Huzzah! Jane Austen Made Me Do It Launches Today

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)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.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo – A Review

Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattillo (2009)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
ISBN: 978-0824947712

© 2009 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

And This Our Life by C. Allyn Pierson – A Review

And This Our Life 2008Everyone 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
iUniverse, Incoperated
ISBN: 978-0595448449

Interview of the author

Additional Reviews

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Mansfield Park Sequels: Central Park: Day 15 Give-away

THE SEQUELS 

In this third book in “The Jane Austen Series” from author Debra White Smith, the story of Jane Austen’s early 19th-century novel Mansfield Park is retold in contemporary New York city with the famous public Central Park as its axis. Prolific author White Smith has had great success with her series of retellings of Jane Austen’s major novels which include First Impression, Reason and Romance, Central Park, Northpointe Chalet, Amanda, and Possibilities (in book series order). Her Christian influenced writing style appeals to many readers and Jane Austen fans that are looking for an entertaining light romance with amusing plots. Experienced readers of Austen might also enjoy discovering and identifying all of Smith White’s contemporary characters and plot lines from Austen’s novels, or might suggest this series of books to a novice Austen reader to motivate them to in turn read Austen and find the similarities between the each of the books. 

Review highights for Debra White Smith 

“Her characters are delightful and the resolutions satisfying.” Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Romantic Times 

“Still, Debra White Smith’s stories-Possibilities is the sixth and presumably the last in her Austen series-have a certain sweet appeal, and the world that she creates is consistent in its detail, whether or not one would care to live in it. Not every ardent Janeite will like these tales, but they may well bring new Converts to the Fold, so to speak, if one of her readers decides to try out the real thing.” Alison T., AustenBlog 

“I enjoy Jane Austen and feel that Debra White Smith does an excellent job portraying each character from Jane Austen into a present-day character, for example, in Central Park each character faces the same overall issues that they do in Mansfield Park. I have enjoyed the Austen Series and would recommend it to readers.” Bible Knowledge Bookstore customer comment 

Further reading 

  • An interview of Debra White Smith on Focus on Fiction 
  • Debra White Smith’s website 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 15 Give-away 

Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for a drawing on August 31st. for one copy of

 Central Park: An Austen Series Book 3

By Debra White Smith. Harvest House Publishers (2005). Contemporary re-telling of the novel Mansfield Park set in New York. Trade paperback, 348 pages, ISBN 978-0736908733 

Upcoming posts 
Only two days left to qualify for the many great give-aways
Winners announced August 31
Day 16 – Aug 30          MP: What People Are Saying
Day 17 – Aug 31          MP Madness Roundup & Conclusion

Polly Shulman’s ‘Enthusiasm’ for Jane Austen is Infectious!

I had a blast reading Polly Shulman’s novel Enthusiasm, her hommage to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice! It had been released in 2006 and was on my ‘to be read’ list for quite some time until I felt the need for something summerish and light to read. Since it is classified as a young adult novel for grades 7-10, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by a less than sparkling plot and characterizations. My assumptions were so wrong! Totally!

It is quite amazing to think that this is Shulman’s first novel! If you check out her picture on her web site she looks barley old enough to be ‘out’ in society!. Educated at Yale Univeristy as a mathematician, she obviously possesses both left and right brain skills! This writer is pea green with envy and is in total awe of this level of talent in one so young. Like Jane Austen, Shulman is all about language, social observation and characterization. It is easy to see why Austen is one of her favorite authors and how she inspired her writing.

The book’s auspicious opening quote, “There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast” sets the tone of Austen-esque language throughout the novel that is respectful but not mimicy to Austen’s prose. The narrative is told from the perspective of fifteen-year old Julie, whose best friend since grade school is Ashleigh, an ‘enthusiast’. From Harriet the Spy to candy-making to military strategy, Julie never knows what or when the next craze will over-take her friend, but she is certain to be pulled into it. Now, her latest inspiration is also Julie’s passion, Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. However, Ashleigh’s new possession of Regency manners and decorum mortify her conservative friend. Not only do they include speaking in Austenese, but wearing Regency attire to school, learning to country dance like her idols Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, and ultimately, the ardent pursuit of her own true love. Ashleigh’s latest hair-brain scheme is to find their Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley by crashing a boy’s prep school dance!

Knowing Austen’s world through her novels and movie adaptations was helpful, but not a prerequisite to enjoying this delightful novel. By following Julie’s 21st-century hardships, anxieties, mix-ups, and social blunderings we see that they are interchangeable with any 19th-century Regency Miss’ life; — for what young lady of any era does not wish, hope, and dream that a young gentleman will notice her, and return her affections?

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Regency Stars

Enthusiasm, by Polly Shulman
Puffin, New York (2007)
Trade paperback (208) pages
ISBN:  978-0142409350

Additional Reviews

© Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Diary: Interview with Author Maya Slater

Check out this interesting interview with Austen-esque author Maya Slater about her recently released first novel Mr. Darcy’s Diary. 

If you think that the title seems familiar, you are quite right. It is one-in-the-same as author Amanda Grange’s recent release. The difference between the two being that Slater’s version has not yet been published internationally, but is available from Powell Books online and Amazon.uk. My copy arrived about a week ago, and I am about half way through it. I can say, before I give my official review, that Maya Slater has explored the ‘Regency’ man’s perspective, cavorting and all, and my hair is quite a bit curlier because of Mr. Darcy’s escapades. 

Icon of Mr. Darcy\'s DiaryMr. Darcy’s Diary, by Maya Slater
Phoenix, Orion Books, Ltd., London, (2007)
Trade paperback (248) pages
ISBN: 978-0753822661

Jane Austen’s Lydia Bennet: Her Life Credo

Image of a bonnet from Ackermann\'s Repository, (1817)“Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.” Lydia Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 39 

Lydia Bennet is the youngest of the five Bennet sisters being but fifteen, but by her impulsive and unguarded manner she is the most commanding of the lot, and she knows it! Jane Austen gently gives clues to the reader to the impending peril she imposes on her family through her willful actions. My first impression of Lydia was that she was a time bomb of misery and dissipation just ticking away. 

As the novel progresses, her actions become more outrageous to the detriment of the family reputation when she elopes, and then does not marry. After her patched up marriage to George Wickham, she returns to her family home at Longborne and receives mixed reactions from her family. Totally oblivious to what all the fuss is about, she saw no fault in her behavior. This passage from chapter 51 is a great clue to the nature of her feelings on her actions. 

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