Wednesday, 18 July 2012

REGINA JEFFERS, HONOR AND HOPE - GUEST POST AND GIVEAWAY


Jane Austen’s works are often classified as “romances.” The assumption comes from the premise that if the heroine meets a handsome man in Chapter One, he must be the hero. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the romantic hero of Pride and Prejudice, and although he does not appear in Chapter One, he does make an appearance by Chapter Three, and Austen’s chapters are short in comparison to contemporary writers. However, if you know nothing of the story line nor do you have sweet dreams of Colin Firth emerging dripping wet from a placid lake (Sigh!) or of Matthew Macfadyen walking through the morning mist with an open shirt and lots of chest hair (Sigh!), you may not think much of the infamous Mr. Darcy.

Quite frankly, upon our first meeting of this wonderful character, he is a jerk. He makes a horrendous “first impression.” But that is the thing with Austen. Her original title of the novel and her theme are one and the same: first impressions are misleading.

From the first line of Pride and Prejudice, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” Austen plays a merry game with her readers. “First impressions” are misleading: Darcy does not come to Hertfordshire seeking a wife; Wickham is not the perfect mate for Elizabeth; Jane might be more beautiful than Elizabeth, but she lacks her sister’s depth of character; Darcy’s best quality is not his wealth, nor is his worst quality his pride. Austen’s theme permeates every line, and, generally, the reader does not recognize that our favorite author hits us over the head with it. Readers simply sense the resonance found within Austen’s works.
Theme explains why Austen’s works are considered “classics.” Theme, well done, brings us universal truths, and discerning readers revere truth well told. Austen writes about the truths of an imperfect humanity.
What we find in Austen, as well as in the Brontes, Dickens, Conan Doyle, Shakespeare, etc., is how easily her stories are transferred to the present. Critics of “remaking” the classics refer to the phenomenon as “nostalgia.” Yet, it is much more than a longing for an easier time. If it is “nostalgia,” then what is missing from our current time that brings us to seek out another?
It is more than an “escape” into the past. Why do readers and viewers return again and again to these tales? What parts of these remakes of the classics speak to our present-day needs and fantasies? In reality, we often use a magnifying lens to view the world. This lens has a filter known as the “past.” We view contemporary society by reinventing the past. Parts of the past survive, while others fade away. From the perspective of current cultural and social ambitions, politics, and historiography, the past is remade. Do not our grandparents tell us of a simpler time? Do we not look back and see with out “selected” memory a past in which life moved as an easier pace? Yet, in truth, those easier times had issues similar to those of which we deal every day. Death, famine, disease, betrayal, corruption, etc., exist in each era.
As a writer of Austen-inspired novels, I strongly feel that I “hold” the past in waiting for my readers to cherish, but I also believe that my novels, as well as those of other writers of remakes, reshape the past in the current styles and fashions. Remakes appeal to both our need for the classics and our need for popular culture. As a teacher for 40 years, I repeatedly asked my students to read and view and analyze – to imagine themselves in relation to a past and an ever-changing present.
As a writer, I reimagine Jane Austen’s works as a portal through which the reader can consider what we were, what we are, and what we want to be. In doing so, I underscore the importance of permitting the canon and its past to be complemented by, and in some sense supplanted by, the tools and technologies of our contemporary culture and popular media.
In such adaptations, those of use who delve into these remakes, retain the specifics of the context and the historical setting, while highlighting and exploring current issues. In my many Austen sequels/adaptations, I have used political intrigue, issues of race, women’s rights, the plight of the poor, post traumatic stress syndrome, childbirth, governmental spies, etc. These issues fit the historical setting, but they also speak to modern times.
So, how popular are these remakes? How easily have Jane Austen and others made the journey into contemporary times? In 1995, A&E Network aired an Andrew Davies’ retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It earned the network its highest rating ever in the U.S. In England, 21% of British viewers watched the last episode of this series, which starred Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Sales of Pride and Prejudice hit 35,00 copies per week during the broadcast.
In the past twenty years, there have been more than 32 films and TV adaptations of Austen’s works, as well as over 300 continuations and sequels based on Austen’s six simple novels. Multiple markets have grown up around the love of Jane Austen: music to read Austen by; boutiques; guidebooks; cookbooks; dolls; advice books; organized tours, etc.
Based on what I have already shared, it shall not surprise you when I say, “Hello, my name is Regina, and I am a Jane Austen addict.” I own a Jane Austen action figure, Scrabble squares, paper dolls, and a jigsaw puzzle. I attend Austen conferences and dress in period costumes and try not to stumble through a country line dance. I sleep with “Mr. Darcy,” a teddy bear with a monogrammed shirt, as well as an image of Matthew Macfadyen on my pillowcase. Colin Firth is my screensaver. I have multiple autographed images of Firth and Macfadyen framed and mounted on my home office wall.
Because of Jane Austen, I have been a guest panelist at the Smithsonian. Because of Jane Austen, I have endured caustic criticism and glorious praise, sometimes in the same review. Because of Jane Austen, I have developed wonderful friendships with others who love her works as much as I. Because of Jane Austen, I see things as they are and as they ought to be. From Austen, I have learned that ordinary people can have interesting lives. So, I am a card-carrying Janeite, a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. I am in love with a simpler time, and I wonder why everyone else does not love my best friend “Jane” equally as well.
 Regina Jeffers
Book Blurb:

Liz Bennet’s flirtatious nature acerbates Will Darcy’s controlling tendencies, sending him into despair when she fiercely demands her independence from him. How could she repeatedly turn him down? Darcy has it all: good looks, a pro football career, intelligence, and wealth. Pulled together by a passionate desire, which neither time nor distance can quench, they are destined to love, as well as misunderstand, each other until Fate deals them a blow from which they can no longer escape. Set against the backdrop of professional sports and the North Carolina wine country, Honor and Hope offers a modern romance loosely based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.


Giveaway details

Leave your comment + e-mail address to win a signed copy of Regina Jeffers's Honor and Hope. This giveaway ends on July 30th and is open internationally. Good luck!

Follow Regina Jeffers at her blog or at Austen Authors

42 comments:

Linda said...

Enjoyed this very interesting post, and the book sounds intriguing - P & P along with professional sports. I'm curious. Thanks for the giveaway.
lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

free mp4 to mp3 converter said...

suddenly i really want to read honor and hope!
p.s. i really enjoy the fact that Austin's chapters are so short :)

Regina Jeffers said...

I am one of the featured speakers at the Bookmarks Book Festival in Winston=Salem, NC, on Sept. 8. This post is part of my talk on Jane Austen. I hope to see many of my regional fans there.

The week before (Labor Day weekend), I share the JASNA-Atlanta chapter tent with some 15 Austen-inspired authors. Abigail Reynolds and I (from Austen Authors) join William Deresiewicz for an "Inspired by Austen" discussion from 5:30 - 6:15.

BeckyC said...

I wish my favorite AuAu would 'visit' closer to me, but Northern California is (unfortunatley) not an Austen hotspot. Regina, love the post! I would have enjoyed being a student of yours. You always leave me thinking. I am looking forward to H&H. I have not picked up my copy yet, but I will get there! I think I have everthing else.

BeckyC said...

ps Thank you for the giveaway!
cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

authormariagrace.com said...

I think Austen was brilliant in creating characters that are timeless.

You make some really good points, Regina, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Just reading the words 'Mr Darcy' brings a sigh to my soul. A happy sigh. Austen's romance is definitely timeless.
Malvina

Regina Jeffers said...

I agree that Austen wrote wonderful characters, but I look at Bridget Jones Diary, Bride and Prejudice, You've Got Mail, etc., and I see the different characters, but the theme remains the same. Austen survives because she speaks to man's commonality.

Regina Jeffers said...

Becky, a few of the AuAu bunch are going to the Romance Writers of America's annual convention in Anaheim. You might check the RWA website. There is one evening when several hundred authors sign their books. I think Sharon did that last year, and she is a CA-based author. It's worth a look.

ellaquinnauthor said...

Darcy may have been a jerk at the beginning, but he made up for it later. Like so many of our heros.

Regina Jeffers said...

Oh, yes, Ella, Mr. D. is quite perfect.

Regina Jeffers said...

Maria Grace,
Thank you for joining me today. I love hearing everyone's opinions. It will help to "tweak" my speech for the Bookmarks Festival in September.

Janet Kerr said...

Your book sounds interesting. Please enter me in your draw.
Jan

janet_kerr(at)msn.com

Margaret said...

Darcy and Elizabeth hve a story that can translate to any itime period. Great modern twist!

Margaret
singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

Jakki Leatherberry said...

Regina, I just love reading about Austen and how timeless her works are! And i cannot wait to read H&H! Will you have copies with you at DBF? Looking forward to meeting you! :)
Oh, and thanks for the giveaway!
jakki36(at)yahoo(dot)com

Jo's Daughter said...

I wish I could do a country line dance :D Sadly I have 2 left feet and no costume to go with it.
Your book sounds wonderful & would love to read it.

devapajo AT gmail DOT com

Regina Jeffers said...

Janet, thank you for stopping by. I wrote H&H some time ago, but I have recently reworked it.

Regina Jeffers said...

Hello, Margaret, it's been awhile since we've spoken. I hope things are going well for you. It's HOT in North Carolina. I hope it's cooler where you are.

Regina Jeffers said...

Yes, Jakki, I'll have copies of H&H at the Decatur Book Festival. It's going to be a great celebration of everything Austen. I'm encouraged by how many participants we have this year for the JASNA group's first efforts.

Regina Jeffers said...

Jo's Daughter, we are most proficient in line dancing in NC!!!!

julienne said...

i'd love to read this too!
:)
nephithyrion@gmail.com

Candy M said...

Regina, I agree, I think basic human character is the same no matter the era. I would love to read H&H! Thanks for the giveaway!

canapple7(at)cox(dot)net

Pamela Aares said...

Regina-- wonderful post, so thoughtful! I do hope you also have a chance to read Jane Austen and the Archangel,http://tinyurl.com/7c2nsm3
I'd love to hear your thoughts on Jane's HEA. Even if I don't 'win' a book, I will check it out. You go, girl! Best, Pamela Aares

Samantha Remington said...

That opening sentence "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" has to be one of my favorites ever. I would love to win! ssremington (at) gmail (dot) com

kaewink said...

My comment seemed to have vanished. I was sure it was posted yesterday...hmm.

I read an excert of H&H on AuAu, if I´not mistaken. And I loved it. I´ll read this novel for sure, win or not! :)

kewinkler (at) gmail (dot) com

Regina Jeffers said...

Candy, I hope this is a spectacular birthday for you. Thanks for stopping by.

Regina Jeffers said...

Pamela, JA&A is on my TBR list. The problem is finding time to read, write, blog, and have a life. LOL!!

Regina Jeffers said...

Samantha, that opening line certainly takes the reader off track. One believe Darcy is looking for a wife, but, it is another false impression created by Austen. I love how JA manipulates the reader.

Regina Jeffers said...

kaewink, yes, there was an excerpt of H&H on Austen Authors. There's also one on my website, www.rjeffers.com. I appreciate your kind words.


Julienne, you were so sweet to leave a comment today. Thank you for being a part of the discussion.

Kelli H. said...

As always Regina, lovely post. I love how timeless Austen's novels are. She has created characters we want to spend time with again and again. I can't wait to read Honor and Hope. Thanks for the giveaway!!
kellik115@yahoo.com

Regina Jeffers said...

Hello, Kelli.
I was wondering where you were. You are correct: Austen is absolutely timeless. That's what makes her a "classic."

Lúthien84 said...

What a thought provoking post and eloquently put together, Regina. You amaze me and I love to read this modern homage to P&P.

evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

Regina Jeffers said...

Sylvia, I thought for awhile that I wouldn't find you here. You always win for me on MJABC. LOL!!!
Thanks for the kind words about the post. I've been working on the information for some time. I want it to be perfect for my Sept. 8 presentation at the Bookmarks Book Festival.

Hello Kat said...

Love Jane Austen and becoming a huge fan of Regina Jeffers. Would love to read this!

Lúthien84 said...

Dear Regina, sorry for coming in late. Too caught up in work and forgot to spend some time visiting and reading some of my favourite blogs.

I hope you will excel at your presentation.

Rebecca (RivkaBelle) said...

Blast this crazy (good-crazy?) week for interrupting my chance to read more about Darcy and win the QB Darcy book! haha ;o)

::fingers crossed::

quarterback.girl[at]gmail[dot]com

ColleenL said...

I have really enjoyed the few modern P&P stories I have read online there the characters have been in professional sports. But I think they have all been baseball or soccer related. Looking forward to reading this new retelling.

colleenday (at) hotmail(dot)com

Regina Jeffers said...

Welcome, "Hello Kat." This book is a bit different from my usual Austen fare, but I love the sensitive, but strong, Will Darcy in this book.

Regina Jeffers said...

Sylvia, at least, you got here before the giveaway deadline. That is what is important. Now, run over to Austen Authors. I'm giving away two of my Regency romances over there today.

Regina Jeffers said...

Gosh, Rebecca, I hope it's cooler in your part of NC than it is in the Charlotte area. I feel like the "Wicked Witch" in the "Wizard of Oz." I'M MELTING!!!
Thanks for stopping by.

Regina Jeffers said...

Hello, Colleen. It's nice of you to read my post and enter of the contest. I can't think of anything more macho than a pro football QB. My Will Darcy is masterful on the football field, but a mess in his personal life.

Regina Jeffers said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by. I appreciate your support.