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

Mr. Darcy’s Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

Mr. Darcy's Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

What do you get when you cross Pride and Prejudice with werewolves?  You get a dark and adventurous tale that follows Lizzy and Darcy as they grapple with a definite twist that has arisen in their relationship.  This time, Mary Lydon Simonsen takes us on a journey where we follow our beloved couple as they encounter something that Jane could never have imagined when she originally put pen to paper.

Elizabeth Bennet is distraught.  Fitzwilliam Darcy has been courting her for months and there is still no marriage proposal.  Her mother, father, and even sister Jane keep pressuring her about what’s taking so long.  Ready to give up on ever receiving a proposal, Darcy shows up begging Elizabeth to travel to Pemberley with him so that he can reveal a secret to her.  If she doesn’t run away from him upon hearing this secret, then he’ll have a question for her.  Nervous about what his secret is, Elizabeth agrees to the trip and makes the trek to Pemberley with him.  Her first night at Pemberley, Darcy reveals that years earlier he was bitten by a werewolf and that for two days every month he turns into one himself.  Elizabeth is shocked and cannot fathom all that she’s being told, yet promises to wait for him to return from his transformation before making a decision about their relationship.  What will Elizabeth do when she sees Darcy in his wolf form?  Will she stand by his side and marry him, or will she cut ties and end their relationship?

Having read Mr. Darcy Vampyre, by Amanda Grange and come away with a less than stellar opinion, I was super nervous at reading another Pride and Prejudice fan fiction novel that infused some type of supernatural beings within the plot.  Fortunately, Simonsen has made this idea work with Mr. Darcy’s Bite, which seriously impressed me.  Unlike another popular vampire work, Twilight, where werewolves appear because of vampires, Simonsen provides an actual realistic explanation for it.  The novel is written with fabulous Gothic undertones, creating a dark and spooky reading atmosphere that grips you from cover to cover.   The ending was my favorite part!  So much so, that I immediately emailed Mary and asked her to write a sequel!

I really enjoyed the changes that Simonsen made to Darcy’s character.  Shortly after his transformation we get to see a more playful Darcy that speaks his mind and teases Elizabeth about the things he can “sense” as a werewolf.  In turn we see a different Elizabeth that isn’t so proud, and is willing to listen to the advice of those around her. Specifically, the advice of Darcy’s cousin Anne de Bourgh and his little sister Georgiana who are given larger parts, allowing the reader a new opportunity to get to know them!

For those of you who are nervous about dipping your toes into the paranormal fan fiction world, may I highly suggest that you start your journey with Mr. Darcy’s Bite?  Not only does it top my JAFF list, but it’s pretty high up on my paranormal reading list as well.  You won’t be disappointed!

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy’s Bite, by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (336) pages
ISBN: 978-1402250774

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberley Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion) Blog Tour with author Carrie Bebris & Giveaway

The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion), by Carrie Bebris (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Carrie Bebris on her blog tour in celebration of the release of The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion), the sixth book in her Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series released today by Tor Books.

Laurel Ann, thank you so much for inviting me here to talk about my new Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery, The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion) on its release day. It is always such a pleasure to visit Austenprose and enjoy, as Anne Elliot would say, the good company of “clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.”

Ever since my series debuted in 2004 with Pride and Prescience, readers have been asking for a Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery based on Persuasion, and I indeed planned to write one. Persuasion competes with Pride & Prejudice as my favorite Austen work (the winner is generally determined by whichever one I happen to be reading at the time), and the opportunity to bring together Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth in the same novel—well, let’s just say that the idea of spending every day with the two of them for the year or so it takes me to write a book was very appealing indeed!

However, whenever I begin writing a new novel, I look at where Darcy, Elizabeth, and other characters were left (both physically and in terms of personal growth) at the end of the previous books of the series. I contemplate which of Austen’s characters they might naturally encounter next, without the meeting feeling forced or coincidental. And I reread Austen’s novels with an eye toward loose threads that, with a little tugging, can be woven into a web of intrigue that entangles the Darcys whether they want to be involved or not.

Before now, both my own intuition and the Darcys themselves told me the timing wasn’t right for a Persuasion-based Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery. The Darcys weren’t ready to meet the Wentworths yet, and I wasn’t ready to introduce them. Austen’s “light, and bright, and sparkling” P&P was written early in her career; Persuasion was written at the very end and has a different tone. It is the work of a more mature writer, the story of a more mature hero and heroine. Before entering that world, the Darcys needed to have other adventures first, needed to gain more life experience. And I needed to develop a story worthy of bringing Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Anne Elliot, and Captain Wentworth—Austen’s most popular and compelling pairs of heroes and heroines—together. A mystery that only these four individuals, working collectively, could solve. Continue reading

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2) blog tour with author Juliet Archer

Persuade Me (Darcy & Friends 2), by Juliet Archer (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Juliet Archer on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Persuade Me, the second book in her Darcy & Friends contemporary series published today in the UK by Choc Lit.

I’m thrilled to be here at Austenprose – thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me and ‘hi’ to everyone out there!

By the time you read this, I’ll be at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath. My burning question is – will it rain, so that Captain Frederick Wentworth can offer me his umbrella? Because, weather permitting, I’m doing two guided walking tours of central Bath, visiting the places that Austen made famous in the original Persuasion and some additional ones that I’ve used in my contemporary version, Persuade Me. We’ll be going to Milsom Street (where the fictional Molland’s is located), the Pump Room, the Theatre Royal (I’ve substituted a play there for Austen’s concert at the Assembly Rooms), the Royal Crescent Hotel, and so on.

Which leads to another question: what inspired me to modernize Persuasion? I can give you the answer in two words – Captain Wentworth. Man of action. Man in uniform, striding about the English countryside with a pierced soul and an almost broken heart – what more could we wish for, especially when he’s brought to life on the small screen by Ciarán Hinds or Rupert Penry Jones?

You see, although I have every intention of updating Pride & Prejudice, for the moment my focus is on Austen’s other novels. And I know there are plenty of readers who are looking for occasional distractions from Mr. Darcy. I’ve already updated Emma (The Importance of Being Emma (2008)) and PersuasionNorthanger Abbey‘s next.

However, I reserve the right to ‘darcify’ a hero if I think he needs it. Take Mr. Knightley – the man on the page, rather than the portrayals on film. Old enough (technically) to be the heroine’s father, lurking around for twenty-one years without any sign of interest in the opposite sex, then winning Emma over with the immortal line, ‘God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover’!

I wanted to keep Knightley’s essential character, of course; but he needed to have more obvious attractions for the modern reader – who may or may not know Austen’s original. So I gave my Knightley a makeover: cut the age difference between him and Emma; boosted his sex appeal by introducing a glamorous girlfriend; and, to justify Emma’s apparent inability to fancy him for most of the novel, fabricated an episode in their past, where he unthinkingly humiliated her in a big-brotherly fashion. Continue reading

Giveaway Winner Announced for Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy

Jane and His Lordship's Legacy, by Stephanie Barron (2005)18 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Jane and His Lordship’s Legacy, by Stephanie Barron. The winner drawn at random is Pamela P. who left a comment on August 12th, 2011.

Congratulations Pamela! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by August 31st, 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. Be sure to follow along.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Giveaway winner Announced for Jane and the Ghosts of Netley

Jane and the Ghosts of Netley, by Stephanie Barron (2003)22 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Jane and the Ghosts of Netley, by Stephanie Barron. The winner drawn at random is Lynn M. who left a comment on July 19th.

Congratulations Lynn! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by August 3rd, 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, so check back each month to read my review and enter a chance to win a copy of the book!

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane and the Ghosts of Netley: Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron – A Review

Jane and the Ghosts of Netley, Being a Jane Austen Mystery, by Stephanie Barron (2003)It is the fall of 1808 and Jane Austen and her family are in mourning after the sudden death of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Austen, the elegant and enchanting thirty-five year old wife of Jane’s elder brother Edward and mother of eleven children. To entertain the two eldest boys while they stay with her in Southampton, Jane takes them rowing up the Solent to the ruins of Netley Abbey, a Cistercian monastery long abandoned and now a picturesque ruin worthy of a Radcliffe Gothic novel, resplendent with tales of ghosts haunting its halls. Startled by a dark figure lurking in the shadows, Jane is called to immediately attend her friend aboard a Royal Naval vessel anchored nearby.  It is an unusual request, but she cannot refuse any summons by the Gentleman Rogue. Yes, Gentle Readers. Lord Harold Trowbridge has re-appeared after two years without any communication with our dear Jane.

Her heart is aflutter and her keen mind piqued when he requests her assistance to spy upon a local lady of interest; the beautiful and cunning widow of a French merchant, Sophia Challoner, a Diamond of the First Water who trifled with Lord Trowbridge’s heart, flattering and deceiving him into revealing state secrets to pass along to aid Bonaparte’s cause. Having just returned from Portugal, she now resides at Netley Lodge adjacent to the ruined abbey. Jane’s assignment is to keep “a weathered eye on the activity of that house” and discover how Sophia dispatches her intelligence to France. To aid the investigation, Jane will befriend the dubious and dangerous lady while arson and murders a plenty puzzle the plot, – and Lord Harold and Jane take center stage in the investigation and secretly in each others hearts.

The seventh mystery in the series, Barron really hits her stride with more fluid language from Jane’s perspective, the intricate historical details of the Peninsular War against France, and the political intrigue that fuels spies and generates murder. Having so much dialogue devoted to Lord Harold and Jane is a delight, but readers will be disarmed by the concluding pages and dispatched into a crying jag that could take a week to recover from. This is a three hankie weepie that will startle and sear your soul. Great writing makes it all compelling and tragic. *sigh* Seven is definitely not a lucky number for Jane and the Gentleman Rogue. I loved every word, and hated the ending all the same. *sniff*

6 out of 5 Regency Stars

Jane and the Ghosts of Netley, Being a Jane Austen Mystery (#7), by Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books (2003)
Mass market paperback (352) pages
ISBN: 978-0553584066

This is my seventh selection in the Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011, as we are reading all eleven mysteries in the series this year. Participants, please leave comments and or place links to your reviews on the official reading challenge page by following this link.

Grand Giveaway

Author Stephanie Barron has generously offered a signed hardcover copy of Jane and the Ghosts of Netley to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about this novel, or if you have read it, who your favorite character is by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Winner to be announced on Thursday, July 28, 2011. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose