Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The end.

So that's it, folks.  The 2nd annual Jane in June is finis.  This month had flown by, even as crazy busy as it has been.  (While I'm on that subject, someone please tell me why I picked the two busiest months at my job (June and October) to host my two biggest event for my blog?)

I want to give a HUGE THANKS to everyone who was a part of this years Jane in June.  All of the authors, publicits and bloggers, both new and returning, you all made this event far more awesome than I could ever do on my own.

And the readers and commenters, HUGE THANKS to you, too!  I loveloveLOVE the passion and the camaraderie of being a Janeite, and I love connecting with all of you and seeing budding new Janeites discover the magic and perfection.

Winners will be announced for all of the Jane in June giveaways on Tuesday, July 5th, so make sure to keep an eye out!

Below you'll find an end of event survey; I'd love your feedback on the event if you have the time and inclination.  :)

For now, I leave you with one final moment of Jane:

JnJ2: the interview

You may have noticed that when I have an event, I ask all of the participating authors some of the same questions.  There is a reason for this, and it's not laziness.  I love to see the comparative answers; it feels more like a dialogue, and it's really fun to see which questions get a lot of diverse answers and which tend to get the same reaction.
So here, minus the ones that are more just for authors, are the questions I asked for this Jane in June, and my answers to them.  I would love to hear your answers to any of them in the comments.

Why Jane? What drew you to Jane initially?
I was a classics kid.  I read Anne of Green Gables, Little Men and Oliver Twist more times than I can count.  So when it was time for me to move to books that were a little more adult, it's no surprise really that I stuck with the classics.  Emma was my first Jane, and I read it purely because of Jeremy Northam.  If you've seen him in the role of Mr Knightley in Emma, you'll know why that is.
It was maybe 1/2 a year or so before I read more by Austen, and that time is was for school, when the required summer reading for AP English had Pride and Prejudice as an option; after reading that, I quickly devoured the rest of her works, and over the decade since, I've read all of them at least twice, w/ P&P, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey making up the bulk of those rereads (and I'm not going to tell you how many times I've read them.)

If you could completely rework any Austen character, who would it be and what would you make of them?
I want to get my hands on Henry Crawford.  I thought there was so much potential in his story.  It could have been redemptive, and I think I could have really loved him.

Jane has inspired an entire genre, which few authors can boast. What do you make of it, especially the mash-up craze? Are you a purist, modernist or mash-up-ist?
I read all of them, but I think the ones I connect with most are more traditional.

If you could be a fly on the wall during any Austen scene, what would it be and why?
Sometimes I hate myself for asking questions like this.  There are so many I would like to see.  I think I would probably have to go with one of Darcy's and Lizzie's interactions when they are still completely misunderstanding each other, like the drawing room and ballroom scenes at Netherfield Park, or the piano scene at Rosings.

Quickfire Silly Stuff:
Your Regency Heir/ess name?
For one of vvb's events, I was Misté.  She was a comtesse...

Favorite scene in all of Austen?
This isn't fair either.  I waffle back and forth between Darcy's first proposal in P&P, Wentworth's letter in Persuasion and Henry Tilney's indignant "Remember we are English!" to Catherine in NA.

Your “truth universally acknowledged”?
Once a Janeite, always a Janeite...

Jane, twitter-style: If you could tweet 1 message to Jane (140 characters or less) what would you say?

Give us some advice for 1 of Austen's characters (for example, advice to Charlotte on living with Mr Collins):
To Kitty Bennet: if you're going to follow someone, at least make sure they know where they're going.

Play matchmaker: Which 2 characters from different Austen novels would you pair up.
Frank Churchill and Mary Crawford.  Don't ask me why, it just seems like they should meet.

Your favorite Austen character? Lizzie for realsies, Collins of laughs.

Favorite "villain"?  Mrs Norris.  I love me some Lady Catherine, don't get me wrong, but I have never wanted to physically hurt a character like I have Mrs Norris.

Character you most want to shake? Mary Musgrove.  She's funny, but I always want to sabotage attention seekers.  Shaking her would give her something worth complaining about.

Character you'd least like to be related to? Again, Mrs Norris.

Would you rather:
-- be stranded on an island with Lady Catherine or Mr Collins? Lady Catherine.  Collins would just get in the way, and probably need saving from all manner of things.  Being stranded would be exhausting enough.

-- attempt to "reform" bad boy Henry Crawford or bad boy George Wickham?  Crawford!  Already said I wanna get my hands on him.

-- have Lady Catherine or Mrs Bennet as a mother-in-law?  Mrs Bennet.  I can handle ridiculous, but I think Lady C and I would come to blows.

I'd love to hear your answers!

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed
Catherine Reef

Jane Austen’s popularity never seems to fade. She has hordes of devoted fans, and there have been numerous adaptations of her life and work. But who was Jane Austen? The writer herself has long remained a mystery. And despite the resonance her work continues to have for teens, there has never been a young adult trade biography on Austen.

Catherine Reef changes that with this highly readable account. She takes an intimate peek at Austen’s life and innermost feelings, interweaving her narrative with well-crafted digests of each of Austen’s published novels. The end result is a book that is almost as much fun to read as Jane’s own work—and truly a life revealed. Includes bibliography and index.

I've never read a biography of Jane.  Shocking, I know, all things considered.  In spite of that, I think I've picked up a number of tidbits along the way, and from those and her work, I've always felt like I know Jane quite well.  (Well, as well as anyone can, considering that she can be pretty elusive...)  Jane Austen: A Life Revealed packs a huge wealth of information in to a fairly trim book, and I certainly learned some new things that I was shocked I didn't know.  There was one moment of panic in particular where Jane's school years are touched on, and Reef mentions (quite casually) that Jane very nearly died of a "putrid fever" - possibly typhoid or diphtheria) as a result of neglect by the boarding school mistress.  I'm not kidding you when I say I actually felt a moment of OMGWhatifJaneAustenhaddiedbeforeshewrote panic.  For realsies.

You can tell that a lot of painstaking research spent gathering every little tidbit went into this book.  It is full to bursting with the big occurrences and the minutiae of not only Jane's life, but her family as well.  I respect the amount of research and passion that went into it, and the work Reef did to tie the novels to concrete events in Austen's life.  The reader gets a clear picture of the things that may have inspired Austen to write certain scenes or characters, and the where the stories are in the chain of events.  I liked this.  But at times, there seemed to be just information overload, or facts would seem to come out of nowhere.

I'm not sure how to explain it, but it was good from the historicists point of view, but maybe less so from the storytellers pov.  Things didn't always segue, and chunks of information sometimes seemed out of place in the scheme of things.  Things would be going along smoothly and flowing, and then it would feel as if someone who was giving a presentation had accidentally shuffled their index cards.  The powerpoint slides were out of order...  I just found myself wishing that a little more attention had been paid to transitioning smoothly.

Also, there was a tendency to over-summarize Austen's work.  A student could almost use the book as Cliffs Notes at times, there was so much uninterrupted summary.  Though I liked the idea of placing the stories in context, and I loved getting the tidbits about what Austen's family and contemporaries thought of her work, I felt it would have been better broken up, or even to have only the relevant pieces of the text used to show a link to Austen's life.  A paragraph or two of summary would often have sufficed just as well as the 3+ pages that were often given.  It broke  the flow of the biography for me.

In the end, though, this is a fairly engaging and certainly readable account of Austen's life and the devotion she has inspired.  I don't know how well it will capture its intended teen audience - though then again, I'm not entirely sure how well biographies in general would capture the audience - but I would certainly recommend it to those who either are Austenites (fledgling or full-fledged) and those who find themselves required to do a presentation on an author for their English class...  ;P

Don't forget, you can enter to win this here!

Click to be taken to Main Page & Schedule

My Responses for the P&P Read-along: In conclusion

Before I get into my final say on Pride and Prejudice, I just want to thank everyone who participated.  I love to see people getting enthusiastic together over a book, and it was especially nice to have a mix of people who have read it more times than they should probably admit to, and people who were reading it for the first time.
You guys rock.

And now, on to the fangirling.

1. In the first round, we asked for your first impressions (which, if you didn't know, was the original title of the book). Having completed it, what do you think now? Were your first impressions justified? Where you completely wrong on anything, or surprised by any outcomes?
It's difficult for me to think back to when I first read this.  I was 17 and had read Emma (which I liked a good deal but didn't think I would necessarily read again); I wasn't prepared for the level of awesome I would get with this book, or the way it would become ingrained in my life.  I was expecting cute and fun and slightly snarky, and I got bubbly and hilarious and so, so witty (and romantic and fluttery and perfectperfectperfect).  So I think my first impressions were left in the dust.

2. Discuss Lizzie's apprehensions regarding Darcy, and her realization that she has fallen in love with him. Consider Lydia's slip that Darcy was at the wedding, along with Mrs Gardiner's revelations; Lizzie's thoughts that his actions must reflect his continuing love, coupled with her fears that he would never marry her now that Wickham is part of her family, etc.
One of my favorite things about the end of the book, from the Hunsford visit on, is that everyone else seems to see that Darcy is besotted.  Whether Lizzie really sees it or is completely blind is up for debate, but I love the dramatic irony of everyone, audience included, knowing.  I also love the slight agony Lizzie has to endure, which gives her a taste of what Darcy has experienced. Lydia's slip-up is just perfect in that it comes at a time when Lizzie is trying to reconcile the idea that Darcy loves her and she is in a fair way to loving him, but that there probably isn't any hope.  She's strong, and she intends to continue to be strong - this will not break her - and she's pretty much talked herself out of hope and them bam!  Love that.

3. Discuss Lady Catherine's visit to Longbourn, and Lizzie's showdown with her. Also discuss Mr Bennet's reaction to the rumors of Darcy's feelings for Lizzie, and then his reaction when they prove to be more than rumors.
Genius.  Genius!  It's the confrontation everyone's been waiting for where Darcy's family is concerned, and it gives Lizzie a chance to stand up for herself, admit her feelings to herself if not to Lady Catherine, and really shine.
Mr Bennet's reaction...that's perfect on a different level.  It's uncomfortable in the best way, and you feel sorry for Lizzie but also know that it's not something that she shouldn't have seen coming.  And it shows that Mr Bennet actually does pay attention and care.

4. Discuss the way Darcy and Lizzie relate to each other at the end of the book, and Darcy's second (much superior) propsoal. Also consider sharing your thoughts on what you expect for their future.
I feel for Darcy at the end of the book.  On the one hand, he's pretty sure things have changed and he's on better footing with Elizabeth.  But on the other hand, he wildly misjudged her before, and he may well be misjudging her again.  But that he's willing to put himself out there again and risk being refused and humiliated again cements him as MR DARCY, the man that launched a thousand swoons.
As for their future, I do anticipate some struggles and occasional doubt, but I think they are both mature and intelligent enough, and have become self-aware enough to have a really good chance at actually getting what they think they're getting.  I expect them to challenge each other and grow together, and be just as funny and charming together as they have been - intentionally and otherwise.

5. Give us your thoughts of the book on the whole. If you have read it before and/or read variations and sequels, what keeps you coming back? If this is your first time reading it, do you think you will read it again/read more Jane/read any variations or sequels? If you disliked it, don't be afraid to say so!
Do I really need to answer this?

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sexytimes with Lizzie, Darcy and Friends

I've talked in a few reviews about my thoughts on Austen characters getting schmexy.  The gist is that I am always really hesitant because it very rarely seems suited to the stories, characters and the period.  But there are exceptions, and for me it really seems to lie in what the author sets out to do.  If the book is supposed to be a straight-forward retelling or adaptation, it generally seems out of place and cheesy (which isn't what you want from sexytimes); if the author sets out to spice up the story, it's not so out of place, and I'm more receptive.
And if the author sets out to really spice things up and give us straight up Austen sexytimes that is just as much parody as anything, well ... I'm listening...

Pride and Prejudice: Hidden LustsAnd it seems that is what we will be getting with Mitzi Szereto's Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts.
I had intended to do a vlog teaser for you (in which you would likely see me blush), but my webcam has been giving me endless trouble, and the sound cut out right when it got to the good bits. So instead, I'm just going to do a written teaser of one of the "good bits" that my webcam censored:

Although quite pretty, Lydia was a lively headstrong girl prone to a breathiness of speech and a most peculiar fondness for raising up the hems of her gowns to rub her lower half against objects and furnishings and, to the embarrassment of all parties concerned, young officers.  Until recently she could be found sliding down the banisters at all hours of the day and night, and only [Mr Bennet's] threat of dispatching her to a nunnery finally broke her of the habit...
So what do you think?  Are you guys on board for some Darcy & Friends sexytimes?
You can look for my review of this in next year's Jane in June, but until then, please enjoy my interview with the author, Mitzi Szereto!

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule

Pride and Prejudice Read Along Wrap-up

We have come to the end of our first Jane in June read along, my Janeites.  I hope you had fun with it, and I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for next year (even if you didn't participate).  Feel free to email them to me, or voice them in the Jane in June survey that will go up tomorrow.  Until then, please link up your final Response Post to the linky below, and as always, stop by some others and get involved in the conversation!

Click to be taken to Main Page & Schedule

Wishlist Wednesday: Second 1/2 of the JnJ wishlist

In the middle of the month, I had a 1/2 way point for Wishlist Wednesday that featured some of the titles I've come across, had recommended or are from authors featured during Jane in June.  This is the 2nd 1/2 of that post, and it probably only barely scrapes the surface...

Mr Darcy's Secret
Jane Odiwe

One dark secret can completely ruin a bright future. From the author who brought you Lydia Bennet's Story and Willoughby's Return, comes a unique look into one of the most famous relationships of all time, in Mr. Darcy's Secret. After capturing the heart of the most eligible bachelor in England, Elizabeth Bennet believes her happiness is complete-until the day she makes an unsettling discovery. When she finds a stash of anonymous, passionate love letters that may be Darcy's, Elizabeth begins to question the quiet, stoic man she married.

People started recommending this one to me before Jane in June even started, so I added it to my to-read list.  And then Sourcebooks sent me a copy...to send to you.  Yep.  It felt like such a tease, and you guys are lucky that I like you and am an honest person... ;P
Anywhoodle, definite wishlister.

Alexa Adams

In Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy begins his relationship with Elizabeth Bennet with the words: "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present togive consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men." What would have happened if Mr. Darcy had never spoken so disdainfully? First Impressions explores how the events of Jane Austen's beloved novel would have transpired if Darcy and Elizabeth had danced together at the Meryton Assembly. Jane and Bingley's relationship blossoms unimpeded, Mary makes a most fortunate match, and Lydia never sets a foot in Brighton. Austen's witty style is authentically invoked in this playful romp from Longbourn to Pemberley.

I told myself at the end of last year's Jane in June to buy a copy of this.  And I fully intended to, but it was one of those things that I kept putting off and putting off, and now here I am a year later, still not having read it.  

The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy
Marsha Altman

The comings and goings on their grand estate present endless challenges for Elizabeth and Darcy. Can they avoid scandal given the recent arrival of Mr. Darcy’s illegitimate brother Grégoire, Mr. Bennet’s advancing years, the younger George Wickham’s coming of age, and Dr. Maddox’s departure from his position with the Prince Regent even as his many secrets threaten to be discovered?
After her disastrous trip to the continent resulted in a passionate romance and an unintended child, Mary Bennet finds herself back in England, living with the shameful title of unwed mother. Having given up on ever finding love, Mary is shocked to find herself pursued by a proper gentleman. But are his intentions true, or is Mary being led astray by her heart once again?
Leaving his sheltered, peaceful life at a Benedictine cloister, Grégoire enters a world he never imagined. Thrust into Regency England’s secular society, Grégoire is overwhelmed. How can an inexperienced, single man stay true to himself while finding his place in a culture obsessed with matrimony?

On the fence about this one.  On the one hand, it follows Mary, and has an illegitimate Darcy.  On the other hand, it follows Mary, and has an illegitimate Darcy...
You know?

Heather Lynn Rigaud

This sexy modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice was a fan phenomenon when originally released on the Jane Austen fan sites.
Darcy is the gorgeous, enigmatic virtuoso guitarist of the band Slurry, which fans called "the greatest band that never was." Slurry is known for its wild reputation — on and off the stage. Elizabeth Bennet is the fiercely independent lead guitarist of the girl band Long Borne Suffering, recently hired as Slurry's opening act. Darcy and Lizzy's attraction throws sparks even before the tour starts. A wild rock 'n' roll love story!

I mean, I kinda have to...

None But You, (Frederick Wentworth, Captain: Book 1)
Susan Kaye

Eight years ago, when he had nothing but his future to offer, Frederick Wentworth fell in love with Anne Elliot, the gentle daughter of a haughty, supercilious baronet. Sir Walter Elliot refused to countenance a marriage, and Anne's godmother, Lady Russell, strongly advised Anne against him. Persuaded by those nearest to her, Anne had given him up and he had taken his broken heart to sea. When Jane Austen's Persuasionopens in the year 1814, Frederick Wentworth, now a famous and wealthy captain in His Majesty's Navy, finds himself back in England and, as fate would have it, residing as a guest in Anne's former home. Now, it is the baronet who is in financial difficulties, and Anne exists only at her family's beck and call. For eight long years, Frederick had steeled his heart against her. Should he allow Anne into his heart again, or should he look for love with younger, prettier woman in the neighbourhood who regard him as a hero? The mature sweetness of Jane Austen's Persuasionis brought to life in Wytherngate Press's, None But You, the first in the two-volume series, Frederick Wentworth, Captain, by Susan Kaye.

Again, I kinda have to.  

So now that Jane in June (2Fast,2Furious) is coming to a close, how much has your wishlist grown and which books are topping your wishlist?  Any that you've simply got to have right now?  Any that I sadly neglected, and need to add to my wishlist?  Be my enabler and I'll be yours... ;P

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Only Mr Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise

Only Mr Darcy Will Do
Kara Louise

In this fresh and original retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet's greatest fear comes to pass-Longbourn is entailed to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth finds work as a governess in London, widening the social divide between her and Mr. Darcy and making it more difficult than ever for them to find their way to each other...

Originally, I had planned to read this for next year's Jane in June, as I didn't think I was going to have time this year.  But then Allison tweeted me quite enthusiastically about this book, and asked if I was planning on reading it.  At the time, I was trying to get into another book, and since it wasn't what I was in the mood for, and this one was coming so highly recommended, I decided to make a switcheroo.  I don't regret that.

Only Mr Darcy Will Do is thoroughly engaging.  I was worried at first, because to achieve one of the biggest shake-ups I've seen in a retelling (barring the addition of zombies), Kara Louise had to kill off Mr Bennet.  Sad, but true.  Mr B dies right after Darcy's first botched proposal, which means the futures of all the Bennet women are up in the air.  Lydia hasn't run off, Bingley hasn't come back to Jane, Lizzie has turned down Darcy and Collins, both of whom could have provided security for her and her family, and she is now working as a governess.  It's quite a state to find them in.  Add to this the fact that one of the family members whom Lizzie works for has her sights set on Darcy and has made Lizzie her confidante, and things get off to quite an interesting start.

I think part of what appealed to me most about this was that everything was so different.  It was a case of everything changes but everything stays the same: it wasn't a totally foreign setting or a modern update, so it had that authentic feel, but at the same time it was wholly different from other retellings and variations I've read.  And it was a smart path to take, too, since it hinges on something that was actually very crucial (the entailment and Lizzie's refusal of Collins), but that doesn't generally get a lot of notice.  It was completely enjoyable to see some of the familiar things happen in a new way, and to see familiar characters in different settings, and watch them blossom as they are supposed to, but not in the ways you're used to.  It was refreshing but still comfortable, if that makes sense.

Another thing that had me smiling pleasantly (aka like a loon) throughout was that Louise pulled in elements or influences from the rest of Austen's body of work (plus a dash of Jane Eyre, IMO), and it just worked.  There were things that felt reminiscent of other stories (Miss Matthews' confiding in Lizzie was like Lucy Steele confiding in Elinor, for example), but it never felt like she was just ripping off other stories to bulk out her own.  It felt more like a writerly nod to Janeites.  It was like really skillful cherry-picking, taking elements that are going to leave that little familiar tingle in the back of your head (I know this) and working them into the fabric of the story so that they are seamless and seem to have always been there.  I have no idea if it was intentional or the product of fandom, but it was really well done and fun, like a little treasure hunt for enthusiasts.

The negatives for me were few and didn't outweigh the positives, though they do bear mentioning.  Two were purely pet peeves: there was a little too much in the way of embodiments of angst for me.  Lizzie seems to be continually balling up her fists in anger, or pounding them on things (her pillow, herself, etc); all the fisting and pounding* seemed really grandiose and juvenile, and it was just unappealing to me.  I think mostly because it didn't seem to reflect the Lizzie I know.  The other I've talked about before, and that's the schmexiness in Austen.  I'm not going to go into it again, but I'm always hesitant because it's very rarely done well; this was acceptable, but ultimately meh.  The biggest thing, though, was that the end just really seemed to drag on and on (and on) for me.  It didn't drag on quite as bad as another one I mentioned this month, but I did feel like it could have used some neatening.  There comes a point where you just want things to be wrapped up and complete; the denoument is over, you've come down from the climax** of the story, and you're just ready to have it be complete.  I started to check out at the end, which was disappointing for as much as I had been enjoying myself.

All in all, though, I'm certainly glad for Allison's enthusiastic tweeting, because I really liked this one and highly recommend it, especially for its fresh take.  Not to be missed for Janeites.

*That may have been the most unintentionally dirty thing I've ever said.  Okay, mostly unintentionally...  ;)
** My god, I can't stop!

Click to be taken to Main Page & Schedule

Interview with Mitzi Szereto, author of Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts

Remember a couple of days ago, when I said the interview with Regina Jeffers was the last interview of this years Jane in June?  Yeah, that was a lie.  Got a little ahead of myself, because this is actually the last interview for this year.  (I think. Guess I shouldn't speak in absolutes, because Janeness has eaten my brain.)
Anywho... here's my interview with Mitzi Szereto, author of Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts.

Mitzi at Jane's house!

Why Jane? What is it that draws readers and authors to her works again and again?
Mitzi: Jane Austen was a social chronicler of her time, and also a very clever satirist. These are the aspects of her work that appeal to me in particular, both as a reader and as an author. The verbal sparring that takes place between her characters in Pride and Prejudice is the stuff of genius, especially the exchanges between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and also between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The cleverness of the dialogue, the subtly worded insults – fabulous! On a slightly different note, the glimpses Austen gives us of a more, shall we say, refined past also draw us in, appealing to our romantic sensibilities, especially when you consider that there’s very little in the way of refinement around these days, particularly regarding the social interactions between men and women.

What are some of the difficulties in writing a story using established (and beloved) material? And is anything sacred, or is it all fair game?
Mitzi: The trick is not to do a hatchet job on it. Of course, a purist might say that anything done to a pre-existing literary work is going to be a hatchet job. Obviously, I disagree. The key for me while working with Pride and Prejudice was to create something unique from it, to give it my own stamp, but still have the story, setting and tone remain intact. Where some writers using pre-existing works have gone wrong is that they’ve not managed to carry off the voice and tone of the original work, yet they’ve attempted to keep the work in its original form and set in the same period. Unless you’re doing a modernized version, you’ve got to be consistent and authentic. I was extremely conscious at all times to write in the voice of Jane Austen. I wanted Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts to be seamless, with nothing marring the Austen feel and story-telling style or, I should add, her use of language. As for all this being fair game, writers have always been influenced and inspired by other works and even incorporated them into their own; it’s nothing new. The same goes for visual artists. So those purists out there might be wise to study a bit of literary history before casting their stones at authors such as myself.

If you could completely rework any Austen character, who would it be and what would you make of them?
Mitzi: I’ve already done it, and you’ll have to read Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts to find out! Let’s just that say no one (and nothing) is sacrosanct. Even Hill, the Bennet’s housekeeper, gets her day in the sun. As for the toady Mr. Collins, my, oh my… my countenance is heightened just thinking about it!

Jane has inspired an entire genre, which few authors can boast. What do you make of it, especially the mash-up craze? Are you a purist, modernist or mash-up-ist?
Mitzi: I think it’s all good fun! Having said that, you’re always going to get the purists’ knickers in a twist, no matter what you do or how well you do it. I’m not entirely sure which category I fit into; I suppose I should create my own, so how about mash-up purist? However, technically speaking, I actually rewrote Pride and Prejudice, developing the characters in ways readers would least expect, integrating additional storylines/subplots and a whole heap of outrageousness, but leaving intact the framework of the original story. I approached P&P much as I did my book In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales, in that I kept the fairy tales recognizable, but also created something new and unexpected from them – and, of course, fun!

What's your favorite scene you've ever written?
Mitzi: That’s a tough one. If we’re talking about Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, there are just too many to choose from!

What's next for you?
Mitzi: I’ve recently completed an anthology of short stories entitled Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance. It pays homage to all the Gothic literary greats of the past, as well as the present, with plenty of paranormal thrills and chills, and a wealth of atmosphere and sensuality. The book features a number of authors, myself included. It will be out in the autumn, but is already available for pre-order at booksellers worldwide. I also have about four other books in various stages of development. Other than that, I do the occasional literary event, continue to keep things going at my blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog and on Mitzi TV, and try to get my ironing done (the latter with little success, I might add).

Quickfire Silly Stuff:

Your favorite Austen character?
Mitzi: Do you even need to ask? Mr. Darcy, of course!

Character you most want to shake?
Mitzi: Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She definitely needs a good slap.

Character you'd least like to be related to?
Mitzi: I’d probably have to say Lydia Bennet. Let’s face it – she’s such an embarrassment!

Would you rather:
-- be stranded on an island with Lady Catherine or Mr Collins?
-- attempt to "reform" bad boy Henry Crawford or bad boy George Wickham?
-- have Lady Catherine or Mrs Bennet as a mother-in-law?

Mitzi: Stranded on an island with Mr. Collins would probably be preferable to Lady Catherine. He’s such a buffoon that at least I’d be entertained. Reforming bad boys, now that sounds interesting! I’d have to go with Mr. Wickham, since I know him so well from having written about him. Mrs. Bennet seems the least horrific mother-in-law related fate. At least she’s not an acid-tongued witch like Lady Catherine de Bourgh. As for her nerves, well… perhaps she just needs a good slap as well. Oh, come to think of it, she already got one in my version!

There you have it, my Janeites.  Are you intrigued by the idea of P&P: Hidden Lusts, or do you like your Jane chaste?  Can't make up your mind?  I'll have a teaser for you tomorrow, to help you decide.  (You *may* get to see this Irish-blooded gal blush...)  ;D

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule

Jane Gets Comical...

I ♥ this.  More than I can say.

Click to be taken to Main Page & Schedule

TBR Tuesday: Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.

On my TBR

Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World
Abigail Reynolds

"I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry." Elizabeth Bennet's furious response to Mr. Darcy's marriage proposal in Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice has resonated for generations of readers. But what if she never had a chance to say it? Would she learn to recognize Mr. Darcy's admirable qualities on her own? The Last Man in the World follows Elizabeth and Darcy as they struggle to find their way through the maze of their prejudices after Elizabeth, against her better judgment, agrees to marry Darcy instead of saying those famous words. Two of the most beloved characters in English literature explore the meaning of true love on a tumultuous journey to make a success of their marriage. THE PEMBERLEY VARIATIONS by Abigail Reynolds is a series of novels exploring the roads not taken in Pride & Prejudice.

The awesome people at the Sourcebooks booth at ALA last year gave me a copy of this during a chat about Jane, and I originally had planned to read it for this year's Jane in June.  But then the (again, awesome) people at Sourcebooks sent me the ginormous box of Jane, and I thought it would be wiser to read and review some of the newer stuff (which included another title by Reynolds, What Would Mr Darcy Do?, which I loved).  So this one got pushed back into the stack (along with about a billion other books that my overachiever ass thought she was going to try to read this month).  But now, having read WWMDD and having had people comment and say they love Reynolds and love this book, my fingers are itching to dig it back out of the stack.  I'd say it's pretty definite that I will be reviewing it next year, but whether I'll actually wait to read it...that's debatable.  ;)

[side note: the zombie lover in me totes thinks this sounds like a zombie book title...]

Any of you read this one?  Love it, hate it, want to sleep with it under your pillow at night?
What's on your Janeish TBR?

Click to be taken to Main Page & Schedule

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quickie: The Pemberley Ball by Regina Jeffers

Please note: Reviews for Quickies and/or Short Story Saturdays are spoiler-filled.
You have been warned.

Regina Jeffers

The anthology in which this is found has some of the most bizarre stories in it.  I've already talked about  A Long, Strange Trip, in which the characters are on psychedelic mushrooms; and I've told you about A Good Vintage Whine, in which Darcy and Bingley are locked in a wine cellar, drunk off their asses.  Another story, which was removed from the anthology, is what I can only describe as Monty Python does Regency slapstick romance.  [I don't mean bizarre to be a bad thing, mind.  Just...interesting.]

The treatment of The Pemeberley Ball is rather sedate in comparison, and yet I found it almost as bizarre.  The story takes place just after Darcy's second proposal, when both he and Elizabeth begin to doubt their wisdom in deciding to marry each other.  All of the progress they've made has been dashed.  Their faults are forefront and over the top: they are Darcy and Lizzie at the beginning of P&P, dialed up to 11.

It was strange.  To go straight from the happy, loving proposal and acceptance, to Lizzie acting reckless and overly-exuberant and Darcy so far beyond reserved and haughty that he's almost malicious - there was a disconnect there for me.  Perhaps its nerves or self-doubt, but Darcy becomes positively mean.  The word "snarl" is used a lot when he speaks; he takes little jabs at Lizzie and is fairly rude to everyone else; he even seems to dislike Georgiana at some points.  He's very Jekyll and Hyde, and it was offputting.  I think, if this had been the Darcy we saw at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, I could have never gotten over my dislike of him.  This one is a prick.

Most P&P authors struggle to reconcile the early, less pleasant aspects we see of Darcy and Lizzie with the more lovable, "good" aspects of the end of the story.  This story seems to address the doubt they both feel that either of them has really changed.  Is it just a phase, a passing fancy, and are they signing themselves up for a miserable life together?  They both seem to think that, but yet they can't stand to be apart from each other.  So they both sabotage the relationship, throwing ridiculous obstacles in each others way to see what will put the other off and prove it's all been a fluke.  It was interesting (to say the least), if at times unbelievable, and though I liked it in the end, I still had somewhat of a hard time getting there.  And though everything culminates in the the titular Pemberely Ball, where all appears to be well, by the end of this story, I still have very little confidence in the happiness of their futures together.   They've taken steps backwards for me, gone to their most negative, hurtful extremes, and I was left most of the story feeling a little baffled.

But through it all, their love for each other shines through (if bizarrely), and I guess that's the point.  No matter how much they may clash, they love each other and could never live apart.

The Road to Pemberley: An Anthology of New Pride and Prejudice StoriesThe Pemberely Ball can be found in 
The Road to Pemberley, edited by Marsha Altman
Ulysses Press, July 1st, 2011

You can enter to win The Road to Pemberley here!

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule

Favorite Side Characters

Last year, we had Friday Face Off posts for Jane Austen's heroes, heroines and villains, and we were supposed to have one for side characters, but it ended up getting cut in the mayhem.  To make up for that oversight, I thought we could just have a little chat over some tea and scones (or whatever you're drinking/eating) about our favorite Austen side characters.
Whether you favor the eccentric old cat pug ladies, the self-important dandies, or the tacky men and women who just seem to get in the way, you have to admit, Jane Austen certainly knew how to provide entertaining side characters.

Here are a few of mine, and I'm hoping you'll share some of yours in the comments.

One of the most ridiculous figures in all of Austen, I can't help but cringe (in a good way. Sort of.) whenever Mr Collins enters a scene.  Much like Mr Bennet, I have the strong desire to ask him a question and then sit back and watch him go...

Again, I am a fan of the utterly ridiculous.  In real life, I think I might feel the need to throttle Mary Musgrove and give her something actually worth complaining about, but as long as she's confined to the pages of a book, I can't help but find her annoying - in the most obnoxious way.

Yep.  Another one I sorta wanna smack.  Mrs Elton's self-importance and pomp, and her continual use of pet names for Mr Knightley earn her a prime spot in the Austen Punchable Characters Hall of Fame.
Anyone else get the idea that Jane was always lurking around somewhere, taking notes on the ridiculous people she came across in everyday life, and ensuring that they would not want to spend time with her in the future, lest they provide her with more fodder?

I actually quite like Isabella Thorpe.  I know she's a Lydia, and she leads Catherine astray, and is responsible for Catherine's unfortunate introduction to John Thorpe, who gives me the heebie-jeebies, but she's fun.  She's a Jane Austen Mean Girl, and though you want to see them get what's coming to them at a certain point, you still somehow find yourself smiling at them when they say something biting but funny.

You've got to love a big personality, and Lady Catherine has that in spades.  Not to mention the reactions she causes in other people, and her ballsy domineering stance for a woman, and I can't help but love her, even when I hate her.

Harriet. Oh, Harriet.  You beautiful, utterly simple thing you.  She may be about as dumb as a bag of hair ribbons and shoe roses, but you can't help but want to smoosh the ridiculous little creature. ♥

So what are some of your favorites? The characters you love OR love to hate?

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...