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Monday, August 27, 2012

Austen Authors play Dear Janeite!!

You may have figured out by now that I love variations on a theme - I love seeing all the little ways something can change, all the branching paths a choice can create. Why else read Austen adaptations?
It's this love of seeing the variations and interpretations that led me to structure the interviews as I did this year (ie all the "colorful discussion" posts), and the following is one of my favorite results of that choice.
Talk about variations....

I tasked the participating authors to answer a Dear Janeite question as a character of their choosing. The results were all different, all perfectly suited to their characters, and all awesome. Read through and let us know whose advice you'd take in the comments, or leave some advice of your own from a character of your choosing!


"Dear Janeite,
I've been seeing a lovely man for some time now, but his family does not seem to approve of the relationship (nothing and no one is good enough for their baby boy...). It's not that they ever say anything to me outright, or even that they cold-shoulder me; they're always perfectly polite, but I just can't seem to break the ice and get them to let me in.
I don't know what to do - help!
Never Good Enough in Nebraska"

~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~   *   ~

My dear girl, it is very difficult to never be good enough, but I do have some advice that I believe may help. I myself was just a governess when I met Mr. Weston and fell deeply in love with him. Many of his family believed he was marrying beneath himself, but since he was an older, wiser gentleman, he did not give heed to any of their ramblings and instead--I am very grateful to say--followed his heart. Those who did wish us together, knew of my steady kindness. my loyalty and happy disposition and my eagerness to help others. Those who truly knew me, loved me.

I propose that you work more efficiently to be seen and known by those whom you wish to be accepted by. Help with the dishes, or preparing of the meal. Sincerely compliment them on their attire or actions or words when it is warranted. Go out of your way to be a help to them and smile often. When you are truly known, you will be loved. You will stop being a stranger and become more a part of the family in their eyes.
I hope this helps. And best wishes to you and yours.

Mrs. Weston of Randalls
(aka Jenni James, author of The Jane Austen Diaries)

Dear Never Good Enough:
My goodness, I am so grateful you wrote me before you caused yourself any further embarrassment. If the gentleman's family does not approve of the relationship, you should take heed. One does oneself no favors by grasping at connections above one's station. I'm certain this family is trying to protect you from certain heartbreak and humiliation. Perhaps there are more suitable men at your local parish?

Caroline Bingley
(aka Talia Vance, author of Spies and Prejudice)

Dear Never Good Enough
In the wise words of my esteemed patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, people of inferior rank – whether in Nebraska or anywhere else – are never good enough. Your boyfriend’s parents are obviously very discerning, and their polite indifference towards you is perfectly understandable.
Do not make yourself uneasy about your shortcomings. I can only advise you to relinquish any pretensions to social climbing and settle for someone more plebeian. My own situation is a case in point. At Lady Catherine’s suggestion, I secured the affections of a young lady who would value properly all I had to offer. My dear Charlotte and I have but one mind and one way of thinking. There is in everything a most remarkable resemblance of character and ideas between us. We seem to have been designed for each other!
But enough of my conjugal felicity. It only remains for me to wish you equal joy, once you recognise your limitations.

Your humble servant,
Reverend William Collins.
(aka Juliet Archer, author of the Darcy & Friends series)

Never Good Enough,
You’ve offered up very little in the way of personal details, but the very fact that you are writing this note tells me that you are worthy of consideration. That being said, I’m not entirely sure that the gentleman in question is worthy of you. He should be setting out to present you in such a flattering way that his family must have no choice but to embrace you. At every opportunity he should be demonstrating how, by your good influence, you are molding him to be a better man. You must both do your fair share. If, after you can both agree you have done all that you can, you are unable to resolve this matter, please be in touch, as I’ve a considerable talent for matchmaking.

A New Friend, Emma Woodhouse
(aka Alyssa Goodnight, author of Austentatious)

Augusta Elton, Highbury Parish

Dear Never,

I am Augusta Elton, wife of Reverend Elton of Highbury. While you do not know me, I am the dear acquaintance of Lady Russell, the good woman to whom you did write with this vexing, intimate difficulty. Not to speak ill of my friend, but she has lost her sense of propriety since the marriage of her goddaughter to a sailor. I am grieved beyond words for her and feel that perhaps I would be better to advise you on this important social matter.

As you have chosen to solicit advice anonymously, there is not way to know if the gentleman and his family are of a rank worthy of so much anxiety. They are most likely not, but I shall assume they are until made aware of the contrary.

To be honest, I was very struck that you have answered your own query in the closing of your letter.

In this day and age one might assume that a woman signing herself as “Never Good Enough” is suffering from low self esteem and needs a day at the spa with friends, or a bit of retail pampering at the local mall. In my most inestimable opinion, neither of these will solve your problem. The real problem is in the last word, “Nebraska.”

Really dear, while the first-rate Berkshire Hathaway is headquartered in the city of Omaha, you do not see the CEO, Warren Buffet living there, do you? The state’s official drink is Kool-Aid. Need I say more?

You must, for the sake of your social standing and self respect move. And quickly. I will be compiling a list of suitable places for you to consider. None of them, I assure you, are in Nebraska. Come to think, none of them is even in the Colonies.

I shall also send a letter advising you on your travel, accommodations, wardrobe, reading materials, and household help. There are many things to consideration when making a life change as enormous as this one my dear.

I am looking forward to your response. And there is no need to thank me until were meet, face-to-face.

Yours truly, Augusta Elton
(aka Susan Kaye, author of None But You and For You Alone)

Answers from:
Juliet Archer in red
Alyssa Goodnight in orange
Jenni James in green 
Susan Kaye in light blue
Talia Vance in purple

Make sure to let us know your thoughts - or leave your advice - in the comments!!

Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!


  1. oh my goodness that was the absolute funniest thing I have read. I loved how all the authors handled the question. I was going to pick one I liked best but they were all so in character it's impossible.

  2. haha, Oh my -- the Augusta Elton letter has me rolling: sooo glad I saved this for when I got home today, perfect for after my stressful afternoon...

  3. Oh my! My dear Mrs. Elton, please consider the relatively isolated situation of Highbury before disparaging other locals! And never forget that, just like ratafia, Kool-Aid has its place (though please don't ask me where).

    Very amusing, ladies!

  4. Quite different responses here. I wonder which one is heeded?


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