Monday 28 February 2011


After Jennifer Becton's Men, Marriage and Money in Sense and Sensibility,  our second monthly issue for The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration was by Alexa Adams, author of the highly delightful, First Impressions. A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice and blogger at First Impressions . She  chose to write about Sense and Sensibility on Film . Those of you who commented and left their  e-mail addresses  got the chance to win a region 1 DVD (USA, Canada, Bermuda , U.S territories) of Sense & Sensibility 1995 starring Emma Thomson, Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet , Greg Wise and Alan Rickman in the main roles.
 I'm just here to announce the name of the winner ...

My congratulations to ...

Many thanks to Alexa Adams and to all of you who visited, commented and/or animated the discussion. I'll wait for you next month to go on celebrating Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary. Our March issue will be by C. Allyn Pierson. She is going to propose an interesting analysis of the Inheritance Laws and their Consequences in Sense & Sensibility. Stay tuned!

Thursday 24 February 2011


Adam Spunberg  is the creator of The Jane  Austen  Twitter Project with English author Lynn Shepherd. Their amazing idea of  writing a new Austen-inspired story on Twitter has gained remarkable popularity in the Austen webworld these days and even  the media and the press ( The Times!) have shown great interest and appreciation.
Adam Spunberg received his B.A. from Columbia University and a law degree from the University of Florida. However, his affinity for literature -- like Jane Austen, for instance -- easily outweighed his middling interest in the legal profession, and he happily gave it all up for a career in sports journalism and film review. When not producing websites for Major League Baseball, Spunberg relishes the chance to watch movies, read books, and write with Oxford commas. He also wanted to take residence at Netherfield, but he heard it was let at last. Instead, he practices Anglophilia from across the pond in New York City.
I'm very glad to welcome Adam on My Jane Austen Book Club and to offer you the possibility to enjoy our lively, humorous chat ....

-          MG: When was your first encounter with our darling Miss Austen?

A: My first encounter was going to see Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility with my parents, but I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to reading. During my freshman year of college, we were assigned to read Pride & Prejudice in my Literature Humanities class. You might say I was instantly smitten – unlike the hero and heroine, interestingly enough – and if I was late in arriving to the party, I can at least say I partied hard.

-        MG:   Really? Great , Adam. And what did you like best in her work and in her world?

A: There was a lot to like. At first, I was drawn to the Pride & Prejudice plot itself; what’s not to love in your classic, he-offends-her-and-she-hates-him-but-then-he-secretly-loves-her-and-eventually-she-comes-around-magnificently tale. Then again, it’s not every day that “the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry” becomes the man of a girl’s dreams. I hope I could be so lucky as to offend a girl as wondrous as Lizzy Bennet so!

Eventually, it was an appreciation for her insatiable wit, the eloquent diction. There is as much to relish in her secondary characters as in the main ones, and the stories read so quickly and enjoyably. Really, Miss Austen is a breath of fresh air on the world.

-         MG:  Is there anything  you envy to men and women of her time?

A: I wouldn’t mind being as wealthy as Mr. Darcy, lol. I do wish we had some of the same chivalry nowadays. It almost seems like a Regency romance today would involve restraining orders, therapy, Facebook de-friendings, and details about someone’s sex life exposed on the Internet.

-         MG:  Have you got a favourite Austen hero? Heroine? Couple?

A: You know, I always feel the need to stick up for Fanny Price. Maybe she was a little bland and meek, but you have to admire her genuine goodness and conviction. I also remember absolutely revering Elinor Dashwood for being so wise and understanding in the midst of misfortunes.

Still, I hate to be so ordinary, but Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite. She just has so much spunk! If someone can find a way to make Lost in Austen happen, I’ll be waiting here for her – especially if she looks like Gemma Arterton.

-        MG:   Since you are collaborating with Lynn Shepherd, author of a brilliant Austen -inspired murder mystery, Murder at Mansfield Park (which I loved reading so much!) , what do you think of the huge quantity of Austen fanfiction - sequels, spin-offs, modern re-telling, mash-ups  - released in the last few years?

A: This is something I didn’t know about until recently. I think it’s wonderful that there’s such an Austen resurgence, and many of these writers – as you can see from A Ball at Pemberley – have an incredible grasp for the material. I’ve become very friendly with Sharon Lathan, Jane Odiwe, and of course – Lynn. And if I can just say: I agree wholeheartedly about Lynn’s book.
Is she something special or what?

-         MGWhat is the great appeal of Austen on 21st readers ?

A: I think there are some common themes that really originated in the 90’s. Female liberation, suburban strife, a rise of individuality. More than anything, I think the people of today crave Austen’s breed of romanticism: love and courtship, with a little bit of satire and practicality thrown in. We all know couples like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet or Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, but we want to believe there are Darcys and Knightleys, too.


-         MGYou are interested in experimenting with literature and technology. Anyone who loves  books and is interested  in writing/reading must come to terms with modern book formats and completely new marketing. Is the traditional book format bound to disappear soon, then?

A: I could be wrong, but I think people cherish the feeling of paper in their hands too much to throw away the old-fashioned book. Over time, however, paper-bound books may go the way of enyclopedias: entire shelves coverted to one, razor-thin display format.
This revolution may be inevitable.

-         MGAre the new technologies contributing to spread the habit of reading  among young people? Or are they , the young people I mean,  more interested in social networking and chatrooms?

A: At least they’re reading! But seriously, I think young people are passing hours of time on the Internet rather than reading novels. I can relate to that impulse personally. I could be reading Dickens right now; instead, I’m tweeting, going on Facebook, and answering online interview questions – although this interviewer asks GREAT questions;)

-         MGFor what you know about her, what do you think Jane Austen’s most congenial way of conveying her thoughts, keeping in touch with friends and family  or  launching her novels would have been today? A blog? Twitter? Facebook? All of them?

A: I imagine Jane Austen communicating on two different levels. For her public, there would be all kinds of clever status updates, tweets, and blog entries. Close friends and families would get private e-mails and direct messages.
Goodbye quills and parchments, hello carpotunnel syndrome!

-         MG: I’ve asked this several times before to Austenite authors I interviewed,  especially is they were also teachers. Now I’m going to ask the same question you as a representative of humanity with the Y chromosome: why is it always so difficult for me as a teacher to read / watch Jane Austen with my teeanage male students? Any suggestions to win their prejudices against “that girlish stuff”? (their words, not mine, of course!)

A: I’ll watch Austen with you any time. Meet you under the Arch of Titus?

Really though, I think there’s a stigma that enjoying “chick books” like these diminishes masculinity, and secretly more of them would like it than they let on. How about coming up with book covers? Wrap a cover around Persuasion that says, “AC Milan and Juventus” and nobody will know.

Oh, and tell them that hot girl in History class loves men who are man enough to read Austen.

And by the way, if you’d prefer we meet at the Spanish Steps, that works too.
I’ll bring some nocciola gelato.

-         MGMmm... I love icecream but... Let’s see Adam...It’d be nice talking Austen with you in Rome but I’ve never seen New York skyline from the Statue of Liberty –though I was there twice . Do they let tourists  go up or is it prohibited? Jane Austen and skyscrapers! Why not? 

MG: Now , seriously , your amazingly original Austen project on twitter! Tell us something about how you came to meet  Lynn Shepherd and decided  to join efforts and  start this great new adventure

A: Not surprisingly, we met over Twitter. She followed me after I had an Austenesque discussion with a woman about the origins of baseball. From there, I ended up reading (and loving) her book, tweeting back and forth with her, and eventually sharing this idea I had. We became tremendously good friends.

And though I haven’t asked her formally, I might have a place to stay if I’m passing through Berkshire. Not to be discounted, the way the American dollar is holding up to the pound these days, lol.

-        MG:   How is it going? Give us the “figures”  of your success (numbers of participants, tweets, interest from the media, etc)

A: It’s going better than I ever imagined. So far, we have nearly 50 tweeters signed up from 13 countries and six continents (if you know anyone on Antarctica, pass it on). The quality of the tweets has been extraordinary, and we have over 15,000 words written, based on just two days of tweeting.

There has been significant media interest, from the BBC in Northern Ireland and Oxford, to The Times and ... Austen blogs.  There’s one in particular you should read: Maria Grazia does an amazing job!

MG: Flattered  and honoured to be appreciated by a young expert of media and technologies like you, especially because you also like old  aunt Jane. Tell me the truth, you’ve learnt how to win women’s benevolence from her heroes. Smart indeed, Adam! That’s all , for now. Thanks a lot for being one of my rare gentlemen guests on My Jane Austen Book Club. Good luck with your Austen project ,  your work and your life!

Leave a comment here or a question for Adam and you 'll get the chance to win a copy of MURDER AT MANSFIELD PARK by Lynn Shepherd.  The giveaway is open internationally and ends on March 2nd, when the name of the winner will be announced. Don't forget to add your e-mail address,  if you want to be entered! Good Luck! MG

Wednesday 23 February 2011


Last week Karen Wasylowski  was my guest for the second time in the latest months to discuss her debut novel, Darcy and Fitzwilliam. A Tale of a Gentleman and an Officer. Thank you so much, Karen! You've been extremely kind . 
  Karen's first guest post on My Jane Austen Book Club is HERE , my review of the book is HERE and our "Talking Jane Austen with ..." session is HERE
Now, one of the commenters who entered the international giveaway is going to get  a copy of Karen's Darcy and Fitwilliam and here I am just to announce her name. The winner is ...



Saturday 19 February 2011

SENSE & SENSIBILITY BICENTENARY CELEBRATION - Sense and Sensibility on film by Alexa Adams + Giveaway!

 After Jennifer Becton's Men, Marriage and Money in Sense and Sensibility, here's our second monthly issue for The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration on My Jane Austen Book Club. February  is for Alexa Adams, author of the highly delightful, First Impressions. A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice and blogger at First Impressions  . She has chosen to write about Sense and Sensibility in Film .  Join  Alexa Adams in the discussion of the several different adaptations. 

Leave your comment and e-mail address to get the chance to win a region 1 DVD  (USA, Canada, Bermuda , U.S territories) of Sense & Sensibility 1995 starring Emma Thomson, Hugh Grant,  Kate Winslet , Greg Wise and Alan Rickman in the main roles. The name of the winner will be announced on 28 February. Open to readers from the areas mentioned in brackets above.Good luck!

I consider Sense and Sensibility to be one of Austen's novels best suited for film adaptation, an opinion premised largely in the fact that all four of the cinematic versions of it succeed in both entertaining and sticking to the story. This book doesn't seem to be a candidate for the kind of misinterpretation that Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey have been subjected to, the heroine of the former frequently being massively altered, while film makers cannot seem to resist the lure of the Gothic the latter inherently mocks. I have pondered what makes Sense and Sensibility so appropriate for the visual medium and have landed upon two notions: the balance of having two heroines that embody opposite personalities traits which, conveniently, also convey the story's theme, and the variety of settings the novel provides, each projecting a distinct emotional experience for our characters. 

These facets of the tale make it easy for film makers to translate it to the screen while staying true to form, be it in the matter of our earliest adaptations, the two mini-series produced by the BBC in 1971 and 1981, which only slightly deviate from the novel, or in that of the later versions, Hollywood's 1995 production and the BBC's 2008 mini-series, which embrace what Austen scholar Daniel R. Mangiavellano calls “adaptation as elaboration” in his 2008 essay, “A Thoroughly Elinor Sort of Way: Elinor's Sensibility in Masterpiece’s Sense and Sensibility” (Persuasions V. 29, No. 1). This means that these newer films not only include details just hinted at in the novel, but also create entirely new scenes premised in the film makers' individual interpretations of the story. For purists, this posses problems (Mangiavellano points to the opening scene of the 2008 film, in which Willoughby's seduction of Eliza is dramatized, as an example), but for those who find the slow, methodical pace of the BBC adaptations made in the 70's and 80's tedious, it is a strength: though a degree of accuracy is sacrificed, the result is a richer cinematic experience.
We all have our biases regarding these films (mine fully rest with the 1995 version), and I could use this opportunity to debate their relative merits, but I think it more in keeping with the nature of this bicentenary celebration to dwell on what all do well, like the vitally important aspect of properly casting our heroines. The earliest Elinors (Joanna David in 1971 and Irene Richard in1981) do such a good job of capturing the character's pragmatism that they were chosen to play two equally practical Austen creations, Mrs. Gardiner (1995 Pride and Prejudice) and Charlotte Lucas (1980 Pride and Prejudice). Their respective counterparts, Ciaran Madden and Tracey Childs, both capture Marianne's destructively passionate nature, the former putting more emphasis on her melodramatic tendencies while the latter focuses on her disdain for the lack of sensibility in others. 
Arguments abound about Emma Thompson's age appropriateness for the role of Eleanor in 1995, but most can agree that she performs it magnificently, as did Hattie Morahan in 2008. Both actresses display the passion Elinor buries within her, revealing that her sensibilities are equal to Marianne's, only kept in check. Kate Winslet (1995) and Charity Wakefield (2008) provide similar interpretations of Marianne, emphasizing her similarities to the modern teenager – unrestrained, determined, and self-centered – without sacrificing those qualities that make her so sympathetic to audiences. All four films play Elinor and Marianne against each other, just as Austen does, in order to strike that essential balance between the title characteristics, creating, by the end of the story, perfected heroines; Elinor is freed to indulge her sensibilities, while Marianne has learned to weigh hers with sense. 
Barton Cottage ( 2008 )

Norland (1995)
While the earlier films are both financially and technologically hampered, they still manage, like their successors, to tie the developing emotional status of our heroines to their changing locations. In the book, Norland Park symbolizes the security the Dashwood ladies loose upon their father's death. It is therefore presented on film as a solid, imposing edifice, conveying a sense of the wealth and stability that defined their lives up to this point. In comparison, Barton Cottage is very humble, but it is also picturesque, appropriately representing their fluctuating emotions and social status. In regards to the 1995 film, Austen scholar Sue Parrill, in her 1999 essay “What Meets the Eye: Landscape in the Films Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility” (Persuasions, No. 21), points to a deliberate “contrast between Norland and Barton Cottage, and scenery that would suggest the melancholy feelings of the Dashwoods, who have lost father, husband, lover, and home.” In both this film and the 2008 version, this effect is increased by making Barton Cottage far less 
comfortable than Austen portrayed it, for whom intimate knowledge with William Gilpin's theories regarding of the picturesque were sufficient to create this atmosphere without subjected the Dashwoods to actual physical discomfort. The 2008 film takes the element of environment even further, transplanting the cottage to the coast in order to take advantage of crashing waves and rocky promontories as a means of increase the emotional tension. 
We next find Elinor and Marianne transplanted to Mrs. Jennings' home in London in which, while commanding all the modern comforts, they are distinctly guests, corresponding to their alienation while in the capital, as enforced by their treatment in the hands of Mrs. Ferrars, John and Fanny Dashwood, and Lucy Steele. Appropriately, Mrs. Jennings home is always portrayed rather starkly. Despite its luxury, formality defines the space. Finally at Cleveland, where they are literally trapped influx, somewhere between London and home, the house and grounds are portrayed as combining the qualities of town, Barton, and Norland. This is where all our oscillating emotions begin to come full circle. The style of house invokes Norland, improvements such as a Grecian temple resembles the atmosphere of London, but the more wild landscape, where Marianne takes her walks, invokes Barton. This is best captured in the later films, as their budgets allowed, and the turmoil of the moment is further enhanced in both by rain, which not only adds to the sense of climax but also helps to rationalize Marianne's subsequent illness. It is Austen's masterful use of scenery that paves the way for the film makers' elaborations, and no matter how much each movie differs, all are grounded in the framework her locations create, making it nearly impossible to stray far from the novel's intentions.
Marianne and Elinor (2008)
I would love to write at length about all of Sense and Sensibility's attributes, particularly the novel's other characters, that have been brought to life on film. We have had so many marvelous Edwards, Brandons and Willoughbys. Similarly, the more minor players that provide so much texture to this tale (like Fanny Dashwood, Robert Ferrars, Mrs. Jennings, and Charlotte Palmer) have been phenomenally captured by magnificent actors, and I could analyze their different interpretations endlessly. 

Instead, I will point the interested to the reviews I have posted on my blog of all four films (links are below), as well as to my Sense and Sensibility Mashup, in which I composed my ideal cast, comprised of performers from each adaptation. I cannot emphasize enough how well-worth watching all the versions are, each invoking the Janeite's passion for the story, adding to its dimensions, and increasing  its accessibility to a wider audience. All have their triumphs and their problems, but what is paramount is that each succeed in that most important function of any literary adaptation: paying respectful and loving homage to a masterful work of fiction.     

Reviews -

Mashup -

A lover of Jane Austen since her childhood, Alexa Adams is the author of First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice and writes about Austen at her blog of the same name. Currently she is working on the sequel to First Impressions as well as a series of short stories, published serially on her blog under the title Janeicillin, in which she extends the ends of Austen’s novels by imagining events as they might have occurred between the proposals and the weddings. She lives in the Delaware Valley with her husband and two cats, and the whole family eagerly anticipates the arrival of their first child, a daughter, in June.

Thursday 17 February 2011


Karen V. Wasylowski is a former accountant from Chicago, Illinois now residing in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.  Karen and her husband Richard spend much of their time volunteering with Project Light, a free literacy center in the Bradenton area, and also with Stillpoint House of Prayer, an outreach program for the homeless.  
Karen's debut novel, Darcy and Fitzwilliam, is published by Sourcebooks Landmark. It is available NOW and I've recently  read, liked and reviewed it (HERE).
You can win a copy of Karen Wasylowski's brand new spin-off story based on Austen Pride and Prejudice commenting this interview and adding your e-mail address. The giveaway is open internationally and ends next 23rd February.

First of all, welcome back to My JA Book Club,  Karen,  and thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  Your debut novel seems to be the book of the moment! I’ve seen reviews and snippets and interviews all over the Austen-dedicated blogosphere. You must be proud of your “Darcy and Fitzwilliam”!
 I’ve read some Austen fanfiction  in the last couple of years , especially novels inspired to Pride and Prejudice. What I particularly  love in your “Darcy and Fitzwilliam”, is  the idea of a male perspective on facts. How did you come to the decision of writing from an entirely new point of view?
I think I am just a product of the movies.  I love buddy films and find male friendships so much more exciting than female ones to watch on the screen.  Besides, I really like good decent men and the way they relate to each other. 

I got the impression your Darcy was rather influenced by the 2005 Darcy interpreted by Matthew MacFadyen.  Your hints at his being shy , suggested me this idea. Am I wrong? Do you agree with that interpretation of Darcy’s behaviour?
I suggested his being reticent because Darcy was moral, he was gorgeous and he was rich – a perfect storm for any matchmaking mama.  He was in charge of a great estate at a very young age and as I said in the book, to preserve his family inheritance he needed to move into older circles that were more conventional and conservative than he would have if left a callow youth.  I envisioned a young man setting up defenses for his self preservation, trying to hold his own with older, more experienced, men – a world more his father’s age than his own.  I saw him more as reclusive then shy because of this.

Since we mentioned P&P 2005, what is your favourite adaptation and why?
My favorite adaptation is the mini-series because it follows the book so much more closely than the movie; there is no one more witty than Jane  Austen.  And, like most women, it wasn’t difficult to fall in love with Colin Firth either.  However, then came the 2005 movie which was excellent on its own merits, but not as a strict Austen interpretation.  And again, it was not at all difficult to promptly fall in love with Matthew MacFadyen.
 I am nothing if not fickle - I was, at one time, also in love with Laurence Olivier’s Darcy.  I have come to accept the fact that it is just plain old Darcy that I love and not necessarily the men who play him.

 The other characters Elizabeth, Jane, Mr and Mrs Bennet , Georgiana Darcy, on the whole keep the traits of their personalities  Austen gave them. While I find Lady Catherine or Colonel Fitzwilliam rather changed respect to my memories of them. I love both characters, of course, but could you explain why you decided to give them new life?
To my mind Lady Catherine was behaving properly for her times and for her position in society – in her mind she was protecting her nephew.  I don’t see anything terrible in what she did.  She was rude by our standards certainly but we had the advantage of knowing Lizzy intimately by the time they met, and loving her.  Lizzy was a poor stranger to Aunt Catherine.   I don’t know why anyone would think Colonel Fitzwilliam was changed at all. He was played as a much older man in the Laurence Olivier film, he was not even referred to as a cousin in 2005, but I always liked the character.  He made Lizzy laugh; Jane Austen describes him as charming and affable, someone with whom you could easily converse.   I tried to write him that way and give him a story, taking great liberties with time lines and the Peninsular War and Waterloo so that I could make him a media hero.   The war trauma aspect was a result of speaking with my best friend’s husband, a Purple Heart recipient from Viet Nam.  He talks about his wound very seldom and we both had tears in our eyes once he did. 

 Where did you find the inspiration for new characters,  such as Amanda or Doctor Anthony Milagros?
I loved Dr. Milagros.  In my mind he is Antonio Banderas (I told you I was from the movie generation).  Tall, dark, handsome, funny and a good friend.  He and Amanda are both Catholics, looked down upon for their religion.  There was only one church that I could find that would even allow a Catholic service in those days and then only one service per week; devout Catholics would have met and bonded there, no matter how different their circumstances.  I have no idea where Amanda came from.   Honestly, it sounds trite but sometimes I think these characters write themselves and you need to type fast to keep up with them.

 What do you like best in Darcy and what in Fitzwilliam?
 I love Darcy’s brilliant mind, his wit, his loyalty to his family and his natural leadership.  He has an ability to stand above the crowd, not needing the approval of others.  He doesn’t need fawning attention, quite the contrary  – he shies away from it- it aggravates him.  I love Fitzwilliam’s recklessness and love of life, his magnetism, his struggle to fit back into the world he left to defend his country.  And of course I love his affection for his cousin, a man he still sees as a pesky little brother.

 I know it is a very difficult choice but… Have you got a favourite one between the two of them? 
Not really.  I love them both for different reasons.  My husband is moral, quiet and very charming so I suppose he’s a combination of the two of them.  If only he were rich…

Elizabeth and Darcy often arguing and discussing  are rather hilarious. Do you really imagine their ménage as so animated?
I don’t see why it wouldn’t be animated.  Both are very smart, both strong willed, both in love.  Most stories end with the wedding, everyone dewy eyed; but, in reality, the marriage part takes a while. Hopefully at some point you sense you really are one person in two bodies, but that doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes time, great love and a lot of misunderstandings to find your common ground, an accomplishment some couples never achieve. 

Caroline Bingley is  one of the wicked characters in your story. Not that I have ever sympathized with her but… Would you excuse her behavior,  anyhow?
“Royal morals before Queen Victoria came to the English throne in 1837 had been so disreputable that a Puritan-style reaction was inevitable.”  Victorian Morality – Reaction to the Outrageous Hanoverians, by Brenda Ralph Lewis.

From what I have read the Regent’s royal court was quite wild, which set the tone for a certain segment of the aristocracy.  I envisioned Caroline as striving to fit into that society and using her feminine wiles to land a husband.  After all, she had no aristocratic pedigree to recommend her - she was merely a shopkeepers daughter.  In that level of society, in that time period, I imagine her behavior was not unheard of, being that the social set she moved in was not overly moral by our standards.  It was not until the period after the Regency, the Victorian Era, that strict moral codes were insisted upon, due particularly to the influence of the moralist Prince Albert.

Now get ready to defend your “creature”, Karen.  First claim:  I wasn’t disturbed nor offended by your decision to add scenes where we enter the very private,   and even the sexual, life of the characters. But this might create embarrassment in many Austen readers,  who are used to Jane’s complete  censorship and definite prudery when it comes to the intimate relationships between her lovers.  What are the reasons of your choice?
First, Jane Austen wrote her stories two hundred years ago, she was restricted by the era in which she wrote.
 Second, I cannot believe anyone would think my scenes were even remotely sexy.  I have read stories by many women writers that are much more explicit, much more graphic than anything I expressed.
 Third, I was completely unaware that Jane Austen sequels were forbidden to have sex in them. I thought I had read one or two that were very graphic.  It never entered my head that, in this day and age, anyone would think twice about describing, however slightly, physical love.  I apologize to those who were offended.     

Claim 2 : Some may not like your choice to follow your own style and tone in the narration. You didn’t try to sound like JA, but created your own narrating style and voice. That was brave, I think, and the result was remarkable. But what about the blunt usage of naughty words? Can you motivate that decision of yours?
I was writing about the men, not the ladies.  There was no language used in Darcy and Fitzwilliam that was not freely in use during that time period by men.   None.  I repeat – none.  I was proofread at least four times by experts of that period and I was forced to scramble and replace various terms because they were out of period, but not once was I asked to replace a swear word; unfortunately swearing has been with us since the dawn of man.   And although cursing was not allowed in 1800’s literature, in day to day life the men swore when they conversed with each other, as evidenced by research into personal letters and journals from that time.   
Colonel Fitzwilliam was a soldier, used to living with other men in unbelievably harsh conditions.  I cannot imagine him being a prissy little fop who wouldn’t say boo.  He cusses and swears, mostly in his head or mumbling to himself, or to his best friend – Darcy.    And Darcy swears after a great upheaval nearly destroys his family.  He’s alone with his friend and he lets himself vent his anger.    

 I think Austen fanfiction must be just  fun. It can be well or badly written but it can’t be nothing like the original. Do you think there are  limits a fanfiction writer shouldn’t overcome?
I personally don’t enjoy the fan fiction that brings Jane Austen characters into the modern age, or that mixes up the couples that were settled and in love in her novels.  But that is my preference because I have a bookkeeper brain that likes everything neat and tidy.  No disruption.

I don’t understand those who always search for the real Austen, her  style or etiquette in stories written or adapted for the screen nowadays.  Many  criticize P&P 2005 or Emma 2009 for their  being too modern or not very truthful  to the original stories,  but many can bear wet shirts and other untruthfulnesses  in other adaptations.  I love the  adaptations, most of them,  with all  their different interpretations of Jane Austen’s works. When I want real Jane Austen, I just open her books and read them. What is your attitude to adaptations?
I love all the adaptations that are true to the original intent of the story.  There is no one who can write like Jane Austen and I would not insult her or demean myself by trying to copy her style. No one should.  She worked very hard on her books and to steal her style from her would be awful.  That’s why I love both the mini-series and the movie, just for different reasons.  One is rather stuffy and formal but the beautiful words are intact while the other has all the emotion of the story with annoying modern tinges (no hat on Lizzy, no gloves!  Really!).  I think Jane Austen was lucky in that she had no idea she would be worshipped two hundred years later.  What a terrible burden for a young woman to carry!  

 I’m sure films and adaptations have misinterpreted Austen a lot  (re: the lack of  romanticism and sentimentalism in the novels, which are instead the main ingredients in most film versions) .  I like them a lot,  anyway.  Is this a crime … can you bear it? ;-)
I love them too; obviously, since I put kissing and touching into my book (horrors!).  I love the romance of Pride and Prejudice - that haughty man falling so hard for the country girl, thinking she’ll be flattered and getting the stuffing kicked out of himself for his arrogance.  And how long would he have stayed interested in Lizzy if she had accepted his original ghastly proposal.  Not too long.  Then he moves heaven and earth to win her.  How many variations of that theme have there been over the years, all an homage to Austen’s great forerunner.  There is something magical in that story, her characters and their motivations stand the test of time, can be understood just as much now as they were back then.   She deals with common human emotions and simple human frailties – no subplots about kidnappers or secret rooms.  The conventions of modern times may dictate the interpretation of her work but they can’t change her beautiful stories.  They go on and on.

This is all, Karen. Thanks again for your kindness and availability. I wish you great success with your "Darcy & Fitwilliam"  and hope to read a new novel soon!
And now to our readers, good luck in the giveaway! Don't forget to add your e-mail address. The giveaway is open worldwide and ends February 23rd.

Wednesday 16 February 2011


Hello, everybody! I've been out all day under a pouring rain but I'm glad to be back home and, especially,  to be here to give some of you very good news!
I'm going to announce the names of the winners of 3 different giveaways. Are you ready?

1. The Annotated Pride and Prejudice linked to Susan Adriani's interview goes to


2. A Brand new copy of Jane Goes Batty linked to

C.Allyn Pierson

3. The winner of the Regency set of bookmarks offered by Masha Laurence at Etsy
and linked to my Valentine's Day Poll is ...
Elegant Female

Congratulations to all the winners!!!

Before leaving you till tomorrow, I just wanted to inform you of the results of my Valentine's Day Poll, "Which is the most romantic Austen finale?"




14.9%  EMMA



It seems Captain Wentworth's letter has won most of our hearts (mine too, yes!) The majority of the votes went, in fact, to Persuasion.
That's all for now. I'll wait for you tomorrow for another session of "Talking Jane Austen With ..." . A new author interview and a new book giveaway open worldwide. Till then, have a good time!

Monday 14 February 2011


Happy Valentine's Day to all of you,  my Janeite friends all over the world. Here's a poll for you in this especially romantic day in the year. Which is the most romantic finale in Jane Austen's novels?
Choose your favourite one after reading/watching this post, vote in the poll, then leave your comment and e-mail address and you'll have a chance to win the cute Regency gifts below created and offered  by Masha Laurence at  Etsy
Masha  was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, where her  parents worked at the Bolshoi Theatre.  From her  youngest days, many of which were spent backstage and in the costume hall she  aquired passionate love of costumes and everything to do with ballet and opera.  Her other passion is books, the classics in particular, that is why her artwork generally reflects period costumes and scenes from her favorite books. She now lives in the US,  love being married to a real life Mr.Knightley and has 4 wonderful and crazy kids.

Visit her site and enjoy her lovely creations.

Now have a look at the gifts! 

 1. Set of bookmarks Captain Wentworth & Ann Elliot

2. Darcy and Elizabeth - Card

3. Henry Tilney - bookmark

"He felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted." (chapter 30)


"Elinor could sit it no longer. She almost ran out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease. Edward, who had till then looked any where, rather than at her, saw her hurry away, and perhaps saw--or even heard, her emotion; for immediately afterwards he fell into a reverie, which no remarks, no inquiries, no affectionate address of Mrs. Dashwood could penetrate, and at last, without saying a word, quitted the room, and walked out towards the village--leaving the others in thegreatest astonishment and perplexity on a change in his situation, so wonderful and so sudden;--a perplexity which they had no means of lessening but by their own conjectures. Unaccountable, however, as the circumstances of his release might appear to the whole family, it was certain that Edward was free; and to what purpose that freedom would be employed was easily pre-determined by all;--for after experiencing the blessings of ONE imprudent engagement, contracted without his mother's consent, as he had already
done for more than four years, nothing less could be expected of him in the failure of THAT, than the immediate contraction of another ".
(chapter 49)


"If you _will_ thank me," he replied, "let it be for yourself alone. That the wish of giving happiness to you might add force to the other inducements which led me on, I shall not attempt to deny. But your  _family_ owe me nothing. Much as I respect them, I believe I thought only of _you_."
Elizabeth was too much embarrassed to say a word. After a short pause, her companion added, "You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. _My_affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever."

Elizabeth, feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak; and immediately, though not
very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone
so material a change, since the period to which he alluded, as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances.
" (chapter 58)


You will not ask me what is the point of envy.--You are determined, I see, to have no curiosity.--You are wise--but _I_ cannot be wise. Emma, I must tell you what you will not ask, though I may wish it unsaid the next moment."

"As a friend!"--repeated Mr. Knightley.--"Emma, that I fear is a word--No, I have no wish--Stay, yes, why should I hesitate?—I have gone too far already for concealment.--Emma, I accept your offer--Extraordinary as it may seem, I accept it, and refer myself to you as a friend.--Tell me, then, have I no chance of ever succeeding?"

He stopped in his earnestness to look the question, and the expression of his eyes overpowered her.
"My dearest Emma," said he, "for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation,

my dearest, most beloved Emma--tell me at once. Say 'No,' if it is to be said."--She could really say nothing.
"You are silent," he cried, with great animation; "absolutely silent! at present I ask no more."

"I cannot make speeches, Emma:" he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.--"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.--You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.--Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The
manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.--But you understand me.--Yes, you see, you understand my feelings--and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice." (chapter 49 pp.370-373)

Edmund had greatly the advantage of her in this respect. He had not to wait and wish with vacant affections for an object worthy to succeed her in them. Scarcely had he done regretting Mary Crawford, and observing to Fanny how impossible it was that he should ever meet with such another woman, before it began to strike him whether a very different kind of woman might not do just as well, or a great deal better: whether Fanny
herself were not growing as dear, as important to him in all her smiles and all her ways, as Mary Crawford had ever been; and whether it might not be a possible, an hopeful undertaking to persuade her that her warm
and sisterly regard for him would be foundation enough for wedded love. With such a regard for her, indeed, as his had long been, a regard founded on the most endearing claims of innocence and helplessness, and
completed by every recommendation of growing worth, what could be more natural than the change? Loving, guiding, protecting her, as he had been doing ever since her being ten years old, her mind in so great a degree
formed by his care, and her comfort depending on his kindness, an object to him of such close and peculiar interest, dearer by all his own importance with her than any one else at Mansfield, what was there now
to add, but that he should learn to prefer soft light eyes to sparkling dark ones. And being always with her, and always talking confidentially, and his feelings exactly in that favourable state which a recent disappointment gives, those soft light eyes could not be very long in obtaining the pre-eminence.

Having once set out, and felt that he had done so on this road to happiness, there was nothing on the side of prudence to stop him or make
his progress slow; no doubts of her deserving, no fears of opposition of
taste, no need of drawing new hopes of happiness from dissimilarity of temper. Her mind, disposition, opinions, and habits wanted no half-concealment, no self-deception on the present, no reliance on
future improvement. Even in the midst of his late infatuation, he had acknowledged Fanny's mental superiority. What must be his sense of it now, therefore? She was of course only too good for him; but as nobody
minds having what is too good for them, he was very steadily earnest in the pursuit of the blessing, and it was not possible that encouragement from her should be long wanting. Timid, anxious, doubting as she was, it
was still impossible that such tenderness as hers should not, at times, hold out the strongest hope of success, though it remained for a later period to tell him the whole delightful and astonishing truth. His happiness in knowing himself to have been so long the beloved of such a heart, must have been great enough to warrant any strength of language in which he could clothe it to her or to himself; it must have been a delightful happiness. But there was happiness elsewhere which no description can reach. Let no one presume to give the feelings of a young woman on receiving the assurance of that affection of which she has scarcely allowed herself to entertain a hope.

Their own inclinations ascertained, there were no difficulties behind,
no drawback of poverty or parent.


The letter, with a direction hardly legible, to "Miss A. E.--," was evidently the one which he had been folding so hastily. While supposed to be writing only to Captain Benwick, he had been also addressing her! On the contents of that letter depended all which this world could do for her. Anything was possible, anything might be defied rather than suspense. Mrs. Musgrove had little arrangements of her own at her own table; to their protection she must trust, and sinking into the chair which he had occupied, succeeding to the very spot where he had leaned and written, her eyes devoured the following words:
"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
F. W.
"I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never." (volume II chapter XI)

And now here's my Valentine's poll. Cast your vote, then tell us all about your choice in your comment.  I can't vote but I want to tell you what I'd choose in the poll : Captain Wentworth's letter. Persuasion finale. Isn't it the most piercinlgy romantic letter ever written? But I also love Mr Knightley's sweet revelation of his feelings: "I cannot make speeches, Emma" ... Sweet,  indeed. Don't forget to add your e-mail address to have the chance to win the lovely gifts offered by Masha at Etsy: 1. Persuasion Set of Bookmarks 2. Pride and Prejudice Card  3. Henry Tilney  Bookmark.  The name of the winner will be announced on Wednesday 16th February. The giveaway is open worldwide.