Monday, 5 December 2011


Let's welcome Amanda Grange back to My Jane Austen Book Club!   She was  my guest not long ago to present the paperback version of her Colonel Brandon's Diary (HERE).
She has had sixteen novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes' points of view. Her latest release is "Henry Tilney's Diary".
Read Amanda's answer to my questions about lovely Henry Tilney, the hero of Northanger Abbey, and try to win the free copy provided by her publisher, Penguin  USA. Leave your comments to enter the giveaway and do not forget to add your e-mail address. This giveaway contest is limited to US and Canada readers and ends on December 11th when the name of the winner is announced.
You can find out more by visiting her website at You can also follow her on Twitter @hromanceuk and find her on Facebook.

-First of all Amanda, thanks for being my guest on My Jane Austen Book Club and for accepting to answer my questions.
Thanks for inviting me!

Your latest book is out and it is “Henry Tilney’s Diary”. Before focusing on Mr Tilney, could you tell us what you especially highlighted in your series of Austen heroes’ personal diaries?
I wanted to highlight the heroes’ journeys, showing their early lives and the events that shaped them, before following their innermost thoughts and feelings as they meet and finally marry their heroines.

-Now, to our Mr Tilney. What are the peculiarities of this Austen  hero?
He’s Austen’s wittiest, most humorous hero, in fact he’s unique in the Austen canon because he is so light-hearted. I love him!

-Have you discovered what it is that he especially likes in Catherine Morland?
I think he likes her honesty and her naiveté.  The key to his attraction, for me, is expressed in this passage from Henry Tilney’s Diary, which takes place in Bath:  “Miss Morland was not jaded by her surroundings, nor did she pretend to be. It was entertaining to see how much she enjoyed the bustle, the rooms, the  people and the dancing, instead of affecting boredom, like the other young ladies, saying that there was not one 
interesting person to be met with in the whole of Bath. Instead, she was charmed, and through her eyes I 
found that some of the charm of Bath was restored for me.”

-I’ve always thought that Catherine and Henry were a bit  mismatched. He’s smart, brilliant, witty. Catherine has none of those qualities. I’ve even tried to imagine their married life after many years but I could only figure out something like Mr and Mrs Bennet’s menage. Do you think Mr Tilney will help Catherine to improve in their married life?
I think it’s an attraction of opposites. I don’t think they’ll end up like Mr and Mrs Bennet (I hope not!) because I don’t think Catherine’s as silly as Mrs Bennet, I think she’s just young and inexperienced. I think Henry will continue to tease her and I think she will blossom in his affectionate humour. But I think there is also a solid base for their marriage as Henry is a clergyman and Catherine is a clergyman’s daughter, so their life experiences are compatible.

-Henry  is so different from his father and his elder brother. How do you imagine his childhood in that family and at Northanger Abbey?
As you say, Henry is very unlike his father and brother, and so it seemed likely to me that he must take after his mother. We don’t see her at all in Northanger Abbey, because she is already dead by the start of it, but I wanted to make her a real character in Henry’s diary and so I started the book when he is sixteen and his mother is still alive.
I worked backwards from some of the things we know about her,  and about Henry, to create some scenes of them together. A scene I particularly like uses two of the facts from Northanger Abbey: that Henry’s mother suffered from poor health, and that Henry knows a lot about muslin. One day, Henry’s mother wants to go shopping, but as she is not well, Henry goes with her, to lend her his arm. He tries to help her with buying muslin, but as a typical young man, picks the wrong type. So she shows him all the different types and explains their relative merits and demerits to him. The scene shows the close relationship between the two, and it also explains how Henry knows so much about muslin.

-He is one of Jane Austen’s clergy men  but he is no Mr Collins or Mr Elton. What is his attitude towards his profession in your Diary? Does he reflect on/refer to  his choice more than in Northanger Abbey?
Henry’s profession is chosen for him because there is a family living which will be his when he is an adult. As a boy I have him just accepting this as the way things are. But there is a telling scene in his diary when his mother is very ill. Henry realises he can do nothing more for her and so he prays for her. I wanted to show some connection to his profession, and a fitness for the church, but without overplaying it, because Austen never shows very much of the church in her novels, even though a lot of her characters are clergymen. Henry thinks more about his profession as he grows up and when listening to other clergymen preaching, he decides that his sermons will be very different:
 “I see no reason why sermons should not be entertaining as well as instructive, and I feel it will be my duty to make sure that my parishioners remain awake whilst I am speaking, instead of falling asleep.”
His thoughts about the church are generally witty and light-hearted and he can see the absurdities of his life, for example he knows that his services are so well attended because he is an eligible bachelor.

- I think he immediately recognizes the Thorpes as bad company for Catherine.  Does he confide his fears to his diary?
Yes, he can see them for what they are and he is very glad to be taking Catherine away from them when he takes her to Northanger Abbey.

- His relationship with Eleanor, his sister, is a very special one.  Do you think  it was inspired to Jane Austen special relationship with her favourite brother?
That’s an interesting idea, I hadn’t thought of that. Very possibly. I loved expanding on the relationship, which is one of the happiest sibling relationships in Austen. At the start of his diary, Eleanor is very young and the two of them love reading Gothic novels together.  As they grow, they maintain their close relationship and Henry helps Eleanor with her romance, when their father forbids it. There is a lot about Eleanor’s suitor in Henry Tilney’s Diary, and about the ways in which Henry helps the two of them to overcome the obstacles to their affections.

- Without giving away too much, is  there anything we don’t know about Henry Tilney that we can find out thanks to his diary?
We learn a lot about his childhood and his relationships with his family as he grows up.  We also find out a lot more about his feelings for Catherine, and how he comes to realise she is his ideal heroine.

-  You write to give readers an insight of  Austen heroes. Can you reveal who  your best favourite is?
My favourite changes all the time. With every diary, I love the hero I am writing about the best.  Mr Darcy is very compelling; Mr Knightley will make an excellent husband; Captain Wentworth is exciting and full of deep feeling; Edmund Bertram is steadfast and reliable; Colonel Brandon is romantic and loyal, and Henry is witty and entertaining. They are all wonderful in different ways.

What is next to Amanda Grange?
My next book, out in July 2012, is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, called Pride and Pyramids. I wanted to make it very different to other sequels and so I decided to set it fifteen years after the end of Pride and Prejudice, instead of just afterwards. I wanted to show a happy Lizzy and Darcy, still very much in love, experiencing family life. We meet them first at their London house, where they are staying with their six children. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s younger brother, Edward, turns up and infects them with his enthusiasm for Egyptology, which was hugely popular in Jane Austen’s day. He reawakens Lizzy’s love of travel, and after spending several months at Pemberley, the Darcy family accompany him to Egypt. There is romance – Edward falls in love, but all does not run smoothly;  adventure – the glamour of the pyramids and buried treasure; but most of all the continuing love of Lizzy and Darcy as they raise their bright, lively children. I wrote the book with one of my friends, Jacqueline Webb, who is a published novelist in her own right, and it’s available to pre-order on Amazon.

Thanks,  Amanda for being with us again. It's been a great pleasure to talk about one of my favourite Austen heroes with you. 


cyn209 said...

another book to be added to my WishList!!!

thank you for this giveaway!!!


marilyn said...

Henry is one of my favorite characters because of his sense of humor that makes him charming. The diary is bound to be a wondrous journey. Thank you for the giveaway.


Kelli H. said...

Great post! I am so excited to read Mr. Tilney's Diary!! Thanks for the giveaway!

Rebecca (RivkaBelle) said...

I fell in love with Tilney in October, when I read Northanger for the first time (I know, I know, haha)...He's such an endearing/adorable smart alek! I loved his sense of snark/intelligence/wit/freedom with speech. He's refreshing and adorable ;o) Def looking forward to his diary!!!


Sophia Rose said...

I love Amanda George's diaries and have been so excited for this one to come out as I was constantly wondering what Henry made of Catherine most of the time.

And that promise of a book with the Darcy's getting into Egyptology sounds wonderful. I learned to really enjoy the subject after reading the Amelia Peabody Series.

Thanks for the interview (good questions btw) and for the giveaway opportunity.

DDCKnitt said...

Another must own. Thanks for the giveaway!!

Linda said...

I love the idea of diaries from the point of view of the heroes. Interesting post. Thanks for the giveaway.

MonicaP said...

I really enjoyed Mr Darcy's Diary and am looking forward to making my way thru all of your Austen Hero Diaries. Pride and Pyramids sounds really fun, too! I love reading about the Darcys' children.

Thanks for the giveaway!

MonicaP said...

Darn it, I always forget my email address. It is monicaperry00 @

Amanda Grange said...

Thanks for all the comments, it's wonderful to meet so many fans of the diaries and I hope you love Henry's diary, too.

Sara said...

I've been waiting for Henry's diary! He's one of the best of Austen's heroes. The only diary I was more excited for was Wentworth's! I own and love all the diaries so far! Thanks for the giveaway!

phastings said...

I agree, all Jane Austen's heroes are all wonderful in different ways. Henry Tilney is one of my favorites because of his light heartedness.


Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

you have not yet disappointed, Amanda! so i am entirely enthralled at this new release :) and delited at the timing! blstef1 at mts dot net
yay reading wishlists... Congrats!

tbeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tbeth said...

Love Henry Tilney! Excited about this book!

Eva-Joy said...

I would love to win this book! I love Austen sequels/retellings.

Limeyland said...

I am giddy with excitement that this book is finally out in the US!


Chelsea said...

I am really looking forward to reading this book! I love all the Diaries that I have read and always feel like I know the characters better after reading them.