Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review - Miss Darcy Falls in Love by Sharon Lathan

An intimate journey of love, life, and the passionate pursuit of happiness.

Noble young ladies were expected to play an instrument, but societal restrictions would have chafed for Georgiana Darcy, an accomplished musician.

Her tour of Europe draws the reader into the musical life of the day, and a riveting love story of a young woman learning to direct her destiny and understand her own heart.

*          *          *

Warning: A few plot spoilers are included in this review.

Earlier this year I enjoyed Sharon Lathan’s The Trouble with Mr. Darcy, Book 5 in the Darcy Saga.  Within that installment is a brief reference to Georgiana Darcy’s romantic escapades while away in Europe, setting up the premise for the next book in the series, Miss Darcy Falls in Love.  I was excited about the concept and looked forward to the title’s fall 2011 release.

My expectations were more than realized in this delightful novel. For this Janeite and musician, there was much for me to admire and enjoy within the story and the structure itself.  Georgiana has always been a favorite character, and I loved how Sharon handled her journey. She mingled Miss Darcy’s love of music, her character traits as a Darcy and her desire for matrimony perfectly. 

The chemistry between Georgiana and her love interest, Sebastian Butler is just wonderful.  I loved how they began their relationship as friends, sharing a common spiritual faith and passion for music as well.  My husband and I began in a similar way, meeting in the Baptist Student Union in college, enjoying friendship and sharing music together, long before romantic notions were held.  I’ve long held the belief that faith and friendship are essential foundations to any lasting marriage, and these elements are definitely a part of Georgiana and Sebastian’s budding relationship.

Of course, one of the main obstacles that the couple must face is that of a competing suitor, the charming Lord Caxton. While certainly not the best choice for Georgiana, I liked the fact that Caxton was not an out-and-out rogue or wicked individual. I suppose Georgiana learned her lesson with Wickham years before, although there is little to no mention of him at all here. She probably would not have entertained Caxton at all if he were such a man.  However, his looks, charm, propriety and desirability made him an attractive prospect for a time, and provided interesting tension in the story line.

Miss Darcy Falls in Love fits into that delectable category of books that make me stay up late reading, wanting to take in “just one more” chapter before heading to bed much too late in the evening (or wee hours of the morning).  If it were not for some family travel obligations in mid-November, I probably would have been reading it at all moments of the day as well.  I truly enjoyed Sharon’s characters and their musical and romantic journey together.

I’ve mentioned in past reviews that author Sharon Lathan will sometimes put too many details of intimacy in her stories.  While Miss Darcy Falls in Love does have a short dream sequence and a lengthy wedding night scene, the rest of the novel is relatively chaste in its details.  And even with the steamy passages, they are within the confines of marriage, both dreamed and realized. Once again I appreciate Lathan’s portrait of marital intimacy, making the marriage bed as attractive as other authors have made the beds of unmarried lovers.

For whatever reason, Georgiana Darcy has always been a favorite character of mine.  Sharon Lathan’s characterization of her is spot-on, and I love the infusing of music and faith within her story.  I have not read all of Sharon’s work, but thus far Miss Darcy Falls in Love is my favorite of her titles.  It’s incredibly romantic, enjoyable and a delightful addition to the Darcy Saga.  While I’m sure that Lathan will return her gaze to Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy once again, I hope she also reserves another book or two for the delightful Georgiana.

During this holiday season, I also highly recommend A Darcy Christmas, which includes Sharon Lathan as a contributing author.  These short stories would make a wonderful gift to yourself or a fellow Janeite!  Click here to read my review from October of last year.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review Part 3 - Jane Austen Made Me Do It by Laurel Ann Nattress, Editor

Recently the lovely Laurel Ann Nattress stopped by The Calico Critic to introduce her new project, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Austenesque short stories.  I've now had the opportunity to read this collection, and in conjunction with Laurel Ann's post, I've been sharing some brief impressions of each entry.  As there are 22 shorts, the review is broken up into three separate posts.  Today is Part 3.  The other portions can be found here:

After your visit here, be sure and check out the book's website, JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com!

*          *          *

“Jane Austen’s Cat” by Diana Birchall

During the summer of 1813, Jane Austen was in the midst of writing her beloved novels.  She is visited by family members, including her niece Caroline, who adores cats.  The feline-allergic Jane is gracious toward Caroline's cat, Tyger.  She also agrees to spin some fun prose and verses for her niece, using aspects of her novels to characterize feline characters.  Diana Birchall's writing was well done, but I wasn't overly impressed with this tale.

“Me and Mr. Darcy, Again…” by Alexandra Potter

Years ago I bought Alexandra Potter's book, Me and Mr. Darcy, but to this day I haven't read it.  This short story seems to be a sequel, following up with Emily four years later.  While the story's concept is completely implausible, I totally bought into it and had a fun ride. I'm now looking forward to Me and Mr. Darcy even more!

“What Would Austen Do?” by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Young James is the son of a serious Janeite, who manages to get her 14 year-old to take a country dance class at the local community center. He begins his time there as a scoffing, obliging teenager and comes out a young man transformed.  Authors Jane and Caitlen accurately capture the mindset and vernacular of James' generation and give plenty of Austenian nuggets for us fans to enjoy.  This one was lighthearted, modern and sweet.  It has increased my desire to read their novel, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter , which has been on my TBR list for some time.

“The Riding Habit” by Pamela Aidan

My first Pamela Aidan read, "The Riding Habit" was enjoyable. Aidan's characterizations were spot-on, and there was even a moment of peril that I found quite interesting.  My only reservation is that it seemed to be too large of a story for the format.  Or maybe I was enjoying myself so much, I didn't want it to end!

“The Love Letter” by Brenna Aubrey

Knowing this short story was from the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest winner, I was skeptical that it would be a memorable one.  Much to my delight, new author Brenna Aubrey has written a delightful piece, drawing heavily from themes found in her favorite Austen novel, Persuasion.  "The Love Letter" was well done, and had me fully engaged, even up to the last moments.  Of the short stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It that are set in contemporary times, this one is my favorite by far.  I'm thrilled to read that Aubrey is working on a full-length novel. 

Stop by Brenna's site and see what others are saying about this debut author.  She was so nice to include my comments on her work.

“The Chase” by Carrie Bebris

Apparently based upon actual events, "The Chase" recounts the exploits of Jane Austen's seafaring brother, Francis.  While at times exciting and well-written throughout, this episode eventually came off as more of a history lesson for me, rather than an entertainment piece. It was nice to learn a bit about Captain Austen, but ultimately I can't say it was my favorite.

“Intolerable Stupidity” by Laurie Viera Rigler

Laurie Viera Rigler's contribution to Jane Austen Made Me Do It is inventive, quirky, and markedly different from the other entries in this anthology.  We find Lady Catherine De Bourgh presiding as a judge in a fictitious court.  It seems that those on trial are the filmmakers of the BBC's 1995 rendition of Pride and Prejudice, as well as the other incarnations, derivations and sequels to Jane Austen's work.  Rigler makes an interesting statement regarding those who object to all of the Austenesque material that's been produced in recent years.  There's also a bit of a romance brewing between the two main lawyers.  I found this one to be a bit odd. It's not my favorite of all the entries, but it was interesting.

*          *          *

And that's the collection!  Twenty-two tales, giving the reader new perspectives on all things Jane Austen.  While every story wasn't a home-run for me, overall I highly enjoyed this anthology and would recommend it to anyone. My hope is that this volume does so well, Laurel Ann Nattress is able to secure a contract for a follow-up, with more short stories from some of the many Austenesque authors in the market today.  Kara Louise, Sharon Lathan, Jack Caldwell, Mary Simonsen, Marsha Altman are just a few authors who come to mind.  Might I suggest the title?  Jane Austen Made Me Do It Again!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review Part 2 - Jane Austen Made Me Do It by Laurel Ann Nattress, Editor

Recently the lovely Laurel Ann Nattress stopped by The Calico Critic to introduce her new project, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Austenesque short stories.  I've now had the opportunity to read this collection, and in conjunction with Laurel Ann's post, I'd like to share some brief impressions of each entry.  As there are 22 shorts, I'm going to break this review up into three separate posts.  Today is Part 2.  The other portions can be found here:

Thanks for reading, and congratulations to Monica Perry, who won our Jane Austen Made Me Do It giveaway!

*          *          *

“When Only a Darcy Will Do” by Beth Patillo

A couple of years ago I read Jane Austen Ruined My Life and found it to be a light, enjoyable read.  Beth Patillo's contribution to JAMMDI has similar features. It's light, romantic, based in modern day but with a bit of Austen sensibility.  I enjoyed the characters in this morsel and found myself rooting for them, even after a short time. It's fun to think there could be Darcys in disguise all about us.

“Heard of You” by Margaret C. Sullivan

Margaret C. Sullivan offers a prequel to Persuasion, with Captain Wentworth telling the story of how his sister and Admiral Croft met. I found this one to be well written, interesting, and believable for Austen's characters.  Ms. Sullivan seems to be well-versed on the inner workings of 19th century naval life.  This is another of those that could easily be drawn out into a full novel.  I'm glad to be introduced to Ms. Sullivan's work. This was highly enjoyable, and possibly my favorite of the period-set shorts.

“The Ghostwriter” by Elizabeth Aston

I'm all for imaginary plot devices, but I wasn't bowled over by this one.  I didn't like the characters, I wasn't able to suspend belief for the story's concept, and I found it uninteresting.  I'm sure Elizabeth Aston has written well in the past, but in this case I felt as if she didn't bring her A-game.

“Mr. Bennet Meets His Match” by Amanda Grange

I've always wanted to read a Pride and Prejudice prequel which features the courtship of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. How did this sedate reader become matched with the girl who would become a high strung mother of four? Amanda Grange's story is well written and sweet. But ultimately it left me wanting more with Mrs. Bennet. There was no hint to the tightly-wound personality that was to come. Overall, it was a nice tale, but with that one reservation.

“Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” By Janet Mullany

Set in England in 1964, this story follows the afternoon of Julie Morton, school teacher. She and some students discuss the characters of Sense and Sensibility and how they might compare to the Beatles, who were all the rage at that time.  Julie also finds herself reevaluating her relationship with her boyfriend. I found this story to be mildly interesting, but fairly forgettable.

“Letters to Lydia” by Maya Slater

"Letters to Lydia" is a new perspective on some of the events of Pride and Prejudice, written from the perspective of Maria Lucas through unidirectional letters to Lydia Bennet. Through Maria's poorly-written reports and inquiries, she shares the hidden goings-on of Lydia, Darcy, Lizzie and others.  I wasn't very impressed with this one, although I found the concept for the presentation to be interesting.

“The Mysterious Closet: A Tale” by Myretta Robens

Cathy Fullerton, a 29 year-old editor from Boston goes on a vacation in a gloomy part of England, in an old abbey, a la Northanger Abbey.  While she participates in some usual tourist activities in the area, within her bedroom she has a bit of a supernatural encounter.  She questions her sanity a bit, but ultimately the occurrences come to bear on real life.  I found this one to be well written and enjoyable, although I found the end to be a bit surprising, abrupt and odd.

*          *          *

 Come back soon for the final installment of my review!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review Part 1 - Jane Austen Made Me Do It by Laurel Ann Nattress, Editor

Recently the lovely Laurel Ann Nattress stopped by The Calico Critic to introduce her new project, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Austenesque short stories.  I've now had the opportunity to read this collection, and in conjunction with Laurel Ann's post and book giveaway, I'd like to share some brief impressions of each entry.  As there are 22 shorts, I'm going to break this review up into three separate posts, starting today and in future entries.  The other portions can be found here:

*          *          *

“Jane Austen’s Nightmare” by Syrie James

It’s 1815, just before the publication of Jane Austen’s Emma.  She has an extremely vivid dream, wherein she encounters several of the characters of her novels.  Many are very dissatisfied with how they were conceived and developed in her work. Others are completely content and thankful for their treatments.  After waking, Jane is inspired to create characters for her next book who are somewhat different from others in the past. I found the premise of Syrie’s story to be interesting, but wasn’t bowled over by it.

“Waiting” by Jane Odiwe

“Waiting” is a bit of a postscript to Persuasion. The day after Captain Wentworth’s and Anne’s meeting on Union Street, he goes to her father to ask for the Baronet’s blessing upon their engagement.  Anne also recalls moments from years before when she and Wentworth first met.  This short story is as well written as Ms. Odiwe’s other works, some of which I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  I hope she considers writing more speculative fiction based upon Persuasion.

“A Night at Northanger” by Lauren Willig

Cate is an assistant investigator on a cheesy television program called Ghost Trekkers. Her production team visits Northanger Abbey to produce one of their usual smoke-and-mirrors ghost programs.  She’s unhappy in her job, which she pursued due to a crush on one of the other members of the team.  While at the abbey, she has a paranormal experience that helps her reevaluate her life.  Willig’s story takes a little while to get going, and there’s a bit of colorful language.  I enjoyed the second half better than the first.

“Jane and the Gentleman Rogue” by Stephanie Barron

It’s the spring of 1805, and Jane Austen is acquainted with a Gentleman Rogue.  He becomes involved in thwarting a bit of conspiracy and espionage, and Jane is a witness to much of the goings-on.  This is my first exposure to the work of Stephanie Barron.  While I have never been very interested in the many Jane Austen mysteries that are in the market, I was impressed with her writing and did enjoy this little piece of intrigue.

“Faux Jane” by F. J. Meier

Penned by a husband and wife team, "Faux Jane" also involves a husband and wife, as well as a suspicious first edition of Pride and Prejudice.  I'm not going to bother summarizing this one.  I didn't enjoy it, found it hard to follow and was glad to move on.

“Nothing Less Than Fairy-Land” by Monica Fairview

This follow-up to Jane Austen’s Emma encounters the titular character in the early days of her marriage to Mr. Knightley.  Things are not as smooth they could be, as George has agreed to come live in Emma’s home, along with her father.  This produces an interesting environment, as Emma must balance the priorities and desires of both her father and that of her husband.  And despite the discouragement of her spouse, Emma still desires to play the matchmaker with others in the community.  Author Monica Fairview has crafted a nice episode here. As I have in the past, I enjoyed her writing and look forward to reading more of her in the future.

“Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane” by Adriana Trigiani

This short work from Adriana Trigiani is a letter written by Jane Austen to her niece, but set in the modern day.  In it she encourages young Anna as they celebrate her engagement to a young man named Declan.  She offers advice and hopes for her niece as she embarks on a new chapter in a life.  It’s evident that Trigiani has done her biographical homework on Austen, but I wasn’t overly impressed with this one.

“Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss” by Jo Beverley

Set in Regency England, this yuletide tale centers around the Carsholt family, who live near the Austens in Chawton.  Elinor is a 35 year-old widow who longs to be married again, but feels that she is too old for any decent prospects.  Her 16 year-old daughter has discovered Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and seems to be taking on some of the novelist’s romantic notions about marriage. Mrs. Carsholt worries about the care of her family, but also about the care of her daughter’s heart, which could be easily broken if she expects every man to be a Mr. Darcy.  As the end of the widow’s mourning period comes to a close during the holidays, the simple hanging of mistletoe could be the beginning of something wonderful. 

I’ve been unfamiliar with the work of Jo Beverley, but after reading this delightful short story, I am sure to seek out some of her novels in the future.  Her submission is well written in the Regency style and perfect to read at this time of year. 

*          *          *

Come back soon for my next post on Jane Austen Made Me Do It, where I'll continue to offer brief thoughts on the short stories within this delightful collection.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Review: Fortune's Son by Emery Lee

Love is the ultimate gamble…

Seasoned gambler Philip Drake knows every trick and uses most of them. After years of infamy, he’s ready to accept the mantle of respectability with his earldom— until a devastating racing loss and the threat of debtors’ prison force Philip right back into his gaming ways…

Susannah, Lady Messingham, is a woman with a past who refuses to belong to any man again. But Philip’s skill catches her eye and she persuades him to teach her how to win at the tables. Their new partnership turns into an exhilarating high-stakes game that entangles them in terrifying risk and unimaginable rewards…

Immerse yourself in the risky side of Georgian England with a pair of lovers who aren’t afraid to risk it all on a toss of the dice…

*          *          *
Warning:  This review contains a few minor spoilers

In the spring of 2010 I had the pleasure of reading The Highest Stakes, a delightful equestrian-themed novel by Emery Lee. I was also honored when she offered the very first guest post for The Calico Critic.  When I heard she’d published another novel and was given the opportunity to review it, I jumped at the chance. 

While my reading interest in recent years has heavily favored novels with romantic themes, I try to stay away from cheap, tawdry “bodice rippers”, as I term them.   I do enjoy a good love story, but there must be more to a book than passionate embraces and yearning looks.  Plot choices, character development and originality are important factors, and graphic sex scenes are a drawback in my estimation. 

So imagine my disappointed surprise when Emery Lee’s next work, Fortune's Son arrived in my mailbox, presented in cover art more befitting a throwaway novel found in the back of a used bookstore.  I know one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the image of a half-dressed English lord caressing a fuchsia-clad damsel was enough to send my eyes rolling back into their sockets.  Surely the author of The Highest Stakes is above this kind of marketing!  Despite my extreme distaste, I set to work on the story, but not before I covered the images on the front and spine of the book in an effort to forget them (and to shield them from my children).

I must say it took me a while to move beyond my biased mentality while reading Fortune’s Son.  The opening scene features bawdy gentlemen comparing the assets of their female acquaintances. Main characters Susannah and Philip end up in a lingering lip-lock upon their first meeting. Scandalous and colorful creatures pop up in nearly every chapter.  One scene became so pagan and carnal in its nature, I nearly put the book down before the episode was redeemed by Phillip Drake’s virtuous actions.

About midway through the novel, things began to settle a bit and I was able to see beyond the contaminating cover art.  Emery Lee has retained her excellent writing style, doing her homework on the Georgian period’s social customs and exhibiting her knowledge of betting tables, cards and other games of chance.  Much like her knowledge of the horsing world, she shows her readers the excitements and pitfalls of gambling and risking one’s fortune with Lady Luck.  Her story became more about her characters and their fates and not just about passions and their fulfillments.

Ultimately, Fortune’s Son was above the cover art that was chosen for its binding.  I cannot say that it was my favorite book of the year, but I’m pleased that the story proved to be better than I’d expected.  I still keep Emery Lee as an admired author, and I hope Fortune’s Son is not only popular enough to justify further printings (and therefore would have the chance to be repackaged), but also enough to land Ms. Lee another writing contract.  I hold out hope to enjoy her next novel.

*          *          *

I'm not able to host book giveaways as often as I'd like, mostly because of the cost involved in shipping.  I also do not believe in selling or profiting from the distribution of advanced copies (ARCs).  If you'd like to have my ARC of Fortune's Son, feel free to contact me.  If you will cover the cost of shipping, I'd be happy to send it to you at no additional charge.  This paragraph will be removed from this post if such an arrangement is reached.


"True vice, my lady, would frighten us all, if it did not wear the mask of virtue."  (p.56) 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Contest Winner Announcement - The Royal Giveaway

Congratulations to Crystal Trent Dotson, winner of our Royal Giveaway!  She chose a lovely necklace and bracelet from Jewels by Jenn, and her Down the Long Wind trilogy is on the way as well.  Thanks to all who entered, and be sure to check out Jewels by Jenn as you're considering your holiday gifts!

Jewels by Jenn

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Book Review: Triple Dog Dare Devotional by Jeremy V. Jones

Dinner - Tuna Surprise!
In recent weeks, I've been making a concerted effort to have home-cooked meals for dinner, with everyone eating together at the table.  In years past it's been a challenge, as my husband frequently has an odd work schedule as a pilot, and my two boys have had many extracurricular activities that have kept us from the dinner table.  Meals have frequently been eaten on the fly, in shifts and at odd hours. After moving to Georgia a few months ago, we now have a cleaner slate than before.  So on nights when my husband is home, I like to have dinners together as a family. And in addition to this, we’ve been reading family devotionals as well.

A devotional book we’ve been using lately is Triple Dog Dare by Jeremy V. Jones.  This book offers a year of dynamic devotions, aimed at boys ages 9 and up.  While my younger son is only 6 years old, I thought he would still enjoy these reflections almost as my elder son, age 11.

Many devotional books begin with January 1st and run through December 31st, but this one follows a numbered weekly format, beginning with Week 1 and running through Week 52. The weekday devotions follow a particular layout, and the weekend entries offer something slightly different.  This gives flexibility in the use of this book regardless of what year you’re reading it, but as we started it in mid-October, it took a bit of calculating to figure out which entry would be the one to begin with.  The start of the book really is for January, as it references a “new year”, and the Christmas holidays are mentioned in the latter weeks as well.  So readers should be prepared to calculate which week they are in before beginning.

From author Jeremy V. Jones, here’s a description of how the book is structured:

Every weekday of the year you get…
  • one Bible verse or passage.
  • some short thoughts about a real-life situation or connection to God.
  • three Triple Dog Dares – ideas to put the theme into action.
  • Two Mission Accomplished questions so you can write down your results from yesterday’s dares.

Each weekend you get something a little different.

  • Make Triple Dog Tracks sections give ideas to make something cool, like a movie, comic strip, life list, or Noah’s ark out of Legos.
  • From the Triple Dog Pound sections deliver short stories about guys in the Bible who accomplished God’s Triple Dog Dares—plus ideas of how you can do the same.

As we’ve been going through the Triple Dog Dare devotions, my boys have been enjoying them.  I have my elder son read the Bible verses at the beginning, and I read the rest of the devotion while the boys are eating.  Then we discuss ideas, if the boys have anything to say (sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t).  Jeremy has a lighthearted, fun approach to the Christian faith, and he especially takes an interest in faith in action, encouraging readers to apply what they’ve learned to their daily lives and to come back and chronicle those events within blank, lined spaces in the devotional.

My only quibble with the book comes in the first entry (which would be January 2, 2012 if reading it soon).  Jones opens with a paragraph that’s designed to “wake up” his young readers, addressing irritations that middle-grade students may have with the church:

“Are you bored with the Bible?  Does church put you to sleep?  Do you think Christians are wimps? Do you feel like following Jesus is only about following rules? Then it’s time to wake up.”

I understand that Jones is reaching out to kids who are struggling with these issues, but given the current age and experience of my boys, they don’t have many of those thoughts in their heads yet.  I would allow that they might agree that church can be boring for them, but I don’t need a devotional book validating these notions or implanting them, even though it’s ultimately decrying them.  This January entry has caused me to read over the devotionals quickly before sharing them with my boys, just in case.  So far none others have raised any concern, however.  The Triple Dog Dare entries are fun and really do offer a platform to applying our faith to our everyday lives.

Despite my one, minor hesitation with the book, I do recommend this title to parents and loved ones of pre-teen and young teenage boys.  In this day and age, I feel it’s incredibly important to help kids see that the Christian faith should not be about religion, but it should be about a vibrant relationship that affects every decision we make.  I tell my son Matthew all the time—one day he’s going to be on his own, and his faith in Christ should not be just about what Mommy and Daddy told him.  He needs to believe it for himself, and act it out through Christ living in him, not because we’re looking over his shoulder.  The world is already offering him so many false reasons to disregard what we believe.  I applaud Jeremy V. Jones’ work in showing kids God’s love for us and in our world at large.  If our children can come away with that message tucked into their hearts, they will be very blessed indeed.

*          *          *

For your next sit-down dinner with your family, I recommend the Tuna Surprise pictured above.  It's easy to make and quite delicious.  Check out the video and recipe on Rachael Ray's site:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Blog Tour and Giveaway

Welcome to the next stop in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It blog tour!  Today The Calico Critic is honored to have our guest, Laurel Ann Nattress.  She is the editor of this delightful anthology of Austenesque short stories and the talented woman behind the blog Austenprose.com.  She's put some thoughts together for us today, reflecting on the many themes and styles within this collection.  Don't forget to enter to win a copy for yourself as well!

*          *          *

How to Give Loose to Your Fancy:
(Or, the recipe to Jane Austen Made Me Do It)

Hi Laura, thanks again for hosting me here at The Calico Critic during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. On first perusing your review list, you appear a very eclectic reader, but I do see a common thread throughout your reviews – historical fiction with a strong romance. Right? From Georgette Heyer to Abigail Reynolds to Gillian Bradshaw, every book you have read and reviewed here I would love to read too (and some I have). I trust your judgment implicitly.

When I was thinking about the mix of stories that I wanted in my short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, I wanted readers to have a variety of genres and emotional experiences – from romance to comedy to irony – so I encouraged my twenty-four authors to visit Austen’s novels, characters and philosophies on life and love as an overall unifying theme. The stories could be set in any era or genre and should be approximately 5000 words in length. I was very flexible and open to any and all of their ideas.

"[S]uppose as much as you chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford," Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 60

Austen has many qualities as a writer that I admire, but I am particularly fond of her characterization, acerbic wit and the tension that she creates within the love story. Even though it has been two hundred years since her first novel was published, we can still identify with the struggles of social acceptance, financial freedom and a happy union of attraction, situation and temper that her heroines and heroes face and ultimately overcome. For me, Austen succeeds as writer because she creates heroines that I can relate to and admire, honorable heroes that I can fall in love with and a reproving social commentary that allows me to laugh at the folly and nonsense of human nature and culture.

As I encouraged my authors to give “loose to your fancy” I was all anticipation of what would develop. From historical to contemporary the stories were as varied in their style as their authors. Amazingly, the final combination would end up equally balanced with historical and contemporary tales. The genres chosen were always a surprise. Some of the authors Like Amanda Grange (Mr. Darcy’s Diary), Jane Odiwe (Lydia Bennet’s Story) and Monica Fairview (The Other Mr. Darcy) continued in their known historical fiction vein with “Mr. Bennet Meets His Match,” “Waiting,” and “Nothing Less Than Fairy-land,” presenting side stories of minor characters from Austen original novel, or back stories offering more depth or continuations of the lives of the characters after Jane Austen’s novel had closed. These were all comfort food to me and played off well with some of the surprises that arrived. Mother/daughter team Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway (Lady Vernon and Her Daughter) jumped from historical to contemporary young adult story in the humorous “What Would Austen Do?,” Janet Mullany (Jane and the Damned) took a sharp right turn from Jane Austen as a vampire to a contemporary story of a teacher using Sense and Sensibility and the Beatles to reach her students in 1964 England, Lauren Willig’s “A Night at Northanger” parodies Austen’s parody of Gothic fiction,  Northanger Abbey, with a spoof on a ghost hunter television show and a young lady visited by the ghost of a very familiar specter.

From Regency to contemporary, romantic to fantastical, each of the twenty-two stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It reaffirms the incomparable influence of Jane Austen on writers over the past two hundred years. My objective was to honor and entertain. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I had editing it.

Cheer, Laurel Ann

*          *          *

Editor bio:

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966

Giveaway of
Jane Austen Made Me Do It

**Contest Closed**

Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by November 22nd, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on November 23rd. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!

More Contest Details
  • Entries accepted until 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011.
  • After the winner is announced and contacted, they must supply a US or Canadian mailing address for prize shipment.  
  • Prize will be mailed through Laurel Ann Nattress.
  • Make sure your comment includes your email address. If you'd rather not have your email posted here, you may contact me directly to give me that information after you've entered here.
  • I will contact the winner on Wednesday the 23rd.  Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message. (CalicoCritic@gmail.com) You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • More information on the giveaway policies can be found on the Contact / Policies page.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Blog Tour Schedule: 

And while you're here, check out my other giveaways!


Related Posts with Thumbnails