Please join us today in welcoming author Stephanie Barron on her book blog tour in celebration of her eleventh novel in the Being a Jane Austen Mysteries series, Jane and the Canterbury Tale to be released tomorrow by Bantam Books.
Walking Godmersham in Search of a Tale
About a dozen years or so ago, when my elder son was still a toddler and my younger not yet born, I left Sam in the care of a nanny and his dad, and wandered around England alone. I had ten days to myself, and the trip would have been intensely boring to anybody but me—no Tower of London, no Blenheim, no flying trip to Warwick Castle. The itinerary was entirely dictated by places Jane Austen had lived. I had written two books about her and intended to write more; but I needed a visual sense of all the places she had known, or could possibly have used herself as settings for her novels.
In some cases, it was easy to find her—in Bath, for example, where a cottage industry in Austen Walking Tours is thriving. Other places were more challenging. I was intrigued by the possibility that Jane had actually visited the town of Bakewell in Derbyshire, three miles from the ducal seat of Chatsworth—a town she actually mentions in Pride and Prejudice, although tradition insists she was never there. She might have gone to Bakewell, possibly, while spending six weeks with her cousin Edmund Cooper in his tiny village of Hamstall-Ridware, Staffordshire. Having seen the easy places—Portsmouth and Southampton, Chawton and Bath, Hans Crescent in London—I threw myself behind the right-handed wheel of a rented car and took to the carriageways, as highways are called in England. They terrified me. I consistently made the mistake of hugging the right lane of multi-lane roads, thinking it would be the “slow” lane—except, of course, in a reverse-world it was the fast lane, and I was the object of frustration and ridicule. Continue reading