Preview & Excerpt of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, by Syrie James (2012)Gentle readers: Here is a special treat for you today. Author Syrie James has graciously offered an exclusive sneak peek to Austenprose readers of an excerpt of her new Austen-inspired novel, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, which releases on December 31st.

I have had the pleasure of reading the entire novel and I can share with you that you have a great treat ahead of you. Here is a brief description of this exciting new book from the author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte.

Samantha McDonough cannot believe her eyes—or her luck. Tucked in an uncut page of a two-hundred-year old poetry book is a letter she believes was written by Jane Austen, mentioning with regret a manuscript that “went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire.” Could there really be an undiscovered Jane Austen novel waiting to be found? Could anyone resist the temptation to go looking for it?

Making her way to the beautiful, centuries-old Greenbriar estate, Samantha finds it no easy task to sell its owner, the handsome yet uncompromising Anthony Whitaker, on her wild idea of searching for a lost Austen work—until she mentions its possible million dollar value.

After discovering the unattributed manuscript, Samantha and Anthony are immediately absorbed in the story of Rebecca Stanhope, daughter of a small town rector, who is about to encounter some bittersweet truths about life and love. As they continue to read the newly discovered tale from the past, a new one unfolds in the present—a story that just might change both of their lives forever.

We will also have the honor of hosting Syrie’s launch party for The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen right here on Austenprose.com on Monday, December 31, 2012. Syrie will be sharing her inspiration and insights into writing her new novel, discussing characters, and of course Jane Austen’s influence. So be sure to mark your calendars — there will be great giveaway prizes and fun conversation. It is the perfect way to ring in the New Year with one of our favorite Austenesque authors. Now, on to the excerpt. Enjoy!

How It Began

The minute I saw the letter, I knew it was hers. Continue reading

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

Mr/ Darcy's Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds (2012)From the desk of Lisa Galek: 

What if, during their disastrous first proposal, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet were hit by a real disaster – a flash flood that trapped them together in Hunsford Parsonage? How would they respond? How would they survive together? And would they still, against all odds, learn to love one another?

Many Austen fans will by now be familiar with Abigail Reynolds’ series, The Pemberley Variations, a group of novels which reimagine how the events of Pride and Prejudice might have been different if only one or two details were changed. In the ninth installment, Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, Darcy travels to Hunsford Parsonage to propose to Elizabeth, but this time, he makes his way through a rainstorm. After he finishes confessing his love for Elizabeth and, in the process, insulting her family, Elizabeth begins to refuse him when disaster strikes. The storm outside has become a deluge, flooding Hunsford, forcing the villagers up to the high ground of the parsonage, and blocking the road to Rosings. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are now trapped together in this house, forced to care for Mr. Collins’ parishioners and to live together in this painfully awkward situation until the flood waters recede.

I don’t think it’s giving away too much to say that by the time the weather improves, these two have come together (Darcy and Elizabeth will always find a way), but then other obstacles begin to stack against them. Though Mr. Darcy is not reliant on his family’s support, they all heap their disapproval on him anyway. Lady Catherine makes an appearance to register her annoyance with the marriage, while her brother, the Earl of Matlock (Colonel Fitzwilliam’s father) appears on the scene and offends everyone with his crude suggestions about the couple’s engagement. Mr. Bennet also makes his way through the flood waters to condemn the match (Mr. Darcy has not asked his permission, after all) and then spends the rest of the novel attempting to forbid his most favored daughter from marrying Mr. Darcy. Continue reading

Pulse and Prejudice, by Colette L. Saucier – A Review

Pulse and Prejudice, by Colette L. Saucier (2012)Review by Lisa Galek

If you’ve always loved Pride and Prejudice, but wish it had a few more vampires in it than Pulse and Prejudice might just be for you.

The novel follows the events of Jane Austen’s classic, except for one tiny difference – Mr. Darcy is a vampire. Within the first few pages, we are there with him at the Meryton assembly. Mr. Darcy is not only in danger of being declared arrogant and prideful but of drinking the blood of the locals. Though he initially writes off all the ladies in town, he is strangely drawn to Elizabeth Bennet. Her wit, her beauty, her fine eyes, and, yes, even her throat draw him in. Though he resists his growing love for her, believing that he can never marry because of his condition, Darcy eventually gives in and asks Elizabeth to be his wife.

The rest we Austen fans know… or do we? This time, when Elizabeth learns the truth about the man who so admires and loves her, she is horrified to discover that the haughty Mr. Darcy is actually a vampire. Will Mr. Darcy be able to change his prideful ways and win Elizabeth’s hand? And even if he does, will Lizzy ever accept a vampire as her husband?

I cannot express enough how skeptical I was upon starting this book. Pride and Prejudice with a touch of vampires were enough to send me into fits of eye rolls. But, within only the first chapter, I found myself strangely drawn to the story. The vampire Darcy weaves his spell quickly.

It helps that the author actually writes quite well. She is quoting large sections of dialogue and prose from Pride and Prejudice and her own writing blends fairly seamlessly with Jane Austen’s. She also has a very strong grasp of Austen’s characters. I was pleased and excited to see that the character’s motivations and evolution were woven in so well with the paranormal aspects of the novel and fit so nicely with Austen’s original. I actually love that Mr. Darcy hates socializing partly because he thinks he’s above his company, and partly because he’s a vampire who might kill someone. Elizabeth, too, maintains her composure, even upon discovering that Darcy is a vampire. She is no Bella Swan, falling all over herself to be with a blood-thirsty creature. The girl still keeps her wits about her – just like Jane intended it. Continue reading

Q & A with Jane Austen Made Me Do It Authors: Question 1 & Giveaway!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)Last summer, in preparation for the release of my short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, I had the opportunity to interview all twenty-four authors who had contributed stories. I asked fifteen questions to a very diverse group of writers. Their responses were both amusing and surprising.

For your enjoyment I will be sharing a question every Friday over the next fifteen weeks and offering a chance to win one signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It each week. Just leave a comment answering the question at the bottom of the post. Good luck to all!

1.) How did Jane Austen make you do it? What inspired you to join this anthology?

  • How could I pass up the opportunity to drop in on some of my favorite people? – Pamela Aidan
  • The first thing that attracted me to the contest was the title of the anthology.  Jane Austen Made Me Do It.  That fabulous title left open many possibilities that my imagination ran quite wild with them.  The contest really was an amazing opportunity for an aspiring author.  So I sat down with my notebook and a pen and started brainstorming.  From the first, I knew that in my story, I would include a phrase from the title of the anthology.  From there, I worked backward, asking myself the questions.  What did Jane Austen make you do?  Why?  How?  And from there I built the story.  Quite literally, I wrote the last line first, and the first line of the story was almost the last thing I wrote. – Brenna Aubrey
  • Jane was eager to recount a lost episode in Lord Harold Trowbridge’s life, from 1805 Bath.  It was hardly book-length material, so a short story anthology was perfect. – Stephanie Barron
  • It was an opportunity to stretch myself creatively as a storyteller. Many people assume that short stories are easier to write than novels because they are, well, shorter—but that isn’t true. Like poetry, drama, essays, and novels, short fiction is its own literary form with its own demands and challenges. Also, unlike my mystery series, “The Chase” is straight historical fiction, the dramatization of real events that happened to a real person (Jane’s brother Frank), so I enjoyed the chance to tell a different kind of tale and explore new characters. – Carrie Bebris
  • I joined the anthology because I already had a story that fit it precisely – a Regency short story in which Jane herself plays a part. – Jo Beverley
  • My first experiments in unwisely trying to imitate Jane Austen’s style (er, it’s impossible) were as long ago as in 1984, when I won a contest writing as Miss Bates in the Jane Austen Society of North America journal Persuasions.  Since I’ve never grown tired of re-reading Jane Austen, minutely examining her style, methods and meaning, and heaven help me, imitating her, it seemed natural that either I must find my way into a fabulous anthology or be locked up for crimes against Jane! – Diana Birchall
  • In truth, Mitchell Waters, my completely darling agent (who, I understand, is somewhat the godfather of this book), made me do it – but only if we could convince my husband Frank too! – Diane Meier
  • Even though I don’t have an agent (darling or any sort), I didn’t seek persuading. Having lived in England for twenty-five years, when much of the country was hopping with Austen fever, I was delighted to respond to her. I’d been to Chawton, her home in Hampshire, and seen the door with the creaking hinge – which she didn’t want fixed because it warned her when anybody was approaching, and thus gave her time to hide what she was writing. And I’d made radio and television features about her, interviewing many authors and commentators about their passion for the woman whom Samuel Beckett (not the most ready admirer of other writers) called “the divine Jane.” Also, in the summer of 1978, I attended the Sotheby’s antiquarian books auction in London, where The Watsons, an unfinished novel five chapters long, was sold for a lot less than the $1.5m it fetched recently. – Frank Delaney
  • Without her wonderful writing, I wouldn’t be here. Naturally. Jane Austen made me do it because she was a sly thing, an expert at the skill of neither showing nor telling, but keeping us reading between the lines. Who could resist supplying those in-betweens, the things that weren’t written yet they hover around the pages (or the adaptations) like musical notes waiting to be transferred into words? Very few writers evoke that kind of feeling. A noted example for me is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with Wind. I remember when I first read Gone with the Wind, the last sentence by heroine Scarlett O’Hara provoked such a fit of frustration that I had to go back and re-read the whole thing, hoping to find some clue about what she meant to do next. Jane Austen provokes something similar — not frustration, precisely, but that need to probe, to search for something more. If you have a creative urge in you — as this anthology testifies — her writing acts as a prompt. For me it was as if she showed up one day and said: “Here are some charming people you should get to know,” then disappeared, leaving them with me. I had to get to know them better by writing about them. At the same time, she drew such breathing living characters that you would like to invite them to come home and take tea with you (well, maybe not all of them). How could you possibly allow two such delightful creatures as Darcy and Lizzy to simply stroll away into the sunset, never to be seen again? You really must discover what happens to them next. As for the anthology itself, I was delighted when Laurel Ann invited me to join in because I  knew she would make a wonderful editor, that she would pick wonderful stories, and that I’d be “in the company of clever, well-informed people” — such a group of talented fellow authors. What more could an author want? – Monica Fairview
  • I love all things Austen and so this anthology is my natural home. – Amanda Grange
  • I have long been an ardent admirer of Jane Austen’s novels, and after researching and writing The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (a labor of love, and a work of my heart), I was thrilled to have an opportunity to write from Jane’s point of view again—this time as a short story. – Syrie James
  • I was immensely flattered to be invited and in such august company although when I was first invited I had no idea what I’d be writing about. – Janet Mullany
  • Since I am the editor of this anthology, I will instead share my inspiration to create this collection. A life-long Austen fan, I had been reading and reviewing Austenesque novels for many years on my blog Austenprose.com. As a writer, I was fascinated not only by the authors work, but how Jane Austen inspired them to write it. I kept coming back to the thought of all these authors as a group; their incredible talent; their Austen connections to one another; – even though they all came from diverse writing backgrounds. I wanted to showcase them in some way. In 2008, the idea that an Austen-inspired short story collection could feature their talent and honor a great author fit my objective. But how could an unpublished Austen enthusiast who writes a blog about her favorite author make this happen? I had no idea; nor the hutzpah to pound the publishing payment; so it sat in my mind and simmered until one bright day in January 2009. Author Michael Thomas Ford’s agent Mitchell Waters emailed me to thank me for some publicity that I had recently done for his client. The door had been opened. I saw my chance and took it. He loved the idea and became the godfather of my anthology; finding a great deal with Random House – and here we are! – Laurel Ann Nattress
  • Jane Austen has been making me do it for ten years in one form or other, whether through painting or writing so when I was approached by the wonderful Laurel Ann Nattress to contribute a short story for this anthology I was thrilled because I knew there was a story I’d always wanted to write! Persuasion is my favourite Jane Austen novel, and one I’ve not tackled before as an inspiration for my own work. I’ve always loved reading short stories, but not written many myself so this was a real challenge, but I’ve absolutely loved every second of writing my Persuasion inspired story, “Waiting.” Being part of such a wonderful group of authors is an absolute dream! – Jane Odiwe
  • Jane Austen inspires me because she does the very thing that I would like to do as a writer—to tell wonderful stories about fascinating characters in a timeless fashion. And she wraps it all up in a satisfying ending. I’m excited to be a small part of this anthology that boasts so many of my favorite writers. The diversity of stories are a tremendous testimony to the enduring power of Austen’s work. – Beth Pattillo
  • In 2006 I wrote the novel, Me and Mr Darcy, as I was really interested in exploring the idea of what it would be like to date Mr Darcy. When I heard about this anthology I was inspired to join as it sounded like a really fun idea, to have a book of short stories that celebrate Jane Austen and her characters… and it also give me the opportunity to spend some time with Mr Darcy again! – Alexandra Potter
  • As Jane Austen wrote to Cassandra, “I write only for fame, and without any view to pecuniary emolument.” J – Myretta Robens
  • Certainly, it was a compliment to be invited to contribute to the anthology but it was really was my daughter and co-author Caitlen’s schedule that was a determining factor. She was in the process of selling her novel (due out in 2012), so it came down to whether she would have the time to work on it. – Jane Rubino
  • We (Jane Rubino) were invited to join by Laurel Ann (our esteemed editor) and loved the idea of the anthology so much we jumped at the chance.  I’ve always loved reading anything inspired by Jane Austen (after all, the real Austen only gave us six novels), so being asked to participate was an honor.  And I’m glad it all worked out; at the time I’d just sold my first solo book, and was embarking on a huge revision, but the opportunity to join this anthology was too good to miss. – Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
  • In my novel, The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, I interpreted the events of Pride and Prejudice from the hero’s point of view. I realized then that every single one of the characters in Austen’s novel would have had his or her own personal ‘take’ on what happened. If only one could write about them all! So, when I was asked by the London branch of the Jane Austen Society to give a talk, I researched P & P to discover how the courtship of Elizabeth and Darcy would have struck an outsider. I chose a very minor character, Maria Lucas, precisely because she seemed to make no positive contribution to the events – and I discovered that she must have played a far bigger part than is credited to her. So for my contribution to this anthology, I had the perfect material to work on, and I knew exactly what I would like to do. I couldn’t wait to start! – Maya Slater
  • I was really pleased at the freedom the authors were given to select their setting and theme. Laurel Ann Nattress is the perfect person to edit this anthology, because she knows all of Austen’s novels very well, and she also knows the Austen fandom and the writers and who should be involved. It has resulted in a wonderful diversity of ideas and stories and authors. I’m really proud to be involved in this project. – Margaret C. Sullivan
  • It’s not every day that I’m asked to participate in a Jane Austen event, I found this one irresistible! – Adriana Trigiani
  • When Jane Austen says write, I say how much. She is the puppet master, and I am her willing slave. Apart from that, I am delighted to be in the company of so many fine storytellers and fellow Austen devotees. – Laurie Viera Rigler
  • Really, Laurel Ann Nattress made me do it.  When she emailed me to ask if I’d write a short story for a Jane Austen-inspired anthology, I said “yes” without a second thought.  After all, it was just a short story and I’d just finished writing a book with Jane Austen in it, and wasn’t Laurel the hugest sweetie to think of asking me, and, ooh, an email from my best friend after Laurel’s email!  And was that a sale at J. Crew? It wasn’t until at least an hour later that it hit me that, wait, I hadn’t written any piece of fiction under 100,000 words since, oh, circa 1999.  There are some cases where less is definitely not easier, and the short story is one of them.  It has its own distinct art and idioms. But it would be a good writing exercise, right? I was right in so much as a great deal of exercise went into this story.  In an attempt to avoid writing it, I vacuumed my apartment, reorganized my bookshelves, and—the ultimate last resort—even went to the gym until I could avoid the computer no longer. Thank you, Laurel Ann (and Jane) for making me do it! – Lauren Willig

Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter a chance to win one signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress by leaving a comment answering why Jane Austen made you do it? What has Austen inspired you to do? Deadline to qualify for the drawing is 11:59 pm, Wednesday, August 08, 2012. The Winner will be announced on Thursday, August 09, 2012. Shipment Internationally. Good luck!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books (2011)
Trade paperback (446) pages
ISBN: 978-0345524966

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell – A Review

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell (2012)Review by Jeffrey Ward

From Jack Caldwell, the author who brought us Pemberley Ranch, comes a 3-alarm war-time romance: The Three Colonels, Jane Austen’s Fighting Men. An amalgamation of two separate novels is often labeled a “mish-mash” but Mr. Caldwell’s unique melding of the principals from Pride and Prejudice with those from Sense and Sensibility deserves a much classier description.

Two of the three military heroes emerge straight from Jane Austen: Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam and Colonel Christopher Brandon.  The third, Colonel Sir John Buford, has been conjured up from the author’s fertile imagination.  One is married; (Brandon) one gets married; (Buford) One wants marriage. (Fitzwilliam)

Colonel Brandon is enjoying domestic tranquility with his beloved Marianne and the two are doting on their newly-arrived infant daughter, Joy.  Following an uninvited and intrusive encounter with John Willoughby, she weighs the merits of her husband against her former lover.  “Colonel Brandon, however, said little but did much….His deeds spoke volumes.  He was the true romantic.”

Colonel Sir John Buford is a handsome war hero, multi-talented, and a notorious rake.  As he reforms his philandering ways, he falls in love with none other than Caroline Bingley.  Miss Bingley is also ridding herself of her prickly reputation as a haughty and prideful social climber.  Initial suspicions of each other’s marriage motives dissolve away as they’re lovingly mentored by the role models in their families and friends.  “He was aware of Miss Bingley’s reputation, but her actions showed a desire for improvement, and Colonel Buford wondered if they might be fellow souls, striving for redemption.”

The author’s account of Colonel Fitzwilliam’s escapades at Rosings are brilliant and the high point of the book for me.  The colonel’s own romance is just too wonderful for me to want to reveal anything of it here.  Initially he is dispatched to Rosings by his father, Lord Hugh Fitzwilliam, (the rightful owner of the estate) to audit Rosings which has been mismanaged by Lady Catherine.  The grand lady’s turf war and her explosive dialogues with Fitzwilliam and virtually everyone else are Mr. Caldwell at his best.  During this time, Mrs. Jenkinson, Anne DeBourgh’s companion, stumbles upon the source of Anne’s poor health and the unexpected details are wildly funny.  To my delight, a maturing Anne acquires some steel against the controlling machinations of her overbearing Mother:  “Silence, Mother! Your schemes are not to be borne!  Let us have a right understanding between us, madam.  I will NEVER go to Bath with you.  The day Mrs. Jenkinson leaves this house is the day I do.  You have a choice before you – suffer my companion or lose both of us..”

By the time I was half-way though the novel, I was so thoroughly in love with the colonels, their ladies, and the endearing camaraderie amongst them all, I wished it never to stop.  However, their tranquility doesn’t last long as the dreaded news of Napoleon’s escape from Elba and his massing of another army galvanizes the officers into action and strikes terror into the women.  The author’s helpful dramatis personae includes a list of actual historical figures who are skillfully interwoven with the fictional characters into the spectacle of Waterloo, one of history’s pivotal battles.  The slaughter of men and livestock was almost incalculable and it was into this horrifying inferno that the heroic three colonels descended as their women waited in England for news….any news of their whereabouts at the front.

One of the techniques I appreciated was the author’s use of place name markers which he introduces in italics, to signify sudden changes in the location of the story.  Because of this, the action, at times, takes on the characteristic of a fast-breaking contemporary news event.  Without these markers, I would have been hopelessly lost.

The only drawback worth mentioning was the sexually explicit nature of the honeymoon bedroom scenes of Colonel Buford and Caroline which added little for me and seemed to actually detract from the lofty overall spirit of the story.

The author has possibly presented the most historically accurate account of Waterloo in a work of fiction since Georgette Heyer’s An Infamous Army, which is noted in the author’s bibliography, and does he pay homage to it here? “Green troops, green cavalry, green officers – that is what we have here, Colonel! An Infamous Army, what?”  And, I still think Colonel Fitzwilliam’s unexpected but glorious romance is worth the price of the book alone.  Achingly romantic and breathlessly paced, the story ate me alive with alternating feelings of dread, mirth, tears, and joy….just what a great read is supposed to do.

4.5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 9781402259739
NOOK: ISBN: 978-1402259746
Kindle: ASIN: B006OI2AKU

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

Giveaway Winner Announced for Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron (2010)17 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a signed copy of Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron, by Stephanie Barron.

The winner drawn at random is Laura’s Reviews who left a comment on December 20, 2011.

Congratulations Laura! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by January 02, 2012. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011.

This was my final review and contribution to the reading challenge. The Grand Prize winner of one signed paperback copy of each of the eleven novels in the series will be announced on January 02, 2012. You still have time to leave a comment in any of my reviews, or at any of the participant’s reviews. Check out their links or review in the event archive. Good luck to all. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway winner announced for Jane and the Barque of Frailty

Jane and the Barque of Frailty, by Stephanie Barron (2006)18 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a signed copy of Jane and the Barque of Frailty, by Stephanie Barron.

The winner drawn at random is Kelli H. who left a comment on November 17, 2011.

Congratulations Kelli! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by November 30, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and for all those participating in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011. We are reading all eleven novels in this great Austen-inspired mystery series this year. Next month we will be wrapping up the year-long event with Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose