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.


Sophia Rose said...

Thanks for the interview and questions. I like how you chose Mansfield Park as your second fav Austen. It is my second fav too, but not behind P&P. I would love to see a spin-off on Tilney's sister- what fun!

Your book sounds interesting. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

A Scattering said...

Hi Maria and Erin1 It was great to read the interview and learn your opinions on Jane's work. Wishing you continued success with your book. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

~Brandy~ said...

The best inspiration comes from female authors!

Literary Chanteuse said...

This just sound so good! I love discovering new books! Thank you for the giveaway!


DDCKnitt said...

The book looks like a great read, thank for the opportunity.


Lora Edmiston said...

Huge Jane Austen fan! Every month (we try twice a month) my daughter and I have "Girl's night," which pretty much consists of watching Pride and Prejudice and maybe one other movie. We have several versions of the book and the movie.

marilyn said...

A most interesting interview and introduction to an author who is new to me. Sounds like a fun read.


Heather M. said...

I'm not familiar with this author, but based on your interview, I know that I'd really enjoy this book. Thanks for hosting this giveaway!


Linda said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview, and I know I would love this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

Margay Leah Justice said...

I totally agree about Eleanor Tilney - there's definitely more to her story and I think she would make a wonderful heroine. That Jane Austen really knew her stuff!


alyssa said...

This book will be on my reading list - whether or not I win this contest!
My Jane Austen club consists of my mother, sisters and a few family friends. We get together from time to time to watch one of the movie adaptations after reading the book. We have great discussions - one of which is how the romantic side of the novels is very overplayed in the movies.


I would love to see Jane Austen blog about the Kardashians! Can someone start a blog posing as her and do that? That would be so fantastic. I wouldn't expect the Kardashian's to understand her wit, but God would that be funny!


Anonymous said...

I love both authors, can't think of a better book to read. Thanks for the giveaway

Anonymous said...

Love how you advertised it: "Kick-ass heroines of literature and the women who gave them to us, wrapped up in a love letter to reading and rereading." Sounds amazing!


Ruby said...

Great interview. I enjoyed reading your thoughts to the questions asked.

Ruby Chun @