Wednesday 30 November 2011


Welcome to a new friend of My Jane Austen Book Club! Barbara Tiller Cole is the author of Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy and is my guest here today with a lovely guestpost. Join me and welcome her on her first visit to our online club!
Leave your comment + your e-mail address to win a signed copy of Fitzwilliam Ebenezer DarcyThe giveaway contest is open internationally and ends on December 9th when the winner is announced. 

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be with you for a guest post. I recently had a wonderful opportunity to talk with the Elizabeth Darcy from my story Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy.  I was shocked that I got to visit with her a second time.  Neither of us can explain how it came to be, but neither could Mr. Darcy explain how his life was changed by the 4 ghosts that I sent to visit him.   Visiting with a personage that lived 200 years ago was a wonderful experience, and I recorded our conversation and will share part of it with you here.

‘Elizabeth Darcy and Barbara Tiller Cole’s Shopping Adventure’

Elizabeth Darcy:  I am so happy I was allowed to visit with you again, Barbara.  As I shared before, I do not understand how it came to be.  But then since your ghosts were allowed to visit Fitzwilliam and I again, I find it best not to ask too many questions. 

Barbara Tiller Cole:  Mrs. Darcy, I do understand and am happy that the ghosts helped both you and Mr. Darcy.

Elizabeth Darcy:  I thought we agreed to call each other by our first names.  Please call me Elizabeth.  I thoroughly enjoyed our shopping experience, Barbara.  But I find this century, and many of your customs and inventions hard to understand.

Barbara Tiller Cole:  I enjoyed our shopping adventure as well Elizabeth. I believe Mr. Darcy will thoroughly enjoy the portable DVD player and the movies you are taking back for his viewing pleasure. I am happy we were able to find the hand crank battery charger. Utilizing that device will allow you to be able to see the films multiple times since you do not yet have electricity in your home.

Elizabeth Darcy: Electricity!  Oh, Fitzwilliam and I read about Benjamin Franklin and his discoveries.  I do hope that electricity will become commonplace in my lifetime.  I am glad to have this device to take to my husband.  You called it a D.V.D.  Does this have something to do with an unmentionable disease?  I have read about the French disease while trying to improve my mind.  I understand that some of the lower classes call it VD?

Barbara Tiller Cole:  Oh no, Elizabeth, it has nothing to do with the French disease.  It stands for Digital Video Disc.

Elizabeth Darcy:  Digital Video Disc…hmmm? Well, I am not sure that helps me understand this any better.  So I will trust you with your knowledge.  I do want to understand more about these moving pictures you helped me purchase.  You said they are about my Fitzwilliam and I? Who are these two men who portrayed my Darcy, my beloved?  Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen?  Do you have a preference?

Barbara Tiller Cole:  They are two actors. I much prefer Colin Firth.  But many of my friends like Matthew better.  You should watch them both. 

Elizabeth Darcy:  I find it quite strange that people in your time would be interested in us.

Barbara Tiller Cole: Believe me when I say there are many people quite obsessed with you and your Fitzwilliam. Why I myself have written two books featuring the two of you. There are literally thousands of stories that feature the Darcys. A woman named Jane Austen wrote the original version.

Elizabeth Darcy:  Jane!  Oh, I met her at a private reading in London.  It was after she wrote a lovely story about Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.  How delightful that she would write about my beloved and myself.  Why are people obsessed with us so many years later?

Barbara Tiller Cole:  Let’s see, how can I explain this to you?  The fact that the two of you were willing to let go of your pride and prejudices, and change, in order to find true love together is a fantasy of many of us in this century.

Elizabeth Darcy: You find it unbelievable I was willing to see beyond my blindness, and my tendency to unfairly judge others?  It was that enlightenment that allowed me to see my Fitzwilliam's true worth.  People in your time find bewilderment in that?

Barbara Tiller Cole:  Your willingness to change is definitely a part of it. However, I am sure it has more to do with your husband's willingness to change to win your love that caused my fascination.  There are many that long to have your kind of love.  And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that your Mr. Darcy is rich and handsome.

Elizabeth Darcy: Oh, he is quite wealthy, indeed, and the most handsome man of my acquaintance—including those I have seen in your century. However, his true worth is in his genuine love for me. It is truly an amazing thing to have made such a love match. Did you not make a love match yourself, Barbara.

Barbara Tiller Cole:  Oh, I am blessed to say that I did.  That is not to say that he changed for me as your Darcy did for you.  Why I have trouble even getting him to put down the toilet seat! (laughs)

Elizabeth Darcy:  Toilet seat?  Do they have seats on chamber pots in this century?

Barbara Tiller Cole:  (laughs) We have indoor plumbing and my husband and I share a bathing chamber.  I know that would have been unheard of in Regency time.

Elizabeth Darcy: (shudders) I cannot imagine such a thing. My Fitzwilliam did purchase a special large tub from France, as a special present for me, and we love to take baths together (blushes).

Barbara Tiller Cole:  Yes, I wrote about that in your story.

Elizabeth Darcy:  I would like to go back to the concept of indoor plumbing. I would wish to return indoor plumbing back to my dear Fitzwilliam, but that may be too much to hope for.  Does your manservant no longer have to empty the chamber pots, and that allows you both to use the same one?  But certainly you have privacy…

Barbara Tiller Cole:  … Of course we have privacy.  But I do not have a manservant.  Few do in our century, though many wish that they did.  I am not sure I can explain flushing a toilet to you.  I would love to send you home with a Home Depot catalogue however. It details all types of home improvements that will be available in the future. Perhaps Mr. Darcy can find someone who could assist you with creating such a device.

Elizabeth Darcy:  I would like that indeed.  I have so many more questions to ask of you, Barbara. Do you think that I could come and visit you again?

Barbara Tiller Cole:  I would love that, Elizabeth.  Until next time…
Barbara Tiller Cole

Now leave your comments to enter the giveaway contest announced at the top of this post. Be sure not to forget to add your e-mail address so that I can contact you in case you win . Good luck! MG

'Pride and Prejudice' meets 'A Christmas Carol' A Jane Austen/Charles Dickens crossover story, 'Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy' takes the best of both classics and spins them into a delightful Holiday treat! F.E. Darcy has fallen into pitiful self-loathing and sorrowful angst-ridden despair; all of this due to his belief that he has lost forever the chance to marry the only woman he has ever loved—Elizabeth Bennet. Seeing her son in such a state, the Ghost of Anne Darcy reaches out to him; informing him that three ghosts would visit him and give him hope. Will these Spirits provide him with the courage to try again to win the esteem of his one true soul mate? Barbara Tiller Cole, an Atlanta native and the writer of the popular book 'White Lies and Other Half Truths', presents this family friendly classic—a delightful combination of the best of her two favorite authors, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Barbara credits her parents with fostering a love for both of these authors. Each Christmas, Barbara’s father would sit and read Dicken’s classic 'A Christmas Carol' to the family. Her mother consistently challenged her to improve her mind by extensive reading, Jane Austen style. This book is dedicated to the memory of Cliff and Jeanne and the season they loved the best.

Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy is available at Amazon in soft cover and Kindle and at Smashwords for Nook and Apple applications.


The giveaway of a copy of Claire Harman's Jane's Fame was offered by Vic Sanborn for our monthly event Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration .  November Issue was Vic Sanborn's piece about minor characters in Jane Austen's S&S : Mr Palmer Discusses His Fellow Minor Characters
The lucky winner in this giveaway contest is ...


Oxford University Press has kindly granted the readers of My Jane Austen Book Club 2 copies of this precious book: Jane Austen's Letters, 4th edition, by Deirdre La Faye. Read my presentation HERE.
The two lucky winners in this contest are

KirkC & Jasmine Marie

Congratulations to all winners and thanks for taking part!

Tuesday 29 November 2011


My guest today is  Sharon Lathan. She's on her blog tour to launch the latest novel in her "The Darcy Saga": "Miss Darcy  Falls in Love". Enjoy her brilliant Q/A post and leave questions for her in your comments, she's ready to answer. Don't forget to add your e.-mail address if you want to be entered in the giveaway contest! 

Time for me to ask myself the questions I think folks want to hear. Or at least ones I think are fun! Totally, shamelessly stolen from other interviews on random blogs, I will confess, or based on questions I have been asked in emails, etc. But let’s see if we can have some fun. Take it away Sharon!

Is there a behind the book story to Miss Darcy Falls in Love?
Georgiana Darcy was created by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice. Her part is small and we learn very little about her other than her near-elopement with Mr. Wickham and that she is very shy. When I continued the story it was essential to have Mr. Darcy’s younger sister be around. I couldn’t very well ignore her existence! As the novels moved forward in time Georgiana’s character matured and she started speaking to me. I knew a long time ago that she had a unique story to tell and that I would have to write it. Miss Darcy Falls in Love is a stand alone book, easily enjoyed on it’s own merits, but Georgiana’s evolution from young girl to mature woman is within the pages of my Darcy Saga.

What is the official synopsis?
Noble young ladies were expected to play an instrument, but Georgiana Darcy is an accomplished musician who hungers to pursue her talents. She embarks upon a tour of Europe, ending in Paris where two very different men will ignite her heart in entirely different ways and begin a bitter rivalry to win her. But only one holds the key to her happiness.

Set in post-Napoleonic Empire France, Miss Darcy Falls in Love is a riveting love story that enters a world of passion where gentlemen know exactly how to please and a young woman learns to direct her destiny and understand her heart.

What about the books you have written before Georgiana’s novel?
My five book series - called “The Darcy Saga” - is a continuing series starting on the wedding night of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Roughly four years of their marriage is covered in the five novels titled, in order: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, and The Trouble With Mr. Darcy. I also wrote a novella for a holiday themed anthology titled A Darcy Christmas with Amanda Grange and Carolyn Eberhart. My novella is “A Darcy Christmas” and is a companion to the Darcy Saga giving a glimpse of the family via short vignettes that cover Christmases over 20 years. It was released last Christmas but with the season now upon us, A Darcy Christmas would make a fabulous gift!

Have you changed how you write based on reader and/or critic responses?
I learned a long time ago not to read critical reviews. In general they are unkind and not helpful. My readers appreciate my novels, love them even, as evidenced by my continued sales! Yet even there my head could spin if I was not careful because opinions and desires vary. In the end it is about what my heart wants to write. My writing has evolved over time and each novel has a different focus, but each one is true to who I am and what I want to write.

What are you working on right now?
At the moment I am writing the saga of Dr. George Darcy which will be a 2013 release. He is a character of my creating, introduced in my second book - Loving Mr. Darcy - and he stole the show so thoroughly that he not only stuck around but has earned his own novel! George is eccentric, brilliant, flamboyant, larger than life, humorous, and in all ways amazing. He has traveling through the East for 30 years, perfecting his craft and living a rich life full of adventure and romance. His return to England will overlap with the portions I have already written for him in the Saga, but a surprising future awaits him. I am so enjoying this book!

How do you build the relationship between the two characters in Miss Darcy Falls in Love so that it feels real? 
With Georgiana and Sebastian it was about comprehending how each of them felt during certain situations, what they thought about particular occurrences in retrospection, and how their unique pasts played into what was happening between them. Although titled Miss Darcy Falls in Love, this story is about Sebastian Butler as well. His journey is as profound as Georgiana’s journey is. I change POV perhaps more often than some writers do, but for me it was essential that their relationship advanced in stages that made sense. “Hearing” their individual thoughts at a given time feels more real to me because there are so many misinterpretations and misunderstandings going on that the readers needs to know why they leap to the conclusions they do. 

Tell us a little about your favorite “hero” type guy.
I love strong alpha male type heros if written well. Yet, I honestly prefer the quieter hero who is not flashy or rough. I see my Mr. Darcy as the kind of man I admire as a hero. He is intelligent, commanding when in the right context, a manly man while also being urbane and cultured, romantic and soft, even a little shy, and severely loyal. I think of heros like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings or Maximus in Gladiator. Guys who can wield a sword with ease, but have a poet’s sensibility and deep commitment to love and honor. 

Would you please describe the heroines you love to write?
Again, I enjoy reading about a kick-ass heroine who can karate chop her way through a dozen big bad guys. Yet, I prefer a woman who understands that being a “heroine” does not have to involve physical toughness or going against the norm. I like writing women who comprehend the power and importance of love, being a wife and mom, running a household, supporting your man, etc. Georgiana, for instance, is a woman who has a yearning for music and composing, her heart seeking a way to express her gift, but also wanting love and family with the appreciation of how special that role is. I guess I am rather old-fashioned in that way!

How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
Hectic. Blessed. Spirit-filled. Exciting. Rural. Romantic. Domestic. Exhausting. 

How would you describe perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness will be when I am in heaven with my Savior. Until then I will settle for hanging out with my husband, kids, and other family members and friends. Toss on a great movie and some sort of decadent chocolate treat, and I am feeling pretty close.

What’s your greatest fear?
Spiders, with bugs a close second. Seriously. Just ask my husband, who has gotten so used to the shrieks he no longer responds by running to the gun safe under the assumption that I am being brutally attacked. He simply grabs the paper towel and casually strolls to wherever I am huddling and shivering in terror. He kills the beast that was out to kill me, and then wants to show it to me! Why do men do that? Will seeing my worst enemy squished make me feel better or scream less when it’s brother seeks out revenge?

What are your most overused words or phrases?
I think my editor finally broke me from using “literally.” I was literally using “literally” once or twice in each chapter! I was also busted on more than one occasion by the Adjective Police (that again being my editor) so have gotten better about that. All the fines have been paid, so that is good.

What do you regret most?
I honestly do not have any life decision regrets. Not that everything has been roses, but a person learns from the trials better than from the successes, so I would not change that. I do regret not appreciating my body more back in the days when I weighed 115 pounds dripping wet! I should have stuck with my Jane Fonda Workout Program and Jazzercise.

If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
Are we talking super-talents? If so, I want to be Mega Energy Woman whose superpower is that she never gets tired, never needs to sleep, and has a brain that is overcharged all the time. All that hyper activity would probably increase my metabolism so I would be skinny too. (see previous question) Then I could embrace my fantasy profession guilt-free! (see next question)

What’s your fantasy profession?
A food critic, but one of those top notch ones that only eats at 5-Star restaurants and gets flown all over the world just to eat from the best establishments while being fawned over.

Where can readers find you?

Austen Authors:
Twitter:  @SharonLathan
Facebook Page:  Sharon Lathan Novelist


I think I shall stop asking Sharon questions now and give you a chance to quiz her. Anything else your curious mind is dying to know? Post your query and I, er, she, will respond. Thanks to Maria Grazia for hosting me today. And since you have been such a terrific audience, Sourcebooks has agreed to give away one copy of Miss Darcy Falls in Love to a lucky commenter (US or Canada only please). I will add on a signed bookplate and bookmark! Be sure to leave your email so I can reach you. Deadline for entry is midnight on 12/5. Good luck! 

 Sharon Lathan

Friday 25 November 2011


       Erin Blakemore is not new to the readers of My Jane Austen Book Club. She was my guest some time ago with a successful post titled "Jane Austen and the problem of pedestals". She's here with us today to talk Jane Austen with me and to grant you a copy of the just released paperback edition of her "The Heroine's Bookshelf"  (published as a paperback in  the USA  by Harper Perennial). Enjoy the interview and good luck in the giveaway contest. Join me and welcome, Erin Blakemore!

     Jane Austen and modernity. What would her wit’s favourite targets have been if she had written nowadays?
Jane would have been a blogger who skewered the blow-hards and bumbling celebutantes of our day. Oh, to read Jane’s blog…

 What would she have appreciated the most in our world, instead?
Probably the ease and swiftness of modern correspondence! Jane relished the opportunity to stay in touch with her friends.

 Which is your favourite among the major six?
That’s so hard. I think it’s a tie between Pride & Prejudice and Mansfield Park…the former for its gorgeously drawn sisters, the latter for its heroine-in-disguise, the arch and dangerous Mary Crawford.

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?

Great question. I think the impulse to adapt Jane Austen comes from the very natural wish for more body of work to dive into…in the absence of more novels, authors have to create them themselves!

          Isn’t the romantic  aspect of  her novels over- emphasized in the film versions or TV series we’ve seen so far? (not that I mind romance, but those romantic scenes in the movies are so often  not at all Austen-style!)

Definitely. I would love to see an Austen adaptation that really delved into the non-romantic, societal aspects of the books, but the masses would probably burn me at the stake! What can I say…I crave historical accuracy in all ways and though I love to see Colin Firth in a wet shirt, I can’t help but think most JA adaptations impose too much modernity on a very old-fashioned kind of romance.

Why should we still read her novels according to you? What can we learn from them? (a question my students often ask me, why do we have to read the classics?)

Jane Austen’s novels have the added benefit of being incredibly fresh and relevant-feeling, even to this jaded, 21st-century eye! Some of her observations of manners and marital relations just can’t go out of style. It gets even better when you start comparing them to modern relationships.

Was Jane Austen more a romantic girl or a matter-of- fact woman?

Definitely the latter! Jane Austen was more of a Darcy than a sparkling Elizabeth…I think that’s what made her such an astute observer of romance.  I’ve always thought that the Elinor/Marianne duality represents Jane as child and Jane as much more jaded woman, striving for balance.

 How would you advertise your book in less than 50 words?
Kick-ass heroines of literature and the women who gave them to us, wrapped up in a love letter to reading and rereading.

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

I love me some Tilneys! Eleanor gets too little page time.

     You're right! We know so little about Eleanor, I'm sure she'd make a great heroine. I like her very much! Now, my last question. Do you think the Brontës and Austen share much or are they more different than similar?
There are a few superficial similarities, but I think that the Brontës were far more sheltered than Jane. Their very real isolation is at the heart of their greatest work, whereas Jane Austen’s genius is in her depictions of people in close quarters.

That's all for now, Erin! thanks for bein my guest again. You are always very welcome on My Jane Austen Book Club. Congratulations on the publication of "The Heroine Bookshelf" paperback in the US!

The author
Erin Blakemore learned to drool over Darcy and cry over Little Women in suburban San Diego, California. These days, her inner heroine loves roller derby, running her own business, and hiking in her adopted hometown of Boulder, Colorado.  Erin's debut book, "The Heroine's Bookshelf", was just published in paperback by Harper Perennial and won the 2011 Colorado Book Award in the nonfiction-general category.  Learn more at

Leave your comment + e-mail address to win a paperback copy of Erin Blakemore's The Heroine Bookshelf offered by  Harper Perennial. Unfortunately this giveaway contest is limited to US and Canada readers only and ends on December 1st when the winner is announced.

Thursday 24 November 2011


Among the 50 entries this giveaway contest has received  during the week,  has picked up n.39! This means that the winner of The Private Diary of Mr Darcy is  ... Antonia Romera.


Many thanks to the author of the book, Maya Slater,  for being my guest in last week's "Talking Jane Austen with ... " session  and for granting you the chance to win a signed copy of her book. 

Wednesday 23 November 2011


Jane Austen Made Me Do It  is a wonderful collection of Austenesque short stories and an illuminating example of how … union is strength. A group of 22 Austen Authors have been writing for the same goal and have aimed at this extraordinary achievement all together under the guide of  a very special editor, Laurel Ann Natress, who is at the same time a great expert of Jane Austen and of the book market and marketing.
It has been a delightful full immersion in Austen fan fiction. I had already read most of these authors in at least one of their personal achievements and to find them all together in one book was like … watching a firework show.  What I especially appreciated is the range of variety, the originality  and the high quality of the 22 tales. There are stories for all tastes: from gothic to comedy, from classic romance to chick lit, from  what-ifs  to sequels, from spin-offs to modernizations.
I’ve picked up 5 of my favourite stories and I want to share with you my notes, that is, what I scribbled about each of them immediately after  finishing reading.

Notes from my reading journal

Jane Austen’s Nightmare

Wow! A very promising beginning! I’ve started reading my galley from page.1 and I don’t usually do it with short stories. However,  the opening title  is by  Syrie James  , the best selling author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Dracula My Love, and Nocturne.  She  sketches Jane Austen taken into a nightmare: her characters claim their own rights. “Too perfect” , complains Fanny Price, “Too flaw”, reprimands Emma. Poor Jane! Will any of her characters show her any gratitude? 
This little tale reminds me of a great theatrical masterpiece, gloomier and more tragic than this delightful story. It was written by Italian dramatist and novelist Luigi Pirandello. What’s the English translation for “Quattro personaggi in cerca d’Autore”?


Waiting- A Story inspired to Jane Austen’s Persuasion 

“Good things come to those who wait”… well,  at least,  to those who are as constant and loyal as Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth. What happens when Persuasion closes on the last page? I’m sure we all have wondered what the meeting between Lord Elliot and Captain Wentworth might have been like or what  Wentworth’s thoughts might have been when he met Anne after he had  sent her that heartfelt  letter. Jane Odiwe has gifted us with a cute tale of those events and much more.

Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane

Here I am, literally moved to tears by  Adriana Trigiani ’s letter. It got directly to my heart. This fictional Jane-style letter to her beloved niece Anna, her brother James’s daughter, is simply full of … her. Well, the Jane I have in my mind, of course, the image resulting from her letters and biographies and work.  It is a very ill woman who feels life, the life she was deeply in love with, was fading away from her and tries  to pass her young niece her precious recipe for a life of no regrets.

Jo Beverley has created an incredibly romantic Regency Christmas tale, Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss. Lively and sparkling, sweet and warming as a Christmas Carol. The protagonists,  widowed Mrs Carsholt and her three young daughters,  live in Chawton in a small cottage on the lands of Mr Danvers. Elinor hates the idea of being poor and subjected to Mr Danvers kind charity, though she must show herself grateful. Well, its not difficult: Mr Danvers is young , handsome, thoughtful, generous and very kind to them.
They also meet Miss Jane Austen and have read her “Pride and Prejudice”, although they didn’t know she had written it, at first. Mr Nicholas Danvers gave them that book as a gift, but Elinor Carsholt now doesn’t think it was a good idea to let her eldest daughter Amy read it … Her mind is full of improbable, dangerous, if not indecent, dreams.  Elinor knows the “Mr Darcys” out there, those like Mr Nicholas Danvers, don’t really marry penniless young ladies like Amy. She must be sensible for all of them and warn her daughter from the risks.

When Only a Darcy Will Do

Beth Pattillo created a brief romantic interlude in chaotic, crowded London. The protagonist, Elizabeth, invented her job, to be  a guide for an Austen  trail in London. She even moved from the States hoping to earn money guiding tourists through the places Jane Austen visited and lived in while she was in London. But she is a bit disappointed by the results. Dressed up in a Regency costume, waiting for someone interested in Austen in the centre of London, she starts feeling out of place and a bit sad. Until a handsome young man, all dressed up in a gorgeous Regency costume comes out from the tube station and approaches her. Her Mr Darcy?


It was great fun reading this book and discovering  all these little Austeneque gems one after one: different colours, different shades, different shape and size but all so charming! 

Tuesday 22 November 2011


Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had sixteen novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes' points of view. She's my guest on My Jane Austen Book Club  to present the paperback version of her Colonel Brandon's Diary.
Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon's Diary was "the best book yet in her series of heroes' diaries."
Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire.
You can find out more by visiting her website at You can also follow her on Twitter @hromanceuk and find her on Facebook.

As many people will already know, I’ve spent the last eight years of my life writing a series of novels which look at Jane Austen’s classics through the eyes of the hero. It began in 2003 when I found myself thinking about the “missing scenes” from Pride and Prejudice, the scenes that happen off the page, like Mr Darcy finding his sister about to elope with George Wickham. The book was published in 2005 as Darcy’s Diary, and then in paperback just over a year later as Mr Darcy’s Diary.
Little did I know what I was starting! I loved writing Mr Darcy’s Diary so much that as soon as I finished it I embarked on Mr Knightley’s Diary, which led me inevitably to Col Brandon’s Diary. Although, not quite inevitably. Because when I started my retelling of Sense and Sensibility, I was going to write Edward’s diary. Edward Ferrars was, of course, the suitor for Elinor Dashwood, the sensible sister. But as I read Sense and Sensibility again, I realised that it was Col Brandon’s story I needed to tell.
He is almost a background figure in Sense and Sensibility, but in one short conversation, he tells Elinor about his tragic life, full of love and heartbreak. I just knew I had to take those few paragraphs and turn them into the first half of Colonel Brandon’s Diary.

Life is good for Brandon as a young man. He’s happy at university and happy at home, in love with his father’s ward, Eliza, who loves him in return. But he is devastated when his father forces Eliza to marry his brother, who treats her very badly. His wretchedness increases when his brother’s cruelty and many affairs drive her into the arms of another man. His brother casts her off, and he at last finds her, destitute, and dying of consumption. The beautiful young girl is no more, only an emaciated woman remains. But her eyes are the same, and his love for her is the same. He rescues her from debtors’ prison, but can do nothing more than make her comfortable and hold her as she dies.
I was weeping bucketloads as I wrote her death scene. It’s restrained, as befits an entry in a man’s diary, but very emotional all the same.
He throws himself into work, rising to the rank of Colonel in the army, and then he meets Marianne Dashwood. Slowly, her honest, open nature begins to bring him back to life. But Marianne never looks at him twice, because she is in love with Willoughby . . . 

So starts one of the most poignant love triangles in literature, until at last Marianne discovers Willoughby’s true nature, and finds that she has more in common with Brandon than she realised. I really loved writing the end of the book, where Marianne gradually falls in love with Brandon and the two of them embark on a happy life together.

I really love this book, and I hope you love it, too..
                                            Amanda Grange


When I bumped into the name of Lindsay Ashford on facebook, in a post by the Chawton House Museum announcing her there to present her intriguing theory about Jane Austen's death and her novel, I had never heard of her before but I decided to write her and ask for an interview or a guest post for my Jane Austen Book Club. 
She kindly and immediately accepted thanking me for my interest but,  at the time I got the piece from her and posted it, on this blog with the giveaway contest,  she and her theory were practically everywhere on the press. Every English newspaper was dedicating an article to her! She was under the spotlight as a real writing star!

Congratulations, Ms Ashford! And great success to your book!

Now, my congratulations also go to glgoodwinconstruction (Mary) who's just won Lindsay Ashley's book. 

Sunday 20 November 2011


Vic Sanborn writes two very  popular Austen-dedicated blogs, Jane Austen's World and Jane Austen Today  which I , like many of you, greatly appreciate.  I'm really  glad to welcome her on my little Austen-dedicated corner of the blogosphere. She is one of the Austenites and Austen experts involved in our Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration

Read her piece about the minor characters in Sense and Sensibility and leave your comments + e-mail address to enter the giveaway of  JANE'S FAME by Claire Harman offered by Vic and open worldwide. This giveaway contest ends on November 30th when the winner is announced. 


Mr. Palmer Discusses His Fellow Minor Characters

 I, Thomas Palmer, Esq., have been charged to analyze and discuss the traits of my fellow minor characters in Sense and Sensibility, the first of six novels by Jane Austen. I shall endeavor to do JUSTICE to that estimable author's first published effort, which made its way to the public some 200 years ago and has never failed to be in print since.
I must first cast my thoughts upon Fanny and John Dashwood, whose miserliness oblidged the Dashwood women to leave their comfortable home at Norland to establish themselves in Barton Cottage and live a FRUGAL life in Devonshire amongst strangers. Miss Austen was a mere 20 years of age when she first conceived of this novel in epistolary form, first naming it Elinor and Marianne. That such a young author, whose knowledge of the world was CONFINED largely to books and the experiences of others, could create two such memorable characters as Fanny and John Dashwood portended her genius. 
Fanny in particular is a character like no other in literature. Her manipulation of her weak husband in persuading him to abandon his PLEDGE to his father on that man's deathbed is breathtaking in its audacity and avarice. The sequence of her skewed logic and her husband's reaction to her CONTRIVANCE to preserve every pence of her darling son's inheritance is matchless. Even I could not have conceived of a more cynical, darkly humorous dialog than young Miss Austen presented through these two minor characters, thereby setting the novel's direction and tone. “People always live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them.” One simply cannot add or take away a word to improve this utterance by Mrs. Dashwood.
The John Dashwoods represent, like so many minor characters, a FOIL – brilliantly conceived foils, to be sure – that are meant to contrast with other characters. Take my rather vulgar brother-in-law, Sir John Middleton, who is renowned for his generous impulses. Whilst the Dashwood ladies were figuratively shoved out of Norland by the John Dashwoods, Sir John, a distant relation, emerges from nowhere to offer them a hearth and home. The CONTRAST twixt the two Johns – one so weak and tight-fisted that he willing to break his vow to his dying father, the other so generous that he is forever inviting the entire neighborhood to sample the contents of his larder – cannot be ignored. 
I next turn my gaze upon the Steele sisters, Lucy and Anne. Anne is a flat minor character who is doomed to learn nothing from life's experiences, but who interjects a running COMIC gag over her obsession with Dr. Davies (he will never offer his hand in marriage). Her main purpose in the novel is to REVEAL the engagement of Lucy to Edward at a most awkward moment.

Her sister Lucy, a smarter, prettier version of Anne, is as mean, cunning and scheming a creature as I have ever come across. I had her measure from the start, I assure you. Lucy's sole ambition is to ingratiate herself with her betters in order to take her place in SOCIETY. Knowing of Edward Ferrars' attraction to Miss Dashwood, she makes a preemptive strike by CONFIDING her secrets to Elinor, forcing our hapless heroine to LISTEN to matters that, while they pain her deeply, she must keep to herself. Many minor characters play the role of confidante to a novel's protagonist, but Lucy Steele turned the table on Elinor, forcing her to listen to matters that were most distasteful and hurtful. Our scheming Lucy more than turned the table on Edward, eloping with his younger brother Robert when it becomes apparent that the latter will INHERIT the Ferrars fortune of £1,000 per year. One can only cheer knowing that this feckless couple will always be dissatisfied with each other, always wanting more possessions.
Minor characters provide a diversity of roles in a story. The novelist will, without beating a reader over the head, contrive to have a minor character DEMONSTRATE another character's flaw (or perfection, as it were). Take Eliza Williams, who we meet only through Colonel Brandon. The fact that she bore a child out of wedlock and was ABANDONED shows us Willloughby's dark, amoral side. When confronted with the love of an outstanding woman (Marianne), he JILTS her in favor of Miss Sophia Grey, a manipulative heiress who directs Willoughby to give Marianne the CUT DIRECT in London or else suffer the consequence of the end of their engagement. Willoughby's charm as a suitor pales more quickly for the reader than for poor Marianne, who must suffer both emotionally and physically before her heart is opened to Colonel Brandon's steadfast and mature love. 
To be sure, choices such as Willoughby's are not unusual in19th century England. That a man cast off by his benefactress would chuse an heiress over a penniless girl was no mere WHIM. Indeed, at the end Willoughby consoles himself for having chosen wealth in order to indulge his love for horses and dogs over wedded bliss with his true love. 

 I have briefly touched upon Sir John Middleton, my generous brother-in-law, whose COLD FISH of a wife is the elder sister of my spouse, Charlotte. Their fond mama, Mrs. Jennings, is as generous and gregarious as Sir John, and as vulgar as the day is long. Her husband made his fortune in TRADE and the scent of that association still clings to her like hay to a horse. Miss Jane Austen acknowledged the inevitable rise of the middle class through minor characters such as the Jennings (and the Bingleys in Pride and Prejudice), and pursued the topic with Captain Wentworth's rise in fortune in Persuasion.
Mrs. Jennings' vulgarities gave Miss Marianne no end of discomfort, and her conversations with Sir John were often so tactless at dinner that even Miss Elinor Dashwood at times would have rather plucked chickens than be subjected to their HINTS about the gentlemen in their lives. Yet Miss Austen has a decided fondness for Mrs. Jennings, for in that good woman she created a person who would abandon her annoying ways and do everything in her power to support a friend or relative in need.
What of myself as a minor character, you must wonder? Be ASSURED that I have reserved the finest of Sense and Sensibility's minor characters for last. I am, after all, running for PARLIAMENT and would not be doing so if I did not think I had an excellent chance of winning. I have the reputation of thinking highly of myself, but how could this be otherwise in someone who can lay claim to my confidence, intelligence, and superiority? 
Some might describe me as rude or even insolent, but I think of myself as a discerning man, for I do not DESPISE those who possess a modicum of sense, such as Colonel Brandon, Miss Dashwood, and Miss Marianne (when she is not moping around). I DO despise myself for having fallen prey to a pretty face with a fortune, having discovered since my nuptials how an empty head and vacuous good cheer can GRATE upon a man's tranquil nature. I also admit to possessing a healthy degree of self-admiration. However, at my estate, Cleveland, you will find me as good a host as any you have ever encountered.
I must add my opinion to other critics about YOUNG Miss Austen's cleverness in parading my unhappy marriage in front of the two Miss Dashwoods, both of whom had the opportunity to compare their notions of a happy union against the reality of mine. The contrast of my marriage to the ideal state could not be ignored, even by you, the reader. Through the use of minor characters Miss Austen interjected humor and satire as well as INSTRUCTION about the human condition – no mean feat.
So there you have it, my analysis of the minor characters inhabiting Miss Austen's estimable "Sense and Sensibility". Oh, I could have delved further into the topic, for I did not mention Mrs. Ferrars or Mrs. Henry Dashwood, for example, but my discourse was designed for a blog post in which the typical reader is willing to give no more than 4-5 minutes of their time to learn something of VALUE. I thank Maria Grazia for inviting me to join other bloggers in celebrating "Sense and Sensibility". In doing so, I daresay that I have learned as much about myself as others.
Vic Sanborn