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

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

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

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

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 realised 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?

And my heroes?  I hope they are reminiscent of Austen’s own wonderful heroes being strong and dependable, kind and loving – someone my heroine can turn to in times of trouble, somebody who will always be there for her.

Victoria Connelly at the Jane Austen House Museum (2012)About the author:

Victoria Connelly’s first novel was promoted in Germany to celebrate World Book Day and was adapted into a TV movie. Her second novel was published as a lead title in the UK and chosen as a “hot pick” in Closer magazine. Her new trilogy is her first foray into Jane Austen related fiction. Connelly lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, Springer spaniel and ex-battery chickens. Visit Victoria at her blog, on Facebook and as @VictoriaDarcy on Twitter.

Giveaway of Mr. Darcy Forever

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Mr. Darcy Forever by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about reading a Sense and Sensibility-inspired contemporary novel or what characters you would like to see Victoria write about next, by midnight PT, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, April 12, 2012. Print edition shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. E-book edition internationally. Good luck!

Many thanks to Victoria for her three guest blogs for each of the Austen Addicts novels in this series over the past year, and to her publisher Sourcebooks, for generously offering the giveaways. We wish her the best of luck with this new novel and hope she will be inspired to write a future Austen-inspired series.

Mr. Darcy Forever, by Victoria Connelly
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1402251382
NOOK: ISBN: 9781402251399
Kindle: ASIN: B0073KA3HA

 © 2007 – 2012 Victoria Connelly, Austenprose

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  

Reading Austen: Guest Blog by Dara Schnuelle

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 Dara Schnuelle, who shares her personal story of how she discovered Jane Austen and why reading her novels is so special for her.

Ask almost any high school student his or her experience with the dreaded book report and the generally expected response is either a look of horror or an agonizing groan. With my penchant for dramatic flair, I chose the groan when given my first assigned book report of my freshman year of high school. However, I was in honors English and knew I could handle any book thrown my way. The book list of classic novels was grasped firmly in my hand. My eyes skimmed the list. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The title seemed alluring enough. It had a nice alliteration.  How bad could it be? I soon discovered just how bad I would have it—in multiple ways.

“It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properly at first.”

Luckily, my mother had a copy of the novel at home. I picked up her weather-beaten copy and was quickly drawn to the pictures in the middle of the novel. Flooded with images of the 1940 version of the movie, my own prejudices against the novel began. Why, oh why, did I agree to read this horrid novel? Despite my reservations, I opened to chapter one. I knew the heroine was Elizabeth Bennet and I knew it was some sort of romantic comedy, but that was as far as my knowledge went. In my infinite teenage wisdom, I connected Elizabeth with the first male name I saw: Mr. Bingley. Ah, of course! Elizabeth and Bingley would be together. It had to be love at first sight. I had just read Romeo and Juliet in class. I knew the literary pattern. I already had this whole plot thing down.  In my mind, I didn’t even need to read the rest. I found the novel to be increasingly tedious. I had already figured out the plot, why continue? I needed a quick way out of this nightmare. My escape was clear: who needs to read a book when there are movie versions available? Luckily I had encountered in my mother’s VHS collection a video labeled “A&E Pride and Prejudice.” BINGO!

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

I popped the video in and began watching. After about thirty minutes I had to admit I was wrong about Elizabeth and Bingley. How had my fine understanding of plot failed me? No matter, I didn’t care about his novel, anyway. Or did I? I had to begrudgingly admit, this Mr. Darcy fellow seemed slightly intriguing. And Elizabeth Bennet sounded like someone I would have been BFFs with if we ran into each other. I guess (insert enormous sigh) I could keep watching. Time began to pass without my desperate need to glance at the clock. I was drawn in. Vividly, I recall yelling at Darcy to “spit it out already” during that awkward silence before his disastrous proposal at Hunsford. Like Darcy, I hadn’t even realized by the end of the series how badly, against my will, I had fallen for these characters. To quote Elizabeth, “I, who [had] prided myself on my discernment! – I, who [had] valued myself on my abilities” had grossly misjudged them. Once the joyous five hours were over, I greedily grabbed the tattered novel laying on my nightstand and hungrily devoured every word. Life and what I wanted to do with mine had a whole new meaning.

How very like Elizabeth and Darcy I was! I was blinded by prejudice and could not see the value of what was before me. Today, as a secondary English teacher, I cringe to look back at how quickly I disregarded a piece of literature for its film counterpart. I learned to appreciate Austen’s wit and irony, so I have to appreciate the irony that brought me to my profession as an English teacher and a lover of history and literature. I broke the English teacher taboo in order to bring me to that very role. To once again steal words from Elizabeth, “till [that] moment I never knew myself”.

Author Bio:

Dara Schnuelle is the newest teacher in her wonderful family of educators. She has taught both junior high and high school English and aspires to one day be a writer. However, the time constraints of being a teacher and a newlywed tend to get in the way.

Contrary to the belief of her students, Dara does not live in her classroom and does venture out into “the real world” on occasion. When outside of the classroom, Dara is a self-proclaimed Anglophile and constantly dreams of her next trip to England. When not plotting her return to English soil or grading papers, she can be found reading, watching too many television shows, and spending time with her family and two adorable miniature dachshunds. Dara lives, quite happily, in Arizona.

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, that will be published on the first Friday of every month.

© 2007 – 2012 Dara Schnuelle, Austenprose

Reading Austen: Guest Blog by Jeffrey Ward

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 Jeffrey Ward, fellow book reviewer and frequent visitor here who shares his personal story of how he discovered Jane Austen and why reading her novels is so special for him.

“Intolerably Stupid:” My Improbable Journey to Jane Austen

As a youngster growing up in and near San Francisco, when I wasn’t goofing around outdoors, my earliest memories of reading were of an old used set of the massive encyclopedia called The Book of Knowledge.  I remember it encompassing about a dozen intimidating volumes but this kid read EVERY page. This imprinted into my psyche a life-long habit of reading non-fiction and my overt disregard for practically everything fictional.  Consequently, I’ve been a life-long fact-finding trivia geek; however, by Jane Austen’s standards, I was still “intolerably stupid.”

This stubborn habit continued throughout high school, the military, and university.  After two decades and some 330+ semester hours of credits in every possible discipline, this career student finally received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of Washington.  My lop-sided education was a mile wide and an inch deep.

I worked in the airline industry where my non-fiction reading continued unabated and most prominently featured history, biographies, current events, technical articles and industry-related topics.  My fiction-loving wife, family, and friends, continually asked me if I had read this novel or that novel to which I replied haughtily “Reading that stuff is a waste of time.” So, my contempt for fiction continued shamefully for about 55 years!

My fiction epiphany began a scant five years ago in an almost mystical manner. One evening, I had exhausted my current stash of non-fiction and was having a “nothing to read” anxiety attack.  In an effort to stave off withdrawal symptoms, I wandered into our home office and perused our largest book case.  At first, I saw nothing but my familiar non-fiction.  But what was THIS and how did it get here? My eyes locked on to Emma by Jane Austen.  I thought “Oh well, why not?”  So, I pried out the volume, blew some dust off the top and returned to my bedside. Little did I know that in my smug non-fictional pride I was just about to be struck off my mount on my own personal road to Damascus by an irresistible force which was poised to draw me inexorably into the sublime realm of fiction.

Still, it almost didn’t happen. Totally unfamiliar as I was with Miss Austen’s style, I struggled through the first 100 pages of Emma, trying to make sense of her bewildering cast of characters and how she so ingeniously “set the table.”  At around 100 pages, the “scales” fell from my eyes and I hungrily devoured Emma, starved from a lifetime of depriving myself of a great story!  When I got to the resolution of Emma and Mr. Knightley’s second turn in the bushes, I was totally overcome with emotion.  I jumped up, wept openly, howled with glee, and pranced around the room with exultation! What was happening to me?  Here was something I had seldom experienced in my drab, sterile non-fiction existence:  Being baptized into the warmth of human affection, irony, desire, longing, sorrow, comedy and suspense.  Dear God, I was an incurable romantic and it took Jane Austen to finally pry open my long-suppressed heart to release this latent gift!  With a wink and nod to Laurel Ann’s, Jane Austen Made Me do It.

I later learned that Emma was left in our book case and forgotten by our daughter following her graduation from college. I’m convinced that this was no coincidence but a divine appointment!

I’ve since read all of Jane Austen’s novels multiple times; this from a guy who hardly ever read a book more than once. Our divine Miss Austen has been critically referred to by some as the greatest writer of English literature since William Shakespeare.   Her unique and distinctive writing style has been imitated but never equaled. Her unforgettable characters fairly leap off the pages as if fully alive.  Her humor is a hammer covered in velvet.  Her gradual crescendos of emotional suspense are palpable. Her ironic twists and turns are astonishing.  Her dialogues are so captivating that I find myself vocally entering into her conversations as I read!

It is appropriate that Jane Austen was the gateway through which this stone-cold empirical naysayer would finally enter into the promised land of fiction.  Here at Austenprose, I’m now expanding my horizons by enjoying the works of many talented contemporary authors who ply the rich legacy left to us by Miss Austen.  As I post, review, and opine throughout the blogosphere, I hope my love, enthusiasm, and gratitude for all things Austen shines forth.

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 – 2012 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Reading Austen: Guest Blog by Tara O’Donnell

Jane Austen, by Cassandra AustenGentle readers: We are happy to share our second contribution to a new monthly column, Reading Austen. Today guest blogger Tara O’Donnell shares her personal story of how she discovered Jane Austen and why reading her novels is so special for her.

Persuaded into Austen

Like many of many fellow Jane Austen fans out there, I came to her books via a movie. No, it wasn’t that one where Darcy soaks his shirt (although, I have seen it numerous times and own two different DVD editions, plus a VHS set……so you could say I’m familiar with that film). The year was 1995 and I was hearing high praise from movie reviewers about a little British film named Persuasion.

That was also the year of Sense & Sensibility starring Emma Thompson and a pre-Titanic Kate Winslet, which received just as much praise but a much wider distribution in theaters. I had no

choice but to pick up the book first and Persuasion became my gateway into Jane Austen country.

What compelled me to check out this story in the first place was its heroine, Anne Elliot. I was around the same age as Anne was and that anyone, particularly back in a time where women were considered permanent spinsters if they weren’t married before the end of their teen years, would have a mature woman being granted a second chance at love and a life of her own was an eye opener for me.

Also, like Anne, I was somewhat of an “old reliable” sort within my social circle. While my family was much kinder and considerate, plus far from being any where near as snobbish as the Elliots, I did tend to be the one who was instantly counted on or asked to  pass on advice from one person to another, much like poor Anne did whenever she went to stay with her forever “sickly” sister Mary and her down to earth in-laws, the Musgroves. That scene in the film where she’s clearly exhausted after a round robin session of grievances during the first couple of days of her visit is amusingly relatable.

Persuasion is a brief book and a bit more somber in tone than most of the more popular introductory Austen novels that people read such as Emma or Pride and Prejudice. It’s not as lively as say even Northanger Abbey (which was published with Persuasion after Austen’s death) yet the wit and satire is at Austen’s sharpest point in her writing. While Persuasion is getting its due more often these days, back in ’95, the story wasn’t seen as the prettiest sister amongst her more celebrated siblings.

Yet, it struck just the right note with me in its precise portrait of two people (Anne and Captain Wentworth) who felt keenly the regret of their earlier decision not to take a chance on love and so wanted to remedy that but were still uncertain if their affections would be returned. As much as I adore Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth’s declaration of “you pierce my soul….I am half agony, half hope.” makes him number one in my heart.

I then went on to not only reading the rest of Austen’s work but learning more about her life and times, which lead me to finding websites like The Republic of Pemberley where I discovered that Austen mania was a worldwide epidemic for which there is no cure, thank goodness!

In addition to joining in on many Austen related discussions, I joined the RoP folk on a trip to England in 2002 that took me to two of the prime locations in Persuasion. At Lyme Regis, I got to walk on the Cobb where silly Louisa Musgrove fell and then went sightseeing in Bath, which I probably enjoyed a lot more than Austen did in her day. That trip was one of the best experiences of my life and one that I will cherish always.

While in some ways I am still like Anne, in the best sense of that statement, over the years I have grown a little more assertive and prefer to take my cues in behavior and decorum from some of Austen’s fine examples of steadfast women such as Elinor Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet and Fanny Price. I can’t credit all of my developing maturity to Jane Austen but she was and is a wonderful encourager of seeking your own way to happiness and it would be wrong of me not to acknowledge her part in my continuing emotional conversation.

Persuasion, much like its leading lady, may have been a most unlikely place for me to begin my literary journey with Jane Austen. However, starting at the end seems to have been a good choice and one that I wouldn’t change for the world.

Author Bio:

Tara O’Donnell is a former independent bookseller who now devotes herself to writing and hopes to have some great novels in book stores herself one day.

In addition to her pop culture blog, Living Read Girl, she recently had a small sketch entitled “Bennet Bridezillas” as her entry into the 2011 Bad Austen writing competition, which was included in the completed companion book Bad Austen: The Worst Stories that Jane Never Wrote from Adams Media.

Over this past summer, Tara released her first eBook, a comic book novella called “The Hench Woman’s Handbook”, which is available as a free download from Smashwords. Jane Austen is only one of Tara’s many literary influences on a list that includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Louisa May Alcott, Gilmore Girls, Edith Wharton and Batman: The Animated Series. An odd list, to be sure, however she suspects that Miss Austen would approve at the very least of Buffy Summers and Rory Gilmore.

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, that will be published on the first Friday of every month.

© 2007 – 2011 Tara O’Donnell, Austenprose

Reading Austen: Guest Blog by Anthony Garcia

Jane Austen, by Cassandra AustenGentle readers: We are happy to share our first contribution to a new monthly column, Reading Austen. Today guest blogger Anthony Garcia shares his personal story of how he discovered Jane Austen and why reading her novels is so special for him.

Growing up, if you would’ve asked me who Jane Austen was, I probably wouldn’t have even known the answer. I wasn’t what you would call a reader back then, and nobody who knew me would have ever thought that I would eventually go to a graduateprogram in literature. I actually didn’t read my first novel until I was about 14. It was Lord of the Flies, a far cry from Austen. Eventually I did become an avid reader, but it took a lot of coaxing from teachers and friends who were readers. Even when I found out who Jane Austen was, probably around junior year of high school, there was no way I was going to read her. Why would I? The only people I ever heard talking about her were female, and I certainly didn’t want to be the only guy reading Jane Austen.

So, you can imagine my chagrin when I got to college and one of the first assignments for our English class was reading Persuasion. I was very skeptical, but soon discovered Jane Austen’s magnificence as a writer. After that introduction, I was hooked forever. I read Pride and Prejudice next, followed by Northanger Abbey, and all the rest. Then came the re-readings. Through this process, I became an avid Austen fanatic and started to rent and watch all of the film adaptations. I eventually decided that Austen was my passion in life, and went to graduate school to pursue my love of a female writer from Regency England.

I found that dream more difficult to realize than I had anticipated for a couple of different reasons. First, my gender worked against me. Most people at orientation had read Austen, sure, but they were certainly not men, and they were not making Austen their primary focus. I got a lot of questions about that choice, especially from the other men in the program. I realize now that there are othermenwhoreadAusten, but back then I felt like a weirdo. The second problem that came up in graduate school was the stigma about studying anything that is considered “popular” or that “everybody reads” because it is enjoyable. If you study something that people actually enjoy reading you are punished a bit for it. One of the reasons this stigma exists is practical: for research, many interesting thongs I could point out about a popular novel may have already been said before by other scholars thirty years before me.

After the first semester of graduate school, I realized that my passion, reading Austen, would not be an avenue I could pursue as a career. But, you know what? I am almost glad that was the case. I did still read Austen in school, but I read her for my own pleasure. In between Mary Rowlandson and the Wicazo SA Review, my thesis on Native American literature left little time for recreational reading, but what time there was, I filled with Austen.

I am glad that I never had to associate her with my work. I had a love-hate relationship with the texts I worked most with in grad school, and I am not sure I would want my joy dampened in my readings of Austen’s texts. Reading Austen is not an activity I would not want to enjoy anymore, and the chance of that happening to her through the cynicism rampant in graduate studies was one of the reasons I chose not to study her in school. I was worried that examining her texts too thoroughly may have ruined the magic of reading her stories.

If I was not able to have Jane Austen’s novels to read for respite from the onslaught of literary theory on Native American literature from the 1700s, and hundreds of pages a week of assigned texts, (which were interesting, don’t get me wrong), as well as poorly crafted student papers, I could have gotten so lost in the minutiae of my education that I may have never graduated.

In graduate school for literature, it is really important to remain close to the text that remind you why you went in the first place. This is due to the fact that each day becomes like a test of reading endurance; reading can begin to seem as mundane as drinking a cup of coffee, and it is very easy to lose the joy that you had when going in. Reading Austen for pleasure in my spare time saved me from that fate. In other words, I have Jane Austen to thank for both inspiring me to go to graduate school, and for getting through it with my love of literature intact. I know work, following her footsteps, as a writer, and am working on my first novel. Thank you, Ms. Austen.

Author Bio:

Anthony Garcia recently completed his graduate education in English Literature, and is working as a freelance writer. He writes primarily about education, travel, literature, and American culture, and is an avid fan of literature blogs, especially Austenprose.

In his spare time, he reads as much as possible, and works on his list of life goals, which include currently includes publishing a novel, visiting Spain, climbing Mt. Rainier, and solving a Rubix cube. A New Mexico native, he currently resides and writes in Seattle, Washington.

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, that will be published on the first Friday of every month.

© 2007 – 2011 Anthony Garcia, Austenprose

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author:

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

Giveaway of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard

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

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

© 2007 – 2011 Belinda Roberts, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

Guest review by Christina Boyd

Huzzah! The much anticipated Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, a Pride & Prejudice variation by author, Abigail Reynolds has come at last. In this clever re-imagining, Miss Elizabeth Bennet left Hunsford before Mr. Darcy’s ill-stated first proposal as her father fell sick and later died. His heir, Mr. Collins assumes the entail and the ladies of Longbourn must shift for themselves.

Elizabeth’s eldest sister, Jane marries a local shopkeeper, believing she is doing her best for her family. The three youngest, along with Mrs. Bennet go to live with Aunt Phillips in Meryton while Elizabeth is sent to her Aunt & Uncle Gardiner in Cheapside. After Mr. Darcy discovers her in such reduced circumstances, he tells himself he simply needs to be reassured that she is being cared for.  But after he contrives a “chance” meeting, he finds he cannot stay away.  His obsession grows… He is consumed with the need to talk with her, see her, care for her. And just when his passions overcome his familial responsibility to his Darcy pride, another Bennet folly arrives, threatening to lower Elizabeth’s station even further. What delicious tension!

Abigail Reynolds’ Darcy is ever the romantic hero loving the sparkling Elizabeth, despite her lowly connections, and coming to her every rescue. Although, some may acknowledge and even grumble about the distinct lack of hot, steamy love scenes that are typical in Reynolds’ Pride & Prejudice variations, there are plenty of dizzying, heart pounding interludes to be had. Rarely have I read such sensual, seductive, provocative, yet wholly chaste, love scenes! “A fire seemed to kindle inside her as she realized that he planned to remove it. The smooth kidskin slipped away easily, but Darcy paused with her hand half revealed, as if asking her permission to continue.” Swoon worthy, indeed.

Although many of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice canon characters make appearances throughout this novel, Reynolds’ own original characters are just as rich and colorful… adding depth and validity to this engaging twist. For those that have been chomping at the bit for another Reynolds’ novel, Mr. Darcy’s Obsession does not disappoint! And to Darcy & Elizabeth lovers who have yet to discover her works, you must put this at the front of the queue!

Post script: I messaged the author asking her why she failed to wrap-up Georgiana’s plot line in the epilogue… and she responded that it is because she is writing a SEQUEL with more Georgiana!  How about that for breaking news?!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, by Abigail Reynolds
Sourcebooks (2010)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 9781402240928

© 2007 – 2010 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Austen Film Locations: Pemberley – Pride and Prejudice 1995

The 1995 BBC/A&E miniseries of Pride and Prejudice staring Colin Firth and Jenniffer Ehle as Jane Austen’s most famous couple Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet is renowned for its period accuracy, sumptuous costuming and stunning locations. Please welcome guest blogger Helen Wilkinson today as she takes us on a tour of the two locations, Lyme Park and Sudbury Hall, used to stand in for Mr. Darcy’s palatial estate Pemberley in the 1995 production.

“Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!” The Narrator, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 43

When location researchers were scouting the British countryside for the perfect house to use as Pemberley in the 1995 Pride & Prejudice film production, they knew this was the house they had to get right.

Houses on the scale of Pemberley are few and far between. It is supposed to be in Derbyshire which would give it a distinctive northern look, and it has to be very big and set in stunning scenery. Some people think Jane Austen was thinking of Chatsworth as Pemberley, but in fact Chatsworth was referred to in its own right in the novel.” Sam Breckman, P&P 1995 Location Manager

Once the BBC had settled on Lyme Park near Manchester everything looked set to fall into place. But a change of management at Lyme meant that shortly before filming began, the interior was no longer available. So a last minute search began for an interior which would match Lyme – it had to be a house of the same look, age and feel which wouldn’t jar with viewers.  The interior they settled on was miles away at Sudbury Hall, a house which looks very different to Lyme Park from the outside, but had just the elegant interior that Sam Breckman and the production team were looking for. The flow of rooms at Sudbury, and the exquisite long gallery provided the marvellous scenes where the house-keeper leads Lizzy and the Gardiners through Mr Darcy’s home. As the camera follows Lizzy through one elegant room to the next, her heart is melting towards its owner.

“I still haven’t been inside Lyme Park – it would spoil the illusion in my head. Whenever we take people to Lyme I like to believe that the interior is the same as the screen version. In our minds we think we have seen Jennifer Ehle looking out of the windows and seeing the lake – but in fact it’s all down to skilful editing.” Maddy Hall, Production expert & tour guide

For many people, the moment when Lizzy sees Pemberley and its lake, is a highlight of the entire series. She is only half joking when she tells Jane that she fell in love with Darcy when she first saw ‘his beautiful grounds at Pemberley’.

Helen Wilkinson, P and P Tours

P&P Tours visit both locations for Pemberley as part of their tours. Visit their P and P Tours website for further information and bookings details.

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Elizabeth & Darcy: The Iconic Romantic Couple

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Jane Odiwe from Jane Austen Sequels blog and author of Lydia Bennet’s Story and Willoughby’s Return who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Austen’s memorable characterizations of her hero and heroine, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Watch for Jane’s new Pride and Prejudice sequel Mr. Darcy’s Secret* to be released in February 2011 by Sourcebooks.

Thank you Laurel Ann for asking me to guest blog today!

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are perhaps Jane Austen’s most beloved characters. Pride and Prejudice was written more than two hundred years ago, yet these characters remain as fresh and irresistibly fascinating to us as they were for the first generations that read their tale, and remain the standard by which all other characters in a love story are judged.

So, why do we love them so much? Jane Austen tells their story through Elizabeth’s eyes so it’s easy to identify with this heroine who is lively, witty, and loveable as much for her faults as for her charms. We identify with her because we feel she is like us. She is capable of making mistakes, but having realised her errors, she changes and grows as a result. We see her character develop as the story enfolds.

The first time we really meet Elizabeth it is at the Meryton Assembly where the proud Mr Darcy is also in attendance with his affable friend Mr Bingley. There is a lack of gentlemen at the ball, and Lizzy has to sit out for two dances. Mr Darcy is seen to be behaving in a particularly disagreeable manner. He only dances with Mr Bingley’s sisters and ignores everyone else in the room. Everyone has heard that he is a rich landowner, but his wealth and power coupled with his anti-social manners only serve to make him appear arrogant. He doesn’t seem to care that his words may be overheard or that his speech is insulting. In fact, he is almost goading Elizabeth whom he has heard described as a pretty girl. He actually makes sure that Lizzy is looking at him before he speaks. It’s almost as if he wants her to hear, and make her aware that he can attract, and have any woman in the room.

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”

It’s a real put down, and as an unsurprising consequence, she dislikes him instantly!

Continue reading at Jane Austen Sequels

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 22   July 24   Swag winners announced

*Mr. Darcy’s Secret, by Jane Odiwe: After capturing the heart of one of the richest man in England, Elizabeth Darcy believes her happiness is complete until mysterious affairs involving Mr Darcy’s past, and concerns over his sister Georgiana’s own troubled path to happiness present Elizabeth with fresh challenges to test her integrity, honour, and sweet nature as she fights her old fears and feelings of pride and prejudice. However, nothing can daunt our sparkling and witty heroine or dim her sense of fun as Elizabeth and the powerful, compelling figure of Mr Darcy take centre stage in this romantic tale set against the dramatic backdrops of Regency Derbyshire and the Lakes amongst the characters we love so well. (beautiful watercolor illustration of Darcy and Lizzy above is by ©Jane Odiwe as well!)