Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Laurel Ann Nattress: You Pierce My Soul Persuasion: A Look at Jane Austen’s Most Romantic Novel

 It's my great pleasure to welcome my guest, Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It to the blog today. Everyone knows Laurel Ann from her wonderful blog, Austenprose, and now she's just become a published author! Over to you, Laurel Ann.

You Pierce My Soul Persuasion: A Look at Jane Austen’s Most Romantic Novel

 Hi Jane, thanks again for hosting me during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Besides being total Jane Austen enthusiasts Jane, you and I share an affinity for Persuasion, Jane Austen's last and most romantic novel. I was so excited then you shared with me that you were inspired to write a short story for Jane Austen Made Me Do It based upon Jane Austen’s characters Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. I adore their love story and was so interested to see what you would do with the backstory of their first meeting and early romance that is only alluded to in the original novel. I was thrilled with the result Jane, and I hope readers will enjoy your sojourn with one of our favorite Jane Austen couples.

Persuasion is really a unique novel in Jane Austen’s canon. It is the last novel that she completed before she died in 1817 at the age of forty-one, and reflects her more mature style with an intriguing introspective narrative.

At age twenty-seven, its heroine Anne Elliot is considered “on the shelf,” – past the marriageable age to catch a rich husband worthy of her snobbish father, Sir Walter Elliot’s approval. She and our hero Captain Wentworth’s failed romance and separation for over seven years is the center of the story. Themes of regret, misdirection, and lost hope all fuel the plot. This may sound very dour, but Austen’s brilliance as a writer, tempers the bad with the good to create conflict and humor with a wonderful resolution. The famous “you pierce my soul” letter by Captain Wentworth at the end of the novel is one of the most romantic ever written, and their eventual reunion and prospect for life together the most fulfilling “happily-ever-after” in literature. Even though Pride and Prejudice gets all the attention, I think Persuasion is a refined and mature work of a brilliant storyteller, and is really her masterpiece.

During the editing process of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, I was really delighted to see a few authors interested in writing stories inspired by Persuasion. The end result is some of my favorites in the anthology. Here is a brief preview of them:
“The Love Letter,” by Brenna Aubrey
Young doctor Mark Hinton thinks his life is perfect.  He is just about to finish his residency and has accepted the offer of a fabulous new job.  Things could not be better…  until the arrival of an anonymous letter in the mail forces him to confront the truth he’s been hiding from for seven years.
Sent on a quest by the mysterious contents of the letter, he is forced to discover the contents of his own heart thanks to Jane Austen, a canny librarian, a cantankerous patient, and a coolly observant sister.
“Waiting: A story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion,” by Jane Odiwe
Captain Wentworth and his beloved Anne Elliot have waited almost nine years to be together. At last all misunderstandings are swept aside. They have declared their love for one another, and all that remains is for their union to be blessed by Anne’s father, the irascible Sir Walter Elliot, and for the family members to be told. As Anne and Frederick ponder their futures each is reminded of the past, and all that has happened. Anne recalls the heady days of their courtship, but Frederick finds his memories overshadowed by the recollection of Sir Walter’s former hostility. Anne waits patiently for the outcome, but is disappointed by her sister Elizabeth’s reaction to the news, and further dismayed when she sees Captain Wentworth’s expression telling her all has not gone well with his interview. However, Anne is resolute. Despite being persuaded in the past against the match, she is determined to marry the Captain whatever the opposition. To her relief she discovers that Sir Walter has given his blessing, albeit grudgingly, and that at least one of her sisters is moderately pleased for her. Anne and Frederick know there are more obstacles to their happiness to come, but rejoice in the old adage that ‘good things come to those who wait.’
“Heard of You,” by Margaret C. Sullivan
In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, we are told that Admiral and Mrs. Croft married a shockingly short time after their first meeting, but that they had heard a great deal about each other before they met. How could they have known each other so well? In the midst of war, an unlikely Cupid brings together one of Austen’s best married couples in a story inspired both by Persuasion and by Captain Frederick Marryat’s novel Peter Simple.
I hope that readers will be as charmed and delighted with how Persuasion inspired these three writers to create their unique stories.

Thank you Jane for your wonderful contribution “Waiting,” and for hosting me today on your blog. It was a pleasure.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for joining me today. I’m so thrilled to be a part of your wonderful book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, and have enjoyed reading all the fabulous stories!

Editor bio:

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs and, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966

Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by November 6th 2011, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on Monday November 7th 2011. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!


Monday, October 17, 2011

A Lydia Bennet Moment! Jane Odiwe and Monica Fairview at the RNA Regency Day.

Jane Odiwe, Monica Fairview and the officers at the RNA day
In Lydia's imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp -- its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.
Pride and Prejudice

A fun day was had by all at the Romantic Novelist's Association Regency Day held at the Royal Overseas club in Mayfair. As you can see, Monica Fairview and I experienced a 'Lydia Bennet' moment when we met a group of redcoats who were there to add a touch of authenticity to the proceedings. Thank you, Monica, for the lovely photo!

I got to dance with Georgette Heyer biographer, Jennifer Kloester, who gave a fascinating talk on Georgette, and I managed to get my book signed! The Regency dancing was brilliant though I must admit Mr. Collins would probably look like an expert next to my efforts. Still, we laughed a lot, and had a good time. There are excellent reports on the day on the RNA blog and by Juliet Archer on Austen Authors.

Here's an extract from Lydia Bennet's Story:

Lydia Bennet, Mr. Wickham, and Kitty
Chapter 1
The true misfortune, which besets any young lady who believes herself destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family. Lydia Bennet of Longbourn, Hertfordshire, not only believed that her mama and papa had most likely stolen her from noble parents, but also considered it a small miracle that they could have produced between them her own fair self and four comely girls—Jane, Lizzy, Mary and Kitty—though to tell the truth, she felt herself most blessed in looks. Lydia’s greatest desire in life was to be married before any of her sisters, but a lack of marriageable beau in the county and her papa’s reluctance to accompany her to as many Assembly Balls as she wished had thwarted her efforts thus far.
The youngest Longbourn ladies, Lydia and Kitty, were employed in preparations for a trip out into the nearby town of Meryton. Their bedchamber was strewn with cambrics, muslins, and ribbons, all cast aside for want of something better. Slippers and shoes, sashes and shawls spilled over the bed and onto the floor. Feathers, fans, and frills flowed from open drawers like a fountain cascade. Amongst the spoils, Kitty reclined against propped, plump cushions to regard her sibling, one arm resting behind her head whilst the other held back the heavy bed drapes, so as not to obscure her view. Lydia sat before the glass on her dressing table, scrutinising her reflection as she put the last touches to her toilette. She dusted a little powder over her full, rosy cheeks and twisted the dark curls on her forehead with a finger, patting them into place until she was satisfied with her appearance.
“Is it not a face designed for love?” she asked Kitty with a chuckle, practising several expressions she thought might stand her in good stead with the officers, or at the very least amuse her sister for five minutes. She was perfecting what she could only describe as a “passion promoter” to great comic effect, pouting her generous mouth and flashing her wide, black eyes with slow sweeps of her lashes, which had Kitty reeling on the bed with laughter. “No doubt, I shall capture Mr Denny’s heart once and for all!”
“I do not think making faces at Denny will make one jot of difference to his regard for you,” Kitty declared, spying a bauble amongst the strewn bedclothes and sitting up to clasp the necklace about her throat. “But, in any case, is it wise to spend so much time on a young man who has such a glad eye? I should have thought you would have learned your lesson by now!” Kitty was the sister with whom Lydia shared all her fears and secrets, cares and woes, secure in the knowledge that she was acquainted with as many of Kitty’s confidences, as her sister was of her own. Lydia would never divulge what followed when Charles Palmer detained Kitty in the conservatory and proposed to show her the illuminations, nor disclose intelligence of the letters that passed between them afterwards. Their confidence was absolute.
“I do hope Denny will like my new hairstyle,” Lydia went on, tying a length of coral silk around her tresses and ignoring her sister’s comments. “I daresay he will; he is always very attentive to every little thing. Why, I only changed the ribbons on my straw bonnet from white to coquelicot last Sunday and he had noticed before the first hymn was sung in church. Oh, Denny, he is so very sweet, though perhaps he is not quite so gallant as Mr Wickham, whose compliments are without doubt the most accomplished. I wonder what he will have to say. Do you think Mr Wickham will notice my hair?”
Kitty did not think Lydia really expected an answer to her question but ventured to comment on the fact that Mr Wickham, one of the best looking officers of their acquaintance, might have his attentions engaged elsewhere. “I do not think Mr Wickham’s notice extends much beyond that of his present interest in Miss Mary King. I hate to disappoint you, Lydia, but quite frankly, you could have Jane’s best bonnet on your head and he would not notice you! Pen Harrington believes he is quite in love.”
“Well, I am not convinced he is in love with Mary King,” said Lydia, liberally sprinkling Steele’s lavender water on her wrists, “but with her ten thousand pounds! Money will certainly give a girl all the charm she needs to attract any suitor. If you and I had half so much, do you think we should still be single?”
“Well, be that as it may, whatever Mr Wickham’s true feelings are on the matter, I declare that I shall never forgive him for his conduct to our sister. I think he used our Lizzy very ill,” Kitty cried, as she drew a white chip bonnet from its pink and white striped box and pulled it on over her ebony locks. “No wonder Lizzy went off to Hunsford to visit Charlotte Collins. I think Mr Wickham quite broke her heart.”
“Mr Wickham is a very amiable, but wicked, man and if he were not so charming or so handsome, I swear I would snub him forever,” Lydia replied. She stood up to smooth her muslin gown over her hips, pulling it down as hard as she could and sighing at its length in despair. Jane, the eldest of the Bennet daughters was a little shorter than herself, Lydia reflected, tugging at her cast off gown. Indeed, none of her sisters were as tall. And whilst she enjoyed her superior height, she knew that nobody else had to suffer the indignity of wearing clothes that were too small. If only she could persuade her papa that she really needed a new dress for herself alone, she knew she would be the happiest girl alive. But that was impossible. There was never enough money and, if there was any left over for the occasional luxury, as the youngest of five daughters, Lydia knew she would be the last to feel its effects. Tacking on another length of fabric from the workbox was the only answer but there just wasn’t time for that now. If they were not careful, they would be late and miss all the fun.
“If I know Lizzy, she will not be downhearted for long and her letters from Hunsford parsonage are cheerful enough,” Lydia added, pinching her cheeks between thumbs and forefingers for added bloom. “She expresses no feelings of regret and certainly there is no mention of moping for Mr Wickham, though how she can possibly be having fun with our dreary cousin Collins is quite beyond me. Poor Charlotte! I know you and I used to joke about the “Lovebirds of Longbourn” but, now she is married, I cannot help but feel sorry for her. Can you imagine having to live with William Collins for the rest of your life? Well, at least Lizzy managed to avoid that, although I am not sure our mother will ever completely forgive her for refusing to marry him.”
“Even sister Mary was not keen on the idea of becoming a parson’s wife, despite her penchant for bible study and religious tracts,” added Kitty, tying blue ribbons under her chin. “Although as I recall, if pressed, she might have consented to the match.”
“But Mr Collins never asked her!” Lydia giggled. She adjusted her bonnet, setting it at a jaunty angle before winking at her sister. “To be married with a house of my own is my ambition, I admit, but I declare I could never love a clergyman, not in a million years. Come, Kitty,” Lydia urged, picking up her reticule with one hand and taking her sister’s arm with the other. “Let us make haste. If we delay much longer, the morning will be gone and we will miss all the gossip!

Lydia and Kitty Bennet admiring the soldiers
Such a pretty scene met Lydia’s eyes on their arrival in town that she didn’t know which way to look: at the ravishing bonnets in straw and silk in the milliner’s bow-fronted windows or at the figured muslins, crêpes, and linens ruched and draped across the width and length of the tall windows of the mercer’s warehouse. Vying for her attention was a highway teeming with those captivating visions in scarlet; officers were everywhere, strutting the pavements and swaggering in step. A whole regiment of soldiers had arrived in Meryton several months ago, along with the changeable autumn winds, blowing every maiden’s saucy kisses like copper leaves down upon their handsome heads. Lydia and Kitty had been far from disappointed when line upon line of handsome soldiers and debonair officers had come parading along the High Street, a blaze of scarlet and gleaming gold buttons, laden with muskets and swords, clanking in rhythm as they marched. It had not been very long before both girls had made firm friends with all the officers, helped along by the introductions from their Aunt and Uncle Phillips who lived in the town.

Harriet Forster, the Colonel’s wife, was fast becoming Lydia’s most particular friend, and it was to her elegant lodgings that the Bennet sisters now hastened on this spring morning. As was expected, they found her in good company. Penelope Harrington and Harriet’s sister, Isabella Fitzalan, were regaling Harriet with the latest news. The three ladies were most elegantly dressed to Lydia’s mind: Harriet in a white muslin, Penelope in blue with lace let into the sleeves, and Isabella in lilac, to match the blossoms on the trees outside. Lydia thought Miss Fitzalan was elegance personified, with her golden curls dressed just like the portrait of Madame Recamier she had seen in her mother’s monthly periodical.
“I am so glad you have arrived at last, Lydia and Kitty,” Harriet exclaimed, as she rang the bell for tea, “for I have some news which cannot wait to be told. You will never guess what has happened!” 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jane Austen Made Me Do It - Publication Day, and a Competition Winner!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by the wonderful Laurel Ann Nattress is launched today. I'm thrilled to be a part of this book and have enjoyed reading all the amazing stories written by all the fabulous authors. The launch party is being kindly hosted over at Austen Authors with guest posts written by Laurel Ann Nattress, Monica Fairview, Diana Birchall, Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, and Me!

I also found this lovely review

Stories by: Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley 
“My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” If you just heaved a contented sigh at Mr. Darcy’s heartfelt words, then you, dear reader, are in good company. Here is a delightful collection of never-before-published stories inspired by Jane Austen—her novels, her life, her wit, her world. 

In Lauren Willig’s “A Night at Northanger,” a young woman who doesn’t believe in ghosts meets a familiar specter at the infamous abbey; Jane Odiwe’s “Waiting” captures the exquisite uncertainty of Persuasion’s Wentworth and Anne as they await her family’s approval of their betrothal; Adriana Trigiani’s “Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane” imagines a modern-day Austen giving her niece advice upon her engagement; in Diana Birchall’s “Jane Austen’s Cat,” our beloved Jane tells her nieces “cat tales” based on her novels; Laurie Viera Rigler’s “Intolerable Stupidity” finds Mr. Darcy bringing charges against all the writers of Pride and Prejudice sequels, spin-offs, and retellings; in Janet Mullany’s “Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” a teacher at an all-girls school invokes the Beatles to help her students understand Sense and Sensibility; and in Jo Beverley’s “Jane and the Mistletoe Kiss,” a widow doesn’t believe she’ll have a second chance at love . . . until a Miss Austen suggests otherwise.

Regency or contemporary, romantic or fantastical, each of these marvelous stories reaffirms the incomparable influence of one of history’s most cherished authors.

Competition Winner announcement!

The winner of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos is Renee Reardon - Congratulations! Thank you to all who entered!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fairfax House, York: Dress in the Age of Jane Austen

 Click here to see a video!!

Fairfax House, York


Dress in the Age of Austen with Hilary Davidson


Opening time: 7.00pm 
Location: Fairfax House 
Cost: £14.00 (York Civic Trust members and Friends of Fairfax House £12.00, Students £8.00)
Jane Austen's lifetime and her career as a writer encompass one of the most interesting periods of fashion development. This talk, by Curator of Fashion at The Museum of London Hilary Davidson, will look at this time of great change, from the French Revolution to the Regency: how events great and small influenced fashion, and Jane Austen’s own relationship with dress in her life and novels.

Tickets: £14.00 (York Civic Trust members and Friends of Fairfax House £12.00, Students £8.00)
For tickets contact Fairfax House on 01904 655543 or call in during House opening hours.

From their website:
Come and unlock the splendour within the finest Georgian town house in England. A classical architectural masterpiece of its age, Fairfax House was originally the winter home of Viscount Fairfax. Its richly decorated interior was designed by York's most distinguished eighteenth-century architect, John Carr.

Extensively adapted in the twentieth century as a cinema and dance hall, Fairfax House was saved from decay and returned to its former glory by York Civic Trust in 1982-84.

Today, Fairfax House once more transports you to the splendour of city-living in Georgian York, the centre of polite society. The superb Noel Terry collection of furniture, clocks, paintings and decorative arts, described by Christie's as one of the finest private collections of the twentieth century, perfectly complements the house, bringing it to life and creating a special lived-in feeling.

With an exciting programme of special events and changing exhibitions, there is always a reason to visit Fairfax House.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bath in the Sun!

 I was in Bath at the weekend enjoying the sunshine and the soaring temperatures-though it has to be said I didn't really take the right clothes with me. I just didn't believe it was going to be quite that hot-scorching is the word! I took a few pictures of the fabulous street entertainers who turn out each week whatever the weather. I met the talented artist, Adrian Sykes, (above) and bought a gorgeous painting of Marlborough Buildings (where Colonel Wallis lived in Persuasion). I did suggest he ought to paint some Jane Austen street scenes - not sure if he was convinced, but he did say he might venture out in Regency attire perhaps when the Jane Austen Festival is on!
I hope you enjoy the pictures of Bath in the sun!