Austen Tattler: News and Gossip around the Blogosphere

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“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.” Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Jane Austen around the blogosphere for the week of February 1st

Hot News of the week

Definitely the upcoming release of the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which was taken the Internet by deathly storm prompting the publisher Quirk Books to move up the release date. You can read my first thoughts about it at Jane Austen Today, this week on the reaction, and the controversy regarding the author’s attitude toward Janeites at AustenBlog.

Noteworthy

Jane Austen in the City of Bath, England is a lovely article with beautiful photos at Quillcards Blog

Get ready for Valentine’s Day with snarky Austen themed valentines at Elegant Extracts Blog.

Sense and Sensibility (2008) is being rebroadcast on Masterpiece Classic on Sundays Feb 1st & 8th. You can catch up on the first episode by reading the synopsis of episode one at the Masterpiece offical site and read reviews at Jane Austen’s World and here at Austenprose. Tune in to PBS this Sunday for the conclusion.

The Excessively Diverting Blog Award recognizes seven writers of note on the Internet presented by the Jane Austen Today blogging team.

Over at Risky Regencies indulge in a little escapsism with Highwayman of the High Seas: The Romance of the Smugler by Julia Justiss. Everyone loves a naughty pirate, yo ho!

Of Books and Bicycles is reading Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A Life and has some interesting thoughts on her insights.

Arti at Ripple Effects asks which Austen Heroine was Jane herself most like?

Entertainment

The Black Moth is available from GirleBooks for free. Ms Place (Vic) at Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen’s World is an ardent Heyer fan and tells us that this is one of Heyer’s first novels, and now ready for you to download and read for free from GirleBooks.

The roundup of upcoming Austen inspired books for February is available for your persual here at Austenprose

The DVD of Lost in Austen will be available for purchase in North America on April 14th.

British actress Ruby Bentall is truly an up and commer. I have recieved more hits on her name in the past month than any other Austen actress. More than Gwenyth or Kiera or Kate. No lie! You can read about her at my post Ruby Bentall – A Most Memorable Mary Bennet at Jane Austen Today.

Book Reviews

Until next week, happy Jane sighting.

Laurel Ann

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O’Rourke – A Review

Cover of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O'Rourke (2008) Was fictional hero Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice based on a real person who author Jane Austen met and fell in love with in 1810? In this reissue of her 2006 novel, author Sally Smith O’Rourke cleverly re-engages our fascination with Austen’s ultimate romantic hero Mr. Darcy and presents readers with a contemporary heroine pursuing the question if Darcy’s character was inspired by Austen’s personal experience?

New York City artist Eliza Knight is a 21st-century Austen fan who discovers two old letters tucked behind the mirror of her new antique vanity table addressed to “Dearest Jane” from F. Darcy, and the second unopened letter to Fitzwilliam Darcy, Chawton Great House. Puzzled, Eliza knows that Mr. Darcy is Jane Austen’s fictional creation and not a real person, or is he? Determined to find out if the letters are real or a crafty hoax, she presents them to an Austen scholar and Head of the Rare Document Department at the New York Public Library who skeptically examines them. When the scientific testing and hand writing analysis prove they are authentic, Eliza is shocked. In addition, she learns that another similar letter has recently surfaced leading her to its owner, a wealthy horse breeder in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Determined to meet him, she travels to his estate Pemberley Farms to learn about his interest in Jane Austen and why he shares Fitzwilliam Darcy’s name. When Eliza reveals to him that she has discovered additional letters similar to his, he is anxious to know at any price the content of the sealed letter and is very keen to purchase them. When she refuses to sell the two hundred year old letters, his intense reaction and admission that the message in the unopened letter was meant for him is unbelievable. Eliza knows that the notion is absurd, until he begins to tell her the entire amazing story.

This is not your typical Jane Austen sequel; in fact, it is not a sequel at all; falling into a uniquely new Austen book category – Austen paranormal mystery romance! To say more would spoil the multi-dimensional plot, but just imagine a blending of a Jane Austen biography, a contemporary romance novel and the movie Somewhere in Time and you might begin to understand my meaning. This is a ‘what if’ story that asks the reader to imagine another possibility of how Jane Austen was inspired to create her most alluring and romantic hero, Mr. Darcy. Austen purist will have to turn a blind eye to the historical and biographical flubs, (and there are more than a few), and disarm the ‘breach of etiquette’ alarm in their heads in order to just let go and enjoy the ride. Romance readers will take pleasure in Ms. O’Rourke’s breezy modern style which at times was dryly witty and at others hampered by contrite clichés. The possibility that Fitzwilliam Darcy was actually a real person is an intriguing notion that many Austen scholars have researched and enthusiasts have speculated upon for years. I commend her creativity in trying to fictionally answer the riddle but felt that the story could have been more convincing if she had taken her audience and herself more seriously. None-the-less, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen is a pure bit of escapist muslin that will in turns miff and amuse you.

3.5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Mass market paperback (303) pages
Kensington Publishing Corp, New York (2009)
ISBN: 978-0758210388

© 2009, Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose