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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bringing Jane to Texas: guest post from Debra E. Marvin!

Bringing Jane to Texas.

The eight authors of the Austen in Austin collection are members of the Inkwell Inspirations blog. Many years ago, we chased the idea of an anthology of novellas as a way to move our writing careers forward—at the time few of us were published. We focused on two genres: Austen or Cowboys, and picked Austen-inspired! We brainstormed ways to incorporate Austen stories into a common setting, even though eight of us wanted to be part of it and Miss Austen had only six published novels. Everything was going well, and with much enthusiasm until one of us remarked that she was much more comfortable writing western settings than Regency. We didn't have to think twice about combining them, and Austen in Austin was born!

Finding a home for eight stories from eight new authors was a challenge, and the project stalled. I think we’d given up when WhiteFire Publishing wanted to give it a try. And look how lovely they are!

Adapting Austen to Austin!

The 1880s are quite far removed from the Regency period, whether set in England or Texas. But the flavor of an Austen tale easily carried to Late Victorian's gentle society. Our Austen inspired heroines attend a finishing school run by the very English and very delightful Mrs. Collins. Here’s a taste:

Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes:

If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma
A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility
A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice
A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.

Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey
A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.

Congratulations Misty, for another great Austen in August promotion! [Interjection from Misty: Thank you, thank you. *flourish & bow*]  I’m thrilled to be meet new readers and some old friends here. Tomorrow,  I’ll be giving away a paperback copy of Austen in Austin and one of my ebook Alarmingly Charming, so make sure to stick around for that! Volume Two is due out Sept 15. It’s not a prerequisite, but please let me know if you’d like to receive my newsletter*. I only send them out when I have a new release.

To promote both books, we’d like to connect with reviewers as well. Please let me know in the comments if you’d like to be involved. Promotional digital copies will be available soon, with priority to those who’ve taken the time to review Vol 1.

Readers, do you prefer Austen characters in new adventures, or Austen-inspired characters? Or are you equal fans of both. Don’t incriminate yourself!

[Second interjection from Misty: I would also like to know what your favorite non-traditional setting/time period is. Let us know your answers in the comments!]

*If you'd like to sign up for the newsletter, let us know in the comments or on tomorrow's Rafflecopter form, where you can leave your email address safely. Same for if you're a reviewer interested in a promotional copy -- let us know in the comments, or contact me directly, I'll be passing along a list. Please do not leave email addresses or sensitive info in the comments!

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. Her published novellas include, “Alarmingly Charming” in Austen in Austen Vol 1 from WhiteFire Publishing, “Desert Duet” and "Starlight Serenade" from Forget Me Not Romances, after many unpublished contest successes including two finals for the Daphne DuMaurier award. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B018QCI2AS
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Debra-E-Marvin-433266640199533
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraEMarvin
Website: http://debraemarvin.com/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/debraemarvin/
Group Blog- Inkwell Inspirations: http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/

Return to the Austen in August Main Page by clicking here for more Janeite goodies!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

INTERFERENCE by Kay Honeyman | Review

Interference by Kay Honeyman
Get It | Add It
Contemporary, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 27th 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Friday Night Lights meets Jane Austen's Emma in this wonderful novel about a big election, big games, the big state of Texas, and a little romance.

As a Congressman's daughter in Washington, DC, Kate Hamilton is good at getting what she wants -- what some people might call "interfering." But when her family moves to West Texas so her dad can run in a special election, Kate encounters some difficulties that test all her political skills. None of her matchmaking efforts go according to plan. Her father's campaign gets off to a rough start. A pro tip for moving to Texas: Don't slam the star quarterback's hand in a door. And whenever Kate messes up, the irritatingly right (and handsome) Hunter Price is there to witness it. But Kate has determination and a good heart, and with all her political savvy -- and a little clever interference -- she'll figure out what it takes to make Red Dirt home.

Terrifically funny and sweetly romantic, with whip-crack dialogue and a wise perspective on growing up, Interference is the perfect next read for fans of Jenny Han, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Eulberg, or Sarah Dessen.

Those of you who watched my First Impressions video on Interference will likely have suspected I was going to love this. I was smitten right from the first page, couldn't get over the voice and the fantastic dry humor, and well, everything, basically. There may have been "delighted jazz hands" in the video, so. . .  Basically I said it was on track to be a favorite of 2016, unless it took a nosedive, so now the question is: did it?

Thankfully, thankfully, it did not. Interference was strong from beginning to end. It was warm and endearing and funny, and captured the place-feel very well. As I said in the video, it set up a lot of interesting contrasts well right from the beginning (there vs here, then vs now, us vs them). I can't speak to the Friday Night Lights of it all, as I've never watched it (couldn't get past the nauseating shaky-cam of the first episode; someone tell me if the camera work gets better and its worth sticking around?), but I'd imagine that any YA small town slice-of-Americana that heavily features football probably garners the same comparison.

What I can speak to is the Austen of it all, and I gotta say, it hits Emma notes in very clever ways, much the same way Clueless did: not over-the-top, but with all these little nods and easter eggs for Austen fans, while interpreting and reinventing the story in fresh, fun ways. There's some really smart thinking in using the daughter of a politician to reframe the story of Emma for the modern day -- the theme of manipulation for the greater good and that sense of well-meaning superiority that is such a part of Emma's world fits perfectly with a daughter who has been raised on the campaign trail and in front of cameras. It's one of those strokes of perfect obviousness that is borderline genius — of course! Of course a modern Emma would get her manipulation skills and ability to spin things to her benefit from a politician father! Of course someone whose grown up in a world where people are both passionately fighting for what they feel is right while also being absolutely sharks would pick up some of Emma's puppet master tendencies. It's really a very clever mash-up.

Now, like Emma, whom many readers have MAJOR likability problems with, some readers may never connect to Kate, or may want to jump ship before she learns some lessons and wins her likability points. But as I've always said, Emma is one of my favorite characters, and I relate to her a lot. I relate to her hard, y'all. I've got as much Emma in me as I do Lizzy (that's right, I'm a self-important smartypants who knows whats best for everyone else, but never takes her own advice. Soz!), so I loved Kate from the start. One of the joys of Emma for me is that, even when Emma is getting herself (and those around her. Oops) into colossal snarls, following her own misguided compass, you can always see why she thinks she's right. Her actions, though inevitably wrong, make sense. The same is true of Kate; she doesn't listen when people tell her that she's interpreting something incorrectly, and she doesn't kowtow to someone else's greater understanding of a person's character that they've known their whole life — she knows how things have worked for her in the past, where she's from, and she knows how she'd expect people to react, and why should here be any different? She goes full-steam ahead with her schemes, convinced that she's right and someone just needs to try, and that may frustrate some readers, but I get her — because how do you know if you don't try? And frankly, I like a confident (some may say cocky, I say confident) YA heroine or young woman in general. (I think that's part of the reason that I actually resent Knightley a little bit. He just had to be right. 😒)

I don't know what else there really is to say. In many ways, it's a typical, familiar story; that doesn't bother me, because it just makes it seem relatable and familiar-like-a-friend, rather than just the same old, recycled storylines. (And I mean, it is a retelling, so... I expect that feel.) Its main character may put some people off, but I love her; but then, I do tend to love the MCs that no one else does (and I'm okay with that). As always, I'd say just know yourself as a reader: if you're not a fan of Emma, there's a good chance you won't like her rewritten. If you love fluffy, fun contemporary,* you might like this. And if you're not, you won't.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, especially if you've read this or watched my First Impressions and have thoughts on the style! Also, can I hear from some fellow Emma lovers out there? It was many, many years before I realized that a lot of people didn't actually like her (like, seriously, many years. I read it when I was 17, and I think I only realized last year when our read along was Emma. I was baffled(ish), startled, and a little bit heart-broken.)
And if you end up picking this book up, please come back or find me on twitter and let me know what you thought!

*Speaking of, the synopsis compares this to Elizabeth Eulberg (with which I agree) and Sarah Dessen, and now I wanna know: is this how Sarah Dessen writes? Is this the kind of story she tells? Because if so, I've been missing out and need to change that. Someone who's read this, let me know, pls!

Wanna get a taste for the writing style? Check out my First Impressions video, in which I share a sneak peek!
And don't forget, you can win your Austenesque book of choice (including this one!) in my AIA giveaway!

Return to the Austen in August Main Page by clicking here for more Janeite goodies!

GIVEAWAY: Courtship & Marriage in Jane Austen's World by Maria Grace!

Yesterday, Maria Grace stopped by to provide some background on just what exactly is going on in Sense & Sensibility; today, she's offering you a chance to win her latest, Courtship & Marriage in Jane Austen's World!
Check it out:

Courtship & Marriage in Jane Austen's World by Maria Grace
Jane Austen’s books are full of hidden mysteries for the modern reader. Why on earth would Elizabeth Bennet be expected to consider a suitor like foolish Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice? Would Lydia's 'infamous elopement' truly have ruined her family and her other sisters’ chances to marry? Why were the Dashwood women thrown out of their home after Mr. Dashwood's death in Sense and Sensibility, and what was the problem with secret engagements anyway? And then there are settlements, pin money, marriage articles and many other puzzles for today’s Austen lovers.

Customs have changed dramatically in the two centuries since Jane Austen wrote her novels. Beyond the differences in etiquette and speech, words that sound familiar to us are often misleading. References her original readers would have understood leave today’s readers scratching their heads and missing important implications.

Take a step into history with Maria Grace as she explores the customs, etiquette and legalities of courtship and marriage in Jane Austen's world. Packed with information and rich with detail from Austen's novels, Maria Grace casts a light on the sometimes bizarre rules of Regency courtship and unravels the hidden nuances in Jane Austen's works.

In celebration of her new book, Maria has offered up 1 e-book of Courtship & Marriage in Jane Austen's World to 1 lucky winner!
This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!
Ends September 10th at 11:59 pm EST
Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter.
Good luck, and keep an eye out for an excerpt of the book, coming soon (as well as a chance at more bonus entries)!

The Wisdom of Fanny Price | guest post from Beth!

We all like to hate on Mansfield Park from time to time — but shockingly, today is not one of those times. Beth is back to share with us some of the wisdom that can be gleaned from Fanny's words and actions, so grab one of those mincemeat pies you've undoubtedly made since the last time Beth dropped in, take a seat, and lets all give Fanny her moment to shine. . .

Like just about everyone else, the first time I read Mansfield Park, I was bored out of my skull. After the sparkling wit of Elizabeth Bennet, the steadfast drama of Marianne, the meddling of Emma, and the imagination of Catherine Morland, Fanny Price was....well, dull.

At first reading, she comes across as sanctimonious and simply too perfect. And there's no big dramatic moment in the plot where simmering tensions boil over and declarations of love change the course of fate.

But as I've gotten older, and re-read the story from the perspective of a settled, old woman, it occurs to me that Fanny Price is actually one of the best models for real-life behavior.

She's boring because, unlike the torrid passions of the younger-type heroines, she knows herself. She can't NOT know herself; she's basically her only friends since childhood (unless you count Edmund, which I don't).

According to Fanny Price:

1.) It is not your responsibility to inspire another human being to improve themselves. (Henry Crawford be damned)
2.) Knowing your own heart is better than being a mysterious or exciting person. (If only Maria figured that out sooner)

3.) Discretion is the better part of valor. (Oh you may look like a doormouse, but also, nobody can blame you for betraying them, and everyone thinks of you as trustworthy and therefore an upright person)

4.) Be true to yourself, not other people's expectations of you. (Especially if they try to shame you into action)

5.) If you love someone, have the courage to hold your peace. Letting them decide if they feel the same, without pressure from you, is the only way to be sure they truly return your feelings. (Tough, and not dramatically satisfying, but isn't it infinitely better to be able to believe in their love absolutely?)

You can find more of Beth's Austen in August posts here, as well as on her own blog, Printcess (where you can also pick up some awesome lit-nerdy makeup, if that's your thing! And why wouldn't it be?).

Return to the Austen in August Main Page by clicking here for more Janeite goodies!

Monday, August 29, 2016

"Making Sense of Sense and Sensibility" | guest post from Maria Grace!

You probably recall Maria Grace from all of the amazing things she's done for Austen in August over the years. (And from her books. Probably from those, too.)
Well, she's back again this year with a whole host of stuff, but she's kicking it off with a little look into S&S, and just why all of those Very Significant Things (that you may have been confused about) are so significant.
Take a look below, let us know in the comments if there's anything else about S&S that you're baffled by, and keep an eye out for our next post from Maria! (Hint: it's a giveaway!)

Sense and Sensibility can be a particularly difficult book for readers because so much of the plot lies in customs and laws that were peculiar to the Regency Era. To help with the read along Misty’s hosting, here are some answers to some of the most puzzling questions about Sense and Sensibility.

Why doesn’t Mrs. Dashwood inherit the house or anything else when her husband dies?
In the early eighteen hundreds, inheritance was a little more complicated that it is today. While it was possible for women to inherit, it wasn’t common Usually an estate would go to the eldest son. Younger sons and daughters might inherit cash from a lump sum set aside for the purpose at the time of their parent’s marriage. . Wives had no right to their husband’s property; daughters could only inherit and estate if there were no sons born and the estate wasn’t entailed like the Bennet’s in Pride and Prejudice.

In the case of the Dashwoods, the eldest son inherited the estate. Provisions made by the previous owner of the estate, Mr. Dashwood’s uncle, prevented him from leaving any part of the property to his second wife and daughters.

Since the heir was not the current Mrs. Dashwood’s son, he had no obligation to her. Thus, she and her daughter’s had to leave their home and settle elsewhere.

Her marriage articles—a prenuptial agreement—laid out provision for her widowhood. The most typical arrangement would have been for an annuity (yearly payments) for the rest of her life amounting to one tenth of the dowry she brought into the marriage. She was also entitled keep the china and similar household articles that she brought into the marriage. Everything else stayed with the house and was property of the heir. So she and her daughters had something to live on, but it was a far cry from what they were accustomed to.

Still, 500 pounds a year was not a shabby income. A middle class family could live on that quite comfortably. It was not enough to maintain a carriage, though. That would require about 1000 a year. But they were hardly impoverished.

What was the problem with a secret engagement and why didn’t Edward Ferrars break things off with Lucy Steele when he fell in love with Elinor?
First, secret engagements were considered scandalous moral lapses. Since marriage was the backbone of society, one's marriage state (unmarried, engaged, married or widowed—divorced was not really an option) was an important piece of public record. Carrying on a secret engagement was tantamount to lying to society at large.

Second, an engagement was effectively a legal contract, one which could result in legal action for breach of contract. Secret engagements presented a host of difficulties in managing the legal aspects of the contract.

Third, in the era, it was really all about the betrothal. A promise to marry was all but as good as a legal marriage. So keeping the engagement secret was like keeping a marriage secret.
Moreover, since a betrothal was nearly a marriage, many couples anticipated their vows—one third of brides went to the altar pregnant. If an engagement was broke, most would assume that the woman had compromised her virtue with her intended, and her reputation would be ruined. An honorable man—and a man’s honor was hugely important in those days—would not break an engagement and cause such harm to a lady.

How did Mrs. Ferrars disinherit eldest son Edward when primogenitor was the law of the land?
Primogenitor referred to the inheritance of a landed estate. Mrs. Ferrars had a fortune which she herself controlled. She might have brought a large dowry into her marriage, had a sum settled on her in the marriage articles, or had a substantial jointure. The key point is that the money was hers, so she could do with it what she wanted. So, she could adjust her will to reflect her displeasure at her son.
The documents were set up in such a way that the change was irrevocable. So when the younger son, Robert, took up with Lucy, she could not change them to disinherit him.

Why were Marianne and Willoughby so shocking?
I think modern readers really miss this detail. Marianne and Willoughby were absolutely scandalous in their behavior. They broke every rule of proper decorum, leaving people to assume that they were engaged.

Riding alone in a carriage together, taking a lock of hair, walking without a chaperone, those were all highly improper and reserved for those married or engaged. When Willoughby took Marianne to see Allenham, he was effectively inviting her to start mentally setting up housekeeping. It was as close to making her an offer of marriage as he could get without actually saying the words. So everyone assumed they were engaged.

Going back to the earlier point about engagements and the behavior of engaged couples, Marianne was entirely compromised and her reputation ruined.

If you enjoyed this post, check out my new book, Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World. It details the customs, etiquette and legalities of courtship and marriage during the regency era and how it relates to all of Jane Austen’s works. The book is available for Pre-order now and will be available on September 1.

Courtship & Marriage in Jane Austen's World by Maria Grace
Jane Austen’s books are full of hidden mysteries for the modern reader. Why on earth would Elizabeth Bennet be expected to consider a suitor like foolish Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice? Would Lydia's 'infamous elopement' truly have ruined her family and her other sisters’ chances to marry? Why were the Dashwood women thrown out of their home after Mr. Dashwood's death in Sense and Sensibility, and what was the problem with secret engagements anyway? And then there are settlements, pin money, marriage articles and many other puzzles for today’s Austen lovers.

Customs have changed dramatically in the two centuries since Jane Austen wrote her novels. Beyond the differences in etiquette and speech, words that sound familiar to us are often misleading. References her original readers would have understood leave today’s readers scratching their heads and missing important implications.

Take a step into history with Maria Grace as she explores the customs, etiquette and legalities of courtship and marriage in Jane Austen's world. Packed with information and rich with detail from Austen's novels, Maria Grace casts a light on the sometimes bizarre rules of Regency courtship and unravels the hidden nuances in Jane Austen's works.

About the Author:
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

She can be contacted at:
On Amazon.com:
Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)
Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)
English Historical Fiction Authors
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace
On Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mariagrace423/

Return to the Austen in August Main Page by clicking here for more Janeite goodies!

Giveaway: The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James!

Yesterday, Jenetta James dropped in to talk about her road to Austen and how she became not only a Janeite, but an Austenesque author to boot!
Today, she's giving you a chance to win a copy of her latest take on Pride and Prejudice, The Elizabeth Papers!
Check it out:

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James
Get a Copy | Add It To Goodreads
229 pages
Published May 29th 2016 by Meryton Press
“It is settled between us already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world,” said Elizabeth Bennet at the conclusion of “Pride & Prejudice”—but was it true?

Charlie Haywood is a London-based private investigator who has made his own fortune—on his own terms. Charming, cynical, and promiscuous, he never expected to be attracted to Evie Pemberton, an independent-minded artist living with the aftermath of tragedy. But when he is hired to investigate her claims to a one hundred and fifty year old trust belonging to the eminent Darcy family, he is captivated.

Together they become entwined in a Regency tale of love, loss, and mystery tracing back to the grand estate of Pemberley, home to Evie’s nineteenth century ancestors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. As if travelling back in time, a story unfolds within their story. All was not as it seemed in the private lives of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, but how can they ever uncover the whole truth?

How could they know that in 1817 Elizabeth Darcy began a secret journal? What started as an account of a blissful life came to reflect a growing unease. Was the Darcy marriage perfect or was there betrayal and deception at its heart?

Can Evie and Charlie unearth the truth in the letters of Fitzwilliam Darcy or within the walls of present-day Pemberley? What are the elusive Elizabeth papers and why did Elizabeth herself want them destroyed?

"The Elizabeth Papers" is a tale of romance and intrigue, spanning the Regency and modern eras, reminding us how the passions of the past may inspire those in the present.

Jenetta James has offered up one (1) copy of The Elizabeth Papers, in their choice of paperback or e-book, to one lucky winner!
This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!
Ends September 10th at 11:59 pm EST
Fill out the Rafflecopter and comment on Jenetta's blog post to enter.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Return to the Austen in August Main Page by clicking here for more Janeite goodies!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Austenesque Favorites!

A question pops up in my inbox and on Twitter and in comment sections across my corner of the internet from time to time, and that question is: So, I hear you like JAFF; what are some of your favorites?

JAFF, for those of you who don't know, stands for Jane Austen Fan Fiction, aka sequels and continuations and reimaginings and reworkings of Jane Austen's work. The category is HUGE, and spreads into books and media that you might not even realize is influenced by Austen (her works are public domain, after all, and timeless in a way that allows people to make use of them in just about anything). Because it's such a huge category, and because I host a JAFF lovefest every year, new ones are constantly coming to my attention -- meaning that this list of "favorites" is likely to change, and change again, and keep growing and expanding for the foreseeable future -- though these are my favorites, for now. (Or, at least some that I've really liked, with a little something for everybody.)

If you want to see my whole Jane Austen collection (only slightly out of date...ish), check out this video.  Or head over to Austen in August to enter to win a JAFF book of your choice!

(no offense to any other Janeite author whose book I've read, these are just the ones that jump out at me when I think of some faves! And there are still a LOT of JAFF books out there and on my own shelves that I have yet to read, so... hope to be expanding this list in the future!)
Austensibly Ordinary
Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy
Persuade Me
There Must Be Murder
For Darkness Shows the Stars
Mistaking Her Character
Epic Fail
A Weekend with Mr Darcy
Murder at Mansfield Park
The Duff

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Return to the Austen in August Main Page by clicking here for more Janeite goodies!

Miss Jane Austen and me | guest post from Jenetta James!

You guys might recall Jenetta James from last years "On Austen...In August" post, as well as my review of her book, Suddenly Mrs Darcy. She's rejoined us this year to talk about her history with Austen and how she became a Janeite — which might just be a bit of a theme this year... — in celebration of her latest, The Elizabeth PapersMake sure to pop in tomorrow for a chance to win a copy!

Miss Jane Austen and me

Firstly, thank you to Misty for hosting me again during Austen in August. In addition to this post, I am offering a giveaway (open internationally, either e-book or paperback, whichever the winner prefers) of my recent novel, The Elizabeth Papers, so make sure to stop back by tomorrow to enter!

So, this is the second year that I have taken part in this blog event and for the second time, have found myself writing the post whilst on holiday. I am blaming the holiday spirit for my slightly reflective mood on both occasions. This post is about how I “met” Miss Austen and why (I think) it has turned out to be such an enduring acquaintance.

When I was 11, an Aunt of mine gave me the complete Jane Austen. She suggested that I wait a few years before reading any of it and in any event, that I should read Persuasion last. The reason for this was her view that Persuasion is the best one and the most mature. Being a bit of a contrarian, I immediately got started on Anne Elliott’s tale of second chances. I was mostly lost. The romance was not quite the sort to touch an 11 year old girl (although I did like Captain Wentworth, even then), and the social satire left me completely baffled. Back on the shelf went my Jane Austen library, for the time being.

Fast forward 2 years and the BBC’s now famous mini series burst into living rooms around the country, including ours. The series was very well advertised before it was broadcast and my Jane Austen donating Aunt called to check that I’d read it, to which I had to say, no. So, a friend and I decided to try to “read along”. Trouble was, the BBC didn’t issue guidance on how many chapters to an episode, and the whole thing turned into a bit of a comedy of errors. We hadn’t read as far as the Hunsford proposal and so were as astounded as Elizabeth when it came on screen.

Still, I loved it and it gave me the confidence, slowly, to move onto Sense & Sensibility and then Emma and so on. I finally read and enjoyed Persuasion at 29. Over the years, there have been lots of re-readings, lots of dipping in and out. I took Pride & Prejudice into hospital with me when I was in labour with my first baby, although it is fair to say that this was another misjudgement on my part, as there wasn’t much reading of anything involved.

Miss Austen is an author who seems to ask the reader to link arms with her and go for a wander. She is companionable in a way unrivalled by other classic writers. For myself, I put her long standing place in my life down to the acutely observed characters, who we can all recognise and the blend of satire and romance that pervades her work. There is a humour and a hopefulness in it which comes back to me time and time again and is, I suppose, why I never tire of any of it.

I would love to read about when and how you “met Miss Austen”…

Leave a comment below telling us how you became a Janeite as an entry in tomorrow's giveaway of The Elizabeth Papers

*To be officially entered, you will have to fill out the Rafflecopter on the giveaway page, in which one of the entries is leaving a comment. You will not have to leave a new comment to enter -- just click enter!

Jenetta James is the nom de plume of a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full time as a barrister. Over the years she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. Suddenly Mrs Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers are available now!

Return to the Austen in August Main Page by clicking here for more Janeite goodies!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Best Worst Character: a discussion(ish)

Every year for the majority of Austen in August, I've hosted silly round-table discussions in which groups of Austen authors (or even fellow bloggers & AIA readers) let me interview them, pick their words apart and piece them back together in some of the silliest, most fun posts in all of AIA. I love them.

But I wanted to get more of you involved in the discussion, so this year I'm doing things a little different (and even more different than I intended to, since I forgot to post the questionnaire. . .).  This year, we're going to have our silly little conversations right here in the comments, and I'm going to pick apart YOUR words and piece them back together in a future post in which we will DEFINITIVELY (mostly) answer some burning Austen questions.

So, in the comments, if you please, I'd like you to make the case for which character YOU think is Austen's BEST WORST CHARACTER. 

You can interpret this how you will.
Is it a character you love to hate, like Caroline Bingley or Mrs. Elton?
A character guilty of dastardly deeds, like Willoughby or Wickham?
Is it a character everyone else hates, but that you absolutely love? (Lookin' at you, Crawfords.)
Or is it one of the single most irritating characters in all of literature; a character written so well and yet so horribly that they actually make you cringe with how much you'd dislike being around them in person? Ahem *MrCollinsMaryMusgroveMrsBennetMissBatesJohnThorpeMrsJenningsetcetc*

All I need is a quick sound bite from you (though of course, you are free to argue for your pick(s) at length), and then in a week or so, I will remix everyone's answers into a "discussion" in which we will try to determine once and for all just which character really is the best of the worst.

If you need inspiration, or you just don't understand what the hell I'm talking about, make sure to check out past Janeite Conversations! (You may find our discussions on Austen's bad boys, bitches, and unforgivables especially helpful.)

Hope to hear from you in the comments!

Return to the Austen in August Main Page by clicking here for more Janeite goodies!

Sense & Sensibility Was My Gateway Austen Drug | guest post from author Karen Cox!

The following is a clip-heavy post courtesy author Karen Cox, so make sure you click through to watch all of the S&S goodies!

Some time around 1996, I found Jane Austen for the last time.
I had tried to read Sense and Sensibility before, but had set it aside. I was a young mother, with no time to sit and parse the 18th century prose. I was working on my dissertation. I was trying to build a career. So I gave up on Austen, at least temporarily. I put her away for another time when life wasn’t so busy. I would return once my days settled down.

Well, my life never did settle down, but Jane came storming back into it when I happened upon Ang Lee’s “Sense and Sensibility”—you know, the one with the amazing Emma Thompson, and Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant.
I don’t think I saw it at the movie theater, so I must have seen it on video (we called them VHS tapes back then.)
Movie adaptations of books are tricky things, but the beauty of this one—the slow, almost leisurely pace of it, and the bittersweet tang of romantic angst, ran through my veins like a drug. Add in the maddening manipulation of Lucy Steele, the hilarity of Mrs. Jennings, the avarice of Fanny Dashwood, and I was hooked. I had to read Sense and Sensibility. I made myself finish it. It took me two tries because I was so unused to reading classic literature. It’s still one of my least favorites of Austen’s published works. But finish it I did, and then I decided to tackle the best known of her books, Pride and Prejudice. I then discovered P&P 95, and Colin Firth, and that sealed my fate. I went on to read Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and last year, I finally completed the Austen hat trick by devouring Northanger Abbey for the first time.
The Sense and Sensibility movie was the beginning for me. So for Austen in August’s Sense and Sensibility celebration, I decided my contribution should be called:

5 Best Reasons Why Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility Was My Gateway Austen Drug:
(and here we go)

Alan Rickman: He managed to make a 30+year-old man in love with a moody teenager who reminded him of his dead first love not at all creepy. I mean that sincerely—he charmed my socks off with gems like this scene:

Emma Thompson: In addition to writing the screenplay, she carried that movie with elegance and class, in scenes like these:


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