Austenesque, Jane Austen Humor

Jane Austen Campaign 08: Her wish is nature’s command…

Image of Jane Austen action figure

Janeites: You have been been summoned…

As part of the Jane Austen national campaign for president tour, the cherry trees in Washington have bloomed on her command. We were honored by her highnesses recent visit to our humble neck of the woods and snapped this photo to commemorate the occasion. (see new banner above)

Check out her latest campaign ad on Youtube. We think it quite fitting!

Jane Austen ’08 (Parody)

Austenesque

Pemberley Chronicles Winner

Image of the cover of The Pemberley Chronicles (2008)Congratulations and hello Amy P.!

You are the lucky winner of Rebecca Anne Collins’ book Pemberley Chronicles in our give-away, so please e-mail us for your prize! Cheers Laurel Ann

Austenesque, Jane Austen Book Sleuth, Jane Austen Humor, Jane Austen Inspired

Top Ten Reasons to Read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, – Again!

WIN A FREE COPY OF

CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT

 

Image of the cover of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, (2007)

Today is the official release date for the paperback edition of one of my favorite Austen-esque novels,  Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler. Hurrah! You can read a synopsis of the book here

This novel received a most  ‘favourable’ response from reviewers and Janeites when it was released in hardcover last summer. Here are a few highlights… 

This is Laurie Viera Rigler’s first novel and she’s done a wonderful job. Charming characters, matchless plot-lines and a great Austen flavor make this debut a must-read. Fans of Austen will love Rigler’s style and Austen newbies will have no trouble following the story even if they aren’t familiar with all of Austen’s work. Blog Critics Magazine 

…the fans that adored Jude Devereaux’s Knight in Shining Armor or the time travel movies Somewhere in Time, Kate and Leopold, and Big will definitely have a rollicking good time. Jane Austen Today 

Ms. Rigler knows her Jane Austen and sprinkles the book with loving references….This book is a fun, light, fluffy bit of “chick lit” for any Janeite – a good read for a plane trip or a rainy weekend. The Austen Intelligencer 

I absolutely loved the creativity of this novel and admire Ms. Rigler’s bold and inventive plot and characters, which is made all the sweeter since it is just so darn funny. 

So Janeites, inspired by modern comedic brilliance, and Miss Austen’s character Emma Woodhouse who demands from each of you “one thing very clever, be it prose or verse, original or repeated — or two things moderately clever — or three things very dull indeed, and she engages to laugh heartily at them all“, I put to you my top ten reasons to read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, again, – and challenge you to add your share! 

Top Ten Reasons to Read 

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Again…

 

10.) Your cat became a critic and coughed up a hairball on your copy of Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife.

9.) Your boss caught you watching the new adaptation of Northanger Abbey on your computer at work, and has restricted your Austen addiction to lunch room reading. 

8.) Your VCR just ate episode 4 of Pride and Prejudice (1995), and your new DVD will not arrive from Barnes and Noble for three days! 

7.) Your wannabe Captain Wentworth just asked that stick insect cheerleader to the spring prom, and now your last minute blind date is your mother’s second cousins, manicurist’s minister’s, step son who is Mr. Collins’ doppelganger! 

6.) Your 13 year old little sister was just offered a modeling contract with the Wilhelmina agency in New York.   

5.) Your husband has just learned that you are being audited by the IRS because you talked him into claiming your purchases of Jane Austen books, DVD’s and conferences as a charitable contribution on your taxes.      

4.) Your debate team teacher will not let you argue the merits of Colin Firth vs. Matthew McFadyen to prove ‘who is the hottest Mr. Darcy ever’ at the state debate finals next month. 

3.) Your parents think you are crazy for refusing to go on vacation with them to Hawaii because Regency ladies never wore bikinis. 

2.) You have just learned that the movie Lost in Austen has been put on the back-burner, and now there are no pending movies of Jane Austen inspired biographies, spin-offs or adaptations in the immediate future.  

And the number one reason to read

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict again is… 

 

Your new boyfriend thinks that your ‘Darcy on a pedestal’ addiction is out of control after you ask him to bow when he meets your parents for the first time!

Be sure to visit Laurie’s web site devoted to everything addictive about Jane Austen, janeaustenaddict.com and explore the question, what would it be like to live in Jane Austen’s time, read about her latest insights for Jane Austen addicts on A Great Deal of Conversation Blog, or have your share of the conversation on the forum. 

Image of the cover of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, (2007)CONTEST: Win a free paperback copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by stating your unique reason for needing to read the novel in the comments by 11:59 pm on Wednesday May 7th, and the winner will be drawn and announced the next day! Good luck Austen addicts.       

Austenesque, Book Previews, Guest Blog

Austenesque author Rebecca Ann Collins: Decidedly Discusses Jane Austen Sequels

 

Image of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Pride and Prejudice, (1995)

“Upon my word,” said her ladyship, “you give your opinion very decidedly for so young a person. Pray, what is your age?”  

“With three younger sisters grown up,” replied Elizabeth smiling, “your ladyship can hardly expect me to own it.”  

Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence. Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 29 

Win a copy of The Pemberley Chronicles! 

Image of the cover of The Pemberley Chronicles (2008)Recently, Austenprose was sent a review copy of The Pemberley Chronicles written by Rebecca Ann Collins, a sequel based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Being unfamiliar with the series, we were astounded to learn that this is the first novel in a series of ten that were previously published in Australia between 1997- 2005. We were curious about the author, who we learned writes under a nom de plum. She kindly sent us her story that she had previously contributed to, Jane Austen: Antipodean Views, edited by Susannah Fullerton and Anne Harbers, for The Jane Austen Society of Australia, Sydney 2001.

Let it never be said that author Rebecca Ann Collins does not express her opinions decidedly, turning her displeasure of other Pride and Prejudice sequels into writing ten novels to suit her notion of what Miss Austen’s Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s future life was like together. Like Jane Austen’s character Lady Catherine de Bourgh, we were both intrigued and astonished by her decided opinions on the Jane Austen sequel industry. One of the benefits of writing anonymously is that you can say what you will, and she does! We offer a few responses, because, we must always have our share of the conversation.

Image of Mr. Darcy, Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejuidce, (1995)

“How I came to write The Pemberley Chronicles makes an interesting tale. The BBC’s magnificent TV production of Pride and Prejudice had just concluded in 1996 when I was given a video copy to which I soon became addicted. Having read the book many times, I enjoyed seeing Miss Austen’s witty masterpiece brought stunningly alive, perfect in every detail. (None of the productions before or since has had the same energy and polish.) 

We heartily concur with Ms. Collins there! The recent ITV and BBC adaptations were ‘nice’, but did not match the “light, bright and sparkling” darling of Austen adaptations, the 1995 BBC/A&E Pride and Prejudice. 

Pride and Prejudice Continued“That Christmas, a well meaning niece presented me with two books- sequels to Pride and Prejudice by Emma Tennant titled, “Pemberley” and “An Unequal  Marriage“. To my huge disappointment, I found that in these “sequels” Jane Austen’s beloved Elizabeth and her Mr. Darcy had been transformed into players in an American style soap opera – set in Regency England! Shallow, self-indulgent and often downright silly, they were quite unrecognisable. Their superficiality, lack of judgement and total disconnection from Miss Austen’s original characters so appalled me that I sent off an irate letter to the publisher and the Jane Austen Society of the UK.” 

Having not read Ms. Tennant’s novels, we can not comment on the truth of their silliness, but we are aware of several other Pride and Prejudice sequels that would certainly qualify as being written in the style of an American soap opera, and even, dare we say, soft-porn! Others readers do too, and we were reminded of this amusing and tongue-in-cheek review on AustenBlog.

“But the more I fulminated, the more frustrated I became. It was in this context and with the encouragement of a literary friend whose judgement I respected, that I began work on The Pemberley Chronicles, which I saw as a means of extending  the lives of Jane Austen’s own characters into the  wider environment of nineteenth century England.” 

Hell wath no fury like a woman scorned, or a Janeite who has had her Austen characters trifled with! 

“I wanted to place them in the context of that most dynamic and interesting period of English history and observe them as they dealt with events in their own lives and the consequences of profound social, political and economic change. A sort of “Life after Meryton” exercise- if you will.” 

Image of the cover of Regency Buck, Georgette Heyer, (2008)Ms. Collins historical research is quite extensive. Even though Miss Austen concentrated on the microclimate of her characters country lives, and rarely mentioned their outside world, Ms. Collins’ novels delve beyond the Austen realm of working “on three or four families in a country village” and place the characters in full historical context. She has created a much wider environment evolving into the historical romance genre, similar to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series or Georgette Heyer’s Regency Buck.

“I could not accept that after Waterloo, with change all around them transforming the lives of all the people in England, educated and intelligent men and women as Darcy and Elizabeth are shown to be in the original novel, would spend all their waking moments absorbed by the most superficial matters of fashion, romantic intrigue and gossip – before falling into bed again! Yet, that is exactly how they are portrayed in a rash of so- called “sequels, which have come thick and fast since the BBC made Pride and Prejudice and to a lesser degree Jane Austen – a cult! In some parts of the world sequel writing appears to have reached epidemic proportions – with no accounting for quality.” 

When one looks at sequel authors and publishers, her mention of “some parts of the world” appears to be the USA. Being Americans, we’re not sure we appreciate the spirit of that remark. The cult of Austen sequels has certainly become a cottage industry, but Americans by no means have a monopoly on accountability of quantity and quality. We are a nation founded upon free speech and capitalism. We agree that sequel quality varies, but the appeal to readers is as diverse as Miss Austen’s characters in her novels.

“More recently, there have been attempts at bizarre distortions of character and increasingly improbable sexual adventures – to “spice-up” the reserve and dignity of Miss Austen’s characters – all of which serves to reveal an ignorance of the complex values and morés that underpin the world view of Jane Austen.” 

Image of the cover of Mrs. Darcy\'s DilemmaWe take the Jane Bennet approach to the whole business, and try to make them “all good”, until proven otherwise. We love the language and style of Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, but the sales of author Linda Berdoll’s ‘Darcy‘ series would support that the majority of readers like silly and sexy in their sequels. The difference, in our minds, between a good sequel and a bad sequel is honesty, respect and loyalty to Miss Austen.  

“Hers was not the world of Tom Jones or Vanity Fair; rather, her main characters in whom she invested a great deal of integrity and commitment, reflect the best of eighteenth century Augustan values. They were no less passionate or emotional for being imbued with a sense of dignity and decorum. Like Jane Austen, they valued reason, wit, and sound judgement in both public and private life. Those that did not – like Lydia and George Wickham, or Maria Bertram and Henry Crawford ( Mansfield Park ) were shown up for what they were. Jane Austen is quite pitiless in exposing them to censure and ridicule.” 

Image of Mr. Collins, Pride and Prejudice, (1995)

This is beginning to sound like a Fordyce sermon. We appreciate Ms. Collins’ passion, but she is preaching to the choir here. We abhor sexing up Austen under the pretext of modernization. Austen did indeed apply morality lessons through her un-proprietous characters, but some authors and screenwriters have not heeded her example! We have not read all ten novels in The Pemberley Chronicles series, but we can safely say that there is little “spice” or “adventure” to throw off Austen purists in the first one. Thank you Mr. Collins, – oh we meant Ms. Collins!

Nor was I comfortable with the kind of linguistic “pastiche” – using Jane Austen’s phrases and other contrived “regency-style” constructions that seem to be de-rigeur among many sequel writers. I make no attempt to imitate Jane Austen’s literary style; that would indeed have been presumption of a high order. 

Austen is all about language and style, so we are at a bit of a loss here. If a sequel writer does not wish to emulate Miss Austen’s “Regency-style” or language, does just borrowing her characters names qualify a novel a Jane Austen sequel? 

“I do not pretend to be another Jane Austen – I merely affect a recognisably ‘period style’ of writing to suit the context of the stories I tell – which range over a fifty year period of the 19th century. So, as you see, The Pemberley Chronicles was a sequel which resulted from a reaction against another, earlier sequel. Almost one might say an Austenian irony of circumstance – but to judge by the response of my readers – a very happy one. 

The Pemberley Chronicles begins with the marriage of the Darcy’s and Bingley’s, and progress into the next generation and beyond for 50 years. Ironically, it may have been inspired by the author’s dissatisfaction of another authors sequel of Pride and Prejudice, but her vision of how the Darcy’s lives continue has evolved into an entirely different genre, and may not be a sequel at all.

Image of the cover of The Pemberley Chronicles (2008)CONTEST: Win a copy of The Pemberley Chronicles, Volume I. Leave a comment before 11:59 pm on April 30th, stating your opinions pro or con on the recent “epidemic proportions” of Austen sequels, and your name will be entered in a drawing to be announced on May 1st.  The winner will receive a new copy of the book by mail.

Book News

2007 JARWA Nominee: The Jane Austen Handbook

 

Image of The Jane Austen Handbook, by Margaret C. Sullivan, (2007)CONGRATULATIONS to AustenBlog’s Editrix Margaret C. Sullivan, author of

The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensibile yet Elegant Guide to Her World

for the nomination of her book in the category of best new Regency ‘Know-How’ book of 2007, by The Jane Austen’s Regency World Awards. Good luck Mags.

VOTE for your favorite nominees online by May 10th, 2008. Purchase your very own copy of The Jane Austen Handbook here

Austenesque, Jane Austen Book Sleuth, Jane Austen's Letters

See Jane Austen Sell, – and sell, and sell…

Image of What Would Jane Say greeting cardPROFIT

Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. It is not fair. He has fame and profit enough as a poet, and should not be taking the bread out of the mouths of other people. Letter to Cassandra Austen, The Letters of Jane Austen, 28 September 1814

Newsflash from the book trenches! Jane Austen is a popular author. Really, you say?

This will of course not be a surprise to any Janeite, but it appears that it is to the suits and skirts at book publishing headquarters. She has caught them off guard, and the shelves are empty! Three of the major collections of her novels that were recently released in anticipation of The Complete Jane Austen series airing on PBS, are now out of stock. Gone, nada, zip. Sold out!

Seven Novels, Barnes & Nobel, (2007)Recently, I announced the release of the new deluxe edition of Jane Austen: Seven Novels. Within a month it was sold out! This exceptionally beautiful volume is in high demand, and now that new copies are temporally unavailable until the next printing arrives, it is garnering incredibly absurd prices on eBay. If you have not snapped up you copy already, I have it on good authority that they are in production now, so hold on to your bonnets, and please be patient.

Image of the cover of Jane Austen Seven NovelsThe other two editions were Jane Austen: Seven Novels, part of the Library of Essential Writers Series, which were complete and unabridged, and Jane Austen: Complete Novels, part of the Collector’s Library Editions Series, which were also complete and unabridged and included the humorous Hugh Thomson line illustrations from the 1890’s. Since both of these editions are published by Barnes & Noble, the chance of additional printings is very good.

Since Jane Austen has been proclaimed the “it” girl of the 21st-century, her selling power can even surprise the pros at Barnes & Noble, who have been selling books since 1873. Let’s hope that there is not too much delay as they ‘retrench’!

On the local book front, the top 10 selling Austen or Austen-esque books of February in my Alderwood Barnes & Noble store resulted in a few surprises.

  1. Pride and Prejudice (Barnes & Nobles Classics)

The store is pretty main stream as far as a snap shot of American book buyers, so you can take it from that perspective. Oh, and having an Austen enthusiasts on staff does skew things a a bit. ;) Happy reading to all.

*image of greeting cards, “What Would Jane Say”, available at the Pemberley Shoppe at Cafepress.com