Friday, 27 December 2013


Book Introduction for ‘Twelfth Night at Longbourn’

Given Good Principles started as a three part series that explores what Jane Austen’s’ Pride and Prejudice’ might have looked like if Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice no longer played a central role in their relationship. For both, mentors and situations provide opportunities for reflection and growth, making them very different people when they meet. Our beloved characters remain true to their essentials while they make different and arguably better decisions throughout.

I thought I was finished after Vol 3, All the Appearance of Goodness, but the characters did not agree. In the editing process, Kitty Bennet’s story ended up cut out of the finished version, and apparently she did not like that. She would not leave me alone until I gave her a share in the conversation.

Bu even then, she was a difficult muse, stubborn and disobedient. I had to start to book over not once but five different times before she was satisfied enough to let me finish.  And even then, she would not let me see the end of the story until we got there. She took me on twists and turns that I did not expect, right up until the ending.

Monday, 16 December 2013


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

I read my first Austen novel at age 12, so 3/4 of my life has been impacted by her humor and sense of proper romance. I've aspired to her sly but gentle wit, looked to her for fashion sense, held strong to the romantic ideal of marriage for love alone, and above all, let Jane Austen guide my writing and reading.

What is a story without richly drawn characters and abiding passion? Nothing.
What kind of book would have action without thought, marriage without love, and society without a healthy dose of humor? Dry and boring.
In the end, even my career has been impacted by Jane. I aspire to writing the sort of witty romance than has one laughing, then sighing with satisfaction at the ending.
Mary Jane / Virginia


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

 Without Jane Austen, I would not have learned to laugh at myself as I do now. I would not remember Emma’s eponymous heroine when I am being a know-it-all. I would not realize I am Sense and Sensibility’s Marianne when I am being a drama queen. And I would not know that while I might walk into a party wishing to be Elizabeth Bennet, a wishwon’t always prevent me from being Fanny Price.

Without Jane Austen, I would not have gone to Bath to see where Anne Elliot sent subtexts to Captain Wentworth. I would not have learned English country dance to see why being “fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.”And I would never, in a million years, have done so in costume.

Without Jane Austen, I would not understand how children could want the same stories read to them countless times. I would not have believed I would read Persuasiontwenty-five times. And spent nearly as many hours with Austen’s other five novels. For without Jane Austen, I would never have experienced the deeply satisfying and always novel glimpses into her ever-unfolding brilliance.

Laurie Viera Rigler


The Power of Jane Austen

Sometimes I wish I had a time machine.

If I had one, I would right the wrongs of history and one of those trips would be to a small cottage in Chawton.

After I park my DeLorean (yes, I would build a time machine out of one, gotta travel in style), I would race up to the door on my hover skateboard.

I wouldn’t show Jane books or movies or TV shows or anything like that. I wouldn’t even hand her a copy of my book. No, I would just tell her about how at her little desk she had inspired millions upon millions of readers and writers like myself. And for generations she has defined the idea of love and a perfect marriage.

For me, discovering her books was a delightful surprise and without her, I would not be the writer (and reader) I am today. Because I can see that alternative universe of what my life and writing would be like without her and I know it wouldn’t be pretty. There would be a lot less heart, a lot less love. Finding her stories was my density… I mean my destiny. Yes, I am a better author and better man because of her.


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

Ever since I was very young, one of my favourite things has been to curl up on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon with my Mum to watch a Jane Austen adaptation on the television. As soon as she thought I was old enough, my Mum bought me a beautiful collection of hand-bound novels and these still remain some of the most loved books sitting on our shelf - they were of course the complete works of Jane Austen.

It seemed only fitting, therefore, when my husband Noel and I decided to adapt a novel for the stage, that this should be an Austen. As this was to be our very first production for our brand new theatre company, we needed an author whose stories we could trust, not just for their dramatic content, but also for their brilliantly drawn characters. The wonderful Jane provided us with both of these and adapting Northanger Abbey was a complete joy.

So what would my life have been like without Jane Austen? Well, we certainly wouldn't have such a successful first production, it is an adaptation we will always be immensely proud of, mostly because we hardly had to change a word. The incomparable Jane had done it all for us!


This is a strange and almost dark place to go, thinking of life without Austen. For me, she was the first woman author anthropologist who was sodeft at showcasing her findings amusingly that at first you may miss the lessons! I have also found some comfort by reading that people are stillvery much the same as they always were. And if that is true, it is easier to mentally sort out things in today’s world.

Life without Austen would have likely meant my staying in the Victorian section for novels and Elizabethan section for biographies. Oh dear, but it’s true! You can find yourself in a rut.


To celebrate Jane Austen's birthday Endeavour Press are putting Maggie Lane's fascinating ebook, Jane Austen and Food, on a free promotion for five days (16 - 20 Dec). 

Learn about dining customs and the type of food popular in the Regency era

What does food represent in Jane Austen's fiction? And how does she use it to comment on her characters? Why is it so appropriate that the scene of Emma's disgrace should be a picnic, and how do the different styles of housekeeping in Mansfield Park relate to the social issues of the time?


What would my life have been without Jane Austen? Regina Jeffers answers: 

If Jane Austen had not quietly crept into my world when I was but twelve, I would have developed a liking for Edith Wharton, and a recent New Yorker article summed it that possibility: “Nobody Likes Edith Wharton.” In 1929, Janet Flanner described Wharton as: “On the whole she finds herself living in a generation in which conversation is lost. She is a dignified little woman set down in the middle of her past. She says that to the greener growths of her day, she must seem like a taffeta sofa under a gas-lit chandelier. Certainly she is old-fashioned in that she reserves her magnanimity for special occasions. In belief she is still nothing of an iconoclast but has become liberal through reflection.”
 Now, I ask you what kind of role model would that have been for an impressionable young girl, who was inflicted at birth with the “Cinderella” gene? A girl who craves her “Happily Ever After”? I prefer my characters to learn to love intelligently, as well as to have the weak and the powerless protected by a formal code of behavior. I also prefer the “sound” of Austen’s slightly biting voice in my head rather than the sound of wealth and disdain found in Wharton’s novels. I was raised on the ideals of duty to society, the want for education and extensive reading, religious seriousness, and the need for manners. I required an author who would speak to those issues and provide them importance. So, without Austen, I would go to sleep with images of Selden discovering Lily’s overdosed body or of Zeena tending to Mattie after Ethan Frome’s death. I am much more inclined toward the delicious Mr. Darcy, the honorable Captain Wentworth, and excessively understanding Mr. Knightley to the “reality” of Wharton’s works. In truth, there is already too much reality in my life; I require my HEA to know hope for a brighter tomorrow. That is Jane Austen’s place in my life.


 “What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?” 

I can't imagine a life without Jane Austen. She is the reason that I am now a full-time author. It was when I was visiting her cottage in Hampshire a few years ago that I came up with the idea of writing a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts - with each book set in a beautiful Austen location. Before I'd even finished writing the first story, I'd been offered my first book deal in the US and, since then, my books have been published in the UK, Russia and Finland. It's so exciting.
As well as the writing, there are the friends I have made through researching my books and attending events like the Jane Austen Festival in Bath and holidaying with 'Pride and Prejudice Tours'. Austen addicts have to be the nicest people in the world!
And, on a personal level, her novels have enriched my life in so many ways - they are beautiful love stories told with warmth and humour and I never tire of rereading them and watching the gorgeous film adaptations. I am truly an Austen addict!


“What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?” 

Life without Jane Austen wouldn't be nearly as cozy, charming, witty, or wry. Technology is wonderful, but it comes at a price. Jane lets us remember a time when precious minutes were set aside to pen a heartfelt letter. A time when afternoon tea was a quiet, daily ritual. A time when a visit from the right gentleman was a thrill and his fleeting smile the stuff of young ladies' daydreams. Jane wrote of romance and love and trust, and all the nuances of getting it right versus getting it wrong. She wrote happily ever afters, full of wit and laughter and hope. In short, Jane wrote of all the best things, and I delight in visiting the world she created as much as possible. The influence of Jane's continued popularity in our modern world can only be a good thing.



What would our lives have been like without Jane Austen?
This is an interesting question because I can’t imagine the answer. Separating Jane Austen from my life would require a “what if” reaching so far back into my childhood that I don’t think I’d recognize my own story.

I first read Pride and Prejudice in the eighth grade and fell in love with Austen’s stories, her style… everything. I raced through her novels and then found myself basing reading choices on their similarity to her works, time period, style etc. I even remember, during my high school English AP exam, eschewing the question our teacher had anticipated and prepped simply because another question asked about Pride and Prejudice and I couldn’t help myself. So off I went… I don’t remember my score on that test.

And then the movies started rolling in and Austen more fully gripped our imaginations. I have definitely seen them all and when I was injured in 2009, I found her again. While most people bring friends flowers in the hospital, mine brought me books. I left my three-day stay with over 30 new titles, but all I wanted was to spend time with Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse and Anne Elliot. I started reading… And as I did, a character formed in my head, but not one who would fit comfortably in Austen’s world.


What would your life had been without Jane Austen? 

How my life would be different with out Jane Austen ... Without Jane Austen to guide me towards the path of moral rectitude, I'm not sure I would have become a person whom I could respect. She entered my life when I was in a period of ambivalence and despondency. Without the good examples of Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood, I would probably have grown into a resentful adult, burdened with an unproductive and self-defeating sense of entitlement. Instead, I learned to accept my burdens with grace and continuously strive to be a better person than I currently am. Thank you, my dear Miss Austen, for setting me on the correct path, and a very happy birthday to you!  




    As a survivor of domestic violence I was raised in a rough home with rough words and rougher people. I played basketball and lifted weights as some feeble attempt to be strong and not be feel worthless.  As an athlete you learn to walk hard move hard and make yourself large. So you can imagine as a jock and latchkey kid, what a Jane Austen novel would represent to me. 
  I inherited the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice and put it in on a day NOTHING looked good in my VCR collection. I put it on and was whisked away to soft spoken women wrapped in floral words and gentle men.  It woke in me the longing for something more. More than just the wrong side of the rainbow.  
Jasmine Kyle
I craved tea,  gentle conversations,  gardens and the never ending pursuit of good company.  As a child I would look at my mother and say "There has to be something more than this" and here it was waltzing away on my television. 

    So you ask me what my life would be like with out Jane Austen?  I would still be on the other side of the rainbow locked in a gray box hardening my self for a world that didn't have to be that way. 


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?  

Since I’ve spent the last eleven years eating, drinking and sleeping Jane Austen, I hardly know how to begin to answer this question. I wouldn’t be writing, at least not for anyone else to see, if it weren’t for Jane Austen’s inspiration and the community of fans who love her. I never would have thought I had any particular talent for writing stories.

For my first forty years, Jane’s influence wasn’t as obvious, but it was there. As a teenager, her books were the first classics I read where I didn’t trudge my way through them out of a sense of obligation. Her characters came alive for me in a way others didn’t. I could see something of myself in them. She influenced the college I chose, a fiercely academic one stuffed with odd traditions like placing flowers at the feet of a statue of Athena for luck before an exam and extravagant May Day celebrations. Something about the place also drew Jane Austen fans, and for the first time in my life, I met other people who loved her books as much as I did.  It was like uncovering buried treasure. Would it have been the same to meet other people who loved Shakespeare or Tolstoy? I don’t think so. There’s something about Jane Austen that draws people together.


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

Jane Austen's novels have brought so much joy into my life and helped me enrich the lives of thousands of others! My stage adaptation of Pride & Prejudice has performed to tens of thousands of people across the UK, and the experience of sitting in a packed auditorium listening to the delighted laughter of audiences across the country, and feeling the hearts of all those present being touched by Jane Austen's beautiful observations and moving love stories - that has been so memorable and life enhancing. When I collaborated on the adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, I wondered if it could match the experience, but thanks to some fantastic performances, especially from Jonathan Cecil as Mr Woodhouse, it was also a wonderful production. Seeing the response to her novels on stage in No. 1 theatres makes you realise just what an outstanding writer she is; her brilliant creation of characters, her exploration of relationships and her witty social observations which still speak to us so powerfully today,   


“What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?” 

An interesting question! It would have been very different, that much is certain! I first discovered Jane Austen when I was about 13. I used to go to my local library every week and one day I found a book called Pride and Prejudice. I knew nothing about the book, but from page one I was hooked. I loved the witty banter and the characters. As the book progressed, I loved the romance  When it was finished, I couldn’t let Jane Austen go and I read all her other books.
Life moved on. I went to university then I became a teacher, and I often re-read Jane Austen’s novels. I fulfilled my ambition of becoming a published novelist, writing many Regency romances and then, one day, I decided to treat myself to a re-read of Pride and Prejudice. As I read it, I found myself wondering about Mr Darcy. What was he doing when he was off the page? What happened when he his sister was about to elope? How did he persuade Wickham to marry Lydia? And what was he thinking when he made that disastrous first proposal to Elizabeth?


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

When I was asked this question by Maria Grazia, who’s from Italy, I instantly thought that if I hadn’t met Austen, my world would probably be smaller. I used  to dislike romantic period novels, because I was full of prejudices, even though  my sister Almudena was totally in love with that Austen novel she was reading, called Pride and Prejudice. But time went by, and we watched a TV series with Colin Firth who I loved, and then, at school, I had to watch that film by Emma Thompson too. And I was really got and then, fell in love with the writer and her works.
My sister and I, along with other family members and friends, had fallen in love with Mr Darcy, Elizabeth and even Mr Collins. But Internet was happening around those years, and we started to meet “janeites” online through forums. Almudena and I thought that we had to share in a more active way, and we even designed a website, a bit rough in that moment. After this, we started to receive emails and signings in our guestbook every now and then...and you know, we were so happy, because we were making people happy.


What would my life have been without Jane Austen?

I sat down to answer this question, thinking it would take just a few minutes. That was before I started to really think about what it means, what it is really asking of me. I found that I had no easy answer.

The thought of not having read Jane Austen’s wonderful novels, of not knowing and loving Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliott, the Dashwood sisters and their beaus and more is beyond my comprehension, they are so much a part of me and who I am, not just as a writer but as a person.


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

Hard to imagine, really, but here goes with a list of what would been missing in my life if Jane Austen had not written her 6 novels:

I wouldn’t have…

1. … befriended an amazing group of women from our first weekend sharing Jane Austen 20 years ago… we continue to have at least once a year “Wild Women Weekends” to discuss our latest reads and to just connect – and it all started with Jane Austen…

2. … had the repeat enjoyment of reading her novels over and over, always discovering something new;

3. … encountered the likes of Mr. Collins, Mrs. Elton, Mary Crawford, Mrs. Bennet, the Wicked Villians, and the Dashing Heroes [well, except for Edmund…];

4. … appreciated the English language in quite the same way… the Wit, the Irony, that Free Indirect Discourse! – Who else does it quite like this! [well, after giving Shakespeare his just due…];

5. … read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and therefore would not have discovered Richard Armitage as John Thornton;


Life Without Austen
by J. Marie Croft

Imagine a time-traveler went back and changed a family tree
And prevented George Austen’s marriage to Cassandra Leigh.

They say we cannot possibly pine for something we never had.
If, in 1775, Jane Austen wasn’t born, we’d probably not be sad.

Her novels would be unwritten, and you know ignorance is bliss.
Generations would be utterly clueless and Emma just a miss.


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

I don’t want to think about how awful that would have been!
I’ve spent numerous hours immersed in all of her books, which have given me more pleasure than any other author on the planet. When I think back to when I first got a computer and had access to the internet, the first thing I wanted to look for, apart from finding old copies of Jane’s books, was information about Jane Austen. Oh, the joy of discovering websites, like the Republic of Pemberley, where like-minded people gathered in chat-rooms, and where I could browse for hours on all things Jane. And when blogger started, there was all the excitement of connecting with people from all over the world and sharing the love of this favourite author who has touched so many hearts and minds. Without Jane, I wouldn’t have friends overseas, and the greatest joy has been meeting so many of them, as well as writing to them.
If not for Jane, I doubt I would have become a published author. If not for Pride and Prejudice, I would not have wondered about how Lydia Bennet’s Story might have turned out, or thought about Georgiana’s eventual happiness in Mr Darcy’s Secret, or considered the possibility of time travel to meet Jane Austen at Steventon in Project Darcy. No Jane Austen would have meant no Sense and Sensibility, nor the fun of writing about Colonel Brandon holding his own for Marianne’s heart in Willoughby’s Return. To consider a world without Persuasion is impossible-would I have discovered Bath, a city I love, if I’d never read Jane’s wonderful novel?! And I should never have been able to have my heroine Sophie fall in love with Jane’s sailor brother in Searching for Captain Wentworth.


Without Jane Austen, I would not have become captivated by all things Pride and Prejudice – especially Austen’s literate language and Elizabeth Bennet’s enlightened lifestyle, both of which inspire me to be more thoughtful about the way I speak and live. Reading Pride and Prejudice attuned my ear to a more inventive and entertaining use of conversation; it also helped me see that everyday activities can be life enhancing – a walk in the woods or a quiet cup of tea with a friend. Reading Jane Austen reminds me to slow down … to choose my words carefully and to appreciate the simple pleasures that define my daily life.


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

I never would have met Colin Firth…

…at Madame Tussauds wax museum in London! And I never would have set one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever written with the waxen Firth in my just-released book UNDRESSING MR. DARCY. Nor would I have had the fun of writing about an English “Mr. Darcy” who travels to America to promote his book by taking off his historical clothing at Jane Austen festivals. Consequently my American heroine wouldn’t have run off to England chasing after him, and she never would have visited London, Chawton and Bath. I can’t imagine!

Really, if it weren’t for Jane Austen, I don’t think I would have had a lifelong crush on Mr. Darcy, Mr. Tilney, and England itself.

Bless you, Jane Austen on your 238th birthday! Your writing keeps inspiring, 200 years down the pea-gravel road!


What would my life have been without Jane Austen?

In thinking about how to answer this question, what came to mind first were the thingsI now had since first becoming acquainted with Jane Austen and her writings. She is the first author that struck such a harmonious chord in me that I can pick up any of her books, open it, and read, knowing I will love it no matter how long or how short the passage. I love her way with words, her characters, and have come to love the Regency era.
I have become acquainted with so many others who feel the same way. I have met several because of our mutual affection for this lady who lived 200 years ago. I have made new friends who live nearby, as well as those who live across the country. And there are many more (including Maria!) who live in other countries and whom I would love to meet!
And of course there is the path I began to tread in writing my own novels, something that I had a passing interest in earlier in my life, but never felt I could ever do. Now I have published eight!
To get back to the original question – what would my life have been without Jane Austen? Not having a Jane Austen community, perhaps I would have found another that captured my fancy(cat lovers maybe?). Or perhaps I would be up to my neck in crafts, as I used to do a lot of crafts before I began to write.
Some other things I wouldn’t have: my English Springer Spaniel named Reggie after the dog I wrote about in “Master Under Good Regulation;” half of the books I now own that pertain to Jane


What Would My Life Have Been Like Without Jane Austen? Less—my life would have been less, for a variety of reasons.

First of all, Jane Austen taught me the thrill of delayed gratification in fiction. I’m not saying she was the only author who made me wait for a satisfying ending to a story. But I believe she was the first author whose writing made the wait a joy rather than a chore. Her 18th Century sentence structure and vocabulary slowed my reading WAY down as I tried to parse her unfamiliar style. That slower pace meant I could watch Jane elicit nuances of character that were by turns amusing (the willful stubbornness of Emma Woodhouse) and delightful (the bright, sparkling wit of Elizabeth Bennet) and poignant (the dual natures of Mary and Henry Crawford) and moving (the agony and joy of Anne Eliot as she finds the life she truly wants.)

I first began reading Austen as a graduate student, and the frenetic pace of devouring journal articles for class work or in search of theories for literature reviews was wearing on me. Reading Jane was a fun way to step back from that for a while. Surprisingly though, I began to notice that the patience I’d developed by reading Austen was spilling over into my other reading—into my nonfiction reading. Then that patience began to show itself in my research writing too.

Many years later, when I began writing fiction, that lesson spilled over into my stories as well. And as any author knows, patience is the Big Virtue—the quality that carries you through to the end of writing a novel. Jane provided not only the lesson of patience, but she became a mentor of sorts while I dissected her characters and plots and extrapolated them into Austenesque stories set in other times and places.
So profound was her influence on me that I’m not sure I would have been an author without her, and that twist of fate made a huge difference in my life—it became the part of me that wasn’t defined by my work, or my friends, or my husband and children. It was a part of me that was truly my own.
If there had been no Jane Austen, I still could have had a happy life—a good one—but I can’t help but think that it might have been significantly…less. 


Austen in Boston has been existence since April 2010. We meet once a month (or occasionally more) to discuss Jane Austen, Jane Austen Fan Fiction, and sometimes authors/books that have nothing to do with Jane Austen! We meet in various locations in the Boston area. We have met on a harbor island (Civil War fort for "Gone with the Wind"), various parks from Easton to Salem, an Abbey twice, the World's End(a park in Hingham), we throw a wicked good Christmas/Jane Austen birthday bash, and local coffeehouses/restaurants. Some members attend JASNA MA meetings.   

From one of our founding members:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a world without Jane Austen is in want of an authoress who can properly represent the joining, nay the marriage of the heart and head of a man and a woman. How they meet, converse, hate, loathe, grow and change. How they dance, thrust and parry, bantering their way into love and marriage. And a world without Jane would mean a world without Darcy...God forbid!


If I’ve Told You Once…
The Importance of Jane Austen
By Linda Beutler, author, The Red Chrysanthemum

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you one hundred times…”* we would all be a lot less clever but for the innovative use of Regency slang by that undisputed goddess of English belles lettres, Jane Austen. With her irrepressible* spirit and elasticity* of mind, Jane set a new standard for—brace yourself*—common usage in the romance novel. What we assume are colorful turns of phrase that have always been at our disposal as fiction writers, came into being through the sculpted nib of this remarkable, if sober-looking* spinster. Jane Austen continues to be the excitor* (exciter in American English) of our imaginations as the obtrusive* old maid aunt with unmodulated* mirth and a love of pink-faced* shopboys*, forever on the gad* at fashionable watering-places*. So gather your fragmented* phrases and stand your chance* in the world of Jane Austen Fan Fiction, taking palliation* in the knowledge that dear Jane volunteered* to play high* with the language,  that her success might chaperon* generations of future scribes to greatness, or at least the ambition to it.
   If you don’t believe me, shut up*.
   So happy birthday, Dear Author, I look forward to your attendance at my next dinner-party*. Just ring the door-bell* and let yourself in.
*First coined by, attributed to, or used with a new connotation by Jane Austen. Information source, Oxford English Dictionary, online edition.


 I was late in discovering Jane Austen—I blame high school. Unlike Jane Austen, our English department thought it good to linger upon pens that dwelt upon guilt and misery, so I did not get to read Jane Austen in high school. I placed out of college English, so it was after grad school and three children that I discovered Jane Austen through Emma Thompson’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
After that, I devoured her works and wanted more, which led me into the realms of fan fiction. Consuming that at a break neck pace led me a step further, into rediscovering my own writing.
I started writing at nine years old and wrote six novels in high school. But college and life pulled me away from my early authorial dreams. Jane Austen helped me rediscover my fondest hope—to be a writer when I grew up.  I’m still not sure about the being grown up part, but I just released my fourth book—so I have and will continue to be a writer thanks to Jane Austen and the Austen community.
 Maria Grace


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

I can answer that question in one word: poorer, both literally and figuratively. Long before I became a writer of Jane Austen re-imaginings, I was devotee of her work. I first met Jane Austen while reading Pride and Prejudice in my senior high-school English class. Although required reading, I thought it was the best book I had ever read, and I kept looking around the class to see if everyone was as enthusiastic as I was. They weren’t, but I hope that has changed. (I once had a professor tell me that his favorite novel was Silas Marner: “It is a fantastic novel if you aren’t exposed to it too young.”) I am sure that was the same difficulty for my classmates who, at seventeen, were thinking of other things, like what to wear to the prom or getting their driver’s license.”


A Serene Place like Jane

Facebook, twitter,
cell phones bicker
Noises, images,
videos flicker
Streams of data
Flowing by
Everything happening
My, oh, my
No time to pause
No time to think
No time to fill your pen
With ink
Sound bites frommy life
come tumblingpast
Jumbled impressions
Nothing can last.


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen? 
My life is nothing at all as it was before I started immersing myself in Jane Austen’s novels. Because of Jane Austen’s legacy, I am an aspiring writer, and because I have effectively organized my life around my writing, I find myself asking the question every day of what would my life be if not for Jane Austen. I’d like to think my priorities have changed for the better. Even though I have long desired the freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it, I now work more hours than ever before. But, here's the thing: I love it.
I often say that I arrived late to the game, for my initial exposure to Jane Austen was in 2007. For the first time in my decidedly career-centric life, I saw the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film. Finding it too spellbinding for a single viewing, I watched it over and over again. I needed to know much more about the brooding hero. I then read the novel, along with several excellent 'what-if' books that told the story from Mr. Darcy's perspective. One day, I came across a link to the online Jane Austen fan fiction community. From that point on, my life has never been quite the same.
My love of Jane Austen and Jane Austen fan fiction rekindled my passion for writing and sharing stories, which was a favorite pastime when I was in high school. Then I went off to college and save an occasional poem, my writing passion faded. It would be several decades where writing and even reading held not the least bit of interest to me. Not that I didn’t read. Give me a technical manual or a financially themed book, and I would devour it cover to cover. I loved that sort of thing. I rarely allowed myself the time to read for pleasure. Even today, I have shelves of technical books (which I plan to


My mother was somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t a reader. I was a true tom boy, hanging by my knees from the swing set, climbing trees, playing ball, riding bikes. Sitting around reading seemed such a waste of time. In an attempt to change that mom gave me ‘Forever Amber’ by Kathleen Winsor. She thought I might like it because I enjoyed history. Set in Restoration England the book covered politics and fashion as well as the black plague and the Great London Fire.

I enjoyed Forever Amber but it didn’t really spark my interest in reading more. My mother’s next attempt came on my fifteenth birthday when she gave me a beautifully bound copy of ‘Pride and Prejudice’


What would your life have been without Jane Austen? 

I can honestly say that my life would be completely different if Jane Austen was not a part of it. I wouldn’t be a book blogger, for one, since I started just so I could review Austenesque novels (though I now review everything). Without my blog, I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people, some of whom have become good friends and many of whom share a common love of all things Jane Austen. Aside from blogging, Jane Austen has never failed to make me smile, even on the most difficult of days.
Trying to imagine my life without Jane Austen is like trying to imagine a life where I’m not me. She is directly to blame for my overly-developed romantic streak, my love of ballroom dancing and my obsession with polisyllabic words and flowery phrases. So many of my memories of the past seven years, since the first time I watched the Pride & Prejudice mini-series, have involved her works in some way. Mr. Darcy was my first love, and Captain Wentworth was my second, embodying all of the romantic ideals a teenage girl could wish for.
So, what would life be like without Jane Austen? Dull, very dull indeed. It hardly bears thinking of, don’t you agree?



If the ‘Men in Black’ popped in and zapped Jane Austen and her books out of my brain, it would be like having a large number of friends torn out of my address book, or unfriending me on Facebook. I’ve read her books so many times, her characters are real to me, like friends, relatives, or even annoying workmates or neighbours you can at least laugh at or gossip about. Though she’s very much of her time and class, Austen’s books are populated with people we can recognise in any age. And to lose my knowledge of her language, her use of comedy, beautifully crafted words of wisdom, that would be tragic indeed. For Jane herself is like a friend, who enjoys a goss about the people down the road, sees and enjoys absurdities, and the problems we all face - particularly women. It’s always good to re-read her novels and remember that ‘the past’ wasn’t all tight-laced Victorians, but that before them were the Georgians, lustier, earthier, despite their formal manners: cheeky, demanding, daring, sinful and knowing.


Are you ready for a great celebration? Jane Austen's 238th birthday deserves a really grand event so here we are, ready to enjoy the fun for 24 hours!  A real marathon filled with lovely guests and brilliant posts. Last but not least, you'll have the chance to win several amazing Austen - related prizes in a giveaway contest that will be running until December 23rd and will be open internationally.

I've asked quite a few Janeite friends to contribute their answer to a simple question: What would our lives have been like without Jane Austen? 

I hope you also want to contribute your own answer in the comments or if you prefer, just wish dear Jane your personal "Happy Birthday!". The more posts you comment,  the more chances you'll have to win one of the wonderful gifts in the rafflecopter form below. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


First of all Melanie, welcome to our online book club. Would you mind to introduce yourself to our readers?
Thank-you, I am thrilled to have this chance to talk with you. I am a long-time Austenite as well as a lawyer and a mother of two little boys. I make my own Regency costumes and force my friends to drink tea out of china cups.  I have just released my first novel, Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice.

Of course, my first question is:  “When was your first encounter with Jane Austen and how was that?
A friend gave me Pride and Prejudice in university, about 15 years ago. She had read it in a literature class and thought I would like it. She was right -  I couldn’t put it down. When I look back on it, I remember sort of imagining it in a modern setting, because I didn’t have any references for the aesthetic of the period. I hadn’t seen any of the movies and didn’t know what anything would have looked like. I have, over time, come to love all Jane Austen’s work, and to develop a fascination for the period, which is consistent with my lifelong love of petticoats and pastoral imagery, but my first encounter with Jane Austen didn’t involve any of that, and I loved it anyway.

Follies Past: A Prequel to Pride and Prejudice”  has just been released.  How would you invite our Janeite friends to grab their copy and read it in about 50 words?

Before Darcy came to Netherfield, refused to dance at Meryton or laid eyes on Elizabeth, he rescued his sister from certain peril at the hands of the infamous Mr. Wickham. This is that story, knitted together with characters and histories of my own invention and all told with love and reverence.

 What was your intent at rewriting Wickham and Georgiana’s story?

One of the great things about Jane Austen’s storytelling is the way she ties everything up into a deeply satisfying ending. We all want the books to go on and on, but extending the characters and the plot after the final chapter felt to me like interfering with that perfect ending. And it would all  have to be speculative. Nobody knows what happens after the close of a book, but Jane Austen herself tells

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Shot on occasion of the first event in the series Hidden Prologues at Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street, this video features Joanna Trollope. The English author analizes Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility after publishing a rewriting of the novel in a contemporary setting. Do you agree with her when she says that Sense and Sensibility  is about love but also about money? I do, honestly. What about her analysis of Marianne? Isn't it interesting? Marianne is a typically Romantic character and I agree with Ms Trollope when she recognizes Rousseau's influence in Austen's characterization of the younger Dashwood sister. But I don't want to give away too much.  Now it's time to watch the video. Looking forward to your comments. 

Read a chapter from Joanna Trollope's Sense and Sensibility

Debating The Austen Project (podcast)

Friday, 6 December 2013


Thanksgiving being later this year, the whole holiday season has seemed to just suddenly appear out of nowhere!  It hit me yesterday – attending first Sunday of advent services and coming home to open the inaugural box on that Advent calendar that has been sitting on my counter for weeks calling to me – that it’s time to break out the holiday cards and start baking and planning menus and decorations and renewing all the wonderful family traditions that this season brings.   If I close my eyes, I can smell the spice-laden kitchen and the welcome heat of the oven that receives a continually rotating array of goods for baking. 

Cookies are my specialty – I generally make anywhere from sixteen to twenty different varieties every year at this time, and I have a tradition for that as well.   I pore over my recipe files and books for a week or two, picking out the family favorites that simply must be made, and finding several more new ones to try.  Then I go through them all to make up a grocery list, purchase the supplies and spread them all out on my kitchen table within easy reach.   The measuring cups and spoons and whisks and mixers and all the paraphernalia of baking line up on the counter ready for duty.   I start on a Friday evening right after work, making up several different batches of dough that can be refrigerated for baking later.  Then I rinse out the mixing bowl to start on another right away.  Early on Saturday morning I am back at it, baking the previous night’s efforts while I make up more batches of dough.  The extra warmth of the kitchen at this time is always welcome.  And the smells – ah! the smells!  Chocolate, of course.  Cinnamon.  Raspberry jam.  Vanilla extract, and toasted almonds or hazelnuts. Coconut, and caramel and… sugar.  They all merge together into a welcoming balm that brings contentment even in the bustle of activity – aromatherapy at its best!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Dear readers of My Jane Austen Book Club,

I’m so delighted to be here and to share a bit about Dear Mr. Knightley. This story is the compilation of Samantha Moore’s letters to an anonymous sponsor (Mr. Knightley) who has awarded her a grant to journalism graduate school. And while Sam studies fact, she must lay down fiction – her hiding place.
While we love reading Pride and PrejudicePersuasionJane Eyre, Daddy Long Legs and other favorite classics, Sam lives within them. Growing up in the foster care system, Sam learned to avoid pain, strife and loneliness by “hiding” behind her best friends – Elizabeth Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, Jane Eyre... But now this habit is beginning to hurt her and others (as all hiding does), including another young foster kid, Kyle. And that shocks Sam – that she could be an adult who hurts a child.
So the journey begins… And we are invited along through Sam’s increasingly private letters to Mr. Knightley. And believe me, these letters take us on quite a ride. Nothing comes easily to Sam. She struggles to find her own voice, wondering if she has one at all. And the letters almost make us believe we’ve got a first person view to into her world, but we don’t. It’s even better. There’s a delicious layer we see that Sam can’t – there is what she is willing to tell Mr. Knightley, what she tries to withhold and how she interprets events – any or all of which can look to different to us than to her. The epistolary format allowed me to really explore Sam’s limited perspective and twist it about occasionally. I especially loved playing with Mr. Knightley’s anonymity, Josh’s subtle selfishness and Professor Muir’s feistiness.

Monday, 2 December 2013


Dear friends,

Jane Austen's birthday is coming soon, in two weeks,  and, as we did in the past few years, we would like to celebrate the occasion here at My Jane Austen Book Club. Let's  share our love and esteem for our beloved author! You are all invited.  Don't forget it, write it down in your agenda and, on 16 December, drop in from time to time: I'll be posting all day long.
You  readers will have the occasion to meet again old Janeite friends and,  maybe,  make new ones. Moreover,  there will be prizes to win in a great giveaway. Does it sound fun enough?

I've asked many friends to share their love answering  the question: "What would my life have been without Jane Austen"? 
I'll be the first to answer in a short post which will open the event at 0.01 a.m. GMT on Monday night, 16 December 2013.
Lots of other contributions will ensue for 24 hours,  along with a great giveaway contest that will end on 23 December and will be open internationally. Will you join us? Will  you answer the question yourself? You can do it in the comments you'll leave below the posts you'll like the most here at My Jane Austen Book Club or you can decide to post about the event on your own blog. Write to me if you want to join the fun or use our graphics on your site. 

I hope everything's clear but, if it isn't, just remember to stay tuned and check up My Jane Austen Book Club facebook page for updatings.

Credits to talented Cecilia Latella for the lovely banners of the event. She is also the designer of the graphics of my blog. Have a look at her page.