First of all Kaelyn, welcome to our online book club. I’m really glad you’re here today to introduce yourself and your new book to our readers.
Thanks so much for having me!
Of course, my first question is: How did it come that you decided to write about Jane Austen’s world?
I became enamored with the BBC/A&E Pride and Prejudice miniseries … to the point that I was watching it multiple times each year. I couldn’t figure out why a woman of “sense and education” would repeatedly watch the same movie again and again (and again!) … and then it occurred to me: Being able to hear the language of Jane Austen and see the lifestyle of Elizabeth Bennet was just so pleasurable – beyond even what the novel could provide. That’s when I decided to “translate” Austen’s language and Elizabeth’s lifestyle for contemporary fans.
How to Speak Like Jane Austen and Live Like Elizabeth Bennet, A Pride and Prejudice Primer: Your Guide to Livelier Language and a Lovelier Lifestyle is available as an ebook. How would you interest our Janeite friends in your book in about 50 words?
I would say: If you can’t get enough of Pride or Prejudice in book or movie form, you can now put down the novel and step away from the DVD! How to Speak Like Jane Austen and Live Like Elizabeth Bennet makes it easy to incorporate Austen’s lively language and Elizabeth’s lovely lifestyle into our everyday lives.
Can you tell us something more about the journey through writing and finally getting to publish your book?
That’s a great question! I thought it would be fairly easy to identify all the best lines/most memorable language in Pride and Prejudice – and just reproduce them in a book, with their contemporary counterparts referenced. But it turned out there is so much great language/conversation and so many great lines that my biggest challenge was organizing them all. As a result, I ended up with a number of subcategories … such as “Vocabulary 101” and “Austen Ironies,” all of which makes it easier for readers to use the book in translating contemporary language into Regency parlance. I also included the novel’s section and chapter numbers for each reference so readers can easily find them in Austen’s text.
When it came to the second half of the book – “how to live like Elizabeth Bennet” – I was drawn to two overarching themes: Elizabeth is circumspect (reflective about her life and the lives of those around her); and her world is circumscribed (lived close to home). Those two ideas – being circumspect and living circumscribed – helped me define the elements of a more Elizabeth way of life. For today’s readers, I think this means being more thoughtful about the way we live our everyday lives, as well as being more focused on the pleasurable aspects of our daily routines. I truly believe that the way Elizabeth Bennet lived her life is still possible today … it just requires daily attention … and thoughtful intention.
Now give us just a tip to be/live like Elizabeth Bennet
I think one of the best ways to live like Elizabeth Bennet is to be thoughtful about one’s daily life, which can be fostered by time spent alone or in conversations with wise companions. Although Elizabeth’s personality was “lively,” she did not careen through life … she was very responsible about the way she lived, and I think that had a lot to do with the way she spent her private time – thinking about the best way to live her life was a priority for her.
And what’s the secret to speak like Jane Austen or, at least sound as Regency as we can?
The beauty of Pride and Prejudice is that so much of the language still works! For instance, one could easily say (as Mr. Gardiner said to Elizabeth regarding the possibility of Wickham eloping with Lydia), “His temptation is not adequate to the risk.” Granted, Austen’s version is more formal than “He has more to lose than gain,” but I think the Pride and Prejudice alternative is still conversational, and an example of how to use Austen’s language in contemporary life.
Actually, there’s lots of language in Pride and Prejudice that translates well, even if it’s not as commonplace today – in fact, many of Austen’s words sound fresh because they’re not overused. As just one example, the word “impolitic” – which Elizabeth accuses Darcy of being (during their conversation with Colonel Fitzwilliam at Rosings) – is a great word, not archaic at all, still meaning “unwise” … as it did all those years ago.
What’s even more fun is to exchange vintage Pride and Prejudice language with other Jane Austen fans. For instance, I could say to you “make haste” instead of “hurry up”; or use “ere” for “before”; or say “four and twenty” for “two dozen.” My best friend, Charlotte, and I entertain ourselves this way quite a bit! (Though it does tend to vex our husbands!). In addition because Austen uses a lot of irony, there are so many expressions that only Austen fans can understand – it’s like a secret language! For instance, Charlotte and I like to say, “We have but one mind and one way of thinking” whenever we want to characterize a relationship that is particularly ill-suited. This is how Mr. Collins described his marriage with Charlotte … but we all know what Austen was really saying: “Mr. Collins and Charlotte are worlds apart (and he doesn’t even know it)!” Speaking “like Jane Austen” with your like-minded friends can be a lot of fun!
If you could write a sequel or spin-off, what novel/character would you choose?
Well, since I’m all-Pride-and-Prejudice-all-the-time, it would have to be a character from that novel … I guess I’d like to explore the lives of Elizabeth and Darcy’s children … and see – through their eyes – what happened to the other characters’ descendants, as well as to Elizabeth and Darcy and their contemporaries.
What is the appeal of Jane Austen and her world to nowadays readers? What’s the secret of her huge global success?
Jane Austen tells a good story very well, and I think that has lasting appeal. I think her life, too – because she revealed so little about it – adds a layer of allure. And, from everything I’ve read, a lot of her present-day popularity is due to Pride and Prejudice, especially since the 1995 miniseries.
If Jane had lived nowadays what kind of novels would she have written?
Well, maybe this is completely off the mark, but I don’t think Jane Austen would be a writer if she lived today. From everything I’ve read about her, I think she reveled in a quiet, very private life and in fulfilling her role as a clergyman’s daughter. I can’t imagine that kind of woman wanting to go public with her insights, observations, etc. On the other hand, if Austen could keep her identity private – much harder to do today than in her day – she might be happy to expose the silly side of today’s society, perhaps in a blog … and I think she’d do an excellent job of that – and not in a mean-spirited way, which would definitely put her in a league of her own. That would be very entertaining and refreshing, which is definitely Austen-like.
What is it that you best love in her world and in her work?
That’s easy! What I best love is what I wrote about in my book – the literate language of Jane Austen and the lovely lifestyle of Elizabeth Bennet. It’s wonderful to read (or hear) words so artfully arranged. It’s also inspiring to think about Elizabeth Bennet’s lifestyle, where an abundance of leisure allowed time for thoughtful reflection and the pursuit of pleasurable pastimes. Although Elizabeth’s life is clearly a world away from the way most people live today, I think we could all benefit from adopting some of Elizabeth’s everyday habits as our own – spending more time in nature; spending more time at home; spending more time with the people we hold most dear; even spending more time in thoughtful written communication. I think Jane Austen and Elizabeth Bennet have a lot to teach us about a more enhanced existence in our 21st century world.
I am, especially the Colin Firth variety. But, I think Colonel Fitzwilliam has a lot to recommend him … if he could only find a nice girl with some money!
Do you identify with any character in Pride and Prejudice?
Well, I guess we’d all like to be Elizabeth Bennet, but actually I think I’m more in the Mrs. Gardiner category! I like to think she’s the mother Jane and Elizabeth should have had … and I like the idea of all those children scampering about, with plenty of extra cousins to take care of them during vacations to Derbyshire. Elizabeth clearly admired and loved Mrs. Gardiner, and I think I would be happy enough with that reflected glory!
Thanks, Kaelyn. Good luck to you and great success to your book.
Author Bio Note
Kaelyn Caldwell has been a fan of Pride and Prejudice ever since actor Colin Firth donned Darcy’s trousers for the 1995 BBC/A&E production. In the years since, she has watched the miniseries dozens of times. She has also read the book. Kaelyn Caldwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Book
How to Speak Like Jane Austen and Live Like Elizabeth Bennet – a delightfully inventive interpretation of all things Pride and Prejudice – translates the lively language of Jane Austen and the lovely lifestyle of Elizabeth Bennet into easy-to-embrace guidelines for 21st century living, making it possible to talk like Jane and act like Elizabeth – anytime, anyplace.
Honoring the 200th anniversary of the novel’s 1813 publication, faithful followers of Pride and Prejudice now have a way to bring the timeless eloquence of Jane Austen and the inspired enlightenment of Elizabeth Bennet into their everyday lives.
- Part I, “How to Speak Like Jane Austen,” is an entertaining resource, translating 21st century words, phrases and sentiments into their Pride and Prejudice counterparts, making it easy to introduce the author’s language into contemporary conversation.
- A more serious interpretation of Elizabeth’s lifestyle is contained in Part II, “How to Live Like Elizabeth Bennet,” which distills the heroine’s circumspect and circumscribed existence into simple precepts for modern living.
- Part III, “What would Lizzie Do?,” puts the enjoyment of the language and the inspiration of the lifestyle together in a lighthearted imagining of a more Austen-sounding and Elizabeth-acting way of life.
How to Speak Like Jane Austen and Live Like Elizabeth Bennet is available for $4.99 through all major e-book retailers, including:
~ iBookstore ... and more!