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Friday, August 17, 2012

Dear Janeite #1, ft. guest Janeite, Diana Peterfreund!

Yesterday I posted my first Austen Lookbook, and in it I told you how much I love coming up with new things for you guys every year. Here's another one of the new editions, an Austen-inspired advice column! [I can't tell you how this warms my blackened little heart...]
For the inaugural column, I have a special guest Janeite - Diana Peterfreund, author of a number of awesome YA books, most recently one with an Austen-bent: a sci-fi/dystopic retelling of Persuasion called For Darkness Shows the Stars!
Make sure you stop by the AiA giveaway of For Darkness, and check out my review when it goes up this weekend!
And thanks to everyone who submitted a question for Dear Janeite! If you have questions of your own (serious or silly) make sure to leave the in the comments (for bonus points in the FD giveaway!) or on the form!

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Dear Janeite,
I simply loved the relationship between Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park. I love when childhood best friends becoming husband and wife.
However, I have come into a bit of a dilemma. I have entered into what I consider a serious relationship with a great man. It has only been a month, but there is definitely chemistry there and it is as if we have been best friends since childhood. The only problem is: my father found out that we are related. Our great, great grandfather is the same man.
My sister is very opposed to the relationship because of the awkwardness of being "related". It causes me some doubts about continuing the relationship. But when I remember Fanny and Edmund's relationship they were cousins and saw nothing wrong with the match.
Please, help me decide if this relationship should be severed or if I should trust in the power of love.
Cousinly Affection

Dear Cousinly Affection,
Were the gentlemen in question in truth your first cousin, as Fanny and Edmund are, my answer might be different, as you live in quite a different time and different world than I do. However, this man is not your first cousin. He is your third cousin, a connection so distant that it is not unusual for such relations to never know one another at all. There is not a state in the country that outlaws such unions, and should the relationship continue, from a legal and biological standpoint, the best advice I can give is to seek genetic counseling should you wish to have children.

Your letter, however, is unclear on a vital point. You claim your dream is not of cousins, but of "childhood best friends" becoming husband and wife. But your description of your current connection with this man is not one of a childhood best friend. You say you have only been in the relationship for a month -- was he a friend prior to this time? Additionally, you say your father "found out" that you were distantly related. If you knew this young man from childhood, surely your father would have long known about your family connection. Your sister's distaste would then be more rational, since you would have thought of him as family all your life. Indeed, this is the argument Fanny's aunt makes when Fanny first moves to Mansfield Park-- that Fanny living there and growing up with the boys as a cousin would make her a less likely romantic object to the Bertram sons.

But this does not seem to be the case.

This relationship is very young, and though you feel a strong bond with this young man, do not mistake the fact that he is a third cousin for the dream that he is your imagined Edmund Bertram. Tom Bertram was also a cousin. Take it slow; decide what future you really have with this man. If you are truly happy, then your family will come around, as Fanny's uncle does.

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Diana Peterfreund has been a costume designer, a cover model, and a food critic. Her travels have taken her from the cloud forests of Costa Rica to the underground caverns of New Zealand (and as far as she’s concerned, she’s just getting started).
Diana graduated from Yale University in 2001 with dual degrees in Literature and Geology, which her family claimed would only come in handy if she wrote books about rocks. Now, this Florida girl lives with her husband and their puppy in Washington D.C., and writes books that rock.

Inspired by Jane Austen's "Persuasion", "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

*** Note to those leaving Dear Janeite questions: The original Dear Janeite post explains more fully, but the questions are not necessarily "to" Jane Austen, but to a Janeite or a Jane character, who will answer with Janely wisdom; they are advice column questions, like the one above, so if you want +5 for the giveaway... make it worth it. =)

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


  1. Since you were a food critic... What are your favourites? =)

  2. Dear Janeite,

    I am afraid Jane has given me some rather unfair expectations from men. All I want is someone who will love me enough to change, like Darcy; gently point out my flaws and help me improve, like Knightley; and who will remain steadfast in his devotion even when I turn away from him, like Branden and Wentworth.

    Do you think such a man exists, or should I lower my expectations?

  3. Dear Janeite,

    I love Austen's books, but I feel a bit silly when I say my favorite book is a toss up between Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion. People automatically assume I'm just a typical girl in it for the love story. While I do like the swoon-worthy aspects of Austen's novels, I love her witty writing and her social commentary on the ridiculousness of her society and more than precarious position of unmarried women. How can I make people take me seriously without going off on a long rant about the social hierarchy of Regency England?

    More Than a Chick Flick

  4. Dear Janeite,

    I would like to know why you choice to revamp Persuasion.

  5. Dear Janeite,
    I've recently read a book that was based off of Pride and Prejudic. I haven't read PRide and Prejudice though. I know this I'm thinking about the rewrite - but what is with everyone in that book?! lol. I;m sure I'll like Pride and Prejudice, but it seems like everyone is running around doing their ownthing with no regard for anyone else.

    Alyssa Susanna

  6. Dear Janeite
    Are you against or in favor of some Jane Austen books for retalling?


  7. If you could choose to visit a different time period which would you choose?

  8. Dear Vampirelladan,

    Alas, I was a food critic in Tampa and Sarasota in the early 2000s. I cannot tell you what restaurants to visit there. However, if you're looking for a good meal in DC now, one of my favorite (though sadly, more "special occasion" spots) is Rasika.

  9. Dear Nancy Kelley,

    True love does indeed involve compromise and a quest for mutual improvement. And yet, they are not the qualities one should search for from the outset. It is good to remember, perhaps, that though Darcy had some superficial qualities that put Lizzie off, at his core, he "remained as he ever was." There was not much changing that had to happen.

    And regarding constancy when turned away -- I think such occurrences in life are so rare as to highlight its fictionality. Anne and Marianne did not turn away their suitors on the hope that they'd come back. Again, as Lizzie says, "I am not one of those young ladies (if such young ladies there are) who are so daring as to risk their happiness on the chance of being asked a second time."

    It is not a matter of lowering your expectations as much as changing your expectations. Real life doesn't have neat plot contrivances like timely balls or romantic rivals that conveniently fall into comas. And of course, real life never has the happily ever after. I'm sure that Emma eventually get aggravated with Mr, Knightley's continual "corrections" and that Darcy and Lizzie argue about how many parties she wishes to throw that he finds insupportable.

    There are wonderful men out there, who might make you as happy as any Jane Austen heroine. But remember particularly the lesson of Catherine Moreland, who took too seriously her desire to be a Gothic heroine. Real life can be even more interesting.

  10. Dear Tessa,

    I'm inclined to think that if those you share your reading preferences with immediately dismiss them, then perhaps these folk are not worthy of your time or attention, particularly if they make a habit of using descriptions like "typical girl" as an insult.

    It has long been the habit of certain segments of our society to equate items of female interest with inferiority. All of which is to say, that even if you did like those books due to their romantic makeup. there's NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

    However, as you pointed out, there is actually much to love about Jane beyond her love stories. Her wry humor and social commentary are equally enjoyable, and there are many women and men who appreciate her books for just those reasons. The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) is one such organization of Austen lovers. Hundreds of years nad hundreds of thousands of fans can't be wrong.

    You don't need to defend your choices. They need to defend their prejudice and ignorance.

  11. Dear The Blonde Zombie,

    I love Persuasion and wanted to explore its themes. Also, I think it's one of the Austen's that hasn't gotten the love of, say, Pride & Prejudice.

  12. Dear Alyssa Susanna,

    Not being familiar with the retelling you are talking about, it's difficult for me to say why the characters are acting the way they do. However, in the original book, the characters definitely take all the others into account when they act.

    I love Pride & Prejudice. It was my first Austen and will always hold a special place in my heart.

  13. Dear Gisele,

    I am in favor of all good retellings. My favorite Austen retelling (aside from the one I wrote) is Clueless (Emma). I think they all have potential, however.

  14. Dear Vivien,

    In truth, it's a regular joke with a friend of mine and I how, being women, who have been oppressed throughout most of time and even today, throughout much of the world, that we're very glad to live in North America today, and in no other time or place. Having said that, however, I've often been curious about Rome at the height of the empire.

  15. A wonderful lovelorn letter. I do think after Jane Austen 'real' men have a lot to live up to.

  16. Dear Janeite,

    I'm curious to know why you picked Persuasion to base you book on. Was it simply your favourite, did it seem the easiest classic to have as your story's core or did it suit your original story idea the best? Do tell!!

  17. What questions do you think Jane would most want to ask us modern girls?

  18. Dear Janeite,

    In terms of your book (beautiful cover by the way), did your use of Persuasion inspire the characters' traits or just the general flow of the book?

    Thanks for creating such a lovely book! I am waiting for my chance to read it.

  19. Dear Janeite,

    Since FDSTS is sort of a retelling, is there a novel or a story you would like to give new life to?

  20. Dear Janeite,

    I know this has probably been asked like 9475397598x times before, but what made you take your 'adaptation' of Jane Austen's Persuasion and place it in not only a sci-fi setting, but an dystopian one as well?


Tell me all your thoughts.
Let's be best friends.


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