Tuesday, 28 January 2020


Austentatious and Covent Garden

If you live in London or ever travel there, do yourself a favor and go see Austentatious at the Fortune Theatre. The theatre is located within the Covent Garden section of London, a delightful area to have dinner and explore. Covent Garden is served by the Piccadilly line at Covent Garden Tube station on the corner of Long Acre and James Streets. During my family’s first ever vacation in England this past June, we found London’s subway system to be a wonderfully efficient, economical, and speedy way to travel throughout the city.

When strolling the streets of Covent Garden, you are apt to find a restaurant to suit anyone’s tastes. All manner of shops are scattered throughout the area, ranging from the most exclusive upscale shops to popular chain stores. Covent Garden’s Apple Market offers a wide range of homemade goods and art. The East Colonnade Market features a variety of gift items, jewelry, and sweet treats. Street performers often entertain the passersby on the pedestrianized piazza.

One notable historic Regency site in the area with an incendiary history is the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. It is the 4th theatre to be erected on that site. The original theatre, built in the early 1660’s, burned down in 1672. A larger theatre was erected in its place in 1674. In 1791, the theatre was torn down in order for a bigger theater to replace it; this larger version was completed in 1794. Unfortunately, another fire consumed this theatre in 1809. Today’s Theatre Royal was built in 1812. Rather than build a larger yet theatre, they opted to make the venue accommodate a slightly smaller audience, though it was still considered a large theatre. In 1817, it had the distinction of being the first theatre to be gaslit throughout. The theatre is currently owned by the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

As a JAFF author and fan of the long-running TV series Whose Line Is It Anyway, a live improvisational show and tribute to Jane Austen seemed the perfect entertainment for an evening. Luckily, the accomplished cast of Austentatious did not let me down.

The audience was warmed up by a pair of tolerably talented singers, male and female. They were appropriately dressed, and by turn they sang Regency era tunes, some familiar, some poignant, others humorous.

Before I arrived, I had a notion that the show would be a parody of one of Jane Austen’s beloved and known novels, but I was proved incorrect. The audience had been asked to compose the name of a prospective newly discovered novel of Jane Austen’s. A number of them were shouted out to one of the performers before one was selected: Flex and Flexibility.

Before our eyes, a “lost classic” was created and acted out on the fly with fervent playfulness. It was a Regency tale of love, loss, and yes, flexibility. The story was absurd, full of puns and madcap antics, and vastly entertaining. The performers did an exemplary job in keeping the audience laughing while composing a unique storyline. In the end, there was scant resemblance to anything Jane Austen might have written, but it was great fun nonetheless.

Afterward, my family was in agreement that it had been a mighty fine way to spend the evening.

According to their website: https://www.austentatiousimpro.com/shows/london/, Austentatious shows will continue at the Fortune Theatre, Russell Street, Holborn, London WC2B 5HH, in 2020, beginning with their first show in February, 2020.

Would Jane Austen approve of such silliness? I should hope so.


Read an excerpt
This excerpt takes place at Darcy’s town house in London not long after his arrival home from Kent. The first part is in Darcy’s point of view; the second part is in Georgiana’s point of view.
This excerpt takes place at Darcy’s town house in London not long after his arrival home from Kent. The first part is in Darcy’s point of view; the second part is in Georgiana’s point of view.
Darcy turned from the window at the knock on the door. “Come in.”
Mrs. Annesley entered. “You wished to see me, sir?”
He indicated the chair before his desk. “Yes, please have a seat.” As she did so, he took the chair behind the desk. “My sister wrote to me of her recent friendship with Miss Hester Drake. I understand they met at a gathering hosted by Lady Matlock and have been in company several times since.”
“Yes sir.”
“Based upon what my sister told me today, this friendship is highly valued by her. As you know, I have reason to be cautious about whom is allowed to be in company with Miss Darcy. I wish to know if there is anything—anything at all—with regard to the lady that has given you cause for concern.”
Mrs. Annesley smiled and leaned back against the chair. “I understand, sir, and I am pleased to reassure you. I have been delighted to witness the improvement in Miss Darcy’s spirits since she made Miss Drake’s acquaintance. I have been present on every occasion they have met, and I have paid close attention to the young lady’s comportment and conversation, as well as that of the lady’s companion, Miss Green. Both ladies have always exhibited faultless decorum, and Miss Drake’s interactions with Miss Darcy have demonstrated a true interest and regard for your sister. I never once observed any falseness in Miss Drake’s manner to make me suspicious of her motives. Unlike several other young ladies who have attempted to form an acquaintance with Miss Darcy, I believe Miss Drake is a genuine friend to your sister.”
The breath he had been retaining rushed out. “I thank you for this information. Based upon what I already knew of the lady’s family, I did not expect to hear anything of concern, but I am pleased to know you have been sensible of my sister’s best interests. I appreciate your diligence.”
Her eyes lowered. “It is no more than what is required of my position, Mr. Darcy, and it is no hardship. Miss Darcy is a delightful young lady, and I could not be happier to see her finding her own self-confidence.”
At dinner that evening, Georgiana spoke more than was her wont as she attempted to fill the awkward silences due to her brother’s meagre speech and stiff manner. In a discourse imbued with enthusiasm, she explicated how she had made Miss Hester Drake’s acquaintance at their aunt’s house and described their subsequent visits. In a guarded fashion, she voiced her belief that Miss Drake was proving to be a true friend. Her eyes riveted upon her brother as she awaited his reaction. Would he admonish her to be cautious? Or worse…did he know aught of the Drake family to induce him to disapprove of the friendship?
Fitzwilliam displayed no sign of displeasure or concern. “I attended Cambridge with James Drake, and I understand that Miss Hester Drake is his youngest sister. He is a gentleman of good character, and I have only ever heard positive accounts of the Drake family. The family is well known and respected. Lady Matlock is quite close with Mrs. Drake.”
Georgiana’s tentative smile spread wider. She had no reason to expect her brother would disapprove of Miss Drake, but since the friendship held such importance for her, his words liberated her as though an oppressive weight had been removed from her chest. “Miss Drake and her companion, Miss Green, are coming to tea next Saturday.”
“Oh? I should like to meet them. I shall ensure that I am available.” Her brother’s smile was small, but relaxed and genuine.
She leaned towards him as an effusion of words burst forth. “I know you will like Miss Drake very much. She is so very wise, kind, and beautiful. And elegant, too; she is quite elegant. Miss Drake is a talented musician: she has mastered both the harp and the pianoforte. She has exquisite taste in clothing: I have never seen her in an ensemble that I did not admire. Oh, I cannot wait until next Saturday!” She paused, out of breath.

Fitzwilliam’s eyes gleamed at her with undisguised amusement. “It is clear you esteem Miss Drake. I am in anticipation of meeting this remarkable lady.”

About the Book

When secrets are revealed and a family agenda works against him, can Fitzwilliam Darcy recover his damaged spirits and find happiness?
Following his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to London from Kent broken-hearted and dejected. One bright spot penetrates his sea of despair: his sister, Georgiana, has finally recovered her spirits from the grievous events at Ramsgate the previous summer. She has forged a new friendship with Miss Hester Drake, a lady who appears to be an ideal friend. In fact, Lady Matlock believes Miss Drake is Darcy’s perfect match.
Upon Elizabeth Bennet’s arrival at the Gardiners’ home from Kent, she finds that her sister Jane remains despondent over her abandonment by Mr. Bingley. But Elizabeth has information that might bring them together. She convinces her Uncle Gardiner to write a letter to Mr. Bingley providing key facts supplied to her by Mr. Darcy.
When Mr. Bingley discovers that his friend and sisters colluded to keep Jane’s presence in London from him, how will he respond? Given the chance, will Darcy and Elizabeth overcome their past misunderstandings? What will Darcy do when his beloved sister becomes a hindrance towards winning the lady he loves?

About the Author 
Kelly Miller is a native Californian and Anglophile, who made her first visit to England in 2019. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she can be found playing the piano (although like Elizabeth Bennet, she is errant when it comes to practicing), singing, and walking her dogs. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets.
Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match is her second novel published by Meryton Press. Her first was the Regency novel Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice romantic sequel with a touch of fantasy. Her third novel, Accusing Mr. Darcy, will be released later in 2020.
Contact Info 


Amazon US       Amazon UK



January 27 Austenesque Reviews
January 29 Austenprose
January 30 So Little Time…
February 4 Savvy Verse & Wit
February 6 Donadee’s Corner


darcybennett said...

Enjoyed the excerpt!

Kelly M. said...

Hello Maria. I want to thank you so much for agreeing to take part in my blog tour. I am pleased to be your guest today. :)

rainforest961 said...

Informative post! I appreciated getting both Darcy and Georgiana's POV's the the excerpt. I look forward to learning more about this story!

Suzan Lauder said...

I missed Austentacious! when I was in London as it was traveling then. I hope it travels to me some day. I read the excerpt with fascination abou t Miss Drake. I hope more will be revealed. Thanks, Kelly and Maria!

Kelly M. said...

Hello darcybennet, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Thank you, rainforest961, it's good to hear that the excerpt increased your interest in the story!

Hi Suzan, we were lucky to be able to fit Austentatious into our trip schedule. I hope you get to see it in the future. They do go on tour sometimes, so you might look for that. I appreciate your comment!

Janet T said...

Another interesting post, Kelly. The excerpt was good too! Thank you. When we went to England we flew into and out of London, but we didn't stay. I'm fascinated by all these places that you are featuring in your posts. It's making me want to see them.

Thank you for hosting, Maria!

Vesper said...

So Darcy has not told Bingley yet, so he has yet to improve his character then

Kelly M. said...

Hi Janet T, I hope you go back to explore the many interesting neighborhoods of London. We spent 5 days there and went all over the city using the tube. Thank you for your comment!

Hi Vesper, it is a bit more complicated than that. Darcy, by this time, done a bit of ruminating of his past actions. I appreciate your comment! :)

Anji said...

Austentatious sounds a lot of fun! Must look out to see if it'll ever come to my neck of the woods in Yorkshire.

Many thanks for the excerpts. Still not sure I trust Miss Drake and now I'm starting to doubt Mrs Annesley! Have I got an overly suspicious mind?

Kelly M. said...

Hi Anji, It truly was fun from start to finish. I hope you get the chance to catch them, maybe when they go on tour. In a novel, one should not be too trusting, I think. Thank you for your comment!

Deborah Ann said...

I enjoyed the excerpt. I am eagerly looking forward to reading this book

Jan Hahn said...

Flex and Flexibility sounds hilarious, and Miss Drake sounds almost too good to be true. I don’t trust her. �� Good post, Kelly!

Eva said...

Wonderful excerpt. I wonder if Miss Drake is a true friend.

Kelly M. said...

Hello Deborah Ann, thank you! I'm glad you liked this visit with Darcy and Georgiana at home. I appreciate your comment.

Hi Jan, you would have loved the show! It is amazing that they do a new one for each performance. Thank you so much for your support!

Hello Eva, Miss Drake is a multi-faceted character and it was fun to write of her. I drew inspiration from someone I knew in RL. I thank you for your comment!

Lúthien84 said...

Thanks for providing such an informative post about your travels in London, Kelly. I've never been there but I would love to visit Covent Garden and watch theater or musical about Jane Austen and her novels. The excerpt is entertaining too. I feel that Miss Hester Drake is akin to Mary Crawford. Will she get in the way of Darcy and Elizabeth coming together as a couple? I should hope not.

Kelly M. said...

Hello Luthien84, Thank you for your comment; I am glad you found the post interesting. I hope you get the chance to visit England one day; there are so many wonderful places to visit that we could not fit everything we wanted in our 10-day trip. We need to return at some point. As for Miss Hester; she is certain to complicate things, but I dare not say more at this point. :)