Wednesday 20 July 2011


The July issue of The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration here on My Jane Austen Book Club is dedicated to Lucy Steele. Lovely and talented writer Laurie Viera Rigler - Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict - has turned into a kind (and patient!) reporter and interviewer  and  met Lucy to ask her what we all  always wanted to know.

For 200 years, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY's Lucy Steele has been universally acknowledged as the villain in the Elinor/Edward/Lucy love triangle…or is she? For the first time ever, Lucy has agreed to an exclusive interview in which she hopes to set the record straight.

LVR: Miss Steele, thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

LUCY: I am Miss Steele no more. I am Mrs. Robert Ferrars.

LVR: Sorry, Mrs. Ferrars. When you were still Miss Lucy Steele, you were secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars, your husband's brother, for four years. It was a long and difficult engagement, with Edward's prospects uncertain and the burden of secrecy great. Could you tell us why you stayed engaged all those years?

LUCY: Perhaps you do not understand my position. I was a dependent young lady without fortune or connections. It was bad enough that my sister Anne and I were already living off the charity of my uncle Pratt and our other friends. It would be worse to give up a prize catch like Edward. And let us be frank, Anne's chances of marrying were nil. It fell to me to secure our future.

LVR: Did you love Edward?

LUCY: La! What a question. I had no notion that anyone's impertinent curiosity could exceed my own.

LVR: Well, it is a fair question, Lucy. And you did agree to reveal all.

LUCY: Ah, well. We are as close as sisters already, an't we? And so here is what I say about love: It belongs to the romances of a circulating library, not to a girl with no portion and no prospects.

LVR: But how did you feel about Edward?

LUCY: Feel? I knew he would provide me a settled home, for I believed that his mother would never throw him off completely.

LVR: You haven't answered the question.

LUCY: He was pleasant enough when he wished to be, though he did have a tendency towards gloominess that was not very agreeable.

LVR: Not exactly the romantic picture you painted for Elinor. And so you did realize that he no longer loved you?

LUCY: I take back my words about us being as close as sisters, for no sister would be this cruel.

LVR: You mean crueler than leaving your own sister behind without seven shillings to her name while you ran off to get married?

LUCY: You should know better than to believe a word Anne says. Why, she likely squandered her money on a new pink gown, because Dr. Davies said he liked the color. Poor, stupid girl.

LVR: You did know that Edward no longer loved you, didn't you.

LUCY: You will persist in this! The only thing I knew is that the laws of honor forbade a man to break his engagement. If the man cried off, the gossips would whisper that perchance the lady was ruined. Tis a pity these conventions do not stand in your time.

LVR: Why did you torment Elinor by boasting of Edward's affections for you?

LUCY: I beg your pardon, but it was Elinor who tormented me, not the other way round. And why is it, I might ask, that it is always the woman who must be at fault?

LVR: I didn't say that—

LUCY: How would you feel if you had pledged the best years of your youth to a gentleman, only to hear that he was so marked in his preference for another that your own relations had made it a standing joke? Of course Sir John and Mrs. Jennings could not possibly know of my engagement, which is why I made it my business to acquaint the lady—Elinor, that is—with the secret I had never before breathed to a soul.

LVR: Aha! You have as much as admitted that you knew he loved Elinor.

LUCY: I admit nothing of the kind. How was I to know that all was not just the mistaken fancy of Sir John and Mrs. Jennings?

LVR: Then what about the letter you wrote Edward, informing him that you had gone off and married his own brother, Robert Ferrars?

LUCY: Ah, yes. No letter was ever more delightful to write.

LVR: Didn't you tell Edward, in that letter, and I quote: "I scorn to accept a hand while the heart was another's"?

LUCY: And you present evidence as if I was a prisoner in the dock. But you, madam, are no judge. If you will know, it was only when Robert Ferrars told me of his brother-in-law John Dashwood's belief that Edward loved Elinor that I knew it must be true. And thus I knew it was right to let Edward go.

LVR: That and the fact that Robert, not Edward, was now heir to the Ferrars fortune.

LUCY: So now I am not only the tormenter of Elinor, but a fortune hunter, too? And what was Edward but a deceptive scoundrel who made love to one lady whilst pledged to another? The former being his own sister's sister-in-law, and the other the niece of his tutor? Where is the honesty, the decency, the delicacy of feeling in that?

LVR: Most would admit that Edward's behavior makes him a somewhat troublesome hero.

LUCY: And so he is merely a "somewhat troublesome hero" while I am "artful and selfish"? Or, as Mrs. Jennings so kindly phrased it, a "worthless hussy"? I do believe this interview is at an end, madam.

Laurie Viera Rigler is the author of the time-swapping novels CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT and RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, which are available in North America (Plume), the UK (Bloomsbury), and Italy (Sperling & Kupfer). Her short story, INTOLERABLE STUPIDITY, will appear in the upcoming anthology of Austen-inspired fiction entitled JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT (Ballantine). She can be found at her online home,, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY - Laurie is offering two copies of RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT to two winners. To enter, please post a comment here with your thoughts and don't forget to add your e-mail address. This giveaway is open internationally and ends July 31st.


Julienne said...
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phastings said...

That was great! Lucy is so misunderstood! I love the cover of Laurie's "Rude Awakenings of A Jane Austen Addict." It's perfect!


HighPriestess said...
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HighPriestess said...
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HighPriestess said...

Very interesting review.

I thought Lucy Steele was in love, at least in the beginning with Edward. Four years is such a long time to keep the flame of a young woman's heart, since Edward was not exactly the romantic type. I thought that Jane Austen had to separate them only to make space for the Elinor - Edward happy ending.
I would love to have a copy of your book/books.
Thanks :)

Mary Simonsen said...

Well done! You really captured what it takes for someone like Lucy Steele to survive. I already own this book, so please do not enter me in the giveaway.

maribea said...

I simply love your books and this interview, too. So here I am: I'd love to receive a signed copy of your book.
Congratulations on your success, Laura.

Patricia said...

Great interview! I don't think she loved Edward or Robert. She just wanted to get married. Being a woman at that time was difficult so marriage was not a choice, it was a necessity.
Thanks for the giveaway!
patperezmiguel (at) yahoo (dot) com

Susanna Fraser said...

Fun post! Really, who can blame a woman in her circumstances for seeking to get the best husband she can land any more than you'd blame one for seeking the best job nowadays. We've all gotta eat...

Anonymous said...

I had fun reading this post. It's good to read more about some of the characters from Jane Austen's books. Thanks!

cyn209 said...

i LOVE the cover!!!! thank you for visiting & for the giveaway!!!!


maribea said...

I do agree with you: Lucy was just doing her best, caring for herself and facing such a difficult situation: being a woman with no money. I'd rather blame Edward: he knew he was engaged and he gave Elinor hopes...

Jo's Daughter said...

I never understood Lucy for changing brothers. But I guess that's because we get to see more of Edward then Robert.

If she did hear from Rob that Ed was in love (as she now says) with another, combined with Ed being practically penniless now ... I can see she might not want to go through with the whole thing.

devapajo AT gmail DOT com

Unknown said...

Interesting interview. Lucy makes a good point about Edward. thanks for the giveaway

Claudia said...

Lucy Steel is a controversial character to me. I can't help blaming on her for being such evil with Elinor, who is a character I esteem so much. Anyway, I don't believe she has ever been in love with Edward, although she was just fighting for an honorable place in the world with a decent marriage. We all know that many women didn't really have a choice in their lives. Thanks for this lovely giveaway :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the comments--I think Lucy's publicist will be very happy. :)) Someone should really interview Edward--not sure I'm entirely satisfied with the explanation he gives Elinor at the end of the book...

Kirsten said...
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Literary Chanteuse said...

I had not heard of this book. Very interesting! Thanks for the giveaway!


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more, Kirsten. Isn't that what we all do? So much easier to justify than to take responsibility. Which Edward doesnt' fully do either. The best he does is in his explanation to Elinor, after he is free to propose to her:

He could only plead an ignorance of his own heart, and a mistaken confidence in the force of his engagement.

"I was simple enough to think, that because my faith was plighted to another, there could be no danger in my being with you; and that the consciousness of my engagement was to keep my heart as safe and sacred as my honour. I felt that I admired you, but I told myself it was only friendship; and till I began to make comparisons between yourself and Lucy, I did not know how far I was got. After that, I suppose, I was wrong in remaining so much in Sussex, and the arguments with which I reconciled myself to the expediency of it, were no better than these:--The danger is my own; I am doing no injury to anybody but myself."

Now that's what I call DENIAL! :)) Much as I am eager as Elinor to acquit him and see them both happy, puh-lease!

Kirsten said...
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Vada-Marie said...

That was wonderful! Thank you so much for that! I've been having a horrid day & stumbled upon this perchance. ;) It has brightened my day immensely!

I've always seen the character of Lucy Steele as the precursor to today's best "frenemies" on shows. All the digs at Elinor under the wide eyed innocence & feigned admiration. While gently probing to satisfy her curiosity of Elinor's feelings towards Edward & falling prey to her own feelings of superiority- thankfully underestimating Elinor. I remember watching the movie (I saw it before reading the book) praying Elinor would smack her. But when her sister in law did it for her I thought it was perfect! And was the one good thing she ever did for the elder Miss Dashwood.

Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

Loved the "interview" (and I'm glad you didn't attempt to explain away her coniving ways! After all, where would writers be without the Lucy Steeles of this world stirring up trouble? I wrote a piece for "Bad Austen" where Lucy and Elinor get "down and dirty" to settle their dispute over Edward more directly. It was fun to envision Lucy getting a face full of mud instead of running off with the new heir.

Mahrian said...

Hi dear! Lovely space you have here! So interesting this book! I 'd love to sse more views about Lucy! Till now, for me, she is only a woman searching for the better marriage. I don't think she loved nobody. She needs to marry and she was searching for the better offer just because women at that time born to marry only and it was difficult to get a good marriage. They have no choices. I've posted your sweet candy on my sidebar at "sorteios/candies", by date! Spreading your sweet news there. Thanks so much for this lovely chance! God bless! :D Mahrian
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