As my dear husband and I approach retirement, we are looking for the perfect retirement home. As a result, I am running hither and yon. Although it looks as if I have abandoned the blog, I have not. I am just waiting for things to settle down. Thank you for your patience.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
On Monday, April 8, at Austen Authors, I will launch my latest Pride and Prejudice re-imagining, When They Fall in Love. The story is set in 1821 in Florence, Italy. Here is a summary:
Spring of 1814 – Fitzwilliam Darcy proposes to Elizabeth Bennet at the Hunsford Parsonage, but his offer of marriage is rejected.
Spring of 1821 – A recently widowed Fitzwilliam Darcy has taken up residence with his six-year-old daughter, Alexandra, at a villa in the hills above Florence and invites Charles and Jane Bingley and their daughter to come for a visit. Included in the invitation is Elizabeth Bennet, who has taken on the responsibility of governess for her niece.
|Duomo and Campanile - Florence|
In the intervening years, Elizabeth’s opinion of the Master of Pemberley has altered greatly, but has Darcy’s opinion of Elizabeth changed? After all, he married another and fathered a child. Will they be able to put their troubled history behind them?When They Fall in Love is set against the background of the greatest city of the Renaissance, a perfect place to start over.
For those of you who have read my books, you know that I love history, but I also love art, most particularly the art of the Renaissance, which was the primary motivation for placing my story in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. I was fortunate to have visited Florence twice and to have viewed the magnificent treasures of the Uffizi Gallery. Several are mentioned in When They Fall in Love, and they are pictured here: Rape of the Sabine Women and the Colossus of the Appenines by Giambologna; Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Cellini; Venus d' Medici modeled on Praxiteles's Aphrodite of Knidos; The Duke of Urbino by Piero della Francesca (with an opening on the left for his deceased wife, Battista Sforza); The Venus of Urbino by Titian; and Madonna and Child by Fra Lippo Lippi.
I hope you will join me on April 8 at www.austenauthors.net for the launch and giveaway of When They Fall in Love.
Posted by Mary Simonsen at 1:38 PM
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
This post originally appeared on austenauthors.net sometime in 2011, but I thought it was worth another look.
Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is not the only book having a big anniversary this year. The Authorized King James Version of the Bible beats Austen out by 200 years. This translation of the Bible sponsored by the Church of England was begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 in response to problems with earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a cranky lot who found fault with everything. The translation was undertaken by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. The New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin.
Now for the interesting part. The Authorized Version’s acceptance by the general public did not happen overnight. Biblical scholar, Hugh Broughton, the most highly regarded English Hebraist of his time (but who had been excluded from the panel of translators because of his uncongenial temperament), chimed in with his opinion of the completed work: “I would rather be torn in pieces by wild horses than that this abominable translation should ever be foisted upon the English people.” Fortunately, for him, no one could find any wild horses.
A primary concern of the translators was to produce a Bible that would be appropriate, dignified and resonant in public reading. Hence, in a period of rapid linguistic change, they avoided contemporary idioms, tending instead towards forms that were already slightly archaic, like “thee and thou,” “verily” and “it came to pass.” The translators also tended to enliven their text with stylistic variation, finding multiple English words or verbal forms in places where the original language employed repetition. In other words, they used a thesaurus.
There are so many phrases that we use in everyday language that come from this translation. Here are a few of them from Matthew:
Man shall not live by bread alone. (4:4)
The salt of the earth (5:13)
The light of the world (5:14)
Turn the other cheek. (5:39)
O ye of little faith (6:30)
Seek and ye shall find. (7:7)
Every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand. (12:25)
The blind lead the blind. (15:14)
The signs of the times (16:3)
Take up the cross. (16:24)
Suffer little children (19:14)
The last shall be first, and the first last. (20:16)
Out of the mouth of babes (21:16)
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (26:41)
As a Catholic, I did not grow up with the Protestant King James’ Version of the Bible, but I know a stylistic masterpiece when I read it. British Theologian, F. W. Haber, said it best: [The King James Version of the Bible] lives on the ear, like music that can never be forgotten, like the sound of church bells, which the convert hardly knows how he can forego. Scholars may argue about the accuracy of the translation of the King James's Version, but it would be hard to find a more beautiful one. Happy Anniversary!
Compiled from on-line sources including Wikipedia as well as The History of the English Language by Professor Seth Lerer, The Teaching Company.
Posted by Mary Simonsen at 11:58 AM
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I rarely do movie reviews because, by the time I have seen a film, so has everyone else. Occasionally, something is so good and so touching that you want to share so that no one misses out on a true gem. Here is the description of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel from IMDB.com:
British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson all have unique reasons for seeking retirement in a country and culture that is the antithesis of their well-ordered life in England. Upon arrival, they are hit in the face with the sounds, sights, and smells of the Indian subcontinent, and they are pulled into the vortex that is modern-day India.
The story is predictable. There will be salvation for all but the crankiest visitor. And there are a few false notes, most particularly Wilton’s extremely nasty character and Smith’s reaction during a visit to a servant’s home. But it is the journey that makes this film so enjoyable. And the acting! My goodness! It is a pleasure watching six of Britain’s premier actors doing what they do best: drawing believable characters that we care about.
As wonderful as the older talent is, Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), the owner of the hotel, is a scene stealer. He twists and turns the most negative news until it comes out of his mouth as a positive. His mantra is: “Everything will be fine in the end, and if it’s not, it is not the end.” Retired or not, that’s a great outlook on life.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Last week, I hit two home runs when Darcy on the Hudson received two five-star reviews. Here are excerpts:
Janet Taylor at More Agreeably Engaged - 5 Stars
"On more than one occasion, I laughed out loud. I even had 'a little water' in my eyes on others. I loved this book, and I thank you, Mary Simonsen, for a good and rewarding read."
To read Janet's entire review, please click here.
Evie Cotton at The Lavendar Lady - 5 Stars
"One thing I love about Mary Lydon Simonsen is her attention to detail. Every time I open up one of her books I am transported to a time and place that I never knew that I never knew. For instance, I am a history buff and love war time stories. World Wars I and II are my favorites, but I have never contemplated what life was like in Great Britain during those times. I've really only heard these stories told from the American point of view. While reading 'Darcy Goes To War', I found myself constantly saying out loud (to my husband's irritation) "Huh!" and "Wow!" and "Gee Whiz!". The same is true for 'Darcy on the Hudson'. I learned so many things about the day to day lives of those living in 1811 New York that I hardly know where to begin. Its those day to day events, told in such a detailed yet easy manner that leave you with no question of how things transpired."
To read Evie's entire review, please click here.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
When Headstrong Girls co-operate, rather than compete...
Please welcome June Williams and Debra Anne Watson. Along with Enid Wilson, they are co-authors of Headstrong Girls, a new collection of writings inspired by Jane Austen. June, Enid and Debra Anne met on-line in a Jane Austen community. After reading each other's stories for years, they decided to publish a collection together, with each person writing one-third of the content, and collaborating on a tag-along story.
Mary: Please introduce the ladies in your photo.
Debra Anne: The photo was taken a few years ago on a visit to San Francisco. I am on the far left. Next to me is Aimée Avery, author of A Little Bit Psychic: Pride & Prejudice, and Honor and Integrity. Next to her is Sara Angelini, author of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy and co-founder of Austen Underground, which Aimée and I help administer. On the right is June. Enid is from Down Under, and we haven’t managed to meet in person yet.
Mary: How did the three of you decide to collaborate on this book/collection?
June: One day, Enid, who has published a few JA-inspired novellas, read a comment from a sick reader at a forum, saying she wanted to combine a few short stories from her favorite authors to bring with her when she visited a doctor’s office. That was the inspiration for Honor and Integrity, a collaborative short-story collection, which was published last summer with Aimée and Enid. They both were extremely helpful in guiding me through the publishing process. I enjoyed the camaraderie when we were discussing and writing, so for Headstrong Girls, I was happy to join in again. This time, Debra Anne makes her debut.
Debra Anne: Yes, it has been a great experience. I’ve written three short stories for Headstrong Girls, Enid two stories and a short film script, and June one long short story.
June: We have a tag-along story, too, in which the three of us each write a section, but we cannot change what the previous writers did. The last writer has the hardest job—bringing all the threads together. Debra Anne volunteered to be that writer this time. It was as if Debra Anne had been reading Enid’s mind from the start. (Enid was quite evil, starting the story with Caroline Bingley accusing Elizabeth Bennet of being a murderer. Luckily, Mr. Darcy came to stand by Lizzy!)
Mary: Finishing each other’s section of stories without consulting with each other! That sounds challenging. You must have become very good friends.
June: Yes, almost everyone we’ve asked for help in the Jane Austen community has responded favorably, including more established authors such as you, Mary, for letting us post here and advising us about blogs. My legal story, No Cupid Contract, was edited by two amazing lawyers that I met for the first time through Georgia Girls Rock, a fun group within the JA community. I posted a cry for help, and they responded.
Debra Anne: I have edited for many JAFF authors over the years, but formatting for publishing was new to me. Enid was our manager, keeping us on target. I also want to credit Aimée for putting the bug in me for my story, Pride and Preservation, set on a wildlife preserve in South Africa.
Mary: Why did Aimee suggest a story set in South Africa?
Debra Anne: It wasn’t the locale she suggested. When Aimée’s stories have cliffhangers, she blames a mischievous monkey named Cliff (Hanger), who I’ve borrowed a time or two myself. Aimée mentioned that Cliff wanted me to “write a story with monkeys in it.” The story wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it. That monkey must have been hopped up on Banana Krimpets!
June: That story has some beautiful imagery: a baby samango monkey that is hand-fed by Lizzy (a veterinarian), a colourful sunset over the South African plain, an injured lioness, wild dogs, a blue crane with a five-foot wingspan, a boa constrictor – oh, wait, that was Caroline Bingley.
Mary: Sounds like fun, and it has familiar characters from Pride and Prejudice.
June: The rule was to use the term “Headstrong Girl” in each story. The girls are Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, Emma Woodhouse, and Jane Fairfax, not to mention JA’s memorable gentlemen and a few new characters we invented.
Debra Anne: But it’s not all fluffy. People get killed in some of the stories. And we couldn’t write an Austen-inspired work without Wickham appearing somewhere, although he’s not always the main villain.
Mary: The result of all your efforts is available now?
Debra Anne: Yes, Headstrong Girls, a bit of mystery, a bit of love, all inspired by Jane Austen, is available in any good e-book store.
Thank you, ladies. It’s been a pleasure. Mary
The fine print: Leave a comment by March 12 about a time when a stranger helped you with something. Winner will be announced on March 13. Entry is open worldwide. Because my blog does not capture e-mail addresses, you must leave an address where I can contact you.
Headstrong Girls is available at:
Posted by Mary Simonsen at 8:55 AM
Monday, February 25, 2013
In 1814, Patrick Colquhoun, a Scottish merchant, statistician, magistrate, and founder of the first Thames River Police, wrote a report entitled A Treatise on the Wealth, Power, and Resources of the British Empire in which he constructed a table of Britain’s many classes:
Highest orders (first class): Royal family, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, great officers of state, and all above the degree of baronet with their families (576 heads of family/2,880 persons comprising their families.
Second class: Baronets, knights, country gentlemen, and others having large incomes with their families (46,861/234,305)
Third Class: Dignified clergy, persons holding considerable employments in the State, elevated situations in the law, eminent practitioners in physic (doctors), considerable merchants, manufacturers upon a large scale, and bankers of the first order with their families (12,200/61,000)
Fourth Class: Persons holding inferior situations in Church and State, respectable clergymen of different persuasions, practitioners in law and physic, teachers of youth of the superior order, respectable freeholders, ship owners, merchants, and manufactures of the second class, warehousemen and respectable shopkeepers, artists, respectable builders, mechanics, and persons living on moderate incomes with their families (233,650/1,168,250)
Fifth Class: Lesser freeholders, shopkeepers of the second order, innkeepers, publicans, and persons engaged in miscellaneous occupations or living on moderate income with their families (564,799/2,798,475)
Sixth Class: Working mechanics, artisans, handicrafts, agricultural laborers, and others who subsist by labor in various employements with their families (2,126,095/8,792,800) and menial servants (1,279,923)
Seventh or lowest class: Paupers, vagrants, gypsies, rogues, vagabonds, and idle and disorderly persons supported by criminal delinquency (387,100/1,828,170)
Excluding the approximately 1,000,000 men serving in the Army and Navy, the total is 16,402,988. Of that number, only 2,880 belonged to the highest order. That rank would have included Darcy’s grandfather, an earl, and his children, Darcy’s mother, the father of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lady Catherine.
The next group, or second class, includes Fitzwilliam Darcy. Although not a member of the aristocracy, he belongs to an elite group of only 46,861 heads of household.
Mr. Collins, as a rector, is in the third class.
According to the annotated Jane Austen edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks (p. 47), the Bennets are in the fourth class as persons of moderate income and, I assume, property owners.
When Elizabeth tells Lady Catherine that “Mr. Darcy is a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal," it is a stretch. According to the laws of the United States, all men are equal under the law, but we know that some people are more equal than others. This was the case with the Darcys and the Bennets.
The English were extremely class conscious, and so it is understandable why Mr. Darcy thought he needed to point out to Elizabeth at the time of his proposal how inferior her connections were. In his own clumsy way, he was providing her with a demonstration of the depth of his love, i.e., he was descending to her level. I think when Elizabeth sees Pemberley, she realizes just how much Darcy was willing to put at risk by making her an offer.
What do you think?
Monday, February 18, 2013
If I could sum up Downton Abbey’s third season in one word, it would be whiplash. From week to week, one never knew which Mary Crawley would show up: the loving wife or the woman who picks Edith apart. During this season, Lord Grantham went from caring husband and concerned father to the embodiment of I’m a Little Teapot, "short and stout, when he gets all steamed up, then he shouts…" And he shouted a lot. Thomas, our bad boy, became a weepy girl lying in bed hoping to get some attention from the man he loves. Daisy, the clueless, but sweet scullery maid, became the nasty assistant cook. And O’Brien? Good grief! She wasn’t happy just getting even with Thomas; she wanted him utterly destroyed! So much for a spiritual renewal following the “soap” incident.
Stellar acting. Considering the scripts they had to work with, the cast did everything they could to pull it off. Kudos to Maggie Smith (Dowager Grantham), Hugh Bonneville for making us not hate Lord Grantham, Jessica Findlay Brown (Sybil) for making the most of an undeveloped character, ditto for Allen Leech (Tom Branson). When Elizabeth McGovern was allowed to act, she was an excellent Lady Grantham.
The below-stairs cast is really fantastic, especially Carson, Mrs. Hughes, and Mrs. Patmore. Although I do not think Thomas would have behaved the way he did when James visited him in his room, the acting was first rate.
High production values, beautiful settings, and exquisite costumes.
Weak scripts: The imprisoned Bates; Thomas, who could go to prison for being a homosexual, kisses a man who has given him no encouragement; Isobel and the reformed prostitute whose first attempt at cooking was a souffle; Edith falling for a man with a wife in an asylum. (Ugh! The crazy wife has already been done. Thank you Charlotte Bronte.)
Dropping characters into the plot: An example from last year was the supposed Downton heir showing up in bandages; this year we got Rose. Why should we care about her embarrassing herself and the family when we don’t even know her? It’s a lot to ask of an audience. Don’t care about her parents either. Ditto on the maid flirting with Branson.
The Shrimpy and Susan Show. Why make Susan so evil? At any minute, I expected her to turn into the evil queen from Snow White.
The finale: Yes, Dan Stevens wanted out, and so he had to go. But blood running down his cheek! Did we really need to see that? Was it necessary to couple that scene with the blessed arrival of his son?
In my opinion, there are too many story lines. Julian Fellowes thinks he must have something for everyone to do, and so he writes ridiculous tangents. For example, must Edith’s happiness depend on a man? She is quite capable of turning into a stellar newspaperwoman. Let her do that. But, no, she’s in love with a man who cannot, by law, divorce his insane wife. Another was Branson's shenanigans in Ireland. One week of the rebel firebrand, and then he's off to running Downton.
I know that if I lived in England at that time, I would have been a maid, trudging up the stairs to bring the married women their breakfasts. Although the ladies of the house had little to do, and I would have had a great deal of work and a long day ahead of me, it was the way things were. However, I would have loved to see Lady Grantham and Mary actually get up out of bed and have breakfast with their husbands! That would have been something.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Welcome, Janet B. Taylor, a talented artist who has turned her love of Pride and Prejudice into a keepsake calendar.
Thank you, Mary, for having me as a guest today to help me get the word out about my calendars and drawings. A special thanks to you for the lovely review of my calendar.
Now where to begin? I hardly know. Like many fans of Jane Austen and Austenesque novels, I have been quite literally obsessed for the past 18 months, at least. I wanted to read anything I could get my hands on. I relied on all you wonderful authors to supply my Darcy and Lizzy fix. When I couldn’t get a new book, I would re-read one I already had. I repeatedly watched the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
|A Walk in the Woods|
The first thought of drawing Darcy and Lizzy came from a suggestion of my friend and author, Jan Hahn. She wanted me to try a drawing that might be used for a book cover. I felt unsure of this idea since, unlike many artists, I cannot just start drawing. I must have a picture to look at while I draw. I gave the idea some serious thought and finally decided to give it a try. My first attempt at Darcy was put aside rather quickly. He looked like Billy Bob Thornton—definitely not my idea of Mr. Darcy. My second attempt was more successful; then I moved on to Lizzy. Lastly, using a photograph I had taken of the woods at Belton House, i.e, Rosings Park in the miniseries, I made a computerized drawing. That became the background for ‘A Walk in the Woods’. I have hand drawn the other eleven backgrounds myself.
Now my desire to read about Darcy and Lizzy had a new dimension. I wanted to draw them too. I knew I had to try Darcy and Lizzy in the music room, i.e., ‘The Look’. My fourth drawing and most popular according to comments received is ‘The Kiss’. Being my favorite too, it was, without a doubt, one scene I had to do, and it seemed to flow onto the paper.
With each drawing, my goal was to capture the emotion and sense of the scene. I hoped the viewer could feel what was happening. I spent much time studying the eyes, the nose and the mouth. I think the eyes are the most important feature but the other two follow close behind.
While on a tour of England, I visited Lacock, which was used for Meryton in the 1995 BBC miniseries. It was such a lovely little village, and I literally felt I had stepped back in time. In one of the gift shops, I saw the work of an artist named David White. One of our guides was Hazel Jones who is a Jane Austen scholar. I decided to ask her about selling drawings and if one had to have a license. As it turned out, she knew quite a bit about it as David White is a personal friend. On the last day of the P n P Tour, Hazel informed me that she had contacted David. Much to my delight I found that I could sell my work! When I visited The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, I was given the exact same information: the drawings were ‘my artistic interpretations’ of scenes from the miniseries.
Before I left for England in August, I had three drawings finished. By the time I returned, I was inspired to draw again. Then there was the idea of a calendar in honor of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. That meant I had to do nine drawings in less than four months if I was to get a calendar out before the first of the year. Well, as you see, that did not happen. The drawings were done, but I had to get the calendar setup. By the time the printer got them done, it was later than I would have liked, but I had a calendar that I was proud to offer. I do hope that, as a keepsake or commemorative item, it will still be desired. Each and every picture was drawn with love as a tribute to Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, and the miniseries.
I also use my drawings to make note cards. Each one has a short quote, pertinent to the scene, on the front, and more of the quote on the back. The cards are printed on 100% recycled card stock and have square flap envelopes.
Future plans: The 2005 P&P movie, as well as something from Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.
Thanks again, Mary, for having me. I enjoyed being your guest and talking about my drawings.
To see more of Janet's work, please visit her website.
Friday, February 8, 2013
Hi, Everyone! My name is Angie Kroll. You may have noticed me commenting on blogs, making goofy games for Austenesque Reviews, or stalking JAFF authors.
|David and Angie Kroll|
But what does networking have to do with Jane Austen? Wikipedia defines business networking as “a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded business people recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities.” Authors and bloggers provide like-minded Janeites a place to share ideas, argue Firth vs. MacFayden (and now Gordh), and discover new stories. Thanks to networking, I have almost 80 JAFF titles on my kindle app, a dozen on my shelf, and have checked out many titles from my local library.
Unfortunately, as much as I would like to keep up on the dozens of daily blog posts, I just can't carry my laptop with me everywhere. There were many times where I have been sitting in the car or at the doctor's office scrambling on my phone trying to read posts. I am not talented and disciplined enough to write, but I can stumble my way around photoshop. So I asked myself - what skills do I have to contribute to the Jane Austen Network?
Enter the idea of Austen Admirers, an RSS Smartphone app for iTunes, Google Play and Windows. What Austen Admirers does is take feeds from all of your favorite blogs and aggregates them into one easy-to-use smartphone app. Each morning instead of waking up and going to 50 different websites, you can open one app and see all of the latest posts from your favorite blogs - right in one place! You can also find a list of authors, and with a push of a button, go directly to their Amazon page!
What does it cost to be a part of the app? Nothing. Zero. Zip. It will be free for authors and bloggers to join, and free for users to download. Most apps cost between 10K and 15K to build, butI want this to be a thank you to the community for giving me an online home these past five years. All graphic design and cost for building the apps are donated by me. Is it completely free? No - which is why I'm having a kickstarter campaign to help fund the hosting charges. If the campaign succeeds, there will be advertising opportunities for authors, but for now, I need your help getting the word out. Tweet, Share, Email - send the news by post! There are amazing gifts for different levels, including Amazon gift cards, Bingley Teas, Social Media Calling Cards, and even membership to JASNA!
Would you like to help the Jane Austen Network grow? Please check out the Kickstarter Campaign site, Like us on Facebook, facebook.com/AustenAdmirers, Follow on Twitter @AustenAdmirers or @AngieKroll, or contact me directly at adkroll95 (at) gmail(dot)com.
Thanks to Mary for allowing me free reign today on her blog. There's another Youtube video in your near future!
Click on this link for the Youtube video.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
I have never reviewed a calendar before, but Janet Taylor’s beautiful 200th Anniversary Celebration of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice certainly deserves one. Each watercolor is absolutely lovely. The calendar also provides a chronology of Jane Austen’s life, and each picture displays a quote from the novel. These are not random quotes, but reveal the story in chronological order.
If you love Pride and Prejudice, you will want this calendar. If your favorite P&P adaptation is the 1995 A&E presentation with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, then you MUST have this calendar. It is definitely a keepsake. Check it out at Janet’s website. If you want a closer look, Jane has a youtube video where you can get a peek at every month. This would be a wonderful Valentine's gift for a P&P fan or for yourself.
Janet Taylor will be guest hosting a blog sometime this month. I’ll let you know when her post is up.
Posted by Mary Simonsen at 10:39 AM
Monday, January 28, 2013
Our Chawton Home, how much we find
Already in it to our mind;
And how convinced that when complete
It will all other houses beat
That ever have been made or mended,
With rooms concise or rooms distended.
Letter from Jane to her brother James
Like thousands of pilgrims before me, last spring, I journeyed to Chawton Cottage, the residence of Jane Austen, her sister Cassandra, mother Cassandra, and friend Martha Lloyd, during the last eight years of her life. It is a lovely house where Jane went to work revising Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice as well as writing Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion.
Prior to her brother, Edward Austen Knight, providing his sisters and mother with the cottage, Jane had lived in Bath for a few years, and biographers agree that she was not happy there. Despite the pump room, assembly rooms, teas, dances, and gardens, Jane longed for the country and left Bath with “happy feelings of escape.” Her brother’s generosity of providing Jane with a house in the country is a gift to all of us. The years between Jane leaving Steventon Rectory and her arrival in Bath were fallow, but upon her arrival at Chawton, she more than made up for it.
Chawton’s setting is much more rural than it was in Jane’s time as the cottage was at the juncture of three roads, so there was hustle and bustle right outside her door. I was pleased to see just how roomy the house was. With Cassandra seeing to the running of the household, Jane would have had the time, space, and solitude she needed to write her brilliant novels. I especially liked how much the floorboards creaked. As Jane worked, the movements of her family and friend would have served as a background to her writing.
While standing in Jane’s bedroom, I found the house meant a good deal more to me than I had expected. I have five sisters (four living), and growing up in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in North Jersey, we all shared a bedroom (two bunks, two sisters in one bed, and a folding cot in the middle). So there was nothing unusual about the idea of Cassandra and Jane sharing a bed. The room oozed sisterly affection, and it brought back good memories for me.
I had gone to Chawton expecting to examine the artifacts of a great writer, but it turned out to be so much more than that. I honestly felt Jane’s presence and her contentment at being in a place she loved, with people she loved, and doing what she loved. It was truly inspirational.
Congratulations on the 200th anniversary of the publication of Price and Prejudice. Your writing changed the world.
(This post originally appeared on the Austen Authors blog.)
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
On January 23 and 24, A Killing in Kensington will be available for free download on Amazon. This will be the last opportunity to get the book for free. Here is the blurb from the back jacket:
Detective Sergeant Patrick Shea of London's Metropolitan Police and his new partner, Detective Chief Inspector Tommy Boyle, have been handed a high-profile murder case. In the penthouse of Kensington Tower, playboy Clifton Trentmore lay dead with his head bashed in, and the investigation reveals a man who was loathed by both sexes. With too few clues and too many suspects, Shea and Boyle must determine who hated Trentmore enough to kill him. But as Patrick digs deeper, he finds his suspects have secrets of their own.
A Killing in Kensington is the second in the Patrick Shea mystery series.
If you enjoy Law and Order UK, you will enjoy A Killing in Kensington.
I hope you will share with your friends. If you should download my mystery, and you enjoy it, please consider writing a review on Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads. A review can make or break a novel. Thanks.