Please join us today in welcoming author David Liss on his blog tour in celebration of the release of The Twelfth Enchantment, a new Regency-era novel featuring Jane Austen’s character Mary Crawford and a bit of magic, published by Random House.
There’s no bad girl like a Jane Austen bad girl. I’m not sure what it says about me, but I’ve always been fascinated by some of the worst women in Austen’s novel. Not the unlikable, begrudging, judgmental, and pinched women, but the big-hearted and flawed ones – the ones who are close to being good except they’re not. They’re bad. High on my list is Lydia Bennet, the wayward youngest sister from Pride and Prejudice, but my number one Austen vixen has always been Mary Crawford, the wicked rival from Mansfield Park.
When I set out to work on my most recent novel, The Twelfth Enchantment, I knew I wanted my main character to be based on an older and wiser version of Lydia Bennet – an iteration of the character type who did not succeed in running off with an older man. The book’s protagonist, Lucy Derrick, ended up evolving away from the source material and becoming her own character since that’s what happens when you write a novel, but the germ is there, and I think any Austen reader will recognize it. I also knew I wanted to have Mary Crawford in the book. Not a character based on her, but the character herself. I wanted to pick up the character’s story after the events of Mansfield Park and show her in an altered state. In my novel, she is most certainly changed, but parts of the character remain the same – beautiful, charming, clever and scheming.
Mansfield Park is not, in my opinion, Jane Austen’s best novel. As a protagonist, Fanny Price is insipid and forgettable, and the novel often evidences an attention to petty detail that is near stultifying. Nevertheless, the book rises above these faults because the world Fanny Price inhabits is nuanced, rich and socially dangerous. The supporting characters are fascinatingly flawed, and the relationships are among the edgiest in Austen’s work. Though Austen’s novels are generally oblivious to the cultural and economic upheavals and human suffering visible everywhere during the early industrial revolution, Fanny’s return to Portsmouth showcases how masterfully the author could have worked with gritty social realism had she so chosen. Continue reading “The Twelfth Enchantment Blog Tour with Author David Liss”