Sunday, 28 November 2010


I want to thank Maria Grazia for inviting me to contribute to her lovely site and also for this opportunity to introduce myself to you all.   My name is Karen V. Wasylowski and I am a new author; my first book, Darcy and Fitzwilliam is being published by Sourcebooks Landmark and will reach stores by February 1, 2011.
As a retired accountant now living in Florida, I had been busying my life with volunteer work, when, about five years ago, the seeds of a book began germinating within me during numerous viewings of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie.  God bless cable television - I love Pride and Prejudice.  I fell in love with Laurence Olivier when I first saw him as Darcy, then years later I fell madly in love again, with Colin Firth as mini-series Darcy.  By the end of 2005 – well you can guess the rest – non-stop viewing of Matthew Macfadyen’s movie Darcy.  Have Mercy.  Do you sense a trend here?   

My husband did.  He said, “You know, you should write something yourself.  You have read Pride and Prejudice so often and you own how many sequel books?  You always say you want to write, so start.  You can do it!”  God bless the man, I think he would have done or said anything to get the remote back and watch uninterrupted basketball for one night.  Twenty-seven viewings of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is far beyond the duty of any mortal man, and I salute him for it.  He is my Mr. Darcy.
So I began
The original version of my sequel was very serious.  Everyone was gazing at everyone else, there were harlots and wastrels and all the wonderful things that make your heart zoom and dip as you read.  But I wasn’t happy with it at all - I don’t do serious very well truth be told.  And Jane Austen herself was a hoot.  Who doesn’t appreciate that sly humor lurking everywhere within her writing, especially her earlier stories and letters?  How could it hurt to lighten up my story just a bit?  A joke slipped in somehow, then another.  

Now writing Darcy and Lizzy is very easy.  Those characters breathe and live on, I swear to it, are so well defined and iconic that they speak their own words, are so human that they lend themselves easily to both humor and drama.  Lady Catherine, however, was harder, rather imposing and dark – so I started playing with the character and found a lot of humor there, then on to her always sickly daughter, Anne.  For some reason Anne de Bourgh irritated me in the original book and in the movies.  I began to toy with poor ailing Anne like a cat with a bug.

At last the colonel arrived and everything went out of my control.  Now here was an underused character just waiting to be let loose.  He was described as a very amiable fellow – Lizzy loved his humor and enjoyed so much his visits.  Fitzwilliam grabbed my heart and ran away with it; I felt at times I was not writing the book - he was.
So, I hope you enjoy my first born.  Unable to let go of my boys as I call them I created a short video here below; about Darcy and Fitzwilliam and their friendship.  Thanks, again.
 You can find Karen also at
Darcy and Fitzilliam is due to release February 2011 
You can pre-order it at

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Alexa Adams is a fond Janeite and a kind blogger buddy. Have you visited her site? She writes a very original Austen-dedicated blog where you can find the right dose of Janeicillin! She has granted a copy of her First Impressions - A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice to one lucky commenter. Have you read  "Talking Jane Austen with Alexa Adams"?  Have you left your comments during the week? Let's see if you've been lucky enough to win ...


Sunday, 21 November 2010


First, I’d like to thank Maria for having me on both her Fly High blog and here on My Jane Austen Book Club.
I wish I could say I’ve always loved Jane Austen but the truth is my first introduction to her work was at school. I was 15 and we were doing Pride & Prejudice for ‘O’ level (which has given away my age.)
Although I’d always been a big reader, most of the literature what I’d read had been of the Enid Blyton and Alistair McLean variety. In fact, the only classic novel I can really recall reading prior to Pride & Prejudice was Tales of Mystery and Terror by Edgar Allan Poe.
Yet just two years later I’d devoured just about everything Jane Austen had ever written.
I have to thank two people for my ‘conversion’: my best friend (still my best friend and now a Waterstones manager) and my English teacher (sadly, now passed away.)
Don’t ask me why I didn’t love P&P on first reading: maybe simply because we were doing it for school. Luckily my best friend had adored the book and urged me to read it again.
I returned to Longbourne and Pemberley with an open mind and suddenly (yes, I have a lot of these epiphanies!) saw the wonder and joy that is P&P. 
I borrowed Persuasion from the school library and then read the rest of Jane’s novels, followed by her unfinished works and juvenilia. I started my ‘A’ level English Course in a fever of newly discovered passion for ‘literature.’ I got hold of the Brontes, Dracula, Shakespeare, Keats, and Tennyson...
I ended up studying English Language and Literature at Oxford University and my love of Jane Austen has never abated.
While P&P remains my favourite by a whisker, Persuasion is very close behind. One of my favourite scenes is the almost final one where Anne and Wentworth walk through the crowded streets of Bath, oblivious to the hullaballoo around them. I think that’s the closest Jane Austen ever got to lyricism.
I loved the way it was portrayed in the BBC Hinds/Root adaptation, with the circus and fire eaters dancing around Anne and Wentworth as the band music slowly fades and they finally have their moment of perfect happiness. 
I often wonder if my own writing has been influenced by Austen. On the face of it, no. I have a very contemporary style and I have to be careful not to read classics if I’m writing my own, or I inadvertently end up mimicking the style and having contemporary characters speaking like people from 200 years ago!
But interestingly when my current US release, Dating Mr December, was made into a Lifetime TV movie, 12 Men of Christmas, the writer (a Jane Austen fan too) must have seen a few P&P parallels in the structure and he ran with them. The film varies quite a lot from my book.  For instance, in my novel, there’s a ‘boardroom’ scene that would have been far too steamy for a family movie!
I was intrigued to see that in the film, the equivalent scene had echoes of the first proposal from P&P and that a Wickham type character had been introduced. There’s even a thread on imdb about the P&P influences in the film.

Funnily enough, I have written a teeny tiny piece of Austenalia for a book newsletter coming soon.

Can you remember your first introduction to Jane Austen and if it was love at first sight? 

Thursday, 18 November 2010


This week's guest on "Talking Jane Austen with ..." is author Alexa Adams. Her lovely "what if" re-writing of P&P is "First Impressions. A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice" which I read, loved (still love!) and reviewed here on My Jane Austen Book Club. You have the chance to win this delightful Austenesque read commenting Alexa's interview and leaving your e-mail address. The giveaway ends on November 24th and is open worldwide.

First of all the classic questions I ask every Janeite I meet: when did you first meet Jane Austen?
When I was twelve or thirteen, I’m not sure which, I found a copy of Northanger Abbey in an airport bookstore. I had recently read Evelina by Francis Burney (a book I chose because of the pretty dresses on the cover), and Jane Austen was mentioned in the introduction. After Northanger, I quickly read the rest of Austen’s novels, having a strong taste for historic romance at that age, but it wasn’t until I started rereading her books in my late teens that I really began to fathom the genius of the writer.

Did your perception of her work change over the years?
Completely.  On my second read through her novels, I picked up on the comic elements that had eluded me when I was younger, but at that time I was more interested in the highly dramatic works of Charlotte Bronte than in Austen’s realistic portrayals of human foibles. Then I reread Persuasion in a college course on Romantic literature and was completely overwhelmed by the book. The first chapter, in particular, still leaves me in total awe, it is so masterfully constructed. That experience compelled a third reread of  all the Austen novels, a ritual I have been regularly indulging in ever since.

What do you think are Austen’s “secret ingredients” for her success beyond time?         
Definitely her ability to accurately capture human idiosyncrasies. Her characters are amazingly real. We all know a John Thorpe, a Mr. Collins, a Mrs. Norris, and a Miss Bates, and Austen teaches us to not only to avoid their flaws, but also to be politely tolerant of such creatures through private laughter. Similarly, those of us smirking at such silly persons behind their backs, see our far more complex faults in her heroines and heroes, thereby inspiring us to do the hard work it takes to improve ourselves. Her creations are timeless because they are so truthful. Two hundred years might have passed since her novels were written, but humanity has changed very little.

What is your attitude to the many movie adaptations they’ve made over the years? Do you think they distorted what Austen actually meant in her novels?
It depends on the adaptation. I find something to enjoy in most of them, though many seem to overemphasise the romance while sacrificing the comic elements. I only have real complaints about those based on Mansfield Park. I do not care how talented the directors or adaptors may be, they are no Jane Austen, and I sincerely wish they would stop trying to “fix” Fanny Price by trying to turn her into something she clearly is not. I have a huge love of the older BBC adaptations, explicitly because they taken almost word for word directly from the novels (nobody ever did it better than Jane), but I believe that 1995 was the golden year of Austen adaptations. The versions of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion that were released that year are truly incredible.

What do you think has been neglected so far, despite the huge interest in everything  Austen?         
While I cannot deny that Pride and Prejudice is a masterpiece, I believe that all of Austen’s novels are magnificent and that each deserves equal attention. As indicated in my answer to the previous question, I would love to see a modern, accurate adaptation of Mansfield Park, as I wish that Northanger Abbey was more frequently portrayed in film. After Persuasion, Northanger Abbey is probably my favorite Austen novel, and it would be very gratifying if it got more attention in general. It is, in my opinion, Austen funniest novel, but fans seem so much more intent on romance than humor. For better or for worse, in the world of Jane Austen fan fiction, Pride and Prejudice is the money maker, and until booksellers find a way to successfully market novels without the words “Darcy” or “Pemberley” in the title, we will see very few books based on her other works.  
I love your creativity flourishing from your knowledge of and love for Jane Austen’s work. I’m thinking about your ... ehm ... desease? What you call “please-don't-let-this-be-the-last-pageitis”. In short, what brought you to write the Janeicillin as a remedy for your insatiable Austen-addiction. Can you please tell our readers about this series going on your blog?             

It really is an illness, or at least an obsession, but one I am happy to suffer from. While there are countless Austen continuations available, I was specifically interested in developing the just the last chapters of her books, in which she inevitably summarizes the concluding events of the stories, rushing our heroes and heroines to the alter. As she says at the beginning of the last chapter of Persuasion, “Who can be in doubt of what followed?” Well, after reading hundreds of Austen continuations, it occurred to me that the are endless interpretations of what, precisely, did indeed follow. The idea behind Janeicillin was to follow the events she describes and elaborate upon them, developing the engagements of the main characters. I started with Pride and Prejudice (having already worked with these characters before, it was easy for me to capture their voices), and am just now wrapping up Persuasion, which proved far more difficult as the events described, particularly Mrs. Clay and Mr. Elliot’s affair, are far less happy than those concluding Pride and Prejudice. I’m trying to decide which novel to pick up next. I’m thinking it is likely to be either Northanger Abbey, which will give me the pleasure of developing Miss Tilney’s romance, or Emma, which will inevitably provide much comic fodder. I’m a bit shy about picking up Sense and Sensibility or Mansfield Park, the former because of the complications involved with having two heroines, and the latter because I have serious issues with Edmund Bertram and am not sure I can represent him without my anger at the man getting in the way.
I’d love to ask you what didn’t you like in every of Jane’s major novel? I mean is there anything you didn’t like in each of them?      
 Fascinating question! Let’s see - I wish General Tilney suffered some kind of consequence for his avariciousness in Northanger Abbey. Similarly, it would be nice if Lucy Steele wasn’t so rewarded for her odious behavior in Sense and Sensibility. As I wrote a novel in which I intentionally removed all the angst from Pride and Prejudice, I imagine you can guess that the suffering endured by both Elizabeth and Darcy torments me. I just want them to both be happy and alleviate all that pain they so needlessly endure. Mansfield Park is easy. As stated above, I really do not like Edmund Bertram and wish he was more deserving of Fanny’s devotion. Emma and Persuasion are pretty perfect, and I am not sure I would alter a word. However, it would be nice if readers liked Miss Woodhouse a bit more, and, if I could magically transport myself into the pages of Persuasion, I would be mighty tempted to give Captain Wentworth a good slap across his face for his behavior when he first meets Anne again. Silly man! Acting like a spoiled little boy.

 If I’m not wrong, you love Fanny Price , the protagonist of Mansfield Park. She is instead one of the least favourite heroines among Janeites. How would you defend her in a trial in which she is accused of being too passive, too prudish, too good to be true? What would you say in favour of poor Fanny?

Poor Fanny! She’s not my favorite of Austen’s heroines, but I feel for her deeply and think she is terribly misunderstood. I ask that readers try to imagine themselves in her predicament - a naturally shy girl, uprooted from the home and family she knows, thrust amongst strangers who are, for the most part, intent on reminding her of her inadequacies and subservient position - how else can she be expected to behave? Furthermore, under such circumstances of dependency, I think she demonstrates remarkable bravery in her refusal of Henry Crawford, especially when urged by Sir Thomas. We all applaud Elizabeth Bennet for refusing Mr. Collins when an acceptance of him would ensure her family’s future and well-being. No matter how much more charming readers may find Henry Crawford, it is the same predicament that Fanny find herself in, and yet she is censured for not making the mercenary decision. As far as being too good to be true, I suggest that her infatuation with Edmund undermines that argument. Her blind loyalty to the one person who showed her sympathy in her youth displays a horrific lack of self-confidence (which, again, is understandable considering her circumstances), especially as he is so self-absorbed as to be blind to her devotion, all while tormenting her with his own fascination with Mary Crawford, who, though indisputably charming, is incredibly morally corrupt. I find both him, and Fanny’s love for him, terribly frustrating.

I know you also love mash-ups. Imagine you are Emma and you can’t resist the idea to match people you know. What would be the perfect match you’d made from different novels?         
I assume we mean mash-ups sans monsters, right? That’s a really hard question. I think I would have to leave the main character’s alone, focusing on the secondary ones. I don’t like to spoil my own novel, but in it I engaged in some creative rematching of the Pride and Prejudice cast, which I found very satisfying. If I crossed novels, perhaps Isabella Thorpe and George Wickham deserve each other? I’d like to see Miss Bates in a relationship, but I’m not sure who could deserve (ahem, tolerate) her. Maybe Lady Middleton could suffer an untimely illness, and Miss Bates could step into her place? I think Mrs. Ferrars and General Tilney would be well-suited to each other, as would be Mr. Elliot and Maria Bertram.
Among Austen heroes instead, apart from Darcy, who is the one you most appreciate and why?
It’s a toss up between Henry Tilney and Captain Wentworth. I know I said I’d like to slap the latter, but as I often feel similarly about my husband, such emotions don’t signify. I love Mr. Tilney’s sardonic sense of humor. One could never be bored in his company. His ability to value Catherine for her purity is also very appealing. Clearly, at first she just amuses him, but it is her honestly and determination to make amends for her mistakes that makes him fall in love. I wish more men valued such qualities. As for the Captain, any man who can both feel and express his emotions with such passion is thoroughly irresistible. He’s not perfect, but his flaws only add to his appeal (not unlike Darcy - sorry, but he will impose himself on my mind, no matter how hard I try to keep him in check).

 Now, to your First Impressions. A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice. I read it and love it, (my review ) you know. Could you briefly tell what brought you to write your “what-if” version of P&P?         
Well, when I discovered “What if?” rewrites of Pride and Prejudice, through the novels of Abigail Reynolds and Kara Louise, I was instantly hooked on the notion. I had not intended to write one myself, but was doing yoga one day, desperately trying to clear my mind of distractions (an endeavor I never succeed in fully doing) when the notion popped into my head: what if Darcy and Elziabeth danced at the Meryton assembly? I wrote the first chapter that day, and the rest of the novel in less than two months. It was both an indulgence in my own desires, wanting to spare Darcy and Elizabeth from so much angst, and a response to many of the other Pride and Prejudice based novels I had read, which tend to be both more sexual than I like, and also often include massive doses of additional trauma. I just want them to live happily ever after, with the privacy both would so obviously treasure in tact.

Are you working on a new project?
I am working on a continuation of First Impressions, beginning in the second year of the Darcy’s marriage and focusing on the romances of Georgiana and Kitty. Kitty, who has been much improved by both a year in school and the positive influences of her new relations, is invited by the Darcy’s to be Georgiana’s companion during her first season in London. The plot was loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s The Two Gentleman of Verona, so those familiar with the play will know that  there is some confusion involved in the romantic pairings. I also revisit the other matches made in First Impressions, so readers can learn how all of our couples are progressing. It is a very different endeavor than the first book, working as I am with an entirely new plot and characters who are now following rather different paths than those Austen intended, but I hope it will amuse readers. The best comments I received on First Impressions were from readers who said how the book just made them feel good, and I’d like to inspire a similar sense of happiness and contentment in the second volume.

Great Alexa! That's all. Many thanks for being my kind guest today and best wishes for everything in your life!

Dear readers, Alexa's giveaway contest starts NOW!  Just leave your comment and ... good luck!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Hello there!
Happy JA reading and watching to you all. Are you ready for another Talking Jane Austen with ...  session? It'll be tomorrow with a new guest post/ interview  and a new giveaway open worldwide. Did you like my latest chat with Janet Mullany? Have you left your comments and e-mail address for the giveaway? Good! Jane and the Damned or Bespelling Jane Austen maybe flying to you soon. Just wait on, till the end of this rather miscellaneous post to discover the names of the 2 winners...

So...I mentioned Austenesque videos in the title. I've actually re-watched them this afternoon, bumping onto them  searching other video materials on Utube.
The first one is an interview with screenwriter Andrew Davies about The Men and Women of Jane Austen. It is definitely interesting to listen to such an accomplished connoisseur while watching bits of our beloved series ( especially P&P 1995 and S&S 2008 ) Here it is !

The second video is the lovely presentation of one of my favourite Austenesque murder mysteries: Murder at Mansfield Park. It was a delightful reading! (see my review and my interview with Lynn Shepherd part I / part II)
In it, Lynn Shepherd herself talks about her novel and she is such a capable speecher ! Well done, Lynn! You could be a terrific TV presenter!
By the way, I love the cover that the Spanish publishers have chosen for this novel. Isn't it extremely pretty? Blood stains included! Have you ever been hooked by a book cover?

OK! Here's Lynn Shepherd introducing her Murder at Mansfield Park. She is at one of the P&P 2005 locations for this clip! Can you recognize it?

Last but not least, the most frequently clicked video on my Utube Channel ( where you find  a few scenes from Austen adaptations as well as  other costume series among lots of videos with my favourite actor, Richard Armitage )
It is one of my favourite proposal scenes from  Austen adaptations. It has been seen 109, 719 times so far and there are lots of comments too. Well, I contributed to increase the number myself !What about re-watching it? Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai as Mr Knightley and Emma (2009) ...


Time to stop now! I must announce the giveaway winners of Jane and the Damned or Bespelling Jane Austen by Janet Mullany.

The winner of Bespelling Jane Austen is Audra while the winner of Jane and the Damned is MsRobinson!!! Congratulations!!! Enjoy reading! MG

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Janet Mullany was raised in England by half of an amateur string quartet and now lives near Washington, DC. Persecuted from an early age for reading too long in the bathroom, she still loves books and is an avid and eclectic reader. She has worked as an archaeologist, classical music radio announcer, arts administrator, and for a small press. Her latest publications are Jane and the Damned
 and a short story included in the collection Bespelling Jane Austen . She's kindly accepted to answer some questions and to talk Jane Austen with me! Enjoy our intersting chat and get ready to enter a great double giveaway open internationally!

When was your first encounter with  Jane Austen?
I quite successfully managed to avoid Austen until I lived in Bath for a time after I’d graduated from college. I discovered the city and Persuasion and Northanger Abbey simultaneously. There was something quite thrilling about being able to walk where Austen and her characters did.

What do you think are  the most successful points in  her work ?
Her voice, her ironic commentary, and her understanding of human behavior. Or, as Virginia Woolf famously said, (I love this quote): Here was a woman about the year 1800 writing without hate, without bitterness, without fear, without protest, without preaching. 

Since I am a teacher I often like asking about teaching JA. Do you think it is important that JA’s works are read and taught in schools and universities?
Absolutely! She’s one of the major figures of western literature and her work changed the shape of fiction. Even if you come to her after your formal education has ended, you’ll find that your perception of her work changes as you change and grow.

Now , as for your own fiction,  how did it come that you started writing?
Years of reading and time on my hands! I’d written a lot of promotional copy for various day jobs so I thought I’d like to try writing fiction. I was really interested in writing the sorts of books that I wanted to read. A lot of this is about my own entertainment. I was a bit surprised to end up a romance novelist.

In Jane and the Damned you follow a very successful, new trend: mashing up Jane Austen and supernatural beings like vampires (we also have ghosts and monsters in other books). Tell us something about your novel.

It’s not a monster mash in the sense that it’s one of Austen’s books with paranormal material added. It’s a vampire novel starring Jane Austen with a little alternate history and romance thrown in. In my version of 1797 England, vampires (the Damned) live openly in fashionable society. Jane is created a vampire at a provincial assembly, and her family takes her to Bath to take the waters, the only known cure. While they’re there, the French invade, and Jane delays her cure to fight them. But eventually she has to choose between love and immortality or writing and her beloved sister Cassandra.
6.What do you think JA’s reaction to all these mashes-up would be if she were alive?
I think she’d be amused. She was a woman with a sense of humor.

You’ve also got another recent Austenesque release , a short story in the collection Bespelling Jane Austen.
Bespelling Jane Austen is an anthology where we (Mary Balogh, Susan Krinard, Colleen Gleason and myself) interpreted Austen’s novels with paranormal elements. I chose Emma, my favorite Austen, set in contemporary Washington DC, where Emma is a witch who runs a dating agency for the paranormal population of the city. It was a lot of fun to write!

Which of JA’s novels would you like to rewrite  and in a mash-up with …?
I don’t know whether it would be a mash-up, but I would like to write something on Mansfield Park, which is such a fascinating book, an experiment that didn’t quite work.

Who are your favourite Austen hero and heroine?
I love Henry Tilney—such a flirty guy!— but I’ve never really thought of a favorite heroine, although I do like the wicked, witty Mary Crawford.

Which  are  the most and the least successful couples  among the matches Jane made in her stories? I mean which couple will actually live happily ever after and which one instead will face troubles of any kind?
Is this a trick question? Because the only long-term married couple Austen portrays favorably is Captain and Mrs. Croft from Persuasion! So I think Ann and Wentworth are probably the best bet. You have to wonder whether Catherine and Henry Tilney are destined to become Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. 

Do you like the several JA screen adaptations? Have you got a favourite one?
I love the 1995 Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. Everything in it feels and looks exactly right, even though the soundtrack includes Bach and Fritz Kreisler and there’s a moment near the end where it almost turns into a Fellini film! I think one interesting thing that’s happened, particularly as a result of the A&E Pride and Prejudice, is that there’s a whole new group of Austen fans who haven’t actually read the books.

 Are you working on a new project at the moment?
I’m working on the second book about Jane Austen as a vampire (no title yet) and I have a short story in the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It (Random House, October, 2011).

Well, thanks a lot for being my guest,  Janet. It's been very interesting to discuss  some Jane Austen- related  issues as well as  your works with you.
Thanks so much for having me as a guest today, Maria Grazia!

You can find Janet Mullany on Twitter too

 GIVEAWAY TIME!!! Janet Mullany is kindly offering a copy of JANE AND THE DAMNED  and one copy of BESPELLING JANE AUSTEN to commenters from all over the world. Leave an e-mail address where I can contact you in case you win. The name of the winners will be announced next Wednesday 17th November. GOOD LUCK!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


First of all . thanks to Kara Louise for being my kind guest last week ( HERE'S HER INTERVIEW WITH ME). Then,  here we are to the announcement of the winner of her lovely DARCY'S VOYAGE...


Tuesday, 9 November 2010


1800 was the last year Jane and Cassandra spent at Steventon. Their lives were going to change so much  in Bath.  But , when Jane wrote these two letters to Cassandra, she didn't know yet. It came as a considerable shock when her parents suddenly announced in 1801 that the family would be moving away to Bath. Mr Austen would give the Steventon living to his son James and retire to Bath with his wife and two daughters. The next four years were going to be difficult ones for Jane Austen. She would dislike the confines of a busy town and miss her Steventon life. After her father's death in 1805, his widow and daughters also would suffer financial difficulties and be forced to rely on the charity of the Austen sons.

But these letters,  written in November 1800, precisely 210 years ago  when  Jane was 25 , don't convey any negativity. Life at Steventon was still as quiet as usual... Cassandra was at Godmersham, their brother's Edward's home.

 (from JANE AUSTEN, LETTERS, leaf through this paperback edition )


Letter XXIII

Steventon: Saturday November

You have written, I am sure, though I have received no letter from you since your leaving London; the post, and not yourself, must have been unpunctual.
We have at last heard from Frank; a letter from him to you came yesterday, and I mean to send it on as soon as I can get a ditto (that means a frank), which I hope to do in a day or two. En attendant, you must rest satisfied with knowing that on the 8th of July the "Petterel," with the rest of the Egyptian squadron, was off the Isle of Cyprus, whither they went from Jaffa for provisions, &c., and whence they were to sail in a day or two for Alexandria, there to wait the result of the English proposals for the evacuation of Egypt. The rest of the letter, according to the present fashionable style of composition, is chiefly descriptive. Of his promotion he knows nothing; of prizes he is guiltless.
Your letter is come; it came, indeed, twelve lines ago, but I could not stop to acknowledge it before, and I am glad it did not arrive till I had completed my first sentence, because the sentence had been made ever since yesterday, and I think forms a very good beginning.
Your abuse of our gowns amuses but does not discourage me; I shall take mine to be made up next week, and the more I look at it the better it pleases me. My cloak came on Tuesday, and, though I expected a good deal, the beauty of the lace astonished me. It is too handsome to be worn -- almost too handsome to be looked at. The glass is all safely arrived also, and gives great satisfaction. The wine-glasses are much smaller than I expected, but I suppose it is the proper size. We find no fault with your manner of performing any of our commissions, but if you like to think yourself remiss in any of them, pray do.
My mother was rather vexed that you could not go to Penlington's, but she has since written to him, which does just as well. Mary is disappointed, of course, about her locket, and of course delighted about the mangle, which is safe at Basingstoke. You will thank Edward for it on their behalf, &c., &c., and, as you know how much it was wished for, will not feel that you are inventing gratitude.
Did you think of our ball on Thursday evening, and did you suppose me at it? You might very safely, for there I was. On Wednesday morning it was settled that Mrs. Harwood, Mary, and I should go together, and shortly afterwards a very civil note of invitation for me came from Mrs. Bramston, who wrote I believe as soon as as she knew of the ball. I might likewise have gone with Mrs. Lefroy, and therefore, with three methods of going, I must have been more at the ball than anyone else. I dined and slept at Deane; Charlotte and I did my hair, which I fancy looked very indifferent, nobody abused it, however, and I retired delighted with my success.
It was a pleasant ball, and still more good than pleasant, for there were nearly sixty people, and sometimes we had seventeen couple. The Portsmouths, Dorchesters, Boltons, Portals, and Clerks were there, and all the meaner and more usual &c., &c.'s. There was a scarcity of men in general, and a still greater scarcity of any that were good for much. I danced nine dances out of ten -- five with Stephen Terry, T. Chute, and James Digweed, and four with Catherine. There was commonly a couple of ladies standing up together, but not often any so amiable as ourselves.
I heard no news, except that Mr. Peters, who was not there, is supposed to be particularly attentive to Miss Lyford. You were inquired after very prettily, and I hope the whole assembly now understands that you are gone into Kent, which the families in general seemed to meet in ignorance of. Lord Portsmouth surpassed the rest in his attentive recollection of you, inquired more into the length of your absence, and concluded by desiring to be "remembered to you when I wrote next."
Lady Portsmouth had got a different dress on, and Lady Bolton is much improved by a wig. The three Miss Terries were there, but no Annie; which was a great disappointment to me. I hope the poor girl had not set her heart on her appearance that evening so much as I had. Mr. Terry is ill, in a very low way. I said civil things to Edward for Mr. Chute, who amply returned them by declaring that, had he known of my brother's being at Steventon, he should have made a point of calling upon him to thank him for his civility about the Hunt.
I have heard from Charles, and am to send his shirts by half-dozens as they are finished; one set will go next week. The "Endymion" is now waiting only for orders, but may wait for them perhaps a month. Mr. Coulthard [1] was unlucky in very narrowly missing another unexpected guest at Chawton, for Charles had actually set out and got half way thither in order to spend one day with Edward, but turned back on discovering the distance to be considerably more than he had fancied, and finding himself and his horse to be very much tired. I should regret it the more if his friend Shipley had been of the party, for Mr. Coulthard might not have been so well pleased to see only one come at a time.
Miss Harwood is still at Bath, and writes word that she never was in better health, and never more happy. Joshua Wakeford died last Saturday, and my father buried him on Thursday. A deaf Miss Fonnereau is at Ashe, which has prevented Mrs. Lefroy's going to Worting or Basingstoke during the absence of Mr. Lefroy.
My mother is very happy in the prospect of dressing a new doll which Molly has given Anna. My father's feelings are not so enviable, as it appears that the farm cleared 300l. last year. James and Mary went to Ibthorp for one night last Monday, and found Mrs. Lloyd not in very good looks. Martha has been lately at Kintbury, but is probably at home by this time. Mary's promised maid has jilted her, and hired herself elsewhere. The Debaries persist in being afflicted at the death of their uncle, of whom they now say they saw a great deal in London. Love to all. I am glad George remembers me.
Yours very affectionately, J. A.
I am very unhappy. In re-reading your letter I find I might have spared myself any intelligence of Charles. To have written only what you knew before! You may guess how much I feel. I wore at the ball your favourite gown, a bit of muslin of the same round my head, bordered with Mrs. Cooper's band, and one little comb.

Miss Austen, Godmersham Park.
[1] Coulthard rented Chawton House at this time.

Letter XXIV

Steventon: Thursday (November 20).
Your letter took me quite by surprise this morning; you are very welcome, however, and I am very much obliged to you. I believe I drank too much wine last night at Hurstbourne; I know not how else to account for the shaking of my hand to-day. You will kindly make allowance therefore for any indistinctness of writing, by attributing it to this venial error.
Naughty Charles did not come on Tuesday, but good Charles came yesterday morning. About two o'clock he walked in on a Gosport hack. His feeling equal to such a fatigue is a good sign, and his feeling no fatigue in it a still better. He walked down to Deane to dinner; he danced the whole evening, and to-day is no more tired than a gentleman ought to be.
Your desiring to hear from me on Sunday will, perhaps, bring you a more particular account of the ball than you may care for, because one is prone to think much more of such things the morning after they happen, than when time has entirely driven them out of one's recollection.
It was a pleasant evening; Charles found it remarkably so, but I cannot tell why, unless the absence of Miss Terry, towards whom his conscience reproaches him with being now perfectly indifferent, was a relief to him. There were only twelve dances, of which I danced nine, and was merely prevented from dancing the rest by the want of a partner. We began at ten, supped at one, and were at Deane before five. There were but fifty people in the room; very few families indeed from our side of the county, and not many more from the other. My partners were the two St. Johns, Hooper, Holder, and very prodigious Mr. Mathew, with whom I called the last, and whom I liked the best of my little stock.

There were very few beauties, and such as there were were not very handsome. Miss Iremonger did not look well, and Mrs. Blount was the only one much admired. She appeared exactly as she did in September, with the same broad face, diamond bandeau, white shoes, pink husband, and fat neck. The two Miss Coxes were there: I traced in one the remains of the vulgar, broad-featured girl who danced at Enham eight years ago; the other is refined into a nice, composed-looking girl, like Catherine Bigg. I looked at Sir Thomas Champneys and thought of poor Rosalie; I looked at his daughter, and thought her a queer animal with a white neck. Mrs. Warren, I was constrained to think, a very fine young woman, which I much regret. She [words omitted in Brabourne edition: "has got rid of some part of her child, and"] danced away with great activity [words omitted in Brabourne edition: "looking by no means very large"]. Her husband is ugly enough, uglier even than his cousin John; but he does not look so very old. The Miss Maitlands are both prettyish, very like Anne, with brown skins, large dark eyes, and a good deal of nose. The General has got the gout, and Mrs. Maitland the jaundice. Miss Debary, Susan, and Sally, all in black, but without any stature, made their appearance, and I was as civil to them as circumstances [Unexpurgated original: "their bad breath"] would allow me.
They told me nothing new of Martha. I mean to go to her on Thursday, unless Charles should determine on coming over again with his friend Shipley for the Basingstoke ball, in which case I shall not go till Friday. I shall write to you again, however, before I set off, and I shall hope to hear from you in the meantime. If I do not stay for the ball, I would not on any account do so uncivil a thing by the neighbourhood as to set off at that very time for another place, and shall therefore make a point of not being later than Thursday morning.
Mary said that I looked very well last night. I wore my aunt's gown and handkerchief, and my hair was at least tidy, which was all my ambition. I will now have done with the ball, and I will moreover go and dress for dinner.
Thursday evening. -- Charles leaves us on Saturday, unless Henry should take us in his way to the island, of which we have some hopes, and then they will probably go together on Sunday.
The young lady whom it is expected that Sir Thomas is to marry is Miss Emma Wabshaw; she lives somewhere between Southampton and Winchester, is handsome, accomplished, amiable, and everything but rich. He is certainly finishing his house in a great hurry. Perhaps the report of his being to marry a Miss Fanshawe might originate in his attentions to this very lady -- the names are not unlike.

Summers has made my gown very well indeed, and I get more and more pleased with it. Charles does not like it, but my father and Mary do. My mother is very much resigned to it; and as for James, he gives it the preference over everything of the kind he ever saw, in proof of which I am desired to say that if you like to sell yours Mary will buy it.
We had a very pleasant day on Monday at Ashe, we sat down fourteen to dinner in the study, the dining-room being not habitable from the storms having blown down its chimney. Mrs. Bramston talked a good deal of nonsense, which Mr. Bramston and Mr. Clerk seemed almost equally to enjoy. There was a whist and a casino table, and six outsiders. Rice and Lucy made love, Mat. Robinson fell asleep, James and Mrs. Augusta alternately read Dr. Finnis' pamphlet on the cow-pox, and I bestowed my company by turns on all.
On inquiring of Mrs. Clerk, I find that Mrs. Heathcote made a great blunder in her news of the Crookes and Morleys. It is young Mr. Crook who is to marry the second Miss Morley, and it is the Miss Morleys instead of the second Miss Crooke who were the beauties at the music meeting. This seems a more likely tale, a better devised imposture.
The three Digweeds all came on Tuesday, and we played a pool at commerce. James Digweed left Hampshire to-day. I think he must be in love with you, from his anxiety to have you go to the Faversham balls, and likewise from his supposing that the two elms fell from their grief at your absence. Was not it a gallant idea? It never occurred to me before, but I dare say it was so.
Hacker has been here to-day putting in the fruit trees. A new plan has been suggested concerning the plantation of the new inclosure of the right-hand side of the elm walk: the doubt is whether it would be better to make a little orchard of it by planting apples, pears, and cherries, or whether it should be larch, mountain ash, and acacia. What is your opinion? I say nothing, and am ready to agree with anybody.
You and George walking to Eggerton! What a droll party! Do the Ashford people still come to Godmersham church every Sunday in a cart? It is you that always disliked Mr. N. Toke so much, not I. I do not like his wife, and I do not like Mr. Brett, but as for Mr. Toke, there are few people whom I like better.
Miss Harwood and her friend have taken a house fifteen miles from Bath; she writes very kind letters, but sends no other particulars of the situation. Perhaps it is one of the first houses in Bristol.
Farewell; Charles sends you his best love and Edward his worst. If you think the distinction improper, you may take the worst yourself. He will write to you when he gets back to his ship, and in the meantime desires that you will consider me as
Your affectionate sister, J. A.

Friday. -- I have determined to go on Thursday, but of course not before the post comes in. Charles is in very good looks indeed. I had the comfort of finding out the other evening who all the fat girls with long noses were that disturbed me at the 1st H. ball. They all prove to be Miss Atkinsons of En---- [illegible].

I rejoice to say that we have just had another letter from our dear Frank. It is to you, very short, written from Larnica in Cyprus, and so lately as October 2. He came from Alexandria, and was to return there in three or four days, knew nothing of his promotion, and does not write above twenty lines, from a doubt of the letter's ever reaching you, and an idea of all letters being opened at Vienna. He wrote a few days before to you from Alexandria by the "Mercury," sent with despatches to Lord Keith. Another letter must be owing to us besides this, one if not two; because none of these are to me. Henry comes to-morrow, for one night only.
My mother has heard from Mrs. E. Leigh. Lady Saye and Seale and her daughter are going to remove to Bath. Mrs. Estwick is married again to a Mr. Sloane, a young man under age, without the knowledge of either family. He bears a good character, however.

Miss Austen, Godmersham Park,
Faversham, Kent.
 It makes me think of Jane as a human being. Reading her letters, I mean. It brings "Miss Austen the myth" down to earth as a lively, intelligent creature prisoner of her time: simply Jane. She is never abated nor defeated. We should learn from her strong will and positivity on any occasion in her almost uneventful but never easy life. Writing letters helped her to take notice of everything important she saw and experienced, as well as to train her "pen" to make it sharper and sharper, wittier and wittier.
Letters in their original edition and paper were exhibited in New York, at the Morgan Library, last  year from November 2009 to March 2010. AWoman's Wit: Jane Austen's life and work. You still find several things about the exhibition on line.