Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Today Alyssa Goodnight's AUSTENTATIOUS is out. Good luck and great success to Alyssa! But I'm here especially to announce the name of the winner of the giveaway linked to Alyssa's guestpost, OH-SO-QUOTABLE AUSTEN .
Congratulations to Kelli H. who's the winner chosen by random.org  of the signed copy offered by the author to the readers of My Jane Austen Book Club!

Monday, 30 January 2012


I've used random.org to pick up the name of  today's winner and ... Congratulations to  cyn209 for winning Victoria Connelly's new US publication,  Dreaming of Mr Darcy!!! This giveaway was open 
worldwide and was linked to my interview with the author. Have you had a look at it? If you've missed it, you'll find it HERE .

Saturday, 28 January 2012


Did you read Summer Day's guestpost introducing her debut novel, an Austen-inspired  YA modern romance? If you've missed it, follow the link HERE. Then, come back and leave a message under this brief posting of mine announcing a giveaway  contest open internationally of Summer's e-book: PRIDE & PRINCESSES
Don't forget to add your e-mail address to let me get in contact with you in case you win.  The name of  the winner will be announced on 6 February. And, by the way, start reading Summer's book at her blog. You'll find the first three chapters there. Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Sherri Rabinowitz has been writing since she was a small child. She was inspired by Ray Bradbury and Agatha Christie. She had always loved writing but has had to make a living in a varied number of ways. She worked as an actress, a travel agent and in several forms of customer service. Her passion though has always been writing. She loves and enjoys both reading and writing fan fiction. Fantasy Time Inc. is her second work of original fiction.

Sherri is my guest to meet you,  friends of My Jane Austen Book Club and to share her love for Jane Austen and her novels with all of us. She thinks we need more Jane Austen and less reality TV. Do you agree with her?  Enjoy her blogpost and welcome her among us!

It’s a world full of domestic issues, romance with the wrong men, not understanding where the other sex is coming from, sibling rivalry,    family issues and people full of self importance.

Sound familiar?  Well it’s not now, my friends. This is the world of Jane Austen. People haven’t changed at all socially; we have the same worries, problems and dreams.

In the western world women have achieved a lot since that time, and we should be grateful and appreciative. Unlike the women of Austen, we have the right to vote, to work, to own property, and most important, the right to choose who to marry or if we want to marry at all.  We take these things for granted in this country but our Great Grandmothers fought for these rights and some died for them.

And yet, there are things of that world I envy. I love that there was a politeness and gentleness that we don’t have now. There was a poise and elegance that does not exist today. I would love to go to a ball. I would love the beauty of the period. Would I give up the rights I have now for that? NO! I would like it if we could be a little more polite and caring though. And I would still like to go to a ball.

All of Jane Austen’s work is about the social life that went on around her. All of her ironic comedy was about a very serious issue for women. Her only job was to marry and marry well. It’s all subtext but one false step could have a woman drop out of polite society and ruin her. A woman was supposed to be politely poor till some man rescues her and marries her. Her work is funny and fun: the misunderstandings, the silly fights, the women who are full of themselves. Women today have to see all we have gained and yet try to understand where we came from. If you don’t know and understand the past you’re doomed to repeat it.

Jane Austen clearly saw the problem and used it as the serious part of her text. She brilliantly showed life then in a funny way. She also could see that things were going to change because women were changing. She saw it all and it is all in the subtext. She was such a shrewd woman - she knew how people of her time would accept it and she fed it with a happy ending that would be acceptable. Amazing.

Today young women think that they are only people to ever go through these things and that only other young women could understand. I have a young friend who is college educated who had never heard of Jane Austen.  She saw Pride and Prejudice and she was telling me all about it. I had a weird smile on my face and she said “What?”

I said, “I know the story, I read it.”

“Oh, is it from a book? Is it a new writer?”

I started to laugh, and explained. She was a bit embarrassed, “That’s the writer you always go on and on about?”

I nodded.

“Ok, I will buy the novel.”  She is hooked, now she has read all her books and juvenilia.

The reason I love Jane Austen is because she saw the irony in life. Her work is very funny and cutting. She opened the eyes of her contemporaries and she created the romantic comedy as we know it. People still use her formula to write the perfect comedy.

If the family is foundation of America I am very worried our foundation is crumbling. Look at Reality TV, is this the example you want our children to have of family life? I am really, really not advocating Father Knows Best but The Kardashians know worst as far I can see.

I think it would be better to give young people Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility then Kim and Kourtney Take NY. I really don’t have anything against them but I would rather our next generation follow Elizabeth Bennet then Kim Kardashian.

 Sherri Rabinowitz 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Following Maria Grace's guestpost of last week, here I am to announce the name of the two winners in the giveaway contest for her Darcy's Decision:

1. the paperback for US readers has been won by Heather M.
2. the e-book for the rest of the world goes to  Helen

As usual congratulations to the winners, thanks to the kind and generous guest author and thanks to all of you who commented and entered the giveaway!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Summer Day is here to meet the readers of My Jane Austen Book Club and present her debut novel, Pride & Princesses. Join me and welcome her!

"PRIDE & PRINCESSES: when handsome Mark Knightly and his best friend Jet Campbell arrive at Sunrise High School, best friends Phoebe and Mouche invent a dating game that changes lives forever…"

I wrote PRIDE & PRINCESSES as a novel for teens and young adults. Although I chose a high school setting, the themes are universal. After all, most of us go to high school. I started writing stories when I was very young and I liked to draw. When I completed my first novel at nineteen I showed it to a friend who encouraged me to keep the manuscript locked in my wardrobe (she was right!) I trained originally as a teenage actress and that world was very present to me when I wrote PRIDE & PRINCESSES.

PRIDE & PRINCESSES is inspired by Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in many ways, and there is also a touch of EMMA and the influence of SENSE & SENSIBILITY. All of those stories resonate with me. However, PRIDE & PRINCESSES is very much a ‘standalone’ novel. Only readers well-acquainted with Pride & Prejudice will connect the dots. All the characters and most of the places are invented and all have their own names. I had (of course) read Pride and Prejudice and seen the film versions of Pride and Prejudice (including the television drama). Plus, I’d seen Colin Firth perform as a stage actor in London and I was very impressed with his portrayal of Darcy and with Jennifer Ehle’s as Elizabeth. I also enjoyed the more recent film version with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen.

I was intrigued by the scene at the ball when Elizabeth Bennet refuses to dance with Darcy, so I incorporated that plot turn in my teen novel. I like the idea that sometimes it is the woman who drives the romance and steers it in a certain direction. PRIDE & PRINCESSES is about finding true love but it is also about teenage friendship and relationships and the important things in life. It is about small and special moments which go on to create bigger moments of love, hope and (mostly) happiness.
Summer Day

PRIDE & PRINCESSES by Summer Day is published at AMAZON Kindle  

Contact the Author

- The first three chapters of PRIDE & PRINCESSES by Summer Day are on her blog    
- Summer Day is on Twitter @summerdaylight ,  FB (Summer Day) 

Sunday, 22 January 2012


I read The Perfect Hero, liked it  and reviewed it in June 2011,  when it came out for HarperCollins in the UK. Now Victoria Connelly's second book in the Trilogy, The Austen Addicts, has been published in the US by Sourcebooks as Dreaming of Mr Darcy. 
New author interview and new giveaway for the readers of My Jane Austen Book Club! Read through the interview, leave your comment and e-mail address to enter the giveaway of a copy of the just released US edition. This giveaway is open worldwide and ends on January 30th  when the winner is announced.

This novel was previously published as  The Perfect Hero  in the UK (my review is  here).  Is there any particular reason for the change of the title,  Dreaming of Mr Darcy ,  in order to fit the US market?

This novel has actually had three different titles!  I originally called it “The Illustrated Darcy” which is the title of the book my heroine, Kay, is working on.  Unfortunately, I was the only person who liked that title so it got changed to “Dreaming of Mr Darcy” but then my UK publisher decided that it didn’t want a second book with the name ‘Darcy’ in it so I came up with “The Perfect Hero”.  I have to admit to still preferring my original title “The Illustrated Darcy”, though!

Your new book  is set in Lyme Regis where a troupe is shooting a new adaptation of Austen’s Persuasion. What position is Jane’s last novel  in in  your  personal “Austen Major Novels  Chart”?

It’s definitely in my top three which are: “Pride and Prejudice”, “Sense and Sensibility” and “Persuasion”.  I love the sparkling wit of “Pride and Prejudice” and the fascinating relationships of “Sense and Sensibility” but there’s a beautiful melancholy about “Persuasion” which really resonates.

Since the characters in the story are involved on a film adaptation of Austen, what is your opinion on the many series or films we’ve had so far? Do you like them? What are your favourites? Do you  think they are more an invitation to read Austen’s work  or more a distraction from doing it?

I came to Jane Austen through the 1940’s film adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” staring Laurence Olivier.  I watched it as a teenager and then read the book and I think the adaptations do encourage people to pick up the books if they haven’t discovered them already.
I adore the adaptations – can’t get enough!  Favourites includes the BBC “Pride and Prejudice”, Emma Thomspson’s “Sense and Sensibility” and “Persuasion” staring Amanda Root as Anne Elliot.  I also thought the recent Andrew Davies adaptation of “Northanger Abbey” was wonderful and have to admit to having a big crush on Henry Tilney!

Kay Ashton and Gemma Reilly are the two female protagonists of  Dreaming of Mr Darcy . They are present-day heroines but are they anyhow modelled on Austen heroines?

I wanted to create my own characters but there are lots of little nods to Jane Austen in my trilogy.  The most obvious one is Kay’s similarity to Emma Woodhouse because she loves to meddle and matchmake and, like Emma, seems to always get things wrong.  I think Gemma is a little like Anne Elliot because she finally finds the courage to stand up to her family and makes an important decision that will change her life.

What about  the heroes, dashing Oli Wade Owen and  sensitive Adam Craig?

There are some wonderful ‘villanous heroes’ in Jane Austen like Willoughby and Wickham and I think Oli Wade Owen is in a similar mode although not quite as bad, I like to think!  He finds it very easy to attract the ladies but he doesn’t always treat them well whereas Adam Craig is much more like Mr Darcy or Edward Ferrars – he doesn’t find it easy to speak his mind but he cares desperately about the heroine and has a good heart.

And, on a shallow note,  who would you rather spend a romantic weekend with between Captain Wentworth and Mr Darcy?

Oh, don’t make me choose!  Oh, all right then – it would have to be Mr Darcy because he is the ultimate hero, isn’t he? 

Victoria Connelly at Chawton Cottage 
What’s next in your  Austen-inspired writing trail, after “A Weekend with Mr Darcy” and Dreaming of Mr Darcy"?

The third book in the trilogy is  Mr Darcy Forever  which is available on Kindle in the UK now and comes out in the US in paperback in April.  It’s about two estranged sisters who meet again during the famous Jane Austen festival in Bath.  This is the novel which is most closely linked to an Austen one because I wanted to explore the relationship between two very different sisters.  Oh, and there’s a love story between a young woman and a much older man.  Can you guess which Austen novel I was inspired by? Some of the characters from the first two books also make an appearance!
I’m also writing a Christmas novella sequel to the trilogy in which all the main characters from the three books meet at a special festive Jane Austen conference at Purley Hall in Hampshire.  It will be available on Kindle in time for Christmas 2012 so do watch out for that too!  

We'll watch out for every new title from you, of course. Thanks  a lot,  Victoria,  for visiting My Jane Austen Book Club once again. Good luck to you and your "Dreaming of Mr Darcy"! 

P.S. to readers:  Want more chances to win? 
                                      Here are some other Dreaming of Mr. Darcy giveaways!

Friday, 20 January 2012


This novel was a pleasant surprise in its originality, a newly written story planned and narrated following Jane Austen's style, wit and sharpness with intelligence and talent. Not a sequel nor a prequel, not a spin-off, none of the protagonists or characters are taken from Austen's major six, nonetheless Merits and Mercenaries does take readers back to those charming atmospheres and plunges them into the dynamics and manners of the society Austen herself so brilliantly depicted. What is remarkable is the skillful echoing of Jane Austen's wit and irony through refined diction and detailed research.
Merits and Mercenaries is the first published novel in an ambitious and promising project of seven,  called The Bath Novels of Lady A. ,  defined as  Regaustenian  . 
I was intrigued as soon as I started reading the Preface to the novel itself, which is a smart fictional connection between Jane  Austen's biography and the so-called Bath novels. It relates the mysterious story of how fortuitously Cassandra Austen came to own a series of manuscripts after her beloved sister's death - seven "dissidents" which quite differed from the perfect published major six - and why she decided to leave them to a person Jane trusted and love, Miss Anne Sharp. 
The tales are so tacitly attributed to the"devil" of Jane Austen's quill but written by a lady , who doesn't reveal her identity,  but in her thorough and creative tribute to that genius demonstrates great love and respect.
The plot develops between Hampshire and London  following the pursuit of love and self-discovery of trusty and admirable protagonsits such as Mr William Halford - as honorable as handsome and of excellent breeding - and Miss Katherine Huntley - intelligent, beautiful and truly generous young woman.  Their path to the fullfilment of their wishes will not only be full of menaces from unscrupled villains but also made hard by their own praiseworthy principles,  which will turn themselves  into obstacles and delay the two young lovers happy ending.
Vividly written villains crowd the tale and make the comedy in it become often drama. The opposition of good and evil is, of course,  the main contrast leading the thread of the events but there are others very Austenesque clashes: the country and the town, duty and love, comfort and poverty, appearance and reality, sense and sensibility. 
Amusing  and  well-written, I'm glad to add Merits and Mercenaries to my "Austenesque Reads" shelf .

Read also 

Politics & Polemics / The Arch ‘A’ in Austen. Guestpost by Lady A.



Thanks to Lauren Gilbert for writing an very interesting article about health at Jane Austen's time for My Jane Austen Book Club and thanks to all of you who contributed to the discussion leaving their comments. Among those commenters, I've just picked up the name of the winner of Lauren's Heyerwood. My congratulations to...


If you haven't done it yet, read Lauren Gilbert's FLU SEASON IN JANE AUSTEN'S TIME

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Maria Grace has just released her first book (kindle and paperback) and is here to introduce you herself, her love for Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and her "Darcy's Decision" . Read her piece, leave your comments or questions , don't forget to add your e-mail address in order to get the chance to win a paperback copy if you live in the US continental or an e-book if you live in the rest of the world (please, specify in your comment). The giveaway ends on January 25th.

“As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. … I was spoilt by my parents, who, … allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own.”—Fitzwilliam Darcy,  Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

This particular line always fascinated me. It gave so much insight as to who Darcy is, but it also begs the question: What is to be done with a man like Fitzwilliam Darcy? One who knows better but does not know how to do better? After much consideration, it came to me—you give him a mentor! So that’s exactly what I did. We meet them both in ‘Darcy’s Decision, the first volume of the Given Good Principles series. The tale is not so much a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but rather a reimagining of what the story might have been if our hero (and in the second volume, our heroine) had the opportunity to learn how to live up to the standards they had been taught and to follow them from the beginning. Our beloved characters remain true to their essentials while they make different and arguably better decisions throughout.

Ah, but you must ask, since much of the conflict in the original story came from Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice, would there be a story left to tell if those things were dealt with before our dear couple meet? The short answer is yes, I promise there is quite a story to be told. It begins even before Darcy is born. John Bradley, long-time friend and advisor of George and Lady Anne Darcy, isa man whose wisdom is hard won, refined in the fires of personal tragedy. He stood by the elder Darcys through their good times and bad and is committed to do the same for their son. He does not lecture Darcy, but rather challenges him not to settle for the status quo, to reach for a higher standard.

Not surprisingly, the task of managing Pemberley is enough to awaken Darcy’s deepest insecurities. His Aunt Catherine and Uncle Matlock provide no help and little encouragement. So he turns to Bradley as he tries to fill his father’s shoes. An alternate version of Georgiana’s near disaster at Ramsgate and the surprising revelations that follow rattle Darcy to the core and force him to confront dark family secrets that nearly destroyed his father. The question is,of course: will Darcy be the man his father was, or will he succeed in reaching for more?

While Darcy faces his challenges, Elizabeth, too, must confront uncomfortable truths in the soon coming sequel, ‘Darcy’s Helpmate.’ I have to confess, I loved exploring their characters through the course of these tales and I hope you will enjoy it too.
Maria Grace
The Author 

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful.
 She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six cats, seven Regency-era fiction projects and notes for eight more writing projects in progress. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.
 The Book

Six months after his father's passing, Fitzwilliam Darcy still finds solace in his morning reflections at his parents' graves. Only in the quiet solitude of the churchyard does he indulge his grief. None but his unlikely mentor recognize the heartache and insecurity plaguing him as he shoulders the enormous burden of being Master of Pemberley.
Not all are pleased with his choice of advisor. Lady Catherine complains Darcy  allows him too much influence. Lord Matlock argues, "Who is he to question the God-appointed social order?" But the compassionate wisdom Darcy finds in his counselor keeps him returning for guidance even though it causes him to doubt everything he has been taught.
In the midst of his struggles to reinvent himself, his school chum, Charles Bingley, arrives. Darcy hopes the visit will offer some respite from the uproar in his life. Instead of relief, Darcy discovers his father's darkest secret  staring him in the face. Pushed to his limits, Darcy must overcome the issues that ruined his father and, with his friends and mentor at his side, restore his tarnished birthright.
Maria Grace can be contacted at: author.MariaGrace@gmail.comYou can find her profile on Facebook  facebook.com/AuthorMariaGrace or visit her website at AuthorMariaGrace.com.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Have you ever read my paper The Everything Austen Daily? It is one of the over 400,000 paperlis published everyday,   it  focuses on anything Austen-related and is made up of the any good news I can find online via twitter, facebook, blogs, google alerts, my blogmates. Paper.li blog features a periodical event called The People Behind the Papers and today's guest is ... YOURS TRULY! ME!

Can you believe it? They wanted to interview ME. Thanks to Liz Wilson, staff writer for Paper.li, freelance writer and editor for contacting me and writing this interview. If you want to have a look, I'd be glad to meet you there. The questions are mainly on my interest in everything Austen and everything English, my daily paper, my avatar, my blogging experience, my readers. I hope you'll enjoy it and ... retweet! 

Friday, 13 January 2012


My guest today is Lauren Gilbert, a member of The Jane Austen Society of North America and the author of Heyerwood, a Regency Novel. Read her post about Flu Season at Jane Austen's Time, and welcome her at My Jane Austen Book Club! If you live in the US or Canada, you can enter a giveaway contest to win the hardback cover book of Heyerwood. To be entered you have to leave your comment or a question for Lauren and add your e-mail address.

Here we are in the depths of winter.  We all know someone who has it, has recovered from it, or is trying hard not to get it.  What might “it” be?  That miserable cold, the awful flu, whatever it is that is going around.  Interestingly enough, it was all going around in Jane Austen’s time, too.  However, the seriousness of the winter ailments and their effects in the late 18th and early 19th century is frequently forgotten or overlooked today.
In the early part of the 19th century, medicine had improved dramatically.  Superstition was waning-people no longer believed that the ruler’s touch could heal a form of tubercular infection called scrofula (or “King’s Evil”).  Bathing was becoming more common.  Vaccination with the cowpox vaccine was making inroads on that dreaded scourge, smallpox.  However, bleeding, laudanum and bathing in or drinking spa waters were still standby treatments for many illnesses. 

Mrs Bennet always complains for her poor nerves and health - Pride & Prejudice 1995

Two of the winter ailments in Jane Austen’s time were the “epidemic cold” and the “putrid sore throat.”  The epidemic cold appears to be basically the same as it is today; a virus resulting in sneezing, sore throat, coughing, slight fever, and so forth.   It would appear that the standard treatment was staying in, keeping warm, and getting plenty of rest, as it is today.  (It must be noted that the stricture to get plenty of rest would have been reinforced with a few drops of laudanum, if necessary, in Jane’s day!)

Jane Bennet is sick in bed and Elizabeth, her sister, takes care of her (Pride and Prejudice, 2005)

The second ailment, the “putrid sore throat,” was much more serious, indeed life threatening.  This term appears to cover a variety of ailments, all manifesting in the throat.  At its most basic, a putrid sore throat seems to be a sore throat complicated by serious infection resulting in any or all of these: accumulation of pus, ulceration and sloughing of soft tissue at the back of the throat, and even gangrene.  In trying to identify this illness with modern diseases, it has been linked to tonsillitis, diphtheria, bronchitis, and even a form of streptococcal throat infection, as well as scarlatina or scarlet fever, and possibly measles.  Obviously, this would be a very painful condition.  Scarlet fever, measles, diphtheria, and strep are also quite contagious.  It is also worth noting that all of these conditions frequently resulted in death or disability, such as damage to the heart.   While most are considered childhood diseases, adults can also contract these illnesses.  Lacking knowledge of germs, bacteria and other microorganisms, as well as the issues of sepsis, these conditions could sweep through a household (or a neighborhood), creating havoc if not outright death. 

Diphtheria produces fever and weakness, and causes the formation of a thick gray membrane in the throat, causing difficulty breathing and swallowing.  Scarlet fever and scarlatina result from infection with type A strep bacteria, and are characterized by a fever, sore throat, and a bright red rash; there is also flushing from high fever.  Tonsillitis is the inflammation of tonsils resulting from infection by a virus or bacteria, with symptoms including fever and sore throat; if the result of a bacterial infection, this can be contagious.  Measles also manifest with fever, sore throat, a rash. 

Colonel Brandon rescues Marianne - She will lie in bed sick for days (Sense & Sensibility 1995)

The similarities of the symptoms of these diseases, as well as the fact that they were all common in Jane’s time, make the question of pinning down an exact definition of what disease constituted a putrid sore throat very difficult.  The real issue is the lack of modern medical treatment, some of which evolved later in the 19th century, made treatment very difficult, infection hard to contain, and recovery as much a matter of luck and a good constitution as anything else.  The discovery of how disease spreads, improved vaccination for more diseases, and antibiotics have drastically reduced, if not eliminated, these conditions today, and the resulting damage that these conditions can cause, which include heart damage, blindness, deafness, and even brain damage from an uncontrolled high fever.    Thanks to modern medicine, our concept of “flu season” is much more an uncomfortable inconvenience; in Jane Austen’s time, it was truly a major threat.

Lauren Gilbert
“18th Century Medicine.”  Life in the 18th Century.  http://www.local histories.org/18thcent.html (viewed 12/29/2011)
19th Century Diseases.  http://logicmgmt.com/1876/overview/medicine/diseases.htm (viewed 12/29/2011)
Bader, Ted, “Mr. Woodhouse is not a Hypochondriac!” PERSUASIONS On-Line, V. 21 , No. 2 (Summer 2000).  http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol21no2/bader.html.  (viewed 12/29/2011)
“Health and Medicine in the 19th Century,”  LIFE IN THE 19th CENTURY.  http://www.localhistories.org/19thcent.html   (viewed 12/29/2011)
Landers, John.  DEATH AND THE METROPOLIS Studies in the Demographic History of London, 1670-1830.  Cambridge Books On-Line.  The Autumn Diseases and the ‘putrid sore throat’ pp. 363-364.  http://ebooks.cambridge.org  viewed 12/29/2011
MedicineNet.com, http://www.medicinenet.com (viewed 1/82012)
Rudy’s List of Archaic Medical Terms.  http;//www.antiquusmorbus.com/English/EnglishP.htm  (viewed 12/29/2011)

The author

An avid reader, Lauren Gilbert has always dreamed of writing books, and has written all her life. She enjoys non-fiction (especially history) and fiction alike. Favorite authors include James Thomas Flexner, Alison Weir, Diana Gabaldon, Dorothy Sayers and, of course, Jane Austen. Lauren is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and has delivered presentations for chapter meetings, as well as a break-out session at the recent JASNA Annual General Meeting. Now semi-retired after a career spanning almost 30 years, HEYERWOOD: A Novel is her first published novel. Another novel and a non-fiction work are in process. Lauren Gilbert lives in Florida with her husband

The book and the giveaway

Power. Romance. Destiny. Step into Lauren Gilbert's Heyerwood and discover the journey of a young woman navigating the trials of Late Regency England: an arranged marriage, family, and love. A fairytale to delight austen fans, history buffs, and romance lovers alike, Heyerwood: A novel touches the heart.

If you live in the US or Canada, leave your comment or a question for Lauren Gilbert, add your e-mail address and get a chance to win a hardcover version of this intriguing Regency novel. The giveaway contest ends on January 20th when the winner is announced. Good luck!
- Lauren Gilbert's Website: http://www.heyerwood.com

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Ava Farmer is a fictious nom de plume of Sandy Lerner, a successful business woman, the founder of a large technology company and a small grunge cosmetics company. She  now spends her time contemplating cow and the scourge which is industrialized, chemical agriculture and she love it!  She is also the author of a now-obsolete dictionary of terms related to digital music, and the translator/editor of an old book on carriage driving.  None of the above qualifies her to write this novel, but she hopes you will buy it anyway as all profits from her Second Impressions go to The Chawton House Library, a non-profit resource for the study of English women’s writing to support students and research of women writers, pre-1830, writing in English, world-wide.

The book
Written in the idiom of Austen’s time, Second Impressions is a story of the Darcy family, their friends, and relations.  It has been ten years’ time since that happiest of days when Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters.  What does Elizabeth do all day at Pemberly? Has Lady Catherine been allowed to visit? Have Mr. and Mrs. Wickham become, as Jane Bennet predicted, steady and rational? What about England’s most eligible daughter, Georgiana Darcy? Even Anne de Bourgh has a life after P&P.
With the Great French War over and peace come, at least, what doesEnglandlook like in the late Regency? Is there a place for Austen’s heroes and heroines in anEnglandgreatly changed by industrializations, a new elite of fortunes made in trade, and reformist politics? It may be safely conjectured that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are settled and happy, as are Jane and her Bingley, Austen left the protagonists finished and complete (or are they?), but there are other characters, other lives, and other loves to explore.

The author

To know more about Ava Farmer (aka Sandy Lerner) watch this video from Fox News or this one below from the Morgan Library.

Remember, if you buy Second Impressions, you help  The Chawton House Library!

You can meet the author Wednesday, January 25, 2012  Time: 5:30 PM–7:30 PM 
 Virginia Shop at The Library of Virginia 

Saturday, 7 January 2012


Her AUSTENTATIOUS is going to be released on January 31st (see countdown widget in the sidebar on the right) in the USA and today Alyssa Goodnight is here to meet us at My Jane Austen Book Club. She's going to share her favourite Austen quotes. We expect lots of others from you. Choose your best favourite and write it in your comment. Don't forget your e-mail address to enter the giveaway contest of a signed paperback copy of AUSTENTATIOUS! The giveaway is open internationally and ends on January 31st when the book is out! And now, enjoy Alyssa's guestpost!

We are all familiar with the famous first line of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowleged, that a single man, in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." It has been quoted, tweaked, reused, and generally adored by Jane Austen fans everywhere. For good reason. In that one sentence, an important theme of the book is established, as is Ms. Austen's rather cheeky brand of eloquence, wit, and sarcasm. It defines for us, so perfectly, our beloved Pride & Prejudice. But this one exquisite quote does not, by any means, stand on its own as a measure of the wit of Jane Austen. There are a plethora of utterly quotable quotes from Jane's six published novels, not to mention her letters and diaries. And the majority of them still have relevance today.

My novel AUSTENTATIOUS is not a retelling of any of Austen's works, nor is it a sequel. It is a contemporary spin-off, imagining that Jane Austen's spunky spirit remains (not so difficult to believe, is it?), and that she isn't quite done with match-making yet. The story revolves around a magical journal that simply can't keep its opinions to itself. As the story progresses and the interactions between the protagonist, Nicola, and the journal start to escalate, Fairy Jane moves beyond the confines of the journal to affect other aspects of Nicola's life.

 For instance, she starts to mess with the Jane Austen Quote-A-Day calendar sitting on the kitchen counter. Rather than let pass an opportunity to make her point, and possibly influence her 'charge,' Fairy Jane switches things up a bit, magically altering the daily quote to fit her purposes. And they do--fit her purposes (and mine), that is. Jane's wisdom continues to be relevant two hundred years later.

Right after Nicola discovers the journal and its evidently magical properties (which she doesn't yet believe in), she glances at the calendar to find:

“Sense will always have attractions for me.” Sense and Sensibility
When her journal hints that she'll be meeting someone new, the calendar reads,
“Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.” Northanger Abbey
When she's fighting against the impossibility of it all, she gets,
“Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.” Emma
And when she persists in being close-minded about her magical journal with resident literary darling, she gets,
“Better be without sense than misapply it as you do.” Emma
(which just happens to be one of my absolute favorites...)

These are just a few of several, and I have to admit, I had the best time rummaging through Jane's writings to find the most sensible, witty, relevant quotes. Perhaps not surprisingly, given what we know of Jane, there are an extraordinary number of snippets to be had in the collection of her writings. Including them in AUSTENTATIOUS, via the Quote-A-Day calendar, made her spirit come alive even more, particularly as Nicola is such a Jane Austen fan and already very familiar Jane's style and flair. I think the quotes help make an arguably unbelievable situation easier to accept and more fun too. I hope you agree!

What about you? Do you have a favorite Austen quote? Please share!

Alyssa Goodnight
The Book

What happens when an eighteenth century literary darling magically pops up in the weirdest city in Texas? Magic and weird collide in AUSTENTATIOUS, the story of Nicola James, a left-brainer with a Jane Austen obsession and a carefully finessed life plan. A plan that doesn’t include an enchanted journal or an interfering fairy godmother, who just might be the spirit of Jane Austen herself.

When Nicola discovers her journal entries mysteriously whittled down to a cheeky bit of commentary on her life, she’s freaked first, skeptical second, and finally downright curious. She can’t help but keep writing, dueling really, with a two-dimensional fairy godmother she doesn’t totally believe in. Soon, the witty little notes start coming true, screwing with her plans, her head, and her life, and nudging her towards an impossible—and impossibly seductive—romance with a man who’s inarguably wrong for her. Nicola’s torn, trapped between a life that makes sense and a man who doesn’t, with “Fairy Jane” wedged in the middle, relentlessly rooting for another “Mr. Darcy”.

The Author

Alyssa has lived in Austin, Texas, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, worked in the semiconductor industry (just like Nicola), and experienced the weird. She has not owned a magical journal or ever bandied words with the spirit of Jane Austen, but she's relish the opportunity! She currently lives between Houston and Galveston with her husband, two sons, and their adventure dog, Indiana Jones. She does her writing with an ice-cold can of Dr. Pepper and her reading with cake whenever possible. She is dutifully working on her next novel while dreaming of the day that she finds herself conscripted into a flash mob dance. (This just happened!! You can watch on her blog!)

Friday, 6 January 2012


If you think of Regency and the Novel of Manners, the first name that comes to your mind is Jane Austen. What happens if you think of contemporary murder mystery novels? P.D. James is one of the first names that you recall. What happens if you put the two iconic names together? Death comes to Pemberley, of course. I mean you expect  a crime must someway take place somewhere in the otherwise-too-peaceful Regency world of Jane Austen.
This is what P.D. James’s skill and experience imagined and crafted  in her new novel, which is a tribute to one of her favourite authors, a myth, Jane Austen. In  Death Comes To Pemberley she blends her knowledge of the fields of prosecution processes and murder investigations with her fondness for Jane Austen’s world. She weaves a gripping mystery and the resulting detective story is  thrilling.  She adds  a sensitive insight to the successful and happy marriage of the Darcys -Elizabeth Bennet and Fitwilliam Darcy -  now shadowed by a murder occurred in their lands.

The year is 1803, Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for 6 years now. They have two handsome and healthy sons, Jane and Bingley live within 17 miles, they are hosting their annual autumn ball  and the secure life at Pemberley seems unassailable. But their peace and happiness is threatened just on the eve of the great event: in the middle of the night a chaise appears, docking down the path from the woodland and Lydia Wickam, an uninvited  and most unwelcome guest, tumbles out screaming that her dear Mr Wickham has been murdered. Old sins and misunderstandings are rekindled. Darcy and Elizabeth will be involved in a murder case and will strive to defend  the reputation of their family and the tranquillity of their life.

Is there any space for romance? Little but, yes, of course. Miss Georgiana Darcy is sought-after by two suitors:  Colonel Fitzwilliam - now the heir  of the title and fortune of his family after his elder brother’s death - and young Alveston, a successful lawyer but also the heir of an ancient baronetcy . Who will she marry in the end? 
As for love, may Wickham reckless love life - even as a married man - be included? The answer may well be, “no, it should not”,  but that scoundrel’s extramarital affairs will be crucial in this story in order to understand the reasons of the crime at the heart of Death Comes to Pemberley.

But remember,  as usual,  in a murder mystery  nothing is what it seems at first.

What’s new respect to Jane Austen in this novel inspired to her Pride and Prejudice and set in the Regency era?

-          Detailed information about the law and the arrangement of a prosecution process in that period
-   Constant reference to the historical background  (the Napoleonic wars, the resulting economic depression)
-      The world of the servants (their thoughts, their feelings,  the strives in their poor lives were totally absent in Austen)
-        Irony and wit are only occasional. The tone is typical of a serious investigation.

You needn't be an expert  Austenite or  know  Pride and Prejudice by heart  to appreciate PD James’s new novel, there are constant flashbacks and additions explaining the background of the characters introduced.  However, if you are an Austenite you’ll enjoy Ms James’s tribute to our beloved author and you’ll be glad to recognize characters from other of her novels (Emma and Persuasion) peeping out here and there in the story.

Thanks to Faber & Faber UK for providing my review copy. 

Take a look at my previous post about this book with author video interview