28 Austenesque Authors Featured During The Decatur Book Festival Sept 1-2, 2012

Jane Austen: Then and Now event 2012 banner

Are your plans for Labor Day weekend fixed yet? Do you live in the Decatur, Georgia area, or want an Austen-inspired road trip to commemorate the end of summer 2012?

Well, pack you parasol and head over to the opening day of the Jane Austen: Then and Now event sponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North America – Georgia Chapter during The Decatur Book Festival. The event runs Saturday, September 1st and Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 and is jammed packed with daily events at the JASNA – Georgia tent during the festival and before and after parties and get togethers. Continue reading

Off to the Jane Austen Society AMG in Ft. Worth, TX

JASNA Ft. Worth, TX (2011) banner

After a very eventful launch day for Jane Austen Made Me Do It on the Internet yesterday, I am off today to the Jane Austen Society of North America’s AGM in Ft. Worth, Texas Oct 14-16, 2011!

It will be great to be reunited with friends and meet new Janeites. The conference is packed with great plenary speakers (Andrew Davies, the King of the Austen adaptation no less) and an assortment social activities to give the flavor of true Texas hospitality, like an evening at Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk for livations and mechanical bull riding! Oh my. One wonders if that is possible in a Regency frock?

My book launch party for Jane Austen Made Me Do It with two of my anthology authors books The Deception at Lyme, by Carrie Bebris and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, by Janet Mullany will be on Friday, October 14 at 6:30 pm at the Sundance Square Barnes & Noble, about a block from the conference hotel.  I will also be attending the AGM Author Book Signing event on Sunday morning, October 16 at 8:30 am with other numerous Austen authors. By the time I return home on Sunday, I will be ready for a vacation.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

JASNA Puget Sound Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Puget Sound JASNA logoI was privileged to attend the festive 20th anniversary celebration of the Puget Sound chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) at the elegant, Georgian-style Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle this Sunday last. The beautiful paneled library of this landmark hotel was filled to capacity with many ladies and gentlemen in Regency-attire who enjoyed a warm welcome by Regional Coordinator Marian LaBeck, followed by a set from Jane Austen’s songbook by the talented Charlene Kern.  A champagne toast to our dear Jane by Kimberly Brangwin, one of the chapters founding members, was the highlight of the day for me. Kimberly kindly agreed to let me share her moving speach with my readers.

Puget Sound JASNA member Kimberly BrangwinTwenty years ago, in this hotel, fifteen people gathered to discuss an adored author, Jane Austen.

Over the ensuing years, we have analyzed and argued over all of Austen’s writing.

We have learned about

Fashion and foodstuffs

Regency and religion

Navy and nobility

Love and loss

Estates and entails

Family and friends.

After all this time together, we have made a family from friends.

And so a toast—To us and the muse we adore—Jane Austen.

I had arrived in Seattle unfashionably late after encountering a traffic accident on the 520 bridge and had the great fortune to be seated next to chapter newsletter editor Julie A. who graciously introduced me to many members during the course of the day. She enthusiastically showed off her gorgeous new Kate Spade Pride and Prejudice clutch handbag that I had only heard tell of on Facebook. You can see by the photos that it is a stunner and perfectly finished off Julie’s fashionable summer frock.

Julie A. and her Kate Spade Pride and Prejudice clutch bag

The Mayflower Park presented an elegant three-course meal of chicken saltimbocca, garlic mashed potatoes, prosciutto, goat & asiago cheeses in a roasted garlic-tomato-basil sauce, or vegetable Wellington, with Portobello mushrooms, zucchini and sun dried tomato pesto for our enjoyment. While savoring my dinner, I had remembered that some of the cast members from the popular television series Downton Abbey had stayed at the hotel while they were in in town for a PBS donor event that I attended the following week. Dan Stevens had Tweeted about his visit to Oliver’s, the hotel watering hole, where bartender Steve had create a martini in honor of the show. Inspired to discover the drink, Julie and I ventured into the bar and asked the bartender on duty for a Downton Abbey. The look of surprise on his face was classic, but he soon found the recipe stashed in the cash draw and proceeded to mix the cocktails while we watched in anticipation. For those interested in designer martinis, it is made from Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), lime juice and a splash of champagne.  Wow! It did not disappoint and may be my new signature drink. Back at our table, it was certainly the conversation piece and Marian LaBeck soon followed our example and trekked off to the bar to order her own glass of the potent concoction.

Bartender at Oliver's in the Mayflower Park Hotel preparing our Downton Abbey martinis

Bartender at Oliver's at the Mayflower Park Hotel preparing Downton Abbey martini's 2

Laurel Ann Nattress & Julie A. sporting Downton Abbey martinis from Oliver's at the Mayflower Park Hotel

Lest you think that the afternoon was spent entirely in wine and song, there was also the premier of an original playlet written by member Judith Fiedler, featuring Mary Laney, Loveday Conquest, Kimberly Brangwin and Nichelle Hilton portraying Elinor Ferrars, Mrs. Ferrars, Fanny Dashwood and Lucy Ferrars respectively in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility. Bravo to the cast for an amusing reading, and to Judith for giving Lucy Ferrars the hilarious last line.

Puget Sound JASNA group in Regency finery

Even though I had met some of the Puget Sound members previously and corresponded with James Nagle (who was sadly out of town), I had not attended one of the local chapter meetings previously. It is a trek to drive from Snohomish to Seattle for events, but what is fifty miles of good road when Janeites are gathering?

Many thanks to the chapter members for their gracious and warm welcome.  I look forward to many future soirees and am anxious to share my Austentini recipe at the next get together.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

images © 2003–2011 James Petts & Julie A.

Persuasions No. 32 in the Mail to JASNA Members

Vintage engraving of Farley Castle, Somersetshire, EnglandFarley Castle, Somersetshire, from the essay by Janine Barchas in Persuasions No. 32

Huzzah! An Austen Alert for JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) members.

Watch your mailbox this week. The new  issue of JASNA’s journal, Persuasions No. 32, has been mailed to all members. Here is the lowdown from the JASNA website:

Persuasions No. 32 features very nice essays delivered at the 2010 conference in Portland, Oregon: “Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem, and Muslin.”

The issue contains plenary essays by Juliet McMaster, on Catherine Morland’s imagination, and by Stephanie Barron, on the elements of mystery in Northanger Abbey. Other essays explore further the entanglements of mystery, mayhem, and muslin. Gillian Dow and Elaine Bander focus on Austen’s use of other fiction, French as well as English. Stephanie M. Eddleman and Kathy Justice Gentile examine Austen’s treatment of masculinity (and the mayhem it can resolve—or cause). Miriam Rheingold Fuller considers Northanger Abbey as domestic gothic while Elisabeth Lenckos sets the novel in relation to aesthetic categories of the sublime and the picturesque. Janine Barchas discovers a historical source for Austen’s fiction, and Mary Hafner Laney, Sheryl Craig, and Celia A. Easton use fashion, a monetary crisis, and the debate over clerical absenteeism to illuminate Northanger Abbey.

The Miscellany offers further delights, including an essay by the late Brian Southam on Jane Austen and the seaside. Peter W. Graham, Laurie Kaplan, Jan Fergus and Elizabeth Steele, and others range through labor, London, the juvenilia, The Watsons, Isabelle de Montolieu’s translation of Persuasion—and more! Click here to see the complete Table of Contents.

In the meantime, amazing essays from the Portland AGM and a rich Miscellany may be found in Persuasions On-Line 31.1 (published December 16, 2010).

The JASNA Persuasions journal is part of the annual membership to the society. It contains peer-reviewed essays from the speakers at each of the Annual General Meetings based on Jane Austen, her life, her novels and her contemporary influences – and just about anything else wholly connected to our esteemed authoress and the Regency and Georgian eras. It is a powerhouse of information and enjoyment, and one of the many benefits to annual membership that I look forward to.

If you are interested in learning more about JASNA and the Persuasions journal, please visit the societies website.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Day Two: JASNA Conference 2010: Henry Tilney Rules, Darcy Drools

Team Tilney Panel

© Austenprose The Friday morning wake-up call came way too early for Deb (Jane Austen in Vermont) and me after a previous full day of travel, registration and evening pre-conference events at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting, Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery Mayhem and Muslin in Portland. Bleary eyed, we headed to breakfast at the hotel dining room, then Deb was off to her three hour Regional Coordinators Training Session, while I attended Team Tilney Explains It All in the Grand Ball. This lively panel discussion was moderated by, quite possibly Henry Tilney’s number one fan, Margaret Sullivan (AustenBlog), and comprised of three fellow Henryite’s: Kelly Brown a Gothic literature enthusiast, Heather Laurence (Solitary Elegance) and Lynn Marie Macy a Northanger Abbey playwright. There was also a very special guest panelist, the Rev. Henry Tilney himself who convincingly greeted us with “Hello ladies. Look at your Mister Darcy. Now back to me. Now look at Captain Wentworth. Now back to me. Sadly, those gentlemen are not me. But if they knew enough about muslin to buy their own cravats and were more nice than wise, they could be like me.” * parodying the Old Spice Man commercials, but through the unique lens of Jane Austen’s most witty, charming and dashing hero bar none, Da Man himself, Henry Tilney. It was a great beginning to what promised to be a day of total Jane Austen immersion. (*quote from AustenBlog, and written by Heather Laurence)

Ellen Fuller and Mr. Tilney

Next I was off to shop with the passion of Mrs. Allen at the Milsom Street Emporium where an elegant array of tempting Jane Austen inspired books, clothing and tea merchants were presenting their wares for inspection. Books, my passion in life, drew me immediately to the extensive display by Jane Austen Books. It was impressive and I quickly purchased four hardback first editions of Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries Series for her to sign later, at a wonderful price. Next booth over was the JASNA Wisconsin Region’s display of their A Year of Jane Austen” 2011 Calendar which I promptly purchased. For any of you unaware of this treasure, each month is filled with facts from Jane Austen’s life, events in her novels and great quotes. This year’s calendar honors the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility with color images from the vintage editions illustrated by C.E. Brock. You can purchase them online too.

Beautifully embroidered Georgian-era frock by Susan

At one end of the Milsom Street Emporium was an amazing display of period clothing presented by Margaret Phillips and Rebecca Morrison-Peck and designed and executed by the talented Susan Pasco of Seattle. I was so taken aback by the fabrics, style and incredible embroidery, that I imposed upon her modesty and asked Susan about her inspiration and back story. Historical costumes are her passion and she has created and lovingly sewn these creations for herself to wear to events sponsored by Somewhere in Time, Unlimited, a social and sewing group in the Seattle area. On display were costumes from 1775-1820, my favorite being the Georgian-era frock (above) whose embroidery was so intricate, that must have taken years to complete. Susan honestly told me she stopped keeping track of the time it takes to complete a garment. Since she makes them only for herself, what’s the point?

Susan Pasco and Mary Hafner-Laney

After lunch (yes, there is a lot of nourishment required to sustain ones strength at these conferences) our first Plenary speaker was Stephanie Barron, author of the bestselling Jane Austen Mysteries series. I just reviewed her latest novel, Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron and loved it! (On an aside, sitting next to me by pure coincidence was one of my readers Elspeth (AprilFool) who had participated in the Georgette Heyer Celebration here in August and won a copy of Black Sheep!)

Elspeth (AprilFool) and me

Barron spoke eloquently on Suspicious Characters, Red Herrings, and Unreliable Detectives: Elements of Mystery in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It was interesting to learn the devices that Jane Austen used, even before murder mysteries became a genre, to shape her story adding intrigue and tension to Catherine Morland’s adventure to Bath and then to Northanger Abbey. After, she graciously opened up the discussion to the audience. One query was from a fan of her Jane Austen Mysteries series wanting to know why she had killed off Lord Harold Trowbridge, Jane Austen’s love interest, spy and Rogue-About-Town, in the sixth novel in the series? Responding that it was one of the hardest things she had ever done as a writer, but it had to be done, she added that readers will be happy to know that he will be featured in a short story entitled Jane And The Gentleman Rogue in the upcoming anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress. *swoon* Smelling salts were required to revive me from my seat. To hear my book and name mentioned out loud for the first time to such a large crowd will be an unforgettable moment in my life. Thanks Stephanie.

Syrie James, me and Cindy Jones

My first Breakout session was with Ellen Moody, “People that Marry Can Never Part”: Real and Romantic Gothicism in Northanger Abbey. Even though The Mysteries of Udolpho has been credited as the main Gothic novel that Austen parodied in Northanger Abbey, Professor Moody explored similarities between four other Gothic novels that Jane Austen might have read in their original French or translations to inspire her Gothic story. And, my second Breakout session was with attorney James Nagle of the Puget Sound Chapter of JASNA, Dismemberment in the Library with a Quill Pen. Regency England’s rules of succession have always been a challenge to me, but now I can happily say that the words primogeniture, entail and jointure have new meanings, and when next I read Sense and Sensibility or any novels set before the inheritance laws were changed in England in 1925, I will be well ready. Mr. Nagle gave a lively and entertaining talk on a dry subject that in my mind has always been more than a muddle.

Wild Rose Garland Dancers and green sneaker clad musican

Next Deb and I tromped six blocks (or it seemed liked it in high heels) to the Portland Art Museum for the cocktail reception and performance by the Wild Rose Garland Dancers. The Museum was beautiful, but as we arrived there was already a huge queue for one food table, and another for the bar. Deb and I divided forces and eventually conquered, only to discover that there were few chairs in a room filled with people who had experience a long day and also wanted a seat. Besides the grumbling crowd, there was happy moment in the evening for me when again the person next to me recognized me! Imagine that? Nancy had also participated in the Georgette Heyer Celebration and won a copy of The Masqueraders! God bless Georgette Heyer. We all lined up against the back wall like true wallflowers and watched the dancers and listened to ancient tunes that sounded vaguely familiar to an American Civil War tune that an old guy from Tennessee might have played on his harmonica in Gone With The Wind. As the wine went to our heads and exhaustion got the better of us, we made more friends in the wallflower group and started to pick out attendees and match them physically with Jane Austen characters. All agreed that the older lady blocking our view by taking photos of the dancers was definitely Mrs. Bates. Neither could have heard our pleas to step aside. One of our group of gigglers had a great attitude. She did not mind standing where she was because of the view. View we asked? She only had to point to the right at the backside of the Grecian statue abutting the room before we understood her meaning.

Distracting Portland Museum statue

After dinner (ah, a seat) we attended Jeff Nigro’s lecture and slide show “Mystery Meets Muslin: Regency Gothic Dress in Art, Fashion and Theatre.” If you think that Fanny Price’s hurricane hair in the 2007 adaptation of Mansfield Park was a crime reportable to the fashion police, then you would have found plenty more faux pas to tell tales of in illustrations from the Regency-era books and paintings that got it really wrong too. It does not make Fanny’s plight any more pitiable, since she was a recent interpretation and the designer should have known better, but it does make it more laughable, if possible.

Left to right: Diana Birchall, Laurie Viera Rigler, me, Margaret Sullivan,
Stepahnie Barron, and Syrie James at author get-together

My last event of the evening was my most anticipated and joyous of the day. Six on my authors in my anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It were also attending the conference, and I could not pass up the opportunity to round up the troops for a nightcap and a bit of camaraderie. In attendance where Pamela Aidan, Margaret Sullivan, Stephanie Barron, Syrie James, Diana Birchall and Laurie Viera Rigler. The creative energy emanating from our table could power Chawton Cottage for a week! I told the tale of the creation of the anthology and the authors gave a brief description of each of their stories. Then we got down to the real business, gossiping about the publishing industry.

Off to bed, but not before a good debriefing from Deb on what I had missed from her Breakout sessions and overall Janeite breaking news. It was a long day in which I have never heard or talked about Jane Austen as much in my life! It will remain one of my most memorable.

Signing off from Portland,

Laurel Ann

My profuse apologies to my readers for the delay in posting. There was just too much to say, the hour late and the free Internet in the lobby in my pink fuzzy slippers too embarrassing.

Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.” Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 16

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Portland Ho! Off to the Jane Austen (JASNA) Conference 2010

I am all anticipation! Tomorrow (now today) I will be on my way to the Jane Austen conference in Portland to celebrate three days of total Austen immersion. Jane Austen and the Abbey: Mystery, Mayhem and Muslin in Portland begins officially on Friday, October 29th and runs through Sunday, October 31th.

This is my first JASNA conference. After years of hearing it praised to the skies, I too will be one of the happy revelers, attending Plenary speakers and Break-out sessions on the most interesting of topics (Henry Tilney), shopping like Mrs. Allen on Milsom Street and meeting for the first time, many of my online Janeite friends who have until this opportunity, remained cybered.

My amiable roommate Janeite Deb of Jane Austen in Vermont is already in Oregon, having traveled in style with her husband and dog across country in their elegant equipage, the Airstream. I am so looking forward to meeting her. She is a JASNA conference veteran, and has graciously promised to show this rookie the ropes.

After registration, and unpacking by the maid of all work, Deb and I shall be hotfooting it to the Portland Public Library to see the exhibit (especially created for the descending Janeites) of Jane Austen first editions. Then it’s off to dinner with whoever will have me, followed by a Social Hour and a performance by actress Angela Barlow, “Jane Austen & Character: An Actor’s View.” Delightful. I love theatricals even though they make Fanny Price squeamish.

My trip by train journey tomorrow morning should be relaxing and I plan to listen to my Naxos Audiobooks recording of Northanger Abbey, read by the Incomparable Juliette Stevenson to put me in the mood. I have been frantically packing tonight, needing to use my largest piece of luggage to fit everything in. We do like to travel with all the comforts of home and a full wardrobe (not quite the Queen arriving for a state visit, but close). I was relieved after stepping on the scale that I have not exceeded weight limits. Oh joy! I actually have ten pounds to spare, and can make up the deficit with purchases.

I will be reporting in daily, so do check back for the latest news and hopefully some photos. I just received an email from Diana Birchall who reports that the weather is fair and warm and not raining at present.

‘She hoped to be more fortunate the next day; and when her wishes for fine weather were answered by seeing a beautiful morning, she hardly felt a doubt of it; for a fine Sunday in Bath empties every house of its inhabitants, and all the world appears on such an occasion to walk about and tell their acquaintance what a charming day it is.’ The Narrator on Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey Chapter 5

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

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