Austen in August Times Two

Austen in August events 2012

Wow! Two great Austen-inspired events are in progress this month to celebrate our favorite author.

Misty at The Book Rat is offering her annual fete in honor of Jane called Austen in August. Previously called Jane in June, readers will remember from past years that she puts on a great blog event featuring a read-along of an Austen novel and guest blogs from other Austen loving bloggers and Austenesque authors. I will be featured on Monday, August 27 answering the question:

A lot of readers – as much as they may love the books – are bothered by some of the pairings (think Marianne and Brandon, or Fanny and Edmund); are there any Austen couples you think are going to have a rocky road ahead of them?

There are tons of great giveaway chances for fabulous Austen-inspired stuff including a chance to win a copy of my short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. The event ends August 31, 2012, so make haste and check it out!

Adam at Roof Beam Reader is also highlighting our dear Jane this month with, you guessed it, Austen in August. Focused on all things Jane Austen, the event includes her primary texts, any re-imaginings of her works, biographies, critical texts, etc. So, basically all things Austen all the time! *squee*

Gracious book blogger Adam has a lot of things planned for his Austen-inspired month-long event including giveaways, guest posts, and, of course, his own reading and reviewing of Jane Austen works. Be sure to check it out and read an Austen novel or sequel or two this month.

Austen Extravaganza 2012 banner

In addition, here is an advance mention of my preview post next week of Meredith’s incredible blog event next month, Austenesque Extravaganza. This is her second annual Austen-inspired event at her blog Austenesque Reviews featuring daily posts with themes like: Sociable Sunday, Matchmaker Monday, Traveling Tuesday, Wednesday Word Games, Touring Thursday, Fan and Games Friday and Spotlight Saturday. I will be featured on Tuesday, September 18th, but I am sworn to secrecy about what I am writing about! I can reveal that there will be a chance to win one of three copies of Jane Austen Made Me Do it for participants, so be sure to please mark your calendars so you don’t miss out.

So much Austen fun out there Janeites! Go to it!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Dear Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Amanda Grange & Giveaway!

Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange (2012)Please join us today in welcoming author Amanda Grange on the launch of her blog tour of Dear Mr. Darcy, a new retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.

Wait! Didn’t Amanda already write Mr. Darcy’s Diary? Yep, she did, but this novel has a new slant that readers will find enchanting. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available from Amanda’s publisher Berkley Trade.

Welcome Amanda

Hi, Laurel Ann, thanks for inviting me to guest blog. I’m very excited to be here to talk about my latest book, Dear Mr Darcy.

I’m sure people are wondering why I have written another retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and why I have used the epistolary form. The reason is very simple. As some of you will already know, Jane Austen rewrote Pride and Prejudice considerably between 1797, when it was begun, and 1813, when it was published. It was originally called First Impressions and it was probably written in the epistolary style.

I’ve often thought about the early version of Pride and Prejudice and wished we still had it to read. Over the years an urge started growing inside me to recreate it. Of course, my version is only my idea of how it might have been, and I’m not Jane Austen, but the idea gripped me. I thought it would be a fantastic way of providing another way into the story, and another way into Mr Darcy. I decided to start with the death of his father, because his relationship with his father was obviously very influential in turning him into the proud, haughty man of Pride and Prejudice.

Almost the first letter in Dear Mr Darcy is written by Mr Darcy’s father, when he is on his deathbed. He wants to give our Mr Darcy some advice for the future, including these words, which have a lasting effect:

Remember that the woman you favour with your hand will not only be a wife to you, she will also be a sister to Georgiana and the mistress of Pemberley. She will need to command the respect of the servants and the love of your family; she must reflect the greatness of the Darcys; she must be a gracious hostess and a model of feminine virtue; she must be a modest lady and she must be possessed of a refined taste and true decorum. And she must be a woman you can admire, respect and esteem, as well as love.

For advice on matters of this nature I refer you to my brother’s son, your cousin Philip.

Darcy’s cousin, Philip, is my own invention. He proves very useful throughout the book as his character is similar to Darcy’s, he is of the same social level and therefore Darcy feels he can confide in him.

The following extract is from one of Mr Darcy’s letters to Philip later in the book, written from Rosings, when he is tempted, against his will, to propose to Elizabeth – who is definitely not the sort of woman his father advised him to marry!

It would degrade me to marry her. I would be laughed at by all my friends, jeered at by my enemies and pitied by all. I could never possibly marry her. And yet – and yet I cannot keep away from her. The lightness of her spirits, her humour, her arch smile, her teasing, her eyes – oh! Philip, her eyes! which sparkle when she teases me and show she knows her power over me – all these things drive me to distraction.

I can tell no one but you. You know my character, you know how proud and disdainful I am, but against my better judgement I have been enraptured by her. It is out of the question for me to marry her; out of the question to make her my mistress.

I would leave if I could, but if I go now it will look particular and that is something I very much want to avoid. I do not know what to do.

Your beleaguered cousin,

Darcy

*******

Mr Philip Darcy to Mr Darcy

London, April 22

Darcy, leave at once. Make some excuse and go today, this minute, never mind if it looks particular, it will soon be forgotten. Do not linger another moment. This kind of fever is virulent and the only thing that can control it is a prolonged absence from its source. Have your valet pack your things and meet me in London straight away. If you stay you will regret it.

Philip

 *******

Mr Darcy to Mr Philip Darcy

Rosings Park, April 23

Dear Philip, you are too late. I have proposed.

This is just a sample of the letters, but Dear Mr Darcy is full of them! Letters from Elizabeth to her friend Susan (my own invention) as she talks about Mr Darcy’s arrival at Netherfield and her subsequent frustrating yet stimulating meetings with him; Caroline Bingley’s scheming as she persuades Charles to introduce her to his eligible friend Mr Darcy; Mary’s moralising and more. But at the heart of the book are the letters to and from Mr Darcy as he manages his estate, cares for his sister and fights a losing battle against his love for Elizabeth Bennet.

I love all my books, but every once in a while, I feel that one of them is extra special. I felt it when writing Mr Darcy’s Diary and I felt it when writing Dear Mr Darcy. I hope readers agree.

Author Bio:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst  the Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Grand Giveaway of Dear Mr. Darcy

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange by leaving a comment revealing what intrigues you about reading Mr. Darcy’s personal correspondence by 11:59 pm Pacific time, Wednesday, August 15th, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, August 16th, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Amanda Grange
Berkley Trade (2012)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0425247815

© 2012 Amanda Grange, Austenprose

Pride and Pyramids Blog Tour with Authors Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb & Giveaway

Pride and Pyramids, by Amnada Grange and Jacqueline Webb (2012)Please join us today in welcoming authors Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb on their blog tour of Pride and Pyramids, a new Austenesque sequel to Pride and Prejudice that takes Elizabeth, Darcy and their family to Egypt. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available.

Welcome Amanda and Jacqueline…

Amanda: I’d long wanted to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but there were already a lot of sequels available and I didn’t want to repeat the usual story of Elizabeth and Darcy settling down at Pemberley. I didn’t want to write about the Darcys having marital problems either, since I firmly believe they live happily ever after, but a book needs incident in order to make it interesting, which created a dilemma. Then one day I was emailing Jackie, whose first book was set in Egypt, and something clicked, because it reminded me that Egyptology was a huge craze in the Regency era. The wealthy young men of the eighteenth century often extended their Grand Tour of Europe to include Greece, Turkey and Egypt, and interest was heightened in 1799 – when Jane Austen was writing Pride and Prejudice – because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. The Stone was brought to England and it was displayed in the British Museum from 1802 onwards. Interest continued to grow and Belzoni’s account of his adventures in Egypt, in 1815, (which was very useful for our research!) added more fuel to the fire. So it seemed a perfect setting for a sequel which would be new and fresh, but at the same time accurate for the period. I was very excited by the idea and suggested we write it together because Jackie had researched Egypt intensively for her previous book and had all the relevant research books at her fingertips.

Jacqueline: When Amanda suggested we collaborate on a Jane Austen sequel I was delighted. My first book The Scarlet Queen is based in Egypt about a young woman searching for an elusive cache of treasure in the Valley of the Kings, so I had already done a lot of research around this topic. My novel was set in the Edwardian era, about a hundred after Pride and Prejudice, but Egypt had been popular with the Europeans since Georgian times. Elizabeth, Darcy and their growing family were well-off and had enough leisure time to make the journey seem plausible and it was the kind of thing wealthy Europeans would do, although it would have been adventurous. However that aspect fit in well with the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy and allowed us to imagine them in a whole new environment, as well as meeting up with some old faces.

Amanda: Yes, we wanted to include some of the minor characters from Pride and Prejudice in Pride and Pyramids, as well as introducing some new ones.  As the book starts in London, then moves to Pemberley, before heading off to Egypt, we get a chance to catch up with Jane and Bingley. Then Lizzy and Darcy find they see rather more of Mrs Bennet than they intended! They have six lively children by this time, as the book is set fifteen years after their marriage. They’re still recognisably the characters from Pride and Prejudice, but we see them in their role of parents as well as in their interludes as a couple. And, of course, there are tombs and pyramids and an eerie little doll, which causes quite a bit of trouble! It was a lot of fun to write and I hope Pride and Pyramids will be just as much fun to read. It’s Elizabeth and Darcy as you’ve never seen them before!

Author Bios:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst The Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Jacqueline Webb lives on the Wirral, which is near to Liverpool, England, with her husband, two sons, two cats and one dog. She is a teacher of French and English and she has had two historical romances published by Robert Hale – The Scarlet Queen  and Dragonsheart. She has also just had a paranormal romance e-book published by Lyrical Press Sophronia and the Vampire, under the name Jacqueline Farrell. She has always enjoyed writing but didn’t get really serious about it until she was in her early forties. Her sons were very small and she was working part-time and feeling as though she was just rushing from work to babies without any time doing something she enjoyed. So she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and submitted a novel to their New Writers Scheme. Although she didn’t get anywhere with that submission she was given some great advice and wrote another novel which did get published.

Giveaway chance for Pride and Pyramids

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Pride and Pyramids by asking either author about their research and writing experience, or, which of Jane Austen’s original characters from Pride and Prejudice you would like to fall victim to the mummy’s curse by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, July 12, 2012. Print edition shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Ebook edition internationally. Good luck!

Pride and Pyramids, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-1402265358

© 2012 Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb, Austenprose

What’s the Big Deal about Mr. Darcy?

Join me today as I guest blog on Darcyholic Diversions, author Barbara Tiller Cole’s blog about our favorite romantic icon, Mr. Darcy. I broach the loaded question, “What’s the big deal about Mr. Darcy?” and offer a signed copy of my new Austen-inspired short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

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

Visit Darcyholics Diversions to read about my personal Darcy dilemma and enter a chance for the giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Good luck!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Austenesque Author of the Month – Laura Hile: Guest Blog & Giveaway!

Laura Hile Featured Austenesque Author May (2012)We are very happy to introduce Austenesque author Laura Hile as our featured author in May on Austenprose.

Laura has written a trilogy to Jane Austen’s last novel Persuasion which continues the story of Elizabeth, Sir Walter Elliot’s eldest, unmarried daughter. Those of you who have read Persuasion or seen the great movie adaptations of it will remember that Elizabeth is quite condescending and spiteful to her younger sister Anne, and one wonders out loud why would we would want to read three novels inspired by such a unappealing character? Her faults are truly onerous, which, makes her story all the more intriguing. How will she be transformed, or will she?

Every Saturday this month we will offer a guest blog, book reviews & giveaways, elaborating on why this series is so popular with Jane Austen fan fiction lovers. Here is the schedule:

  • May 05 – Introduction and Guest blog by Laura Hile
  • May 12 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course
  • May 19 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase
  • May 26 – Review of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide    

Mercy's Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot's Story, by Laura Hile

Without further ado, welcome Laura:

Meet Jane Austen’s “Other Elizabeth”

Such a heroine I’ve chosen for my Austen novels! What can I say? I simply could not resist her.

Her name is Elizabeth, but she’s not from Pride and Prejudice. I’ve taken on none other than Anne Elliot’s awful elder sister from Persuasion. Yes, that Elizabeth. The woman most Austen readers frankly love to hate.

Now don’t go by what you’ve seen in the movie adaptations. Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Elliot is poised and graceful, and at twenty-nine is more beautiful than ever. She has exquisite taste, is sure of herself, and is fond of having her own way. She is also the eldest daughter of a very fine woman, which means she behaves badly but knows better.

In other words, she is me.

Well, except for the beautiful part. And the graceful part. And the always being able to get her way part. Thank the Lord I have never been pretty enough to get away with airing all of my fine opinions!

At the end of Persuasion Elizabeth Elliot is left in dismal straits, though she is too proud—and too stubborn! —to admit that. One way or another she must marry well, and so she begins to scheme. However, Miss Elliot is not as smart as she thinks, and that’s where the fun begins. She’s a scornful damsel in distress. What a delicious premise for a story!

And now I’ll share another sorry truth about myself. As a book-lover, I am a hopeless snoop. Oh, I’m too polite to listen at keyholes or peer through windows. But with a novel I don’t need to do those things! Everything’s laid out for my inquiring mind to devour: private conversations, innermost thoughts, and daring undertakings! All of the excitement of real life with none of the risks!

So perhaps the best way to introduce the “Other Elizabeth” is to allow you, my fellow book-lover, to snoop a bit. I present for your inspection a letter of Elizabeth’s. Can you discover what she’s about?

* * *

My Dear Mrs Darcy,

I wonder if I might solicit your advice regarding a mutual acquaintance, Miss Caroline Bingley. Having suffered disappointment in your novel, she must wander into mine!

And let me tell you, in Mercy’s Embrace Miss Bingley is making a thorough nuisance of herself. You viewed her as a rival (and I am heartily glad she was bested!) but I am seen as a social asset. Honestly, I do not know which is worse! What some people will do to advertise a connection with my family! Simply because my father is a baronet of ancient lineage, she must twitter and simper and hover round!

And when my odious cousin, William Elliot, returned to Bath, what must she do but set her sights on him! I know what she’s after—my late mother’s title as Lady Elliot! And she mistakenly assumes that intimacy with me will further her cause. Not only does she cling like a leech at public functions, but she insists on mauling my name, calling me Eliza, or worse, Lizzy. As if anyone but a fishwife would wish for that!

Miss Bingley must have rocks for brains, for she will not listen! I have told her, for example, that William Elliot has not yet inherited. It is most unwise to gamble on that, for so often the proper person does not die! And may I congratulate you, Mrs Darcy, for so wisely refusing Rev. Collins’ offer of marriage? I know all about marital desperation, but Longbourn was not his! It would have been madness to accept him!

As to my own affairs, you may have heard various tales. I would like to point out that though newly divorced, Mr Rushworth is in full possession of both the Sotherton Estate and its princely income. As to remarks about his person, why, I have confidence that he will improve. Besides, I am accustomed to managing a foolish gentleman. Have I not put up with my father for years? As to rumors that I have been meeting a clerk in a Bath tea shop, kindly disregard them. My father’s business affairs are again in a sad tangle, and this time I am handling things. I refuse to discuss business in a counting house! I suppose there are women who find Mr Gill attractive. I am not one of them.

But enough about me. If you would kindly reply, Mrs Darcy, listing any little thing that will irk Miss Bingley, I would be most grateful.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Elliot

Author Laura Hile (2012)Author Bio:  

As a girl Laura Hile pored over Victorian novels on her grandmother’s shelves, smitten with stories from a bygone era.  The wonder of Gothic Romance and Jane Austen’s Regency came next.  But it was not until serialized Austen fiction became popular that Laura summoned her courage and began to post stories of her own.  To keep readers interested, she developed what has become her signature style:  intertwined plots, cliffhangers, and laugh-out-loud humor.  The comedy she comes by naturally in her job as a middle school teacher—there’s never a dull moment at school!  Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, the eldest and youngest of her three college-age sons, and a collection of antique clocks. Visit Laura at her website Mercy’s Embrace; at her blog Jane Started It; on Facebook as Laura Hile Author and Mercy’s Embrace; and follow her on Twitter as @LauraHile.

Grand Giveaway of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story

Enter a chance to win one of three (3) copies of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course, by Laura Hile, or one (1) full set of the trilogy which also includes Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase and Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide, by asking Laura a question about her series or by sharing your reaction to any of the three reviews posted during our month-long author event each Saturday in May.  Entrants will qualify for a chance at the drawing of one (1) copy of book one, or one (1) each of the entire set. Both print editions and ebooks are available. Contest ends at 11:59 Wednesday May 30th, 2012. Winners announced on Thursday, May 31st, 2012. Shipment internationally. Good luck!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Wytherngate Press is offering the full series of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story at a discount through May.  You can receive a 25% off the print edition at their online shop, or $2.00 off the ebook editions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other etailers.

Many thanks to author Laura Hile for her wonderful guest blog introducing us to her heroine Elizabeth Elliot and for generous giveaways! Enjoy!

© 2007 – 2012 Laura Hile, Austenprose

The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!

The Jane Austen Guide to Life, by Lori Smith (2012)Happy May Day everyone! Please join us today in welcoming author Lori Smith on the launch of her blog tour in celebration of the publication of The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman, released today by Globe Pequot Press. Lori has generously shared with us some insights on her inspiration for writing her second Jane Austen-inspired book and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

I’m thrilled I was able to write The Jane Austen Guide to Life, but I can’t fully take credit for the idea.  A while back, an email unexpectedly popped up from an editor I hadn’t heard from in a while, one I’d always wanted to work with.  She’d been thinking, she said, about a book that would combine a light biography of Jane Austen with practical “life lessons” for the modern reader, drawn from Austen’s life as well as her books.  I thought for about fifteen seconds and concluded, “Yes!  That book should be written!”  And that was the beginning.

As normal as it seems to me to take advice from Austen—I’ve loved her writing for years, even followed her life through England for my last project, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith (2007), —I thought it might seem strange to some.  After all, Austen was a 19th-century spinster.  She wasn’t terribly concerned about fashion, knew nothing about platform heels, and, if she’d had the chance, she very well might have married a first cousin (as was common practice back then).  So what could she possibly teach our modern selves?

In some ways, Austen was more modern than we might think.  She embraced the 21st-century idea of making your dreams a reality.  After all, in her day, a lady should not have written fiction.  Not only was writing un-ladylike, but novels were frivolous and of questionable value.  But Austen had to tell her stories—she had to write—so, acceptable or not, that’s what she did.

In other ways, Austen challenges us, her own good sense in contrast to current cultural extremes.  Many of us strive for our fifteen minutes of fame, while Austen didn’t even want her name to appear on her books.  As a nation, we’re saddled with pervasive credit card debt; Austen lived within a tight and carefully kept budget.  She would encourage us to cherish our true friends rather than focusing on building extensive and ephemeral social networks.  And Jane Austen never had sex—so what would she say about a culture that has a word specifically to describe meaningless sexual encounters.  (Hookup, anyone?) Continue reading “The Jane Austen Guide to Life blog tour with author Lori Smith & giveaway!”

The Three Colonels Blog Tour with Author Jack Caldwell & Giveaway

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell (2012)Today is World Book Day, and what better way to celebrate the printed word than with an Austenesque author?

Please join us today in welcoming Jack Caldwell on the first stop in his blog tour in celebration of the release of his second novel, The Three Colonels, published today by Sourcebooks. Jack has generously shared with us some insights into creating the novel, and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

Greetings, everyone. I’m Jack Caldwell, author of Pemberley Ranch, that western-themed re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’m happy that Laurel Ann invited me back to Austenprose to talk about my new book, The Three Colonels – Jane Austen’s Fighting Men.

Unlike Pemberley Ranch which was a re-imagining, The Three Colonels is a sequel of the original novels set during the Regency. That’s right, novels—I combine Pride and Prejudice with another of Austen’s beloved books, Sense and Sensibility. I find that by doing so, I’ve opened up the Austen universe to unlimited possibilities.

So who are my three colonels?

  • Colonel Christopher Brandon (from Sense and Sensibility) – The romantic hero of Austen’s first novel is married to the former Marianne Dashwood, and they live happily with their baby daughter at Brandon’s estate of Delaford. For purposes of my novel, I’ve tweaked Brandon’s career a bit. He served not only in India and the East Indies, but also in Italy, where he met the future Duke of Wellington and the next of my colonels.
  • Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam (from Pride and Prejudice) – Possibly the most popular minor character in Austen’s entire canon. An officer in the Light Dragoons, Fitzwilliam has taken the place of Mr. Darcy as Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s favorite nephew and court jester. However, he’s still a second son with no fortune or estate of his own, and Lady Catherine well knows it. Fitzwilliam’s best friend, besides Darcy, is—
  • Colonel Sir John Buford (an original character) – Buford is a Welsh gentleman, an extraordinarily brave and capable officer in the Light Dragoons, and a particularly popular figure with the ladies. This “Dark Darcy” won his knighthood in Spain and comes to realize that his rakish conduct has not served him well. Valued by his superiors for his abilities, particularly with languages, he is distrusted for his dishonorable personal habits. Buford seeks redemption through better behavior and a good marriage.

Continue reading “The Three Colonels Blog Tour with Author Jack Caldwell & Giveaway”

Q & A with Midnight in Austenland Author Shannon Hale, & a Giveaway!

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, by Shannon Hale (2012)We have a special treat in store for you today. Please help us welcome New York Times best-selling author Shannon Hale. She has graciously fit us into her very busy promotional schedule and answered a few probing questions about her new Austen-inspired novel, Midnight in Austenland, and the new movie in production of her first novel in the series, Austenland.

LAN: Thanks Shannon for joining us today to chat about your new Austen-inspired novel, Midnight in Austenland. This is the second time you have taken readers to that special place, Pembrook Park, the Regency-era theme park in Kent, England designed for Janeites. What tempted you to return?

SH: I was writing a screenplay for Austenland with Jerusha Hess and really enjoying returning to the story and the characters. Then when I wrote up a character sheet for my co-writer, I stumbled upon a new story idea. That story became Midnight in Austenland. I was delighted! I’d never thought to return.

LAN: Do any of the original characters from Austenland make an appearance in Midnight in Austenland? If so, can you share who and why you chose them?

SH: Miss Charming, who was a guest in the first book, is still there. The idea made me laugh, so I had to do it. I love writing her dialog, and I felt like her character had more to explore. Mrs. Wattlesbrook, the proprietress, and her handsy husband are there, and Colonel Andrews, whose parlor mystery game created the story that I couldn’t wait to follow.

LAN: There are many interesting and entertaining new characters in Midnight in Austenland, but the standout for me was Mr. Mallery. Can you give us any insight into your inspiration for his character and a preview of your deliciously moody hero?

SH: Thank you! I was thinking about how Jane Austen was in many ways commenting on the gothic romances of her day in her stories, even with Mr. Darcy. I wanted Mallery to start at that place but mixed in a little more Rochester and Heathcliff–a dark hero with a bit more bite. He was fun. I want to say more, but I’m afraid I’d get spoilery!

LAN: Midnight in Austenland is not only a romantic comedy; it is a mystery, with spirited allusions to Jane Austen’s gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Gothic fiction played an important part in Austen’s creation of Northanger Abbey. Were there any mystery novels or authors that inspired you? Continue reading “Q & A with Midnight in Austenland Author Shannon Hale, & a Giveaway!”

In Celebration of Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday: From Jane Austen to Charles Dickens: Guest blog by Lynn Shepherd, & a Giveaway

Google Celebration of Charles Dickens 2012

We are basically a tried and true Janeite, but quietly confess to admiration of another nineteenth-century novelist also born in Hampshire; – Charles Dickens. His style is entirely different than the witty underpinnings of our beloved Miss Austen, but one cannot ignore his fabulous characterizations and amazing plot twists.

Charles DickensToday is the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth on February 7, 1812 at Landport, in Portsea, near Portsmouth, England. If Miss Austen is wholly a Regency author, then Dickens is her Victorian counterpart in popularity. He would become the most famous author of his day, writing sixteen major novels, traveling the world with his speaking tours and publishing other authors works like Mrs. Gaskell.

Like Jane Austen, Dickens has a huge following of admirers and sequelers. I was thrilled to learn last year that Murder at Mansfield Park author Lynn Shepherd was also a fan of Dickens and had written a novel inspired by one of his most popular works, Bleak House. Published last week as Tom-All-Alone’s in the UK, Lynn’s new novel will also be released in the US in May by Random House as The Solitary House: A Novel.

Lynn is the perfect fellow Janeite to share her thoughts on Dickens’ bicentenary celebration with us on his special day. She has generously contributed a guest blog and a very special chance for readers to win one of three advance readers copies available of The Solitary House. Details of the giveaway are listed below. Welcome Lynn:  

Murder at Mansfield Park, by Lynn Shepherd (2010)The last time I wrote a piece for Laurel Ann it was because I had just written Murder at Mansfield Park; I’m back now to help celebrate Dickens’ 200th birthday because I’m just about to publish a new murder mystery, inspired by his great masterpiece, Bleak House.

It’s a very long way from the elegant ambiance of Regency country houses, to the dark and dirty world of Victorian London, so why did I decide to make the move from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens? And having made that decision, what challenges did I face?

The first thing I realized was that I didn’t want The Solitary House to be the same sort of book as Murder at Mansfield Park. In the latter I had worked very hard to mimic Jane Austen’s beautiful prose style, rigorously checking my vocabulary to ensure it was in use at the time, and replicating the special rhythm of her sentences. But I knew at once that I didn’t want to do the same thing with Dickens. His style is almost as distinctive as hers, but I suspected any attempt to pastiche it would descend very quickly into parody.

Likewise I made the conscious decision not to even attempt to cram in everything Dickens does – his books are astonishingly broad in their scope, with comedy and satire at one extreme, and drama and psychological insight at the other. I’ve always been more interested in the latter than the former, and I confess I do find his caricatures rather tiresome in some of the novels.  So by now I was clear: I wanted to write a book inspired by Dickens, but ‘darker than Dickens’, with no comedy, no caricatures, and in a voice of my own.

The Solitary House, by Lynn Shepherd (2012)The result is a book that runs in parallel with the events of Bleak House, with some of Dickens’ characters appearing in mine, and the two stories coming together and intersecting at crucial moments.  Bleak House is, of course, the very first detective story in English, with the first fictional detective, Inspector Bucket. He appears in my story too – my young detective, Charles Maddox, was once fired from the Metropolitan Police at Bucket’s insistence, and their paths cross again as Charles’ investigation deepens.

Anyone who’s read Murder at Mansfield Park, will recognize the name ‘Charles Maddox’ at once, but we’re now in 1850, not 1811, and this new Charles Maddox is actually the great-nephew of my original Regency thief taker. Old Maddox appears in the book as well, but he’s now an elderly man, and suffering from a disease that we recognize at once as Alzheimer’s, but which was unknown at the time. But when Maddox has lucid periods he is still one of the sharpest minds in London, and Charles will need all his help if he’s to unravel the terrible secret at the heart of this sinister case.

One of the great delights – and challenges – of writing The Solitary House was to go back and re-create Dickens’ London. As many people have said, London is not just a setting in Dickens’ novels, but a character in its own right, and I had the opportunity to be even more forthright about the realities of life in the city than Dickens was able to be. We know far more, in some ways, that Dickens’ middle class contemporaries did, and I’ve tried to bring the 19th-century city to life in all its splendor, all its sin, and all its stink.

Great Expectations (2011) UKOf course many of us owe our mental pictures of Victorian London to the screen adaptations of Dickens’ works, and he does translate particularly well to film and TV. The BBC aired a new – and I think excellent – version of Great Expectations this Christmas, with Gillian Anderson as a chillingly beautiful and aloof Miss Havisham. There was also a new adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, with a new ending, and some wonderfully atmospheric scenes. There are many other excellent BBC adaptations of the books, and I’m also a great fan of the 1998 Our Mutual Friend, which has a marvelously intense Bradley Headstone, as played by David Morrissey, but my favorite – perhaps unsurprisingly – is the 2005 Bleak House.

Once again Gillian Anderson is utterly convincing and impressive as Lady Dedlock, and she’s supported by a wonderful cast of British character acting at its best. My only quibble is the choice of actor to play Tulkinghorn, as Charles Dance (in my view) is far too young, attractive, and just plain tall, to play the wizened old lawyer I have in my own imagination.

Bleak House (2005) BBCThe other fascinating thing about that Bleak House adaptation was that it was deliberately constructed in half-hour episodes, thereby mimicking the ‘serial publication’ of the original novel. It was a brilliant coup to screen it that way, since it helps us understand how Dickens structured his story with cliff-hangers at the end of each ‘number’, to keep people coming back for more.

And, of course, they did. And they still do, even 200 years after he was born, whether as readers, viewers, or – in my case – writers inspired by his great genius to create something new of their own.

Author Bio:

Lynn Shepherd studied English at Oxford, and later went on to do a doctorate on Samuel Richardson, which has now been published by Oxford University Press. She’s also a passionate Jane Austen fan, writing the award winning Murder at Mansfield Park in (2010), and just released another murder mystery Tom-All-Alone’s in the UK, inspired by Charles Dickens Bleak House. Retitled The Solitary House, it will be released in the US by Random House in May. You can visit Lynn at her  website, on Facebook as Lynn Shepherd, and follow her on Twitter as @Lynn_Shepherd.

A Grand Giveaway of The Solitary House: A Novel

Enter a chance to win one of three advance reading copies available of The Solitary House: A Novel, by Lynn Shepherd by leaving a question asking Lynn about her inspiration to write a Dickens sequel, her research process, or if you have read Bleak House or seen any of the many film adaptations, which your favorite character is by 11:59 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, February 23, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Thanks for joining us today Lynn in celebration of one of literature’s most revered and cherished novelist of all time on his special day. Best of luck with your new mystery novel The Solitary House. I am so looking forward to reading it. 

© 2007 – 2012 Lynn Shepherd, Austenprose

A Jane Austen Devotional, by Steffany Woolsey – A Review & Giveaway!

A Jane Austen Devotional, by Steffany Woolsey (2012)Guest review by Br. Paul Byrd, OP

This book is crafted with the hope that readers would take the opportunity to get lost in the world of Jane Austen—a place where we can all pause in solitude, as though we’ve just finished a stroll in the garden with Jane and are now sitting down with her to tea, reflecting on important life lessons and taking in the beauty of the countryside. Through excerpts from her work, short devotions, and Scripture, we hope this book will bring you moments of peace while you allow God’s word to shape your own character, (introduction).

Jane Austen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church? One might look forward to the Anglican Communion adding Blessed Jane to its calendar of saints with the publication of Steffany Woolsey’s A Jane Austen Devotional (a measure this Catholic would whole-heartedly support). When Laurel Ann first told me she was sending me this book, I was off-the-charts thrilled. The title alone was enough to evoke in me a childlike eagerness to hold the book in my hands and celebrate that such a thing existed. Why this near-absurd ebullience? Well, my particular area of Austen studies focuses on Jane Austen’s religious context and the religiosity of her novels, thus a book that purposefully examines her stories in a Christian light was sure to interest me. One that does so as a devotional—a book designed as an aid to the reader’s spiritual contemplation—promised to take things to a higher, more personal level.

With over one hundred meditation reflections, paired with favorite snippets from the novels we love so well, along with corresponding scripture passages, this devotional is sure to please Austen fans of faith. Subjects covered vary widely, but may be categorized by Austen’s common religious themes: the rewards of virtuous living, the ugliness of vicious behavior, and the duty owed to one’s family, neighbors, and society. Chapter titles give you further clues into themes: “Being Generous,” “Spiritual Bankruptcy,” “Respecting One Another,” “Flirting with Sin,” and so on. By combining scenes from Austen and scenes from Jewish and Christian scriptures, the author builds the foundation for the little morals she offers or reflection questions she poses at the end of each two-page chapter. In doing so, Woolsey helps readers to do what Austen always intended them to do: to use her characters—the good and the bad—to critically examine their own behavior. Are we more like Mary Crawford or Fanny Price? Mr. Wickham or Mr. Darcy?

One reflection I particularly liked was entitled “Following the Golden Rule.” This chapter held up the example of Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice for the reader’s consideration, reminding him or her of Jane’s propensity to see the good in everyone, and her avoidance of malicious speech. As Woolsey writes, “Jane lives out this truth [the Golden Rule given by Jesus] by employing a simple philosophy: if we want to be loved, we have to give love. Likewise, if we want meaningful relationships, we need to treat others with respect and esteem. Forgiveness, kindness, generosity—in all these areas, we must lead without expectation of reciprocity,” (21). The concluding reflection questions that then follow are deep, in their own way, helping the reader to really sit and delve into the true motivations for his or her behavior and interaction with others.

A Jane Austen Devotional is a spiritual tool, not merely a gimmicky Austen collectable. If used once a day (as devotionals usually are), this book can slowly help a spiritual seeker to develop or strengthen his or her practice of reflection and contemplation, using as a starting point Austen’s very practical Anglican Christianity. In this way, it’s not a book you sit down and read through in a weekend, but one you keep around all year long, on your nightstand with your Bible, at your desk at work, in your glove compartment, or in your purse.

I give this book 5 Stars, and highly recommend it.

A Grand Giveaway of A Jane Austen Devotional

The publisher Thomas Nelson, Inc. has generously offered a giveaway contest of three copies of A Jane Austen Devotional. To enter a chance to win one copy, leave a comment stating which quotes from Jane Austen you think are inspiring, or which of which of Jane Austen’s characters would greatly benefit from this devotional and why by 11:59pm PT, Wednesday, January 18, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, January 19, 2012. Shipment to the US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

A Jane Austen Devotional, by Steffany Woolsey
Thomas Nelson, Inc. (2012)
Hardcover (224) pages
ISBN: 978-1400319534

Br. Paul Byrd, OP is a solemnly professed friar of the Dominican Order of Preachers. Originally from Covington, KY, he earned his bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Thomas More College and his master’s degree in theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology. He is in the writing and publishing graduate program at DePaul University. He is the author of the Dominican Cooperator Blog

© 2007 – 2012 Br. Paul Byrd, OP, Austenprose

Austenprose’s Jane Austen Birthday Soiree – December 16, 2011 – with tons of Giveaways!

Jane Austen Warhol Banner

HAPPY 236th BIRTHDAY JANE AUSTEN!

Welcome to our contribution to the Austen’s Birthday Soiree!

Austen's Birthday Soiree 2012We are participating in the Austen’s Birthday Soiree, hosted by Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn & Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club. The daylong blog hop will feature a post in celebration of Jane Austen, her life, her novels and the era in which she lived at each of the 31 blogs!

Quick links to participants in Austen’s Birthday Soiree

  1. Blog: Sharon Lathan
  2. Blog: O! Beauty Unattempted
  3. Blog: Austenprose
  4. Blog: SemiTrue Stories
  5. Blog: First Draft
  6. Blog: Regency Skethes
  7. Blog: Brant Flakes
  8. Blog: Mesmered’s Blog
  9. Blog: The Heroine’s Bookshelf
  10. Blog: vvb32 reads
  11. Blog: The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown
  12. Blog: ReginaJeffers’s Blog
  13. Blog: Alyssa Goodnight   
  14. Blog: Jane Austen in Vermont
  15. Blog: Jane Started It!
  16. Blog: Choc Lit Authors’ Corner
  17. Blog: Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
  18. Blog: The Jane Austen Film Club 
  19. Blog: El Salón de Té de Jane
  20. Blog: Kaitlin Saunders
  21. Blog: One Literature Nut
  22. Blog: Patrice Sarath
  23. Blog: Jane Austen Brasil
  24. Blog: Jane Austen Sequels 
  25. Blog: Stiletto Storytime
  26. Blog: Jennifer W. Becton
  27. Blog: Urban Girl Takes Vermont
  28. Blog: Pemberley Variations 
  29. Blog: AustenAuthors
  30. Blog: November’s Autumn
  31. Blog: My Jane Austen Book Club

Our Tribute to her Letters

Continue reading “Austenprose’s Jane Austen Birthday Soiree – December 16, 2011 – with tons of Giveaways!”

Expectations of Happiness Blog Tour with author Rebecca Ann Collins, & Giveaway!

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2011)As 2011 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first novel Sense and Sensibility, it is a great pleasure to see a new sequel to it arrive from Pemberley Chronicles author Rebecca Ann Collins.

Please join us today in welcoming Rebecca Ann on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Expectations of Happiness published this month by Sourcebooks. Rebecca Ann has kindly shared with us some insights on creating the novel.

Thank you very much, Laurel Ann, for inviting me to contribute to your blog; it is a pleasure to be able to speak directly to you and your readers about my work and the new book – Expectations of Happiness.

You have asked why I chose to write a companion volume to Sense and Sensibility and how I managed to “get my head into the Regency period after writing The Pemberley Chronicles.

If I may answer your second question first – I had absolutely no difficulty with the Regency Period, which covers the latter part of Jane Austen’s life; I was familiar with the historical, social and cultural background of that era.

As a Jane Austen addict ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility when I was just twelve years old, and a student of both English Literature and History, I had read everything I could get my hands on about the author, her family, her life and times.   Her novels were published within the period of the Regency so it was inevitable that a passionate reader and student of Miss Austen’s work and the society in which she lived would absorb the events and ambiance of the era. Continue reading “Expectations of Happiness Blog Tour with author Rebecca Ann Collins, & Giveaway!”

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