You might have heard me mention this once or twice in the last sixteen months, but I am the editor of a new Austen-inspired short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Today is its official launch day!
I have been diligently working on the book for close to two years now, so this day is quite a milestone for me and the twenty-four authors featured in the anthology. The stories range from Regency to contemporary, romantic to fantastical – reaffirming the incomparable influence of one of history’s most cherished authors, Jane Austen.
A big thank you goes out to all of my contributing authors:
Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Stephanie Barron • Carrie Bebris • Jo Beverley • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Amanda Grange • Syrie James • Diane Meier and Frank Delaney • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Alexandra Potter • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Laurie Viera Rigler • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • Adriana Trigiani • Lauren Willig • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley website.
Their stories are just amazing. I hope all of you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed working with them to create the anthology.
Come help me party like it’s 1811 on my Grand Tour of the blogosphere, October 10 – November 10, 2011, in celebration of the book’s release. I will be visiting some of my favorite blogs and chatting about Jane Austen, her continued influence on literature, pop culture and the Austenesque book genre – and of course all of my wonderful authors and their stories!
Jane Austen Made Me Do It Blog Tour Schedule:
I am off on Wednesday to the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting, October 14-16, 2011 in Ft. Worth Texas. I will be quiet here for a few days while I celebrate with a parcel of Janeites in a Grand Texas Style. We shall see how Regency frocks and cowboy boots go together!
The official Book Launch party for Jane Austen Made Me Do It and two of my contributor’s books: The Deception at Lyme, by Carrie Bebris and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion, by Janet Mullany is on Friday evening October 14th at 6:30 pm at the Sundance Square Barnes & Noble. If you are by chance in town, please come join us. It should be a memorable evening for all.
© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
American college professor Emma Grant always does the right thing and expects the same from others. She acquired her expectations from her minister father and her favorite author Jane Austen, who both taught her to believe in the happily-ever-after. Life was turning out as planned until she unexpectedly discovers her husband’s affair with her teaching assistant who in turn falsely accuses her of plagiarizing another author’s work. An academic scandal ensues prompting an investigation and removal from her prestigious teaching position, denunciation by academia, and an ugly divorce leaving poor Emma at a turning point in her life. She had always believed in the possibility of finding her Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley and settling down to martial bliss. How could Jane Austen have ruined her life?
Without a job, husband, reputation or money, she packs up and off to London on the invitation of an elderly woman Mrs. Parrot who claims to have a stash of undocumented letters written by Jane Austen. If this woman’s claims are true, they might be the famous missing letters that Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra inherited after her death in 1817 and supposedly burned deeming them to personal for public view. If authenticated, they represented the ultimate Holy Grail of Austenalia and the ticket to Emma’s academic and personal happiness. The enigmatic Mrs. Parrot is not quite ready to just hand them over to anyone, even if they have been summoned to her house. Emma must prove her worthiness to Mrs. Parrot, one of the ‘Formidables’, a secret society of devoted Janeites named after Jane’s own moniker of herself and sister Cassandra in their later years. Mrs. Parrot sends Emma on a series of Austen related tasks/tests to prove she’s up to snuff visiting Steventon, Chawton, Bath and other Austen haunts. Along the way she encounters many coincidences including a reappearance after ten years of a former boyfriend Adam and a new man Barry who just happens to pop up unexpectedly along her journey all adding to the mystery surrounding the letters and their importance.
Jane Austen Ruined My Life is an intriguing and quick read that succeeds on so many levels by blending accurate biographical and historical information about Jane Austen’s life and works (major kudos to Pattillo) with a contemporary adventure romance that at times is reminiscent of The Last Templar where the heroine is thrown into a quest to discover ancient information that will change our current perceptions. Austen enthusiast will appreciate discovering all the Jane Austen lore and references, and romance readers will identify with the modern heroine and her adventure. Anglophiles will enjoy the added benefit of Ms. Pattillo’s past residence and many trips to England as she describes familiar haunts in London and Jane Austen travel destinations with aplomb. My one quibble is that Emma’s romantic decision could have ended differently. Obliviously, I am not as evolved as the heroine yet, and expect my Jane Austen happily-ever-after!
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo
Guideposts, New York (2009)
Trade paperback (264) pages
© 2009 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Everyone has their own thoughts on how the happily ever after continued at the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice. As of late, we have seen many creative sequels with Lizzy and Darcy taking another turn about the shrubberies. What they do in those shrubberies can be quite surprising. Rest assured, you will see none of that in And This Our Life, by C. Allyn Pierson.
This sequel takes the straight and narrow path from page one with few detours in Austen’s tone, reverently recreating her characters and bathing them an idealistic light. The story immediately picks up as the Bennet sisters, Jane and Elizabeth prepare for their marriages to Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is still miffed over her nephew Darcy’s choice of a ‘no name bride’ and Bingley’s sister Caroline is as acrimonious as ever. However, the ceremony proceeds and the couples depart for their London townhouses and wedded bliss. The narrative is primarily from Elizabeth’s perspective and we experience her anxieties at being accepted by London society and the Darcy family quickly resolved, and her concerns over being Mistress of Pemberley not really materialize. One delight in Elizabeth’s new life is Mr. Darcy’s shy young sister Georgiana who she eagerly assists in her preparation for her society debut. Darcy gets his bit of storyline too as he aids the Prince Regent in the recovery of stolen letters in a James Bondish escapade in Paris. In addition to other familiar characters such as Mr. Bennet and daughter Kitty, we are introduced to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s parents Lord and Lady Whitwell, a new amiable neighbor Sir Robert Blake, and a few villains thrown in for good measure, ner’ do well Jonathan Walker, dissolute George Lewis Winslow Fitzwilliam, Viscount St. George, and the gold digging Comte de Tourney.
Overall this debut novel is a sweet story that will delight most Austen purist. The plot would have benefitted from more tension and drama as life with the Darcy’s was a bit too perfect. One of the things that I appreciate about Austen’s characterizations is that even her hero and heroine have their faults, and the process to overcome them is one of the most enjoyable aspects of her storyline. We do see Georgiana develop from a shy retreating girl into a confident young woman, but that was not quite enough for me. Furthermore, the pacing was slow until about 100 pages in, and then improved greatly. Ms. Pierson’s understanding of literature, Regency history and social customs was the highlight of this novel. We are in no doubt of Lizzy and Darcy’s happy ever after. I just wish that it could have been harder wrought.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
And This Our Life: Chronicles of the Darcy Family: Book 1, by C. Allyn Pierson
Trade paperback (239) pages
Interview of the author