|Ada Bright and Cass Grafton|
I have the enormous pleasure of hosting Cass Grafton and Ada Bright on the blog today - they have a new novel just out, dedicated to their long friendship - The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen. I've just received my copy, and I'm so looking forward to reading it! As you probably know I love Bath and this book is set in that fabulous city - how could anyone resist? There is a wonderful GIVEAWAY - leave a comment at the end of the post to be entered. Winners announced in a week's time!
Thank you, Jane, so much for inviting us to visit you on your Blog! We feel you are very much a part of the whole journey we’ve been on this last year, not only because of your love for and in-depth knowledge of the city of Bath, where the story is set, but also because you were with us in Bath on the day we started to write the book!
For anyone who doesn’t know us, we are Cass Grafton and Ada Bright, two friends from different continents (the UK and the USA respectively) who have written a story together that just so happens to incorporate a few of our favourite things: Jane Austen, online friendships, and romance… oh, and the beautiful city of Bath! So, perhaps it’s fairer to say we’ve co-written a story that incorporates almost all of our favourite things. Seriously, there’s even talk of Cadburys chocolate!
What is The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen about? Well, it raises a question: what might life be like if something had prevented Jane Austen from ever publishing any of her books? Our heroine, Rose - a dedicated Janeite - is about to find out!
When the story opens, it’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the Jane Austen Festival, an annual celebration of the famous author and her works.
Rose, a Bath resident as well as an avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and for the Festival to start, but she’s unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a magical secret that ultimately leads to Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy disappearing!
With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?
We’d like to share with you an excerpt from the first part of our story, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen.
Rose, our heroine, is such a dedicated Jane Austen fan, it has influenced her choice of home (the basement flat located beneath No 4 Sydney Place, the Austens’ main Bath residence) and her choice of job.
As the Festival begins, she starts to notice one particular guest whose behaviour has roused Rose’s curiosity, so much so that she overcomes her natural reticence to speak to the lady, albeit briefly.
Later that evening, back home in her cherished flat in Sydney Place, she is enjoying a quiet read before going to bed when - for the third time in recent weeks - the smoke alarm in the holiday apartment above her own flat begins to sound; only this time, it doesn’t stop.
Realising she won’t get to sleep at all unless it stops, Rose puts her book aside and heads upstairs to see what the problem is...
Excerpt from Chapter Nine:
Relieved to see no sign of flames or smoke as she walked up to the door of No 4, Rose pressed the bell for the ground-floor flat. Looking upwards, the floor above was in darkness. The current holidaymakers were either out or very deep sleepers.
The door was opened cautiously, a pair of bright eyes peering round its edge.
‘Hi! I live down there,’ Rose gestured towards the basement flat. ‘I can hear the smoke alarm. Is everything okay?’
Slowly, the door was pulled back to reveal the young woman Rose had spoken to earlier in Queen Square. She was still neatly attired in Regency costume, though her chestnut hair now hung around her shoulders.
‘Oh! It’s you.’ Rose smiled and offered her hand. ‘My name’s Rose Wallace. It looks like we’re temporary neighbours whilst you’re in Bath.’
The lady smiled politely and took Rose’s hand briefly. ‘I am pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is Miss… Jenny; Jenny Ashton.’
There was a pause, with only the piercing bleep of the alarm to be heard.
‘So…’ Rose gestured towards the open door. ‘Is there a problem? Smoke or something? We’d best call the fire brigade and quickly!’
‘No, indeed.’ Jenny shook her head, the shorter curls framing her face dancing around. ‘Be not alarmed. There is no fire, merely a recalcitrant contrivance; it will not cease!’ She glanced over her shoulder. ‘I know not what I am to do.’
‘Shall I take a look?’
With a relieved smile, the lady stood back and Rose walked into the hallway, then followed her along into the ground-floor flat, amused at the attempt to speak in old-fashioned dialogue. Definitely the dedicated fan she had supposed!
There was no sign of smoke or flames inside the flat, but the beeping was incredibly loud and very persistent as they went into the bedroom. Rose stood beneath the alarm and chewed on her lip thoughtfully. Georgian buildings were all very elegant, but the high ceilings weren’t as practical as modern ones.
‘Are there any ladders here?’
Jenny shook her head. ‘There is a spacious closet, but no ladder within.’
‘How have you managed to stop it in the past?’ Jenny raised a brow, and Rose added. ‘I’ve heard it before.’
‘Forgive me. It was not my intention to disturb.’ She gestured towards the mantelpiece. It was covered in candles of all shapes and sizes, and though none were lit, Rose could tell from the smell in the room they had only recently been extinguished. Beside the bed there was an old-fashioned oil lamp, also not in use.
‘I find the lighting pains my eyes. I am more accustomed to candlelight.’ Jenny waved a hand at the mantel. ‘By dousing the flame, the noise would hastily cease. I find its continuance unfathomable.’
‘Perhaps there’s a fault.’ Rose tried not to stare as she looked around the room for something to stand on and then peered into the adjacent sitting room, but it was impossible to miss the books piled high on every possible surface, including the floor. Jenny was clearly an avid reader!
‘Might this suffice?’
Rose looked over her shoulder; Jenny was resting her hand on the back of a sturdy-looking chair at the desk by the fireplace.
Jenny stood aside, which Rose took as a hint she expected her caller to drag the cumbersome seat over to the opposite side of the room.
It was hard to miss the array of items stacked along the rear wall as she walked over to fetch it: neatly piled below the window and an old iron door set into the wall were small, wooden crates, the contents spilling out onto the floor – an array of antiques and collectibles. Perhaps she had some connection to the Bartlett Street Antiques Centre – a collector, or a trader or something...
Trying to curb her curiosity, Rose tried to pick up the chair. It was heavy, and it took all her effort to manoeuvre it into place below the still beeping alarm.
Kicking off her slippers, Rose climbed onto it. She was tall enough, with the aid of the kitchen utensil quickly supplied by Jenny, to reach the cover of the smoke detector and managed to flip it open. The only answer for now would be to remove the battery, and with a little difficulty she finally managed to grasp it with the tweezers and it fell to the floor, narrowly missing Jenny who ceased her intent study of the quote on Rose’s discarded slippers to jump out of its way.
Picking up the battery from the floor, she then studied it warily. ‘Such loud disturbance from such small means.’ Then she looked at Rose with a warm smile. ‘I am indebted to you.’
‘No problem!’ Rose stuffed her feet back into her slippers and concealed a yawn behind her hand. ‘I’ll just put this back.’
Jenny stood aside again as Rose manhandled the heavy chair back into place by the desk. There was a writing slope on there – a lovely replica – a glass bottle of ink and what she supposed must be pens, though they bore little resemblance to the fancy quills with long feathers often depicted for the era! By contrast, there were also several bottles of eye drops next to them. Then Rose blinked. There was a piece of paper – rich textured – on the slope, and the writing on it was very familiar to her. Jenny was clearly trying to mimic Jane Austen’s well-known hand.
Rose started at the sound of someone clearing their throat and spun around. Jenny was watching her from across the room, her expression keen, and, feeling as though she had stepped over a line, Rose blushed.
‘Sorry! Too curious for my own good. You have some lovely things.’ She gestured around at the silverware, old books and suchlike.
‘One man’s disorder is another man’s treasure, do you not find?’
Rose eased past her and opened the door to the outer hallway. ‘Er, yes, I suppose so. Make sure you let someone know you had a problem with the alarm as soon as you can, and I’m sure they’ll get it fixed. ‘Night.’
If Rose wasn’t mistaken, she could have sworn Jenny almost curtseyed before deciding against it, merely inclining her head in almost regal fashion, and, keen to make her escape, Rose hurried out into the street, closing the door to No 4 firmly behind her.
We would love to offer a giveaway of a copy of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, winner’s choice of eBook or paperback (open internationally), along with the following:
Marvel Comics edition of Northanger Abbey
China thimble with Northanger Abbey quote: 'Oh, who could ever be tired of Bath?'
Jane Austen silhouette pin
Pendant and chain with Northanger Abbey quote re friendship
Thank you Cass and Ada for visiting - I loved the excerpt!
Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the draw for the fabulous GIVEAWAY!
Where to find Ada and Cass:
Ada Bright https://www.facebook.com/missyadabright
Cass Grafton https://www.facebook.com/cassie.grafton
Tabby Cow Blog - https://tabbycow.com
Pre Order Links
Smashwords (for all eBook formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, PDF etc)