This has been an incredibly prolific year for Austen-inspired author, Amanda Grange. After Henry Tilney's Diary and Pride and Pyramids, a new novel has just been released, Dear Mr Darcy. In this lovely guest post, Amanda wonders how many stars out of five would Jane have got from her contemporaries if Amazon or goodreads had been around at that time. Leaving your comment and adding your e-mail address you can get a chance to win a copy of Amanda Grange's Dear Mr Darcy. Check the giveaway details at the end of the post.
|Richard Brinsley Sheridan|
As I’m a novelist with a new book out this month, Dear MrDarcy, I’m eager to know what everyone will think of it. This made me think about the reactions to Jane Austen’s books when she was a new novelist instead of a classic author.
Some of Jane’s family knew that she was “A Lady”, the author of Sense and Sensibility, but not all. When one of her nieces, Anna, came across a copy of Sense and Sensibility in the local circulating library, she threw it aside with “careless contempt, little imagining who had written it, exclaiming to the great amusement of her Aunts who stood by “Oh that must be rubbish I am sure from the title”.
If Amazon had been around in 1811, no doubt Anna would have given it a 1* review!
Fortunately for us, Sense and Sensibility was successful enough for the publishers to want more, and Jane was happy to accommodate them. She had started Pride and Prejudice many years before and had originally given it the title of First Impressions, probably writing it in the epistolary form. She later revised it, working on it until it became the novel we know today.
The reaction to its publication was excellent. The poet Richard Brinsley Sheridan said it was “one of the cleverest things he ever read.” So 5***** from Richard then!
The British Critic said the book was “far superior to almost all the publications of the same kind which have lately come before us” and the Critical Review said: “We have perused these volumes with much satisfaction and amusement”. They would have been excellent quotes for Jane’s website, had she lived today!
But it was Annabella Milbanke, one of the first readers, who said what every other woman has felt ever since: “the interest is very strong, especially for Mr Darcy”.
That interest has lasted for 200 years and shows no sign of waning. My interest is certainly as strong as it ever was.
This interest led me to write Mr Darcy’s Diary way back in 2005 and has led me, now, to write DearMr Darcy, which retells Pride and Prejudice in epistolary form – the form Jane probably used when she first created it. We meet old and new characters as the letters fly back and forth between them, and we learn more about their thoughts and feelings, their hopes and fears, their joys and despairs. And we learn more about that eternally interesting character Mr Darcy, as he copes with his father’s death, raises his sister, deals with Mr Wickham and fights his overwhelming love for Lizzy, before finally succumbing to his “dearest, loveliest Elizabeth”.
I hope readers are going to find that “the interest is very strong” and love Dear Mr Darcy as much as I do.
In this imaginative retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Amanda Grange now tells the classic story through the eyes of its compelling romantic hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy—in a series of revealing letters that casts a sparkling new reflection on the manners and morals of the landed gentry in 19th-century England…
Here, for the first time, are the letters written by the exceedingly proud and stubborn Mr. Darcy, covering the life-changing events that defined him—from the death of his father, to his control of his Derbyshire estate of Pemberley to his conflicted courtship with the lively, intelligent, and delightfully willful Elizabeth Bennet. Try as he may, he cannot deny his attraction to this woman with fine eyes, a playful spirit, a mind of her own… and an embarrassing family that is frankly, and utterly, beneath him. But it is Elizabeth who controls both their destinies, and whose surprises will change Darcy’s life yet again.
Leave your comment + your e-mail address to enter the giveaway of one paperback copy of Dear Mr Darcy by Amanda Grange. This contest is limited to US readers and will end on August 18th.