Thursday, 3 September 2015


Hello Marjolaine and welcome to My Jane Austen Book Club.  A Match Made in Austen is the new card game you created for Renaissance Press, which will be released on 10th September. Can you briefly tell us what kind of game it is?

A Match Made in Austen is a storytelling card game. People draw six cards, three representing male characters and three representing female characters, they improvise some event at which the characters interact and then try to make wedding proposals to the characters they think are best suited to the ones in their hand.

Great! I think our Janeite friends will love it. It may be a perfect game to animate tea parties or friendly gathering of any type. How many players can be involved in the game?

The game can involve as few as two players (with some rule variations included in the rulebook) and as many as six.

Which Austen characters are involved in your card game?

The game includes 54 characters from the six main novels of Jane Austen. They are, by books and in alphabetical order:

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Hello, I'm Madeline Courtney and I write Jane Austen inspired romances. My first novel, Abhorrence and Affection, has just been published on Kindle and is going through some minor editing, so it can be ready for print within the next month! (Which is super exciting and super nerve wracking at the same time).

Abhorrence and Affection is a relatively short read (only 51K words long or 144 Kindle pages) about a silly, young woman forced into marrying her childhood rivalry to save her family from their debt...

This, of course, leads to silly arguments and hilarious insults between the two main characters; a Mr. Nicholas Oakley and a Mrs. Bethany Benedicts Oakley... But there are some serious scenes as well...

"How dare you make such suggestions when you have no idea what it is your talking about? Of course you've always been this way; conceited, arrogant, rude to others when they don't match up to your ridiculously high standards. Why do you think you had no suitors? It definitely wasn't because you're not beautiful. It was because you insist on treating people like dirt beneath your feet and no one wants to be in your presences for longer than five minutes. If it wasn't for me you would have surely died an old maid." -Abhorrence and Affection, Chapter Six

The story really shows that sometimes life just doesn't turn out the you would expect it to... but that's not always a bad thing... even if you are too stubborn to see it at first.

It's definitely something I would suggest to anyone who has read all the Austen novels and can't help searching for more. Even I, the writer, want to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea on a rainy day and just lose myself in the story all over again.

If you're interested in reading Abhorrence and Affection... you can purchase the Kindle version  or  read the first chapter for free   

Giveaway Time! Yes, I'm having a small giveaway. As soon as I reach 10K followers on Twitter, I'll be giving out 10 free copies of the novel (Kindle and Print)... So be sure to follow me on Twitter at @MaddieC123 for a chance to win!

Madeline Courtney

Monday, 10 August 2015


(guest post by Victoria Grossack)

I always want to play “what-if” with stories.  Juliet should not have faked her death; Romeo should not have swallowed the poison, and heck, maybe the Montagues and the Capulets should have ended their feud earlier.  So here’s a question: when Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth in Kent, should she have accepted him?

Some will cry out: Of course not!  Because in that case we would not have had the second half of Pride & Prejudice (and amazingly, the proposal scene occurs at the exact midpoint of the story).  And the second half, in which Elizabeth revises her opinion and Darcy atones for all his defects, is absolutely delightful.

But let us put aside the fact that an acceptance by Elizabeth would ruin the story.  If you were living in the novel, how would you advise Miss Elizabeth Bennet?

If your primary concern were money, you would recommend that she accept the proposal immediately. We have not seen Pemberley yet, but Mr. Darcy seems to be very rich and Elizabeth Bennet’s expectations are fairly bleak.  So if we were to take the attitude of Mrs. Collins, we would tell her to accept the proposal immediately.  In fact, Mrs. Collins is one of the few (other than Miss Bingley) who detects Darcy’s interest in Elizabeth, and she is convinced that if Elizabeth knew of his interest in her that her dislike would vanish.

Sunday, 9 August 2015


Mr Darcy to the Rescue 

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day… Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma… How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Buy your copy at

 Victoria Kincaid about Mr Collins 

Mr. Collins is annoying.  Certainly he is one of the least-loved Pride and Prejudice characters.  So, why did I write a P&P variation in which Elizabeth becomes engaged to him?  I recently became intrigued by Collins when I realized is that there aren’t a lot of P&P variations which redeem him.  You can find variations in which Mr. and Mrs. Bennet mend their ways or Caroline Bingley finds true love or Kitty and Mary become less foolish—even stories where Lady Catherine and/or Wickham see the light.  But there aren’t many where Collins really becomes a better person (disclaimer: Mr. Darcy to the Rescue doesn’t redeem Collins either—he’s just as foolish and funny as in P&P).   I began to wonder why that is.  Why is it harder to redeem him than it is to redeem Wickham or Caroline or Lady C? 

Here’s my theory:  it’s because he’s stupid (Jane Austen actually says so).  It’s hard to imagine redeeming stupidity.  You can picture someone who is wicked (like Wickham) or haughty (like Lady C) seeing the error of their ways and turning over a new leaf.  But it’s hard to imagine Collins having the self-awareness to see that he is making mistakes and taking steps to change his behavior.  He’s simply too dense. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015


The Ross Poldark Blog Tour has concluded but there is still time for you  readers to leave comments and enter the giveaway contest until 11:59pm PT, August 10, 2015. And, there is exciting news. PBS has contributed a DVD of season one of Poldark to our list of prizes! Here is the updated prize list with it included:

  • (1) DVD of season one of Poldark
  • (2 ) Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Mugs by Johnson Brothers
  • (1) Twelve-inch Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Plater by Johnson Brothers
  • (1) London Telephone Box Tin of Ahmad English Breakfast Tea
  • (1) Jar of Mrs. Bridges Marmalade
  • (1) Package of Duchy Originals Organic Oaten Biscuits
  • (2) Packets of Blue Boy Cornflower Seeds by Renee’s Garden Heirloom (1) Trade Paperback Copy of Ross Poldark & Demelza, by Winston Graham

Friday, 31 July 2015


Thank you, Maria, for inviting me here today to tell your readers a little about Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley. I can hardly believe that I now have five novels published! Each one has been a delight to write and share; each one has presented new and interesting challenges!

Georgiana Darcy is a fascinating creature, and I had already been thinking about a way to expand on what I had written about her in The Darcys of Pemberley when the idea for this novel occurred to me. I felt she deserved more space on the page than I had been able to devote to her in that earlier book, which focused primarily on Darcy and Elizabeth. So, that’s what started me off. I decided I would write a companion piece, retelling the story, this time from Georgiana’s point of view.

I had never written this kind of book before. Sequels, yes, and a variation on Jane Austen’s own life (The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen), but never a retelling. I expected it would pose certain difficulties, but at least I was uniquely qualified for the job since I had written the original myself! Even though I knew The Darcys of Pemberley backwards and forwards, however, I had a couple of surprises in store for me when I reviewed it once more with a mind to writing its companion.

First, I was amazed how different things – various events and what people said – appeared through an alternate point of view, which is as true in real life as it could be in any work of fiction, I’m sure. Examining it all through Georgiana’s eyes for a change, I began noticing how infrequently anybody consulted her for an opinion and how often she was left out altogether – left out of the conversation, the decision, the excursion, etc.

There was no malicious or even conscious intent to do so – not by Darcy and Elizabeth when they behaved that way, and certainly not by me when I wrote it. We had slighted Georgiana by thoughtlessness, not design. And despite the fact that she’s supposed to be very modest and mild mannered, it had to hurt.

So this became one of the themes of the book: Georgiana’s struggle to be respected as a competent adult. Here’s a brief excerpt as an example, told in her own words:

Whatever was taking place in the library behind closed doors, I could have no part in it. Did they think me disinterested? No, more likely I had been disqualified on the basis of my age. The colonel had said to me less than two weeks before, “When you are grown…” implying I was still a child. Now here was more evidence that I was not yet to be taken seriously. I was to be sheltered and set aside rather than being consulted on adult matters for a mature opinion.

Monday, 27 July 2015


I blame Ross Poldark for ...

I hadn’t read any of the books from the Poldark saga before the new adaptation started on BBC1, though I had been totally smitten by the original series back in the 70s. I was just a kid who was beginning to learn English as a foreign language at school at that time and my love for everything British is,  for sure,  a result of Robin Ellis’s good looks and Ross Poldark’s charm as a character. My interest in Jane Austen's novels came soon after.

However, I bought the first 2 Poldark books when the remake was announced in the press. I decided I wanted to read them,  to compare them to their adaptation in the upcoming TV series.

You know, that’s one of my favourite passtimes! 

Synopsis of Book 1 - Ross Poldark

In the first novel in Winston Graham’s hit series, a weary Ross Poldark returns to England from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth—believing Ross to be dead—is now engaged to his cousin. Ross has no choice but to start his life anew.
Thus begins the Poldark series, a heartwarming, gripping saga set in the windswept landscape of Cornwall. With an unforgettable cast of characters that spans loves, lives, and generations, this extraordinary masterwork from Winston Graham is a story you will never forget.

The hero

“His was not an easy face to read, and no one could have told that in the past half hour he had suffered the worst knock of his life. Except that he no longer whistled into the wind or talked to his irritable mare, there was nothing to show.”

(pictures: Robin Ellis and Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark

Respect to other 18th century gentlemen, Ross Poldark is quite the restless Romantic type and very little the well-mannered Austen hero. As a matter of fact, being Ross a gentleman of the Georgian Era, his good manners may be well considered flawed.
He is a living contradiction - as alive as a literary character can be - in so many aspects. He is generous and passionate, has a huge sense of honour and dignity. Anyhow,  his impulsiveness, rebelliousness, anticonformism, pride and moody temper distance him from other literary gentlemen of his time. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Very little is known about the young man that Jane Austen met during a seaside holiday in 1800. Her sister was later to say that she believed this young man was falling in love with Jane and was someone she felt was truly worthy of her sister. What transpired that summer? Perhaps it happened this way …

Jane begins her search for love with giddy optimism, but her first encounter proves devastating. The young Irishman who captured her heart is convinced by his family that marrying a penniless clergyman’s daughter would be a terrible mistake. Jane resolves never again to succumb to false hope, romantic delusions, and pathetic heartbreak.

Lieutenant Frederick Barnes is on medical leave from the Royal Navy. By the time he crosses paths with Jane, she has lost her faith in love and is determined to protect her heart at all costs.But the Lieutenant is captivated and equally determinedto break through her defenses. Jane must battle between what she knows and what she feels. What will happen to her heart if she is wrong again?

Read an excerpt 
It was after one o’clock in the morning when I climbed out of bed, pulled back the curtains for moonlight, and began to dress. The rustling awoke Cassie. I told her to return to sleep, but that the warm air was too much for me. If I could only steal down to the waves, and feel the cool water wash over my ankles, I should cool down immediately.
“You cannot be serious. To go down to the beach? At this hour?” Cassie inquired in disbelief.
“Go back to sleep. I shall return very shortly.”

Sunday, 12 July 2015


Dear Maria and Readers at My Jane Austen Book Club,

Thanks for hosting a stop on the A Will of Iron Blog Tour. The excerpts I have selected need a touch of setting up before we begin. Here are two conversations that take place at the end of Chapter 5, “A Funeral”. The funeral in question is that of Anne de Bourgh, who has died due to complications of a secret pregnancy. In this chapter, Darcy and Elizabeth interact for the first time since Darcy’s return to Rosings for his cousin’s funeral, after the Hunsford Proposal. These two later conversations, first with Darcy and his sister, and then with Charlotte and Elizabeth, give us a hint to the changes in their feelings and how they look at themselves. The conversations are followed by an entry from the journal of Anne de Bourgh; it ends the chapter. The journal entries are sprinkled throughout A Will of Iron, for it is Anne’s iron character, and her Last Will and Testament, which color every moment of the Darcy + Elizabeth romance presented here.

Linda Beutler


Darcy and Georgiana at Rosings:

Having successfully gained his attention, Georgiana huffed into the chair that was the match of the one occupied by Darcy. “Do I understand correctly, Brother, that the young lady serving coffee is the Elizabeth Bennet of whom you have written?”

Darcy stared at his sister blankly for several moments, vastly disconcerted. … He straightened himself and met her gaze. “Yes. Mrs. Collins is her particular friend, and Miss Bennet has been a guest at the vicarage for some weeks. She was due to leave Friday last, but our family’s events and her inclusion in Anne’s will have lengthened her stay.”

Monday, 6 July 2015


“If Jane Austen met Charlotte Bronte and they drank too much port, 
the Poldark Saga would be their literary love child.” 

Captain Ross Poldark rides again in the new Sourcebooks Landmark tie-in editions of Ross Poldark and Demelza, the first two novels in the acclaimed Poldark Saga by Winston Graham, adapted into the inaugural season of the new Masterpiece Classic PBS’s series Poldark, airing June 21 – August 2 on PBS. In celebration, July 6th through August 3rd, The Ross Poldark Blog Tour will visit thirty popular book blogs specializing in historical, romance and Austenesque fiction. Featuring spotlights, previews, excerpts and book reviews of these two acclaimed historical fiction novels, the tour will also offer readers a chance at a fabulous giveaway contest including copies of the books and a stunning Anglophile-themed prize package.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


Thanks so much Maria Grazia for hosting my on your blog to talk about Inspired by Grace! I have always loved being your guest.  Mostly because I get to talk about my books and writing! But today I am going to not just tell you about the book with the intrigue and excerpt, but I will introduce the main female character by using TV tropes.  What is a TV trope and what does it have to do with a book blog tour?  Tropes are a way to classify characters that seem to follow patterns and they are called TV tropes because they were first noticed in TV sitcoms and movies but since then, they are recognized universally throughout all media. 

Although Inspired by Grace is not JAFF, I have to say that Jane Austen inspired all my writing (this book happens to have a loose Persuasion correlation).  One of my favorite things about Austen is her ability to create memorable characters.  Here is a quick video link for you to watch a sketch that a comedy group called Studio C from BYU created.  The skit is called, “Teddy’s Story Joint” and the idea is author’s come and order plots like it is a fast food restaurant.  My favorite is when Jane Austen orders her “usual” which is “girl likes a guy, looks like she won’t get the guy, but then she does. With a witty social critique on the side.”  If you want to see the full sketch, click here  

I had already finished writing Inspired by Grace when I was introduced to the concept of TV tropes. I was really intrigued by this concept that there could be repeated characterizations throughout TV and literature.  So I tried to classify Grace Iverson, the heroine of Inspired by Grace.  I found that she fits two tropes; English Rose and Spirited Young Lady. The English Rose trope is a character who is virtuous and possess a certain amount of modest beauty. She is also dignified in a social setting but may not be upper class, but acts like it.  Jane Bennet is somewhat of an English Rose.  But Grace has some spunk to her too that makes English Rose not entirely fitting.  She has quite a bit of the Spirited Young Lady trope too.  I probably do not have to define this one . . . if I just say Elizabeth Bennet then you will know what I mean.  She is intelligent, often outdoorsy, witty and has a will of her own that prevents her from always conforming. 

Monday, 29 June 2015


When I began writing The Prosecution of Mr. Darcys Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery, I thought to use the actual Regency era case known as The Ratcliffe Highway Murders in the plot line for the although a suspect was identified, the man committed suicide and nothing was proved in court. P. D. James and T. A. Critchley discuss this case in great detail (and a bit of editorializing) in The Maul and the Pear Tree.

However, as I set up the story line for my novel, many changes needed to be made to the actual Ratcliffe mystery to fit my manuscript. Most importantly, the Ratcliffe murders occurred in December 1811. In my books, Major General Fitzwilliam (Colonel Fitzwilliam in the original Pride and Prejudice) married Miss Georgiana Darcy right after Napoleon escaped from Elba and right before the Major General returned to serve with Wellington at Waterloo. That means my story is set in 1816.

The Major General and Mrs. Fitzwilliam have been married sixteen months and are the parents of a daughter. The major general resigned his commission and became a landed gentleman in Oxfordshire. Yet, doing so brings Fitzwilliam no success for 1816 was the Year Without Summer, when the ash from the Mount Tambora eruption spread across Europe, England and America, disturbing the weather and disrupting crops. Fitzwilliam knew much success as an Army officer, and this failure plays hard with his nature.

I used the concept of the mass hysteria associated with the Ratcliffe Murders in this book. What would happen if several gruesome murders occur in Wapping? What if the prime suspect is the son of an earl? Would justice prevail? Would the victims, part of the poor of London, know justice? There are bits of Jack the Ripper-like hysteria in the tale.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


Colonel Fitzwilliam is an intriguing figure in Pride and Prejudice.  He appears for a rather short time in the novel, and his main function is to inform Elizabeth of Darcy’s role in separating Jane from Bingley.  We never even learn his first name.  Austen makes it clear, however, that Elizabeth and the Colonel get along well, in part because he enjoys the “easy manners” Darcy does not possess.  Thus, the Colonel serves to emphasize Darcy’s introverted, socially awkward nature while highlighting Elizabeth’s gregariousness.  Austen hints at the potential for a romance between Elizabeth and the Colonel, but he tells her he must marry an heiress, so any attraction goes nowhere. 

In the world of Jane Austen fan fiction, Colonel Fitzwilliam has a much more varied and extensive role than in the original novel.  He acquires a first name (Richard) which is used almost universally.  He is paired with Georgiana, Anne de Bourgh, Jane Bennet, or any number of other women.  He goes to war, inherits the earldom, fights with Wickham, and becomes involved in many other plots.  Because he is the son of an earl and a soldier, his character offers a lot of potential for interesting storylines.  But, above all in JAFF, the Colonel is always Darcy’s friend and confidante.  More than Bingley, he is the person Darcy can talk to about his conflicts over Elizabeth and his obligations to his family. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


“So each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in…” —Thomas Hardy

If you desire a little heat, a summer flirtation, or an escape to bask in your own private sun, this whimsical collection of original short stories is inspired by all things summer. In collaboration with some of Meryton Press’s most popular and award-winning authors, this anthology debuts other promising and emerging talent.

·         In KaraLynne Mackrory’s “Shades of Pemberley,” Mr. Darcy, with some fantastic assistance, discovers Elizabeth Bennet in a most unlikely place.

·         Karen M. Cox’s “Northanger Revisited” modernizes Northanger Abbey at a fictionalized Georgia seaside.

Friday, 12 June 2015


Mistaking Her Character: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (The Queen of Rosings Park Book 1)

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is prepared to be very generous when it comes to medical care for her sickly daughter, Anne – generous enough to lure noted physician Dr. Thomas Bennet to give up his London practice and move his family to Rosings Park. But his good income comes with a price: complete dependence on his demanding patroness’s every whim.  
Now the Bennet family is trapped, reliant on Lady Catherine for their survival. Their patroness controls every aspect of the Bennet household, from the shelves in the closet to the selection of suitors for the five Bennet daughters. Now she has chosen a husband for headstrong Elizabeth Bennet– Mr. George Wickham.
But Lady Catherine’s nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is not so sure about his aunt’s choice. He is fascinated by the compassionate Elizabeth who seems to effortlessly understand everyone around her, including him. Lady Catherine has other plans for Darcy, though, and she forbids Elizabeth to even speak to him.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


You may have heard authors say that there are times when in the middle (or beginning or even towards the end) of writing a manuscript, something happens quite unexpectedly. Some little revelation or action occurs that suddenly threatens to send the book in a whole new direction. This happened with me in my recent book, “Mr. Darcy’s Rival.”
When Mr. Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, arrive at Rosings to visit their aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, they discover another nephew is there, Matthew Rickland. Mr. Rickland is not on the same side of the family as the two men – he is the nephew of the late Sir Lewis de Bourgh, but the men are acquainted.
Mr. Darcy also discovers that Elizabeth Bennet is just across the lane at Hunsford Parsonage. This causes him to be quite unsettled, as he had tried everything to rid her from his mind and heart in the months since he had seen her. But he also begins to wonder if she has an interest in Rickland and finds that even more disconcerting.
That is the premise of the book.
But when I wrote the book, Lady Catherine’s daughter, Anne, revealed something to Elizabeth that ended up having a substantial part in the story. She confessed to her that she is an author and had two books published. No one in her family knew, except her companion, Mrs. Jenkinson.
One of those books she had written was titled, “A Peculiar Engagement,” which surprised Elizabeth when she began to read it and realized what it was about. Here are the first couple paragraphs. Can you guess what this book is about?

Annabelle Drake distinctly recollected the first time she had perceived Fitzpatrick Danbury as the attractive young man he was. It was an inexplicable, sudden sensibility of his presence, his person, and the prominence he would have in her life. It moved something within her she had never before experienced. She trembled, despite the warmth of the room.

Friday, 29 May 2015


Second Chances - guest post by Sarah Price

Oh Anne! How could you possibly have let so many people persuade you to deny Fredericks proposal and commit yourself to a future devoid of your true love?

Isnt that the question we ask ourselves while reading Jane Austens Persuasion?

First loves do not often evolve into life time partnerships. If they did, Id be married to Jimmy Cline, the little blond hair boy that I dated in fourth grade. He kissed me by the mailbox after carrying my books from the bus stop. Thats what happens when you date older men (he was in sixth grade).

But hearts are meant to be broken.

When he broke up with me for Beth Whatever-Her-Last-Name-Was, I thought the world would end. It didnt.

I cannot imagine my life today if I had pined for him over the years, denying myself other experiences in life and love. Would I have traveled? Would I have my two children? Would I be a successful author?

Probably not.

Each broken heart adds character to our own stories, helping us learn to love in a way that is stronger and better each time around.

For Anne, however, her story has a different ending.

She did pine for Frederick and denied herself future courtships. When Frederick returned, her heart broke all over again only to be rewarded in the end for her steadfast devotion to the memory of their relationship from her youth.

Monday, 18 May 2015


When a simple accident is misinterpreted and threatens Elizabeth Bennet's reputation, her fate seems sealed as Fitzwilliam Darcy's wife. While the bride is resigned, the gentleman could hardly be happier until betrayals and schemes threaten to entirely take the matter out of their hands. Overcoming the plots before them will take all the patience, perseverance and collaboration they can muster, but a partnership requires truth. Self-discovery and trust await Jane Austen's most beloved and willfully blind couple as they attempt to master their own destiny in life and love.
Read an excerpt
 George Wickham exited the back of the Meryton butcher shop, after sampling the feminine wares of Mary King once more. Making his way around the alley to the storefront, a sweating and heaving Mr. Collins approached him.
With a deep bow, Mr. Collins began, “Good day, Mr. Wickham. I must humbly request to have a word with you of the utmost urgency. I was sent on a mission by one of the most illustrious personages of the land, my esteemed benefactress, and I am sure you would rather do anything than risk her displeasure. But of course, you would not, being such an honourable man yourself, defending our country and wearing the King’s uniform.”
At first, Wickham eyed the parson with annoyance. When Collins mentioned his benefactress, Wickham realised Lady Catherine must have some new communication for him. Knowing it to be the time of Darcy’s annual visit to Rosings and that Elizabeth Bennet visited this ridiculous vicar’s wife, Wickham’s mind began to race with possibilities he had first supposed several weeks ago. Clever and opportunistic, Wickham excelled at anticipating the need for his services.

Saturday, 25 April 2015


Mrs Bennet is my favourite of all the mother characters in Jane Austen’s novels. I do not think she is the sort of person that I, or anyone else for that matter, would ever wish to have for a mother, but there is something delightful in her complete lack of self-awareness and her inexhaustible capacity to embarrass her daughters. Most of us had moments growing up when we cringed in mortification at something said or done by parents unintentionally or perhaps, as in the case of my mother showing my boyfriend a family photo album including a picture of my eight-year-old self dressed up as Madonna, intentionally. However, few of us would have suffered much in comparison to Lizzie Bennet.

I wonder how any of the other Jane Austen heroines would have coped with a mother like Mrs Bennet. Many of Austen’s novels do not feature the heroines’ mothers. Emma Woodhouse and Anne Elliot have lost theirs. Fanny Price and Catherine Norwood travel away from their mothers for the duration of Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. Mrs Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility is a loving and attentive mother to her daughters. Only Mrs Bennet manages to make Elizabeth’s life more difficult and complicated through her interference.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


2 years ago I hadn’t even heard of fan fiction, let alone Jane Austen fan fiction. If I had seen the acronym JAFF written down, I might have thought it was one of those error messages I don’t understand that pop up on my computer screen from time to time. I had always been a voracious reader, but somehow this was a landscape that had passed me by, a path that I didn’t even know was there.

Then I found myself pregnant with our second child when our first was only 7 months old and somehow, as well as making me feel pretty sick, it stirred up the old romantic in me. Up went the feet and out came the self-pity chocolates. On a whim, I dusted off my DVD of the old 1995 Pride & Prejudice mini-series. It wasn’t long before I was as hooked as I had been when it was first broadcast, aged 14. It occurred to me that it wouldn’t hurt to re-read the novel, and so I did that as well.
Before I knew where I was, I was living with Lizzy and Darcy. I just couldn’t get them out of my head. What happened next? What became of them? The possibilities danced around my mind. Jane Austen is famous for having written perfectly of “two inches of ivory”, so what about the rest of the fabric? What about the character’s lives behind closed doors? What about the world below stairs? What about the male friendships which go unexamined in the original? The permutations seemed endless.