Monday 31 October 2011


Our latest issue for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration was a guestpost by lovely Meredith Esparza. She provided us with an informative overview of the fanction written for Sense and Sensibility. 
She also granted our readers a great giveaway: one book of their choice among the ones mentioned in the post.

The lucky winner is Jillian
who chose Jane Odiwe's Willoughby's Return


Thanks to Meredith for being my guest and to all the visitors and commenters who took part in the contest.

Sunday 30 October 2011


Lady A. 's latest guestpost  on My Jane Austen Book Club was a brilliant piece, thought-provoking and clever. I hope you didn't miss it! If you did, just have a look HERE. 

Sure is that katarzyna_t didn't miss the occasion to read it and to leave her comment. And she's been  lucky enough to win Lady A. 's Merits and Mercenaries! Congratulations to her and many thanks to lovely Lady A. and to all of you who contributed a comment.

Follow Lady A. on her official site and on Twitter

Thursday 27 October 2011


Janet Mullany's second book about Jane Austen and vampires has just been released: Jane Austen, Blood Persuasion.  Do you want to discover more about  Janet’s  fondness for vampires? Read my 5 vampire questions and, especially, her answers to them. Finally,  try to win a signed copy of her new novel, a new perfect Austen Halloween gift for you!

1. Welcome back to My Jane Austen Book Club, Janet. Here's my first question for you. It seems the world has gone vampire crazy! (Meyer’s Twilight Saga and related films, TV series like True Blood and Vampire Diaries,  best – selling authors attempting their own vampire story) Have you got your own  interpretation of this phenomenon? Why is our world so attracted by this kind of supernatural characters?

I think people love the idea of vampires because they are powerful, sexual, beautiful and unpredictable. They also have immortality, which makes them fascinating—how much have they seen and done, and do they ever tire of the thought of infinite life?

2. It seems nobody can resist a handsome vampire.  Have you got a favourite one in books or on screen?

I’m quite partial to my Luke and I enjoy Charlaine Harris’s vampires, especially Eric; I love the idea of vampires being out in society and recognizable. I must admit that I found the last series of True Blood pretty ludicrous. The books are far better.

3. Is there anything  you don’t like, instead, in this vampire vogue?

I’ve read books where the vampires are so generic and the writer has borrowed so many tropes from popular culture that they’re undead in entirely the wrong way! I was very careful, when I invented the Damned to use only what I needed from vampire lore and make them work in Georgian England.

4. Now, let’s focus on mash-ups of vampires and  Jane Austen  characters/stories . This is actually strange. How could that happen? Jane’s world is so down-to-earth, all sense and balance…

You’re right (although it was also the world that brought about Frankenstein by Mary Shelley!), so the answer was to change Jane’s world. In my vision of Georgian England, the Damned are out in society, feared and lusted after, the darlings of the ton and favorites of the Prince of Wales (later the Prince Regent) and polite society longs to take part in their very impolite activities! In an age governed by etiquette and polite behavior, the Damned have their own set of manners and behavior. I even created an etiquette guide for those invited to dine with the Damned:

5. Could you,  please,  tell us something more about your new novel: Jane Austen, Blood Persuasion?

This book is set in 1810, when Jane is in Chawton and settling down to some serious writing. She’s resigned to spinsterhood and respectability but she’s still haunted by the memories of the French invasion of 1797 and her time among the Damned (Jane and the Damned). She’s also haunted by the recurrence of symptoms of the Damned, despite taking the Cure in Bath, a dangerous and uncertain remedy. Then she discovers her new neighbors are a group of the Damned, who have fallen out of favor with the Prince of Wales, and who have decided to live simply in the country, a fairly ludicrous choice for such creatures of such urban, sophisticated tastes! Their proximity threatens to make Jane a vampire again, and to her horror she finds her best friend and her niece flirting dangerously with the Damned, and she becomes involved in a vampire civil war. It plays hell with her writing plans!

Thank you so much,  Janet,  for being my guest and answering my questions. Have you got any other project on the go?

Thanks so much for inviting me! I have a short story in the anthology JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT which came out this month—mine’s a bit of a departure for me, about Beatlemania and Sense & Sensibility. It’s a great anthology with something for everyone. I’m also working on a rewrite of my first book, DEDICATION, which will be released by Loose-Id in 2012 and some other secret projects in the works.

The Book & The Giveway Contest

Jane Austen : Blood Persuasion

It’s 1810 and Jane Austen settles down to some serious writing in the peaceful village of Chawton. But it’s not so peaceful when the Damned introduce themselves as her new neighbors. Jane has to deal with the threat of a vampire civil war, her best friend borrowing her precious silk stockings for assignations with the Damned, and a former lover determined to hold a grudge for eternity. 

To win a signed copy of Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion leave your comment to this post and add your e-mail address. The giveaway is open worldwide and ends on November 2nd when the name of the winner is announced .  

The Author
Janet Mullany was born in England but now lives near Washington, DC. She’s worked as an archaeologist, performing arts administrator, waitress, bookseller, and as an editor/proofreader for a small press. Her debut book was Dedication, the only Signet Regency to have two bondage scenes, followed by The Rules of Gentility (HarperCollins 2007), which was acquired by Little Black Dress (UK) for whom she wrote three more Regency chicklits. Her career as a writer who does terrible things to Jane Austen began in 2010 with the publication of Jane and the Damned (HarperCollins), a book about Jane as a vampire, and a modern retelling of Emma, Little to Hex Her, in the anthology Bespelling Jane Austen headlined by Mary Balogh.

Tuesday 25 October 2011


 Emily C. A. Snyder has been inventing stories since she was old enough to babble, and writing them down since she was old enough to dictate. A prolific writer, Snyder is the author of "Nachtsturm Castle" available from, as well as the author of The Twelve Kingdoms series from Arx Publishing, LLC ( which includes "Niamh and the Hermit" and "Charming the Moon." In addition to novels, Snyder enjoys writing plays, such as "Wallace's Will" available from from Playscripts, Inc. (

Snyder holds an MA in Theatre Education from Emerson College, Boston, MA and a BA in Literature and Drama from Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH.
When not writing, Emily can most often be seen teaching or directing Shakespeare. And when not doing that, chances are she's driving aimlessly in her car, singing at the top of her lungs. For more information, please visit her website or

            When did you first read  Jane Austen? Was it … love at first sight?

Far from it, actually!  Jane and I had a romance much like her most popular hero and heroine!  I’ve mentioned bits and pieces elsewhere, but I’ll give the longer version here:

It all began in sixth grade, I was challenged by a mean girl to read the unabridged Gone with the Wind.  Since the challenge was public, and since I’ve got this really competitive streak, I did read Gone with the Wind out of spite.  And then I read it again in seventh grade, just to prove I could.  And then I read it again in eighth grade, just to put a period on it.  However, by that time, I wanted to challenge myself.  I delved into the adult classics.  Les Miserables had just come to Broadway, so I read the unabridged book in eighth grade (spurred on by my English teacher advising me against it – I’ve mentioned my contrary nature, non?), memorized the score, got to see it on Broadway, and clearly having conquered all of French and American literature between those two, I thought I’d better return to English classics.

My eighth grade teacher had a copy of Pride and Prejudice on her shelf, and I took this out.  However, I remember that I got no further than the first page before I returned it after a week.  (If it’s any consolation, Silas Marner which I picked up soon after fared little better.)  Mrs Bennet sounded like a tiresome woman, and I wanted the promise of action, adventure, dashing men, and a little bit of revolution in my books at that time.  I turned to fantasy, and was vastly rewarded. 

But Pride and Prejudice remained accusingly on Mrs. Fox’s bookshelf. 

The year I went to college, the 1995 Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice aired.  Although my family taped it, somehow I missed it.  However, my friend had recently read Emma and enjoyed it, so I took that up as my book report for my English class.  Unfortunately, I had the reaction Jane anticipated from her readers: Emma, as a character, disgusted me.  She was like quite a few of the mean girls I knew from high school, and had so recently left behind!  (Of course, the fact that Austen had captured the meaner aspects intrinsic in women that transcended time period should have been lauded at that time, too!)

However,  in 1999, I was directing my senior thesis, Salomé by Oscar Wilde.  In case you don’t know it, it’s about the beheading of St. John the Baptist and includes the wholly fictional dance of the seven veils.  It’s got adultery, incest, passion, obsession…and my wonderful Catholic teacher kept telling me to go darker with my work.  I needed a break.  Right around that time, my family, sick of attempting to reference Pride and Prejudice without me having read it, sent the videos to me.  I, in desperate need for something beautiful, put it in one afternoon…and watched the whole thing.  Then watched it again.  Then invited some of my friends over to watch it.  Then went to class, with them still watching it, and return to find different friends in my room watching Pride and Prejudice.  This went on for weeks.

Darcy, Lizzy, and their whole world were my sensible companions out of the world of Herod’s court.  I finally read the book just after graduation, and then started devouring her other novels in turn.  I discovered and hovered around those boards for a year, meeting many other lovely Janeites, who were also turning to Austen as a voice of beauty and reason in this distorted world.

Which is your favourite among the major six?

That’s a tough question!  I suppose it varies depending on where I am in life, which book will resonate with me the most.  I believe that Pride and Prejudice is her most perfect work, but I’m partial to Persuasion solely because of a single paragraph in the pentultimate chapter that to me is one of the most beautiful summations of love.

There they exchanged again those feelings and those promises which had once before seemed to secure everything, but which had been followed by so many, many years of division and estrangement. There they returned again into the past, more exquisitely happy, perhaps, in their reunion, than when it had been first projected; more tender, more tried, more fixed in a knowledge of each other's character, truth, and attachment; more equal to act, more justified in acting.”

It’s pretty obvious from Nachtstürm Castle that I also enjoy the jauntiness of Northanger Abbey – and I am a convertite to the Cult of Da Man (Henry Tilney) thanks to Margaret C. Sullivan.  Recently, I’ve been enjoying the complexities and charms of Mansfield Park as well.

I suppose that I find her early works wonderful for relaxing in; her later works compelling food for thought.

Was Jane Austen more a romantic girl or a matter-of- fact woman? And why so much Jane   
Austen in the 21st century?
Oh, I think that Jane Austen was the perfect blend of romance and practicality.  Her books are full of the difficulties women faced – and in some wise, still face – between financial security and emotional happiness.  Her heroines are never insensible of pursuing both, while her female foils always pursue one at the expense of the other.   I like charts, so I’m going to make a chart here:

Elizabeth & Jane Bennet   Both marry for love and money.  If anything, Elizabeth must overcome her temptation to marry only for love, by allowing that a man of means can be romantic, too!


Charlotte Lucas, Caroline Bingley & Lydia Bennet  The first marries solely for money (e.g., financial security) while the second pursues Mr Darcy primarily for his lineage and his fortune, in order to cover up her own links to shopkeepers.  Conversely, Lydia pursues emotional pleasure over all, which leads her into squalor…and then, one presumes, an unhappy marriage thereafter.

The rest of Austen’s canon follows in this exact vein.  Those who marry a man whom they admire, but who is also capable of supporting them financially, are our heroines, while those who allow either their ambition or their passion to rule them are invariable left in shambles.

In our own day of the “modern woman” – of working moms and career women – we still face those same dilemmas.  If we give ourselves over simply to the romance of the moment, we face an endless string of first dates and one-night-stands – we Lydia ourselves.  When we pursue nothing but our ambition – perhaps sacrificing our time or our relationships, romantic or otherwise, to the great god Career, we Charlotte ourselves.  True romance lies, and has always lain, on that tightrope between passion and position.   True romance is that daily battle to overcome our pride and our prejudice, to make sense of our sensibilities.  True romance does not change, no matter the era – and I think our era is striving to remember that.

As G. K. Chesterton wrote regarding the tightrope of Romance: “There are many angles at which one can fall down, but only one at which one can stand up.”

The huge spreading  of spin-offs, sequels, mash-ups is due to a desire to preserve and Jane’s messages, atmospheres, techniques and prolong the pleasure or more to the ambition to correct and adapt  what in her work is considered too distant or different? AND  Do  you think that all these adaptations, both written and for the  screen, could alter, mislead  or even distort the interpretation of Austen’s work?

I actually was having this conversation with my sister the other day.  She’s in the process of creating illustrations for Little Women, and I’m in the middle of staging a post-apocolyptic-writer’s-nightmare version of The Tempest, and we got to discussing why some works seem to be “stuck” in their particular time period, and why others can be played with. 

Now, in the case of Austen/Alcott vs. Shakespeare, there’s also the understanding that Shakespeare is not writing a completed work – since a script is just a third (maybe) of the finished show.  Every actor, director, designer…every audience transforms the same words into something unique from moment to moment.  The script is “just” the bones upon which we build our world.  But even so, there are plays – most of our modern plays, in fact – which are bound not only to a place and time and their ideals, but even to costume.

I do believe that people are drawn to Austen’s world…and there’s a camp that’s drawn to playing in Austen’s world, and there’s another camp that wants Austen to play in our world. 

The former camp produces, so I think, books which could pass muster with her canon: retellings from another character’s perspective, sequels, prequels, and so on.  This camp, by and large, also adheres to Austen’s interests and philosophies: romance is practical, the bourgeoisie are interesting, realism is the mode du jour, scandal is not unknown – but not celebrated; the little things matter.  Too often, I think, we forget that Austen lived in a world that had just come from the excesses of the 1700’s, the American revolution and the far more gory French one – and that even the Prince Regent was hardly a model of respectability!  Austen’s revolution is a quiet one, but potent: she reminds us that “the centre is central” (another G. K. Chesterton bon mot for you!), and that revolution just goes around and around, but to change society, one must first change oneself.

The latter camp, I believe, is a bit more interested in her structure.  After all, Austen wrote one of the best hate-at-first-sight, opposites-attract stories of all time.  It’s little wonder that her Pride and Prejudice has been reincarnated time and again, played with, stretched, put in modern times, with a Narnia-esque through-the-wardrobe-ness, in Bollywood, and with zombies.  This camp wants to use Austen’s structure, by and large, without her philosophy.  (Although I admit there is crossover even here.  For example, Clueless, I truly believe, is the best version of Emma available – even better than the novel.  But I’ve mentioned my history with my literary name-twin.)

For me, however, I think what makes Austen’s voice unique – what makes any author’s voice unique – is their worldview, their philosophy.  This is what makes it possible for anyone to write anything at all.  It’s quite true that there are only six original plots in the whole world.  The most common of them is: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again.  The “givens” may change (e.g., in Weird Al’s UHF, Stanley Spadowski love his mop, Stanley loses his mop, Stanley heroically gets his mop again), but the story is the same.

What makes is possible, what makes it imperative for authors to write, is that they have a way of exploring and explaining the world through story which is unique.  Delayed love is a theme that’s common in both Persuasion and Much Ado About Nothing.  But Austen examines it through one facet of the prism which is unique to her time period and her concerns, while Shakespeare approaches it from another.  Same story; different treatments. 

And it’s that very element that makes it possible to play within Austen’s world, I think.  Or, yes, to draw it out into our own.  What’s important in either case, however, is not so much that we must preserve Austen’s perspective – but that when we’re writing in her world or introducing elements of our own into hers, that we do so as a conversation between Austen’s perspective and our own.  That’s what I hope Nachtstürm Castle did.  Austen herself was having a conversation with the Gothic novels that proceeded her; I hope that I am entering that conversation with my own voice, too.

     How would you advertise your book in less than 50 words?

Mystery!  Dopplegangers!  Ghosts!  Trapdoors!  Mysterious butlers!  Lots of Alps!  A travelogue!  Romance!  Gypsies!  Graveyards and (possible) suicides!  Fights!  Flights!  And Henry Tilney on horseback!  Catherine Tilney’s long-delayed honeymoon to the ominously named Nachtstürm Castle is all a Gothic novel enthusiast would want…if only Catherine believed any of it were true.

Why did you choose to write a sequel to Austen's Northanger Abbey? What is the appeal of this novel to you?

I wrote Nachtstürm Castle after I had written the first draft of the (forthcoming) Presumption, which is a continuation of Pride and Prejudice.  This was in my devour-everything-Austen stage of 2000.  I had just read Northanger Abbey and enjoyed it very much, but I felt a little frustrated that it didn’t include more Gothic elements.  I felt, along with my version of Catherine, a little cheated that there wasn’t a single trapdoor anywhere in Northanger!  So, following in the idea of conversing with Jane Austen about the whole Gothic novel genre, I thought that it would be fitting for Catherine and Henry to find themselves suddenly within a Gothic novel – replete with every possible cliché.  And, because Catherine wouldn’t want to be fooled twice, like she was with the japan closet, she wouldn’t believe anything that was happening to her.

Sidenote:  This is actually based a little bit on my own adventure in Paris in 1997.  I had travelled there by myself (word to the wise: it doesn’t matter how tough you are ladies, never make your first trip to Paris penniless, friendless, and sleep-deprived), and got caught up with this African fellow right off the boat from Nigeria.  However, having been brought up quite firmly with White Man’s Guilt, when I first met him I thought: “Oh!  He’s black!  He must be a good person!”  By the end of that particularly horrible six hours – after losing what francs I had, being propositioned, and then unpleasantly kissed in the train station – I learnt the far better lesson which civil rights should have taught me, to trust people based on their merits and not on my presuppositions.  Anywho….

One of the things that Austen did so beautifully in all her books, but particularly in Northanger Abbey, was to keep her tongue firmly in her cheek.  Since all things Gothic seem to cry out to be mocked, this proved very easy as I threw everything and a doppleganger into Northanger Abbey.  However – and this is where I’ll admit I entered the conversation with a different outlook – whereas Austen could really care less about the religious prejudices inherent in English Gothic novels, which were really quite viciously anti-Catholic, I was quite pained by that aspect of books like The Monk, and to a faaar lesser extent, The Myteries of Udolpho.  Since I am Catholic, and since I did have the opportunity to spend a semester in the foothills of the Alps, I wanted to engage that part of the conversation a little.

Mostly, though, I wrote it to entertain.  The ability to write in third person, to address the reader directly, to indulge myself in silly titles (which are sometimes nearly longer than the chapter!), and to just have fun was more than I could resist.  So I didn’t!

       Are your Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney very similar to the original 
or did you decide to change anything? 
I’d say that their characters are both a little bit more grown-up than when we left them last, but that they’re also a little expanded in scope because they’re in the middle of a Gothic novel.  Catherine has settled into domestic felicity quite happily, and it was great fun to write her cozy life – whether in Woodston or Nachtstürm – with Henry.  They’re a very comfortable couple, both as Austen wrote them, and as I imagine them!  But as I mentioned with  the Paris anecdote, sometimes we can convince ourselves so much of a thing, that all our wisdom becomes pig-headed foolishness again.  And I think this quality of Catherine’s – to see what she wants to see – is tested again in Nachtstürm.  Compare this to Henry who is much older, and who tends to see things as they are (including muslin!), that when he encounters the oddities of Nachtstürm deals with them very practically.  I will admit, however, that Henry may be a shade more dashing than he had opportunity in Bath, and that Catherine may fall into the trap of being that passive heroine so common in Gothic novels.

Do you think Jane Austen read Gothic novels and hate them, hence the reason of heparody   in Northanger Abbey or she read them and loved them, hence her homage to Mrs  Radcliffe’s work in  Northanger Abbey?

You can’t parody a thing unless you love it.  Parody is born from love.  Satire is born from disdain.  Take a look at Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind vs. his Best in Show.  The latter is a really bitter look at dog grooming competitions; the former is a beautiful take on the silliness and the sweetness of the music from the early 60’s.  (And the CD is great!  Seriously!  Go out and buy it!  Mitch and Mikey were totally robbed at the Oscars!  Ahem.  Anywho…)

I truly believe that Austen loved a good Gothic novel.  And Gothic novels were all there were for young women in her day.  So Jane even has her hero defend them in the first few chapters of Northanger!  (A far cry from Madam Bovary, which isn’t just satire, but an attack.)  However, I also believe that Austen realized that she just couldn’t bring herself to write a book about exotic locales and impossible people.  She could write about England, and ridiculous people.  She could recreate the modern heroine as someone you’d meet on the street.  She could create a hero who had all the charm of the rake with none of the peccadillos.  Austen’s villains are venial: the Thorpes, Tilney’s brother and father.  The worst abduction is an unwanted ride in a carriage.  But when you look at everyday life, most of us are venial – and it’s those little niggling vices which wound the most.  It’s the stolen bits of time by a bore which are the most distressing.
What Austen latched onto was the truth behind those Gothic novels.  She took away the trappings, but left the truth: that life is fraught with peril, but that hope and decency will prevail.  Not bad stuff at all, I think

Henry Tilney is such a brilliant hero!  What position is he in your Austen – hero list? (In mine he is n. 4!)
Argh!  Another tough one!  Of all the heroes I love to write, Tilney is number one.  He’s willing to play.  Darcy number two – although I tremble to write him, lest he arch his fine brow at me.  I’m partial to Knightly, mostly out of deference to my sister, and also because if he had a profession, he’d be a teacher and, as a teacher, I think pedagogy is smexy.  Wentworth is number four, but just by a hair and mostly because of the first half of the book where he’s holding a grudge.  I have a number of Wentworths in my life, as well, so the romance of the character is shattered by the reality.  Edward Ferrars, Edmund Bertram and Colonel Brandon are all bunched together at the very bottom of the list, alas.  I’m a gal who finds Henry Crawford and John Willoughby rather delicious scamps.  But then, I’m a sucker for a good sideburn.


Is there a minor character in Jane Austen’s work you’d like to write a spin-off story for?

I’m actually working on the revision of my novel, Presumption, which matches Colonel Fitzwilliam and Maria Lucas from Pride and Prejudice together.  I feel bad for both of them – the shunted aside characters – and thought they might make a good match.  I’ve also been asked to write a redemption of Henry Crawford – the beginnings of which you can see in the short stories “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “A Matter of Resolution” which are available now in Letters of Love & Deception.  I like working with minor characters more than main characters, because I believe that Austen was so brilliant at fleshing out real people.  It was only because Catherine and Henry were so playful that I felt I could play with them!

        That's all for now, Emily. Thanks for being my guest. I'll wait for you back soon!
Thank you so much!  It was fun talking Austen with you!


Leave your comment + e-mail address to get a chance to win the e-book version of Emily C.A. Snyder's Nachtstürm Castle,  the perfect Gothic gift for the Halloween night. The giveaway ends at midnight (local time) on October 31st.

Emily's Links 


Saturday 22 October 2011


Lady A~, Authoress of "Merits and Mercenaries", the first novel of The Bath Novels of Lady A~ Collection, is my guest again with a brilliant, thought-provoking  blogpost. Don't miss it and, don't miss the chance to win a copy of her remarkable book. Open worldwide, this giveaway contest ends on October 30th. Please, don't forget to add your e-mail address to your comment. 

Before Jane Austen was cold in her grave, a sweet and endearing ‘portrait’ for her admirers was etched in stone by the politically correct patriarchs of her family. The memorial message that was conveyed to the world, of arguably the greatest novelist in all of English literature, was a 3-verse ode to (amongst other saintly features) Jane’s Christianity, benevolence, humility and purity. Undoubtedly, by that same patronizing male rationale, these ‘qualities’ were just the ticket to temper ‘the extraordinary endowments of her mind’. The latter ‘blessing’ seemed rather blotted away amidst all the attributes of an unassuming, selfless ‘old maid’ who, ‘on the side’, had been formerly thinking, writing and publishing things rather polemical—and much to the delight of aristocrats and meritocrats—of all genders—alike.
These self-evident, contradicting aspects of the single-minded, ‘political’ Jane was what instantly intrigued me, when first I read Austen; and amidst the seemingly prolix pages of Mansfield Park. There appeared to be something positively poking out from under every line, gradually altering my ‘first impressions’: a cutting ‘political’ satire vividly exposing the universal foibles of humanity, in microcosm. So, what exactly was Jane Austen really about? Did she have a partisan agenda? Was she putting forward a social commentary based upon the politics of the day?

In forming my notion to write under the novel Regency pen name assigned to her by fashionable society, Jane’s transformation from ‘A Lady—’ to ‘Lady A—’ was, for me, the most telling talisman of her truest character—her ‘mischievous alter ego’, if you will. The unknown, unmarried, unmoneyed ‘lady’ was socially elevated, in an instant, to ‘someone’, and by popular decree in the simple rearrangement of an article and a noun! Why? Why did the beau monde give her this honorary moniker and salute? Because this ‘lady’ wrote like no other. Unflinchingly she emerged from nowhere to emulate the celebrated female authors of her time—moving in much more elevated circles than she—and to trump them squarely at their game. And she did not stop there. She particularly singled out the ‘Queens of the Terrific’ [popular Gothic writers like Anne Radcliffe and Charlotte Smith] and made an unholy mockery of them all. For good measure too, she also inadvertently put the puffed-up, male, writing fraternity properly in its place—‘lower’! So how did the sweet and saintly ‘dear Jane/ dear Aunt Jane/ dearest Jane’ make such a success out of being ‘impolitic’? Simply, she was a politician-extraordinaire. Though surrounded by conservative male custodians—some friendly to her ‘bent’, and others less so—Jane carved through a voice for her activist alter ego with the aplomb of a seasoned democrat. She fashioned her strong messages about the hypocrisy of a male-driven, mercenary, amoral society with the unparading confidence of one elected to high office. The pen was Jane’s platform and she employed it liberally, and counter to the full-blooded ‘Tory’ philosophies of most of her male relations and friends.
It is very easy to get caught up in the ‘romance’ of Austen’s novels, but therein lies the ‘trick’ of her free-thinking, strategist formula. As we enter the charming and alluring worlds of heroines being matched to heroes, all around these ‘instruments’ the more interesting social malevolence is showcased with the equal and opposing ease of unparalleled genius. Sycophantic hypocrisy, sexual misdemeanours, sexism,
elitism, fraud, bigotry, betrayal, ‘polite lies’, discrimination, exploitation, extortion, ‘legal ‘prostitution and malfeasance are just some of the provocative things being publicly laundered about the Bennets and Darcys, Prices and Bertrams, Morlands and Tilneys, Dashwoods and Ferrarses/Willoughbys/ Brandons, Elliots and Wentworths, and Woodhouses and Knightleys. These matches are made so very interesting because of what is polemically transpiring around them in the regular and elegant ‘harmony’ of the English-gentry milieu. And it is Jane’s arch use of the ‘status’ of that ambiance which is what first intrigues the reader. How delicious it is to take grand tours of those marvellous homes, assembly rooms, parks and estates, and in the constant and reassuring company of ‘3 or 4 families in a country village’, where seemingly all is exceedingly genteel. But while we are busy ‘escaping’ blissfully into Austen’s intoxicating ‘drawing-room trap’, she seamlessly begins ‘indoctrinating’ the reader with her satirical doctrine, and at the expense of those who most particularly deserve it. From heiresses to blackguards, from aristocrats to parsons, every sitting duck gets bagged by this veteran politician of wit.
Jane was, in fact, a very bold democrat. Perhaps her feminist voice echoes this most strongly. Her enchanting, though fallible, female protagonists rise almost politically within their societies. In the end they gain status, power, money and, most significantly, ideological ‘influence’ over the establishment status quo. Each of them creates a small revolution that overthrows their opponents and wholly captivates their (male) counterparts. Indeed, no feminist could have written better resolutions to the trials and tribulations of six ladies who were, each in their way, ostensibly ‘disadvantaged’. Austen, the great Leveller, subtly ensures that when each of these ladies gets the better of their ‘beaus’ in the marriage race, the force at the controls changes to ‘emancipation’. The resultant sextet of ‘matches’ brings no deals, no trade-offs, but rather equality accepted, uplifted and ‘politically’ enforced.

If the Misters Austen did not happen to read any of that in the masterful pages of six perfectly political novels, perhaps the epitaph on Jane’s black marble grave stone might have resonated more credibly than it does some 200 years on? Most assuredly they read it and, in the case of some, possibly even ruminated over at how these works were to be received, as each novel debuted. Is it any wonder, then, that no mention of her most remarkable ‘gift’ was decorously omitted from her family’s most definitive and enduring dedication? Even at such a posthumous stage in this inimitable writer’s history, did her relatives silently endorse the fear of those ‘poking’ impolitic things that they could not ‘manage’ in both Jane’s public and private musings. Think only how many of Austen’s letters were excised/destroyed after her demise. The ‘burning’ question, besides the most obvious answer of preservation of privacy, is why?

It was all of this that made me want to write yet further of the ‘things’ that Jane daringly ventured upon in her time, privately and in satirical plain sight. Through that ‘mischievous alter ego’ I imagined, in The Bath Novels of Lady A~, seven new ‘romances’ motivated by Austen’s slicing satire and set in her particular socio-political realm. Through the polemical pen of ‘a lady’ frustratingly sequestered in the ‘white glare of Bath’, I teasingly turned Jane’s ‘fallow’ years there (and beyond) into Lady A~’s season of polemic fruitfulness. In tribute, then, to their redoubtable political progenitor, each ‘Bath Novel’, in such conceit, dares to: overhear the private musings of men amongst men, incite ‘the revolutionary progress of the new order over the old’, explore the injustice of ‘inequity’ and reveal, rather colourfully, ‘the perils of dangerous (Regency) liaisons’.
In an age where the likes of free speech and civil liberty are not privileges but fundamental rights, it is this striking and early vision of such necessary freedoms that we universally admire in Austen’s work. She makes a ‘kind of art’ of them. By means of her (social) ’politics at play’, she very ably transcends the disadvantages of her gender, her singledom and her lack of personal fortune to raise her very polemical voice above the (establishment) powers that strove to muzzle it. Plainly, she outmanoeuvred them all! Just as a politician crafts a visionary manifesto to sway mass consciousness, Jane Austen put the pen in her hand to wittily transfer her most enlightened opinions to the published page. As she did so, she modestly stepped into the anonymous guise of ‘A Lady’, only to really compete in the very prejudiced arena of a patriarchal world as the arch luminary, and very political, Lady A~!

The Inscription on Jane Austen’s Grave Stone:
In Memory of
youngest daughter of the late
formerly Rector of Steventon in this County
she departed this life on the 18th July 1817,
aged 41, after a long illness supported with
the patience and hopes of a Christian.
The benevolence of her heart,
the sweetness of her temper, and
the extraordinary endowments of her mind,
obtained the regards of all who knew her
and the warmest love of her intimate connections.
Their grief is in proportion to their affection
they know their loss to be irreparable,
but in their deepest affliction they are consoled
by a firm though humble hope that her charity,
devotion, faith and purity have rendered
her soul acceptable in the sight of her

Lady  A. 


Here I am to announce the name of the lucky winner for this great collection of Austen-inspired short stories, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress for being my guest last week (HERE) and providing me this free copy for an international giveaway.

Congratulations to ... Marybeth!!!

Friday 21 October 2011


Aeicha @ Word Spelunking 

has won "A Most Improper Magick" by Stephanie Burgis commenting my author interview Many thanks to Stephanie Burgis for guestblogging on My Jane Austen Book Club  and to her  UK publisher, Templar Publishing,  for the giveaway copy.

A Most Improper Magick is now out in the US and Canada as Kat, Incorregible

Thursday 20 October 2011


This month's guest for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration is Meredith Esparza. A long-time admirer of Jane Austen and an avid reader, Meredith started writing reviews as a hobby several years ago. In September 2009 she became more serious about her hobby and started her own blog, Austenesque Reviews, a blog devoted to the reading and reviewing the numerous Jane Austen sequels, fan-fiction, and para-literature that have been recently published, as well as the ones that were published years ago. In addition to reading Austenesque novels, Meredith takes pleasure in reading novels by the Brontës, Louisa May Alcott, and Georgette Heyer! You can find Meredith on FacebookGoodreads, and on Twitter. 

Sense and Sensibility Fan Fiction – An Overview

As many of you already know, there is a multitude of Austenesque novels about Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, yet nowhere near as much for her other novels.  But that doesn't mean they don't exist!  Readers may be surprised to learn that there are 21 Austenesque novels for Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, and that number is growing – and most likely will continue! 

In honor of Maria Grazia's Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration I have compiled a list and guide for all published Sense and Sensibility Fan Fiction (that I know of).  Hopefully you will find this guide helpful in your search for Austenesque novels for Sense and Sensibility

1. The Book:  Expectations of Happiness by Rebecca Ann Collins

  • Published:  2011
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel
  • Main Characters:  Margaret Dashwood, Marianne Brandon, and Elinor Ferrars
  • Premise:  A companion novel to Sense and Sensibility, exploring the lives of the three Dashwood sisters several years after the close of Jane Austen's novel. 
  • Have I read it:  Just started! 

2. The Book:  Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler

  • Published:  2011
  • Type of Novel:  Young Adult, Modern Adaptation
  • Main Characters:  Gabby and Daphne Rivera
  • Premise:  Two diverse sisters battle high school, boys, and each other.
  • Have I read it:  Yes! (August 2011) 5 stars!  I loved it!

3. The Book:  The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo

  • Published:  2010
  • Type of Novel:  Austen-Inspired
  • Main Characters:  Ellen and Mimi Dodge
  • Premise:  Two sisters, who have grown apart and do get along, travel to England to find an appropriate place to scatter their mother's ashes but discover Jane Austen and themselves along the way!
  • Have I read it:  Yes! (May 2011) 5 stars!  I loved it! 
 4. The Book:  Murder on the Bride's Side by Tracy Kiely

  • Published:  2010
  • Type of Novel:  Austen-Inspired, Mystery
  • Main Characters:  Elizabeth Parker, Aunt Winnie, Peter McGowan, Bridget Matthews
  • Premise: While attending her best friend's wedding, Jane Austen fan, Elizabeth Parker gets embroiled in a mystery.
  • Have I read it:  Yes! (December 2010)  4 stars!  A very fun mystery with a lot of nods to S&S!

5. The Book:  The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

  • Published:  2010
  • Type of Novel:  Austen-Inspired
  • Main Characters:  Emily and Jessamine Bach
  • Premise:  A tale about sisters, collectors, tech-companies, rabbis, and tree conversationists.
  • Have I read it:  Yes! (October 2010) 3 stars.  I liked Jessamine's story, but not Emily's. 

6. The Book:  Rifts and Restoration by M. Eucharista Ward

  • Published:  2010
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel
  • Main Characters:  Margaret Dashwood
  • Premise: After seeing Elinor and Marianne's heartaches, Margaret isn't even sure she wants to marry!
  • Have I read it:  Not yet! 

7. The Book:  The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

  • Published:  2010
  • Type of Novel:  Modern Adaptation
  • Main Characters:  Annie, Miranda, and Bettie Weissmann
  • Premise:  Three women in reduced circumstances battle heartbreak and disappointment.
  • Have I read it:  Yes. (January 2011)  3 stars. Not my favorite.

8. The Book:  Willoughby's Return by Jane Odiwe

  • Published:  2009
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel
  • Main Characters:  Margaret Dashwood and Marianne Brandon
  • Premise:  Marianne plays matchmaker for her sister Margaret, while the ghost of Willoughby haunts her marriage.
  • Have I read it:  Yes!  (December 2009)  5 stars!  Best sequel for Sense and Sensibility I've read so far!
9.  The Book:  Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

  • Published:  2009
  • Type of Novel:  Paranormal Retelling
  • Main Characters:  Elinor and Marianne Dashwood
  • Premise:  The Dashwood women are forced to live on an island and encounter various types of sea monsters. 
  • Have I read it:  Not yet.  Not sure if I want to...
 10. The Book:  Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange

  • Published:  2009
  • Type of Novel:  Point-of-view/Retelling
  • Main Characters:  Colonel Brandon, Eliza Williams, Marianne Dashwood
  • Premise:  A fleshed-out retelling of Sense and Sensibility from Colonel Brandon's perspective. Includes the history of Colonel Brandon and his first love, Eliza Williams.   
  • Have I read it:  Yes!  (November 2009)  4 stars!  I loved learning about Colonel Brandon's past with Eliza. 

11. The Book:  Sensing Jane Austen by Kerri Bennett Williamson

  • Published:  2009
  • Type of Novel:  Austen-Inspired
  • Main Characters:  Cassandra Atwood
  • Premise:  A once-wealthy heiress is forced to live as a servant and wear rags, surviving her tragic circumstances with the help of Jane Austen and Sense and Sensibility.
  • Have I read it:  Yes! (May 2010) 4 stars!  Jane Austen meets Cinderella!

12. The Book:  Eliza's Daughter by Joan Aiken

  • Published:  1994 (republished in 2008)
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel
  • Main Characters:  Eliza Williams
  • Premise:  Willoughby's illegitimate child, Eliza, seeks a life of adventure and romance.
  • Have I read it:  Not yet!

13. The Book:  The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love by Rosie Rushton

  • Published: 2005
  • Type of Novel: Young Adult, Modern Adaptation
  • Main Characters:  Ellie, Abby, and Georgie Dahswood
  • Premise: Three sisters lose their father and their childhood home. 
  • Have I read it:  Not yet!  On my TBR shelf!

14. The Book:  Miss Lucy Steele by Ruth Berger

  • Published:  2005
  • Type of Novel:  Point-of-view/Retelling (in German)
  • Main Characters:  Lucy Steele, Edward Ferrars
  • Premise:  A retelling of Sense and Sensibility from the perspective of Lucy Steele. 
  • Have I read it:  Not yet!  But I really want to!  I hope it gets translated into English!

15. The Book:  Suspense and Sensibility: Or First Impressions Revisited by Carrie Bebris

  • Published:  2005
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel, Mystery
  • Main Characters:  Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, Elinor Ferrars, Kitty Bennet, Harry Dashwood
  • Premise:  Darcy, Elizabeth, Georgiana, and Kitty travel to London.  Intrigue ensues.      
  • Have I read it:  Yes! (July 2007)  4 stars!  Not my favorite in the series, but still fun!

16. The Book:  Reason and Romance by Debra White Smith

  • Published:  2004
  • Type of Novel:  Modern Adaptation
  • Main Characters:  Elaina and Anna Woods
  • Premise:  A modern adaptation of Sense and Sensibility with some Christian undertones.  A part of the 6 book Austen Series by Debra White Smith.    
  • Have I read it:  Yes! (March 2005)  4 stars! I enjoyed the integration of Christian faith. 

17. The Book:  The Third Sister by Julia Barrett

  • Published: 1996
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel
  • Main Characters:  Margaret Dashwood
  • Premise:  Four years after the close of Sense and Sensibility, Margaret is grown up and looking for an eligible match
  • Have I read it:  Yes. (January 2007) 2.5 stars.  Was not very captivating or memorable. 

18. The Book:  Elinor and Marianne

  • Published: 1996
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel, Epistolary Novel
  • Main Characters:  Elinor Ferrars and Marianne Brandon
  • Premise: Newly married Elinor and Marianne exchange letters.  Willoughby comes back into their lives. 
  • Have I read it:  Not yet.  Have not heard many positive things about Emma Tennant.

19. The Book:  The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson

  • Published: 1995 (revised in 2002, 2007)
  • Type of Novel:  Reference
  • Main Characters:  Emma Thompson
  • Premise: Emma Thompson's diaries from shooting Sense and Sensibility.  Includes screenplay script complete with stage directions. 
  • Have I read it:  Yes! (July 2010)  5 stars! Emma Thompson is hilarious!

20. The Book:   Brightsea by Jane Gillespie

  • Published: 1987
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel 
  • Main Characters:  Nancy Steele and Lucy Ferrars
  • Premise: Spinster Nancy Steele takes a position as a paid companion to a rich, young heiress. 
  • Have I read it:  Yes!  (October 2007)  3.5 stars!  Those Steele sisters are something else!

21. The Book:   Margaret Dashwood or Interference by Mrs. Francis Brown

  • Published: 1929
  • Type of Novel:  Sequel 
  • Main Characters:  Margaret Dashwood
  • Premise: Margaret, now seventeen, attracts a suitor or two...
  • Have I read it:  Not yet!  I wish I could track this one down!
A Sense and Sensibility Austenesque Novel of YOUR Choice. (Open worldwide)

Expectations of Happiness
Sass and Serendipity
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All
The Three Weissmanns of Westport
Willoughby's Return
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Colonel Brandon's Diary
Sensing Jane Austen
Eliza's Daughter
Suspense and Sensibility: Or First Impressions Revisited

How can you win?

Just leave a comment stating which Sense and Sensibility Austenesque novel you are interested in reading and why. Don't forget to add your e-mail address!  The giveaway ends October 31 when the winner is announced.

Meredith Esparza