,” from another source in full consciousness. It is a parody or homage, or simply a theft. Other times the influence bubbles up unbidden from the underground caves of the authorial psyche. Such was the case—I realize only now—when I embarked on writing my first published novel Wentworth Hall.  The spirit of Jane Austen was there, whispering in my ear, for sure. But she was so clever that I didn’t notice her presence at first.

The immediate influence can be seen in naming the novel after a venerable location rife with history and family secrets. (Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park)  But, I have to admit this was also influenced by the luscious TV mini-series Downton Abbey.  (A title that was probably in itself influenced by Jane Austen too.) The upstairs, downstairs approach captivated me. This leads me to the next—and larger—influence.  Class!

In Jane Austen’s posthumously published Persuasion, Ann Elliot is madly in love with Captain Frederick Wentworth but is “persuaded” that he is not of high enough social consequence to merit a match. As in so much of Austen’s work, it is a statement on the hypocrisy and changeability of social class.

In my novel, I wanted to write about these things too. The stratification of our world into a 1% elite with gradations going down to the bottom of society’s poorest has been in the news lately. It is something that has been developing over the last fifty years in an accelerating fashion. These class distinctions are as relevant now as they were in Austen’s day.

Of course there are differences too. Wentworth Hall is set in 1912. Electricity has arrived and the radio will soon be in every home. World War One is looming. The characters see themselves as being on the cusp of a new, modern world that will shake up the power of the old aristocracy around them. A space was opening for the entrenched serving class to rise above their station of birth, just as naval service in the Napoleonic Wars allows Captain Wentworth to become a man of status and wealth.

In Wentworth Hall, the central story involves a great love affair thwarted by class differences. There are also less prominent characters whose lives are affected by the positions they were born into (in some cases the upper class feels trapped as well as the lower class). Hopefully I have explored the common humanity that makes these divides so superficial even though the lock they put on the lives of the characters seems unbreakable and can be disastrous.

So when the name Wentworth Hall occurred to me as a title, I had to have been somehow remembering that Captain Wentworth was man of rising stature in Persuasion  even though at the time I simply thought it had a good sound to it. And now that I have been made aware of the connection by the Jane Austen fans of my acquaintance, I couldn’t be more pleased. I loved Persuasion when I first read it as a college Literature major. Wentworth Hall is, indeed, imbued with the spirit of Captain Wentworth, the dashing character whom Jane Austen created with, if not precognitive, then certainly with the keen social perceptivity she brought to all her books.

So, thanks, Jane Austen. I couldn’t ask for a more acute and observant guide through the halls of class, romance, and social change.

Author Bio:

Abby Grahame lives in upstate New York. Her interest in historical fiction and British period dramas inspired Wentworth Hall. This is her first novel.

Grand Giveaway of Wentworth Hall

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of Wentworth Hall, by Abby Grahame. Please leave a comment revealing who your favorite character is in Downton Abbey or why you would love to read this new young adult novel by 11:59 PT, Wednesday, May 16, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, May 17, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Wentworth Hall, by Abby Grahame
Simon & Schuster (2012)
Hardcover (228) pages
ISBN: 978-1442451964

© 2007 – 2012 Abby Grahame, Austenprose

Guest Blog, Jane Austen, Reading Austen

Reading Austen: Guest blog by Meredith Esparza

Jane Austen, by Cassandra AustenGentle readers: We are happy to add the story of another conversion to Jane to our monthly column, Reading Austen. Today’s guest blog is by Meredith Esparza who shares her personal story of how she discovered Jane Austen and why reading her novels is so special for her.

Finding Jane Austen During My Awkward Stage

You’ve heard that everyone goes through an “awkward stage,” right?  That awkward time of life, between the ages of eleven and fifteen where teens experience growth spurts, braces, and acne?  But the term doesn’t just apply to a teenager’s physical appearance, does it?  It can also apply to their social and behavioral development, as well.  During the “awkward years,” teens not only mature into their adult bodies, but they mature into their adult mindsets and personalities, too.  Some teens do it gracefully, while others, like me, experience some awkwardness…

When was my awkward stage?  It started when I entered middle school and lasted until about sophomore year in high school. (Kind of long, I know!)  These years were awkward for me because, unlike many of my friends, I wasn’t in a hurry to grow up.  I wasn’t into boy-bands, make-up, or cellphones.  I was still content with being a little girl, playing with my American Girl dolls and watching Disney movies.  I knew it was time to mature and leave my childhood interests behind, but I just didn’t know where to go next.

I didn’t find the answer until the summer of my sophomore year of high school when I borrowed the 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice from my local library.  Up until that time, I felt isolated, socially awkward, and unsure of the person I wanted to become.  But after seeing my first Austen adaptation and subsequently reading all of Jane Austen’s novels, I saw with perfectly clarity the type of person I wanted to become: an Austen heroine.

I didn’t necessarily want to dress like these heroines and live their lives, (although, that would in no way be disagreeable to me!) I wanted to possess their strength of character, their moral compasses, and their sense of self-worth.  What better guides could a young girl ask for than Elinor Dashwood, Anne Elliot, and Elizabeth Bennet?  Who better to learn life’s lessons from than a writer who perfectly illustrates the flaws in human nature while gently imparting instruction in each novel?

After discovering the world of Jane Austen it no longer mattered to me that I didn’t have a boyfriend, or that I wasn’t friends with the popular crowd at school.  I didn’t feel the desire or need to fit into that world any more.  I found a whole new world that I’d much rather be a part of – one without AOL chat rooms, MTV, and peer pressure – a world that manifested itself in my life and gave me the feeling that I belonged.

From that point on, Jane Austen became a part of my everyday life.  With movie adaptations, Austenesque novels, and fantastic Austen blogs to follow, I found a niche for myself and grew out of my awkward stage.  And what’s even more wonderful, is that I discovered a community of the people that feel the same ways I do.  A community of readers and authors that love witnessing Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love over and over again, that secretly wish Anne Elliot could be their best friend, and that live by the motto “All Jane Austen, All the Time!”  What could be more perfect?!?

Looking back, I feel that Jane Austen entered my life at the perfect moment, not too soon and not too late.  She found me during my awkward stage, helped me survive my adolescence, and taught me how to be an Austen heroine.  She is more than just a writer, interest, or hobby, she is a part of my life, and I don’t think that will ever change.

At what point did Jane Austen enter your life?

Author Bio:

Meredith Esparza is a music teacher living off the coast of North Carolina with her very own Mr. Darcy.  She is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen and an avid reader.  Her blog, Austenesque Reviews is devoted to the reading and reviewing of numerous Jane Austen sequels, fan-fiction, and para-literature.  Currently she is hard at work planning her annual blog event, Austenseque Extravaganza, a month-long celebration of Austenesque novels and authors, which will be in September of 2012.  She hopes to see you there!  Visit Meredith at her blog Austenesque Reviews, follow her on Twitter as @austenesque and on Facebook as Austenesque Reviews.

Would you like to share your personal story of reading Austen here with fellow Janeites? Submit your essay of approximately 750 words revealing how you discovered Jane Austen’s novels and why they are so special to you to Austenprose. It just might be included in our monthly column, Reading Austen, which will be published on the first Friday of every month.

© 2007 – 2012 Meredith Esparza, Austenprose

Guest Blog, Jane Austen, Reading Austen

Reading Austen: Guest Blog by Emma Mincks

Jane Austen, by Cassandra AustenGentle readers: We are happy to add the story of another conversion to Jane to our monthly column, Reading Austen. Today’s guest blog is by Emma Mincks, who shares her personal story of how she discovered Jane Austen and why she is passionate about defending her.

My love affair with Jane Austen’s storytelling began early. I watched the Gwyneth Paltrow adaptation of Emma in eighth grade. At the time, the melodrama and internal conflict that Emma experiences during her discovery of love for Mr. Knightley resonated perfectly with my teenage angst and misunderstandings of love. It also didn’t hurt that the musical score was beautiful, that Emma was a painter (so was I), that she tried hopelessly to set up all her friends (so did I), or that she and I shared the same first name.

Throughout the years Miss Austen has inspired me as a writer and artist, and her timeless stories continue to be a source of diversion. I love reading her novels, and feel that I gain something new each time. Now, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are tied at the top of my list for best Austen novel, and I find Emma’s character completely different (thank goodness!) from my adult self.  A large portion of my experience with Austen has been personal, but in recent years, my devotion to her writing has gone pretty public, and I even created a blog, Looking for Pemberley, inspired by my love of Pride and Prejudice.

Jane is an important part of my life, but I often feel like I have to defend her from attackers who question her merits, or who see her as a “silly lady novelist.” Quite frankly, I am glad to do it. However, I also must admit that a part of me wishes that the people who deride her appreciated her as much as they ought.

In my opinion as a reader, scholar, and feeling human being, Austen has made an incredible contribution to the world of literature that cannot be discounted. The main groups I find myself at odds with regarding Jane Austen’s talents fall into different categories, including: anti-canonical modernists, male friends, and skeptics worried she will bore them with her 18th and 19th-century marriage plots.

For the record, I do not believe that all men hate Austen, and in fact, Austenprose has helped counteract the stigma of male Janeites.

Many of my friends studying modernism, contemporary literature, and even comic books, often seem biased against Miss Austen. This comes in part because she has become so canonical, and so popular that they feel bombarded by her.

For those readers who are not familiar, the literary canon is a list of books (primarily written by white men), that scholars have favored for present and future generations to study. The canon is problematic for many reasons, including the fact that it was created and is still being created with a Western Anglo bias. The books from the canon are often seen as the “great” books, or books you “must know” if you are pursuing a career in literature, certainly.

May I say to the anti-canon critics that Austen has earned her place in the history of writers, and even in the canon if we are to study it. Her outstanding attention to detail, illustrative character analysis, the clever, and dare I say at times subversive social commentary in her works, is outstanding. As far as I am concerned, she is one of, if not the best author of her day, and any widespread acceptance she has had is not a valid reason to disregard her work.

Furthermore, Austen’s writing has much more character development than some give her credit for. For example, Anne Elliot’s innovative first person narration in Persuasion is more illustrative of the later Romantic period than Regency in the extreme focus on Anne’s interiority and emotion. As readers, we get to see and feel Anne’s thought process as a primary focus in the novel, a pioneering writing technique that is not frequently enough attributed to Austen.

In my experience, those who have an extreme dislike of Austen, or who are prejudiced against her, are also generally not familiar with her writing on an intimate level, or haven’t read her much, if at all. I realize that everyone has different opinions and tastes, and I respect that. However, I also believe it is silly to discredit a body of work you haven’t read.

If provoked, I will continue to defend the merits of Jane Austen’s writing. However, I have recently come to the conclusion that Jane doesn’t need me to defend her; she does just fine without my help.

After all, her work has been powerful enough to glean hundreds of years worth of loyal fans.

Read the books if you haven’t; they can speak for themselves.

Author Bio:

Emma Mincks is a free spirited freelance writer, editor and English tutor in her mid 20’s with feminist leanings and a love of all things foodie. Emma has been defending Jane Austen for years. She has lived in many different locations, from South Dakota to London and New Mexico, but is excited to currently work and reside in Seattle. Emma is a recovering academic beginning a career with words. You can check out her literary musings at her blog Looking for Pemberley, and visit her on Facebook at Looking for Pemberley.

Would you like to share your personal story of reading Austen here with fellow Janeites? Submit your essay of approximately 750 words revealing how you discovered Jane Austen’s novels and why they are so special to you to Austenprose. It just might be included in our monthly column, Reading Austen, which will be published on the first Friday of every month.

© 2007 – 2012 Emma Mincks, Austenprose

Austenesque, Contemporary Fiction, Giveaways, Guest Blog

Mr. Darcy Forever Blog Tour with Author Victoria Connelly & Giveaway!

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly (2012)Please join us today in welcoming author Victoria Connelly on her blog tour of her third novel in the Austen Addicts series, Mr. Darcy Forever.

We really enjoyed the first two novels in the series: A Weekend with Mr. Darcy and Dreaming of Mr. Darcy and look forward to reading this one too. Each of the novels are contemporary tales inspired by Jane Austen’s novels and characters and have been widely praised.

Today is its publication date and we are celebrating its release with a guest blog with Victoria and a grand giveaway of three copies.

It’s really exciting to see Mr. Darcy Forever hit the shelves.  It hardly seems a minute ago since I came up with the idea for a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts.  I had been visiting many of the Austen locations: Chawton, Steventon, and Winchester in Hampshire, Lyme Regis in Dorset and the Georgian city of Bath.  I’ve always thought they were all so beautiful and I soon realized that I wanted to write about them.

I’ve been a lifelong Jane Austen fan and it amazes me how her work has stood the test of time and how readers are still so in love with her characters and stories, and I really wanted to explore that.  Why are these books is still so important to us today?  Why are we still obsessed with Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth?  And can there ever be enough TV and film adaptations?  These were just some of the questions I hoped to answer in my trilogy.

There are lots of books written about Austen’s heroes and heroines – prequels, sequels, and spin-offs – but there aren’t many books written about her fans and that’s what I wanted to do.  I didn’t want to rewrite Austen’s books but I did want to make references to them with, perhaps, the odd gentle nod with my own characters.  Mr. Darcy Forever is the closest book in my trilogy to an original Austen novel because I wanted to examine the relationship between two very different sisters: Sarah and Mia.  Sarah has OCD and likes everything to be in order at all times.  She’s very controlled whereas Mia is impetuous and romantic.  Can anyone guess which Austen novel inspired my two sisters? Continue reading “Mr. Darcy Forever Blog Tour with Author Victoria Connelly & Giveaway!”

Guest Blog, Jane Austen, Reading Austen

Reading Austen: Guest Blog by Lucy Warriner

Jane Austen, by Cassandra AustenGentle readers: We are happy to add the story of another conversion to Jane to our monthly column, Reading Austen. Today’s guest blog is by Lucy Warriner, who shares her personal story of how she discovered Jane Austen and why reading her novels is so special for her.

It took me a while to give Jane Austen her due—almost fifteen years, in fact. I first encountered Austen’s novels as a young teenager. While watching Emma Thompson’s 1995 movie Sense and Sensibility, I fell in love with Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon. I was so anxious over the outcome of their relationship that I paid hardly any attention to the other characters. In due course, I read the book and was a bit dismayed to find that it wasn’t the love story I had seen in the theater. Then I watched the 1995 A&E/BBC’s six-hour Pride and Prejudice—in one sitting. As soon as I could, I tore through the novel. Reticent and self-conscious, I wanted to be Elizabeth Bennet and quell the Lady Catherine de Bourghs and Caroline Bingleys of the world.

Much indiscriminate Austen reading and movie-watching followed. My memory of my first encounter with the rest of the novels is blurred, but I’m certain that I didn’t properly appreciate any of them. I vaguely remember fearing that Henry Tilney didn’t really love Catherine Morland. I more distinctly recall nodding off during the 1971 adaptation of Persuasion.

My truer appreciation of Austen dates to my senior year of high school, when I wrote a term paper about Mansfield Park. As I read the book for the second time, it seemed as though the wool had been lifted from my eyes. I saw myself in Fanny Price, and I saw many of my peers in Mary and Henry Crawford. So I sifted through every scrap of criticism I could find, took copious notes, and wrote more than I had to. Observing this, my parents gave me a copy of David Nokes’s biography of Austen. When I presented my paper, I brought the book to class to show pictures of the topaz cross that inspired Fanny’s gift from William. My English teacher, who liked neither Austen nor me, gave me an A plus.

Still, it was another eight years before Austen captivated me. Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were assigned in two of my undergraduate classes, and I leeched the life out of them with over-analysis. As a result of that experience, and the fact that rereading was then a foreign concept for me, I never returned to Austen in my free time. Instead, I read Trollope, Gaskell, Faulkner, and Thomas Wolfe.

All that changed shortly after I finished graduate school. I was helping care for my severely ill father when Masterpiece Classic aired its Jane Austen season in 2008. Desperate for escape, I watched the newest adaptation of Persuasion. It transfixed me. (For all its departures from the novel and all the criticism it has received, it still does.) I tracked down my battered copy of the novel from college and started reading. I could hardly put it down, and I could hardly believe that something so painfully beautiful had failed to impress me before. Anne Elliot and I were nearly the same age. While I had never lost my true love, I knew enough of regret and loneliness to understand her plight.

Over the next several months, I read the rest of Austen’s works. Darker and more ambiguous than I remembered it, MP again grew in my estimation. NA became a new love, and I delighted in Catherine’s innocent integrity. P&P and S&S didn’t immediately grab me, but I came to respect Elinor’s self-discipline and Elizabeth’s poise. While I couldn’t tolerate Emma Woodhouse, I admired Emma as a work of art.

But when I finished, I still wanted more. The novels led me to relevant biographies, histories, and critical studies. These books led me back to the novels, which prompted me to watch movies, which encouraged me to try sequels. Then the process started all over again. It continues to this day, partly because there’s always more to be learned, but mainly because I like Austen’s view of human nature. She knows that sincerity is scarce in a world preoccupied with self, wealth, and status. Her heroines must distinguish the important from the trivial, the true from the false, in themselves and in others. Actual self-awareness seems as rare as genuine friendship and love, and those who find all three are extraordinarily lucky. For me, this circumstance is as true in real life as it is in the novels. So for the next fifteen years—and beyond—I’ll keep reading Austen.

Author Bio:

Lucy Warriner is a North Carolina animal lover and dance enthusiast. She is also an ardent admirer of Jane Austen.

Would you like to share your personal story of reading Austen here with fellow Janeites? Submit your essay of approximately 750 words revealing how you discovered Jane Austen’s novels and why they are so special to you to Austenprose. It just might be included in our monthly column, Reading Austen, which will be published on the first Friday of every month.

© 2007 – 2012 Lucy Warriner, Austenprose